March, 2009

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3/31 NorCal Tom,

“Systems” are the new buzzword used by our “leadership.” By analyzing firefighting and aviation activities as systems, analysts are able to reduce human interactions to impersonal statistics, graphs, and charts. I don’t agree with identifying 22 dead people a year as a “system”, I look at it as a pre-ordained failure of the greatest magnitude and an admission of inept leadership.


I copy you 5 by 5. I agree that Doctrine is DOA. Tom Harbour admitted as much last year when he said Doctrine was stalled at the National Leadership Team level. Worse, the premature rollout of Doctrine without the full backing of our “leadership” will probably set back acceptance of a Doctrinal approach in the wildland fire community if or when it is properly re-introduced.

I also believe that our “leaders” have hijacked the language of high reliability organizing and culture-based safety without ever intending to follow through on their part of the bargain. Forest Service senior managers have cynically appropriated the terminology of cutting-edge organizational theory while deliberately steering us in the opposite direction. The only word that comes to mind right now is betrayal.

These days, the important fire safety decisions are made by the Wildland Fire Leadership Council and National Leadership Team, which are steered by USDA and DOI secretaries, undersecretaries, political appointees, and other eggsuckers. One of the big challenges for the next Forest Service chief will be to ferret out the kool-aid drinkers who burrowed into cushy senior Forest Service jobs. These people should be removed from positions of influence whatever the costs.

Misery Whip
3/31 Services for Rick Gale:

I found this on the NPS Morning report today; regarding services for Rick Gale.

Nice Eulogy there. Not quite as good as the testimonials you have posted.


"Rick is survived by his sister, Anne Berardi, and husband, Pete Prince, of Goodyears Bar, California; his sister, Judy Gale, and partner, Gale Jensen, of Omaha, Nebraska; his daughter Beth Spencer, her husband Cliff, and their daughter, Lily, of Show Low, Arizona; his daughter, Cindy O’Neill, of Jackson, Wyoming, and her sons senior airman Matthew Wadsworth, stationed at RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom, and Cameron O’Neill, of Port Angeles, Washington; his daughter, Sarah Fisher, her husband Chad, and their son Beckett of Boise, Idaho; and his companion, Sherry Clark of Napa, California.

Condolences may be sent to The Gale Family, c/o Fisher, 4252 E. Homestead Rim Drive, Boise, Idaho 83716. You can also send them online at sympathytree.com/ rickgale1937/ .

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions be made to the Association of National Park Rangers. Donations can be made online by credit card via ANPR's secure server at anpr.org/ donate2.php Please type “Rick Gale Memorial Fund” in the comments section of the donation webpage. If your preference is to donate by personal check or money order, please mail either of them to ANPR, 25958 Genesee Trail Road, PMB 222, Golden, CO 80401 and write “Rick Gale Memorial Fund” on the memo line.

A remembrance celebration will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 3rd, at the Barber Park Education Center, 4049 S. Eckert Rd., Boise, ID 83716. It will be followed by a pot luck lunch. If you are coming and able to bring a dish, please notify Jes Benson at galememorial@ nospam gmail.com. If you would like to speak at the celebration, please contact either Chad Fisher or Dan Buckley via email (chad_fisher@ nospam nps.gov, dan_buckley@ nospam nps.gov ).

A compilation of memories of Rick is being put together for his family. If you would like to contribute a memory, story or experience, please send same to Bill Wade at jwbillwade@ nospam earthlink.net."

3/31 18-8's and 13-13's being offered conversion to full time status:

FS Engine Guy and Others,

Somebody help me out here. What do folks want? The wheel squeaked, and people received raises and the opportunity to work year round. People used to “beg, borrow, and steal” for extensions on their 13/13 and 18/8 tours. In fact, this commitment and work ethic went a long way in seeking promotion. Aren’t you happy yet? Can we change the subject? Let’s go burn.

Fuels Officer

3/31 18-8's and 13-13's being offered conversion to full time status:

FS Engine guy

I am a 26/0 and have been for a while now. I worked my tail off to get that status
so I could buy a house and provide for my family so, I had my reasons and I made
my own choices in life. I do agree it is to each their own. I disagree with collecting
unemployment when work is being offered.


3/31 AMR (Appropriate Management Response) and the NIMO Presentation:

AMR question--aren't ALL fires AMR fires? Isn't full suppression an appropriate response?

Ok, now that I got that off my chest, I have an issue with the NIMO ppt. It sure looks like all the pictures are from the fires in Victoria, Australia. I recognized the introductory picture as being one of their 'tankers'. There are a lot of great pictures around taken here in the US on the high risk forests listed that could have been used to illustrate their points.


3/31 re: The NIMO presentation

It seems that a lot of us had experience last year on a "high risk forest" dealing with that small percentage of fires that get big, expensive, and dangerous (from the NIMO presentation). All winter, I've been mulling over some of what I saw. It seems that span of control was one of the top issues and I don't recall seeing this addressed in the presentation.

While the lightning bust in northern cal was unusual, being at Preparedness Level 5 is not so rare anymore. How teams were positioned, the number of complexes within complexes, and the incidents within incidents were mind-boggling. Will this be the new normal? I recall seeing some Type 1 teams stretched pretty thin in Montana a few years ago, and you certainly had this happening last summer in northern cal, plus (and I don't want to push this too hard) the possibility of Type 2 teams being put into situations where the complexity should have called for a Type 1 team.

I am impressed with what I've seen of the NIMO teams, and I think that they were used fairly strategically last year. But we have a very limited number of them. It seemed that the area command teams were sometimes too much at the beck-and-call of local forests.

This "over" level is probably a lot of what we will need in the future, but I'm not sure it will contribute much (if anything) to cost containment and we will need some new models (especially where area command is concerned) to handle the growing complexities.

Still Out There as an AD

3/31 Re Fulton IHC Reunion and Dave's Trivia Question IMWTK:

TRIVIA QUESTION: Whose nickname was "The Dancing Bear"?


I KNOW, I KNOW!! But I'm not gonna embarrass him by posting it... :)

Best of Luck, and have a great reunion!


PS: Do Bywood, Hywood, and Jywood know about this yet? Last I heard, Jim was still on the Sequoia...

3/31 Presentation on Large Fires (pdf download referenced earlier)

Misery Whip,

I agree with you wholly on your entire post and most of the info in the Adobe Captivate Presentation (link to download) you linked to.

While I agree that the NIMO has an important part in future large fire management, I do not agree that increased "involvement" by the Regional Foresters or "line officers" will fix the problems. After watching the presentation... I felt it had been severely "redacted" from the original message that was intended and forced to emphasize another message.

Their (Regional Foresters) involvement, direction, oversight, and "leadership" is the problem. THEY CANNOT LEAD WHAT THEY DO NOT UNDERSTAND or LISTEN TO... or have actively been involved with. A "one week" class does not qualify ANY Line Officer to provide safe and effective oversight, leadership, program direction, or accountability.

I'd have hoped that a presentation from the NIMO would derail the continued (and failed) emphasis on current "line officer" oversight (and re-engagement) as the proverbial Messiah to reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities; reduce costs; reduce threats to our communities; reduce threats to natural and cultural resources; and provide the most cost effective and efficient services to the taxpayers.

Unfortunately, this awesome presentation on the current status, risks, facts, and figures..... once again side steps the underlying latent causes of failure.

Conversely, I feel that increased "involvement" by full-time career fire managers, and by interdisciplinary fire management professionals, fully versed in risk management principles and the principles of high reliability organizations (HRO) is key to success in the future. Unfortunately, these changes have been opposed by the WO, RO, and SO.

Doctrine is DOA.


DOA=Dead on Arrival (Acronym List)

3/31 IAFF / CPF and FWFSA, why can't we all just get along?

Dear "h"

The CPF did not bother to contact us when they used the Esperanza
tragedy both in their AB 384 language and marketing information.

The FWFSA contacted them to advise them of the exclusion of temps and
we got ignored and threatened.

I wrote the IAFF president and told him I'd be in DC and offered to sit
down with him to find common ground on some issues...I got a letter
saying we were a rival organization.

What else might the FWFSA do to try and work with them when we get


3/31 FULTON IHC - Reunion - 2010 - April 17


We have the makings of a "40th year Fulton Hotshot Reunion". It may be a long way out, but time is flying...... so, if all of you can start by providing any contact information of your fellow hot shot members during your day,.... would be GREATLY appreciated!

Ron Bollier, Dan Kleinman, Jim Smith, Mr. Sandborg, and myself are the coordinating committee that we just established. I have talked with Ron on several occasions, and WE ARE A GO!...... date may move, but stay very close to this time line.

So, again for starters, bring-on that contact information. Joan, could you PLEASE make contact with those KRN past Fulton members, Phil Castle, Grant Young (they know the rest of the names within the department). Rich, could you make contact with R. Lamay, and A. Hale? The rest of you know what to do........ Look forward to hearing from you.

TRIVIA QUESTION: Whose nickname was "The Dancing Bear"?




3/31 Hi

I live in North Wales UK, I am a qualified fire-fighter in my home town and would like to gain more experience of wild land fire-fighting in the US. would it be possible for my to come over to the US for a month or a season to gain some experience. I would be very grateful for any information on how I would apply for jobs or who do I contact.

Thank you for your time,

Paul Jones

Take a look here for a starter. FAQ and substitute any other country for Australia. It's much more difficult than you would imagine. Ab.

3/31 18-8's and 13-13's being offered conversion to full time status..

FS Engine Guy....With the new PFT in R5.... those not accepting PFT are required to sign paperwork stating that they "will not" be eligible for unemployment when they are laid off... so there goes that free money train... thats one way the FS is able to convert the seasonal GS-5's & 6's to PFT... no more unemployment payout every winter.... the cost per employee on unemployment vs. what they cost per pay period is pretty close....its just a few dollars more to have them work...so you might as well get something for your money... rather than paying for someone to sit on the couch...... Also there is the 10% bonus for GS-5 through GS-8, which helps bring the money end of things up...so its actually more advantageous to continue working so you make more money.... also you need to think about sick leave and annual leave... the more you work, the more you get.... not to mention adding more money into your retirement/tsp account..... I feel this plan will not hurt the FS... the only ones that it will drive away are employee's we probably don't want anyway...and with this economy there are plenty of others from other regions that have just as much experience or more looking for PFT work......

Just my $.02 for what its worth...

Ex-NPS Cap'n

PFT=Permanent Full Time (Acronym List)

3/30 Re: Some facts that cannot be verified or meet peer review

I need some help for a research project.

Each year, we repeatedly hear two agency "talking points" that have been repeated for decades (since the early 1970's), but nobody can provide the data set or facts behind the talking points when asked to provide them on the record.

I am specifically wanting to research the following claims. I am wanting to either validate the info, or disprove the assumption "that if you tell a lie long enough it becomes true."
  1. That one quarter of one percent (0.25%) of fires result in 98% of the costs of wildfire suppression.
  2. That 98% of fires are caught in initial attack, and the other 2% result in the increasing costs of wildfire suppression.

Pretty confusing.

My info using the official Forest Service database is not even close on these numbers and proves otherwise. Since the info I'm using is the National Standard and stored at a facility in Kansas City.

I'd like to verify why the differences exist and why the "talking points" aren't fully researched, verified, supported, and defended professionally?

If they are using different data sets.... release them.... let it be peer and professionally reviewed before release.


3/31 Appropriate Management Response (AMR)... Guidance


It is an accident waiting to happen to both the fire management and fuels management.

The attempt to somehow merge operational qualifications in wildland fire suppression (uncontrolled environment) with those in prescribed fire (controlled environment and prescription) are not interchangeable. While complimentary, the qualifications aren't interchangeable and never will be.

The use of "redundant qualifications" is highly dependent upon the "person(s)" currently occupying the position, and not upon the person(s) who might occupy the position(s) in the future.

It is another attempt to do "more with less" as our fire management capacity is allowed to dissolve from above.


David Mueller; NWCG Fire Use Working Team Chair
Erik Christiansen, NWCG National Interagency Fuels Coordination Group (NIFCG) Chair

3/30 My goodness, look what's happening in Texas.



3/30 re IEP (Incident Emergency Plans):


I have only had one bad experience in 35 years of working with Teams when it comes to implementing the Medical Plan. I'm not sure where you experienced your problems, but I can only speak for some of the Region 5 Teams where many of the ATGSs, HLCOs, OSCs, OPBDs, DIVSs and CRWBs perform rescues of civilians year round (in similar situations), in our normal job duties. These all-risk rescues include Medevacs as well as setting up on the ground rope systems for lowering and hauling. Most of these individuals are also highly trained in EMS, Haz Mat, Aircraft fires and USAR.

Granted, a good experienced Helitack Crew is always nice to have on many emergencies, but it takes early organization by the closest personnel (sounds kind of like ICS doesn't it) to ensure that the emergency is handled well.

Yellow Angel

3/30 IAFF / CPF and FWFSA, why can't we all just get along?

Casey, Ken,

Why is it all or nothing when dealing with these groups? Why not work together,
or just agree with each other when you have common goals and go your own
way when there are different views? You don't have to trust them, or agree with
their philosophy on every issue. In politics you don't always get to choose your
allies or your enemies. You pick you moments, one issue at a time while staying
collegial all the time.


3/30 18-8's and 13-13's being offered conversion to full time status:


Please include this in They Said:

For those of you commenting on 18-8's and 13-13's be offered conversion to full time status, I needed to add my two cents. Being an 18-8 myself, I am not interested in full time employment. I have talked to several other people on my ranger district feel exactly the same way. During the winter months there will be no overtime available, and I for one cannot survive on Base 80 pay checks. I have a better paying job I prefer to do in the winter. Many of the 18-8's make more money on unemployment during the winter then they do working (because of overtime being taken into account in benefit rates). A few 18-8's on my forest do not reside locally and enjoy spending the winter with their families. If Region 5 thinks for a minute that this is going to help the recruitment and retention problem here in California, they are sadly mistaken. The only thing that will right the ship on that would be better pay, benefits, and work schedules. This PFT conversion is going to send experienced people into Regions 4 and 6 seeking to maintain and promote at current appointment levels (13 and 13/18 and 8). I certainly invite dialogue on this topic.

FS Engine Guy

3/30 Cal fire is going to have tanker envy!



Groundpounder deaths: largely human error

In response to Misery Whip's latest post. With all due respect, I
think most firefighter deaths occur from human error. We can talk
about money, plans, pensions, and all that, but at the end of the day
I think we have to recognize that most wildland firefighters are
undertrained and engineer their own deaths. This will not change
until we acknowledge that this is true. I have seen quite a bit in my
short time in fire. We succeed despite ourselves, there is not any
plan that you can put into place that will change that. Hard work
and long years are the only indicators of success I have witnessed.
Failing that, a few seasons on a hotshot crew can do wonders.


Ab comment: Isn't Undertraining a human factor, partially a result of a systemic factor?

3/30 Howdy, Ab -

I'm curious why the Incident Management Situation Report put out daily by
NIFC now uses the 7-Year Average for number of fires and number of acres
as a standard of comparison. For years it was the 10-Year average. I'm
guessing that some savvy Theysaider can shed some light on this.

Thanks -


3/30 Appropriate Management Response (AMR)... Guidance

Any Thoughts?



Original NWCG Fire Use Working Team paper in word docx file which is not accessible by all; thus I've copied and pasted the text below. Ab.

Wildland Fire Management Positions Merger
A Concept White Paper

During the past few years a shift has been occurring in wildland fire management implementation strategy. A full-spectrum appropriate management response (AMR) to wildland fires is increasingly being considered and implemented throughout the federal wildland fire management community. There is an expanding implementation of the concept “fire is fire;” whereby management actions conducted to meet land management objectives established for each wildland fire may encompass the full range of management actions (from monitoring to intensive suppression actions).

Currently, guidance for Implementation of Federal Wildland Fire Policy is undergoing modification. The Wildland Fire Leadership Council (WFLC) approved proposed modifications to the Interagency Strategy for the Implementation of Federal Wildland Fire Management Policy (2003) on March 24, 2008. Modifications include the following;

  • Wildland fires may be managed for one or more objectives based on the Land Resource Management Plan Direction.
  • When two or more wildland fires burn together they will be handled as a single wildland fire and may be management for one or more objectives based on the Land/Resource management plan direction as an event moves across the landscape and fuels and weather conditions change.
  • Every wildland fire will be assessed using the decision support process that examines the full range of responses
  • Once a prescribed fire is no longer achieving management objectives stated in the prescribed fire plan or project level National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation, and is declared a wildfire, it receives the same reassessment and selection of response objectives as any other wildfire event, given the location, current and expected conditions, and identified management considerations.

The proposed modifications were tested in limited areas during the 2008 fire season. The results were evaluated, and alternatives for revision of the 2003 Strategy will be presented to WFLC for consideration and issuance in 2009.
As a result of this shift towards the "fire is fire” concept, fire management is becoming increasingly complex and integrated at all levels of the fire management community. Incident Commanders and Prescribed Fire Burn Bosses alike are required to integrate wildland fire implementation strategies and tactics based on operational objectives for a given area of a fire. Resource and fire behavior objectives similar to those used in prescribed fire are being planned for and implemented on wildfire and wildland fire use (WFU) incidents. Large landscape prescribed fires are being implemented under WFU-like long term fire objectives; point protection strategies and long term planning processes are becoming a common operational procedure on both wildfires and WFU fires. As new implementation guidance is approved, the suppression and prescribed fire (fuels) organizations must be able to integrate, plan, and implement a response to all wildland fire incidents in a seamless fashion.

A need for a seamless response creates issues with redundant ICS positions (FOBS/FEMO, RXB1/ICT3 RXB2/ICT4ICT2 or 3/FUM1, ICT/FUM2, etc). As suppression and fuels program personnel integrate competencies to implement similar tasks to meet similar objectives, similar positions should integrate or merge. Fire Management staff should be trained to respond to or assist on a wildland fire utilizing the full spectrum of wildland fire management strategies. Training and qualifications should be differentiated based upon function and competencies rather than wildland fire cause or management strategy.

The move towards merging Prescribed Fire and Wildland Fire positions has begun. Before the proposed modification to wildfire implementation, the Fire Use Working Team (FUWT) under guidance from the National Interagency Fuels Coordination Group (NIFCG) proposed merging the wildfire Firing Boss (FIRB) position and the prescribed fire Ignition Specialist 1 and 2 (RXI1/2). In 2006 the positions were merged to create a single FIRB position. The FIRB position task book was modified to reflect the merger of the two positions.

Currently new NWCG position task books contain FIRB tasks and competencies for Firefighter Type 1/Incident Commander Type 5(FFT1/ICT5), Incident Commander Type 4 (ICT4), Single Resource Boss Crew (CRWB) and Engine (ENGB), and Division Supervisor (DIVS). At a future time when these competencies have been fully integrated into the wildfire operational positions, the FIRB position will be eliminated.

The Fire Use Working Team is also currently working toward combining the Fire Effects Monitor position with the Field Observer position. Although the FEMO position has traditionally been used by prescribed fire operations and the FOBS position is mainly used in wildfire operations, many of the skills and tasks required are identical in both position taskbooks. As resource management objectives are incorporated in the management strategy in an increasing number of fires, fire effects observation and documentation skills will be increasingly important in decision making on more wildland fire incidents.

Long term, the Prescribed Fire Burn Boss 1 and 2 (RXB1/2) positions will also be merged with the wildfire operational and command positions. Potential positions affected include ICT4, DIVS, ICT3 and ICT2. Prescribed Fire Manager 1 and 2 (RXM1/2) positions mergers may include ICT3 and ICT2 positions. Also included in the long term merger process are WFU positions FUM2 and FUM1 with the appropriate command positions (ICT3, ICT2).
The merging of these positions will require changes in workforce development and the training and qualification systems. Presently there are three tracks to wildland fire position qualifications: Prescribed Fire, Fire Suppression and Wildland Fire Use. To create a seamless track for wildland fire management, courses will need to be modified or new ones developed to integrate the strategies and tactics used in these three disciplines into a single qualification track.

A five to seven year timeline for the merging of wildland fire positions is conceivable. NWCG and the appropriate committees (FUWT, IOSWT, TWT, NIFCG and others) will need to coordinate efforts to ensure positions are merged at the appropriate time and within the appropriate position, and future training efforts reflect this new shift toward a fully integrated fire management program.

Questions or comments can be sent to: David Mueller; NWCG Fire Use Working Team Chair, David_N_Mueller@ nospam blm.gov or Erik Christiansen, NWCG National Interagency Fuels Coordination Group (NIFCG) Chair at erik_christiansen@ nospam fws.gov.

3/29 theysaid-ers,

You really should take a look at the powerpoint with voice entitled Large Fires.

Misery Whip provided a link to it this morning. www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/lfm_withanim.php
Given the trends upward of

  • fatalities,
  • costs,
  • acres burned,
  • aviation use,
  • firefighter exposure to risk,

the presenter discusses what the approach will be toward the "0.25% of fires that escape IA and become long duration, complex, more expensive and dangerous very large fires." One of the things I found interesting was the designation of 31 forests as predisposed to having fires of maximum significance. This is due to fuels, lightning patterns, historical factors and other reasons. Since typing all the names out is so time consuming, my wife made me a picture of that powerpoint slide... Preliminary list of Forests at risk for Large complex fire incidents in Regions 1,2,4,5,6.

The Whip's points on safety risks increasing on large fire are sound. We have heard somewhat similar comments from burnit and others. With the list above as a teaser, plus the suggestion that we can now expect 22 fed firefighter deaths a year without this kind of system change, watch the powerpoint. (Took this old guy a bit to figure it out, but each slide has a verbal explanation. When it's done there's silence. That's the cue to hit the forward arrow for the next slide and audio. You that grew up with a mouse in your mouth might not stumble around like I did.)

I would be curious to hear what you think of this new systems approach as it might impact YOUR life and safety. Other systems suggestions?

Thanks Misery Whip for bringing this to our attention.

NorCal Tom, retired

3/29 IAFF / CPF and FWFSA, why can't we all just get along?

Dear SH:

Sorry this is lengthy but the "devil is in the details..."

I agree with you that the IAFF has done great things for many of its members, as has the CPF. However with such a large membership nationwide for the IAFF and a large membership in California for the CPF, few members actually get to a level of true access to the leadership and have an opportunity to witness first hand the not-so-public internal union politics that go on, as in any large organization. It can be an unpleasant experience.

As Ken mentioned, many of us over many years worked with and for both organizations and gave our hearts & soul, AND our money to them. From 1994 to 2002 I probably contributed nearly $5000 to the IAFF's FIREPAC and served on the CPF Board from '98 to '03. I will readily admit that there are political factions in each of these organizations, often "east versus west" in the IAFF and I'm sure I didn't win any popularity contests with the IAFF leadership or former CPF President Dan Terry when I took the IAFF to task on its performance on federal firefighter issues... However, the FWFSA had no problems with either organization from the time it disaffiliated in 2003 until 2007 when we sought "to protect our own" and offer some changes to a CPF sponsored bill in the California Assembly.

I thought I did the courteous thing of contacting the new CPF President to discuss the legislation and its true impact on all federal wildland firefighters. After all, in marketing the bill they used the crew lost on the Esperanza Fire as an example of who would benefit from the bill. The CPF refused to be inclusive of a large segment of the federal wildland firefighting force in the legislation (temporary firefighters) of which 3 of the 5 on E-57 were. We tried to explain that the bill, as written to benefit only "permanent full time" federal firefighters would in fact not benefit those families like 3 of the 5 on E-57.

The CPF flat-out refused our request to include Temps. As a result we went directly to the author of the bill and the members of the committee of jurisdiction. None of them, inclusive of the author, realized that as written, the bill would in fact not benefit all federal firefighters. As a result, the bill was amended to include Temps against the wishes of the CPF.

Despite suggestions by the CPF President that adding Temps would "break the CA budget" and would kill the bill in the appropriations committee, the bill was passed out of the Higher Education Committee without one NO vote and also passed the Appropriations Committee 18-0.

Unfortunately, the meat & potatoes of the bill, educational benefits for survivors, was gutted by the State Senate because the CPF was ill-prepared to convince the Senate, primarily Senator Scott, that the bill as written, would not impact in a negative way, current federal benefits. The FWFSA attempted to do that but unfortunately it was too late.

With regards to the FLAME Act, looks can be deceiving. While in DC recently, I tried to be neutral on the bill but reiterated that it did not address in any way, the fiscal mismanagement of the land management agency FIRE budgets by non-fire line officers.

The goal, of course, of the FLAME Act is to reduce or eliminate the need for fund transfers from non-fire programs to pay for fire suppression. However the "fund" that would be created is separate from the current FIRE dollars annually appropriated by Congress. Supposedly, this would allow access to the FLAME Fund for large fires rather than have to make fund transfers from other non-fire accounts.

That's a great idea. The problem is that without clear reforms in how the regular annual FIRE dollars are used, line officers will continue to "re-direct" FIRE preparedness funds and hazardous fuels reduction dollars from the regular annual fire budget, knowing full well that a new fund exists to ensure suppression costs are handled.

It is ironic that those complaining about how much FIRE takes away from other projects are the same folks who use those FIRE dollars to fund the ASC, non-fire positions etc. This in turn reduces the level of preparedness resources in place pursuant to the NFP. FIRE has actually been keeping the Forest Service afloat financially.

Quite candidly, until FIRE budgets and allocations are done by those with FIRE experience & expertise and until land management agency FIRE policy is developed and implemented by FIRE folks rather than line officers with nary a lick of FIRE experience, the land management agency FIRE programs will continue to make most of us scratch our heads.

If you are a municipal firefighter how'd you like to have your department managed by the community's Parks & Recreation Dept? It simply doesn't work in this day and age. Unfortunately some in the leadership of these agencies have failed to recognize we're in the 21st century and the complexities of wildfires demand PROgress.


Casey Judd
Business Manager

3/29 IAFF / CPF and FWFSA, why can't we all just get along?


The IAFF does represent many Federal firefighters, just not Federal wildland firefighters. Many Department of Defense firefighters are IAFF members. In fact the IAFF 16th district which covers all Federal IAFF locals is one of the largest districts in the IAFF. So the IAFF / CPF is not supporting those issues just out of good will, much of the mentioned legislation would impact Federal firefighters who are IAFF members. If this legislation happens to help wildland firefighters, that is just a plus.

You also have to understand the politics of the IAFF at the national level is far removed from that of the locals. It would not be the first time the locals rolled their eyes at the antics of the national.

Just another FWFSA supporter

3/29 Rick Gale's vision:

The Wildland Fire services lost a visionary thinker last Friday night.

Rick Gale passed away in Boise and will be remembered for the his gruff demeanor, his happy-warrior smile, his leadership ability, his mentoring, his vision of where fire management should be headed, his command of a fire camp, his ability to walk the halls of Washington (in jeans, cowboy boots, white shirt and tie) and to be listened to by the bureaucrats, his friendship, his loyalties to friends, holding court at a dinner table, his passion to make the NPS a leader in both Fire and Ranger Activities and his Interagency Cooperation.

I'll always remember Rick telling me that I should make sure that a certain Park Staff member gets a good orientation to our mission. My thoughts were, If they are interested, they will seek the information. Rick convinced me to push them toward a few fire classes, some ICS training and working on a task group on fire management issues. Within three years, that Park Staff member was high up in the Operational Org Chart. I was glad I listened to Rick and was amazed at his vision of who was a rising star in the outfit.

I first met Rick during the Yellowstone Fire ('88) and continued to bump into him at fire camps, training assignments and trips to Boise. After I switched agencies, I got to know Rick much better and always knew he would back up any decisions I made (after he questioned them from several angles). Rick always insisted that we get Agency Administrators involved on Fire Management work groups/task groups. This was a benefit for both the sides, we had agency buy-in and it brought the admin side into our camp... the sly fox gets his way.

I'm sure Rick is over on, not the next ridge...but the best ridge. Keep the Faith.

Chena Helitack

3/29 Does anyone know if Rick Gale was ever on a hotshot r SJ crew? I'm updating the "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project. Ab.
3/29 Just a few things

How is it that Region 6 is cutting engines on certain forests and R5 is giving its 18-2 full time if they want it? Also on that note how do the mid level managers gs8s and above feel when a person complains about having to go full time? Personally it irritates the h*ll out of me when someone is offered full time and they don't want it. To me a lot of these people are ungrateful for all the work we have done for them. Sorry AB but in this economy it justs chaps me up when people refuse work when there are others who would take it in a heart beat.


I doubt there are many of those not wanting work. Ab.

3/29 Abs & All,

A new powerpoint on the LLC website


reveals some very disturbing trend lines in annual wildland fire statistics.

Fatalities: UP. Acres burned: UP. Aviation use: UP. Costs: UP. Exposure to risk: Up.

This number is staggering; all 22 firefighters who were killed on Forest Service managed fires in 2008 were working on or supporting large fires. Some of these fires were being managed as Appropriate Management Response fires.

In light of these stunning numbers, I think it is time to revisit whether Appropriate Management Response in its current form is really an appropriate management response, or a misused management initiative that we can count on to kill a significant number of firefighters year after year.

As a one-time AMR proponent, I now believe AMR is sometimes used as a convenient excuse and substitute for the failure of senior Forest Service managers to:
  1. Establish a fuels management program that is capable of treating and burning forest fuels on a meaningful scale year after year. Growing urban interface, fuels buildup, climate change and social factors are making wildland fire fuels management more difficult, and important, than ever before. Current fuels treatment levels are a drop in the bucket compared to what they should be.
  2. Field a firefighting organization that has adequate initial attack “surge” capability for the “new average” western fire season, while simultaneously maintaining the capability to suppress multiple large, difficult fires during average fire seasons. Our demoralized Forest Service fire management program is woefully under-funded, understaffed and under-supported by senior management.

In an era when costs drive everything we do on fires, there is very little discussion of the amount and degree of risk posed to firefighters when they are exposed to long-duration fires during extreme burning conditions. In their drive to get more acres burned through using AMR, some Forest Service managers seem to have forgotten two important fundamentals of good fire management.

The first forgotten fundamental is this; the best way to limit the exposure of wildland firefighters to future risks is by being aggressive. It may sound contrary to logic, but in extreme burning conditions, the best way to keep wildland firefighters safe is to aggressively attack and control all new starts and extinguish ongoing fires whenever possible (acknowledging a small number of fires occur at times and locations where control is not possible). This aggression does not manifest itself as individual firefighters taking exceptional risks, but reveals itself in how well the organization has planned, funded, staffed, equipped and trained its personnel to accomplish their mission safely.

Once a fire escapes initial attack and becomes large, it exposes more firefighters to more hazards for a greater length of time. The immediate hazards to firefighters include fire behavior, fuels, snags, terrain, smoke, heat, aircraft, vehicles, tools, etc. Thus, the more firefighters you put in the proximity of a fire, the longer the duration of their exposure to these hazards, the greater the probability that some firefighter working on the fire will have an accident. Occasionally, those accidents will be serious or result in fatalities.

From a risk management perspective, Forest Service management has failed to justify the need for a “passive” wildland fire response to natural and human-caused fires, or to adequately address the risks to firefighters assigned to “manage” AMR fires.

This is the second forgotten fire management fundamental; a “passive” or less aggressive approach to fighting fires under extreme burning conditions is a fundamental alteration of the wildland fire suppression mission. Wise Forest Service fire managers once understood that large, long-duration fires during low fuel moisture periods are likely to experience multiple wind events that will generate extreme fire behavior and fire growth.

I believe some fire managers have become jaded because they hear the word “extreme” so often it is losing its power to make them appropriately cautious. Lest we forget, extreme fire behavior causes most firefighter burnovers, a leading cause of firefighter deaths.

When you reduce firefighting to point protection of structures during extreme burning conditions, as we frequently do now on AMR fires, you are essentially putting firefighters in the barrel of the gun and waiting for it to go off.

Firefighters take measured risks to prevent prolonged risks to firefighters and private citizens. Whether a passive firefighting mindset is created by a lack of firefighting resources or a conscious management decision makes no difference, the result is the same; more risk to more firefighters for more time.

I don’t deny that allowing wildland fires to burn under somewhat limited supervision is an appropriate thing to do in some circumstances. But I believe a national review is in order to put much tighter controls over when and where AMR fires are permitted.

In my opinion, with the exception of permitting AMR responses to new ignitions or ongoing fires in times and locations where fire season-ending weather is both predictable and imminent, the only morally defensible approach to wildland firefighter safety is to permit AMR fires only in times and locations where fuel moisture levels and burning conditions are not extreme, and are very unlikely to become extreme in the immediate future .

Misery Whip

3/29 More suggestions for Twig Pig on LEO training for fire evacuations:

HOTLIST Evacuation Training for Law Enforcement

Good post by Musher Cubby on animal evacs... Ab.

3/29 re; IEP (Incident Emergency Plans)

Mr. Hugh Carson,

I'm thinkin that we've just had different experiences regarding the use of medical plans on large fire assignments. Having been on a number of assignments over the last 15 years, I can only remember on one occasion a team following its med plan out of perhaps 20+ incidents.

While the Incident Emergency Plan is a document that is designed to provide a template to respond to an emergency, I have found that at the team level, many do not understand how to implement the plan.

In the field a crew may or may not have an EMT or other medically trained person to provide accurate information to the ICP. On occasions when there is someone available, the situation may exceed their training or experience. As the Medical Unit Leader or EMS is in camp (who may or may not have fireline qualifications or in extreme cases the physical fitness to go into the field) their picture of the emergency is colored by the ability of the people in the field to provide the information in an understandable format that they can then evaluate the situation.

As for the ATGS, Air Attack, DIV or Crew Supervisor, I am not sure how many have any medical training to even understand what may be happening on the ground. Of all these positions, it is likely that only the DIV or Crew Sup will be close enough to physically look at the situation and without training will not know how to assess it. In this situation when the MEDL should be talking, the ATGS or Air Attack are taking over and of the three, usually one is in the air, one is at helibase and the other at the ICP.

Certainly the MEDL should be the one to send the Helitack crew or other resources to the incident, but oftentimes that individual is marginalized by either the command structure or by their wanting to go themselves to evaluate firsthand. And how often are the MEDL and the Helibase co-located? In the 20+ incidents I am familiar with first hand, I can think of at least half a dozen times the helitack crew was told to wait (up to an hour in one serious case) until the MEDL or someone from their staff was able to get out to helibase, while any number of helitack personnel on the helibase were qualified, equipped and ready to go. In four or five incidents, the communications were so muddled that no one had a clear picture of what was happening on the ground. In another four or five incidents the team waited a half hour or more until someone on the ground was able to hike over and give yet another inconclusive assessment.

My contention is that without getting the proper people onsite to do an evaluation, time is wasted as no one has a clear picture of what is happening. Oftentimes ATGS, Air Attack, the ICP and MEDL are all trying to talk at the same time and what should be a simple exercise is made all the more difficult as the plan is thrown out the window.

It comes from having a command structure that does not have the training or background in EMS. It is why most EMTs in the field have no equipment, no time for training and no protocols or procedures (i.e; USFS). Those EMTs that are equipped are often using their own stuff or what they have managed to scrounge together on their own time.

I am certain that your team adheres to their IEP and follows it in all situations. But I have not had the privilege of working with your team. I have worked with a number of type 1, 2 and 3 teams across the country who should be relying on their MEDL (when they have one) and Helitack crews (when assigned) who can clarify the situation and provide an appropriate response. Clearly many of these teams do not.

In many other situations, helicopters are used far too often when they are not necessary. I can think of two such cases when an individual was med-evac'd to the helibase only to see the injured person walk off the helicopter with only a minor injury.

As it has been my experience that the Medical Plan is often times discarded, I will continue to recommend "In a difficult situation that requires a med-evac, your only hope is to have a well qualified Helitack crew with trained crewmembers who can take over on arrival and clarify the situation."

I would add that 'well qualified and supported line EMTs be included in the above sentence, as that is my usual assignment, often times with my engine crew or a hand crew.

3/29 Pyro has sent in a number of historical engine, helicopter, Ojai IHC module and equipment photos from the 1970s from socal. They include pics of
  • Jim Ramage's helicopter;
  • a group of helos that is thought to include one of the 212s that collided and with the LAC copter and went down;
  • one of the first helos with night vision goggles;
  • Epi Abeyta in the drivers seat of an old LPF engine;
  • Jim Rangel taking his "Mule Operators' License" exam at Temescal Station;
  • prototype model 60 and 70 engines;
  • engines before weight limits, etc.

I understand he has more coming. Yep, they just arrived. I wish we had the funds to hire someone to manage the photos end of this website... but until then, I'm it.

I put these historical photos on Handcrews 25, Helicopters 27, Engines 22, Engines 23, and Equipment 13 photo pages. The descriptions are interesting; if you click on the words under the photos you get to the photo description pages.

Thanks Pyro! Ab.

3/29 IAFF / CPF and FWFSA, why can't we all just get along?


You said,

The FWFSA is a great advocate for wildland firefighters and the IAFF is a strong union that has had great success in improving working conditions and compensation for their firefighters. Here's to hoping that the differences between the two can be resolved and that they can work together towards mutual goals.

Hopefully you CC:d your local, state (ie. CPF) and national (IAFF) representatives to let them know your personal opinion that the FWFSA is not a rival organization, but an allied organization with similar goals and objectives. It will take the voice of many to silence a few folks who hold grudges against the FWFSA.

Neither the FWFSA Board of Directors, nor Casey Judd (Business Manager), nor the folks that support the FWFSA need anymore problems from the IAFF or CPF in addressing our issues. We need support. We kept on track and on course in addressing our membership issues. We disaffiliated for substantial and factual cause from CPF and IAFF when our membership issues were not being addressed, and in some cases, being covertly opposed by certain folks at the National and state levels.

We have always supported, and in most cases, lead the issues of the IAFF 16th District (Federal Firefighters). We have never opposed, but have offered amendments to legislation (federal and state) that somehow were allowed to exclude federal firefighters, federal wildland firefighters, and their families from inclusion. We have always supported the national issues, but remained independent enough to offer suggestions as an allied, but independent, employee association.

Somebody at CPF or IAFF should be man (or woman) enough to speak factually (on the record) as to why the FWFSA was labeled a "rival organization" by the CPF and/or IAFF and by whom.... Otherwise, maybe the NLRB or FLRA need to sort this crap out..... I'd guess what group has their <stuff> in order......... and which group doesn't.

As a long time FWFSA Board Member and federal firefighter,

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

3/28 Rick Gale, retired NPS, has died

For some of the younger folks who may never had the chance to meet Rick, here is his bio from the University of Montana.

He will be missed by many of us, both young and those "more senior".... He was the first person to tell me that the term "older" wasn't PC when trying to communicate. I met him only once, but we had a lively discussion on many issues, and he left lasting impressions upon me that continue in my career that I will always remember and appreciate. (Half visionary/half chewing me out).

He was a great man, and a distant visionary voice not afraid to speak out or go against the grain, or to ruffle feathers when needed above or below him. He focused on what was needed to make the NPS a leader in service to the public and communities they served; in the protection of natural and cultural resources in the National Parks; and his commitment to the field to always speak the facts and move forward to where the NPS needed to be in the future. His steadfast commitment to the NPS law enforcement, search and rescue, EMS, and structural fire programs (all risk as some might say).... were 21st Century thinking first thought about and analysed in depth by Rick many years ago.

He was a Ranger, and will always be remembered as a Ranger.


> From the University of Montana http://www.umt.edu/ce/cps/documents/RickGalebio.pdf

Rick Gale Chief of Fire, Aviation and Emergency Response (retired)
United States National Park Service

Rick Gale retired in 2002 after 41 years as a Park Ranger in the United States National Park Service. Rick served in several parks in the western United States and was instrumental in developing standards and training for operations and leadership in wildland fire, search and rescue, aviation, law enforcement, special events and all-risk emergency operations.

Rick served in a variety of wildland fire collateral duty positions in logistics, operations and command up to and including Area Commander. He was on national interagency incident management teams in five separate positions at the Type I or Area Command level. He was also the first Type I all-risk Incident Commander for the National Park Service.

Rick spent twenty-five years involved with the wildland fire post graduate courses (S-520: Advanced Incident Management and S-620: Area Command) as an instructor, evaluator, unit leader and Steering Committee Chairperson.

Rick has received both the United States Department of the Interior Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards and was the first lifetime recipient of the Harry Yount Award, awarded for his contributions to "the art and science of Rangering."

3/28 <big fires by agency/state/private/whatever> stats for Rod

2008 large fires: from Famweb... Cheers! IDWO

FED       445 fires   39.5% 
   FS    (236)
  BIA     (91)
  BLM     (68)
  FWS     (24)
  NPS     (18)
  DOD      (8)
STATES    648 fires   57.5% 
COUNTIES   33 fires    2.9%
PRIVATE     2 fires     .1%
tot     1,128        100
3/28 IAFF / CPF and FWFSA, why can't we all just get along?

IAFF and legislation:

There's been a lot of talk about the IAFF lately, so
I took the liberty of checking out the legislative issues
they list on their site and I was surprised. I was
impressed when I heard that the IAFF had supported
the FLAME Act as strongly as they did, despite the
fact that they represent none of the agency firefighters.
But they're also supporting legislation to establish
presumptive disability for federal firefighters (HR 948),
legislation improving FERS sick leave benefits (HR 958),
as well as the recently passed Omnibus Public Lands
Management Act of 2009 (HR 146) which included
language meant to improve firefighter safety in the future.

For the part that they are supporting firefighters they
don't represent, any help is good help and a friend is
a friend. The FWFSA is a great advocate for wildland
firefighters and the IAFF is a strong union that has had
great success in improving working conditions and
compensation for their firefighters. Here's to hoping that
the differences between the two can be resolved and
that they can work together towards mutual goals.


3/28 Rick Gale, retired NPS, has died


We have received word that Rick Gale retired NPS with a long history of ACA,
Type I IC and involvement at Marana courses passed away at home the night of
3/27. I will post additional information about services when I have it.


Condolences. Ab.

3/28 I'm working on a school report and need some <big fires by
agency/state/private/whatever> stats for an introduction.

Are most fires federal or state? Does anyone have any data
summarized at all? 2008 would be fine. I know it varies year
to year. 2007 would be OK, too if that's all someone has.


3/28 Thank you so much Abs,

Attached is the large poster that will be displayed at the Poker Tournament.

Thank you so much for your support of the Poker Tournament.

With increased audience provided, we have received table sponsors from Oregon,
Nevada, and Idaho, and many more players.

I can't even say how important wildlandfire.com is to communication and sense of
community within the wildland fire community. You both are true leaders who have
created a model for the future.

You folks rock.

Big thanks,


DelRosa Hotshots Texas Hold'em Tournament

You folks ROCK MORE! Thanks for fundraising for our firefighters. Ken, thanks for all you do. Ab.

3/28 Helicopter risk management, DOI accidents pilot hours:


Re your questions:

I saw this ppt graph in reference to a DOI accidents by pilot hours powerpoint (link to the page you can download the whole ppt from). 1999-2008, only 16 reported DOI accidents (doesn't include FS helicopter accidents). I did not hear the briefing, so I don't know the possible explanations that were made. ( wish I had more info so I'm not just pulling out a slide )

Keep in mind that many DOI flights are done in Alaska. The shape of the U could be related to reduced flying on the lower end (similar to weekend pilots or training or experience) and cumulative stresses from so many hours on the upper end or something else. This is just speculation... It would be interesting to see the data plotted on year to see if things are getting better, worse, or staying the same and if the cause was mechanical or pilot-related. This is a good way to begin thinking about this. Also helicopter use in fighting fires is an international tactic, so what we learn that relates to risk mgmt helps all.

Thanks for the Just Culture stuff, Mellie. Thanks Abs for this site.

AK rotorhead

3/28 From the hotlist:

re Evacuation Training for Law Enforcement:

Much of the evacuation planning deployed during the Tea Fire came directly from the work of CAL Fire Team 8 and Santa Barbara County GIS during the 2007 Zaca Fire. www.esri.com/news/arcwatch/0208/feature.phpl

Parts of the contingency plan, designed to evacuate the entire Santa Barbara front country, were used during the Gap Fire and the Tea Fire. The County of Santa Barbara was a recipient of the Special Achievement in GIS award during the 2008 ESRI International User's Conference. Zacharias Hunt, SBC Geographic Information Officer, is happy to share their plan with anyone who has a need. It is a model that could be used for disaster training anywhere in the country.

Fire Geek

3/28 EFCA:

In reference to a recent ‘they said’ comment regarding the EFCA. Please read the attached editorial in yesterday's Denver Post. The editorial analyzes the major provisions of the bill including the most public one, secret ballots, and the most onerous one, federal arbitration. The Post’s editorial page is strongly and traditionally liberal in its views. Their viewpoint is not one from either conservatives or Republicans.

This act should be killed. It’s a direct payoff to unions for their political support and it is not in the best interests of workers, employers or the Nation. American workers are not clamoring for the right to unionize. Unions are clamoring for the right to unionize workers, even against their will if that’s what it takes.

We’ve seen little courage displayed by the Congress of the United States over the past, say 30 years when it comes to important issues regardless of which party has been in control. The recent buffoonery over the AIG bonus situation is a recent example. I hope we’ll see some courageous individuals emerge when it comes time to vote on this piece of low hanging political fruit.


Congress should eliminate EFCA

Readers, if you're inclined to discuss this, please post any further comments on the hotlist thread. Ab.

3/27 Tea Fire, good subject for community planning:

Alf, is dead on about the Tea Fire. Early on when the Tea fire first started and after hearing where on that ridge it started and the wind conditions, I remember emailing Abs that night as an FYI only that I see a high probability of a large number of civilian deaths tonight, a very high probability.

I still to this day cant believe mass fatalities did not occur, especially after talking with local firefighters. As I recall they did have one heart attack fatality of an evacuee? Maybe I am wrong on that. In any event an amazing effort by the Firefighters and the communities.

Yes Alf, the Tea Fire and the local community planning and preparedness activities should be studied.

3/27 aviation crashes:


In response to Airdude67's post on 3/24, he mentions the S-61 crash in California as being the worst aviation crash in US Forest Service history. As a sober reminder, and not to dispute this claim, there was a previous very severe aviation accident involving Forest Service employees.

  • On June 11, 1979, a DC-3 upon takeoff from the Moose Creek Airfield on the Nez Perce National Forest experienced an engine fire, which lead to a subsequent crash into the Selway River several miles downstream from the Airfield. 10 people were fatally injured, with 2 survivors.
  • The August 5, 2008 S-61 crash in California had 9 fatalities with 4 serious injuries.

In terms of total personnel, the S-61 crash had the most total killed and injured, the DC-3 crash had the most total fatalities. Both were horrific accidents, it would be hard to say which one was the worst, and I'm not offering an opinion here, just a reminder.

On another subject, the NTSB has released the preliminary report on the crash in Kansas on March 8, 2009 that fatally injured Roger Hershner, a long time Forest Service contract helicopter pilot. That preliminary report can be viewed at:


FS Aviation guy

Thanks. Ab.

3/27 Retention Bonus, Govt Housing, Congrats, New Jobs:

Not getting a retention bonus has a similar ring to not getting firefighter retirement even though
you seriously maimed, disabled, crippled or "almost dead' from an advanced fire initial attack!

Govt. Housing. All depends on how the local agency administrators took care of the facilities
throughout the life of the facility. Used to be some nice arrangements in remote areas, still are,
but they are setting like the sun does in a dusky western evening sky.

Congrats to Shari Downhill - look forward to seeing the fallers' module.

And has anyone noticed how the news jobs creation seems so similar to what and how we
used to do things decades ago. Using logging side folks to harvest fiber.

Theysaid is doing a great job getting the political side some attention and sharing how it works /
like the field and the white house - if you are playing ball and you break a window - now you
might not have to run.


3/27 Law enforcement wildfire class:

Back on Nov 08 during the Tea Fire in Montecito, Ca; the Santa Barbara County Sheriff and Santa Barbara Police department did an outstanding job in evacuating civilians. They were well prepared for this fire by getting residents out quickly. In the past the SBPD and the SB Sheriff would conduct a mock fire and having residents participate in evacuations by driving the designated routes given by the law enforcement. From my understanding, this is conducted once a year on a Saturday. I do not know in detail of how the pre-planning was truly executed but to say the least, with 70 mph Sundowner winds and fire consuming everything in its path, they got out over a few thousand people rather quickly and no one died. Something was obviously done right. It should be studied further. Many people could have perished very easily with those conditions. These agencies did one heck of a job planning for the "BIG ONE" and it should be modeled. Preparation is Key and it Paid Off. I would contact Montecito F.D and the other two law enforcement agencies below.

Montecito F.D -(805) 969-7762
Santa Barbara Police Dept - (805) 897-2300
Santa Barbara County Sheriff - (805) 681-4100

Best to you,

3/27 Law enforcement wildfire class:


The San Bernardino National Forest provided safety training to the local Sheriffs
Office as part of the initial Mountain Area Safety Taskforce (MAST) program.
The MAST is a multi-agency collaborative group consisting of federal, state, and
local entities.

The training primarily consisted of basic fire behavior, entrapment avoidance, and
the use of PPE for law enforcement who would be implementing the pre-determined
MAST plan for evacuations.

You might want to contact Mike Dietrich, Chief of Fire and Aviation Management
on the San Bernardino National Forest. Mike is set to retire on April 3rd, so you
should make the contact ASAP.


3/27 Law enforcement wildfire class:


I saw your request on Theysaid. I recommend using JP Harris' "Interface Firefighting" dvd's for your class, particularly his material on situational awareness, safety zones and "rescue drive-by."

The 1994 Hourglass Fire is something worth mentioning. Details are sparse, but the 3rd incident leads to speculation about what the outcome for the deputy would have been without the squad boss to lead him to safety. See attached report written by Paul Gleason.


3/26 WFF Fundraiser:

Hey Ab,

I hope you’re doing well. True North just kicked off a fundraising campaign for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation at the NWSA meeting. My goal is to raise $11,000 for the Foundation.

Here are the details:

Help a brother or sister, and get a truly warm feeling in return.

Buy one of the 100 Limited Edition DragonFur« Nomex fleece jackets, or Double-Shot hats with the Wildland Firefighter Foundation logo embroidered on it, and True North will donate $100 per jacket, and $10 per hat to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation to help firefighters and their families -- 100 jackets x $100.00 + 100 hats x $10 = $11,000 for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Get the warm fuzzy feeling of wearing DragonFur« Nomex fleece and making a difference by calling True North to place your order at (800) 873-5725. Jackets are $220.00 and available in sizes XS thru 3XL. Hats are $26.95 one size. Jackets and hats are Coyote Brown only.

Thanks for your help.

Steve Misiano

Nice fundraiser, Steve. Thanks also for supporting this website. The Abs.

3/26 From the Hotlist. Any suggestions? Ab.

Evacuation Training for Law Enforcement

Hello Folks,

I am in the process of composing a four hour course for California oriented Law Enforcement. The class will be specifically geared towards safety and what to expect in event of a fire for those involved in the evacuation. I'll be addressing the obvious, safety, weather and topography as well as history and case studies. I am looking for input from the wildland community as to what you think cops need to know. Additionally has anyone taught a class similar to this? I'd really like to see what you taught and what input the class had. I wish I had more than four hours, I know I could make the class an entire day. Post replies here or if you have documents to send me, send them to: mrn1533@ nospam yahoo.com.

Thanks in advance,


3/26 Gov't Housing:


You are absolutely right- you should not HAVE to keep yourselves safe from unsafe buildings. That's what facilities and engineering are for- and ideally- if these people are doing their jobs- unsafe buildings should be condemned. and it does not diminish the responsibility of the landlord- but if there is no one to enforce safe housing regs.- then how can we hold them accountable?

We were living in a building that by all accounts should be condemned- Yet this forest had been letting people moving in & out of it for many years and when i brought these facts to the attention of this forest, they acted as if i was over reacting- what does some fire wife know? I am here to tell you that buildings such as this are falling through the cracks all over this forest- and i would suspect that it is happening elsewhere too- but not necessarily everywhere. So if you question the safety of your quarters- just ask. You have the right to know.

Let me just paint a picture here.

If you were renting a house from joe smith, landlord out in the real world, and joe did not properly disclose hazardous materials in the house; you then moved in to later find out that the house was not safe- Joe is required by law to make it safe. If he still refused after many requests- you could go to the county health dept. and they would say- hey look joe- you violated federal law, and you have to make this house safe for occupants- or you can't let people live there. Joe would have incentive to do this, because he would lose $ if he couldn't rent the house out, and you would most likely be provided w/ safe living conditions.

The FS is subject to the same rules- but if each forest makes their own housing policy- and there is no one inside or outside of the FS to actually enforce these regs- then what incentive do they have to actually follow them? Some people may be reprimanded, or fired- but this seems to have little effect on the greater problem. The FS actually has more incentive to let people live in such buildings- even though they may know they are unsafe- because they will get some amount of facilities funding in the future from the money you have paid in rent- and there's nothing anybody can really do about it.

What's wrong with this picture?


Did you text all that? Just curious. Ab.

3/26 Just Culture and Risk Mgmt, kudos to Shari Downhill, Doug Campbell and Ted Putnam on promoting FF Safety:

Todd, thanks for the questions. Interesting. They prompted some research.

Here's a Safety Management System video (30 min) from Helicopter Association International (website). It's purpose is to inspire and guide businesses.

Here's an interesting Just Culture Decision Tree (jpg) used by the Airborne Law Enforcement Association and by the International Helicopter Community (International Helicopter Safety Team). Both sites have excellent resources.

The Just Culture Decision Tree shows just how far wildland firefighters and risk managers must still go in reconciling what R5 FS Law Enforcement uses as a trigger for perusing Criminal Negligence in fire tragedy and what other high risk/safety/learning professions use as a trigger for investigating "severe sanctions". Not included in this diagram are human factors arising from physiological changes that occur moment-by-moment in decision making under acute stress and cognitive biases and short cuts that drive decision making. (What Was He Thinking? Decision Making and Judging by Mike Johns doc file)

The SAI (Serious Accident Investigation), Law Enforcement Criminal Investigation (whether it goes on to trial or not), Professional Liability Insurance, Just Culture, Risk Management, Learning Culture, Safety Culture are severely messed up and misaligned for wildland firefighters dealing with a tragic incident. How many lifetimes will it take to get this process sorted out???

Such tragedies often end up defining the rest of the lives of our firefighters that were somehow involved directly or peripherally in the incident. Many excellent firefighters I know suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms, some from flashbacks related to the investigations as much as from the tragic incident itself. The chaos of the blaming/litigation process destroys the lives of people that did nothing more than be born human and with a desire to serve. <shaking head>

My apologies to those of you fed firefighters working so hard in the Risk Management, Just Culture and Safety areas. You do a good service. PERSIST! and Thank You!

I would also like to publically acknowledge the good work of

  • Shari Downhill (Northwest Timber Fallers, for the Faller Module),
  • Doug Campbell (Fire Signature Prediction Method, being used around the world), and
  • Ted Putnam, PhD (Human Factors)
    for groundbreaking work in their respective fields.

Such inspired and persistent change agents often go unsung as they battle the status quo to improve groundpounder safety.

Here's to you, Shari, Doug and Ted; your lives have made a significant difference in promoting firefighter safety. WELL DONE!


fair use disclaimer

3/26 re: Vilsack comments & burning weeds

I too think that the Secretary wasn't referencing Forest Service Hotshots in his address, just a bad choice of words for his listeners.

I've got a great story for all of you regarding employee morale. So, myself and a colleague of mine have an 18-8 tour of duty. We were both slated to be laid off for the max 8 pay periods this year, which started December 08. So, I get a call in early March from management at our district saying that if we wanted to come back a pay period early, there is a noxious weed burn that needs some extra bodies. I couldn't come the first week, but the second week I was available. My co-worker started the first Monday of that pay period. However, they didn't realize that both of our redcards had expired. So, he did his refresher and pac test the day after he started and I did my refresher yesterday and pac test today.

Anyway, the type 6 engine that I am the engineer on, got an order to go to a fire last night. After my pac test was over, I found out about the order and made my way to the station, fully thinking I was going on the assignment. When I got there, I was told that myself and the other 18-8 weren't available to go the fire due to the fact that we had a target to get the weed burn finished and the 2 of us would stay behind to finish up the weeds.

Who says we aren't Forestry Technicians, lol.

Quick Connect

3/26 IAFF / CPF and FWFSA, why can't we all just get along?

Disappointed makes the point why our IAFF President should have meet with Casey.
If they had, FWFSA would have known about the efforts made, or at that time planned,
by IAFF & CPF Officers and Members to support their pending legislation. I hope the
call between CPF and Casey occurs, communication is key to getting family together.

Unfortunately there is some truth in the posts regarding the IAFF at the National level
being more concerned with compensation for its members rather than what is the right
thing to do.

North Bay FC

3/26 re: Vilsack comments to IAFF


What I heard from the video clip was some pretty enthusiastic applause from the union reps after Vilsack told the story of volunteer firefighters who saved his office building.

The "hotshots in high rises" quip was obviously a populist attack on people like the IAG execs taking bonuses from a failed/bailed-out company, and not a reference to IHC wildland firefighters. (If he had said "...smokejumpers in Central Park trees...." -- that would be something different.)

What I was pleased to hear from the Secretary was acknowledgement that the Forest Service has operated for years without a strategic vision. I'm hoping for a push towards interagency cooperation from an agency that too often is not very cooperative with state and local partners.

I won't comment about the 20 USFS tankers with wings falling off, and whether or not they should be called tenders.

vfd cap'n
3/26 IAFF/Dept of Ag Secretary speech:

I have listened to the speech and will probably listen to it again. I agree with what most people are posting but think we need to look at the bigger picture. Some posts are stressing on the play of words in regards to the comment about Hotshots. If you listen to the statement, he is referring to the bureaucrats in the upper echelons not Interagency Hotshots. I do agree the word hotshots was probably a bad choice due to who he is supposed to represent. I think the bigger questions are

  1. Why is he speaking to IAFF in the first place and does he really know they (IAFF Leadership) DO NOT represent Federal Wildland Firefighters nor have they ever had us in their best interest.
  2. What can IAFF do for our Air Tanker Program? Has he even solicited our own air folks for the possible solutions?
  3. He told the IAFF membership that we (USDA) needs to listen to them and get feedback. Why has he not asked for input and feedback from his own Wildland firefighter community?

In my opinion, I believe that this speech was in bad timing. If Secretary Vilsack had already addressed his folks first, this meeting with IAFF would not appear to be so bad. I also wonder (the conspiracy theory) if this wasn’t planned by IAFF in light of what we have learned about them and FWFSA rival issue. This would be a great way for IAFF to slap FWFSA in the face by saying “Look, even your own boss is looking to us for help” (just a theory).

Two things really need to happen.

  1. Secretary Vilsack’s actions need to be clarified. We need to know his intent. Maybe he needs to be educated on the facts.
  2. I know Casey has attempted to contact IAFF. Maybe our friends out there who are members of IAFF can contact their representative to voice their concern about the rival issue. The hope would be the if the IAFF leadership is hearing from their members, they may open up dialogue with FWFSA and break this ridiculous rival issue. I for one would probably consider becoming a member of IAFF if they showed a strong support to our cause and worked with OUR association, FWFSA.

A Hotshot

3/26 Student of Teams:

Map of 2008 fires: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2009/maps/wildfires08map.jpg

Thanks for saving that Ab.


You're welcome. Ab.

3/26 Casey,

One of the statements/questions in your most recent post was interesting in reference to Secretary Vilsack's address. "Why isn't he addressing his own agency firefighters who have the solutions to the many problems facing the fire program?"

You and I have spoken on the subject many times before. The agency's line officers (Nearly all of them) do not have the expertise or leadership ability or even the time to oversee fire management programs any longer. The complexities of modern wildland fire management MUST be left to experienced and qualified fire personnel with demonstrated leadership ability to lead firefighters in fire suppression and fire management activities. With the complex issues and problems that face our nations federal wildland firefighters we should not be under a land management agency any longer. We must focus on fire management, with leaders who also focus on the fire management program. As I have watched fire management grow and change and increase in complexity over a career I truly believe we must have a federal wildland fire department. Firefighter safety and the focus on firefighter and public safety requires it.

I was reading someone's post from a couple of days ago and saw the numbers of wildland firefighters who have died in the line of duty from all causes related to fire suppression. It is well over 500 since I started almost 35 years ago. I say we have to have a professional federal wildland fire department that focuses only on wildland fire management/all risk and supports our firefighters as the professionals they are to include compensation and classification.

We could solve a lot of problems in the fire management program if we had firefighters working on the problems and developing the solutions.

Magruder Fingers
3/26 Does anyone have a summary of the fires of 2008 that had IMTs on them? Type Is,
Type IIs, etc. I know CA had most, but what does that look like?

For this homework assignment
Student of US Fire Teams...

3/26 San Diego County, Fire Safe:

Here is another San Diego County try to get some Fire Safe standards into place. Who enforces it may become an interesting question. Who funds it also. Norm

County adopts brush-management plan to reduce wildfire threat
By Jeff McDonald (Contact) Union-Tribune Staff Writer
3:06 p.m. March 25, 2009

SAN DIEGO – County supervisors on Wednesday adopted a vegetation-management plan that is designed to reduce the wildfire threat in areas of the county that are overgrown with brush and other foliage.

A number of experts expressed concern that the nearly 500-page document relies too much on controlled burns and brush removal – tactics that can harm sensitive backcountry habitats.

The supervisors requested the plan in May, after devastating wildfires burned through hundreds of thousands of acres in San Diego County in 2003 and again in 2007.

On Wednesday, board members praised the plan, calling it a sensible blueprint for fire prevention.

But officially, the board simply accepted the report. It has not been certified as meeting state environmental regulations. Staff was directed to conduct all required studies before proceeding with any projects included in the plan.

fair use disclaimer

3/26 A helicopter pilot friend and I were talking. Maybe someone has some answers.

There was a multiple fatality helicopter accident in Trinity Wilderness last season. How likely is this to occur again? How often are there mechanical failures if it was that? What kind of risk management assessment is made before transporting crews or individuals? Is heli-mopping a common occurrence? What kind of risk management assessment is made for that? Where are helicopters used most, my guess would be AK.

Are all pilots trained in wildland firefighting? (I told him about the simulators at the FS FAM at Mcclellan in Sac.) Are pilot hours related to accident rates? Too few, not enough experience; too many, cumulative exhaustion? Is this monitored like work rest guidelines for firefighters? I know there are FAA rules, but seems like some of the flying under hazardous conditions would be more like combat flying. Do pilots that fly wildland fires have extensive experience across the country, topography, flying conditions, fire conditions? High, hot and heavy, but that can vary significantly by location and numbers do not necessarily equate to flying conditions and experience in the air.

Does anyone have summary info on helicopter use on wildland fires? Increased use means increased risk. also cost.

As we were talking I realized there's lots of complexity and great need for risk assessment. How is it done?


3/25 Re: Employee Free Choice Act

Federal wildland firefighters, IAFF members, NFFE members, AFL-CIO members et al..... general rank and file.

Please read and understand the Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 1409, S. 560) .

It provides some great changes to employer/employee bargaining that are truly needed. Conversely, it also provides legalized negative changes allowing one AFL-CIO local to challenge another for exclusive bargaining rights for employees that they do not represent or haven't represented well.

While the overall legislation is good and well meaning for increased employer/employee partnerships, it has some significant latent flaws. Specifically, the wording of the legislation might allow the IAFF (primary AFL-CIO firefighter local) to supplant, or replace NFFE (AFL-CIO) or AFGE (AFL-CIO) in their bargaining unit status within both the federal wildland agencies, as well as the few firefighter locals who chose to remain outside of the IAFF but continue their organizing goals as firefighters.

If I was a NFFE or AFGE member or Board Member, I'd be very concerned and have heightened situational awareness of the risks. Looks a lot like a hostile take-over attempt on a broad scale being attempted from above in the ivory towers.

I could be wrong though... It might be an Olive Branch...... or it could be kool-aide. Time will tell on how this legislation might affect the federal wildland fire mission.


Take a deep breath and keep one foot in the black. Fire's not bumping the containment line. Ab.

3/25 Department of Ag, parent of the FS:

I think folks are getting a little to caught up in their own world.

The audience was the IAFF - International Association of Fire Fighters
Sounds to me like a group that would be interested in forest fires, airtanks etc.
Also keep in mind that the position is Secretary of Agriculture. Not Secretary of US Forest Service.
While we know the difference between hotshots, type 2 crew etc. these are things that are pretty esoteric to our business.

And every agency of the Dept. (listed below) has its nuances. Read up on the Rural Housing Service, and Rural Development and you will see that the Dept of Ag has an interest in maintaining effective structure protection capabilities as any one how has a financial stake in any building in any community in America. I think the hotshots in high-rises was a reference to Wallstreet and believe it is part of most politicians efforts to appear on the side of Joe Average that lives and works on Main Street.

* Agricultural Marketing Service
* Agricultural Research Service
* Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
* Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
* Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service
* Economic Research Service
* Farm Service Agency
* Food and Nutrition Service
* Food Safety and Inspection Service
* Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services
* Foreign Agricultural Service
* Forest Service
* Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration
* Marketing and Regulatory Programs
* National Agricultural Statistics Service
* Natural Resources Conservation Service
* Research, Education and Economics
* Risk Management Agency
* Rural Business-Cooperative Service
* Rural Development
* Rural Housing Service
* Rural Utilities Service

To me IAFF's motives are clear. Influence in the new administration and congress. And I would say no different then any other special interest group including the FWFSA.

I agree with the comment that Vilsack is "new and inexperienced in our ways this does not mean he is against us. He may turn out to be one of our most important allies. Let's not beat him up until we know more about him." He will have to come to know the ways of 22 other agencies as well.

Hopelessly Midwestern

3/25 Dear Ab:

In hindsight of my last post, I want to make it clear that I certainly was not trying to create an issue where one doesn't exist with respect to recent comments from the Secretary of Agriculture. I don't think there is anyone who wants to see the new Secretary succeed and take positive steps to reform his Agency's fire program than I.

Perhaps the choice of the word "hotshots" was not the best for him to use. Perhaps he was actually referring to corporate CEOs etc., in their "high rises" or Ivory Towers as some call them. However given the fact that he was addressing firefighters and his agency employs firefighting hotshots, it was an odd choice of words.

That being said, I think the federal wildland firefighting community has the right to know why he was addressing the IAFF and asking to "hear from them" and asking for the IAFF's help with the air tanker issue when the IAFF does not represent any Forest Service firefighters. Why isn't he addressing and engaging his own Agency firefighters who have the solutions to the many problems facing the fire program? It does cause the question to be asked of just how clear he is on the fire program; does he know the IAFF does not represent any of his firefighters etc.

So again, I certainly was not attempting to promote some kind of sinister issue with my last post. It is however, you're right as federal wildland firefighters to know why he was there, what context the term "hotshots" was used in and whether he knows who represents his firefighters contractually and legislatively and what steps he plans to take to fix his Agency's fire program.

On a related note, I wanted to comment on President Obama's press conference last night in which he stated he was a firm believer in persistence in achieving what is right. The FWFSA's efforts, and the voices of so many firefighters over many years has continued to be persistent in the effort to educate Congress with the hope it will act to make the necessary reforms for wildland firefighters.

Some may criticize persistence as being too slow or methodical with successes measured over years rather than weeks or months. But when you are manually trying to move an immovable object, you've got apply steady but increasing pressure over time before it starts to budge. We are at that point and starting to see movement.


3/25 Anyone heard when the new AD rates for FS will be out,
or should I say signed???

3/25 Re Vilsack's presentation:

Hmmm, I didn't get the impression that Secretary Vilsack insulted anyone in his IAFF presentation. It didn't appear to me that he was using a teleprompter, which meant that he was giving a mostly rehearsed speech with some ad libs. His use of the word "hotshots" to describe executives looks like a Freudian slip, he had just used the word hotshot when he read the numbers of jumpers and hotshots from notes on the podium. The second time, the context was changed, which confused people.

It was weird that he used the IAFF format to make his first public mention of Forest Service firefighters. The IAFF's motives for sucking up to our new secretary are unclear, as it appears they were also busy sucking up to a whole gaggle of other politicians at this event.

I know we are all gun shy from our negative experiences with the previous administration's secretaries, but I think we should give this guy a little slack and some time to learn about us. Just because he is new and inexperienced in our ways does not mean he is against us. He may turn out to be one of our most important allies. Let's not beat him up until we know more about him.

Misery Whip

3/25 Flood Update ND.


It is really looking bad now, with 300 percent above average snow fall last winter, the Red River is at 36 feet,
@ (16:00 CDT 3/25/09) 18 feet above flood stage. Evacuation plans are being drawn up with the crest in Fargo predicted to 41 feet by Saturday, 1.5 feet above the 97 flood. The Levies are at around 40 feet, with the 2 million sand bags included. We had 3 inches of rain over the last couple days, and now there is a fresh 6-8 inches of snow from last night on the ground. We did a little flood work the other day on our district but not in Fargo.

Our Federal Crew is available and ready with Boats, Trucks and Tracked equipment if we are called in for the rescue and those sort of things, if the Levy's break.

I have 4 extra small ponds on my personal property, and I live on a hill, so far my basement is dry. The 97 flood that covered Grand Forks was supposed to be the 100 year flood. Now we are back 12 years later.

Interesting that in my career as a Range/Forestry Tech, who happens to get firefighter retirement.
Not a firefighter or all risk mind you. (:

Here is a quick rundown of emergencies that either myself or my crew have assisted in. I am sure I am forgetting a couple categories. In no particular order.
Shuttle Recovery
Numerous Search and Rescues
Various Medical emergencies
Wild Land Fires (Lest We Forget)

Follow this link if you wish to track the river levels all around NW MN and Eastern ND. www.crh.noaa.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=fgf

Lucky Lindy

3/25 Re Mike Dietrich's retirement:

On Behalf of FEDS, I would like to congratulate Mike Dietrich on his retirement and honor him for his 33 years of dedicated service. I have gotten to know Chief Dietrich over the past two or so years, and in my many years of working with federal employees, I can honestly say that Chief Dietrich is a man of character, integrity and one of the most dedicated civil servants in the Government. He truly cares about the mission and the people who serve the mission. It is safe to say that the Forest Service is not only losing one of its best Fire Chiefs, but it is also losing one of its best people.

Good Luck in retirement Mike!

Best Regards,

Anthony Vergnetti, President
Federal Employee Defense Services, Inc.

Hear, hear. Ab.

3/25 To all:

If, as federal wildland firefighters, especially those in the Forest Service you are
concerned about the comment made by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to
the attendees of the International Association of Fire Fighters legislative conference
in which he stated:

"It's not the hotshots in the high rises moving this country forward..."

then I would suggest you email your concerns to Secretary Vilsack at:

AgSec @ nospam usda.gov

or you can fax something to him or his Chief of Staff Carole Jett at 202-720-6314

I've fielded 6 press calls in the last day asking for our thoughts as to whether the
Secretary knows what hotshots are; whether he knows the IAFF does not represent
any of his Agency's firefighters, etc. I've referred these calls to both the Secretary's
office and the IAFF.

However, I think it would be most important for Forest Service firefighters around
the country to make an inquiry with the Ag Secretary as to whether he truly knew
who his audience was last week and how much he really knows and understands
about his firefighters. So many of you did a great job communicating with Congress,
let's try the Ag Secretary now.

Remember, no government email or fax accounts.


3/25 Casey,

I don't think you should be the one thanking us, it should be the other way around.
After all, pretty much none of this would be possible without the grit, determination
and desire that you've shown throughout this entire process. Hopefully what you've
heard from Washington, isn't just lip service, because most of us are growing tired
of the empty promises.

As has been said a million times before, Thank you.

Quick Connect

3/25 FLAME Act Being debated on House Floor Now! (1244 pacific time)


See amendments here,



Thanks, h. Ab.

3/25 San Bernardino National Forest
602 South Tippecanoe Avenue
San Bernardino, CA 92408

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: John Miller (909) 382-2788

Fire and Aviation Management Chief Mike Dietrich Announces Retirement

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif., March 23, 2009 — Michael J. Dietrich, Chief of Fire and Aviation Management for the San Bernardino National Forest, announced his retirement from the United States Forest Service, effective April 3, after 33 years of government service.

"When the time is right to retire, you begin to reflect on your past accomplishments, people you have met and the places you have been,” stated San Bernardino National Forest Fire Chief Mike Dietrich. “It has been quite a run over the years and I feel that I have made a difference for the agencies and the public I have served."

Chief Dietrich’s retirement plans include taking some time off to travel and to obtain his Registered Professional Forester license, teaching, and continuing to participate in public service and on Incident Management Teams.

Chief Dietrich began his career in 1976 with the North Dakota State Park, where he served as a Park Ranger and a Park Superintendent. From 1979 to 1998 he served as Fuels Management Specialist and Fire Management Officer with the Bureau of Land Management in Eugene, Oregon.

Chief Dietrich came to the San Bernardino National Forest in November 1998. In addition to fulfilling his responsibilities as Fire Chief, Mike Dietrich has participated in several notable national projects including the development of foam systems in wildland firefighting, and working on the Federal Fire Policy and Program Review, which resulted in major changes in federal fire management.

While on the forest, Dietrich helped develop the Mountain Area Safety Taskforce (MAST), a nationally recognized multilevel government and private partnership formed in 2002 in response to the record drought and bark beetle infestation in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. MAST has been credited with coordinating public safety efforts that helped agencies deal with the dead tree issues and several large fires, notably the Grand Prix and the Old Fire during the fire siege of 2003.

Since 1987, Dietrich has participated on Incident Command Teams, reaching the position of Type 1 Incident Commander of California Interagency Incident Management Team 5. As Incident Commander, Chief Dietrich managed complex fires such as the Zaca, Day and Basin fires. Chief Dietrich also assisted in the Columbia Shuttle Recovery and hurricane assistance, such as Katrina.

3/25 Re: http://www.iaff.org/Events/2009LegCon/03-vilsack.asx

Secretary Vilsack obviously had no idea what he was talking about, but was only pandering to the audience at the IAFF Convention.

"Hotshots in the high-rises"..... What was that all about? Most of the firefighters at the IAFF Convention have little or no knowledge about wildland fire..... with noted exceptions.

Once again, wildland firefighters being used... and abused... to pass the "Employee Free Choice Act"... with resounding applause from the audience in attendance.

Unfortunately, note that the "recently passed stimulus bill" comments ..... '100 million dollars, 10 percent of grants' ... was not well received or applauded..... but for some reason edited out after the "pause" for applause.

Secretary Vilsack comments about "talking heads" was sickening..... he should look in the mirror!!! He is "a talking head".

As an FWFSA member, I support the "Employee Free Choice Act", but my friends and peers don't appreciate another misguided individual such as Secretary Vilsack speaking upon our behalf, and speaking misguided half truths, before "OUR" peers in the firefighting community.

In my opinion, Secretary Vilsack is just another "talking head" from USDA.

Fedwatcher for Wildland Firefighters

Education is the key. People do not need to remain talking heads. Ab.

3/25 How many wildland firefighters are there in the US?

Also, I am trying to understand the overall demographics. Do you know where
I could get the following information?

• xx percent are men.
• xx percent are women.

• xx percent are between the ages of 18 and 34.
• xx percent are between the ages of 18 and 44.

• xx percent earn $30,000 to $70,000 a year.
• xx percent earn more than $50,000 a year.
• Average Household Income in the US is $34,000.00 (Simply Hired)

Best Regards,

Wow, all of those are such moving targets year to year that I doubt if you'll get any answers. Readers? Ab.

3/25 Burn,

There are all sorts of Federal housing regulations and laws- these are usually the type of regs. that county/state health departments enforce for private housing-such as disclosure. Try the EPA- they make a lot of these regs. Also try this document www.fiftystatesfsbo.com/PCD/lead-based-paint.phpl the USFS is subject to ANY Federal regs. There is no USFS housing authority and there seems to be no agency outside the FS that can enforce them. The FS is required by LAW and POLICY to follow these regs.

To my knowledge, FS policy is to "perform building maintenance to provide a maintained facility ensuring safe, reasonable secure accommodations"


3/25 EP, I am not an expert but I'm sure that a retiree can be hired as a TEMP with no limitations.

A bonus if the person is a CSRS retiree their Social Security earned as a TEMP is not off-set as
with FERS or CSRS OFF-SET retirement, so a strictly CSRS person could potentially gain several
hundred a month in SS after age 67 or whatever the age is then (that is if SS still exists then). I
apologize in advance if my understanding of the federal retirement system is completly FUBAR.


Dear Ab & All:

I came away from my week-long trip to DC gratified at the increased awareness by Congress and the Administration with regards to wildland firefighter issues and the wildland firefighting community in general. This is no doubt a result of the increased voice of our firefighters that has resonated over the past few years. To those that contacted congressional offices prior to my trip, I can tell you that those offices were eager to let me know they heard from you.

There are a surprising number of folks in DC who are either current or former wildland firefighters, working as
"congressional fellows" or interns etc. In fact many claimed to follow TheySaid on a regular basis and commented on the long-time commitment of the ABs and those working behind the scenes of wildlandfire.com such as Steve Myers. Speaking of Steve, I have been woefully belated in thanking him for spearheading the "Black Tuesday" wristband effort that resulted in a very helpful donation to the FWFSA last year.

This past week I had a number of meetings with staff, members of both the House & Senate as well as Administration officials. I also had the pleasure of finally meeting Mark Davis of NFFE and being able to spend a few minutes between meetings listening to NFFE Forest Service Council president Ron Thatcher testify before a House subcommittee on employee morale.

I am pleased to report that we have a firm commitment from the House to introduce our bill we have titled the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement & Cost Containment Act. Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA) has committed to taking the lead on the bill. He has indicated he will make personal calls to both Democratic & Republican colleagues so that we have a visibly bipartisan effort in introducing the bill.

I'm not sure it would be prudent to specifically state others who have made the commitment to join Rep. Filner but I am confident we have educated the Hill and established sufficient relationships to see a good diverse group of folks.

Prior to introduction, our draft will be sent to the Legislative Counsel... those people who insure the language and the legalese is accurate and does not violate existing laws etc. It is quite possible that the bill actually introduced will not be word for word like our bill. However the commitments to support the bill were based on its totality, not just one provision or two.

Rep. Filner spoke of press conferences which ideally, would be in his district (the San Diego area) and include other congressional colleagues from the area as well as firefighters. This would be fiscally better for the FWFSA rather than trying to get a large group of firefighters to DC... unless there is a philanthropist who reads TheySaid on a regular basis!! It was my hope to the Congressman that the introduction could come before the full onslaught of the season so that federal wildland firefighters around the country would know that they have people in Washington on their side.

I also had very good meetings on the Senate side. The Senate however is a different animal altogether from the House. There are some western senators who want to give the Agency more time to "right the wrongs" on their own without the need for legislation. I offered a respectful suggestion that the agencies have been aware of the problems, AND solutions for over 20 years and have failed to take any action until this past year when the proverbial congressional "boot" found its mark.

On the other hand there were senators who agreed the time has come to act. As with the House, the best analogy I can offer is once one grasshopper jumps... then others jump en masse. In other words, once someone takes the lead, others follow. As I've told a few, I would not be surprised if a senate bill was led by someone other than a senator from California.

There was a great deal of discussion amongst those in the California congressional delegation as to whether the 10% retention bonus would be effective. I understand folks are starting to receive the bonus and I'd certainly like any feedback from firefighters as to whether they believe it is a sufficient enough sized action to keep them in the federal system.

There was also a great deal of discussion on the FLAME Act that has recently been introduced as a way to budget for wildfires without impacting other non-fire agency projects. I would have to say there is a 50/50 split as to whether it is the right way to go or not among members of the House and Senate. There is bipartisan support for the measure but also bipartisan wariness of whether it is the right vehicle to use.

Finally, I'd like to address the IAFF/FWFSA issue. I do not know why the Secretary of Agriculture spoke to those attending the IAFF's Legislative Conference in DC last week. In watching the Secretary's speech, you would have thought the IAFF represented all of the Nation's federal wildland firefighters, especially those in the Forest Service. Candidly, I'd hate to think the Secretary spoke to the IAFF assuming it represented wildland firefighters from his agency when it in fact does not. A bit odd.

I did in fact send a letter to the General President of the IAFF prior to my trip offering to sit down with him in an effort to smooth out any strained relationships created since the FWFSA disaffiliated from the IAFF in 2003 and had to become involved in a California Assembly bill a couple of years ago, much to the irritation of the IAFF's California State Affiliate the California Professional Firefighters. Needless to say his response was not very warm & fuzzy and smacked of a bully trying to squash the "smaller kid on the block." So, regardless of what the future holds I am comfortable in knowing I at least I made the mature, professional decision to try and re-establish a dialogue with the IAFF. I am also thankful for the IAFF members who also are members of the FWFSA as they share our vision of making things better for our Nation's federal wildland firefighters. The support we received during the issue with the Assembly bill, and in fact the support we continue to receive from both state and municipal firefighters across California whom our members work side by side with, clearly demonstrates that sometimes the leadership of these huge organizations become out of touch with the majority of their members.

As more details become available on the introduction of our legislation they will be posted here and on our web site.

Again, thanks for the honor of being able to appear on your behalf in Washington last week.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/24 AB,

I am hopeful someone with recent hiring experience or a HR type can help me here.

I am trying to hire a retiree for a temp fire position. This is a GS-0455,0462-04/05
position, starting in May working thru Oct and was advertised thru USAJOBS.
The individual is well qualified, has been retired for over five years, CSRS FF/LEO.
Although this is a fire position, it is not one that might be seen as a "critical need"
to request a waiver for reemployment.

2 main questions - can I hire this person for a temporary position? And, if I can hire
them, will the individual face a reduction in their monthly retirement check by
working for the Gov't?

I am getting conflicting answers (what's new). Any help or links/references would be



3/24 Can anyone direct me to the laws or regulations regarding the FS and housing?
Looking for any information relating to USFS housing authority. Is the FS
subject to state landlord/tenant law?


3/24 1910 Fire Commemoration:

Good Afternoon Ab(s),

I would like to let everyone know that the Northern Region is working on the Commemoration for the 1910 Fires with a special focus on the Big Blow-up of August 20 and 21, 1910 in which 84 people died including 78 firefighters, when the fires ran 3,000,000 acres during a 24 hour period. There will be various commemoration events on local forests along with things like a website with information from the fires and links to events.

We are looking for folks who may have information or photographs from the 1910 events. We are also seeking relatives of firefighters and families that lived through the fires. At least two reunions are planned for descendants; A mock fire camp and reunion at Trout Creek, Montana and reunion along with rededication of the St. Maries, Idaho 1910 firefighters burial site at the St. Maries Cemetery. I understand the honor guard will be present during the cemetery rededication ceremony.

Author Stephan Pyne is tentatively schedule to speak at the Trout Creek reunion. So far we have located one survivor from the fires who was 3 when the Big Blow-up destroyed her family's home outside what was Belknap, Montana and she is now 101.5.

If anyone would like more information, can provide us with information on the 1910 fires or would like to assist or participate in the commemoration events, you can contact me at jmolzahn @ fs,fed.us or at (406) 826-4352.

Thanks for all you do with the website.

Julie Molzahn, Northern Region 1910 Fire Commemoration Coordinator

Sounds like a very interesting event. Ab.

3/24 re: final thoughts on unsafe conditions

......Then just ask- and you can compare the info to the actual conditions and decide for yourself if it is safe......

"YOU" shouldn't "HAVE" to decide for "YOURSELF" whether it is safe, or not. There are Govt. laws (state, local, but apparently not federal) for housing. It's either safe, or it's condemned.... That's it!

Does one really think that the agency is going to say, "oh yeah, it's a fire trap, infested with mice, and wouldn't survive a 2.0 earthquake."???? It may be a bargain to live in govt. housing in certain areas of the country, I understand that. However, that doesn't diminish the responsibility of the landlord!

Oh, and hanta virus and mold issues are not just "unsanitary", they are "unsafe".


3/24 Come across these figures the other day, looked liked they were put together at one of the regions for one of the regional foresters. Couldn't completely verify all of them but think they are correct.
The average number of wildland fire fighters that die in the line of duty is 21 per year, the thirty year average is 16.
Since 1978 508 fire fighters have died in the line of duty
In 2008 there was the worst aviation crash in FS history.
Sad, but true.
The cost of firefighting <snip> has gone up too.
6 or the last 8 years the cost is more than $1 billion.
The last 7 years over $1.8 billion has been borrowed from other areas.
In 1998 the suppression costs was $306 million in 2008 it was like 5 time more $1.4 billion
I think all the cost numbers are Forest Service, the deaths can be checked at NIFC's web site and I did.
How much more <snip> can we take?

Correlation does not imply causation, hence the <snips>. Ab.

3/24 final thoughts on unsafe conditions

Ah yes- the condition of these hazardous materials are absolutely the issue. This is the problem, people with the info about these materials are not taking the time to actually go out to areas of forest and determine the actual safety of housing. They are also not properly dispersing the info among district personnel who offer people quarters. This is why i said- keep yourselves safe- if you are provided w/ one of these old, "scary" buildings as quarters- Then just ask- and you can compare the info to the actual conditions and decide for yourself if it is safe.


3/24 After a short hiatus, we're happy to announce that Chuck Roast is back on our Classifieds Page.  Chuck offers a variety of products and supplies designed to keep firefighters warm and safe. The Chuck Roast Nomex Fleece line of products are guaranteed to help keep you warm (and stylish) on the fireline. Check his new ad here:  Chuck Roast  Ab.
3/24 This is a similar photo of the "housing" I was given on an R5 forest back in the mid 90's. We were not as lucky to have stilts though, I think you had to be a DFMO or better get the stilts on it~ It was my second year in fire and I thought this was the norm http://lastchancelancaster.com/images/CabOverCamperShell.jpg

It's pretty funny, looking back on it and having to endure some of storms and other things we went through....yes, we...Myself and this other dude had to share it for the season, a slow season~ We slept about 18 inches from each other, both with one eye open.

On the other hand, some of the forests/NPS units have VERY nice housing~

INF had a great bunk house
EVER had an amazing village
LAME, had a house on a lake mead

If I remember right anything built prior to the early 80's will generally test hot for asbestos and don't forget the lead paint. Neither are a huge issue unless it starts to crumble and gets in the air

My place now I like it a bit better,

34th floor looking east over a really large lake =)

3/24 Hugh,

Re: IEP - Thanks for an outstanding reply, I've been trying to figure out how to
respond to Aardvark's post without sounding like a ranting fool. So I'll just go
with "what Hugh said".

3/24 re unsafe living conditions:

We were not properly informed before moving in- due to a breakdown in communication between forest and district level. We went through my husband's supervisors- they were well aware of substandard, but not unsafe conditions- and their hands were tied. We went through other proper channels at many levels. Despite the fact we were so blatantly right, and the FS so blatantly wrong- our reasonable requests were not met and mouse feces and hanta virus would have been easy to mitigate- we were dealing with even worse. Substandard is one thing- totally unsafe is another. We were paying rent- and thus entitled to safe living conditions. We did move out- it required us finding jobs elsewhere. it was still wrong.


Firewife Extraordinaire, keep up the good fight. Ab.

3/24 re IEP


Very well said! I would almost give my firstborn for your powers of articulation. Thank you!


3/23 Fedwatcher II,

Call me optimistic, but this is the way I see it. What Secretary Vilsack said is huge for the Forest Service. The fact that the IAFF invited him to solicit help from its members to support legislation to help the Forest Service is also significant gesture. Are you suggesting their gesture be rejected? Thinking purely politically, how does that help our cause? The more people we have writing congress on our behalf the better. There has been a lot of pain and even more disappointment, however, the hard work of Casey, FWFSA and all of us is beginning to pay off. Momentum is finally on our side. I hope people see this as the huge opportunity it is and seize the moment.

3/23 Vilsack's speech and IAFF:

I felt the same thing as Fedwatcher II while watching the vid.  Does the IAFF misrepresent
their role in all this?  Are they just like Randy Moore and Special Ed, paying lip service to
Forest Service WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS while advancing their own agenda?

I do not know, I am just asking the question.

The frustration we feel in all of this is becoming debilitating, as much as many of us soldier
on, it is becoming a bit much.

Do line officers understand any of this?  They say they do, but how many really understand?
or really care?


3/23 IAFF and Vilsack's speech

Does anyone have a contact on the National Labor Relations Board?

I don't know how FWFSA, an association of wildland firefighters (not a union), could be labeled "a rival organization" by some union managers at CPF and IAFF. That's like a bowl of bananas calling a juicy, sweet and zingy orange a rival. What's the point? Does anyone have this in writing?

NFFE is the FS union, isn't it? As I understand, it's a FS bargaining unit for the AFof L CIO, isn't it? The FWFSA membership has a good relationship with and has done some fine things with NIFFE. Great fruit salad.

Maybe FWFSA should ask some questions of the National Labor Relations Board about whether it's appropriate or legal for powerful union managers (CPF and IAFF) to be labeling an association of fed firefighting as a "rival organization"??? What does that mean? Get rid of that orange? Put down the wildland firefighters association if given the opportunity? Are those union managers scared? Who has to OK that label, do all take a vote on it? Is that why IAFF invited Vilsack? A lot of mutual banana appreciation going on?

Speaking of appreciation, I know the FWFSA appreciates everything the CAL FIRE firefighters have done in support of our fed wildland firefighters. We're all in this together, at least the groundpounders are. I know FWFSA will continue to support IAFF and CPF legislation and offer changes where needed to ensure coverage of our wildland firefighters.

I mean, good grief, I know there were a raft of firefighter organizations that supported the FWFSA changes in California's AB 384 last year; the changes were supposed to include temp fed firefighter families like some of ours whose firefighters died on the Esperanza Fire. Fruit salad worked well there -- except . . .

Did those changes in the bill get changed again in secret at the last minute?


3/23 OK "h"

I sat and watched Vilsack's speech to the IAFF. The obvious question: why did he
address the IAFF when the IAFF doesn't represent ONE Forest Service firefighter
in the country in any capacity?

Hmmm, something fishy going on. The IAFF taking the time to provide the Secretary
with all the figures on how many smoke jumpers there are, hotshot crews etc., but
they don't represent any of them.

Vilsack "may get" what's wrong with the Forest Service fire program but the IAFF
sure isn't doing anything about it. I smell a rat...

Fedwatcher II
3/23 out re Unsafe Conditions?:

I would suggest that since "fire wife extraordinaire" and her husband are
paying "rent" on said house, that maybe "supervisor extraordinaire"
doesn't really have anything to do with it. I'm confused here..... You
don't like Hanta Virus and rats.... and if you live in any other rental
property, you've got a case. However, if it's government housing, you'd
better check with your husband's supervisor before you complain? I'm
pretty dam* sure he/she knows that the housing is substandard..... So????
The response forwarded is pathetic! 'course we can always use the
age old..... "if you don't like it, then leave". argument.


Big Old Mouse Supervisor

3/23 Mike Dietrich retiring
BDF FMO Announcement

To: r5_san_bernardino@FSNOTES
cc: Thomas F GillettUMO Announcement

We're happy to announce that Kurt Winchester, currently the District Ranger on MTRD, has accepted a lateral reassignment to the Forest Fire Management Officer position on our Forest. As you all know, Mike Dietrich will be retiring in early April after more than 10 years of distinguished service as our Fire Chief. Under Mike's capable leadership, our fire and fuels management programs are some of the best in the National Forest System. We're confident that Kurt will build on this momentum and keep the San Bernardino at the forefront of effective management of Forest, Regional and National fire related issues.

Kurt brings a unique set of skills and experiences into the Fire Chief position, having worked on six national forests in three different regions. In his more than 31 years of service, Kurt has held positions as a District Ranger on our Forest as well as the Carson NF, and has held forest staff officer positions in fire, fuels, timber, forest restoration, and legislative affairs on the Plumas and Carson NFs. He is currently qualified as a Type 2 Incident Commander and Operations Section Chief.

Kurt will begin his new assignment March 29 to allow for overlap with Mike. Plans are underway to fill in behind Kurt on a temporary and permanent basis.

Please join me and Jeanne in welcoming Kurt in his new position as the Fire Management Officer for the San Bernardino National Forest!

Thomas F. Gillett, Deputy Forest Supervisor
San Bernardino NF

3/23 Re Implementation adjustment of 401 stand down and
various reports on the recent congressional testimony on morale, etc:

from Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee on 3/23

Implementation adjustment of 401 stand down

To be clear, here is what we mean by "stand down." Hopefully we are now on the same page with agency leadership. If not, we'd be happy to continue discussions. The following are statements in our testimony indicating the transition had not been effectively and completely stood down:

* Critical fire management positions continue to be filled from applicant pools skewed away from vital field experience toward largely irrelevant academic degrees.
* Limited funds continue to be diverted from needed training to pay for coursework that is often unrelated to fire management.

Here's the specific guidance that would address these concerns and that we believe needs to get to the field ASAP to implement the intent to stand down:

* Inform all incumbents in 462 positions that they will not have to obtain 401 education credentials or be removed.
* If continuing with 462/401 joint advertisements, inform the field that the overall best candidate in the opinion of the deciding official may be chosen, whether 462 or 401. Alternatively, simply advertise as 462 positions.
* Inform the field that new 462 hires will not have to sign an agreement to obtain 401 credentials or be removed.

We need to hear from you if:

* You can report the reclassification has not been stood down from your perspective, as evidenced by continued training needs required of 462 incumbents and by the filling of vacancy announcements geared toward the 401 transition (provide documentation if you have it, e.g., vacancy announcements, contingency agreements for 462 positions, emails, etc.)
* You have additional ideas of which we should be aware regarding this policy

Mark Davis
Please respond to nffe @ fs.fed.us

PS - to see streaming video of Council President Ron Thatcher's testimony, use the link in the last message, below. You can skip directly to 1:14 for Ron's testimony.


from Mark Davis on 3/19

Local Officials, Executive Board, and Legislative Committee members,

Please forward the attached testimony to members and others you feel may be interested. I will not summarize it here because it speaks for itself and because, frankly, I'm about worn out. Thanks to everyone who sent in comments -- this would not have happened without your participation.

I do have one aspect to report on, briefly. The agency asserted in its testimony that it had "stood down" the reclassification of fire managers to the GS-0401 series. We had discussions with agency leaders about this in which we strongly asserted that the policy had not been "stood down" when 401s are hired in preference to 462s, when 462 hires must sign agreements to meet 401 qualifications by 2010 or be released, and when those in 462 positions slated for conversion have not been notified whether they need to keep taking courses to get 401 credentials. We will continue to work with agency leadership and Congress to attempt to come to a common understanding on how to adjust this policy.

Mark Davis, NFFE


from Mark Davis on 3/18

Restoring Federal Public Lands Workforce, On morale: Testimony (BLM; NPS; and USFS- Hank Kashdan) before the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public lands on Thursday, March 19, 2009:


FSC_Hearing_Followup_FINAL.doc (45 K doc file; NFFE clarification of GS-0401)
FSC_Testimony_House_NR_090319_SHORT.doc (56 K doc file; Ron Thatcher NFFE, 5 pages)
FSC_Testimony_House_NR_090319_LONG.doc (139 K doc file; Ron Thatcher NFFE, 21 pages)

3/23 Aardvark, you said:

"In reality the medical plan is often thrown out the window as division sups, air attack or the med unit leader try to take over and further muddy the situation, particularly on large incidents and almost always far away from the incident. "

"You then went on to say: "Having been involved with a number of incidents over the years, it is amazing how often the plan is thrown out the window and almost never used. In a difficult situation that requires a med-evac, your only hope is to have a well qualified Helitack crew with trained crewmembers who can take over on arrival and clarify the situation."

As an Air Operations director for 20+ years, I am, frankly, appalled by this advice. This is why:

1. The above mentioned folks, the MEDL (located in the Incident Dispatch Area), the ATGS, and the DIVS/Crew Supv on the ground at the incident scene, are the key components of a successful medevac. Read any decent IEP (Incident Emergency Plan) and those 3 should be identified as the key players involved. And, I must stress, the ONLY ones: not the AOBD, not the OSC, (though we should stand back and monitor/assess the situation, and of course notifying the Helibase Mgr to relay the identified air medevac capability). I learned this the hard way by inserting myself into medevac, as well as observing OSCs doing the same, all usually with consequential additional confusion and disarray.

2. Allowing the MEDL the decision space to assess the on-ground situation and its severity via the on-ground supervisor and ATGS is key, NOT "to have a well qualified Helitack crew with trained crewmembers who can take over on arrival and clarify the situation." Reference statistics on responding EMS forces themselves having accidents. Note that I have no problem at all having a well-qualified crew on the ground at the helibase, rotors turning, but awaiting the person who has responsibility to pull the trigger (the MEDL).

Reference my own slides of jumping the gun as late as 2003 on the Salmon-Challis where -- before the MEDL had a chance to assess whether it was a life-threatening broken femur or a severe sprain --- I, being pushed by my helitack crews "to do something" and quite willingly falling right into that trap, had initiated hoist-capable Guard aircraft, the Teton rappellers, USAF Fairchild assets, etc. - all totally outside the system (read direct calls to those assets!!). Wow!!

As it was, after the MEDL's assessment, all that was needed was a well-qualified helitack crew to medevac a highly bruised but non-life-threatened injured line crewmember. (There are many out there who know that patience has never been my virtue, it's something I continue to work on within the leadership environment, but a deep breath now and then within the "fog of chaos" often goes a long way.

Aardvark, you quite apparently and perhaps quite justifiably have some "bad slides" on a Team's dysfunctionality in the IEP environment. But on Jerry Brunner's Team on the Salmon-Challis in 2003, I had a highly competent team who was following a well-established IEP procedure involving the classic triangle: ATGS coordinating, MEDL assessing/directing, and DIVS/Crew Supt. on the ground. And I did not have the patience to let it flow.

I also suggest that instead of expressing your frustration to ignore well-thought-out IEPs that have been developed from "too many cooks in the kitchen" creating even further chaos, that you make it your responsibility on your next assignment to check out the MEDL Plan, ensure it jibes with the Helibase Emergency Rescue Plan, and even go so far as to conduct a drill in the first couple of days on the incident.


Hugh Carson

3/23 Ab,

An encouraging speech from Secretary Vilsack. Sounds like he gets it!


3/23 Re:  unsafe conditions

My documentation and paper trail are not a problem, and I have used the proper chain of command channels thus far; I would say that I actually have a 100+ hrs. into my endeavors. I'm not sure how far I want to run with this, I have already wasted a good chunk of my life arguing with the FS about safe housing for our family- something owed to us by law. I have info about a number of Federal Laws this forest is violating- but I am not naive enough to think that I am going to change 30 years of Housing Policy with one fell swoop to the WO or Congress. This will take numbers- my info can only shed light on 1 forest, of an agency-wide problem. I worry that some crusade through the FS will create more problems for my husband- the firefighter extraordinaire- than any good it will do.

Especially when the problem is many years of lack of funding- I'm sure most forests would take care of these buildings if they had the $ to do so. I also know that conditions vary from forest to forest- some forests get more $ than others. I don't think the Feds have $ to throw at the problem- but I do want things to change. It made me pretty mad that Casey said the FS didn't take advantage of facilities funding like the NPS. When you actually step foot in some of these scary buildings, any one with common sense would say- why on God's green earth would the FS not take this $?

But I am particularly concerned about FS families with kids, who pretty much have no choice but to live in government housing- I don't think very many families out there live in some FS house or trailer because they enjoy the "perks" of living at a FS station. This is why I was I am looking to you free thinkers for someone outside the FS for people to go to and have Federal housing regulations enforced.

I am absolutely blown away that the FS is so concerned with on the job safety, requiring JHAs, tailgate safety sessions, and emphasizing fire line safety- but they don't give a sh*t about the buildings they send you guys home to- that potentially expose you to far worse things than when you're on the clock.

All you FF's out there keep yourselves safe in this upcoming fire season. You are supposed to be legally disclosed (under Federal Law) of any hazardous materials in housing before you sign a lease agreement- designed to allow tenants to decide for themselves if a place is safe to live. Keep in mind that stuff built before 1978 will have lead based paint. Asbestos was commonly used in all sorts of things in the 50's and 60's- joint compound, sheet rock, vinyl flooring and tiles, insulation. If you are not sure about your quarters- just ask. You have the right to any info. facilities or engineering has under FOIA. Make complaints to the Health Department, they can't really do anything about it- but at least they are documented.

Thanks for letting me vent.

Frustrated firewife extraordinaire

3/23 Abercrombie

Two wildland classes are being offered at this year’s Fire College in Champaign, Illinois
May 27 – 31, hosted by the Illinois Fire Service Institute.

www.fsi.illinois.edu/content/outreach/fire council/wildland_flyer_mar20a.pdf (large pdf file)


3/23 Hey AB and all,

Dropping a line about the retention or lack of retention bonus (as I like to call it myself), and how many people may not be aware why they are not getting it. Many people are not aware of the letter or the checklist put out by the RO on about 13 March 09 . On that letter one of the main points was, and I am paraphrasing here, a requirement of the bonus is one continuous year of forest service time.

I talked my District FMO and he wasn't even aware of the letter, and after looking it up in is emails from the RO, told me that he agrees that it means that any seasonal that was hired in last fall's hiring, but laid off for the winter before there start date will have to wait until they have that one year of "CONTINUOUS" Forest Service time. Any break in time that doesn't have you in some form of pay status, resets your date. One of the guys I work with didn't come on for his new permanent time until Feb. This means he wont get his bonus until almost when the program is set to end. I myself took one pay period off between my seasonal job and starting my new job on a different forest, so I could find housing and such. This means I wont get my bonus 'til Aug. So how is this supposed to help retain people? The main levels that we're looking to retain, may not be getting this bonus.

I am just wondering if this letter came out so close to the date that the program was to be initiated, because of the questioning mutterings that we all heard of "how was the RO going to pay for this?" I believe there used to be a term for this. Oh yes, getting the screws set to us. I am glad that there are still supervisors out there in a few places that remember their responsibility is to those they lead, so we did have the word spread a little bit. And at this rate it will be a great way to show the WO and Congressional Staff next year that we don't need a retention bonus because we only spent X amount of dollars in retaining bonuses, instead of the proposed Y amount of dollars. It just seems like yet another smoke and mirrors scheme to me.

Okay maybe I'm wrong, but is it really such a far fetched Idea with all of the other "great ideas" the R5 RO has had in the past 5 years to retain people? The Apprentice program, the manipulated figures, the Developmental program, (which I got suckered into) and now the Retention bonus. I hope Casey is able to break through the thick brick wall of Capitol Hill bureaucracy and red tape. Anyone in any region in fire should be a paying member of the FWFSA. The cost of membership is but a small price compared to what they are working on for all of us.

Wondering how this is gonna play out.


3/22 Book Review

Fire in Sierra Nevada Forests: A Photographic Interpretation of Ecological Change Since 1849
by George E. Gruell

In going thru your Book list I find this has yet to be rated. I rate this book with 5 saws

I have been thru this book several times and each time I learn more. The photos and conclusions are done in a manner that shows very factual and thorough research. A lot of effort went into compiling this information and it is well worth the time to go thru it.

I find it amazing that what many have taken to be a normal forest area is so different from what it was before fire was eliminated from the equation. Today's forest managers face a tremendous problem dealing with this increased fire potential while trying to normalize forest areas as well as dealing with the environmental concerns of special interest groups.

A must read for those that think things are fine as they are now.

Rick M

3/22 Book Reviews:

Good Day to Fight Fire: Mann Gulch 1949. Five Chain Saws. This is a book well worth reading. I read it twice with Young Men in Fire between each time. It is about the folks at Mann Gulch. How they got there and why there were there and what happened afterwards.

Beyond Tranquillion Ridge: Five Chain Saws. Good book. Anyone who has fought fire in southern California, can fully understand what happened on the Honda Canyon Fire. Anyone who plans on one day maybe fighting fire in Southern California should read this book. It also shows you other hazards that are involved with fighting fire.

Fire at Peshtigo: Those who know nothing about this fire need to read about it. We need to remember fires like this. Remember what happened before we fought fires like we do now. Well worth reading.

Two Man Stick: Four Saws. Memoirs of smokejumpers. About McCall Jumpers back in the late 40's. Good history of jumpers and the old Tri-motors. Easy reading and hard to put down.

Jumping Skyward: Four Saws. Another good book about how jumping use to be. About Seven Squad and how it was in Idaho back in 1950s. About the jumpers on the squad and how different they were but how they fit together. Hawk, their spiritual leader, jumps skyward not down when he leaves the plane.

R5 dispatcher

Thanks, R5 Dispatcher. We have a Fire Books page with firefighter reviews linked to it. I added your reviews to the Fire Books Review page. Ab.

3/22 Re: Quotes to Live By

"Employees need to be engaged, as advisors, even as collaborators, if the best decisions
are to be made." ~ Ron Thatcher, NFFE, in testimony before the 111th Congress.

"This new way of doing business will require officials who have grown accustomed to
the topdown, secretive mode of operations of the old administration to abandon these
habits. It will require them to embrace the principles of transparency and accountability
articulated... . ...The payoff is in shared accountability and shared ownership - a decision
informed by better information and a workforce motivated to make the decision work."
~ Ron Thatcher, NFFE, in testimony before the 111th Congress.

/s/ Member of An Employee Association... All For Transparency and Accountability

3/21 Idaho, eagle bar fire 1988 hells canyon burnover:

i need any pictures, reports, news paper, morning reports, anything pertaining to
day shift burn over, twice; night shift got burned fire shelters; i lost everything

hope some one can help.

mid westtwo

PDF below was at the Lessons Learned Center. (Search Utility; permanent link on the Links page under safety.) Ab.
Details: http://iirdb.wildfirelessons.net/main/ReviewsDetails.aspx?ID=50126

3/21 To fire wife and the unsafe conditions thread:

A lot of good advice although I would play the "Chain of Command" card first to create a paper trail to provide to those in the WO or Congress where likely you'll need to end up anyway.

Congressional staff, especially at the district level have skills to handle constituent complaints. Depending on who your Congressperson is will determine their feelings in general about where the Forest Service is and where its going on any number of issues and will for tell what kind of response you may get.

However before playing the Congressional card, since these staff have an incredible workload, the paper trail with the Agency is very important.

As others suggested, pictures and documentation are key. OSHA might be a good place to take your information but also perhaps initiate dialogue at the District Ranger level...keeping in mind they won't be able to actually fix the problem. Additionally, sharing information with the Forest Supervisor and even the Regional Office will likely not fix the problem.

Contacting the WO should simply be a step in the advisory process toward the ultimate stop of your district congressional office and perhaps district senate offices. I would certainly make it clear along every step of the way, at least through the FS chain of command that you inform folks your ultimate destination is Congress but you'd like to solicit the Agency's response to your concerns.

Be specific, not just buildings in general. Identify what buildings they are, what they are used for etc. Such as using a $1000 lean-to for housing a $180,000 engine. The FS unfortunately did not take advantage of facility funding like the Park Service did a few years ago so there are an awful lot of scary facilities out there.

Anyway those are just a few thoughts.

To all, I should have a post-DC update on our FWFSA website in the next day or so and likely it'll follow here on TheySaid shortly thereafter. Thanks for your patience. The "decompression" from DC is taking just a wee bit longer because of the recent heart surgery.

3/21 Ab,

Every federal wildland firefighter, as well as Line Officers and fire managers, should watch and listen to the Congressional Hearings entitled,
"Subcommittee On National Parks, Forests And Public Lands: Oversight Hearing On "Restoring The Federal Public Lands Workforce".

Written testimony can be found here: http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/index.php?option=com_jcalpro&Itemid=32&extmode=view&extid=235

Video can be found here: http://resources.edgeboss.net/wmedia/resources/2009_03_19_npfpl.wvx

Ron Thatcher's testimony (President of the NFFE Forest Service Council) begins at 1:14:00 and was excellent. In fact, the entire collection of Panel 2 members was awesome in addressing the issues. The passion of Elaine Downing shows the level of frustration and sense of "folks above" not listening to the field.

If folks can watch the entire hearing (2 hours and 46 minutes), it is well worth it to see and understand the problems that exist. I give it a Five Star Rating.... A must watch for Line Officers, Fire Managers, and Wildland Firefighters.


3/21 I thought you might be interested in this article on federalnewsradio.com.

Interior, Forest Service face uphill climb to boost employee morale


By Jason Miller
Executive Editor

Employee union officials are placing the blame on the shoulders of the Bush administration for poor employee morale across the Interior Department and the Forest Service.

They point to a succession of polices from competitive sourcing to the centralization of back office systems and processes, to the failure to address personnel issues as some of the major factors to why employees view these agencies in a bad light.

"Human capital management is the central biggest problem," says Ron Thatcher, president of the National Federal of Federal Employees' Forest Service Council. "Employees are frustrated by a seemingly endless stream of reorganizations and new technologies, methods and policies that seem ill-planned and end up significantly impeding their ability to get their jobs done." (ETC at link)

3/21 Retention:

Retention bonuses do exist. Patience! I got mine this P.P. I was doubtful,
but it showed up! :)


3/21 Retention:

Just wanted to say I did get my retention bonus it is listed as just such on leave
and earning slip. I am a GS-8 and I receive $200.+ dollars before taxes each
Pay period! It is listed as code "52' under description on L/E statement..... I
would suggest you all look at your statements!

signed Greenchappy

3/21 Re Retention:

Well, I'm just looking over the infamous pay period 5 E&L statement. Let's see... 10% retention
increase... nope. Ok, how 'bout the non-competitive promotion to a GS-7... nope. I think it's
about time to re-define the rapidly approaching line in the sand where I'm just not gonna take it
anymore. Every day I hear something new about funding being reallocated to something else, or
the constant negativity, and I haven't been able to pull myself from my computer in weeks. I don't
even remember what my real job is.

Losing Sight

3/21 3rd Annual Poker Tournament - Supporting the WFF


Is it possible to add the Del Rosa Hotshots 3rd Annual Poker Tournament to the
Hotlist events calendar? It's being held at Moose Lodge in Mentone, CA on
April 4th.

Here is the link:


Even with increased marketing and exposure this year, we are not getting players to
sign up as we have in the past, nor getting the table sponsorships. Probably a sign
of the economy and donor fatigue.

Several local TV and radio stations have also added the event to their online event
calendars and "community" sections in their print editions. Hopefully the return will
pick up.

Previous DRHS fundraising events for the WFF are here:

It is a fun fundraising event for all.



OA added it to the Hotlist Events calendar (bottom of page) and to the classifieds page announcements section.
Hey readers, please turn out to keep these fun community events alive! It's a great opportunity for camaraderie and the money raised provides a safety net for our firefighters and their families when things go bad. Ab.

3.21 Re Retention:

Here is a big "JOB WELL DONE" for the folks involved in getting the
"Retention Allowance" implemented. Keep it up.


3/21 We've added the IAWF conference dates to the hotlist calendar and added the same to the classifieds/announcement & notices area. The conference is April 27-30, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Abs.
3/21 Re Unsafe Conditions:


All I can say is I'm glad that you are bringing this up and you need to run with it, if you want.
I know my district got nothing from the stimulus bill for facilities and it really Pi$$es me off.
We have people living in mouse and rat infested trailers that were brought in in the late 60's.
That's not an environment for kids and families to be in. Personally, I wouldn't worry about
reprimands from the higher ups because they have proven they don't care. It's time to start
standing up for what's right and start making things better. You might get hold of your local
Senator and send him pictures of the conditions of different facilities. I'll send you pics if you
need. I already sent them to my forest safety officer and to my representative for this area.

Good Luck and I hope you stand up for what's right


3/20 Hey everyone,

We're on a new faster server. Chat, Hotlist, etc should be faster. Uploading certainly is faster for me, as is browsing the Hotlist.

OA, thanks, what would we do without you?


3/20 Re Unsafe Conditions

Actually- I am not interested in going to the WO- then we all would have an extraordinarily
bad headache. I’m looking for someone outside the agency to enforce safe housing
regulations, and actually has jurisdiction over the forest, for people already living in
government housing.

I was intrigued by the post because the buildings are run down because of lack of funding,
and it is a safety issue.

TC- I know all too well- maybe they can keep sweeping until they have no fire crews because
people have no safe housing in remote areas of NF.

Firewife extraordinaire looking to keep people safe

3/20 re alert goes out re Unsafe Conditions?:

Charles L. Myers

202 205 1707
202 205 1181

However I would recommend that "fire wife extraordinaire" first check with
"firefighter husband extraordinary" before she calls the Washington Office.
It's possible that "firefighter husband extraordinarie's" supervisor who we
shall name "supervisory firefighter extraordinaire" might have a problem with
not being contacted first.


Now I have an extraordinarily bad headache

3/20 Professional Liability Insurance:

Hey Abs,

It is that time of year when people are considering renewing their liability insurance so I wanted to send you a quick note to remind your audience to make sure that they get their liability insurance from the Company that supports wildland fire fighting organizations and who is endorsed by the FWFSA—Federal Employee Defense Services (FEDS). FEDS has assembled a nationally recognized panel of attorneys to provide the legal defense under the policy who have had specific experience in defending federal employees involved in the recent Thirty Mile, Cramer and Esperanza fire tragedies. It is our commitment to and understanding of the federal wildland fire fighting community, along with the quality of the legal defense provided under the plan that sets FEDS apart from other professional liability programs. You can Join Now on line at www.fedsprotection.com or call us at 866-955-FEDS (3337).

Very Truly Yours,

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

Folks, sign up before you hit the fireline or fire camp. If you only knew what litigation has not yet hit the news, you'd be in line in a minute. It's an inexpensive insurance for the security and peace of mind it provides, better than having a gecko in your back pocket that's for sure!  Ab.

3/20 Pics from Shawn:

AZ fire crew on Hog Fire and pics of Evergreens 747 testing air drops for the Forest Service.

Thanks, I put them on Airtankers 28 and Handcrews 25 photo pages. Ab.

3/20 The Jobs page, Wildland Firefighter Series 0462 (Forestry Technician) & Series 0455 (Range Technician) & Series 0401 (Biologist) have been updated. Ab.
3/20 Unsafe conditions:

Fire Wife.........

The Fs has a history of sweepi9ng these kinds of things under the Rug....

I'd suggest contacting OSHA...........



3/20 Dear LowFSmorale:

I was honored to have had a few minutes yesterday to attend the morale hearings in Washington. The Forest Service Council President from NFFE, Ron Thatcher and the NFFE representative for BLM, among others did a great job providing oral testimony to the committee. In addition the FWFSA provided written testimony for the record.

What the committee will do with the information given the priority of the week in DC being "cover thy rear end over AIG bonuses" is anyone's guess but I assure you that between the efforts of the FWFSA and NFFE, the awareness and understanding of employee morale and other issues facing federal wildland firefighters and in fact all employee agencies has increased substantially in just the past year.

Hang in there. We will make more progress.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/19 WFF fundraiser idea:

I have a plan to raise money for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and I'm looking for some people to help me.

The plan is quite simple: I need 1000 people to pledge 1 cent for every mile I paddle this fall. That's it, you pledge 1 cent and I paddle solo the 1300 or so miles from Norfolk, VA to Key West, FL. ALL THE MONEY GOES TO THE WFF. Also, if people, groups or companies are interested, they can donate (to the WFF) $10.00 and get a sticker with their name on it which will be placed on the deck of the kayak. My goal is $20,000 to the foundation so please go to www.wffoundation.org and find the pledge form under the fundraisers tab and sign up.

As a Engine Captain for the National Park Service, I have the best job in the world so taking 2 months of leave is a small price to raise money for an organization that gives so much to all of us in this community.

If anyone has any good ideas of how to spread the word, please email me. Abs has it.

Justin DeForest

Please check my math and let's assume you make it the whole way...
Guess @ 1 cent a mile, that's a pledge of $13.00 for each person.
If 1000 people contribute, that's $13,000 for the WFF.
The additional $7,000 to make your target of $20,000 could come from additional pledgers and/or from those pledging 2 cents a mile and/or from sticker donors.

Sounds doable. You could take along a GPS unit and text message from your waterproof cell phone every day. We could post them and map your progress. You could photograph your blisters -- also with your cell phone like Ken our ultra-runner did -- and send photos of sharks instead of camels! Count me in! Ab.

3/19 Unsafe conditions:

Hey Abs-

I am a fire wife, and I saw a post today that intrigued me. I have detailed information that a
particular forest is exposing people to hazardous material via numerous run down buildings
on the forest -- unfortunately not all that uncommon with the FS.

Anyway, I have been searching for someone for a long time to contact regarding my info
to get housing regulations enforced upon this forest, but to no avail. I was wondering if I
could get some contact info for Charles L Myers.

fire wife extraordinaire

clmyers @ <nospam> fs.fed.us FS lookup says he's at the National Forest System (WO), Office of the Deputy Chief.

3/19 FS Morale Meeting

I would have loved to be at the hearing regarding FS employee morale today but my lotus notes was down and I didn't hear about it, so I tried to put in a ticket, but my eauth password was suspended so I couldn't get on the help desk site.

So when I called the help desk the 1 hour phone limit ran out and my customer service rep and I became disconnected.

Helpdesk's response was to email a resolution to the mailbox I called them about since I couldn't get into it.

Finally, 1 week after waiting for return phone calls and closed tickets, They told me to redo my eauth password request and enter the security information at which time they would snail mail me a resolution to the address I have on file with NFC which is an incorrectly entered address and the reason for my password being suspended in the first place.

2 months after starting this process I finally got a call and someone somewhere, God bless them, had reset my password, I could get on the helpdesk site, spent 3 hours entering lotus notes information and bingo! I was able to get on lotus... and spent all day deleting "mailroom" messages that had overloaded my mailbox with things like "don't forget to do your times".

Once all that got sorted out, I had enough room to send and receive emails again.

So I got on Govtrip and updated my profile again, since it got dumped when they shut it down for security reasons, and now my supervisor doesn't show up on the list, so when I sent my authorization to my next level supervisor Govtrip sent 8 emails to 8 different people and my authorization never got approved.

When It finally got approved we had already met the travel ceiling.

Dang it! Maybe next year eh?

See you guys later, I have to call ASC, one of my employees has carpal tunnel and SHIPS shows no record of him...


This would be funny if it weren't so tragic and widespread a problem. Ab.

3/18 Academy help needed:

To all-

We are looking for a little more USFS help to get us through the spring. To all of those that have already contributed, thank you, everyone has done an exceptional job so far. This experience is not only helping us, but everyone that has been here has enjoyed a challenging experience.

I know units are trying to help with the activity in the Southwest and Texas or you are there and preparing, but we are still trying to finish academy training, so we can get them back out to you, with the training we said we would provide.

We are looking for those people with the qualities that it takes to train the next generation of young fire leaders.

Experience/things we are looking for

* Asst. Crew Bosses (crew boss trainee's) two week commitment, looking for some recently graduated apprentices and all others interested, (Q) crewbosses are also welcome - Academy 49 3/29-4/11or 4/12-4/25 Academy 50 4/5-4/17 or 5/18-5/1
* Crew Bosses (Q) 4 week Commitment, Academy 49 3/29-4/25 Academy 50 4/5-5/1
* Logistics help, not much experience needed but preferred, team player, self motivating and person who loves to be challenged- Academy 49 3/29-4/25 Academy 50 4/5-5/1, will take two week tours, but prefer four weeks
* Staff assistant, IQCS skills, excel and word skills, Academy 49 3/29-4/25 Academy 50 4/5-5/1 will take two week tours, but prefer four weeks
* Areas for line construction, fuel breaks, burn units, old fire burn units, with a maximum of a two and half hour drive from Sacramento.

If you did not know or to reiterate, we pay for everything, base 8's, OT, travel.

Please contact myself for academy 49, and all staff/ logistics and line construction help.

Contact Capt. Jill Erhard-Moore for academy 50 crew boss and asst. crew boss help. jillmoore @ nospam fs.fed.us

Nathan Gogna
BLM WFAP Coordinator/
CASO Fire Training Officer
McClellan, CA
Nathan_Gogna @ nospam ca.blm.gov

Phone numbers for Jill and Nathan are available on the FS and BLM lookups. Ab.

3/18 Recovery funding:

Making the rounds. Letterman

Date: March 18, 2009
Subject: Safety Awareness for Economic Stimulus Projects
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Directors

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009. President Obama has asked the Forest Service to help put people back to work through this Act. Our Agency will receive over a billion dollars this year for the Economic Recovery Program, and we expect to create almost 30,000 new jobs over the next two years. The purpose of the economic recovery legislation is to create as many jobs as quickly as possible and help to get money flowing through the economy again.
The Forest Service has put a great deal of effort into preparing to meet this challenge and is now ready to start the work projects. Our partners and contractors will conduct much of this effort, and as such, we must ensure that comprehensive safety plans are in place to ensure the work is completed safely. Leaders at all levels must continue to make sure safety is an integral part of all work projects from the planning stage to the final product. I ask all employees to hold themselves accountable to working safely and immediately communicate all identified hazards to the appropriate supervisor for immediate mitigation. Do not allow any work to continue if unsafe conditions exist.
The Forest Service is eager and uniquely positioned to serve our country in the cause of conservation and economic recovery. We, as an Agency, must ensure that at the end of the day we have not only completed the work but have completed it safely.

/s/ Charles L. Myers
Designated Agency Safety and Health Official

3/18 Recovery Funding

Much more than 1.5 million is coming to Nor Cal with this recovery package. A project approved list was circulated today. I heard and read about some of the items on this list. From a fire barracks, fire facilities and fuels treatment perspective, I think many are going to be satisfied with the multitude of approved projects. These approved projects will significantly help our fire community from a facilities perspective. Forests are not going to get everything, but I think we are going get much more than we thought.

The approved list is currently highly confidential. I think this is because much of the funds are going to become competitive bid contracts. Many including myself have not seen an electronic copy of the list. However that could change overnight and I am sure it will get posted in our forum soon.


Thanks Letterman. Ab.

3/18 Esperanza Arsonist get's the death penalty recommendation from jury...


3/18 Cooperation among firefighting organizations:

As a long term member of FWFSA, I remember when we disaffiliated from IAFF/CPF. I recall IAFF promising us that our legislation was their number 1 priority until President Bush was elected and we were told that our bill would have to wait because they do not work with Republicans, but would gladly accept our dues.

FWFSA has only taken one side, and that is the side of Federal Wildland Firefighters, not Republicans or Democrats. As President Obama has stated, it’s time for change and all involved to come together as one. I would think it would be the same in the fire realm.

I have spoken with several municipal, local and state fire personnel who are all members of IAFF and CPF. I have NEVER met anyone who was against us. I have always been made to feel that we as Federal Wildland Firefighters were part of a larger family/community of FIRFIGHTERS. At the Esperanza Memorial, I stood next to my brothers and sisters in blue as we wept TOGETHER over our loss.

To my extended fire family, I personally thank you for your support in our cause. Do not take what Casey has said about IAFF and CPF to heart. His comments are factual and to the point, but not to the members of these associations but to their leadership or lack of…

3/18 FEMA age 40 study

Good on FEMA and the St Joe's Hospital of Atlanta study
Sounds pretty beneficial and more research related that the land management agencies and OPM age 37 rules
This is where the rubber is going to meet the road and the agencies may ought look at this more closely
Go ahead and start flaming..... DOI's and USFS'ers are already or were doing some "closely related studies"...granted
BUT land management agencies probably did not put a plug nickel in for the study...
And for future reference...  any land management agency blastin' FEMA.... just remember look into your own house and remember who funded this more detailed study... Sorry Dr Sharkey .   new studies are needed more than just the ability to do pushups, pack tests, and stretching exercises..... we ALL know that
Good on FEMA for funding the study  
USFS DOI etc care to chime in with your dinero


3/18 Cooperation among firefighting organizations:

Dear Disappointed:

I ran into many old friends from the IAFF yesterday, some fed, some state and other municipal folks. NONE of them [emphasis added] had any knowledge of the actions by the CPF & IAFF leadership with respect to declaring us a rival organization.

It sure would have been nice to be invited to trial and execution 9 months ago to at least know what we had done that was so egregious as to threaten the IAFF & CPF. I have no doubt IAFF folks were discussing the federal presumptive legislation. We do too.

Lou likely won't talk to me. It is unfortunate that the two organizations would take this action and not have the courtesy to inform us OR their full membership. A sad commentary.

What the CPF did with respect to the Assembly legislation a couple of years ago was wrong. They used the Esperanza tragedy to advance what would have been a meritorious bill. We felt that if they were going to refer to the Esperanza crew as those that would benefit from the bill, then the language should include all of the crew, including temporary firefighters of which 3 off E-57 were.

The CPF refused, the author, committee and the Assembly ultimately agreed with our request to include temps in the bill and the bill was passed without one NO vote with our change.

Maybe that upset the CPF, figuring they own the state legislature and how dare us little wildland folks tread on their turf. Anyway, I hope someday they will be honest with their full membership.


3/18 Firefighter Heart Disease:

A report came out this week related to the FEMA-sponsored study of firefighters aged 40 and over conducted by Saint Joseph's Hospital in Atlanta. They released the preliminary findings in the world's first study of first responders at risk of suffering sudden death or other significant cardiac events...and the news is that Firefighters are known to have a three hundred percent (300%) increased risk for cardiac disease as compared to other segments of the population.

"Preliminary findings show that 1/3 of firefighters had heart disease that is unrelated to traditional risk factors, such as high cholesterol," says Dr. Superko. "Those results are astounding and point at job duties and environment as the primary determinants for early death in our country's first responders."

Here are the details:
...and here is some previous related info:

Some Firefighter Heart Disease PREVENTION links:

3/18 Cooperation among firefighting organizations:

Dear "Disappointed",

Casey spoke from the heart and of absolute truth on how the FWFSA has been treated by the IAFF in the past. It appears that the CPF and IAFF are offering an olive branch, and we accept. Likewise, we have been offering olive branches since 2003, and his post is nothing that should be redacted, and the actions of IAFF and the CPF are key signs that the FWFSA should not be viewed as a rival organization but an organization supporting them.

The FWFSA has continued to support national (collective bargaining and presumptive bills) and local firefighter legislative issues since disaffiliation, and in many cases, led the path on those issues..... on our own dime and with our own legislative contacts. We will continue to do so regardless of how we were treated in the past, and will continue to focus on federal wildland firefighter issues. It is, and was the right thing to do.

As an FWFSA member, I found it an absolute shock that the FWFSA was "determined" by someone(s) to be a rival organization of the IAFF, especially since we have never sought anything that was contrary to dozens of Conference Resolutions that were voted on nationally, and approved by the Convention Delegates over a 12 year plus period.


3/18 From Firescribe:

Vilsack announces National Forest Stimulus Projects to protect public from wildland fires
by S. C.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced several projects for wildland fire protection and removal of hazardous fuels that will begin immediately. These USDA projects, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), will create thousands of jobs in California, Colorado, Florida, and Oregon.

The following projects are being implemented immediately:
- In California, $1.5 million of Recovery Act funding will create jobs across Northern California. The project work will include fuel reduction work near communities, Forest Service recreation facilities, and access routes and will also maintain facilities to reduce deferred maintenance while making crews available for fires suppression when needed.
- In Colorado, $5 million of Recovery Act funding has been targeted to remove dead trees along 150 miles of roadsides affected by the large-scale mountain pine beetle infestation. In addition, fire prevention projects to remove hazardous fuels around private property and communities-at-risk and critical municipal watersheds serving Denver and the Front Range are underway.
- In Florida, a state-wide hazardous fuels reduction program and a public safety and educational campaign are underway because of Recovery Act funding. Not only will this reduce threat to communities at risk from wildfire, but it also provides protection to the large number of vacant and foreclosed property around the state. Direct stimulus through contracts, services, supplies and salaries will help the hard-hit economy throughout the state.
- In Oregon, initial wildland fire management projects totaling $16.5 million have been identified. Many of these projects are associated with the Youth Employment Initiative and will offer work that supports natural resource management and conservation education.

3/18 Casey,

Don't expect Gail Kimbell to communicate, or the Forest Service to communicate
until she is replaced, and a new Undersecretary of Agriculture for NRE and Deputy
UNSEC NRE is announced. She was appointed by her allegiance to Mark Rey,
and not through the merits of achievement in her career.

The same will come true with many Regional Foresters who were appointed, not
through their merits, but with their allegiance to Mark Rey and failed courses of

3/17 FWFSA Report from Washington:

Dear Ab & All:

Hi from Washington DC. I am pleased to report that we have received commitments to introduce our bill, the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement & Cost Containment Act from several House members so far. By the end of the week we should have additional folks willing to be co-authors as well as a commitment from the Senate side.

There is no guarantee that the bill introduced will be verbatim to our draft but I believe our draft lays a firm foundation for the language that ultimately gets introduced. I cannot offer a timetable for introduction but I have made it clear that I hope it can be done before the full onslaught of the season is upon us.

I was also pleased to receive a call from Robin Nazzaro, the Government Accountability Office's director of natural resources and the environment. I am hopeful to meet with her Friday. She recently testified before the House Interior Appropriations committee about Forest Service fire funding. Interesting that I heard from her on my 2nd day in DC but haven't received a response from Chief Kimbell of the Forest Service in a year and a half of trying.

I will have the pleasure of joining Mark Davis and Ron Thatcher of NFFE on the Hill Thursday as they testify on Forest Service employee morale.

Lots still to do.


3/17 re IAFF; Cooperation among firefighting organizations:


As an IAFF/CPF Member I am disappointed with the IAFF reaction to your request to meet and try to begin a positive & productive relationship. Years ago I posted a comment regarding State and LG pay discrepancies with Federal Firefighters. I commented back then that all Fire Fighters should do what ever we can to correct the discrepancy and pressure should be brought to bear on all levels of Govt. You replied that the issue is Federal and State and Local Govt. has nothing to do with the issue. Historically it is not hard to find posts that aren’t shall we say flattering about us Local and State Folks.

In the last year or two I have read posts from you, the FWFSA and general They Said members being much more inclusive of the Fire Service as a whole and some of the bad blood seemed to have passed under the bridge, at least from the Federal side. IAFF needs to broaden their view and see why Federal Firefighters need to be compensated at equivalent levels and be a strong effective professional organization with adequate staffing for their mission. This is not just a Wildland Firefighter Issue, but a fire service issue. I was very happy to read the post asking all firefighters to support the current bill before Congress, all politics is local, and I sent letters of support to my Federal Representatives.

I know some in Local and State Agencies feel their pocket books may be affected by properly staffing Federal Firefighting, particularly the Forest Service due to a reduced commitment of Assistance for Hire. I ask everyone to think why are we in this profession? Most all of us, wildland to all risk agencies, got into this business to fulfill a mission, one that most of the general population wants nothing to do with, one that is of critical importance to our society. Well worth the sacrifices we make to be the best we can be at our chosen profession. I am not aware of any agency that is over staffed. While we may want to go to all the large fires we can, should we be drawing down our resources in Cities and Counties for every fire on Federal Land? We will and must always be willing to help out when asked, but to provide the best level of service to our direct constituents, the Federal Lands must maintain adequately staffed professional firefighters, not to mention we need them to help us out also.

In the last few years it seems that the firefighting family has been coming together, and for the IAFF to refuse to meet with the FWSA is a step in the wrong direction. Certainly organizations will have disagreements, but how can one group representing firefighters possibly refer to another group representing firefighters as “Rival” organization. We all have pride in our organizations, but the pride of the Fire Service Family and why we are in this profession must always be our primary motivator. Let’s get it together, work within our mutual interests and have constructive dialog on the issues we disagree, we will all be better off.

North Bay FC

3/17 Re IAFF

This came to mind:

1. What was planned?

Having a productive firefighter-issue focused meeting.

2. What actually happened?


Why did it happen?

The IAFF only cares about one thing: the IAFF (money)

What can we do next time?

Expect more of number two (literally and figuratively).

--still thinking of a clever nickname

PS--a decade of first hand experience with the IAFF....the job's not about the tax-payer, it's not about the department, it's about the local. All but the latter suffer.

3/17 Re: Decision Support (Cost Containment) System and Risk Management for IMTeams and Groundpounders:

The Forest Service designed and tested a Decision Support System (DSS) for cost containment. Is the system cognitively friendly enough to avoid the distraction or interference about which you express concern? Maybe the Forest Service should have the cost containment DSS reviewed by a team of experts in cognitive science, decision making and safety system design to ensure the DSS will not result in reduced safety. Maybe they already have? Old Sawyer

Old Sawyer or anyone else,

Has this been done?


3/17 For Gizmo and the unacknowledged fallen:

These are the few in line of duty deaths that I know of. My original information comes from old timers and the documentation they have. Should FS SFEO or Gizmo want to contact me AB can tell them how.

Alfredo de la Riva, USFS, died of burns in 1909 suffered while trying to save a indigent miner named Kiefer from a raging wildfire in Timber Cyn., Santa Paula, Ca. The fire was the year before, his name has been added to the CA state Fallen FF memorial. He is no listed in the NWCG Fatalities 1910-1996.

Norman Kenneth Deem died 9/17/1929 on the Ojai District, Los Padres NF, while patrolling on a motorcycle during a fire in the Sulphur Mt. area due to smoke. His name has been added to the Ventura County Fallen FF memorial. Do believe his name has been submitted to the CA state memorial also. He is not listed in the NWCG Fatalities 1910-1996.

Luther P. Rodarte died in Sundance Fire 1967 leading a dozer operator to safety, his name has been added to the CA state memorial and although he was from Santa Paula in Ventura County his name didn't qualify because he didn't die in the county. He worked on the Santa Lucia RD, Los Padres The doz. op. perished also, his name was Lee Collins from Thompson Falls MT. Both as listed in the NWCG Fatalities 1910-1996 but not their names.


3/17 IAFF Wash DC Legislative Conference

Well this is really some unfortunate timing.

In response to Casey's post from earlier today, he may be interested to know that a combination of CPF, CAL FIRE and IAFF folks spoke in support of their brothers and sisters in the Forest Service to numerous members of Congress today during their Conference. It was an impressive commitment of the IAFF's reputation to speak in support of non-affiliated firefighters.

If I were Casey, I might shoot a phone call or email to the CPF President and CDF Firefighters President and say Thank You. It was in particular a significant topic with Senator Feinstein's Chief of Staff (who Casey may want to call for verification if you can't trust an anonymous source) and was done with at least 30 IAFF members in the room. I was in and out quite a bit but I even personally heard CPF President Lou Paulson speaking about the issue in her Office.

I certainly hope nobody in that room today reads his earlier post, it would not be a great way to end a day of unprecedented unilateral support.

Sign me "Disappointed"

3/17 New WLF Chat now available to all Hotlist Forum registered users.  Login to the Hotlist Forums as normal and click the WLF Chat on the forum top menu.  Only registered members can enter.  To register for the Hotlist Forums, use this link:  Hotlist Registration
3/17 Decision Support (cost containment) System and Risk Management for Groundpounders:

Mellie and Misery Whip

Re: Cost Containment Decisions

Transition from Initial to Extended Attack must be treated as potentially life-threatening, and must provide for FF safety “regardless of suppression costs” (last 2 paragraphs below). Safety must remain priority 1 above costs, in Extended Attack, as described in the FS Manual (excerpts below).

The Forest Service designed and tested a Decision Support System (DSS) for cost containment. Is the system cognitively friendly enough to avoid the distraction or interference about which you express concern? Maybe the Forest Service should have the cost containment DSS reviewed by a team of experts in cognitive science, decision making and safety system design to ensure the DSS will not result in reduced safety. Maybe they already have?

Old Sawyer

Forest Service Manual 5130.3 Excerpts:

Digest * * * 5130.3 - * * * Emphasizes policy that the first criteria for choosing fire suppression strategies is safety, and the second is suppression costs, which also must consider safety.

* * *

5130.3 - Policy * * * 2. Priority for Safety. In conducting wildland fire suppression, responsible officials shall give first priority to the safety of firefighters, other personnel, and the public. Consistent with this priority, responsible officials shall conduct wildland fire suppression in a timely, effective and efficient manner.

* * *

4. Wildland Fire Suppression Strategies.

* * *

a. Choosing Fire Suppression Strategies.

(1) The primary criteria for choosing fire suppression strategies and tactics are to ensure the safety of the public and firefighting resources while minimizing suppression costs, resource loss, environmental damage, and the threat of wildland fire escaping onto non-Federal lands. * * *

(2) Estimated suppression costs used in the WFSA must include costs that are necessary to mitigate risk to firefighter and public safety and that are commensurate with the values to be protected. * * *

b. Management During Transition From Initial to Extended Attack Fires. Transition from initial attack to extended attack can be especially dangerous. During this transition, the fire shall be managed as a potentially life-threatening event.

c. Exception to Consideration of Suppression Costs or Resource Loss. When a potentially life-threatening event exists, action shall be taken to provide for the safety of firefighters, other personnel, and the public, regardless of suppression costs or resource loss. * * *

3/17 Re: Wildland Fire History - Why History Matters; the unacknowledged fallen:


I commend you for wanting to research the past to find out what happened in 1926. Your initial post stirred my interest, as I have been assisting with such research for nearly 10 years.

The two newspapers you mentioned are not in the database that I use, but if you are close to the library in that area, microfiche are still a useful research tool. Another potential source of information is to contact your local Native American Tribal Councils from the area and seek their assistance. Many Tribal Councils have assigned historians who document history on current and former tribal lands. Also, The Forest History Society might have documents related to your search.

The database I'm using does have records from various newspapers in California, with some of them going back to 1880 and prior. It also has an international database going back to the late 1700's in some cases.

While I haven't been able to find the specific information you were searching for, I have been able to find severe flaws in the NWCG Publication Historical Wildland Firefighter Fatalities 1910-1996. www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/fatalities_1910_1996_pdf.pdf.

Over the last five days, I have found over 35 instances of firefighter deaths on federal wildland fires that are not accounted for in either the Lessons Learned Center database or the NWCG publication from MTDC. These findings were just from the 1920 through 1939 time period and from one "simple" online search engine.

Here is one such example:

The NWCG publication only lists one firefighter killed in 1929 (WA). A Forest Service press release from 1929 says otherwise.


14 Fighters Perish In National Forests
Oakland Tribune, November 29, 1929

Fourteen firefighters have died this year fighting fires in national forests, an announcement received today today declares. This is the heaviest yearly toll since 1910.

Six men perished in forest fires of Washington and Oregon, four in Montana and Idaho, two in the East and two in California.

Norman K. Deem, forest guard, was killed in the Santa Barbara forest fire, and Richard Gell was killed in Trinity forest.


After finding these significant errors, I'm going to re-research the 1910-1920 period for discrepancies, as well as the 1940 to present period for needed corrections to the various databases we rely upon for info.

The Forest Service Honor Guard has the most researched and verified records available, but there are still holes that we are trying to fill, and errors they are working on to correct in the data. Their volunteer research can be found here: www.fs.fed.us/r5/sanbernardino/fire/heros.shtml. Awesome folks!!!

FS SFEO, I'm just a volunteer, and will research as I can to see if there is further info about the 1926 fires. Good luck on your research also.


3/17 Cards for Corey's family:

Here is an address that was sent out by Willie (R5 Deputy Chief) to various agencies regarding Corey Ferguson.
Please use this address for cards, etc.

Peace Presbyterian Church
9145 Franklin Blvd.
Elk Grove, Ca 95758

Corey's services are scheduled for today, Tuesday, March 17, 2009 @ 1200 at the above
address. Please continue to keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Thanks, EH. Ab.

3/16 Mellie,

Brilliant observations. You’re thinking like a HRO.

I share your concerns about the new cost accountability bs. It is the civilian equivalent of a bean counter leaning over the shoulder of the general saying “do you really need that many bombs and tanks and aircraft to win this battle?”

Despite recent reviews showing that most of the real costs of wildland firefighting are beyond the control of fire management teams, our “leaders” now see fit to have non-firefighters second guess the decisions of fire commanders.

Instead of asking the right question, which is “what can we do to help you more fully concentrate on the present firefighting mission and provide for firefighter safety, our “leaders” send the Cost Police to intrude into the daily business of firefighting. As we all know from many examples in our own history, distractions can, and frequently do, kill firefighters.

This kind of misinformed and counterproductive "management" is destructive to the Forest Service fire management culture. We need big changes in the WO.

Misery Whip

HRO=High Reliability Organization

3/16 Cards for Corey's family:

Is there anywhere (maybe a FS contact) that cards can be sent for Corey's family? It is a huge loss in the small world of Fire GIS-especially in California where Corey did a great job keeping interagency coordination going.

I am always indebted for how he adopted a few projects after I left the Fire GIS world and kept them going... he was one of the good ones in the background and his loss is felt across the country. My condolences to his wife and children- he always talked so lovingly about them.


3/16 Words of Wisdom

Howdy, Ab;

Was just catching up on TheySaid, and read Mellie's last post (line officers "advising" IC's),
and it occurred to me that the last line belongs in the words of wisdom page:

"It's hard to manage risk, or realize that you're distracting others from managing risk if you
haven't experienced risk yourself."

Absolutely true!


I put it on the Quotes to Live By page. Ab.

3/16 FWFSA and the IAFF

Dear Ab & All:

Before my trip to Washington I decided to write a letter to the General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Harold Schaitberger, since I'd be in DC during their Legislative Conference.

As many know in 2003 the Board of Directors of the FWFSA chose to disaffiliate from the IAFF for a number of reasons. Apparently there is still some bad blood on the part of the IAFF because of that.

I felt sitting down with Mr. Schaitberger might provide our organizations an opportunity to find some common ground and resolve some of the issues. Thus, I was disappointed and stunned to receive a letter from Mr. Schaitberger today at my home in Idaho explaining that "as I know, in June 2008 the FWFSA was considered a "rival" organization of the IAFF and that if we wanted to have a discussion, we (the FWFSA) had to take meaningful steps to remove that status."

Well, had someone at the IAFF had the courtesy inform the FWFSA back then that it was being considered a rival organization, for what reasons and what it is they think we should do to "atone" for whatever it is we did, I obviously wouldn't have sent him the letter in the first place.

I am fascinated that a huge imposing organization such as the IAFF would consider a small, grass-roots group like the FWFSA to be a rival organization. I can only assume it had to do with our efforts a year or so ago to amend a bill in California to include temporary firefighters. As some may recall, the state affiliate of the IAFF in California, the California Professional Firefighters (CPF) sponsored a bill to expand survivor benefits to federal firefighters. They used the Esperanza tragedy to advance the bill and even included language in the bill suggesting those in the Esperanza tragedy would be typical of those whose families would benefit from the bill.

All well and good, except for the fact that 3 of the 5 Esperanza firefighters were temporary firefighters and the bill exclusively stated "full time permanent" employees. We contacted the CPF asking them to include the temporary firefighters and they refused, suggesting it would "break the bank."

We then contacted the author and members of the Education Committee who had no idea the bill excluded some whom they thought would benefit from the bill. In the end the bill passed without one NO vote with our amendment and an amendment with the help of Lori Greeno to extend such benefits to families of firefighters who are from California but who lose their lives in another state... so often the case of wildland firefighters.

Obviously the CPF and I guess the IAFF were upset. In fact I was threatened by a former CPF Board member because of it. Maybe it's because we try to work with NFFE, or maybe its because we called the IAFF on its leadership's involvement in a 2003 district election, the actions of which were probably not legal.

In any event, we are truly sorry that a tiny organization such as the FWFSA has threatened the huge IAFF to the point that we must be considered a rival organization. Odd, considering we support the federal firefighter cancer presumptive bill they continue to sponsor.

Given the economy, perhaps the IAFF would be inclined to give our members, including myself, all our FIREPAC contributions we made to the IAFF over years and years. If we are a rival organization, they they probably don't want our money. I could sure use it.


3/16 Hotshot GS-7 info and firefighter retirement:

I am processing these accretions as I get them in our R5 Tracker, the directions are the same, except R5 will be using the R5 Tracker. I have processed about 40 of these actions already, and am waiting on approved 52's from Units to process the remaining actions.

As soon as I get an approved 52, I can set the effective date for the next pay period, if eligibility and qualifications are met. Fire has provided me with a spreadsheet of names for all those who are eligible and meet the definition from the WO letter for the non-competitive promotion.

Please note that the employee must meet qualifications before the accretion can happen, they must have 12 months of specialized experience (non-pay time does not count towards this) as a GS-462-6 before they will be non-competively promoted to the GS-462-7. Some employees were placed in a developmental GS-462-5/6 and are just now becoming eligible for the GS-462-6 and will now need to wait an additional 12 months before they can have the GS-462-7. Each Supervisor should sit down with their employees and calculate when the accretion 52 needs to be completed and approved for their promotion and then ensure the 52 gets approved timely as HR CANNOT back date a 52 before it has been approved by a Line Officer. You do not need to attach the PD to the 52 as I will do that for you.

Another piece of information on these GS-462-7 Hotshot Squad Leader PD's --- They are currently showing as "Pending Fire Fighter Coverage". Because this is a new PD and there is not a FF match, we must send the PD up to the Department to get the Fire Fighter Retirement documented. This can take several years to happen. What this means to the employee--> NFC will take out FF retirement until the final determination is made. Once that happens, if the PD is not covered, the employee will receive the additional amount they have paid refunded back to them.

While there are no guarantees of the coverage of this PD, I would think it has a high probability of getting covered.

Employees placed in this PD FS1630 should make sure they get a hard copy of the PD once the retirement coverage is completed on the PD so they have copies of a covered PD when they go to retire, in case there is ever a question down the road, especially since the copies they are getting now show "Pending" in the FF Retirement block.

I had not planned to send another letter out, as the WO letter covers everything fairly clearly, and hopefully this e-mail will provide the information needed on processing these actions. If you have any questions, please send me an e-mail and I'll respond as soon as I can. If you have questions of the definition of a "Certified Hotshot Crew", please direct those to Fire Management.

Robin I<snip>
Supervisory Human Resource Specialist
National & R5 Fire Team Lead

3/16 history of aerial suppression/ water bombs, etc


The most commonly accepted belief of aerial suppression indicates that in 1930, kegs of water were dropped from a Ford Trimotor in an attempt to quench a fire. The water dissipated prior to reaching the ground. In 1931-32, Red Jensen piloting a World War I "Jenny" dropped water from saddle tanks with varying degrees of success.

Prior to WW II, a Stinson Reliant operating from Newhall, CA dropped lightweight five gallon cans with water which ruptured on impact, spreading the liquid over the fire. Between 1936 and 1939 various mixtures and types of fluids were dropped in containers by aircraft.

In 1947 & 1948 the USFS and the US Army Air Force fitted 165 gallon tanks with fins to P-47 and B-29 aircraft. Some of these tanks were "skip-bombed" which would explode on impact, while others were fitted with proximity fuses that detonated the material approximately 50 feet above the ground. This method proved quite dangerous and was never adopted for use.

In 1953 during Douglas Aircraft's stress testing of a DC-7, water was dropped from an aircraft. It was noted that a significant portion of water reached the ground in sizeable quantities. Douglas informed the Forest Service and other firefighting agencies of their observations. Further testing proved that the aircraft was a viable delivery platform, however cost prohibitive as these were new aircraft.

In 1954, Major Warren Schroder of the El Toro Marine Base in California, attached two 250 gallon napalm tanks to an aircraft. The tanks were fitted with electric detonators and glass plates on the ends. When detonated the glass plates shattered and the force of the wind pushed the water out. Also in 1954, Paul Mantz installed a plywood container with two tanks to an ex- Navy TBM Avenger Torpedo Bomber. The capacity was 600 gallons. This aircraft was tested at Operation Fire Stop at Camp Pendleton, California, and later that year made two operational drops on a fire at Jamestown, CA. This was the first recorded bulk water drop on a fire in the United States.

In 1955 the first operational airtanker was developed in Willows, by the Willows Flying Service at the request of the Fire Control officer (Joe Ely) for the Mendocino National Forest. A Boeing Stearman 75 "Caydet" was modified with a 170 gallon tank at the Willows Airport. this aircraft, N75081, became the first registered free fall airtanker in the history of aviation. The first "air drop" was made on the Mendenhall Fire, August 12, 1955 on the Mendocino National Forest.

In 1956, the first airtanker "squadron" in the US was founded at Willows, California in a joint project between the US Forest Service and the California Division of Forestry. There were a total of seven crop dusting PT-17 "Stearmans" and N3N-3 "Yellow Birds" capable of carrying 125 gallons of water or 100 gallons of "Borate". The first eight pilots were Floyd Nolta, Dale Nolta, Vance Nolta, Harold Hendrickson, L.H. McDurley, Ray Varney, Warren Bullock, and Frank Prentice. Late in this season the squadron ferried planes to the "Niaja Fire" in Southern California and made over 1,000 drops. Press coverage coined the phrase "Borate Bomber" as a phrase.

Beginning in 1956 the CDF went on to test a number of different aircraft. In 1957 the Forest Service purchased eight Grumman TBM "Avengers" and tanked them to carry 600 gallons of retardant. From this point on retardant, aircraft and delivery systems were rapidly expanded and developed.

Sign me "Tower Tom"

Thanks, Tower Tom. I put it on the IMWTK page. Ab.

3/16 Colleen Jepson's passing

It is with a heavy heart that I let you know that Colleen Jepson passed away Sunday 3/15/09 @ 0845 AM from her nearly 4 year battle with cancer. She was surrounded by her loving children and passed peacefully @ her home in Hood River, OR.

Colleen was a fire dispatcher with the Rocky Mt Coordination Center. She also worked at the Grand Junction IA dispatch center and the Columbia River Gorge/ Mt Hood NF dispatch center. She also went thru smokejumper training in Redmond OR and worked on engines on the Deschutes NF.

I want to personally thank all the people that kept her in donated leave the last few years so she could focus on her battle with cancer and being a mother to her three children, Nathan 20 yo, Tanner 11 yo and Allie 9 yo. She was an avid outdoors woman that enjoyed hiking, kayaking, downhill skiing and just enjoying the wonders of the outdoors.

We have set up a education fund @ Bank of America to assist her children in obtaining higher education which was very important to Colleen. Donations are requested in lieu of flowers. The account name is the Jepson Family Education Fund. Cards and checks could also be mailed to the Colleen Jepson family @ 2677 Dee Hwy Hood River, OR. 97031.

There will be a celebration of Colleen's life @ her home on Saturday 3/21/09 from 1:00-5:00 pm. It will be a potluck affair and please bring your favorite stories and pictures to share with the family and friends. Colleen was a true inspiration to all those around her during her battle... she also had a smile and twinkle in her eyes even when she was in pain. She will truly be missed, but she will live on in out hearts and memories.

If you have questions feel free to get ahold of Rod Altig, Darren and Beth Kennedy.


Rod Altig, ex-Gorge FMO

Sorry for the loss of Colleen. Thanks for letting us know, Rod. Folks, chip in for the kids.
Some flowers, the wonders of the outdoors... (Photo taken by Barbara Mathews May 14, 2005; title: The Day God spilled the paint.) Ab.

3/16 Services will be held for Corey Ferguson on

March 17 (tomorrow) at 1200 hours at

Peace Presbyterian Church
9145 Franklin Blvd
Elk Grove CA 95758

Corey is gone, but he was an organ donor to six people. I was told it's OK to share that. Kim's (his wife) birthday was Sunday (yesterday) and she said, "The most beautiful present Cory could give (under the circumstances) is LIFE and improved quality of life for six people."

In my opinion, this message of unselfish giving is also part of Cory's and his family's legacy to all of us. Explore organ donation. Because of Cory, six people from Sacramento to Santa Barbara are alive in a whole new and hopeful way. All recipients are doing well.

Please continue thoughts and prayers for Kim and the kids. They're part  of us. Family Day at the WFF just got a little bigger. The little R5 IT group who worked closely with Corey -- James, Carolyn, Margaret -- and many others, Willie, Q, etc, etc are offering support.

Thanks to all in these tough times. Ab.

3/16 Springville CA fires, 1929:

Thanks for researching the info and posting (3/13/09) on They Said for others to see.

My BC mentioned that there were a couple of local newspapers in Porterville at the time--- The Porterville Recorder and The Farm Tribune also from Porterville. He suggested that I look at the local library on their microfiche files. If you have access to these newspapers electronically, could you please check there?

Thanks again.


I don't have access to them, perhaps someone else? Ab.

3/16 Water bombs, IMWTK:

Strider, check out the big artifact at MSO:


bottom of the page


Explanation on the plaque. Ab.

3/16 Santiago Fire Burnover, distractions for ICs and risk management:

After the 3 min socal fire video yesterday (link several posts down), I was looking back at the sights and sounds of the Santiago fire burnover, the LA Times pictures layered with fire communication (link below).

What is always surprising is how long it takes for reality to sink in for those listening on the comm unit, like for the dispatcher that's asked for air support. My guess is that if there had been fewer firefighters saying the same thing, it would have taken him substantially longer to understand the severity and need of the moment.

I remember one time in the '80s (before I got involved in fire) on Hwy 101 I observed the car ahead of me plow head-on into a truck in the 0500 morning twilight near the Hopland Bridge. I'm good in emergencies. I got people carefully out of both vehicles (care with c-spine), made sure my son was staying put on the side of the road, and then proceeded to wait for help to arrive; seemed logical at the time. 15-30 min later I realized I would have to drive to a phone and call the CHP and ambulance. Luckily no one was bleeding out.

Fact of the matter is, we are not on high alert at all times even on fires and when bad stuff happens it's human to be "deer in the headlights". Training helps, but no one knows how they will react "under fire" until they experience flash bangs or car collisions or fire coming at them or a falling tree. As many say, having "slides" in the slide box and training helps, but we differ in physiological and psychological responses to emergency.

www.latimes.com/la-burnover-f,0,732907.flash?coll=la-home-center (flash program)

OCFA Santiago Fire AAR 3/27/08 (huge 7.32mb 138 page PDF file)

Another thought:

I've heard that there are lots of large fire changes coming that require incident commanders to check in with the WO providing real time data relating to cost containment, etc. I believe the more that line officers get involved in daily decisions of an incident, the more we could be headed for miscommunications, miscues and more line officers thinking because they are line officers they know more than ICs.  I hope all this "checking in" to get marching orders doesn't fail and I hope we do not lose someone because of it. Firefighting is a high risk job. What if firefighters should be focused on the safety of those on the ground and are distracted by the WO wanting updates? I'm concerned that if the chain of command operates this way and we get another socal firestorm, the ICs and teams will get blamed when someone is injured or dies, not the people sitting with their spread-sheets in their air-conditioned offices in Washington.

At the very least, line officers and WO bean counters should have to spend a season on the fireline in socal in observer status, no advising... Let's see if they would be deer in the headlights. It's hard to knowledgeably manage risk or realize you're distracting others from managing risk if you haven't experienced risk first hand.

Mellie, advocate for risk management.

3/16 Hearing Summary - Overview of the Forest Service:

You already got the GAO Report on the 11th. Here's another doc file and pdf file.



Hearing Summary: Oversight of the Forest Service  (small doc file)

FS Testimony, OIG Oversight (appearing before the House of Representatives, Appropriations, Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies (112 K pdf file)

GAO link sent in by Lobotomy on 3/11: Accessible Text: www.gao.gov/htext/d09443t.phpl (easy text file)

3/16 IMWTK

Does anyone know the earliest attempts at aerial water drops for fighting fire and
what were the waterbombs made of?

Question came up in discussion the other day.


3/15 Retention for BLM:

Hey guys,

Just wanted to let you know what we found out about our retention for the BLM. We are going to get the 10% but not for the whole year, just from when they ok it. They said they tried to backdate it but they were told they could not do it. Also they told us that if we are in the special pay areas like San Bernardino or LA, we would not get it. Last we heard it was at the national level.

One good thing is CA state Director is now the action national for the BLM. Well that is what we heard this week. Also we heard that if we don't get more money they might start to put trucks on blocks. I guess there are four engines that do not have a captain. Those are the ones that they might put on blocks.

Casey, keep up the good work.

3/15 A sure fire cure for fire withdrawals begins with the last fire from the previous fire season:

1. Don't wash your stinky, smoky, smelly fire shirt. It's all you've got to get you through the long winter months. The fragrance of stale sweaty nomex will instantly bring back wonderful memories of 16 hours shifts while battling those hot, passionate flames.

2. Watch your favorite fire video footage in the dark while wearing your aromatic fire shirt and turn on a hair drier to get the convective currents going. Here's a good one to start with:


3. Eat your dinner on paper plates using plastic utensils.

I would be interested to learn how others cope with being off the fireline for long periods of time.

Fire Geek

Nice one, Fire Geek, really excellent! Hope Mick doesn't come after us, but with what's on YouTube these days, I'm sure we'd be forgiven. Ab.

3/15 It's raining in norcal and I'm having fire withdrawal symptoms. Burned 8 large piles
yesterday before the rains came. Smoke in my shirt, mmmmmmm.

A friend sent this 3 min 45 sec 2003 firestorm video to me years ago. 

Today I felt so much better after viewing! Hair of the DOG!


Do not attempt this unless you have high speed download.
www.wildlandfire.com/videos/SoCal2003.wmv (3min 45sec; LARGE 8721K wmv file)
Good with cookies and milk right before bed. Ab.

3/15 From Firescribe:


Odessa Missouri Firefighter Dies In Line Of Duty
Chief Releasing Little Information At Family's Request

Odessa MO -- An Odessa firefighter died in the line of duty on Saturday, and investigators are looking into the cause.

The city's fire chief said the firefighter died while working a grass fire in the Southeastern Odessa Fire District. The chief said he wouldn't release any further information at this time at the request of the family. An autopsy is scheduled to determine the cause of the firefighter's death. The fire chief said the family is receiving assistance from the Firefighter's Association of Missouri.

Funeral arrangements will be posted www.mofirefuneral.org/

fair use disclaimer

Please if you haven't contacted your congressional representatives, do so now by email. The template makes the process very easy. Casey will be in Washington tomorrow. Ab.

I put all the summary info about the

National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement & Cost Containment Act

on one Hotlist thread and made it a "sticky": www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=7837

Please use the template word document, add your information to make it your own, and fax it and the talking points to your congressional representatives. Then email the same information. Or if you only have email, do that. Get your spouse and your extended family members to participate. When wildland firefighter legislation was passed some years ago (spearheaded by the FWFSA), it was the efforts of the FS wives and families that made the support reach the tipping point. Send the hotlist link to family members out of your area and get them to help.

This is the time to do it.

If not NOW, then when?
If not YOU and YOURS, then who?

Casey will be in Washington next Monday. Time grows short. Do it TODAY! Wildland Firefighters are a force if we act together.


3/15 Here are some pictures from Florida and GS of the Navajo Scouts, a reptilian R8 resident and an AZ/CO Type 6 strike team. I posted them on the Handcrews 25 and Engines 22 photo pages. Ab.
3/15 I just posted some mighty fine Air Tanker photos taken at the Grand Junction CO Tanker Base in late 1990s and early 2000s by Cal Corchran. They're on Airtankers 29 photo page. Thanks Cal. Ab.
3/15 OES214,

If the National Park Service (NPS) is using the old rating system (the best system by far) that OPM developed in the past to rate candidates, a score of 85 is fairly good but not likely to be in the most qualified group referred to selection officials.

That system of scoring utilized a scoring system from 0-100 to rate candidates on the specific KSA's required for the position and weighted for an application review. For veterans, either a 5 Point or 10 Point preference could be added to their score, but their original KSA of the position was the basis for their primary scoring. Being a veteran didn't ensure minimal qualifications as the Forest Service process now does, only a 5 or 10 point preference.

Your rating equates roughly to a high "B", just below a B+.

Depending upon the announcement specifications and number of candidates, you may or may not be contacted for further review.

My initial rating (1984) was 83 and I got hired with the Forest Service late in the season. 1984-2009.... Go figure.

Regardless of scores, face to face contact is the key in getting hired and promoting.

3/15 Logo photo:

DP sent in the Umpqua National Forest, North Umpqua Ranger District logo. Nice one. I put it on the Logos 15 photo page. Ab.

3/15 Sandbox vehicles:

NPS Cap'n,

Roadblockers sells some pretty nifty models including wildland engines and dozers. Here is the 1/87 scale page from the Roadblockers website. The website owner is a structural firefighter who also works wildland fires.



3/14 Re Medical Emergency Procedures/Accident checklist:


While the information is supposed to be on the medical plan page (ICS form 206) and the PMS 926 Agency Administrator's Guide to Critical Incident Management as was mentioned by Spencer and Tahoe Terrie, in truth these documents are rarely utilized. 

In reality the medical plan is often thrown out the window as division sups, air attack or the med unit leader try to take over and further muddy the situation, particularly on large incidents and almost always far away from the incident. 

The best thing you can do is to use the above checklists and working with your dispatcher develop a procedure for notification and then over time and with training ENFORCE and EDUCATE those in charge with the proper procedures. 

Having been involved with a number of incidents over the years, it is amazing how often the plan is thrown out the window and almost never used.  In a difficult situation that requires a med-evac, your only hope is to have a well qualified Helitack crew with trained crewmembers who can take over on arrival and clarify the situation.  When a helitack crew is not available, then you hope that there is a well qualified EMT on an Engine Crew or Hot Shot Crew who can do the evaluation and get the correct and pertinent information back through dispatch.

The Incident Response Pocket Guide gives basic information on what to relay, and yet supervisors and dispatch will often request the information over the radio that you are not supposed to say, i.e. the patients name, those involved, etc. 

It is not until after the situation has stabilized that people will go over the various checklists and tick through the boxes to cover their backsides. 

Good Luck,


3/14 Sandbox vehicles:

NPS Cap'n

I've established a pretty good sized toy box just by purchasing "matchbox" type cars over the counter. They usually have a good selection of engines, copters, water tenders, planes, etc... I then take a can of touch up paint and spray-paint the vehicles to whatever color I want.

They may not look the best but they make the point and cost much cheaper ($0.89 to $1.99 each).

Yellow Angel

3/14 Proposed FireChat Future Discussion Topic:

Be the Future meets Lessons Learned from the Past: Balancing Doctrine and Leadership During Times of Change. An Open Forum of Issues Relating to 21st Century Wildland Fire Program Delivery".

A FireChat discussion night is proposed to bring together the newer members of the wildland fire community to meet some of the members from past decades working on the same or similar issues affecting the wildland fire community.

The intent is to share ideas on what has worked, what hasn't worked, and what we can strive for in the future as an end state future goal of our profession, and our fire family as federal wildland firefighters.

The focus should be weighted heavily towards increased safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of our programs. All viewpoints and discussions are valid and invited.

The discussion will have to be moderated to ensure intent and focus of the discussion and allow everyone to participate in the discussions.

The intended discussion group is wildland firefighters (GS-2 through GS-8), wildland fire managers (GS-9 through GS-12), senior level wildland fire managers (GS-13 through SES) and non-federal firefighters are also encouraged to attend and participate. Any other allied group or individuals are also encouraged to participate.

Regardless of tenure or experiences, the idea is a FireChat where all ideas are viewed on an equal slate and commented upon as experts at all levels and fully discussed and considered.

Discussion Style: Open/Minimally Moderated

Date of Discussion: To be determined.

3/14 Hi everyone

I'm just wondering if any of you know what a nps rating of 85 means and
if it's good or bad. Its for a gs5 engine position. I hope someone here would



3/14 Firefighter Retention Incentive

Anyone who knows...

So would an apprentice in Region 5 that has received the upgrade to GS-5,
but has not yet converted, be eligible for the 10% increase?


3/13 Firefighter Retention Incentive

Making the rounds today.........


Date: March 13, 2009
Subject: Firefighter Retention Incentive
To: All Region 5 Employees

My letter of December 9, 2008, announced implementation of a 10 percent group retention incentive for all employees GS-05 (including apprentices) through GS-08, who occupy positions covered by firefighter retirement. The incentive will begin March 1, 2009, and continue through February 28, 2010. Employees receiving the incentive will receive individual notification letters.

Human Resources and Fire Management have been working jointly to identify those who are eligible for the incentive. A list of eligible employees, covered positions, and criteria for the retention incentive was recently validated by each Forest Fire Management Officer. Actions are being processed with an effective date of March 1, 2009, for employees who meet all of the following criteria:

* Occupy a covered firefighter retirement position in grades GS-05 through GS-08 as their permanent position of record.
* Have (and maintain) a performance rating record of at least “Fully Successful” or equivalent.
* Have been employed by the Forest Service continuously for a period of at least one calendar year on March 1, 2009 (those who have not completed one year will be eligible at the beginning of the first full pay period following completion of the one-year period).
* Are not on a temporary promotion (competitive or non-competitive).
* Are not completing service for a previously approved recruitment, relocation, or retention incentive.
* Are not in a developmental position with full performance grade of GS-09 or above.

The 10 percent retention incentive will be calculated from the appropriate salary table that determines the rate of basic pay, which includes locality or special rates. It is not considered part of an employee’s rate of basic pay for any purpose, including overtime, severance pay, lump-sum annual leave, “high 3” for retirement calculations, etc.

Retention incentives will terminate on February 28, 2010, if not renewed. Incentives will also be terminated when an employee leaves the covered position for a non-covered position, budgetary reasons, labor-market changes, etc. The individual notification letters provide a full explanation of conditions that could result in termination of the retention incentive. Enclosed is a list of frequently asked questions. FAQ on retention bonus

I remain committed to actively supporting efforts to improve firefighter recruitment and retention, and to maintaining a highly skilled firefighting force in the Pacific Southwest Region.

/s/ James M. Pena (for)
Regional Forester

3/13 AD pay plan:

03/13/2009 04:03 PM

Regional Coordinators: The AD Pay Plan has not yet been signed. The current
plan will remain in effect until the new one is signed and issued.

Mary Ann Szymoniak
Branch Chief - Incident Business Practices
Fire & Aviation Management - NIFC


May God Bless Corey and his Family.

3/13 Roger Hershner's passing

Roger Hershner was many things to many people. To FSR crew #10, their families and the Olympic National Forest he was a hero! Roger Hershner was a grand story teller. This is a story about him.

“All in a day’s work”

Chimney Fire-1981

There are some things that firefighters never forget, the smell of wood smoke, the sound a crown fire makes, or the distinctive sound a Hughes 500 helicopter makes. Another thing that is never forgotten is the long lasting friendships and a sense of “family” that is forged sharing those kinds of experiences together.

28 years ago, not too far from Sequim, Roger unselfishly put himself in harm’s way to save the lives of 15 of my friends and coworkers. He would humbly tell you it was “all in a day’s work”. Over the last week I’ve talked to several members of that crew and there is not a doubt in any mind that he saved their lives and they asked that I share this story.

That particular day, September 17, 1981, will not be forgotten by any of us and Roger's family, and his grandkids will want to know what a wonderful legacy he has left for that fire crew and their families.

The summer of 1981 was a busy one for FSR crew # 10; they responded to several project fires in Oregon and Washington. The crew was a tight knit, well organized crew, and when they weren’t on fires, they were involved with prescribed burning on the Shelton Ranger District. Roger was the pilot for the Forest helicopter and knew the Peninsula like few others. His calm demeanor and easy smile made him a hit with his helitack crew, all the firefighters and their supervisors. His skill and ability with a water bucket or slingload was incredibly accurate.

The Chimney fire was a lightning caused fire located near Chimney Peak above the Enchanted Valley in the Olympic National Park. The fire started in early August and was discovered by our aerial detection fixed wing flight. I talked to the lady that found the fire and she remembers thinking that if Roger and the helitack crew had been dispatched when the fire was first discovered, it would have been out in short order. The fire smoked and smoldered for several weeks. Fighting fire on the Olympics is like fighting fire no other place. Steep slopes, combined with heavy fuel loading and dense canopies make for explosive fire behavior when conditions are right. A crown fire in the Olympics is a rare event. The Chimney fire was one of those rare events.

The crew loaded in a 20-person bus and left Shelton that September morning at 330 AM arriving at Hurricane ridge at 730 AM. The smoke from the fire was visible but not out of the ordinary. We had several “rookies” with us and the crew organized so that they could be on the first flights in. At 9 AM Roger arrived and started ferrying firefighters in 3 at a time, with a 40 minute turn around. I was with the last load of firefighters at around noon, on a medium helicopter that had come over from Wenatchee.

I was in back of the helicopter when the helitack foreman shouted back that the helicopter couldn’t land, the helispot had been burnt over! We returned to Hurricane Ridge. The next three hours we could only watch the developing smoke column from a distance. Hearing nothing on the radio I feared the worse for our crew.

The following is an excerpt from crew boss Gary Larson’s report of those next three hours.

""After the fire overran the helispot I instructed the saw team squad, (Laney and Fitzpatrick), to clear out/dump snags in a small burned over area for a retreat area. Fire did not calm down after making run uphill below the helispot as expected." (Several of the firefighters recall 300 foot flames and an unbelievable noise as the crown fire raced uphill.) "Winds were erratic from all directions. Fire was hooking and spotting towards our position. Fire boss called and said he had an escape route to the South of us, uphill and over the ridge. He said he would wait for us on the fireline. Crew abandoned tools and raced south along the fireline. Spotting was occurring below us and intense fire ahead of us. I had doubts about escape route and called the fire boss to reconfirm. He said we could still make it. We came over a small ridge and discovered a finger of fire cutting us off from escape route. I called fire boss and crew retreated swiftly back to the burned over area. Fire was becoming intense below us along our retreat line. I requested a load of retardant along our escape route. Finally we reached the small burned over area. Retardant arrived timely and slowed fire progress. Fire boss suggested we still try to make it over the ridge. Other side was rocky cliffs and spot fires. Squad boss Casey unable to safely scout route as it was too smoky and snags were falling. I heard helicopter N77DJ on the radio on recon and requested his assistance.""

Roger was the pilot of that helicopter and knew immediately that the crew was in trouble and needed his help. He flew through intense heat, blinding smoke and erratic winds to try to locate the crew without a second thought for his own safety. Flying higher and higher, and being guided by the crew boss' directions, he finally located them high up on the hillside. He guided the crew downhill to a small clearing. He took command and organized an evacuation of the crew using the Bell 212 helicopter, and a stripped down Hughes 500 that was from the Forks area flying cedar shake bolts. (Two of the firefighters remember running down to the clearing and jumping into a helicopter with no doors or seats and then holding on for dear life.) How Roger was able to take control of the situation, fly the helicopter and order other helicopters to help, all at the same time, was unbelievable.

The crew was evacuated to a safe area and I was never so relieved to see them when the rest of my squad was united with the crew later that afternoon. Hugs all around! We spent the night spiked out in a meadow, well away from the fire, not able to sleep, talking about what we all had been through. The next day we were flown back to Hurricane Ridge, drove to Port Angeles and the crew spent the evening with Roger, “debriefing”. I don’t think Roger flew for us the next year, but I know the story was told and retold many times. I stayed in touch with Roger these many years and saw him occasionally. He always took little credit for what he had done that day. Throughout the entire situation Roger was the calm in the eye of a storm. He truly is a hero in all our hearts and will be remembered forever. Thanks for letting me share this story.

FSR Crew #10 of the Olympic National Forest  
Gary Larson- Crew Boss
Don Casey- Squad Boss
Dave Laney-Saw team
Tom Fitzpatrick-Saw team
Joe Bentley
R. Bunch
Sue Ramsauer
R. McDonald
T. Coppolino
W. Schroeder
Ken VanBuskirk- Squad Boss
Rick Saney
Pat Grover
Kitty Dorling
L. Williams
Dave Watterson
Lance Bailey
T Junso
Tom Hoke

Great story, thanks for sharing it. Roger is missed. Ab.

3/13 Independent Large Fire Cost Review Panel for FY 2008 Large Fires:

Ab, I thought you might find this interesting. 

"People" outside of fire are being chosen to review the large fires from last year and evaluate where money should have been saved.  If I remember correctly, there were 23 large fires and the interviewing, reviewing of all documents, and a final report was to be written in approximately 1 month!  Does anyone think that time frame is sufficient for "people" to do a valid job?

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2009/fed/r5-lg-fires-id-d.pdf (46 K pdf file)
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2009/fed/r5-fires-statement-of-work.pdf (400 K pdf file)


Professional, critical thinking firefighters, any suggestions? What about who is doing the reviewing? What about the time frame? Ab.


The Silver State IHC and The Wildland Fire Fighter Foundation

Are holding a
Vertical Drop Competition
March 20th 2009
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe

75$ On-line registration thru 3-18-2009
Go to the Silver State web page to access registration.
85$ registration open @ 0700 the day of the event.
All proceeds will go to supporting the foundation.

The event will begin at 1000 and end at 1400.
There will be an awards presentation at 1600 in the
Slide Side Upper Parking Lot

There will be prizes for the top male and female finishers.
Teams of 5 may compete for the “tips up” trophy.
Any Questions call The Silver State IHC: 775 885-6188



Helping to put this one together. Please post, and folks, please come. We've got some good awards donated.

3/13 Thoughts and Prayers for the Ferguson family:

Many of you no doubt have heard that one of our R5 fire / IMT community and his family are in need of thoughts and prayers. Corey Ferguson (age 39) had a brain aneurysm on the night of the 11th which left him hospitalized. His condition has been extremely serious and unfortunately he is not expected to live. Corey's wife, Kimberly and Cory's parents will soon have to make some difficult decisions. People close to Cory are saying their goodbyes. He has three wonderful children, youngest 18 months. Please keep him and his loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.

Thanks to those who are keeping us informed. This is a hard one. Ab.

3/13 The first annual Hotlist Initial Attack Awards were announced this morning here: 

2008 WLF Hotlist IA Awards

Look at the very top for announcements. Thanks to all for their participation. Ab.

3/13 CAL FIRE cuts, stations on chopping block:

Is there any way for an individual like me to find out which Cal Fire
stations are on the Chopping Block? I fear for the Amador Contract
stations, all of them, and ours are already targeted by the county. Thanks
for any direction. I compare the Amador stations to a line of frontier


3/13 Health screen:

Good morning! I am e-mailing you today with questions regarding physical exams for the wildland firefighters that we have been doing at our office here at Occupational Health Services in <snip>, NH. We received a fax yesterday from Comprehensive Health Services stating that all exams scheduled after March 13, 2009 were to be cancelled.

We are not sure what the reason for this decision is and would like to know if these cancellations were a result of something we have done or not done at our office.

We would like the opportunity to fix the problem and continue our current relations with the Wildland Firefighters.
Please feel free to contact me at (603) 4xx-xxxx if you would like to further discuss this.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Tammy <snip last name> LPN
Occupational Health Services

Tammy, this is not something you or any other individual provider did, but is a discontinuation of the current national CHS provider, as I understand it. The contract ran out of extensions. A transition plan should come out soon and something new will take its place.
Here's the NWCG memo: NWCG#007-2009_Memorandum_HealthScreenAppointments-in-IMSP-Suspended030609.pdf

3/13 Springville CA fires, 1929:


I did a quick newspaper search and found two references to fires near Springville burning in Kings Canyon.

One was dated 06/29/1926 and the other 07/04/1926. Both articles were from the Fresno Bee.

I have attached them (pdf files) to assist you in your research. I don't have the time tonight to fully research it, but will check on it tomorrow night.

I use a service that stores newspaper archives online from former micro-fiche files.


Springville06291926FresnoBee.pdf (519 K pdf file)
Springville07041926FresnoBee.pdf (597 K pdf file)

Thanks Noname. Ab.

3/13 Flame Act:

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

March 10th, 2009 Contact: David Marks
Phone: 202-224-xxxx


Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today introduced legislation that takes a big step forward in tackling chronic funding shortages for fighting wildfires, and the steep declines in land management funding that result.

The Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement Act “ the FLAME Act -- establishes an account to pay for fighting large, complex wildland fires. The legislation will provide a separate budget for fighting the largest fires, so that adequate funding is available and so that the agencies' land management functions are not shorted.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, who has shown great leadership on addressing this problem, today introduced companion legislation.

The costs for fighting wildfires are rising rapidly, and this escalation is eroding other programs and impacting the core mission of our land management agencies, particularly the Forest Service," Bingaman said. "Wildland fire activities now account for about 50 percent of the Forest Service budget. Both the Forest Service and the Interior Department have had to rob funds from other agency accounts to cover these costs. ┬ The FLAME Act will help solve this recurring problem."

"In recent years, the Forest Service has expended up to $2 billion per year suppressing wildland fires," Murkowski said. "We can no longer afford to put the service's non-fire programs at risk to Ô€˜fire borrowing." While this bill is not the perfect solution, I believe it's a step in the right direction. I look forward to working with Chairman Bingaman and others to improve it further before we get to the floor."

"Fire seasons on public lands are getting longer and more intense “ putting American lives and our treasured public lands in harm's way. Fighting these fires is eroding other non-fire programs and impacting the core mission of the Federal land management agencies “ turning our Forest Service into the Fire Service," said Rahall. "This legislation will help ensure that America's brave firefighters have the necessary tools to continue putting out fires with minimal damage to life and property."

Bill cosponsors include Sens. Barbara Boxer, Ron Wyden, Tom Udall, Maria Cantwell, Jon Tester, Tim Johnson and Patty Murray.

The FLAME Act would establish a fund for large, complex emergency wildland fire suppression. Monies for the fund will be appropriated annually. The Federal land management agencies would continue to fund initial attack and other anticipated and predicted wildland fire suppression activities within their annual budgets.

The Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior would declare emergency wildland fire suppression activities eligible for the FLAME Fund. That declaration would be based on an evaluation of the size, severity and threat of individual wildland fires. The FLAME Fund would be available for emergency wildland fire suppression activities on Federal, state, tribal and private land, consistent with existing agreements.

The bill requires the Secretaries to review wildland fire incidents that result in expenses greater than $10 million and submit a report to Congress containing a cohesive wildland fire management strategy. It also requires science-based budget predictions and annual reports on the use of the fund, and authorizes a grant program to encourage communities to reduce fire risks.

3/12 CAL FIRE cuts:

The State of CA LAO released its 2009-10 budget analysis on Monday, which
included a number of suggested budget cuts to Cal-Fire. In addition
to some delays in maintenance and upkeep up vehicles and facilities,
they've suggested eliminating funding for the DC-10 air tanker. They've
also suggested a $10 million cut by closing several "lower priority" fire


I'm thinking a few more of those IAs might turn into campaigns.

Saving Hawaii

3/12 CHS medical guidance/testing

This was what I heard last week regarding the lapse of med exam contract services:

CHS will not be scheduling any firefighter medical exams at this time. CHS is
honoring exams already scheduled up through March 13. CHS is contacting
their clinics to cancel all appointments occurring after March 13. Should a
clinic refuse to provide exam on or before March 13, please contact the
Interagency Medical Standards Program (IMSP) Customer Service Reps (CSR)
and provide them with name of employee and clinic.
----(omitted some)----


  • Scheduling info was expected to be announced by the 6th by NWCG.
  • A Memorandum on formal instruction on the IMSP Council process was
    expected after 3/9 (last Monday).

I haven't seen anything yet as companies seem to be changing. Could have missed it.
We're all being patient...


3/12 Has anyone heard anymore on the CHS medical guidance or lack of it?

Someone is in Left Field
3/12 Ab,

I have been hearing rumors of a fundraiser for The Wildland Firefighter
Foundation at Mt. Rose ski area (Reno) coming up in the next week
or so. Does anyone have any information about the when and where on

Processed to Death


Silver State Hotshot fund raiser (map and details) for the WFF on Friday March 20, as you said, at the Mt. Rose Ski Area...

I called Burk at the WFF and here's more info:

  • He's going to be there and ski, hopes it's a skiing day, shirts off, suntan oil on and great collective cheer!
  • Silver State IHC will have a table and booth set up at a run. I'm told you can't miss it. You pay them (the WFF gets a cut) and get a packet that includes a lift ticket.
  • Then the fun begins. It's a marathon of sorts, a test of endurance to see who can get in the most runs in the day.
  • Prizes will be given for first, second and third place.
  • A local brewery is hosting after hours libations with $1 of every purchase going to the WFF.

Ski one and tip one for me! Ab.

3/12 Info needed, Fire Fatalities near Springville, CA 1926

I looking for information on the fire fatalities in Springville, CA in 1926.
In the list of Wildland Fire Fatalities by Year, it lists the Springville incident.

In the NWCG publication, it doesn't list the Springville incident, but it lists
5 fatalities on the Toiyabe NF in 1926 on the "King's Canyon Fire".

I have done internet searches without finding any more information. Do you
have any information or know of any places where I should look.

Thanks in advance.

3/12 To All:

Senator Boxer's office has asked that all contacts regarding the discussion draft bill be sent via email to the link below.




3/11 Omnibus summary that made the rounds today.


Forest Service Funding Summary:
Discretionary Appropriations
(Dollars in thousands)
FY08 Enacted FY09 Omnibus 2008 vs. 2009
Forest & Rangeland Research
State and Private Forestry
National Forest System
Capital Improvement & Maintenance
Land Acquisition
Other Appropriations
Wildland Fire Management

Key Highlights:

The Forest Service portion of the bill totals over $4.7 billion in discretionary spending, over $300 million or almost 7 percent above the total funding for FY08.

The following are a few funding highlights:

* Increases global climate change research by $5 to $27 million;
* Funds Forest Legacy Program at $57 million, of which $8 million is from prior-year unobligated funds;
* Increases funding under Forest Health “ Cooperative Lands by $1.8 million to address emerald ash borer and gypsy moth;
* Increases Recreation, Heritage, and Wilderness by $15 million to $278 million,
* Increases Forest Products by $10 million to $332 million; and requires funds to be allocated as stipulated in the President's budget, following the Northwest Forest Plan;
* Provides $500,000 increase in Vegetation and Watershed Management to address damage caused by drug cultivation on national forests;
* Increases funds for Forest Legacy Road and Trail Remediation by $10 million to $50 million;
* Increases the Trails program by $4.7million to over $91 million
* Funds Fire Suppression at the 10-year average of $994 million;
* Increases Hazardous Fuels by $18 million to $328 million;
* The bill also rescinds $5 million in unobligated (FY 2009) funds from National Forest System funding.

The following are a few general provisions highlights:

* Prohibits competitive sourcing studies in FS;
* Extends Utah Good Neighbor authority through Sept 2010;
* Extends Service First authority through 2011;
* Extends through 2014 authority to retain receipts collected from marina facilities on the Shast-Trinity NF;
* Makes minor modifications to the boundaries of the Tongass NF;
* Extends facility conveyance authority through 2011 and makes minor amendments to the original act;
* Provides authority to the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit to conduct up to 5,000 acres of hazardous fuel treatments under a categorical exclusion with additional conditions;
* Extends through 2011 certain authorities to renew grazing permits or leases;
* Transfers 6 job corps centers from DOI to Forest Service (Centennial, Collbran, Columbia Basin , Fort Simcoe, Treasure Lake , and Weber Basin )
* Amends existing law regarding Healthy Forest Restoration Act procedures for project under the Quincy Library Group Act.
* The long standing "redcedar" provision for Alaska is not in the FY 2009 Omnibus.

3/11 Hugh,

You always have always cracked me up.... sincere and dedicated professional, inspirational speeches and posts, and always with a homework assignment assigned to keep folks honest and searching for answers.

Carpe Diem = "Seize the Day"

venceremos = "We shall..."

tempus fugit = "Time flees... Time flies..."

le temps = "The appointed, the established"

est maintenant = "at present, now"

Kinda makes a great multi-lingual poem, if I'm not misinterpreting the meaning or thoughts.....

Seize the day... We shall,
Time flies,
The appointed and the established,
are present, now.

3/11 Good advice, Ab, on everyone getting support to Congressional Reps.

It took me only 2 hours yesterday morning to fax and e-mail everyone on Casey’s list, either as a constituent here in Colorado and as a non-constituent lending support for the Act to the other Western State Senators and Reps on the list. Maybe about 30+ Senators and Representatives.

But I recognize I have that luxury only because I’m retired.

You don’t have to go that far, of course – just two Senators and your House District Representative

Thurs-Friday would be perfect for those of us who have not yet done so to get with the program – the issue will be fresh in their minds for Casey’s visit next week

We can collectively make a difference. Yes we can.

Carpe diem, venceremos, tempus fugit, le temps est maintenant, and all that rock’n’roll.

Hugh Carson

3/11 Link sent in by Lobotomy:

Forest Service: Emerging Issues Highlight the Need to Address Persistent Management Challenges
GAO-09-443T March 11, 2009

Highlights Page: www.gao.gov/highlights/d09443thigh.pdf  (pdf)
Full Report: www.gao.gov/new.items/d09443t.pdf (large pdf, 22 pages)
Accessible Text: www.gao.gov/htext/d09443t.phpl text on a html page (easy link)

3/11 KnuckleDragon

The part time bill? Watch your back. It says pro rated credit for PT stuff. If you are laid off
you get full credit. ie 18/8 tours. Part time; you earn only the time you actually work. This
happened to me a a few other fellow employees costing us up to 10% off our final retirement.
Folks who contemplate this, be sure you know all the facts, and get in in writing.

The ability for the Feds to "rehire" retirees would solve the AD problem, but I think they
really don't want to deal with it.


3/11 sand table miniatures:

I liked this one.... H/O scale USFS crew buggy!



3/11 Originally from Tory Henderson at NIFC

Attached is a briefing paper that identifies what is taking place relative to the new Ruling concerning the use of High Visibility Apparel. The focus is fire and aviation however the points in the paper provide information to all program areas surrounding this item. MTDC has developed a Tech Tip on this and that will be available shortly (hopefully within the next two weeks electronically).

High Visibility Apparel Briefing Paper

3/11 Wildland Firefighter Retirees,

They (Feds) need us and they know it but they are making things tougher and tougher
for retirees to help. They are also defying the intentions of at least a portion of the congress.
See www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?articleid=42129&dcn=todays_most_popular
and hope that the proposed bill passes. Be active in supporting this bill and speak out
locally and loudly, and here too.

There is major loss to the federal wildland firefighting community going on right now.
It is orchestrated at the hands of those who would seek to flush thousands of years of
experience who are still willing to help.

We retirees need to organize and (I have long since talked to Casey) the FWFSA is
where we all need to be. Please join up.

3/11 Angora Report?

Noticed some talk about accident investigation so I thought I would
throw this in the mix. I am personally a bit disturbed that the
Angora Report has not come out. This burnover occurred almost 2 years
ago and the "Peer Review" (FLA) as it was called at the time was due
out six months after the incident. I have checked periodically and
have been told that it was completed but the forest where the
employees involved were from said it needed to go back to the editor
to be softened up, that was a year ago. Not quite sure what that
means or why you would want to soften a safety report. At this point,
I have pretty much given up on any report coming out.

In my opinion, I believe the region is stalling as long as they can so that
it will be forgotten. God forbid if an error was made due to rapid
promotion and lack of experience that can be a lesson learned by
all levels. The fact that they even say it needed to be soften up by the
editor smells of a cover up. Anyone else hear anything on this or does
anybody in the upper echelons want to respond?

Stop the Silence

3/11 Just heard that the FLAME Act (HR 1404) was reintroduced yesterday in both the US House and Senate. This is the legislation that was proposed last year to establish a reserve fund for the USFS and DOI agencies to tap into when they'd exhausted their firefighting funds during the long fire season. While it seems like a pretty common sense idea, it passed the House last year and ended up dead in the Senate without any attention. From what I hear, expectations are quite a bit higher for success, considering a new President as well as several more members of Congress who support its principles. Hopefully this'll be another step in the right direction for us.

Here's a link to the article on the KTVZ (Central Oregon) website where I saw this.

Saving Hawaii
3/11 Hi to All:

There have been some staff change since I posted the congressional contact information just recently...there are even staff folks currently negotiating new jobs etc., so a few updates.

For those in Alaska:

The staff contact for Congressman Don Young will now be Jeremy Price at 202-225-5765 and email:


Additionally our Republican staff contact, Frank Gladics at the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee who had been working with Sen. Domenici from New Mexico, is now working with Senator Murkowski of Alaska who is now the Ranking Member of that committee. He can be reached at 202-224-4971 or Frank_Gladics@energy.senate.gov.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is now Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform. His committee staff contact is: Chas Phillips email address: chas.phillips@mail.house.gov.

I provided the incorrect email address for our staff contact for Sen. Bingaman (D-NM) who is Chairman of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources. The correct email should be: scott_miller@energy.senate.gov.

If other information we posted is not working for you, please let me know.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/11 LEO training:

Thanks for that.

Former green Soldier.

3/11 LEO training:

WARNING: This is kind of long.

Ab, I will bite on this one. Other than FLETC and field training, we are constantly receiving training. My LE Career has gone as follows in regards to training:

  • Hired.
  • Went to FLETC.
  • 18 weeks later completed FLETC (and no I did not fail, that was the length of training for my class),
  • got home for a week, worked with other officers and did office work for that week,
  • went to phase one for field training.
  • After 20 working days and some days off successfully completed phase one of field training.
  • Flew a few thousand miles and went home for 2 days.
  • Went to phase 2 of field training
  • Once again, after 20 working days and days off away from home, went home for 2 more days
  • Went to phase 3 of field training 20 working days yada yada.
  • After passing this, I was signed off on.
  • I reported on 11/13/06 and finished field training on 9/9/07.

FLETC is not a school where people just shoot, drive, and fight for their lives. There is a lot of other training going on. In addition to this I have had my refresher training every year. I have also gone through a world renowned interviewing class, I have been through other classes telling me how to investigate other crimes such as ARPA and conducting those investigations, I have been though fire investigation classes, I have been through drug investigation classes and just about every other LEO or special agent in the Forest Service I know has been though these same investigative classes. I have worked with special agents who have gone through 12 weeks in addition to our initial FLETC training and some 12 more weeks of field training in addition.

So yes, I believe we get some "investigative" training. There is no special "detective" school out there that makes anything faster. I know and understand constitutional rights, investigative detention, physical arrest, consensual contacts, and where the lines are. I dont bend those lines, and I certainly do not break them (there is the firefighter from the past coming out!!) because I believe in the oath I took and will not break. Hope this helps and that maybe you do have an LEO or agent on the SAIT. This actually could help protect you as they are definitely well versed on constitutional rights and should help keep those rights in mind, since the regular line officers and fellow firefighters MAY not know them that well. Forest Service LE has changed and some of you were around when the program started. That's great. But remember that change has occurred and try to accept it. The Forest Service LE folks I know are all very well versed articulate individuals who want to do the right thing, and not the country bumpkin good ol' boy who just smiles and waves. Ironically I get more complaints called in on me because I actually investigate violations and talk to people.

Hope this helps and I would be happy to answer any questions I can.


FLETC=Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
ARPA=Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979

Thanks. Ab.

3/11 Re: Recent Actions on Serious Accident Investigations

> From the Forest Service Law Enforcement & Investigations (LE&I) Website:

Forest Service Patrol Section (Law Enforcement Officers / LEO) Duties:

Forest Service Investigation Section (Special Agents) Duties:


Comment: Recent actions (post Cramer Fire and post Thirty Mile) within the USDA Office of Inspector General's Office(s) relating to Serious Accident Investigations (SAI), Lessons Learned Analysis' (LLA), Facilitated Learning Analysis' (FLA), and Accident Prevention Analysis' (APA) should be lauded as a success towards improving wildland firefighter safety.

Actions (inactions) by inexperienced Line Officers (District, Forest, Region, WO) in addressing the ever changing wildfire environment and personal liability, as well as folks not listening to the experts within the Wildland Fire Safety Community as a whole, are causing continued problems in our ability to gain lessons learned and lessen the possibility of future accidents. Line Officers lead (ie- Randy Moore, Esperanza Fire, 2006/2007), assign people as investigation team members, and the also sign off on the "final" report that is released to the public.

Everything is a work in progress, and every action (or inaction) that doesn't seek the end state goal of a safer wildland fire community, only detours us towards blame and future failures.

Thanks for the links Lobotomy. Ab.

3/11 Service of Capt. Creig Nece:

Beloved San Bernardino fire captain honored by hundreds
Stacia Glenn, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/10/2009 05:02:49 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDINO - They carefully propped up the empty firefighter's uniform in the passenger seat of San Bernardino City Fire Engine 227.

Hundreds of firefighters, police officers and motorists saluted as the engine led a procession of 39 fire vehicles through three cities to Montecito Memorial Park in Colton, where Capt. Creig Nece was laid to rest Tuesday.

The 30-year fire veteran and father of three died March 2, a week after he broke his back in an off-road accident in Glamis. The cause of death has not been determined. Nece was 53. (more www.sbsun.com/news/ci_11881227 )

3/11 Documentary Film:

Hi Ab,

You were really helpful to me a few months back when you got me in touch with some people to help with photos and video of handcrews in action - actually, Tom Plymale has made a huge contribution to my film, his video and photos have added another dimension that my film would not otherwise have. Anyhow, thank you for helping me with that.

I'm happy to say that my film, "Behind the Lines: Fighting a Wildland Fire" is now complete. I am submitting it to film festivals and also planning a premiere here in Santa Barbara in the late spring/early summer. Until then, the trailer is up on the film's website, and you can take a look at: http://web.me.com/reinish/Site/Tidepool_Pictures_Presents.phpl

Feel free to share the link on your website and with anyone you think might be interested. I would love to find out how to screen the film at meetings/conventions of fire personnel, but this is something I have to research and see if anything like that is possible.

Anyhow, if you would like, I'd be happy to send you a copy of the film - I am hoping to get copies out in the next week or two.


Thanks Jennie, I look forward to it. Ab.

3/10 LEO Training and SAIT:

Not trying to knock LEOs or anything, but had a question. Other than FLETC, and patrol
training (I'm guessing), but do LEOs get some kind of investigative/detective training?

As this relates to constitutional rights, investigating, interrogation etc. I remember years ago
when the program was fairly new how some people in personnel tried to bully the lowly
19 year old GS-3 (not me, LOL) over stuff. Many couldn't afford or didn't know if they
should have an attorney or not.

Former green Soldier.

I'll bet one of our LEOs could tell us about training if he's reading and has time. Ab.

3/10 Once again, it is time to lawyer-up. Why?

It appears that the Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT) process is starting back up in the Eagle Fire of the Iron Complex. Many folks probably did not know that it apparently had stopped. This is the fire where Andrew Palmer of the NPS was struck by a tree and later died.

Why was the SAIT process stopped? Allegedly, the initial SAIT investigation was halted when a question of negligence surfaced. The investigation was taken over by Forest Service Law Enforcement. The details of the entire LE investigation are muddy as it relates to NPS involvement and determinations made most likely at the Department of Justice level. It is common knowledge that the alleged stump was removed from the mountains by air for forensic preservation.

Why Lawyer-up?

The SAIT process is inherently flawed and can have unintended consequences for witnesses being interviewed. We do not have a Just Culture.

1) The team leader is usually a Line Officer or some other high level individual. Most of the time, it is their first experience.
2) Team members and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are selected on a “who’s available” basis.

Most of the time, they are untrained in investigation techniques. Much of the time, it is their first assignment. Someone needs to validate the background of the SAIT leader and members related to investigations. Use the analogy of conducting an NTSB aircraft crash using rank and file people to gather evidence, ascertain facts, and draw conclusions. (The Forest Service track record is perfect on this as the agency has not got one right in the last 15 years -- Dude, South Canyon, 30-mile, Cramer and Esperanza.)

Statements made to “investigators” are permanent records and can be used later in civil or administrative (discipline) processes. Well meaning statements can be used later. Omissions, mis-statements or presumptions can come back to haunt. Attorneys are the only ones who can properly prepare people to make statements.

Statements of this nature need to be compelled. The investigators will tell witnesses that their statements are voluntary, or that if you do not want to talk they will view this as a refusal to talk, and fire them. While this may be true, there is a mechanism to do this called the Kalkines Warning for federal employees. Non-federal employees can remedy this by not talking to investigators with concurrence of their legal counsel.

Investigators should not be forced into practicing law without a license. Further, who will defend witnesses later down the road? The Office of General Counsel and Office of the Solicitor can pick and choose when to defend employees in matters related to their federal employment. They can choose not to defend you, if it is determined not to be in the interest of the government.

Investigators will tell witnesses that they are only wanting to get at “what happened in order to prevent this from happening again”. This is true. However, the reality is that once a statement is made, it is public record. The unexpected collateral damage occurs when the innocent witness statement, made in the virtue of safety, is later used in a civil case such as a wrongful death suit. Such a suit is allegedly in progress in this case.

Of particular concern on the Eagle Fire of the Iron Complex is the fact that statements already made were done prior to the LE takeover of the investigation.

Employees need to protect themselves from unintended consequences of safety investigations. Personal Liability Insurance (PLI) is highly recommended. It is available through several vendors such as FEDS. PLI is a cheap investment.



This was part of a post connected with another fatality fire in 2006. It's advice is still critically important:
It's still pertinent because there were no legal lessons learned on Esperanza and no one told the Regional Forester Randy Moore and his Deputy Pena about compelled vs non-compelled testimony. We cannot assume regional management knows what they're doing, even if fire professionals do...

Here is the strategy:

1) The criminal procedures need to play through first! This is essential. This is the order of precedence.
2) Upon completion of the trial – regardless of outcome, then the SAIT and OSHA reports can be released (or if management doesn't know about 5th amendment rights, the SAIT can begin).

While we fully need to understand the events of the tragedy, we also need to recognize we are in a different world than we were prior to 2000. Times have changed. We are in a legal world now.

We need to stop practicing law without a license. The sacrifice will be timely release of information so we can learn from it. This will also protect our employees who are acting in good faith when thing go bad.

3/10 sandbox toys, vehicles, etc

NPS Cap'n,

Diecastcollectibles2008 is a division of KB Emblem who advertises with us and sponsors the logos pages. The prices look competitive.


Our sponsors and advertisers help keep the site going. Ab.

3/10 more sandbox toys, vehicles, etc:



3/10 sandbox toys, vehicles, etc:

For 1/87th scale vehicles I suggest looking in Ebay at “Toys and Hobbies” then to
Diecast Trucks or Vehicles and if not there, then in the same major heading try HO
scale trains. The “Other” listing has hundreds of items like you are seeking.


3/10 To NPS Cap'n

You might try www.walthers.com  They have a very large selection of 1/87 scale vehicles.
You can also pick up one of their catalogs in a hobby store that carries model railroad
supplies. Check page 710 of their 2009 catalog.

Model RR Nut
3/10 Celebration of Roger Hershner's Life:


I am Rogers stepdaughter, and on behalf of my mom Holly Bliss, Roger's wife,
I would like to extend an invitation to anyone who would like to join the celebration
of Roger's life. Here is the information:

Please join us in a Celebration of Roger Hershner's Life
Saturday, March 14th, 1-4pm
Pioneer Park - 387 E. Washington St Sequim, WA

rogerramjet6 @ nospam gmail.com

Thanks and condolences to your family. Ab.

3/10 sandbox toys, vehicles, etc

NPS Cap'n, Try this


3/10 sandbox toys, vehicles, etc

NPS Captain:

Here are a couple of sites that I found for trucks, not perfect but a place to start......Good Luck

R5 Dispatcher

3/10 We are currently building a new sand table and I'm looking for 1/87th fire vehicles, including dozers,
engines, pickups, crew carriers etc....I haven't had much luck finding anything but dead links....Can
someone point me in the right direction for finding these?


NPS Cap'n
3/10 Roger Hershner's passing:

Roger flew for us (Angeles Helitack) during the 2003 fire season.

He was a pilot with invaluable hours of experience, a man that would make you feel
superior when you flew with him; he always gave you his best. I will always remember
his smile and how much he truly loved being a pilot.

Many folks that were on the crew that year and had worked with him through the
years were saddened to hear of his passing, our loss is felt all over the nation.

I spoke to individuals in three regions today and they were sad to hear about the loss
of a great one. He had the story of a life time. It took a lot to get it out of him. But
this is not the time for that story.

Roger you will be missed and remembered fondly… thanks for the adventure!


Sup 531

PS When info about services is available, could someone let us know?

3/10 Roger Hershner's passing:

In 1987 Roger flew relief for us in Grants Pass. One thing that still stands out was
the (fact?) that Roger was the actual pilot who flew the escape helicopter that was
the basis for the Charles Bronson movie Breakout. Where he flew into Mexico to
rescue a senator's son.

I'm sorry to hear this about our loss of Roger.


3/10 Dear Mr. Abercrombie
Thank you so much for the service you provide. I can't tell you how it has touched me.
It touches more than you might think and reaches farther.

I'm one of your -- I prefer "watchers" -- and have no direct connection in the form of bodies on the ground, except my volunteer friends and neighbors... but your collective issues affect me in many ways.

I live in the forest in a tiny town in a forgotten corner of the Lost Sierras at about 2800' elev. The government would call us WUI, SRA, and R5 Plumas is across the street from me. Our area is caught in the middle of contract negotiations and budget cuts. Our forest suffers from the drought and from decades of "various" forest management practices and is overgrown and stricken by pockets of bark beetle damage. Across the street from me is a section of R5 designated for fuel reduction, etc., but the project got caught in actual litigation and I pray that the stimulus package trickles down to there. Up the road from me is an old USFS barracks that used to be staffed, back in the seventies, but such practice has fallen from favor and the barracks lies neglected.

We are served variously by USFS; Cal-Fire, and grudgingly by the two counties our tiny town crosses through. And by volunteers, from the 2nd county, most of whom know the local woods real well, but are often under-appreciated. Not enough volunteers these days; for all the reasons... and not enough support from either county.

At this moment, I am in process of helping mobilize our community against proposed immediate budget cuts in our county that would target six foothill fire stations (county-CalFire contracts), and have also agreed to get the ball rolling for a community fire-safe council here in my own neighborhood.

I write, and don't leave home much at all during the summer -- we are in the area of last year's big CA lightning complex fires (southern edge fire was one ridge north; normally a north wind); but we escaped serious fire here. Thank you all.

I discovered your website while searching for information about fires close to me; your Links were invaluable. Using your links, I read a lot last summer -- it was too smoky to go outside for almost a month; and can just say Thanks!

I pretty much keep the scanner on all fire season, but am still learning my way around one. There were several instances when your website hotlist really helped my, and my neighbors understanding of what was going on around us. A couple of times, from scanner info, I could have answered a question on the hotlist, but didn't feel qualified or ready to jump in with .... anything.

Your theysaid gives me a much greater understanding of what you folks have to deal with, if gives a lot of good info; and a very sobering reality check, too.

I was interested in the conversations about Stay and Defend or evacuate. (We have friends in Australia, and Aussie fire crews often come to the aid of/ in our "neighborhood" in Northern Calif.). Here at home, we have sprinklers on our roofs, and we bought barricade foam, we have 200' of 1 1/2" fire hose and hookup, dependent on water pressure, but beats a garden hose. My hubs fought fire for usfs in his youth, and he served a couple of years as a local volunteer here, years ago. We work continually to make our place more and more fire-safe, but I'd sure like some more education personally and in my community.

I am also keenly interested in R5 - or anybody - getting stimulus funds into our neighborhood; for the purpose of fuel reduction in the forest, jobs, bio-fuel & so on.... with a lot of exclamation points. But I haven't seen anything about that anywhere, so I doubt we're high on any bigwig's to-do list.

So, understanding and information is what I seek -- I have little wisdom to offer, but you always have my genuine concern for all of you who put your lives on the line for the rest of us; and who also love our nation's wildlands and waters.

I hope you don't mind if I "listen in."



KW, good job on being self-reliant and encouraging that with your Firesafe Council.
FYI, the stimulus package being administered by the FS, I've heard, is 1 billion which will go to fire-related contracting. This is above and beyond funding for FS Fire forces, Initial Attack resources, etc and mostly this "contracted $ will take the form of contracts for fuels reduction and structure (capital) improvements. The only money I'm aware of that's been earmarked so far is the $$ announced for those kinds of projects in OR and WA that were described on theysaid in the past few weeks. That area is called Region 6. (We in CA are Region 5.) Welcome. Ab.

3/9 All-Hazard Incident Management Team (AHIMT) Conference Findings:


Please see the attached report, FYI. >From the included letter,

“In October 2008, a national learning conference was convened in DeKalb, Illinois on the campus of Northern Illinois University. Over one hundred All-Hazard Incident Management Team (AHIMT) managers, training coordinators, and AHIMT members representing 30 states and Puerto Rico attended the conference to discuss issues and opportunities surrounding the development of AHIMTs.”

The attached findings appear to have much relevance for DHS and related homeland security programs as we work to build national incident management capability.


AHIMT Conference Findings (1444 K pdf file; 53 pages)

3/9 FS AD Rules:

According to Forest Service Handbook 5109.34 – chapter 10 – personnel
(Interagency incident business management handbook)

Interim Directive No.: 5109.34-2008-1

Last year they came out on: (Effective Date: March 14, 2008)

The duration: (This interim directive expires on March 14, 2009.)

So, if they are on schedule, the 2009 AD rates should be effective (3/14/09
is on a Saturday this year) possibly this Friday or next Monday.

No guarantee that they will be promptly published.


Good to hear from you, Lasagna. It's been a while. Thanks for the clarification. Ab.

3/9 Roger Hershner's passing:


I'm a reporter with the weekly Sequim Gazette newspaper (WA), located where Roger Hershner
lived. I'm trying to find out more about Roger as a person (versus just the details surrounding the
helicopter crash) for a sort of posthumous profile of him for our March 1 edition. Any help you
could give me would be appreciated. Thanks.

Brian Gawley
Sequim Gazette reporter
bgawley @ nospam sequimgazette.com (take out spaces and nospam)

LMC or any of you rotor types? Ab.

3/9 AD rates:

What I heard last week, was that the Forest Service had proposed across the board
increases of the AD Rates, however the DOI was not onboard with it, so who knows
what will happen.


3/9 AD rates:

Heard some interesting things recently about changes to AD hiring due to the trend of ADs signing up
through their local fire departments instead of the federal agency dispatch centers. New rules are
coming down the pipeline to try to stop this flow. Guess we will see how that shakes out.

Also, although I haven't heard the actual date and finalization of any raises to AD pay, last word I
received a week ago, was that it was thought to be a raise "across the board". Sure would be nice,
but guess we will just have to wait and see if it REALLY happens!


3/8 Another Air Loss


Another sad loss in the Air world.

Roger Hershner, a long time pilot, who flew for the Forest Service for many
years in Washington and Idaho was killed today when his Bell 206 went down.
Roger was en route to Virginia to do some prescribed fire. I will have a toast
to Roger with some George Dickel. RIP.



Condolences. Ab.

3/8 Dear Ab & All:

The calendar says March but outside it looks like January...A blizzard here in S.E. Idaho. Anyway, as readers know, NFFE (Mark Davis of the Forest Service Council) has been invited by the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests & Public Lands to offer oral testimony on the overall morale of all employees of the Forest Service. The Subcommittee also oversees the Bureau of Land Management & the National Park Service.

The hearing will be on the 19th of March and will provide Mark & me with our first opportunity to meet after years of working together on outsourcing, firefighter liability etc.

Staff from the Subcommittee has offered the FWFSA an opportunity to provide written testimony as to the morale of federal wildland firefighters. The linked material is our written testimony that has been forwarded to the Subcommittee for inclusion into the record. The testimony and the talking points that go along with our legislative "discussion draft" can also be found on the FWFSA's web site under the News & Legislation link.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/7 Dear Ab and All:

Attached is a "talking points" paper that can be used by folks either to become more
aware of our intentions with regards to our legislation or you can send it to staff and
congressional offices.

Needless to say, I will also be sending it to our staff contacts but in this particular case,
redundancy is a good thing. I will also be dropping off a copy of the talking points and
discussion draft to offices of those on key committees and others while I'm in DC.

Thanks for your participation and help.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

Nice. Get those letters off to your congressmen and women. Check Casey's 2/27 post and Hugh Carson's 3/1 reply. Casey goes to DC a week from tomorrow. Ab.

3/7 Mobile Mapping Technology Advancements in Australia and the US:

Fire Geek,

Thanks for the info. It is a big thing, and a wonderful thing also. We are working with the Coulsons Martin Mars for the summer and there will also be a Helicopter being the Bird Dog this year. On the helicopter will be a Real Time Tech (RTT) unit. It does so much, it's hard to tell you exactly. Still not completely finished on the exactly what it will be doing.

It originally started as a monitoring unit for the Mars, like last year; now it will be used to evaluate the Mars. The Fire Watch program is doing full motion video real time, to the GIS unit in its van. So it is great to see all the advances in GIS and RTT tech.

We still must all remember, though, it's the folks on the ground and Mother Nature who put the fire out. These tools will hopefully help us save lives and property and get the fire out faster.

Thanks again for the info.

R5 Dispatcher

3/7 WFF


You, Burk, the WFF Board of Directors, and the entire wildland fire community are Angels for all of us.... families, friends, and co-workers who have been affected by tragedy.

Please don't misunderstand my concerns as questioning the WFF goals in helping the folks in Australia, that was not my intent or purpose. They need help and are getting help.

As a long time firefighter and survivor, I am as guilty as others in trying to battle PTSD, caregiver fatigue, and compassion fatigue without the help of others, but the WFF provided me guidance to continue my career, my passion, and my life. The WFF has also provided the same to countless others in need.

The document titled, Compassion Fatigue used to exist at: http://www.wffoundation.org/files/CompassionFatigue.doc and was an awesome read for folks in trouble or those seeking guidance when they are asked to give beyond their means. (Ab note: It's now HERE in small pdf version, 77K.)

Big hugs to you all and thank you for your continued support and resources for all of us in the wildland fire community.

/s/ Survivor

>From: Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project«

Compassion Fatigue Resources

Studies confirm that caregivers play host to a high level of compassion fatigue. Day in, day out, workers struggle to function in care giving environments that constantly present heart wrenching, emotional challenges. Affecting positive change in society, a mission so vital to those passionate about caring for others, is perceived as elusive, if not impossible. This painful reality, coupled with first-hand knowledge of society's flagrant disregard for the safety and well being of the feeble and frail, takes its toll on everyone from full time employees to part time volunteers. Eventually, negative attitudes prevail.

Compassion Fatigue symptoms are normal displays of chronic stress resulting from the care giving work we choose to do. Leading traumatologist Eric Gentry suggests that people who are attracted to care giving often enter the field already compassion fatigued. A strong identification with helpless, suffering, or traumatized people or animals is possibly the motive. It is common for such people to hail from a tradition of what Gentry labels: other-directed care giving. Simply put, these are people who were taught at an early age to care for the needs of others before caring for their own needs. Authentic, ongoing self-care practices are absent from their lives.

If you sense that you are suffering from compassion fatigue, chances are excellent that you are. Your path to wellness begins with one small step: awareness. A heightened awareness can lead to insights regarding past traumas and painful situations that are being relived over and over within the confines of your symptoms and behaviors. With the appropriate information and support, you can embark on a journey of discovery, healing past traumas and pain that currently serve as obstacles to a healthy, happier lifestyle.

Many resources are available to help you recognize the causes and symptoms of compassion fatigue. Healing begins by employing such simple practices as regular exercise, healthy eating habits, enjoyable social activities, journaling, and restful sleep. Hopefully, the information on this website will be of use to you and help you jump-start your process.

Accepting the presence of compassion fatigue in your life only serves to validate the fact that you are a deeply caring individual. Somewhere along your healing path, the truth will present itself: You don't have to make a choice. It is possible to practice healthy, ongoing self-care while successfully continuing to care for others.

Sometimes, the best help comes from family members, friends, peers, and others who have have experienced similar circumstances. In other instances, professional help may be needed to address PTSD and other caregiver related fatigue and outcomes.

WFF Family Outreach Program:

3/7 OPM delays implementing new promotion rules:

Implementation of the proposed changes has been extended until May to allow
further review.


OPM delays implementing new promotion rules
By Brittany R. Ballenstedt, March 5, 2009

The Office of Personnel Management on Thursday decided to postpone issuing rules to abolish the one-year time-in-grade requirement for federal employee promotions.

The regulations, which allow federal employees to climb the career ladder faster, were scheduled to take effect March 9, but OPM's decision will delay their implementation until May 18. (more at the link)

3/7 Blindsided

Anyone else notice on the NWCG memorandum regarding CHS that the date of issue for this piece of information was February 6, 2009 and the date of release to us yearning masses trying to get ready for the upcoming fire season was March 6, 2009. Did I miss something or is there actually one month between the time this memo was issued and its release date?

Yeah you missed the follow up e-mail late today saying there was a typo on the original.

Sure glad mine are done for the year. I took the time yesterday to download reports from CHS web site just in case the database goes completely away.

Hopelessly Midwestern

3/6 www.myfoxla.com/dpp/news/local/Verdict_Reached_in_Esperanza_Fire_Trial_20090306

Oyler Guilty of Five Murders in Esperanza Fire
Raymond Oyler faces a possible death sentence.

* By PAUL YOUNG, City News Service
Posted by: Scott Coppersmith

Riverside (myFOXla.com) - A former Beaumont mechanic was convicted today of five counts of first-degree murder for setting the 2006 Esperanza wildfire near Cabazon that killed five U.S. Forest Service firefighters and destroyed or damaged dozens of homes.

Raymond Lee Oyler, 38, faces a possible death sentence for sparking the blaze that killed Capt. Mark Allen Loutzenhiser, 43, and firefighters Jason Robert McKay, 27, Jess Edward McLean, 27, Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20, and Pablo Cerda, 24, who were overcome by flames while defending a home near Twin Pines.

The four-man, eight-woman jury also convicted Oyler of 37 other arson- related counts stemming from a series of 23 fires -- including Esperanza -- in the same general area between May and October 2006. Jurors deadlocked on three counts stemming from three fires in that same time period.

The panel reached its verdict on its sixth day of deliberations.

The penalty phase of trial -- during which jurors will recommend either a death sentence or life in prison -- will begin Tuesday.

(more at the link)

fair use disclaimer

3/6 Lance Honda retirement:

Lance Honda will be retiring after 39 years. Former crewmembers from the Rogue River Roughriders, Winema, Redmond, and Prineville IHCs, as well as all of Lance's other friends and enemies are invited to the gathering Friday April 3 in Redmond, OR. Please join us to bid a fond farewell to one of the last grumpy old superintendents in the Pacific Northwest. For more information, please see: http://lance-honda-retirement.blogspot.com/

Brendan O'Reilly

Best wishes Lance. You're a good person to work with on hard projects. Easier ones too. Ab.

3/6 Mobile Mapping Technology Advancements in Australia:

R5 Dispatcher,

It's similar to Firewatch only in that Firewatch can export shapefiles. It takes a lot of bandwidth to Tx/Rc video footage. We're dealing in kilobytes only. We wanted to use something compatible with ArcGIS which is what most agencies use to map wildfires so we went with a PDA with built-in GPS, digital camera and running ArcPad mobile mapping software. Version 8, which should be released this week, allows you to synchronize to a server. We connected through the Telstra cellular network, but could easily transmit perimeter data and forms used to collect damage assessment information, or in this case, search results for human remains along with digital photos. Data can also be sent through a Wi-Fi connection or SATphone in wilderness areas.

Once the data reaches the server (within about a second), it is automatically processed and placed on a map which is viewable by all the agencies through the Internet. The firefighter/officer in the field only has to tap on the "Synchronize" button to make it happen. No knowledge of GIS is required. Until March 4th, search crews have been carrying binders full of green forms for residences, yellow forms for outbuildings, vehicles, mine shafts etc. They would take georeferenced photos using the Ricoh camera and turn in mounds of paperwork at the end of the shift. Some days the teams cleared over 125 properties and someone would drive all the way up from Melbourne at night to collect the forms and change out the SD cards in the cameras. The results were not mapped by the GIS Specialists until the following day by the time they drove back to the Rescue Coordination Center.

The PDA contains the same forms in ArcPad. Knowing which parcel you're standing in when all the street signs, mailboxes and landmarks have been burned away is easy by simply turning on GPS and the parcel information immediately populates the address, owner and PCI fields on the form as well as displaying your correct location on the parcel layer draped over a topo map on the screen (see attached). We're using the rugged Motorola MC-75 model PDA and the not-so-rugged-but-more-affordable Trimble JUNO SC model because they have fast processors and SIM card slots. The devices can also be used as a cell-phone and you'll look stylishly fashionable as a Fire Geek just like me!

The main reason we're so excited is not only in the speed we can provide decision makers the critical information they need, but the fact that the officers have been teaching each other how to collect the data and use the devices. Most of them have never held a PDA before during a disaster response and have no GIS experience. I'm hoping that the myth of mobile GIS being too complicated or expensive to use on the fireline will go away now that the Aussies have used it to document their most devastating natural disaster. We plan to use the PDA's exclusively next week when we return to search Marysville Everyone will appreciate only having to carry one device that does it all.

I can't give you access to the map server we're using, but here is a link to a similar damage assessment on-line resource server used by Santa Barbara County during the Tea Fire: https://geoaccess.co.santa-barbara.ca.us/teafirerecovery/ (takes a while to access on my computer. Ab.)

That Tea Fire information wasn't available to the damage assessment teams until a week after the fire was contained. Just think of the possibilities of  knowing we can share information through a cell-phone connection in real-time during initial attack. I was sitting under some gum trees and could access the updated database on my laptop.  Of course it would have been easier just to stand up and walk 10 feet to where the officer was standing, but it was exciting that he sent the information simply by

  • tapping the screen on a handheld PDA and
  • it travelled to a server located in Melbourne that
  • I was connected to on my notebook from 96 km away!

This is a big deal! Would be much better if it were not in the middle of such a tragic event.

Fire Geek

Photo 1   Photo 2

3/6 Health Screen discontinued for the time being:

To all,

Anyone else notice on the NWCG memorandum regarding CHS that the date of issue for this piece of information was February 6, 2009 and the date of release to us yearning masses trying to get ready for the upcoming fire season was March 6, 2009. Did I miss something or is there actually one month between the time this memo was issued and its release date? Anyone else thinking, and I am sure there are other strategic thinkers that read this as most of us are operational firefighters, that maybe the most efficient way of dealing with this latest internal train wreck would have been to get the word out to the regions that use CHS a bit earlier (the week of February 8, 2009 would have been a good time) so we could get as many of our permanent and returning workforce through the annual exam and ready to take the WCT prior to the March 13 cutoff date? I also wonder if the executive board of NWCG, the IMSP board, and any of the other folks listed as overseeing this process are cognizant to the additional workload this will add to the ground units as we try and implement whatever new process that will be handed to us after May1? Not sure if the previously listed folks are still aware but most of us are either chasing fire then or trying to get spring burning, new employee orientations, etc. done. Not even going to mention what I can see as the potential loss of our militia folks and others to the 2009 fire season should we get another CHS type method of dealing with medical waivers.

To quote a line from the classic movie Cool Hand Luke: " What we got here is a failure to communicate!" Reminds me all too well of the infamous OPM document regarding disqualification of NWCG credits when trying to qualify for the 401 series that was dated Feb. 2005 and never released to the ground.

Let's see what we have had to deal with so far this winter/spring in regards to getting ready for the upcoming field season. AVUE and ASC changing the way we hire our seasonal workforce and continuing difficulties with that process. ASC and the glacial pace at which requests to fill permanent vacancies are dealt with. Gov trippin and the issues experienced trying to get travel arranged and the increased cost involved with employee time needed to navigate through the program. Lincpass, Eauth, Aglearn, etc, etc, etc, no need to go on. Sure appears that, at least with the FS, we are in the process of internally melting down to the point of administrative ineffectiveness. Not surprising that we are dying from within considering our detractors can't seem to kill the agency with attacks from the outside.

Blindsided by the Bureaucracy and not close enough to retirement yet!

3/6 www.kesq.com/global/story.asp?s=9918420

BREAKING NEWS: Raymond Lee Oyler Guilty of Murder, Arson
Updated: March 6, 2009 02:03 PM
KESQ.com News Services

RIVERSIDE - A former Beaumont mechanic was convicted of first-degree murder Friday for setting the Esperanza wildfire that killed five U.S. Forest Service firefighters.

Raymond Lee Oyler, 38, faces a possible death sentence for causing the 2006 blaze that killed Capt. Mark Allen Loutzenhiser, 43, Jason Robert McKay, 27, Jess Edward McLean, 27, and Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20, and firefighter Pablo Cerda, 24, who were overcome by flames while defending a home near Twin Pines.

The four-man, eight-woman panel reached its verdict on its sixth day of deliberations.

The jury also convicted Oyler of arson in connection to the Esperanza blaze.

fair use disclaimer

3/6 Oyler guilty... from FC180


Oyler guilty on five murder counts
Friday, March 6, 2009
The Press-Enterprise
Richard K. De Atley

Raymond Lee Oyler was convicted today of the arson murder of five U.S. Forest Service firefighters and with setting the October 2006 Esperanza Fire that took their lives.

Oyler, 38, now faces the death penalty.

Families of firefighters hugged each other, held hands and cried in the courtroom of Riverside County Superior Court Judge W. Charles Morgan as clerk Gina Gurrola read the first five verdicts -- a "guilty" for the murder of each the firefighters.

Oyler's family also cried. He showed no emotion at the counsel table as the verdicts were read.

The same eight-woman, four-man panel who found Oyler guilty of 42 of the 45 charges he faced will hear evidence beginning next Tuesday in the penalty phase of the trial. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

"We are obviously satisfied with the verdicts and that the jury was able to sort through the evidence," District Attorney Rod Pacheco said. "A substantial amount of justice has occurred, and I hope that this provides a small measure of consolation to the families of the victims."

Jurors could not reach verdicts on three small fires set with matches. Morgan declared a mistrial for those.

The jurors convicted Oyler of every fire that was set with a device -- a combination of a single cigarette and matches that Deputy District Attorney Michael Hestrin argued during the trial was a trademark of the arsonist.

Defense attorney Mark McDonald declined comment as he left the courthouse.

fair use disclaimer
3/6 From a ton of people... My mailbox is stuffed... I'll post a few for history's sake.

Verdict is in on Esperanza...



3/6 Thanks for the information from Ruby.
3/6 Mellie, Ab, & All

I wanted to clarify just a little: When the idea of sending money to Australia came up I had to involve our Board of Directors before taking any action. The board suggested that we create a separate account into which any funds collected for the purpose of aid to Australia firefighter could be collected and  from which it could be sent.

Because we are a legal 501-C3, I can’t just act on my own decisions. Most of what we do comes down from our Board Members.

They are:
John Henshaw
USFS Forest Legacy Program
Napa Valley, California

Mike Warren
Vice President
Retired, National Park Service
Boise, Idaho

Dave Hannibal
Grayback Forestry
John Day, Oregon

Vicki Minor
Executive Director, WFF
Boise, Idaho
Dale Bosworth
Board Member
Former USFS Director
Missoula, Montana

Ken and Kathy Brinkley
Board Members
Family Survivors of Storm King
Burns, Oregon

Frank Cole
Board Member
Past Director, "FWS" BIFC-NIFC
Thomasville, Georgia

Jim Felix
Board Member
The Supply Cache, Inc.
Fort Collins, Colorado

Sam Goldwater
Board Member
Conifer, Colorado

Ray Quintanar
Board Member
Retired USFS R5
Benicia, California

Brit Rosso
Board Member
National Park Service
Squaw Valley, California

Marc Rounsaville
Board Liaison
USDA United States Forest Service
Washington DC

I want to assure our community that although we respond quickly during fire season, that this Foundation is guided by the steady hands of our Board of Directors. One thing they all have in common is that they have a huge amount of compassion for the firefighter on the ground and in the air.

I love the fact that on theysaid any of us can make comments, or post questions that need answers. Please feel free to respond to anything we need to discuss as a community. This Foundation belongs to all of us.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

3/6 News Release
Contact: Glen Sachet, 503-808-2790
March 4, 2009
USDA Forest Service
Pacific Northwest Region

Forest Service Announces Economic Recovery Projects

PORTLAND, OR – Chief Abigail Kimbell has announced the first set of U.S. Forest Service projects to be funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The first two projects in the Pacific Northwest are the Oregon Youth Employment Initiative Phase 1 and the Olympic Peninsula Structure Restoration.

“I am honored that the Forest Service will play a vital role in providing jobs for Pacific Northwest communities and performing important natural resource conservation work in our Forests,” Regional Forester Mary Wagner said.

The Oregon Youth Employment Initiative Phase 1 is a partnership delivering a state-wide youth employment program focused on natural resource conservation and restoration on public and private lands. The first phase will begin within seven days and will spend $3,250,000 in existing school programs followed by a summer employment program.

The Olympic Peninsula Structure Restoration project includes painting, re-roofing and minor building repairs on four administrative sites and several recreational facilities on the Olympic National Forest. The work will provide jobs for the various communities around the Olympic Peninsula in Clallam, Jefferson, Mason and Grays Harbor counties.

More projects are expected to be announced in the coming days and weeks. Information on the overall U.S. Forest Service role in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act can be found at: http://fs.usda.gov/recovery. For information on the total federal effort please visit www.recovery.gov/.
3/6 Health Screen:


WHAT: NWCG#007-2009 Memorandum - Health Screen Appointments in the
Interagency Medical Standards Program Suspended after March 13, 2009

ACTION: Please review and distribute.

(See attached file: NWCG#007-2009_Memorandum_Health Screen Appointments in
IMSP Suspended_2009_03_06.pdf)

Bonnie L. Bradshaw

3/6 Permanent Full Time:

Ab, Here's a letter making the rounds today, and read the form below that the folks
HAVE to sign if they decline PFT?



My decision to convert permanent seasonal firefighters outside of the apprentice program to permanent, full-time status may be implemented immediately. This voluntary opportunity to convert to permanent full-time will be offered to qualifying employees (18-8, 13-13 permanent employees), who occupy positions covered by firefighter retirement.

Once accepted by the incumbent, or once a qualifying position is vacated, the position becomes permanent full-time. Current incumbents should be aware that there will not be an opportunity in the future to revert back to a part-time or seasonal work schedule in their covered position, as future vacant positions will be filled as permanent full-time. The decision to make all qualifying positions permanent full-time may affect the employee’s eligibility to receive future unemployment benefits.

Supervisors are requested to contact their employees and have each employee complete the enclosed acceptance/declination form. All acceptances should be attached to the SF-52 request for processing the conversion to permanent full-time by Human Resources; declinations should be retained on the Forest and made available to Human Resources upon request.

I understand there is concern about the cost of this effort. I believe the additional cost can be offset by additional work that can be done by this sizable workforce in hazardous fuels reduction and other expanded budget line items. It is up to you to be creative in integrating this additional capacity into the Forest workload and expanded budget line items.

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Ed Hollenshead, Fire and Aviation Management Director, at (707) 562-8925; or Stephen Deep, Human Resources Director, at (707) 562-8736.

/s/ Richard J. Cook (for)
RANDY MOORE, Regional Forester


Acceptance/Declination of Conversion to Permanent, Full-Time Status

I, _________________________________________________________________:
(Print name)

________ Accept a conversion to a permanent, full-time work schedule. I understand that this request is voluntary and, by accepting this conversion, there will not be an opportunity in the future to revert back to a part-time or seasonal work schedule in my covered position, since once accepted or vacated, my position will be converted to permanent full-time.

________ Decline a conversion to a permanent, full-time work schedule. I understand that declining this conversion to a permanent, full-time work schedule may affect my eligibility to receive future unemployment benefits under this qualifying position. If I file an application/claim for unemployment benefits, I acknowledge that I must advise that I have declined permanent, full-time work for the period for which benefits are sought.

3/6 More on the GAP program and skills crosswalk:

www.usfa.dhs.gov/downloads/pdf/wildland_training_crosswalk.pdf (559 K pdf file)

Ladder 10

3/6 Medical Emergency Procedures, etc/Accident checklist:


Take a look at "PMS 926 Agency Administrator's Guide to Critical Incident Management".
You can find the link to it here in the second dropdown box by PMS number:


Tahoe Terrie

PMS=Public Management System

3/6 Medical Emergency Procedures/Accident checklist:


The procedures in case of a medical emergency are always in the IAP on the Medical Plan page,
ICS Form 206. Take a look on an old IAP if you have one.


3/5 Update on the WFF and Australia and fun meetings where compassion runs rampant!

This morning I called Burk at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation to get an update on Australia and the Foundation's current efforts there and at home. He said he'd just read theysaid and he could clarify. Basically, Australia like any tragedy is important, but only a very small piece of what he and Vicki do this time of year. The specific Australia fund is separate from the bulk of funding of the WFF. He said, "Rest assured, the US pot is growing" and many around the country are catching the winter/spring fundraising bug...

Here's the sequence of events connected with the Australia tragedy:
When the fires in Australia broke the WFF got a call from a great friend, supporter of the WFF, and compassionate human being, Bodie Shaw, who is working in Australia. He wondered if there was a way for the Foundation to help firefighters there or provide a conduit so those that wanted to, could donate money. (As many know, calling the Foundation is often the first thing many of us do when stressed in this way. We want to help, and we're moved to see if there others want to help. It's akin to putting out the boot and a request sign in firecamp, one way to take meaningful action.)

Because the WFF is a non-profit and there are federal rules for donations that leave the country, the Foundation delegated the legal task of figuring out that stuff to a couple of attorneys that advise them. The lawyers gave the WFF feedback, the WFF jumped through the paperwork hoops, got permission and then they created a BUTTON on the Wildland Firefighter Foundation website where donations could be made and targeted to Australia. There was an initial donation of $1,000 by a compassionate human being who was really moved to help. Thanks, m'dear! Vicki sent in her post to theysaid and the mini-Australia firefighter relief fund got off and running (until the March 15 legal deadline).

In the meantime, this is a very busy time of year for Vicki and Burk; all other work goes on apace. Burk does a lot of the running around the country these days. Vicki is working from home some days a week to have larger blocks of time without interruption to focus on current projects and fundraisers.

Fundraisers... thank you, thank you fire community... The Eastern Area Dispatchers in Region 9 had a meeting in WV and raised $1,100 in their silent auction; they set a January standard and put out a challenge. Burk has been on the road to other meetings. Speaking venues Burk's just completed include

  • The SW Area IC meeting in NM (450 people, wow, and thanks for such a warm response!)
  • The R3 Dispatchers' meeting in AZ (ditto on the warm response! and $2,500)
  • The NWSA meeting in Reno NV where more than $80,000 was raised from their auction and $$ still coming in!!! Thank you, thank you, private sector! Debby Miley, Mike Wheelock, Ferguson Crew that rushed in when the helicopter crashed on Iron 44, we love you!
  • And coming up next week... the R6 Dispatchers' Workshop someplace around Mt Hood OR (name sounded like grape juice)

As you can see, all is going well, but a lot of work for a very few people.

My thanks also to the WFF board and those fundraising folks that last year and this have gone above and beyond in raising money.

The Australian fundraiser? Well, plans were this: if it raised huge money, Vicki would consider a very long trip on her own dime to present the check. (Thanks for being willing to step up Vicki.) Otherwise the WFF will make a wire transfer to a wonderful compassionate man who will make sure it gets where it's needed on behalf of all of us. Thanks compassionate man!

It takes all of us to make sure we have our safety net in place should the unthinkable happen. Thanks for what each of you does to keep the net in place...



3/6 Structural firefighter GAP program and skills crosswalk:


I thought readers might find this article useful.
It's from Occupational Health & Safety


It points to
NWCG/ US Fire Administration


Webcast - Crosswalk: Bridging the Skills Gap
Wildland Fire Skills Gap Courses for Structural Firefighters

This Webcast explains the requirements, availability, and distribution of the new Wildland Fire Skills Gap Courses for Structural Firefighters.

These courses address wildland skills and knowledge that qualified and experienced firefighters would not have acquired through their structural firefighting training. By focusing solely on the non-acquired skill sets, required classroom hours and curriculum redundancies are minimized, making more efficient use of limited training hours.
Watch the Webcast

The links below will take you to video chapters of the Webcast. At the end of each video, you will return to this page to select the next chapter you wish to watch. (etc, links to the individual units; most units are 2-3 minutes long; except for "Partnerships Developed" which is 6 minutes.)

3/5 Accident checklist:

Does anyone know if there's a checklist of what to do if there's an accident or a
burnover or fatality on an incident? I remember when the Stanza Fire E-11 tragedy
occurred, the protocol of notification etc was not clear. Perhaps nothing is clear in
those circumstances. It's always unthinkable...


3/5 Hog Fire photos AZ, Coronado NF.

I put them on the Fires 40 photo page. Hotlist thread Ab.

3/5 Lobotomy,

So let me get this straight. In multi-grade the specialized experience does not matter when moving to your full performance grade. It does matter when getting a single grade job or getting in to that initial grade in a multi-grade position? I may be wrong, but this may slow some multi-grade folks down if it takes them more than a year to meet the requirements to make the grade jump. From say a 6-7 FEO. So instead of automatically being bumped up after a year whether or not you are qualified for the grade bump you have to wait till you are qualed. I think I may like the idea. So who decides the performance measures and quals for the upgrade? I'm feeling a bit drained and slightly slow right now. I understand who it is designed for.

What I am thinking is that we can use this for our benefit to make sure that fully qualified people are put in to the appropriate positions and help slow down the GS jumping that happens from time to time. Got to love the people that show up to work counting their days in grade until they can promote when they are under qualified for the position they are already in. I'm not a negative person by trait, but it has been one of those days where I have spent way to much time sitting and not getting out for a jog. Fire season is only two months away.

ASC seems like it is running really slow on the referral lists. Must be fire hiring season!

To All,

Please email, fax, or snail mail your reps and Senators. This is so....so important! Help Casey pave the way for the bill with education. They never know how important it is unless we tell them and have your family and friends tell them as well! Remember they work for our votes!


3/5 travel ceiling and lodging:

Re: Barracks at Mc Clellan, (WFTC)

During Academy sessions the barracks are full and not available. Also, The barracks at Mc Clellan are NOT FREE. They will cost your Job Code $50 per night for a shared room. Check the Mc Clellan training center barracks FAQ's.

At this price, staying there saves the gov. very little, you could stay down the street at the Days Inn for the same price and have your own room.

The barracks at NCTC in Redding are still free to students, but fill up fast these days, and have very small rooms with no cooking facilities other then a few refrigerators....

It does look like SOME relief from the Travel Ceiling may be on the way, the region is figuring out how to divvy up $556,000 to R5 forests for travel ceiling impacts very soon. How much, and when this will happen is not known...

This whole Travel ceiling fiasco is impacting morale, (you try telling someone that the Apprentice Hiring they helped with counted as their training money for the year) ..hiring, (by not being able to promise a potential candidate training), and SAFETY, (thru increased driving to commute during winter conditions, rather than staying in the training city)...


3/5 Ab,

The Australians and New Zealanders that supported the US last summer spent some at the WFF
during their time in Boise and donated money to the Foundation. Would seem prudent to return
the favor in their time of need.

3/5 re: upward mobility -

Dept. of Interior fire jobs (NPS, BLM, FWS, BIA, etc) are often flown as multi-grade, most often 5/6, 6/7, 7/8, etc, with the occasional 4/5/6 for a few locations (Wyoming BLM comes to mind). Am I right in thinking the new OPM time-in-grade requirements apply to these positions as well? I haven't seen a statement to the contrary...


Young and Still Learning
3/5 Does anyone know what happened to the library of JHAs? 
I can't find it on the R1 website.


JHA=Job Hazard Analysis
This was the old site:

3/5 Fire Greek:

Do you have more info on the data sending? Was it full-motion-video type or maps
and data? I am familiar with the Firewatch Program in R-5, is it similar?

R5 Dispatcher

3/5 Time in Grade:

One thing Lobotomy, you hit the nail on the head with the upward mobility, but I think
some one higher up has also seen this and has a different agenda, if you look at the job
listings on avue, there is no multi grade (or upward mobility) until you get to the
GS-0462-08 level (unless you count the Developmental 5). Just food for thought.


3/5 Donation to an Australia relief fund:

I viewed Badger Girl's solicitation for donations slightly differently. Please understand, that I do not disrespect your view point or outlook on the subject, but see things slightly differently.

I think the WFF would be in a position to realize when they are being stretched too thin. One aspect to consider and one I think is extremely important is the crosscultural value of supporting each other. We have had a mutual agreement with Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Canada for quite some time. We have had firefighters in our country from all those nations participating in our suppression efforts. Whatever monetary funds are donated to Australia will be viewed as an act of good will and appreciated by those who are receiving the funds.

Can they WFF support incidents worldwide? I cannot answer that, since they are the ones that will be able to judge what assistance they can provide. They have deemed this as one in which they could, otherwise there would not have been a separate fund created. The WFF has extended their hand in doing so, whether it is $1 or $2000.

I took Badger Girl's response as sending out a reminder to those who would or could contribute.

Just my thoughts...


WFF does some of its finest work immediately following a fire crisis and that's what they tried to do here. I believe someone(s) wanted to contribute to Australian firefighters and, early on in the "breech", FF support was very much needed. By the time WFF had gotten through the red tape that Dept of Treasury created in the post 9/11 world, much money had already been contributed to all fire victims by many worldwide. In making a decision like this to help immediately, it's good to know what the hoops are. Apparently, it's easier said than done. I encourage those that want to - to contribute. I hope Vicki does not have to use her own money to get there. Ab.

3/5 A reminder.......

I ask everyone, EVERYONE to go back and read Casey Judd's 2/27 post and
Hugh Carson's 3/1 reply to Casey's post and get moving on the request.

State and LG Firefighters we Feds thank you for being there for us and ask for
your support as well.


Good reminder. I will send my letters today. Ab.

3/5 Health Screening

All - FYI for those of you that have not the opportunity to work with/or
talk to CHS today you need to know that the current contract was set to
expire on April 1 of this year has expired as of today due to funding
issues. ALL higher powers that be at NIFC are working on the issue and hope
to resume scheduling exams through NEXT Friday....at which time we will be
in an ESTIMATED 1 month work stoppage. We do have contingency plans in
place to deal with the 30 day work stoppage and will have those out to you
soon. However in the next 24hrs I expect to be hearing from Michelle
Ryerson and Larry Sutton in regards to this early termination and whether
or not we will resume exams with CHS for the next week or begin
implementation of the contingency plans.

Once I hear from them I will let you know. Please know we do have processes
in place to make sure that the work stoppage does not impact your
preparedness or staffing levels.

Please do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions. Thank -you ---

sent in by JS

CHS=Comprehensive Health Services
Please keep us apprised. Ab.

3/5 Donation to an Australia relief fund:

Badger Girl,

Many of us have given to the international relief organizations supporting the tragedy in Victoria State, Australia. Many of us have given until it hurts time and again.

While the goal of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation to support other areas of the globe is honorable, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation was meant to support the families of fallen and injured wildland firefighters in the US? Or is it an international dream to be financially supported by international organizations in the future supporting everyone in need?

I'm not sure of the end state goals of the WFF, but I do know, as a several time survivor member that they (WFF) supported in the US, I want them to be financially solvent in supporting us in the future without having to say, "We can't help you".

I am concerned that with too much compassion... and ongoing care giver fatigue in the US... the WFF will fail through over expansion. Folks can only give so much... and only for so long.

In all honesty, Don't spread yourself too thin. The WFF provides an important service in the US... AU folks need to take the lead in their country.... and they DID in relief organizing and in raising incredible sums of contributions.


Thanks to the WFF for what they do. This has been a hard one. Ab.

3/5 Re: Travel

The Lions Gate Hotel located adjacent to the McClellan Training Center offers rooms, suites, and cottages. Most of these rooms were part of the bachelor officers quarters (BOQ), married officers quarters (MOQ), and the previous hotel used for temporary duty travel (TDY) at the former McClellan Air Force Base.

These rooms have been maintained to hotel health & safety, and accommodation standards. They are now privately owned and maintained.

On the other hand, at the McClellan Training Center itself, the Forest Service "barracks" typically consist in buildings previously maintained as enlisted quarters and range in quality and availability.

At most other Forest Service barracks in Region 5, the standards range from "condemned" to marginal to satisfactory in most locations.

In requesting that people on TDY travel utilize "barracks", please consider the following FLRA Decision based upon the Joint Federal Travel Regulations.

17 FLRA No. 105 NFFE v. Department of the Army

Employees required to travel in locations where Government-
furnished subsistence and quarters are available will
be paid as provided by Joint Travel Regulations. Although use of
Government quarters by Unit employees is not mandatory,
nonutilization of available adequate Government quarters can
result in forfeiture of the quarters portion of the per diem

Adequate Government quarters shall be decent, safe and
sanitary; comparable to rooms furnished by national chain
hotels/motels priced within the allowance quarters portions of the
prevailing per diem rate. Prior to requiring that a traveler stay
in Government quarters, those quarters will be evaluated by the
Employer against a mutually established set of criteria to
determine adequacy. The Union will be provided a copy of the list
of installations with adequate quarters and supporting data for
purposes of negotiations thereon prior to adoption or changes of
list. The Employer shall initiate development of this list within
6 months of effective date of this contract. Use of Government
quarters will not be required until they are determined to be
adequate. The list of adequate Government quarters shall be
updated as needed based on feedback of using employees. No
quarters shall be considered adequate unless confirmed
reservations can be granted by the supplying facility.


3/5 Re Travel/lodging expenditure restrictions:


"The RLT? No, haven't ever seem them schedule a meeting in Sac or Redding with plans to shack up in the barracks." I share your concerns here, the RLT's actions are shameful.

"The FAM BOD? No, haven't ever seem them schedule a meeting in Sac or Redding with plans to shack up in the barracks either." Several BOD meetings have been canceled due to the travel ceiling, and at least one and more in the future will be done via teleconference.

"The Forest Leadership Team member types? No, haven't seen any of them booking stays in the barracks in Sac or Redding." Since when to Forest Leadership teams meet in Sac or Redding, as far as I know most meet on their own Forest's, which limits the need for travel. On my forest, those that are not close enough to commute have been participating via teleconference.

"Oh how about the Regional Fuels Committee who just met last week they must of sucked it up and stayed in the Sac barracks and take one for the team! Nope." I attended this, commuted back and forth to Sac rather than stay there, plus numerous Forests did not attend at all due to travel ceiling.

"Dispatchers are all coming to Sac in a couple weeks? They must be scheduling to book up all the remaining barracks beds still available in Sac? Nope" Time will Tell. I know on my Forest, one Rep from our Dispatch office will be attending, when we normally would be sending them all.

"Training Officers? Nope, looking at a hotel in So Cal in May. Even though the Sac barracks will be mostly empty." Again, Time will tell, how many folks actually make it.

"Fire Planners will be there in April or May. Nope." Again, Time will tell..............

"Who is sacrificing the most TC? Who is agreeing to alternative lodging and who in overwhelming majority is not?" I due tend to agree with you here, that the Rank and file is taking the brunt of of this travel ceiling........... But on my Forest, that is where most of the historical travel has been taking place.


3/5 Time in Grade:


The terms "time in grade" (measurement of time) and "specialized experience" (experience required to do the job) aren't interchangeable terms.

You are correct, when applying to higher levels, the minimum "specialized experience" is required to apply. But........ when folks are hired in multi-grade (upward mobility) positions after meeting specialized experience..... the rules may be changing.

The proposed federal rules change (Federal Register, Nov. 2008) and corresponding explanation published in GovExec describe the rule change fairly well. It is (was) set to be in place with an effective date of March 9, 2009.

Here is an example of intent (as explained from someone within OPM) and modified to a wildland version:

An agency hires someone into a position on a GS-6/7 promotion opportunity. The person has a full year of specialized experience at the GS-5 level as a Senior Firefighter prior to being eligible and is selected.

The position to be occupied is that of a Fire Engine Operator (GS-7) and is filled through existing multi-grade (upward mobility) hiring authorities at the GS-6 level. The employee is initially promoted to GS-6, but once all agency required performance standards for that position are met (regardless of time in grade), the employee is elevated to full performance level in their position. In this case, GS-7.

This "rule change" did not come from the wildland fire community. It came from other agencies who frequently use "upward mobility" hiring authorities to hire GS-5/7/9, GS-7/9/11, and other similar multi-grade hiring flexibilities.

There is still some discussion if the final rules will be adopted by OPM, codified in the CFR, and published in the Federal Register.

The intent was for folks filling positions at a specific pay grade below full performance level on multi-grade (upward mobility) positions to be paid appropriately at the full performance level once fully qualified for their positions, regardless of outdated time in grade requirements formerly found in X-118.


3/4 Re Travel/lodging expenditure restrictions:

TC, no doubt. All are taking cuts in travel. However who is getting hit the hardest and who is being forced to look at alternative free barracks lodging and who is not when travel occurs. Who is saying "business as usual, lets have the lower grades sacrifice and balance our books". Who else in large numbers are looking at alternatives to lower travel costs? Lets see..........

The RLT? No, haven't ever seem them schedule a meeting in Sac or Redding with plans to shack up in the barracks.

The FAM BOD? No, haven't ever seem them schedule a meeting in Sac or Redding with plans to shack up in the barracks either.

The Forest Leadership Team member types? No, haven't seen any of them booking stays in the barracks in Sac or Redding.

Oh how about the Regional Fuels Committee who just met last week they must of sucked it up and stayed in the Sac barracks and take one for the team! Nope.

Dispatchers are all coming to Sac in a couple weeks? They must be scheduling to book up all the remaining barracks beds still available in Sac? Nope

Training Officers? Nope, looking at a hotel in So Cal in May. Even though the Sac barracks will be mostly empty.

Fire Planners will be there in April or May. Nope.

Although our Apprentices are currently using the Sac barracks, many rooms are still available and go empty everyday.

The sacrifice you speak of TC must have it's limits I guess.

Who is sacrificing the most TC? Who is agreeing to alternative lodging and who in overwhelming majority is not?

Rank has it's privileges or lack of leading by example?

One final thought TC. Do the math and think about how many of our rank and file firefighters across the region would of been able to travel and attend that fire class that was canceled on them, IF those groups previously mentioned used better judgment and lead by example when developing meetings and workshops.


3/4 Australia fires:

They did it!

Yesterday we made fire technology history by transmitting data collected on the fire directly to the Rescue Coordination Center in Melbourne located 60 miles (96 km?) away in real-time through a wireless connection. This critical information is synchronized into an ArcGIS server that planners and fire officials use to determine which areas have been searched thoroughly and which ones need to be re-visited. Maps are immediately created and shared between the emergency service agencies on a web viewer. We've talked about doing this for years but it took the Victoria Police Department to finally prove it can be performed by non-GIS savvy officers. Cheers to them for this geospatial break-through. I'll be honored to share this major accomplishment with anyone during the 10th Wildland Fire Safety Summit. See attached.

Fire Geek

Little video attached: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2009/australia/MobileGIS.wmv (4,914 K wmv file) Nice. Ab.

3/4 Has anyone hired an Australian Wildland Firefighter before? I hired a gentleman from Victoria (dual citizen by parent) and he just arrived with a pile of aussie wildland certificates. Is there a IQCS Crosswalk for Australian firefighters? I thought I would ask since we have a MOU with Australia. He is in entry level position (GS-0462-03) so I'm not looking to sign him off as a IC Type 1. I wouldn't ask the question if he didn't walk the talk.

For CYA, we enrolled him in the online 130/190 course and he took the I-100 and IS700. Since we burn weekly, he will have plenty field sessions.

Right Coast NPS
3/4 Ab,

Hi! Here's an official press release from FEMA and the White House on the Craig Fugate
nomination, in case you all are looking for the official word on the subject...

Be safe-
Inside the Beltway
From: FEMA-Employee-Communications
Sent: Wednesday, March 04, 2009 2:34 PM
To: All FEMA contractors and all FEMA employees
Subject: Craig Fugate to be nominated as FEMA Administrator

DHS Announcement:


Secretary Napolitano Announces Additional Key Homeland Security Staff (full document)
3/4 Ab,

Hi! I just saw this press release that the national labor union covering FEMA employees wrote, in reference to the new FEMA Director's nomination. I thought the fire folks on this board might appreciate this! Could be some big changes coming in emergency management - and that stuff has a big impact on fire resources for the big disasters...

- Standing By

March 4, 2009

Contact: Emily Ryan
(202) 639-6421
Leo Bosner
(202) 646-3496

AFGE to FEMA Nominee: We’ll Pick You Up!

Union applauds Obama choice for FEMA administrator

(WASHINGTON)—The announcement of Craig Fugate to head up FEMA couldn't have come at a better time, American Federation of Government Employees National President John Gage said today in response to President Obama’s announcement of intent to name Fugate FEMA administrator.

“The recent sexual harassment and retaliation scandal in the Louisiana FEMA office was just the tip of the iceberg,” said Leo Bosner, chief steward of AFGE FEMA Local 4060. “FEMA is rife with corruption and mismanagement, and our best employees continue to be discouraged and driven out by this.

“This is an agency still suffering from a failure in leadership, the heavy influence of political appointees, a lack of strategic direction and coordination, poor and unqualified management, over-reliance on contractors, undervaluation of employees, hostile work environments, wasteful spending, duplication of effort, and a systemic failure across the agency to integrate proven principles and concepts of emergency and incident management into programs and operations,” the Local wrote in its recent report, Shattering the Illusion of FEMA’s Progress.

“AFGE gets more complaints than ever from the employees, and we now have a half-dozen major grievances pending arbitration,” Bosner said. “FEMA is desperately in need of strong, experienced leadership to get us back on track, and we believe that Craig Fugate is the one to do this.

“How soon can he get here? Tell him to give me a call if he needs a ride from the airport. I'll pick him up myself,” Bosner added.


AFGE is the largest federal employee union representing 600,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia, including tens of thousands of DHS employees in agencies such as the Border Patrol, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Protective Service, FEMA and TSA.

3/4 AD's

Just a quick question about ADs and rental cars. Do we have to supply a rental
car to ADs to get to an assignment or do they get there, then get a car?

3/4 NPS capt,

Time in grade has been removed by OPM, BUT there is a one year of specialized experience at lower grade level still required. So you need to have a year as a firefighter in that position. This is the way I understood it. Here is the original federal register on this item from OPM. It is dated 1995. Ah the speed of government particularly the OPM. Took till 2009 for it to finally happen! Interesting tidbit on the history of Time in Grade in the federal register (28K pdf file). Actually very interesting reading!


3/4 Ab and All,

Hi! This just came in from: www.baynews9.com/content/36/2009/3/4/444403.phpl

Fla. emergency chief Obama's pick to head FEMA
Wednesday, March 4, 2009

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida emergency management director Craig Fugate is President Barack Obama's choice to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency. An official close to the announcement said on condition of anonymity Wednesday that appointment would be made public later Wednesday. Fugate was named director of Florida's Division of Emergency Management in 2001 by former Gov. Jeb Bush and retained by the current governor, Charlie Crist. He previously served as the assistant director for nearly five years. Fugate has been praised for his efforts steering Florida successfully through numerous hurricanes in the past decade.
3/4 So who’s got the scoop on the 2009 AD rates?? Are ADs going to get time-and-a-half?

Or do I need to Blackberry my good friend and Commander-in-Chief Barack to get Salazar,
Napolitino, and Vilsack squared away on this long-standing issue.

Hmmmm … now there’s an idea with merit, especially with Ken Salazar being my ex-Senator
and acquaintance.

Hugh Carson
3/4 Hey all,

I was wondering if anyone knew the status of the USFS "Mag 7" national ships for the
coming year... last I had heard the S-61 contracts were suspended or something? Can
anyone give me an update on what might be going on for the coming season?

Young and Still Learning
3/4 Re Hotshot GS-7

It is my understanding that OPM has done away with time and grade effective
March 9, 2009...upward mobility will now be based on meeting NWCG
qualifications for the position.

NPS Cap'n
3/4 Ab, et al,

I will try to give my two cents on the upgrade of IHC squaddies from GS-6 to GS-7.

My understanding is that the IHC squad leader is changing to a dual grade position, a
6/7. So entry level is GS-6 and after 12 months in grade, and a successful evaluation,
the person is eligible for the upgrade to the GS-7.

For those already in as a GS-6 and with enough time in grade, they can be
non-competitively upgraded to the GS-7.

This has been in the works for years and is still not finalized as far as the national P.D.
is what I've heard, but is basically going to happen soon.

Also this is just for the IHC world as far as I know. The thought I beleive was to
create a continuous ladder from the GS-3/4's to the Lead 5's to the squad leaders
and fix the gap between squaddies and Assistants.

Again, this is my current understanding, but it makes sense to me.

Thanks for the forum, good luck to all,

3/4 Re Hotshot GS-7

Well the only way i see moving up to the squad boss position is to become
an A.F.E.O. first.


3/4 Re Travel/lodging expenditure restrictions:


I think you're overstating and stereotyping in your statements.

I did lose all respect for the RLT and Regional Forester in respect to the location for their last meeting. However, I do know that many employees including ones you stated are staying in motels & resorts, are taking serious cuts in their travel. I've seen many folks commuting back and forth to meetings, where in the past they would stay in motels. I've also seen BOD and other committee members, canceling their attendance at meetings due to the travel ceiling.............


3/4 Rank Has Its Privilege... or Lack of Leading by Example?

Can someone explain to me why in a year of unprecedented restriction on travel expenditures:

Regional Leadership Team members stay at resorts and hotels.
When Forest Leadership Teams members travel they stay in resorts and hotels.
Recreation and Resource Officers meet, they stay in resorts and hotels.
When regional committees travel they stay in resorts and hotels.
When regional groups such as our Fire BOD travel they stay in resorts and hotels.
Work groups such as the Dispatchers, Fuels committee, Fire Planners and Training Officers travel they stay at resorts and hotels.


When lower grade employees travel this year many are being told to stay in barracks.

Have any of these groups thought of holding a meeting in Sac or Redding and staying in the barracks?

I wonder what would happen if the lower grade employee or all lower grade employees, when told to stay in the barracks said, "no, If you want me to travel, I will stay in a location of my choice in accordance with federal travel regulations."

Rank has it's privilege or lack of leading by example?


3/4 An Uphill Challenge for Australian Fire Relief Fund – Deadline of March 11, 2009

I am rather dismayed at the lack of funds being donated to the Australian Firefighter Relief fund sponsored by the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. After stopping in to say hello to Vicki Minor today & drop off my donation, I was horrified to hear that to date only 9 (NINE ) people have donated to the fund for a grand total of $2000.00 – please note that one person alone had donated the original $1000.00.

Pathetic – NINE people!

I know times are hard and we are all worried about feeding our families, pets, keeping our homes, automobiles, etc, however I believe if we have the funds to buy ourselves a $5.00 mocha-frocha-frappa-lappa-chino something or a six pack of beer, then we have enough money to help donate to our brothers/sisters who are in desperate need of money and moral support “Down Under”. Every little bit helps, so if you aren’t able to donate much, donate whatever you can afford, $5.00, $10.00 or more. Let’s pay if forward – I know the Australian’s and New Zealander’s who have visited our country have combined their monies to donate thousands of dollars to Club 52; buying memberships, t-shirts, sweatshirts, other memorabilia and flat out donating cold hard cash.

Come on folks, break out the checkbooks, debit cards or whatever and give the Wildland Firefighter Foundation a call or pay online (designate Australian Relief Fund). All money is tax deductible and 100% of the funds donated will go directly to the Australian Firefighters. For more information and more importantly to donate, please go directly to www.wffoundation.org and click on Australian Relief Fund. We are working on a deadline – March 11, 2009 so a check can be presented to “top officials” during a countrywide day of remembrance, celebration and charity events for those burned out of their homes/communities. If enough money is donated, Vicki Minor will pay her own way over to Australia with her own cash and personally hand over the check and represent the good will of the Wildland Fire Community and People of the Great United States of America!

The challenge is on – now get moving folks! Tick -Tock the clock is running out.

I am enclosing an email from a firefighter in Australia – please read and think about what would happen if the roles were reversed and we were the ones who had whole communities annihilated & lost not only our homes but family members, friends and our way of life.

I was so touched by this, and on behalf of the many thousands of
firefighters in this country, may I express my sincere gratitude! It
is so great to see such support from those abroad in this industry,
and the strong ties between Australia and the United States . The
thoughtfulness of your citizens will go a long way in assisting in the
long road to recovery. As we brace today for an expected repeat of
'Black Saturday' conditions, it is support like this that truly helps
us pull through.

With heartfelt thanks,

Kate Nicolson
Volunteer Firefighter, Australia

Get Moving – Pay It Forward! Stop the inaction – get into action!

Remember Compassion Spreads Like Wildfire!!!

Badger Girl

3/4 Sent in by a SD FF:

$475K grant funds Black Hills air tanker bases

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) The agency that responds to forest fires on state land in the Black Hills will use a federal grant to beef up its air tanker bases.

The Division of Wildland Fire Suppression received $475,000 from the U.S. Forest Service. The state agency said the money will be used to upgrade six single-engine air tanker bases with new retardant mixing equipment, storage tanks and temporary housing for flight crews. The remaining funds go toward training, equipment and refurbishing crew vehicles used by the state's two 20-person hand crews.

3/3 Australia fires:

New aerial photos and 7 sec video clips from OB



in relation to the pics/vids, what I have tried to capture is not just the active fire but all the brown tracts of fire scar where the fire hasn't necessarily crowned but has caused all the leaves of the eucalypts to die from the ground fire. There were other sections which are commercial forests where pine has been planted which had been turned in to sticks, but that was both the pines & eucs, and mainly on the front range where it risks from the flat lands (see attached pic - didn't send originally as it's just too hazy - Melbourne is off to the top rightish).



Thanks, Mate. I corrected the pics for the smoky haze in Photoshop. Ab.

3/3 Ab,

Here is a link to the news coverage of the first International Aerial Firefighting
conference, held  in Anaheim on February 19th and 20th.


Cal Fire Jake

Nice video. Last year's conference was held in Greece. Ab.

3/3 Re Hotshot GS-7

If there is no longer a GS-6 Squad Leader position on hotshot crews, how do GS-5 Senior
Firefighters move into the GS-7 position? Wouldn't there be a time-in-grade issue?


3/3 U.S. Interagency BAER Teams -- 2nd Update on R5 Web:

US Support to Australia Stories on the Internet:






Wanted to update everyone about the following sessions just added to the WUI 2009 conference, March 22-26 in Reno, NV:
Sunrise Bonus Session – A Briefing: The 2009 Victoria Wildland Fires  – The recent Australian fires were directly responsible for 200 deaths and the destruction of over 1,800 homes. Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service will provide an informal briefing about these treacherous fires.
Defining the True Costs of Wildland Fire  Now more than ever, the true cost of wildland fires must be examined to demonstrate wise and efficient investment in suppression and pre-suppression activities. Discussion of this new report by the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition will analyze and explore the policy implications of a true-cost approach to wildland-fire management activities.
How to Get Started on a Fire-Safe Council  – Get information on how to organize a fire-safe council in your state. See how the California and Nevada councils got started, how they were organized and how they’re functioning today.
For the full conference brochure and to register, visit www.iafc.org/wui

3/3 Reply to the Kelly York video question is here on the hotlist:


Thanks Gizmo. Ab.

3/3 Answer to GS-6 question:

Dear -dazed and confused,

They did not faze out the GS-0462-06 positions on the handcrews, they promoted them to GS-0462-07's. IF you held the position before you where non competitively placed in the 7 slot, basically just gave them a raise and all vacant positions are being flown as the GS 7. One side note of concern though is it is a new position it has not been approved to be under fire retirement....yet. Though it will eventually, they are projecting 2 to 3 years before it is final, my forest is encouraging all squaddies to save their T&As for when they retire. Hope this helps.


3/3 Australia Fires, who went from the US:


Are you asking about the first round that was sent to AU a few weeks ago?

If so, the "hotshot crew" was an interagency type 2 crew composed of mostly individual firefighters
from throughout Regions 1, 4, and 6 who had personal Passports.

The other 40 folks mostly consisted of BAER team members.

The Passport issue seemed to be a huge barrier again, even though, the Department of State
has very streamlined processes for Official Govt. Travel Passports in support of humanitarian
aid or emergency response.


3/3 Re Legal question and Something Positive.. Upbeat stories...


I spent a few minutes today catching up with a friend from one of my old districts. As always we sounded like a couple of teenage girls (no offence to the ladies out there) talking about old times and catching up on the latest news. He told me about how one of the guys on the district had recently been fired. I asked him why and the answer kind of confused me. From what I had been told this person had gotten into a little legal trouble. It happened on his own time and didn't have any connection with the agency he worked for. By the sound of it, the legal situation wasn't going to have any effect on this person performing his duties in the future. BUT the agency fired him because of it. I am having a hard time understanding how the agency can justify this action. I will be the first one to say that my knowledge of the business side of fire is somewhat limited, but to me this didn't sound very legal? I have never meet this person but I hate to see someone get a kick in the butt like that.

On more of a upbeat side, here is a short story of a very funny situation that we had after a fire years ago.

After being on a small fire for two days my crew and I started heading back to our home station. We decided to stop at a Pizza Hut for some dinner. We had a great feast of pizza, hot wings and pepsi. It was kind of a small celebration of a job well done and being able to eat off of real plates and not out of plastic MRE bags. After our fancy meal we headed home, it was only about a hours drive through the desert or so we thought. About halfway home, one of the crew members stated "hey if I tell you to pull over, pull over please" OK no problem so far. Well no more then 30 sec later, all we heard was this crewmember screaming "PULL OVER, PULL OVER NOW!!!!!!!!!!! and the truck came to a screeching halt. He jumped out of the rig and started the run of his life through the desert. He was almost like Jesus, instead of walking on water he was running on sage brush. He finally disappeared in a sea of rolling sage. About ten minutes later this moppy headed kid magically appeared out of the bushes and started making his way back BUT he was walking a little funny. Once he got back to the truck all he said was "I'll ride in the bed of the truck". Not another word was said except for four guys laughing our heads off. So long story short, all the greasy pizza, hot wings and pop let loose the flood gates of a prior two day MRE hell. The next part of this story was like the scene from Rambo Part One, where John Rambo was in the jail and the cops were giving him a shower with the fire hose. If you have watched that classic movie then you know what I am talking about. Instead of a muscle man John Rambo and crooked cops, we had a goofy moppy headed kid and four firefighters laughing their heads off.

Just another day in the life of our country's bravest.


3/2 Australia Fires:

Any word on what hotshot crew(s) is being sent to Australia?
And any word on the other team members?


3/2 The President's 2010 Budget Was Released

Here are three Forest Service initiatives in the budget (p3 of the 6 pages, 247 K pdf file):

* Protects the Nation’s forests. The Budget reflects the President’s commitment to protecting and restoring our national forests as a cornerstone of a healthy, sustainable environment. The Budget provides a $50 million increase (plus inflation) for national forest operations to protect natural resources and maintain facilities, including those that are restored with 2009 American recovery and reinvestment Act investments.

* Responsibly Budgets for Wildfires. The Budget fully funds the 10-year average suppression costs, establishes a discretionary funding reserve, and ensures fire management resources are used in a cost-effective manner in high-priority areas. The $282 million discretionary contingent reserve provides funding for firefighting when the $1.1 billion appropriated 10-year average is exhausted. This proposal will ensure that fire management resources are sufficient to allow for other critical Forest Service activities.

* Conserves New Lands. The Budget includes $119 million, a $34 million increase, in Forest Service funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund to acquire easements on forested lands under significant development pressures. These conservation easements will protect air and water quality, provide access to national forests, and provide habitat for threatened or endangered wildlife and fish.

3/2 Throwing in the Towel Comment

Mr Diaz, I too would never think of you as throwing in the towel. Knowing Mr. Diaz, his
concerns about not hearing anything concrete from the region on the retention items under
review probably relate to his concern for his employees he is leaving behind and the many
other employees he represents.

I congratulate you, wish you the very best. See you on the big one and might I add one
more thing............. good choice.

Fed Letterman
3/2 Phasing out the GS-6 positions on IHCs?

Heard from a IHC crew cap't that the FS is phasing out the gs-6 positions on IHCs?
Looking thru avue, there's no listing for IHC gs-462-6 leads? What gives? But the lead
forestry tech -6 is still available for handcrew positions in Region 5?

Open slots at NIJAC? Region retention problems? 100's of GS-7's open nationwide?
Anyone else see a connection here? Maybe there's enough squaddies now region wide
and the feds closing the door to appointments in favor of NIJAC details?

Personally I don't care about the money, but when you spend 5 years of your life
targeting a GS-6, as a goal, and the position is phased out.... morale?

-dazed and confused

3/2 Making the rounds in norcal, seems pertinent:

Mechanized Equipment for Fire and Fuels Operation - 2009 yellow book and training academy update

Below is an update on the 2009 "Yellow Book", i.e., Mechanized Equipment for Fire and Fuels Operation" reference and training booklet. They are really trying to make this a useful document, and as it says below:

"Contractors and firefighters who have worked in California, the Northwest and Rocky Mountain areas, using mechanized equipment for fire/fuels reduction experience (particularly logging equipment) are welcome to submit details for inclusion in the directory. All related anecdotal details regarding field and operation successes are welcome for consideration as content."

I checked with <snip name> and she would like to see these submitted stories by mid-March for the 2009 version. Ones received after that will be considered for the subsequent version. She also said that, along with these success stories, photos of equipment, in action, would be much appreciated. And please pass this on to your timber/veg folks, if appropriate


Two announcements that may interest you and others in your area. Please feel free to broadcast. VJ

1. 2009 Mechanized Equipment For Fire and Fuels Operations

We're moving forward to update and expand the 2009 Mechanized Equipment for Fire and Fuels Operations (yellow book) reference and training booklet. Although no associated 2009 in-woods demo is currently planned, an updated version of the popular document will be available this Spring. A copy of the 2008 version is available for review and downloading at www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/MEFFO.pdf.

The 2009 edition will include additional field cases, operational scenarios, equipment applications, and a contractor directory covering the Northwest and Rockies regions. Partial funding has already been secured from associations and organizations representing equipment contractors. Tea Gardens Technology, LLC will again donate her professional writing and coordination services to compile and deliver an electronic version and limited printed editions of the 2009 document.

Contractors and firefighters who have worked in California, the Northwest and Rocky Mountain areas, using mechanized equipment for fire/fuels reduction experience (particularly logging equipment) are welcome to submit details for inclusion in the directory. All related anecdotal details regarding field and operation successes are welcome for consideration as content.

2. Montana Academy for Mechanized Equipment Training

Senator Dave Lewis introduced SB 107 to expand the mission of the Montana Fire School to include fire suppression training with mechanized equipment (i.e. logging equipment). SB 107 (http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2009/billhtml/SB0107.php) was passed by the Senate and is now in the House. If it passes the House Natural Resources Committee after a hearing on March 9th, the bill will be heard for passage by the entire House.

3/2 from Mark...

----- Forwarded by Mark W Davis/FPL/USDAFS on 03/02/2009 09:13 AM -----NFFE
Sent by: Mark W Davis
02/27/2009 03:31 PM
Subject: Congressional testimony on morale - deadline extended

Exec Bd, Local Officials, & Legislative Committee members,

Thanks for some excellent accounts and perspectives. I’d like to extend the comment period through the end of next week. I’ll be drafting the testimony next week, so the earlier in the week I get your info the more likely I’ll be able to use it. So, while I don’t want to close the door with a hard and fast deadline, please get your comments to me ASAP. In fact, hopefully I'm getting this into your inbox in time for you to think about what to share over the weekend.

Also, please send your comments to nffe@fs.fed.us. My personal email inbox is exploding, so your comments may get lost if you don’t use the nffe inbox.

Finally, I want to give an example of what I’m looking for.

* First, I need concrete accounts. Conclusionary statements (like, centralization of HR has been a disaster) are not particularly helpful. You need to tell me a story that explains how you have reached your conclusion. Make me believe, and I'll try to make them believe.
* Second, if you have documentation to back up your statements, please provide it.
* Third, if you have a global perspective (what's wrong and how to fix it), please provide it. But it needs to come with a story!

Finally, and my apologies for not making this clear earlier, please feel free to forward this to anyone you think may have valuable insights to share. It is no secret that Congress comes to us for our perspectives on how to make the Forest Service both a better place to work and more effective in caring for the land and serving people. Plus, valuable insights can come from anyone -- and we are interested in collecting all we can. Our ability to move this debate in the right direction depends on your ability to communicate to us what the right direction is!

Thanks in advance for your help with this.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
This was posted on Friday on theysaid but I am reposting it to expedite the process. Ab.

Sent by: Mark W Davis
02/26/2009 12:21 PM
Subject: Congressional testimony on morale

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

3/2 Australia bushfires:


I have flown down today and had a window seat in front of the wings.

An eye opener - I hope the footage I have taken will work (unfortunately the camera is getting on & has been playing up & unfortunately the work laptop doesn't have a card reader). Suffice it to say that the areas burnt are huge and the fires are still going well as were a number of other little spots.

The Victorian authorities declared a Total Fire Ban (TOBAN) day today just to reduce the number of fires that may be lit prior to the weather tomorrow. The weather tomorrow is not meant to be as hot as Black Saturday (personally I prefer Sad Saturday) but the winds are expected to run at between 60-80km/h with gusts to 120-150km/h. I am actually wondering if I am going to be able to get back home tomorrow. If these winds eventuate from the number of fires burning I could see (from one side of an aircraft at 15,000+ft), it is going to be all kinds of pear shaped. I have 2 members from my brigade staging in Albury in NSW on the border as a rapid response crew and other mates staging in Geelong (west of Melbourne) as another response group. The wind is scheduled to arrive early morning tomorrow so will give a weather update. I know someone posted to the Hotlist the CFA scanning website which may make an interesting (or devastating) listening tomorrow.

Will provide weather update tomorrow on the trip home & pics when I (hopefully) get back.



Thanks for the update OB. Best wishes to all. Be safe. Ab.

3/2 Need a CAL FIRE video:

Good Day,

Looking to find where to order/purchase a copy of the

A Firefighter's Return from a Burn-over: The Kelly York Story.

Would you have any link to a website, email address or mailing address where we
can purchase a copy of the video? Would like to get a copy to bring back to our
fire services.

Thank you,
Joe deRyk
Malahide Fire Services

Good morning to Ontario, Canada. That is a California Division of Forestry (now CAL FIRE) video that came out in 1996. I'll post this on the hotlist as well, since many CAL FIRE firefighters read there. Ab.

3/2 Otradave: You're right, it was "Suppression and Rescue" (S&R).

Mr. Diaz,
Good luck to you with CDF. One can look at things in several ways, either positive or negative. I would not say it is you who is "Throwing in the Towel."

Nothing wrong with improving yourself, your career and your working conditions. I know many topnotch USFS employees who have left the agency and gone to CDF or other fire service agencies. The exodus of these employees has certainly been a loss to forest service fire management. Maybe the USFS "Regional and national leadership" doesn't really care?

Anyway, all the best to you,

Magruder Fingers

3/2 Congressional Contact Info:

Quick Connect:

If you want, email me and let me know who the person/staff contact is. Regardless of
the impact of wildfires on the congressional district, there is a substantial impact on
her/his constituents as taxpayers.

Sometimes depending on the reception I get in any given office the marketing strategy
needs to be adjusted. I would almost guarantee that his the member of congress heard
from enough of his/her constituents, the interest level might increase.

Let me know if I can assist in anyway. You can email me at cjudd@fwfsa.org


3/2 So........Am I making 10% retention today?

3/1 Congressional Contact Info:

What if the Congressman/woman a constituent has worked with in the past, either
doesn't show much support, or doesn't seem to care about the topics you bring to
his or her attention? What is the next step?
Quick Connect

3/1 For those Aussie firefighters and families monitoring their family and friends'
reactions to stress, here's a handy chart:

Stress Reactions:  Physical, Cognitive, Emotional and Behavioral

My best to you all. Thanks for the briefing info OB, Fire Geek, Kanga & Roo.


3/1 Casey's Congressional Contact Plea

Casey wrote:

“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.”

I can’t tell you how important it is that we all follow up on this. The most effective results are from a personal letter (using Casey’s suggested verbiage as a template around which you add the “personal touch”)

Best means of contact, in descending order of attention given, are:

  1. Fax (snail mail may not reach your rep in time due to the screening of all mail resulting from the anthrax scares a few years ago). There’s nothing like a 2’ high stack of hard-copy constituent letters to get a politician’s attention)
  2. E-Mail

Casey, you are awesome: less than a month after bypass surgery, you’ve cowboy’d up and are back on the case. (But did anyone out there think Casey would do any differently??!!)

But the watch the stress, dude – it’s a killer. And that’s from someone who’s been there, done that.


Hugh Carson

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