"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland Firefighter
|| AKFSS Re: White firefighter Supreme Court ruling.
You're right! Quite a few of us remember (and still see) how the agency hires its workforce. Years ago, it used to be "safety first", then it changed to "diversity first". The agency has learned over the years after losing EEO Complaint after EEO Complaint from white firefighters in the Forest Service to disguise their "social engineering" of the workforce. At least years ago they were more open about it. Check the link!
"Only Unqualified Applicants May Apply", not a typo, a REAL
Forest Service Job announcement!! Check out the third and fourth paragraphs!
|| Re: USFS Specification 6170-4F Cleaning Instructions for Chainsaw Chaps (Perchloroethylene)
Re: Safety Alert from OSOH with the pretty photos
Perchloroethylene (PERC) Description and Risks
follow-up by the EPA (1992/Revised 2000)
"There have not been any recently reported incidents of saw chain cut-through
using the older chaps, but all chain saw operators should be aware of the potential
hazard or reduced level of protection of the older chaps and should take action to
mitigate this potential hazard." ~ Safety Alert
Most, if not all, Hotshot Crews and other firefighters no longer use Perchloroethylene
based solvents in their saw shops, or to clean chaps. They have switched to various
commercially available "safety solvents" in the mid to late 1990's.
The photo on page #2 of the Safety Alert should probably be corrected to incorporate
Lessons Learned already known in the wildland fire community such as underlying latent
factors regarding firefighter (and family) health and safety.
Dirt and Light Oil: Brush with warm water detergent solution; Rinse and then dry.
Heavy Oil: Dispose of, and replace the chaps.
POINT OF CONTACT: Hotshot Supt., Program Leader, XXXX Hotshot Crew, xxx-xxx-xxxx
(office), or HSSupt@fs.fed.us.
/s/ Hyper-vigilant Former Hotshot not liking the current course of WO "safety
direction" by OSOH... aka Lobotomy
The field (crews, Districts, Forests, and some Regions) are actively supporting
the actions of the Forest Service Risk Management Council in focusing their advances
towards safety in the wildfire workforce. The OSOH folks are out of touch with the field.
FS - RMC "-- facilitate and promote wildland firefighter safety. The Council
encompasses an unparalleled spectrum of skilled professionals sharing knowledge,
ideas, expertise, and technology ."
Strong Leadership, a Comprehensive Operational Approach, and Focused Action .
Vision, Mission, and Goal
||From several people:
06/29/2009 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Governor Schwarzenegger Establishes Blue Ribbon Task Force Further Ensuring California is Prepared when Disaster Strikes
"As part of his ongoing commitment to emergency preparedness, Governor Arnold
Schwarzenegger today issued Executive Order S-12 -09 (EO) to reinforce California's
vigilance in protecting lives and property from wildfire. The EO directs the Blue
Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) to ensure that recommendations made by the Governor's Blue
Ribbon Fire Commission, established after California's catastrophic 2003 wildfire
siege, continue to be implemented." ...
... "Additionally today, Governor Schwarzenegger announced the two co-chairs and 14
members of the BRTF. He designated California Professional Firefighters President
Lou Paulson and Alameda County Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert as members
and the two co-chairs, and designated State Fire and Rescue Chief
Kim Zagaris, Los Angeles County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman, CDF
Firefighter IAFF 2881 President
Bob Wolf, Ventura County Fire Chief Bob Roper, Orange County Fire Chief
Chip Prather, CAL FIRE Director Del Walters, San Diego City Fire Chief
Tracy Jarman, Assistant State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover, San Bernardino
County Fire Chief
Pat Dennen, California State Firefighters Association Member and Riverside
City Fire Marshal
Mike Esparza, United State Forest Service Region 5 Fire and Aviation
Ed Hollenshead and Governor's Office Public Safety Liaison Tom Sawyer
as members of
Note: My bold added for emphasis in the above quote.
RETIRED IN 2009 ?
I hope you'll allow us to use TheySaid to try and locate some of our members who have
retired, or may have retired this year as we would like to properly recognize them.
OK, you know who you are...If you've been an FWFSA member and retired this year and
casually slipped away from federal employment, there are several of you we'd like to contact
in order to recognize your retirement and contribution/support to the FWFSA.
If you believe you fall into this category, please personally email me at
or phone me at 208-775-4577.
Thanks in advance.
||From the AP: White firefighters win Supreme Court appeal
The Supreme Court finally ruled on the New Haven reverse discrimination case.
The decision: the city of New Haven was wrong to cancel their hiring "cert" just
because they thought that minorities would sue them if they hired someone who was
This ruling could have a huge affect on "diversity" hiring all the way up to
the federal level. Will we see a new diversity position by the USFS, BLM, and other
land management agencies? Could there be possible federal law suits? We all know
of cases where people were chosen more on their "diverse" attributes, rather than
their depth of experience or knowledge of the job.
I can't wait to see what OPM says about this...
White Firefighters Win Supreme Court Appeal
||Brett Stearns Passing:
Condolences to Brett's family, friends, and
coworkers. I didn't know Brett, but he was part of our fire family and we're
made smaller by his death. God bless you and your family, Brett.
||Journalist Fire Training
From another person:
Can you point to where I may find a canned course with some
standardization? Here in the Planning and Information shop of the State EOC
that question keeps surfacing. We push it to DENR-Forestry but it keeps coming
back. If there is a course other than what I have taught in the Northeast and
Mid-West it will be greatly appreciated. Getting the story out safely is what
it's all about.
Sounds like content includes what journalists need to be safe when
reporting, for example as fire approaches. In CA, some journalists that did
not get out soon enough have had some very near misses. As far as course
content, Ab will pass along any info.
||Brett Stearns' Service:
Funeral services for Firefighter Brett Stearns Stearns have been scheduled
Wednesday, July 1 at 11 a.m.
at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Chapel,
1295 W. Ninth Street
in Craig, Colo.
||Journalist Fire Training
Regarding the journalist that desires fire training, have her call (916)
653-5123 This is the number for the CALFIRE Academy in Ione. They have classes for journalists.
They may have one at the Clark Training Center in Riverside, which would be closer to her. Their number is (951) 940-6985 - Public Affairs and Training Bureau.
||Brett Stearns Passing
Added the BLM News Release and the 24 Hour Report to that thread. Ab.
||Brett Stearns, Craig CO BLM Engine Captain died in a falling accident
Details on the
Lessons Learned and Safety Zone portion of the Hotlist.
2010: Now on
Always Remember Brett Stearns
||Re: USDA Forest Service OSOH
Safety Alert on Chainsaw Chaps
So if I am reading the Safety Alert correctly, this is/was a known
SAFETY issue that is just now (NINE YEARS) later being communicated and
emphasized to the field? Hmm .... (Latent Factors) Sure would have been nice to
have known about while we were doing READINESS INSPECTIONS earlier this
month.... Better late than never when it comes to SAFETY.
"SUBJECT: United States Forest Service (USFS) chain saw chaps constructed using
USFS specification 6170 4E, or prior, do not meet current USFS requirements for
chain saw leg protection."
"DISCUSSION: Recent safety inspections revealed that chain saw chaps produced
using USFS Specification 6170-4E (April 1997) are still being used. In 2000,
USFS Specification 6170-4E was superseded by USFS Specification 6170-4F (Jan
2000). The current specification (6170-4F) provides a higher level of protection
or cut resistance of up to 3,200 feet per minute (fpm) chain speed. The chap was
also redesigned to give a larger area of coverage for the legs. Under the older
specification (6170-4E), the chap provided a protection level up to 2,750 fpm
chain speed. The 2,750 fpm chain speed conformed with the then established
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) performance requirement."
Hopefully the communication will become better within the land management
agencies, but as usual, we see IMPORTANT safety information never making it to
the field UNLESS it is posted on They Said. Thank you Ab(s) for being a part of
the solution and filling the communication gap.
P.S. - During our Fire Readiness Reviews, we found several engine modules had
not completed the
New Generation Fire Shelter Retrofit "Tech Tip", while all Hotshot Crews had
completed it. Maybe OSOH should issue a Safety Alert for that also but it most
likely will never make it to the Single Resource Crew Leaders....... Either
way.... find a way to get the info to the field... and to the Fire Managers and
Fire Supervisors...... bypass the usual processes ((ie. - emailing upwards until
it gets "Chief" level approval...... and dissemination to Regional Foresters and
Station Directors..... forwarded (if interested) to Forest Supervisors (and
maybe Forest Fire Staff)...... forwarded (if interested) to District Rangers
(and maybe District Fire Staff)).
The Hotshot Community has an excellent working model of communication and
sharing of info.
||I am not sure what you meant by “maybe ROSS will change that”, in reference
to knowing the numbers of living firefighters on the line.
ROSS has what is referred to as “rostering”, which reflects the names and quals
of every person assigned to a fire, including complete lists (“rosters”) of
members of crews, engine crews, etc. Early versions of ROSS were slowed down by
this feature considerably, so CalFire and some others didn’t use it for awhile.
CalFire is has returned to it quickly as current versions are much faster. In
fact, the various qual and certification issues are forcing even the local
governments to look hard at “rostering” their engines or other resources.
That being said, I am not aware I have ever seen a contract crew or engine being
“rostered”. So we don’t have as thorough documentation in ROSS.
So, with the exception of private resources, we have a pretty good idea of
actual people “assigned to a fire”. Who is actually on the line is a little more
complicated, but very doable.
If you want more info, Abs can forward your email to me.
I could forward your contact info to her. Ab.
||S260 & S261 training:
Thanks but the courses offered under national fire
training are the ones held in Alaska in April 2010.
I just retired from Region 8 and do have a sponsor under the USDA FS but decided
to get into
fire and that is why I am looking for S260 & S261; from those classes I can
decide whether to go
to PTRC, Demob etc but first I must find these two classes so everyone just keep
looking and if
you know of any States that are having them, just let me know.
||Here's a source for courses being offered across the country.
Looks like they show some business courses offered.
That link is on the links page under training. Thanks for bringing it to
our attention. Ab.
||Radios and Fatalities:
Has the incidence of fireline fatalities gone down?
(Incidence = The frequency with which something, such as a disease, appears in a
particular population or area.)
Has the use of radios gone up?
Are the two even inversely correlated? Do we know if those who died and those
who lived did or did not have
Heck, until recently we haven't even had a true record of who's died. We
still certainly don't have a record of living
firefighters on the line. Maybe ROSS will change that?
Two things like radio (yes/no) and fatality (yes/no) can covary without being
causally related; or other things like
training in fire behavior prediction (for example CPS) and applying LCES to the
prediction can influence to both
increase radios and reduce fatalities (if that turns out to be the case). (How
many holes are there in a swiss
cheese model and what part, if any, do radios play?)
In my opinion, there's no way we can get an inkling into causation regarding
relatively rare events like burnover fatalities
without after action lessons learned. And we got'ta learn from all near
misses and non-fatal accidents, too!
||For "J" regarding S260, S261,
I could narrow the search for classes for you if I knew what part of the country
you were in.
NWCG is primarily for agency personnel using the nomination process, so it's not
a clearing house for training.
Here's how I got the info:
I searched Yahoo for: INTERAGENCY FIRE BUSINESS MANAGEMENT S260 S261 and kept
until I found what I wanted.
There were classes listed across the nation, and the last class available was
listed in Oregon in July at :
Although you've missed the majority of opportunities, a slow start to the
season may allow for more training
opportunities. I took my class mid-season.
I would encourage you to make contact directly with local agencies, community
colleges, district offices or go
national if you have to, to get your name on a list for a class.
As you probably know, this is an entry level class that can get you into a
fire assignment (check-in/demob, etc.)
at an incident base.
So, In the worst case scenario? If you can't find the class that you need,
convince others that they need it and
get the class put on locally somewhere.
Twenty hours in class for a two week assignment can be worth it.
R5VetFF at your service!
Keep an eye on the California Training website, LA County or Ventura County
often offer the S-260/261 classes in December.
Chain Saw Chaps Safety Alert
||Re: Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAGs)
Dear Ab & All:
The FWFSA was recently alerted to the possibility that the reimbursement
FMAGs has increased from 75% to 90% in some agreements.
I received an email from (name left out) the General Accounting Office (GAO)
hard evidence of this change.
There has been a great deal of discussion on Capitol Hill about the FMAG
through FEMA and the potential abuses of the program. If anyone has any solid
the percentage of reimbursement has increased to 90%, please let me know.
The source of any information gathered will be kept confidential. You can call
me directly at
208-775-4577 or email documents/information to
Thanks in advance.
This may seem like a dumb question, but are there any studies showing
increase of radios on the fireline has reduced firefighter fatalities?
||Heads up about the Apprentice Application!!
If you are a vet, please remember to attach your DD-214 to your
application. If you are also claiming a
compensable disability don't forget to also attach your SF-15 and the letter
stating what percentage your
disability is at. If these forms are not attached you WILL NOT get
veteran's preference. There will be no
sending in of said forms after the closing date.
I bring this up after seeing numerous apps where the vet didn't attach the
correct documents. It says on
Avue that you must attach your DD-214 right before you submit your app but
apparently people aren't
reading this. I'd hate to see these vets missing out!
||Re S260 & S261 classes:
To R5VetFF -
I did a search of NWCG but only found Alaska in April 2010 -
where did you do the simple research that found these two classes?
||Fire crews mobilizing:
Fire crews from the United States are being mobilized (one there, two
traveling, and more going) to
Canada from the Eastern Area to assist in the
wildfire suppression operations. The state crews are coming from the Northeast
Forest Fire Compact which has worked hard over the past year to ensure
like this are smooth and fast (Less than one day from order to travel). I know
crews (1- Type 1 and 1- Type 2 IA) that are available nationally,
and have been for sometime, that
were pasted over because it would take too long
to mobilize them (International Travel, NICC
request, etc.). Maybe the feds
could learn something from the states and compacts?
J (another one)
||From the Sims Fire 6/23.
Sims Fire (posted on Fire 40 photo page)
Briefing map (both from a day and a half ago)
CA-KNF-Sims 6/23/09: Sent at 2100 hours, the day it started and now
"making the rounds".
Message with it as follows:
My mapping skills show 165 acres at this time... Div A fire did not slop down
off the ridge by much Div Z continued to be an issue with spots and extreme
torching..... Tanker application was not conducive due to the steep terrain and
no safe exits out to the east or west.. Crews should
make good progress tonight along with rotorwing application in the
||In response to "J" who wanted to know about S260, & 261:
I was given this course as a Seasonal with BLM years ago as a self-study. Not
sure if that is valid or available any longer.
The classes are listed on NWCG website as 16 to 20 hours, so they can be done in
a couple of days. I did a simple internet search for the classes, and they are
being offered this next month in a couple of places...
Also, There might be good contacts on the NWCG site with this link to the
Incident Business Management Team
Thanks for that. Ab.
Dear Ab & All:
Attached is a link to House floor action today between Congresswoman Capps
(D-CA) and Congressman Ike Skelton (D-MO) and Chairman of the House Armed
Congresswoman Capps has been the leader on legislation calling for
illness/disease presumptions for federal firefighters that are similar to
benefits enjoyed by other paid, professional firefighters in 42 other states. In
the current session the bill No. is HR 948. The bill has over 130 co-sponsors.
The intent was to try and attach the bill as an amendment to a Defense bill.
This is a normal procedure even though it normally violates House rules which
don't allow for "legislating" (changing the law) on appropriations bills. More
often than not the House simply agrees to "suspend the rules" to allow such
Oddly, despite the staggering billions of dollars spent by Congress this year,
much of it attached to legislation that no member of Congress read, the rules
for this session stated that there must be a financial "off-set" for spending.
Currently there is no off-set identified in the bill.
The point of all this is that there is a system of double standards in Congress
which are used depending on who's cutting deals with whom. This is an extremely
meritorious bill that has unfortunately had to be re-introduced session after
Although it is likely the bill would pass the House now, action in the Senate,
because of off-sets etc., might be more difficult so the maneuvering continues.
Good legislation can and has been held up for years and years because of the
systems in place. Therefore, when I suggest how incredibly difficult it is to
get a bill introduced and acted upon, it is based on a number of variables that
we have no control over.
And ya wonder why I had heart surgery recently...
||Northwest Timber Fallers has a couple of positions open in the Northern
See the Jobs Page for info.
||Apprenticeship Outreach and THANKS:
Could you please post this note and attachment to they said. I have not heard
much buzz about the vacancy
announcement being open for the program and want to help folks take advantage of
the "calm" we are
observing before fire season kicks into high gear.
Apprenticeship Outreach Doc
We also want to take a moment and thank the apprentices, cadres, and staff
who make this program robust
by giving back whenever they can. We are truly fortunate to have your help.
Thank you all....
||Tom Tidwell, new FS Chief:
Ab and all -- haven't posted for a VERY long
time, but after reading some of the posts about the new FS Chief, I thought I'd
throw in my two cents -- for what it's worth.
Firefighters throughout the F.S. and all agencies should get a big morale boost
with the new selection. The bio on Tom Tidwell is pretty generic -- it says he
began his career on the Boise Forest. What it doesn't say is that he began as a
ground pounder - a smokechaser. Our crew hiked to the fires, worked hard, played
hard and were provided with a solid foundation not only in fire, but in life,
and with the F.S. family. We had strong leaders, caring supervisors and were
taught the fundamentals of fire -- in the class and on the ground. If I had to
vote about the F.S. quality at that point in time -- it would be a 1 -- not 206.
It was like a "Lassie" reality show.
Tom Tidwell was just a kid of 22 years -- we all were kids then -- but instilled
in that crew was years of shared fire knowledge from our bosses, a huge work
ethic, comradery and "taking care of your folks." I haven't spoken to Tom in
many years, but I truly believe the positive traits of character and integrity
ingrained in him didn't just melt away, but carried on from the "kid" to the
man. I have faith that he has not forgotten his roots or his fire family. I wish
you all well under the new leadership (and I won't say anything nasty about the
agency I left in a huff from!)
Thanks Cache Queen, we value your input. Ab.
||Does anyone out there in the fire world know of any S260 & S261 classes that
might be held this summer
or early fall?? I have looked on the fire website but so far nothing and
sometimes the different States put
this class on so couldn't find one.
You do know that agency 216 is the Bureau of Putrid Dog Vomit and Rotting Pig
torch still think 206 not so bad? Might want to reconsider boot offer.
I like your idea, please put me down for two "can you hear us now" cups. I'm
thinking a stylish
ceramic mug for the office, and a nice insulated travel cup for those chilly
early morning incident
I think they’re starting to hear us now. Let’s keep it up.
||How about - "Strive for 205" ??? "Staring at the land and serving the
Sign me - Just another lurker......
||They played in Chico last night, and rocked the place...
They're currently on a national tour (including lots more California dates), so
go see them if you get a chance.
Tell their merchandiser that TC sent ya and he might give you a deal (or not) on
cd's, shirts, etc...
||I have come up with a new motto to replace Chief Kimble's "Its Cool to be
I vote for the Latin "Semper Paralysis" or in English "Always Paralyzed".
Outside the box thinking is hard to do in the Forest Service! But I am just
trying to figure out what Planned Ignition is (isn't that what happens when I
turn the key in
my vehicle ignition?. What do I know?)
Contact your local NFFE representative to file an grievance stating your
information and a request for a personal
classification desk audit. If you are not on a NFFE represented Forest and don't
have anyone to contact to help
you through the steps, please contact me through Ab and I'll put you in touch
with a local NFFE person to help you.
I have been actively involved in all three "national" "GS-8 Captains Desk
Audits" and followed the mess of the last
one and how it was applied and censored..... and know the issue inside and out
and the barriers that are being shoved
in your face in terms of classification... and have regularly shared info with
NFFE as a member of an allied association
with similar goals.
If you are on a NFFE Forest, your local NFFE representative can also contact me
through Ab for consultation or
||California's Burning by Dave Alvin & The Guilty Women
out... Listen and Purchase the cd here... (second track)
Rockin Blues. I like it! Ab.
||Coffee Mugs 206 out of 216, Can You Hear Us Now?:
I forgot to weigh
in on this a few days ago. Thanks for the reminder. I like the coffee mug idea
Porcelain option would be great so it can be used around the office or station.
I also like the continuance
of Black Tuesday phrase, "206 out of 216 Can You Hear Us Now?" and something to
tie in Wildland
Never forget Black Tuesday - April 1, 2008 - The Day They Lied from Coast to
PS: This was also the day elected officials started listening and delivered 25
million and 10% retention
bonuses for our GS 5-8's and it will eventually bring us PTP! Stay Tuned... Speaking of staying tuned,
I think it's about that time for another update from Moore on his retention
plan, Mr. Email (Pena) and the
person who is occupying the office of our R-5 FAM Director. Did we ever fill
||Coffee Mugs 206 out of 216, Can You Hear Us Now?
I like the idea of
coffee mugs! I would buy a couple.
However, sending one to Ed would likely be a waste of time. This is the guy who
got rid of his vehicle presumably because he sees no need to have the
flexibility to travel to fires at a moments notice to 'connect' with the
firefighters on the ground. The same guy that refers to folks speaking up for
positive change as 'whiners' in a recent conference call. The same guy that has
turned his back on all of us!
Now, I think our new chief might just appreciate it as a symbol of the tough job
ahead of him. I, for one, hope we can offer Tidwell our support and possible
solutions in a joint effort to defeat the corrosive attitude our current and
recent managers have fostered. We are professional firefighters, regardless of
series or label, i.e. forestry technician. For us to lead up, we must continue
to fight the good fight while keeping focused on the job at hand, getting
ourselves and our charges home safely. We deserve good leaders, but must
continue to be good leaders to effect change. I do not think it will happen
before I retire, but my hope is that the youngsters coming up behind me will
reap the rewards of the struggle.
All for one, one for all!
||Re: "... had other risk factors and/or prior medical conditions." - WCT
I've heard that excuse before... hmm???... Oh, I remember now...
Bureaucratic Rhetoric in an attempt to deflect,
confuse, or defer statements and discussion of the actual risks while people
actually attempt to address the original
issue or potential consequences.
That is the same way "leaders" (little "L" emphasis) are describing the
potential effects of an emerging A/H1N1
pandemic when they describe the deaths associated as "... had other risk factors
and/or prior medical conditions."
They seem to overstep the importance of a "novel virus" and its potential.
Very few are speaking about "Preparing for the Worst, While Expecting the
Best". The folks who are speaking out are Champions of safety and risk
management ... and are true Leaders.
Very little action is happening within the federal government is response to the
WHO Pandemic Phase 6 announcement.
||Coffee Mugs 206 out of 216, Can You Hear Us Now?
I like coffee and I like your thinking. Coffee mugs would be a great idea, you
can even send them
as gifts to let's say the new Chief, Ed Hollenshead, so on. So far I like
"206 out of 216, Can You Hear Us Now"!, slogan.
Well you certainly know how to get me to visit TheySaid!!
I certainly can agree with your assessment to OC. They are all valid
points...however given that you're an OLD fire guy and I'm a less old fire guy,
perhaps we've seen quite a bit of the same scenarios in our careers.
I think most would agree that there are folks in the fire business who can
wallpaper their houses with certificate after certificate. Then put them in the
field as an IC and they can't blow their nose. Conversely there are folks in the
business who haven't been to many classes/courses but anyone in management would
beg to have them as an IC or by their side "on the big one."
One of the fundamental things you and I apparently don't agree on is the
direction of the Forest Service FIRE program; where it should be now and where
it should go. 30-40 years ago your assessment of "there is no fire organization"
was valid. In my opinion, today's complexities demand a fire organization.
Having a "fire" organization, obviously within the confines of a land management
agency, and operating it like a fire organization can only improve the program.
Better consistent communication among the variety of fire organizations we now
see on wildfires; better integration into the ICS...something that wasn't around
30-40 years ago; better rank recognition and better fiscal responsibility.
To me, it defies logic that the FS leadership continues to refuse to accept the
realities of the 21st century. This is demonstrative of Chief Kimbell's apparent
surprise of the FS ranking in the recent "Best Places to Work" survey.
I'm not sure where you are located in the U.S. but I can tell you the FS FIRE
leadership in California has literally destroyed its credibility and
relationship among cooperators because of their failure to embrace progress and
their failure to accept what the fire program is in California and much of the
west...the best wildland fire organization in the world...currently being
stifled by archaic thinking and policies.
Forest Service firefighters already face an undue burden of potential criminal
liability and prosecution as compared to their municipal and state counterparts
across the country. The dynamics of a wildfire are infinitely more fluid than
say a structure fire. As a result, the time on a forest; the actual experience
of wildland firefighting and the experience and expertise of making command
decisions on an incident as a firefighter in which the enemy doesn't play by the
same rules, is to me, far more critical in the wildfire arena than in a
While your points may be valid, it doesn't necessarily make the decision a smart
one when taking into consideration all the elements of the job expected of a
division chief. Perhaps the most important characteristic for anyone to possess
in such a dangerous, fluid environment is the ability to lead.
I believe the number of qualifications or certs someone has is far less
influential on their ability to lead people into a dangerous situation than
their experience in the particular job; their real-time knowledge and experience
in dealing with wildfires in different topographies, fuel loads etc., and their
relationship with those they are leading, again based on time spent on the
field. Those traits in a leader simply can't be attained by securing
I guess I could go to med school. Once I graduate, would you want me to perform
open heart surgery on you?? I think not. Don't know if that's a good analogy of
what happened on the Modoc but the Forest Supervisor better take responsibility
for the decision if those with similar fire qualifications but with
substantially more field experience in fire, were passed over and something goes
south on the fireline.
R-1 Engine Boss (6/18)
I hear you, loud and clear! I recently posted about the Morale issue here in
R-3. On our Forest, we have seven Type 3 Engines and seven Type 6 Engines. All
the Type 3 Engine Organizations are the same. Captain GS-8, Engineer GS-7, Lead
GS-6 and Senior GS-5. Just recently, three of the Type 6 Captains went through
the "Complexity Analysis." It was decided that only three, of the seven Captains
were "Complex" enough to be considered for the GS-8 promotion. I, now happen to
be working for a GS-8 Engine Captain on a Type 6 Engine. I am still a GS-6. I
have raised the issue of why this is. I was told by our FFMO, that there are
only three "Engine Organizations" to choose from. (Which came down from the WO.)
1. GS-8-7-6-5, which I alluded to earlier.
2. GS-8-6-5, which is the one that I'm on.
3. GS-7-6-5, which is the one that they placed you on.
After doing some research on the Position Descriptions relating to every "fire"
personnel at my District, every PD is rated in the "High Complexity" category.
That is, everyone but mine. I grade out at "Low Complexity." Even the Fire
Prevention Person is High Complexity.
Also, how can some Type 6 Captains be GS-8's and others be GS-7's??? Working in
the same areas??? Great for Morale!
Another good piece of contradictory FS literature. Every Forest in our entire
Region has been labeled as a "High Complexity Forest." However, when you break
it down to each District on those Forests, "The Powers That Be," have decided
that "Moderate Complexity" would be a better fit. So, to summarize, Each Forest
is High Complexity, but each District is Moderate Complexity. Furthermore, if
every District is Moderate Complexity, then how are those Type 6 Captains
getting the GS-8 promotion? Quizzical?
Your 6/18 comments on the Forest Service Chief position, couldn't have been any
better communicated. The only thing that I found to be in error was when you
referred to Chief Kimball calling us firefighters, lol. (forestry techs).
||Fire Management Hiring and FS Organization:
Line officers may have some very valid reasons for their decisions to
lateral qualified candidates into a vacancy. The program the individual works in
may be unfunded (and the FS employee has a right to a job). The individual may
have a strong interest in diversifying their career experience (demonstrated by
having the fire quals for the position). They may be a potential line officer,
and "management" recognizes the need for more fire experience (and who wants to
argue against having line officers with a background in fire). Personal family
needs may have necessitated a change in location.
Works both ways. I've seen fire budgets reduced to the point where we faced
cutbacks. Other "resource program" managers found work to ensure full time
employment for primary firefighters.
Agreed that folks should have the quals to get the job.
Lastly.....there is no "fire organization" there is a FS organization with a
"fire program". You don't work for the Fire Service, you work for the Forest
Service. There is no, and should be no criteria of "well, I've been here longer"
in evaluating a candidate.
Hotlist Thread on Martin Mars possibly being stationed at Lake
||Re: WFF Fundraiser
Not sure who could take it on, but T-Shirts are a good idea, but in fire
everyone wears their crew / team t-Shirt or
Sweat Shirt. One thing most folks have in their hand is a Travel coffee cup
during briefings. Every one standing in
briefing with one would be impressive...
||Fire Management Hiring:
Please, please, please don't read more into my post than what was said. There
were no stones thrown
at the wildlife biologist. The post was to show another example of line's
ABILITY (not a comment on
line officers or the new fire managers) to hire over and around those already in
the fire organization for
fire management positions and that it has occurred at least 3 times in the last
3 months on at least 3 forests.
||Stomped On (or anyone else with information on white male hiring
Are you aware of any groups, individuals, attorneys or information related to
the topic of
discrimination of white males and the difficulties they are facing in the FS
If you do have any sources related to this, I would really appreciate it. Ab can
give you my
address (you can, can't you Ab?)
Happy to pass info on. Ab.
||Re: proposals to reform federal employee benefits
Hi to all:
I've read with interest the proposals submitted by Republican House Leader John
Boehner and the Republican Whip Eric Cantor as well as the analysis of the
proposals by Ralph Smith at fedsmith.com.
While I think it important that all federal employees take such proposals
seriously, ultimately politics are in play here. Over the last few years I've
had the opportunity to meet and speak with Mr. Boehner on several occasions and
after having a number of Republican & Democratic members support our (FWFSA)
legislative proposals that benefit federal employees, specifically federal
wildland firefighters, I think the proposed changes to federal benefits need to
be put in the proper context.
First and foremost, both parties are responsible for the stunning expenditure of
billions of taxpayer dollars, of which the federal workforce certainly pays
their fair share, to bailout irresponsible fiscal behavior across a wide segment
of the business world. Odd that as taxpayers, we own many of these companies now
but under these proposals would be burdened by bailing out the politicians who
spent our money and were kind enough to buy these businesses for us.
Historically it has been all too easy for some in Congress to attack federal
employees and their benefits. In this particular case, I think the intent here
is for the Republican leadership to propose such changes knowing full well the
severity and breadth of the response from the federal workforce, and then blame
the need for such proposals on the Democratic leadership because it is under the
Democratic leadership that such stunning sums of tax dollars were spent on
things very few taxpayers wanted their money spent on.
In reviewing the entire list of proposals, some likely have merit and are long
overdue. Yet it is many of these same programs that were developed under the
previous Administration. The federal benefit reforms are a small part of the
overall package but likely are the proposals that will garner the most debate.
Let's face it, in a general sense, Republicans have not been synonymous with
labor and federal employees in recent history. The FWFSA has had success on both
sides of the aisle because of the time we have taken to educate each person
we've worked with in Congress on an individual basis.
Federal employees are an easy target because we lack collective bargaining on
pay & benefits. The suggestion that federal benefits should be reformed to
mirror private sector benefits is, in my opinion, stunningly misguided. It is
the private sector that has gotten all of us into this mess. With respect to the
proposal to change the High-3 to High 5, the apparent reasoning is that "it
would make the federal pension benefit closer to the practice of companies in
the private sector."
Maybe those making such a proposal would like to take a guess as to how many
"private sector" retirement funds have been sucked dry by CEOs and CFOs and are
now worthless to the employee. Perhaps look at how many "private sector"
companies, despite having millions, if not billions invested by their employees
in such retirement packages, now tell their employees the retirement nest-egg is
How many private sector businesses have gone belly-up leaving their employees
with absolutely nothing...while someone at the top was getting rich. And let us
not forget that staggering sums of political donations from these very same
private sector companies go to candidates of both parties.
Further, the accompanying report says "Companies often use five-year averages to
determine a employee's base pension, according to the CBO." How many of these
companies can survive another 5 years? How many have already gone under?
I guess my ranting point is while we should take such proposals seriously, we
should also make it very clear to our elected officials that this country would
have more than enough money for education, health care etc., if we the taxpayer
hadn't been "used" to bail out irresponsible private sector business persons.
Greed is the culprit and I think we all see more of that in the private sector
corporate world than we do on the fire lines during the Santa Anas!
I would hope that all of the federal unions will take a collective, pro-active
stance on defending federal employee benefits and will peel away the layers of
political rhetoric we likely will endure for some time to come.
Just my personal observations and not reflective of the FWFSA as an organization
or its members collectively.
Ab will be happy to pass any replies on to Casey or you can email him
directly email@example.com. (Haw Haw) It would have been nice if we did not need to bail
out the greedy companies to keep the whole kit-and-caboodle from going over the
||Re; Date: June 12, 2009
Subject: Chainsaw/Crosscut Operations and First Aid Kit (Belts)
cc; Robin L. Thompson, Tory Henderson, Larry Sutton, Ralph Dorn, Gary Helmer
The small Type IV Belt first aid kit (NFES 1143), has always been and will
always be inadequate for cross cut, chainsaw or fireline operations. The
addition of two large guaze pads will not remedy this situation in the
slightest. The contents of the kit (I believe) are only there to fall within the
letter of the law as an OSHA requirement.
I doubt that there is anyone utilising this kit as it was originally intended.
If you are, you are relying on a kit that does not contain sufficient items to
deal with a serious injury, let alone several injuries.
Typically this is a good kit to keep in the truck to augment the vehicle first
aid kit, or to empty it out and customize it for fire line use. There are many
products that can easily be purchased on line or locally that will make it an
adequate kit for cross cut and chainsaw operations. I would recommend the
Kerlix, 4 to 6 rolls 4.5 inch x 4 yards
Athletic tape, 2 to 4 rolls, 2 and 4 inch width
Coban, Self Adhereant Wrap, 2 rolls
Ace Wrap, 2 rolls, 4 inch
Emergency Blanket (those small, reflective wraps)
Emergency Bandage, 2, 4 inch
Kwik Cold Packs, 2
EMT Shears, 1 4 inch
CPR Face Shield or Mask
Triangular Bandage, Muslin, 2
CAT Tourniquet, 1
Rubber Gloves x 6, various sizes.
Dressings, Gauze, Bandaids, Moleskin, Aspirin, Benadryl, Safety Pins, Duct tape,
Sam Splint, Pencil, note pad, etc., as you desire.
Do yourself and your crew a favor and take the time to look at your first aid
kits, and make them USEFUL and SPECIFIC to your needs. Once you have a decent
kit put together, make sure everyone knows its location and how to properly use
the contents. Contact the local ambulance service or hospital and I am sure they
can make suggestions on keeping it small and effective for cross cut, chainsaw
and fireline operations.
The key is small and light, but effective for the type of operations you are
going to need it for. This kit has never been any good and until we get some
changes at the national level, they will continue to offer this rather worthless
||Hmmmmm !!! Could we see a cut in Uniform Allowance coming???? DirtMiner
Casual Fridays memo, text below:
FROM: Kathleen Merrigan
USDA is a positive and professional organization. Your image as a positive
and professional employee is reflected through your dress style. Dressing
professionally to present a favorable personal appearance is a reflection of
you, and, thus, USDA.
That said, during the summer months, we are promoting “casual Fridays.” Of
course, good judgment must be exercised. Avoid wearing shorts, short skirts,
crop tops, t-shirts, faded or torn blue jeans, exercise clothes, or flip
flops. If there is any doubt, supervisors and employees should communicate
openly with one another. This is especially true for questions regarding
work clothing or protective equipment required for safety and protective
purposes. Employees who are members of a bargaining unit should refer to any
applicable collective bargaining agreement(s). And, the right to wear
appropriate religious dress will be respected in the implementation of this
If you have any questions about this policy, please contact your servicing
Human Resources Department or contact Departmental Administration Director
of Human Capital Management, Ms. Jill Crumpacker, at 202-690-5991, or email
at Jill.Crumpacker@ nospam USDA.gov.
She probably has a Hawaiian shirt she wants to wear. I know I do. Ab.
I grossly understated my numbers when I stated that 7 people had died
participating in the WCT program. In reality, at least 8 folks had died as early
"In the past four years (1998 to 2002), eight firefighters working for federal
agencies have died while taking a required government fitness test. Three of
those firefighters have died while taking or training for the test this year, a
review by The Oregonian showed. " ~ Associated Press News Article, 2002
"The average fatalities per year on the Pack and Field test is 3.2 and
generally, those individuals were over 45 and had other risk factors and/or
prior medical conditions." ~ Dr. Brian Sharkey before the NWCG Safety & Health
Working Team (2003).
Attached document with references attached for peer review and commentary on how
to improve the Work Capacity Testing process .... or scuttle it entirely. Dr.
Sharkey makes great comments throughout the links and in my earlier post (that
wasn't posted for some reason) .... Without it... context and continuity of
communication is lost. Dr Sharkey developed a great test, but it was only meant
to be implemented for "two positions".... his words... not mine.
||Fire Management Hiring
This is the way the Forest Service does things like
First of all, most of the upper level fire management jobs are filled by
someone who has a friend or someone's friend has a friend who know them. It is
unlikely you will get a FMO job if you have not been involved with some fire
staff somewhere. It is in my experience of 25+ years working for the Forest
Service that its not the best person or the most qualified person for the job
that gets hired. It's the person that has the contacts and the friends that will
trump any well qualified applicant.
In case you haven't noticed in most Regions the GOOD OLD BOYS club is alive
and well..... so make friends, kiss lots of a$s, (etc) and yes you will
someday have a shot at an DFMO or FMO position. Just remember... if you are a
white male, and over 40 years old, forget moving up in the agency, it is very
unlikely anyone will want you and it's even more unlikely that you will have a
fair chance in the FS job market.. I only say this from first hand experience. I
have seen for the past twenty years, that this is the case with most fire
management positions. Yes it is discrimination but try to prove it... just
look at what Region the last three Chiefs have come from.
||Historical Preparedness Levels
Here is a link to
Historical PL levels by CY and number of days
(pdf), scroll to
Don't know if this is what the poster (JD) is looking for. Notably, today sets a
new record in recent PL
history (since 1990) for the number of consecutive days at PL-1.
||Re: Going Permanent Demo vs. Career Ladder
I am a 7 year seasonal with the FS, all as a Hot Shot in Reg. 5. Considering
going permanent with the agency.
Was wondering if I could get some insight from the "they said" crowd, on the
advantages/ disadvantages of
Demo Slots vs. Career Ladder positions.
- What are the limiting factors for folks wishing to apply to demo
- Once perm. do employees still have options to tranfer RDs, Forests,
- What incentives and what kind of advanced training (if any) is available
to perm. employees?
- Aside from higher salary and tour length, what other advantages are
there to going permanent with the agency?
- Are there any guarantees to retention within the agency, forest, RD
after going permanent? If so what are they?
- How widely are career perm's appointed to crews out of region? Does this
- How does the process of appointment work?
- Once hired in perm slot, what are the parameters for GS grade
advancement? 2 years in grade still to advance?
- What can a perm. employee do to advance training outside of the NIJACK
Any answers for this career seasonal GS are appreciated, thanks,
||Re: Tom Tidwell's Hawaiian Shirt
It was nice to see the USFS release an updated photo of Chief Tom Tidwell
yesterday wearing a suit and tie. Thanks to "someone" <big hug> for providing an
updated photo and listening to the field concerns. The "suit and tie" was better
than the Hawaiian Shirt.
It sure would have been better though if the new Chief was presented to the
press and public in the Forest Service Uniform, or better yet, in a Class A
Uniform showing the "positive and professional organization" as presented
in the USDA memo below from Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary USDA.
Personally, I would think there are more pressing issues to address from the
Office of the USDA Secretary other than "casual Fridays".... but I may be
mistaken on the focus of their Leaders Intent since none has been given or
Part of Leadership Training is to make the folks above you successful, and
likewise be good followers.
Tenants of two-way Leadership
When it happens, everyone is successful. When it fails, everyone fails.
P.S. - Nice Hawaiian shirt though....
||Fire management hiring...
I hear his quals are good, too. I agree with PYG,
it is not about the guy in the job, it is about the complete disregard line
has for the efforts of those who sacrifice everyday, put their lives and their
careers on the line everyday, and still continue
to get overlooked for fire leadership positions from the district level to the
Washington Office. Being a militia member on
an IMT is not the same experience as dealing with our issues 24/7/365.
||Fire management hiring...
I'm pretty sure it is legal (while not common) for a lateral to happen, without
advertising the job. Even switching job series if
the person was qualified in that series - particularly if that Unit was in a
WRAPS or preWRAPS mode. If the incumbent was
in an 'unfunded' position then lateral into a position they qualified for would
be exactly what the WRAPS process envisions.
||Fire management hiring...
I know of a Wildlife Biologist on the Modoc who is T3 IC and Air Attack
qualified. I don’t know the particulars,
but it may be worth looking into the details before throwing stones at that one.
||Subject: Gila National Forest Fact Sheet - 6/15/09 - 7:00 pm - Smokejumper
sustains injuries during proficiency jump
June 15, 2009 7:00 pm
Smokejumper sustains injuries during proficiency jump
- A Forest Service smokejumper sustained injuries during a proficiency
jump (practice jump) on the Gila National Forest this morning.
- The incident occurred at 9:20 am on Monday, June 15, at Farm Flat, a
“jump spot” normally used for practice jumps, about 15 miles north of Silver
- The smokejumper landed in a tree on the edge of the jump spot. As he was
setting up to rappel 20’ to the ground, the parachute, which was being used
as an anchor, gave way. The smokejumper then fell to the ground.
- He was initially transported to Gila Regional Medical Center, then later
in the day transferred to Thomason General Hospital in El Paso, Texas, for
further evaluation of his injuries.
original press release, released only today although dated June 15.
206 not so bad. Try being the other people at 216.
Trade boots for a day and then 206 will not be so bad.
||Re: "Boone and Crockett" Direction in the Federal Land Management Agencies
Main Issue: Federal Work Capacity Test (WCT) Development and Implementation
Secondary Issue: Health Hazards of Smoke Studies
Cause of Issue: Developed by a PhD employed by the USFS with full support
from the field... and implemented even after several Medical Doctors (MD)
addressed significant concerns following implementation relating to deaths,
serious injury, and lack of proper prescreening and proper follow up.
Corrections of the "ships course" were made by the author and the field..... but
the Land Managers still drove the ship into the rocks... and insisted of the
ship to maintain the current heading...
At last count, 7 firefighters have died either taking or preparing for a near
term federally mandated WCT or one that has been adopted by cooperators, and
dozens of others have been seriously injured, while others have been forced into
Messages regarding the Health Hazards of Smoke have been minimalized for
presentation to the fire community and the public and often contradicted
messages from MD's employed with local Health Departments and Air Quality
Management Districts.... or other aligned scientists within the Forest Service.
For the sake of communication, let's agree on the following and try to make the
WCT safer or find a better measure of fitness for duty:
1) Brian Sharkey (PhD), Author of the WCT program is not/was not a Medical
Doctor. If I remember correctly, he is an Exercise Physiologist by training and
2) Brian Sharkey has been rightfully awarded the Paul Gleason Award for his
Leadership and Service by the IAWF,
3) Brian Sharkey stated the following as his WCT was being reviewed (and is
being continually reviewed) after the above mentioned "problems" that have never
been addressed, but only defended.....
Cardiovascular Risks of Wildland Firefighting- by Brian Sharkey, PhD (USDA
Forest Service MTDC)
From Dr. Sharkey -
"The Pack Test (PT) is the work capacity test used by federal agencies to
determine fitness for duty. It consists of a 3-mile (4.83-km) hike with a
45-pound (20.5-kg) pack over level terrain. The test emerged from a process that
included a job task analysis, laboratory studies, and then extensive field
trials. The test is based on an actual job task that is highly correlated to
other firefighting tasks. The energy expenditure of the test is similar to that
encountered on the job (7.5 kcal/min). The duration of the test reflects the
ability to sustain the effort for prolonged periods of work. The test does not
have an adverse impact on women or minorities, nor does it discriminate
according to age, height, or weight. Pass rates on the test exceed 90% in the
United States, Canada, and Australia (Sharkey 1999)."
" ...several test-related fatalities have led to a reexamination of the work
capacity tests, the procedures for test administration, and the types of
positions that require the arduous level of testing.
Twenty-two incident command positions call for the arduous category test (PT);
of these, only two include the actual firefighting duties for which the test was
devised. The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) Safety and Health
Working Team (SHWT) has begun a review of line-going positions to determine
which positions should require the arduous category and test. Other approaches
to risk reduction include health screening, medical examinations, and risk
"A careful evaluation of the ICS positions that currently require the arduous
test may reduce the number of positions and the cardiovascular risk. Finally, it
is possible that some test-related fatalities may have occurred in the absence
of any work capacity test. The exertion of fire duties could trigger an event,
as could an the stress of an emergency operation or escape to a safety zone,
when responding to the heart attack could slow escape and endanger the lives of
"A comprehensive employee health/wellness program is a cost-effective way to
provide periodic tests of blood pressure, cholesterol, and other tests indicated
by age, family history or occupational exposure. The program also includes
information and instruction on exercise, weight control, diet, stress reduction,
and other factors associated with health. The program could be mandatory for
fire personnel and voluntary for all others. The cost of the program could be
met with the money saved by limiting medical examinations to those who actually
need them, including individuals over 45 years of age and those identified by a
health screening questionnaire."
Dr. Sharkey was awarded the Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award for a
reason... Land Managers just didn't work on the follow up of making the Visions
and End State possible... I'd like to see field level firefighters make Dr.
Sharkey's vision and goals a success even with the known hurdles that existed...
even if Dr. Sharkey and the "Boone and Crockett" folks don't know we are trying
to make them successful...
If you are out there, I am so glad you put it in print. I know it will answer
a lot of questions
all of us did not know how to ask.
Thanks and good luck with the book,
||See you later to Magruder Fingers, (recently retired)
In my mind one of the best wildland firefighters who ever threw dirt at a
flame with a shovel, last of a breed
when it came to work integrity, down to earth aggressive firefighting and always
standing up for what is right.
You fought your first wildland fire during the summer of 1974 during your
Junior year at High-school' cut your
teeth with a Pulaski on the brushfields of Sitton Peak in 1976 and recently
finished your shift with distinguished
honor, Congratulations on an amazing career! You will be missed by many on the
fireground my friend, but it
was time for you to go, you are an "old soul" when it comes to real
firefighting, a huge contrast to much of the
modern day Forest Service's way of doing business! Never despair Mr. Fingers!!
You have been responsible
for influencing more young Men and Women of fire and Coworkers than you will
ever know! You pointed them
in the right direction, and like the ones who guided you, they won't forget the
lessons that you taught them. They
will always strive do what is what is right, and bring it into the future and
that is what is really important!
Hang tough Hotshot!
||Fire management hiring...
From what I hear the person has good fire qual's but I didn't think it was legal
to lateral from another series.
I thought you had to fly the job for it to be even remotely legal. To me it's
just another line officer making up
the rules as they go along and not concerned how it will effect the people. Also
why didn't anyone grieve the
decision? There had to be someone there they were hoping to move up.
||Fire management hiring...
Re: the wildlife biologist who was lateralled into the Division Chief position on the Modoc.....what quals are they lacking?
||Happy Fathers Day to all you fathers out there. The Abs and Mods.
Ken and I just finished the book No Grass by Shawna Legarza.
It was a good book: it was said sad and funny at the same time.
Shawna writes about growing up on a ranch, about fire and about her husband.
We are recommending it to all.
Ken and Kathy
Thanks you two. I added it to the Fire
Books page. I can't wait to read that one myself. Thanks for writing it
Shawna and thanks for what you (and others) have been inspired
to do to help all deal with life challenges. We love you. Ab.
||Fire management hiring...
At least the Cleveland and the San Bernardino flew the fire management positions. The line officers on the Modoc gave up all pretenses of competition and just
lateralled a wildlife biologist into a Division Chief position without ever flying the position.
||Everyone dig out your old photos and check if you have any from these incidents that happened in the past 7 years or so. Our Southeast Washington State Type III IMT is trying to find more photos to put on its website for all to see:
7/28/03, Thorp Fire, Thorp, Washington
5/26/05, Painted Hills Fire, Prosser, Washington
6/26/05, Walker Canyon Fire, Clyde, Washington
7/24/05, Wood Gulch Fire, Mabton, Washington
8/9/05, McLane Fire, North of Columbia Rive, Washington
8/22/06, Columbia Complex (First 48 Hours), Dayton, Washington
7/6/07, Delta, Othello, Washington
||Date: June 12, 2009
Subject: Chainsaw/Crosscut Operations and First Aid Kit (Belts)
Serious Accident Investigation found that the Type IV Belt first aid kit (NFES
1143) does not meet requirements in Forest Service (FS) Handbook (FSH)
6709.11.22.48a (OSHA Logging Standard 29 CFR 1910.266 Appendix A). NFES 1143 is
missing two large gauze pads (at least 8x10 inches.)
The FS has established a specification for this first aid kit, which is
available through the General Services Administration (GSA). Upon notice of the
accident investigation findings, the specification has been adjusted to include
the two gauze pads. However, until GSA depletes its current inventory, first aid
kits purchased from GSA may not contain the pads. Any NFES 1143s purchased
through GSA must have the contents checked and if the pads are missing, they
must be ordered through regular local purchasing processes. We will work with
the National Interagency Support Caches to make additions; however, this will
not be completed within the current fire season. At a minimum, units conducting
chain saw and cross cut operations must supplement these first aid kits as
quickly as possible.
Please share this direction with your units to ensure adequate equipping for
individuals carrying the NFES 1143 – especially an employee who uses a chainsaw
or crosscut saw in the performance of their job.
If you have any questions concerning this, please contact Gary Helmer at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-605-5139; or Larry Sutton at email@example.com or
/s/ Robin L. Thompson (for)
JAMES E. HUBBARD
Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry
cc: Tory Henderson, Larry Sutton, Ralph Dorn
Paratroopers and smoke jumpers line up in the plane one behind
the other in a tight line and go out the door like a "Stick".
A "Stick" is all the jumpers that go out the same door on the same pass.
||Two new logos came in from Dan. Thanks, Dan. I put them on the
Logos16 photo page. Ab.
||So, Gail Kimbell says "I would do it all over again."
Again, she shows that she has no clue. 206 out of 216 and she would do it all
She never 'got it', her response to Esperanza was VERY offensive! Her 'Its Cool
to be Safe'
was such an infantile flourish on official letterheads that it sickened me. Her
response to the
survey confirmed that she has no knowledge of what the troops feel.
I have the song from The Wizard of OZ running thru my head, Ding-Dong...
I say "Good Riddance!"
Wishing Tom Tidwell well!
I am not sure about BLM ADs but I am a USFS AD and received my Per Diem in 4
AD gal. Perhaps a call is in order? Ab.
Don’t know the origin of this use of “stick”, but smokejumpers were using the
term in the 1940’s (reference;
Trimotor and Trail by Earl Cooley, who along with Rufus Robinson were the first
jumpers to ever jump a fire).
Many people don’t know this, but smokejumpers were established before our
military started conducting
airborne operations. In 1940, Major William Lee, “the father of airborne
troops,” spent some time studying
and learning from the R1 smokejumpers. He adopted Forest Service techniques to
establish the first US
airborne school in Ft. Benning, Georgia. Major Lee went on to become the first
chief of the Airborne
Command and commander of the 101st Airborne Division during WW11.
||Re Vol FF Fitness Exams:
I personally believe in physical fitness. Our
state agency, though, presently has no physical requirements for fire fighters
to fight fire locally. We do however have a contract with the USFS to provide
resources. Those firefighters fully meet the standards for whatever position
they are sent. Since the federal incidents are usually at least 1000 miles away
this policy is a lot easier to keep than the folks in California who have major
incidents on various jurisdictions on their door steps. Like us they deal with
volatile fuels surrounding WUI. When things are hitting it there is little time
to check quals. and perform inspections before engaging resources. The current
system of gaining control over resources once the incident develops is, in my
opinion, still is the best method. Requiring your VFDs to maintain physical
standards, especially in this financial climate, is probably impractical. In our
state it would be completely unworkable. In many communities the only reason an
engine is able to respond is some 70+ year old firefighter or someone who could
never pass a pack test gets it on the road., especially during weekdays.
In closing I believe the job being done in the west, though imperfect, over all
is tremendous especially when compared to the magnitude of the problems you
face. If a practical way to insure all firefighters are in good physical
condition develops I’m all for it. I just believe you’re currently doing the
best you can under the circumstances.
||Congress Looking at Cutting Federal Benefits
[follow-up on Q's post
I am passing these FedSmith.com articles (attached) on to you, just in case
you want to contact your
Ab found the links here:
Here Are Proposals to Cut Federal Benefits
How Safe Are Your Federal Benefits?
('07 article referenced)
(letter to Pres.) referenced in article (266 K pdf)
||Government looks to Cal Poly for help with fire safety
of Homeland Security looks to Cal Poly for help with fire safety.
Hi OldLPF, thanks... Ab.
I suspect the term "stick" in the jumper program originated in the
I was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division in the early 70s and the
term was used there and then. Please do not attribute my response.
||Re Vol FF Fitness Exams:
I can’t take it anymore…
As a chief of a volunteer department, I can understand the concerns that have
been raised over not being able to pass the physical exams. I also understand
there are requirements in the State of California that all firefighters are held
to the same standards, paid or volunteer. It is time for everyone to get on the
same page and play the game by the rules. No longer can an individual department
make up their own rules. In order to qualify for strike teams, you must meet
qualifications. In order to receive grant funding, you must meet qualifications.
In short, just meet the standards everyone else is meeting! The program is
designed for firefighter safety, not to single out people and make them leave
the fire service. Folks need to realize when it is time to retire. This is a
young person’s game. All members of a department, especially a volunteer
department, need to be able to perform all of the functions on the fireground
for safety reasons.
Just my two cents.
||Retirement of Kimbell
Dear Ab and All:
I was a bit surprised that this hadn't made it to TheySaid yet. I think
someone is in a bit of denial over her failure at LEADING. She's
"sad." Gosh, sorry. Well I guess that's better than being totally demoralized by
said "leadership" (or lack thereof) as much of her employee base is. I know this
isn't supposed to be about the "who", but it seems very clear that she just
doesn't get it that this was more than just the Administration that wanted a
change. Hopefully Mr. Tidwell will learn from this.
Note from Forest Service Chief Kimbell:
A number of you have asked for some accounting of all this sudden change.
Let it suffice to say that the Administration wanted a change. It is sudden.
I'll serve as your Chief through July 2, then will move to a new position
and will retire in early August.
The good news for me is two-fold. To have my successor already announced and
to know that it is Tom Tidwell, a tenured and seasoned Forest Service leader
is tremendous news. Tom and I will have some time for transition before he
assumes the responsibilities of Chief. The second piece of good news is that
I get to rejoin my husband in Missoula, Montana.
It has been my distinct honor to serve as the 16th Chief of the U.S. Forest
Service. I've had the pleasure to work with incredible people at all levels,
in all job series, all across the country, who are highly skilled and
dedicated to our mission to sustain the health, diversity and productivity
of the Nation's forests and grasslands. Together we have focused on many of
the important issues and conservation challenges of our time. I thank you
for the outstanding work in climate change, water and kids.
Am I sad? Of course. I cherish my 35+ years in the Forest Service and the
relationships with people inside and outside the outfit. But I know you'll
continue to keep an eye to the issues of the future and you'll continue in
our 104 year history of adapting to the needs of present and future
generations. You are an extraordinary group of people. I would do it all
Go to the NWCG
There isn't a lot of information there, and as far as being a fireline EMT,
apparently all you need is EMT
Certification and basic wildland fire quals (FFT2) with a valid red card.
The committees are moving at a glacial pace, so it may be some time before there
is any specific direction.
||I was listening to the radio traffic on the fire I just got bumped off of:
"The fire is bumping the road."
"Bump down to channel 4."
"The humidity has bumped down to 11%"
"Watch out for a bump up in fire behavior."
"After you bump up past the other crew..."
"We're bumping up against our 16 hours."
"I bumped that crew over to Alpha."
And from a certain GACC website frontpage: "6/12/09 - SWA has bumped up to
As long as all understand all that, we're all good. Do we?
- Bump on the Head
||Redesign from /s/ Not a Conspiracy Theorist... But a
Conspiracy It Is...
This is compelling and explains why we have gotten all the
cues from cooperators across agencies in
the past year. The R5 chief does not
have our trust.
(CAL FIRE Chiefs were instructed not to write or talk about this topic but
its of great concern to the
CA public as well as to FF. No wonder FS morale is
low; this kind of thing tends to permeate an org.)
Thanks for the summary and links, Not a Conspiracy Theorist.
Ab, if this wasnt so serious you could sign me: "Just because I'm paranoid
doesn't mean they're not out
to get us."
But you'd better sign me: A very concerned socal non-fed FF and taxpayer.
I'm adding the Redesign post to the
worth Reading Archive. Ab.
||Re: San Diego County Volunteers
To put some facts into the debate.
This has nothing to do with big brother coming in to take over the fire
department, it has everything to do with the law.
The physical that they are referring to is the Respiratory Protection Program
for breathing apparatus. The San Diego County Fire Authority is under contract
with CAL-FIRE to provide fire protection which means that all personnel need to
follow CAL-FIRE policies and procedures. The policy is an annual fit test for
SCBA use and based on certain factors a yearly or otherwise determined physical
including a treadmill test are required. Any person working for or under control
of CAL-FIRE that has a requirement to wear a breathing apparatus goes through
this annually. We fill out a questionnaire and based on our answers determine if
we are fit for duty to be fit tested or have a physical. This is based on
industry standards for the use of SCBAs. We have been doing it for many years,
and while yes it displaces some volunteers, it is also a free wake up call. We
have had people that had underlying problems that didn’t know until this
physical. They sure were happy to find out something was wrong and could be
treated. Additionally, this is a baseline exam for these folks to fall back on
if something were to go awry. If in one year, their hearing is fine and then in
subsequent years, they begin to have a deficit, this would be covered under
Workers Comp as it has been documented over the years.
They may also be required to perform a physical abilities test, but I would bet
it's not as difficult as the pack test.
||When I heard about the Black Hills' helitack reunion, I dug out my slides
from the 70s I took when I was working on the Custer District. Here are a couple
from the day helitack was looking for a smoke west of Custer and the engine blew
up. It was amazing that the three crew members walked (limped) away. They were
aiming for a meadow on the decent, but I think the trees broke their fall.
Still, they crashed hard as you can see--really between a rock and a hard place.
I was working the lookout on Bear Mountain that day so long ago. Okay, back to
the present. Thanks for the announcement about the new Chief. There has been no
such news sent to the agency employees yet.
This came in yesterday at noon. I don't know if word on the new chief is
out to employees yet, probably is. We often get info early . Thank goodness all
were OK on that crash. I put the pics on the
Equipment 14 photo page. Ab.
||Mineola TX Brush Truck: Mineola Unit 905, Mineola Fire Department,
Mineola , TX. During the winter we fight a lot of fires in wet areas. We have
solved the problem of getting stuck every time we respond. We added some
modifications to our F550 and it has worked very well. Photo compliments of
David Madsen. (0309)
Thanks David, nice rig. I put it on the
Engines 24 photo page. Ab.
Need some historical background for a friend. In the smokejumping world, where
did the term "stick"
originate, as in "a stick of jumpers"?
||Re Cerro Grande:
Gotta throw my 2 cents in and thank Knuckle Dragon and MF. I was on the hill
from the initiation of the prescribed fire through transition to IMT management.
There are lessons to be learned (many have become elements of policy). But to
armchair QB the decisions made on the ground is hard to stomach.
I have spoken to anyone who will listen since the foundations stopped smoking,
and I consider it an obligation to my brothers and sisters in the business to
continue to do so, hoping to help avoid a command performance of May 2000.
I will gladly share what I know with any person or group. I have always
maintained that I would make the same decision today if I were up on Cerro
Grande Peak with the information we had in hand that day. Our plan was sound and
had support all the way up to the R.O.
Gleason was a great firefighter, leader and mentor, but an even better human
being. I think of him every time I lace up my boots.
sign me- GAFiredog, Cerro Grande Veteran
||The 2nd Region 5 Forest Service "Forest Focus" podcast on the topic of "Fire" is available on the
There was a little dancing, celebrating "smiley" at the end but it
doesn't translate to this forum. Ab.
||Re: New Forest Service Chief
Tom was the Deputy RF in R-5 and was my boss
for a short time. He once told me I should consider staying
in cheaper hotels even though I was within per diem.. I’m sure you know my
response. Overall, pretty
conservative. I just hope he understands it’s the people that make or break the
organization, not the title..
||Re: New Forest Service Chief
"He is the third consecutive person promoted from Region 1 Regional Forester to
Forest History Society
Hopefully the "Boone and Crockett" folks realize a RED FLAG has been raised upon
their wrongful influence within the Forest Service selection for key Leadership
positions relating to Fire Management..... and the "stellar" performance rating
of 206 out of 216 federal agencies tells all to those interested or following
the news..... and an even more dismal rating from the public hits the message
Actions from Jack Ward Thomas and his staff in response to the South Canyon Fire
(even though well intentioned, but completely off track) got us into the mess we
are currently facing without recognizing the complexities of wildland fire and
changing environments that we work in. I fully understand the anguish and pain
the JWT and staff had in his background and decision making, but I advanced
through the ranks focusing on firefighter, community safety, and protection of
the natural resources, not protecting the NW Spotted Owl.
I personally think that the new Chief might make positive changes and do some
good if constructive communication is maintained, but I am very suspect at the
processes that put him into the process of Leadership. We'll see.
/s/ Not a Conspiracy Theorist... But a Conspiracy It Is.....
P.S. - I would be great to hear Q's comments as a past and current Leader of
federal wildland fire management. I doubt we'd ever hear anything from Ed.
P.S.S. - I'm writing this post out of pure frustration and lack of action from
Leaders from above who sit/sat silent and saw the right course, but still
allowed the ship to sail into the rocks.
Tom had a very short stay in Region 5 (2006) as the
Deputy Regional Forester for Fire and Aviation Management, Recreation,
Engineering, State and Private Forestry and Tribal Relations, before being
promoted to the Regional Forester in Region 1 in 2007.
He replaced Kent P. Connaughton who was "promoted" to Associate Deputy Chief of
State and Private Forestry in the Washington Office under "a person" who was
promoted above him with other views. Kent was instrumental in the
2003 Safety Protocol Review along with Region 5 Fire Director Ray Quintanar.
To emphasize significance, I am breaking down the weblink into pieces in how it
is stored on the FS external web server:
State and Private Forestry Redesign
||Re Vol FF Exams
I support the idea of fit firefighters. In fact let's see
more physical fitness and much safer eating habits, maybe I could quit chewing
tobacco... I am however reminded of how a dentist (who allowed himself to be
referred to as" Doctor") was allowed to develop Federal Firefighter Physical
Standards. These top of the line "off the shelf" standards of "leading" fire
service and other organizations including NFPA were used to determine our
fitness as firefighters. By the way did you know the NFPA Physical Standards
were blasted by the Justice Department for failing to base their standards on
actual firefighters, it was made up BS. (Didn't know that did ya?) This cost
qualified firefighters and their families a bundle in unnecessary retirements,
minor surgeries to correct "problems", lost hazard, overtime, again agency
morale and included attorney fees. It cost our agencies time and legal fees. And
ignored a basic first step. A baseline physical to determine the actual
functioning state of the firefighter.
The actual baseline would show that as firefighters age they may incur
hearing loss, less eyesight acuity, soreness, bad knees, less function in limbs
and, still be able "to perform the essential duties of said firefighter". So
again, a standard based on firefighters successfully performing the essential
duties of the task is what is most important, rather than a made up study of
what we think a firefighter should look like. And frankly, this was not done in
the Federal system, nor for the San Diego County Volunteers.
Take for example my case, I was essentially blinded in one eye, retired and
eventually was successful in the courts when I brought firefighters from LA
City, Long Beach, Alhambra, South Pasadena, and my own department into court who
were "similarly situated". Of course we won. Then when the federal standards
came about, again court, and we established precedent that affected Federal
Firefighters and undoubtedly helped the seven firefighters in our agency in our
region of the country who are again "similarly situated". As incidentally, were
historically firefighters of the Cleveland NF, Park Service, San Diego, and
Pontiac, Michigan all fighting for our opportunity to remain as firefighters
with this challenge. Last year I responded to over my 500 th response with no
effect to myself or other firefighters. Soooo....the issue is larger than just
I suspect what we want is a true determination of our abilities. A graduated
physical standard (we do this with Type I and Type II ICs not being Arduous, as
well as other positions) based on the position we function in. And need I say
that other major fire departments do this.
As to San Diego County and other counties across the land, a little
grandfathering and alot of compassion may achieve both the needs of remote local
communities and the bureaucracies that underestimate the little guy. I wonder,
should we become concerned when policy is determined by those who lack a world
view? Women are disproportionately victims in fire fatalities. Should we limit
women? No. More firefighters have died in the Pack Test than in structure
protection. Should we abolish the Pack Test? Should we abolish Structure
protection? (Sorry couldn't resist) And if we count aviation and wildland fire
deaths. Should we abolish organized wildland fire suppression and aviation?
Probably not. So if you will, let's remember the firefighter with the shriveled
hands, one arm, color blindness, poor hearing, one good eye, one leg who were
and, are good valuable firefighters. And what did you eat tonight ...was it
"medically" considered healthy?
||Re: New Forest Service Chief
Dear Ab and all:
Make no mistake, your voices do make a difference !
With the very quick announcement by Secretary Vilsack of a replacement (Tom
Tidwell) coupled with the recent "Best Places to Work" survey results and no
doubt the press and political pressure for the last two or so years, I would
presume there was some external pressure on the Chief.
It might be easy for the initial sentiment of many Forest Service firefighters
to be "see ya." Clearly Chief Kimbell's disdain (I really don't think that is
too harsh a word to use) for her firefighters, especially those in the West and
those who work to improve things for those firefighters is no secret.
However frequent changes in Agency leadership, whether it through a change in
Administration or other actions is not necessarily a healthy solution to a
problem and my comments are based on my experience and career having had the
opportunity and honor to serve 25 years in the fire service from a firefighter
through all the ranks, culminating as an Asst. Chief of Operations.
Personally I'm more irritated than anything that someone being afforded the rare
honor, opportunity and duty to lead the Forest Service or any other such Agency,
would squander such an opportunity to correct so many problems; fail to make any
attempt to improve things for his/her employees in a segment of the Agency's
employment population that risks their lives so often in battling wildfires then
bag out of town when the going gets tough. True leaders are hard to find. They
are especially hard to find within the federal government bureaucracy where
positions are acquired for an infinite variety of reasons.
Some true leaders, when they eventually end up in Washington, lose all semblance
of leadership and are pre-occupied with self-preservation. Chief Kimbell had
every opportunity to do incredibly good things for her firefighters. Congress,
despite our objections, gave her even more time than we felt necessary to
identify and correct long-standing problems.
Instead, the threat of regressing the Forest Service fire program to what it may
have been 30 or 40 years ago and stifling the voices of those seeking change
became the objective.
I am reminded constantly of Chief Kimbell's video to her Agency's employees
shortly after the Esperanza tragedy in which she stated that "challenging
business as usual was a virtue." However she made it very clear as did many line
officers that actually following through on that virtue, especially by
firefighters had consequences.
The Forest Service fire program, in my personal opinion, is devoid of leadership
primarily as a result of Chief Kimbell's disdain for fire. It is my sincerest
hope that among other objectives, the USDA will suggest to incoming Chief
Tidwell to listen to his firefighters and work with them to make the Agency's
fire program the place to make a wildland firefighting career while providing a
more effective and efficient response to the American taxpayer.
I remain humbled and honored to have the opportunity to harness so many of your
voices and direct them towards those who can, and ultimately will make positive
changes for all of you. In the meantime the FWFSA will extend the same courtesy
to Chief Tidwell as we did Chief Kimbell when she arrived and seek time to meet
with him on firefighter issues. It will then be up to him to demonstrate his
leadership and understanding of the absolute necessity in creating a progressive
fire program for the 21st century.
||Veg treatments in the WUI:
Just a note for they said. I hope all is well.
Pyrogeographer and Mellie,
The cost of fuels treatment is effected by slope, fuel density, location, and
the marketability of the material. In some instances the cost may vary because
some trees may have to be climbed in order to remove safely. By in large the
bulk of material removed for mitigating the effects of fire are the ladder
fuels, as you know. Most fuels treatments can be accomplished, in my experience,
at cost of $500-$1000 per acre with equipment and slightly higher for hand
The disparity in treated acreage is not because of expense but rather politics.
It is much easier for land mangers to thin a few hundred acres in a remote
watershed than areas closer to urban areas. Due in large part to the fact that
many people oppose the removal of vegetation in areas where they live and play.
Reference a case earlier this spring in Salt Lake City ( http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=6082819)
where fuels treatments were started and abruptly halted because of public
outcry. It is hard enough accomplishing meaningful fuels treatments in areas
with multiple agencies, the difficulty increases by an order of magnitude when
private holdings are integrated. Areas that are high hazard and contain denser
populations are for the most part privately held. It takes a community approach
not government intervention to be successful.
Quite frankly, it is not the government's responsibility to save communities
from poor development decisions. Government should establish standards and
provide oversight like municipalities do with building codes. As it stands now,
wildland fire codes are decades behind urban fire codes. The public's
willingness to do the things required to make their communities safer can be
described as a sin wave that rises and falls relative to the length of time
between fire events. Obviously there are more pointed questions that need to be
answered such as: the role of government, the mission of the USFS as an agency,
what responsibilities communities and developers have, and how best to approach
the problem? Until these questions are answered I think it unlikely we will see
any real improvement in the safety of the WUI.
||The Hotlist IA Forum is on Twitter. Read about it.
Recently, Engine Crew Leader types (Captains, Module Leaders, Foreman,
whatever) in Region One had our positions reviewed for the possibility of an
upgrade to the GS-8 classification of other regions. Regional fire leadership
concluded that we are not eligible for the upgrades. As you can imagine, in a
period of downward spiraling morale, this was a major blow for district folks,
especially considering the upgrades that our national resources are enjoying. We
are still trying to get through the logic in the decision process, but the
damage has been done.
Tough situation, guess we don't accomplish the same quality of work that folks
across geographic boundaries do, nor national resources. Kind of interesting
that many Forest FMOs up here were against supporting their own folks.... It's
nice to feel appreciated.
R1 Engine Boss
I was talking with some folks about the 206/216 morale rating for the Forest
Because of all that has been leading up to this, one sometimes has to
look at the comical side of this serious issue.
We came up with a possible WFF
fundraiser similar to the "Black Tuesday" wrist band fundraiser for
How about a contest for a
good slogan T-shirt/bumper sticker in regards to the 206 rating to even send the
|206 & dropping
||206 out of 216
||206 out of 216
The best slogan would be used and the sales of the shirts can be donated to
WFF. If anything, it would be interesting just to see what people come up with.
Maybe FWFSA would want to take this on...
||Firefighter fitness exam:
After reading the North County times article I feel the need to
comment. One of the Chief officers
in the article stated he did not need to be as fit as new firefighters. I call
In rural areas, when responding to structure fires, the chief officers typically
accounts for one of the
mandatory personnel for the IRIC positions. That chief must be in full PPE and
be ready to go in after
a downed FF.
If that Chief can't lift 50lbs maybe its time to give it up!! At that point you
are a liability to department
and taxpayers. If you can't pick up 50lbs, walk 3 miles than I assume that your
heart can't take the
stress of a major incident.
How about leading by example? How can chief officers preach fitness and health
to younger firefighters
while sitting there eating a bowl of ice cream? I think it is detestable to have
leaders of fire departments
use the excuse of "I stand outside the fire, so I can be fat, and eat fast
food." What a drain on the health
care industry and taxpayers. If people, chief officers included, would take an
active role in the health and
fitness maybe we would have less fatalities due to hypertension and myocardial
I think the VFDs and their chief officers should be held to the same standard as
the rest of us!
On that note, I'm going for a run!!!!!!
Fit and Healthy FF
||Does anyone have any info on the new chief? seems like they are playing this
close to their chest.
If you google "Tom Tidwell" USFS Chief you'll find lots of
articles from lots of different areas where he's worked, all centering around
yesterday's USFS press release. He's worked in many places, most recently with
Kimbell. Many report that he's good at bringing people together to resolve
thorny issues and work things out. For example, in R1 he worked with the
roadless folks and got good marks. My experience with him when he was R5 Deputy
Director of Forestry was that he was reserved in the beginning (at least with R5
fire people), but loosened up a bit with time. He did not strike me as a
political glad hander, but as an observer upon first meeting. I did not have any
interaction where he was involved in working things out. Ab.
||Dodge’s Escape Fire
Fascinating paper on Dodge’s Escape Fire. There are Vertical Wind Tunnels
available that simulate
skydiving and related body lifting which may have useful data on what it takes
to lift a person and
whether it “feels” like you were lifted even if you did not actually get off the
||Firefighter fitness exam:
I am guessing this is pack test related?
Volunteer firefighters may not
sign contracts with the county
Longtime volunteers balk at physical exam requirement
||Veg treatments in the WUI:
Perhaps another thing that figures into this is the money going from the
federal government into "Small Fire" or the Firesafe Council grants. I think
they are awarded locally here in CA through CalFire.
firesafecouncil.org and a
google search of Firesafe Council. Does anyone know more?
Without controlling for the money that goes to interface communities for veg
mgmt via other locally empowering routes, I think the study is incomplete.
firewise.org is another collection of local communities across the
country that prepare for fire on the interface. I don't know where they get
Firewise Communities is part of the National Wildland/Urban Interface
Fire Program, which is directed and sponsored by the Wildland/Urban
Interface Working Team (WUIWT) of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group,
a consortium of wildland fire organizations and federal agencies responsible
for wildland fire management in the United States.
Dennis Orbis in R5 used to be the "Small Fire" money guru. I don't know if he
reads here or would tell us about the grant process, but he used to report at
the BOD meetings. Very Nice Man, big heart! I hope he's having a good time in
||Veg treatments in the WUI
In regards to the recent post about this new paper that the media have used
to blast agencies
for not completing more treatments in the WUI, it was interesting to me that the
to use Area Treated as their primary metric. I'm just a nobody scientist, but my
has always been that lower amounts of area are treated in the WUI because it is
and if we broke it out by NUMBER of treatments, or DOLLARS spent, work in the
would far outweight non-WUI treatments.
Would those doing fuels work on the ground comment on this? If my impression is
wrong, I will
happily have learned, but if it is right, it seems a rebutal study is in order
to address the dollars
and cents metrics.
Thanks in advance for your opinions,
||Marty, re your paper Alexander, Ackerman and Baxter (2009), The Dodge Escape
Interesting stuff, even if your mathematics of the modeling is
mostly beyond me. I'd often wondered about the
accuracy or interpretation of the accounts from so long ago as 1949. Thanks for
It's amazing to me that Wag Dodge survived without visible burns and implies
others might too if in a similar
situation. In recent years the question of how big a zone -- whether safety or
survival -- has been a persistent
one in this high risk profession. It was good to have an example of one
that worked for one person. I'm glad
you included the info on whether all his guys might have survived in a burned
out space that large.
Another thing I have wondered about is Dodge's comment that he was almost
lifted off the ground three times.
And with that I've wondered if his lungs were burned even if his skin was not.
Are there any accounts that he
had difficulty breathing or lung congestion or any effects of burned lungs, 2-3
days later? Are there any other
lessons to be learned from this in that regard -- that you can "look OK"
following an ordeal like his but still be at
risk for serious respiratory complications, and what size "zone" might protect
you from lung damage due to the
heated air? It would be good to know if Wag's burned out area was adequate for
lung protection too? How much
does a wetted handkerchief and face in the dirt help?
I know any answers would involve speculation and go beyond the scope of your
paper, but I'm curious what
you think, and always questioning.
||Question: National Planning levels by days?
Does anyone know where to find a tabulation of National Planning Levels by
I know last year there was a spreadsheet that came out when PL5 hit early that
the last 5 years together.
If anyone would like to discuss the Cerro Grande fire, and
hear some facts, please give me a call. I was the USFS DFMO on the adjacent
Reality Check: Send the note you just sent me to "They said" in reference to
the standing of the USFS. Very well stated.
Left Hook: Right on response to "Bill' on his inquiry of leadership. Carky
and Ken: 35 years ago today, the 3 of us started with CDF. What a ride. To my
friend Dale: Any fire, I'd pick you to be with me. Visited with retired CDF
Ranger E. Donohue just before leaving, He was one of the best firefighters in
the history of California. I still say, and I know Dale will agree, that Grandma
Joseph and Dale's Mom could do a heck of a lot better job than most running a
fire program. Dale, you're the best firefighting AFMO in the forest service.
Jordy boy, you're the toughest Hotshot thet ever lived. Thanks to Craig Herret,
Drogo, Achison, Mike Smith, Gabbert, Rich and Scott, I learned from all of you
guys and more.
See ya Later,
Magruder Fingers (Retired)
Hah, you kept your retirement a secret from those reading here so maybe
you wouldn't be harassed too much??? Happy retirement! Ab.
||Re Ms Gail Kimbell:
Mr. abercrombie, I have 1 question. After today after
all these years, are we finally are starting to get through to our leadership? I
really commend mr. casey for everything hey has provided for our voices. He is
our soundboard from the field and continually serves in that capacity for us as
firefighters! From the los padres, I really hope now everyone on our forest is
supporting our concerns/rights as been communicated. For the ranks from the
field, Always remember like smokey once said! Be careful!
Sent from my iPhone
To now second guess what happened at Cerro Grande 9 years ago is a bit out
of line. Sure, there are lessons
to be learned but you need to be aware that you only know part of the entire
story about who did what and
when and, most importantly, why.
Careers were ruined over that event while (IMHO) the real perpetrators of the
organizational problem that
led to that event not only went scot free they ended up with big promotions and
learned nothing about the fact
that underlying organizational failure was the root cause. Many of them are
still amongst us.
Be sensitive to the fact that many of us true firefighters who were either
directly or indirectly involved in that
event have serious regrets about it but were not individually responsible for
the catastrophic falling of dominoes
that occurred and ensued for years after. And the dominoes are still in
Paul Gleason was a great firefighter and a great friend. He was only trying to
help out and assume true leadership
where it was sorely needed. God rest his soul.
||Cerro Grande Fire:
What I noticed was they brought fire all the way down
to the road on the west flank leaving continuous fuel
downwind to the east. It
ran across the flats with the wind!
If they stayed up on the hill the fire would of been influenced by the slope and
terrain to draw up the center
of the burn. Up the drainage to the slop-over and
where the helitorch worked.
I think starting fire where it took off was the mistake that broke the camel's
back. Too much fuel downwind,
plus the wind has a direct line at it. Should of
burned from east to west to finish the bottom; and make sure the
fuel burned. Where's that Helitorch!
The original investigation talked about a double-black line. I've never heard of
one, but I assume they use a
bunch of fuel to burn flashy fuel next to the
control line and did two swaths leaving a dirty burn. They were
getting it to carry.
Lessons Learned has a Cerro
Grande PDF I haven't seen yet. I'm curious if it mentions this!
||A NEW ECC for the USFS??
How about combining USFS DOI CALFIRE and CA OES under ONE Large umbrella and ONE
This is another study in brick and mortar for a funding source. Maybe R5
should FOLLOW the CWPP method
of getting the buyin' from ALLLLLLLLL around the Region and not just playing in
the FS sandbox.. USFS does
not need more buildings.. THEY NEED to cement BETTER relationships with EVERYONE
They really do not need another study for ECCs; there's plenty others to tie
into and work with OTHERS
especially in the emergency management field....
USFS ever hear of SHARED resources and even more sharing of buildings and
C'mon now .... REALLY???
||New Chief of FS
The Tidwell announcement is coming in from many people.
Tidwell 1 (on a Friday) and
Tidwell 2 (Washington attire)
Chief to retire on July 1, 2009.
No name please
I, for one, wish her the best in retirement. Ab.
||AGRICULTURE SECRETARY VILSACK NAMES NEW CHIEF FOR U.S. FOREST SERVICE
Tom Tidwell brings 32 Years of Experience Working to Protect Our Nation's
WASHINGTON, June 17, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today
announced that Tom Tidwell will serve as the new Chief for the U.S. Forest
"Tom Tidwell's 32 years of experience in our forests and impressive track
record of collaboration and problem-solving will help us tackle the great
challenges ahead," said Vilsack.
Tidwell has spent 32 years with the Forest Service in a variety of positions.
He began his Forest Service career on the Boise National Forest, and has since
worked in eight different national forests, across three regions. He has worked
at all levels of the agency in a variety of positions, including District
Ranger, Forest Supervisor, and Legislative Affairs Specialist in the Washington
Tidwell's field experience includes working from the rural areas of Nevada
and Idaho all the way to the urban forests in California and the Wasatch-Cache
National Forest in Utah, where he served as Forest Supervisor during the 2002
Winter Olympics. He also has extensive fire experience, beginning as a
firefighter, and accumulating nineteen years as an agency administrator
responsible for fire suppression decisions.
"We thank Gail Kimbell for her leadership and deep commitment to protecting
our nation's forests," Vilsack added.
USDA FS News Release
Did anyone besides me notice that the "test burn" done for the cerro grande
rx did not take place
under the conditions they were going to burn under? (6/14 post)
A test burn
should be done on the same or a similar conditions to the ones you're going to
burning under, including the same slope, aspect time of day unless the
conditions are wind and then
you shouldn't be burning....
Look at where the "test" fire was set and look at where the rx was set.
People we have to do
better than this.
||Dodge’s Escape Fire
I'd like to share the attached paper with your readership. This paper was
presented at the recent
IAWF Wildland Fire Safety held in Phoenix, AZ during the last week in April.
Comments etc are
of course welcome.
Alexander, Ackerman and Baxter (2009). Dodge Escape Fire Analysis (4422 K
I look forward to reading it. Ab.
||Directors calling folks "whiners??"
That is TRUE LEADERSHIP now isn't it??
||Hey h, bet you haven't seen this one yet. Agenda Item for next weeks RLT
meeting in R5. Looks like they're going to contract out another study.
Name withheld please.
Pacific Southwest Regional Leadership Team Meeting
Agenda Topic Abstract Form
Date of Meeting: June 23-25, 2009
Subject: Emergency Communication Center (ECC) Update
Speakers: Willie Thompson, Marion Matthews and Rita Wears
Objective of Presentation:
( ) Disseminate Information
( ) Scoping – Getting input/information
( x ) Obtaining Decision – Problem statement, objective, alternatives and
proposed recommendation as outlined in abstract
Time needed for presentation: 30 minutes
Time anticipated for discussion: 30 minutes
BRIEF ABSTRACT OF PRESENTATION (Include the background, proposed actions,
recommendations and discussion points if applicable):
The Regional Leadership Team in February directed that a steering committee be
formed to address Emergency Communication Center issues. The committee was
formed and has developed an action plan to modernize and improve the operational
efficiency of the centers, with safety being the leading principle. The steering
committee developed a short term and long term action plan.
Short Term Action Plan: Emergency Communication Center Mission
Long Term Action Plan: Contract out specifications to provide a
range of alternatives and cost comparisons for Region 5, which promote
efficiency in staffing and certainty in field employee safety.
Decision needed: Approve/disapprove short and long term action plans
Region Five Emergency Communication Centers
A Need for Modernization and Improvement
During the February Regional Leadership Team meeting, it was identified that
there is a critical need to modernize and improve the operational efficiency of
Emergency Communication Centers (ECC) throughout the Region. Given that ECCs are
critical to the safety of employees in the field and to the effectiveness of the
agency’s emergency management, the RLT considers resolution of this issue to be
a significant priority.
A decision was made to form a steering committee led by representatives from
fire and law enforcement that would develop an action plan to modernize ECC
operations as necessary to meet current and future needs. This would be
presented at the June RLT as a short term and long term action plan.
The steering committee was formed with a member from Fire Management, Law
Enforcement, Information Technology, Emergency Communication Center and the
Regional Leadership Team/Line. Two Action Plans were developed for decisions and
are as follows:
Short Term Action Plan:
To develop and implement a mission statement that will be utilized by all Region
5 ECCs. This mission statement will immediately set the tone and expectations of
the RLT. In turn, this will help to reduce friction and inconsistencies and
ensure vital communication to all field-going personnel. This should immediately
improve safety for our employees.
Proposed Mission Statement:
The principal mission of the Pacific Southwest Region Emergency Command Centers
(ECC) is to serve as the vital communication connection for all field-going
personnel as they perform the agency’s mission. ECCs provides efficient
communication; support for “all-risk” incidents; and is the critical link to
ensure the safety of all personnel.
Proposed Action/Decision: The Regional Forester would send a letter to the field
implementing this mission statement along with his expectations to ensure the
safety of all field going personnel.
Long Term Action Plan:
To develop contract specifications to provide a range of alternatives and cost
comparisons for Region 5 Emergency Communication Centers (ECC’S) which promote
efficiency in staffing and certainty for field employee’s safety.
Region Five Emergency Communication Centers
A Need for Modernization and Improvement
This contract would be developed incorporating input from field personnel and
established committees. Analysis items have been developed that are not all
inclusive. These would be further defined prior to the implementation of the
Some analysis items include:
With current technology, would it be possible and economically feasible to
consolidate the 17 ECC’s and 2 Geographic Coordination Centers (GACC’s) into a
smaller number of centers and still maintain unit specific communications. Some
- At the Province scale: 5 plus 2 GACC’s
- One Super ECC for entire Region
- One Super-center for Region 5 Law Enforcement organization
- Additional configuration of ECC’s to meet Region 5 needs.
- Determine what, if any, loss of services if consolidation of ECC’s were
to take place.
- Given current Standard Module Configuration (SMC), what would the
staffing need to be to adequately provide ECC services for all employees on
a 24/7 schedule
An additional needs assessments would also need to be accomplished, for example:
Priority calls, alternative net for LEI, incident number increases and funding
Proposed Action/Decision Items: Move forward towards implementation of a
contract. Additionally, the steering committee would remain intact to:
- Assist in reviewing the contract;
If the contract is implemented, the steering committee would provide the
informational conduit from contract personnel to the field.
I'm putting the file
HERE for future reference. Ab.
This came up in Science Daily. Lots of very interesting things also linked on
Fire Mitigation Work In Western US Misplaced, Says New Study
ScienceDaily (June 15, 2009) — Only 11 percent of wildfire mitigation
efforts undertaken as a result of a
long-term federal fuels-reduction program to cut down catastrophic wildfire
risk to communities have been
undertaken near people's homes or offices in the past five years, says a new
study led by the University of
Colorado at Boulder.
||Lack of leadership:
Several years ago we had a temporary manager come into the nursery. He
was part of the management team
on the forest. He says to me, "Brian, I don't sense any leadership here at the
nursery." I looked him in the eye
and said, "Bill, I don't see any leadership in the Forest Service." He walked
Sincerely: Left Hook
||Engines on Corral Creek: Miles City, MT BLM IA Engine Module. Badger
Creek Wildfire BC1 & BLM E261 Corral Creek Fire. Photo compliments of WDB.
Engines 24 photo page. Ab.
Check out FIRESCOPE document at
links to ICS Manuals on Fireline Emergencies
Document under ICS Downloads ICS 223-10. Line EMT is a great position that is
often UTF, but
CalChiefs complained years ago that people being sent to incidents were not
meeting some of the
requirements as in Arduous, PPEs. and proper EMT packs, etc. Several companies
now make a
dedicated EMT pack. Google and you will find several available, but it will
probably mean some
||After reading the 'directive" put out by Moore
Here is a STRONG suggestion.....get with real aviation operations that do
airport work YEAR AROUND.
Consult with the FAA, NATA, AOPA, All the airport and airport MANAGEMENT trades.
Leaving the decisions up to the Washington types for this type of world sets the
Forest Service up for alot of criticism.
Leave the airport and airport ramp business up the REAL aviation professionals
that do this on a day to day basis to include the existing ramp personnel and us
civilians out here that ARE NOT affiliated with "USFS Aviation Management"
Consult the USAF, US Army, USMC, and US Navy on airfield management and use
their safety and ORM requirements and apply it your operation(s). The USFS
treats this like rocket science and thinks that answers originate out of those
Get your facts from the field and others before you commit to a razzle dazzle
way of putting things together. To think that "ANALYSIS" from USFS DC is going
to get it...is thinking awful highly of themselves and IMHO, completely
Airport management has been around for years and so has airport safety, consult
the professionals and let see the USFS start managing the land as its intended
purpose and let aviation management be done by the truly educated in aviation
management......,,Those with the degrees (BS, MS and PhD) with Aviation
management and not just some "deciders" in DC thinking of analysis and thinking
all of a sudden, needs to be a CLEAR LINE between ATB OPERATIONS and the
THAT should have been delineated A LONG TIME AGO... ALSO when you rewrite the IABOG include what industry does for safety and ORM
How does the USFS think major airport operations OPERATE??? Tanker base
operations are pretty similar to busy airport operations... the only
difference APPEARS that there are batch plants, mix plants, dry and liquid
retardant storage, hoseskates, etc am I right???
So please tell me the real difference between civilian airport operations and
USFS ATB operations??
USFS should stop trying to reinvent the safety, ORM, ATB quals, RAMP quals, and
whatnot... just shows they too much time and taxpayer money to throw around
when there are TRUE aviation pros that work airport operations EVERRRRRY DAY not
just some seasonal operation. START CONSULTING OUTSIDE OF THE USFS HALLS in DC
and get with it ... This continuous back and forth in DC directives is
"gonna" get somebody killed while your still playing with all those analyseees!!!!!
||Re: Leadership and Leaders Intent.... and calling BS where BS is due (aka
Refusing An Assignment or Direction, IRPG)
Mr. R-5 Fire Director,
On the Monday morning BOD/Fire Management Conference Call, you referenced
"whiners". Could you please elaborate more as that term isn't found anywhere in
the Leadership Curriculum (L-180 through L-580)? Most of the actual BOD members
(FMOs or delegates) and contributors (Line Officers and District Fire Staff)
were disgusted with your commentary as being severely detached from reality of
what is actually happening on the local units. We'd like you to be more engaged
and present the ideas of the BOD (it was formed for a reason). We'd like to see
you be successful and support you, but the track record hasn't been so great
since you took the Deputy Fire Director, and then the Fire Director position in
R-5. I'll be honest, you haven't filled the shoes.
We were pleased to see you actually sign in and participate for a change, but
with comments like that, you are not providing any type of leadership or
support..... just another barrier. In the next BOD/Fire Management Conference
Call, is there something you'd like to say? You are in a Leadership Position....
I apologize for being blunt.
Tom Harbour.... same commentary to you. You are in a place to make a difference.
Don't retire in place. You are in a key Fire Leadership position... either
lead... or get out of the way!!
Ref: Ask a Conference Call participant for verification, need, and/or
confirmation of the above. The R-5 BOD and Forest/District leadership
organizations are fit to be tied at the 206 out of 216 status.... but we already
||This type of blatant promotion cannot stand unchallenged. There has to be
some “informed” people in referenced regions that can help dispute the
assumptions laid out in this PPT.
I am fearful of how easy it is for the government to turn to contracting to get
things done after struggling to do the work with nothing for the last 30 years.
We have been RIF’d, centralized, downsized and reorganized until we are numbed
to think any help is better than no help. Why is growing the organization not
There are so many things wrong with that ppt., it needs bigger response than I
can give it on They Said. But I have to vent.
Many of the claims that are made use vague language such as, often, can, may, or
could. The sources are pro-contractor associations. The majority of the people
who contributed information have a professional interest in seeing acquisition
and contracting grow. The websites below were listed as sources for more
information. They don’t hide their intentions - to promote for profit private
The third site, IAWFonline.org gave me a malware warning.
After looking at the solicitation, I can’t help but have an ah ha moment and
recall the findings of the dispatch “efficiency study” where one of the main
recommendations was to divide the aspects of dispatch so that work can be
accurately measured and compared to private sector work. I fear the slow grind
of the people who advocate private sector for profit encroachment into the all
aspects of firefighting as they slice up the agency and sell it to the highest
bidder. Now I see they are grouping positions to squeeze out the AD’s and direct
the work to corporate entities. I can see Halliburton and the TESCO trucks
pulling into camp now. Infuriating!
Part of me wants to say, “That’s it, that counts for three bad days in a row…I’m
out of here!” However, as angry and frustrated as, I still have pride in what I
do and think we are the best at what we do. Someone needs to say something… I
need to say something!
Casey, NFFE and everyone else, a collective response is needed. The growth of
private enterprise into public safety, and for that matter, resource management,
is as big a problem as any issue facing us. We can’t expect ptp or pay parity if
there are no jobs to be had. Some things should not be for profit enterprises
and firefighting is one of them.
/s/ Beth G. Pendleton (for)
When is this nonsense going to stop? Will Randy Moore ever actually sign a
letter of direction or correspondence? Will other "leaders" providing LEADERS
INTENT actually sign memos coming out of their offices in the RO and WO? Pretty
hard to understand LEADERS INTENT if there is no leadership and/or buy in.
The actions of the RO and WO "leadership" over the last several years with Xxxxx
X. Xxxx (for) LINE OFFICER signatures raises a big 'ole
RED FLAG that folks versed in Risk
Assessment and Organizational Risk Management (not to be confused with the
Operational Risk Management talking points that are currently circulating) are
well versed upon.
If they have time to review or approve a memo or correspondence, or provide a
directive, they should have the time to affix their signature to it as such
(Ref: John Hancock)... If it is worth stating as a POLICY or DIRECTION, it is
well worth having the actual decision makers signature on the books.
The districts and forests are on board and working towards a common end state
goal in many areas..... What does it take to get the RO's and WO on board
recognizing the needs of the field in performing their local missions?
The field (Districts and Forests) are not an enemy of the RO and WO.... We are
just the folks that actually perform and complete the Agency mission.
||Topics: Air base Staffing, ABEA Report "do over" and Reload Base Activations
to be performed by GACC's. .
To Mare Island - Most of us don't spend any time knowing ourselves. We just keep
reacting - Jewel Kilcher
File Code: 5700
Date: June 8, 2009
Subject: Air Tanker Base Management
To: Forest Supervisors
Forest Service policy requires aviation managers to follow the direction
included within a list of guides found in FSM 5706. Among these is the
Interagency Airtanker Base Operations Guide (IABOG), NFES 2271, where the
following guidance is found: “When an airtanker is present at the base a
minimum of two qualified personnel are required.” The Guide does not
specify what the qualifications of the two personnel must be, but one can infer
that at least one of them must be a qualified Airtanker Base Manager. One can
also infer that the purpose of the on-scene personnel is both administrative and
operational. The Guide goes on to say that “Airtanker Base Managers must
anticipate the need for and request additional personnel during periods of high
activity and/or complexity.”
Because no clear line has been drawn between airtanker base operations safety
and the organization identified in the IABOG we have asked the Washington Office
to perform a national Systems Safety Analysis of airtanker base operations. Our
hope is that the analysis will help us better identify the kind of oversight and
management required to ensure safe retardant loading and related airtanker
Until that analysis is completed, and in view of the guidance found in the IABOG,
I am directing that every airtanker base on which Forest Service personnel
and/or aircraft operate will have a qualified Air Tanker Base Manager (ATBM)
assigned to manage it. Predicated on the airtanker base configuration and unique
characteristics the assigned ATBM will determine the qualifications of the
second person identified in the IABOG, and have this person on scene prior to
any airtanker loading operation. The type of qualifications may include Parking
Tender, Ramp Manager, etc. Neither of these personnel need be Forest Service,
but must be qualified in accordance with Forest Service policy. I need you to
ensure that bases under your authority meet these requirements.
On a second issue, I believe there is a need to review and, if needed, to revise
the 2006 Airtanker Base Efficiency Analysis (ABEA). While I believe the data and
analysis are acceptable, I want to be more inclusive of stakeholders and
cooperators in the development of the answer. Further, I believe there is a need
to consider CalFire assets and mission in the analysis. I have directed that
this be accomplished in time for a 2010 implementation. In the interim, we will
implement the ABEA as it is written, and management responsibility for existing
full-service and reload bases will remain with the host Forests. These are:
Full-Service Base Host Forest
San Bernardino BDF
Lancaster (FOX) ANF
Reload Base Host Forest
Santa Maria LPF
Finally, just as with airtankers themselves, reload base activation is not a
local unit or Incident Management Team prerogative. Activation of reload bases
is the responsibility of the appropriate Geographical Area Coordination Center (GACC).
When necessary, the GACC will activate the base through the host forest.
Please share this information with your staff, cooperators, incoming IMTs and
others that have a need to know. Regardless of the issues on the table, let’s
ensure our intent to protect our employees from harm while being as effective
and efficient as we can with these costly assets forms the centerpiece for our
actions. I rely on you to provide the appropriate oversight to see that it
happens as we intend.
/s/ Beth G. Pendleton (for)
cc: pdl r5 fam
Willie R Thompson
||Pandemic Flu Briefing:
H1N1 Pandemic Flu Status Update put out by Michelle Reugebrink, R5 Safety
is circulating behind the scenes. Ab.
I was just wondering what kind of additional training and
certification a line emt on fires would
need and how does someone go about becoming one. Ive seen alot of municipal FF's
position but is there any other way of becoming one? Any info would be
Sent from my iPhone
I'll post this on the hotlist too. There are some emt threads there. Ab
||Completely agree with RogueDrogue. I no longer will visit the Lessons
Learned site until removed
and or explained what lessons the contractor and I are learning by reading the
ppt. Nothing in the
ppt relates to safety, learning or improving on the ground effectiveness. This
to me is offensive and
in your face.
Would LLC allow for a rebuttal ppt? Any thoughts Paula?
Keep the 4th Floor/DC Politics out of my Lesson Learning
||Thanks to Casey:
Just a little personal note here, to thank you for everything you're doing for
the community at large,
and specifically, for my first love, the Big Green. One of my real regrets is
that I eventually tired of
bangin' my head on the wall, and left. Shouldn't have.
We all know that we typically avoid growing beyond our personal comfort level.
And we all know
that it's about bloomin' time that the FS face realities, and grow beyond my era
with them... the '70's and '80's.
(Sorry, just found myself standing on my soap box. Hang on...)
Back on track: if we'd had an FWFSA, and you to represent us, I'd have stuck it
out, and would
now be looking toward eventual retirement.
Not to minimize the efforts of the NFFE, or Mark Davis (simply don't know you
guys); the necessary
changes have, and will continue to be, a result of dedication and combined
effort. Everyone must
speak as one voice.
Just a little personal "THANK YOU, CASEY", for all that you do for my adopted
Hear, Hear! Ab.
||I've been very very impressed over the years with the informative things the
Center has put on their site.
Composition of Firefighting Resources ppt is definitely NOT one of them....
While reading it, one can't help but think throughout the whole document "well,
Very one sided and biased.
||Dear Ab & All:
Given the recent letter from Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell on her concerns
over the recent
"Best Places to Work" and the Forest Service' dismal ranking, the FWFSA has once
[emphasis added] sent her a letter offering to meet with her in an attempt to
find some consensus
on the reforms we feel are necessary to make the fire program stronger as well
cost-effective and efficient. We have also sent a copy of this letter (attached)
Secretary Vilsack and USDA Undersecretary Jay Jensen as well as key members of
||Per diem question
For those ADs (especially BLM sponsored ADs) that have
been on a fire assignment this season, how
long did it take you to receive your per diem checks?
Just seems like it is taking longer this season than in past ones. I've been
waiting over 5 weeks and nothing
||re: LLC contractor powerpoint
That's certainly one guess at what the future holds, but not one that I would
bet on, especially given the
emphasis being placed on job training in an expanded AmeriCorps labor force. My
bet is on something
like a return to the CCC days.
There is a powerpoint I've been looking for that I believe was posted to
Theysaid a few years ago. It was
put together by a Mark Rey's timber lobby buddies. If I recall correctly, one
slide showed Rey's head on
a beaver body cutting down the tree on the FS logo. If anybody has a copy, it's
Hopefully, the next under-secretary of Agriculture will try to re-build the FS
to what it can be, if not what
it once was.
I never saw that one, so it's not posted here. Ab.
The contractor propaganda powerpoint you shared isn’t worthy of the LLC and what
it is supposed
to stand for. It has been clear for some time that our current “leaders” would
just as soon contract
out the entire fire program and turn fire managers into contracting officer
One of their stated reasons for contracting is to shift the liability for
injuries and fatalities from the
agency to the contractors. This may be smart from a business standpoint, but
what does this say
about our organization’s morals? Are we exempt from blame when a contractor dies
it isn’t an agency employee?
I’m really disgusted with our current direction. The Gail and Hank show is still
trying to sell us their
bankrupt “philosophy.” I hope we can get some relief soon from the new
This has to be a quick report – my daughter’s getting married this
weekend and I’m going to walk away from the long hours for awhile. I’m sorry I
haven’t had the time to report back on what’s been happening – it’s happening
faster than I can keep up.
But I wanted to say a quick word about our collaboration with FWFSA. I
finally had the honor to meet Casey in person in March when NFFE FSC President
Ron Thatcher and I were in DC for his testimony on factors affected employee
morale. At this time and over the phone we worked to coordinate our message to
make sure we were speaking with one voice on key issues for maximum
effectiveness on the Hill. Our brief dealing with wildland firefighter issues is
nffe-fsc.org. Those familiar with the FWFSA
discussion draft will notice major similarities. This is not by accident. Three
of the four issues we decided to prioritize were coordinated with the FWFSA
draft based on our discussions with Casey. The four issues were:
- Stopping the clear and present danger of one-size-fits-all use of
GS-0401 for fire management positions and properly classifying firefighters
and fire managers
- Implementing an ordered standby (24-pay) pay system for firefighting
personnel in closed camps – thus establishing pay equity AND improved
administrative control and safety
- Protecting safety witness statements to create a true no-fault
environment in which candid disclosures and discussions can lead to improved
- Stopping temporary hiring abuse, in which employees are re-hired for
years and even decades without pension, health care, or other benefits, and
allowed those who have been exploited to buy back their time
Nineteen union members carried this message to the Hill the week of May 11.
Then, in the few weeks since our return, administration actions that we had been
pushing for years both happened within weeks. Then, last week, I was back to DC
again. I met with key Congressional staff, an OPM Deputy Chief of Staff, and the
Deputy Undersecretary Jay Jensen and several of his staff. This follow-up visit
was specifically to push for administrative reform (getting more support back to
the field), classification reform, and protecting safety witness statements. Not
because the other issues are any less important, but because timing is important
in politics and the door was temporarily open for these.
I will try to follow up with specifics as time allows. But there’s still work
to do to follow up on these two visits to DC. And the fact that the dice haven’t
stopped spinning yet. And there’s my daughter’s wedding. And the fact I just
plain need a vacation. I’ll post when I can. The summary: we’ve made some
progress, identified some obstacles, and there’s still a ton of work to do. The
ship of state don’t turn on a dime – especially when it’s guppies like us
pushing on it. But God bless the US of A – where at least we got a shot.
But before signing off I want to say again how much I appreciate the efforts
of Casey and FWFSA. We have slightly different constituencies and slightly
different approaches, but we are working for pretty much the same outcome: a
better working environment and a better agency. What he does makes my work
easier. What I do helps him advance his cause. We’re in this fight together. And
we’ll keep at it. In particular, I’ll be reaching out to see how we can work
together to move the major issues that are currently stuck on the Hill forward.
Please send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Even if you post them here too,
I'm less likely to miss them if they're cc'd there.
Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
Thanks, Mark. Everyone
working together will get 'er done! Have a great wedding event! We had one of
those a week ago. Fun! Ab.
||Message from Krs who can build equipment for you...
Could you post this for me please?
So last week I was up at the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest's Type
3, 4, and 5 Incident Commander Meeting doing my presentation about
snag awareness & in said presentation I mention the tools I've made
for various crews & how I can make more if so requested. (see one
Well, afterward I was talking to some of the guys out in the
parking-lot & Jeff Dimke of Entiat Hotshots handed me his 'pocna. It
was *Heavy*. I checked it out & he'd welded about 5 pounds of steel
plate to it. "I want 20 of these. I just don't have the time to make
'em." he said. "I can do that, just get me the shovels" was the
So now I'm still traveling doing the presentation thing, but Fedex has
dropped 20 shovels off at my house. (I hope in such a place that I can
get in the door...) So when I get back I'm going to make them into
Heavy pocnas & send 'em back.
I know you guys want tools- and I also know you don't have the time to
Well guess what. I have the time and the ability. So want something
like a heavy 'pocna or some kind of new & higher-speed something? Get
ahold of me, describe what you want or even better send me a demo
model & if I can make it get me the donor tools & I'll get the job
How much do I want? Tell you what. I'll make the tools & when I return
the finished items I'll include an invoice for my materials & it will
state how much time I spent. You fill in what you think that time is
worth & give the whole thing to your check-writer. You see here's the
thing: I know you're not going to gyp me & I don't want some crew
saying "We'd love some sweet tools, but we cannot afford them with
current cutbacks & the budget & whatever". So if you're low on funds,
give what you can. If you're not, well give what you can as well.
Maybe we can trade a few pieces of toy-hose or something for part of
the bill. I'm fairly easy.
So now's your chance to get those tools made you want but just haven't
the time. I have the summer off school & I'm itching for a few worthy
The LLC sends out lots of info.... some good... some bad.... some ???what???
As an example of the awful, I present the Safenet program as a failed example of
a well intentioned
program, but little support from the land management Agencies in addressing
corrective actions provided
from the "field" firefighters who have taken the time to "self report".
As an example of positive success, I present recent advances in Doctrine,
and efficiency of Agency fire mission(s).
The LLC will always be one step behind "real world commo", as They Said always
and experts communicating as equal peers behind the scenes focused on the end
Sorry if I misspoke in any way. Tired of getting beat up by friends.
Thanks for your contributions here and behind the scenes,
Lobotomy. Good research. Great helping. Ab.
||Here's a spectacular NV DOF fire engine and dozer photo. What a backdrop!
I just posted it on the
Engines 24 photo page.
Found this on the Lessons Learned site in Feb. Have you seen it? I
don't see it now, but that could be me.
PS in the context of the FS
solicitation of fire resources maybe this has always been the plan...
The Changing Composition of Firefighting Resources ppt (766 K ppt file)
||Some historical patches from Pyro on the
Logos16 photo page including two patches from Rose Valley Flight Crew on the
LPF years ago, a Filmore Fire Patch from 1995 and an Evergreen patch from 1978.
Also more historical Engines photos on the on the
Engines 23 photo page. Ab.
||The Lessons Learned Center is sending out news emails if you want to get
on their mailing list. Maybe you can get your news from them in a more timely
fashion than from us. Seriously, I think it's about their recent releases. Ab.
||Good afternoon – Here’s a pic of Kansas Forest Service’s newest Type 6
engine, Engine 62.
Feel free to include in photos if you want.
Thanks, Eric, I put it on the
Engines 24 photo page. Ab.
||Helicopter dipping photo from Chile, compliments of Claudio J. Concha
Rodríguez, Ingeniero Forestal, Jefe de Operaciones.
Thanks, muchas gracias,
Claudio. La foto está aquí. :
Helicopters 27. Ab.
Here are some cool photo's I shot in 2007 at the Pend O'reille dam fire near
Trail, BC, Canada.
Williams Lake, BC
Have A Good Day.
Thanks, Aaron. I put them on
Helicopters 27 photo page. Ab.
Welcome to the world of Congress and politics. I'm surprised I still have hair
on my head from pulling it out!
Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA) who offered to carry the bill met with
firefighters on the Cleveland NF a couple of weeks ago and reiterated his
commitment to the reforms the FWFSA has offered in our legislative draft. He
also indicated that with the change in Administration he felt that with a
renewed ability to actually communicate with the Executive Branch, some of the
issues might be able to be resolved simply through dialogue. He also offered to
set up meetings with Forest Chief Gail Kimbell and others and bring in the
FWFSA. He was not at all thrilled that the issues brought up by firefighters
which reached the Chief have been met with no action whatsoever.
According to Filner's staff, the Legislative Counsel felt our draft was a bit
convoluted. My candid response was that apparently the Legislative Counsel
didn't think an 11,000 page stimulus bill that few in Congress actually read was
We have also been working with Representatives of the National Federation of
federal Employees (NFFE) to secure their support for the main issues of the
bill, i.e. firefighter classification, PTP, liability and buy-back time. They
have also met with Filner's staff and I think we are all on the same page.
At present I'm trying to find out if the Legislative Counsel is going to put
some language together, whether we need to consolidate some of our language etc.
I am hopeful I'll know more this week. This is not an easy process and I
sincerely appreciate everyone's patience.
Thanks for your work and persistence, Casey. It matters. Ab.
||Some new photos of logos and engines from the Ukiah Valley Fire District.
Thanks Brandon. I put them on the
Engines 24 photo pages.
From JW, the Lassen NF E-14 logo on Logos 16. Thanks, Jason.
Also a fire start photo of the 146 Fire, from a house on Pariaso Vinyards,
west of Soledad CA. Thanks Matt. Fires that begin on private lands can spread to
public. I put it on
Fires 40 photo page. Ab.
||It's the ground pounders that put the fire out.
Air tanker drops in
wildfires are often just for show
Please let me know if you use this and how to access it.
||Biscuit Fire Behavior Comments
In response to Mikef's questions on the
Biscuit Fire, I had a few
suggestions on where and who to ask for further information on the fire
behavior during the blow-up day of July 28. That day was one when "all
the stars were in alignment" for a truly explosive fire behavior event.
I cannot recall how many IMTs and fire management Zones were active on
that day, but the two major divisions of the Biscuit Fire were the east
and west areas separated by the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area. The west
side of the fire was heavily influenced by the marine influences of the
Pacific Ocean, and by the corresponding vegetative response. The
majority of the fire's growth that day was within the Wilderness and
generally located in the drier east side.
The public record for the Biscuit Fire is vast and I understand
digitally available. One of the first guides I would look and ask for
(from the Rogue River - Siskiyou National Forest) would be the Fire
Danger Pocket Cards for the various zones or areas of the fire for that
day. I'm sure the indicators are off the chart in terms of percentile
and averages for that day of the year.
One could also search the various Incident Action Plans (IAPs) for those
impressive fire growth days and identify the fire behavior analyst
and contact him/her for further questions before, during and after the
blow-up days. There are many eyewitnesses for those events but I'm not
sure how beneficial their accounts would be. Pictures tell another part
of the story and have been saved by the Forest.
I have since retired from the Forest Service, but remain active as a
Public Information Officer, so I suggest that you start by contacting
the Forest PAO for further information and access to the public records.
Hope this helps,
Thanks Lasagna. Ab.
I am thinking Tony may be easy to contact as he has a T-2 team in the
Southwest. In fact if I am not mistaken,
it is Glens old team that was the first T-2 team in that effort.
I can tell you one quick story from that day. I can remember the ATGS
requesting retardant to help keep the
fire from possibly hurting some civilians that had found a way into Babyfoot
Lake. He requested the load of
mud with a Priority 1 request and was told there were 2 other priority requests
in ahead of him. This was
eminent threat to life.
That was a very interesting day.
||Tony Sciacca is the IC for the Central West Type II Team here in AZ. He
the Feds and now works for the Prescott FD. You will be able to reach him there.
Thanks, Mike. Ab.
||Don't know if anyone is still following this one. Tom
Hot suspect in Old
09:58 PM PDT on Friday, June 12, 2009
By PAUL LAROCCO
Special Section: Wildfires
A suspect in the catastrophic Old Fire has been behind bars on unrelated
felonies almost as long
as the flames have been out.
Now, after nearly six years, prosecutors are close to deciding whether that
man will face charges
in the blaze, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the
The San Bernardino County district attorney's office is reviewing a murder
and arson case against
Rickie Lee Fowler, 27, a convicted burglar, the sources said.
They requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak about the
much more including a photo of the accused.
||Does anyone know when the new Legislation presented by the FWFSA will be
presented and voted upon
||Biscuit Blowup 2002:
From ht posted on the
Monster in the Woods
As I understand it, the original is also posted in a volume of Fire
Management Today. ht posted a link but not the right volume of the
publication. Check back in case he finds it. Ab.
||Initial Impressions from the Northern California 2008 Lightning Siege
report by a Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center Information Collection Team
Initial Impressions of the NorCal 2008 Lightning Siege (pdf)
The LLC is an awesome source of info, facts, data, peer review, and lessons
Original Fedwatcher and contributor
||Biscuit Blowup 2002:
We had several crews that were the first crews who IA the Biscuit Fire. If MikeF
wants some first hand accounts I could hook him up with our crew bosses. We also
had a helicopter in the early days.The pilot who is now retired would be more
than happy to give some accounts. There was also a infrared company who was
doing some experimental infrared work with NASA infrared technology that may
have some interesting pictures of some of the blow ups during the first 30 days.
He can call me at 541-4xx-xxxx
Hope all is well
That would be great, Mike, many thanks! I forwarded your email with
Also, in a post yesterday Bob suggested Tony Sciacca (who was OSC then).
Anyone have his contact info?
Anyone have contact info for the fire staff on the RRF/SIF for info or for the
Biscuit chronology? [Fire started on the
Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
near or in
the Kalmiopsis Wilderness .]
Perhaps firefighters from the
Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF)
would be another good group to contact. Anyone reading here?
Northwest Timber Fallers?
Lasagna, if you're reading do you have any
ideas? You were dialed in with everyone there in those days. Was Randy Herrin
(sp?), another FBAN, anyhow involved with watching that fire behavior? I know
many of you have retired, but the good stuff stays with you.
Others? Call or email your friends. Email me please with ideas or contact info.
There's only 3 degrees of separation among wildland firefighters, ya know!
Who would likely have the "Monster in the Woods" article?
Photo page on the Biscuit
Fire to jog people's memories:
Photo description and
If you want to read mikef's original email research request and view the
links he provided, click HERE to skip down. Ab.
||Biscuit Blowup 2002:
Firehorse still reads "Theysaid" everyday. Had nothing to do with Biscuit
Haw, Haw, old Original, glad you're still out there. I thought
you sent in some of the pics of the town hall meetings and might'a seen
||> From the
Lessons Learned Center Newsletter:
Standing Accountable - Lessons Learned from Cerro Grande. (32 Minutes)
Paul Gleason's insights on Type 3 IC decision making and other lessons learned
from the Cerro Grande Prescribed fire escape. Presented to a S-490 Advanced
Wildland Fire Behavior Calculation class in Fort Collins, Colorado on January
A must watch for anyone/everyone involved as an IC, Burn Boss, or
Fire Manager..... or for Line Officers providing "oversight" to the fire program
after their one-week training class. Gail, Hank, Tom, and Ed should watch it
Officials Close in on 2003 "Old Fire" Suspect
Updated 1:15 PM PDT, Sat, Jun 13, 2009
More than five years after the Old Fire destroyed a thousand homes and
contributed to six deaths, prosecutors are reviewing a murder and arson case
against a 27-year-old prison inmate, it was reported today.
The San Bernardino County district attorney's office is close to deciding
whether Rick Lee Fowler will face charges in the catastrophe, according to the
Press-Enterprise of Riverside, which cited multiple unnamed sources with
knowledge of the investigation.
``I gave them what they wanted to hear . . . but it's time to clear some things
up,'' Fowler wrote in a one-page letter dated April 13 from Salinas Valley State
Prison to the Press-Enterprise, the newspaper reported.
Fowler was referring to his contact with investigators of the Old Fire, the
Press-Enterprise reported. In his letter, he encouraged further questions from
reporters but did not respond to subsequent correspondence.
The October 2003 Old Fire destroyed 1,003 homes in the city of San Bernardino
and in mountain communities that are a second home to many residents of Los
Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.
The Old Fire also burned more than 90,000 acres over nine days and caused $45
million in damage, the Press-Enterprise reported.
All six Old Fire deaths were heart attacks or induced by the stress of fighting
or fleeing wind-driven flames. Santa Ana winds and on-shore winds from the
opposite direction produced firestorm conditions several times during the Old
Fire. Authorities immediately focused on a possible arson suspect or suspects in
a white van spotted at the point of origin on Oct. 25, 2003.
In the aftermath of the disaster, prosecutors said they were confident they
could prove an arsonist or arsonists committed murder even though no one had
burned to death, the Press-Enterprise reported.
Fowler has not been charged with anything related to the Old Fire. But the new
look by high-ranking district attorney's officials is the closest to a
conclusion the case has come since it was first presented four years ago, the
(The rest is at the link: white van found in LA, man who was suspect has
since died, Fowler was passenger, incriminated himself, etc...)
||Morale survey and Gail's response,
A very interesting study, one that I actually took part in. One retired friend
responded, "Duh!" We have known about these problems for some time and have
tried to send our concerns up the chain. Anyone remember the 'burden shift' team
coming to forests and promising actions on the field's recommendations... that
was a joke. As is Gail's letter, Kasdan's late admission the ASC is not working,
Ed Hollowhead's total disengagement from anything that actually matters to the
folks he was hired to lead and, of course, the weak 'retention strategy'.
Few of us near the ground expect anything of substance to be done by our
'leadership' to advance the cause of the ground pounders, even though that is
the core of the FS. All they seem to care about anymore is how they look to
their bosses, and that will not fix anything.
As to the recent SoCal fire leadership hirings, without having inside info on
what the certs looked like it is hard to truly parse out what is behind them.
Paying transfer of station for a 16 month tenure certainly does seem a bit
ridiculous, especially considering relative levels of experience. But, again, we
may think we know who was passed over, but we may not know the whole story. That
may be especially true in Dietrich's replacement's case. With all due respect
Casey, do you really know who was passed over? Seems to me that in recent times
the certs have been pretty thin, maybe he was the best choice in the bunch. I
for one am not willing to call him out publicly without seeing if he has what it
I will say that many recent events, including such promotion decisions,
reinforce the thread that some of us perceive: Line Officers are trying to put
fire 'in its place'. This is the absolutely wrong direction. It is fire that has
the attitude, training and decision making ability to raise morale and make this
once great organization function. Line officers should be learning at the feet
of FMOs rather than putting them down and cutting them off at the knees.
It is no wonder many of us want fire to break away from the Forest Service! Is
that what motivates them to boot us back into the '70s rather than follow our
lead into the future?
||Biscuit Blowup 2002:
I am thinking there might be two pieces of history that might shed some light
on the Fire Behavior
on July 28. The Forest had put together a chronology of the fire. The second
piece that might also share
some insight is an article called " A monster in the Woods". These may be
available somewhere. Having
been there the first 10 Days to 2 weeks it kinda blended together.
Another thought Tony Sciacca was the OSC when this was all happening. Tony may
have some more
intel to help.
Anyone have contact info for Tony or for the fire staff on the
RRF/SIF? Fire started on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest near (or in)
the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. Ab.
I was the Fire Behavior Analyst on another Oregon fire in 1996, the Tower Fire,
when it did more or less
the same thing as the Biscuit (and 40,000 acres in very short order). I have
long wanted to try to study
deeply that event with photos, etc. but have really just had to rely on word of
mouth and other personal
observations since everybody involved was much more concerned with their
personal safety than they were
with documentation of the event.
I know exactly what happened there on the Tower Fire. I was paying very close
attention to everything
related to fire behavior analysis and would love to someday defend my beliefs in
Maybe we should talk. Ab can get you up with me.
||Biscuit Fire from Space, 2002; Request for those that observed fire
behavior during IA on the ground...
I am a meteorologist at the Naval Research Lab in Washington DC,
doing research on pyroconvection. One of our cases is the Florence/Biscuit
fire. We saw a fascinating burst of pyroconvection from space on 28 July 2002,
the same day as some photos on your web site.
I'm writing to ask if I can be put in touch with anyone who observed/took
of the Biscuit fire in the late afternoon hours of 28 July. In particular it
my aim to learn as much about the photos and eyewitness accounts to reconcile
with the space views.
In a nutshell, what we saw on 28 July was pretty unique in the life of this
fire. Although it burned for weeks, and was very active on many days, a
deep pyrocumulus cloud formed on that date, and shot material high into the
Here is a visible and infrared sequence from GOES satellite of the "pyrobubble."
Even though the fire was going strong all day long, most of the smoke was
at relatively low altitudes out to sea. But a few puffs of deep pyroconvection
material that zipped on jet stream winds eastward. We'd love to understand what
folks on the ground might have to offer in terms of descriptions of
Any information or contacts you can provide would be greatly appreciated.
If you'd like any more information from me, feel free to ask.
All the best,
Readers, I contacted Mike to see if posting would be OK.
All you Oregon firefighters that were there on July 28, 2002. Drop me an email
and I'll put you in touch with Mike. Very interesting. I think this is a worthy
project. Nothing like firefighter eyes observing fire behavior from the ground.
Firehorse, you still reading here?
If anyone knows of anyone involved in Biscuit IA, please let me know as well.
Maybe your departments could send out this inquiry via email.
||Hi to all:
Lots of interesting comments lately. Just a little insight on some of the recent
Re: The Cleveland NF new deputy FMO
I had hoped to meet him when I had the
honor of being at the Descanso District recently with Congressman Filner and a
good number of firefighters including the Forest FMO. However the new Deputy was
not present. I did have the opportunity to meet and speak candidly with the
Forest Supervisor Mr. Metz. I was going to pose the question of the selection
and cost effectiveness of it to Mr. Metz in front of Mr. Filner but the
congressman indicated he would seek an answer through direct correspondence with
the Forest Supervisor.
I would have to concur that good quality FIRE folks on the Cleveland were passed
over and obviously the question of whether the cost, not only in financial terms
but in terms of morale (recent congressional testimony and survey results), to
move someone in from Mississippi seems a wee bit strange. R-5 can be a wee bit
Re: Chief Dietrich's successor on the San Bernardino
I also had the honor of attending Chief Dietrich's retirement party in Mentone.
Previous to that I had sent a "greetings" letter to the new BDF FMO Kurt
Winchester (of course along with an FWFSA brochure) but had not received a reply
by the time of the party. Mr. Winchester was also in attendance but we did not
There were also those at the party who had been "passed over" in the selection
process by Forest Supervisor Jean Wade-Evans. Given the complexities of the BDF,
in my humble (but doesn't count) opinion, selecting a District Ranger who's been
on that Forest only for a short time over people who have that Forest and its
fire history ingrained in their brain, seems also to be a bit strange. Of course
not too many can fill Chief Dietrich's boots and only time will tell.
The FWFSA has once again (emphasis added) written to Chief Kimbell of the Forest
Service seeking an opportunity to meet with her on firefighter issues in the
wake of the congressional hearings in March and the survey results. Her letter
states she will "seek ways to engage employees further and address the concerns
that are represented in the survey results." I suggested that meeting with the
FWFSA and opening a dialogue with us as the Ag Secretary has done as well as the
Deputy Undersecretary would be a good first step.
We are crafting communications with the FIRE leadership of BLM, NPS, F & W and
the BIA in an attempt to meet with them in Boise in the near future. There are
contradictory comments floating around about the direction DOI agencies are
headed regarding the 401 series since the Forest Service has made an about-face
on the series and has officially mentioned a firefighter series. Personally it
makes no sense for the USDA to go in one direction while DOI goes in another.
DOI Secretary Salazar is familiar with our testimony on firefighter
classification and we will keep his office abreast of our efforts. We do know
that leadership of BLM has leaned towards the development of a wildland
firefighter series but apparently NPS trumped them...which seems confusing to me
(I apparently get confused a lot in this job) since many NPS firefighters are
0081 series firefighters and NPS has a structure program. More to follow.
Not sure what Mr. Hollenshead's comments on the Klamath meant but we'll find
out. I do know that if the Agency takes steps to downgrade captains from GS-8 to
GS-7 based upon a 5 day effective staffing as compared to a 7 day effective
staffing as a result of poor FIRE management/the inability to retain
firefighters etc., it will be met with a vigorous fight.
I'm disappointed that the FERS sick leave buy back amendment in the Senate bill
passed yesterday was removed before passage. It is still in the House version of
the same bill. The excuse by one member of the Senate that the amendment was not
"germane" to the bill is a common argument...however so too are bills chocked
full of stuff that is not germane to the main framework of the bill. And ya
gotta wonder how these people run the government !!...
The FWFSA has been communicating at length with NFFE over our legislative
proposal and I am hopeful they will report their support for many of the
provisions soon. I do know the four main elements are also very important to
them: 1) classification 2) PTP 3) firefighter liability and 4) buying back of
We've lost some great folks to retirement this year so please stay safe out
||This stuff never ends!.. Q
Subject: Fw: NARFE - Press Release June 11, 2009
???? Makes it interesting for those who are eligible to go now?
From: NARFE National Headquarters [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, June 12, 2009 6:47 AM
Subject: NARFE - Press Release June 11, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FOR
June 11, 2009
Dan Adcock (703) 838-xxxx
NARFE Deplores Plan to Cut Earned Federal Civilian Retirement Annuities
National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) President
Margaret L. Baptiste denounced proposals made by House Republican leaders to
reduce the retirement annuities of federal workers and require them to work
longer to receive their full earned annuity.
The proposals, set forth in a policy agenda released on June 4 by Minority
Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), recommend that
the federal civilian annuity calculation be based on the highest five years
of salary instead of the highest three years. The nonpartisan Congressional
Budget Office (CBO) estimates that “the average new Civil Service Retirement
System (CSRS) retiree would receive about $1,250 less in 2008 and $6,530 less
over five years than under current law.”
In addition, the Boehner/Cantor paper recommends that federal civilian
employees not be afforded their earned annuity until they reach age 62, under
any circumstance. Currently, employees can retire at age 55 if they have 30 or
more years of service or at age 60 if they have 20 or more years of service.
Federal public safety employees are required to retire by age 57, and air
traffic controllers must retire by age 56.
“Not only would these proposals dishonor the government’s obligations to its
workers, but it also makes public service a much harder sell to the highly
talented and skilled individuals needed to take on the challenges of recovering
from an unparalleled economic upheaval, fighting two wars and defending the
homeland,” Baptiste said. “The federal government should serve as a model to
other employers and should not be a part of the mindless race to the bottom,
which has contributed to the growing number of employees without adequate
retirement savings or health insurance.”
Baptiste concluded, “Federal workers and annuitants have dedicated their
careers and continue to give so much for our nation and our ideals. NARFE urges
the Congress not to demean their public service by reducing the retirement and
health benefits that are rightfully theirs.”
||Here is the exemption of Cal Fire firefighting personnel from layoffs and
suspension of furloughs too. NormBC
Sent: Fri Jun 12 13:54:05 2009
Subject: Gov. Schwarzenegger Prepares State to Fight Wildfires, Directs
Administration to Suspend Furloughs for Fire Personnel
For Immediate Release:
Contact: Aaron McLear
Friday, June 12, 2009
Gov. Schwarzenegger Prepares State to Fight Wildfires, Directs
Administration to Suspend Furloughs for Fire Personnel
Ensuring all state resources are available to prepare for and fight
wildfires, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today directed his Department of
Personnel Administration to exempt all California Department of Forestry and
Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) employees from the statewide furlough program
during the 2009 and 2010 fire seasons.
"While we need to find savings in virtually all areas of state government,
it is absolutely critical that we operate our firefighting operations at
full capacity to protect lives and property from potentially devastating
wildfires," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "California has experienced
another dry year, creating especially dangerous conditions this summer, and
with today's action we will make sure all available personnel are ready and
alert to spring into action when disaster strikes."
Additionally in preparation for the coming dry summer, the
Governor issued Executive Order S-05-09
last month mobilizing CAL FIRE to secure and deploy additional resources and
personnel necessary to save lives and protect homes statewide from
wildfires. He also issued a proclamation proclamation
declaring May 2nd to 9th "Wildfire Awareness Week" to urge all Californians
to do their part to prevent wildfires.
If the FS chief truly desires to improve the morale of the
agency, she will Immediately tenure her resignation along with Mr.Kashdan as
they are two very key players in the poor conditions at what was once a great
agency to work for. Her pathetic little pep talk memo is typical of the
mentality of the present "Management" at the Forest Service: blame the problems
on everything EXCEPT the LACK OF LEADERSHIP in the agency. I firmly believe that
every single one of them need to quit using the term "Leadership" when they are
actually speaking about the agency "Management". There is a vast difference in
the two and they certainly do not demonstrate any "Leadership" whatsoever.
There are some people that have demonstrated their leadership in the past and
are now hiding it, people like Harbour were once damn fine leaders, where are
they now? There has not been a Forest Service Chief worth their salt since Jack
Ward Thomas, and the present one is the worst in the history of the agency and
that is tough to do following Dombeck.
T-d off hit the nail on the head, problem is that "Management" does not
listen to the employees, "Leaders" do! As the old saying goes "Lead, follow or
get out of the way" it is time for the agency's top "Management to do the last
as they sure aren't doing the other two.
Happy to be retired
||More info on ATs on contract this season in California:
||Message from Chief Kimbell:
In my humble opinion, I believe this letter is
a little late.. Q
Letter from FS Chief Kimbell 06/12/09 (72
K pdf )
||It looks like the Chief and Hank are "examining the survey results" on the
low morale in the Forest Service.
It tells you just how out of touch they are that it took a survey to tell them
that the morale is low.
In my future I see another survey or "working groups" led by ineffective
"leaders" and members to find out
how to correct this problem, which will cost a cool million $$$ or more. They
won't like what we have to
say so unless they're willing to actually do something this time, save the money
and don't waste our time. We
spend enough of it on computers and aglearn and eauthentication and doing
everything except what we're
supposed to be doing on the ground.
Here's something for you Chief and Hank - listen to theysaid, listen to the
FWFSA, listen to the Union. Don't
blame an administration, don't blame bad budgets because we've always overcome
these in the past - look at
yourselves and the so-called "leadership" (or lack of) in the agency.
||Struggling to Boost FS Morale
Best Places to Work in the GOV, FS ranks 206 out of 216. Centralizing has had
drastic effects on all FS
"Mark Davis, the union's legislative chairman, blamed the low morale on
"the general erosion
of the ability of the employees to do the work they were hired to do." He
cited "a particular
loss of faith in the leadership of the agency."
That's borne out by the Best Places to Work report, published by the
Partnership for Public Service and American
University's Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation. Based
on surveys last year of federal workers,
the report ranks the Forest Service 206 out of 216 agencies.
Though the service can't get much worse than that, it managed to rank a
pitiful 209 in the category that measures the
level of respect employees have for senior leaders and staff perceptions
about senior leaders' honesty, integrity and
ability to motivate employees."
||Check out Agreement set for to bring Martin Mars, firefighting airplane, to
Lake Elsinore - Tom
Agreement set for to bring firefighting airplane to Lake Elsinore - PE.com -
Daily News Digest
||USFS Morale Article
The Washington Post had an article (6/10) about the
Best Places to Work rankings.
The Best Places to Work rankings — the most comprehensive
and authoritative rating of employee satisfaction and commitment
in the federal government.
||Info shared from FEDS through their emails.
Sick Leave Amendment Left Out of Final Legislation in the Senate
Not only does the FEDS program give updated Federal information, they have a
working with and helping the Federal Wildland technician. Summer is here again
and if you
have not updated your plans, not is a good time.
Glad to be a member
Professional Liability Insurance is a MUST.
FEDS is the best in
Comparison to other companies. Ab.
||Time to speak up people...
R-5 Ed has once again spouted off, no doubt to the chagrin of firefighters, the
Union and the FWFSA.
Apparently on the Klamath NF for a forest review some comments attributed to the
R-5 FAM Director:
staffing at 5-day effective rather than the 7-day effective which Congress and
the public expects will likely
lead to fire captains being downgraded from GS-8 to GS-7 within 2 years.
The direction the Forest Service appears to be headed regarding a wildland
firefighter series is not
what firefighters think.
There's no training money. (Maybe, and this is my thought not Ed's) they should
stop throwing money
away at the ASC so firefighters can be properly trained. After all, isn't the
Chief's top priority employee
safety? Seems training goes a long way in improving safety.
By the way: (not an Ed H. comment)
Mr. Jim Pena is off to the ASC next week. Maybe he's actually an astronomer who
likes to study "black holes"
Come on people, I know the economy sucks, there's a lot of empathy out there but
for a measly 71 cents
a day your voice gets heard at the top of the political food chain courtesy of
the FWFSA. I would suspect
that as long as the FWFSA is around, there is no way in heck that captains will
be downgraded for the ineptitude
of the Forest Service in its ability to comply with the National Fire Plan.
Ed, feel free to comment. Those of us in R-5 know all too well the disdain Chief
Kimbell has for FIRE,
especially R-5 FIRE and the WO effort to "send a message" to R-5 about who's in
We see it in the recent selection by the Forest Supervisor on the Cleveland NF
of their new Deputy FMO who
was brought in from Mississippi, his move paid at taxpayer expense despite
having only 16 months left before
mandatory retirement while passing over highly qualified FIRE employees on the
Forest who know it like the
back of their hands... Not very cost effective!!! Congress will be asking
We see it in the odd selection of a District Ranger to succeed BDF Chief Mike
Dietrich as FMO despite the
District Ranger only being on the Forest since 2007 and again the Forest
Supervisor passing over well-qualified
FIRE employees who know the Forest backwards and forwards...
We see it in the decision on the LPF with the Santa Maria reload base.
We hear it from our supporters in the Washington Office who say these actions
are clearly to send a message
to FIRE. Well, bring it on...
I certainly can imagine the FS Chief being frustrated by the well-placed
congressional boot of late...maybe she
wants the other boot to drop as well.
I wish all of you out there would "send your own message" to the Agency and join
||Congrats to JP Harris for being one of the 2008 Paul Gleason Lead by Example
JP Harris, LA County Fire Departmen
Mentoring and Teamwork
The NWCG Leadership Committee has released its first annual
exposure you can give to this publication on "They Said" would be
The URL is
fireleadership.gov Newsletter and a
pdf version is attached. All students of fire are encouraged to print,
post, and share with others.
To subscribe or unsubscribe to Leading & Learning, send an e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org including “Subscribe” or “Unsubscribe”
from Leadership Newsletter in the subject line.
NWCG Leadership Committee, Logistics Coordinator
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2009/fed/LeadingLearning_Spring09.pdf (271K pdf
||FOR THEY SAID
DC-3 Crash in 1979
Yes, we (The Payette IR) were supposed to be on that plane flying to a fire. But
we had one more day of training
before we would be made available. We wanted to go to the fire, but Leatherman
wouldn't budge on the training.
We were disheartened and shocked when we heard the news of the plane crash.
Later that year we were on the Ship Island Fire (if you watch the black and
white slide show of that fire in the old
S-290, you can see a puff of smoke ahead of the main fire as it blows up---that
was us---and the Sawtooth IR--
burning a knob off and hunkering in). After that fatality, we were given a day
off, and we floated the Salmon River
on air mattresses and were treated to dinner at Shoup, and drank mightily thanks
to the mayor of Shoup.
That was a weird year on which to end the Payette IR. In 1980 the crew was moved
AAAaaarrgghh, me buckholds, them were the days!
||I had a couple questions for Dr. Mellie about H1N1.
The first is, since this virus is made up of 4 parts of different types of flu,
and cases right now seem to be mild,
could getting it now give some sort of resistance to other variations of flu,
should it mutate, or if it worsens come
winter here in the states?
I heard a report maybe a month ago that a farmer in Canada had passed the virus
to one of his pigs, but the
report said this was not confirmed, have you heard anything to confirm this? If
this is true, shouldn't it be a big
concern that the virus is being passed back and forth between humans and animals
as birds start flying north for
These questions have been on my mind, and I thought I would ask now that the WHO
has decided to declare
||Whitey Hachmeister and John Slingerland, Smokejumper pilots who died June
11, 1979 when
DC-3 148Z crashed in the Selway River along with 11 passengers on board. Their
most assuredly contributed survival of 2 passengers.
The McCall memorial photo is on the wlf website at
memorial at mccall
I are an IR
Thanks for keeping their memories alive. Ab.
||CA-MNF Elk Mountain Hand Crew Type 2 IA made it through two certification
Now a HotShot Crew. These guys worked hard and got it. Great job!!!!
Nice job! Ab.
||H-529 @ Rose Valley LPF pic:
Just got to reading and looking at some of the posts on helicopters at Rose
Valley in '79. I know when the 212 night ship was there one of the pilots was
Gary Markowski. The post on 529 says it was a 205 with Jim Ramage. I don't
remember if that was after the LACO incident. But Gary flew Rose Valley,
Chantry, and some at Chuchupate for Reeder Air out of Twin Falls,ID. They had
two 212's with LA tanks, and a 206B here in CA on contract. I know Gary was
still flying there in 82-83 and maybe a year later as I had him dropping on me
on some of KRN's fires next to LP. He, the last I heard was, was flying
corporate helo and jets back East.
Just a memory jogger for me, but somewhere, I even have pictures!
||Two new logos on
Logos 16 photo page. These are some oldies. Anyone know more? Ab.
Three Rivers Crew: Stanislaus County, CA. Three Rivers Fire Crew, 1995. Sent
in by Paul Howard, Monterey Airport FD - ret. (0609)
Leesville Hotshot Crew, Lake Napa County CA: Sent in by Paul Howard,
Monterey Airport FD - ret. (0609)
||Re: AT Ownership
FEPP aircraft can come through a variety of of Federal Agencies, although a lot
do come from the military.
Regardless of what program they come through the USFS retains ownership. States
are obligated to return
them when they're are done with them. All FEPP aircraft need to be used for fire
90%. They are subject to
regular inspection and use reporting to the USFS.
Our state really likes the
program, with out it I doubt we would be able afford an air program at all.
||Re AT Ownership:
Thanks Other Owner Names!!!
Needed to get some "my" facts straight BUT that is sure is some GREAT info laid
||Alberta Canada AT photos:
Rhys, here are the photos you sent. Thanks. I put them on
Airtankers 30 photo page. Ab.
Here are some Airtanker pictures I took
during the 2007 fire season in Alberta.
All the pictures are taken at the High
Level Airtanker Base.
||Historical Helicopter Photos:
Ab, Last year one of the posters asked about the S-55-t in the late 70’s. I
was a crew member at Heaps Peak in 1978, this was the first year that they were
used at Heaps Peak. The ships were provided by Globe Air from Arizona. One was
#34 and the other was #36 and we had two helishot crews along with the helitack
personnel. In October of 1978 the ships were grounded due to budget funding and
the crew members were reassigned to Lookout Towers, Prevention and I think Trail
Thanks, I put them on the
Helicopters 27 photo page. Amazing how nice you can make faded old photos in
||Re AT Ownership:
Ownership of aircraft in the FEPP program is a little tricky. The aircraft
are released by DOD to the USFS where they are distributed. Below are the FAA
registrations of some of our aircraft and you can see that USFS is still listed
as the owner while we, CDF operate them.
one more thing,
Our copter pilots are employees of the agency. The fixed wing pilots are
N494DF super huey...
N494DF is Assigned
Serial Number 11303 Type Registration Government
Manufacturer Name BELL Certificate Issue Date 12/05/1991
Model EH-1X Status Valid
Type Aircraft Rotorcraft Type Engine Turbo-Shaft
Pending Number Change None Dealer No
Date Change Authorized None Mode S Code 51417505
MFR Year None Fractional Owner NO
Name USDA FOREST SERVICE FEPP
Street 5500 PRICE AVE
City MCCLELLAN State CALIFORNIA Zip Code 95652-2421
Country UNITED STATES
Here is another, now an ov-10 air attack...
Serial Number 305128M68 Type Registration Government
Manufacturer Name NORTH AMERICAN Certificate Issue Date 03/10/1993
Model OV-10A Status Valid
Type Aircraft Fixed Wing Multi-Engine Type Engine Turbo-Prop
Pending Number Change None Dealer No
Date Change Authorized None Mode S Code 51130251
MFR Year None Fractional Owner NO
Name USDA FOREST SERVICE FEPP
Street 5500 PRICE AVE
City MCCLELLAN State CALIFORNIA Zip Code 95652-2421
Country UNITED STATES
Here is Tanker 83, you can see we are listed as the "other owner" on
Serial Number 152820 Type Registration Government
Manufacturer Name MARSH AVIATION Certificate Issue Date 08/30/2001
Model S-2F3AT Status Valid
Type Aircraft Fixed Wing Multi-Engine Type Engine Turbo-Prop
Pending Number Change None Dealer No
Date Change Authorized None Mode S Code 51205314
MFR Year 1966 Fractional Owner NO
Name USDA FOREST SERVICE FEPP
Street 5500 PRICE AVE
City MCCLELLAN State CALIFORNIA Zip Code 95652-2421
Country UNITED STATES
Engine Manufacturer AIRESEARCH Classification Restricted
Engine Model TPE331 SERIES Category Forest
A/W Date 03/28/2003
This is the most current Airworthiness Certificate data, however, it may not
reflect the current aircraft configuration. For that information, see the
aircraft record. A copy can be obtained at
Here's one example by serial number:
registry.faa.gov aircraft inquiry
Other Owner Names
||Outsourced fire organization:
If the FS
(277 K pdf file) would it still get the bucks but avoid all or most
Ab, isn't this shuffling of RISK what happened with the ATs? Keep
giving the contract to the
lowest bidder then fail to provide for the wives and families of those that
perished, deny upgraded
technology, etc in the mix? Let those costs be borne by the private sector with
a pressure to not
provide it since it's lowest bidder, like with the timber fallers now that are
trying to manage RISK
to their folks?
Does anyone have a link to that good letter 2003? by Walt to the AT Blue
Ribbon Panel? He laid
out the industry's risk and safety factors pretty well.
||USFS Solicitation offer and award/ Centralized Firefighting Organization:
I don't see a centralized fire organization. I don't think the Forest
Service wants to share its "income stream".
FC-180, Nice term INCOME STREAM.
Fire provides the Income Stream, the USFS uses it and will never let it go.
Congress will never find them having
financial accountability until the org is centralized...
||Re AT Ownership:
More splitting of hairs.......
CALFIRE aircraft and pilots contracted by DynCorp for pilots and MX
Further safe to say Beech E-90's are contracted/ supplied by Dynamic Aviation
unless proved other wise
Further safe to say DC10 contracted to CALFIRE by Tanker10, LLC
"Ownership" and mileage may vary...
||This may be splitting hairs here, but in the interest of complete accuracy.
CalFire also contracts a DC-10, and along with that, a Beech E-90 King Air, which is used as a "lead plane" and flown by 2 fully qualified lead plane pilots
on contract with CalFire. So CalFire must "believe" in lead planes.
||This may be splitting hairs here, but in the interest of complete accuracy
(from the CAL FIRE web site):
"In 1996, CAL FIRE acquired 26 S-2E/G planes from the Department
of Defense. CAL FIRE converted the planes to a fire fighting
configuration and fitted them with modern, powerful turboprop
engines. The completely reconditioned S-2Ts are faster, safer, more
maneuverable, and carry a larger retardant payload than the
S-2A airtankers CAL FIRE had used since the 1970s. The final
three S-2Ts were completed and delivered in 2005. CAL FIRE has
23 S-2T airtankers. One is permanently stationed at the Sacramento
Aviation Management Unit facility for maintenance relief."
CAL FIRE owns and operates the tanker fleet and 11 super hueys and 14 OV-10
ships (we don't believe in lead planes) from 13 air bases and 9
helitack bases, that CAL FIRE
operates. And as far as MAFFS, I'm pretty sure the
70's was more than a few years ago. That's
how long the National Guard has had
I don't see the consolidation including CHP, they are not a general fund
department and I'm sure
they don't want to share their income stream.
Readers, FC180, please keep replies in "relaxed mode". The truculence is
unnecessary. The 70s seem like just a few years ago to me too. Cumbayah. Ab.
||Gordo, it has to due with the Pressler Bill.
If I recall correctly that was the mid 1990s bill that got the NTSB
investigating all non-military plane crashes, including airtankers... You must
be thinking of another Bill that prohibits the Federal Government from competing
in business with private companies. Ab.
||Re: Meld CAL FIRE into CalEMA (Emergency Management Agency)
Let me quickly clear up some misconceptions:
#1: Cal EMA is now an agency, which is a cabinet-level position, and not under
the Governor's direct purview. This makes the Agency's budgetary position far
stronger, as the Governor can't just move money out at his whim.
#2; The original version of AB54 was to immediately move CalFIRE, OSFM, State
Board of Fire Services, CHP, OTS, CCC, and EMSA all under the Cal EMA umbrella.
The current version sets up a "working group" to prepare for the transition to
happen in 2012.
I can see this as a good idea, as it consolidates all of the Public Safety
agencies under a single umbrella and food chain. As I've said before, when it
happens, nothing is really going to change, except in the top couple of layers
of the food chain. Directors, Deputy Directors and Commissioners are all going
to do the shuffle, either retiring or filling into positions in the new regime.
It gets CCC, CalFIRE, OSFM, and SBFS out from under the Resources Agency; CHP
and OTS out of DOT; and EMSA out of HHS. It'll make disaster planning easier, as
everyone will be under the same roof (almost literally), and you won't have each
agency drawing up their own plans for everything, with minimal consideration for
the complimentary agencies.
The US Airtanker program is run by the Federal Government. Most
bases are administered by the Forest Service, an arm of the US Dept
of Agriculture, but some are administered by the Bureau of Land
management, part of the US Dept. of Interior. A lot of the bases
have contract employees to mix and load the retardant. Some bases
use only government personnel to do all the mixing, loading and
All of the Airtankers, either very heavy, heavy or SEATS, (single
engine), are owned and flown by private contractors, as are all the
helicopters. The exception being in the State of California, where
the state owns some rotor wing airframes. But the fixed wing state
tankers are owned by the Federal Government and operated by a
contractor that bids to provide the service of crews and
In the last few years, the National Guard, a state by state run arm
of the military, has offered up its C-130 planes equipped with a
modular retardant delivery system when there's more fire than the
private contractors can help with.
The lead planes are owned and operated by the federal government,
some USFS and some BLM.
I know that sounds confusing, but there's an old law in the US that
prohibits the Federal Government from competing in business with
private enterprise. It gets really confusing in the accounting
department when state planes are used on a fire on federal land and
||I know NFPA 1906 is being updated as we speak and the timeline for
everything to be
done is July 16, 2010. You might want to check the NFPA website for the latest.
Hope this helps.
||Hi there friends... my phone was stolen yesterday among other things. It of
course held my life. You may be asking yourself "didn't she back up her info?"
Of course I did, on my lap top who's hard drive took a digger about a week ago
only to find that it is not salvageable. And silly me did not back up my itunes
on my portable hard drive. So if you could be so kind as to send me your contact
info that would be great... unless you would rather not, I totally understand;-)
I hope everything is going well for you and yours, and don't forget to back it
If you think you're a friend of SoCal Abby B [no wanna be's (heh heh)],
send me an email I can forward! Ab.
||Does this solicitation mean that we might see contract IMTs coming around
any time soon? Looks like nearly every other part of the IMT besides Command and
Ops are listed in the contract. Of course, quite a few of the fire contractors
aren't too far away from being able to respond to the solicitation, as a lot of
their people are retired types. I can think of about 4-5 right off the top of my
head, including some of the advertisers on wildlandfire.com.
What angers me about this, though, is the stock of qualified volunteer and
paid-call people that are working under the CalFire Schedule A or Schedule C
programs, and are denied the classes and Red Card qualifications because CalFire
wants to use full-time paid staff to fill those positions. I personally am more
than qualified for a RADO, COMT, or CTSP position, but cannot get the classes
without paying for them myself, and even then, I won't get any assignments, as
neither of the agencies I work for want to put volunteers into "real" ICS
positions. I don't mind filling out an FC-42 (or eFC-42) to get EW-# pay, or
getting AD pay on Fed incidents.
||Back from the wilderness and found this on the server:
Obama pick to
oversee forests withdraws
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration's pick to be the new
agriculture undersecretary in charge of the U.S. Forest Service
has withdrawn his nomination, a White House spokesman says.
(More at the link)
You recently made a good statement , “To the folks who are chapped about how long it took to release this report, my guess is most of the two-year delay was on account of all the politics involved in getting our senior agency managers to release it.” I got the same impression while talking to the lead Esperanza Fire investigator during the Wildland Fire Safety Summit. As you recall, the Agriculture Inspector General's investigation report was scheduled to have been released in April but Oyler was convicted just before it was to be made public. Whatever happened to it? Was there something in it that may have affected the decision of Judge W. Charles Morgan to sentence Oyler to death?
Incidentally, I really admired the amount of work you put into the Evaluation of the Esperanza Investigation Report and the Forest Service Chief's Esperanza Action Plan a couple of years ago.
||Does anyone have any documentation on standards for replacement of wildland
Trying to drum up support for new rigs. I know it's not the best time,
budgets being what
they are, but there is no time like the present!
Any and all help is appreciated in advance,
||Funeral and Memorial services for Grant Young will be held on
Tuesday June 16, 2009 (A-shift on duty) at
2515 Church Avenue in
Bakersfield, CA 93306.
Church services will be at 11 am
A reception will be held at 12:30 at the
KCFFU Hall at
3615 Mt. Vernon Avenue
Bakersfield, CA 93306
Dress for the service will be the work uniform or civilian attire.
Map and Directions to Parkside
Church. (Formerly University Baptist Church)
Can't see the fire? Watch the column! It tells you everything about
surface and the winds aloft. Same with burning embers falling on your
Spot fires and embers falling down hill of the engine, equals unburned
fuel between you and the fire. Gee! how many DON'T we see! Plus, the
burn above you creates upslope winds! That should of been the trigger
point for ANY experienced firefighter. Every person on the line has
the responsibility to call it like they see it. WE LOST IT, NOTHING WE
DO NOW WILL CHANGE A THING, LETS REGROUP! Nobody
speaks up, WHY?
I would of been expecting a BIG change with the inversion lift and the
burning period both taking place at the same time! When that shovel
full of embers went to flame and the embers started easily (high POI)
that tells you the weather IS changing.
The Weather Rock is always right! It's always with you! USE IT!
||Victoria (Australia) Commission of Enquiry
Ab et al,
Perhaps as some relief from the debate on your own wildfire issues and opportunities, you might find
interesting the progress of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Victoria ’s ( Australia ) disastrous
bushfires this last Feb ’09. The huge loss of many structures, animals and forest but of course a tragic
deaths of so many caught by the maelstrom that over took them on “Black Saturday”.
Widely expected that a lot of blood will be spilt on the Commission floors before this is all over. The
many big issues under examination will include the “Stay and Defend” policy and the issues around
whether the Public received adequate warnings of the situation that was developing.
An informative day by day summary
For the very dedicated, a live feed during Commission sittings (consider the time difference, eg PDT is approx 19 hours behind Victorian time)
Thanks, Alan, I'll be following that. Posted your email on the "Australia's
Tragic Firestorm" Hotlist thread as well. Ab.
You’re not the only one who has reservations over where personal accountability fits within the framework of organizational responsibility. But I suggest you examine more closely your own statement about “simple organizational and personal errors that are repeated on most investigations.” If these errors are so simple, why can’t we prevent them from happening again?
It is easy to identify who made onsite errors and find the other proximal causes to wildland fire accidents. That is what we have always done. What is less simple is finding the upstream contributors to fire accidents. What is hardest of all is correcting the upstream contributors, especially when the needed corrections conflict with a mindset held by the organization’s most senior members.
In a just culture, accountability doesn’t stop with the people who do the dirty work. Finding root causes means you don’t stop asking questions when you find obvious contributors, you have to keep asking “why” until you run out of whys. Real accountability must always include the people who set priorities, make policy and run the organization.
The report did a good job of portraying how something as seemingly mundane as a delayed hose order delivery can alter strategic plans and make it harder for fireline supervisors to conduct safe firefighting operations. Our wildland fire culture has become so tolerant of such “simple” problems that we scarcely notice them any more.
A high-functioning organization that was really committed to improving itself would take this “simple” problem and make it more complex (reluctance to simplify) by asking probing questions so as to better understand the problem’s root causes and correct them.
Like: why couldn’t a Type 1 team provide timely support to operations on the third day of such a large and important fire?
Why was ground support unable to deliver fire hose and other vital equipment to the fireline as requested?
Why did a critical fire operations supervisor like a Strike Team Leader have to leave the fireline during the middle of complex suppression operations to pick up and then deliver badly needed fire hose and other suppression equipment?
I can think of at least a dozen more questions along this line. The logical conclusion of this inquiry would probably confirm that this type of problem occurs frequently, that we usually find some way to cope with it, and that senior managers do not perceive it as a problem nor plan to do anything that would make these occurrences less common. In the meantime, we will continue to use workarounds to fill the voids left by our organizational logistical failures.
When you consider that this seemingly simple problem forced Angora division supervisors to adjust their strategy, redistribute resources and change division boundaries mid-shift, it isn’t such a simple problem any more, is it?
When our review teams are empowered to follow these kinds of causal trails to wherever they lead, including policy and senior management decisions, we will be on our way to a just culture.
Among the other great observations in this report, one of the things that really stood out is that the hotshot crews seemed to have better SA than others on the north end of the fire, and were the first to correctly recognize when it was time to quit burning and bug out. I wish the investigation could have explored this aspect more, because it might have shed some light on how good leadership and deep experience improve a crew’s ability to fight fire safely under demanding conditions.
The ability to work under hazardous and always changing circumstances yet maintain the SA to recognize imminent safety threats and react in time to avoid them is what separates the best fire crews from the rest.
To the folks who are chapped about how long it took to release this report, my guess is most of the two-year delay was on account of all the politics involved in getting our senior agency managers to release it.
I do believe this APA methodology is on the right track. The team members may not have been empowered to look at or comment on all organizational influences to this shelter deployment, but they did a damn sight better than any other FS investigation I can think of. We have to start somewhere if we’re going to fix our culture, and this isn’t a bad start.
Re: Meld CAL FIRE into CalEMA (Emergency Management Agency)
This has been in the works for some time and would place Cal Fire, OES and
several other agencies all on the same level all reporting to a secretary who
reports to the Governor of California.. Good chance of this happening.. Q
Subject: Emailing: CDFF President's Briefing, California Firefighters.htm Resources Agency abolished???
(I found it here:
Brothers and Sisters:
The budget action at the Capitol is fast, furious and in the estimation of many, not unlike a shooting gallery where every moving target is endangered. The situation changes by the hour. The Capitol building is clogged with interest groups and ordinary citizens trying to block the proposed deep cuts to once inviolable programs. There are hundreds of folks in wheelchairs trying to block elimination of the state’s welfare safety net. In-home healthcare and schools are on the chopping block. Thousands of prisoners are being set free. We have a proposed 5% across-the-board pay cut for all state employees. There is talk of changing investing requirements for new employees from 20 to 25 years to become eligible for post-retirement health benefits.
Late last week we received word that the Budget Conference Committee took action to abolish the Resource Agency. As you know, CAL FIRE is under the Resource Agency. It is led by Director Mike Chrisman. This is further complicated by the Senate proposal to meld CAL FIRE into CalEMA (Emergency Management Agency), which is a newly created agency under which the Department of Homeland Security and OES were combined.
We have our legislative committee in Sacramento looking closely at the fluid and constantly changing situation. We are accepting the guidance of our political director, Aaron Read, and our public policy director, Terry McHale, as we negotiate these high seas.
The news of the abolishment of the Resource Agency is stunning. It was not anticipated. In fact, it is the result of fighting between the Legislature and the Governor. It is difficult to tell if it will have legs. We do know there will be hearings next week. What that change means to CDF Firefighters is unclear at this point. However, we are actively engaged in the discussions. As I write this message, we have been in the Capitol looking at all the angles. Simply put, as the situation evolves and matures, we’ll provide information to you. The pace at which things are changing right now is breathtaking. Please note the Sacramento CDF Firefighters team is on point and focused as we deal with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Stay Proud, Stay Strong, Stay Union
Bob Wolf, President
This was released into the contracting world last week, It is VERY interesting and certainly
isn't being talked about.. yet... I would appreciate it if it was NOT attributed to me.
You asked "what does it mean? Why interesting?"
If you think of it.. Use retired people under a contractor..
No issues of availability - it is the contractor's job to worry
No issues of local government pay - it is the contractor's job to worry
No issues of AD pay rates - it is the contractor's job to worry
No issues of hard targets not being met at home - it is a contractors doing the job, the USFS folks can stay at home
No issues of portal to portal pay - it is the contractor's job to worry
Test the water with this and then expand to engines, crews, ??
Solicitation offer and award: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2009/fed/Solicitation_AG-024B-S-09-9001_5-21-09.pdf
(277 K pdf file)
Thanks to "Ops geek" for correcting me on the PAR issue, My bad.
That will teach me for making a comment in haste, in my irrational emotional state.
First time I've heard the term, I'll go back into my cave now.
Another false statement in negative creep's post.
"R-5 was upset because the IHCs were nationally funded resources and therefore supposed to
be available nationwide. The concern seemed to be "If all of our IHCs are somewhere else
(Montana, Oregon, etc.) on fires what highly trained crews do we have in region to fight the
ones we have here"? So, region 5 was allowed to create "regional" hotshot crews with a few
In actuality, the additional Type 1 crews had been modeled in NFMAS for years, by numerous Forests,
but we never got the funding for them. Back then we were funded at about 60% of our most effective
level (MEL) as identified in NFMAS. We got the new crews, when we finally got funding to bring us
up to our MEL.
I'd like you to consider a slightly different perspective from a wildland firefighter standpoint. I think we
are on the same page from differing perspectives.
Would you consider the possibility of repetitive actions by the Agency (Line Officers) following the South
Canyon Fire (...Thirty Mile, Cramer, Esperanza, etc) might be partly responsible for some (or many) of the
problems that exist today? Would the outcome have been better if Fire Managers and aligned allied
specialists were leading the programs and providing true oversight and accountability? JMHO is that the
"Line Officer" model is a root, basic root, causal root, problem in wildland firefighter safety, accountability,
effectiveness, and mission interpretation.
The independent report to "professionalize" wildland firefighters.... and "provide accountability" from South
Canyon was completely misinterpreted and incredibly mismanaged by Line Officers even though it was well
thought out and championed by many (fire leaders; fallen family members; risk managers; friends of those lost),
and performed independently and verified as a true need (Tri-Data Study). It wrongly led to the 401 series
(failure), the IFPM/FSPM (complete mess), and our current problems with legal liability... add to it the complete
inactions from the Agency in regards to retaining "the best of the best" as our future leaders and fire managers...
and the folks who dropped their ICT3 quals.
Look at the fires in Region 3 right now.... are those fires being managed by Type 4 ICs a Red Flag ?
Reality Check, I really appreciated your return to the basics statement... It
was ROCK SOLID...
"As far as safety, and lessons learned, simple... for gosh sakes post a long range lookout for yourself, or
listen to one (cannot see the main fire) or just disengage and go to your safety zones, either when the two
Hotshot crews do or when that Old Hotshot Superintendent with 34 years of fire experience
recommended it over Tac to everyone to both divisions long before the burnover occurred. Or maybe
just go over your eighteen situations (frequent spot fires) that shout
watchout, fire orders, and make
your LCES bomb proof. Let me see that took me two minutes.. not two years.... oh and we already
knew about retention, this is simply proof."
"PS: Up to PARR is not an ICS term, until it is... Cal-fire, don't use it or any other of your "in house"
terms with other agencies on fires, It takes the C out of
I need to clear the air on the PAR issue. I was the OSC who asked for the two PAR checks when things starting going south on the Angora fire. It was not my intention to cause confusion, but to rapidly get every supervisor thinking "accountability, where are my people? Do I know where they are and what they are doing?" First of all, don't blame CalFire, I am not a CalFire employee - that is one of a myriad of inaccuracies in the report, secondly, check the 2007 version of ICS-420-1, Field Operations Guide. "...The content of the Field Operations Guide (FOG) is intended to provide guidance for the application of the Incident Command System (ICS) to any planned or unplanned event..." On page 22-8 of the Glossary of Terms are two entries you should review:
Personnel Accountability. The ability to account for the location and status of personnel.
Personnel Accountability Reports (PAR). Periodic reports verifying the status of responders assigned to an incident.
That being said, hindsight is perfect and had I known the issue it would cause by asking for a "PAR" I would have used even more clear text. The Branch Director (USFS) knew what it meant - the breakdown in understanding the term occurred some level(s) below that. If you were there, then you know how jammed the radio channels were at that time and every second on the radio counted. I was attempting to get everyone to tighten up as rapidly as possible by using an ICS term that is used VERY frequently (like every 10 minutes) on other types of incidents managed under ICS. I hope the term is used more frequently by all agencies practicing ICS because it is a very rapid method to remind supervisors to account for their folks. Until it becomes more common I will include its definition during my briefings. However, to say it is some cultural jargon between agencies is false, it is an ICS term.
I added it to the Acronyms
Just wanted to let you know that the Smith River Crew from the SRF did pass
their hot shot review on Friday.
Just read the Angora APAR, Two years after the incident , Two years? , does that not send up a red flag to inquiring minds? South Canyon took forty five days.
Seemed like one of the main points was the FS retention issue as being a finding in the entrapment, good job on that, well you hit that one on the button, imagine that, hitting the button long after the retention study was complete. Why didn't this report hit the shelf until now? Was that the reason? The report itself was sketchy to say the least. I witnessed the whole thing as it went down, many
areas were vague, inaccurate, maps were wrong, and missing key points that we all could have learned valuable lessons from. Aside from Petrelli, whom I trust,
and a maybe few arbitrary conclusions from one or more of the arm chair quarter backs.. Who are these people? Line officers, public affairs specialists, food unit leaders? Why don't you thrown in a Pop Warner football coach and a Denny's restaurant Manager for even more quality insight and depth of fire diversity. I'm going to read this again maybe I was in a bad mood during the first read , or being too critical.
Bottom line was some of the night shift gave inaccurate information about completing the burn, leaving the day shift with a plate of Crap to deal with in the morning. ...make your choice ...Either burn out as much of the fuel in the green horseshoe on Tahoe Mt. while conditions allow, in line with predicted conditions. or let it run on its own, you decide,
As far as safety, and lessons learned, simple... for gosh sakes post a long range lookout for yourself, or listen to one (cannot see the main fire) or just disengage and go to your safety zones, either when the two Hotshot crews do or when that Old Hotshot Superintendent with 34 years of fire experience recommended it over Tac to everyone to both divisions long before the burnover occurred. Or maybe just go over your eighteen situations (frequent spot fires) that shout watchout, fire orders, and make your LCES bomb proof. Let me see that took me two minutes.. not two years.... oh and we already knew about retention, this is simply proof.
PS: Up to PARR is not an ICS term, until it is... Cal-fire, don't use it or any other of your "in house" terms with other agencies on fires, It takes the C out of LCES.
Be safe this season and stick to the basics,
Re US Airtanker program:
Hi, I'm an Air Tanker Base supervisor in Alberta and I'm wondering how the Air Tanker program
is done in the U.S. Does it differ state to state? Are the air tankers privately owned or are they
government? Are air tanker base personnel (i.e. supervisors, loadermen) civilian or military?
Thanks for your time!
Oh and also did you get the Air Tanker picture I sent to you in May?
Hi Rhys, I'll check later this week. Ab.
Re: IHC funding/training/overhead:
negative creep needs to get some facts straight.
a - all funding comes out of the same pot.
b- training standards are the same between the two types of crews.
c-when the crews were started after the 2000 fire season because of the lack of resources
where did most of the overhead come from........IHC crews?
" One being that RHCs were type one while in R-5 only because they didn't meet the
National IHC SOP for
qualifications" -OLD INFO!
All Hotshot Crews in R-5 use and meet the Hotshot Operations Guide quals, that is why
there are no more RHC crews. It is an outdated term not used for a couple of years now.
To be called a Hotshot crew they must meet all Interagency Type 1 IHC Crew standards
before being certified.
SRF Crew 1 from Smith River NRA is undergoing IHC qualifications reviews this week,
I don't know if they got the certification yet or not, haven't heard.
R-5 does not have RHCs. R-5 has IHCs and Type II IA Crews. The Type II IA Crews wake
up every morning and continue to work towards meeting IHC requirements and status. However
we (R-5) do not simply put the IHC label on our crews and hope others will listen. This recognition
is shown on this nationally managed website (not a region-5 web site) listing all IHCs. Annually
since 2002 R-5 has been adding crews to the IHC list as they meet ALL IHC standards.
It's time to stop counting the OT hours and start recognizing how lucky we're for the strength our of
Forest Service Firefighting Force. We need to put our energy towards protecting this strength from
Line Officer Creep (reductions) and start/continue supporting one another.
What a concept
Re call signs and collar brass:
Direction came from the White House a few years ago that all agencies involved in emergency management would use the ICS , part of which requires the use common terminology such Engine Captain as opposed to SFEO, etc. In R-5 this was easily carried to collar brass, hard hat color, vehicle identification. As far as call signs, R-5 adapted that engines be labeled E-xx or say E-13 which may well be one of say 16 engines on a forest. Dispatch calls up that engine by calling for say Angeles Engine 13 or Cleveland Engine 25. This is the same kind of system L.A County and other fire departments use. It results in effective track of who is sending what from where.
I’m forwarding this to the Regional Fire Safety Officer who may be able to get you some up to date documentation. Understand this about call signs for the fire side or emergency side of the agency. It moved over to other functions and worked well.
As far as somebody using their last name as a call sign, they need to put away their ego hat and put on their safety hat. How many people have the same last name. There are some small towns in R-3 where they may well all have the same last name. Suppose they are mobilized to another region or different part of the region. If they want to work for the agency they follow the rules… This kind of stuff is not
I've perused they said for a long time but this is the first time I've posted.
Regarding the region 5 "IHCs". I understand that region 5 does not differentiate between
IHCs and RHCs anymore (at least the dispatch centers dont), but isn't there a fundamental difference as far as training level of qualification, of overhead, etc.? Here is my (probably flawed) understanding of the situation in a nutshell. R-5 was home to several Interagency Hotshot Crews. R-5 was upset because the
IHCs were nationally funded resources and therefore supposed to be available nationwide. The concern seemed to be "If all of our
IHCs are somewhere else (Montana, Oregon, etc.) on fires what highly trained crews do we have in region to fight the ones we have here"? So, region 5 was allowed to create "regional" hotshot crews with a few stipulations. One being that
RHCs were type one while in R-5 only because they didn't meet the National IHC SOP for qualifications. When
RHCs were called out of region on assignments they were to notify the fire command staff upon reporting that even though it said Hotshot Crew on the side of their buggy's they were in fact, not. More often than not, this didn't happen and it boiled down to an ethical question that still hasn't been resolved. Why is that? More and more, regional hotshot crews are being are being sent out of region, while nationally funded
IHCs sit. It breaks down like this; region 5 has to pay for it's RHCs to sit if they are not on a fire code. Not so with
IHCs since they are nationally funded. It is in the regions best interest to keep
IHCs here because A- they don't have to pay for them. B- They get to keep the most qualified and experienced crews in region to fight their fires. It makes perfect sense and meanwhile taxpayers in Montana, Florida, wherever bite the bullet. I wonder what senators and congressmen from these states would say if they were told that R-5 was hoarding the most experienced crews in the nation while their states were having catastrophic fires and sending less experienced crews when everybody pays into the same pot for
Not trying to make anyone mad, just had a few things I wanted to get off my chest.
Thanks Ab for all you do, sign me-
We have an issue with one of our cooperators here in R3. It's a safety issue
relating to call signs.
They insist on using their last name as their call sign. I think this is a
safety and liability issue an IC standpoint. Is there any directive or letter
that relates to this on why we use call signs and collar brass as identifiers?
The only discussion of this I could find on theysaid was the from Lobotomy on
3/16/07 in response to call sign and collar brass issues. Midland
You should be commended for using the new system of clear text
terminology to describe fire positions. It is now being used in many places
in Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 now. The first time I saw it on a fire
vehicle outside of Region 5 was at the IAWF Safety Summit in Missoula a
couple of years ago. I saw many vehicles with DV 5, BC 41, CH 2, etc on
their sides..... I thought, damn there are alot of Californians here. I soon
realized that some of the vehicles also had ID-SCF, NV-HTF, etc. on their
side panels. Sorry that your line officer is less than supportive.
It is alot more than "radio call signs" though.
It is funny that you address the line officer. When we implemented it in the
late 1980's, our problems were the other forests in the Region and the other
federal wildland firefighters who were resistant to change, not our line
officers. Our line officers (Forest Supervisor and District Rangers) were
fully supportive and had a good fire background and listened to the ideas of
Before the change to our current system, we utilized a system that only we
on the specific forest could understand. Here is an example of our system:
401 - District Ranger
402 - DFMO
403 - ADFMO - Suppression
404 - ADFMO - Prevention
We now use the following:
Supervisor 1 - Forest Supervisor
Supervisor 11 - Deputy Forest Supervisor
Ranger 1 - District Ranger
Ranger 11 - Deputy Ranger
Chief 1 - Forest FFMO (Chief)
Chief 2 - Forest Deputy FFMO (Deputy Chief)
Division 1 - District FMO (Division Chief)
Battalion 11 - Asst. District FMO (Battalion Chief).... etc.....etc...
Aside from the fire program, we also use other clear text terminology to
help even us on the Forest understand who we are talking to.....
Lands 33 - Lands and Special Uses
Recreation 44 - Recreation
OHV 31 - OHV person
Information 1 - Public Affairs Officer
Forester 1 - District Forester
Heritage 1 - District Heritage Resources Officer
Minerals 1 - District Minerals Officer... etc.... etc....
Lots of other examples of clear text available.
To our cooperators (local, statewide, and national), when they came to our
fires, they had no idea who they were talking to, or what their level of
I have the same problems in other Regions when I travel to some other areas
of the country during fire assignments. There are still Forests who use a
person's name or number to describe what their job or level of
Midland, I have not been able to find anything. Does anyone know about
official letters on call signs? I found several directives on collar brass that
were posted here in the past.
2005 doc on collar brass
2007 Briefing Paper on Collar Brass
As I recall Ray Q had a good discussion on why we use collar brass and
call signs in some presentation years ago. Anybody got that documentation? There
was a good post by Clancey (who is not Q) on 7/20/08 on collar brass:
I have to weigh in here,
It's not about collar brass. It's about building professional relationships
with your cooperators. What that has evolved to here, goes back to the
1920's and the concurrent development of the Los Angeles County Forestry
Department and Fire Districts, the Forest Service on the Angeles NF, and Cal
Fire in their early efforts in fire protection.
As fire suppression efforts evolved, we found the break up of the
Angeles, (Santa Barbara) Los Padres and Cleveland NF's and the creation of
the new San Bernardino NF to better manage our firefighting and forest
responsibilities. Rather than try to do our own thing we have been immensely
influenced by our cooperative efforts and in retrospect, rightly so. We
experience wildfires that extend across our various jurisdictions. It is
imperative when among a sea of nomex that we followed the CAL Chiefs
organization in their helmet color standard. In uniform scenarios our crew
t-shirt did little to convey our experience, education and grade with our
cooperators. In fact in this environment to wear a yellow hard hat and no
identifying insignia as to levels of authority, meshed you in with the 1st
day crewmember causing some confusion and discomfort to us and our
cooperators. When I started 30 plus years ago we rode tankers, had foremen,
wore hardhats and could not communicate by radio to our neighboring forests,
not to mention our daily cooperators. Our training was based on the
initiative of our "module leader", those of us striving for more education
went on our own to Fire Science courses at our community colleges and
attended State Fire Training courses, there was nothing else. As our efforts
and education increased we gave better service to our public who needed our
immediate aid. We saw horrors and pain and attended First Aid and EMT
classes. We offered better service. As our skills increased we rejected the
Lumberjack model of wildfire services and found our efforts more
realistically paralleled the American Fire Service. We found over the years
that wearing a beard interfered with the seal of our Self Contained
Breathing Apparatus and washed our PPE as we found that carcinogens loaded
our protective clothing and needed washing. As time evolved we found that
dressing like the homeless with only firepants and boots to identify us in
our communities, rich in military history and defense industry was not
endearing us to our public, whose political support we counted upon. We know
that such Fire Service leaders and truly professional organizations such as
Phoenix and FDNY wear T-Shirts but learned here, that our public expected us
to be uniform in their eye. As our cooperators increased in their
professional climb thru training, education, and public service we wisely
and sometimes begrudgingly followed suit. As I have served across the nation
I will wear what you wear, less the cut offs and tennis shoes I've seen some
of our cooperators wear. But in my assignments I firmly believe that we need
to emulate the most professional of our cooperators in every facet including
the responsibility to provide the best service that we can. Even if that
means that I wear pins on my collar commensurate with my quals.
Judge sentences Raymond Lee Oyler to death
9:32 AM Fri, Jun 05, 2009
Posted by: PE News
Judge Charles Morgan orders that Oyler shall suffer the death penalty within the
walls of California state prison at San Quentin.
"It is so ordered."
Dear AB and all:
The FWFSA was delighted and honored yesterday to receive a call from new Deputy
Undersecretary of Agriculture Jay Jensen which resulted in a good opening
dialogue on firefighter issues and a commitment from the Agency to meet with the
FWFSA as soon as is practical for both. This communication initiated by the
Agency is a far cry from what we got or didn't get from the last Administration.
I also want to commend the Angora APA team and comments included in the report
about the issues of concern for firefighters. This will validate our efforts
with Congress to make the necessary changes to improve things for all wildland
Re: Angora Fire
I agree fully that the APA process (FLA, Peer Review, etc) is good and well
focused on Lessons Learned
and the best way to conduct business, but I do have problems with this report.
Lessons Learned shouldn't
take 99 pages to describe simple organizational and personal errors that are
repeated on most investigations... restatement of the basics.
Specifically, the over emphasis in "organizational corrections" over shadowed
"individual or group accountability"
during the process.
A balance (shared responsibility by all of us) is needed somehow to get strictly
at the Lessons Learned that can
be shared with others.
We all have lots of work to do to make this process "sale able" to others
inside/outside of wildland fire. It is a
complex problem with great folks engaged in the discussions.
The ability to self report errors or acts is key to the process. Without it,
we'll never have a Just Culture.
I disagree, until it is clear how these investigations proceed,
what content is important; and until a solid trajectory to looking at
organizational contributions is set, it is important to focus on that. This is
about high reliability ORGANIZATIONS, the organization is the foundation from
which individual firefighter safety springs. Perhaps some years down the road,
the balance you're looking for might flow, but much of what happens with
individuals is a human factors and organizational issue. I have not read all of
the report. I will be gone for the weekend to the wilderness. My posting of
theysaid will likely be sparse. If you feel a need to comment after 1700 hours,
please do it on the hotlist. Ab.
Kern County Fire Dept, Bakersfield, Ca lost one of the finest people in its
department at 2100 this night. A Wildland Firefighter to his toes and a damn
fine individual. Grant G. Young, Dozer Battalion Chief for Kern County lost his
battle with cancer, and is resting in a better place. He started his career with
the Forest Service on Fulton H.S., went to an engine crew, and then Kern County
gained his experience, working his way up thru the ranks and the original Supt.
for Rio Bravo IHC. He promoted to Batt. Chief over the dozers in Kern a few
years ago, and was my mentor and friend til I retired. Always a mentor to young
men and fire, he will be sorely missed by all.
I am miserably saddened by this, I knew it was coming, and am at a loss for
better words. Please post as you see fit, and I will pass along arrangements as
Our condolences, Don. Please let us know the details of his service. Ab.
Some new logos on
Logos 15 &
photo pages. Logos are of Rio Hondo and Feather River
IHC and two
Howard Forest Laytonville and Willits CFR crew logos. Ab.
Shoulder patch designed by Guillermo Macias. Worn as part of the uniform at the
Hondo Wildland Fire Academy. Completing the WFA is a requirement for
prospective members to join
the Roadrunners Fire Crew. Not all academy graduates
are chosen as members of Crew77. (0509)
Feather River IHC: Here's the "Feather River Hotshots" logo. They have
been certified since 2005.
Contributed by NL. (0609)
Howard Forest Willits and Laytonville CFD: "must be pretty old." Sent
in by Paul Howard,
Monterey Airport FD - ret. (0609)
Abs & All,
Kudos to the Angora APA team for a lucid and courageous report. Posted at
Angora Fire APA (pdf)
I believe you have set a new standard for wildland fire investigation reports.
It is encouraging to
see that the references to organizational influences were
not redacted. Maybe there is still hope for
a just culture. Now we need to
figure out how to apply this process to fatality accidents.
Came in to the Ab account, circulating behind the scenes:
Attached is correspondence from NMAC regarding NWCGs decision on
staging and length of assignment for IMTs. Please take the time to share
the information with your Teams. I will be sending the latest updates to
the IC/AC/NIMO contact list early next week.
NMAC Correspondence -
IMT Staging -Length of Assignment
Mark Davis or others,
Thanks for NFFE addressing the issues, and for your continued support on
addressing wildland firefighter safety and liability, even though the majority
of your membership aren't on the "pointy end of the stick" as either fireline
supervisors or managers. We appreciate your leadership and support, but
personally many of us were shocked when we saw the letter from Ron Thatcher on
They Said in support of recent direction by the Chief.
Could you clarify something in the NFFE statement and on the website:
"The NFFE FSC collaborated with agency Safety and Law Enforcement and
Investigations (LEI) leadership to develop a policy for serious incidents.
LEI investigations were already required for serious incidents. The problem
is they were getting mixed up with Safety investigations. The new policy
builds a firewall between them. We believe this new policy will
significantly improve employee rights."
Was this collaboration with the Forest Service Washington DC
Safety and Occupational Health (OSOH), or with the
Service Fire Operations Risk Management Council?
There are vastly different opinions between the two groups regarding the recent
FS letter (and among the researchers working behind the scenes, et al.), even
though they are both FS chartered groups. These differing opinions are deep
seated and rooted in background and Commanders Intent, rather than Leaders
Intent, and may eventually determine whether the Forest Service ever realizes
"Foundational Doctrine", "Just Culture", "High Reliability Organizing", or ever
makes true and lasting improvements towards wildland firefighter and aviation
I understand that some folks serve on both FS chartered organizations and cannot
often openly comment "officially", and the discussions are complex and often
tiring, but if NFFE is supporting (collaborated with) a letter from the Chief
that is laden with landmines and suppositions not supported either legally or
factually in employee protection or Lessons Learned , further clarification is
needed before support can be given. The intent is good and a positive starting
point, but the application might undermine ten years of progress if Congress
doesn't act and put us back into the stone age.
Thanks in advance for your reply. Best of luck in your continued
Agreement negotiations with the Forest Service. Please keep firefighter
issues as an emphasis and focus item, not a bargaining chip with the Agency that
can be traded away for concessions. NFFE has and will continue to be a great
partner with the FWFSA in communicating federal wildland firefighter issues,
even if those actions have to come from the lowest levels of membership,
community, and family.
JMHO opinion after communicating with peers.
Steve Raymer Retirement Party:
Great guy. We'll miss him! Ab.
Black Hills Interagency Helitack 50th Anniversary -- an Invitation:
Reunion / 50th Anniversary of the Black Hills Helitack
Find out who is in charge of Redcards and IQCS for your Forest/Organization, and
take it up with
them. The training guy at my District is the best, so I don't
have those problems. However, the person
who does IQCS and Redcards on the
Forest Level is a bit scatter brained. I had my redcard re-done
4 times before
it was finally correct.
Not sure if that would be considered grievable, but contact a union steward in
your area and ask them.
Lobotomy wrote in.
Here's the beginning text of his post is below. Click the link to read the
Rebuttal to Chief's letter
Re: Federal Laws Still on the "books" (2009)... aka Cr*p (Accountability)
This is a promise to those lost and their families to fulfill our promises to
them that things will become safer and factually addressed. It was a personal
promise and an organizational promise.
Important snippits of info from current federal LAW that is often overlooked by
many through either intentional or unintentional acts, commissions, or omissions
as land managers in the complex world of federal wildland fire management. We
can and must do better in this absolute mess, and stop accepting that a future
"Line Officer" will ever take the lead without understanding the true risks vs
The FWFSA and NFFE are grounded on the facts supporting our community and our
<Snipped lots of legal documentation to support his argument>
No authorization (legislation) exists for the recent memo from the "Chief" or
Joel to substantiate the current memo direction to the field... to provide the
services they seek to perform.... in reality, those services are supposed to be
provided entirely by the FBI, with minimal exceptions provided by PL 107-203.
All links are provided as is under federal law, and yes, I have commented under
the advice of an attorney, peers, and friends to make things safer.
L, I snipped some on theysaid but not on your page. It's too time
consuming for me to re-format and as is, makes theysaid too bulky. Thus, I gave
it its own page that includes all the legal documentation I snipped. Readers,
you can access it at the link above. Ab.
district training officers?
So I am trying to figure something out. How good or bad are your
district training officers? I feel like I am swimming up stream
without arms or legs with ours.. He will occasionally get something
right, but mainly it is luck. My temps have been on for three weeks
now and he has had 21/2 weeks to get their redcards printed. He has
had 3 months to get Perm. red cards out and they are all hosed up. So
far has taken 3x to get my redcard close to right. My boss was
demoted to a FFT2 on his redcard. Now he has to provide dates and
times for all his quals again. Some people are waiting for taskbooks
from last year. Is this a grievance related item? Training is messed
up. No one gets what they want. I've been put in for a class I have
already had three times running. So no training...He is a retention
issue in himself. It does not seem like the DFMO wants to do anything
about this. I know it is supposed to be about the what and not the
who, but this guy is driving me nuts.
Contemplating a Grievance,
The Abs / wildlandfire.com: What are we? What do we do? How do we effect change?
In the last 9 months I have heard from a number of people -- including
families of fallen, tragedy survivors, firefighters needing a legal
network/advice, congress people, several in the WO and ROs, congressional
staffers and members of communities where fires have burned, European and
Australian supporters, one CALFIRE chief, Ray Q and others who once were or
still are high up the fire management supervisory chain -- that we Abs need to do more to
"blow wildlandfire.com's horn". Original Ab and I are more private,
non-chest-thumping, very busy service-oriented people who do not ask for much of anything
from anybody and are more inclined to let what
we and this website do speak for itself. Here's a summary
requested by many...
Follow-up on Lobotomy's post below: They Said It exists in part to protect those who do not have the
status, the money, the resources, the network, the protections in place to
protect themselves when tragedy occurs in our risky fire environments.
They Said It -- a moderated discussion forum -- exists to
- share good ideas,
- research topics,
- provide fire news and announcements,
- ask questions,
- communicate watchout situations,
- answer questions,
- seek solutions from the ground up,
- provide safety and lessons-learned info, and communicate about that,
- dialog about firefighter health and injury risks, short and
long-term, physical and psychological,
- support firefighters involved in legislative change that protects
wildland firefighters; including supporting the FWFSA, an association of
federal members that educates Congress,
- band together to create the change we all feel is needed -- at
local and national levels,
- support each other's change,
- promote leadership,
- promote professionalism,
- right injustice
- clarify when others get it wrong, expect accountability,
- share photos and fun stuff, mourn, vent and celebrate,
- support the fallen, their families, survivors, and those involved in
tragedy as only the Abs can,
- support the fallen, survivors and their families in conjunction with
- and most importantly,
- reinforce that groundpounder and firefighting groundpounder manager are
professionals with fire knowledge, training, skills and experiences not possessed by
others that have not fought fire
- give the groundpounder VOICE across agencies and groups. (AKA:
Firefighter REALITY CHECK!)
The Hotlist -- an auto-posting forum -- exists for
similar purposes, but today is more geared toward breaking wildfire news,
thanks to contributors and also to our Mods.
- Initial Attack and
- Extended Attack, Large Fires and Incident within an Incident.
We provide the "vessel" (the forums, the networking, some research,
lots of communicating, writing and editing);
the wildland fire community fills it.
It's up to you to tell others about wildlandfire.com and to participate
however you want.
"Do or do not. There is no try," as Yoda said.
PS: I'll ask Original Ab to contribute some of our stats on
readership.. It's interesting who reads wlf.com from around the world.
||Re: Organizational Accountability and Line Authority
The Chalk Fire APA brings up something I have been concerned about for many
years. Where does accountability for the folks in Line Authority begin? At what
point do changes in Line Authority need to be made and how? How do we institute
those changes without assigning "blame" rather than looking at Lessons Learned?
Why aren't the decision makers (line officers) actually signing policy and
I can't remember when the last time I actually saw a document out of the R-5 RO
or WO actually have a signature of the decision maker (Line Officer), as opposed
to someone doing or supporting the staff work.
Chalk Fire Examples -
May 22 Memo:
/s/ Thomas L. Tidwell (for)
July 10 Memo:
/s/ Beth G. Pendleton (for)
You can repeat the examples 100 times fold or more. Simply ask (FOIA) for all of
the memos regarding R-5 Fire Management Decisions in the last two years....
you'd be surprised. Want another laugh, just ask for the memos from the WO.
Count how many times the "Line Officer" has signed them.
We need to look at things in an organizational/systemic fashion to get down to
lessons learned and where/what true accountability standards would look like for
a safer, more efficient, and more cost effective federal wildland fire program.
P.S. - One of the most distasteful things I have ever seen in our Agency was
"template" condolence letters sent to the families of fallen firefighters
earlier in this year with the same XXXX signed (for) XXXX format...WTF.... Get
the point WO? How would you feel if you received a "heart felt" letter of
condolence for a personal loss in this format? Those of us in the field are
actually on the "pointy end of the stick" trying to protect our peers and their
families through positive changes.... and are actually the ones who support the
families of our fallen when things go gunnysack beyond our control. The
roadblocks from the RO and WO are getting old and crap is going to start rolling
We can do things better.
Lobotomy, the whole point of the big re-write of
the FS-5100 was to make line officers accountable, by clearly delineating
their responsibilities, so they become the person where "buck stops". I keep
wondering when the first serious lawsuit will be leveled against one of them. Oh
wait, that's already happened on Cramer. Of course they have had PLI for many
years so it's unlikely that any lawsuit against any one of them will succeed.
(I'm not sure any lawsuit should; I know that like us they also go through serious
psychological trauma when someone dies or is injured.)
||NFFE Forest Service Council Update - Firefighter Issues
Two years of
fighting on these two issues and now we get big scores on both within days of
each other. Sorry I haven't posted before on these, but I have to put follow-up
with DC contacts first. And when it rains, it pours. So I'm really behind the
curve on reporting out on what's happened recently.
I ask those whose initial impression of the new investigations policy was
negative to slow down, take a careful look, follow the links, and reconsider.
The new policy is a critical step toward ensuring a "no fault" safety
investigation environment. The ball is now in Congress' court. We're continuing
to work that - see the last link under Safety Investigation Reform Links.
Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee
Link to the full info here:
Beginning text below. Click the link above for all the info about what
they've been working on. Ab.
NFFE Forest Service Council, Firefighter Issues, Update - June 1, 2009
Confidentiality of Safety Witness Statements
Safety witness statements obtained by OIG at Thirty-Mile were ultimately
used to prosecute one of our firefighters for criminal negligence. At Dutch
Creek, a criminal investigation was initiated by a FS Law Enforcement
Officer who participated in the safety investigation.
Your union strongly supports an effective safety program. However, the kind
of candid disclosures and speculations that are needed in a safety
investigation are not possible under the looming threat of prosecution. That
is why we are working hard to ensure the confidentiality of disclosures made
in safety investigations.
The NFFE FSC collaborated with agency Safety and Law Enforcement and
Investigations (LEI) leadership to develop a policy for serious incidents.
LEI investigations were already required for serious incidents. The problem
is they were getting mixed up with Safety investigations. The new policy
builds a firewall between them. We believe this new policy will
significantly improve employee rights. Now:
* LEI must inform Safety of whether a criminal investigation will occur
prior to initiation of any safety investigation.
* LEI and Safety investigations will be conducted independently.
* Law Enforcement Officers will not participate in safety witness
* Safety witness interviews will not be disclosed outside of Safety.
* Employees will know the type of investigation being conducted and their
rights before they participate
Be aware that safety witness statements even under the new policy are still
subject to disclosure to third parties using discovery, subpoena, etc...
Your union is actively pursuing legislation that would prevent disclosure
under these circumstances. In the meanwhile, your union obtained agency
agreement to inform employees about their rights at the time they are
interviewed. Be sure you know the new policy and your rights in
investigations. (See the sidebar for more information.)