May, 2009

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5/31 Topic: Investigations/APAs and Centralized Fire Management

Misery Whip has a good point about having qualifications examined. You would hope that Line Officer Team Leaders would at lest use the correct policy as references, prior to examining Firefighter qualifications. Setting aside the PLs, CFRs and any other legal discussion surrounding investigations, I would like to offer another reason, a simple example, of why we should not have Line Officers within our chain of command and leading our investigations and APAs. I have no CFRs to reference, no PLs, just results from some reading and research.

The Chalk Fire APA is posted on multiple official government websites, including the Lessons Learned Center and in this forum. The Chalk Fire APA was lead by Line Officer Jody Noiron. Pg 2 of the Chalk APA outlines the objectives: "The objective of this report is to provide an opportunity to learn from this incident. The APA focuses on the organizational and cultural factors that can be identified as causal to this accident."

The Chalk Fire APA references a May 22, 2006 letter 7 times. Including references that Firefighter were not in compliance and did not adhere to the May 22, 2006 R-5 staffing policy letter.

Unfortunately, the May 22, 2006 letter by the R-5 Regional Forester was superseded by a new letter on July 10, 2006. The Line Officer team leader has made a serious error. The primary difference between the two letters is the ENOP qualification and the two CDL requirements. ENOP is referenced 11 times in the APA.

The Story as Mr. Moore calls the Chalk APA is not the full story, it's an incomplete story and it's an incorrect story. A portion of the APA team interviews, questions, opinions, deliberations and recommendations were formed and guided by an invalid policy letter.

What is R-5 going to do about this error? Withdraw the Chalk Fire APA? Reconvene the APA team members to correct this analysis? The Wildland Fire Community is watching your next step.

I wonder what our legislators, litigators and department leaders would think about this?

When will the madness end?

"Forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)


Centralize Fire Management, Today, Tomorrow and Forever!

Portions of the Chalk Fire APA

Pg 19
Both Driver and Acting Captain were not adhering to the Regional letter of direction set forth in May 22, 2006 ("each of the leadership employees will need a commercial Class B License with appropriate endorsements" ). The Acting Chalk Fire Engine 56 Rollover Accident Prevention Analysis Report 20 Captain's OF346 had not been issued by the San Bernardino National Forest , it was issued by the Cleveland National Forest (CNF).

Pg 27
The Pacific Southwest Region will develop a written Training, Qualifications, and Requirement standard that compiles and aligns: current standard position descriptions, 5109.17 qualifications, letters of direction (May 22, 2006 Pacific Southwest Region Engine Staffing ), and Interagency Standards for Fire and Aviation Operations specific to the Engine Captain and Engine Operator positions on Type III Engine Modules. This action should develop consistent and clearly understood direction describing the function and qualification of each position, regionwide.

Pg. 27
Regional Letter of Direction: Two (2) leadership positions, 1 Engine Boss, 1 Engine Operator both with Class B Commercial Drivers License and endorsements and three (3) firefighters (per May 22, 2006 letter).

Pg. 27
Regional Letter of Direction: Two (2) leadership positions, 1 Engine Boss, 1 Engine Operator both with Class B Commercial Drivers License and endorsements and three (3) firefighters (per May 22, 2006 letter).

Pg. 37
An issue was identified by the APA team regarding mobilization of E56 without two (2) qualified drivers on the Type III Engine. During the analysis process of the CABDFE56 Rollover, both the Acting Captain and Assistant Fire Engine Operator did not meet the training qualifications set forth by the Position Descriptions, Fire and Aviation Management Handbook (5109.17), Forest Service Handbook (7109.19), Forest Service Manual (5100), and the Regional letter of direction dated May 2006.

Pg. 37
Region letter of direction set forth in May 22, 2006.

Two (2) leadership positions, 1 ENGB, 1 ENOP both with Class B Commercial Drivers Licenses and three (3) firefighters (per May 22, 2006 letter). Each of the leadership employees will need a Commercial Class B License with appropriate endorsements.

Pg. 18 and 19
Engine 56 Driver and Acting Captain were not in compliance with the qualification requirements unique to the following:

  • Regional letter of direction set forth in May 22, 2006.

File Code: 5100
Date: May 22, 2006
Subject: Region 5 Engine Staffing
To: Forest Supervisors

The Region 5 standard module configuration plan is to staff Type Three Engines with five (5) firefighters assigned per engine every day. Staffing will include two (2) leadership positions and three (3) firefighters; this is commonly referred to as 5.0 staffing. The leadership positions are identified as follows: one (1) engine boss (ENGB) and one (1) engine operator (ENOP). Each of the leadership employees will need a Commercial Class B License with appropriate endorsements.

The intent of this direction is to:

·Provide a safe working environment for our employees and the public by providing sufficient supervision and oversight on Type Three Engines on a daily basis.

·Ensure engine modules used for fire suppression are trained to established standards and are accompanied by a qualified supervisor, an engine operator and three firefighters each day (5.0 staffing).

·Engines will not be dispatched to off unit assignments with less than 5.0 staffing.

·Allow an engine to respond on the home unit with fewer personnel than the regional standard when the Forest Duty Officer deems it necessary. This decision will be based on the Specific Action and Staffing Guide contained within the Fire Management Plan. Weather conditions, time of year, time of day, (before or after normal duty hours), will be taken into account. Fewer personnel will also be sent when the situation indicates that it would be prudent to respond to an incident with less staffing than the regional standard. Vacant positions alone are not sufficient justification for exemptions.

Engine supervisors will be career employees on continuing appointments. On the regular supervisor's day off qualified career employees will serve as an alternate supervisor. If no qualified supervisor is present the module will be out of service and not available for fire dispatch.

If you have questions regarding this engine staffing standard, contact Ray Quintanar at 707-562-8927.

/s/ Thomas L. Tidwell (for)
Regional Forester

File Code: 5100
Date: July 10, 2006
Subject: Region 5 Engine Module Configuration Requirements
To: Forest Supervisors

Operating under the direction issued in the Region 5 Engine Staffing letter issued on May 22, 2006, has resulted in some unintended consequences negatively affecting program agility, budget, and capability to provide interagency support. In response, I am superseding the May 22, 2006 letter. The purpose of this direction is to meet the intent of that letter by providing adequate leadership on our engines, and simultaneously improve our organizational capacity and ability to respond. Of course, crew safety will always be the primary consideration when applying this direction.

The Region 5 Standard Fire and Fuels Management Module Organization (SFFMMO) was developed by the Fire and Aviation Management Board of Directors (BOD) and outlined in the March 29, 2005 letter with subject "Standard Fire and Fuels Management Module Organization". The SFFMMO was approved by each Forest Supervisor, the Regional Fire Staff, and the BOD. The standard was developed to provide a cost-effective way of doing business while continuing to provide safety, leadership and operational effectiveness on the modules. The Region 5 standard module configuration has not changed; Region 5 will continue to follow the SFFMMO.

According to the SFFMMO, the standard staffing for Type III engines is five fire personnel per day, seven days per week. This is commonly referred to as 5.0 staffing. The daily configuration for 5.0 staffing continues to include an Engine Boss (ENGB) who is not driving the engine and a qualified driver with Class B license and appropriate endorsements. The remaining three positions are comprised of a combination of senior firefighters, an apprentice, and a temporary position as displayed in the SFFMMO.

Exceptions to the SFFMMO for Type III Engines:

1. Based on the unavailability of module personnel due to fire assignments, illness, or annual leave, the Duty Officer may direct an engine to respond to an incident while deviating from the standard 5.0 staffing. The minimum staffing level under this scenario will consist of a qualified Engine Boss (ENGB) who is not driving the engine, a qualified driver with Class B license and appropriate endorsements, and an additional qualified firefighter.
2. Under rare circumstances, limited to initial attack on the home unit and when outside the normal work day, a Duty Officer may dispatch an engine staffed only by a qualified Engine Boss (ENGB) with a Class B license and appropriate endorsements, and two additional qualified firefighters.

In order to determine the effects of implementing this direction, the attached monitoring plan must be completed and maintained between now and the end of November. The results will be reviewed and discussed by the BOD at their regularly scheduled meeting in December, where they will develop a recommendation as to whether to finalize this direction as a supplemental directive prior to fire season 2007.

Any questions or comments regarding this letter should be directed to Ed Hollenshead, Acting Regional FAM Director, at 707-562-8925. The March 2005 letter, associated attachments, and the May 2006 letter are enclosed for reference purposes.

/s/ Beth G. Pendleton (for)
Regional Forester

5/31 Misery Whip,

I think we are in violent agreement.

You stated that you believed I wanted to place all the burden on individuals. I don't. I believe (as you) that "responsible organizations are willing to look honestly at every facet of their operations".

I now see that you too would hold individuals accountable.

It will take both.
By the way, every ICT3 that went through the STEX refresher (in my region) filled out an anonymous evaluation form for the exercise. Not one felt the evaluation was unfair (even those who failed). Perhaps you should not have had a cadre who was "unrehearsed" conducting the STEX.


5/31 Hey all,

Does anyone know what happened to the OPM time-in-grade requirements? I did a quick Google search and found this:


Is this correct? I'm not familiar with the site, and have no idea as to the validity of the article. The last official update I saw was that the implementation date for removing the time-in-grade requirement was mid-May...


Young and Still Learning

5/31 Vacancy announcements for GS-462-12, Forest FMO with target potential to the GS-401-13 will be cancelled. A new announcement will be issued for Forest FMO as a GS-401-12/13.

So, correct me if I'm wrong, the Forest Service spent over $10 million to implement a failed program called IFPM based upon recommendations initially from the South Canyon Fire (1994) to "professionalize" .... only to return to status quo that denies a person who advanced through the ranks as a firefighter (GS-2 through GS-12) isn't qualified to be a Forest Fire Management Officer?

I'd bet that a new "wildland firefighter" occupational series might be needed and far less costly?

If someone can become a District Ranger with no Resource Management experience and somehow trump (through Line Authority) fire manager decisions, there shouldn't be a "cap" at the GS-12 level.


5/31 Re: Hazardous Duty Differential (aka Hazard Pay)

Still out there,

I am not familiar with the HD letter or memo you are referencing, but it must have been important.

There appears to be a change in the "limited control flights" portion in Appendix A that removed the below 500 ft. AGL wording in regards to "low level fixed or tactical patterns" during low level flight. Appendix A (below) is the list of what qualifies as HP.

Personally, I like the change as it removes the "carrot" from folks (firefighters/us) who enter into the "Deadman's Curve" only to get HP while enticing a pilot into a known error trap of judgment. Don't get me wrong, there are times when it is needed to fly low level fixed or tactical missions.... just very rarely. In those circumstances of need, HP should be authorized such as in the case of Lead Planes and ASM modules. Low level helicopter recons for "Ops folks" is rarely justifiable if a risk vs. gain analysis is completed, but sometimes is needed.

A complete list of duties that qualify for Hazardous Duty Differential is found here under Schedule A, 5 CFR 550: OPM Hazard Duty (pdf)

Noname OSC2

Note: I rarely use Wikipedia as a factual source, but it does have an excellent description and example of why to avoid the Deadman's Curve / Height-Velocity Curve. Each helicopter performs differently. Each pilot also performs differently.

"Every helicopter operating handbook will have a height velocity curve published in the Performance section of the handbook. The height velocity (or dead mans) curve is a chart which illustrates which combinations of altitude and airspeed allow a safe autorotational landing in the event of engine failure." - Height vs Velocity Curve - Helicopters

5/30 Here's JP Harris'

LCES Flowchart.

Thanks, JP.


Also WUI Structure Categories, Tactics and Strategies (324 K pdf file; Ab reduced the size/clarity for easier download)

5/30 OFG,

No one is arguing that firefighters shouldn't be held accountable for making errors in judgment, or have their qualifications examined and abilities tested if they commit serious errors in judgment. But you seem to be arguing that accountability stops with the people at the sharp end of the spear, which is patently unfair because it does nothing to address underlying organizational shortcomings that contribute to most accidents.

In high-functioning organizations with healthy cultures, identifying who made critical errors is just the beginning of the process. Good organizations are more interested in finding out what happened and why an error occurred than in fixing blame on individuals because they realize most organizational accidents have a very significant management component, and that well-intentioned people sometimes make terrible mistakes for reasons that may be very complex and not completely their fault.

Responsible organizations are willing to look honestly at every facet of their operations, on every level up to and including the leader, if they can discover something that will prevent another accident. We are so far from that condition it isn't even funny. If you really want your kid to be safe, the question you should be asking is, "would I want my son/daughter to work for this Chief of the Forest Service?"

Too bad you used the example of STEX testing ICT3’s, because that was another dumb, knee-jerk management reaction that transformed a wonderful teaching tool into an unrehearsed, do-or-die test for all ICT3s. STEX are a great tool, but a lot of good firefighters still have a bad taste in their mouths over how the post-Cramer ICT3 STEX "evaluations" were conducted. And that doesn't even include people like me who chose to remove that qualification and others from their red cards in recent years.

I disagree with your assessment that a lack of accountability is why we are where we are today. I wouldn't mind debating you some time on what really lead to PL 107-203 and our current sorry state but I'd rather go enjoy what is left of this fine day.

Misery Whip

5/30 Ab,

Hadn't seen this bit of info out on Theysaid yet so here you go. The latest and greatest edict on the 401 series saga.


U.S. Forest Service
Information Sheet
401/462 Issue Resolution for IG Management Alert

The following actions will be in place during this interim period referenced by the Chief’s memo (6130/6150/5100 Interagency/FS Fire Program Management and Fire Management Positions ) . These are short-term measures needed to fill vacant positions and maintain agency operations while dedicated wildland fire management classification series are developed.

1. The requirement to meet 401 education requirements by October 1, 2010 is suspended. No incumbents in 462, other Interagency, or FS Fire Program Management (IFPM) positions targeted for placement in the 401 series will be removed from their 462 positions for failure to meet 401 requirements.

2. The portion of the “IFPM Conditions of Employment” agreement requiring education qualifications for the 401 series is hereby not required as a condition of employment. The requirement to meet NWCG qualifications by 10/1/2010 is still valid.

3. Fire Planner and Fire Ecologist positions that have historically been classified in the 401 series will continue to be filled in the 401 series.

4. Referral lists for 401 and companion 462 lists for the following positions will be cancelled and re-issued. All announcements for the positions listed below, with the exception of Fire Planner and Fire Ecologist positions as noted in number 3, will be closed and re-issued as 462 only. Re-advertisement of 462 positions is necessary because the target position is no longer a 401. As IFPM positions currently classified as 401 positions become vacant, they will be filled consistent with these re-issued announcements.

a. All IFPM and FSFPM positions at GS-12 and below will be re-issued as 462 positions, including FMO, AFMO, DFMO, DAFMO and Prescribed Fire/Fuel positions.
b. All Dispatch positions at the GS-12 and below, including Forest/Unit Center Manager and Assistant Manager positions, will be re-issued as 462 positions.

5. Employees in career-ladder 401 positions not at the target grade level may be promoted to the target grade when qualified and eligible.

6. Employees in 462 positions selected for conversion to 401 career-ladder positions will be eligible for career-ladder promotions within the 462 series. If they meet the requirements for the 401 position prior to October 1, 2010, they will become eligible for career-ladder promotions in the GS-401 series.

7. Employees that were selected as GS-462-12, Forest Fire Management Officer (FMO) with target potential to the GS-401-13 will remain in the GS-462-12 positions and will only be promoted to the GS-401-13, when qualified and eligible.

8. Vacancy announcements for GS-462-12, Forest FMO with target potential to the GS-401-13 will be cancelled. A new announcement will be issued for Forest FMO as a GS-401-12/13.


I am sure that this is not the end of this issue.


All educated up with nowhere to go.

5/30 At one point, aircraft, particularly helicopters, were part of the formulation for hazard pay. What happened to this? Unless I'm missing something, they're not mentioned at all in the HD letter.

Still Out There ....

5/30 In conjunction with fighting wildland fire on the wildland urban interface, I asked JP Harris to share his flowchart

WUI Structure Categories, Tactics and Strategies:
WUI Flowchart (324 K pdf file; Ab reduced the size/clarity for easier download)

Many thanks, JP.


Contributors who have asked for the Calabasas Report, we're working on that.

5/30 Misery Whip,

Please read my post and earlier post regarding personal accountability again. I ask for (where appropriate) the temporary or permanent suspension of fire credentials where an individual has failed to perform. They may need additional training or shadow experience to regain or learn skills that they have failed to master. As we learned in the STEX testing of ICT3s, there may be folks unable to handle the stress of command.

The "no one is accountable" is what led us to the current law. I don't want to fly with a pilot that demonstrates unsafe practices (and blames it on the organizational flaws of the FAA). I don't think that pulling credentials until skills are re-certified is as unfair as asking someone to work for or alongside a person who has just contributed to a recent tragedy. The ICT3 testing cadre I belonged to had a question for ourselves...."Would you want your son/daughter working for this IC?"


5/30 OFG,

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate the discussion.

While attempting to overturn or repeal PL 107-203 seems admirable to many of us as a root/latent problem, it must be fully understood that both Chambers of Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate) passed the bill through "Unanimous Consent" votes. In essence, that means that all 535 Members of Congress (acting upon your/our behalf) approved the legislation and passed it forward to the President for implementation. Pretty hard to refute the intent of the legislation introduced from Doc Hastings (House) and Maria Cantwell (Senate) to keep firefighters and their families safer. It was codified into the USC as federal law. The intent was not to repeat the losses from the Thirty Mile Fire, nor repeat the actions from the Agency.

PL 107-203 was a derivative result of the Forest Service not communicating properly with the affected families of the fallen; not providing timely and factual information to the field, or to other interested parties (ie. elected officials, press, and peers); not providing adequate support and follow up to family questions and concerns; and not following established internal Agency procedures for lessons learned to prevent similar accidents in the future.

The implementation of PL 107-203 is an example of an Organizational Failure not being addressed, that somehow becomes a tool/"discussion point" for a cascading pool of problems that spread exponentially throughout an agency. Through organizational errors, we got to this problem (mess), not through individual errors, acts, or omissions.

My final comment is that the intent and language of PL 107-203 is good and well written, but the implementation ((USDA OIG policies and procedures; CFR rule making (implementation of the USC); and Agency manual implementation (FSM) and handbook implementation (FSH) direction (Implementation of the CFRs) are lagging to meet original Congressional Intent)).... in this case..... noble intent of everyone involved to prevent or reduce federal wildland firefighter losses.... and/or gain lessons learned. Organizational failures are latent and expanding. The Forest Service stopped communicating.

Folks need to get on the ball and not blame PL 107-203, but rather look inward and self report our errors.... and insist our organizational errors be addressed so they are not repeated again.

JMHO as a wildland firefighter.


5/30 Casey,

My last post was meant to emphasize that the militia does exist and the Forest Service does rely a great deal upon it. I had not doubt that you felt the same way. As a program manager and field person I am acutely aware of the funding angle. Having worked for the Forest Service in R5 for decades and actively responded to fires in the operations end over that same period, I have seen the budget for resource management decline year after year for the past 10 years at least. Our resource management functional areas have declined to about 1/3 of what they were 10 years ago. Even maintaining that level of expertise has been a real and constant struggle. If non fire personnel represent 1/3 the numbers of 10 years ago, then the militia can not possibly respond the way it used to. In the 70s and 80s forests used to put together 20 person Forest Service reg crews made up of generally non fire personnel from various departments on the forest to support fire suppression needs. On this forest, at least, this is no longer possible since finding 20 non fire personnel to fill those positions would be next to impossible due to downsizing. When one or more of my shop takes an off forest assignment, it is a struggle to fill in behind with so few people remaining. At one point this past summer my entire shop, including myself, were committed to fire assignments for close to 2 weeks.

The first day I came to work as a temporary, decades ago, I was made aware that fire suppression support was part of the job. I believe that should still be the case. Resource managers who do not have fire experience can not make reasonable resource management requests in the fire management arena unless they rely very heavily on the advice of those with that experience. Multiple use is the mission of the Forest Service. Proper management of all resources is important. I hope those in, and out of, the Forest Service never lose sight of the fact that the mission is multiple use--not any single use. Well managed forests offer many benefits. The militia is an important part of that management.


5/30 FS letter clarifying definition of fire crew for entitlement to hazard pay on wildland fire assignment:

hazard pay positions (doc)

5/29 Lightning Storm -May 28th 2009 - Porterville Air Base - Air Attack 13

Pic of AA13 taxing after landing in storm. I took the picture, which was taken from a video frame.

Pic of Tanker 90 taxing in the storm. Also taken from video.

Sean Lane,
aka STLuni

Thanks Sean, I put them on Airtankers 30 photo page. Electrifying moments. Ab.

5/29 OFG,

Your last post shows that you still support the same person-based approach to accidents that helped get us into our current mess, i.e., if someone makes an error, punishing them and changing a few procedures and policies will fix the problem, so there is no need to look elsewhere for answers.

Organizational accident theory supported by Reason, Weick, and others says organizational failures are at the foundation of most accidents. Frequently, people make errors in judgment because they were not trained properly, had too many tasks to take care of, and other similar organizational failures.

Punishing well-intended firefighters for organizational shortcomings just makes people less likely to be honest about self-reporting failures, which is the only way we will ever learn important lessons and develop a just culture. We already tried your way and it doesn’t work.

Abs & All,

It is encouraging to see that all wildland fire scientists haven’t partaken of the “.25% solution” kool-aid yet. Looks like Dr. Martin Alexander thinks using theoretical scientific models like WFDSS to set staffing levels for large fires is a stupid idea too. Links to a couple of new documents on the LLC:

Abusing Use of Models and Modeling -- Alexander (pdf)

Wildland Fire Behavior Course Science Flow Chart -- Alexander (pdf)

Misery Whip

5/29 CAL FIRE Green Sheet for LPF / SBC Burnover on the Jesusita fire

FYI, Can you post to thread.



Green Sheet (870 K pdf)

5/29 Release No. FS-052909-2
May 29, 2009
Contact: Kent Romney (530) 226-xxxx

Recent Lightning Activity Sparks Fires on the
Shasta-Trinity National Forest

REDDING, Calif. – Severe thunderstorm activity on Thursday produced over 900 lightning strikes in Northern California resulting in four small fires on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. As the lightning-caused fires were discovered, Forest Service firefighters immediately responded and began fire suppression activity.

The Corral Fire, located about ten miles west of Hayfork, in the vicinity of the Indian Valley Guard Station, was discovered around 4 p.m. Thursday. The fire is controlled and was successfully contained to of an acre in size.

The Wilson Fire, located about six miles west of Platina, was called in at 7:21 p.m. Thursday. It was successfully contained at of an acre. Firefighters are on scene and will continue to work on fully controlling the fire.

The Donaldson Fire, located about four miles NE of Hayfork, is contained at 1/2 acre in size. Firefighters predict full control of this fire Friday evening.

Firefighters are also on scene at a fire discovered earlier today. The West Fire, a small fire located just north of the Yolla Bolla-Middle Eel Wilderness, was successfully controlled Friday evening.

Fire lookout facilities are staffed and aerial reconnaissance is on-going during this period of high fire potential.

Forest Service meteorologists expect continued lightning activity for the next four to seven days with an accompanying increased chance of precipitation.

Updates will be provided as new information becomes available.

5/29 Protecting the Firefighter, and Lobotomy (reference to FSH 5309.11):

Thank you! Well said and worth being copied and kept handy at all times.

I'll offer a personal opinion (and I could be way off base here). P.L. 107-203 was passed as a knee jerk response to the frustrations and pain felt by families and friends who believed that their loved ones were the victims of some level of incompetence in performing fire leadership. There was a shared opinion that "no one is being held accountable".

I don't believe (my opinion) that the law will result in any safer fire management, but rather will result in a certainty of prosecution and at the same time negate any effective safety investigation and learning experience when tragedy does strike. OIG is a prosecutorial agency. They believe that Congress knew that when they passed the law, and was sending the message "We (Congress) want someone indicted every time there is a fatality."

I know we all share the pain when we lose a brother or sister firefighter. That is beyond debate. I believe we all want to see a full and complete accident investigation, and the results should identify

  1. What went wrong.
  2. Who made mistakes.
  3. What changes in procedures, training, strategy, tactics or whatever must be implemented.
  4. And.... those who err should face having credentials removed (temporarily or permanently).
  5. I don't believe anyone undertakes fire management with the intent of causing harm, but obviously some are not performing to standard.

Again the families were not seeing anyone held accountable in any fashion.

I have had real frustration with the severely redacted accident reports. They do not allow anyone reading them to fully understand what events occurred, and to learn from them. The rationale given is the "need to protect privacy of those involved." I disagree, and believe that is a flawed opinion offered by legal counsel. To me, if it happened, it is a historical fact.... and the government serves no positive purpose in trying to deny history. How silly to redact the name of a district ranger, fire staff officer, or the identity of a crew that began a burn-out operation. The actions and statements of public employees ought to be public.

My proposed solution is to ask Congress to repeal P.L. 107-203. I don't think it reduced the level of pain any family of friends have experienced.

I'd ask Congress to replace it with legislation mandating a complete and public investigation including

  1. Full publication of witness statements,
  2. Conclusions by the investigative team,
  3. Action plans to correct "what went wrong" and
  4. Personnel actions that will be imposed on all levels of fire managers, line officers etc. whose mistakes led or contributed to the tragedy.
  5. Absent any willful or malicious actions, there would be a guarantee of protection from prosecution or liability in civil action.

Again, this is strictly my opinion, one that I shared with the Chief and the national director of fire before I retired.


5/29 Ab, I don't know how to post this with the emphasis I intend. Could you please help? Thanks. (emphasis was removed in this archive so it could be archived. Ab.)

Current 5309.11 Handbook Direction:
21.3 - Employee's Rights and Obligations During Internal Criminal Investigations
Employees have certain additional rights and obligations during interviews conducted by a representative of the Agency as part of a criminal investigation. These rights and obligations vary depending on whether the allegations may result in criminal charges and/or administrative charges against the employee. Forest Service law enforcement personnel are representatives of the Agency when they interview an employee pursuant to allegations or evidence of criminal misconduct by the employee.


An analysis of the above accepted policy and interim amendment by the Chief (below). An example of a Just Culture wording of Agency Policy and Direction (ie. Interim Direction From the Chief/Joel) that needs a Lessons Learned Analysis from the field.
Proposed New Addition to the FSH 5309.11:

21.?? - Credentialed Investigator's Responsibilities and Obligations During Internal Criminal Investigations and Support of Internal Administrative Investigations of Serious Injury or Death

Investigators (Special Agents, Law Enforcement Officers, or other duly delegated officials as authorized by the Chief through Line Authority) have certain additional rights, responsibilities, and obligations during interviews conducted as a representative of the Agency as part of a criminal investigation , or as an assistant to an internal administrative investigation (SAI, SIT, FLA, LLA, etc). These rights, responsibilities, and obligations vary depending on whether the allegations may result in potential criminal charges and/or potential administrative charges against the employee. Forest Service law enforcement personnel are representatives of the Agency when they interview an employee pursuant to allegations or evidence of potential criminal or administrative misconduct by the employee, and the employee(s) being interviewed are/were also acting as representatives of the Agency in an officially sanctioned capacity in performance of their official duties and should be treated as such. In the absence of an overt intentional act of malice; or an intentional or unintentional attributable act of negligence that could be factually construed by firefighting peers as either wanton disregard> of accepted practices, or without due caution and circumspection of the duties performed, the investigators shall yield to a Lessons Learned Analysis to complete the investigation and issue a Kalkines Warning to all employees asked to interview.


There is a balance needed between Lessons Learned, Accountability, .... and repetitive (yearly) failures that only seek "blame", get a pound of flesh for the families, and the continued Agency protection from the process(es) and latent factors that continue the accident causation process. There are folks actually looking at the bigger picture and offering suggestions, but many (most) of us are getting tired and getting ready to just simply retire from the bureaucratic roadblocks being placed in front of us by the RO's and WO's nonsense.

Sorry if I offended anyone in my posting(s). This is real world. This info can be shared and edited as needed.


Good info, Lobotomy Ab.

5/28 Accident Investigation Protocol, Know your rights:

> From: FSH 5309.11 - Law Enforcement Handbook - Chapter 20 - Investigative Procedures (01/15/2009)

21.3 - Employee's Rights and Obligations During Internal Criminal Investigations

Employees have certain additional rights and obligations during interviews conducted by a representative of the Agency as part of a criminal investigation. These rights and obligations vary depending on whether the allegations may result in criminal charges and/or administrative charges against the employee. Forest Service law enforcement personnel are representatives of the Agency when they interview an employee pursuant to allegations or evidence of criminal misconduct by the employee.

21.31 - Types of Misconduct

  1. Administrative (non-criminal). Administrative misconduct is alleged employee wrongdoing by violating established ethics and conduct regulations or Agency policy. Examples include absence without leave (AWOL) and misuse of Government equipment.
  2. Criminal. Criminal misconduct is alleged wrongdoing that constitutes a violation of Federal or State criminal statute.

21.32 - Employee Rights During All Interviews

Employees have the right to:

  1. Request union representation on union-designated forests, if the employee reasonably believes that the interview may result in disciplinary action being taken against the employee. Being interviewed as a witness does not afford the employee this right. The request for union representation may be made before or during the interview (Weingarten Right).
  2. Be informed as to whether the allegations against them are criminal or administrative. If criminal, employees may be subject to criminal prosecution. If criminal prosecution has been waived, or the investigation is administrative, employees are required to respond to the questions being asked (sec. 21.32a, para. 1 or 2).
  3. Ask questions pertaining to their rights, obligations, and consequences before and during the interview.
  4. Receive a copy of their signed affidavit and/or transcripts of a taped interview.

21.32a - Types of Warnings

  1. Garrity Warning: Employee Warning, Criminal/Non-custodial. For a voluntary interview when there are potential criminal and administrative consequences for the employee, give the following warning to the employee prior to the start of an interview:
    • You have the right to remain silent if your answers may tend to incriminate you;
    • Anything you say may be used as evidence in an administrative proceeding or future criminal proceeding involving you; and
    • If you refuse to answer the questions presented to you on the grounds that your answer may tend to incriminate you, you cannot be discharged solely for remaining silent.
  2. Kalkines Warning: Employee Warning, Administrative/Non-custodial. For a compelled interview with existing or potential administrative consequences, inform the employee of the following:
    • You are going to be asked a number of specific questions regarding the performance of your official duties.
    • You have a duty to reply to these questions, and Agency disciplinary action resulting in your discharge may be initiated as a result of your answers. The information you provide and evidence discovered may be used in a disciplinary proceeding.
    • However, neither your answers nor any information or evidence which is gained by reason of such statements can be used against you in any criminal proceeding. If you knowingly and willfully provide false information, you may be criminally prosecuted for that action.
    • You are subject to dismissal if you refuse to answer or fail to respond truthfully to any questions.


5/28 Accident Investigation Protocol

I just read the FS direction on Fatality and Serious Accident Investigations. Besides being poorly worded and not following agency direction on correspondence, I have the following observations and questions:

1) The Chief of the Forest Service should not practice law without a license. She (or Joel) states there will be two investigations on every serious accident and fatality of FS employees. This is only partially true. In the event on an on-duty fatality of a FS employee, fed OSHA will also be conducting an investigation. In addition, under P.L. 107-203, OIG is required to conduct an “independent investigation”. So, there could be as many as four investigations for each event, two of which are presumed to be “criminal” at the beginning. It is not until any criminality is ruled out, that other FS investigation can begin.

2) Statements made by fed employees when being interviewed by LE&I investigators at the initial interrogation, may be used against the employee if a potential criminal case is developed. (It is unclear at this point if non-federal employees such as local government employees HAVE to answer questions at all.) This happened in 30 Mile and Cramer. By giving a statement or answering questions at this time, the federal employee has waived their 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination. The Kalkines Warning should be required by the employee prior to answering any questions – period. This compels the employee to answer questions, but provide for “derivative use immunity” if the case should become criminal. Note: The Garrity Warning offers absolutely no immunity at all. A Miranda Warning is not appropriate at this time.

Also, the FS investigators will demand that the employees involved NOT talk to anyone else before they are interviewed. They will NOT want the employees to be involved in any Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) including initial “diffusing” let alone more rigorous CISM techniques. They will insist that the employees will “remember” more accurately the events, if they are interviewed nearly immediately after the accident. There are no studies to relate the accuracy of statements based on how much time has passed. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that the employees do not remember accurately just based on the stress involved related to the event.

3) Know your rights. What should the employee do in such a case? a) Simply ask for the investigator’s name and contact information, albeit politely, and; b) Contact your attorney, any attorney immediately, give them the investigator’s contact information. Let the attorney interact with the investigator before answering questions. This will likely upset the investigator, likely resulting in coercive investigative techniques.

4) Which criminal investigation has precedence (FS or OIG)? OIG’s investigation has to be independent by law. It would be possible for both agencies to think they have “precedence”. A Joint Investigation is precluded by law. So, now the employee has two federal investigators facing him or her. OIG and the FS will squabble and seek advice from the Department Office of General Counsel (OGC). This is yet untested and the outcome is not clear. Hopefully, OGC will seek counsel from the Assistant US Attorney (AUSA) because if the case goes criminal, the Department of Justice (AUSA) will be the prosecutor for the fed.

Actually, the FBI is charged by law under 18 U.S.C with determining cause of death of federal employees! This, to date this has not been exercised and appears to be ignored, once again.

5) Will the agency provide counsel to the employee now? It is highly unlikely. In the past OGC has been willing to help employees answer questions, but not during the preliminary phase.

6) What if the fatality or serious accident occurs on a non-federal fire? The Interim Direction does not address this. Yes, the FS may begin to look into the matter, but there are serious jurisdictional issues. FS investigators are told they have no jurisdiction to investigate events on non-federal land. If the fatality or serious accident occurs on non-federal jurisdiction, State or Local Agency employees are not compelled to answer questions depending on the laws in each state regarding “immunity”. An ancillary question is: Would the Federal government be able to bring criminal charges against state or local government employees? While the “King is sovereign”, the debate would occur between the AUSA and the State’s Attorney general level.

Another issue here, is control of the evidence. If on non-federal land under a State’s jurisdiction, the State agency is in control – not the FS. The State’s investigation is likely to be a Safety Investigation, while the FS investigation is presumed to be criminal at this point. So, statements made by a fed employee to the State’s investigators could potentially be considered criminal as well if the case is determined to be criminal.

7) What if the fatality or serious accident occurs on a fire under Unified Command? The Interim Direction does not address this either. This is truly untested. Command status is essential at the time of the event. The FS IC and fed employees would be required to answer questions to the FS investigation as in # 2 above.

8) What if the fatality or serious accident occurs on DOI fires? The Interim Direction does not address this either. What authority does the FS have in initiating a potentially criminal investigation on DOI jurisdiction? The DOI agency is the lead agency and their investigators are required to conduct an investigation to the same standards. The issues are: Does DOI know that the FS will be initiating a potential criminal investigation on their jurisdiction? The FS is not in control of the accident scene, evidence or witnesses.

9) What generated this direction in the first place? Several events actually started this. Ever since 30 Mile and Cramer, highlighted by Esperanza, the FS has been struggling with the Serious Accident Investigation Team Process. It was culminated with the Eagle Fire tree felling fatality. In this case, a Serious Accident Investigation Team investigation was actually “halted” after several days of “investigating”. LE&I took control of the investigation (along with the Park Service) until a determination was made by the AUSA that there was no criminal activities associated with the accident. It was not until mid-March, that the SAIT was reconvened.

So, here, a non-burnover fatality case had the potential to turn criminal. This is unprecedented in wildland firefighting.

10) The serious accident and fatality atmosphere has changed. It is time for all the “Pollyanna’s” to wake up! Take off the rose colored glasses and see the fire world for what it is.

11) Protect yourself because no one else will. Purchase Professional Liability Insurance (PLI) and keep the phone number in your wallet, or better yet, add it to your IRPG along with the directions on how to file a claim against the policy. You will sleep better for years to come, knowing you made good decisions at Day 1 and not wishing for 20/20 hindsight.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Signed Protecting the Firefighter.

5/28 DAS:

My comment about the WO PIO stating that the militia was a "myth" was simply to reinforce my belief that the WO is woefully out of touch with the field.

The FWFSA has a number of members who are considered part of the militia and again, our legislative proposal does not exclude them from PTP coverage.

From the conversations I've had with militia folks, their reduced participation in fire incidents has a number of reasons but I haven't heard the funding angle. Most just ask why they should be separated from their families for so long without proper compensation etc.

Maybe there was a time when folks enjoyed the "sunsets" and were willing to work for weeks away from their families just because. Times have changed. To be honest, its frustrating that our modestly sized organization has to spend the money, time and energy trying to do the right thing while the Agency just makes excuses.


I certainly can appreciate the Agency's need to protect itself from litigation, claims etc. The nutcases who were camping on the Thirty Mile and won a judgement for some $400,000 which they said would lead to firefighters being more safe comes to mind.

I think my question is how many concurrent investigations do we need? How many "investigations" do state & municipal fire folks endure? I can appreciate an LEO investigation if, God forbid someone attacks their entire crew with a Pulaski and kills them all. But many of the injuries and deaths in this business come during times when good people are doing their very best, utilizing their experience and expertise in making decisions in an ever-changing and dangerous environment in which the enemy doesn't play by the same rules.

If LEOs are going to investigate accidents leading to injury or death that occur on the fire line, they better darn well know everything there is to know about wildfire, tactics and strategies, human nature etc.


5/28 Accident Investigation Protocol


CALFIRE does not have such a ass-backward way of investigating for Lessons Learned. It does blue sheet, green sheet, and final report with lessons learned recommendations. It does not assume firefighters are criminally negligent and look for that first. I have worked for both agencies. Ironic that CALFIRE has more of a just culture than the FS does. Does the FS not see it is destroying itself with this legal process? Like centralizing human resources and IT and finance, now we're going to let LEI add to the failed bureaucracy. Centralizing LEI was probably a good thing but no doubt this move is going to put a greater money drain on the FS. At least Law Enforcement will get to become the "bad guys" stealing the FS budget.

Fire should be centralized as posters have said. We should have a reasonable budget, state of the art training, focus and attention to safety and lessons learned... we shouldn't be second guessed by line so we feel we have attention deficits. Now more attention deficits with feeling like we are going to be prosecuted over months and months as a standard operating procedure. LEI interrogates. I have watched them in action. Go figure fire's reaction... Cover ups and not talking are going to be commonplace. So much for lessons learned and safety. What ICs / teams will want to work in this situation?

People should protest to the two email addresses on that letter from Abigail and send her an email too.


5/28 Accident Investigation Protocol

Guns n Hoses,

Read my post again. This is not a personal attack as you put it.

But my criticism isn't over an investigation, but the ultimate direction of it or it's reason the potential for a claim against the federal government exists, not to prevent an accident from happening again or why it happened, or to make sure the troops are ok, provide a positive work environment etc..... Since the consent decree (about when I started) the govt has been only concerned with liability and covering its ass. Like Casey said, if management was any "further out of touch with reality. . . .", they would be on Mars.

I'm not sure when you started, but I remember when the Level 4 program took off from a part time program and became a law enforcement agency. This was a good thing, the same that needs to happen to the fire side of the agency.

  1. "Witness statements taken by the SIT will not be disclosed to agency personnel, other than those individuals appointed to the SIT or those involved in supervising or reviewing the work of the SIT, unless a disclosure of criminal activity is made, in which case the SIT will immediately cease its investigation and report the disclosure to LEI.
  2. The Director of LEI or official with delegated authority will assign one or more Special Agents or Law Enforcement Officers to serve strictly as liaisons to the SIT. These agents and officers will not participate in SIT witness interviews or the SIT deliberative process. Duties of the liaisons may include:
  3. Evidence collection and storage and establishment of the chain of custody of evidence;
  4. Preservation of the scene of the injury or fatality; and
  5. Coordination with local law enforcement office "

You are correct, but protecting the agency from liability should be should be minor compared to taking care of the people first. Not this as number 1.
"For every Forest Service accident in which the potential for a claim against the federal government exists"

Back at you for your thoughts..

Former green

5/28 Accident Investigation Protocol

I'm with Guns n Hoses. I think Former Green and Casey have it wrong.

A prime function of any Agency is to protect itself from claims. (please read "Claims" in the broadest sense - it isn't just about fire). In doing so they protect ALL of us taxpayers. As the 'deep pockets' the Fed. Gov. is often expected to shell out $$s for someone who stubs their toe someone on the Forest....or drove past a road a fire on a dead end and got trapped (e.g. 30 mile).

It isn't any different than what your own insurance company would tell you - if you have an accident in your car and have even the most remote idea you could be at fault - you keep your mouth shut and make no statements as to your actions.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), isn't always just about employees. All agencies - and in fact any company or organization - also has to protect it's taxpayers/owners. Rightfully so, too...it is part of their job, makes sense, and is probably well spelled out in law, as it should be.


5/28 SCMRRD ranger

Some one alluded to the new Ranger for the SCMRRD being a hoax. Sorry to say I have talked with a couple district folks and it aint a hoax folks. Just another brilliant personnel action by a failed forest supervisor!


5/28 Re: New SCMRRD New District Ranger

It is true that the new District Ranger on the ANF-SCMRRD is Bob Blount; this has been confirmed in emails from the ANF Forest Supervisor and from the SCMRRD fire management. Start date was confirmed for sometime in June.

It is also true that he is new to the Forest Service, or any federal land management agency for that matter.

I can see why so many have concerns about having an individual in such an important position that has no familiarity with our agency or our way of doing business, but as an employee of the SCMRRD I must admit that I am am looking forward to seeing what he is capable of. Sometimes an outsiders perspective can bring about new and positive changes to a group.

I know the majority of his career was spent in real estate development / management, but according to his profile and discussions with fire management, he did also attend the US Naval Academy, so hopefully being involved in an organization like FIRE won't be too unfamiliar. Besides anyone who is willing to leave being the CEO of RE/MAX (making who knows how much money) to be a USFS District Ranger is either down right crazy or really wants to do the job...

Just my two cents. Any one else have an opinion?

Besides, he couldn't be any worse than the last District Ranger.


5/28 Accident Investigation Protocol

On the face of it, the accident investigation protocol may sound good and sound like it protects the witnesses' 5th Amendment rights with the Law Enforcement Investigation preceding the Lessons Learned Investigation.

Before we endorse it, however, I think all need to think about unintended consequences from the groundpounder's perspective, the actual time involved in completing the investigations and what this means for the witnesses, the family of the deceased or injured and FIRE's developing Lessons Learned and Just Culture. Often there are many types of solutions and many un-thought-of unintended consequences.

I need to go back and reread the Old Sawyer's piece on Critical Thinking. What I love about Old Fire Guy, Old Sawyer, Doug Campbell, Hugh Carson, Lobotomy and Misery Whip are how they break it down into logical pieces and mostly forget the fanfare, just let the logic speak for itself.

Can everyone please think this way and come up with their own examples? (WOW, this expanded quite a bit!)

Think of what you know of past LEI investigations of fireline accidents and fatalities (examples: Cramer, 30 Mile, Esperanza, Andy Palmer Investigation):

  • Background and Orientation:
    • their overall training and orientation. (I often call this the lenses, "spectacles" or eye glasses people see the world through due to training or profession. AKA, all perception and mental processing is not equal.)
    • the purpose of the investigation (mission, vision),
    • the "rules" they use, their training in fire and felling,
    • what questioning techniques they use, given their mission.
  • Process:
    • how long they took,
    • what happened to important evidence,
    • where they got the info they used, (if from witness statements of the lessons learned investigation in which witness statements should have been protected)
    • the atmosphere they created as they progressed.
    • are firefighters 5th Amendment rights protected? They are during this LEI investigation and while the Lessons Learned Investigation is proceeding, but LEI can reopen and reinvestigate and use Lessons Learned info once the Lessons Learned investigation is completed and becomes foia-able. Statute of Limitations is 5 years.
  • Effects of timing, technique, etc:
    • their effect on already traumatized coworkers, FS line officers, friends, their second "fire family"
    • their effect on already traumatized biological family members of the dead or injured,
    • their ability to get at "the TRUTH",
    • their ability to help people get through the trauma and start to think normally, to sleep again and heal, SOME measure of CLOSURE,
    • the effect of their approach on a Just Culture and a Lessons Learned organization like fire or the medical profession or aviation.
    • their advancement of JUSTICE for coworkers, friends, second "fire family", biological family members
    • their effect on enhancing firefighter SAFETY
    • their effect on using the process of commander's intent in a high risk environment,
  • Long term effects on firefighters from the investigation as well as the original trauma?
  • Other Possible Unintended Consequences???
    • what other legal procedures then become fair game, like reopening all prior investigations or looking into all prior federal accidents in the last 5 years (within the statute of limitations),
    • will the LEI investigation process be expanded to include Forest Supervisors and District Rangers, Dispatchers; non fed members of teams, medics from local hospitals or other regions; what line officers will be willing to participate in the Lessons Learned investigations?
    • how will all the LEI investigations be financed? Does LEI have enough funding to do the 24+ fire fatality investigations projected for next year, let alone all the dozer and water tender rollovers, the burnovers and shelter deployments? Will that come out of FS suppression funds or will they be expected to borrow against FS trail maintenance, rehab, noxious weed control, NEPA, etc.
    • Cover-up of accidents; refusing to talk to Law Enforcement; the opposite of a Learning Culture. After all, LEI will get you now or get you later after the Lessons Learned Investigation is complete.

Think of what you know of past Lessons Learned Safety Investigations of fireline accidents (examples: Cramer, 30 Mile, Esperanza, Andy Palmer Investigation):

  • Background and Orientation:
    • their overall training and orientation. (Firefighter perception and mitigation of risk is of necessity dynamic; training focuses on planning for survival)
    • the purpose of the investigation (mission, vision),
    • the "rules" they used (LCES, not a fixed in stone set of rules; what is planned given the emerging fire behavior as much as that can be determined), their training in fire and felling,
    • what questioning techniques they use, given their mission.
  • Process:
    • how long they took,
    • what happened to important evidence (Now with the Interim Directive in place, and LEI doing the lead investigation, where is everyone who should be interviewed for Lessons Learned now it's midwinter or into the next spring? Spread out across the country or the world, unreachable even if ROSS is working. Seasonals may be in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Indonesia, on Mt Shasta, working on an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf... who knows where? What about the evidence? Walking back through the accident scene. In the snow? After all the rehab is completed with stumps cut down to ground level? No evidence then for further kerf testing, etc. Will the investigation scene be maintained for LL even if compromised? No rehab allowed until the ENTIRE set of investigations are done?)
    • where they got the info they used (Now with the Interim Directive in place, LEI will certainly hand over their investigation interviews, evidence, etc, but what does that gain FF for Lessons Learned whether LEI recommends charging them criminally or not?)
    • the atmosphere they created as they progressed.
    • are firefighters 5th Amendment rights protected? (With the Interim Directive in place, they are while the Lessons Learned investigation is ongoing, but LEI can reopen and reinvestigate and use this Lessons Learned info once the LL investigation is completed and becomes foia-able. Statute of Limitations is 5 years.)
  • Effects of timing, technique, etc:
    • their effect on already traumatized coworkers, FS line officers, friends, their second "fire family"
    • their effect on already traumatized biological family members of the dead or injured,
    • their ability to get at "the TRUTH",
    • their ability to help people get through the trauma and start to think normally, to sleep again and heal, SOME measure of CLOSURE,
    • the effect of their approach on a Just Culture and a Lessons Learned organization like fire or the medical profession or aviation.
    • their advancement of JUSTICE for coworkers, friends, second "fire family", biological family members
    • their effect on enhancing firefighter SAFETY
    • their effect on using the process of commander's intent in a high risk environment,
    • what other procedures then become fair game, like reopening all prior investigations or now looking into all prior federal accidents in the last 5 years (statute of limitations)
  • Long term effects on firefighters from the investigation as well as the original trauma?
  • Other Possible Unintended Consequences???

Two final questions:

What IS an ACCIDENT? Is there ever anything that is presumed to be an accident? What would that look like in fire, felling, and vehicle crashes? How do you handle multiple causes of a death due to accident?

What IS RECKLESSNESS? I need to reread the post and critical thinking piece sent in by Old Sawyer. There was another "what was he thinking?" white paper as well.


Here it is:
Critical Thinking  (pdf)
Here it is:
What Was He Thinking? Decision Making and Judging (pdf)

5/27 Militia:


As I am sure you are aware, but some in the WO may not be, the militia is not a myth. I would like to reinforce that the militia still exists. A number of personnel on numerous Type I and II Teams are militia and not primary firefighters. Our forest heavily supports a number of teams that way. All the personnel working for me (in a non fire shop) maintain active fire quals. Last fire season, as in past fire seasons, all of them, including myself, were actively involved in fire suppression. Several work on Type II teams with the remainder being actively line qualified. This season will be no different. As our temporaries are coming on board they are being pack tested and attending fire refresher classes. All are currently qualified for this fire season.

The main reason the militia does not play a larger role in fire suppression as it did in the past is that the FS is not adequately funded to provide a reasonably acceptable level of land management. This lack of non fire funding has resulted in a significant decrease in non fire personnel and as a result a significant decrease in personnel available to perform militia duties on fires.

If PTP were to be approved it would be a great mistake to exclude the non primary firefighters working fires side-by-side with "primary firefighters" from equal pay for equal work and working conditions.

The militia is not a "myth".


5/27 promotion of certain Engine Captain's to the GS-8 Anybody else in this boat?

This is completely off topic from most of the recent posts, but worth mentioning.

So, finally, three years after Chief Bosworth's May 30, 2006 letter regarding the promotion of certain Engine Captain's to the GS-8 level if they work in a highly complex fire area, we've finally seen some headway. I know of a handful of type 6 engine captains who have successfully been promoted to the GS-8 level, after completing the complexity analysis and their line officers signing off on the promotion. Unfortunately, most of those type 6 engineers are still being graded at the GS-6 level.

Now, I did some investigating on the internet and found some interesting stuff.

  1. I found a Forest Service Standard Position Description Crosswalk, revised in 2007. (Previously revised in 2004). This clearly calls for the engineer/assistant captain, on a type 6 engine, to be graded at the GS-7 level, if their engine captain is graded at the GS-8 level.
  2. I found some literature titled "Interagency Fire Program Management, Standard Position Description in AVUE for the Southwest Region". This outlines which positions are currently recognized by the IFPM as the 14 key fire positions. This also says that the type 6 engineer/assistant captain should be graded at the GS-7 level, if the engine captain is a GS-8.

I'd like to hear from all who are affected by this, either positively or negatively. I will give AB my personal email, and they can forward to that so we can all remain anonymous.

Quick Connect

5/27 Accident Investigation Protocol

Former Green Soldier:

I really can only say wow at this point. That is not meant to be a personal attack, however you may take it that way. Sorry.

"For every Forest Service accident in which the potential for a claim against the federal government exists, two independent investigations will be performed. LEI will investigate for legal, and claims purposes and OSOH will investigate for accident prevention purposes."

This is EXACTLY what I have seen called for on this board. People wanted to have LE&I do an investigation and be able to provide legal expertise.

  1. Witness statements taken by the SIT will not be disclosed to agency personnel, other than those individuals appointed to the SIT or those involved in supervising or reviewing the work of the SIT, unless a disclosure of criminal activity is made, in which case the SIT will immediately cease its investigation and report the disclosure to LEI.
  2. The Director of LEI or official with delegated authority will assign one or more Special Agents or Law Enforcement Officers to serve strictly as liaisons to the SIT. These agents and officers will not participate in SIT witness interviews or the SIT deliberative process. Duties of the liaisons may include:
  3. Evidence collection and storage and establishment of the chain of custody of evidence;
  4. Preservation of the scene of the injury or fatality; and
  5. Coordination with local law enforcement office

LE Will provide their skills and help out all they can. They will not have be in on the interviews unless there is a disclosure of criminal activity.

LE is helping and making sure that things are going the way they should.

This ultimately helps take care of our people as you put it. The proper preservation of the scene and coordination is something that will help our people a lot and take pressure off of the SIT.



5/27 Accident Investigation Protocol, etc

Former Green Soldier & OFG:

You hit the nail on the head. Since Thirty Mile and Cramer it has taken years and prodding by Congress to get the Agency to address the "unintended consequences" of PL 107-203 and take a position. It seems the Agency is happy to take credit for expanding PLI coverage to additional employees who may find themselves making command decisions on the fire ground. Yet if an employer were truly interested in their employees with respect to liability, it would seem to me that they should have taken a position on the legislation that led to 107-203 before it was passed into law absent any consideration of how it would impact the overall fire program and the firefighters it now burdens.

This interim guidance does exactly what you say it does... covers their A$$... to hell with the firefighters. And what's the best way to protect employees? Apparently having yet more investigations. We'll now have these two, not to mention the congressionally mandated OIG investigations on fatalities. Reminds me of the old joke... How many (insert your own noun) does it take to change a light bulb?

It simply demonstrates how out of touch the leadership is with those on the ground... at least in my opinion.

OFG: Naive and/or disingenuous? Not me. I know how it works in DC. But... it's time for change. New President, new Secretary of Ag & Interior, new Undersecretary of Ag for Natural Resources & Environment, new Deputy etc.

Yea, maybe I'm living in LaLa Land but just two years ago the Forest Service refused to even mention the term "portal to portal" and two years ago would have never asked for congressional assistance to work with OPM on a wildland firefighter series. It's time for the Agency head to take responsibility for what is financially needed to run her/ his Agency. Of course that is predicated on fiscal responsibility, something big government entities seem to abstain from.

So, I know the routine. But it's time to change the status quo.


5/27 Accident Investigation Protocol

Same old government, "Caring for the land and covering your a$s."

#1.... "For every Forest Service accident in which the potential for a claim against the federal government exists, two independent investigations will be performed. LEI will investigate for legal, and claims purposes and OSOH will investigate for accident prevention purposes."

Still no "let's take care of our people first".....

Former Green Soldier

5/27 Circulating behind the scenes... Accident Investigation Protocol

File Code: 6730-1/5320-3
Date: May 21, 2009
Route To: (5320), (6730)

Subject: Accident Investigation Protocol

To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, Deputy Chiefs, WO Directors, IITF Director and Deputy Chiefs

My highest priority for our Agency is ensuring the safety and health of our employees and the prevention of serious injury or fatality. When incidents occur, it is incumbent upon our Agency to ensure that we conduct a competent and professional investigation to enhance our overall safety program through lessons learned from these tragic events.

In the past, information derived from safety investigations has been used for multiple purposes to include legal, disciplinary and claims requirements as well as accident prevention. This practice has contributed to a sense of uncertainty and anxiety among employees when asked to provide witness statements to a safety investigation.

The Forest Service has an interest in encouraging the free and frank disclosure of information and opinions in the context of a safety investigation. For this reason, I have asked the Directors of the Office of Safety and Occupational Health and Law Enforcement and Investigations (LEI) to develop the attached investigation protocol, which will provide for two independent investigations. LEI will investigate for legal and claims issues associated with serious accidents, while an independent safety investigation may be conducted for accident prevention purposes. Until a final protocol is incorporated into the directive system, the enclosed interim protocol shall be used.

Questions may be directed to Ralph Dorn at rdorn@fs.etc or David Ferrell at dferrell@fs.etc

/s/Joel Holtrop

cc: Ralph Dorn
David Ferrell
(original doc)



April 17, 2009

Forest Service directives and guidelines regarding the investigation of serious employee injuries and fatalities establish specific roles for the Office of Safety and Occupational Health (OSOH) and Law Enforcement and Investigations (LEI) Staffs. These roles are delineated in the Law Enforcement Manual at Forest Service Manual (FSM) 5303.11, the Service Wide Claims Management Handbook at Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 6509.11h, the 2005 edition of the Accident Investigation Guide, and FSH 6709.12. To ensure that these disparate roles may be fulfilled in independent processes, the following interim guidance is provided:

  1. For every Forest Service accident in which the potential for a claim against the federal government exists, two independent investigations will be performed. LEI will investigate for legal, and claims purposes and OSOH will investigate for accident prevention purposes.
  2. The Special Agent in Charge (SAC) and the appropriate Region/Station/Area Safety Manager will be notified immediately of these incidents and will report them to the Director of LEI, Washington Office, and the Director of OSOH, Washington Office.
  3. The SAC will have priority with respect to access to the accident scene to determine if any violations of criminal statutes may have occurred.
  4. If the SAC determines that one or more criminal violations may have occurred, the Director of LEI or official with delegated authority will assign a criminal investigator to conduct a criminal investigation and will inform the Designated Agency Safety and Health Official (DASHO) that a criminal investigation will be conducted. The SAC or official with delegated authority will oversee the criminal investigation. The DASHO will assign a Chief Investigator for Safety to work with the SAC or SAC designate to determine whether a safety investigation of the incident is appropriate and can remain independent of the criminal investigation. A safety investigation team (SIT) may or may not be mobilized to perform a full safety investigation. If a safety investigation is performed, the criminal investigation will have priority with respect to access to witnesses.
  5. If the SAC determines that a criminal investigation is not warranted, the SAC will immediately inform the DASHO. The DASHO or official with delegated authority will assign responsibility for a separate safety investigation to the SIT. The SAC or SAC designate will continue investigating for claims or other legal purposes.
  6. Witness statements taken by the SIT will not be disclosed to agency personnel, other than those individuals appointed to the SIT or those involved in supervising or reviewing the work of the SIT, unless a disclosure of criminal activity is made, in which case the SIT will immediately cease its investigation and report the disclosure to LEI.
  7. The Director of LEI or official with delegated authority will assign one or more Special Agents or Law Enforcement Officers to serve strictly as liaisons to the SIT. These agents and officers will not participate in SIT witness interviews or the SIT deliberative process. Duties of the liaisons may include:
    1. Evidence collection and storage and establishment of the chain of custody of evidence;
    2. Preservation of the scene of the injury or fatality; and
    3. Coordination with local law enforcement offices.
  8. In cases involving National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the DASHO will coordinate party status for the Forest Service in the NTSB investigation for the SIT. The SAC or SAC designate will coordinate with NTSB in conducting LEI’s investigation of the incident.

(original directive)

5/27 Militia:


Sorry, my post was already on the way before I saw yours posted. My question on PTP is fully answered and I am confident that any PTP would be applied equitably. Thank you.

I don't consider your devotion to federal wildland firefighters as "myopic". Rather it is "focused" on a select group. I can respect that you work for the people who pay you.

My own experience of 33 years with the USFS necessitated a focus on all employees, not just one group. Please find the ability to respect that focus. I've always believed that we need to be willing to ask ourselves the hard questions and be prepared to answer them. For surely, someone will be waiting to ask them, and we don't want to be unprepared. (I think I even offered an appropriate response to the question on why not PTP for all assignments.)

As far as the leadership "telling it like it is" regardless of the official "Administration" position, now you are being either naive or disingenuous.

  1. You cannot tout your years of experience on Capitol Hill, and not know that it is the sworn duty of the Agency heads to support the budget of the President in their testimony.
  2. You know full well that Congress is aware that it does not fully fund suppression costs.
  3. You acknowledge that FEPCA has been ignored since 1990 (by both parties).

And you can either believe a WO PIO did not err (and you've never shown a proclivity to believe anything from the WO), or you can simply look at the number of resources dispatched and count how many are not "primary firefighters"...... they would be the militia.


5/26 Re: PTP, Costs of fighting fire , NFFE


PTP: The argument for PTP, at least the argument presented by the FWFSA is not to reach pay parity/equity with some state & local agencies. Rather the methodology for compensation on the fire incident should be equitable and, in the case of many fire camps, consistent with the application of the FLSA.

No one can reasonable expect federal firefighters to reach pay parity with the likes of many municipal agencies in California and throughout the West. Heck, FEPCA was passed in 1990...The Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act. A lot of good that did!

Not to sound crass but I don't know about wilderness patrols, bug infestations etc. They don't pay dues to the FWFSA. My myopic, simplistic devotion, loyalty & focus is to federal wildland firefighters. If they (others you mention) want PTP, I guess they can start spending the money to develop relationships on Capitol Hill, providing clear and irrefutable data supporting their issues, testifying before Congress etc. They have the same rights, responsibilities and opportunities as firefighters do.

2. I think I answered "who should receive PTP" in my last post. By the way, absolutely, and categorically NO divisiveness between the FWFSA and NFFE. A lot of communication has gone on behind the scenes between the two organizations while working on firefighter liability, outsourcing, etc. over the last few years and they in fact will be speaking for themselves on the issue(s) soon.


Again I think I've answered this in previous posts. No one truly knows what PTP will cost in any given season. There are too many variables. That is precisely why our legislative proposal calls for a 3 year pilot program to assess the costs and effectiveness of PTP as a retention tool. Additionally, our language calls for successive reductions in non-federal suppression costs in each of those 3 years: 10% the first year, 25% the second year and 35% the third year. This will more than offset any costs of federal PTP. The non-federal costs on the Zaca Fire alone would have covered those figures.

As far as borrowing, it is time for the Agency leadership to "tell it like it is" to Congress and the Administration. If those bodies expect a fire program and resource management, then the Chief ought to be prepared to tell them exactly what it's going to cost. Not go in to Congressional committee hearings and praise the lack of dollars the Administration is offering simply to protect their politically appointed rear ends.

Of course that would require fiscal management...something most bureaucracies have failed to achieve.

Finally, no potential conflict with NFFE. We've been communicating for far too long and reached a great rapport. I would never ever suggest to the FWFSA that it develop a bill and seek its introduction in Congress without substantial prior communication with NFFE.

As far as the militia. remember, it was just a year or so ago that a PIO in the WO told a reporter that the militia was a "myth."


5/26 SCMRRD Ranger:

Is there an official news release about this real estate agent turned into a District Ranger? A friend checked the Enterprise Directory and there's no one by that name listed.

A hoax?


The contributor of that linked info is a regular theysaider. I don't think he was joking or perpetrating a hoax. Ab.

5/26 Centralized fire:

Wow, they plan on selling the Angeles? NOTHING surprises me anymore. LOL Gotta have some humor with management now days.

Q, like the idea o

  1. f a all risk centralized National Fire Agency / Fed Fire. You were and are truly a leader.

Signed, another OFG

5/26 SCMRRD Ranger:


What is the SCMR?

Thanks, Tim

Guess: SCMRRD: Santa Clara/Mojave River Ranger District on the Angeles. Ab.

5/26 SCMRRD Ranger:

Hey JL:

I'm a Business Manager...maybe I can be a District Ranger too! I'm sure Peggy H., or Jody N., or Jean Wade Evans would hire me in a second...hehe


5/26 To All who knew Chuck Allen, Prescott Tanker Base Manager:

Chuck is now out of pain and has moved on to greener tanker bases. After a year long fight with cancer he passed on last Saturday. God Speed and may there be lots of chocolate chip cookies where he is. He will be greatly missed.

R5 Dispatcher.

Condolences. Ab.

5/26 What would a centralized fire organization look like?

Some thoughts, challenges we face, questions and possible solutions/approach.

1. The argument "for" includes reaching pay equity with some state and local agencies.... It is warranted because ff's must be away from their families and stay in primitive conditions for extended periods.
Q: What about other programs where people are in travel status for extended periods.....eg wilderness patrol, law enforcement, response to bug infestations or timber blowdown... They are also away from their families.
A: (mine) It is not an "emergency" response. Similar to the "true OT" authorization, it would apply only to fire.

2. Q: Who should receive PTP? Only primary ff's according to current language.
A: (mine) That could be a real problem. True OT applies to all persons participating in the fire emergency. It would be extremely divisive. I can't imagine NFFE agreeing to this, but I'll certainly let them speak for themselves.

1. One line of thought seems to claim that costs have risen drastically due to the use of contractors, and agency personnel that pay PTP. How will the federal agencies adopting PTP not further exacerbate the costs?
Someone else answer this please.

2. Question for Q. The need to "borrow" from other program funds is to balance the overexpenditure of WFSU funding (Congress never fully funds the annual needs). How will creating a stovepipe organization relieve this obligation? Any manager (line officer or fire director) is still bound by appropriations laws and regs.

Line Officer experience. LEO I hear you. On my last assignment as Ops I had a new ranger on a shadow assignment. He had never been to a fire camp, fought a fire, or even had any introduction to ICS.

As far as a "seat at the table", have you resolved the issues of potential conflict with NFFE (I know you maintain a dialogue), and any FACA constraints?

You asked what the incentive for "militia" to participate was.
How about a break from their regular routine, and the estimated 100 hours of "true OT" for a standard 2 week assignment? Never had a problem getting militia folks to be willing to take an assignment.

Thanks to all for being willing to share ideas and perspective.


5/26 Q thread - Centralized Fire

Beautiful Ray!!

Your first paragraph under the bullets is a telling tale. I remember going to the southeast in the 80's and 90's and one of the biggest issues seemed to be the lack of agreements between agencies. We were lucky to have had agency leaders with foresight and vision to create the agreements between agencies in R5 in the 70's.

For the Forest Service to try to step back to times prior to Firescope, ICS and cost share in the checkerboard of California is ludicrous at best.

Keep the info coming Ray. Your insight is appreciated!
Tony Duprey

5/26 Another Loss to Cal Fire

Here we go again, we have lost another fine employee to the State. Not going to give names, but this person is and was a credit to the Forest Service and I hate to see him go. Long time member of the cause. Happy for him but sad to see him go. Best of luck in blue.


5/26 Portal to Portal and thanks to Casey for the legislative proposal.

OFG asked,

What is the status of proposals for PTP? Does the language apply PTP to all who participate in emergency response (as does the OT legislation) or is it limited to only "primary firefighters"?

Before I answer the above question, I want to make it clear that nothing the FWFSA has been working on has ever limited things to "primary firefighters". Looks like a loaded question, but that is just me being protective of our members comments.

If folks look at previous legislation and proposals from the FWFSA, they will see that the wording mirrored the wording for primary and secondary firefighter coverage, and those temporarily assigned to perform those duties on wildfires (ie. "militia"). Often times, the wording was described wrongly in an attempt to divide and conquer (Sun Tzu) by opponents. We know the intent, even if the wording is confusing. We are the ones who have to visit Congress and sell the concept.

Status: The complete FWFSA legislative proposal has been submitted to the Congressional Legislative Counsel for review and concurrence. The draft version is available on the FWFSA website, or through searching the They Said archives. The final version of the Legislation (wording) comes from the Legislative Counsel, but the intent of legislation comes from the field. Sponsors and co-sponsors for the legislation are already on board.

Casey Judd has spent many long months (years) working on the proposal and championing it behind the scenes for all of us. Countless others have provided the data and research needed to get Congressional attention. It is a large team effort across the spectrum. We as federal wildland firefighters are very lucky to have Casey as our Business Manager and Legislative Advocate. We are also very lucky to have such a complex network of volunteer supporters, analysts, peers, and SME's working behind the scenes on the issues of firefighter safety, effectiveness, and cost efficiency.

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

5/26 New District Ranger for the Angeles SCMRRD no fire background and no Forest Service background.


linkedin.com: District Ranger for the Angeles SCMRRD

Wilburn "Bob" Blount
Business Manager and Entrepreneur
Greater Los Angeles Area

* Contact Wilburn "Bob" Blount
* Add Wilburn "Bob" Blount to your network


* District Ranger at USDA Forest Service
* Broker Advisory Board at Zillow
* Member at NAR RPR Advisory Board

see less...


* Board Member at REBR
* Board Member at REIN MLS
* Broker/Owner at RE/MAX International

* Board Member at Virginia Association of REALTORS
* Board Member at MRIS
* CEO at RE/Max Allegiance

ETC ETC... at the link

5/25 What would a centralized fire organization look like?

From Ray Quintanar, former Region 5 Chief:

Someone asked me if fire were centralized in the Forest Service what would I do and how. I’m sending this out to several on a BC list. If you have any added ideas, let me know.

Here are my thoughts.

  • The last few years there has been a substantial increase in cost of suppression.
  • The 100 year mega fire is now common with several mega fires occurring at once.
  • The agency by its actions blames the fire organization for this increased cost and has come up with some pretty elaborate processes to monitor the cost of firefighter actions to reduce the spiraling cost. Yet by its own admission its latest QFR dated 2009 describes these additional processes do little to reduce cost and only add to the distraction of suppression fire.
  • Firefighters are to be called “forestry technicians” even though their mode of transportation is a fire engine, crew buggies such as those used by hotshot crews, helicopters as those used by helitack, etc.
  • 60-70% of suppression cost is the result of contractors which is on the increase and endorsed by those in positions of authority. Yet it is the “teams” that are blamed for the increase in cost and can do little to curtail the added contractor emphasis.
  • The latest direction as to what is the “agencies intent” in terms of what the agencies “forestry technicians” will and won’t respond to is weasel wording at its best. The policy is not changed only the arrangement of words. While emphasis is placed on wildland fire suppression it is still O.K to suppress structure fire threatening federal lands although be careful, those who do so may be second guessed and some form of reprimand may follow.
  • It is obvious there is little effort by the agency to reach out and take that extra step to add to state and local fire cooperation. As a matter of fact there is a major void in this area by those in positions of authority. A major example of this is the recent butchering of the major agreements with the state and local fire by the agency.

These actions describe an agency that is trying to go back to fighting fire when it is only on its own jurisdiction and let it go by when it is not. This kind of thinking was prevalent during the Laguna fire of 1970. If the fire was on other than ones own jurisdiction, action would not be taken. This resulted in the federal government taking the lead to form FIRESCOPE, ICS, cost share and cost apportionment agreements, CWCG, the master agreement with the state and many more agreements that recognized as long as there is checkerboard ownership in a high fire occurrence region with 38 million people, with plenty of fuel and urban interface, all need to work together with pre-defined agreements that address cost and payments..

I believe the frustration comes from the agency having to borrow from its other programs to pay for suppression at the end of the season. It also comes from the agency taking a lot of the fuels and suppression dollars for other less funded programs. The agency responds to Congressional pressure and often extends itself beyond its financial capacity rather than telling Congress, you want more, we need more money.

With all the above, it makes sense to “centralize” fire in such a way that it would eliminate having to take money from its other programs to pay for suppression. Since each region is different, the sub regional departments would be different in size and complexity yet would easily integrate with each other. In other words, some would have less than others and some tools would be unique to that region. Fuels work would be contracted by the forest to the fire department with a guarantee the work would be accomplished or no funding. Would this take from what the agency calls its “line officers?” Of course not, as long as there is clarity of objectives and committed communication. The issues come with the funds taken off the top. Would the agency be willing to leave the $$$$ trough untouched

...Your thoughts would be appreciated…


Thanks Q. Ab.

5/25 Re line officer fire quals:

I was reading one of the 5/25 posts that discussed the FS hiring line officers that have some fire quals. What a joke that is, the Forest Supervisor on an unnamed forest in So. Cal who just this past year received a award for being a shining star in fire (which they truly are not) just hired the new ranger for one of the most complex fire units in the entire National Forest system who has Zero fire experience and has NO land management experience. Their history. . . some military coming from a real estate business in the South East. Aint that some fine qualifications? And I made the fatal error thinking it couldnt get much worse.


5/25 Dear CFTTF or OFG:

The status of the PTP proposal which is incorporated into a larger legislative draft is that the draft has been submitted to the legislative counsel by Rep. Filner for review. Their review is to ensure the legalese is proper.

As for the application of PTP, the language specific to PTP in the bill states:


(1). DEFINITION. Wildland Firefighter defined- For purposes of this section, the term “wildland firefighter” means an employee of the Department of the Interior (Bureau of Land management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, Fish & Wildlife Service) or the Department of Agriculture (Forest Service) the duties of whose position are primarily to perform work directly connected with the prevention, control, suppression and management of wildland fires (including an employee engaged in this activity who is transferred to a supervisory or administrative position) and may include an employee or group of employees assigned to support wildland fires and other emergency incidents pursuant to applicable case law.

As we all know, many involved previously or currently in the "Militia" have reduced the number of incidents they have responded to over the years. Simply, there is no incentive for them to do so. I recently met a GS-7 who on assignments took a finance chief position, something similar to a GS 11 position but continued to receive her GS-7 pay on the assignment. Where's the incentive in that?

From the beginning of our work on PTP years ago, the idea was to include all who support fire incidents. That has not changed as evidenced by the above language. The caveat to that is a lack of understanding of what the costs would be for PTP as there are a number of variables that affect the cost. That is why we call for a pilot program for 3 years. It could be that Congress, in its review of the bill once its introduced, might limit the PTP to "primary firefighters" or those that are eligible for federal firefighter retirement. However as I have posted before, the definition of "primary firefighter" was greatly expanded in Federal Court in 1991 in a case of NFFE vs OPM. OPM lost. Of course neither the Agencies nor OPM is going to alert folks that they may be entitled to firefighter retirement based upon the Court case which is why everyone who participates/supports an incident should petition OPM for firefighter retirement.

Last week National representatives from NFFE traveled to the Hill and discussed with a number of staffers we have in common, the provisions of the bill, including PTP. NFFE refers to the concept of "ordered standby" that I believe originated from the R5 Regional Forester based upon the 24 hr staffing plans of several of the SoCal Forests although I could be wrong. As I understand it the RF marketed the plan to Chief Kimbell who 1) begrudgingly agreed to pursue a firefighter series but 2) definitely would not support PTP or "ordered standy."

I will be with Rep. Filner on the Cleveland NF this coming Friday and hope to have some additional information on introduction of the bill.


5/25 With reference to the post immediately below with all the quotes, etc...


You said: <Ab snip, read below>

Do you see the non-primary firefighters as continuing to receive training and assignments in fire? I think it is critical to maintain fire experience throughout the agency to provide support to fire, and the experience and knowledge needed to incorporate fire into resource management.

Casey or Kenneth:

What is the status of proposals for PTP? Does the language apply PTP to all who participate in emergency response (as does the OT legislation) or is it limited to only "primary firefighters"?"


Finally! It seams people are starting to get it... this is what I've been saying for the past few years.. .now we just need to come together and get this on the table to those that matter. Bravo! Where can I help?

SoCal Green

5/25 CFTTF,

You said:

"A centralized fire organization (not stovepipe) authorized by the Department and the Chief would have its own fiscal, financial, HR (hiring), budget development and admin support "task forces" within the centralized system. Some will say, "good luck", "never happen". It can happen because we cannot accept being part of a dysfunctional system. Moving the largest federal wildfire workforce from the Forest Service into another agency would require congressional action. Realigning this workforce into a centralized system within the Forest Service with a fire leader chain of command all the way to the Chief can work. A business plan could be on her desk in 6 months. The organization would look similar to an In-Service Organization."

Excellent! This sounds like a viable foundation to help resolve the lack of service from ASC. It also sounds like it could solve the problems the agency has because it ignores Chief direction to have a "fire experience" evaluation criteria when selecting rangers.

Do you see the non-primary firefighters as continuing to receive training and assignments in fire? I think it is critical to maintain fire experience throughout the agency to provide support to fire, and the experience and knowledge needed to incorporate fire into resource management.

Casey or Kenneth:

What is the status of proposals for PTP? Does the language apply PTP to all who participate in emergency response (as does the OT legislation) or is it limited to only "primary firefighters"?


5/25 Thank You to all that have served on both fronts fighting for our and others' freedom and putting out the flames,
May the Lord watch over you and yours.


5/25 Re: "Increased" Efficiencies

Remember when the phones would break, and we'd call AT&T to come fix them??
Man, that sure didn't work, did it? I'm glad we have people that can make these
decisions for us. What would we do without them?


5/25 For firefighters that break bones in very bad ways:

New technology: bone putty
cnet.com article Bone Putty

NorCal Tom

5/25 Re: "Increased" Efficiencies

I spent the last two days working to get a very large Forest Service compound back online with the Customer Service Help Desk. It isn't my job, but everyone who used to do this work has been outsourced.... sorry "business process re-engineered" away from their original jobs.

On Saturday, a facility that services roughly 40 employees on any given day during fire season, lost computer access and phone service. The phones on the compound are VoIP phones.

It was obvious that the router had failed....We knew we had a router that was failing over the last several months... All of the amber and red lights on the router were the first clue, followed by the lack of green lights in places they were supposed to be in (Duh). We submitted a "ticket" to the Customer Service Help Desk to replace the router, and were contacted within the hour.

After two days of "staff work", two days of Customer Service Help Desk Support from Oregon, and five hours of very costly support from a Verizon Technician on a holiday weekend (~ $90/hr.), it was determined that the router was bad as both I and our local WO ISO employee had determined just by looking at the idiot lights on the panel. Prior to authorizing a replacement router, a T1 line failure had to be ruled out by the processes established by the Forest Service with the Customer Service Help Desk.

This is just another example of problems that are happening and latent within the Forest Service when decisions are made in Washington DC or the Regional Offices without professional field input. Processes are developed out of good intent for cost savings, but often result in increased costs and inefficiencies of scale. These processes aren't coming from or supported from the field.


Note: The folks at the Customer Service Help Desk were very professional, very friendly, and easy to communicate with. They had "checklists" to follow before they could authorize replacement. They elevated the "ticket" quickly to get the problem fixed ASAP, but had to follow the process established by their contract administrator. They are not at fault, or worthy of any blame.

The Verizon Service Tech. was also very understanding having been called in to work the holiday weekend.

To save on the replacement costs for a roughly $1,000 router, we spent about $1,500 determining that the router needed replacement..... and still need to replace the router. $2,500 in costs to complete a simple plug-n-play $1,000 repair. Great efficiencies we live with in bureaucracies.

5/25 OFG,

Thank you for the discussion and your comments. You asked great questions.

The FWFSA and Casey both know that folks are listening, and positive changes are being made all the time that many folks don't realize. It isn't a "self imposed trap" as you describe, but rather a preference from us to work behind the scenes and not seek anything in return; address the issues factually; listen to the field; and present what our membership directs us to on local, regional, and national levels after things have been fact checked and peer reviewed.

We foster change as an Employee Association representing all levels, rather than a narrowly defined Union. We have also partnered with NFFE to share info, and present a unified front on our aligned issues, and communicate on issues where we differ. While we may not always agree on some issues, we largely agree on the significant issues of our members.

The FWFSA has had either direct or indirect involvement in most positive changes that have happened in the last ten years within the federal wildland fire program.... I can't even begin listing them here as they would take pages to describe, but there have been national programs impacted positively with increased firefighter safety and mission efficiency.

In areas of problems or discontent, most often FWFSA members have been often excluded from policy, procedures, or discussions on changes. I'd like to think we are experts, and folks interested most interested in the end state mission regarding fire management. To not have a seat at the "table" is just bad business practices.

Hopefully in the future, the FWFSA will be allowed at the discussion table among peers and able to sit at the table when decisions are made or discussed.

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

5/24 What would a centralized fire organization look like?

Sure we can continue down a Line Officer developed and directed path into an abyss. We can strive for mediocrity and yes those rank and file employees at ASC work hard every day and do the best they can with the system our Line Officers have set up for them and us. I recently shared an open discussion and some good laughs with an ASC employee who told me what a circus the travel section of ASC is now since the implementation of the new travel program.

This is simple OFG. The admin, financial, computer and radio support systems set up by Line Officers are not meeting the needs of the field and multiple Forest Supervisors and District Rangers will tell you the same thing. Thatcher's testimony before Congress scratches the surface on the problem that includes, but is not limited to ASC. Looking for more? Go ask a Temp Firefighter who started work on April 27th and did not get a paycheck last Monday because the HR system at ASC and NFC system were not able to read profiles for many of our new Firefighters. Now that's a good way to make a good first impression and retain a new employee.

We have ASC in New Mexico filled with HR and financial employees and now National Forests building back admin staffs locally. As the Forest Supervisor said in his letter; "administrative needs are not being met". Want some more? How about the Los Padres, who cut 2 Air Tanker Base full time positions and reduced a tanker base retardant contract to CWN. But what we didn't hear about is in that same week and that same reorganization process, the Line Offices added a GS-11 Admin position. This GS-11 replaces a GS-11 position that migrated to R-5 HR and soon to ASC. Now fire will get to pay for it twice. It's time for fire to have fire leaders making decision for what's best for the fire organization, not a Line Officer with no fire experience and a degree in Anthropology.

A centralized fire organization (not stovepipe) authorized by the Department and the Chief would have its own fiscal, financial, HR (hiring), budget development and admin support "task forces" within the centralized system. Some will say, "good luck", "never happen". It can happen because we cannot accept being part of a dysfunctional system. Moving the largest federal wildfire workforce from the Forest Service into another agency would require congressional action. Realigning this workforce into a centralized system within the Forest Service with a fire leader chain of command all the way to the Chief can work. A business plan could be on her desk in 6 months. The organization would look similar to an In-Service Organization.

Congressional staffs are starting to get it. You can bet Lois Capps is interested in alternatives after she was lied to in back to back years about an air base. If you listen to Feinstein's committee questions, she thinks our Line Officer leadership is a serious concern. Every email and phone call to elected officials moves us closer and closer to a day when finally someone will throw in the towel and admit it's not working. That day is coming. Look at what our Line Officers did to the AD program. After years of mismanagement the program had fewer and fewer ADs, as many left to find improved pay and boy did they ever find better pay. When the Forest Service finally figured out that it was no longer cost effective to ignore our ADs, they increased AD pay by 25%. Instead of managing the AD pay appropriately annually, they ignored it and in the worst economy since the great depression the Forest Service and DOI agree to a long overdue 25% pay increases for the AD program. This is pure mismanagement at its finest.

Forest Service Line Officers in 2007; "we have no retention problems". 2008/2009 Congress sets aside 25 million for retention. Forest Service Line Officer; "Oh I guess we do have retention issues" and then Mr. Moore visits Forests and tells everyone with a microphone in his hand that he has done more to improve Firefighter retention and pay than any other Regional Forester. A fire leader would not have made a statement like that. Let's examine that comment; Moore did more for retention than any other Regional Forester? Huh? A GS-6 squaddie who kept up with the issues on theysaid and who dutifully sent in his or her emails to elected officials during our April/May 2008 awareness push did more to improve retention then Moore ever could hope to do. Never forget the April 1, 2008 video conference when Moore and Mr. Email (Pena) response to retention concerns was to tell us we made more than our CALFIRE counterparts. Only after a 60 day sustained email campaign did they begin to listen and 4 months later Feinstein secured 25 million; I wonder to this day how it was spent. That will be a FOIA come October 1.

If anyone thinks the 25 million we received to resolve retention issues and the 10% extra the GS 5-8's are getting each paycheck is because Moore , Edward, Mr. Email or Abby requested the funding, think again. We made this happen and we have the power to lead organizational change right now, starting right here, if we do so collectively. .

Centralized Fire Today, Tomorrow and Forever

5/24 Santa Catarina, forest fire course patche by military firefighters.


Walter Parizotto
Cap BM Cmt 3a/6o BBM
Xanxer Brazil

Obrigado, Walter. I put it on the Logos 15 photo page. Ab.

5/24 Thanks for the theysaid site


I enjoyed the theysaid site and look forward to reading more. It did my heart good to be able to read some of the comments while my son was at the Jesusita fire. You can bet I will continue to visit the site.

I want to express my thanks to all of the wild land firefighters out there. Too many people do not appreciate what you do or how you put your lives on the line every time you go out. All of you are in my thoughts and prayers.


You're welcome on behalf of the wildland fire community. Ab.

5/24 2009 DOI AD Rates - finally!

Hi Ab

I got the word today that DOI has FINALLY signed the new 2009 AD Rates!! It is posted on the NICC site or will be shortly. Great news for all those ADs signed up through BLM who have been patiently waiting for the new rates.


5/24 What would a centralized fire organization look like?


Thank you for starting a great discussion, and Casey thank you for a great response.

OFG, Your simple question and recent response seemed to beg for controversial response and I gave you one earlier. I simply stated previously that we need one, only one, federal government agency to oversee federal fire management. We can muddy those waters with all sorts of conjecture about who will "hire foresters, biologists, ecologists, soils scientists, hydrologists, landscape architects and all the other professional, technical and support specialists to run the timber, range, wildlife, accounting, and contracting" but the fact remains that we are one federal government those of us who are feds. I personally think many of your NEPA, NHPA, etc. concerns can be dealt with easily having done so for many years as a small unit GS-0401 FMO before I retired. I did much of that myself and my masters degree in a biological science was the shingle that gave me credibility, not to mention the quality of my documents/other products and my ability to present them.

The federal government is just too dad-burned big as it is and the federal firefighting profession is now short-shrift in respect because we are dictated to by umpteen -ologists at the expense of safety, efficiency, and economy to several disciplines that tend more to exacerbate us than to aid us. And maybe we have exalted a few to FMO level who should not be. And the line officers are continually held hostage by both sides.

I will continue to fight for the professional wildland fire manager because I was one for many years. My friend Paul Gleason also did so and we both held out to the end of our careers against the dilution of the fire manager position by nay-sayers from umpteen other disciplines within umpteen agencies.

One Federal Wildland Fire Agency!

Still KnuckleDragon. Still Proud of It.

5/24 What would a centralized fire organization look like?


My note on ASC was more in response to Centralized Fire..... reporting of the frustrations being felt by forests and employees who are not getting the service they need. CF... seemed to imply that a stovepipe fire organization could resolve the ASC problem "if led by a fire commander...."

I do not believe you are naive in how politics influences an agency's operations. I've watched you testify and you perform with dignity and respect.....and Capitol Hill could learn well to emulate that.

As far as your suggestions and ideas, I believe I stated it was a good start. I'm just asking for you or others to help flesh out the details. And indeed there are a number of issues that must be addressed for the agency to succeed.

I do believe you have fallen into a common self-imposed trap. That being when one thinks "Well the Chief/Regional Forester/National Fire Director/Regional Director/Forest Supervisor/District Ranger..... must not be listening, because they are not adopting my ideas." A manager can hear you without necessarily agreeing with you.

Again, has anyone thought through how the management of resources will continue in a stovepipe fire organization or agency? No need for frustration. If the answer is "No" then more work is needed.


5/24 What would a centralized fire organization look like?


You asked for ideas...I offered some. I don't know how ASC got into the mix. After being in the federal fire service myself for 25 years starting as a firefighter and working up to Asst. Chief of Operations with stints as the local firefighter union president, I've had the honor of having been on both sides of the labor/management table. Additionally, in the mid to late '90s I was involved in the same effort to "change" the fire program of the Dept. of Defense as I am a part now of trying to facilitate positive changes for firefighters employed by the land management agencies.

I still have lots to learn but all that being said, and after spending 15+ years working Capitol Hill and growing up in a political family (my father was a Minority Floor Leader in the State legislature where I grew up) I think I can safely say that I have moved past the naive stage in my understanding of how things can be fixed.

In fact the irony to all of this is that it is simple fixes that can solve so many complex solutions. Personally, I don't recall "blaming" anyone but it is frustrating that once the problems are identified, little if anything, other than the creation of more "management efficiencies" and "acronyms" come out of it. The problems are not limited to the Forest Service. In fact these problems seem to be an inherent flaw of all large bureaucracies charged with managing billions of dollars. Cutting my teeth on dealing with DoD gave me an understanding that oddly enough, it was simple fixes that could lead to many positive changes.

However like the leadership of DoD or any big bureaucracy, leaders don't like being told how to make their agencies run more efficiently. For some reason, they feel they are the only ones capable of changing anything. Thus, if there is blame to go around, it's blame for not listening to employees who have good ideas on how to better the organization. As I recall, it was Chief Kimbell herself who, in a video shortly after the Esperanza tragedy, told her employees that it was a "virtue" to challenge business as usual. Well, her firefighters have challenged business as usual and it has fallen on deaf ears.

Sure ASC was politically motivated. Just about everything is. But just because it was politically motivated and just because the concept might be meritorious doesn't mean it will work in the reality of the workplace. Case in point, the legislation that led to PL 107-203. Understandable yet not well studied as to its impact on the land management agency fire programs and firefighters. Good grief, look at all the programs and "efficiencies" the Agency has created over the last few years to appease Congress. How successful have they been?

So, I could care less who runs the fire show and its organizational structure as long as it is done by those with the experience and expertise in the field. You asked how it would work. I simply offered an idea.


5/24 Stinkin Badges,

The Badge information you are curious about is available from the BLM Rep at the Training Center or the California State Office. The manufacturer is Entenmann-Rovin located in Southern California.

"The Don't need no" seems related more to Uniforms, when complimented with the manual reference. As I've traveled around the west I've noticed that BLM tends to develop the uniform of the local respected "Big Dog" and see that portrayed with the Ranch Uniform- Jeans, Cowboy hat and shirt, hot dang big cool belt buckle. See alot of polo shirts out there, real comfy, perhaps the semi-formal, we don't wear a uniform, uniform. Seems the Smoke Jumper uniform is the contrarian anti-uniform uniform. All very cool and very uniform.

I know that New York City and Phoenix Fire Departments, two very professional organizations with significant contributions to the American Fire Service fully embrace t-shirts. In California, our Big Dogs are our cooperators and as we play in that sand box our Uniform consists of suits, ties, dressier business wear and the "official uniform" with the "approved badge". We had a great guy come down from Alaska Fire Service one year, the cooperators station he worked out of was, well let's say, uniform. It was hysterically funny as he would wear shorts, have long straggly hair and finally after intense pressure unball his uniform shirt from the back seat of the vehicle and wear it untucked on that assignment. Another time a Hot Shot Crew thought perhaps it would be cool to drive through the local cities in their crew carriers sans shirts, fun for them and by gawd it's hot out there! In this sand box the cooperating agencies depend on the goodwill of the voting citizen, try to portray what they feel is a professional customer service and depend on that goodwill for funding, Interagency cooperative initiatives, and the good favor of our local politico's. A little damage control and a few years was all it took to smooth that one over.

I suppose from all this I learned that I try to wear what my Brothers/Sisters are wearing at the local assignment when not on the line.


5/24 Hey, Mellie;

I'll let someone from a Regional Cache, NIFC Cache, etc, answer your "where to find, and how to order" questions, but if you were to go to a Logistics- or Supply- type in camp to order said landscaping appurtenances, you'd just ask for a "Sprinkler Kit", much like "Pump Kit", etc. Probably, therefore, a GSA catalog item (?)...

As far as your "...big firehose and nozzle..." needing "two solid men" to handle it: next time you have it out and hooked up, try making a circle with about the last 20 feet; slide the nozzle end UNDER the line, where they cross, with the hose behind you arranged so that the nozzle will point straight at your target area.

Be SURE the line behind the circle is relatively straight for about 10-15 feet (reduces whip); you need only 21/2- 3 ft extending beyond the crossover point to work the nozzle. Sit down on the crossover, and gragb the nozzle.

Fire up; and be sure the "FEO" sending you water knows what will happen if water is sent to you too abruptly, during the first test or two!

Hope this makes sense to you, despite the poor description. I'm only 6ft, 150 lbs, and have run a 21/2" handline all night using this technique, several times (great system for quick set-up of a water curtain between buildings, where an appliance would not be readily mobile enough for winds, etc, or with limited manpower).

Be Safe!


5/24 Some info on ASC:

A few years back I traveled to ASC with a RLT (including Randy) to be introduced to their facilities and teams. I came away impressed with the dedication of many of the personnel. Some were seasoned FS and had accepted assignments there because they were told that's where your next paycheck will be, and they were devoted more to the agency than to a particular location. Others were FS employees that jumped at the opportunity to be a part of a new approach to management in a large city. Many were brand new to the agency, not knowing what to expect, but excited about working for the FS.

Starting our tour at 7AM on morning, we still found folks already at work. Some had been there since before 6AM (they knew that every Forest to the east was already at work. The visit was a surprise to me in that I came away believing that the employees I had met were as dedicated as any in the agency. (and I confess I was not convinced of that prior to my visit).

I also learned that one driving force behind centralization was the failure of the FS to get a "clean" evaluation on our accounting processes. We failed in a number of years. Corrective actions and practices were put in place and the agency did earn a positive rating for three years. Some (myself included) felt that would be the end of it. But pressures were brought upon the Chief to agree to a "centralized" accounting center. It was pure political deal making that selected Albuquerque as the location for that center. During one meeting I offered the observation that the FS has a history of being "results oriented" and asked why (having achieved a good rating) that did not allow us to maintain our own accounting organizations. The reply was that "Not all agencies, and not all persons having oversight authority, have successful results as their top priority. Some believe that following established procedures/protocol is more important than success." (that's a rough quote) results oriented vs process oriented.

My understanding was the decision to add HR as a service was seen to emulate the armed services process and to help share the cost of the facility. Again the foks I met who signed up to work in HR were dedicated and striving to accomplish the work. They just needed some time to grow into the new organizational format.

I've been retired for two years now, and from what I hear, things are not working at the acceptable level. Change may be needed, but to try to "blame" previouse chiefs or managers for the initial undertaking is to close one's eyes to the reality of the politics that made the decision.

To expect that naming a fire director as head of a stovepipe organization will itself result in the reversal of the ASC decision is naive.

Politicians from both parties made agreements to build ASC. It will be a political driven decision to return us to Regional or Forest Level services.

It's never as simple as it looks.


5/24 Hi All,

I have a question or maybe a couple... since I have the defensible space mowing and clean up well in hand... It's about sprinklers. We have some rain birds, and might eventually put in permanent PVC, but I really liked our hose lay and sprinklers last summer during the fire.

At that time the team on our fire ordered and set up a hose lay and sprinkler system package around our place. The sprinkler pack was a standard cache item, I think, with 8 sprinkler heads if I recall correctly.

Coming off our stand pipe (with 283 lb of pressure) was a gated wye, one branch of which went to the hose lay (1 inch?) that connected to toy lines (1/2 inch?, charged via gate valve) for a human to use. It also had inline sprinklers which could run automatically. I think the hoselay was 1 inch with toy hoses as well as sprinklers coming off that around the front and sides of the house. The short fence around the front side of the propane tank had a short piece of toy hose that had been perforated so it sprayed a fine mist like a soaker hose.

The sprinkler risers came off of connectors in the line and they were stabilized by 2 or 3 synthetic "guy wires" to keep the sprinklers from whipping around. Along the back of our house there were 2 or 3, maybe every 20-30 feet. They could be set to water a semi-circle a coverage was 100% (they overlapped just barely). Is a 15 foot radius standard for those? There was only one place where the hose between sprinklers was longer than needed, so is it possible to get shorter than 40 or 50 food sections to work with the radius on the sprinkler?

I meant to take some pictures of the slick system, but my camera battery died, so I'm just trying to remember.

Does anyone know what the sprinkler system package is called, who makes it, maybe where I can order one? Jim at the Supply Cache would be my preference.

Does anyone know standard hose lay diameters? I remember doing this in FF1, but that was 10 yr ago. Our big fire hose and nozzle shoots water 80-90 feet up in the air, higher than our very large firs. Problem is, it takes two solid guys to hold and direct it.

Thanks, I'd appreciate any help. Want to be prepared...


5/24 To all BLM Lurkers out there I was curious, I just returned from R5 Training and noticed all the BLM Apprentices were wearing badges so I been asking and looking around and nobody I talked to knows. I also checked the BLM manual and all I could find was badges only for law enforcement if anybody could point me in the right direction I would appreciate it.

Signed: We don't need stinking badges!!!

5/23 Casey,

Here is a portion of a letter from a Forest Supv that confirms what FWFSA and NFFE have been saying for years about ASC. The letter is telling Randy Moore that ASC has failed. This letter is only one example of what is happening on many forests. Please read and then we can discuss why this trend is important.

May 6, 2009
To: Regional Forester

After several years of working with and through the transition phases of Budget and Finance, Human Capital Management (to ASC), and Acquisition Management it has been determined that the administrative needs of the snip National Forest were not being met. Numerous discussions and meeting have been conducted as we have attempted to effectively and efficiently manage the workload which remained due to these transitions (to ASC). As a Forest Leadership Team we conducted an analysis of our needs in order to be successful as a Forest. We arrived at an organization that will increase the Forest’s opportunities to do the following:

  • Provide coordination, consistency, high quality customer service across the Forest relative to administration and resource support.
  • Increase efficiency, and potentially cost effectiveness of processes and organization to help meet current and future challenges to mission delivery by providing in-depth analysis to workforce skills and capacity, as well as funding realities.
  • Increase consistency in process and direction to streamline work and increase accountability and ensure legal requirements are being met.

The following provides the specific decisions with respect to the new Administrative organization:

  • The Program Specialist for Administration (PSA) will be a direct report to the Forest Supervisor.


Casey, here is problem. This position will be funded primarily with fire funds. After 4 years of trying to get ASC to a functional level, Forests are giving up and adding admin positions back that left for ASC years ago. Unfortunately, fire is now getting doubled dipped on, as the concept of ASC was to eliminate local Forest admin positions and costs and move those positions and costs to ASC. However, the work this new position will do is clean up the mess that started when admin employees left for ASC. Fire is still the major program contributor for pouring funds into ASC. However now Forests are building back those admin positions one by one. Before you know it, the admin staffs on the Forest will be back to pre-ASC levels. Then what? I really can't blame the Forest for doing this as they're as frustrated as anyone. However, now because of the ASC fiasco, we are going to see our indirect costs continue to climb. Line Officer Mismanagement at its finest.

Line Officers have failed again in the centralization efforts of the programs that provide service and support. They continue to centralize services, problem is only one program, FIRE MGT, actually needs to be centralized.

Casey said:

Please keep in mind it isn't just folks on TheySaid talking about this, there are a number of folks on Capitol Hill pondering such changes.

I say: Good, they need to hurry up and make a change.

The only concern I'd personally have with that is that it didn't turn into another FEMA.

I say: Fear not Casey. All agencies have bumps in the road. However if lead by a Fire Commander we can overcome anything.

Fundamental changes in the way the FIRE program is managed and financed must be made, though.

I say: Yes, or we will continue to see failed human resource services, failed hiring practices, failed radio support, failed financial management practices at ASC, failed on-line computer programs, failed computer support and failed leadership.

Everyone needs to go back and read Ron Thatcher's 5/5 post and his testimony to Congress in March, especially the exhibits. When I read it, it was like a day in the life of a Forest Service Firefighter. Never in our wildest dreams did we think getting a travel authorization completed and approved would be more daunting than deciding to go downhill to pick up a spot fire.

Centralized Fire Today, Tomorrow and Forever

5/23 Re: "Year-round fire season"

Where I work at, fire season lately has been literally "year-round".

> From SoOps Intel: FIRES (2004-2009)


5/23 What would a centralized fire organization look like?


Thank you. A good response, and a good start.

Have you given any thought to the rest of my questions? How do you envision the integration of resources with the fire organization as they relate to participation by non-primary firefighters? Will the role of foresters, biologists, ecologists, GIS specilists, timber techs and rec techs change?

Who will conduct the NEPA for fuels work, reforestation site prep, range management, wildlife habitat and other projects that use the tool "fire"? Where will the personnel and equipment come from?

I'm sure there is a viable way to do this, but I'm equally sure that it's not just the simplistic "make it so" that seems to be the popular approach.

Right now I'm still of a mind that it would be better to have line officers that have significant fire experience and credentials..... but I could be convinced otherwise by a viable proposal.


5/23 Re: DUI Within the Forest Service

FSM 5100 - Chapter 5120 - Preparedness
Washington Office Interim Directive 5120-2008-1
Page 8

Emergency Vehicle Operations 5120 2008 (doc)

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

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

Rogue Rivers

5/23 Hey everyone just a quick question...

I'm looking for some information on what would happen if an Eng. or Engine Capt. were to receive a DUI in R5.


5/23 Dear "Forkinthetrail"

Sorry for the delay in responding. Had a bit of family issues to deal with lately. When Forest Service FAM Director Tom Harbour and others refer to the fire season now being year round, I don't think they are applying any significant science to the thought nor literally suggesting that wildfires occur across the country 12 months out of the year and that all regions have fires all year long.

We see fires cropping up in Texas and elsewhere in early February and still hanging around California in November, if not later. In Region 5 the last few years the Forest Service has had to apply to OPM to extend 1039 employees because, as Mr. Harbour has stated, the season does in fact seem to be year round.

Further as we all know, "off season" (if there is one) prescribed fires have been known to become wildfires requiring resources at a time traditionally considered "off season."

I think the points are that land management agency firefighters are involved in fire activities...and that can include preparedness, suppression, hazardous fuels reduction, training, FEMA assignments etc nearly all year long now as compared to 20 years ago when many PDs started referencing fire duties as "other duties as assigned." It is now the opposite...the "other duties assigned" should be referencing the non-fire work employees do.

To OFG on "separating fire from resources management:

Just some thoughts/ideas to ponder

Please keep in mind it isn't just folks on TheySaid talking about this, there are a number of folks on Capitol Hill pondering such changes. Many want a separate and distinct national wildfire agency. The only concern I'd personally have with that is that it didn't turn into another FEMA.

Fundamental changes in the way the FIRE program is managed and financed must be made though.

The "Fire Chief" should be the Forest Service FAM Director with full authority & autonomy to run/manage the fire program simply by virtue of the Agency's size and number of firefighters. Other land management agency fire leadership would work collectively with the "Fire Chief" to standardize equipment, policies, procedures etc. (i.e. not what we see today like the FS nixing the 401 while DOI continues to use it).

Fire preparedness, suppression and hazardous fuels reduction budgets should be developed by this Fire Chief and his/her "Deputy Chiefs" i.e. Regional FAMs. In turn that budget should be vigorously marketed by the Agency Chief to the Administration and Congress. In other words: "this is what our professional firefighters need to to A, B & C." Stop worrying about the politically appointed rear-end and seek what is needed to do the job right. Doing so would help to eliminate the need to seek emergency supplemental appropriations each Fall.

The allocation of appropriated funds would be accomplished by the development of needs by the Fire Chief, in cooperation with his/her "Deputy Chiefs" and "Assistant (Forest FMOs) Chiefs." The flow of these funds from Congress to the FAM Director to FMOs would not be impeded by Line Officers in any shape or form.

Said appropriated funds would return federal staffing to NFP expectations which would then allow flexibility to start reducing non-federal spending and ultimately reduce suppression costs.

The Chief of the Agency along with Regional Foresters, Forest Supervisors and District Rangers would be briefed on fires etc but would not engage in any capacity to develop or implement Fire policy. That would be the sole universe of folks with the Fire experience, expertise and acumen to do the job.

The fuels treatment program could be under the auspices of the Deputy FAM. And remember, FFs would continue to have the opportunity to participate in other program work... it's that Other duties as assigned thing in the PDs. However it is important to know that much of the R5 retention $$ provided to Congress for firefighter retention went to increase tours from I think 13/13s and 18/8s to 26/0 not for the sake of having people available for "other program work" but because of the increasing length of the season and other Fire related factors.

Just some personal thoughts.


5/23 Ab;

I am trying to find out if the burns from <any burnover people know about> were caused by silk screening on t-shirts or nomex the firefighters wore. the guys on the Amador county volunteers like to wear silk screened department t-shirts under their nomex. I wont any more because i fear getting hit my a bunch of heat and the screening melting. anyone have any info?

Charlie Ginsburg

Ab changed the words in the < > above to keep it about the what.

5/23 Stump Shot,

By "THEY", I'm referring to an accident investigation. ("Who do they blame")

The quality of a course for teaching chainsaw use, depends on the quality of the supervisor and their staff. In the field, real work and actual experience cutting and swamping is needed. There is no reason agencies can't find a project for them to work on!

To train sawyers in the field, an instructor needs to work with 2 to 3 students in a group. The instructor transfers not just knowledge but an attitude of how to go about things in a real life situation. Everybody rotates through different instructors so you are not in the same groups all the time. In the group, everybody switches roles and the instructor demonstrates or critiques the operation or technique.

Until the instructors are confident a student can cut safely, an instructor must be present any time they are cutting. Some people learn quick, some just are not cut out to be a sawyer.

With me, when I feel comfortable that a person is practicing good habits, feels confident and has experienced all the phenomenon associated with cutting, I'll let them cut unsupervised. If they aren't confident I don't trust them! I don't turn them loose till they realize what can go wrong in the future, and that they are responsible for their ability and judgment.

Rotating people lets people compare notes, reason things out, and find their own style. The feedback to the instructors, helps them develop a standard they teach from.

So, are they on their own after that? When they run into big trees is someone there to supervise? No it's not a THEY kind of business! If you are in over your head you need someone who knows what's is going on. It takes years of cutting to be aware of all the hazards from wind to tree rot. When you start cutting big timber again you need an expert instructor by your side. You don't turn somebody loose with big trees until they meet the above requirements.

If I turn someone loose and they cut themselves I feel I am to blame! If poor funding leaves beginners to cut unsupervised, the responsibility falls back on a broken system.

William Riggles

5/23 StumpShot,

We've gotten pretty much every excuse in the book from the ranger district: our classes would be cutting down too many trees; we wouldn't drop enough trees to justify staff time; no, we can't buy a timber sale; no, we can't do a Stewardship Project; no, we can't have it as a Good Neighbor project; etc...

The latest excuse is that the ranger supposedly called the office of general counsel and asked, "what's my personal liability here?" Not surprising given the Agency climate, but seems as if he didn’t bother to ask anybody on the forest or regional level on his way to lawyering-up.

In the meantime, we are talking with neighboring ranger districts and the BLM to find cutting areas within an hour's drive.

I was at a state fire chiefs' meeting yesterday where the R-2 staff gave a presentation about the 3 million acres of bark beetle trees in the state that are changing strategy for initial attack. (Draft language specified disengaging when eye level winds exceeded 8mph, 20 ft. winds greater than 20mph. New wording is something like "considerable movement in treetops.")

Over 120 miles of state highways in the national forests have critical risk of blowdown of dead/dying trees across roadway. I forgot the word used for the less than critical risk for another 450 miles of highway.

Like everything else, sawyer certification remains an agency/employer process. We printed the BLM taskbooks for the youth corps to initiate for the class we just finished.

The AmeriCorps crew is working a mountain mahogany project on the Rio Grande, which I told them may not be as exciting as felling but gives them brushing practice for fireline construction. Our instructors like to tell students to get good at stuff to put on their resumes like "skilled at folding practice fire shelters" and "expert pulaski sharpener."

vfd cap'n

Anyone that goes into felling for the excitement part of it is like anyone that goes into firefighting for the excitement part of it. They should not be allowed. Focus should remain on the professionalism of the job. Felling, like firefighting, should not be viewed as an extreme sport. We have way too many dangers to be dealing with attitudes of adolescents looking for the thrill. The success of clearly assessing risk in our changing firefighting culture will be determined by the words and actions more seasoned leaders bring to training and the discussion fostered among the youth. My opinion.

I will post whatever comes in later today if my newly repaired remote system works. Ab.

5/22 Attached is the initial CA state employee layoff list.

Note that neither Cal Fire nor Cal EMA is mentioned on the list.


5/22 William -

In my book, there is no "they" in timber falling as you referred to at the end of your last post. A sawyer is always personally responsible for his or her actions. True accidents can and do happen, but more often than not, operator error, incorrect cutting technique, or failure to fully assess one's trees and/or cutting areas are to blame - all basic, personal responsibilities taught to beginning sawyers.

If we want to be treated like professionals, we must be vigilant in pursuing continuous professional development; even if it continues to become increasingly difficult.


5/22 Fallers: Staying Current

I found it next to impossible to keep current. While I worked for New Mexico State Forestry they used me to fall "C" trees near structures, in emergencies.

I would ask NMSF and the USFS if there was a chance I could renew my certification. The conflict was non-federal people cutting FS trees. I couldn't find 3 big trees to cut. They would put FELB on my red card every year but I couldn't get my green card!

I find it's more trouble than it's worth to stay current. More true if you are a contractor! This is another BIG reason I no longer want to fight fire.

I should not have to struggle through red tape to prove I can do the job. I could teach the class!

The other thing is inadequate funding to do the job right. If you want to train a safe sawer / faller they need to work with and expert 2 on 1 in brush and timber. Thats the perfect combination. This saves time in the long run, people learn quicker and safer.

Cut them loose too early and they develop bad habits and cut themselves trying to learn the hard way.


William Riggles

5/22 I'm a retired Forest Service employee who participated in fire for about 15 years on fires in 17 states. Now that I can't climb those hills any more, I'd like to write about it. I have three months free this summer and plan to write a fictional book based loosely on my experiences on wildfires. I have plenty of writing experience and plenty of ideas. But there's nothing like real stories to base a fictional account on.

My goals? I don't want to write an exciting and unusual account of life on a fire in the midst of disaster. Rather, I hope to develop a series of characters and center the story deep in the routine. I want to describe life in a fire camp and on the fireline and how normal type II firefighters interact and react to a very mundane fire assignment. The excitement and interest will come from my ability to take the ordinary and describe the details using firey words and passion, how someone missed their family, how a rookie gave up and went home or stuck it out while saying "never again" for two weeks, and all the minor interactions of people as they move from being desk jockeys to fireline Ph. D.s, holding a shovel and working as "Posthole Digger" Ph. D.s. I want to describe the boredom of waiting for a flight that never comes, airsick on a bummer smoke jumper plan, or putting out a hot spot as well as redrenching a cold spot for four days straight.

I want to fully develop a full crew of 20 that both unites and at times divides depending on conditions, from the full time fire guy from a district to a receptionist turned firefighter. I want to make colorful characters as well as those who are simply a pain in the rear and make life miserable for everyone else. Routine, not explosive. I'll have no fatalities, no burnovers, no disasters. But I will have late buses, long food lines and shower lines, and practical jokes.

So, what I'd like to hear are some funny to serious real life experiences from real fire fighters that I might work into my book. I can think of many, but I'm sure the folks who read "they said" can think of many more. There's the tree that fell 300 feet away during our lunch break that we jumped up and mopped up for two hours. There's the idiot who couldn't keep his mouth shut when a woman walked by the bus who was later fired. There's the religious nut who gets up every morning and sings 30 minutes before the rest of the crew needs to awaken. There's the old geezer and the greenhorn. I want to make the folks at home feel like they have been there and done that. I want my grandkids to know what it is like on the fireline.

If you could email you stories to sedgehead I'd appreciate it. Since I'm trying to keep this fictional, I won't use any names or locations you might want to provide. I have no idea if someone would publish my book, but if I don't write it, I know they won't. Times a wasting!

Retired 'ologist

Sounds very interesting. Please let us know how it goes. Ab.

5/22 AD Rate proposal and BLM

Talked with a BLM Personnel representative in Boise yesterday - she told me that DOI still hasn't signed the new AD rate proposal because of concerns over the new higher rates. (They think they are too high). She also told me she had attended a meeting this week where the new rates were discussed, and it didn't sound like they were going to sign. Instead sounds like they may stay with the old rates.

Guess we will see what happens- bummer for those ADs signed up through BLM. Good on the USFS for having the foresight and good decision-making to sign the new rate proposal - maybe I'll just switch over to being sponsored by USFS!


5/22 Re Access to FS trees for chainsaw training:

vfd cap'n -

Did your local district ranger provide any reasoning for the denial to access? Would you have been required to purchase a permit or something similar to conduct a for-profit class on federal lands, just as outfitters and hunting/fishing guides are? Similarly to Colorado Firecamp, they may be providing an ecological/land management service, yet they still have to give Uncle Sammy his cut.

What agency is certifying your student's "A Faller" trainee status? The State of Colorado requires their home unit to do so. Will they be cutting on the R.G.N.F. under certified "A's", "B's", or "C's"?

I am not trying to be critical - I know it sounds that way via email, but we have run into similar issues in the Centennial State.


5/22 re: Chief Kimbell recent remarks (to a reporter, described in an article on 5/13)

Dear Ab,

I did not see the entire remarks from the Chief or from Casey, but sometimes people get the migrational patterns of the nation (yearly fire season) confused by suggesting it is a permanent season.

Many areas of the country are either dealing with fires on one day and mud slides on the next. And I agree certain Mediterranean climates seem like they have "permanent" seasons - but the thing to remember is the fire triangle and all aspects being in alignment.

Anyone ever see hurricane triangles, monsoon circles or tsunami squares....? I guess it depends on the type of event, duration of enabling conditions and the factors that transport these events around the globe.

Global Climate anyone?

Cheerio! Hope all is well.


5/21 re: Chief Kimbell recent remarks

I'm glad I'm not the only one who was thinking open mouth and insert foot when Chief Kimbell said "a permanent fire season? I hope we never get to that" and later, "I hope it rains."

If So Cal keeps having dry winters like the last few years, they will be experiencing a year round fire season- wake up and smell the coffee- the area is already going down this road.

As I was seeing all sorts of aerial shots of the Jesusita Fire on TV, I kept thinking to myself, it looks rather green on those hillsides- what is fire behavior going to be like in August, or in the fall with Santa Ana's?

Casey- thanks for educating the powers that be on reality!!

fireweed lurker

5/21 Re Access to FS trees for chainsaw training:


I would buy your argument if what we were asking for were unrelated to the FS mission. Yes, there are inherent risks in chainsaw operations. But, avoiding that risk in the short term makes the risks greater for everybody in the long term.

We got it done today with our S-212 field evaluation on private land with the cooperation of a local ranching family. 5 more AmeriCorps volunteers now have their NWCG course completion certificate with recommendation for "A" faller. They're headed south tomorrow morning for 9 days of saw work on the Rio Grande National Forest. No thanks, of course, to our local ranger district.

You call it "unloading liability" on the part of a line officer, and I call it <snip>. This is chainsaw training that the Agency requires for the volunteers and veterans who the Agency relies upon to accomplish the Agency fuel reduction targets. Take a look at the Region 2 supplement to the FSM 6700 zero code.

vfd cap'n

5/21 CALFIRE Life Hazard

CALFIRE Life Hazard (42K pdf)

beginning text:

(No. 70 July 2008)


To establish procedures for the identification and management of immediately life
threatening conditions at the scene of an incident that on-scene emergency personnel
and other responders do not have the capabilities, tools, or training to immediately
mitigate. This includes:

  • Specific procedures for immediate notification of personnel
  • Notification for on-going or long term life hazards
  • Methods to isolate and clearly identify the life hazard with three strands of barrier
  • Establishment of an easily recognizable method to prevent on-scene emergency
    personnel and other responders from entering into a Life Hazard Zone.
  • Considerations for the assignment of Life Hazard Lookouts.

Methods for remote or large area life hazards

The clearly identifiable method to assure that emergency personnel and other
responders do not enter Life Hazard Zones includes the use of a minimum of three (3)
horizontal strands of barrier tape that states “Do Not Enter” or “Do Not Cross” to
prevent entry to the hazardous area. The optimal tape configuration would be a 3 inch
wide red and white barrier striped or chevron tape. However, three horizontal strands of
any Fireline tape or flagging tape between 1 inch and 3 inches with the words “Do Not
Enter” or “Do Not Cross”, securely fixed to stationary supports and in sufficient locations
to isolate the hazard, will meet the intent of this guideline.

5/21 Re Access to FS trees for chainsaw training:

vfd, it's a question of liability. There are so many felling mishaps and deaths that the feds are looking to unload any kind of liability for them. They don't want more risk, either.


5/21 Pretty interesting how the California Emergency Management Agency (CAL EMA) has evolved... and changed to address ever changing mission(s) and threats. CAL FIRE has also evolved to do the same.

1917: State Council of Defense

1929: State Emergency Council

1941: California State Council of Defense

1943: California State War Council

1945: California State Disaster Council

1950: California State Disaster Council and Office of Civil Defense

1956: California State Disaster Council and California Disaster Office

1970: California Emergency Council and the Office of Emergency Services

2009: California Emergency Management Agency

A history of the OES/EMA

Thanks Allen for the correction. I was trying to do it from memory and the dates got confused. My bad. Hopefully the federal land management agencies will once again realize that they were once peers and leaders in the discussion of changing missions and emerging threats regarding wildland fire and future emergency management.

This post (and my previous post) should not be taken as anything against CAL EMA or CAL FIRE, but a challenge to the federal land management agencies to regain their standing in the discussions.

I'm not a rocket scientist, but the Forest Service has been using models developed from the 1891 (Forest Reserve Act), 1897 (Organic Act) and 1905 (Forest Transfer Act)... with only small amendments through the years such as the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960 to make decisions. I'd like to think we have learned something throughout the years in regards to fire management and evolve as other agencies have.

Time for modernization and focus on the mission(s) and threats that the community (taxpayers) want us to do and focus upon. Fire Management does need to be separated from Land Management to be safer, more efficient, and a more cost effective organization.... but Fire Management still needs to be considered a family member in the management of our federal lands.



5/21 re: Colorado wildfire issues


The Colorado Fire Chiefs Association has started a new section to help tackle a number issues. Paul Cooke put a lot of effort into getting Senate Bill 13 through the legislative hurdles. colofirechiefs.org

Still waiting for the dust to settle on the several bills that address the authority/responsibility between fire chiefs and county sheriffs. The best-value dispatch policies need some help to be equitable to volunteer and career fire departments.

One issue that Colorado Firecamp is working to elevate is the question of access to Forest Service trees for S-212/MTDC chainsaw training field evaluations for non-federal students. Our local district ranger won't let us on the forest to train AmeriCorps volunteers or the upcoming Green Veterans project. ARRA released Forest Service projects 5/14/2009 (pdf)

The FS is trumpeting all the Recovery Act job creation for chainsaw-ready fuel reduction projects on the national and regional level. But, our local line officer says it's not his GS-12 job to help make kids and returning soldiers chainsaw-ready.

vfd cap'n

5/20 Dear Ab,

In response to the comments made about the start of Firescope and ICS in California, one change needs to be made: OES at that time was called the "California Disaster Office" or CDO. Before that time it was called the Office of Civil Defnese or OCD in the 50's and before.

Just clarifying a bit.


5/20 Nighttime firefighting:

Brother Cub,

Those were night shifts on the Iron, Lime, and the Yolla Bolly.


5/20 Some more on the Ex-Firefighter that is accused of arson, from the FS LEO Weekly Reports.

And There I Was

Stanislaus NF - On 9/6/08, a series of five wildland fires were started within a 3.5 hour time frame. Four of the fires occurred on the Forest and two started on private land within the state protection boundary. Two LEO's conducted the initial investigation. During the following four days, LEO's and an SA conducted the investigation. They identified a suspect and obtained a confession to deliberately setting one of the five fires. The suspect is a former FS firefighter who worked on an FS hot shot crew. The former employee had resigned from the agency in June 2008. The Tuolumne County DA filed charges in April against the suspect for three counts of arson. An arrest warrant was issued and the suspect appeared at a preliminary hearing on 5/8. The Superior Court Judge found probable cause exists and ordered the suspect bound over for trial for the fires that occurred on the Forest.

5/20 Ab,

Colorado governor Bill Ritter is scheduled to sign this Colorado Senate Bill 13 into law at the Colorado Wildfire and Incident Management Academy in Montrose, Colorado the first week of June.

This is a good step forward at the state level on a couple of issues.

Jim Felix

We can email people, please tell us who and what your issues are. Ab.

5/20 KnuckleDragon

So the FS (Fire Service) will hire foresters, biologists, ecologists, soils scientists, hydrologists, landscape architects and all the other professional, technical and support specialists to run the timber, range, wildlife, accounting, and contracting? That will replace the FS (Forest Service) in a more efficient manner?

BAWP! Uh..... not so simple. But thank you for playing.

Anyone else?


5/20 KK,

Thanks for the reply. I thought that on some big fires like the Iron Incident last year there was no night shift.

Brother Cub

5/20 OFG,

Good questions and the answer is very simple:

ALL of those responsibilities need to be totally removed from both USFS and NPS, both of whom I worked for extensively during my career while watching all of the unprofessional abuses of both funding and fire personnel. BLM, BIA, and USFWS may have different track records, I cannot speak for them, but the outcome needs to be the same. We need to start thinking in terms of one federal government, one National Fire Service, before we will ever get our fire house in order as fire professionals. The "stovepipe" thus created can only serve to better serve the land, the people, and the employees and to give fire folks the ability to prevent continued abuse of fire funding.


5/20 History of ICS:

There are big problems with this "history" document on the FIRESCOPE webpage. It doesn't tell the true history and "is leading" and doesn't present the facts about the collaborative effort that many of our leaders went through in the past.

Some Highlights of the Evolution of the ICS (pdf)

I'll just give three examples to share among friends:

1) During the development of FIRESCOPE and ICS, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection didn't exist. It was the California Division of Forestry under the California Resources Agency (land management agency).

2) During the development of FIRESCOPE and ICS, the Governors Office of Emergency Services (OES) didn't exist. It was the California Office of Civil Defense (focused primarily on the preparation and response to nuclear war and recovery).

3) At the time, the Forest Service was assigned as the lead agency since federal funding was responsible for the new program eventually known as FIRESCOPE. There were very vocal folks within the Forest Service at the time fully focused on the issues and responsible to manage the federal funding.... namely Lynn Biddison and Chuck Mills.... working at the forefront and behind the scenes to make sure the newly funded federal program was a success with collaboration from all partners.

That isn't to say that the evolution of those agencies is bad as they evolved, but the history of the evolution of those agencies is needed and spot on to the discussion at hand.

Folks working on wildland fire issues back then had many hurdles and communication barriers to overcome like we do today. They did it.... even without the internet or cell phones. They looked forward to the future. We need to do the same.... and speak factually on the issues and future.

Noname 24

5/20 We brought Brownie's situation to everyone's attention yesterday, thanks to Grayback's Jesse Kiene, BLM's Jerry S. and the WFF for the heads up.

Man survives helicopter crash, loses home to fire
Tuesday, May 19, 2009 10:34 PM PDT
By The Associated Press

ROGUE RIVER, Ore. — Nine months after surviving a helicopter crash in Northern California that killed seven comrades, 21-year-old firefighter Michael Brown has lost his home to a fire.

The Saturday blaze heavily damaged his family's two-story Rogue River home and destroyed nearly everything inside, The Daily Courier of Grants Pass reports.

"It seems like I've already got the weight of the world on my shoulders, with bad luck," he said. "It's like somebody or something is always trying to get me."

Brown suffered two broken cheekbones, a broken nose, a dislocated jaw and a concussion in an Aug. 5 helicopter crash that killed nine of the 13 people on board. The helicopter was ferrying Grayback Forestry firefighters into the Iron 44 Complex wildfire in northern California when it slammed into the ground.

On Saturday night, Brown was at a gathering in Boise, Idaho, for victims of wildland fire accidents when the fire broke out at his family's home.

Grayback Forestry is seeking donations to help Brown and his family, and it has established the Michael Brown Recovery Fund through the SOFCU Community Credit Union.

The Browns' neighbor Frank Meyers said he saw flames, prompting him to pound on the family's door and alert them.

The fire started on a wooden deck behind the house, said investigators who haven't identified what caused the blaze but have ruled out arson.

The Browns said they are staying with a relative.

Michael Brown remains in physical therapy and counseling for the trauma suffered in August. He and Grayback's two other survivors from the crash plan to continue firefighting, said Jesse Kiene of Grayback.

"He's a grown man, so he can make that decision," said Brown's mother, Carol McFadden. "I'd rather see him delivering mail or something."

The fourth survivor of the crash is Bill Coultas of Cave Juntions, who was the helicopter's co-pilot. He suffered severe burns and said he's at least nine months from flying again.

Fair Use Disclaimer

Ab note: Here's the fund info we found by calling the credit union yesterday:

"Mike Brown Recovery Fund"
SOFCU (Southern Oregon Federal Credit Union)

PO Box 1358
Grant's Pass OR 97528
Attn #110024

5/20 Nighttime firefighting:

Brother Cub,

No policy exists.

Got a link, facts, or otherwise to support an "R-5 Policy" no longer has, or
allows a night shift operation on fires? If so, even if it came from the smoke
jumper community, it is wrong. R-5, as well as the other regions, still fight
fires at night.

I'm an R-5 Fire Manager (IC Type Person almost) and Fuels Specialist, and haven't seen the memo or rumor.

Each incident commander (Type 1 -5) is still allowed to use all the "tools in the toolbox" to safely suppress or manage wildland fires as appropriate.

If that is an accepted practice to let fires burn freely at night and escape initial attack, it misses many lessons learned in fire management from MANY decades of leadership before us.


5/20 from Noname Fire:


Ex-Firefighter To Stand Trial In Arson Case
Gregory Livingston Accused Of Setting Fires In Stanislaus National Forest

TUOLUMNE COUNTY, Calif. -- A former firefighter will stand trial on suspicion of setting three fires in Tuolumne County.

A judge said there is enough evidence for Gregory William Livingston to stand trial.

Livingston is accused of setting three fires in the Stanislaus National Forest on Sept. 6 of last year.

He is a former forest service firefighter.

Livingston resigned due to medical reasons just two months before the fires began.

Fair Use Disclaimer

5/20 Re: ICS


As an additional person to contact, you might want to contact former Fire Chief Duane Mellinger of Central Valley Fire (now part of San Bernardino County Fire) for additional info on the development of ICS and the folks directly and indirectly involved.

Chief Mellinger was instrumental in his efforts working behind the scenes (way before ICS) and through the years of ICS being formulated within FIRESCOPE as a topic of discussion on how to do things better. He also continued working behind the scenes after ICS had become the standard in SoCal after testing.

Anyone who has watched the 1980 Panorama Fire documentary (thanks Jim) can see Chief Mellinger describing the Panorama Fire and the response to it. The documentary was awesome.

Chief Mellinger still proudly serves in a needed support function... and still goes to fires all the time.... and is dispatched from the San Bernardino National Forest.

Chief Mellinger has great information to share and is a wealth of knowledge on the processes, bickering, hurdles, and evolving successes that ICS faced.... and I still get goose bumps every time he says "hi Chief" to me... I know he means it out of respect, but the respect is more soundly due to him than any of us newbies.

I'll put anyone into contact with Chief Mellinger if they want additional info on ICS. And yes, he is Chief Mellinger to me. Please forward requests through Ab.


5/19 Re: Separating Fire from Resource Management

If indeed it is inevitable that the FS should change and have a "stovepipe" fire organization, how would that work? Has anyone developed a proposed organizational chart? What involvement (if any) will folks who are not "primary firefighters" have? How will the "Fire Department" be integrated with resource management Who will design fuel treatment programs and conduct the required environmental analysis? What about the use of fire for other than fuels management? Site prep for planting, grazing allotment management, wildlife habitat creation/maintenance? Would ff's continue to have the opportunity to participate in other program work (providing year-round employment?) If (when) we go down that road, it would be nice to know what our destination will look like.

Ideas and thoughts anyone?


5/19 Is it now R-5 policy that there is no night shift on fires or at least no night shift on "project" fires? I was talking to a smokejumper recently who said that very seldom is there a night shift "on a fire of any size." I realize that in steep country or extra hazardous burning conditions it might not be safe to fight wildland fires at night but in the old days that's when a lot of fires got hooked. A lot of mop up used to be done at night too. I think this topic came up a few months ago on this forum and I am just curious about it. Of course I believe that firefighter safety should be the first consideration.

Brother Cub

5/19 History of ICS

Check out the Firescope history page.

The first “FIRESCOPE Technical Team” was established to guide the research and development design. The two major components to come out of this work are the Incident Command System (ICS) and the Multi Agency Coordination System (MACS).

Firescope history page


5/19 History of ICS

I don’t know what you are looking for specifically relative to the origins of ICS. I am a Type II IC who was pre and post ICS. I trained under Montague and Stumpf. I was also the Task Force Leader who brought the first mutual aid units into the Oakland Tunnel Fire in 1991 (where ICS was not utilized during initial attack). If there are specific questions you have for your research you can email me at mbradley@highlandsfire.com

5/19 CalFire has opened up their Fire Captain Examination; also Fire Prevention Specialist I & II Exam Announcements

Hello,Firescope history page. It looks as if CalFire has opened up their Fire Captain Examination again. I am seeing a little discrepancy with the filing date - the Examination Announcement itself is showing a filing deadline of June 22nd, but a June 15th deadline is posted on their website. Just to be safe, I would recommend adhering to the June 15th deadline.

They also have their Fire Prevention Specialist I & II Exam Announcements posted as well (June 1 deadline).

Sincerely, Bethany E. Loomis-Hannah, owner Loomis Hannah Wordsmithing - Specializing in resume writing for professional firefighters LoomisHannah.com | 1.866.414.4040 (tollfree) | 1.866.686.5484 (fax)

Thanks for filling a big need, Bethany. Ab.

5/19 Hey Ab,

I'm doing a quick little report on the beginning of ICS. Schools almost out and we just had another big fire in socal.

Do you or anyone have anything on that here? I looked on the IMWTK sheet and did not find too much. Found the following---

Q: When did ICS begin; What was the first fire on which ICS was used? Where?
In 1975 the Pacioma Fire, Tujunga RD, Angeles NF was the FIRST use of the ICS organization. Dick Montague was the IC and Jim Stumpf was the S&R (Search & Rescue). The name change to Operations Section Chief did not come until later. Dick Montague and Jim Stumpf switched back and forth from IC to S&R, because at the time all were still experimenting the the ICS system. The Fulton Hot Shots, along with many other crews were assigned to the Pacioma Fire. Participants included the Del Rosa, Vista Grande, Little T, Palomar, Los Prietos, Texas Canyon, Luguna, and El Cariso hotshot crews, and more but I just can't recall all of them. (Dave Provencio)
More info here: "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project

Anything else? Googling --

Oh wait, here's something cool 2003-n-before --- ciccs history Called CICS --- California ICS --- to begin with.

Liked this one from John Wendt 2004, too --- Wendt onfire

"Holding affection for systems somehow seems odd, but to the extent that the Incident Command System brings together dedicated people who take on personal risk to meet chaos with order, and earn the appreciation of the host, then ICS is worth caring about, as well as supporting."

Only had to see those jesusita flames to appreciate that one.

Anyone out there old enough (or remember enough, chuckle) to make a comment on what it was like before and after C-ics? Are the communication probs assoc with ics any better these days? What challenges still remain?

Thanks for any scraps of info or wisdom.


5/18 Cal Fire Blue sheet for the Jesusita entrapment

This came in. Ab.

See attached Cal Fire Blue sheet for the Jesusita entrapment. Please share with those who may find themselves in a similar situation.

Please provide wide distribution of this document for the purposes of discussion and Tailgate Safety Session.

Blue sheet for the Jesusita entrapment (doc)

5/18 OFG -

Are you suggesting that we take personal responsibility for our own actions? How dare you!
(Tongue so firmly in cheek it has gone to sleep...)

Herein lies the problem. The current "flawed system" does not allow us to take responsibility for our actions for fear of prosecution, termination, lawsuits, etc. So, I make a mistake (it happens often), I choose to accept responsibility at the cost of my lively hood, my family, my house? This is the predicament many of us are in. Redefining the culture in which we can accept responsibility, knowing that we are safe from frivolous lawsuits, headhunting, and scapegoating is what needs to occur. Not blanket immunity, mind you - those who make errors that meet the definition of "gross negligence" should be held accountable.

I ask again, how can we further the cause to this end in the litigious society we live in?


5/18 Ab please post a link to this. Very cool.

Dude Fire Tribute

Dude Fire Tribute on YouTube


5/18 Some new logos up on Logos 15 photo page. You'd be amazed at the inquiries we get from around the world to trade them. HAW HAW. Ab.
5/18 All of you know about the loss that the Iron 44 families and friends had to deal with when the helicopter went down August 5th of this last year carrying 10 Grayback Forestry Firefighters... 7 of those 10 unfortunately lost their lives along with 1 very good pilot and a forest service employee, all doing the job they loved...

The only light to this story is that there were 4 survivors 3 of whom are Grayback Forestry Firefighters...

This last weekend some of us attended the Wildland Firefighter Foundation "Family Weekend"... This was a time to pay tribute and remember the brave souls that were doing their job but lost their lives due to the various hazards Firefighters have to deal with every shift... During this weekend one of the survivors received a phone call informing him that his house had burned to the ground, completely... He, his girlfriend and his mother all lost most of their belongings, they like many couldn't afford fire insurance living in a rural area...

At this time we have set up a

"Mike Brown Recovery Fund" SOFCU (Southern Oregon Federal Credit Union)
PO Box 1358
Grant's Pass OR 97528
Attn #110024
(that's the account number) (wlf.com's research)

to try to help him and his family through this tough time and get them back on their feet... We all know that regardless what happens or what you're going through, real life keeps going... Bills have to be paid, food has to be bought and shelter has to be provided... Please help us help Mike get through yet another tragedy, he's been trying to get out of a hole and now it just got a h*ll of alot deeper... For those you can't email please ask them to watch the local news tonight on any channel or read the paper and those resources should have all the info needed... Thank you for your time and effort towards this cause.

Jesse Kiene
Asst. Base Manager/Medford
Grayback Forestry

Mike Brown (Brownie), a survivor... Here's to you! Ab.

5/18 Re Batt 18 photo:

I was told by someone at the Jesusita fire that Los Angeles City lost a command vehicle. Could this be Batt. 18 LAFD? They also had some damage to apparatus and firefighters injured at the Calabasas Entrapment while a strike team was crossing a mid-slope road with fire below them. The Calabasas Entrapment Report was and excellent document that detailed three major factors that resulted in the damage to apparatus and injuries. JP Harris Ret. B.C. from Los Angeles Co. Fire was lead investigator. Still a good read if you can find it. Many courses out there still use this entrapment incident as a teaching tool.

Stay safe,


5/18 Jesusita Fire photo:

Ab, here is a photo (Batt 18) for ya. You might already have it. Great view and probably
midslope above a canyon. I am not sure what department it is from.


Thanks, SG.

It's a larger version of the one from the LA Times Jesusita slideshow. Don't know if that photo is still posted. Here's what another person sent in:

Ab, this photo is from the Jesusita Fire, taken on Holly Road on 5/7/09. A Battalion Chief's
vehicle burned up but the driver escaped. Agency unknown. Photo Credit Mark-Boster,
LA Times.


Thanks, I posted it on the Jesusita Fire photo page. Anyone know what agency? This was posted on the slide show on the same day the Ventura engine was burned over and many other firefighters and entrapped residents were having serious problems resulting from extreme fire behavior. Ab.

5/18 To all:

Lots of interesting posts lately, naturally incorporating the frustration most of us feel about the system. Chief Kimbell's recent comment to the press about "a permanent fire season? I hope we never get to that" and more recently her "I hope it rains" comment unfortunately clearly demonstrate her disconnect from the realities of the field and the simplistic attitude of one of the most complex forces nature offers.

The mere fact that her own FAM Director last year publicly stated that the season is basically year-round (evidenced by the Agency's annual efforts to extend 1039 employees) also demonstrates the well known chasm between the Agency leadership and FIRE leadership even within the Halls of the WO.

Obviously in R5 we'd like to see more communication and leadership for our firefighters from the RO. The recent "Talking Points for Fire 2009" to Line Officers again is a symptom of a system that is simply outdated and led by folks with not a lick of FIRE experience or expertise.

In fact the Talking Points remind me of recent Sprint/Nextel commercials with Firefighters running Congress and other "working class" folks making decisions and getting things done more effectively and efficiently. In this particular scenario, if wildland firefighters were actually in charge of FIRE policy and FIRE funds, instead of the convoluted Talking Points, only the following would be necessary:

TO: District Ranger, Forest Supervisor In-Turn
FROM: Forest FMO
RE: XYZ Fire

We need this, this and this. We will be doing this, this and this.

Certainly the Line Officers should be included in an "informed" capacity but it is surely time to take them out of the FIRE decision-making process. Needless to say the Agency will not do this by themselves. They would rather try to manage their fire program as it was 30-40 years ago to ensure all of you firefighters "get it" that you work for a land management agency, not a fire department. Unfortunately until the Agency gets off center of that, whether by force via Congress or a leadership change, the status quo will remain; costs will continue to skyrocket; firefighters will be overburdened by Admin duties; AgLearn will be more important than training firefighters for the upcoming season, etc., etc.

As a result it is up to all of us to change the system. It's a slow, frustrating process, but there are signs of progress. The mere fact that the Agency leadership is a bit chagrined (nice word) that the Sec. of Ag has offered to open up communications with the FWFSA is an opportunity to educate more folks on what is critically necessary to strengthen the fire programs and make them more cost-effective and efficient.

These changes will not come from anyone except you exercising your voices. Remaining silent or simply posting on TheySaid without sharing your thoughts with your elected officials will not result in effective change.

Make a commitment to be a part of the progress towards the change you have all deserved for far too long.


5/18 Ab,

Here is some more from the FSM 5300 series

6. Agency officials must ensure that law enforcement personnel have the independence necessary to conduct any investigation in confidentiality and without interference. Employees shall not attempt to overrule or influence the extent and thoroughness of an investigation by agency law enforcement personnel.

7. All employees shall be informed of their responsibility to cooperate during an official investigation.

8. Law enforcement personnel shall conduct criminal investigative interviews of employees in accordance with applicable case law (Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493, 87 S.Ct. 616 (1967); Kalkines v. United States, 473 F.2d 1391 (Ct. Cl. 1973); and, if applicable, Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602 (1966)).

9. Employees shall take immediate action to protect evidence when a violation is discovered.

Also, I read the Transcript of the FLETC podcast. It is very good. I really like the way that Ms. Solari and Mr. Knerly (still have to call them that or Sir/ Ma'am) discussed it. This is really quite interesting. It may really help those of you out.


5/18 Photos BDF Engine 56 Rollover/ CA-LPF-Chalk Fire 9/27/08

I know this is old but I did not know you hosted images! lol

I was in the rollover and here are some of my pictures. Our accident report came out and
can be viewed on the lessons learned website.

The photo of our engine on the bridge was a day or 2 prior to the rollover.


Thanks, I put them on Engines 23 photo page.
Also, here's the CA-LPF-Chalk Fire Rollover hotlist thread of the incident within the incident from 9/27/08 although nothing was posted on the hotlist until 10/3.
Here's the CA-LPF-Chalk hotlist thread as well.
We very much appreciate posters emailing Ab instead of posting directly on the hotlist when accidents occur. Glad all of you were OK. Ab.

5/18 From Stan Berry, Alberta Canada, some Air tanker photos:

Air Spray B-26 on the tarmac at Slave Lake (Alberta) air tanker base July 2004. Also, CL-215's and 415's on the tarmac at Slave Lake (Alberta) air tanker base July 2004. Photos compliments of Stan Berry. (0509)

Thanks, Ab. I added them to the Airtankers 30 photo page. Ab.

5/18 Lobotomy, thank you for finding those references. I could not do so as I have not been to my office in a while.

Smokeybehr, great use of the definitions.

I enjoy reading and working to provide the best advice as a person that I can. I obviously can not provide proper legal advice as I am not an attorney, but I can do my best. The collaboration here is a good one. I can say that I am pleased to be a (hopefully) contributing member of the community even though many of my fire quals have expired (all I have left I think is FFT2, FINV, SEC1, and SECM)!!

Keep em coming.

And Ab, if there is something that comes up, and I dont respond within a day or 2, feel free to forward the posts to my e mail. I tend to check that more often.


Good. Ab.

5/18 Good morning Ab,

The Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) is soliciting start-up proposals to support regional consortia of fire science providers and managers to enhance fire science delivery and adoption. The JFSP hopes to develop a national network of regional consortia, each operating as a willing and formal association working together to enhance fire science delivery and adoption within a specified geographic region. The intent of the current solicitation is to support initial planning and an assessment of management needs for selected consortia. For consortia funded under this solicitation, the desired outcome is a full proposal for a two-year operating period. The announcement for this funding opportunity is attached.

(See attached file: Science Delivery pdf)

Closing date is July 10, 2009. Also 5 new Fire Science Briefs are posted along with new Science You Can Use at firescience.gov

With best regards....tim

Tim Swedberg
Communication Director
Joint Fire Science Program

5/18 Ken Perry's Namibia run to benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation:

Thanks for reminding people to email Ken. They should still do that, even though he is not running anymore; here's an email I got from him yesterday:

I'm out. I was about 8 miles in at the very bottom of the Fish River Canyon, and rolled my right ankle a good 90 degrees. I had to get out of the canyon, but as I continued past the 2nd check-point, I had to turn back. There was just no way I could continue for the rest of the stage let alone 135 more miles! So I will stay on board and volunteer...

Those that have done all of the races have said that this was by far the most difficult stage. Even more than any "long day". So, I will not finish the job this week.

I will keep you posted..

I know he would still appreciate getting emails from his friends as he finishes out the week in Namibia as a volunteer.


Disappointing. I hope he has fun volunteering. Get him to send a few pics (not too many though) if he has some special ones. Contributors, still a good time to donate to the WFF. Ab.

5/18 Use Immunity

Here's the legal definition Use Immunity:

Use immunity

Definition: immunity granted to a witness in a criminal case that prevents the use of the witness's compelled testimony against that witness in a criminal prosecution

Transactional and use immunity are granted to preserve the constitutional protection against self-incrimination. The states grant either form of this immunity, while the federal government grants only use immunity. A witness with use immunity may still be prosecuted, but only based on evidence not gathered from the protected testimony.

2 : a usu. statutory prohibition that excludes specific documents or information from discovery

Basically it means that the "compelled testimony" gathered in the course of the investigation cannot be used against the person giving the testimony, but only for the case being investigated. If a person was compelled to testify about his involvement in a burglary, and evidence came out about another unrelated crime that he was involved in, then the evidence of the unrelated crime could be used in a trial, but only for that crime.


Thanks. Ab.

5/18 Open Discussions:

I have been very careful not to point to any particular incident, I referring to pushing the situations and orders in order to work in a wildland / urban interface.


99.9 percent of the time it works but don't reward yourselves, realize you got away with it. Be honest in your AAR! Identify what could of happened IF!!!!

This is what I'm stressing! Fire people really need to dig deeper in their review of every risky situation they work and play out the WHAT IFs!

It's an art to define clearly what was said and done in review. Spend quality time practicing this skill with the idea that an LEO is taking and comparing notes. You want to make clear the facts and lay everything out on the table for a review. The reviewer / facilitator needs to keep the standards high and also ask what could of happened IF? This will help you identify potential hazards the next time so you won't be that .1 percent that takes the blame for everyone.

I'm referring to all the incidents combined, not any one incident-

William Riggles

Thanks for the clarification. Ab.

5/18 Funding for Firefighting in CA:

In this morning's Press-Enterprise.

Fund woes keep Inland firefighters on edge


5/18 Inyo NF

Yep sounds like the Inyo I know. Behind the times with low morale. There are some great people that are there that I miss their expertise and flare for life. I find it hard to believe that a DFMO took a ADFMO off forest to Texas. So much for retention. About once or twice a year I hear something depressing like this come out of the Inyo. If I remember the Inyo had a pretty cohesive Captain's group that meets here and there. Maybe this is something for them to take on. To say that it is not okay by you as a Captain's group.


5/17 It's a new day. Email Ken Perry some encouragement as he runs the deserts of Namibia!

Wendy Perry says you can go to:


You have to enter your name and email address, and then choose his name from a pull-down menu Perry, Kenneth. He won't see your name or address, so be sure to sign your name in the text of your email. You can email him daily or as often as you'd like - the emails are printed off each evening for the runners as they enter camp and I know your
emails as he was running Sahara and Gobi were incredibly inspirational to him!


5/17 Serious Accidents (US Constitution and Bill of Rights)

> From the Forest Service Handbook (Amended 04/2008)

FSM 5300 - Law Enforcement
Chapter 5320 - Investigations

5320.3 - Policy

#8: Law enforcement personnel shall conduct criminal investigative interviews of employees in accordance with applicable case law (Garrity v. New Jersey, <snip>); Kalkines v. United States, <snip>; and if applicable, Miranda v. Arizona, <snip>))

5320.3 - Policy (doc)


I've posted this before. It is the transcript of a podcast from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC):

Self Incrimination: Interrogating Government Employees (FLETC, 12 May 2008)
Audio File

"Ok, well so to summarize, whenever an OIG or internal affairs investigator want to interview an agency employee who is obligated to cooperate with the investigation, that investigator has to consider how any statements obtained may be used. If the statements might be used to support criminal charges against the employee, then the Garrity warning should be given to the employee before any questioning. If the statements would only be used to determine whether administrative discipline is appropriate, and there's no foreseeable criminal culpability on the part of the employee, then a Kalkines warning would be appropriate."


Information given, even after a Garrity or Kalkines Warning, only gives "use immunity" to the original statement(s). You might be complying in good faith, fully cooperating with investigators, and truly seeking lessons learned as you (we) (us) were trained. Depending upon collaborative statements from "peers", the political atmosphere, community (press coverage), and countless other complicating factors..... You might be placed into a position of being a pawn and not being able to defend yourself or your actions.... even though you told the truth and can support your actions... you cannot do it without costly legal representation before the courts.

It is simply best to have Professional Liability Insurance to protect yourself. Anyone who is a squad boss or above should have it.... Anyone who is a fire leader, supervisor, or manager should consider Professional Liability Insurance in the same realm as the Ten Standard Firefighting Orders.


5/17 Willie is pretty wonderful. So is her dad.


5/17 Jason,

I don't know of any complete database that has the information you are looking for. You might want to contact someone at the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) to see if they keep a database. Otherwise, you might need to research each individual state database.

There is a tool within the ICS 209 program that allows the numbers of "structures lost" to be entered and archived, but it doesn't delineate between residences, commercial buildings, or outbuildings. Also, the ICS 209 only reports losses from reporting agencies resulting from large fires. Often times structural losses in the WUI are in areas that do not use the 209 program, or result from small fires. An example might be.... a small county in Kansas has 5 homes destroyed from a wildfire on a 50 acre fire. The 209 program would not catch this data. access the archived 209 database

The National Fire Incident Reporting Database (NFIRS) or the California Fire Incident Reporting Database (CFIRS) might also be looked into. The federal land management agencies do not use these databases.

In California, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) began compiling those records in 1989. A report of structures lost from 1989 - 2006 is available here: Report of structures lost from 1989 - 2006 (pdf). The records from California have not been updated to reflect the losses from the 2007, 2008, and early 2009 fire season.

Hope that helps.


5/17 Hello, my name is shields

As the subject suggests i need some info, i wasn't sure exactly who to get ahold of about it but i came across your site and figured you would have the answer. My first season was out on the flathead reservation, after that i missed a year, this year my dad was supposed to help me get the ball rolling and help with the paperwork but there have been some family problems and its looking like i might have to switch to a new geographic area for firefighting.

My question is, who do i need to get a hold of for that? I'm trying to change from the Ronan, MT area to the great falls, MT area.

I only have one season experience, due to the fact that i was in jobcorps; at the time i was only able to go on 3 fires for mopup. [Nine Mile Ridge, Little Thompson, and The Blackcat]


5/17 Serious Accidents (US Constitution and Bill of Rights)

For number 1), Scent hound is spot on. There are a number of concurrent investigations. Thanks Scent, being tired made me not recall the correct term.

2) Garrity and Kalkines are basically what you are told during an administrative investigation. The "use" is that the statements, which are compelled (you MUST give or you can be fired, etc) can not be used against you in a criminal proceeding. You can still be prosecuted if you lie, but only for lying. Use immunity is that the statement is going to be used for the administrative purpose and not criminal investigation.

3) I may be off on this one (scent hound if you could, articulate your reasoning for your response) but I think that a voluntary statement can be shared by the investigation teams. Any statement given after kalkines and garrity are invoked are off limits.

4) Scent hound is correct. A person does not have to give a statement ever, even if kalkines and garrity have been signed. But they can be fired for not doing so. As for subpoena, I think that any voluntary statement can be subpoenaed. I fully admit my potential for being way off as I lack much major case investigation experience (uniformed LEO work is different).

Scent hound,

If you would like, we can bounce ideas off each other and come up with a unified front. just contact me via e mail from Ab and we can do it.

Thanks Lobotomy. I hope he does one of the two. But who knows maybe he will be a doctor. Either way, I am thrilled to have him


5/17 Reply to Venting on the Sad State of Affairs

Noname Please,

Obviously you are in opposition to the direction coming from the RO and probably dislike recent WO direction. You should find a way to voice your opposition in a firm but respectful manner. Personal attacks, name calling and accusations did not meet the standards of this site in its origin.

Most disconcerting to me is your expression of the need to maintain silence because you value the opportunity for promotion above what you believe are the best interests of the agency. I agree that is a sad state of affairs.

Next time try signing your name "Gutless".

(Ab, Please accept this unless personal attacks are limited to certain GS levels).

Old Fire Guy

OFG, I believe it's OK for me to say that this person does not have a GS level. He certainly has no need to promote. Many have tried to communicate in a respectful manner with the FS in R5 to no avail. Emotions run high among "cooperating" agencies in CA these days following the Jesusita Fire. Powerpoint of LA Times photos that shows what firefighters and communities were up against has come in from more than a dozen contributors. This ppt format is attributed to a Ventura Co FF. The originals with their photographer's name are posted at the LA Times: Jesusita slideshow. Ab.

5/17 Venting on the Sad State of Affairs

Deleted at poster's request. Ab.


After re-reading my post and reading OFG's post, please pull my original post. Even though I am very frustrated as you observe, OFG is correct about hiding behind anonymity even though he also never identified himself. Frustrated postings will do no good; they are not listening and won't listen. I still have my beliefs but I also have ethics which dictate I ask you to remove my posting.

Thank you very much. Noname Please

5/17 Keith Kerr Fire Center, Mesa RD, Tonto NF, AZ

The Mesa Ranger District, Tonto National Forest, dedicated its Fire Center to my cousin Keith Kerr yesterday. Keith had been the FMO and passed away too young from natural causes. Keith was a key player in establishing the Fire Center and the interagency response team which trained and operated from it. A nearby Eagle nest with a chick in it along the Salt River was also named the Kerr Nest.

It was a moving ceremony for a man with a great legacy in fire.

A photo I took of of the memorial is attached.

Mike Johns.

Thanks Mike. Very nice. I added it to the Memorials page. Ab.

5/17 LODDs

Gun's N Hoses

"I am just reading and noticed the post regarding un mentioned LODDs. I am thinking back to a few months ago when I was looking at the FS Honor Guard site and all the names on it. I for one would like none in the years to come. Please stay safe out there."

We started the on-line project maybe three years or so ago, I cannot remember at this point. Most of what Rene and I have is from folks like you, that either do the research or point us in the right direction. I am not sure if we will be able to keep the list posted once the usfs www gets migrated....cross that bridge when we come to it.

John, Thanks to you and Rene and others for the hard work compiling the list. Ab.

5/17 Would like to pass on some sad news re Mike Teague:

Former CA-LPF friend, firefighter and helicopter guru extraordinaire, Mike Teague, died in a motorcycle accident on Friday. Single vehicle in AZ near his hometown of Phoenix. Mike was a high time Harley rider who rode hundreds of thousands of miles for charity. Mike was a Black Sheep Minister. Mike is survived by his wife.

If anyone would like the Teague's address contact AB for my email.


Condolences. Ab.

5/17 To more ground to pound:

First to Ab's thanks for the great Links page, I use it all the time at home when I can't remember my web sites.

For the rest of this message and yes you can consider this a rant but someone needs to speak up! First was your division chief correct in taking the assignment. I don't know but here are a couple of things to think about: Did this individual stay home all last summer while the engines went off forest? Is this the only time the Division Chief can get away due to duty officer shortages? If the engine has been in Texas for a while, have many other people gotten an opportunity to go for two weeks and get overtime? Think about the big bigger picture.

Now for the battalion chief. Is it possible for someone to become a Bat Chief without being a qualified engine boss? Oh yes it is. You can get to Division sup without ever being a crewboss and you can get to the same level without being an engine boss. Is this right? Heck no. You also have to remember that with all the issues of engine operator, class B's and the drug testing program, the agency is making it very difficult for people to get engine qualifications unless it is in their PD.

As for the burning while south zone has one fire. We have a mission, it is caring for the land. No one has changed our mission. By conducting prescribed burning you are helping fire fighter safety, meeting the mission of caring for the land, and reducing large fire costs. South zone has one fire, the whole region does not need to be there. If they had needed more people a decision would have been made by the RO to stop burning, it has happened several times in the fall.

As for the retention comment: I think the one of the biggest slaps in the face in my career occurred when the retention bonus came out the way it did. The average BC or Division Chief who is a duty officer puts in many hours: they are not paid when they have to available at night, but there in no availability pay (like the agents get) for the duty officers. The cost of my liability insurance (which with the state of things I need to have), they only pay half. And how about the fact that I did not go off forest once last summer due to a lack of duty officers? Does this give me a feeling that I am a wanted employee? No. Does this say the region values having BC and division chiefs? If you look at the retention bonus, it says the region does not value anyone above a GS-8 level! So before you get critical of people, look at the other side of the picture.

Old Fuels Geek

5/17 Broken System? I said that didn't I. Broken communications in the system mighty be a better term.

Guns n Hoses, attempt to document and investigate is absolutely necessary! I would welcome an impartial inquiry from someone who is a trained observer! If I made a big mistake that led to serious consequences, I can admit the mistake but always there are factors that led to that decision.

That's MY DEFENSE! Once I change little things to make me sound better I throw a wrench the system. When the other person leaves something out or alters a few words, they throw a wrench in the system. Guns n Hoses ends up with junk the attorneys have a field day with. Here we are lost trying to separate fact from fiction thinking somebody's lying because their stories don't jive. SAY IT! These were my choices, this is my defense, tell the truth! The PROBLEM may be they were sent to a place where safety zones do NOT exist!

I heard an LA-AM talk jock criticizing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for employing kids to pickup trash in the park. It was so easy for him to smear listeners into thinking they were lazy kids taking advantage of the system by associating to peoples image of the worst of the worst. MOST people are NOT critical listeners / thinkers.

Do we not trust Guns n Hoses to be a critical listener? He is an LEO, he can't be on my side and in that case, better hide this and that! That's what is breaking the system!

These were the cards I was dealt, this is what I did with them. Facts, just the facts! The outcome will be a better lesson learned for the rest to study and learn from.

Knowingly believe a lie and you will believe anything and you are doomed to keep repeating it! The definition of insanity.

William Riggles

No one is saying anyone should hide anything. No one is hiding anything. They've told the truth from the beginning. Bill, You're talking about the Jesusita burnover I presume. For clarity's sake, that's not what the rest of us are talking about although we can't refer to it directly yet. I have no doubt those hurt on the Jesusita fire will not face the current legal snafu that fed firefighters face. Ab.

5/17 Does anyone have information on how many homes/structures have been lost nation wide to wildfires in past years? This year to date?


Justin Jager

5/17 Inyo NF

Well, it seems to me the Inyo is doing just what the RO and WO want. They are concentrating on being Resource Managers, getting out those burn acres (I would like to know if they are quality WUI acres), training up the inexperienced fire managers that fire hire has foisted on all of us and generally treating the real firefighters... oops, forestry technicians like $?!&!

That is what the current powers that be expect and reward. Harbour is silent on all this, Special Ed is either clueless or fully on board with the philosophy that would push us back 30 years and many of the Forest FMOs are powerless to do anything about it.

What do you expect when the Regional Forester was sent to make us more like the rest of the country and emphasizes how Line Officers need to be more involved, yet does nothing to ensure that Line Officers actually know anything about fire management.

Sorry, can't help but


5/17 Is this how it's done where you work? Inyo NF

Hey Ab,

Just wondered if others are experiencing some of the same frustrations felt on the "East Side." It appears to be business as usual here on the Inyo NF. A Division Chief recently took an Engine Boss assignment in Texas on INF model 62 that has been in Texas since mid March. Why he went in that position has not been explained to the many Engine Boss qualified employees that were not asked/passed over and were available for assignment. These would firefighters in the GS-6, 7, and 8 pay grade. Instead they send a GS-11?? Is this managements idea of looking out for their employees or their "own"? Guess he just needed to few extra hours of H -Pay and some early season OT. Not getting that retention bonus must have really hurt. But wait, cause it gets better. As the Engine Boss Trainee they send a Battalion Chief. It seems you can get a job in fire as a Battalion and not be Engine Boss rated/qualified. OK, I guess desperate times call for desperate measures.

You can guess the feeling in the ranks of those left behind. Terms like unethical, greedy were among those used as well as many more that couldn't be printed. Those left behind have been unable to complete their module specific training and catch up on aglearn or e-auth etc.. because were still burning with to few people as other parts of California are under red flag warnings or on fire. (Jesusita fire).

Is this the norm, to continue to try to squeeze out a few more acres when Southern Cal is burning? Just something to think about. Kinda puts a bad taste in your mouth to start the season when Divs and Batts take off on engine assignments and are essentially taking money from the pockets of qualified personal that were left behind to do the work. Nice.

Take care all and have a safe season.

More ground to pound

5/17 Congrats Guns and Hoses!!!!

A future Firefighter or Cop.... is amongst us. Lead well with the children.... us and all.

Is it a boy or a girl?


5/17 Re: Serious Accidents (US Constitution and Bill of Rights)

Here are my answers:

1) is there more than one investigation?

Yes. Often several concurrent investigations coming to different conclusions under different "leaders intent".

2) what rights do they (potential witnesses/participants/firefighters) have, how are they told of their rights?

Not usually told appropriately of their Rights in concurrent investigations, but the US Constitution and Bill of Rights is trumping. Land management agencies and investigative agencies are often unfamiliar with Garrity and Kalkines WARNINGS and often tell folks it equates to Immunity without explaining the entire WARNING. Garrity and Kalkines provide "use immunity" ONLY in varied circumstances after proper warning... not absolute immunity.

Only witness statements provided to the team that have been properly provided Kalkines or Garrity immunity, or have be disclosed as relevant info to the investigation should be considered.

3) are statements from one investigation available to the others?

Not supposed to. Violates 5th amendment. Regular occurrence.

4) can those statements be coerced or subpoenaed if not readily made available?

Ask them. It isn't allowed, but is a regular practice in current practices. Sorry Guns n Hoses.

Legal "Scent Hound"

Thanks hound dogger. What is "use immunity" in this context? Ab.

5/16 Legal questions...


You asked the following. However I am unsure of what exactly you are asking. Would you clarify??

* is there more than one investigation?

(Are you asking if the FS does more then one investigation or if there are multiple agencies who investigate things?)

* which investigation team, if more than one investigation?

(I have no idea what this means. Sorry)

* when in the sequence of investigations they should be investigated?

(Should what be investigated?)

* what rights do they have, how are they told of their rights?

(This one is relatively easy. There are a number of forms and warnings available. Weingarten is one and we in the FS are advised annually of that right. There are also Garrity, Kalkines, and Miranda. Google them. Ask if you are unsure where the questions are leading how they are going to be used. I have done this when I was being questioned about an action I took at work and was told.)

* what witness statements should be available to that team, etc?

(What team?? If you are inquiring about a specific criminal investigation team, it rarely occurs. If something occurs, and you are being compelled to give a statement, one of the above formentioned forms should be signed prior. If you choose to give a voluntary statement, go for it. It is just that)

* are statements from one investigation available to the others?

(depends on what the statement is being used for. Again, compelled statements are interesting. Just read up on the above "rights" and you should be good.)

* can those statements be coerced or subpoenaed if not readily made available?

(A compelled statement is something that happens a lot actually. As for subpoena, I doubt it. I am not 100% sure but I think that Kalkines has a lot to do. I was asked questions and given my Kalkines warning. No big deal. They couldnt use my statements in a criminal proceeding against me and I had to give a statement. They could have prosecuted me if I had lied in my statement for lying, but nothing against me.)

AB: I am sorry that I mixed some of the answers with the clarifications I am asking for, but I am being a new dad and that makes me tired.

I'm sure this discussion will go on for some time. I'm taking some time off tomorrow. We have time to discuss. Congrats on being a new dad! Ab.

5/16 Ab:

I'm in the process of changing careers. I've thrown a lot at the wall in terms of participating with SAR, getting my EMT, WFA, IS-100, 200 certs (waiting to see how 300 turned out), along with state-level PIO. Went to school for Architecture and Regional Planning, where I roomed with a fire lookout from NorCal.

If I were interested in, say, fire dispatch or community outreach, what might be the next step? I'm struggling with PT, so fireline probably might not be my thing--endurance is a big problem. Do you have any other suggestions?

Sign me,

Lurky Lu

5/16 From the post on 5/13

Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell said the agency will review the specifics of the Santa Barbara blaze, but added that she would not want the agency to have year-round contracts with private companies to help fight wildfires.

"A permanent fire season? I hope we never get to that," she told The Associated Press.

Setting up agreements to provide retardant and other supplies "is an expense of public money. We want to be mindful before we commit to anything," Kimbell said.

At the same time, she acknowledged that global warming and other factors have led to longer fire seasons that now stretch well beyond mid-May to November.

I’m rather surprised that there was no comment on this. With one breath she denies the need for a year round fire organization, and then with the next she basically acknowledges that we are well past the legal use of 1039 employees. How are we supposed to deal with a greater than 6 month problem with a less than 6 month organization?

With this kind of attitude coming from the very top of the organization we are doomed until we get out from under non-fire managers.

Just disgusted.

5/16 Re: Just Culture

Let's not let the "flawed system" join the nebulous "they" as the cause of all that is not right if fire. Certainly there are flaws in any system, and we should be vigilant in assessing and resolving those flaws. No argument there.

But when the system has established norms and standards, and those standards are violated (most often through ignorance, confusion, or fatigue) tragedy can and will occur. Look at how many of the Ten Standard Orders were broken in nearly every tragedy.

As I tried to teach firefighters and line officers alike, the "Ten" are our windows of opportunity to escape when things unexpectedly go wrong. As we violate an order, we close one of those windows of opportunity. How many can we stand to close? Two? That would mean we've accepted a one-in-five chance for a mishap. The odds in Russian Roulette are better.

Additional safety standards are also designed to bring us home safely. When those standards are not followed, is it because of individual behavior, or can it be blamed on a "flawed system", or perhaps both?

When a dispatcher orders up a crew late on a week night, and directs that crew to immediately begin travel to support an incident......should they not know they are setting up a fatigue situation and violating work-rest guidelines?

When a crew boss, the squad bosses, and crew members all undertake that assignment......are they not cognizant of their actions?

When an incident commander assigns a crew that has been up for 24+ hours and sends them out to begin a 16 hour shift....is that a "flawed system"?

When the agency administrator (line officer) fails to provide oversight to the incident, and to emphasize the safety of firefighters as priority one....where has the system become flawed?

In no way do I believe that these actions should be considered "criminal". Absolutely not! But I do believe that we need to critique performance, hold individuals from the ff2 to the District Ranger/Forest Supervisor accountable, and if need be provide additional training, and not be reluctant to suspend or remove credentials for violations of safety standards.

Old Fire Guy

5/16 Re: Just Culture

After reading the thoughts and opinions of several posters here, it seems that the medical profession may be a reasonable parallel for us in some ways:

1. Medical professionals are often faced with other people's emergencies, as are we. 2. Despite medical professionals best efforts, negative outcomes often occur. We have our own negative outcomes - fatalities, injuries, destroyed structures, and burned acres. 3. Medical professionals carry malpractice insurance. We should be carrying personal liability insurance or ensure our agency has a similar coverage in place. (I know this last point is debatable, but this is not the focus of my post).

Where the two professions diverge is the most salient point, I believe. When a negative outcome occurs in the medical profession, families are told "We did all we could. I am very sorry for your loss." At a later date, these cases are reviewed (read AAR) in morbidity and mortality conferences in an effort to improve patient care - not to place blame, even if human error is a causal factor (my emphasis). When negligence occurs, medical professionals can, and often are, held responsible.

As pointed out by several others, when a negative outcome occurs in our profession, especially in the case of firefighter fatalities, the witch hunt begins. Dude, South Canyon, Cramer, Thirty Mile, Esperanza, and too many others come to mind.

I don't have the answers, but I do have questions:

How do we tell significant others, children, parents, friends that their firefighter was injured or killed because we have a flawed system? I can only imagine their responses... Maybe outrage is the best vehicle for change.

While family members and friends know that we work in a hazardous profession, we tell them we are well-trained, experienced, and knowledgeable about keeping ourselves safe whether we are or not (would you admit that you aren't?).

How do we develop a Just Culture in a society that is anything but?


5/16 Ab,

FYI. Note under “Public Employees” Cal Fire so far is exempted from any lay-offs. Normbc9

Thanks Norm. I'm posting only the referenced part of the long document below. Here's the ENTIRE DOCUMENT. Ab.

Sent: Friday, May 15, 2009 11:53 PM
To: Norm
Subject: FW: May Revise

-----Original Message-----
From: On Behalf Of Aaron Read
Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2009 5:30 PM
Subject: May Revise

Today, the Governor released his May Revision to his proposed 2009-10 state budget. If you would like to watch the press conference, please go to the Governor’s website at the following address: gov.ca.gov/ .

Although the 2009-10 fiscal year budget was signed by the Governor on February 20, 2009, the revision recognizes that the continued degradation of the state revenues and the pending cash borrowing needs will require swift and immediate action.

The May Revision included two versions that project two scenarios—one in which all the measures on the May 19th ballot are successful and one in which all of the measures fail—as the success of the provisions is expected to generate $5.8 billion difference in the State's fiscal position in 2009-10 fiscal year.

If the ballot measures pass the proposed budget would include $86.3 billion in available General Fund revenues, $84 billion in expenditures, and a reserve of $1.1 billion. etc

<big snip>

Public Employees

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will direct his administration to send 5,000 layoff notices to state workers Friday, according to governor's budget plan. He plans to eliminate 5,000 workers by the end of June. The workers will be among the 20,000 state workers who received layoff warnings earlier this year. Mike Genest, Director of the Department of Finance, said during the press conference that general fund employees will bear the brunt of the layoffs since laying-off special fund employees would result in no general fund savings.

The governor was considering, and mentioned the possibility of an additional furlough day, however, it is not included in the governor’s first attempt at dealing with this deficit. So at this point, there will be no additional mandatory furlough day…..at least not yet.

NOTE: CDF Firefighters are exempt from the lay-offs mentioned by the governor as part of his budget solution.

5/16 Kenneth Perry is in Namibia, beginning a 150-mile run through the Namib Desert starting tomorrow morning (Sunday, May 17). I know he would appreciate getting emails from you to keep him motivated and moving forward! Here is the link:

run through the Namib Desert

You have to enter your name and email address, and then choose his name from a pull-down menu. He won't see your name or address, so be sure to sign your name in the text of your email. You can email him daily or as often as you'd like - the emails are printed off each evening for the runners as they enter camp and I know your emails as he was running Sahara and Gobi were incredibly inspirational to him!

Thanks for your support,

Wendy Perry

Thanks Wendy, please keep us updated. You can follow the race here: 4deserts.com Namibia
Community, in addition to emailing Ken, please feel free to donate to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in Ken's name. What a great WFF supporter he's been (his event photo links at bottom) and continues to be!
This weekend is Family Weekend at WFF. Our best wishes for the folks and families there. I hear it's always such fun! Ab.

5/16 Here are a couple of pics from CaptJim of that rolled-over Northtree water tender that was heading home from the Jesusita Fire two days ago. I posted them on the Equipment 14 photo page. Ab.
5/16 Ab,

I have been sitting and reading behind the scenes and while I will try to do this gracefully, my statement may be inflammatory and unwelcome, but I am going to try to minimize that.

I have done some speaking to Mellie a while back and I think she knows I understand where she and a lot of people are coming from. But I am tired of seeing the "Law Enforcement sucks and doesnt understand" mantra being thrown out there. It is tough to sit idle and not say anything.

I have to say that just because there is a tragedy and someone or gets hurt, doesnt mean that there should not be an investigation. It seems to me (and I fully admit I may be TOTALLY off base) that people believe that Law Enforcement should not do anything involving wildland fire fatality investigations. I have seen it said that people believe that LEOs should not be on an investigation team. Well I am here to tell you that at least on a FS jurisdiction fire, that is not likely to happen. LE will be involved because we have to. One reason is because we are the experts within the agency when it comes to scene integrity, evidence collection, interviewing, chain of custody, procedures, and a number of other things. I am not saying that fire can not do some of that, but LEOs are trained specifically for that.

Does anyone really know what is going through an LEOs mind when he is asking questions?? Are you sure that he is going to use those statements against you?? Here is the key to answering questions: Don't lie and dont make anything up. If you arent sure, say you dont recall. Trust me, I know from experience.

Dont just assume that the LEO showing up at an incident is there to get someone. Maybe help them out to get to the bottom of the chain of events.

Feel free to correspond with me in a private manner if you wish.


Hi there, Guns-n-hoses. I don't mean to put you on the spot, but... Something that could be productive is if you could educate all of us

  • is there more than one investigation?
  • which investigation team, if more than one investigation?
  • when in the sequence of investigations they should be investigated?
  • what rights do they have, how are they told of their rights?
  • what witness statements should be available to that team, etc?
  • are statements from one investigation available to the others?
  • can those statements be coerced or subpoenaed if not readily made available?

From the little I know, I think it's the process that's screwed up as much as anything. Strange that R5's Pena/Moore didn't research Fifth Amendment rights before he ordered a LEO assigned to the SAIT (or maybe he did and wanted that team to fail???) How do we fix the investigative process(es)? At this time it is certainly unfair from what I've heard. It's damaging innocent participants, their families, their friends, possibly the investigative team members, you and other good LEOs, the fire community that does not know when to speak and when to keep silent. Ab

5/16 Re Wriggles on management, Open Discussion and Critique:

Management by buying a round. I like it!

Still out there ...

5/15 Some great photos from the Jesusita Fire from Ryan and Summer: Jesusita Firestorm '09
5/15 Date: May 14, 2009
Subject: Managing Fire Communications
To: Forest Supervisors

As we all prepare for this year’s fire season, I want to share some expectations that I have around line officer roles and responsibilities with the goal of strengthening and building consistency in our fire management messages. I am asking that line officers work closely with their respective public affairs officers to increase their visibility with the media during fires and to take advantage of proper timing to effectively deliver clear messages. This model was successfully implemented on the recent Jesusita Fire on the Los Padres National Forest.

To clearly express fire communication objectives, I am enclosing key messages and talking points to use this fire season. I look to the Forests to actively identify and pursue unique opportunities to strategically publicize these messages and raise Forest Service visibility.

Forests must retain the ability to leverage existing relationships and communicate clear messages in a consistent way within their communities. As part of this strengthened effort, line officers should ensure that delegations of authority to Incident Management Teams clearly reflect the proper role of the Forest in maintaining the lead on overall communications while the role of the Fire Information Officer(s) is to provide fire information about the incident.

Please contact Sherry Reckler, Director of Public Affairs at 707-562-xxxx if you have any questions.

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

cc: pdl r5 paos
Ed Hollenshead
Willie R Thompson

Key Talking Points for Fire, 2009

5/15 North Tree Water Tender rollover yesterday. HOTLIST thread. (I held the post until today.)

Please be safe as you travel to and from assignments. Ab.

5/15 Open Discussion and Critique

Back in the 80s, about twice a year Steve Makowski (FMO) would buy a couple of cases of beer and invite the crew to the campgrounds for a get together. It's not like he was corrupting us or anything like that.

He would ask us "How things were going"?

By the second beer, the conversation did get more down to the root of what was going on. The truth came out, even the bad stuff you don't want him to know. Steve would listen to it all and never scold or interfere in crew affairs.

He described his position as a manager and the goals he was trying to achieve!!!

I can't begin to describe how powerful this approach was to building cohesion. You fell into an unguarded conversation that peeled back layers of conflict and talked it out as a crew. Screw ups by individuals were seen as hurting the crew and it was left to the crew to bring the problem up to par. This is such a powerful motivator! It bring people into the Big Picture! Working for the good of the whole instead of trapped inside your job. Thinking for yourself becomes thinking for the whole.

Let me say this about blaming firefighters and holding them criminally liable for doing their job. It's the system that's broke! After Action Reviews, need to peel back the layers where people CAN get things off their chest. Don't just everybody nod their heads and agree that everybody knows what they don't want to talk about.

The reality is no firefighter wants to put the other in jeopardy. We follow the 10 orders and push the 18 situations in emergencies because you have to be aggressive. It's a fine line against unpredictable WEATHER! ( fire is predictable ).

Don't criminalize people, energize them! Don't shove them in a hole, talk it through. I can think of only a few people, I thought were hopeless and they just didn't like to work.

William Riggles

5/15 Paul Gleason's legacy:

I just want to say that I was a friend of Paul Gleason. Stayed in his house once in Boring, OR when we were cutting trees with Paul and Doug Dent.

This is a note to say thanks for keeping Paul’s legacy alive and well.


5/14 Re: Wildland Firefighter Foundation " 52 Club"

Here we are at the start of another lengthy fire season in the western United States. Most crews are on and available, or being trained. Many have already been called to action.

This is a perfect time as folks start receiving their first pay checks to please contribute to the 52 Club or renew their memberships, and educate our crews and families about the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Why Contribute? / Wildland Firefighter Foundation Testimonials: (Examples)

"To have the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in existence is comforting to us as Hotshots. We have had friends and coworkers lose lives on and off of the fire line and to know that the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is out there and takes care of all of us and our families. The Palomar Hotshots have raised funds for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, knowing that if any of us ever need help the Wildland Firefighter Foundation will be there. It is for those that we do not know, that we do not work with that we raise money for. It is worth great pride and honor that we put our name on this foundation. " ~ Stan Hill, Superintendent Palomar Hotshots

"I wish to express my support for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and their mission of support for the Wildland fire community. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation has supported our crew in the past during a time of need. They were truly unbelievable in how they supported our crew and family of our fallen firefighter. We have worked to raise funds for the Foundation and will continue to support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in any way possible. Their mission is one that is without equal in our community and definitely needed to support our efforts. " ~ Patrick Morgan, Superintendent Arrowhead Hot Shots

"I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me and my family. You have no idea, or maybe you do, the importance of having family in the room when you wake from surgery. I was lucky enough to wake and find both my parents, and the boyfriend I love dearly, there with me. There was nothing more I could have asked for during the scary and painful days after my accident. I thank you for your support, sincerely. As soon as I am able, I will come and visit in person - walking. As people have asked what they can do to help me, I have asked them to start a collection for your foundation. I hope they do and I promise I will contribute all I can, for as long as I am able. You make such a difference. I appreciate everything - your phone calls - everything. I am getting better each day and hope to be walking by Christmastime. Thank you, thank you, thank you. " ~ Sara B.

Hopefully you, your family, or your friends will never need the services or support of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, but feel secure in knowing that it is there for all of us in times of need.

/s/ WFF Supporter

5/14 Parkie,

Do you have a link to, or the wording from the NPS protocol? I only ask because the NPS has also had problems and it would be something to address.

It is important to note that this problem (lack of a Just Culture) exists throughout government (federal, state, and local), and especially within wildland fire (inclusive of NPS) and law enforcement. Don't get me wrong, there are pockets within government that Just Culture is taking root and spreading..... just very slowly. By far, it has been better accepted by fire managers than land managers.

Just Culture is a process needed for high reliability organizations to exist and flourish while balancing safety vs. accountability vs. inherent mission risks. Without it, there will always be an institutionalized bias to assign blame and punishment, rather than gain understanding and lessons learned. We, as an institution, pass those same biases onto our communities and stakeholders who often "want blood" when an incident or accident happens.

A Just Culture is the foundation of successful risk management decisions and outcomes... and the building blocks for safer and more efficient program delivery in the future, often called High Reliability Organizing.

We need to "build a better cockpit" and design our systems, procedures, and protocols around the full understanding that humans make errors and always will. To expect anything else, is just fooling ourselves. To criminalize human error without understanding the latency within an organization or system, often leads to unfounded assumptions regarding risk. These assumptions are often described during investigations with terms such as: "reckless"; "negligent"; "failed to..."; or "...in wanton disregard". These assumptions almost always do not accept that human error does occur even in the baseline of the most simple operations and systems, and when added to the complexity of the operation or system that failed (ie. wildfire ) (High Risk/Low Frequency), humans are often blamed rather than the failed system.


5/14 Mellie:

I agree we need to do better. (My bold to yours).

Don’t you dare sit in silence. I was nearly killed falling a burning over-mature Doug Fir way back in 1969 and have seen or studied just about every kind of accident, investigation and prosecution imaginable in the years since.

I had the pleasure of attending the recent IAWF Safety Summit and Dude Fire Staff Ride in Phoenix. Some fine work was presented and discussed, and many tragedies re-lived. Some good papers were presented and handed out - they will be published by the IAWF eventually.

One paper which touches on avoiding this liability subject suggests teaching Wildland firefighters critical thinking at an individual level and implementing critical thinking as dialogue among all who are involved in Wildland fire. The argument is that this will not just reduce accidents but help insulate decisions made in foresight on the fireground, from second-guessing by people in hindsight who are not experts in decision making, not trained and practicing critical thinkers themselves, and not experts in Wildland fire, falling, aviation, etc. Who could legitimately presume to second guess the critically thinking, dialogue practicing, decision expert, firefighting expert, described in this paper? Attached is a .pdf of the paper.

No silence - we need to do better.

Old Sawyer

Critical Thinking. pdf

5/14 Mellie,

The National Park System has a protocol that protects people's witness statements.

Why doesn't the Forest Service just adopt that system? It's fairer.


5/14 New H1N1 swine flu cases in New York City: Hotlist thread Ab.
5/14 Old Sawyer,

We need to do better.

Subjecting people who are basically innocent to a criminal investigation has serious life-altering consequences: financial, psychological, physical. It has consequences for the people being investigated, for parents, other relatives, girlfriends, boyfriends, crewmates, co-workers, others in the profession, this wildland firefighting community, etc.

On the Cramer Incident, as on a recent accident, the suggestion for laying the blame was "sport falling". NOT TRUE! Shane and Jeff are dead, but that suggestion hurt their parents and friends greatly. It hurt me! Those guys did nothing wrong but many were ready to blame the victims. Blaming the victim is one way we reassure ourselves that it couldn't happen to us. BUT IT COULD! In a more recent accident I heard the same thing: "sport falling". Recklessness? NOT TRUE! Criminal? Gimme a break! We had a very near miss (3 feet) on a fire on our ranch last summer. Felling hazard trees and working direct (and indirect) on fires is dangerous work!

When a firefighter's defense is so costly and he/she might get charged with "lying" as Ellreese was -- even when he was ACQUITTED of all fire charges against him -- where is the fairness? In Ellreese's case it wasn't sport falling, but in these other cases, who decides it's "sport falling" for the initial investigation that may then lead to criminal charges??? Who is held accountable if the charges are lightly brought by some inexperienced person that can't even begin to imagine the moment others find themselves in? No judgment against law enforcement folks in general (guns'n'hoses forgive me please), but I have heard Law Enforcement question people. Some lie and mislead. Some scare the sh*t out of people on their front lawns and manipulate the individuals being questioned as well as manipulating their family and friends. "We have to prosecute someone." Are those with that attitude held accountable? Do their means justify the end? Maybe many reading here would say that if the "perp" is guilty, who cares?

What about when people being assumed guilty are innocent and it's a failure of

  • training or
  • experience or
  • the agencies systems or
  • they're cognitively overloaded or
  • they don't perform well under stress or
  • communications are not clear
  • or, or, or...?

(Do not people realize most great philosophers/thinkers/prophets have even distinguished between "sins of omission" and "sins of commission"?) Is it fair that something -- even something that results in tragedy -- that is not done with the intention of recklessness should have such severe life-altering consequences.

No wonder the Cramer IC cut a deal. He was up against an UNFAIR SYSTEM that suddenly had NEW RULES, without defense $$ and without support. We in the fire world didn't know it, and he certainly didn't. He was dealing with his own immediate tragedy. ... His life is forever changed.

Was JUSTICE done in Ellreese's 30-mile case? I don't think so. He was made a scapegoat for a FAILED SYSTEM not of his making. ... His life is forever changed.

How long are we going to compound the initial tragedy? How long are we going to go on throwing away our people who work in a very risky environment, without enough training/experience and without enough SYSTEM ALIGNMENT and FOCUS FOR SAFETY in the agency's structure to protect them? I don't know what the better agency structure would be, but firefighters are at great risk in the current Forest Service, one that is MIS-ALIGNED for firefighter safety. I know that there are lots of good Forest Service people that try their hardest to do their best job possible. I'm beginning to feel a SAFE JOB FOR WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS just can't be done with the system we now have. Tell that to Congress next time they ask about morale!

Sorry to vent in response to your good comments, Old Sawyer. I consider you a good friend and a person of great integrity and intelligence. (I would like to meet you again some day.) This whole thing just makes me sick, the unfairness of it.

Maybe I should sit in silence and breathe deeply.

How do we do it differently this season when we again have accidents, burnovers, deaths? Until we find a new SYSTEM ALIGNMENT that fosters safety by its very structure, we will be no better off than the air tanker industry was a few years ago with aging aircraft that had wings falling off!

Some friend said faller deaths are up 400% in the last 25 years. Why is that? Oh yeah, JOY LOGGING or SPORT FALLING have been on the rise!


5/14 Reply re: Recklessness and causal attribution errors.

How can we change the (liability) situation toward a Just Culture? Actually there are a lot of good people in the Wildland Fire community changing the situation. How we investigate and report is being improved. Outside agencies have also improved their knowledge about and responses to serious accidents. These are ongoing inter-agency efforts. There is plenty more to do but at least progress is being made and being reflected in ultimate outcomes such as not inappropriately attributing everything to rule violations. The concerns generated by the Cramer matter (which was resolved without criminal charges) and the 30 Mile matter (in which fire-related charges were dismissed) should be more abated, because criminal prosecution for burnovers is less likely now than in the recent past. Reckless conduct, nonetheless, will always be subject to prosecution.

Defining recklessness is very difficult in the abstract and probably even more difficult in the context of foresightful conduct in an inherently dangerous environment (without a bad outcome to swiftly “move” us toward a judgment about the preceding conduct). Discussion would shed some interesting light on the subject. Actually arriving at a definition applicable to the fireground may prove elusive at best. Arriving at an inappropriate definition could prove counterproductive at worst - enlightening nonetheless.

Old Sawyer

5/14 The lonely type 3 engine on the classifieds page is still looking for a new home. The good news is that the price just took a $20,000 drop in price. The last couple of years there were always a handful of wildland engines on the classifieds page, it's interesting that this year has had just two. Check it out, it's a nice looking unit. If you have a need to sell or buy, let me know. OA
5/14 Re 5/13 post “ No Just Culture in the Wildland Firefighter World ”

A Just Culture does not exclude criminal prosecution for reckless behavior which proximately causes a foreseeable horrific outcome. Two papers from JustCulture.org explain the issue.

1. In order to move Wildland Firefighting toward a just culture, someone is going to have to define what reckless conduct is (and is not) both on the fireground and within the organization (as a system).

2. Causal attribution errors made in hindsight are also a continuing human factors issue for investigators, which needs more improvement.

If the Wildland Fire community does not define recklessness, it will continue to be left to out-groups like regulatory agencies and prosecutors (state, local and federal). So, how might the Wildland Fire community go about accomplishing these two tasks?

Just Culture - Criminal Edition: The Criminal Edition is the January/February 2007 Newsletter. (the link is only to the newsletter index)


The criminalization of human error - the organization: The organization edition is the Summer 2007 Newsletter. (the link is only to the newsletter index)


Old Sawyer

Old Sawyer, Thanks for the clarification. (my bold above) I welcome contributions to theysaid and discussion on how we could accomplish these two tasks. I have gotten emails from firefighters asking how we change the current situation but not wanting their posts on theysaid. I think it's a discussion we should be having here. Ab.

5/14 principles about non-wildland fire response and structure protection:

Some common sense and human factor awareness worth sharing regarding WUI from a "forestry technician" written for FAM almost

18 years ago

a few key points from

"LCES and Other Thoughts"

By Paul Gleason
~ His Original Proposal ~
Former Zig Zag Hotshot Superintendent
June, 1991

Safety Zone(s) are locations where the threatened firefighter may find refuge from the danger. Unfortunately shelter deployment sites have been incorrectly called safety zones. Safety zones should be conceptualized and planned as a location where no shelter is needed. This does not intend for the firefighter to hesitate to deploy their shelter if needed, just if a shelter is deployed the location is not a true safety zone. Fireline intensity and safety zone topographic location determine safety zone effectiveness.

Again, a key concept – the LCES system is identified prior to when it must be used. That is lookouts must be posted with communications to each firefighter, and a minimum of two escape routes form the firefighter’s work location to a safety zone (not a shelter deployment site) every time the firefighter is working around an objective hazard.

Safety and tactics should not be considered as separate entities. As with any task safety and technique necessarily should be integrated. The LCES system should be automatic in any tactical operation where an objective hazard is or could be present.

Wildland/Urban Interface

Suppression in the wildland/urban interface presents its own unique set of problems. The choice of fireline location is often influenced by the homes which stand between the fire front and a “better” option. Often the standard tactics of anchoring at the rear (or heel) and flanking will leave improvements in the path of the wind-driven fire.

The lack of an ideal fireline location does not in itself constitute unsafe indirect strategy. The “urgency” of the operation causes a break down in solid tactics. During interface suppression operations, maybe more than any operation, the LCES system must be in place.

With the rapid spread rates reached by wind-driven fires only two options are available. The traditional “anchor and flank” strategy or the unorthodox protection of improvements and resources as the wildfire spreads past. The last dictates the necessity for a “defensible space” around each improvement sufficient to serve also as a safety zone, a true safety zone. Unless this precaution has been made the risk to defending the improvement may not be worth the operation.
Judgment Errors

John Dill, head rock climbing rescue ranger in Yosemite NP, recently made an analysis of errors in judgment made preceding an accident. He found three reasons which contribute to the accidents; ignorance, casualness and distraction. After thinking about the firefighter’s environment and accidents these same reasons were found to correspond. Allow me to take a moment and help draw the correlations.

Ignorance : Unfortunately, we still have firefighters and fireline supervisors who still end up in wildland fire situations that call for skills and knowledge beyond their level of training. I know it is stressed over and over, but the BASICS, basic wildland fire behavior, basic suppression skills, need to be learned and reviewed. Yet many of the entrapments are the result of no lookouts or an insufficient safety zone, a lack of basics.

Casualness : The rock climber standing at the base of a couple thousand-foot granite walls in Yosemite is reassured in their decision to undertake a challenging ascent because of the helicopter which is poised less than a mile from the proposed ascent. We are doing the same. The situation is viewed more casually because we have an option if the tactic fails – our fire shelter.

Another way casualness enters our environment is through the reinforcement of improper tactics since the fire does not “blowup” while we are working the fireline the first few, or several times. But then we find ourselves entrapped because the familiar situation changes and our reliance on improper tactics just doesn’t work this time.

Distraction: Often I have been told that was it not for the on-the-job training that was given by a Division Supervisor the hazard would not have been noticed and tactics would not have been adjusted. Distraction is a very very real problem for firefighters. Fatigue and carbon monoxide do not help with the decision making process either. Fireline personnel should be continually monitoring each other and remain open to communication and others evaluation of the situation at hand.

Principles about non-wildland fire response and structure protection: Reference FAM/Line 2009... ???

AB - not trying to fuel the fire but felt the point should be made.

Evolution is a necessary part of any culture's survival.

Pack test or not... doctrine or not... line officer or not... "leadership or not"...

* Know and engage your people within "their" capabilities
* Work within and continually strive to understand "your" capabilities
* Solicit questions, concerns, and foster feed back from your people
* Ask questions
* If 1-9 are considered, then... 10. Fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first.

Paul Gleason's complete manuscript can be found at fireleadership.gov

Act Now

It's also here: wildlandfire.com Ab.

5/13 Roadrunner,

Two of the three topics were reported at the recent IAWF Safety summit in Phoenix. The lunches question was addressed by a Poster session presented by a team from MTDC, and the IMT Stess issue was covered in a presentation from another team from MTDC. The sleep issue sounds familiar, but I don't recall where I read it.

Check the IAWF website (iawf@iawfnline.org) in a couple weeks for the proceedings.


IAWF link on the Classifieds page too. Ab.

5/13 There's a fire on CA-SCU. Hotlist thread Ab.
5/13 No Just Culture in the Wildland Firefighter World.

I just sent this warning message to a new contributor who has been a fine contributor on the Hotlist and theysaid. From his experience he did nothing wrong. His post stemmed from the pattern of discussion that used to be acceptable in the wildland firefighting world, the seeking of LESSONS LEARNED so the chance of the tragedy happening again in that way is minimized.

One psychologically beneficial way to react to the stress of tragedy is to talk with peers about it and to try to make sense of it. That is adaptive in that it lets firefighters talk and work through the experience or their anxiety. For many it is a necessary way to reduce Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that can haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Here's what I sent him:

Hi (snipped name),

We do not allow commenting on burnover and fatality events until after the Serious Incident Accident Report is completed.
The reasons are many but include the following:

* All the interviews have not been done, there is no detailed timeline of exactly what happened and thus the facts are not available in an orderly way.
* These days firefighters often face criminal charges if someone in law enforcement gets a notion.
* People are presumed innocent until found guilty and we do not armchair quarterback them to death.
* At this time LESSONS LEARNED are not allowed; we do not have a Just Culture.

I should have replied to several of your last emails to Ab, especially the last one. I thought you were simply speculating to me and did not send your comments to me for posting on theysaid. My bad for not "getting it" that you did not know our procedures.

OK, so that's the way we do things. I do not want our firefighters ending up in jail for something that was some random act of god/nature or more human factors than their own conscious fault. I do not want them to be forced to defend themselves when they need to have a clear head so law enforcement will not accuse them of lying.

This is a time to imagine the worst from law enforcement within the agencies and DOJ and to imagine the worst from OSHA, although they do not bring criminal charges.

We have NO Just Culture in the firefighting world at the moment.

I also suggest everyone, including you and fed and AD firefighters on engines and fallers on the line, etc sign up for FEDS Professional Liability Insurance. It is not only fed fire supervisors that are at risk, but all firefighters that might make a bad choice or react too slowly under stress.

I am posting this on theysaid and the Hotlist as a warning to all. We live in ugly legal times and wildland firefighters and structure firefighters do not need these legal anxieties as they try to defend people's homes or public lands. The psychological scars from events like these scar firefighters already without the legal threat adding to their PTSD.

We live in times when Travesty of Justice for wildland firefighters is common!

That said, stick with the forum. You're normally a fine contributor.


5/13 Ab,

Here are a few photos for the photo page from my past FWS unit in South Texas.

Thanks, Mark

Thanks, Mark. I put them on the Engines 23 photo page. Ab.

5/13 Mike Dietrich's Retirement Party


Saturday, May 30, 2009
3:00—7:00 p.m.
Mill Creek Cattle Co.

Dietrich Incident.pdf
Dietrich Incident IAP.pdf

Happy retirement, Mike. Ab.

5/13 Question re firefighter studies:

Does anyone know if the results of these studies are posted anywhere?


News Release

Research Studies of Firefighter Performance Conducted at Fire Camp
[Shield]: US Forest Service
US Forest Service
Six Rivers National Forest

Eureka, July 30, 2008

The Missoula Technology Development Center, a scientific research component of the U.S. Forest Service has contracted with the University of Montana – Human Performance Lab to conduct studies of firefighter performance. Research teams will conduct three studies regarding methods and ways to improve wildland firefighter safety, health, work capacity and overall performance. A seven person research team arrived at the Blue 2 fire camp near Gasquet to set up and conduct research for the next ten days focusing on the following studies:

Final Field Trial of Firefighter WorkShift Lunches:
Prior research has clearly shown that wildland firefighters who eat regularly throughout their work day perform better in the hours before lunch and towards the end of the workshift. This improved performance is the equivalent of about 1.8 additional hours of work each day when compared to eating their entire lunch during the middle of the day.

Over the past two summers trials of different lunch methodologies to increase regular eating across the workshift have been evaluated. The final trial this summer is a result of prior research and extensive feedback from firefighters.

Throughout a ten day period, 100 firefighters will be given modified sack lunches containing similar numbers of calories as a normal lunch, but with smaller items intended to be eaten throughout the workday. This project may lead to revised lunches for wildland firefighters in future years.

Evaluation of Stress in Wildland Fire Incident Management Teams:
This project is a continuation from the 2007 fire season to evaluate Incident Management Team (IMT) members for risk factors that include: heart disease, diabetes; hypertension and other chronic diseases. During this study, the causes and manifestations of stress in IMT members will be evaluated and monitored.

Sleep patterns and disturbances in wildland firefighters:
This study will determine if sleep patterns and disturbances affect quality rest in wildland firefighters. The difficulty with sleeping following arduous work in a fire camp has been well documented. However, little is known about sleep patterns and causes of poor sleep.

Firefighters from line crews will be monitored for four nights by wearing wrist monitors that give the researchers a good picture of when sleep is occurring and when volunteers are awake. As a part of the study firefighters will be given a natural sleep supplement that enhances falling asleep that includes trace amounts of vitamins and amino acids.

5/13 Blue sheet is out on the Jesusito burnovers: Blue Sheet

Thanks to Prevent 12 for posting that. Ab.

5/13 from noname-fire:

US Forest Service to review Calif. wildfire fight

By Matthew Daly

WASHINGTON (AP) — The head of the U.S. Forest Service said she is reluctant to overturn a policy that caused tanker planes to fly extra distances while fighting a California wildfire because the agency did not yet have a contract in place to use a nearby airport.

The tankers had to fly an additional 120 miles round trip to obtain supplies — delaying response to the fire, which burned 100 homes in Santa Barbara, forced more than 30,000 people to evacuate and torched more than 13 square miles.

Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell said the agency will review the specifics of the Santa Barbara blaze, but added that she would not want the agency to have year-round contracts with private companies to help fight wildfires.

"A permanent fire season? I hope we never get to that," she told The Associated Press.

Setting up agreements to provide retardant and other supplies "is an expense of public money. We want to be mindful before we commit to anything," Kimbell said.

At the same time, she acknowledged that global warming and other factors have led to longer fire seasons that now stretch well beyond mid-May to November.

"Fire season keeps expanding on both ends," Kimbell said, adding that the length of the fire season is a key factor as officials set up contracts with private companies and airports to assist the government in what has become a billion-dollar-a-year battle against wildfires.

"We try to be prepared ... should events occur, and we use the best data we have, but you'll never have all the answers," particularly when most contracts are signed a year in advance, Kimbell said.

Three aircraft were able to resupply once at an airfield in Santa Maria, Calif., 60 miles north of the blaze, but they were later diverted to another airport about 120 miles away after officials realized a supply contract wasn't in place at the Santa Maria airport. State and federal officials say it's impossible to know what effect the airport confusion had on efforts to stamp out the Santa Barbara blaze, but said that being able to land at Santa Maria would have saved time.

Planes made multiple trips to Porterville, Calif., last week before the Santa Maria airfield was opened to the aircraft on May 6, cutting the length of resupply missions in half. The Forest Service had not completed a contract, which usually runs from May 15 to Nov. 15, with two service providers at the airport, said spokesman Jason Kirchner.

The 8,700-acre Santa Barbara fire destroyed 78 homes and damaged 22 others, fire officials said. The week-old blaze was 80 percent contained as of Tuesday, with costs totaling more than $12.2 million.

(nice T-23 photo at the link, check it out)

fair use disclaimer

5/13 Policy versus common sense:

Yellow Angel: A few note worthy quotes I looked up after I read your post.

"There is nothing more uncommon than common sense." Frank Lloyd Wright

"Stupid is forever, ignorance can be fixed." Don Wood

"Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid." John Wayne

It is sadly part of the game for "common sense" to be concentrated at the lower echelons of the wildland fire profession. Somehow once you achieve a GS-12 or higher this part of the brain seemingly shuts down and whatever part of the brain that values policy and preservation of agency dogma gains dominance.

Smarter people than I have tried to figure out why this phenomenon occurs.

The good news is that there are a few "Managers" who do manage to retain a large portion of their "common sense" but only a few, these people must be cherished and venerated by the wildland firefighting community.

When you come under their sphere of influence take good notes because God put them in your path for a purpose and such encounters are not to be wasted.


5/12 RE: principles about non-wildland fire response and structure protection: Reference

Interesting wording on the opening paragraph. It addresses keeping fire from moving onto structures but does not address keeping structure fires from going onto wildlands, and is emphasized throughout. It does not place much if any emphasis on keeping structure fires from from being suppressed if need be to keep them from spreading onto wildlands. The policy of the agency has not been changed in that protecting federal lands is still the primary responsibility of the federal agencies and if suppression of fuels that are formed as or look like structures can and should be suppressed to protect those natural resources on said lands.

There is also the emphasis on not responding to med runs or vehicle accidents. If in fact the fire danger is so low that there is not threat of fire from accidents this makes sense. However the world is never ideal such that med or structure response from local fire is the closest resource. In many situations it is a federal resource that is often used. The town of Happy Camp an example of response by a federal agency when there was nothing else available. I recall in the past when we would get into these discussions we used the checkerboard ownership on the Plumas as an example. The checkerboard ownership in itself is one of the major reasons we have the agreements we do so that action is taken immediately to protect the natural resources, whether on fed or other jurisdiction and the public which pays the state local and federal agencies to provide that protection.

The Forest Service is making another effort by this direction to put on the blinders when it comes to the urban interface which is no longer unique to southern California or to most of the country. The reason the agreements are in place, that FIRESCOPE was formed, that ICS came about, that cost share and apportionment were all created was to address these very issues. California is unique in that it faces problems and issues 10 to 15 years ahead of other regions. Those who come into the region or govern from other regions thinking those before them gave away the farm or are just plain stupid need to look into the mirror. Blaming the Incident Teams or firefighters for overspending is pure idiocy. They, now called forestry technicians, and not the firefighters they really are, put their life on the line taking care of the mess that caused the incident to be so expensive.

Seems I had this same discussion on a fire on the Los Padres sometime in 1993-4. In the meantime, I suggest the agency leave the firefighting and agreement negotiations in the “Fire Department” element of the Forest Service!


5/12 Eva Schicke Memorial Highway and 2009 Round-up Parade

On Friday May 8, CDF Firefighters hosted the dedication ceremony at the Pines Campground to dedicate a portion of Highway 120 from the Tuolumne County Line to Rim of the World. This dedication was part of Chris Southwick’s senior project for high school. Chris is the son of CAL FIRE Fire Captain Walt Southwick.

The next day, Columbia Helitack Crew 2009 carried one of the signs in the Mother Lode Round-Up Parade along with a few friends. Special thanks to the Stanislaus National Forest, Groveland Ranger District, Stanislaus Hot Shots, and Bob Shindelar from the front office for providing the USFS Honor Guard and CDF Firefighters Local 2881 for providing the CDF Firefighters Pipes and Drums Band and Honor Guard

I received a telephone call last night that the section representing CAL FIRE, CDF Firefighters L2881, USFS, and TCFD and Eva Schicke was selected by the parade committee to receive the top award for all parade entries. There were 160 total entries. I’ve been asked to go down today and receive it on behalf of the section at the Rodeo along with Bob Shindelar and Robert Anzar from Tuolumne County Fire Department.

We had a great time and the Vallecito Cook crew (decimated by Code 5’s) came through and served a great lunch BBQ for about 80 people at Rotary Park afterwards. Thanks to Brad Stratton, Mark Seim, Lavelle West, Denis Laughon, Mike and Teresa Carnesseca again.

What a perfect way to kick off the season.

Thanks to all for a great weekend. Have a safe summer.


I got the photos of Eva's highway and roundup parade posted: tuolumne/eva.php#hwy Looks like it was a fine event. Ab.

5/12 greetings all,

I am just reading and noticed the post regarding un mentioned LODDs. I am thinking back to a few months ago when I was looking at the FS Honor Guard site and all the names on it. I for one would like none in the years to come. Please stay safe out there.

This brings me to my second point: Afew months ago while perusing the site, I made a discovery. I saw that Kristine Fairbanks had not been put on it and neither had any other LEOs. However after I e mailed the site manager, I now see Kris and others have been added. I sure appreciate that. We LEOs love our job. the land, and all our coworkers.

Guns n hoses

5/12 FireBill,

The S-133 course is worth waiting for. I was one of the SME's for the course revision. It is in Flash media format and can be played on a computer. It has some great videos showing the Factors and indicators along with interviews from a couple Boise Smokejumpers and Jim Cook himself.

Great class that should not be overlooked.


5/12 Policy versus common sense:

In 2005 (give or take a year), CA-LPF had a couple thousand acre fire (Cachuma Fire) in the month of May. The decision was made that most FS personnel could not respond because they did not have their annual refresher training yet. Santa Barbara County and other Local Government agencies stepped up to the plate and provided IA and Extended Attack resources as well as help staff the local Fed Type II IMT. Days later, resources from R-3 started to filter in.

After this embarrassment, most people thought that "Leader's Intent" would prevail down the road. I guess that is not the case after all, common sense appears to mean little when compared to "policy".

I see five solutions to the problem;
1. Put common sense before policy in those situations
2. Change policy to reflect annual training, defined as 14 or 16 months (just not 12)
3. Let Fire Management, manage their responsibility as true professionals
4. Let State, County and Local Governments handle all of these fires
5. Insist that Mother Nature, dumb people, etc,,, not start any fires until annual training is completed

With the current situation that the FS is going through, I only see two of these as true possibilities.

Yellow Angel

5/12 RE: principles about non-wildland fire response and structure protection

Letterman is right on!

There is a huge disconnect between policy and public expectation on this issue. The public does not care what color the engine or the apparatus is; they do have an expectation that we will intervene to protect life and property. If we are going to live by the policy as stated, someone better get busy and let the taxpayers know.

Type II IC

AB: I don’t care if you use my name or not…Mike

5/12 Has anyone gotten a look at the revised S-133 package? I'm trying to plan a class and wondering if it's worth waiting for.


5/12 From Mark Castellnou in Spain on CPS:

Hi Doug:

I just send a brief paper of what is now officially happening in Europe. If you want it more explained in official paper or another explanation, just let me know and we will produce it and send to you for use with your officials of USFS.

Good explanation of your Santa Barbara Fires.

Marc Castellnou
work phone: (34) 60707xxxx
Castell 11, 43746 Tivissa. Tarragona


1.- Introduction

The firefighter’s ability to identify situations in the fire line and make possible to increase their efficiency and their safety is the main goal of the training program.

Since 1999 the use of CPS as a part of the career plan in Catalonian Fire Service have been a growing program due to the improvement it gives to our fire service and for the positive feedback coming from the firefighters.

2.- Use in Europe

The actual situation of CPS in Europe is:

    • Catalonia:
      1999-2005: 4 hours for the seasonals
      8 hours in the permanent
      2006-2008: 8 hours for the seasonals training
      20 hours in the permanent
      2008- : 8 hours to volunteers
      8 hours for the seasonals training
      20 hours in the permanent
      Special sessions of 40 hours for Incident Command people
    • Canary Island: 8 hours for the seasonals training
      20 hours in the permanent
    • Balear Island: 8 hours for the seasonals training
      20 hours in the permanent
    • Aragon: 8 hours for the seasonals training
      20 hours in the permanent
    • Andalucia: 4 hours for the seasonals training
      12 hours in the permanent
    We introduced the system in 2005 and now they are using it as a part of seasonals training (8 hours) and permanent training (22 hours)
    We introduced the system in 2006. Now it is permanent part of the basic training inside a course of 32 hours
    Introduced in 2003. Is permanent in the training for all levels. Its organized in sessions of 4, 8 and 12 hours
  • ITALY (Sardinia).
    Has been introduced in 2008 in a course of 32 hours we gave them. They are planning to use it in its plan for next year in advance

3.- How it is applied?

The main uses of CPS logic and signature prediction that the system gives to the fire fighting units in Europe have been:

  • Identifying safety in fire line
  • Adjusting crew capability to fight fire
  • Identifying critical points to prepare strategy
  • Analyzing tactics and its use
  • Review the accidents
  • Language to explain fire behavior when reviewing past incidents
5/12 A FS water "Tanker" stationed at Orleans crashed in 1978 and 3 FS engine crew were killed and 2 injured.
Formerly unrecorded FS LODDs from the past:

Ab, there was a Six Rivers National Forest engine collision with a logging truck long ago -- July 26, 1978 -- (my birthday) near Orleans on Hwy 96 heading toward Weitchpec above the Klamath River. Since 1999 when I started contributing here, firefighters from Orleans have been trying to find out more about the accident and the folks we lost that day. They've wanted to create a roadside monument and have tried several times. Those we lost are not on the current list of the fallen at any memorial or monument site. I'm glad to see that through the efforts of a number of people to find and record their deaths and injuries that their sacrifices, will be remembered. Thanks to Mike Gibbons (SRF) Joe Sean Kennedy, (MNF), Paul Montgomery who was assigned to the engine but not on duty that day (now on the MNF) and CalTrans employee (now Eureka Sup of Ops) Stan Woodman for their efforts to create a memorial in '03 and '04. They have kept the effort alive. Thanks also for their efforts to Kent Swartzlander (Six Rivers FFMO), Kathy Hodnett (Asst Center Mgr at Fortuna ICC) and Rick Cowell (TNF) who got the news article. Thanks finally to the FS Honor Guard, especially Renee McCormick. John Miller is maintaining a website for the info that is being gathered on all fatalities. Big smooch to ALL.

Three firefighters died and 2 were injured. The couple in the logging truck were OK.

The dead:

  • Richard Montano, 22
  • Gayle Tsutsumi, 26
  • David Perrine, 27

The injured:

  • Mark Evans, 22
  • Gene Schmoker, 26

Incident: CA-SRF-Orleans Engine fatalities
Klam-ity Kourier article (998 K doc file)

5/12 RE: principles about non-wildland fire response and structure protection


I agree with you 100%. Another thing that caught my eye, is it seems they're putting all the responsibility for this on individual firefighters, rather than any overhead positions. Seems kinda of a CYA thing. Wouldn't be bad, if the Agency backed up its firefighters for the on the ground decision they need to make, however history tells us that is not always the case.


5/12 Re: Fire Suppression Doctrine


Your latest post raises good questions about line officers versus staff role. It identifies the challenge of  implementing "doctrine" and how to do so appropriately.

There are, and always have been recognized exceptions to policy direction. "Working to standard"
saves lives. Working outside of standards is permitted when there is imminent threat to human life.

There is at least one prototype STEX that deals with "doctrine" and agency administrator (line officer)
response to such situations. Forest Supervisors who have participated were unanimous in support of
that exercise.

Some related questions also arise. Ed mentions that the pack test and refresher course are good for one year from completion. You cite the sending of resources without current status. How did that happen? Which fire leaders failed by "a few days or weeks" to have their testing and refresher courses within a one year period? Was the need to maintain currency in quals unforeseen by R5 forest level fire managers?

I'm not saying your line officers made the wrong decisions. I do wonder why they were placed in a situation to have to make such decisions.

I'll repeat myself. The agency would be far better served if it followed its own direction of requiring fire experience as an evaluation criteria for line officer positions. It would be better served if it "worked to standard" by ensuring that all fire leaders met the qualification standards for their positions.


STEX=Sand Table Exercises, a form of training groups of people, for example hotshots use STEX to work on developing their tactical knowledge in the face of developing scenarios: tac decision game TDGS template 2005 (doc)
The ICT3s had to go through a "testing to a standard" cert using computerized models or sand table exercises -STEX- following the Cramer Fire fatalities. Ab.

5/11 Re: Fire Suppression Doctrine

The statement from the R-5 Fire and Aviation Management Director seems 180 degrees from the actions undertaken by experienced Local Line Officers (Agency Administrators) and experienced Local Fire Management in support of the Jesusita Fire when "challenges or barriers" are addressed. They provided "Commanders Intent" and exercised it well. The actions of the R-5 Director seemed to be a direct attack on many who made the right decision... but failed to follow the FSM or FSH direction.

The "memo" from "-ed-" mean anything to folks? Ed is not a Line Officer. Tom Harbour is not a Line Officer.

Does Doctrine exist? Are "leaders" allowed to exercise expert judgment and be supported from the RO and WO in their "on scene" decision making processes?

Did Line Officers and Fire Managers make the correct decisions in sending resources to help (CA-LPF-Jesusita) even though their "agency required" pack tests and refresher training were not completed by a few days or weeks? Are these barriers valid? Did folks exercise Doctrine or Commanders Intent?

What happens when there is a fire and nobody responds due to institutional barriers and lack of Foundational Leadership. Ed, care to answer that? Many Line Officers and Fire Managers would love to hear your reply.

I look forward to folks ideas. It is a complex problem needing factual discussion of the issues. Most often, the decisions and actions made on the fire ground.... or locally.... cannot be refuted by the bean counters or talking heads. Ed, I apologize in advance for putting you on the spot.


5/11 principles about non-wildland fire response and structure protection

For those of you, especially those of you at a Capt level or above or if you work in an ECC or those of you on an IMT in a operational role, I encourage you to go back and read the post about the Forest Service letter and principles about non-wildland fire response and structure protection. This seems to have been overlooked with all the LP fire activity. This letter is not just about structure protection, it also references HAZMAT, medical aids, vehicle fires, structure fire and how not to have planned dispatch responses to those types of incidents. But if you happen to come across one of these types of incidents, no problem.

structure protection (doc)

By virtue of this document and associated letter from Chief Kimball,we just took one giant 20 year step backwards if units follow the direction. Those are my thoughts and I hope my interpretation is wrong. I would encourage you to thoroughly read the document.

I would like to hear your thoughts.....


5/11 Working my way through some photos:

Got several of the Diamond Mountain IHC, 08 crew and in the Siskiyous.

Also... He's baaaack:

I saw a post and photo (crew photo page 25 ojai-hs-module78.jpg) a while back and meant to chip in and add to the story at the time, but just didn’t get around to it. I stumbled upon my own photos of said topic today and decided to take the time to add to the story.

Those who posted or commented on the story and photo, Pyro and EP, may be interested.

-Little Winker, beyond the Ojai years-

The small bus known as Winker went on to serve the Mendocino Hotshots in 1980 - 82 before her untimely (or timely depending on your perspective) retirement after the 1982 fire season. Late in the 1981 season Winker suffered a near career ending malfunction, however she was valiantly repaired and put back in service. Attached are photographs of Winkers near death experience. The incident as photographed happened at the end of the day as we were pulling up to the fuel pump on the compound. Thankfully this happened here, and not on the highway while zipping down the hill to some fire.

And yes, I can confirm 16-17 can sleep relatively comfortably in its cramped quarters as long as you didn’t get stuck on the floor over the rear axle where it would get quite hot. But only an am radio with one speaker by the driver? ...come on you guys where was your ingenuity? We added an am/fm cassette deck and two speakers front and two in the back.

Love her or hate her, Winker did save us and other crews many extra miles of hiking as the little bus could go where larger buses could not, and there were no, or very few, of the crew carrier type buggies around in those days.


-once known by few as “poppin’ fresh”

Posted all of those on the Handcrews 29 photo page. Thanks, Ab.

5/11 Sundowners explanation correction:


I must of had a moment with the wind blowing from hot to cold when it should have been cool to warm. Would you post this correction?



Don't you mean it blows cooler to warmer, offshore?...

The Sundowner mechanics are shown on 3 of the cards. A meteorologist OK'd the graphics.
* When the land is heated hotter than the ocean, the wind blows from cold to hot, onshore.
* When the land cools and becomes cooler than the water, the wind blows from hot to cool, offshore.
* Put a fire on the land and that can change the usual timing of the event.
* When the pressure difference between Lompoc and Santa Barbara is such to encourage a NW wind
then a Sundowner event is more likely. It is called a Sundowner because it happens after sundown.

Geoff W

I fixed the original post on sundowners. Ab.

5/11 Making the rounds

Subject: Incident Qualification


I want to remind you that you are not to assign or allow Forest Service personnel to be assigned to fire suppression incidents unless they are qualified and in possession of a current Incident Qualification Card, which is valid one-year from issuance. What that also means is that they satisfactorily completed their work capacity test and fire refresher within the past year. Because of the conditions we are observing on the Jesusita, and the forecasted conditions throughout the State, I recommend you do what you can to expedite WCT and refreshers to the degree you can. Not being ahead of the curve is not a plausible reason to bend qualifications / certification rules. Please reference FSM 5120.45, 5120.03,5120.2, or FSH 5109.17, and the Red Book or call Peter Tolosano with any questions.

Thank you...

(R5 Ed Hollenshead)

5/10 Re: Dr. Grossman

Hi Ab

Just for your own edification that is Dr. Grossman (Junior) I am reasonable sure
pops is still alive and active.. Both outstanding..

My best to you and the Staff and Happy Mothers Day.

Jp harris

5/10 An early morning HAPPY MOTHERS DAY.

Moms we appreciate you.


5/9 Re Jesusito Burnover and Firefighters' conditions:


To follow on with your LA Times story, there was a segment on NBC last night that I caught before going to work with the same story. Here is the link to the video:

more on Jesusito Burnover

It is good to hear that they are all expected to recover.


Thanks, nice one. Amazing fire footage. It's good to see what Dr. Grossman looks like as well. Ab.

5/9 WFF Fundraiser:

Couple of months ago I posted about a fundraiser I 'm doing for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. So far it's been pretty successful but, not successful enough. So here I am again asking for your help.

The fundraiser 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 1400 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 wffoundation.org and find the pledge form under the fundraisers tab and sign up.

My new idea is: That all the Incident Management teams (Federal, State, County, etc Type 1 +2) from around the country would donate to the cause. If they all supported this cause, that would help out a lot (We are talking less that $30.00). Instead of the team's name on my deck, we could place the teams sticker, if they wanted to. Please don't be that team that's left on the sidelines.

As a Engine Captain for the National Park Service and a member of the wildland fire community, 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

So basically each person of the 1000 people would pay $14 (1400 pennies) if you go the whole way. They could also kick in an additional $10 for a sticker. At the very least with the pledges, that would be $14,000 for the WFF. The 20,000 target could be reached with more people pledging and people buying advertising stickers. Sounds doable. I'm in. Ab.

There's a pdf flyer at a link here wffoundation.org Justin's on the WFF website. I'm posting the text below. Copy and paste it and print. Simpler in black and white, and quicker. I just did it. Send in $14 at a minimum or $24 if you want the sticker. If Justin says he'll paddle the miles, he will. Also simpler to just do it ahead of time. You could also log on at the WFF and donate 14 or 24 or more and say it is in support of Justin's effort.

Hey Justin, send in some updates when you get going and a few pics so we can follow your progress...


Penny Paddle Pledge Intra-Coastal Expedition 2009

Norvolk, VA to Key West, FL (Roughly 1350 miles)
October / November ‘09

Justin DeForest, Engine Captain for the National Park Service at Cape Cod National Seashore, has seen first hand what the Wildland Firefighter Foundation does. The foundation has helped some of his friends and their families. Now Justin wants to give back and help raise some money for the foundation on his kayaking expedition from Virginia to Florida.

Please pledge, whatever you can. Help us to move forward and help those in need! In addition to pledging per mile, you can get your Name, Company and/or Organization on the 17’ kayak during this wonderful event for an additional $10.00 pledge. Don’t miss out, space on the kayak is limited!

CREDIT CARD (Type/#):_______EXP:_____

Pledging options are as follows, please check your choice(s):
$1 cent per mile
$ ____ per mile
$ ____ Flat Rate
$10.00 to have my name, company and/or organization on Justin’s kayak
Name on kayak:_________

Check out Justin’s website at www.ICE2009.com

Please print this out and send it to: WFFoundation 2049 Airport Way, Boise, ID. 83705

100% of all monies pledged will go directly to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. The foundation is a 501(c) 3 non-profit and all donations are tax-deductible.

5/9 Online courses:

I read the comments about USFS not accepting online courses for employment. I'm not a USFS employee, my wildland career began began as a USFS seasonal BD crewmember, but I eventually moved on to other employment in the wildland environment.

I'm surprised about these comments. Has anybody applied with USFS and been turned down?

Are the online courses easier or harder than the classroom course?

Doesn't the online student take the same test the classroom student must pass to be firefighter qualified?

Has anybody compared student scores between the online and classroom versions

What about these crosswalk courses also on the internet?

Sign me, just curious!

5/9 That LA Times link has already been removed. Check the hotlist on it. Ab.
5/8 Jesusito burnover:

The brief story of Topolinski, Lopez and Bulger. Bulger may have been released already.

latimes.com Jesusito burnover

Photos at the link. Ab.
Update: the story is HERE.

5/8 Jesusito burnover:

Ab & Midland,

I'm pretty sure those two photos were taken by Spencer Weimer (or possibly Mark Boster or Luis Sinco) of the LA Times as part of that same Jesusito slideshow. They are no longer online.


5/8 CPS and Sundowner reply to Mellie:

These pocket cards are in the Language Book offered on my website.

The Sundowner mechanics are shown on 3 of the cards. A meteorologist OK'd the graphics.

  • When the land is heated hotter than the ocean, the wind blows from cold to hot, onshore.
  • When the land cools and becomes cooler than the water, the wind blows from cooler to warmer
    surface temperatures, offshore.
  • Put a fire on the land and that can change the usual timing of the event.
  • When the pressure difference between Lompoc and Santa Barbara is such to encourage a NW wind
    then a Sundowner event is more likely. It is called a Sundowner because it happens after sundown.

If a gradient wind is from the NW and dominates the daytime, it is a gradient wind and may support stronger offshore wind after dark, when the land cools. But there is a fire on the land and that changes the timing at least. The heat of the fire can cause a heat dam and the wind may be bumped around and over the heat dam.

Last evening winds at the airport were onshore from the SW at the same time the wind on the ridge tops were from the NE. The fire on the West flank was moving West with a wind behind it. Why? Maybe the fire heat had something to do with that.

Pocket cards pictures:
sundowner1.jpg (10-1800 hrs)
sundowner2.jpg (1800 hrs)
sundowner3.jpg (2000 hrs)
tactics card.jpg

The type of fire changes from topography to wind driven, tactics should change as well. The tactic card tells how.

The Jesusita fire behavior was very changeable, making the tactics dangerous when the dominant force changed. In one place, the fire would be wind driven and at the same time in another place, the fire would be topography dominated. In some instances the fire would launch embers which would become a fire storm. Each circumstance requires different tactics. Putting engines and crews in spotfire areas should never be attempted on a pure wildland fire. When done, as on the Jesusita, a price can be extracted for that tactic. The tactic card was produced to make a point that each type of fire has a tactic that is usually successful. Using a topography tactic on a wind driven fire can lead to failure.

Here is a graphic depicting a barrier to a forecast wind direction. How the fire changes the weather. Wind barrier.jpg

Maybe this will help clear up some confusion that I have heard about Sundowners.

Go Drew

My best to all the firefighters out there.


5/8 Engines 23 photo page:

In reference to the burntover engine photos on the Engines 23 / CA-LPF/SBC/STB-Jesusita burnover Hotlist thread:

I dont know who took the photos, But it looks to me like Temescal Station at Piru Lake. Mabe Epi or some of the Albata Clan will see them .

Old lpf

5/8 Jesusito fire


Here's a picture of Drew Smith, LA County Fire Dept, briefing on the Jesusito Fire yesterday. Spencer Weiner took the photo for the LA Times. If you want a full-sized high res version, contact them.

When I did the Campbell Prediction System training in 2000, I was part of the Ventura Co Firefighter training group. Drew came to work with Doug on that training. He now incorporates CPS into his S-490 training and teaches CPS to all the incoming LA Co FD firefighters.

This Jesusito fire behavior looks complicated. There's wind driven fire, topography driven fire, and fire on fire with the spots.

Doug, any comment on all this? Could you please explain the mechanism of the sundowner?


LA Times photo gallery: latimes.com photogallery

Thanks, haw haw, I posted him on the Handcrews 25 photo page too. Ab.

5/8 S-190- S130 basic fire school


Was told that some National Forest and or Districts are not going to grant completion of the class, Even after field day. Is this not a national training program? Is NWCG not a Forest Service supported program? Is this because it's online..... I-100 and I-700-800 and aglearn are also online, does this mean we should not grant credit for completion of these classes either?....

Food for thought.


5/8 re: vocational firefighter training

Brett Dunten,

I would stay away from the on-line training, even though NWCG allows anybody to order a stack of training certificates from NIFC and students can print their own off the internet. You want your students to end up with something worth more than the paper it's printed on.

Think about where the jobs are in the private sector. The national crew contracts require "Instructors used by Contractors for fire training must be recognized through a Geographic Area Coordinating Group Memorandum of Understanding or other formal agency agreement."

Make sure the training you provide will be recognized down the road. Get an MOU for your program or get sponsorship from the local FS or BLM office. I've helped a couple community colleges and youth corps programs with these issues. Ab can put you in touch with me, if you want.

I know the distance-based learning saves the agencies lots of money and is the wave of the future, but is firefighter training really where we want to cut corners? Maybe I'm a little old school, but a red card was never intended to be prize in a box of Cracker Jack. (I guess I am old, do they even make Cracker Jack anymore?)

vfd cap'n

5/8 Ab, please post the attached images in the gallery.

Cold Springs Fire, WA 2008:

Mescalero Apache crew
BLM crew ( not sure of specs).

Thanks, I posted them on the Handcrews 25 photo page. Ab.

5/8 Lynn Biddison's Basics of Fire Suppression:

June 16, 1982
Basics of Fire Suppression

32. FIGHT FIRE AGGRESSIVELY. In capitals and at the bottom of Biddison's list, this concept is what safety is about. People make mistakes when they aren't paying attention or get distracted.

Seems to me that we fight fire on our schedule these days, instead of the fire being the #1 priority. Yes, right in the daily plans we have a schedule to keep. It's almost like working a 9 to 5 job! But most important is; it's hard to keep your mind on the fire when you spend so much time away.

You want to save money and lives? Quit driving back and forth and risking your life getting around each other on mountain roads made for two little cars to pass each other!

Most shot crews hate staying at an ICP. Spiking keeps you closer to the fire, you get better sleep and you get to monitor fire activity during the night. Have camp crews to setup food service and move camp as crews progress. The basics include GOOD FOOD when possible!

Take every opportunity to get in there when the weather is good and rest everybody when during extreme fire behavior. Why? This is a time to observe and make plans. It's also a time when you may have to roust everybody up to put in hotline, or relocate, so you want to keep everybody fresh. The fire is going to go where its wants to! Trigger points are generated fast, so you better be paying attention!

Line it in the day when you can see the hazards and burn at night when you can see where the embers are going. Work hard in the day and rest while you burn. Get Some Sleep!

It's up to the Crew Superintendent to make sure everybody has enough rest to do the job safely. There should be no set of rules here, just good, experienced overhead who know the job and their crew well.

William Riggles

5/8 Jesusito burnover and firefighters' conditions:

From the Hotlist: Let's keep them in our thoughts and prayers...

The three firefighters being treated at the Grossman Burn Center are:

Captain Brian Bulger, a 30-year veteran of the Ventura County Fire Department. Captain Bulger is 57 years old and a resident of Ventura. His normal duty station is Station 21 in Ojai.

Captain Ron Topolinski has served with the Ventura County Fire Department for 28 years. He is 51 years old and a resident of Camarillo. His normal duty station is Station 57 in Somis.

Firefighter Robert Lopez has been a firefighter for the Ventura County Fire Department since 2000. He is 44 years old and lives in Port Hueneme. His normal duty station is Station 54 in Camarillo.

I don't know these men personally (as in "face to face"), but I do know Brian Bulger is a strong advocate for safety and has been instrumental in NIMO team development, mission/vision, safety and leadership issues.

Ours is a small fire world with many connections across agencies. No man or woman is an island in this brotherhood; no man stands alone. My wishes for the speedy recovery of all. Thank goodness for clear burn protocol. In any firefighter injury situation. time is of the essence in minimizing damage -- the golden hour or ASAP. Ab.

5/8 Jesusito burnover and firefighters' conditions:

From press release on burned over Ventura Co Firefighters...

"Captain Ron Topolinski has served with the Ventura County Fire Department for 28 years.
He is 51 years old and a resident of Camarillo. His normal duty station is Station 57 in Somis."

Ron has been a COML on many incidents and is one of the best.
I have worked with him in the past and hope he has a speedy recovery.

Jim Shepherd
COML Harvey T2 Great Basin

5/8 Re: NWCG Online and Offline Courses S-130/L-180, and S-190, and other "self study"


Course Coordinator's Guide NWCG training PMS907 (pdf)

Field Manager's Course Guide NWCG training field manager course guide (pdf)

Distance Learning Course Administrators of NWCG distance learning or self study 100- 400 level courses: In order to serve as an Instructor you must meet the following criteria:

A course administrator is a person responsible for guiding a student through a self-paced course (computer based or paper based). Course administrators must meet qualifications set forth in the Field Managers Course Guide for each particular course; have general administrative knowledge of testing, certificates of completion and qualification system of record for the agency or agencies involved; and must be available in person, by phone, or by email to assist the student during the completion of the course.


The online S-130/190 courses are discussed at: online S-130/190 course discussions (pdf)

"McManus added that prospective firefighters will still have to complete the field portion of S-130 before receiving course certificates for S-130, S-190 and L-180 and becoming qualified as a wildland firefighter."


** " All online courses require the use of a course administrator. A course administrator MUST be secured before attempting any course work. For more information on a course administrator, select here." (couldn't get this "select here" <a href="faq.phpl">select here</a> link to work)

Question: What is a course administrator?

A course administrator is a person responsible for guiding a student through a self-paced course (computer based or paper based). Course administrators must meet qualifications set forth in the Field Managers Course Guide (NWCG fmcg.pdf) for each particular course and must be available in person, by phone, or by email to assist the student during the completion of the course.

Minimum Instructor Qualifications
Lead instructor must be a qualified single resource boss.
Unit instructors must be qualified firefighters type 1 (FFT1).

Minimum Instructor Qualifications
Lead instructor must be a qualified single resource boss.
Unit instructors must be qualified firefighters type 1 (FFT1).


5/8 Santa Maria Reload Base:

To all,

Unfortunately we are experiencing a devastating urban interface fire which is doing extensive damage to large number of homes. Realizing that the loss of one's home can't be measured and also sometimes not noticed, the frustration of firefighters not able to save lives and homes, we empathize with homes owners and firefighters alike.

It may be of interest to readers that the local Los Padres union president Joe Duran, and regional vice president, Dan Defraine, had just submitted a briefing paper pointed the fallacy of reducing the responsiveness of the Santa Maria Air Attack Base. Specifically, a briefing paper to our congressional representatives and local government agencies pointed out the potential consequences of reducing the staffing and thus it's ability to quickly respond to a wildland fire.

The briefing paper which was mailed to all pertinent parties on May 4, 2009 is attached.

Joe Duran
Los Padres Local Union President

Santa Maria Reload Base 050409 (pdf)

5/8 New memorial site:


How can we get this memorial site listed on your site??


Thank you.
Debi Carpadus

Here it is. Ab.

5/7 Lynn Biddison’s fire management philosophy

Yactak, Sting,

We could use a lot more of Lynn Biddison’s fire management philosophy these days. I met and chatted with him briefly at a conference several years ago when he was working for one of the retardant companies. I didn’t know who he was at the time but he seemed like a pretty charismatic old guy.

His Basics of Fire Suppression is pure distilled Deep Smarts. There are entire lifetimes of hard-earned wisdom in those observations.

Misery Whip

5/7 Re S-130/S-190

To Brett Dunten:

How about using the online NWCG Course?


5/7 Brett ,

Sounds like you already have the experience if you're an ENGB; you will need to take M-410 or instructor 1A/1B to be certified to sign the certs.


5/7 My name is Brett Dunten.

I live in La Grande Oregon where I teach and assist in teaching vocational education programs. I also have fought fire the past 8 years. I work in a facility of young youth that are locked up for about 6 mo to two years, age ranging from 17-23. We would like a vocational program that includes fire training like the S-13-/190, so when they leave here they can find a job if interested.

What is it going to take for me to get credentials to teach this class? I myself am already certified as a SR-engine Boss.


5/7 Best Structure Protection Principles 2008

From noname fire:

Forest Service: The Best of the Best Structure Protection Principles 2008

structure protection 0409 (doc)

5/7 VCFD (VNC) Firefighter Injuries


Links to Ventura County Fire Dept Press Release regarding Injuries to our Firefighters.

Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers. We request that any information be confirmed though official press or department releases before posting. Thanks

VNC news releases


Hotlist thread

It is our policy not to post info until it is out in a press release or in the major media. Our goal is to protect families reading here from learning of accidents, burnovers and deaths on this forum or the hotlist. It's hard enough. They deserve personal contact. Ab.

5/7 Need photos for ppt presentation:

I'm looking for a powerpoint presentation or information and pictures I could use in a powerpoint presentation on Extreme Fire Behavior for my younger firefighters. Something beyond the initial info they get in basic classes. Does anyone have this before I reinvent the wheel?



5/7 From Hickman:

Examining Firefighting Tactics under Wind Driven Conditions -- U.S. Fire Administration

wind conditions

5/6 Firefighters and the public are at risk in the Santa Barbara (Jesusita) Fire. Check the hotlist. Ab.
5/6 Apparently from reading the Hotlist, the SMX ATB is opened.

All the USFS iterations for what?? Couldn't the "leadership" see a fire season coming??

I for one WILL NOT commend the USFS in "reopening" and wasting time for "1 more year of fullservice"

Apparently when it comes to saving money, the USFS FAILS pretty sorely through getting the community all riled up. For the leadership of ther USFS, you pretty much have lost whatever credibility in YOUR methods of saving money. Coming from working in civilian FBO operation, it takes more than ticking people off. Working with and getting "buy in" from the community is the most important thing an "Agency" can do with its constituents.

Do not know where the idea of CWN being any cheaper got its start, be glad SMX is up and running in the time allotted. I DO understand there were 60+mph winds on the Jesusita fire and that MAY cancel AT operations. It sure curtails ANY helo ops.

In the future, The USFS has to be more responsible. If these people DO NOT have REAL aviation credentials, as we see the arguments for fire creds, then it is time for a real shakedown of USFS FAM. Put REAL leaders with Airport Management and Aviation credentials in place. MAKE THOSE CREDENTIALS mandatory. This is just as a serious business as fire itself.

Also if the community is funding the airport thru FAA ADAP funds, 50/50 cost share other than USFS FEPP $$$$, city bonding, and other NON USFS funding vehicles, then it is really time for the USFS to stecorrectly, that SMX and the community had to upgrade the runway due to weights?? If the USFS did not kick in dinero for that project to come up to standard, then more reason, that the USFS is biting off more than it can chew.

We will see how the leadership stands up this fire season...... I as a taxpayer and a pilot, really am NOT impressed with shutting down one day and opening up another.......that is INDECISION during fire season. In this business, INDECISION kills. Isn't the USFS big on tactical and technical proficiency??


Pro Airport, Pro aviation, Pro PT pilot and Forester!

Let's chill until we get through this and can figure it out. Ab.

5/6 Jesusito, etc and CalFire Stations
From Mark: Here's a map, Cal Fire Stations Map:

CalFire Stations Map (5,126 K pdf map)

5/6 JT-ette,

My attitude might indeed be part of the problem, but I hope you can see our efforts as part of a solution, too.

We are about a fifth of the way through posting all of Colorado Firecamp's class photos on our Facebook group. Our students are why we keep pushing to improve firefighter safety.

There are a couple things we are working on to make chainsaw operations safer. One project is working with a local company that makes and sells wilderness first aid kits. Even if the FS spec first aid kit met the OSHA standard for the correct size and number of gauze pads, there are some much better hemostatic products available to stop critical bleeding.

My fire department's medical advisor recently put tourniquets in our rescue trauma kits (including the basic kits on the wildland rigs) because of the rural nature of our response area and delays reaching advanced medical care.

A second effort is something I brought up at the Phoenix IAWF conference: why do the agencies bother having a Felling Boss (FELB) qualification if they don't provide specialized training or even require the person to have completed S-212? Chainsaws and hazard trees demand that adequate supervision possess certain technical knowledge.

vfd cap'n

5/6 Hey Guys-

I hate to self-promote, no really.. I do. But I know there are crews in the Pacific NW.. And it's "Let's get them trained up" time. I haven't spoken to many here in Oregon. Now you don't need to be nearby- I don't really care where you are. I've been all the way out to Taos & down to the Descanso R.D. on the Cleveland. Pretty sure I could have thrown a rock into Mexico on that one. It's just easier to make a day trip & I miss less school that way.

Why would you want to listen to me? Here's the short story:

Plumas IHC, '01. We went to Kentucky with 9 other IHC crews to work a bunch of arson fires. 2nd day on the line Jeremy (Swamper) & I were cleaning out the edge so the guys could hand-feel when a tree that was 67' in the black burned through & fell- The crew saw it & yelled but I had a live saw, my back was to it & really I had no chance. It got me right over the back of the head. 30+ broken bones, collapsed lung, various internal injuries & a torn PCL. 6 months in 3 different hospitals and now? I'm a wheelchair pilot for probably the rest of my life.

So if I come out & see you guys what do you get? A slide show of my life before during & after the accident & me sitting there arms length away telling the story. Apparently it's effective else nobody would ask me back right? You also get a small gift of the "loot" I've invented- Look in your Supply Cache catalog (or your pack perhaps) for my "Charger / Adapters" the toy hose clamps & the toy hose rollers. I always bring a few & "forget" to take them home.

What do I want for coming out? Fill the gas tank (Apologies, but the FBI-van I have to drive now is a freakin' Hoover) feed me & if I have to sleep somewhere, toss me a blanket. No really, just pay the expenses & we're good. Of course... If you'd like to throw a little toward my tuition bill I won't complain at all.

Need more info? There's a page about it here: krstofer.org Or... Ask around.

So. I am heykrs (at) nospam gamil.com or... Ab's got my number.

-- Krstofer Evans

5/6 Wildland Firefighter Quinn Raff passes away:

Quinn Raff, most recently employed as an engine captain on the Heber Ranger District, Wasatch Cache National Forest in Utah, and previously working several years on the Moose Creek Ranger District on the Nez Perce National Forest in Idaho, passed away quietly Sunday morning at the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City, UT. Quinn had fought recurring brain tumors for the last 10 or more years, and was an inspiration to many for his never-give-up attitude and courage in the face of daunting odds. He will be missed by all who knew him.

A memorial service will be held on
Saturday, April 18 at 10:00 AM at the
Kamiah LDS church on Highway 12
between Kamiah and Kooskia, Idaho.

Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Nate Raff,
Quinn’s brother &
Musselshell Helitack Module Leader.

Our condolences, Nate. Ab.

5/5 CA-SBC-Jesusita (HAY-soos-EEE-ta) fire:


If this one goes bad, hope <snip> Santa Maria airtankers probably would have been a big help in the IA.

sign me LOL (on this one)

Please, let's keep this about the what not the who... Ab.

5/5 The Hotlist is HOT! Ab.
5/5 Dear AB:

I know you are not fond of the "who's" versus the "what's" but this I think is a bit important to share in the right context. Thus please post if you feel appropriate.

I often refer to the 3 Forest Supervisors of the LP, the ANF and BDF as the "Three Amigas" although it really doesn't matter what their gender is, its the collective actions of the group which send shudders down my spine.

On the LP-Peggy Hernandez, the architect of the NOT-EMPLOYEE FRIENDLY housing policy and the recent decision to change the status of the Santa Maria reload base without taking into consideration the comments provided to her by her fire/aviation folks.

On the ANF-Jody Noiron who single-handedly chased former FMO Don Feser into retirement and continues to reduce the firefighter morale on the forest and finally:

On the BDF-Jean Wade Evans whom, after having spoken to all 3 I felt was the most intelligent and worthy of firefighter respect...until now.

This post is not intended to disrespect in any way, Mr. Kurt Winchester, the new FMO on the BDF who has mighty big shoes to fill. This post is to enlighten those in the federal wildland firefighter community that Ms. Wade-Evans' selection of a District Ranger to be the new FMO without considering or allowing to compete qualified fire personnel for the job, was, according to a high-ranking fire official in the WO, an action deliberately meant to send a clear message to firefighters reminding them of "who is in charge."

The aforementioned actions by these 3 Forest Supervisors validate the "anti-fire" attitude expected by the WO for R5 Forest Supervisors to take in an effort to reign in the fire program and firefighters to remind them they are part of a land management agency, not a fire department.

I personally wish Mr. Winchester success. The BDF is a complex fire ground in its own right and Ms. Wade-Evans is apparently willing to risk a lot "asking" a District Ranger who did not seek out the FMO's job to take it while passing over well-qualified fire personnel.

Maybe Chief Dietrich is far more intelligent than I even thought in getting out now. Fortunately there are organizations such as the FWFSA who, while working collectively with NFFE will eventually temper such actions as stated above through major policy reforms.

Best wishes to all for a very safe season.

Fedwatcher II

5/5 Notes, jobs, and events:

The Help Wanted and Jobs Wanted sections of the Jobs Page are slowing down a bit as the Western areas creep closer to fire season. It seems the word is getting around how widely read and effective the ads are since we had many more federal agency units using the service this year than in the past. We've had excellent results for the private and local gov't folks for years now, so it's not too surprising to us that it works for the feds too. One new employment ad (FireIce) is looking for sales representatives for a 2nd generation gel product. They confided that a retired firefighter would probably be the ideal candidate.

One urgent item that was posted to the Announcements / Notices section of the Classified Ads this morning regards the rapidly approaching date for the Ron Thomas Memorial Associated Airtanker Pilots Golf Tournament. The tourney is a benefit for the AAP Memorial Trust Fund and is happening on May 12 at San Geronimo Valley Golf Course. You can visit their website for more details on participating or providing donations and sponsorship here: tankerpilottourney.com

That's about it for now, thanks for reading and please remember to check with our advertisers first for your wildland fire needs. Their advertising allows us to pay the bills. OA

5/5 re: Eagle Fire felling fatality

Rumor has it that the SAI Team stood themselves down when they recognized the LEO was going to use testimony they had gotten voluntarily for lessons learned to pursue criminal charges against Andy's best friends and crew mates, one of which felled a tree that hit a tree that lobbed another piece that broke Andy's leg and cut his femoral artery that they tried to stem the flow and get help and it didn't come....

in time...

The DOJ supposedly has refused to prosecute, but its not clear yet that the legal paperwork has all the i-s dotted and t-s crossed. Until it is clear, Andy's friends have been told by legal counsel not to talk. They don't want to fall into the Ellreese pit, where they're innocent of charges but convicted of lying because their memories might be incomplete. They also do not have money for lawyers and this is a very costly thing to defend yourself against even if you are innocent.

These two young men have been jerked around so much in the midst of their own tragedy. It's not fair. It will be a miracle if they ever feel free to tell their story that probably has some good lessons learned. And some lessons learned from the way they were jerked around too. Region 5 Law Enforcement both FS and NPS has given itself a bad name. I think this story would be a perfect "48 hour mystery" show on TV. People watching would be shocked and horrified.

I'm sad for fire that there's the witch hunt that goes on following something like this. Aviation and medicine don't "eat their young" as my mom says. When do we stop this process? How do we stop this process?

<snip moniker>, in the past you always seemed so black and white and rule-bound blamegame. Attitudes like yours are part of what's gotten us here. Some day the tables may be turned and youll see first hand how bad our current system is. Presumed innocent... my sweet little muscular ass!


My snip to "keep it about the what not the who". Thanks JT-ette. Someone, please let us know if we need to raise money for their legal counsel. Ab.

5/5 Subject: Forest Service Council Update - Firefighter Issues

We head to DC next week with a delegation of rank and file members to advocate for these and other workplace reforms.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

Good News May Be on the Horizon

We’ve been doing some behind-the-scenes work on two issues important to firefighters. While it takes perseverance to turn around agency policies, I’m happy to report our efforts may be very close to bearing fruit.

First, we have been working for years to establish administrative and legislative protections so that statements provided by employees in safety investigations will be used to improve safety and not for any other purpose. Unless employees have assurances that their disclosures will not be used against them, they would be ill-advised to freely and frankly second-guess their actions in a safety interview. Unfortunately, these kind of candid discussions are needed to develop lessons learned and prevent future tragedies. Recently, your union advised employees to refrain from participating in serious accident investigations until adequate protections are put in place. Please see our Open Letter to the Chief

We are proud to report that one of the necessary reforms is near realization. We've been working in partnership to develop an agency policy under which voluntary disclosures made to safety investigators will be used only to improve safety. The next step is to get legislation passed to prevent disclosures to outside parties, such as the Department of Justice. Until the new policy is put in place and appropriate legislation is passed, be aware that what you say in a safety investigation is not protected from outside parties even under the new policy.

Second, we’re actively working on the issue of reclassifying certain fire program management positions to the GS-0401 series. For many positions, especially after the OPM policy change that stripped our in-house NWCG courses of their standing, the educational requirements of the 401 series are not related to actual job duties. Your union doesn't believe that a natural resources degree should never be required for any fire management position; instead agency policy must be flexible enough to accommodate the need for natural resources credentials when appropriate without requiring them for all such positions.

We are advocating strongly for a change in course. We testified twice before Congress and provided information on the issue to key Congressional staff and to the Department. Also, our NFFE National Office is working to set up a meeting with the new Director of OPM on this issue. While it ain’t over until it’s over, we are hopeful. We believe that a genuine and effective stand down in the 401 reclassification process is imminent. The details are not finalized, but the pending stand-down guidance should allow all incumbents to retain their jobs without obtaining 401 credentials (thus freeing up training funds for more pressing needs). It should also open vacant positions to experienced candidates who lack 401 credentials.

For more details, see NFFE-FSC efforts, and our Congressional testimony

The stand down is but the first step – important and necessary, but not sufficient – on the road to developing a rational long-term policy on this issue. Your union is actively seeking a dedicated wildland firefighting series that properly acknowledges the professionalism of our firefighting workforce. We are committed to working toward this end and for a transition that maintains agency capacity while protecting and honoring those who have given their blood, sweat, and tears during many years of service.

If YOU are interested in getting involved, contact a local union official or a national officer.

In solidarity,

Ron Thatcher
NFFE-FSC President

LINKS: Current Master Agreement & NFFE FSC Website & Members only area & Join Now

5/5 Rhabdomyolysis (Wikipedia)

Bench-to-bedside review: RhabdomyolysisOverview for clinicians

aka "Rhabdo"

More info at links below on the dangers, the signs and symptoms; and considerations for working out to safely
prepare for sustained power output.

Journal cossfit: Induced rhabdo by gre.tpl


From the article:
We can dispense with much medical detail with a quick and easy description of rhabdomyolysis as a
potentially lethal systemic meltdown initiated by the kidneys in response to the presence of shed
muscle-fiber debris and exhaust in the bloodstream. There are several causes and types of rhabdo,
lassified by the underlying cause of muscle breakdown. With CrossFit we are dealing with what is
known as exertional rhabdomyolysis. It can disable, maim, and even kill.

A Hotshot

5/5 re: Eagle Fire felling fatality

At the IAWF Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Phoenix last week, we were told that the serious accident investigation team was stood down when law enforcement began their own investigation. The U.S. attorney declined to prosecute, so we probably won't know anything more until the agencies finish wrangling with OSHA.

vfd cap'n

5/5 Hi. I'm Matt Durant. I'm a firefighter is Southwest Oregon. I'm trying to find information on a fire that killed half of a crew. I don't know the name of the fire. The crew split up where they wanted to deploy their shelters. Some went on this rocky hillside and were killed. The others went into a sandy pond and survived. If you could relay which fire this was, that would be great.



Recently or in history? In your region or where? Check the 30mile report with rocky scree vs the road near flowing water. Only recent "pond" was the calfire crew on the Inyo Fire, but no rocky deployment, they all went in the pond. Is this a question on a homework assignment? Ab.

5/5 Happy Cinco de Mayo, folks. Ab.
5/4 Biddison: Basics of Fire Suppression, 1982


As I re-read this timely document his basics could improve the cost effectiveness of any fire nowadays. I think a lot of valuable time and money can be saved by keeping these ideas in mind, they speak of old school hardcore groundpounder mentality. Having met Mr. Biddison, you are right he is very approachable and a wealth of knowledge.

(Emphasis mine)

  • Where possible, have crews take advantage of retardant drops. (Do not regularly drop retardant unless crews are there to take advantage of it).
  • Have shift change accomplished so that crews are on line, ready to work before sunrise and before sunset. This can be done in a 16 hour day
  • Keep fire camps to a maximum of 500 people.
  • Use "Spike Camp" and "Coyote" tactics. (Keep crews on line with minimal creature comforts). My personal favorite!
  • Make use of rations and lunches rather than "Hot Meals" for short period fires.
  • Do not use "Staging" areas for demobilization. Send crews and overhead directly from fire camp to airport or their home unit. Amen
  • Do not depend on helicopters to move crews. If helicopter is not available, do not wait for one - walk to the line. (Same idea for ground transportation-if can't drive get out and walk).
  • If a crew is split-up for helicopter flight to the line, start working as soon as you get to the line - don' t wait for the remainder of the crew - they will catch up when they arrive.

These are just some that really stood out to me, not excluding his other ideas as valuable.

thanks again for that Yac, sting

5/4 Re: Eagle Fire and Panther Fire Fatality Reports... When?

I hate to take away from all of the discussion regarding pay, etc, but myself and many of my coworkers would also like to know if there is an update on the status of the Eagle fire/Iron complex felling fatality and the Panther fire burnover fatality reports. Thanks!


Psssst, pay hasn't been discussed in 11 days. We have had an AD question from Hugh, WFF fundraisers, firefighter fatalities, Santa Maria Tanker Base closure, the risks to firefighters and the public associated with letting fires get large for resource management purposes, and Pandemic flu... AL did ask this same question on 4/25... Readers, any answers about when the reports are coming out? Ab.

5/4 Defensible space:

The BLM and The California Fire Alliance has launch a new campaign for Defensible Space. check it out at cafirealliance.com and you can sign up to be a fan on facebook search "California fire alliance". We are also on twitter and have updates. Please spread the word to give Firefighters a safer place to make a stance. Clearing 100 feet does work and can save your house in case of a wildfire.


5/4 Circulating behind the scenes in Europe and the US:


Folks may like to know how Europe is approaching the same set of fire training problems we have. Are they ahead of the U.S.? I think so.


From: Marc Castellnou <mcastellnou @ nospam gencat.net>
Subject: RE: Grant

As always, going up and down.

Well the project we get the grant from is Fire Paradox. It has been founded in the 6th European Union Research Program. I'm the Module 10 leader in this project. That means we are in charge of designing the professional training for firefighters around Europe. What we are doing is to:

  • Define the knowledge a firefighter should have in Europe
  • Design the courses and the grades needed for each position
  • Identify the training test and training systems
  • Identify the group of training experts

The web address were all is more or less explained is in fireparadox.org The total grant in the project is 12.000.000 Euros
We will be using about 1.500.000 euros for the training

In all that training CPS is identified as a needed part of it and is included in the training materials.

We started the project last March, but haven't been until this December we have defined the main goals. Now I've got 4 more guys in my team to produce all the material. We will include you in the mailing list, so you can get the evolution of all of this.

Will keep you informed.


ANNEX 1: Bombers de la Generalitat de Catalunya Training Model.

Progress is going on with training. This year we have implemented a complete training for 4800 firefighters from England, Portugal, Spain, Italy, France and Germany. So, CPS is all over. Of course each country is adapting it to its needs and experience, but we keep monitoring them in order to make sure the basics and essentials are there.

To start the training system the Fire Paradox project offers itself as a platform and will carry out the instruction of the trainers based on a program of subjects that will enable them to anticipate fire behaviour and to know the most suitable technique to attack it in each situation.


This is the first level where the responsibility to make decisions appears. In this portion there must be introductory modules as well as the introduction of knowledge like fire physics, paradox of extinction, meteorology, topography, CPS (logic analysis and practice), forest fire safety, typology of smoke columns, etc. Also, the practical modules of the operative tactics in prescribed burning are more detailed and the tactics with helicopter crews are introduced.

Superior Commanders

In this training, key aspects like strategies and tactics to develop in the GIF are introduced, as well as the fire scenarios evolution and the strategies to fight them.

Also, there are established criteria for the evacuation and the confinement, the CPS analysis, the basic propagation patterns, and ICS in the attack, confinement, and mop-up stages of the fire.

Superior commanders have the responsibility to manage a single event.

Specialists in the use of prescribed fire in extinction

It is intended to give a specific training in physics of fire, paradox of extinction and basic patterns of propagation as well as typology of columns, which can be of key importance in the different phases of a fire if it is known how to make an accurate and specific reading.

This knowledge is reinforced with an advanced training in CPS, planning of tactics, searching of critical points and location of opportunities, as well as the generic knowledge of a fire scenarios. This training concedes to the specialist the knowledge to make an interpretation of all the stages of a fire and of all changes that can be given in the course of the extinction, in order to be more effective and safe.

The training in this group highlights subjects like the basic orientation and the use of the GPS.

To reach this level the experience in the firefighter level will be a required.

Planner technician

In this level there must be technicians with forest training, with advanced knowledge of fires scenarios, historical fires, CPS analysis, strategies of attack, searching of critical points, location of opportunities, meteorology and topography.

These technicians will have the following functions: writing, planning, preparing, following-up and maintaining the prevention tasks of forest fires, and carry out the daily pursuit of the variables that affect behaviour of the forest fires and their potential.

The planner technician can be part of the level of superior commander that has been described before.

Certification exercise

To validate the level of training of each member of the trainers’ group accreditation exercises are being defined. In these exercises the capacity of analysis, the search of critical points, and the approach of the tactics will be evaluated according to each level of training defined.

The analysis exercise done in Tivissa (November 2006) was a test to verify a possible methodology for the accreditation exercise.

5/4 Dear Fed Watcher 4 Truth:

Feel free to share your thoughts with:

Aaron Shapiro in Congresswoman Capps' office at aaron shapiro -gov
and Devin Rhinerson in Senator Feinstein's DC office at devin rhinerson -gov

Fedwatcher II

5/4 Biddison: Basics of Fire Suppression, 1982

Two months ago as I was preparing for the upcoming and continuing fire season with RT-130, I ran across the attached "Fire Suppression Basics" by Lynn Biddison, former R5 Director of Fire and Aviation and one of Leadership Development's "Leaders We Would Like To Meet", fireleadership.gov -leaders -Lyn Biddison

I always remembered Lynn as an individual one could approach and talk to and was impressed when Chief Biddison put this paper out there in 1982. I was both amazed and grateful that a Director grasped and believed in the "lowly" basics.

Chief Lynn Biddison's Fire Suppression Basics

Worth the read.


5/4 Santa Maria Tanker Base:


The USFS LIED! ALL Full-Service contracts, which included Santa Maria last year, have a ready time of 3 minutes to service air tankers! NOT 4 HOURS!! Call when needed contracts ALWAYS cost a significantly larger amount of money...so how can they state this as more cost effective? More to come on this.

A wind driven fire can put many people and property at risk in 4 hours! The Paint Fire of 1990 is a perfect example in SANTA BARBARA! That fire burned 4,900+Acres, KILLED ONE CIVILIAN, destroyed 500+ homes and jumped HWY 101 (6 lanes) in less than...oh less than 4 hours! This is the forest with the most fire history in ALL the Forest Service. If they don't need an initial attack air tanker base NO ONE does. If my memory serves me correctly, 11 of the top 20 fires in CA history are on the LP. Pretty educated decision. So much for initial attack!

The USFS proves once and for all it has no business running a fire department! Senator Feinstein, if you are paying attention, the National Fire Service under Department of Homeland Security is the answer! This seems like a personal agenda that requires investigation and discipline. Misinformation to the public, cooperating agencies and politicians. SHAMEFUL!

Stay Tuned.

Fed Watcher 4 Truth

5/3 Santa Maria Tanker Base:

If the SMX tanker base was built with local bonding money; 50 /50 match, FAA ADAP funds and any other mix of grant money... Then there ought to be A WHOLE "LOTTA" COMMUNICATIN' going on.

But it is awfully shortsighted to close down a tanker base...

How about the USFS shut down the infamous Smokey Bear program??

How about that for rufflin' feathers, eh??

Even if SMX has been around a little while, it has done more. Smokey Bear needs us to build more airtankers bases, 'cuz if I remember correctly, the ad campaign goes on and on about putting every match out.

Pretty shortsighted to shut down a airtanker base and rhe quote "it can be set up in 4 hours" is shortsighted also....or is that some claim to fame??


Pro aviation / Pro airport / PT Pro pilot and a Forester!!!!

5/2 Santa Maria Tanker Base:

Normally I would post today's update about the Santa Maria Air Tanker Base in the hotlist discussion forum, however the purpose of this post reaches far beyond the status of an air tanker base.

What surprises me the most about today's Santa Maria Times article is this statement from an airport contractor:

In an April 23 letter to Feinstein, the date he met with one of her aides in Santa Barbara, Kunkle wrote that the Forest Service briefing "contains incorrect information" and the involvement of many "local co-operators, local agencies and the assistant fire chief and aviation officer for Los Padres" was lacking.

If I am reading this correctly, the Forest Aviation Officer was not notified and involved in the decision and planning to change the status of the retardant contact? A contract he probably administers. Are you kidding me? Since the Asst. FFMO, FAO and the local gov Chiefs were not involved, who other than the Line Officers were involved?

Some people say "It's only an air base" or "they just cut one single engine" or "another handcrew is down the road an hour, we won't miss this handcrew". However multiple independent decisions occurring on multiple units by multiple Line Officers throughout the county without discussions with cooperators, stakeholders, neighboring Forests, local Chief Officers and local Rank and File can leave significant holes in fire preparedness response.

What amazes me the most is a decision by a Line officer on a NEPA document, fire management plan or categorical exclusion can be litigated in a court of law and held up for years. A decision by a Line Officer to reduce firefighting preparedness strength affecting the lives of people and property can be completed with a pen and false press release.

It's time for a change, people.


Centralized Fire Today, Tomorrow and Forever


5/2 Sometimes the only news source. ;)

The power of me is minuscule. The power of us is unmatched and in today's internet world,
that power is unprecedented.

2008 was an incredible year for us, as important people finally listened and insisted on change as Line Officers admitted they made mistakes.

Speak the truth, keep'em honest, keep calling them out when they need to be called out (good job LP rank and file and some LP Chief Officers), lead up and never forget our power to steer this agency if we do it as one.

One day we shall be managed at all levels up to the Chief of the Forest Service by commanders, not cowards. It's only a matter of time.

Ever wonder the status of "The Moore Plan"? Moore's PTP and up to 20% raise? Try this: rmoore@ nospam fs.fed.us


5/2 Andy Hale Obituary -Smokey Bear Sup 1977(76?) to 1984

The Obituary said 32 years as a Hot Shot foreman, He worked fire before that as I learned from "they said" he was with Los Padres crew.

Andy worked as AFMO, a few years after being Smokey Bear Sup., and started breeding rodeo bulls about 1989 after he left the Forest Service.

On the Maze Creek Fire in Colorado, Andy absolutely refused to take the crew down in to a drainage because he knew that the previous day's torching left spots fires scattered throughout the canyon they were supposed to hike down in.

As the crews passed Smokey Bear Crew, they called us names, but Andy said to the crew, just you wait, when the sun shines on that hill it's going to blow up.

Sure enough, they only got part way down when it blew out big time, and all those crew came running out of there and had to face the crew they just called pussies.

I learned a lot from Andy.

Thanks Ab.

Bill Riggles


Andrew "Andy" T. Hale
September 30, 1942 - April 22, 2009

<snip> Nice summary...

A celebration of Andy’s life will be held on Thursday, April 30, 2009 at Gateway Church of Christ beginning at 10:00 a.m. with Pastor Jimmy Sportsman officiating. Burial will follow at the Hale Cemetery with full Military Honors. Family and friends are invited to attend a carry-in luncheon at Gateway Church of Christ following burial. Those attending are asked to bring a covered dish and fond memories of our brother, father, and grandfather.

5/2 TheySaid news:

Another thing at is mystical about the regional office, is I am actually a R5 Regional Office
employee and I read "memos' and "letters" to "All Regional Office Employees" on "They Said"
before I see them through regular FS email. Sometimes it is the only way I see letters is here
on They Said.

R5 Dispatcher

Thanks, you mean we're a news source? haw haw Ab.

5/2 Status of Santa Maria Tanker Base

To All

The news article “Fire, forest officials at odds over the SMX tanker base” by Julian Ramos

The message is loud and clear “The downgrading of the Santa Maria Air Tanker Base was made hastily, without accurate information, without proper input from any affected agencies and communities.

The Forest Service Local Union President tries to bring forward the negative consequences that will have impacts on Safety, Cost, and communities partnership during the March 19, 2009 meeting.

Also the Ms.Hernandez commentary article on 04/29/09 " Forest Service ready for fires" only added more fuel to the fire.

Stay Tuned

Joe Duran
Los Padres N.F.
Local Union President

Thanks for the link, oldlpf. Ab.

5/2 Re: Pacific Southwest Regional Forester

Folks, I have come to believe "Randy Moore" must be a mythical figure that doesn't actually exist. Must be some type of super hero or masked crusader.

Seems anytime actions are taken or memos published in Region 5 that require his signature, it never has his signature attached and others approve the work.

Sure would be nice to actually see his signature on important documents someday..... and hear his buy in on important issues.

Noname 11

Briefing reply below. Ab.

5/1 A H1N1 Swine-origin Flu Status

I got a reply to this for this "morning briefing". We could use your help. I'll make a link to the document most related to fire and firecamp at the bottom. Ab.

Hi Noname 11,

Randy Moore "bought in" on the pandemic plan and the letter. He had to fly out to a meeting somewhere before the wording was finalized, but was entirely supportive. Sometimes it's hard to shake workers out of their complacency; they're working hard at their jobs and lives. I can tell you this pandemic will have everyone's attention before it is done. Planning is key. Firefighters are good at it.

Let's work most effectively with what we have and move forward. Q used to say that to create the future, you have to "show up". I know many of you here so that. This is a project that is critical.

  • encourage all the hard work by the people that have the most knowledge. Many employees on forests and who fight fires every summer know what's what in the actual work environment and how we can make it safer.
  • support communication and decision making, please.

As with any major incident, it takes a bit of time to bring order out of the chaos, especially in a bureaucracy that involves many regions, many functions and a huge variety of MOUs. I got word this morning that Region 8 also initiated its Influenza Workforce Protection Plan (password protected link to FS intranet) last week, due to A-H1N1 Swine Flu cases in South Carolina. It's basically the pandemic plan from 2006 (on our server; 2083 K doc file) that Michelle and I wrote with input from Peter Tolosano (R5 fire safety officer), and Jean Pincha-Tulley's CIIMT3 MEDL, Scott McKenney. Thanks to those planners.

  • There's more to do to bring the pandemic plans up to speed on each Forest across the nation. As one WO Safety and Occupational Health person put it: "There are many considerations you <each forest> need to address such as:
    • the size of your workforce and their particular mission,
    • local public health officials/authorities and their role in the community,
    • reaction and availability of medical care,
    • telework,
    • urban/suburban,
    • proximity of schools and other offices,
    • communications capabilities,
    • leave/absence/time off flexibilities, etc."
  • There's also much more to do to bring the pandemic planning to the firecamp level, building on Scott's and Jeanne's team considerations. Our folks that fight fire every summer will be at risk because of
    • their at-risk age,
    • sanitation,
    • smoky environment that taxes the lungs,
    • coming from a variety of locations around the US where they might have been exposed prior to hitting the road,
    • close living quarters in camp and
    • close quarters traveling to and from camp on public mass transportation and/or in crew buggies.

We need to find the best mitigations we can think of for these risk factors so fires can be fought as safely as possible this season.


Several R5 Fire and Forest Safety Officers asked that we open dialog on this topic. This is not about panic, it's about planning. Ab.

Job Hazard Analysis: jha health in camp sop outbreaks draft (144 K doc file)

Discussion of pandemic plan considerations for firecamp reference: firecamp pandemic plan 2006 (For ideas on mitigation, when you get to that CIIMT3 discussion page, scroll up to Mellie's description of how to think about influenza infection and mortality.)

5/2 Re Michelle Reugebrink:

I had the pleasure of hearing a safety report from Michelle at the Safety Officers meeting in SD. She had a great presentation and is a passonate advocate for the USFS fire fighters. Its good to see such wonderful folks still working for the service. If you all will do me a favor now, look out for Michelle, the agency she so passionately defends, has a record of eating their own. Help her at every turn, because the USDA Forestry service will dump on her at the first opportunity. They do this because they (being the management) see her as a threat. Her high standards are in stark contrast to the yes men and women populating the agency. I hope I'm wrong, for the agencies sake and Michelle's. We need more folks of high standards and a commitment to doing "Just do what is right"!

Retired 1811 and current Helicopter Pilot


Been out of touch for a week or so.

Rumors are rampant (what's new??!!).

Need clarification:

1. Does anyone have confirmation that DOI has decided to stick with the old 2008 AD rates. If so, where's the applicable memo? 2. Who made the decision? Based upon what logic or, as the case may be, illogic? 3. If the above is in fact true, does anyone have any insight to DOI's decision-making process that lead to this "Perfect Storm"?

If you don't want to post here, e-mail me at airops@paonia.com from your private e-mail at home

Hugh Carson

5/1 Re: Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources And Environment, Jay Jensen

Dear DP:

Still gathering info on Mr. Jensen but at this point almost anyone has to be an improvement from Mr. Rey. Coincidentally I received a nice letter today from the Acting Undersecretary-Natural Resources and Environment Ann Bartuska offering to meet with the FWFSA anytime. Its likely I'll be back in DC shortly after our legislation is introduced and will try to make time then with Mr. Jensen as well.

To all just a follow-up to my post yesterday about our draft legislation being sent to the Legislative Council this week for review, Rep. Filner's office is also preparing a "Dear Colleague" letter which will be sent to all the other members of congress announcing the introduction of the bill and seeking cosponsors etc. That should be completed by next week.


5/1 Thanks to Michelle Reugebrink for her great work on the Region 5 Pandemic Plan implementation. (And thanks for saving the life of the FS employee that had a heart attack in the middle of all the planning, phone calling, arranging PPE with DHS and writing, etc.) In my estimation, you're a true leader, Michelle. You get things done.

Love, Mellie

Here's the next action from WHO: oregonlive.com

Lingle: WHO discussing raising pandemic alert to level 6

5/1/2009, 7:16 p.m. PDT
Jaymes Song
The Associated Press

(AP) — HONOLULU - Gov. Linda Lingle says the World Health Organization is considering raising the pandemic alert level to phase 6, the highest level indicating a global outbreak of the swine flu.

Lingle says the possible move was discussed Friday on a conference call with federal and state health officials.

She says it is not an indication that the outbreak is more severe, or more people are getting sick or dying. It means the geographic distribution of the virus has widened.

Maj. Gen. Robert G.F. Lee, Hawaii's adjutant general and head of state civil defense, says the alert level could be changed this weekend.

WHO officials Thursday said there were no indications in the past day that would prompt the U.N. body to raise the alert further.

fair use disclaimer

5/1 A H1N1 Swine-origin Flu Status

This came in at 1400 this afternoon and I overlooked it. Ab.

File Code: 6730-1
Date: May 1, 2009
Subject: A H1N1 Stats
To: All Regional Office Employees

In response to the current public health emergency associated with the H1N1 flu outbreak, there are some common sense steps that we can all take to reduce the risk of possible infection through person-to-person contact.

We have activated our Region 5 Pandemic Plan which was triggered when the World Health Organization elevated the alert level to 5. As there are reports of localized out- breaks of H1N1 within California, the following actions should be implemented:

  • You may want to avoid using mass transit. If you must use mass transit, you are encouraged to wear an N95 or greater mask. Before the N95 mask is used at work, employees must fill out the following respiratory voluntary form. Pandemic Influenza- R5 Respiratory Protection Voluntary (doc, FS intranet)
  • Frequent hand washing cannot be overemphasized as the best defense in spreading viruses.
  • Avoid shaking hands.
  • Encourage social distancing of at least 6 feet.
  • Employees experiencing or displaying flu like symptoms should stay home and seek medical care if the symptoms persist.
  • For the duration of the influenza alert, liberal leave policy is authorized.

Please refer to the Region 5 Influenza Safety Advisory and Pandemic Plan for additional information.
PandemicInfluenza -R5- Swine Influenza Safety Alert 2009 (pdf, FS intranet)
Pandemic Influenza -Pandemic Plan (pdf, FS intranet)

Our common goal should be to stay healthy and productive by taking the simple steps outlined above.

/s/ Angela V. Coleman (for)
Regional Forester

5/1 Question about Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources And Environment, Jay Jensen

Does anyone know any specifics about or have any comments on the new Deputy Under Secretary for
Natural Resources And Environment, Jay Jensen?



5/1 Some Map Links and a Timeline Link for the A-H1N1 Swine flu pandemic:

animation of states showing increasing infection
swine-flu map animation

google locations

maps - google.com etc

maps - google.com etc 2

Dr Henry Niman's map:

wall street journal map of reports from the 29th. Don't think they're keeping this up to date
online.wsj.com -map

A-H1N1 timeline:

27 min VIDEO of Dr Niman explaining the current situation and what could be expected.

wpxi.com - video

It's important to understand that there's

  1. a B-H1N1 that's originally a Human Influenza virus left over from 1918 that circulates as a seasonal flu and now
  2. an A-H1N1 from swine that is moving within the human population human to human (current swine flu pandemic).

Right now on this "wave" the influenza is mild and it's the end of our season in the US; the Southern Hemisphere is the reverse of ours. If the virus sustains itself, in the next "wave&quot it could get worse in the fall, especially if the two viruses (B-H1N1 & A-H1N1) infect the same human host and exchange genetic material.

Henry has some info on antivirals like tamiflu and relenza, draws parallels with the 1918 pandemic, mentions social distancing and handwashing, and comments about vaccine, too. Very informative.

We live in interesting times...

Carry on...



TO: All USDA Employees
FROM: Thomas J. Vilsack, Secretary
SUBJECT: 2009 H1N1 influenza strain

As suspected and confirmed cases of the 2009 H1N1 influenza strain continue to be reported, I want to share some information and thoughts that you may find useful during this time.

Informing yourself ahead of time about what to do should this influenza appear in your community is important to minimizing your risk. A very good source of information is found on our Department website at www.usda.gov ... beprepared. In addition to a link to the Center for Disease Control website, we have also posted “Frequently Asked Questions about H1N1.” This will answer any questions you, your family, friends, or neighbors might have about eating and handling pork. (Ab note: you don't get this virus from eating or handling pork; it's transmitted human to human.)

You already know from all the media coverage about the importance of frequent hand washing; social distancing when appropriate; and staying home if you are sick. Various leave flexibilities may be available, such as telework, depending upon the situation. Please be sure to keep your supervisor informed of your status, so that the appropriate procedures can be put in place to cover critical services during any extended absences.

For supervisors and managers, now is the time to ask yourselves whether you are prepared to implement, if called upon to do so? Have you reviewed your pandemic plans, including the USDA Pandemic Planning Guidance, that were developed a couple of years ago, and discussed the plans with your staff? Have you ensured that your “calling trees,” orders of succession, and delegations of authority are up-to-date? Managers and supervisors should also coordinate their plans with partners, stakeholders, and customers, as appropriate. Offices should take their lead on implementing their plans from information and guidance obtained from the local health authorities.

The Office of Personnel Management has some useful information for both employees and managers at opm.gov - pandemic

Thank you for your hard work and continuing dedication to providing quality service to the American public and our partners around the world.

5/1 Dear AB & All:

The FWFSA was contacted by Congressman Bob Filner's (D-CA) office today advising us that our draft legislation has been sent to the Legislative Council. The LC reviews the bill before introduction mainly looking at the legalese and offers advice on any language changes etc.

So far several other congressional offices have contacted Rep. Filner's staff about the proposed bill but more likely than not most offices we work with are waiting to see the final product before making a commitment. While the language may change I am hopeful the overall concepts of the bill will remain intact as written.

More to follow. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, Rep. Filner is trying once again to schedule a visit with firefighters from the Cleveland NF at the Descanso station on May 29th from 12:00 noon to 1:00pm. Hopefully the "3rd try" will be the charm.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

5/1 While the guide for fire management strategy at LLC does seem a tad like propaganda with no author or group attribution, it does have a few good points like choosing to fight fire where opportunity presents itself. But I think that's what a lot of us do. Some of the terminology like trigger point and alignment and opportunity and a few other concepts sound like Doug Campbell's terminology. I think teams do step back and reassess. Did they hire some academic sociologist to work on this? No doubt some will think it's an academic justification for a let burn policy. Money seems to be a main driving factor in what they want to get done. BUT, The FS is fighting for financial survival.

Why can't we hire people like BD crews to get the heavy thinning done around communities? Too much NEPA stuff required?

The smoke does take a toll on nearby communities when fires burn all summer. It's the old and the poorer people without air conditioning or family resources that suffer.

Andy might not have died last summer if the Eagle-Iron Complex had been contained early when it was small. That was the plan until the T1team got called in with different marching orders from on high. BUT, The crew that died in the helicopter crash would not have died if the decision to fight fire in the wilderness hadn't been made. The Panther fire death was human factors driven. Let em burn and get big to manage resources, does put more firefighters at greater risk. Trying to fight fire where fires could burn like the wildernesses also puts firefighters at risk in some cases.

This is disjointed and not to a miserywhip standard, but I had to pound out something tonight and send it off. Thanks Misery Whip for flagging that and opening the dialog.


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