February, 2009

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2/28 From an Australian Brother Firefighter:

This brought tears to my eyes.

"The past 2 weeks has been a physical, emotional and psychological rollercoaster. More than once since Black Saturday I have found myself struggling to make the smallest decisions like what to have for lunch or dinner. I have walked around Safeway for 45 minutes looking and trying to come to a conclusion for something to eat. There has been anger, despair, frustration, fear and joy among many of the emotions recently. If you know a fire fighter who has been involved in these events, I urge you to understand that they may be going through these same emotions. Support your fire fighter; the biggest reason we have such a large and professional volunteer fire fighting force in Victoria is because of the support provided by each volunteer's family and friends."

Amen brother and thanks for sharing. I share your pain and your suggestions for support. I wish we could do more and we will.

/s/ Fellow Firefighter

2/28 To the poster who has gone to CalFire:

It seems it is you who has "thrown in the towel" by leaving.

Fedwatcher II
2/28 Australia Fire Relief Fund:

Bodie Shaw, Deputy Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) is on exchange with the Australian state fire authorities this year. He has been in Australia for almost seven months now. Body called while the fires were burning in Australia and asked if we could raise funds to help those firefighters there because they do not have a Wildland Firefighter Foundation to help them. With his voice shaking he asked if he could put up the first thousand dollars for the funds. Setting out to raise money we discovered we had to get clearance from the U.S. Treasury department as a 501 C3 to collect and disburse funds abroad.

I talked to Body again last night and told him that we had the clearance to send money now. He told me that there has been one firefighter fatality and that several other Wildland firefighters have sustained serious injuries. Firefighters who have been protecting others' homes have lost their own homes to the fires and some of their family members have even perished.

I wish we had the funds in our general account to send to the Australians, but we don’t, which is why we have established a special fund for their cause. Go to our website, and hit the Australian relief fund. One hundred percent of the donations that are made there will go directly to Australian firefighters in need.

I know that we're inundated every day with stories of how hard financial times are here. But I believe, especially with Wildland firefighters and all Firefighters, that compassion often overrides our common sense. The Australian firefighters have been here to help us. They always come to the Foundation; they join the 52 Club and buy t-shirts and stuff to support what we do for our firefighters. I believe it’s our turn to help take care of them now.

If we all give a little we can raise a lot. www.wffoundation.org

Thank you for helping.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Thanks Vicki, we have had some inquiries behind the scenes. Readers, it's very easy to contribute small or large. Ab.

2/28 Ab,

For your hotshot to fire manager project.  Paul Tompkins was a proud member of the Lassen, Bear Divide, and Laguna IHCs respectively during the 80's.  He is currently an Assistant Chief for the Miramar Fire Department in San Diego county.  He was also named Department of Defense Civilian Firefighter of the Year in 2005.  And something I know he's proud of; being a member of Molumby's Type 1 team as a DIVS.  Please post.

Thanks. I added the info to the "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project. Ab.

2/28 Regional Leadership Team Agenda and retention:

I was just looking over some of the recent posts on they said. I came across the RLT meeting
agenda for this past week down in sycamore springs. Has anyone noticed that retention is
conspicuously absent? Has the problem been solved or has R5 leadership just thrown in the
towel? Thoughts?

Steven F Diaz

2/27 Congressional contacts:

Dear Ab and All:

Attached is a sample letter to a Senator or Congressman/woman (doc file) asking them to introduce/support the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement & Cost Containment Act and a contact list of congressional offices with staff contact information (doc file) identifying the staff person who has been provided a copy of the "discussion draft." I would encourage sending both a fax to the member of the House or senate and an email to the staff contact with a copy of the letter to their boss attached.

If contacting the listed staff person by email, it would be a good idea to reference the discussion draft as sent to them by FWFSA Business Manager Casey Judd. It is up to you if you want to ID yourself as an FWFSA member but most important to ID yourself as a constituent.

Let's face it, playing the firefighter card with Congress just doesn't work like it used to. That's why it's important to reemphasize the fact that the bill not only strengthens the inherently less expensive federal wildland firefighting infrastructure (the best in the world of course) but it will do what every member of the House and Senate can sell to all their constituents...it will lead to significant savings of tax dollars used for wildfire suppression.

I can't tell you how important it would be for entire crews, whether from engines, IHCs etc., to sign one letter and have the names of the entire crew listed on the bottom of an email or faxed letter. We don't have the financial resources like many larger organizations who assume throwing PAC money at Congress automatically results in success. Clearly that is not the case. Thus we have to work longer and harder and seek your voices to amplify and validate the information we have provided to Congress over the years.

I know that you should not use Agency letterhead or agency fax machines or your agency email address to send such correspondence. I do not know however whether it would be appropriate to use an official crew/IHC logo document. Maybe someone has some ideas on that subject.

The bottom line is we need firefighters in all grades and from all agencies to make contact with their representatives along with friends and family.

The contact list is a partial list because of staff turnover, rookies to Congress etc. so if your representative is not listed let me know. I can provide you contact information for that office and you can call and ID the appropriate staff person for federal wildland firefighter issues and ask the staff person if you can send them a copy of the discussion draft you'd like their boss to introduce/cosponsor etc. I can provide a copy for you to send.

As I've said, this is your voice and your future. While there is some movement from the agencies towards acknowledging and acting upon our goals and objectives, it is clear that congressional action will be absolutely necessary. Establishing a flurry of contact before my trip to DC the entire week of March 16th will help establish a foundation for our success.

If anyone has any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at 208-775-4577 or by email at cjudd@fwfsa.org. Thanks in advance for your help. As we've seen in the last year with language in both the 2008 & 2009 omnibus bills, your voice has a tremendous impact on Congress.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

2/27 R5 Engine Captain's rep to go to CalFire:

not the second...

Actually I'm the third consecutive Chair of the R5 captains group to leave behind Bill Molnar and Dennis Lange respectively. Do you suppose that R5 leadership has noticed this trend? Do you suppose that Sen. Feinstein would find this alarming? I will be leaving a hole on a Type 1 Team, a Regional Cadre, the Captain's Chair, as well as the vacancy of a captain.

Did I mention that the R5 retention bonus being offered is less than I'm getting back from the IRS? Neither the forest nor the region made any effort to keep me. I don't believe they had the means anyway. Just in case the rumor mill is at work. I'll be shipping a bunch of stuff out to Aaron electronically as well as hard copy to help provide a bit of continuity. I believe that Aaron is more than capable. I'm still available to the Fire service as so many of our leadership have pointed out.

Best to all...........see ya on the big one,

Steven F Diaz

Best to you in your new CALFIRE position, Steve. Ab.

2/27 Upbeat Stories, Hmmm:

Like things you can laugh at after the pain is gone?

Well there was Doug, new to the crew and a young kid having a good time.

"Let me bring in the helicopter! I can do it."

Referring to water drop on hot spots in a mop-up operation.

Finally we said, O.K. Doug; the next one is yours.

Well, the helicopter dropped a load of wet water, hit him dead center. While
it didn't knock him over, it made him sick as a dog running to the bushes for
the next two days. Pretty funny story after the fact! Gotta have something to
talk about!

William Riggles
2/27 Australia Wildfires, CFA fire fighters tell their stories:


The following was forwarded by a mate & make for interesting/tough reading.
I think the one thing it shows was how quickly these fires occurred. Realistically the
fatalities appeared (from my distant armchair) to have occurred in a 12hr period
(if that).

Other good news was that Friday fortunately fizzed (ok sorry) - temps not as high
winds not as strong. And parts of Queensland are in their 3rd month of flood. Go


These two stories are worth a read, they are personal accounts from CFA guys on
the trucks during that terrible day.

The first one will really make you think about our own trucks and safety procedures,
it is a chilling read.

2/27 Re More Hotshot/SJ to Fire Manager History:


Correct me if I'm suffering from acute OMS (Old Memory Syndrome);
was "S&R" 'search', or 'suppression'... I may be mixing up old memories
of other organizations...


2/27 FireChat:


Thanks for thinking of us East Coasters in the chat times. (Someone on here
referred to us as "wanna be" firefighters from the East Coast.)
Anyway, this wanna be for the last 25 years thanks you.


2/27 Something Positive.. Upbeat stories...

A Grunt's Tale OC- GS

I wanted to add something to the "they said it" page about more upbeat stories about why we've gotten into fire. I am a third generation firefighter, my parents and grandparents (mother's side) having also been county volunteers and state firefighters, and my father was a training officer at the local community college for over two decades. Before that, being a california indian, my ancestors are credited with being the first to use fire here as a tool.

When I turned 18 I decided to try out wildland fire, after taking the fire academy at my local comm. college, decided structure fire wasn't what I wanted to do (fully consumed structure entry etc.) and took a position on a local OC crew. A good starting place, it didn't take long my first year before I was lead Pulaski and asking for saw time/ training.

The first year I started was my oldest brother's last year, which made for an interesting beginning. It was a fire on Upper Klamath Lake on the Winema that I was first carded on the line and given a saw. The fire was out, save some interior burning and the line was in, so we had common OC orders of holding and improving that section of line. The crew boss of that OC (and he's still there) handed me some gigantic 36" bar husky, and he and the squadie at the time mostly had fun watching me "rock" the saw on my way up the mountain shooting sparks into the night-shift sky while trying to find the right angle to cut an entire sage bush with each cut. I learned that bushes sometimes pick up rocks in their limbs as they grow. That night I learned of the reward in pain that the trudge up the steep line with the bulky machine on my shoulder -- offers its user. I still remember the way that each mountain top appeared at night to be the "top of the hill" until it was crested, just for another peak to come into view, ridgeline after ridgeline.

After holding a whole night, discussing the best of Louis L'Amour's Sacketts series, came a hike for me all the way to the downhill end of the crew, and back up again, for a gal getting stung by a scorpion who needed the med. kit, and watching the sunrise of the north face of Mount Shasta that morning literally glowing as it came out of the darkness of the night sky, into the morning's golden light, I was hooked. It wasn't long before I was a squad boss on a local contract crew, and finally applied to the FS a few seasons later, and luckily under the MEL growth found a home on a Hot Shot crew within 150 miles of home.

I distinctly remember the first fire I was on, the Noble Fire, Shasta Trinity NF. We got a helicopter ride from the old pilot from Vina CDF helitac, the pilot had a little rhinoceros glued to dash of that huey. Had me wondering just how light the lightweight aluminum air frame of the huey was designed on as it shook and dipped on the ride up and over Noble Ridge. The first large fire was on the S. Fork Yuba River on the Tahoe NF, where we went down the canyon from I-80 in that old green crew bus, 10 miles or so with the entire mile wide column in view as we drove down into the small town of Washington in Nevada County, I saw plenty of the "dinner plate eye balls" that have been described here, that day. We backed up a couple shot crews (Tahoe and Plumas) the first night in a firing maneuver that picked up one flank of the fire and got 2 or three days mop up after that. Learned of the Pulaski Toss and Fire Crew Olympics on this fire. Also the old-true meaning of "Digging- in".

- the fed guy that worked his way up.

Nice. Ab.

2/27 Re Bob Schroeder's passing & theft of statue:


I am sorry to hear about Bob. In working around Bob I always walked away with a smile
on my face even with him growling at all times. It was always great working around you
guys and especially brother Bob. My condolences to Bob`s family and the Pike.

Al, if you could send a photo or drawing of the sculpture that is now missing I will try to
duplicate for you guys.

Hopefully our paths will cross soon.

Stay safe,


P.S. Ab, Please give Al my address if she requests it. Thanks for being there.

Will do. Ab.

2/27 The Jobs page, Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
2/27 Re: FireChat


In an effort to get folks using the FireChat again and communicating, I propose the following very loose knit schedule to bring folks together.


Chat gatherings for folks interested in communication, safety, and efficiency in wildfire management.

Monday - "Issues from outside the Western US" - 6 PM Eastern Time (3 PM Pacific)
Tuesday - General Chat - 9 PM Eastern Time (6 PM Pacific) to Midnight Eastern (9 PM Pacific)
Wednesday - Contractor Issues Chat - 9 PM Eastern Time (6 PM Pacific) to Midnight Eastern (9 PM Pacific)
Thursday - General Chat - Safety Focus and Emphasis - 9 PM Eastern Time (6 PM Pacific) to Midnight Eastern (9 PM Pacific)
Friday - Open Line Friday - All topics - 10 PM Eastern Time (7 PM Pacific) to 2 AM Eastern (11 PM Pacific)
Saturday - All topics - Reunite with friends to share and discuss your past week - 10 PM Eastern Time (7 PM Pacific) to 2 AM Eastern (11 PM Pacific)
Sunday - Open discussions.

Of course, regular contributors or members could participate in any chat session.

2/27 The Del Rosa Hotshots Alumni Association www.delrosahotshots.com/ invites you to attend or support the 3rd. Annual Texas Hold'em Poker Tournament to benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation .

Event Date: April 4, 2009.
Location: Mentone Moose Lodge, Mentone, CA.

For additional information, please click here. www.delrosahotshots.com/Pages/texas_hold09.php

Past Events Supporting the Wildland Firefighter Foundation:
2009 Golf Tournament: http://www.delrosahotshots.com/Pages/golf_tourn09.php
2008 Poker Tournament: http://www.delrosahotshots.com/Pages/texas_hold08.php
2007 Poker Tournament: http://www.delrosahotshots.com/Pages/texas_hold07.php
2006 60th Year Reunion Celebration: http://www.delrosahotshots.com/Pages/60th_reunion.php

Thank you in advance for you support of this worthy cause.

/s/ DRHS Alumni Communications Director
2/26 NFFE Exec Bd, Local Officials, & Legislative Committee members,

We have been offered the opportunity to give Congressional testimony on the topic of employee morale -- reasons for low morale and what to do about it.

Potential issues include:

  • A-76 hangover
  • continued over-reliance on contracting
  • centralization of hr function -- eroded level of service and burden shift
  • continuous year-end transfers to suppression because of failure to properly fund fire on the front end
  • firefighter issues -- too numerous to list -- support beyond lip-service -- their own classification series -- etc.
  • do employees feel they are listened to on important questions of how to get the job done?
  • Others?

We'll have to finalize written testimony within the next few weeks. This is a big job, but we cannot let an opportunity like this pass us by. To pull it off, I'll need your help. Please provide me with concrete examples for the bullets above or for other bullets you may wish to recommend. The most helpful would be written narratives (can be brief and rough) with associated documentation.

Send your responses to nffe@fs.fed.us. Please put "Congressional testimony on moral" in the subject header. I'll need your input by c.o.b. Friday, Feb. 27. Sorry for the short turn-around, but we just got the invitation ourselves. Thanks.

Mark W Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

2/26 From Kanga and Roo:

heraldsun.com.au videos:

2.5 min. Video of Koala Sam's rescue by David Tree;
little Sam drinking water

3 min. Fire Briefing video from today as conditions worsened

2/26 Dear Ab and All:

Tomorrow I will post here and on our FWFSA web site a listing of congressional members and staff contacts that we do business with and who have a copy of our legislative draft. I will also attach a sample letter that can be faxed.

The listing will be a partial one as many offices have changed staff that handles our issues and I am still in the process of identifying those folks. If your congressional representative is not listed or you aren't sure who your representative might be contact me by email at cjudd@fwfsa.org and I'll get the contact information. This request for action is for all of you that believe in what we are trying to do and support the legislative reforms listed in our draft bill. You need not be an FWFSA member to contact these folks asking for their support in introducing/cosponsoring the legislation but if you are an FWFSA member, please let them know...especially the staff contact.

As so many of you did last year, it would be great to have many of these staff and congressional members of the House & Senate hear from their constituents within the next two weeks before I arrive in DC to meet with them on our draft bill, the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement & Cost Containment Act.

Once more offices and contacts are identified we'll list those too. Remember, I can yak at these folks year after year. While I may make a dent, it is you, the firefighters and their voting public that truly makes a difference. This includes your friends and family members too.

As you'll note on the list, there are several staff folks who are, or were wildland firefighters.

Thanks in advance for your participation. Remember, it's your future & your voice.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

Ab's bold and underline.

2/26 Australia Wildfires:

Slideshow of Sam, the koala that got burned paws and was rescued by
David Tree following Black Thursday's bushfire near Mirboo North.

Slideshow of Sam's Story (2181 K powerpoint slideshow) (will bring on the tears in
the toughest of firefighters; have a tissue ready)

Photos compliments of www.news.com.au/heraldsun/
Music by Phil Coulter "If Tomorrow Never Comes"
Special appearance by Bob, Sam's boyfriend and also a survivor.

Fair Use Disclaimer

2/26 Ab,

Not much has been said about this upcoming important wildland fire safety conference.

10th Wildland Fire Safety SummitŪ ~ April 27-30, 2009 Phoenix, Arizona

There will also be a Dude Fire Staff Ride learning opportunity.

For those that can attend, it will be a pivotal experience in your careers... Relevant to all
who are interested in wildland fire safety.


Hi Lobotomy. People can go to the IAWF online website to get the info. Ab.

2/26 old info needed from an older-n-dirt guy:

does anyone have the specks or drawing of the old USFS
trail grader? If you can help me out I would appreciate it.

doug@ nospam dougsfire.com
(take out the nospam and space and email Doug)

2/26 Dozer Rollover photos:

These are from the Moon Fire, Shasta Trinity Lightning Complex 07/08.
Contract dozer, no injuries, total damage: broken light lens.


Thanks, I added them to the Equipment 13 photo page. Lucky there were no injuries or death. Be safe dozer operators! Ab.

2/26 Lassen Hotshots 35th Anniversary:


The Lassen Hotshots will be Celebrating our 35th year Anniversary March 27!!!

We still need RSVPs from those that are planning to attend by March 5!!! Please email or call for details.

Mike Klimek
mklimek @ nospam fs.fed.us
Captain 9-1
(530) 252-5870

Allen Schultze
allenschultze @ nospam fs.fed.us
Captain 9-2
(530) 252-5873

Lassen Hotshots

2/26 Australia bushfires:

Couple of pics with GPS.

Fire Geek

Mob, Troop or Herd of Kangaroos-GPS.jpg

Thanks. I added them to the Aussie Fires Photo Page. Ab.

2/26 Australia: Black Saturday weather explanation


I noted on the Hotlist someone was asking about the weather & if we had Foehns winds such
as the Santa Anas of SoCal. This article is a good explanation that may answer that query.


(flying to Melbourne on Monday for work will try for pics from the plane)

Thanks, OB. Those would be interesting photos if not too smoky. Ab.

2/26 La Grande hotshot history:


A couple updates from La Grande to put on the fire manager website.

First we have a new website:


Second Jay Rasmussen is District FMO on the Willamette NF and Willy Crippen is
now Forest Fire Planner on the Wallowa Whitman NF.


Brian Bush

Thanks Brian, I added them to the "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project page. If anyone has updates or urls to hotshot or smokejumper websites, please send 'em in. Ab.

2/26 More Hotshot/SJ to Fire Manager History:

Got an update from Dave Provencio, as well, on the Fulton Hotshots and incorporated that. Here's the Fulton Hotshots website on the Calif hotshots site: www.californiahotshotcrews.org/crewfulton.phpl. Ab.

Dave writes:

In 1975 the Pacioma Fire, Tujunga RD, Angeles NF was the FIRST use of the ICS organization.

Dick Montague was the IC and Jim Stumpf was the S&R (Search & Rescue). The name change to Operations Section Chief did not come until later.

Dick Montague and Jim Stumpf switched back and forth from IC to S&R, because at the time all were still experimenting the the ICS system.

The Fulton Hot Shots, along with many other crews were assigned to the Pacioma Fire. Participants included the Del Rosa, Vista Grande, Little T, Palomar, Los Prietos, Texas Canyon, Luguna, and El Carisohotshot crews, and more but I just can't recall all of them.


I added that to the "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project and the IMWTK page under the ICS questions.
Anyone else remember that far back? Ab.

2/26 High-Visibility Apparel and the New Law, making the rounds:


On February 25, 2009, at approximately 4:00 p.m., I spoke to Mr. Hari Kalla, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), in an effort to clarify the exemption provided to firefighters in the new law. Mr. Kalla and I had been trading phone messages for several days and finally were able to converse.

I told Mr. Kalla of our concern that wildland firefighter "turnout gear" was not the same as that of a structural firefighter, and that we felt the exemption may not have included wildland firefighters in its intent. I explained, in detail, the differences of wildland firefighter turnout gear and that of a structural firefighter (NFPA 1977 versus NFPA 1971). I told him that the uniform shirt was bright yellow and the pants a deep green, but within a short time, were covered with ash and soot. He asked about retroreflectivity and I told him that the the uniforms were not retroreflective except for the strip of tape on the overjackets. However, I added that these jackets were not always worn because of the high heat and adverse environments in which our firefighters typically function. He understood, and told me the law was never intended to somehow hinder the safety or create a greater hazard to the firefighters. Consequently, he assured me that the exemption does indeed apply to all firefighters when performing firefighting duties. We further discussed the need for appropriate protections when personnel are not performing firefighting duties (i.e., road guards appropriately attired in high-visibility apparel, etc.).

Please keep this message as a formal record of our compliance with the law and our attempt to clarify the ambiguity of the exemption.

Gary W. Helmer
Safety and Occupational Health Manager
U.S. Forest Service

2/26 From the NFFE:

In America's National Forests, Stimulus Funds are Saving More than Jobs

2/25 Re: Rehiring federal retirees:

From Firescribe:

Legislation would make it easier for agencies to rehire federal retirees


Go to the link above to read the story.

2/25 Reporters on Sierra Front fires and other tales:

Autumn Hills did have the the reporter in the back of the pick up. I actually have a copy of the video on my computer. If you want a copy send me an e-mail and I will see what I can do.

To twist in the wind: You are dead on. This guy had no business being where he was. The strike team that was trying to hold Kingsbury Grade decided to leave and this guy jumped in the back of the pick up. The pick up stalled in the smoke resulting in this guy getting burned. In its day this video was very dramatic.

The other incident was the Waterfall fire that a local reporter got "burned" on, and the burn over of the agency vehicles was at least partially to blame on another local reporter that cut off vehicles as they were trying to escape. She was sued by one of the injured FFs. I know the lawsuit was settled, but they didn't release the details of the settlement. I also have several videos of this incident. I was in Training for several years and we used this incident as training and took our seasonals for a staff ride to re-live it. These two incidents were just part of several incidents that caused the Sierra Front to start training media in fire behavior etc. I just attended a meeting last week and at least two trainings are coming up for this year.

To mtndv8: I now work out of our Station 1. At the time of the fire 1996 I was a volunteer with our Station 7. Thanks for the offer of the cookies and lemonade. Where do you work now?

As to cookie stains on my shirt.........only next to the coffee stains already there lol. What knucklehead thought putting Chief Officers in white shirts?

To all: Stay safe!


2/25 A nice piece on our Australian firefighter's funeral. Mellie


Firefighter saluted for 'a life well lived'
February 24, 2009

[Photo of David] ACT senior firefighter David Balfour has died after being crushed by a falling tree near Marysville.

David Balfour, the only firefighter to die in Victoria's bushfires, has been laid to rest after a moving ceremony attended by most of his colleagues.

A guard of honour, comprising several hundred firemen plus members of other ACT emergency services, saluted Mr Balfour's flag-draped coffin as it was carried into the Holy Family Church in suburban Gowrie.

Daughter Frances, 13, solemnly carried his yellow fireman's helmet, flanked by his widow Celia and children Alison, 13, and Daniel, 10, as fellow firemen bore him from the church to a waiting hearse for the final trip to Woden Cemetery.

An estimated 700 people gathered inside the church with others spilling on to the grounds outside as Monsignor John Woods declared the firefighter a hero who died while repaying a debt of gratitude to those who came to fight Canberra's bushfire disaster of 2003.

Mr Balfour, 46, died last week when struck by a falling tree, a tragedy described by former ACT Fire Brigade chief David Prince as an act of fate. (More info and a fine photo at the link.)

Another story and photos:


Beautiful kids. My thoughts and prayers are with them. More:


David was described fondly as a professional and dedicated fireman and father,
a person of mischievous and quirky humour, a capable handyman and keen
fisherman and hunter with a passion for blowing up things.

2/25 Texas has some large fires:

Hotlist thread: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=34643

2/24 Firefighting Lessons Learned & A Learning Organization having Just Culture vs BLAME:

In case folks did not see this earlier:

NFFE Letter to Chief Kimbell, Dec '08


2/24 Circulating in the hotshot community, not sent in by Kurt...


The new Interagency Hotshot Crew Operations Standards has been signed by the
directors and can be found and printed at:


This will be a web based document. There will not be a printing of this document
and it will not be available through the PMS or Cache system.


2/24 One of my top ten days fighting fire.

Our hotshot crew had been pre-positioned for almost a week with no action outside of weed eating and other such odds and ends. At about 2200 dispatch called and decided to send us to another location, in the next state where they was getting hit with a lightning bust. We woke most of the crew up and rounded up several that were “relaxing” with some of our hosts and loaded-up. Before we could get out of the parking lot, and I must say we weren’t wasting any time, the DAFMO came out and flagged us down. It had been decided by those who make those decisions to keep us in place since the lighting was going to hit our location. We unloaded, went to bed to awake to thunder and lightning flashes about 0300.

I could see lights on at the office and got dressed and went in to see what was going on. The AFMO said that there were a number of fires and that he was making a plan for the day. Got the crew up and fed by 0530 and we headed to a fire being staffed by the State. It was 10 acres, we dug some line and put a hose lay in. It actually looked like a pretty good place to spend the rest of the day, but we were requested to go to the next Ranger District for an unspecified situation. We arrived at the ranger station and talked to the AFMO, nothing immediate to send us to, but they had put some jumpers on a fire that we would have to walk into or get a helicopter ride and that part was being worked on.

Within minutes the local VFD fire alarm went off, we stepped outside to see a column coming up just outside town. We got in our rigs and followed the AFMO to the fire and started digging hotline on our second fire of the day. The fire was in light fuels and had a bit of head-start on us, but we were warmed up for the day and we put on a pretty good show for the locals. Got some well timed bucket support and by about 1600 had a good handle on our second 10 acre fire of the day.

We returned to the ranger station and got into a discussion about the fire that the jumpers had, it was about 40-50 acres and they needed some help. I told them I wouldn’t walk, it was too late to get in before dark. But if they arranged a helicopter flight we would give it shot. I flew in first and got the fire sized up and met with the jumper IC and made a plan and waited for the crew. About an hour before dark we got everybody together and started cutting line. The fire was about 80 acres, was burning down hill and looked like we had a chance to pick it up. We anchored in with the jumpers and started around opposite flanks.

The crew was getting a little tired but we kept at it. I was out front reconning and the fuels had turned pretty light after working through some tough-retardant-soaked-brush to start the night. I walked back to join the crew and everybody was digging, saws, squadies, and foreman. 19 headlamps, not too much chatter, just some serious chinking. I only had one thing to do, bend over and dig, and that’s what we did for several more hours. We tied into the jumpers about 0300. Afterwards we hiked up to the ridge top to grab a MRE and some water. When we were setting there a huge Douglas-fir torched out. Went off like fireworks, beautiful, and kind of a celebration to one of those amazing days that still burns in my mind and warms my heart. It was an honor to lead such a tough, hard nosed crew.

Peace to you all.


2/24 Here is the link


2/23 Australia Fires:



Points to note -

* new fires sprung up yesterday with the conditions
* there have been 2 overruns with 3 fireys injured with 1 critical
* note the forecast for Friday
* note no rain forecast

I think there may be the opportunity for the existing North American crews to be changed over.



State Emergency Management Committee Briefing Feb 24 (688 K pdf file)
Victoria Australia Sit Report Feb 24 (210 K pdf file)

Sorry to hear about the injuries. Will keep the fireys in our thoughts and prayers. Ab.

2/23 Leedhook,

I can't find the bill on the internet. Any additional info like a bill number or a link?


2/23 2009 Omnibus Bill for FS Wildland Fire Management

This is a clip of the first cut of the FS wildland fire management spending bill in the Interior Appropriations and it will probably get hacked up before its passed but also notice the language on retention and the due dates for the retention plan. You can find the complete doc. on line, huge PDF file.


Appropriation enacted, 2008    $1,943,477,000
Budget estimate                $1,976,592,000
Bill, 2009                     $2,131,630,000
Appropriations, 2008             +188,153,000
Budget estimate, 2009            +155,038,000

The detailed allocation of funding by program, activity and subactivity is included in the table at the end of this section of the statement. In addition, the bill also includes the following specific funding levels and directions:

Preparedness. The bill provides the fiscal year 2008 funding level, plus $6,181,000 for fixed costs, pIus $3,000,000 to continue the firefighter retention initiative funded through P.L. 110-329. The Forest Service should maintain the levels of readiness needed for public safety that were established in fiscal year 2007. The Forest Service should analyze current readiness levels to determine whether maintaining preparedness resources in the field at a level not less than that established in fiscal year 2007 will, based on the best information available, result in lower overall firefighting costs.

If the Forest Service makes such a determination, the Service should adjust the levels for preparedness and suppression funding accordingly and report on these adjustments to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations. The Secretary of Agriculture should advise the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations in writing prior to the decision. In the future, the Committees on Appropriations expect the Service to request preparedness budgets that adequately cover the costs of readiness activities without undue shifts of expenses to the suppression appropriation.

The Committees are very concerned that the Service has not yet finalized or implemented a comprehensive plan to improve firefighter recruitment and retention in Region 5, despite documented vacancies in firefighting positions. The Committees understand that the Service is still studying a range of options to improve firefighter recruitment and retention in Region 5 and other high-risk areas of the nation, including changes to pay rates and scheduling flexibility. Further delay is not acceptable. The Service is directed to provide a comprehensive recruitment and retention plan, including a full spending plan for the funds appropriated in P.L. 110-329, to the Committees by no later than March 1, 2009.

Fire suppression operations. The bill provides the request, $993,947,000, for fire operations, an increase of $148,327,000 above the fiscal year 2008 non-emergency funding level. The Forest Service and the Department of the Interior should continue reports required previously and examine, using independent panels, any individual wildfire incident which results in expenses greater than $10,000,000.


2/23 Australia wildfires:

For those who have time and interest in seeing and hearing the survivors' stories, seeing
the google maps, along with interactive info, this is a great site. Click on some of the links.


My thoughts and prayers with the Aussies who lost so much.

Thanks to OB for sharing. Kanga and Roo, thanks.
Fire Geek, I hope all goes well. Thanks to ESRI for providing services in fire situations,
tsunamis, etc.

There are 3 fires burning now.

Be safe,


2/23 Annual Refresher?

I am having a difficult time finding an Annual Refresher 130 class to attend. Anyone out there know of any
scheduled? I live in Michigan, but I'll travel. Thanks.


I'd be happy to pass info. Ab.

2/23 From several contributors, R5 Leadership Team Meeting Agenda

Just an interesting post from the union as to what our RLT is up too.
Nice to see they shy way from an expensive spa....Agenda is of
interest with Ed making a presentation on new wildland policy.

Agenda for tomorrow's R5 Regional Leadership Team Meeting in
Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort in San Luis Obispo CA.

Agenda Topics (54 K doc)

2/23 Reporters burned on Incidents:

twist in the wind and Picker,

There were reporters burned on both incidents. The video of the guy in the pickup was the Autumn Hills Fire to the best of my knowledge. There was also reporter from a local news channel that was burned on the Waterfall Fire, his vehicle was also damaged. As I understand it the Autumn Hills incident was what caused the Sierra Front to host a fire refresher for the media every year.

Scott, are ya gonna get cookie stains on that shiny new white shirt?


2/23 Reporters burned on Incidents:

twist in the wind--

I believe that was the Waterfall Incident where the reporter got a bit scorched,
along with some agency vehicles.


2/23 R5 Engine Captain's rep to go to CalFire:


Looks like Aaron Grove is the new R5 Engine Captain's rep since Steve just left for CALFIRE.


Isn't Steve Diaz the second Engine Captain's rep to go to CalFire?
Well, Steve, the engine captains org will miss you. Don't be a stranger here. Ab.

2/23 A picture is worth a thousand words:

TX Brush truck rollover 2/19

Firefighters injured in truck rollover, damaged truck out of commission

ABILENE -- Firefighters were working to put out a couple small grass fires along the railroad tracks in the North 14th and Cottonwood area Wednesday when the brush truck they were riding in rolled over onto it's top. The truck was working along railroad tracks when it drove onto a steep embankment and rolled over. Three firefighters were taken to a local hospital. All were treated and released.



2/23 Autumn Hills Fire; Reporter burned on Incident:

Wasn't that the fire where the self claimed reporter got burned up in the back of
pickup truck? I think he talked his way onto the scene, got lost in the sauce,
unescorted, and oh but for the grace of God got picked up by a passing FS pickup
truck (jumped into the bed) - and left the camera running the whole time - screams
and all as his legs were burned etc......... Anyone remember the video?

twist in the wind--

"twisted in the wind"? Tongue firmly in cheek. Ab.

2/23 Something Positive.. Upbeat stories...

to Scott,

Mahalo Brada!
What Station do you work out of??
Might be 13 years late, but I'll see to it you (and your crew) get the homemade
cookies and iced lemonade you missed back in '96... lol


2/22 Something Positive.. Upbeat stories...

To mtndv8:

This fire you wrote about was in my first due district. It was in 1996 and called the
Autumn Hills fire (and yes it was started by kids dipping lizards into gas and lighting
them on fire).

The structure engine you refer to very well may have been mine.

I responded on our "second alarm" and spent the next day and a half trying to save
houses in the Sheridan Sub-division. Interestingly this was the last major fire we have
had in our County to date.

I have long wished to thank everyone who helped us that day. 3400+ acres and 4
homes later, it remains to this day the most destructive fire in our county that anyone
can recall.

I was a volunteer at the time and this is the incident that convinced me to start a full
time career in fire. I have never looked back. To echo some of the fire behavior you
were talking about........ the Sierra Front in front of a cold front can be the harbor to
INSANE fire behavior.

I loved your recount of the fire.

Thank you.


ps. I loved it (fire) so much I am now a Battalion Chief with the same department!

2/22 Something Positive.. Upbeat stories...

I got started with fire while attending Ventura college (Ventura is a coastal town north of LA and south of San Francisco in So Cal). It was career day at the college and the CCC had a display board setup that had some helitack pictures on it that looked cool. I was heavily stuck in the Ventura rut at the time (not good, use your imagination, drugs, violence and localism at the beaches?). I went to the CCC compound and signed up. I threw what I owned in my truck and left town. I landed at the fire center down in Julian. Best thing that ever happened. The rest is history. I'm sad to see the CCC go away.

It lead to some time in Nor Cal and some of the best time in my life on one of the hardest hitting hotshot crews in the nation.

One of my many memorable experiences was...

Early fire season... Whatever year...

We went to a fire on the Angeles near Saugus. It was the season after MEL build-up cuz we actually had alot of turnover that year.

Anyhow, once we finally got there, which took some time, I will never forget, our crusty old Sup. tied in with some DIV or BAT off the Angeles who was also working a handheld radio that he could actually talk to LA county with.

We had some new folks on the crew whose eyeballs where bulging out of their head as a wind blown Santa ana driven fire was all over the place. We were right next to several subdivisions adjacent to the wildlands, the fire was headed down canyon right on top of them. Basically, it was virtually on us.

I will never forget the fire going this direction and that direction as the wind was every where... The homeowners had their eyeballs bulging out of their heads also, they were on their roofs, with their garden hoses in their hands. Total carnage.

Once we got to whereever we were, I eavesdropped on our Supts and BAT/DIV's conversation.

In the chaos of a wind blown fire headed towards these countless houses, eyeballs bulging out of everyone's head... All I remember about our Supts and BAT/DIV's conversation consisted of was how ugly their moms where, how ugly they both were, and they laughed and talked s%$t for ever, it seemed like. I don't even remember what our assignment was, just the S+&t talking and eyeballs bulging out of everyone's heads, except the Supt, BAT/DIV and mine of course.

Talk about cool under pressure.

Cheers, and anonymous.
2/22 A Gizmo follow-up to a chronic illness firefighter question on the hotlist. Gizmo says:

The federal presumptive illness legislation has been re-introduced into Congress.
There have been some minor clarifications to wording to meet overall intent.

The improved wording of the legislation makes it clearer that not only are federal
0081 series firefighters covered, but federal wildland firefighters as well.

For the text of the bill, click the Hotlist thread. Or printable version (fed-firefighters-fairness-act.php) Ab.

2/22 Pretty clear what the motive behind AB135 is if you read the Mercatus on Policy document.
Each of the decentralization alternatives lists this as one of the bullet points:

"The federal government grants a waiver from federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS),
National Forest Management Act (NFMA) planning requirements, and ass federal legal
challenges, on national forest lands."

It's about logging, not fire protection. I would suspect Tom Bonnickson and the timber industry
to be wrapped up in this somewhere. Jeffries bill is at best a duplication of current policy, CAL
FIRE already either exchanges land protection or protects FRA for a fee, we always called it
the GREEN BOOK lands.


2/22 Ab,

Thanks for a great website. It has been very helpful, especially tracking initial attack in real time.


The Hotlist is very useful and its success can be credited to the contributors. Ab.

2/22 fire plan for 2009 fire season:


thought you might appreciate the simplicity of the 2009 fire season plan.
Put more water on it!

***just another fire wife

2/22 Ab and all,

We are trying to put on a 490 class at the Wildland Fire Training Center in R5. The state used to have half the slots but there are no CalFire candidates this year and the fed travel ceiling deal may be why only 11 pre-tests were returned by the federal folks.

I would like to see if we can get more of the nominees to return the tests so we can hold a 490 session this year. I have a list and the Los Padres has 7 slots and no one - 0 - returned a test, the Sequoia BF has 1 outta 6, Shasta NF has 1 of 5, Klamath NF has 1 of 5, Sierra NF has 2 of 5, the San Bernardino NF has 0 for 4.

To make it easier we have extended the test deadline to March 18th, the course will begin on March 30th and run to April 3rd. If you are employed on any of these forests talk to your training officer and get someone to get these folks to return the pre-tests.



2/22 From the hotlist, posted by fyrfghtr:

See attached link about closing the tanker base at Minden Tahoe Airport. I guess a sign of the times.


2/22 Re Upbeat Fire Stories:

OK---Lytle Canyon, SoCal, lightening fire burning in dog hair brush and some timber.
We were putting in a fire break when the fire jumped our line on the other side from where
we were working. Our crew boss sent Bono, Nuke and me over there to start working
on the outbreak.

Bono and I started digging and I told Nuke to stay at the bottom and "throw dirt" with his
shovel so the fire would not get underneath us.

We got to the head of the slop and had just begun to hook it when a helicopter showed
up and did a water drop right on us. End of the show. Our Strike Team Leader had
watched the whole thing from a safe distance above us along with several members of the
strike team standing below us. The Strike Team Leader said to us "Very professional fire
fighting." Bono and I did a high five with huge smiles on our faces and then returned to our
crew to complete the line we had been working on.

Doesn't get any better than that.


2/22 From Firescribe:
Embedded in an article about memorial services in Victoria Australia:

Victoria Australia's bushfire emergency was far from over. Friday looms as extremely dangerous, and people in the Warburton and Yarra valleys could come under threat today.


Fire chiefs are warning residents in at-risk areas that if they plan to leave rather than stay to defend their properties, they should leave early today.

A CFA state duty officer, Neil Bumpstead, said residents would be most at risk after a wind change forecast for late this afternoon. He said that if fire reached the Warburton Valley, those who left would need to stay away for several days. "We cannot stress enough that with limited road access in the Warburton Valley, traffic may become congested. Being on the roads is dangerous during a fire threat."

The Enoch Point area, near Gaffneys Creek and south of Eildon, was of particular concern, with winds expected to turn north and north-westerly today at speeds of 20 to 30 kmh.

A state duty officer at the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Andrew Graystone, said extreme forest fire danger had been forecast in the Mallee and a very high forest and grassland fire danger was forecast across the state, with the exception of East Gippsland.

The CFA declared today a day of total fire ban in the north-western, north-eastern, eastern and central districts.

The Premier, John Brumby, urged people in fire-prone parts of the state to implement their fire survival plans.

He said no Victorian should need to be reminded that the state was very dry after a drought lasting many years and then the baking heat of recent weeks. "It doesn't need much to make them [fires] run," he said.


2/22 Re Upbeat Fire Stories:

Haven't posted lately and thought this worth responding to.
If this is off the latest topics and threads or otherwise out of place, I apologize.

On Feb 15th Firelook posted up a great thought/idea, (you agreed. I do too.)
I thought it odd no body's responded. So allow me to start (and/or finish...?)

<Hi Ab,

With all the worries about the economy and in light of a lot of sad/negative postings lately, why don't we take a needed break and do something different and more upbeat?

How about everyone posting some of their favorite experiences on fires? Maybe post what made you decide to get into fire in the first place - a family tradition, etc? Funny stories about things that happened during fire assignments?

Nice idea. You got one? Ab. >

September 2nd last year I was asking myself the question highlighted in bold. I think my answer might have some commonality and is the reason I continue to be proud of what we do...

After 15 years in the Engineering field I finally got fed up with corporate mentalities and bottomline priorities. Fearing stress and an increasingly dramatic weight loss would lead to bad things for me down the road, I quit a well paying but extremely stressful job.

My wife (girlfriend then) worked hard cooking great food and putting the weight back on me while I focused on shedding the mental baggage left over. Time does heal, (Ab, does that sound familiar? ) and after 3+ months I soon found myself restless and unfulfilled and began searching the Help Wanted ads. It was spring at that time and there was a curious ad in the newspaper seeking volunteers to fight wildland fire on a Type II AD crew. When I showed it to my wife she lit up like a sparkler on the 4th of July and told me that was the crew she had worked on one summer quite a few years before and had one of the best summers of her life while doing it! In fact she picked up the phone and called a friend to get the Crew Boss' phone number and then proceeded to arrange my attendance to the "First 40" training. ( I think secretly she was tired of me skiing and laying on the couch...lol)

The training went great and I loved the camaraderie and the physical challenges of the field exercises and training. Then it was over and I was told to stay available if I wanted to work.

Several weeks went by and as I was new to the call list, I waited patiently for the rotation of list to get to me. (waiting for the list to get to me has been my life since then. training list, assignment list, IA list, rappel list, etc...lol )

The phone call finally came and I bounded out of the house like a kid headed to the amusement park. We geared up and loaded an Expeditor's crew bus for the 1hr trip to the Autumn Hills Fire also known as the "burning lizard fire" for how it started.

My mood and every other rookie's mood changed when we saw the column of smoke and 200 foot flames. "Are we going there?" someone asked. "That's our job." the crew boss replied calmly. I'm not too proud to say now the sight scared me. I remained silent and watched in amazed curiosity at how calm the CRWB remained as he got briefed by the DIVS, who pointed repeatedly to a particularly active south/left flank. The sun was setting behind the Sierras and the shadows magnified the awesome impression the fire gave us as we watched 100+ foot Tamarack burn, uncontrolled. We were told homes had already been lost. That news and the sight in our bus' front window change the mood.

We unloaded and geared up just like we'd practiced and were soon hiking into the fire to relieve a shot crew needed elsewhere. As we hiked in along a paved access road to the fire we passed about a half dozen houses, the last of which sat at the dead end and had a structure engine and crew protecting it. The owner was piling boxes into a truck in a hurry, but paused to watch us move past thru a hole in a barbed wire fence and up into the forest. I wondered if that house would be there when we came out.

We cut line all night that night, my first night in fire. By morning most of the fire activity had moved to the north of us and the evening downslope winds that spill out of Lake Tahoe into the Great Basin had subsided as well as the winds from a passing cold front. We were exhausted and filthy with sweat soaked soot and dirt. I felt more alive than I had in any of my previous 15 years! And I wondered to myself if this job could be where I was meant to be?

I didn't have to wait long for the answer to that question. As we were hiking back out the next afternoon, after nearly 20 hours on the line, we again passed the house where I had seen the engine company and the home owner. The engine was gone but the truck the owner was loading was back in the driveway. At the same time we saw this, a little girl of maybe 3-4 years old saw us and began yelling "MOMMY, FIREMEN MOMMY!" and ran in the house. We knew we looked bad, and we laughed that nervous laughter of uncertainty, thinking maybe we had scared her by the way we looked. Seconds later the little girl came exploding out the front door with a couple sacks in her hand followed closely by her mother, infant in her arms and a big picture of iced lemonade. The little girl ran to the front of our line and made us stop and wait until her mother had joined her. The mother, baby in arms, told our CRWB that they had been allowed to return to their home around 10am that morning and she and her little girl had just finished baking cookies to thank firefighters, planning to drop them off at the Firecamp later, would we like some? The CRWB turned and looked back down his line at all our sooty faces and toothy grins and with a sly sideways smile said "Yes Ma'am, thank you, one cookie and one cup per person as we can't take too long and have to keep moving."

So that's how it went, the CRWB stepping aside, waiting 'till last, and each person stepping up to the mother and daughter in turn. The daughter would pull a tiny paper cup from one bag while her mother, still holding the infant, poured lemonade. The little girl would hand us the cup and then a cookie and then making us bend over so she could give us a hug, the mom looking squarely at each of us and saying "God Bless You, Thank you for saving our home." No one said a word as we hiked back to the crew bus.

A light rain started to fall later that night and it continued for a day or so as we went about mopping up in the mud and cold. We didn't care. We worked cheerfully KNOWING why we were there.

In the following years since then I have often drawn on that experience when times go bad, hurdles seem high or burdens seem too heavy. And I'm a better person for it...

Firelook, was this what you meant...?

Brothers and Sisters; God Bless...


Good one. Ab.

2/21 Re CA Assembly Bill 135


Am I reading the assembly bill 135 correctly? If Cal Fire and other rural/volunteer departments
are able to contract in R5, what is that going to do to the small business interests?

Granted there are very few non-dozer/tender contractors in R5 but they are still trying to create
jobs with qualified personnel. If the mighty Cal Fire gets in the game that would have a
devastating impact to the little guy.


2/21 Re: Firefighter Retirement Coverage for GS-7 Squad Leaders

I was a little amazed at hearing the urban legend that "it might take 2-3 years" to get the PDs approved for firefighter retirement coverage. The USDA has been delegated from OPM the ability to streamline the process.

From Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 6109.12

41.1 - Retirement Coverage for Law Enforcement and Firefighter Positions. Classification specialists must properly designate each position as either primary, secondary, or not covered so that personnel records clearly show what part of the incumbent's service is creditable under the program. Classification specialists are responsible for designating each position according to the following criteria:
  1. Not covered. Positions not in the firefighting or law enforcement field.
  2. Covered. Positions that have the same title, grade, series, organization, and type and proportion of covered duties as positions to which the Office of Personnel Management or Department of Agriculture has given general coverage.
  3. Proposed for coverage. Positions that do not match those having general coverage but meet the definitions in 5 CFR 831.802 for primary or secondary positions. Send these position descriptions promptly to the Washington Office, Human Resources Management Staff, Program Manager for Streamlining and Benefits, through appropriate channels to request a ruling by the Department of Agriculture, Assistant Secretary for Administration. A position description with a fully completed Form AD-332, Position Description Cover Sheet, is required with these requests for rulings.

Rogue Rivers

2/21 Santa Barbara County Fire Department Steps Up Wildfire Safety Training for Public

By Sonia Fernandez, Noozhawk Staff Writer | Posted on 02/20/2009

Pair of town hall meetings is aimed at ensuring residents know what to do when the next one strikes.

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department will hold two town hall meetings next week to help ensure residents know what to do if they’re caught in a wildfire.

One meeting will be at the Goleta Valley Community Center, 5679 Hollister Ave., from 6-8 p.m. Monday, and the second will be at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s Fleischmann Auditorium, 2559 Puesta del Sol Road, from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday. Additional town halls will be held in the North County.

In a talk titled “Preparing for Your Next Wildfire,” officials will explain how residents of a fire-prone climate can protect themselves and their property. The talk will address issues of defensible space, fire resistive construction and how to prepare for a situation in which it might be too late to evacuate from one’s home. etc

SoCal FF

fair use disclaimer

2/20 Assembly Bill #135; Outsourcing Federal Fire

Mr Jeffries:

Mr Jefferies seems to have an interest in expanding local, rural and state firefighting resources.

How to recall a California State Representative.
Article II Section 14


Working on obtaining a list of his contributors

Let us know and we'll write letters and send emails. Ab.

2/20 Assembly Bill #135; Outsourcing Federal Fire

Once there was a REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRAT who were interested in outsourcing Federal Wildland Fire Management to a State.

Many environmental groups and DEMOCRAT representatives who are interested in a commitment to fire use and returning wildfire to its natural role in the ecosystem on National Forests within that state had some questions. The first question asked was to review the state policies, practices, experience and training with fire use.

Then those fiscal conservative types and the REPUBLICAN representatives wanted to know how much will it cost to replace one green engine with one red engine? How much will it cost to improve infrastructure?

After the DEMOCRAT and REPUBLICAN representative received the information requested they said in unison, ughhhhhhhhhhhh........ never mind..........


I Hope

2/20 The Jobs page, Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
2/20 re: Emergency vehicle operation directive

In looking at the directive, I have to say that I am pleased to see it. Here is why:

1) Emergency Vehicle Operation (EVO) is a very hazardous duty.

2) EVO is something that can hurt or kill the public if done without regard to the rights and safety of the public.

3) As an EV driver, the operator is personally liable if they cause an accident or hit a pedestrian.

Therefore, I am glad to see that the FS is finally addressing this potential hazard. It is actually VERY GOOD for the employees who operate vehicles equipped with Lights and Sirens. It will require that the operators are trained. This helps them do their job and they also have another marketable job skill to put on applications.

LEOs have a great deal of training and when I did it, I learned a lot. It taught me things that I did not know. I hope that the fire folks take this willingly and use it to better themselves as well as provide a better service to the public.


2/20 Seven Oaks Report, 2006 burnover of CalFire firefighters.


Here's the final report on the burn-over on the INF in 2007.


Source unnamed

Photos: www.wildlandfire.com/pics/inyo/inyo-burnover.php
Hotlist: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=3356

2/20 Emergency vehicle operators

Interim Directive No.: 5120-2008-1
Effective Date: March 7, 2008
Duration: This interim directive expires on September 7, 2009.
Associate Deputy Chief Date Approved: 02/25/2008


This interim directive reissues with changes, the direction issued in interim directive (ID) 5120-2007-1.

5120.2 - Adds an objective to reference the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards for red lights and sirens as a guide to Forest Service policy and implementation procedures for Emergency Vehicle Operations.

5120.3 - Adds policy that regions must be compliant with this policy within 3 years of issuance of this interim directive.

5120.43 - Adds regional forester responsibility to assure emergency vehicle operator training is compliant with Forest Service Manual direction. Requires evaluation of emergency vehicle operator programs every 5 years.

emergency-vehicle-operator 5120-2008.doc (94 K doc file)

The main issue seems to be:

4. Certification. The certifying official shall review the prospective emergency vehicle operator’s history of motor vehicle violations prior to initial certification. At a minimum, forests must not certify emergency vehicle operators if any of the following apply:

a. Three or more moving violations in the past 3 years.
b. Three or more preventable accidents in the past 3 years.
c. One or more convictions for driving under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol in the past 3 years.
d. Less than 3 years of driving experience.
e. Less than 21 years of age.

2/20 Structure wrap:


I've been looking at the development of these new tumescent structure wraps over the last 2 years, this one's about to hit the market. What these do, unlike the current structure wraps, is when heat is applied, they swell up and absorb heat, like a gel. can be rehydrated, and would make structure protection a little bit safer as you could warp the structure and leave, and not have to return to regel or foam...

Anything that makes my Engines able to work safer and have less exposure to a hot-fast moving fire during structure protection, I like....


2/20 Assembly Bill #135; Outsourcing Federal Fire


I hope R-5 FS folks are looking at this…


I posted this yesterday. It's making the rounds behind the scenes with a message from Ed Hollenshead, R5 Fire Director:

May be old news to some, but consider these must reads. Many questions on the table, but paramount among them are those that relate to our effectiveness and efficiency in performing our mission. -ed-

Introduction of CA Assembly Bill 135


in light of the recommendations by Robert Nelson published in
Mercatus on Policy: Fire in the National Forest System: California Solutions for a California Problem


You can download the pdf version by clicking Download Document or the pdf icon mid-page left. Ab.

2/19 Re Chad Suppa:


For those who did not know, God recently made a selection to head up Heaven’s Holy Grounds Prescribed Fire program. God bypassed Albuquerque Service Center and other Human Resource offices and selected the best damn burn boss, firefighter, leader, supervisor, mentor, employee, friend, and half a million other great things without advertising the job. There was no Outreach or networking needed to fill the referral list. God knew who he wanted to get the job done and get it done perfectly. God’s choice was Chad Suppa.

Chad left us miserable souls to wallow in standardized burn plan templates, complexity analyses, and missed windows. Instead, Chad rides around in Heaven (no burn plan mind you), doing wheelies on his ATV and spitting fire like a crazed Dragon. No helmet or JHA to slow him down. Heaven’s Holy Ground’s are forever saved and maintained.

Chad’s death will forever change many of us. He was infectious. He had a smile on his face even when he wasn’t smiling. The “guy” was almost absurdly likeable. He, in his terms was “Money”. There has been countless dollars put in to building a Leadership culture within the wildland fire community. L180, 280, 380, 381, lessons learned, and on and on and on. All of that and a $500 dollar gift certificate to Barnes and Nobles’ leadership aisle could not mold anyone to Chad’s liking. He was a selfless Leader, someone who respected all who followed him, and through his actions and character, gained an army who admired him.

The enormity of losing Chad is still not felt. We, his friends, keep telling ourselves that he did not leave. To his family and loved ones, we give you our deepest sympathies and compassion. His loss is heavy on our hearts. And when it is our time to go, and if we are lucky enough, we all hope to see Chad waiting with our task book, a big smile and an open hand.

Chad, we will miss you friend.

-Brian Schaffler

2/19 LG Employee Shuffle:

More on Supplemental Employee statement............

“Supplemental Fire Department Resources - Overhead tied to a local fire department generally by agreement who are mobilized primarily for response to incidents/wildland fires outside of their district or mutual aid zone. They are not a permanent part of the local fire organization and are not required to attend scheduled training, meetings, etc. of the department staff.”

They are not a permanent part of the local fire organization: What defines that? I know what reality is, but I see is a few holes for the LG's on this.

are not required to attend scheduled training, meetings, etc. of the department staff.”: I know a lot of ex-Forest Service employees and others within any given local department that will be attending a whole lot of training and meetings from now on. I am not an agreement expert, however the language they use seems to have many holes in it. The reaction from the LG's to this is going to be one to keep an eye on. I really want to hear what the LG's strategy is going to be (if any).


The LG Employee Shuffle

2/19 Non-Competitive Promotion for IHC <Squadboss> to GS-462-7

What follows is a discussion that is going on in R5 that probably will be pertinent in other regions and possibly for other PDs.

Your non-competitive promotion, due to the reclassification of your current position will be effective on March 15, 2009. Attached is a copy of your new P.D. Please print a copy and have your Supervisor sign and keep for your records.

This new P.D. is currently "pending" firefighter retirement. It can take up to 2 or 3 years to get approval from the Department for a new PD to be covered under Firefighter Retirement. While it seems highly likely that it will be approved, and NFC will be automatically taking the proper percentage for it, there is no guarantee and you need to make sure when it is approved, you get a copy of the PD where it clearly states it is a covered PD. If you look at the first page of the PD, at the bottom it currently states "pending" but after it is approved or denied, the fire fighter authority will be recorded in this block. It is really important to make sure you get a copy of this as there may be questions several years down the road when you want to retire, and having a hard copy with all the information will show you were in an covered PD.

Robin L. Irvine
Supervisory Human Resource Specialist

Thank you for getting the new P.D. information to us! I am unclear on what the "pending" firefighter retirement means. Does it mean that until it is approved or denied, <snip name> will continue to pay into his firefighter retirement as a GS-6, or does he not get retirement taken out until it is passed? Anyway, just not sure what the ramifications of "pending" is. Thanks for the time.

<Hotshot Captain>

<Hotshot Captain>,
Because this is a newly classified PD, it doesn't have a firefighter "match" that we can add to it, since the grade and duties are a major change, going from the GS-6 to the GS-7. NFC will go ahead and make retirement deductions at the GS-7 as if it was a covered PD, HOWEVER, if there is no match, then it will not be covered under FF Retirement and for the time employees are in this PD, it will not count towards their 20 years mandatory coverage under a FF Retirement PD.

I honestly can't imagine it won't be covered, but because it will take several years to get this accomplished, the employees that are in this new PD need to make sure they get a copy of the PD after it is matched with FF Retirement so they have it for their records, in case there is a question later down the road when they go to retire. Since HR is migrating next year, I'm not sure the employees will have anyone looking out for them and notifying them about the new PD. Employees are going to have to make sure they are covered and have the supporting PD to show for it. It is critical that all Fire Fighters under FF Retirement keep hard copies with Supervisor signatures on them for ALL their positions, because I've seen it more than once, when they go to retire, there is a question on a PD about coverage when they started out, way back when, and unless they have hard copies with signatures, they may not be able to count that time as being under a covered position.

Employees need to make sure they get a hard copy of the PD (probably need to check every so often with their Supervisor) because they will have moved on to another position before this gets matched.

I just wanted to give the employees a heads up on this issue because it may affect them later down the road.


Ab's bold.
After talking with a hotshot that converses with his union rep, this is what I understand.

The new job description (position description, PD) has not been cleared yet for FF retirement. Presumably it will be at some time within 2-3 yr. You need to have record of that, and it's good to keep records of all your positions and PDs, qualifications, etc. Money for FF retirement will not be taken out of your paycheck until your new PD is covered. (The payroll deduction for regular retirement is less than that for the FF retirement deduction.)

When the PD is cleared, people should be moved back into FF retirement; their paychecks should reflect the greater payroll deduction; they may have to "buy back" the time, ie, pay the difference between the regular retirement deduction and the greater FF deduction so as to get credit for that time toward retirement. Everyone, keep good records. Ab. (Hopefully I got this conversation right.)

2/19 Fire start stats:


A good source of information on fires statistics in California would be the GACCs north and south,
especially the prevention staff on the CalFire side. On the federal side, a good source is FAMWEB
(http://fam.nwcg.gov/fam-web/kcfast/mnmenu.php) for the federal fires.


2/19 retention:

Splitting hairs OFG. She is talking in general and since the Forest Service does have some
alternative pay measures that have been authorized by Congress that could of been put in
place by the Forest Service (maybe working with OPM as well), she is technically right.

Nice work Shrek. Who's following Shrek's lead? Post your letters to your Representatives
and the Representative replies in this forum.


2/19 Questions for class assignment: lightning or caused by humans? Fire start stats:

Hello Ab,

I have some questions regarding a school assignment and have been referred to this site by my Captain.

First, I stated in a class discussion that for the most part humans start and or are responsible for more fires than nature in most areas. I am aware that particular areas experience more dry lightning than others but due to my experience I believe that it would be safe to say that human caused fires happen frequently and more frequently than dry lightning fires, especially in some place such as Southern CA.

I live in Northern CA; June 21st 2008 we experienced wide spread dry lightning but after talking to my Captain he claims that such wide spread dry lightning is rather rare in this region. Also after reading the National Situation Report every day during fire season, I saw for the most part that fires are almost always somewhat related to Humans and or human technology. Also, I stated that if a known weather phenomenon such as dry lightning has not occurred in an area it would be safe to say that any fire break out would be associated with people.

Correct me if I'm wrong please. What I would like is to be able to show my class a graph or summary of incidents within CA that show the start date and possible cause of the fire. I have found the general public has little to no idea how many fires are started by people and or technology (ie, powerlines, cars, all kinds of things). If you would not mind pointing me in a direction where I can find reliable information it would be much appreciated.


Nick DeRose

Nick, perhaps someone reading here has those stats and a source at their fingertips. The lightning I experienced in norcal last June 21 and 22 wasn't dry. We had some rain, but it was short lived. The fires weren't.

Readers? Ab.

2/19 Fire Shelter Video & Publication Library DVD (Forest Service intranet)
By Tony Petrilli

Information about the New Generation Fire Shelter has been compiled on a DVD that includes four videos and eight publications showing:
        How the fire shelter was developed
        How the New Generation Fire Shelter performs compared to the old-style fire shelter
        How a fire shelter should be used and maintained

One of the videos and three of the publications are available in Spanish as well as English.
A standard DVD player will display a menu with the video selections. A computer must be used to view the publications.

The DVD can be ordered by sending an e-mail request for DVD number 0851–2D10 to MTDC at
wo_mtdc_pubs @ nospam fs (take out spaces and add the regular fs ending)

http://fsweb.mtdc.wo.fs.fed.us/pubs/htmlpubs/htm08512D10/ (Forest Service intranet)

If this link does not work, your computer may be outside the Forest Service firewall.  This pub is also available at the T&D Internet site:

(Username: t-d, Password: t-d)

Electronic copies of MTDC’s documents are available on the Internet at:
(Username: t-d, Password: t-d)

2/19 Re Chad Suppa:


So sorry to hear about the death of Chad Suppa. He was the Final Evaluator on
my HECM Taskbook. Worked with Chad in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina
and also after Hurricane Rita in LA. Great guy, loved life --never heard him say
anything bad about anyone --always had a smile.

My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends

See you Buddy


2/19 Fire Crew photos:

Hey Ab,

Got a new muni crew in the Tahoe Basin up and running. Tahoe Douglas Fire District’s
Zephyr Fire Crew. 26 man hand crew to support the fuels issue in the region 4-5 area.
Also working with NDF 402 helitack to combine efforts on I.A. Please post!


I put it on Logos 15 and the nice Zephyr crew silhouette on Handcrews 25 photo page. Ab.

2/19 From Shari Downhill:

Congressman Greg Walden: Put Oregonians back to work to reduce catastrophic wildfire

I posted it here:


2/19 Introduction of CA Assembly Bill 135


in light of the recommendations by Robert Nelson published in
Mercatus on Policy: Fire in the National Forest System: California Solutions for a California Problem


You can download the pdf version by clicking Download Document or the pdf icon mid-page left. Ab.

2/19 Rx in GA :: FF learning experience:

Hey Ab,

I just grazed over the new posts this AM and was very happy to find "Young and Still Learning's" post. I have got to tell you that I could not agree with Y&SL more. The Winter Practicum program that we cooperate with U of Montana on annually is one of our proudest accomplishments here in the GA program. With the help of this enthusiastic and skilled group of folks we accomplished about 25% of our targeted burning for the year in two weeks with the added benefit of providing a valuable educational experience to people who I am confident will make a difference in the wildland community for years to come. The whole thing started with a post on "They said", so a bunch of the credit for the programs success goes to the Abs. Thanks for all you do to help our community stay in touch and work together.

Keep one in the black.
Matt Snider
Georgia/Alabama Fire Manager
The Nature Conservancy

Good news. Ab.

2/19 Retention:


Feinstein wrote "In recent years, the Forest Service has let firefighter salaries lag far behind the salaries of State and local fire crews."
That statement indicates that either she is a fool, or is playing you for the fool. I believe the latter.
The senator knows full well that no agency sets the pay rate for GS employees. Typical politico blowing off a constituent. Maybe that's her standard response to ogres.


OFG, I understand your frustration, however at the very least she is referring to the part of the nation she knows and whose constituents and wildlands she represents, California. Ab.

2/19 re: fire dept. supplemental resources


Attached are the NWCG and FS memos/attachments that LIONA sent in, saved as a single PDF document (10 pages, 183kb.)

Here's the definition that is now required to be in local cooperative agreements,

“Supplemental Fire Department Resources - Overhead tied to a local fire department generally by agreement who are mobilized primarily for response to incidents/wildland fires outside of their district or mutual aid zone. They are not a permanent part of the local fire organization and are not required to attend scheduled training, meetings, etc. of the department staff.”

The Talking Points attachment on page 10 adds:

"Template language is not intended to affect agreements with regular and volunteer fire department employees."

This is an important distinction and hopefully will put an end to state agencies trying to impose the AD pay plan on volunteer firefighters taking interagency assignments.

vfd cap'n

2/19 Retention:

Nice work Mr. Shrek. That's what we're talking about Acting VP. We need more Mr Shrek's every week, every day, every hour doing exactly what he did. The more Mr Shrek's we have out doing good things like this, the more we end up helping the associations and organizations out there leading the way for us begin to turn those baby steps into toddler steps, into teenage steps, into RESULTS. We need you, you need us and we all need more Mr. Shreks.

Leona, this is going to be interesting to see how this works out. I can see the potential for these departments turning the so called "supplemental employees" into regular department employee. Just because they're retired Forest Service, doesn't mean they can't be classified as regular department employees and paid full PTP and a reasonable salary. The creators of these documents think they solved the problem and tamed the California cooperators and at the same time placed a dent into R-5 plans to obtain PTP for for R-5 employees. Two words - Good Luck!

I would like to hear from some of the personnel at those departments and see what your department is thinking about all this.


2/18 Virtual Incident Procurement System, VIPR :

Judith Dunnam, working at NIFC, called and asked if we would post the following information regarding the new website and process focusing on the Virtual Incident Procurement System (VIPR). This will have an impact on certain fire contractors this year and more in the future. A short version with links is on the Announcements & Notices area of the Classifieds Page. OA

Beginning with the 2009 fire season, the Virtual Incident Procurement (VIPR) System will be used by the Forest Service to acquire certain types of contracted equipment in support of incident management (wildland fire). VIPR is a web-based Forest Service application that solicits and awards preseason Incident Blanket Purchase agreements (I-BPAs), formerly Emergency Equipment Rental Agreements (EERAs). With I-BPAs in use, EERAs will now only be used for at-incident sign ups and are not a part of VIPR.

In future years, VIPR will automate other types of preseason procurements, such as aviation contracts, crew contracts, and mobile shower and food services. Future VIPR design will include an interface with other incident support systems, such as ROSS, I-Suite, and the Aviation Business System. Electronically sharing pertinent information through the different systems will enable the Forest Service to reduce errors and process transactions more efficiently.

Vendors interested in providing equipment to the Forest Service in support of wildland fire will find competitive solicitations on the FedBizOpps (FBO) Web site at https://www.fbo.gov . Vendors should expect to see solicitations posted to FBO beginning in February 2009. If you are a current vendor or are interested in becoming a vendor with the Forest Service, information on what you need to do is posted at www.fs.fed.us/business/incident/vendors.php .

For more information on the VIPR System, please visit the Forest Service Incident Procurement Web site:

2/18 Victoria, Australia:

Sitrep #024 - Vic Bushfires - 190209 (88 K doc file)

from OB

2/18 From Firescribe:

Hazard Tree Kills Australian Firefighter ----


"It appears the firefighter was attempting to connect a hose to the back of an ACT strike team tanker when a large tree came down on top of him," a police spokeswoman said.

In a separate incident yesterday, a NSW firefighter was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital after he was struck by a falling tree limb at Healesville.

A DSE spokesman said the firefighter was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.

A hospital spokesman confirmed he was last night in a stable condition."

2/18 Fire retirement an enterprise teams:

With the potential for extended details and enterprise teams, does anyone know how these work with fire retirement?

Can you take a temporary assignment in a non-primary / secondary fire position without changing your retirement status, or are these just like any other non-fire position and you lose your status?

If the agencies are actually serious about improving their fire programs, it seems like there could be some good opportunities coming up. I’m wondering if the retirement coverage could limit who applies for the positions or if retirement status falls back on their “day” job.


Just wondering

2/18 It's a good time to review Hazard Tree Safety
2/18 Re Cooperative Fire Agreements - Supplemental Fire Department Resources:

Ab, I know it's a lot of work, but you might just want to print these attachments out to post

> FYI - Haven't seen anything come down on the Interior side.

> Just in case any of you might be interested. Here is what is happening with
> the people that are getting signed up with local fire departments. They
> are now called supplemental fire department resources.

Since most fire depts have agreements with the State Forestry agencies (who in turn have agreements with the US Forest Service), this direction by the USFS would apply to most of those fire depts.

If some fire depts have agreements directly with the DOI, or with a State Forestry agency that has an agreement with a DOI agency, direction may be coming from the DOI side regarding the NWCG memorandum. Maybe not, who knows....

fed/coop-fire-FS_correspondence-8.doc (54K doc file)
SupplementalFireDeptResources.doc (48K doc file)
SupplementalAOP.doc (36K doc file)
ClassificationLevelMatrix.doc (107K doc file)
TalkingPoints.doc (27K doc file)
NWCG-004-09MemoAgree-wLocalFireDepts020609.pdf (46K pdf file)


2/18 Smoke and other topics:


You brought back long ago memories of sleeping in the briefing tent because I had worked until 0300 helping put together shift plans and there was no way I could miss the briefing as FBAN at 0600(I was up first).

Somehow I want to be on the other side of this discussion, that we all just need to be as tough as we all were through so many years, but....

I know from personal experience how fatigue, smoke, (1987 NorCal comes to mind), stress, and (oh yeah I was ordered here as ATGS and now you want me to do FBAN) lack of camping equipment can sure make you an unhappy and probably unsafe camper.

The bottom line here is that we will be abused by the fed folks as long as we don't stand up for ourselves.


2/18 Re GovTrip:


Got this via e-mail today.

Here's a short update on the status of GovTrip, please forward to your

GovTrip remains unavailable to all agencies (12+ use GovTrip), including
the Department of the Interior

Northrup Grumman is making the necessary fixes to GovTrip and expects to
have GSA certify the system is OK by the end of this week.
Early next week, ITM will be issuing a security patch for the various
versions of Internet Explorer (the approved browser for accessing

It's expected GovTrip access will resume on Wednesday, February 25, 2009

All travel vouchers will have to wait until GovTrip is available


2/18 Reply from Dianne Feinstein re firefighter retention issues:

Hey there, I already changed the name (to Mr. Shrek) to protect the innocent. I sent a letter to her right after we heard about the awards and just got a reply.

Dear Mr. Shrek:

Thank you for writing to express your concern about the high turnover rate of Forest Service firefighters in California and your opposition to U.S. Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell and Region 5 Forester Randy Moore receiving 2008 Presidential Rank Awards. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.

In recent years, the Forest Service has let firefighter salaries lag far behind the salaries of State and local fire crews. This has led to a situation where California National Forests have a shortage of between 200 and 400 firefighters at a given time. The lack of staff jeopardizes the Agency's firefighting mission, reduces the number of first responders, damages morale, and puts the lives and property of Californians at risk.

The 2008 Supplemental Appropriations bill, which was signed into law on June 30, 2008, provided the Forest Service with $25 million to implement a comprehensive retention plan. A 10 percent bonus for firefighters has been authorized on top of annual 2008 salary, and California Forest Service leadership is working with National leadership to do more. Several promising options being discussed include raises and a modification of pay structure called "ordered standby," which will allow firefighters to be paid for all 24 hours spent on long-term fires.

Please know that I share your concerns and will keep your thoughts in mind as I continue working to address the retention issues facing the U.S. Forest Service. In the coming year I hope to work with the new Administration to create a budget that reflects the needs of the Forest Service and will allow for an adequately funded firefighting program.

Again, thank you for writing. If you have additional questions or comments, please contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

2/18 Re: Union perspective on stimulus package



Union perspective on stimulus package

Local Members & Friends,
attached is information related to stimulus and the Forest Service........


Local Officials,

Relevant portions of HR 1 are attached. In addition, see trailing info for some guidance and a second attachment with Conference Report language that give Congressional intent. For those who've been following the debate on this bill, in which the temporary nature of the spending was emphasized, the following Conference Report quote should come as no surprise:

In staffing up to handle the increased, but temporary, workloads associated with funding provided in the bill, it is important that the agencies limit the permanent expansion of their workforces and utilize temporary, term or contract personnel as much as possible.

At the national level, the Council is encouraging the use of details and sunset positions to meet this temporary need. For example, this effort will require a large but temporary increase in contacting capacity. Our brothers and sisters in contracting tell us that the best resource is FS employees who are familiar with our mission and how we do business and therefore can with minimal training get up to speed. Further, in the case of contracting personnel it avoids the potential problem of running afoul of the A-76 to perform inherently governmental activities with government personnel.

Detail and sunset position opportunities should be explored for other jobs as well. For example, a number of current FS employees have acted as CORs in the past, and they would be good candidates to meet this increased need. For these and other jobs, the creative use of sunset positions can be a win-win for the agency and its employees. For employees near retirement, this will provide an opportunity to build up their high 3's. For the agency, it allows the back-filling of the vacated permanent positions without creating a long-term increase in permanent staffing. This would be consistent with "limiting the permanent expansion of the workforce" (one of the constraints of the stimulus) and would be a positive for succession planning.

Agency leadership is open to these approaches. However, as we all know the dissemination of information to the field is a difficult and problematic process. We encourage our Local officials to enter into discussions with their local managment counterparts on the best way -- for the agencies and for employees -- to get the stimulus into gear.

You can share your thoughts -- and your success stories -- by sending an email to nffe @ nospam fs.fed.us.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Council

Congr_111_HR_1_FS_Excerpts.doc and

2/18 Abs, thanks for all that you all do. They Said and the Hotlist have become
invaluable to me even though I'm not an R5-er.

Thanks to They Said I've made a lot of connections that have benefited me
personally, and even benefited the fire program at the University of Montana,
where I went to school.

Thanks to They Said I was able to make a contact for the school with the
Nature Conservancy in GA that led to the University starting up a hands-on
prescribed fire practicum during winter break. This is a huge step in the right
direction for helping college kids gain exposure to different ways of managing
fire that they wouldn't normally get to see in the northern Rockies in January.

Thanks again for everything Abs!

Young and Still Learning

We can "feel the love" haw haw. It's really great to hear tangible ways that the website is doing for you what we originally envisioned it doing for wildland firefighters. A "voice for the groundpounder" and firefighter networking have long been the mission of theysaid; current fire info sharing is the intent of the Hotlist IA and EA subforums. We are constantly working on the dream with the goal of improving delivery as the technology and communication options change. The fire community informs us as we inform you. Thanks for that. Ab.

2/18 Aussie LODD:
David Balfour, 47 yr old ACT firefighter from Canberra


These CAFS tankers (water tenders) were brought in to service after the fires that hit Canberra in 2003. The concept was that these tankers would coat the interface area with foam in an effort to reduce the impact of fire. There are some photos of the ACTFB units in Vic on the OzFire site (www.ozfire.org - need to sign up).


2/18 AQM support for the recovery/stimulus package:


The attached document was in my e-mail this morning. It outlines AQM
(Acquisition Management Team) support for the recovery/stimulus package.
I hope that this is not all that we (the Forest Service) are planning to do.

Does anyone out there have any ideas on where and how to submit project
ideas? I am not trying to go around my chain of command, but If I can figure
out a format that is acceptable and makes it easy for them (my bosses), we
might get something done.


AQM document

2/18 Re PFT:

I've been laid off since December 6 and thought it was the worst thing that could've happened. But, as I've had a chance to sit back and really think about things, I've come to the conclusion that it really hasn't been that bad. The major reason I say this is because of my kids/family life. I have spent every day with them since my lay-off. I get to take my oldest son to school and pick him up after. I get to take the responsibilities from my wife that she has to do all summer while I am away. So, that being said, for people to judge folks who don't want to consider the PFT move, just remember, work isn't everything.

Quick Connect

2/18 Re: Hotels

During the 2004, 2005, and 2006 fire seasons, a federal Southern California Type 2 Incident Management Team provided hotel rooms for all incident personnel assigned to three separate fires: 1) Verbenia (2004), 2) Blaisdell (2005), and Millard (2006).

The request for hotels was made by the Incident Commander and approved by the local Line Officer. In the request and approval process, a cost/benefit analysis was done, as well as a risk management evaluation.

In terms of cost/benefit, the costs of providing hotels and feeding locally (or using an MKU) far outweighed the costs of setting up a full service base camp.

In terms of risk management, the use of hotels provided quality rest and the ability to get away from the heat, wind, smoke, and dust.

A written cost comparison between the two alternatives was prepared by the Finance Section and the Buying Teams assigned, and is stored with the incident records.

This is a process very similar to what is used in Regions 8 (Southern Region) and Region 9 (Northeastern Region) on their fires.

2/17 Photo of Big Hill Helitack, on the LPF. Compliments of Reg5HotShot.

I posted it on the Helicopters 26 photo page. Ab.

2/17 Hey Ab.

I'm sad to report Chad Suppa, Foreman for Unaweep FUM died of injuries sustained
during a base jumping accident near Phoenix. No word on memorial services.

More info to follow.

www.azfamily.com/. . .-21509-parachutist-accident-sag.1c353030.phpl


Please do let us know about services. Ab.

2/17 Ab, I just wanted to let folks know that a fellow fire fighter has passed away.

Chad Suppa, the Module Leader of Unaweep Fire Use Module passed away Sunday in an apparent base jumping accident. I don't know details for funeral arrangements as of yet, but will pass the word on as it develops. Chad has been a longtime firefighter and advocate of Fire Use and Prescribed Fire. He had a long stint with Buffalo River Fire Use Module before taking the job with Unaweep in Grand Junction, Co.

Please keep Chad and his family and friends in your thoughts.


Our thoughts and prayers for family and friends. Ab.

2/17 Obama signed the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. There's a new Forest Service website that deals with how the FS will support that.

This was posted yesterday under the Familysaid subforum which is private and visible to Hotlist Members only. I moved it to Discussion so all can see: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=7710


2/17 Aussie fires:

From Kanga and Roo:

Sad news. LODD

Australia wildfire death toll reaches 200

Melbourne, Feb 17: A judge launched an inquiry into the deadly Australian wildfires on Tuesday as authorities announced they would find ways to make the region safer before the next season of inevitable blazes.

Police raised the death toll to 200 from the Feb. 7 fires that raged across southern Victoria state, saying it would climb further as more bodies were recovered from the devastation.

A firefighter, meanwhile, was crushed by a falling branch — the first death in the fire zone since the disaster.

More, click the link www.zeenews.com/world/2009-02-18/508420news.phpl

Condolences. Ab.

2/17 Good day Ab and All....

Many of you may not be familiar with the Joint Fire Science Program.
We are an interagency research and development group at the National
Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

Since 1998, we have sponsored over 450 research projects throughout the
United States. Each month we mail an alert with the latest offerings from
our research in easy to read publications such as Fire Science Digest and
Fire Science Brief.

We also have a section with the latest websites and journal articles under
Science You Can Use.

We are on the web at: www.firescience.gov

All the Best!

Tim Swedberg
Communication Director
Joint Fire Science Program

Readers, click the link. Visit the site and see what's featured this month in the Fire Science Briefs and Fire You Can Use. Good stuff. Ab.

2/17 Will the person that sent in the Big Hill Helitac Photo LP2002 Modoc IHC SoCal Campaign please resend it?

I only saw the fleeting tailend of the email subject line as in my fuzzy pre-coffee haze I deleted it from the spam filter this morning.



2/17 Everyone who responded to Hotels question:

Hotels are not the point. The issue that was raised with this thread was supposed to be about where effective cost saving measures could be made to save taxpayer dollars.

I don't give a fig who gets hotels or doesn't - I certainly understand the very good reasons for resting crews properly between shifts. So maybe the savings can't be found by investigating hotel RON policy, fine.

The point is: are there unnecessary costs being incurred in our fire services that could be rectified in this time of record budget deficits? What Cal Fire fought for and what Forest Service fought for is non critical to the discussion. These things are all being paid by the taxpayer. How can our agencies, and we firefighters individually, help in this regard?

The point isn't who gets what. The point is what can we do to fix the problem?

I'm truly worried about the way the economy is going and what it means for our pretty darn good way of life here. Thanks for hearing me out folks.

2/17 Been reading some post's on smoke and how it effects your health. For me, after spending 15 years with the USFS and now with CAL FIRE for the past 2 years, I have been diagnosed with Asthma. I have never had asthma before, until 3 years ago. My doctor has told me it is a result from long hours in hazardous smoke.

I am glad to be out of the elements for 24hrs when I am on a fire now. It's nice getting out of the smoke and being in a room wear I can sleep without hearing the generator's from the contractors all night long.


Glad to hear you are doing much better. Don't get to excited when the Lakers take it to the Kings. Take care and I am still praying for you....

New2 blu
2/17 Dear Me Shall Never Forget April 1, 2008,

You said,

"...I/we need not wait for NFFE and FWFSA and I have no illusions or any thoughts of setting back and waiting for anyone, including another update from Mr. Email. We collectively should not allow them to go one week without addressing another inquiry from the media or a staffer."

Were you inferring that the FWFSA or NFFE are not communicating on a timely basis with the media and Congressional staffers? If that is what you believe, you are either mistaken, or you need to contact an FWFSA Board of Directors member or Casey Judd directly for clarification of what is being done on both the local and national levels.

The FWFSA and NFFE are partners in trying to resolve numerous federal wildland firefighter issues. This is a unique partnering of organizations (one a labor organization, the other an employee association) and has been a success when addressing similar goals and issues.

FWFSA members span the ranks from GS-2 entry level firefighters to GS-14 positions in senior fire management leadership positions. We also have members from other allied professions (both current and retired) that span the spectrum of both the technical and professional experience needed to manage a wildland fire program and address latent issues.

While it may seem too slow, or not soon enough for some people..... folks are listening and watching at all levels as issues are addressed. Well meaning but pointed words from the outside or inside can destroy positive communications out of sheer frustration. We do not want that to happen.

I fully understand frustration, and am known for sometimes using pointed words out of context or not knowing the game plan. I've been an FWFSA Director for over ten years, and understand that change sometimes comes slowly.

Sometimes, like Casey said in the past, even a baby step forward is progress. To even have the FWFSA involved in the local, regional, or national dialogue of wildland firefighter issues is a true testament to the work of our membership and sticking to the facts of the issues.

Keep safe and those around you safer.

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

Ken, I believe that "Mr Email" referred to the fed govt "powers that be" in R5, not FWFSA or NFFE. Ab.

2/16 Casey, I absolutely agree that we should not care about what others get. That's why I requested all to please cool it. CALFIRE is a great cooperator.

I also strongly concur with your statement:
In essence, as Feds, our "negotiation table" consists of you.

That is why I stated: It sure is quiet out there in fed fire land. What a difference a year makes.

Last year, about this time, we took matters in our own hands and after thousands of emails and hundreds of phone calls, we got results. 25 million of them and counting...... Even though I am a member of both, I/we need not wait for NFFE and FWFSA and I have no illusions or any thoughts of setting back and waiting for anyone, including another update from Mr. Email. We collectively should not allow them to go one week without addressing another inquiry from the media or a staffer. We see what happens when they get idle time, they spend it on junkets to resorts in San Luis Obispo. What was the term? Kegger party?

Oh great, I get the dubious honor if getting the first reply from Casey. You're suppose to be relaxing my friend and not sending emails to knuckleheads like me.


Me Shall Never Forget April 1, 2008

I presume "Mr. Email" refers to Regional Forester Moore/Pena/Ed in the context of your last posts. Ab.

2/16 OK-I apologize to whomever I might have offended by resorting to grammar school name calling, ie., "Rookie."

My point if I may persist, is that when we guarantee a safe working environment by following the 10/18 and LCES we are lending enormous support to those lawyers who get us to court and use our own words against us. We cannot guarantee a safe working environment. There is no safe working environment unless the Boy in the Bubble is working somehow.

We can say that it is our goal to provide a safe environment. And that we work very hard at doing so.

It did rankle me when I saw a message stating that our fire camps are smoke free. They are by nature, at least in the northern mountains of R-5, smoky, when the inversion layer sets in. In my opinion, sucking smoke for 2 or more weeks on assignment is dangerous. Maybe I just ate too much smoke when I was younger and so am more susceptible to its effects. I don't know, but I did go to my Doctor and had lung tests which showed I'm OK.

Solutions: I understand that AC tents/trailers have been used. I know that fire camps can and should be moved to avoid the areas of intense smoke. We could have rented rooms in motels so that our folks could rotate into them to escape the smoke at least for a night. I know this has been done for sick or injured employees.

We have a lot of people much smarter than me. I think this can be resolved by some creative thinking.

Once again, Sorry I misspoke...


2/16 Victoria, Australia:

Victoria Situation Report & Description of NSW RFS injured firefighters (413 K pdf file)

from OB

NSW RFS = New South Wales Rural Fire Service
CFA = Country Fire Authority of Victoria, Australia

2/16 Dear "Never Forget"

I share your sentiment over the Cal-Fire hotel issue. I don't think it so much the fact that Feds are upset over not being in hotels, rather they are frustrated over the fact that their very own employers, the land management agencies, seem willing to pay for hotels and other goodies for everyone else but their own employees.

It is also a fact that like cooperators across the West, Cal-Fire rank & file employees have the right under the law to negotiate such things. Feds don't. Such changes for Feds must be made through the change of law. That is truly the inequity and in fact might be the next big battle.

This should remind those Feds that think the FWFSA and NFFE can simply waltz into Washington DC and say "give us PTP, make the Agencies do this or that," and sprinkle a little pixy dust over everything and make things change, that it isn't that easy.

In essence, as Feds, our "negotiation table" consists of you, the employee on one side; employers who either don't really give a dam* or are simply ignorant in how a fire program should be managed on the other side, and a huge delegation of judges/mediators which include 100 Senators and 435 Members of the House who need to be educated so they can, in fact, change the law.

I firmly believe that over the last two years at the so-called "table" we've tipped the balance in our favor. There is still a lot to be done but the voice and information from our firefighters is what is tipping that table and what will ultimately result in those law changes.

I think the focus of energy should be making the necessary changes, not worrying about what others get etc.

2/16 Lets please hold up on the CALFIRE hotel thing. They bargained for it, they gave up something for it..... already, and they deserve it. Period! Asking CALFIRE to give up hotel rooms, is like asking R-5 Feds to give up on the PTP progress and give up on the 20% special pay increase research that is in progress.

In my 23 years of fire management, some of the best assignments have been when assigned to CALFIRE fires/fire camps. Good people, good assignments and good food which is a change from the fed contractor meals that are awarded to the lowest bidder who are excellent at making the worst food imaginable and at times using suspect labor practices disguised as christian organizations. Disgusting! Go to a fed fire camp and you can have some boiled ribs with sauce slopped on. Go to a CALFIRE camps and you see BBQs in back with people flipping chickens, ribs and steaks. CALFIRE C&G always listened to alternative ideas both for operations and non-operation work practices. CALFIRE teams usually supported our shift lengths and were very liberal when signing times. I can't think of a better cooperator.

It sure is quiet out there in fed fire land. What a difference a year makes. Just kicking it and awaiting my next Pena/Moore update to tell me what is still being researched. We better not put any pressure on this stagnant situation because we might just end up with another 25 million, doh..shhhhhhhhhhhh.


Me Shall Never Forget April 1, 2008
2/16 On some R5 Type II IA crews the captain is a GS-7. And for some reason they won't upgrade them to GS-8's. So before they can upgrade the squaddies the Region needs to upgrade the captains first then the squaddies will be able to bounce up to the GS-7 grade. and this is happening on the Type II IA crews that haven't tried to get Hotshot status. It's set up like this on the Fire Use crews and the suppression crews. But the captains and the squaddies are doing hte same job as those on Hotshot crews. We all do the same job and have the same responsibilities.

2/16 PFT:

If an 18/8 is offered a PFT position and turns it down, wouldn't this disqualify them from unemployment?
(even though I have opted for layoff every year I have had the 'choice', this seems different to me)

Welp, it was fun while it lasted!
2/16 re: AD rates for VFDs on interagency dispatch

On 2/11, End the Gravy Train wrote: "Forcing AD rates on you? How much do your volunteers get paid to fight fire on their own district?"

Yes, I certainly understand the logic.  Because volunteer firefighters don't take a paycheck for the service we provide our community, we have no right to feel insulted by the ill-conceived AD pay plan that makes no allowance for cost of living differences in the lower 48 states.  And, we must surely be used to riding the gravy train to even mention that we might earn overtime during a 14-day assignment.

I hadn't heard the term "short bus" before reading Theysaid over the weekend, but I guess in the eyes of some, that's where volunteer firefighters belong.

vfd cap'n
2/16 Left Hook,

Okay smoke settling under an inversion in Happy Camp, never bothered me very much but I grant you the point. Ab also indicates that there may be adverse consequences to our health as a result. Okay I can get down with both those points.

What would be the solution? Should firefighters in camp at Happy Camp be sent to Yreka to stay in Hotels while the inversion is in place, all of them? Should we abandon the fire altogether? If you suggest that Forest Service personnel are being treated poorly what is your reasonable suggestion to fix the problem, one that keeps that taxpayer in mind as well as the health and safety of the firefighter.

You call me rookie. Okay, no problem. After many years I've learned enough to know that I need to learn more. What can we do to address the facts of increasing fire intensity and size coupled with decreasing budgets and retention? Teach this rookie something.

2/15 Chile: multi LODD on a wildfire

This in tonight's news, if you haven't seen it:

SANTIAGO, Chile — Chilean officials say a helicopter carrying firefighters from a forest fire has crashed in southern Chile killing 14 people on board.

Maule province Gov. Maria del Carmen Perez says the helicopter crashed into a hill near Chanco, some 165 miles south of Santiago on Sunday.

The head of the National Forest Service, Dante Bravo, says the helicopter had just retrieved the firefighters from a day's work battling a blaze.

The fire was still being controlled at the time of their crash.

Bravo says the victims were young men between the ages of 18 and 25 who worked for Celulosa Arauco y Constitucion, a Chilean timber and pulp company known as CELCO.


fair use disclaimer

Condolences. Ab.

2/15 More photos from OB and Dave from the Australia Wildfires:


If you haven't watched the 4min30sec I Report on CNN (2/12), it shows how fast and over what a broad fire front these fires are moving...


From the same page, comments: I am Jims' sister. I would just like to say in his defense he did not know this fire was coming. Like so many people it just completely took him by surprise. There was no time to even consider leaving his property. He would have most certainly died trying to flee. He knew his chances of survival would be greater staying and going into his bunker. The film you see is now for us all to learn by what has happened and to prepare for future fires. We pray for those who have gone.

Jim's 3min interview, St Andrews, Victoria on 2/12:


2/15 Re Smoke:


Who do these people think they are kidding??? Smoke? In fire camp? I would guess that they have never been to R-5, North Zone. In many of these places where fire camps are placed -- like Hoopa, Happy Camp, Hay Fork, Forks of the Salmon -- the inversion sets in about the second day of the fire. If you don't know what inversion means: there is no air movement. May I repeat that? No air movement. No wind, no breeze, you dig? After that the smoke sets in and doesn't leave!!!!!

Some dude said that fire camps (ICP) would not be be set up in those conditions. Rookie. Or if there was a problem the camp would be moved post haste. Wake up.

On the Big Bar/Megram I spent two weeks in Hoopa under a constant smoke cloud. At night I was in my pop up tent. We couldn't see across the camp. It was the worst fire camp I have ever been in. I had a cough for two months. The CDF pulled their people out of that camp because they didn't want to have workers compensation cases from the smoke inhalation that we experienced there.

The CDFers treat their people a bit better than the FS does theirs. Don't you think?

I'm out...Left Hook

We each have experience with our own region. R5ers know the "inversion from h*ll" that can last all summer if the fires do. Here are a typical few photos from the Iron Complex '08:

Cedar and Hells Half Fires '08:

Bar Complex '06:

Big Bar in '99, same area:
Morning after spike out:

2/15 Hi Ab,

Here's a start to posting some interesting incidents from past fire assignments.

One of the best fire assignments I've had, was back in 2004 (?) on the Solstice Complex in Fort Yukon, Alaska. (This is a BLM station with a Dining Hall - the IMT 2, IA firefighters, smokejumpers, helicopters, support personnel, etc , were set up there for the fires.) We were lucky enough to have local Native women cooking in the mess hall so had some great food! Anyway, one of the ladies' husbands had caught a mess of salmon in his fish wheel and was kind enough to donate them for a salmon feast for all the firefighters. One of the elders - who was a former Chief - came to the dining hall to cut up the salmon in preparation for the upcoming salmon dinner. He began to tell us some of the traditional Gwich'in stories that had been handed down for many years and he was so interesting to listen to, everyone just sat around the tables watching him as he worked and listened intently to his stories.

The ladies cooked up a fantastic salmon feast with a few local Native dishes, too. As is the tradition in Alaska, they had help from the Smokejumpers with the preparation and cooking of the dinner. It turned out to be one of the best dinners I've ever had - especially while on a fire assignment!

2/15 Well I guess the letter below answers the GS7 question for non-IHCs squaddies. Amazing.

Type II IA Squaddies. The primary reason for the GS7 as stated in the Harbour letter is because of split modules required to work independently. Type II IA Squaddies don't do that? If I were a Type II IA Squaddie I would compare both PDs thoroughly. Request a desk audit as this is your right as a bargaining unit employee. The agency has time lines to complete this audit. Confirm to the classifier that you performed those tasks just like an IHC Squaddie. Your supervisor can confirm the assignment of work you're asked to perform to the Classifier. A Classifier will look at common duties, not if your crew is an IHC or Tye II IA. I would think you have a chance.

On a positive note, below is everything you need to know to get a new job before fire season. Note the advisory on the back fill process and the importance of applying for any job you're interested in, even if it's currently filled. Let's hope for a few things:
  1. That Line Officers share this with all employees.
  2. The announcement numbers match actual announcement numbers in AVUE and
  3. Let's hope AVUE fixes the duty location issue.



File Code: 6130/5100
Date: February 13, 2009
Route To: (6130)
Subject: 2009 Spring Fire Hiring - GS-06 through GS-09
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors

To provide additional firefighting production capability, we are preparing a Spring fire hire for all current vacant GS-0462-06 through GS-0462-09. The purpose of this letter is to provide dates and actions required to make this a successful event.

It is critical this information be shared with your managers, supervisors, and employees. Current vacant positions and positions vacated during the Spring April selection period will be filled from Fire open-and-continuous announcements GS-06 through GS-09. Applicants need to make sure that when they accept a position, they know immediate backfills will be made behind them, and declining at a later date may not be an option. Specific announcements are listed in Enclosure 1. The timeline is as follows:

March 9:             Last day applicants may apply to OCRs. We encourage applicants 
                     to apply early and to not wait until the last day to avoid 
                     incomplete applications or errors that could occur. Applicants 
                     must also apply or re-certify current profiles within 60 days 
                     before this deadline, or AVUE will not refer them on a referral 
March 10:            Referral lists will be generated from HR.
March 11 - 30:       HR will work on applicant qualifications, veterans, and 
                     printing applications for Fire SMEs.
March 30 & April 10: Fire SMEs reviewing applications, making supervisor reference 
April 13:            Selections made, offers made, and actions processed by HR.
May 10:              Soonest effective date can be set, longer for TOS or 
                     drug-tested positions.
Each Forest will be asked to have individuals available to assist as subject-matter specialists during the March and April timeframes. In addition, each Forest with vacancies will be expected to have at least one recommending official available at McClellan during the weeks of April 13 through April 24, 2009. Forests will be contacted to provide the names of individuals assisting in this process.

I request each of you work with your managers/supervisors, Civil Rights Officers, and recruiters to ensure we document and complete outreach and recruitment for all Fire announcements. It is critical that you inform employees who are interested in Fire positions to apply for positions GS-06 through GS-09 by the March 9, 2009, deadline. In accordance with our backfill procedures, interested employees should apply to all positions and locations of interest to them, even if the position is currently filled. If a Region 5 Forest Service employee accepts a new position during the Fire Hire event, our backfill procedures will then hire a new person to fill the position being vacated.

Hotshot positions will be filled using a new OCR announcement, and can only be used to fill Hotshot positions (certified as a Type I Hotshot crew). All others (Type II and all others) should use the Handcrew GS-06 OCR to fill those vacant squad-boss positions.

Again, your assistance in ensuring that supervisors and employees are fully aware of these timelines is appreciated.

Questions for Fire management officials should be directed to Gary Biehl, Assistant Director, Strategic Planning, at gbiehl  @ fs or at (209) 532-3671, extension 315. Questions for Human Resources officials should be directed to Robin Irvine at rlirvine @ fs or at (530) 841-4481.

/s/ Angela V. Coleman (for)
Regional Forester
2/15 Hi Ab,

With all the worries about the economy and in light of a lot of sad/negative postings lately,
why don't we take a needed break and do something different and more upbeat?

How about everyone posting some of their favorite experiences on fires? Maybe post what
made you decided to get into fire in the first place - a family tradition, etc? Funny stories
about things that happened during fire assignments?


Nice idea. You got one? Ab.

2/15 OK, I get the "short bus" meaning, and for those of you out there that are laughing as
hard as you did when I didn't know who Vanna White was (thought she was on the
RLT or something in FS context), have your laughs while you may... <snicker> No doubt
the holes in my education exist! It's funny to get your emails. I should have googled it.
I think the only one I haven't heard from is Pulaski!


2/15 "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009"
Links and details posted on the Hotlist.

Thanks GA Peach. Ab.

2/15 Cal Fire and hotels....again

Overtaxed already,

As a California resident myself, I too am very frustrated with the state's budget issues. Unfortunately it's going to take a long time and some creative ways to fix these problems that are much bigger than any of us. But whether or not Cal Fire stays in a hotel is not the problem nor the solution.

The money for Cal Fire incident related expenditures comes from the Emergency Fund. The E Fund is a pot of money that the Governor sets aside annually for wildland fires. It's a different pot of money than the General Fund.

You stated that you have been in fire camps with showers, meals, etc. "and all cal fire folks bug out early to drive to hotels." I'm not sure how anyone can "bug out early". I have been a strike team leader for several years and have been to several fire camps state and federal and never "bugged out." We work our assigned shift, take care of business in camp including eating, and then go to where ever we are assigned to take our shift off. Most of the time it's a motel sometimes it's not. Depends on how long we've been out, availability of accommodations, drive time etc.

Your statement about having "to have twice as many firefighters and hotels to meet the work rest guidelines per 24 hour shift." doesn't make any sense. Regardless of what agency is working what shift, 12 or 24, the number of personnel doesn't change. The folks that are in hotels or tents today are tomorrow's shift.

Work rest guidelines vary from agency to agency. For instance, Cal Fire uses as a guide a 3 to 1 work rest ratio. So, on a 24 hour shift 18 hours of work and 6 hours of rest. In 27 years I have very seldom seen the 6 hours of rest on a 24 hour shift.

I have also been on a few Cal Fire incidents where hotels were not available or too long of a drive away. I heard very few complaints and saw lots of tents. I've also seen where "bunkhouse" type of trailers or large tents with coolers or heaters were brought in for sleeping. Interestingly, when compared to the cost of tents, motels were always cheaper.

I don't think anyone can argue the importance and benefit of getting off of the line, out of the smoke, into a quiet, climate controlled, dark place to rest. Fewer injuries, fewer exposure illnesses, higher production are all realized with quality rest.

Thanks Ab for your input and support. I saw a similar smoke study on TV a few months ago. No need for me to expound.

Lastly, no one should sacrifice personal hygiene for anyone or anything.

High Lonesome

2/15 Smoky camps:


No big deal, but I can't stop myself from replying directly to your note on Overtaxed Already's post.

Smoky Fire camp? In 11 years doing this job I've never once stayed in a smoky fire camp. True enough some camps are more comfortable than others but I've never stayed in a camp that was dangerous to my health (unless you include the food at some ODF fires, lol). I'm certain, though I have no evidence, that the risk to firefighters comes from their time on the fire line not in camp. If a camp is poorly sited or the conditions of the fire change then that camp should , and undoubtedly, would be moved by the ICT in the interest of firefighter safety. In a fire in Nevada many years ago a camp was located in an old strip mine. When the ICT discovered that the entire camp was contaminated with cyanide they moved the camp. Simple.

Certainly Ab you don't mean to suggest that you are willing to chip in your tax dollars to help a percentage of firefighter get away from the smoke. What about the rest of us poor slobs? :)

Overtaxed Already brings up a critical point. It is at times like these that Americans across all spectrums and all occupations could help find cost saving measures that may help the general good. It is so hard for a private citizen to find anything they could do to help, thi targets may be a good suggestion; maybe just a voluntary thing?

I want to express that, like Overtaxed Already, I mean no disrtarget="_blank" target="_blank" espect to Cal Fire or any other agency that may have a RON policy that includes hotels. We all do an incredibly arduous job and when budgets are flush hotels are absolutely necessary to keep up the strength and morale of the crews who fight long campaign fires.

But budgets aren't flush - where can we save some money?


2/14 PFT positions:

Hutch and others:

I hate to see when people say that they do not want a PFT position, especially when it is going to be offered to you. That is a GREAT opportunity and probably the best thing you can ask for.

Think about it. As a 13/13 or 18/8, yeah you get your time off. But when it comes down to it, you are not gaining anything in the long run. You are not paying into retirement, you are not paying into TSP, your health benefits are not being paid, and you are not getting that time in grade you may so desperately need.

I am not trying to bash you all. I just have a different way of working. I get a paid vacation using my accrued annual leave, I accrue credit hours and get extra days off, and I am having my family at the same time. Yeah I live in R1 and no longer R5, but that was part of what I wanted I guess.

Hutch, I hope you take the opportunity to be a PFT and use it to your advantage. If you choose differently, so be it


2/14 PFT positions and foot in mouth:


I understand. I've done the foot in mouth thing a few times as well. BIG lips... foot in mouth always gives me BIG lips. Want a heart card?


Thanks for the education. Good luck with your decisions. Our family has always been willing to move to take advantage of the next opportunity. We've taken turns. It's been nice to know that NorCal is home and we'd eventually be back, but it has been fun to live in various parts the US and several parts of the world. We rented out our home for years on end and drove or flew back and forth across the country as needed. During one 18 month period of my career, I drove 600 mi round trip every other weekend to get home to the rest of the family. It had a rhythm. Knowing home was in the Trinities provided stability for "the adventures" away. It does take a certain mindset and attitude to do that; some military families feel the same adventure. It might have been more difficult to move in my career if I'd been sleeping on the ground and breathing smoke out of necessity for months on end during fire season. Now at the end of a season, I need some down time, time to recharge and hang out with my family.

Finances are another issue. For our children to have more opportunity than all of us do, they need college, which means parents need jobs in which they can save. Also, home ownership builds wealth; renting does not. How you make ends meet and save for the essentials while moving around or living apart is always a challenge. How you insure good school experiences for the kids is another factor.

Not an easy issue, but where there's a will there's a way.

Good luck,


2/14 Apprentice conversion and PFT:


I have been an Apprentice for 3 years. I for one am not looking forward to being PFT after conversion. Three years ago I was told THE ONLY way to move up past a GS - 5 was to join the apprenticeship. So, I filled out an app and got offered a job. I accepted a job 3 hours away from my home. At that time and right now I can handle being away from my family for the fire season, 7 months is a long time, but knowing I have all winter to make up those nights I missed sleeping in the barracks without my family.

Yes, it was my choice to accept a job 3 hours from home. The only reason I did that is because I LOVE THIS JOB and someday I might be able to make some changes in this. I love working for the FS (even if it is a love/hate relationship). As much as I would hate it, if I was forced to go to PFT once I convert, I would have to leave the FS and go to CalFire. From talking to people on my crew, I know I am not the only apprentice that feels this way for the exact same reasons. Not all of us just want to ski and collect unemployment all winter.

Glad to hear you are doing better Casey and as always, Thank you.

- Hutch

2/14 Overtaxed and sleeping in camps:

Being a California forestry technician, taxpayer, and resident I cant help but notice the news and the budget deficit. I would like to see the amount spent on hotels and meals by cal fire folks. It seems at times I am at a fire camp with showers, meals, phones, and laundry, and all the cal fire folks bug out early to drive to hotels. Often times I wonder if its worth the money. Since you have to have twice as many firefighters and hotels to meet the work to rest guidelines per 24 hour shift. As opposed to no hotels and half as many firefighters with federal, contract, and inmates. Maybe more people who work for the state in other places wouldn't have to take an unpaid day off every pay period if cal fire sacrificed hotels at times throughout the summer. Just a thought. I'm not trying to bash cal fire, but maybe its time to make sacrifices for your fellow state employees and the taxpayers who pay your pay check. It may be time to go to bed dirty to sacrifice for the greater good. Curious if others feel the same or if I'm just out of line.

Overtaxed already

Tonight the evening news reported on a study of the effects of second hand smoke. It increases dramatically the risk of heart disease, stroke, asthma, cancer and dementia. What firefighters' lungs experience spiked on the line or in a smoky fire camp for weeks on end far exceeds the effects of second hand smoke. As a taxpayer this Ab is more than willing to chip in to insure firefighters get a place to sleep out of the smoke. Ab.

2/14 Foot in mouth apology:

I'm sorry...It was a late afternoon rant that made absolutely no sense what so ever. This is what happens when I try to explain my thoughts after a full day of already using my brain. It obviously stops functioning. So at the risk of failing to remove my other foot before I stick the other foot in. I have no explanation for what I wrote. I truthfully look forward to the handcrew folks getting a GS-7 it is a well deserved addition to what should have been in the career ladder a Loooong time ago. I guess it was some outward jealousy in the fact that I left the crews to get my seven and a few years later it becomes part of the career ladder. I guess I will have to reapply and redeem myself for that comment. After reading what I wrote and what Ab wrote afterwards I felt like a horse's rear and then seeing Mellie's and others posts I definitely feel like it.

I have had a chance to work with your crew on numerous occasions in and out of type 1 status. They have heart and determination. I have a lot of respect for that!

Respectfully chewing on one foot and hopefully not chasing it with the second,


2/14 Oops and handcrews:

This is probably the saddest and most ignorant statement I have read on this website for quite some time:

"Don't get me wrong I know plenty of "real" hotshot squaddies that deserve the bump. I am referring to the crews that everyone refers to as fuels crews and snicker in the halls. You know the short bus crews."

I've been on the "short bus" and I've been a "real hotshot" for many years as well. I've seen both good and bad on both, and I have seen many hotshot crews that were definitely not up to par with many handcrews. I don't know who you are referring to when you say "everyone"..."snickers in the halls," but I do think you should only speak for yourself.

How can we move forward if we are attacking each other from within? We are one unit and all the parts need to work together. Most importantly, we need to respect one another.


2/14 Mellie needs educating...

Hi there,

I could use some educating.

What is a "short bus crew"? If people work hard, what more must they do? be sure they insist on a "long bus" to please someone's dad? I've been in the "halls" a lot. I hear no snickering, only some very professional young people and their instructors. (Well, maybe a bit of snickering on other issues in the women's restroom.) As you can see, maybe I still need some educating...

Fuels crews? Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't most people who are retiring now get their start on the BD (brush disposal) crews? Summer work like that gave newbies a chance to learn about working hard as part of a crew, living in the woods, pile burning and how fire behaved under somewhat controlled circumstances. As I understand it, those crews also did mopup and we all know fire can kill during mopup, especially in light flashy fuels. Fire doesn't care. Squaddies and supts of those crews were critical for their crew's safety. Why pick on them? Their jobs are complex in a fast moving fire that goes from Type 4 to Type 1 in 20 minutes...

Historically, many that began as BD moved up with excellent work ethic and basic knowledge of fire behavior. BD is what we could use today around interface cities and towns. Could be the new Stimulus Plan coming out of Congress to employ many will have at least one billion for BD work. Very good chance... we ready for that?

Experience: If I had a choice to work for someone with 4 yr or 10 yr of field experience in fire and fire supervision, and I knew nothing else about them, I'd choose 10 yr unless their 4 yr of training included Doug Campbell's courses on Fire Signature Prediction. Is there fear the 4 yr people who have invested so much will not be able to compete? With the fuels work that's about to be funded, chainsaw ready, everyone will be needed.

Hotshots vs those that haven't yet made it? It's a RETENTION bonus! but here's another thing. Those crews that were working toward T1 certs, for the most part, took time reaching their goal because there were a lack of overhead to lead them -- as the experienced fire supes etc retired. (The BOD discussed this before Q retired.) One excellent crew from my neck of the woods got close, but just 2 days before their "review" found out NWCG had added a brand new training requirement for hotshot crew supts. Our guy got it the next winter; then the crew lost a squaddie (moved on to a hotshot crew); the supt hit mandatory retirement... and the crew persisted toward their goal in those fire years doing what hotshots were doing. None of the setbacks were of their making, but they worked with the hand they were dealt. They were certified 4 yr later because of their persistence.

Is the complexity of what their squaddies do any different from what a hotshot squaddie does? Would their overhead be any less worthy if they were still striving toward that goal? Do we want to retain these experienced middle managers? Hmmmm. I think so.

Permanent Full Time? Seems these middle managers working in complex and dangerous environments deserve to go to Permanent Full Time. We need them. We need to retain them. Do apprentices expect not to work PFT after conversion? Are they upset about "not having a choice" to be full time or part time or am I misunderstanding this? Do they want unemployment and winter snow patrol or something?

Can anyone fill me in? Maybe I'm not the only one confused or feeling uneducated... Please clarify some of the issues.

On a lighter note: Where's the LOVE? It's Valentine's Day!

<smooch> to ALL, even the worried dad... (send me your addy and I'll send you a heart!)


2/14 Wow Casey,

If you were doing all that excellent work on an empty tank, can't wait to see
what will be done on a full tank, lol.

Glad to see that everything worked out for you and your family. Don't push
too hard until you're 100%.

Thanks again for all you and the FWFSA do.

Quick Connect

2/14 Retention:


Here is the way is was explained to us about the 10 percent:
10 percent is the highest allotted under the Regional forester's control to give to the troops.
so it was explained like this:
it will be given to the GS 5 - GS 8 level as long as the person has one year of service in that position and yes they must have a good performance rating.
The second part only certified type 1 HOTSHOT crew will be able to bump their squaddies to GS 7 and they must have a complete year so they can upgrade noncompetitively.

10% of base pay only. Worked out bi-weekly to be added to your check. Starting PP5 and running through PP4 2010 for GS 5 through GS 8 with good performance ratings. If you scored a marginal or need improvement, you are not supposed to receive it. So far it is only being offered for one year. So it is hard to say what will happen if you improve your job performance and become qualified for the 10%. My guess is S.O.L. As for PFT positions there may be some converting apprentices this year that do not have a choice. Kind of interesting. As a whole my question is why are failed or downgraded type 1 crews allowed to take their squaddies to GS-7s and PFT? Most of the reason these guys downgraded is lack of experience and overhead. So we are giving them a pay bump? So now I have a kid that has 4 years experience making the same as someone with 10+ years and competing for the same jobs.. Don't get me wrong I know plenty of "real" hotshot squaddies that deserve the bump. I am referring to the crews that everyone refers to as fuels crews and snicker in the halls. You know the short bus crews.


I'm happy for anyone getting the bump. Also happy that Casey is back at home and getting better. Taking time this weekend to celebrate the happy things in my life. Whoooo hooooo! Ab.

2/13 Casey is recovering!

Dear Ab and all:

Thanks to all who sent caring emails, spoke to my wife and offered help while I was in the hospital. I am very happy to be home and happy to be able to do a little work, a little time with the kids, with a few rest periods in between. At 52 and being a non-smoker, the recovery time should be a bit ahead of normal.

It has been a stunning 7 months since I noticed my first chest pains, oddly coming just a few days before my trip to DC to be on C-SPAN. It went from "what the hell is that" to a heart attack in August that no test detected until they saw the occluded coronary artery just 2 weeks ago on the angiogram to quadruple bypass surgery.

It is stunning the trauma the body must go through to get better. I've got bruises in places I didn't know I had, in fact my left thigh looks like someone poured ink all over it... but that was from the vein graft. And those chest tubes being yanked out while you're conscious...

OK, too much detail. Anyway as a post said earlier, pay attention to what your body is telling you. Be persistent with your doctor. Mine told me she was ordering nuclear imaging (which in turn led to the angiogram) to "prove to me it wasn't my heart." Oops. A wee bit of a different demeanor from her now.

Anyway, thanks so much for the kind words and thoughts. Given the fact that I've been running on a nearly empty tank for a while, I looking forward to a full tank.


2/13 FERS Unused Sick Leave, who it affects and how: also known as Little Things Matter

This link got sent around the last few days:

www.fedsmith.com/articles/records/file/HR1108EH.doc (bill passed House on 7/30/08; don't know about the Senate or signing into law TT)

Primarily this bill is about tobacco, but it's also about sick leave provisions. They're tacked onto the end. (Sec. 407. Credit for unused sick leave. Text on p.117 of 118 pages)

The bill will have an impact on the unused sick leave for employees who are under the FERS retirement system. Here is who this new law would affect and what it would do.

  • A federal employee who retires within 3 years after the date of enactment, 3/4 of the days of unused sick leave to his credit under a formal leave system will be used in computing an annuity payment.
  • A federal employee who retires after 3 years from the date of enactment the days of unused sick leave to his credit under a formal leave system will be used in computing an annuity payment.

As a result of this law, fed employees under the FERS system would count their unused sick leave toward the computation of their retirement annuity same as employees under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS).

In the past while fed employees get the same amount of leave under both systems, CSRS employees got a better deal when computing a retirement annuity. Here's why...

Fed employees under FERS typically use more sick leave than those under CSRS. This is probably because CSRS employees get credit for the leave when they retire... it benefits them to save it up, which might cause them to interpret their symptoms differently and/or make different choices: like "I'm not too sick to take a sick day. (It will be of more use to me later to get a higher retirement annuity.)"

The House bill, if passed into law, could induce FERS employees to make similar interpretations as CSRS employees so as to reduce their sick leave usage. With more days saved, they'd also get higher retirement annuity.

Tahoe Terrie

fair use disclaimer

2/13 Span of Control & FEMA:

To: Thinking Too Much

I had an interesting experience with a FEMA representative who told the attendees of a public meeting that he thought the ICS span of control was "ridiculous" and should be 1:20 rather than 1:5, and that "you don't need ICS for small incidents" because it was "too much bureaucracy" and there were "more supervisors than workers".

bia fmo

Ignorance. Nothing like a lack of knowledge of the research. Ab.

2/13 Theft of Sculpture!!! in Colorado.

Unbelievable and disappointing -

Sometime during the beautiful service we had here at the Monument Fire Center (CO) for Bob
Schroeder on 2/6 someone had the nerve to steal a metal sculpture made by one of my Hotshots
expressly for our Fire Center and me.

It meant a lot to me. So if someone you know is suddenly displaying
a metal sculpture
of 2 daisies welded out of a t-post, some flat files, and a few car parts
- please slap them and tell them to bring it back.

How rude. How low to steal from our home.

It was not yours to take.


2/13 10% Retention Incentive:

Lobotomy or anyone who knows.

Does the 10% actually raise our base pay and effect our overtime,
hazard pay, Sunday diff, etc.? Or is it a separate 10% payment of
our base pay?


2/13 Re: Transparency In Government... Key Obama Administration Initiative

Can anyone help on this question?

Why does so much official business and communication within Region 5 happen via e-mail rather than the use of the Official Correspondence Database?

A recent case in point was the letter from the Regional Forester regarding the retention allowance and future actions. It came out as another clouded e-mail with few answers, rather than being provided as Informal (internal) or Formal (external) in the Correspondence Database.

Everyone knows that everything in the Correspondence Database is FOIAble, but often times e-mails are not and covered by certain exceptions to 5 USC 552.

Is this an attempt at limiting transparency?

It would be interesting to see the entire process of discussions, e-mails, official correspondence, research, findings, etc... that went into the decisions that the Regional Forester and RLT are making/using in regards to firefighter recruitment and retention in R-5.

Maybe it is time for Senator Feinstein to "request" or FOIA the complete set of records.

2/13 Re: 10% Retention Incentive for R-5's GS-5 through GS-8 Firefighters

I don't know if the rumor that has been going around has been substantiated, but I do know that nothing requires a 1 year time in grade period to qualify for inclusion into a Group Retention Incentive. Even our Forest Supervisor had heard the rumor, but she also hasn't seen anything in writing from the RO yet specifically stating what was going to happen or to whom.

Neither the enabling legislation (United States Code) nor the OPM's implementation (Code of Federal Regulations) require a one year time in grade period. The Agency determines the class or classes of employees entitled to receive a Retention Incentive, and this might be one selective factor that the Regional Forester may or may not have included in his plan.

Depending on how the Retention Incentive is paid, there are required minimum service commitments for all retention incentives except those paid in bi-weekly installments.

Typically, if an incentive is paid on an annual basis, it requires a service commitment of one year; Semi-annual requires a commitment of six months; and Quarterly requires a service commitment of three months. In all of these cases, a service agreement is required.

In the case of bi-weekly payments, no service agreement is required and there is no required service commitment.

2/12 From OB, Downunda: Beyond Belief...


Something that is floating around at the moment that you may be interested in. I think I may have to comment to some of the comments that have been made on TheySaid when I have the right structure in my head that doesn't involve stings of swear words..


Slideshow... Kinglake Bushfires

www.wildlandfire.com/ppt/black-saturday.pps (1,377 K powerpoint slideshow)

These photos certainly bring home reality. Posters, please remember how all this is affecting people that are there and post accordingly. OB, condolences... Ab.

2/12 FEMA:

Hi all,

I spent an airplane ride the other day reading the report from FEMA's employee union that someone put up here a few days ago, and I just had to pass along to you all that it's highly interesting reading. Not only does it say FEMA doesn't get or use NIMS, but it's one messed up agency. I guess I was surprised at the volume of similarities between FEMA's temporary employees, and the quandaries of the seasonal firefighting program. They also have a mass workforce used only for incidents, often taken advantage of, with no benefits, long-term training strategy, etc etc. Believe it or not though, some of their stuff sounds almost worse than wildfire... except that they're not generally in positions where their lives are at risk (important detail). They seem to have two temporary employment programs - I think one is the Disaster Assistance Workforce (DAE), which are probably about like the wildfire AD program, and they have CORE employees, and I have no idea what that stands for, except those are more like term or seasonal positions, and not permanent (COREs do seem to get some benefits).

Anyway, there is a lot of abuse of employees, rules, systems, etc. apparently... I was fairly appalled in reading the report. Also thought it might be useful for anyone here who is likely to go on an all-hazard incident. The answer to that question is: if we get a big thing like a hurricane or worse, they'll probably need help. Certainly doesn't look like an agency that can handle its own coordination issues, that's for sure. I guess now we have some insight as to why.

I was surprised to see also some push for a national coordination system. Interesting. I actually thought that's the direction things were going after 9/11, but really we do still have a bunch of separate ones. For example, FEMA's National Response Framework and Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) don't line up with state to state mutual aid (EMAC), military coordination, wildfire coordination, etc etc. I wouldn't mention it here if it didn't affect the wildfire system every time there's very large wildfire disaster (2003, 2007 CA wildfires, large hurricanes, midwestern floods, etc). One of the suggestions from the union was to evaluate how FEMA contracts and how they coordinate resources to both save money and do a better job. I have to agree: they have MUCH to learn there. Would be interesting to see if they could build a national coordination system based on the wildfire model that could integrate somehow with the wildfire system. Might clean up some of the mess and improve the responses - especially in terms of speed and efficiency - let alone cost.

Found an interesting write-up on the report here, plus other homeland security stuff for the all-hazard wildfire crowd: "FEMA Union Sends Shot Across the Bow" (www.thehomelandsecurityblog.com/).

My thoughts to all who have lost friends and loved ones recently, especially to those firefighting volunteers and managers and communities in Australia.

Be safe -

Thinking Too Much

2/12 Update Concerning AQM

Capacity to Support Stimulus
Funded Projects
February 6, 2009

The national strategy for supporting the expenditure of stimulus funds through contracts and agreements will include the following two components:

Requirements Package Preparation: Requirements (Statement of Work and Specifications) for stimulus projects will be generated by resource staffs at the local units. Local AQM staff may be required to support this activity by providing Architecture and Engineering (A&E), and/or other professional service type contractors. This work should be able to be absorbed within the current AQM workforce.

AQM Stimulus Project Support: This is where the bulk of the AQM workload will occur, and includes executing and managing the contracts, task orders, and agreements required to carry out the stimulus projects. This work will be coordinated and accomplished using a singular, national approach. This approach includes:

* WO AQM put in place contracts for contract specialists, grants and agreements specialists, and procurement assistant skills. (nlt March 2, 2009)
* WO AQM develops a standard Statement of Work/Specification and subsequent contracts for contract administration skills (ie inspectors and administrators). (nlt March 6, 2009)
* WO AQM responsible for staffing four Stimulus Operations Centers (SOCs), strategically located throughout the agency, whose sole purpose is to carry out all FS stimulus projects, relieving the current AQM workforce of that work. (nlt March 20, 2009)
* SOCs will be staffed with dedicated contracting and agreements personnel, as well as the necessary contract/agreement inspectors and administrators. Staffing will come from a mix of reemployed annuitants, contractors, new hires, and one or two existing AQM personnel.
* SOCs will be created by and accountable to the WO-AQM organization, and will continually interact with the Regions and Stations they support.
* Responsibility for the operation of the SOCs lies with the National AQM Director; executive oversight will be provided by Dave Dillard, FS Economic Recovery Executive.
* By March 25, 2009 the SOCs will be ready to process grant awards and issue contract solicitations for stimulus funded projects.
* Chuck Myers, Jesse King, Dave Dillard, Cal Joyner, the AMC, and the field AQM Directors have been briefed on the content of this update.

2/12 Recovery/Stimulus Package:

MJ -

All is not lost in the Stimulus Package. From what I heard is that there was still $650 mill in FS Capitol Improvement monies and $550 mill in State and Private Wildfire management monies in both the Senate and House language before they went to conference on the final this week. That still leaves $485 mill and $460 mill respectively unless I'm missing something. We will all know very shortly as smarter people than me are all over this........

waitin' for my check!!! lol

2/12 Oorah- I'm happy and proud that a fellow Humboldt State University alumnus is
now the Big Dog for Cal Fire. Power on and God Bless.

Way to hack Lumberjack!

I'm out: Lefthook

2/12 Randy Moore's Firefighter Recruitment and Retention Update:

To All Region 5 Staff:

Here in the Regional Office we have been working on many pressing issues including the efforts surrounding Firefighter Recruitment and Retention. On this issue we have made steady progress. While I acknowledge that the process may appear slow, it is important to recognize that there are a great many laws and regulations governing our ability to make change in these areas. We must move carefully and deliberately if we are to be successful in implementing our plans and meeting our mission.

The implementation of a 10% retention incentive has been at the forefront of most of our current efforts. Beginning in March, eligible employees will begin to see that increase in their paychecks. Initially it was our intent to make the incentive retroactive to October 1, 2008. However, as we worked through the regulations and associated complications around tax reporting governing the application of the incentive we have learned that we cannot do so.

Alternatively, eligible employees will receive the incentive for one year beginning in Pay Period 5 of 2009 and ending in Pay Period 4 in 2010. Based upon our past efforts to describe where the retention needs are the greatest (outlined in my last message on this topic), eligible employees are those currently in positions covered by firefighter retirement in the GS-05 to GS-08 range.

Work has also begun on some forests to convert the tours of some permanent seasonal firefighters to permanent full-time. The choice to convert tours is up to individual employees. When positions occupied by employees who choose not to convert are vacated, they will be re-advertised as permanent full time. These conversions will ultimately result in all permanent seasonal firefighting positions being converted to permanent full time positions. A team of human resources and fire specialists are working to display the benefits and consequences of changing these tours and expect to complete their assessment by the end of February.

In terms of additional action, I also want to update you on several efforts underway to improve firefighter retention and recruitment that fall outside of my authority to implement independently. These include the development of a new firefighter job series, the implementation of ordered stand-by for employees assigned to active incidents and the evaluation of a special pay rate. We continue to work with the Washington Office to meet standards for change established by OPM to develop a new job series. Additionally, we must justify the potential costs of implementing ordered stand-by, which some studies have estimated to be as much as $146 million a year.

I appreciate the good work that many have put into researching these issues, and I will continue to actively support efforts to improve firefighter recruitment and retention in the Region.

Randy, Regional Forester, R5


I have Questions about this Update. I just got word from other coworkers that you must have a year as a GS-5 before you can get this 10% incentive. I am a five right now but I wont have a year as a GS-5 till August. I was wondering of you had more information on this or is it just a rumor that is floating around?



2/12 Casey...

I've been away, haven't been reading "They Said" lately because someone was mean to me when I thought Mr. Moore should give up some of his big Christmas bonus to charity since 15 people died on his watch last year, but then I got over it, I really shouldn't have judged him anyway, that's not my job, sorry. The truth must be told, reality must be checked. Whaah!
Big thing is that Casey is OK, first I heard of his injuries, I'll be praying for him as well as the people hurt and injured in Australia.

Looks like Misery Whip started some controversy, some really good points, some bad ones, main thing is that he was posted and deserves the first amendment right of Freedom of Speech. I hope that we always keep that right, even though the present rulers are set on destroying that with such pathetic tools such as the "Fairness Doctrine" and other endless left wing, radical, Castro style rhetoric. I would have to agree with Magruder Fingers in the political arena though, to blame Bush on the total collapse of leadership and in the Forest Service is weak, the forest service's lack of leadership and purpose has slowly eroded since the late sixties, in my humble opinion it was taken over by very liberal types who cut their pony tails, put down their pipes and evaded the draft, so they could set up shop in our Ranger station, SO', Regional and Washington offices, remember when we were suddenly hit with back to back social engineering projects, environmental extremists agendas, touchy feely, politically correct nonsense that took priority over fire suppression and safety and ruined our beloved agency? The only reason I stuck it out is because I know that I would get to work with hardworking men and women who called right right and wrong wrong, the firefighter! Seemed to work so far, So don't give up, always remember this too shall pass, everyone will eventually retire.

Reality Check

You stirring the pot again, R-Check? Please contributors, keep this about issues and quit the personal slamming; first amendment rights or not, OA's mom reads the site daily... Haw Haw. Ab..

2/12 Stay and Defend:

Saving Hawaii,

I did not take Gizmo's Response as overly political at all. I did not get the impression that he was reading to much into the death reports or was trying to push one view point or another. I do agree with you that proper design and location of structures go a long ways towards protecting a structure from a wildfire. I am not totally sold on a Stay and Defend fire policy for all areas, but I am not against it either.

As you can probably guess, I am not a firefighter in California, but have spent my time working in Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota. The public around here has different expectations of our fire service, and cannot be legally required to evacuate unless the order is issued by the local sheriff. Most of the time, the local sheriff would not issue that order. A stay and defend policy would make a lot of sense around here, as the public is going to do that anyway. In years past, the landowner would show up to a fire with a 200 gallon weed sprayer mounted in a pickup and goes to work without telling us (Us being the federal and local fire folks). Now, at least, they come and talk to us to coordinate. The next step is to get them some training and helping with structure inspections. Trust takes a while to build especially if you represent the Federal Government.

I have only been to Australia a couple of times, but have found that the rural folks had a lot in common with rural folks from Idaho and Montana. They (Idaho and Montana folks) are very individualistic and depend on their own resources a lot. I suspect some folks in Australia have the same attitude. It's not right or wrong, that is just the way it is.

Bottom line? Don't write off the Stay and Defend policy yet. It may work in some areas.


2/12 Thoughts on contracting:

R6 contractor, Deborah Miley, KC,

Thanks for the offer of contractor information, but no thanks. I spent most of my fire career in R6 watching fire contracting evolve into what it is today. I’ve been a Division/Group Supervisor since the early 90’s and have extensive personal experience supervising contract crews and engines on dozens of fire assignments. Believe me; I know the engine and crew contracts inside and out.

Since you were kind enough to offer documentation that supports your views, I’d like to share a 2006 Forest Service research paper that describes contracting problems from an IMT perspective.

Here’s a quote from it:

“According to IMT members, escalated reliance on contracted suppression resources has resulted in cost increases chargeable to fires. Previously, most suppression resources, either personnel or equipment, were government owned or employed. The switch to contracted resources has occurred during the past 15 to 20 years as government agencies charged with suppressing wildfires have attempted to reduce overall costs. This has included downsizing the federal workforce and divesting of equipment this previous workforce would have used in emergency wildfire situations. To meet subsequent workload demands, the preceding government workers and equipment have been replaced with contracted services. Interviewees perceive the prices contractors charge for equipment and human resources to be very high (in many cases unreasonably so). IMTs have no jurisdiction over these contracts as they are locked in place by contracting guidelines beyond the team’s control.

Many IMT members state that work performed by contractors is substandard in too many cases. Training and experience requirements that apply to government employees are reduced or non-existent for contractors hired to do similar work. Interviewees also fault some contractors for lack of accountability when they fail to perform as expected. It is difficult to hold contractors accountable under the wildland fire conditions typified by short timeframes, too few contracting officers, and different standards for performance than what apply to the agency. Furthermore, returning unsatisfactory contracted resources to their home base (especially hand crews) increases transportation costs, necessitates additional time and expense to order replacements, and prolongs suppression activities.”

Here’s the link to the full document:

Here’s another link from the LLC.

Misery Whip

2/12 Re the sofa store fire that killed 9 firefighters in SC last June:

NIOSH Releases "Charleston 9" LODD Report

Here is a link directly to the NIOSH report released yesterday including all details, stats and photos:

Nine Career Fire Fighters Die in Rapid Fire Progression at Commercial Furniture Showroom – South Carolina

2/11 Willing to help Casey:


I read about Casey returning from his hospital stay, good to hear. To the guy
from Pocatello that is wanting to get some folks together to help casey out, I
live here in Pocatello too. So if you need a extra body to help out in any way,
please let me know. You can get my e-mail from Ab.



2/11 Re: Subject: Governor Schwarzenegger Appoints Del Walters as Director of CAL FIRE


Chief Walters is a great guy and a great choice for CALFIRE.


2/11 Regarding the Hotlist posts on Stay or Go:

Way to politicize a catastrophe as bodies are still being recovered and fires still out of control. I figured in deference to the hundreds of lives lost we'd leave this tragedy off the table until the crisis has ended, the lives lost have been accounted, and the facts are on the table if just out of respect for those who've lost everything. And as to how this was somehow a response to Kanga & Roo's question about how we could help, this was potentially one of the most off-topic replies I have ever seen. It had absolutely zilch to do with what K&R asked – and spouting this sort of ideological rhetoric was uncalled for. While I would appreciate the decision on your part to leave this off the table as the rest of us have done, I feel that allowing rhetoric such as this to stand unanswered would be a disservice to the lessons to be learned from this catastrophe.

As myself and many others feel, our focus in promoting public safety should be on encouraging and even instituting standards that protect homes from wildfire. Our priority should be to educate the public on what they can do to ensure that their home is defensible and could even stand alone in the face of a brushfire. The reality is that "If homes are built in safe locations, with fire safe materials, and have proper clearances" they tend to survive wildfires regardless of whether or not John Wayne is standing in the front yard with his shovel and trusty garden hose. We're familiar with the building industry's objections against firesafe standards and various libertarian group's ideological opposition to common sense safety measures – but this is the sort of fight we can only make headway in.

Gizmo, I appreciate the wild speculation about how lives were lost in this recent tragedy, but it's difficult to make any useful conclusions until there's actually hard facts on the table about how lives were lost and why victims were doing what they were. Encouraging inexperienced and untrained homeowners to defend their home without adequate equipment, supervision, or basic firefighter safety tools (such as the entirety of LCES) is asking for this sort of tragedy. The civilian found deceased in his car alongside the road very well could have been standing in his front yard only a few minutes later and panicked when he was suddenly choking on smoke and an ember shower made his front yard look like a Fourth of July display. In that panic he leapt into his car and bolted far later than he should have, costing his life. There's a legitimate chance that he'd tried to protect his home through the ember shower and had fled only when his structure had become untenable. While there are situations where practices such as shelter in place are necessary, the reality is that the safest course of action in front of a wildfire is to leave early – a person who gets out of the way of a fire is safer than one who played hero in front of it. Yet Australia is far behind the US in facilitating early and effective evacuations – public warning systems such as Reverse 911 aren't established in the land down under and it severely inhibits the Australian government's ability to implement early and effective evacuations. We've heard plenty of stories in the news about civilians who'd walked outside to see embers falling into their yard and it's no surprise that civilians died fleeing the fires. Australia doesn't seem to have an effective system to inform civilians that it's time to go. Judging by the statements of many Australian leaders, it sounds as if this tragedy will be the impetus for Australia finally adopting US-style public warning systems.

You know what the most interesting survival stories are Gizmo?

The stories of the actual folks who prepared and left early. The folks who didn't try to play hero or have some foolish attachment to replaceable possessions. The ones who got out of the way of fires and didn't risk placing themselves or their families in the list of hundreds of lives lost in this catastrophe. The person who did what they could in the first place to protect their possessions and then left because they valued their life more than their home – that's a person I'm more interested in hearing about.

The grim story in Australia demonstrates how problematic a theory "stay and defend" truly is and makes a strong case for California to avoid this dangerous experiment.

However, I encourage those who would like to politicize this or throw in their opinions to wait until facts are on the table rather than rushing to rash conclusions. Everything we have right now is speculation based on incomplete fact, and there's little truth will glean from that speculation.

Saving Hawaii

2/11 Well, Congress has agreed on a Recovery/Stimulus Bill, to be signed in a day or so by the President.
According to CNN, A couple of things completely eliminated from the bill were:

• $165 million for Forest Service capital improvement
• $90 million for State and Private Wildlife Fire Management

So, there goes the giant Christmas present the USFS was hoping for to fix all the facilities....
(Capital Improvement funds do that)....

Here's the whole link on what got cut out of the bill...

Oh, well, we'll see what happens next...


2/11 Thanks Gizmo, gwrfire, arff and others for the comments on the Hotlist re Stay or Go Early:

We know they're offered responsibly and we know you all care. We all want to understand why so many died. No doubt there are as many reasons as there are people that perished. A lot of it was just luck since the fires were so "tall", moved so fast and along such long fronts, pushed by 100 kilometer per hr winds.

Probably we'll sort this out more as time goes on and come up with some best practices for survival when we can reflect calmly.

Kanga and Roo

2/11 Making the Cal Fire Rounds...

From: Executive
Sent: Wed 2/11/2009 5:37 PM
Subject: Governor Schwarzenegger Appoints Del Walters as Director of CAL FIRE

I am pleased to inform you of the appointment by Governor Schwarzenegger of Del Walters as Director of CAL FIRE.

I am confident that Del will lead CAL FIRE with distinction and honor. I am proud to have known him and had him serve as my executive officer for the past 8 months.

Del has demonstrated his organizational knowledge and leadership capability many times over during the past few years and I have had the great fortune to stand beside him.

Please feel free to extend your warmest congratulations to him and continue to support him as you have me during my tenure as Chief of CAL FIRE.

I wish him continued success in the years ahead.


Ruben Grijalva

Governor Schwarzenegger Appoints Del Walters as Director of CAL FIRE

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced the appointment of Del Walters as director of CAL FIRE, following current Director Ruben Grijalva’s announcement to retire.

“With more than 30 years of service at CAL FIRE, Del Walters is the perfect person to head our state’s firefighting efforts,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “Playing a key role in combating the 2007 and 2008 firestorms, he has the experience and leadership capabilities to implement the highest standards of fire prevention and fire fighting while ensuring all Californians are protected. Under Del’s leadership, I am confident that the state will continue to be prepared to respond to the intense year-round fire seasons we now face.

“I also want to thank Ruben for his service to my administration and to the people of California. He is a dedicated public servant and gifted leader who has helped see our state through some of the worst wildfires we have ever seen in our state’s history. I wish Ruben the best in his future endeavors.”

Walters has served as the executive officer for CAL FIRE since 2008. He began his career as a firefighter in 1971. Prior to promoting to executive officer, he was the assistant region chief then staff chief of operations for the Northern Region. Prior to that, Walters was the deputy chief for the Shasta-Trinity Unit. He previously worked for the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit as the assistant chief of administration, battalion chief, vegetation management program coordinator forester I and fire captain. He has also served as a fire captain, fire apparatus engineer and firefighter for the San Benito-Monterey Unit. Walters has been a California State Peace Officer since 1986.

“I am honored to serve the people of California in this new role,” said Del Walters. “I look forward to working with the Governor to continue our fire prevention and protection efforts while preparing Californians for the extraordinary fire seasons our state faces.”

Walters, 54, of Redding, received his Bachelor of Science degree in forest resource management from Humboldt State University. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $174,096. Walters is a Democrat.

As CAL FIRE’S Director, Walters will oversee 5,500 full-time and seasonal employees. CAL FIRE is dedicated to the fire protection and stewardship of more than 31 million acres of California's privately-owned wildlands. In addition, the department provides various emergency services in 36 of the State's 58 counties via contracts with local governments. CAL FIRE firefighters, fire engines, and aircraft respond to an average of more than 5,700 wildland fires each year. Those fires burn nearly 170,000 acres annually.

2/11 vfd cap'n,

Forcing AD rates on you? How much do your volunteers
get paid to fight fire on their own district?


End the Gravy Train
2/11 Good news.

I got a brief call from Casey this morning. He's home and spent a few minutes in his office, making a few short calls. As many have, I encouraged him to take it slowly and heal up.

It was great to hear his voice. We tried not to laugh too much as those with broken ribs -- sternum in this case -- know, it hurts to laugh.

To the FWS guy that offered to get a few local (Pocatello) guys together to help:
Please if the snow falls, it would be nice to have someone manhandle the Judd snow-blower to clear the driveway. (I'm afraid if we leave it to Mickie, the thing will run off with her over hill, dale and into the creek.)



2/11 Was anyone on the Lawson Dump Fire in Mecca CA
on 08/10/2006?

FF Dawg

A FF looking for info on the hotlist. Any and all help is appreciated. Ab.

2/11 Re: Australia Support:

Making the rounds...

Subject: Order for US participation in AUS fires

We have an official order that NICC is beginning to fill for deployment to AUS. It consists of 2 BAER teams, 11 misc. T1 IMT command and general staff positions and one IHC. The President has spoken to the AUS prime minister and has promised support. All costs will be reimbursed by the AUS govt.

Karyn <sniip>
Director of Operations, NIFC

2/11 OSHA Proposes Revised Procedures for Fit Testing Respirators

Jan 22, 2009 10:55 AM, by Laura Walter

OSHA has proposed two revised fit test procedures under the Respiratory Protection Standard for determining the effectiveness of respiratory protection facemasks.

In 1998, OSHA issued the revised OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard, 29 CFR 1910.134, which incorporated two categories of respirator fit tests. Some tests expose wearers to airborne agents to determine if they can detect them and other tests use a machine to measure how much of a test agent leaks into a respirator. The proposed revisions would allow certain machine-based fit tests to be conducted more quickly and increase the required score for passing them.

According to the notice, OSHA proposes adding two quantitative fit-testing protocols that would apply to employers in general industry, shipyard employment and construction. The first proposed protocol includes the eight fit-testing exercises found in Part I.A.14 of Appendix A of the Respiratory Protection Standard, but with each exercise lasting 30 seconds instead of 60 seconds, as is currently required.

The second proposed change would eliminate two of the eight fit-testing exercises, with the remaining six exercises lasting 40 seconds. This protocol also would increase the current minimum pass-fail fit-testing criterion from a fit factor of 100 to 200 for half masks and from 500 to 1,000 for full facepieces.

OSHA published this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Jan. 21 Federal Register. To comment, go to www.regulations.gov and reference Docket No. OSHA-2007-0007. Comments may also be submitted by fax at 202-693-1648 or by mail to the OSHA Docket Office, Technical Data Center, Room N-2625, OSHA, Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20210.

Comments must be submitted by March 23, 2009.
2/11 re: 2009 cooperator rates


Here are the incident reimbursement guidelines that Colorado State Forest Service
circulated at the end of December.

I don't know if all this will actually be implemented. I was "un-invited" from the local
AOP meeting after I started complaining about the state trying to force the AD rates
on volunteer firefighters.

Pasted below is the objectionable section from page 4 (I highlighted it in the doc.(265K file))

vfd cap'n


"E. Equipment Operators and Single Resource Personnel

"Cooperators will be reimbursed for personnel payroll expenses incurred for payments to employees when assigned to incidents. Reimbursement to the cooperator for full time employees will be at current department pay rates. Pay rates for personnel employed on an incident-only basis (CWN cooperators) should be commensurate with the federal established AD rates for ICS positions, as established in the current IIBMH, Chapter 10, Section 13.6, Exhibit 01. Rates should be based on each incident assignment, not highest qualification of an individual."

2/11 Australia Support:


Thought you might find this interesting - article from CBC news in Canada.


Yukon fire specialist heads to Australia as blaze toll rises

2/11 Couple of interesting links from Australia.

Here's a link to analysis of why the fires were so intense (note the 1-2km spotting), a topic that I think might deserve some additional discussion in this forum. Some of this event reminds me of Santa Ana conditions, although I've wondered if more extreme conditions occur more rarely, perhaps spawning situations like we had in our west in 1910.


and about a warning system:


To me, a national policy along these lines makes sense; although it seems like it should be paired with more definite local-level pre-emergency planning and decision making regarding sheltering in place (an idea that I thought originated in Australia??) and evacuations (similar perhaps to the pre-planned hurricane evacuation routes in Florida). I couldn't help but note the number of people killed in cars and during attempts to leave their area. Seems like a lot of economic stimulus dollars could be spent funding additional fire folks to do the ground work on this in communities that haven't done much along these lines.

Still Out There as an AD

2/11 Re: Australia Tragedy

Kanga & Roo stated and asked,

"Not only civilians but also firefighters have died in the Australia fires. Is there any way we can help?"

First, it is important to recognize that Australia is a very large nation, much like the United States with various States involved in wildland fire protection. Each area has its unique challenges, policy makers, and communities. While the Northeast AU (Queensland) was flooding, the Southeast (Victoria) and South (New South Wales) was in record drought and experiencing record temperatures.

It is a simple question though, and a valid one. A question that has been batted around for decades and mucked up by politicians across the board.

Prepare... Stay and Defend.... or Go Early.

The most important part of community and firefighter safety is the Preparation (Prepare) part. It involves:

1) Firesafe Building Construction Standards and enforcement,

2) Proper clearances and vegetation management in the directly adjacent WUI,

3) Adequate and protected evacuation routes, and evacuation centers for those that realized their preparations were not enough and failed to "go early", and

4) Active community outreach programs emphasizing the true risks and importance of community involvement.

In many cases, folks will discover, like many other tragedy WUI fires, that the majority of folks who were either killed or injured were evacuating safe areas, or were evacuating areas that didn't meet Firesafe standards envisioned in Prepare...Stay and Defend... or Go Early.

If homes are built in safe locations, with fire safe materials, and have proper clearances... BOTH firefighters and communities will be safer.

There will be some interesting survival stories from actual folks and communities who were prepared and went through the Victoria Fire Storm of 2009. There will also be groups trying to detract from the facts and say that the AU model (Prepare, Stay and Defend, or Go Early) was a failure.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those lost, and to those providing support and recovery.

2/11 FS Leadership:

Hola amigos:

I started telling friends years ago to start saving their Forest Service belt buckles,
badges, pins and patches to sell on e-bay at some point. Our beloved FS is
headed to oblivion.

We had a new manager where I worked. He said he didn't detect any leadership
at my unit. I told him I didn't see any leadership in the Forest Service.

Leadership consisted of consensus. Meetings were canceled if every member
of the so called leadership group was not there.

At the end of my so called career most of our employees were sitting at a
computer going through another sexual harassment training or trying to do travel
or what all. Lots of lost time. This is not productive work time.

I can hear taps being played over this, my beloved organization.

My feelings are widely shared...
Vaya con Dios...


2/11 Contractors:

Reply to Misery Whip,

It is admirable your friend stuck up for you, but words being words, it can be difficult to completely understand the "intent" without the voice inflection and body language being present. I too have often taken your writings as negative and condescending towards contractors, specifically engine, water tender and crew. It would appear by your posts that there is no love lost towards them in your mind.

That being said, I challenge you to acquire an Interagency Crew Contract and and an Interagency Engine/Water Tender Contract and read them. Everything you mentioned has been thoroughly addressed within the language of those contracts.

If you have contract issues on a fire assignment, order a NWCR (Northwest Contract Representative, formerly an IACR) they are familiar with the contract and have specialized training in contract interpretation and addressing issues and concerns that may arise while on an incident.

Let's not forget that many times those contract resources received in other regions are on the "National" contract. That contract is completely separate from the PNW contract(s), that are signed by the state and all federal agencies in OR and WA, only.

The NWSA and Ms. Miley have worked very hard to ensure the quality of the crews who are on the Interagency Contracts. People being people there will always be some issues, but talking about it on this site does not resolve the issues. Complete and thorough evaluations, working with the NWCR, and talking to your supervisor will have much greater, and more respectable, results.

Take a look at the Instructor list on the NWSA website. Many of the instructors are well-known, former agency instructors, people I would give my eye teeth to sit under and listen to for a few days.

There are some excellent resources on the interagency contracts, and when those folks show up I breathe a sigh of relief. They work hard, and they produce an excellent end product. Putting out the fire!!!

R6 Contractor and Ms. Miley addressed your comments very thoroughly and professionally.

Finally, Bad/Rotten apples fall on both sides of the fence. I have had "agency" resources I wouldn't give a bucket of horse manure for, they were so bad. I sent in a contract crew one time to clean up the mess a type I IHC crew left me. Unfortunately the "agency" resources seem to keep on working, but "problem child" contract resources, can and have been, removed from the contract. As an agency person you have recourse when you encounter poor performance, I am not sure that the contractors have recourse when they encounter poor performance.


2/10 AD pay rates for 2009:

I believe they historically come out the end of March, early April.


2/10 Update on AVUE making the rounds:

I met with Avue today here in DC and discussed this issue. They thought the problem had been fixed but when we did a test, some things still weren't working correctly. So as of now no referral lists should be pulled until further notice. Avue has had all technical resources committed 24/7 to resolve this since it's discovery, and they are continuing this pace until everything is fixed - they do realize the magnitude of the impacts. I will notify you as soon as I hear from Avue and am sure this has been resolved.

The system is working properly for single location announcements, but not for multi-location or nationwide announcements/OCRs. All referral lists for multi-location announcements that were pulled on or after February 2nd will need to be cancelled and re-generated. Avue is willing and able to help with this workload once the system issues have been resolved, including generating and validating referral lists. Keep track of those lists that were pulled so you know which ones need to be done again.

Kasey McE
HR Specialist, Employment Policy
Human Capital Management, ASC

2/10 Making the Fed Fire rounds...

> Attached is guidance and attachments for the development/amendment of
> agreements and annual operating plans with local fire departments. There
> have been a number of incidents where fire departments sending out
> employees or hiring retired employees then contracting needed services
> back to us at a very high rates, sometimes including backfill charges for
> their departments. This direction from NWCG will stabilize labor rates
> and other reimbursable costs during wildland suppression incidents.
> This was distributed from the Southwest Coordinating Group Chair to the
> interagency fire managers. This will probably be formally distributed
> through FWS but but we just want to give you a heads up since our fire
> season (R2) is under way.

Memo: NWCG Agreements with Local Fire Departments (46 K pdf file)

2/10 Ab,

I've been following the posts regarding a rumored 25% increase in AD rates. Does anyone have any idea if these rates will apply to ALL the positions, or only a selected few as has been the case for the past couple years? (I know the Initial Attack Dispatcher and Aviation Dispatcher rates have not increased in at least 2 years.) Anyone have any idea on when the new rates might come out?



2/10 Misery Whip and all,

My frustrations with the post where with the list of "facts" towards the bottom.
The other thoughts are fine as we all have different ideas.
Ps R5 you are welcome for the help in June and July of last year.
Every Contractor I know got awesome reviews and some were the last ones
on the incidents.

Thank you Debbie for the comments.

R6 contractor

2/10 Misery Whip,

Great post as always. I hear you loud and clear. You did a perfect job of describing why I retired a few years ago. Keep up the great thoughts and writings!


I hear you too and empathize but you must realize that contracting for fire services is mostly not available to us living and working outside of R06 and R01. Those of us in other portions of America who want to work are told that we do it as ADs --who are banned from having EERAs-- or we won't work at all. Then when things get really busy they bring in contractors from the Pacific Northwest area who are being compensated at 2-3 times or more than the AD rate. As an AD/retiree with no other options available I certainly do agree with Misery Whip on this issue.

Regarding AD rates: Does anybody get the feeling that someone is purposely holding up the rumored 25% raise?

Texas is about to start screaming for help, by the way.

2/10 Seems to me that we would not be having the debate on "leadership" for both line
and fire if the agency just met its commitments. Some years back, the Chief issued
direction that: 1. Mandated the addition of "Fire Experience" as an official
"Evaluation Criteria" for all District Ranger positions. and 2. Mandated fire
qualifications at established levels for all fire program leadership positions.

That direction continues to be ignored. Picture the agency if it were followed.

You want an agency with qualified leadership? Ask the current Chief to enforce
existing mandates.......or have the courage to officially rescind them.

2/10 Ab,

I am looking for some hard data on the numbers of firefighters injured by burn injuries and
their severity. I am working on a training program to help educate all wildland firefighters
(Gov, State, County, Municipal, City and Volunteer) in Burn Injury Prevention,
recognition and initial treatment.

Any information would be helpful!


Brian Kliesen
Santa Fe Helitack
2/10 Australia Fires thread on the Hotlist:



2/10 Misery Whip,

Having worked for USFS for almost 33 years I have watched the agency slowly disintegrate to the point that now, there is no forest service.

But it isn't Bush's fault. There are several reasons for the implosion of the agency and it's been going on for a lot longer than the Bush administration was in office. I'm not going to go into all of those reasons here other than to state what I believe is the main problem. I think the main reason is a complete lack of leadership at all levels of the agency from the WO on down to the districts. Line Officers who cannot lead, who have no woods savvy, no on the ground work experience, no organizational knowledge or skill in leading personnel and organizations.

I've spent my career in fire management. Today's agency line officers and "Management Teams" (They call themselves Leadership teams, but they don't lead anything or anyone so I term them management teams) have absolutely no business having any decision or policy making authority over fire management organizations. Today's line officers are nothing more than politicians serving their own self interests who do not know or understand fire management programs.

People can and do get seriously injured and killed doing this job. The agency and those of us in fire management must do everything we can to prevent these tragedies i.e. the best people, the best training, the best equipment, and maximum support and leadership from the agency for our firefighters and fire management crews and programs. The agency does not support fire management.

A case in point is my own forest. The forest "Management Team" cut all of the AFMOs from the districts, all of the fire prevention personnel, the engineers on the engine crews, forest and fire safety officer, fire public information officer, and the fire ecologist and fire ecology crew. (Using budget as an excuse.) This was against the advice and pleading of the District FMOs. It turns out, their analysis was flawed. The budget was not the problem, they were.

This is on a high complexity forest with an aggressive prescribed fire and fire use program and well over 150 suppression fires per year. I fought like he!! against it. What followed was one of our districts last fire season with no fire personnel on it, detailers came and went all year. But we can pay 50 grand a year for a fire staff person with no red card or fire experience who doesn't go to fires with dollars that are targeted for suppression personnel (WFPR).

This example shows a complete lack of knowledge and understanding of fire management by line officers and management teams. The line officers here have decimated the fire management program and they are protected in their bad decisions. The R.O. knows what has happened, but nary a word.

This is why I say fire management must come out of the land management agencies and a centralized fire management organization or a federal wildland fire department must stand alone. Fire management must have highly skilled and qualified fire experienced personnel with the demonstrated ability to lead firefighters and make sound, safe, and effective decisions. Line Officers (Most of them) cannot do this anymore.

Good Luck,
Magruder Fingers

2/10 RE: The Response from "a contractor from R6"

Let me say first off, I know Misery Whip personally. I know he at no point meant to bash Contractors in general, so please don't take such a defensive posture. He was merely pointing out the growing dysfunctions that we as USFS employees deal with everyday. Our agency is slowly pulling away from the docks of the great firefighting agencies, only to sink into the abyss.

You stated: "Misery whip is often allowed to spew off on his opinions that are not always factual and he is allowed to bring in politics when others have been shut down."

I disagree with this statement. When Misery Whip publishes, his thoughts are often well put together and factual. He has been with the Forest Service for... let's just say a long time (I don't want to make him feel too old). When he decides to retire, the Forest Service isn't going to realize the knowledge and experience they just lost until he is gone! I for one, would love to have him take an AFMO position on my district!
Whip...Great post! You need to bring that up at the next leadership meeting!

2/10 Australia Fires:


Last summer when Dee, Ken and I helped out at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, we met many of the Aussies and New Zealanders. They had been helping us out in California and were on their way back home. We are hoping they are safe and we are so sorry to hear about the devastation in Australia. We pray that the weather turns in their favor and they can get a handle on the fires...

Ken and Kathy

2/10 Re Problems with AVUE: info from several people:

HCM Update

Intended Audience: All Forest Service Employees

We are greatly concerned and aware of a problem with AVUE. We have contacted AVUE about this problem and they are working to fix it as quickly as possible. As far as we know this problem started on Monday, February 5, 2009.

Here is what you need to know:

* Referral lists cannot be generated by the ASC-HCM
* Duty Locations have been affected and may appear to not be available to the user – either applicant or manager
* AVUE will be checking the accuracy of the current referral lists

Here is what you need to do:

* We are asking for your patience and are continually working with AVUE to have a fix in place as soon as possible.

We will notify you when the problem has been resolved.

2/10 AD Rates:

Hiya, Ab.

Does anyone know if the 2009 AD rates will be increased?
I heard a rumor they may increase by 25%.


We've heard the same, but are waiting for them to "show ADs the money." Ab.

2/10 Dear Ab:

I usually do not engage in arguments that I don’t believe merit comment, however I think that Misery Whip overstepped the bounds on his recent post on contractors. I would encourage him to learn more about contractor.

Is he aware that the NWSA is unveiling a new “Professional Contractor Certification Program” that will provide contractors (voluntary program) with information on regulations/safety/training/critical incident management/ business ethics this year. We continue to work towards perfection in training/ safety and building working relationships with those other folks in the fire service.

Also that as the Region 6 contractor posted there is historical data that shows that the rate of contractor (not including rural fire departments) but truly private contractors injuries/fatalities have been historically significantly less than agency. Also that 100% of the fatalities that have occurred in the past 6 years were all transportation related. They had nothing to do with lack of training, lack of leadership or crew cohesiveness I think it is insulting to those of us in private sector fire services, and the families of those that have perished to suggest otherwise.

He should have helped work as others did on the “The Changing Composition of Firefighting Resources: Agency/Contractor Relations in Wildland Firefighting” that the NWSA worked on with the folks at Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center instead of complaining.

In addition perhaps he should read the Information Packet put together by NWSA about what Professional Fire Services are about. We understand our role, we are there to complement the agencies resources when they are needed. We are NOT in competition with anyone. To insinuate that our folks on the line would do anything but work hard to save our environment, live and personal property is unbelievable. Our company owners must carry the liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance and are responsible for that knock on the door when God forbid tragedy strikes.

This is exactly why NWSA asked the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned to work on this presentation, to help eliminate the kind of feelings that create issues with crew cohesiveness and in turn create safety issues on the line.

Again, I believe in taking the high road, picking the right battles, and do not engage unless I believe it is appropriate.

Deborah Miley
Executive Director
National Wildfire Suppression Association

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/fed/final-LLC-Agcy-Cont.ppt (766 K ppt file)
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2009/fed/NWSA-info-packet.pdf (1374 K pdf file)

Thanks, Debbie. Professional self-monitoring organizations in the private sector are a must. Thanks to NWSA for filling that need as do physician organizations, university faculty organizations, merchant organizations, to name a few groups of professionals. Ab.

2/9 Australia Fires:

Kanga and Roo, below is for youuuuu.



Obama offers US aid to Australia fire victims
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is sending his prayers and condolences to victims of Australia's worst wildfire disaster.

Immediately after his first prime-time news conference Monday night, Obama telephoned Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama and Rudd talked about the fires raging across Victoria state in Australia, fueled by strong winds, record heat and drought.

Australian authorities say more than 170 people have been killed, hundreds of homes have been destroyed and thousands have been left homeless.

Obama offered U.S. assistance to help with the fires.

fair use disclaimer

2/9 Does anyone know anything about AVUE not working?

Specifically, when ASC will generate lists?


2/9 Australia Fires:


Not only civilians but also firefighters have died in the Australia fires.
Is there any way we can help?

Kanga & Roo

2/9 Subject: Possible Australia mobilization information

Hello All,

As the Geographic Areas currently up nationally in slots 1-3 of the T-1 IMT rotation, we are asking for you to gather some information ahead of potential requests for mobilization to Australia. We are currently anticipating a request for certain Command and General Staff positions (IC, Ops, Plans & Logistics only).

Requirements to fill these positions will be:

1) Regular Federal Employees only (ok to bring back on if furloughed), and
2) Must have a passport (personal passport is ok).

No AD or Cooperator employees.

Please provide the names of team members that meet the above requirements, for the 4 positions indicated above, from your incident management teams currently in rotation.

Additionally, for Areas that have an internal rotation change that is imminent, we recommend polling both the current up-team and the on-deck team, and should a request be placed, determine which personnel to send at the time the request is received.

Please respond to this email (cod @ nospam nifc.blm.gov) with the requested information and/or any questions.

Thank you,

Bill Fletcher
NICC Coordinator-on-duty

2/9 Found these while researching Australia Bushfire Burnover History using the wayback machine:

Old page of Australia Firebreak Bushfire Links, updated last time in 2000 and 2001


and Bushfire Fighter Safety



2/9 Australia Fires:


Thought this was a clear, concise, and informative page on the elements in Australia-



2/9 Contractor Firefighters:

Come on Ab,
I thought this board wasn't so much on politics and random opinions. Misery whip is often allowed to spew off on his opinions that are not always factual and he is allowed to bring in politics when others have been shut down. I just got in from a morning of training with my guys (at my expense) and read his post.

Dear Misery Whip,
I know there are many thoughts about agency staff and contractors, however you have a very blatant bias! In response to your points mentioned on your Fe. 9, 2009 post.

You stated the following (at the *): (please keep in mind I am responding from Region 6)

*The number of contractors who have been injured or killed while supporting wildland firefighting activities on Forest Service protected lands has skyrocketed in recent years. Whereas contractors once accounted for a very small percentage of Forest Service fire injuries or fatalities, in 2008 contractors lead all categories of wildland firefighters in the number of deaths incurred in support of Forest Service fire suppression operations.
~In 2008, the contractors that gave their lives for all of US, all but one (that I know of) did so in aviation accidents. The other did so in an accident involving a grader. The biggest loss of the year was an heli accident that was of no fault or control by the handcrew being transported. It could have a Fed crew.... But it wasn't. I have a question.... has there ever been a fatal accident involving a burnover with a contract handcrew member or an contract engine crew member? I honestly don't know...

*Although numerous cases of false identification, forged training certificates and other forms of cheating have been identified among wildland fire contractors, they are still permitted to self-certify physical tests, wildland fire training and qualifications.
~There have been reports of forged training certificates and fast tracking employees among agency employees. Here our for our annual pack tests, we have to notify the contract officer with the USFS, 5 business days ahead of time so that they can come monitor. It is a rare day when we are not monitored. As for our qualifications, we send in ALL of our employee records annually to be reviewed.

*Under the provisions of Best Value contracts, contractors are rewarded for superior performance and may be penalized for poor performance. Best Value contractors have a disincentive for self reporting errors or anything that would reflect negatively on their performance (and income). This disincentive directly conflicts with the high level of frankness and honesty required to sustain a reporting and learning culture, a baseline tenet of High Reliability Organizing.
~ We are not the ones that turn in our performance evaluations. They are forwarded by the fire team to our contracting officer. If we get a poor review, we have a process ( as do agency personnel) to have an elevated review.

*There are as many contractor cultures as there are contractors. Some are OK, others are astonishingly bad.
~ There are as many agency cultures as there are agency employees. Some are OK, others are not OK. Come on there are some awesome people out there both agency and contractor!

*Supervising fire contractors requires that fire operations supervisory personnel learn and adhere to complex wildland firefighting contracts. The time spent learning, discussing, and interpreting aspects of wildland fire contracts is an unnecessary distraction that detracts from firefighter safety and efficiency.
~ Someone owes us a thank you for their job and some easy days behind a training desk ;) Call it a stimulus package!

*A very low proportion of contracting officers to contract engines and crews has left agency fire line supervisors shouldering the load for contract compliance and enforcement. This is a safety issue, as the fulfillment of contractual obligations and contractual distractions frequently divert fire operations supervisors from focusing on firefighting operations.
~ I have never heard an OPS person say "hey we have this fire to put out, but first lets look at everyone's contract", But lets admit, everywhere we go there are differences. Does anyone complain from R5 on how different things are done with Cal Fire or in R2? Ab, yes I know I used caps for Cal Fire , it is how it appears on letterhead and on equipment.

*Contract firefighters are only paid while they are engaged in firefighting, and are obligated to pay large bills for all of their training, fuel and equipment needs. Therefore, contractors have a disincentive for putting out fires; the sooner the fire goes out, the sooner their income stops.
~ That is a very dangerous statement. Show me any firefighter that does not like the overtime. It has been the point of many discussions here on people complaining on how little OT they got in one season or another. This is my personal opinion here... I have been on Many federal fire that got put to bed right around 14 days( when the team timed out)

*Contractors companies are not perpetual institutions like government firefighting agencies; there is no assurance that a contract firefighting company will exist next year or even next week. There are no restrictions on who can become a wildland fire contractor; anyone who can take a few simple training courses and can afford the minimum equipment can become a wildland fire contractor.
~ Nothing lasts forever. Look how much the USFS has changed.

*As the pool of wildland fire contractors increases and the number of agency firefighters decreases, there are fewer well-qualified firefighters available from which to promote our future agency fire supervisors, which means the Forest Service is becoming less able to insure that future wildland firefighting activities can be conducted with a reasonable margin of safety.
~ Many contractors have been employed by agencies such as the USFS. Also the USFS can not insure that accidents will not happen. Does anyone think that any employer would intentionally put an employee in a situation that could likely result in direct and serious harm coming to that employee? Often statements like the one above insinuates that we do.

Ok I am done :)
a contractor from R6

Entrapment/fatality/injury Spreadsheet 2008 (215 K pdf file) cover memo
Entrapment Fatality/injury Spreadsheet 2007 (pdf file) cover memo
Entrapment Fatality/injury Spreadsheet 2006 (pdf file)
Entrapment Fatality/injury Spreadsheet 2002 (pdf file)
Safety Gram '01
Safety Gram '00-'01

Historical Wildland Fire Accidents thru 2003 by typeby stateby year

2/9 To Misery Whip,

Right on! If only we could make your letter a screen saver at
the regional and washington offices......


2/9 The Three C’s of Forest Service Cultural Disruption: Centralizing, Computerizing, and Contracting

Abs & All,

To echo other recent They Said posters, I would also like to express my respect and thanks to the Abs for facilitating this excellent forum. Along with being the best info source anywhere for breaking wildland fire issues, They Said allows federal firefighters to speak honestly about our profession during these tough times.

I don’t know about the other fed wildland fire agencies, but the Big Green Machine is in dire straits today. The Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management program has been heavily impacted by “management efficiency” initiatives enacted since 2001 as part of the President’s Management Agenda. The combined effects of centralizing, computerizing, and outsourcing have transformed a formerly high-functioning fire fighting organization into a paralyzed, eviscerated, and stunned shadow of its former self.

The latest debacle to be dumped on us is GovTrip, a slow, complex, bug-riddled computer-based self-administered travel program that requires ridiculous amounts of employee time to book a simple trip. Although it is massively inefficient and wastes countless working hours, we are now all travel agents. On top of GovTrap (Trip), all “unnecessary” travel is currently prohibited due to lack of funds; the wheels of the Big Green Machine have truly come off in a figurative sense.

After the past 8 years of Bush administration mismanagement, the Forest Service F & AM program is about as functional today as a rusty ’46 Ford pickup with no motor or wheels. The cumulative effects of centralizing, computerizing, outsourcing, management propaganda, declining budgets, and annual budget raids on non-fire programs have been devastating to our agency’s performance, employee morale, and our firefighter culture.

There have been no meaningful analyses to date that demonstrate any increase in efficiency or cost savings from Bush administration initiatives. Wildland fire suppression costs and the number of acres burned have set all-time records in recent years, which would appear to demonstrate that “management efficiencies” are actually making us less able to extinguish wildland fires and keep costs down.

In addition to the Bush administration’s many misaimed management initiatives, the enactment by Congress of Public Law 107-203 has fundamentally changed how Forest Service firefighters perceive accident investigations today. By failing to defend accused mid-level fire supervisors or mount a meaningful argument for PL 107-203’s revision or rescission, Forest Service management has left our fire supervisors at the “tip of the spear” unfairly susceptible to criminal investigation, criminal charges, imprisonment, and/or loss of career.

So why should anyone care that the Forest Service firefighter culture is in sad shape? Because during the same period our culture was spiraling down the toilet, leading scientists and safety experts were telling us that culture is the most important safety determinant in organizations in which employees are frequently exposed to hazardous circumstances.

It would, of course, be a vast over-simplification to say a widely scattered organization like the Forest Service has a single culture. Each region, forest, and district has developed unique cultural attributes over the years. Other cultural variants exist at regional headquarters, the Washington Office, and the National Interagency Fire Center.

There is, however, an over-arching Forest Service culture into which we all fit, which is why a Forest Service employee can change jobs from the Francis-Marion National Forest in South Carolina to the Lolo National Forest in Montana, or vice versa, and still find the same systems, organizational structures and cultural values.

Our Forest Service fire management organization has an unparalleled history of leading and changing agency culture, usually for the better. Current troubles aside, the Forest Service fire management program is still recognized as one of the premier wildland fire fighting organizations in the world. On the aviation management side…. not so much.

The biggest and most obvious recent change in Forest Service sub-cultures is the development of a management sub-culture of Washington Office and regional leaders that does not appear to understand or support the agency’s wildland fire/aviation mission.

A few months ago Chief Kimbell distributed a message saying that she wants the Forest Service to adopt and follow High Reliability Organizing culture-based safety principles. I think this is a great idea; unfortunately, the recent downward slide of Forest Service culture accelerated and reached a critical level during her tenure. She is as responsible as anyone for our present cultural slump.

Whether or not the plethora of culture-damaging management initiatives that occurred on our current chief’s watch were forced from above by Mark Rey or the USDA or others is irrelevant. What is relevant is that by endorsing these misguided initiatives and extolling their virtues, her credibility has been so compromised that the possibility she might establish a mutually trustful relationship with rank-and-file Forest Service firefighters under an Obama-lead administration seems unlikely.

The complex and unforgiving nature of wildland firefighting has lead to rightful comparisons of our profession with modern warfighting. As with warfighting, wildland firefighting requires teams of trained professionals to temporarily join together to accomplish a time critical objective against a remorseless enemy in an unfamiliar hazard filled environment.

Every year, wildland firefighters are injured or killed, and millions of dollars worth of WUI homes are destroyed. Behind every injury, death or charred foundation of a home are the momentous decisions of well-intended fire supervisors and firefighters. Because of the chaotic and frequently uncertain nature of wildland firefighting, an error in judgment by an individual firefighter or their supervisor can result in death or property destruction.

When viewed as a risk management problem, the current dysfunctional state of the Forest Service F & AM program is so bad that it is almost a certainty that more wildland firefighters and aviators will die because of it in upcoming fire seasons. In Job Hazard Analysis terms, this is a known hazard that is likely to have multiple catastrophic consequences.

As one who bleeds green, it pains me to say that I think the Forest Service F & AM program is so dysfunctional today that it either needs to be stove-piped or become part of an independently managed federal wildland fire management agency.

The Three C’s of Cultural Disruption: Centralizing, Computerizing, and Contracting

or, how management initiatives purported to be beneficial are gravely damaging the Forest Service wildland firefighter culture and making firefighters less safe


A key part of current Forest Service management “strategy” is the centralization of support functions such as Human Resources, Information Technology, and Business Practices. Instead of being able to consult with local specialists to quickly resolve local issues, employees must now contact a centralized consultant by telephone or computer.

In many cases, firefighters and fire supervisors are now forced to become immersed in complex topics not relevant to firefighting to insure their need or problem gets resolved. Frequently, the Albuquerque Service Center centralized consultant is poorly trained or incapable of immediately answering the questions addressed to them. Everyday program support tasks and incidental needs that were formerly accomplished by a brief visit with an in-house specialist or delegated to support personnel now take days or weeks to accomplish.

To put it kindly, centralizing vital Forest Service functions has been a disaster for end users in terms of wasted hours alone. After years of struggling with this poorly conceived and executed experiment, it has become obvious to everyone (except senior management, apparently) that centralizing vital support functions doesn’t work in a widely scattered organization like the Forest Service.


For lack of a better term, I use the term “computerizing” to describe the steadily increasing list of mandatory computer related programs that divert all Forest Service employees from performing meaningful work. Management says computer-based programs such as Paycheck, Gov Trip, Avue, Purchase Card Management System, Ag Learn, and others save costs and help employees perform work more efficiently.

Unfortunately, each of these programs forces the user to spend significant blocks of time learning how to operate it, and additional time to use it. When periodic Ag Learn e-training notices threaten to shut off employee access to computers (which means you won’t get paid because you can’t access the Paycheck program) for not completing computer security literacy training, computer security literacy training becomes the employee’s work priority.

Together, computerizing critical Forest Service functional areas and eliminating local support personnel means that all employees now spend a significant portion of their work week dealing with user unfriendly computer programs. Program glitches and programming errors generate a steady stream of email messages and fixes for various computer system problems that further distract employees from performing meaningful work.

An informal poll in my workplace puts the time penalty for computer-centric distractions as occupying about one third of our working hours. For supervisors with responsibilities for hiring and managing employees, the computer time penalty may be much greater.


Contract wildland firefighting engines and crews have been utilized to conduct prescribed burns and fight fires on Forest Service protected lands since the late 1970’s. However, the use of contracted fire crews and fire engines has grown exponentially since 2001.

Although Forest Service firefighters still provide initial attack response on most national forests, contract engines and hand crews frequently outnumber their federal counterparts on large, long-term fires. Negative aspects of the shift to contractors include:

  • The number of contractors who have been injured or killed while supporting wildland firefighting activities on Forest Service protected lands has skyrocketed in recent years. Whereas contractors once accounted for a very small percentage of Forest Service fire injuries or fatalities, in 2008 contractors lead all categories of wildland firefighters in the number of deaths incurred in support of Forest Service fire suppression operations.
  • Although numerous cases of false identification, forged training certificates and other forms of cheating have been identified among wildland fire contractors, they are still permitted to self-certify physical tests, wildland fire training and qualifications.
  • Under the provisions of Best Value contracts, contractors are rewarded for superior performance and may be penalized for poor performance. Best Value contractors have a disincentive for self reporting errors or anything that would reflect negatively on their performance (and income). This disincentive directly conflicts with the high level of frankness and honesty required to sustain a reporting and learning culture, a baseline tenet of High Reliability Organizing.
  • There are as many contractor cultures as there are contractors. Some are OK, others are astonishingly bad.
  • Supervising fire contractors requires that fire operations supervisory personnel learn and adhere to complex wildland firefighting contracts. The time spent learning, discussing, and interpreting aspects of wildland fire contracts is an unnecessary distraction that detracts from firefighter safety and efficiency.
  • A very low proportion of contracting officers to contract engines and crews has left agency fireline supervisors shouldering the load for contract compliance and enforcement. This is a safety issue, as the fulfillment of contractual obligations and contractual distractions frequently divert fire operations supervisors from focusing on firefighting operations.
  • Contract firefighters are only paid while they are engaged in firefighting, and are obligated to pay large bills for all of their training, fuel and equipment needs. Therefore, contractors have a disincentive for putting out fires; the sooner the fire goes out, the sooner their income stops.
  • Contractors companies are not perpetual institutions like government firefighting agencies; there is no assurance that a contract firefighting company will exist next year or even next week. There are no restrictions on who can become a wildland fire contractor; anyone who can take a few simple training courses and can afford the minimum equipment can become a wildland fire contractor.
  • As the pool of wildland fire contractors increases and the number of agency firefighters decreases, there are fewer well-qualified firefighters available from which to promote our future agency fire supervisors, which means the Forest Service is becoming less able to insure that future wildland firefighting activities can be conducted with a reasonable margin of safety.

Like many other downtrodden Forest Service employees, I am hopeful that President Obama’s appointees will recognize the damage done by his predecessor and will help us become a functioning organization once again. During the handover to President Obama’s team, it is expected that Bush administration appointees and like-minded senior Forest Service lackeys will attempt to portray their management legacy of outsourcing, centralizing, and computerizing as a success.

Incoming Obama appointees and new Forest Service leadership should view any such claims with deep skepticism, as the track record of Bush appointees and current Forest Service “leaders” on such matters has been decidedly propagandistic, frequently untrue, and driven by an unrelenting ideological predisposition toward shrinking government regardless of negative outcomes.

Misery Whip

2/9 Re Archived National SIT reports:


You can download the entire fire history for california, by agency here:


You'll probably need to do some type of GIS exercise to sort and get
just the data you want.

Also they have weather files, by station, that you can download..........


2/9 Re Archived National SIT reports:


Here's a link to Archived National SIT reports. If this doesn't work,
contact the dispatch centers of the areas you are looking at and they
should have annual compilations of fires.



I had forgotten there's a permanent link to the archived sit reports on the Links page under News & Reports. Ab.

2/9 Several emails on the topic of arson jihad. Aside from the url, I suggest we discuss this off the public forum... Ab.

From one poster, E: Unfortunately if true it has been pretty successful, and the US was
mentioned on their website....

From a second unnamed poster: Heads up everyone....here they come. This is something we talked about several years ago. I found this posted on drudgereport.

"Islam group urges forest fire jihad"


AUSTRALIA has been singled out as a target for "forest jihad" by a group of Islamic extremists urging Muslims to deliberately light bushfires as a weapon of terror.

US intelligence channels earlier this year identified a website calling on Muslims in Australia, the US, Europe and Russia to "start forest fires", claiming "scholars have justified chopping down and burning the infidels' forests when they do the same to our lands". (etc, go to the url)

No Name Please...

2/9 Notes on the stay and defend method~ And how CA is trying to maybe look into/transition into it?


2/8 Re Radios and Fire Shelters, LCES:

Another CDF BC

I'm not an expert on the radios by any means but from my humble point
of view: ..we were sort of lucky in the OC. The cops have all the
money and they needed radio patches for their 800 mhz (the same 800
trunked system we share), they funded stuff we had waited a long time
for. We have two means of patching, one for our 800 MhZ to other 800
systems and one for 800 to VHF systems. The VHF connection is called
"OC Access" and patches the common fire list of VHF. We have tried
to pre-designate certain VHF frequencies in mulit-agency IA areas like
Carbon and Santa Ana Canyons so everyone has something common for
initial attack and command. How the repeater magic all works I'm not
sure but I do know the radio tone has to be selected at the dispatch
console and is not selectable in the field.

If you really want the
details, send me a private note through AB and I'll hook you up with
our Comm Techs. I do know that LA County can't talk to anyone on
their day-to-day radios because they have unique 470Mhz. frequencies
they call the "Blue" system, and they don't have a pre-established
patch system like the OCs. They do have means of patching with a
mobile comm unit and can make it work for major fires, just not with
the ease that Orange County can for IA. However, LAC also carries VHF
on every rig for their fire tacticals and large incident command. If
you're moving up as a strike team to cover LAC and will be on their
initial attack, you have to get one of their "blue" radios for IA
command and dispatch. They, like ORC, VNC, SBC etc. are pretty quick
about adopting a comm plan for major incidents that utilizes VHF

All this does all cause problems, you're right. I have had IA fires in
mutual threat areas on our north boundary, an area that gets first
alarm resources from LAC, ORC, CALFIRE RRU and BDU, San Bernardino
County, Brea, and Chino Valley Fire. During red flag conditions that we've
have can be a total of around 25 engines, 10 crews, 6 dozers, five
type 2 and two type 1 copters, 2 superscoopers, 2 CALFIRE air tankers
and an ATGS on the first alarm. Can you imagine a 10 acre fire with
all that stuff on the ground and in orbit above? The resources can be
more of a problem than the fire! Communications are critical to
everyone's safety, and safety can sometimes mean just turning back the
flow off all the inbound resources..

Contract County Guy

2/8 My heart goes out to the people of Australia.


2/8 I have a question concerning Who Can Sign Off Assignment for a task book?

I was sent to a fire where I was the highest qualified IC on scene. I was a type 4 trainee but by the time we arrived, the fire was already a type 4. I informed dispatch of the changing conditions and requested a type 4 IC. Because of the lack of resources they informed me that it was going to be a few hours before the type 4 IC could arrive. Anyways long story short, I took control as the IC and contained the fire before the type 4 IC arrived ( about 3 hours later). When he did arrived my engine was requested to IA another start so we left. Since I didn't actually serve under a trainer I asked my FMO if he could sign off some sections on my IC type 4 task book. He refused to do so because he said "I wasn't there". I only needed two sections to have it completed.

That fire was a great training assignment but I can't get any signatures for it???

So that's my question is " who could make signatures since I didn't have a trainer"?


PS. I'm sure the first question that pops into peoples minds is "Why were you serving in a IC position you were not qualified for"? I did go through the proper channels for requesting a qualified IC but since we had a lack of resources, dispatch told me to do the best that I could. This wasn't the first time I have seen this happen.
2/8 Re Australia Fires:


The news from Australia just gets worse and worse...


This is Australia's deadliest fire season ever. No indication that they're
looking for resources from the States...yet.

All you Aussie FF's, be careful and stay safe down there!


2/8 Re Archived Sit Reports


Haven you tried contacting the districts/units directly for that info?
I bet a little direct contact would get you much of what you are
looking for.


2/8 Another CDF BC talked about the radios in ICS,

we need to look at the amount of inmates that the crew captains supervise.


2/8 Re Radios and Fire Shelters, LCES:

Contract County Guy-

I’ll take your comments at face value since I’m not a technical expert in radio frequencies. Maybe you can explain how it is that in 2008 on the last round of fires in Southern California that the state resources could not talk to LA County Dispatch or LA City Fire on the Sesnon, Merek, and Sayre fires because of incompatible radios? Do you see a problem with that scenario? I do.

You seem fairly knowledgeable on the process so I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on why CAL FIRE resources must check out an LA County Fire handheld radio so the talk to dispatch centers when they are pre-positioned in that county. This renders their mobile radios useless. Usually, in the case of an engine strike team, the practice is to only check out one handheld so this leaves the remaining five engines without the ability to hear the command channel and only the tactical channels. The command frequencies are what they call the Blue channels like Blue 4, 11, & 12. I am not talking about their tactical nets or A/G.

This is LCES, sorry.

Thanks for your insight on this.

“Another CDF BC”

2/8 Ab or anyone

I am wracking my brain trying to write a class paper on fires in North Western California. I have been searching the internet for old sit reports. The ones that I am looking for would be for the 2002 to 2004 fire seasons for North Western California. The units/districts would be Six Rivers National Forest (Mad River District), Humboldt-Del Norte CDF units, Redwoods National Park and Arcata BLM, I have looked everywhere but can't seem to find anything. If anyone could guide me in the right direction, I would appreciate it.


2/8 Re Radios and Fire Shelters, LCES:

Another CDF BC

Your post would suggest that Orange County doesn't use VHF
standardized frequencies...and that's nonsense. We operate on those
frequencies the same as anybody else when were on mutual threat,
using multi-agency resources, or on large fires. On the large fire in
question where the burnover occurred, you may be unaware that the 800
frequencies being used on the fire were linked to their counterpart
VHF frequencies electronically. That renders the 800 radio capable of
transmitting and receiving the standard VHF radio frequencies when the
repeater link is established. (Its done as easily as the flip of a
switch in dispatch). However, the frequency is still 800 Mhz with the
link, hence the problem inside the shelters. The rest of your comments
about compromising FIRESCOPE principles and violating LCES is quite a
stretch and inaccurate in this case.

Contract County Guy

2/8 Re Engine standardization discussion beginning on 2/2:

Found this floating around Notes. Interesting part is the single stage pumps.

(See attached file: enginesstandardbrief.doc)
(See attached file: enginestandardcost.doc)


2/8 Re Radios and Fire Shelters, LCES:


The real issue here is not the fact that the 800 MHz radios don’t work inside fire shelters, it’s that they are on the fire at all. Any agency working on an incident that receives funding in any form (budgeted or through Emergency Fund or FMAG/FEMA process) from the state or federal government must be required as part of that funding supplement to communicate with those state and federal agencies on radio network infrastructures they maintain for the purpose of suppressing fires in their respective “Direct Protection Areas.”

Orange County is a “Contract County” to CAL FIRE in California and receives an allocation equivalent to what CAL FIRE pays for an administrative unit (formerly a “Ranger Unit" -- which Orange was prior to 1980) to protect the “State Responsibility Area” using a set of criteria that dates back decades. This would include all elements of operation and expenditure dollars and personnel costs using the CAL FIRE rates.

If the local agency desires to use 800 MHz radio system for their day to day use, that is their choice. However, these agencies including their dispatch centers must maintain a second radio system that provides a communication link with the State and Federal resources.

The fire service is violating one of the core tenants of LCES by allowing this situation to occur primarily in Southern California. As you can imagine, during an incident, it compromises every basic principle FIRESCOPE was created to rectify. Orange County Fire Authority is just one of many local agencies that have migrated and contributed to this fractured communications situation.

“Another CDF BC”

2/7 Re RLT Meeting:

Anyone else find it ironic that these folks, (GS-11's, 12's and 13's),
are the same ones telling us, (GS-5's, 6's and 7's), that we don't
deserve a raise...??? Oh, silly me, they are the leaders.

Quick Connect

2/7 Re RLT Meeting:

Northright said: The RLT is paying $10 to get into a federally funded Kegger. That is the classic line classic of 2009.

It's good to see some emotion in our forum. After our full court press in 2008 including the email campaign, it seemed like we have been in staging, awaiting the next Pena or Moore email so we can react vs. keeping the pressure on and staying proactive (aside from FWFSA). Our success in 2008 pushed the Forest Service agenda and changed the program of work of our agency including the schedules of the RLT and WO so called leaders. This needs to be sustained in 2009 to bring about the desired condition.

I am an FWFSA member. If you are not a member, hopefully you will reconsider and join now. Always remember we can't just pay our dues, sit back and wait. We must all fight, be vocal and progressive. We must be united and vocal in our opposition of having a Line Officer (kegger party attendee) or Junior Line Officer (District Ranger) within our chain-of-command. They must all be purged from our chain-of-command. This traditional line of thinking is old school and it must be changed as it was when Line Officers told our LE&I group what to and what not to investigate in the 80's and 90's. It did not work for the cops and now Line has failed fire management as well. I know of many Line Officers who are truly outstanding public servants, good stewards of the land and progressive managers. However many of them, if not all of those same Line Officers are in 100% agreement that management of the fire program must change.

If we redirected the millions of dollars fire provides in the support of HR and Fiscal groups at ASC and the millions we give to IRM for computer and radio support, we could hire our own support groups who are supervised and held accountable to a fire leader. Then when we get an online training system, new travel program, get a radio fixed or a new hiring process we would have someone with extensive time in the field as a Fire Leader involved in the design and who understands how this will affect a field dominated fire program.

The kegger party: Mixed emotions on this, all of them negative. Anger and mistrust, sure. However many view the kegger party and travel excess of the RLT as a very sad turn of events.

The primary proactive reaction we should take is that if you get involved, if you are vocal, if you stay and fight and if you say enough is enough, then maybe, just maybe, this could be our turning point.

In a year with Firefighters having training cancelled due to a travel cap, help stop this federally funded kegger party at a resort in San Luis Obispo. Let them know very loudly and clearly that we're back and ready for 2009.

Remember us Line? We are the ones you spoke about in front of Congress and video conference on April 1, 2008. The day you lied from coast to coast.


Fighting for Change We Can Believe In!

2/7 800mhz radio/Shelters:


Here's a safety bulletin put out by Orange County.



2/7 About Radios in Fire Shelters:

Our agency uses 800 Mhz as its primary radio frequencies. We heard
these rumors too and tested use of these radios inside a fire shelter
and found that the radios are inhibited and trouble is experienced in
both broadcasting and in reception. We put out a department wide
safety bulletin about it. Also, during a burnover experienced by
agency personnel in 2007, one of our Captains had to slip his radio
antenna outside the bottom edge of the shelter in order to achieve
communications. 800 Mhz also has risks for eye injury that are well
documented. Even though the radio can work with very short antennas,
they are equipped with longer ones to keep the tip of the antenna
further from the eye. I believe the radio problems like this might be
limited to 800 mhz though. Best thing to do is crawl into one for
practice and give it a run.

Contract County Guy
2/7 Re: "Next Generation Fire Shelter:" on 'They Said' 02/06:

I found a paper, " Fire Shelters Weaken Transmissions From Hand-Held Radios"
(username= t-d, password= t-d) published in 2003 from the MTDC where testing
was done on VHF and UHF radios.

The testing addressed poor communication inside shelters and the roasted retina issue
(last paragraph under "Study Details").

Thank you,

AZ 148

2/7 A Black Day Downunder:

Info from MSN.com

Police are reporting up to 40 killed in Australian wildfires, 30,000 firefighters
have been mobilized.

"Victoria state police said the death toll might exceed 40 as dozens of
fires burned unchecked across at least 115 square miles of forests,
farmland and towns.

Some officials described the day as the worst in the country's history of

"The deadly fire burned on a front of up to 12 miles and was moving at
around 40 mph, officials said. At least 115 square miles was burned out
by that one fire."

More here www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29067017

Map: www.aus-emaps.com/bushfires.phpl


Heat wave map: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=36900
NASA imagery 013009
NASA imagery 020709

2/7 Re RLT Meeting:

Way to go RLT,

In the letter it states "examining agency's ... challenges facing fire operations and management". How about leadership that leads by example... DUMBA$$E$. You not only dropped the ball, scr*wed the pooch, and tossed the baby out with the bath water, you sent a terrible message to the field. I am ashamed of all of you. You have lost what little respect I had left for you.

I remember when Randy "the rules don't apply to management" Moore visited our forest when he first came to R-5. Said a lot of good things, said some things that challenged people, but I guess he only meant those things for the people in the field. Another politician spewing BS. Early retirement is sounding better and better, and that's to bad because I love my job but hate dealing our so-called leadership. I hope somebody apologizes for this stupidity, but I'm sure they will find a way to justify it, oh wait that's not necessary, they are our "leadership", they don't have to, they are above the law. RLT? Regional Lack of common sense Team? I'll never use word leadership again for those in the higher pay grades. Shame, shame, shame ...

Sign me,
Disheartened - Lost all respect for the R_T <<< the L is missing

2/7 Down unda':


On the news this morning - 14 killed in wildfires raging in Australia. We need to keep
the firefighters and citizens in our prayers, looks very bad down there.


..another old greenie

More links to follow here, including some to slideshows and videos. Ab.

2/7 From Firescribe a good 10 min video from you-tube:

Slash and Burn. San Diego County's twisted approach to fire risk reduction.

Rather than dealing comprehensively with wildfire risk and adequately funding a regional fire department, San Diego County has decided to blame nature. Their strategy is to masticate, burn, and graze protected wildland areas to "remove" native vegetation. This audio slide show is a summary of a 2009 hearing in San Diego where public officials ignored scientific and community opposition by forwarding an environmentally destructive vegetation "management" report to the County's Board of Supervisors.

2/7 Ab,

Thanks for posting FireJobs www.wildlandfire.com/jobs.php.

Some great candidates as future wildland firefighters and future fire managers.

If folks are recruiting for open positions, this is a good place to look. It is
found under the Jobs Wanted section.

/s/ Fire recruiter

There are good candidates listed in Jobs Wanted. However, we don't know the people seeking jobs. If any one is a known problem, please give us a heads up. Thanks, Ab.

2/6 Next Generation Fire Shelter:

Is it true or not that there is a hazard of using a portable 800 mghtz radio
when inside of the "Next Generation Fire Shelters". Recently, one of our
firefighters attended a class which made statements that the radio waves
will bounce around inside of the shelter, not transmit beyond the shelter
and possibly damage the entrapped persons eyes. Is this a fact or just an
urban legend? Please advise!

Thank you,

Brian White.

2.6 Retention bonus and apprentices, RLT and Casey:


I would expect after conversion not the receiving of your 5, but I have been
wrong before. I'm thinking that the intention of the retention incentive is not
to retain apprentices, but their mentors and supervisors.


Hmm....Oops. You've been caught. The best part is...How much of it is coming
out of fire funding. Transparency in our fire budget from congress to the modules
would be and interesting thing to see. I'm hurting for tools, saws, appropriate
storage, hose, and updated GPS. The RLT is paying $10 to get into a federally
funded Kegger.


Quadruple bypass! Glad you made it through. We need you. Look at the bright
side, most of people on the hill have a zipper as well. :)


2/6 Announcement:

Recently, members of the Wildland Fire Policy Committee of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) authored several articles for On Scene, the IAFC’s member publication.  The list of articles includes:.

•    Update: Leave Early or Stay and Defend
•    2009 Quadrennial Fire Review Final Report
•    Integrating Private Firefighting Resources
•    Recognition of Prior Learning: Wildland Firefighter Qualification Assessment Tool, Pilot #2
•    National Fire Safety-Property Insurance Wildfire Summit
•    WUI Commentary: Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?
These articles are now available to all through the IAFC website.  Please note that several of the articles relate to sessions taking place at the upcoming Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) 2009 conference in Reno, Nevada, March 22-26.  For the complete schedule, visit www.iafc.org/wui.
WUI 2009 is presented by the IAFC, in collaboration with the US Forest Service, US Department of the Interior, and National Association of State Forrester's.

2/6 Retention Bonus:

Does anyone know if the 10% "bonus" will also be applied to apprentices in R-5
who have received the upgrade from a 4 to a 5 even though they are still in the


2/6 Re: Region 5 Regional Leadership Team Meeting

Gee, am I missing something? Rooms in Reno are only $60/night ($106 at Sycamore) and the M&IE rate is $49/day ($54 at Sycamore). Furthermore, more so than not, most "resorts" in Reno will comp the conference room if enough rooms are booked at their "resort". And my, Reno has a very accessible jetport with shuttles to the major "resorts". And if my geography is correct, isn't Reno approx 3.5 hours from the puzzle palace in Vallejo? It is my impression as a "non-federal employee" that strict guidelines for travel and cutting costs have been implemented, but they apparently don't pertain to "upper" (small case) management. Incredible.................


2/6 Good news about Casey.
I understand Micki stole his laptop and cell phone and left him at the hospital
with only his clothes. I'm surprised she didn't take those as well.

Sad news about Bob.
I know many of you who are nearby and able will be attending Bob Schroeder's
service this morning. My thoughts and prayers are with you and his family.


2/6 For the Regional Leadership Team Tuesday night "social" event........

What the R-5 Memo said,

"...we request either your donation of $10 or that you bring a choice of refreshment."

What the intent of the R-5 Memo actually said was,

"Either 'donate' (bail out) to the folks who laid down the bar tab (paid for the social hour).... or BYOB ."

For some reason, that needed to be interpreted properly for folks not used to reading things from the RO.... especially since it should be found on an official correspondence.... but wait.... It can't be found in the REQUIRED FS Correspondence Database either.... Go figure!!!'


The entire original letter seems to be missing for some reason....... GAO or USDA OIG anyone? Bueller...Bueller?

/s/ Party on like it's 1965.... 2009 will hit you soon.
2/6 Re Pilot and NTSB:

True enough Pyro and Gizmo


When the NTSB gets on scene.... The pilots accident becomes more of a public
record than many a firefighter although that has changed recently in the last three
or more years.

The land management agencies records don't appear as readily as an NTSB
report and you never really see anything mentioning a whole lot of failures like
"pilots failure to......"

Maybe land management agencies need to have their reports state more like
NTSB reports.

No need to put my name again

2/6 Re: Region 5 Regional Leadership Team Meeting

I certainly hope they got the USDA OCFO approval in advance.... and report it properly to Congress. Touche.

Senator Feinstein: (415) 393-0707 or (202) 224-3841.


4 nights @ $106.00 per night x 60 rooms = $25,440

60 people x 4 nights @ the SLO per diem rate ($54) = $12,960

Estimated transportation costs of $200 per person @ 60 people = $12,000

Estimated Costs of salaries 40 hrs x 60 people with a median GS-15 ($60.69/hr, RUS*) salary = $145,656

Region 5 "Leadership" thinking they are immune from Public Law 110-246 (pdf file)** .... Priceless

* Note: RUS Salary was used as it is the lowest scale. Actual costs are higher since most areas in California are covered by specific area locality tables.

** Note: PL 110-246 1) Department of Agriculture Transparency - Section 14208 (Page 574), and 2) Definition of a Conference (Page 575).

Ref: 12/18/2008 They Said Post from Focused on Facts and Collaboration


PO'd R-5 Chief Officer
2/6 RLT meeting in SLO

Looks like a nice romantic place. They didn't mention its a resort. I wonder if
they went through the USDA Chief Financial Officer for approval of this meeting
or is there a double standard I am not aware of. It must be under 20k. Maybe
we could have the Division Chiefs Workshop there next year. Hmmmmmm.
check it out



2/5 Fires in Australia:

Here's a link to info on fires in Oz - I doubt they are asking for any help from the
US at this time, but it's really dry down there!


...another old greenie

2/5 Fires in Australia:

Hi Ab,

Has anyone heard any news about the bush fires burning down in Australia?
Are any US resources being requested?



2/5 Region 5 Regional Leadership Team Meeting:

Got travel Cap?
Got barracks?

I know a place in Fresno and Reno that might be available for much less then $106 a night.

Just prior to losing all the power (and money), someone once said to the starving population "Let them Eat Cake". Hmmmmm.

Hmmmmmm. Darn, I must have missed that memo from Line asking for comments from the field about the challenges facing fire operations and fire management so they can be thoroughly explored during the RLT meeting, while RLT members sip on the SLO mineral water (pinky extended while drinking please for the full elitist effect).

Centralized Fire Today, Tomorrow and Forever!

It's getting to the point where this is getting really embarrassing.


Let them drink mineral water in SLO.

PS - How about this headline: "2000 Firefighters converge on SLO in protest on Regional Leadership, Film at 11". hah..........


Date: January 12, 2009
Subject: February 23-27, Regional Leadership Team Meeting

To: Forest Supervisors and Directors
Date: January 12, 2009
Subject: February 23-27, Regional Leadership Team Meeting
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors

The Regional Leadership Team meeting will be begin at 8 a.m., February 24 through 4 p.m., February 26, with Monday and Friday as travel dates. The meeting will be located in San Luis Obispo, at the Sycamore Mineral Springs, located at 1215 Avila Beach Drive, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405. A block of 60 rooms has been reserved at a single occupancy rate of $106.00/night. Please make your room reservations no later than Friday, January 23, by calling the hotel at (805) 595-7302 or (800) 234-5831, USDA FOREST SERVICE. Each individual must provide their own exemption certificate upon check in to the hotel.

The agenda team for this meeting remains as Angela Coleman, Kathy Gorman, Sherry Reckler, Jeanne Wade Evans, and Ken Heffner. We will focus much of the agenda on understanding and preparing to address priorities of the New Administration and Congress; examining agency's fire policy and challenges facing fire operations and management; and increasing our coordination and partnership with Law Enforcement to confront our collective challenges.

There are plans for a social event Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m., and we request either your donation of $10 or that you bring a choice of refreshment. We would like to remind everyone that this meeting will be in conjunction with the LEI meeting during the same week. Additionally, Ron Pugh’s Retirement celebration will be held on Thursday evening. For travel purposes, please plan on spending the full three days in San Luis Obispo, with travel on Monday and Friday.

Travel Safe!

/s/ Angela V. Coleman (for)
Regional Forester

2/5 Excellent news! Got a call from Micki. Casey is done with surgery, through recovery and resting in ICU. He'll be resting quietly for at least 24 hours.

She said they did a quadruple bypass instead of triple. She said the ICU nurse said his heart looks good, he was responding to commands, but they're keeping him pretty drugged up. She really appreciates the prayers and is looking forward to keeping him around.

Phew, it's great that's done. Get well Casey!


2/5 Where fire burns to the Pacific Ocean...

Sunny California's Lost Coast. Small lightning fire started right where I'm standing last June.

Honeydew Fire on the Lost Coast in 2003


Thanks, Jesse, I put them on Fire 40 and Engines 22 photo pages. Ab.

2/5 Fire in Oregon and California:

From Jerry S, BLM

These were taken on DIV A trying to finish a firing operation ahead of

Oregon, Piute Fire 8/08

Thanks Jerry, I posted them on Equipment 13. Ab.

Also posted some fine pics on Handcrews 25, several from Squeeb and a very nice night burn silhouette from Jay Fasset on the same page. Another from Squeeb on Helicopters 26 photo page.

2/5 From Firescribe:

Bill would restore pension credits for returning federal workers

2/5 Hemet-Ryan Air Attack - photos from socal.

Hemet-Ryan Air Attack Base during the '07 fire siege. We accommodated over half of Cal-Fire's aircraft. I believe there were approx. 7 Air Attacks (OV-10 Broncos) and 15-17 S-2T Tankers.

The door to the "Helitack Shed" at Hemet-Ryan Air Attack Base.

Thanks Matt, terrific line up. I added them to the Airtankers 28 and the Helicopters 26 photo pages. Readers, I also added a pic of Matt to the Helicopters 26 photo page.

I'm getting closer to being caught up. These are from 0408. Maybe only 20 more groups of photos and fire manager history emails to go... Ab.

2/5 Pennsylvania fire in '08 and equipment/resources to fight it:

These pics were taken at a fire in Butler Twp, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania on 4-19-08.  Photos sent in by Trucksville Fire. (0408) Bill Barr took the closeup SEAT photo.

Thanks, I put them on Fire 39, Airtankers 28, Equipment 13 and Engines 22. Ab.

2/5 Photo Submission from 2007, Fire in San Diego County CA:

San Diego County Copter 12 making a drop near firefighters at the regional training
exercise at the Barona Indian Reservation.

Mark Grow

Nice one. I put it on Helicopters 26 photo page. Thanks, Ab.

2/5 Photo Submissions from 2006, Fire in norcal:

Engine 84, Lassen National Forest getting water (first Pic)

Joint agency Station mates LNF E82 and CDF 2264 at first call together

Greg DF

Thanks, nice effect with the sun. I put them on Engines 22 photo page. Ab.

2/5 Photo Submission from 2006, Fire in Washington:


Here's a picture of the origin of the Lick Creek Fire (Washington State, August 2005)


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

2/5 Friends of Bob, and Pike Alumni:

Please feel free to contact the Crew with questions regarding Bob's service Friday.
If you have quality pics of our man, please email them.



2/4 Robert Alan Schroeder (47) born May 8, 1961 died Monday, February 2, 2009. The sorrow of his untimely passing is only lessened knowing he died doing what he loved surrounded by his wonderful crew and friends of the US Forest Service on the side of a beautiful Colo. mountain. He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Steve and Mildred Lavelett and Henry and Emily Schroeder as well as his mother and father, Beulah (Lavelett) and Robert Schroeder.

He is survived by his sister, Sandra Ehlert and husband, John, numerous aunts, uncles and cousins, his “extended family”, Kris Paxson, Carrie Anderson and her sons, Spencer and Sloan as well as his extremely close “brothers and sisters” from the National Hot Shot Firefighters and the US Forest Service.

We will all miss his smile, fun sense of humor, shining blue eyes but most of all, his caring and generous heart. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to: Wildland Firefighters Foundation, 2049 Airport Way, Boise, Idaho 83705/ www.wffoundation.org or the Sundance Kennels, 296 Spring Street, Palmer Lake, CO 80133 (yes, little Kita, this is on your behalf) in memory of Bob.

A memorial service will be held outdoors on
Friday morning, Feb 6th
at 11:30am
at Memorial Grove-Monument Fire Center
in Monument, Co., 3751 Mt. Herman Road

This will be followed by a potluck luncheon and time to share more wonderful memories of Bob’s life.

On behalf of Bob's immediate family and friends, we wish to express our sincere thanks to each of you who meant so much to my brother and friend for being such an important part of his life.

Kris Paxson
Monument Helitack

2/4 By now you should have all heard about the passing of one of our own on Monday while at work on a fuels project. If you havn't heard, it is with great sadness that I inform you now. The exact cause of Bob's death is not known yet but it is a presumed heart attack.

Bob was a long time employee in the fire program on the PSICC, beginning his career with us in 1993 on the Pike Hotshot Crew where he worked through the 2005 season before moving to a Fuels Technician position on the Pikes Peak District.

I personally knew Bob from his first day on the Forest, and spent many years working very closely with him on the Hotshot Crew. He was always respected by his peers and those he supervised. We will miss him.

I want to thank those of you involved at the scene on Monday for all your efforts. I can’t begin to understand all that you may be feeling but I can assure you we’ll help you, and all others who are hurting, get through this in any way we can.

Services for Bob will be in the Memorial Grove at the Monument Fire Center on Friday, February 6, 2009 at 1130. Shuttles will be provided from the Visitor Parking area down to the Grove from 10:00 - 10:45am. A small procession will leave from the inner compound to the Grove at 11am. You may walk with the procession down to the Grove at this time. A reception will follow in the Classroom at the Fire Center. The family requests that donations be made to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in lieu of any flowers.

Shane Greer
Forest Fire Management Officer
Pike & San Isabel N.F.
Comanche & Cimarron N.G.
2/4 Hello -

I came across this article today in a news search... "Union Calls for Removal from DHS" at: www.hstoday.us/content/view/7097/128/. Quote from the article:

"The FEMA employees contributing to the union's recommendations do not believe the National Response Framework is a useful plan for use in the response to a large-scale catastrophe. And while they approve of NIMS, they do not believe FEMA is organized around its principles thus defeating the intent of the management system. FEMA also fails to link its preparedness and response mechanisms as well as its recovery system to state and local programs or mutual aid systems for truly well coordinated consequence management, the union said."

I have to say this is a pretty darn good point, and I hope this report is able to influence positive change to fix the issue. Would be interested to see what others here think.

This site also had an article on the blog (http://slabbed.wordpress.com/), and you can get the entire report from the FEMA union here: http://slabbed.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/shattering_the_illusion_of_femas_progress.pdf.

Be safe-


2/4 This week’s “Last Message from the Chief” has been posted on the CAL FIRE Internet: www.fire.ca.gov/about_director.php and Intranet: http://webmain1/Newsletters/Chiefs Newsletter.pdf

Message from the Chief

Last Chief’s Memo – February 4, 2009

Yesterday I submitted a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger to advise him of my intent to retire from state service to pursue other opportunities.

I have not come to this decision easily, although I have been preparing for it for some time. I truly have enjoyed my time as the 13th State Fire Marshal of California and the 13th Director of CAL FIRE. “13” has been a lucky number for me. My first date with my wife in 1973 was on Friday the 13th. The time has come for me to spend more time with my family who has sacrificed much to allow me the opportunity to pursue my 34-year career in public safety.

My initial plans to retire in December 2007 were altered by the onslaught of the October 2007 fire siege and its aftermath. I then moved my prospective retirement date back to July 2008. But, once again, fate intervened when the unprecedented June 2008 dry lightening siege struck California. In this unpredictable line of work there is never an ideal time to leave.

However, I am now confident that I can move on to pursue other challenges in the field of public safety knowing that I leave behind a highly qualified team of professionals to continue with CAL FIRE’s important mission. The department has been undergoing an eight month process of succession planning at the executive level. If a transition of leadership is to take place at CAL FIRE, it is best to occur well in advance of the peak fire season.

During my tenure as chief of CAL FIRE, we have successfully faced wildfires of historic magnitude. I am grateful to all of you for your dedication, courage, and leadership. I am proud to have been associated with such an outstanding organization and I will cherish the friendships and professional relationships that have been developed. I am proud of the men and women that carry out the diverse and complex mission that provides protection year-round to all Californians.

Our experienced team of leaders at CAL FIRE has had many successes:

o Adopted Wildland Urban Interface Building Standards
o Adopted International Code Council (ICC) Building and Fire codes for CA
o Built strong relationships with local government through cooperative fire agreements delivered in a customer-oriented manner
o Confronted salary inversion and compaction issues
o Filled key leadership positions
o Replaced aging infrastructure at an accelerated rate
o Replaced an aging emergency fleet at an accelerated rate
o Addressed forest practice regulatory responsibilities and the future management of the state demonstration forest system.
o Developed 2-Year Work Plans for every CAL FIRE Program.
o Completed a reorganization that better integrates Fire Protection, Resource Management, and State Fire Marshal responsibilities.
o Clarified the mission of the organization and re branded CAL FIRE’s all-risk capabilities,
o Coordinated with other state agencies on statewide emergency responses.
o Made significant progress preparing the next generation of leaders and retaining our talented and diverse workforce
o Ensured that personnel selected for any position were qualified by training and experience.
o Reviewed and updated job classifications (firefighter 1, dispatcher clerks, etc) to ensure appropriate responsibilities and compensation levels
o Maintained aviation capabilities to ensure that CAL FIRE fixed-wing and helicopter fleet is able to meet all necessary response mission needs.
o Prepared necessary reports for the Governor’s Emergency Response Initiative for future emergency needs and capabilities.
o Provided innovative use of “Supertanker” aircraft to battle California wildfires.
o Maintained staffing levels at 4-person staffing during peak fire season.
o Developed and rolled-out Fire Hazard Severity Zone Maps for State Responsibility Areas (SRA) and Local Responsibility Areas (LRA), working with local government to implement newly adopted Building Standards with the fire hazard severity zone maps.
o Increased defensible space inspections, enforcement, and monitoring of overall compliance.
o Completed State Fire Training Master Plan to improve/standardize fire training for state and local agencies.
o Improved and expanded arson prevention measures with federal, state and local enforcement agencies.
o Created penalty-based funding mechanisms for fireworks enforcement to reduce the use of dangerous fireworks.
o Enhanced program to pursue cost recovery for the department and take enforcement actions where appropriate for large fires where responsible parties can be identified.
o Developed comprehensive action plan to meet the Governor’s Climate Action Goals.
o Maximized the use of bond funds to expand and increase urban and rural tree planting.
o Completion of a new management plan for Jackson Demonstration State Forest. Currently reviewing Timber Harvest Plans (THP) with stakeholders (Jackson Advisory Group).

While this is only a partial list of CAL FIRE successes, they were only possible because of our dedicated and talented employees, outreach to and participation by our stakeholders, and partnerships with local, state, and federal agencies.

As I have discussed in the past, leadership is about caring more about others than you do about yourself. People will follow when they know you are working toward common goals and a shared vision. I am confident you will continue to lead as CAL FIRE confronts future emergency and non-emergency challenges.

There are far too many people to thank. But, I must mention a few. First, I want to thank Governor Schwarzenegger for giving me the opportunity to serve in this capacity. His support, for me personally, and for CAL FIRE during the historic wildfires is something I will remember always. He led the State of California through these major disasters with courage, effectiveness, and compassion for our employees and for the people of California.

Secondly, I must thank Natural Resources Agency Secretary Mike Chrisman. He has been a leader, a friend, a mentor, and a supporter. It was his leadership at the Agency level and his support for CAL FIRE through the many challenges we have faced that has been instrumental to our many accomplishments.

Finally, I want to thank my executive team, our managers and supervisors, and the men and women of CAL FIRE. Your loyalty to our organization, your hard work and devotion, and your tireless efforts has greatly benefited the public we serve. We exist to serve the people of California. You have always gone above and beyond the call of duty to meet the public needs. I salute you!


Ruben Grijalva, Chief

2/4 Re: NTSB report on the SEAT

I have been an aircraft dispatcher for nearly 10 years in an area that has major urban interface issues and has had fires in recent years that posed an immediate life threat to civilians. These fires are frequently accompanied by extremely high winds that ground ALL aircraft including heavy tankers. We have also experienced aviation fatalities, although none in my time related to weather conditions. I cannot speak for the ground units or the company's that own the aircraft, but I can tell you that in our dispatch center "pilot's discretion" is the final word. I cannot imagine attempting to pressure a pilot to fly in adverse conditions. I certainly hope that we are not the exception, but rather, the rule in the dispatch community.

My heart goes out to Mr. Marais' family.

2/4 Concerning Bob Schroeder,

Bobby was one of the people who always amazed me. During my time on the crew he never
missed a call and was always the first one to volunteer for a difficult assignment. As a Squad
Leader he was respected by those he supervised. He was the type of person who could weld
two 2x4s together and could build anything. He was meticulous about weather observations.
He was always quick to smile or laugh, even during the tough times. He will be missed.

2/4 Hi Abs,

Does anyone have news of a memorial service for Bob Schroeder?
He spent a few months working on our district and was a great man
who could always be counted on for a laugh.


B Pi

All I have heard is that there are people in Monument CO working on it. I'm sure someone will let us know the details. Ab.

2/4 Re: Compartment Syndrome and other common Wildland Fire maladies

"Compartment Syndrome", "necrotizing fasciitis", and MRSA....

All fairly common end state medical problems in folks of similar employment (firefighters, extreme athletes, etc), but often without adequate descriptors of the who initially diagnosed and how/why?; Why they chose their diagnosis' and initial courses of treatment?; and where the similarities of exposure actually happened and preventative measures for others?

More research is needed in the hidden things that kill and injure firefighters. Hopefully we can all agree on that.


P.S. - Don't discount Mycotoxin (especially Fusarium Mycotoxin) as a potential causative agent (smoke and dust) in your potential research. Often times, problems are wrongly diagnosed by the physicians.
2/4 Re regional retention plan:

"The Regional Forester has committed to perform the staff work necessary to develop
a wildland fire management series, including technical and professional/administrative

I'd like to see or know about the group(s) contributing. Not too happy about the Line Officer
leads.... but that can improve.

So far, in the current list, only Lirian Penn is a true subject matter expert (and she is dam* good
and an awesome person!!!!!)

Will the FWFSA and/or NFFE be invited to participate.... on the record and share ideas?

Or do we have to battle for recognition as wildland firefighters with actual verified SME
experience to sit at the table among peers?

Classification is only one part of the equation... BUT each and every point of the Regional
Forester has been factually addressed before and it is time for folks to listen and act.

Mr. Moore.... listen to your staff and their staff work. No more talking points. Time to
lead forward... pay it forward,

I apologize for being blunt, but another study or study group won't fix things. A leader acting
on facts will.


2/4 MAS,

Your question elicits many answers/comments.

First, your service as a career conditional (13/13) does count if it was a primary firefighter (under 6C or FERS-M), and you did not voluntarily request or receive a payout of retirement contributions upon your separation. In order for this to have happened, you would have completed form SF-3106, https://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/SF3106.pdf Application For Refund of Retirement Deductions (Federal Employees Retirement System).

Second, as a former career conditional employee with less than three years of service, you have some options for non-competitive reinstatement eligibility. If interested, go to this link. www.usajobs.gov/ei2.asp

It describes the procedures of reinstatement eligibility in the federal service.

Third, there are some problems, too many to address here, if you are trying to reinstate into a secondary firefighter position, but I'd be happy to share them offline.

I hope this helps. If you have any additional questions, either Ab or Casey Judd can give you my e-mail info and we'd be happy to help in any way we can.

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

2/3 Dear Ab & All:

Attached is a document recently received outlining the Regional Forester's (R5) plan for
implementing some of the measures he referenced in his December 9 memo.

I have posed a few questions about the contents to the RF as has Senator Feinstein's office.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
2/3 Bob Schroeder spent 12 years as a Pike Hotshot, operating out of Monument Fire Center at the base of Mt Herman when they were "home". He died on a prescribed burn yesterday at the age of 47, possibly from a heart attack. He was a good man and a fine firefighter. His sister was flying in to CO today, probably here now. Bob is survived by a 12 (or 13) year old daughter whom he loved. He considered his fire community his family.

Here's an article from 2002 that has a picture of him. There are more photos at the Pike Hotshot website and here.

We'll miss you Bobby.
Hopefully people that knew him will share a few stories. His family would like that.

Sign me: Part of the fire family

2/3 Greetings

Long time lurker but I have some sad news for the Wildland Community.

Bob Schroeder passed away today (2/2/09) from possible heart troubles. He was a part of the Pike NF for a majority of his fire career and spent a large part of it on the PIKE IHC. I do not know all of the details of his career but he had at least ten years (maybe more) with PIKE IHC and maybe another five working for the Pike NF. Please keep my name confidential but I am sure that you will be hearing this from other sources as well. He was well respected and known in the wildland community and especially in R2. Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

2/3 Referring to the TA 25 fire hotlist entry regarding the NTSB report on the SEAT

Here is another on tonight's news about medevac missions and regarding undue pressures from company types and dispatchers and the problems of helicopter shopping got me thinking about the the SEAT driver and his related problems:

Number 1: What is reported will probably stand as pilot error. That is truly sad commentary on agency missions that have "so called" serious land management implications, which in this case a family suffers from a pilots decision to keep the "company" happy. The fire did not require that pilot to fly when EVEN US Army CH 47 drivers were getting their aircraft back on the ground

Number 2: When a pilot says "NO" "the winds are too high" Which part of the agency duties and dispatchers duties seem not to understand "NO" when a pilot declares it??
If the "agencies" truly are interested in "SAFETY" and especially aviation safety, then why is there possible pressure to even ask pilots to do something they are not comfortable with

Number 3: What ever AAR is done, the so called finger pointing may or may not be done. Nor is it even encouraged. BUT whatever pressure the GACC dispatcher(s) put on this gentlemen ought to be clearly stated and the so called "cleansing" of reports need to be checked

Number 4: There ought to be written into the contract(s) that when a pilot detects a BS call and when he KNOWS the weather in his microclimate, then there ought NOT BE ANY question what that pilot is making that call

Number 5: NO repercussion on any pilot making wind or safety calls. NO contract repercussions. The people writing contracts ought to get in the field more and plenty of re-education for ALL land management personnel involved with this accident. Because it appeared agency pressure helped make the the pilot make his fateful decision, a 1 month safety stand down day for ALL land managers and fire personnel/

Number 6: People are your most precious resource. This man did not have to die for some "land management" issue(s) LIFE then PROPERTY then RESOURCE. Got that folks?????

Number 7: If the NTSB is doing their AAR on this accident and the related pilot issues, then the ought to be a MANDATORY public AAR on this to see how important this "mission" really was

I am a commercial pilot and after reading this report, granted the pilot made some fateful decisions, this report will not be the last one, unfortunately..... I often wonder why my brethren have to give their lives for grass and timber. I forgot to tell you.. I got a forestry degree, too. NO pilot or airplane is worth a second guess when THEY call it. The manager on the ground as well as the dispatch cannot even begin to guess what the weather was that day....... When the accident pilot AND US Army CH 47 are calling weather, YOU on the ground HAD better LISTEN

I do not need my name posted.......
2/3 HUMOR & serious:

To; Noname Wildland Firefighter,

I like your post, pretty humorous. We could add the R-2 model fire engine.
A 1938 flatbed ford pick up with a cattle trough and a stack of buckets for
throwing water at the fire.

On a more serious note, the chaos won't stop until REAL wildland firefighters
lead the wildland fire management program.

Magruder Fingers

2/3 High voltage meters to be tested in R8. They have been advocated by Lobotomy
and others for firefighters that might be working near downed power lines if I recall

From GA Peach. www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=34105#post34105

2/3 Medical Compartment Syndrome:

Foot and Ankle Conditions


I googled it.


2/3 I read through the 2008 safety gram on wildfire related injuries & fatalities, but one term they used has me perplexed as I'm not sure what it means. The term "Medical Compartment Syndrome" was used in the type of accident category on both the Indians fire on 6/29 and the Dinosaur fire on 5/18. Can someone more enlightened than me explain exactly what that means.


…yup, I'm still here, just not as verbal as I once was.

Hi Pulaski. I was wondering the other day if you were lurking... Glad you are.
Below is what we have for viewing on the Hotlist forum. We also have an admin/mod forum that has details as they unfold. That one is not visible. Ab.



2/3 Ab,

Here are some pics from last season.

pic with all the buggies was taken from safety zone on chalk fire LPF. tree torching was taken on barker fire on boise national forest idaho.

then there is a pic of hover hookup with H-517 Bald Mtn. Helitack which is a bell 210. 1 of only 4 made.


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

2/3 Here is another logo to add to the logo page. It is the New logo for Tahoe N.F. Engine 71 in Truckee, Ca.


Thanks, I added it to the Logos 15 photo page. Ab.

2/3 Pix~

A few from an RX burn held at St Marks NWR in FL.


Thanks, I put them on Fire 40 and Equipment 13 photo pages. Note the rattler on the Equip page... Ab.

2/3 Cut off age of 37:

Kenneth Kempter
Acting Vice President
I had a question regarding your post on 2/2 to CC. So if you do have prior career
creditable federal service (firefighter) then you don't have to worry about the cut off
age of 37? What qualifies as creditable federal service?
I am 33 years old and thinking about returning to a firefighting position. From 6/04
to 3/06 I held a career supervisory fire position (13/13). With that being the case do
I have to worry about getting another career position before I turn 37? 

2/3 HUMOR:

Re: Fire Engine Standardization

Rumor I've heard (entirely tongue in cheek) is that since R-3, R-5, and R-6 engines are so expensive to purchase and operate, we'll be going back to large pick-up trucks with slip-on fire packages just like R-8 and R-9 use. As such, the District Ranger and Billy Bob the Rec. Tech. and Joe the Plumber (tongue in cheek) (our recently hired maintenance worker) would only be needed to fight fire, and the remaining district staff would be the back up in case the fires got over a few acres.

No need for firefighters.... we could return to the way it was done in 1905. It worked well back then, as it surely works now (tongue in cheek).

In an effort to continue business process re-engineering (BPR) (do more with less), all new fire engines would be fueled by bio-fuels generated on the local unit (tongue in cheek). If any district didn't meet their fuels targets, especially bio-fuel generation, their new hydrogen/wood chip hybrid fire engines would have to sit silent until they meet their targets.

As a result of recent litigation (tongue in cheek), the Center for Zoological Diversity (fake name) would take charge of the Forest Service fleet management, and the Cierro Society (fake name) would take charge of the fire program and implement new reforms that would incorporate "progressive" changes.

As a result, all new Forest Service fire engines will be staffed by one Ranger... on a horse.... with a Fedco pump and handtool.... like it was done in the early days of Caring for the Land, Serving People.

Recent results are promising (tongue in cheek). The West is returning to what it looked like in 1905 in terms of Fire Regime and Condition Class (or so they say, or some scientists at FUCDEE* say is needed)....... but the economic, community, and personal losses are staggering as much of the west is converted back into wildlands (or into parking lots) !!!!!

Wildland Fire is Confusing... but there must be balance somewhere? When does the chaos stop, and the wildland firefighters lead the wildland fire management program?

Ab, forgive me. It was fun to write this, but might not be something to post. I had to share. Others might enjoy it, others might not. Most was entirely tongue in cheek. Names were changed to protect the innocent.

Noname Wildland Firefighter

*FUDDEE (pronounced FUUS-DEE) - Firefighters United for Chaos Defying Effectiveness and Efficiency (fake name).

haw HAW HAW. Ab.

2/3 Re: Thinking of changing agencies...


There are a few state shot crews out there that will accept you regardless of age. If you have quals, experience, and interview well, that's what they look at. Not your age. With well over 1000+ hours of overtime a season, even the seasonal firefighters are seeing $45k+ for the seven months worked. Now equate any work during the winter, and that yearly gross goes up.

KB (a western state FF)

CC, There's probably huge variation state by state and season by season on OT. For example, last season northern CA burned, but I don't think many Fed CA firefighters other than hotshots had 1000+ hours of overtime. Ab.

2/3 Re: Thinking of changing agencies... Thanks:

Thank you Mr. Kempter for taking the time to pass along that helpful information!


2/3 Coming in from a number of sources. The message below is from one of them...

The federal fire agencies and Cal-OES have worked together for a long time. I'm sure the good relationship will continue but
now under a new agency name. Here's the Director's final message to all OES...

Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2009 8:08 PM
Subject: Final OES Message

To All OES,

It has been an incredible journey for all of us who have dedicated our
talents and energies to the mission of the Governor's Office of Emergency
Services, and ultimately, the safety of the citizens of California. And
while we now close the final chapter of the great agency once known as
"OES" - I wish each of you to be proud of the foundation you have
established for the future of California emergency management.

I am proud of you and thankful for the time we have spent working together
for the protection of life, property and the environment.

But now is a time to say good-bye, and to make an attempt to express my
heartfelt appreciation to each of you and your contributions.

To the OES Emergency Managers: You have been the foundation of the
California Standardized Emergency Management System. Thank you for
effectively responding to and managing every incident during my time as
Director. Because of you, each issue was resolved, question answered,
challenge mitigated and problem solved. By excelling in your assignments
you set the standard of professionalism that other governments wished to

To the OES Agency Staff: Thank you for your flexibility and ability to
adjust to the ever changing climate of emergency management and victim
services. Your dedication and desire to20work for the people of this great
State kept our daily operations running smoothly. You never hesitated to do
what needed to be done, regardless of the disaster or the duration of
response. Your work was exceptional, and I truly believe you were never
acknowledged enough.

To Program Managers and Supervisors: Your passion to develop and support a
well trained staff is evidenced by the consistent delivery of products and
support services that enabled each program to run smoothly and meet the
expectations of our stakeholders. Your ceaseless dedication has been, and
will continue to be, the silent hero in all that has been, and will be
accomplished in victim services and emergency response. Be proud of your
service, and know that it is appreciated.

To Branch Chiefs: It is because of you that critical information was
pressed through all ranks of our operations to enable staff to act
confidently in the interest of our State. Your ability to analyze critical
information and situations, develop response strategies, respond to the
needs of victims, and support Executive Staff is nothing less than
commendable. Your management staff leaned on you greatly, depended on you
immensely, and often considered with high regard your professionalism and
contribution to our success. If it was not said enough, let me say it
now. You are an invaluable resource and California stands to benefit greatly
from your skill and knowledge.

To Executive Staff: You are an incredible group of individuals. Thank you
for helping me carry out the mission of this administration. Your support
and contribution to the small group that spent innumerable hours around the
executive conference table will never be forgotten. Regardless of where
this new path leads you professionally, know that your contributions over
the past several years as a member of OES Executive have been golden.

And most importantly, to all of your families and friends: I know that your
loved ones all made sacrifices to support you as you carried out your
duties and responsibilities. They provided support while you gave your
time, they exhibited patience beyond measure, endured the impacts of long
work hours, and welcomed you back knowing full well - they will have to do
this all over again. It is their support that allows all of us to do our
jobs and enables others to move confidently through their days,
understanding that they are safe in California.

All of you are the primary reason I could always say with confidence that
the failures we all witnessed in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina could
not and did not happen in California. I am fortunate to have worked with
you, proud to have served with you for the past 5 years, and leave as the
final Director of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

Farewell and thanks for "hearing the music" with me.

Henry R. Renteria
Governor's Office of Emergency Services

2/3 Interesting article on what the GOP is calling waste in the Senate stimulus
package. There are some fire related items.


2/2 Casey,

Wishing you all the best this week. I'm sure a heart as big as yours will come
back stronger than ever.

2/2 Re: Thinking of changing agencies...


Unfortunately, since you are over 37, unless you have prior career creditable federal service designated as either 6C or FERS-M (Firefighter or Law Enforcement) retirement, you will not be able to enter into a career position covered by either primary or secondary retirement unless waived by the Agency Head. You are however, not restricted from receiving a temporary position with no benefits.

There are a few exceptions though. If you had temporary (seasonal employment) prior to Jan. 1st, 1989 in a federal fire or LEO position that qualifies, you may "buy back" that time and have it count towards your Maximum Entry Age (MEA) limitation.

An example such as yours might be that you could have been a temporary firefighter with the Forest Service (or other agencies) for four years (1983 through 1986) serving four months each season. You would be eligible to "buy back" 16 months of retirement, and even though you were 38, you would be eligible for appointment beyond the MEA into a covered career position.

There is also a variance that rarely allows certain uniformed service (military personnel) to also extend the beyond MEA requirement. To understand these provisions, please contact your local transition office prior to outprocessing as they are rarely applicable except in rare occasions.

The FWFSA, in conjunction with other groups, is supporting and authoring legislation allowing former temporary employees to "buy back" temporary employment time with federal agencies and have it count towards their retirement. This is entirely a voluntary process and no one is obligated to "buy back" time. This formerly approved process ended on January 1, 1989.

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

2/2 IHC upgrade, also RHC upgrade?

Concerned about the small print,

All of the Hotshot PDs are the same. On our Forest both the RHC, and IHC are getting
the upgrades. Look at the www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/hotshots/IHC_index.phpl 
The RHC and IHC are all IHC now.  Seems there is no longer a split.

R5 Hotshot

Hasn't been for 4 or 5 years according to the R5 BOD. Ab.

2/2 Thinking of changing agencies...


I am thinking of possibly making an agency change and trying to figure out if my family can afford for me to do that.

Can anyone tell me how much money I would make in an average fire season on a hotshot crew at GS4 including OT? or on a regular fire crew at same level and with OT? Rough estimates on the totals would be great.

I worked eight seasons for a state agency, and I'm 38 years old. Can I use this time served as a firefighter to help me
qualify for the age requirement of 37?

Is it too late to start up any kind of career with federal agencies?

Thanks again!


Ab is willing to pass any info on. Some hotshot crews work 1000 hrs of overtime. Depends on the season. Ab.

2/2 Safetygram on 2008 Wildland Fire Accidents and Fatalities:


To: Chair, National Wildfire Coordinating Group
From: Chair, Safety and Health Working Team
Date: February 2, 2009
Subject: 2008 SAFETY GRAM

The 2008 SAFETY GRAM is attached. It summarizes reported wildland fire fatalities, burnovers/entrapments and other serious accidents for all wildland fire management organizations throughout the United States in 2008.

Twenty-five fatalities occurred in 2008 when employees were performing wildland fire management activities. This is a substantial increase from the nine fatalities that were reported in 2007. The 2008 fatalities are listed by category below:

  • Driving – 2: Two fatalities occurred while firefighters were responding to a wildland fire.
  • Entrapment/Burnover – 1: One fatality occurred while firefighter was doing fire reconnaissance.
  • Medical Emergencies – 3: Three fatalities have occurred; one responding to fire, two heart attacks while fighting fire.
  • Hazard Tree/Snag – 1: One fatality occurred; firefighter was struck by falling tree top.
  • Aviation – 14: One fatality occurred when a S.E.A.T. crashed. One fatality occurred in a medical helicopter mid-air collision. Nine fatalities occurred when an S-61N crashed and burned. Three fatalities occurred when a P2V retardant plane crashed and burned on take-off.
  • Other – 4: Two individuals (VFD and Deputy Sheriff) hit by semi while directing traffic near fire. One fatality occurred when firefighter fell from cliff while scouting fire. One fatality occurred when a grader operator jumped from equipment and sustained head injuries.

Accident prevention is enhanced when firefighters and fire managers are made aware of serious accidents that have occurred over the year and can identify where our future safety emphasis areas should be. Please provide wide distribution of the 2008 SAFETY GRAM to your respective agencies and organizations. The SHWT will also distribute the Safety Gram via NWCG Safety Alert System and post to the SHWT website.

Please feel free to contact me at (208) 387-xxxx or michelle_r-snip@nifc.blm.gov if you have any questions or need additional information.

Official cover memo, same as text above (105 K pdf file)

Entrapment/fatality/injury Spreadsheet (215 K pdf file)

2/2 Engines:


Am I reading this correctly that all Wildland Fire Engines are to become Standardize into 5 Model, to include the Private Contract Engines along with all State and Federal Engines? This could be a good thing but the cost could be high for those with private companies.. In this Economy it will be very difficult for these State and Private Agencies.

Eng Capt.

It's standardizing engines across the FS agency only. Ab.

2/2 IHC upgrade, also RHC upgrade?

Just curious about the new GS-7 Squad Leader upgrade which is long overdue.
In reading the PD (Position Description), it only refers to IHC's. I am assuming
that all the Hotshots would be getting this (IHC/RHC). Can someone clarify?

Concerned about the small print....

2/2 Casey,

Just wanted to drop a note your way saying that you will be in my
family's prayers as you go through what you have to go through this week.
May God be with you and help you not only get through this but bring you
back stronger and healthier than ever!! Thank you for all you do for our
fire family.

2/2 National Fire Engine Standardization

Circulating behind the scenes:

(FS Washington Office Letterhead)

From: Forest Service, National Office
File Code: 5100/7100
Date: January 30, 2009
Subject: National Fire Engine Standardization
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director

This letter transmits the concurrence of the Senior Fire Leadership group in accepting recommendations of a national task group to standardize fire engines across the agency. Tenacious work by this task group reduced engine models in the agency from approximately 17 models with 42 variations, to five models with basic options. These models will meet the needs for wildland firefighting regardless of location. Engine standardization will bring economies of scale for engine procurement and maintenance, as well as increase consistency in training and safety procedures when working on familiar apparatus.

Replacements with the new engine standards would phase-in during the course of normal acquisition or replacement of the current engines. The specifications are under development now for use during 2009. Future developments for ordering fire engines will be posted on the Fire and Aviation Management’s web page and will include an ordering guide, engine model information, and eventually link to the Fleet web-based application to order new and replacement engines. We encourage you to coordinate with your fleet managers as we improve our efficiencies.

Contact Patti Hirami, Region 9 Fire Director at (414) 297-xxxx, or Tory Henderson, Branch Chief Equipment and Chemicals at (208) 387-xxxx, with questions.

/s/ James E. Hubbard
Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry

cc: Kurt Gernard
pdl wo spf fam regional fire directors

letter in doc file format, text is above

2/2 Re: Utah Wildland Engine Training

Shawn Jaca from the Utah State Forestry, Fire & State Lands asked us to post a note that the Utah Wildland Engine Training course has expanded to include multiple locations in Utah this year.  The registration deadline for all locations is March 4th and there are no fees.  See the full brochure here:  Utah Wildland Engine Academy.  OA

2/2 Re: woodcutting permits


I called a local FS desk (SRF) where you buy woodcutting permits. The person there was
kind enough to read me the print. The only permit item that relates to "loss of property,
personal injury or death
" is #13 and that is simply a disclaimer that you agree you won't
hold the government responsible for any of those things. (I think the permits are very similar
for all R5 forests and the FS has a MOU with BLM for similar permits they offer.)

I will see if I can find a local LEO to see if there's anything in their Law Enforcement Manual,
but that may be more difficult as I can't think of anyone I know locally.


2/2 Casey:

Thank you for your detailed response concerning personal liability insurance and non-federal fire fighters.
As a state employee and an easterner I understand that culture is different and there hasn't been many incidents of fire officers being sued personally and never an incident of of an attempt to charge one for criminal negligence back here (NJ).

My concern, though, is that many of us travel nationally as overhead to incidents. Our state has an agreement with the USFS. In those cases we have the opportunity to supervise federal fire fighters. We also send crews. Usually about half of the personnel on these crews are ADs. These folks are technically short term federal employees. If some thing happened to one of them could their supervisor be charged?

Personally I'm strongly considering getting insurance and would have already got it if I wasn't such a huge procrastinator.
Thanks for your time and hard work you do for your folks.


2/2 Casey,

I'll be thinking of you on Thursday. Safe travel to get there.
Envisioning you as strong and heart-healthy asap!
I signed up for my physical!

Tahoe Terrie

2/2 re woodcutting permit, fallers and LEO manual on felling accidents:


I'm in R5 and away from home, so can't look at my permit.

As I recall some time ago, a R5 LEO friend suggested that when someone
died in a falling accident the faller (member of the public in this case) is
criminalized regardless of intent or circumstances. He said it was in the
leo manual?? (Similar to john-q.public accidentally starting a forest fire,
regardless, you get billed.) If falling accidents are criminal for the public,
it's consistent for law enforcement to apply the same stds to fallers on
the line, no? Why I said criminal eyes in my post.

Wish I was at home to get this info verified... Could you look in the
manual for leo's?


2/1 re woodcutting permit, fallers and LEO manual on felling accidents:


I would have to know more information on your permit. What region are you from?? Forest??
As far as I know, for that aspect of the permit to be true, I believe it would fall under the terms
of permit. From my particular perspective, if there were a criminal act in that aspect, it would
be a crime against a person. In my area, we as FS LEOs do not investigate crimes against
persons because of jurisdictional issues. Let me research it a bit and I can get back to you soon.


2/1 Re: Pena/Harbour Letter regarding upgrades


Correct me if I'm wrong.....

Mr. Pena (Acting Director, Human Capital Management, ASC) and Mr. Harbour (Fire & Aviation Management Director) co-signed a letter of direction to the field at the national, regional, and local (forest and district) level.

If I'm not mistaken, those aren't positions identified in line authority (.... and do not infer LINE OFFICER status.) As such, they should not have been forwarded to the field without an appropriate LINE OFFICER approval and signature. In this case, a complete cop-out and mess waiting to be corrected again.

I know this sounds like a broken record.... sorry. Just another example of a dysfunctional agency in need of immediate changes.

If LINE OFFICERS want all the power over a wildland fire program, then they need to be on the record for their decisions as the authorizing LINE OFFICER as authorized, approved, and delegated by Congress.

Sorry, it works both ways.

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