June, 2009

Home of the Wildland Firefighter
SUBJECT (Previous Archive: May-09)

Return to Archives Page

6/30 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!


6/30 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 (1994)

PERC 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.

Recommended Wording:

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 
FS-RMC Representatives

6/29 From several people:


Governor Schwarzenegger Establishes Blue Ribbon Task Force Further Ensuring California is Prepared when Disaster Strikes
press release

"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 Management Director Ed Hollenshead and Governor's Office Public Safety Liaison Tom Sawyer as members of BRFT."

Note: My bold added for emphasis in the above quote.




Hi Ab:

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 cjudd@fwfsa.org or phone me at 208-775-4577.

Thanks in advance.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

6/29 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 white.

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...

AP: White Firefighters Win Supreme Court Appeal


6/29 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.


6/29 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.

6/28 Brett Stearns' Service:

Funeral Information:

Funeral services for Firefighter Brett Stearns Stearns have been scheduled for
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.

6/28 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.


6/27 Brett Stearns Passing

Added the BLM News Release and the 24 Hour Report to that thread. Ab.

6/27 Brett Stearns, Craig CO BLM Engine Captain died in a falling accident yesterday afternoon.

Details on the Lessons Learned and Safety Zone portion of the Hotlist.

Our condolences.


2010: Now on Always Remember Brett Stearns

6/27 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.

6/26 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.

6/26 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.

Again thanks


6/26 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.

6/26 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 radios?

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!


6/26 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 linking 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 :  training

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!

6/26 J,

Keep an eye on the California Training website, LA County or Ventura County
often offer the S-260/261 classes in December.

Yellow Angel

6/26 Chain Saw Chaps Safety Alert

from NWCG

6/26 Re: Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAGs)

Dear Ab & All:

The FWFSA was recently alerted to the possibility that the reimbursement percentage for FMAGs has increased from 75% to 90% in some agreements.

I received an email from (name left out) the General Accounting Office (GAO) seeking any hard evidence of this change.

There has been a great deal of discussion on Capitol Hill about the FMAG program, funded through FEMA and the potential abuses of the program. If anyone has any solid evidence that 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 cjudd@fwfsa.org.

Thanks in advance.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

6/26 All.

This may seem like a dumb question, but are there any studies showing that the increase of radios on the fireline has reduced firefighter fatalities?


6/26 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!


6/26 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?


6/25 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 exchanges like this are smooth and fast (Less than one day from order to travel). I know two federal 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)

6/25 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 morning...

6/25 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.

6/25 POLITICS 101

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 Services Committee. Video clip

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 actions.

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 session.

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...

Casey Judd
Business Manager

6/25 Northwest Timber Fallers has a couple of positions open in the Northern California area.

See the Jobs Page for info. OA

6/25 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....


6/25 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!)

Cache Queen

Thanks Cache Queen, we value your input. Ab.

6/25 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.


6/24 torch,

You do know that agency 216 is the Bureau of Putrid Dog Vomit and Rotting Pig Entrails, right?

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 briefings.

I think they’re starting to hear us now. Let’s keep it up.

Misery Whip

6/24 How about - "Strive for 205" ??? "Staring at the land and serving the computer....."

Sign me - Just another lurker......

6/24 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...


6/24 I have come up with a new motto to replace Chief Kimble's "Its Cool to be Safe!"

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 Human Capital 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?)


6/24 Re GS-reclassification:

Quick Connect,

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 dvice.


6/24 California's Burning by Dave Alvin & The Guilty Women

Check this out... Listen and Purchase the cd here... (second track) davealvin.net


Rockin Blues. I like it! Ab.

6/24 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 as well. 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 Firefighters.


Never forget Black Tuesday - April 1, 2008 - The Day They Lied from Coast to Coast

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 that job?

6/24 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!

6/24 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.


6/23 Coffee Mugs 206 out of 216,  Can You Hear Us Now?

206 Hotshot,

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 the

"206 out of 216, Can You Hear Us Now"!, slogan.


6/23 Dear OFG:

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 structural setting.

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 qualifications.

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.


6/23 Re GS-reclassification:

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).

Quick Connect

6/23 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.


6/23 Hotlist Thread on Martin Mars possibly being stationed at Lake Elsinore.


6/23 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...

206 Hotshot

6/23 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.


6/23 Stomped On (or anyone else with information on white male hiring discrimination),

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 fire world?

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?)

Thank you,


Happy to pass info on. Ab.

6/22 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 gone.

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 casey@hotmail.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 precipice. Ab.

6/22 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 following items;

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 kit.

Good Luck


6/22 Hmmmmm !!! Could we see a cut in Uniform Allowance coming???? DirtMiner

Casual Fridays memo, text below:

FROM: Kathleen Merrigan
Deputy Secretary

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 policy.

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.

6/22 Re: WCT

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 as 2002.

"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.



6/22 Fire Management Hiring

This is the way the Forest Service does things like hiring.

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.


Stomped On

6/22 Historical Preparedness Levels

Here is a link to Historical PL levels by CY and number of days (pdf), scroll to page 22:

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.


6/22 Re: Going Permanent Demo vs. Career Ladder

Dear Ab,

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 positions?
  • Once perm. do employees still have options to tranfer RDs, Forests, Crews?
  • 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 happen?
  • 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 program?

Any answers for this career seasonal GS are appreciated, thanks,


6/22 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 communicated.

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....

6/22 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.


6/22 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.


6/22 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.


6/22 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 City, NM.
  • 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.

6/22 Morale

206 not so bad. Try being the other people at 216. Trade boots for a day and then 206 will not be so bad.


6/22 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 non-firefighting positions.

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 experience.

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.

"Risk Management:
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 reduction.

"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 coworkers."

"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...


6/21 Legs,

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,


6/21 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!

Reality Check

6/21 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.


6/21 Fire management hiring...


Re: the wildlife biologist who was lateralled into the Division Chief position on the Modoc.....what quals are they lacking?


6/21 Happy Fathers Day to all you fathers out there. The Abs and Mods.
6/21 Hi Ab, 

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.

6/21 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.


6/20 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

Thanks Zimm

6/20 Date: June 12, 2009
Subject: Chainsaw/Crosscut Operations and First Aid Kit (Belts)

A recent 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 ghelmer@fs.fed.us or 703-605-5139; or Larry Sutton at lsutton@fs.fed.us or 208-387-5970.

/s/ Robin L. Thompson (for)
Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry

cc: Tory Henderson, Larry Sutton, Ralph Dorn

6/20 Re: stick,

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.


6/20 Two new logos came in from Dan. Thanks, Dan. I put them on the Logos16 photo page. Ab.
6/20 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 over again?!

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!"

Sign me,

Wishing Tom Tidwell well!

6/20 AD GAL,

I am not sure about BLM ADs but I am a USFS AD and received my Per Diem in 4 days

Another AD

AD gal. Perhaps a call is in order? Ab.

6/20 Re: stick,

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.

Misery Whip

6/20 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.


6/20 Congress Looking at Cutting Federal Benefits

[follow-up on Q's post (6/12/09)]

from noname:
Hi All,

I am passing these FedSmith.com articles (attached) on to you, just in case you want to contact your Congressional Representatives.

Ab found the links here:
Here Are Proposals to Cut Federal Benefits ('09)
How Safe Are Your Federal Benefits? ('07 article referenced)
proposal (letter to Pres.) referenced in article (266 K pdf)

6/20 Government looks to Cal Poly for help with fire safety

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security looks to Cal Poly for help with fire safety.


Hi OldLPF, thanks... Ab.
Hotlist thread

6/20 Stick:

I suspect the term "stick" in the jumper program originated in the military. 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.


6/19 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.


6/19 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 over again.


6/19 EMT Training:



Go to the NWCG Medical website

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.


6/19 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 PL-3."

As long as all understand all that, we're all good. Do we?

- Bump on the Head

6/19 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 Docs worth Reading Archive. Ab.

6/19 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.


6/19 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.

6/19 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.

6/19 Hey folks...

Need some historical background for a friend. In the smokejumping world, where did the term "stick" originate, as in "a stick of jumpers"?



6/19 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

6/19 The 2nd Region 5 Forest Service "Forest Focus" podcast on the topic of "Fire" is available on the web!



There was a little dancing, celebrating "smiley" at the end but it doesn't translate to this forum. Ab.

6/19 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..


6/19 Re: New Forest Service Chief

"He is the third consecutive person promoted from Region 1 Regional Forester to chief." ~ 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 home.

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:


Other Ref:
State and Private Forestry Redesign Timeline

6/19 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 this complaint.

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?

Popeye ;)

6/18 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.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

6/18 Veg treatments in the WUI:

Hello Ab,

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 thinning.

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.


6/18 The Hotlist IA Forum is on Twitter. Read about it.

Info here: Hotlist thread

6/18 GS-reclassification NOT

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

6/18 FS Morale:

I was talking with some folks about the 206/216 morale rating for the Forest Service. 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 the FWFSA.

How about a contest for a good slogan T-shirt/bumper sticker in regards to the 206 rating to even send the message deeper. For example:

(FS Shield) (FS Shield) (FS Shield)
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...


6/18 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 BS.

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 infractions!!!!

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

6/16 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.

6/18 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 ground.

Old Sawyer

6/18 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


6/18 Veg treatments in the WUI:

Hi Pyrogeographer

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 Communities: 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 money.

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 retirement.


6/18 Veg treatments in the WUI

Hi all,

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 authors chose to use Area Treated as their primary metric. I'm just a nobody scientist, but my impression has always been that lower amounts of area are treated in the WUI because it is so expensive, and if we broke it out by NUMBER of treatments, or DOLLARS spent, work in the WUI 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,

The Pyrogeographer

6/18 Marty, re your paper Alexander, Ackerman and Baxter (2009), The Dodge Escape Fire Analysis

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 that.

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.


6/18 Question: National Planning levels by days?

Does anyone know where to find a tabulation of National Planning Levels by days? I know last year there was a spreadsheet that came out when PL5 hit early that had the last 5 years together.


6/18 Cerro Grande

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 district.

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.

6/18 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!

Centralized fire now!!!!!!

Sent from my iPhone

6/17 Cerro Grande

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 place.....

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.


6/17 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 interior flashy 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 having trouble getting it to carry.

Lessons Learned has a Cerro Grande PDF I haven't seen yet. I'm curious if it mentions this!

William Riggles

6/17 A NEW ECC for the USFS??

How about combining USFS DOI CALFIRE and CA OES under ONE Large umbrella and ONE Building?

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 around THEM.

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 infrastructure

Super ECCs?

C'mon now .... REALLY???

6/17 New Chief of FS

The Tidwell announcement is coming in from many people. Ab.

Photos: Tidwell 1 (on a Friday) and Tidwell 2 (Washington attire)

6/17 FYI

Chief to retire on July 1, 2009.

No name please

I, for one, wish her the best in retirement. Ab.


Tom Tidwell brings 32 Years of Experience Working to Protect Our Nation's Forests

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that Tom Tidwell will serve as the new Chief for the U.S. Forest Service.

"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 Office.

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

6/17 Cerro Grande:

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 be 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.


6/17 Dodge’s Escape Fire

Dear Ab:

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.


Marty Alexander

Alexander, Ackerman and Baxter (2009). Dodge Escape Fire Analysis (4422 K pdf)

I look forward to reading it. Ab.

6/17 Directors calling folks "whiners??"

That is TRUE LEADERSHIP now isn't it??


6/17 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 Statement

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 contract.

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 considerations:

  • 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 sources.

Proposed Action/Decision Items: Move forward towards implementation of a contract. Additionally, the steering committee would remain intact to:

  1. 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.

6/17 veg management:

This came up in Science Daily. Lots of very interesting things also linked on the page

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.


6/17 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 away.

Sincerely: Left Hook

6/17 Engines on Corral Creek: Miles City, MT BLM IA Engine Module. Badger Creek Wildfire BC1 & BLM E261 Corral Creek Fire. Photo compliments of WDB. (0609)

On Engines 24 photo page. Ab.

6/17 EMT Training:


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 investment$.

Good luck

6/17 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 "puzzle palaces"

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 ludicrous.

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 ORGANIZATION

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!!!!!


6/17 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 knew it.

6/17 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 even considered?

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 enterprise firefighting.



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.



6/17 Re: Accountability

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

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.



6/16 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 operations.

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
Redding                  SHF
Fresno                    SNF
Porterville                SQF
San Bernardino       BDF
Lancaster (FOX)      ANF
Chester                  LNF
Reload Base Host Forest
Siskiyou           KNF
Stockton           STF
Bishop              INF
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)
Regional Forester

cc: pdl r5 fam
Ed Hollenshead
Willie R Thompson
Dennis Hulbert
Joe Millar
Ralph Domanski
Pat Norbury

6/16 Pandemic Flu Briefing:

The following H1N1 Pandemic Flu Status Update put out by Michelle Reugebrink, R5 Safety Officer
is circulating behind the scenes. Ab.

6/16 EMT training:

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 doing this position but is there any other way of becoming one? Any info would be appreciated.

Sent from my iPhone

I'll post this on the hotlist too. There are some emt threads there. Ab

6/16 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

6/16 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 family.


Hear, Hear! Ab.

6/16 I've been very very impressed over the years with the informative things the Lessons Learned Center has put on their site.

The Changing 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, they've made their decision..."

Very one sided and biased.


6/16 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 again [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 as more cost-effective and efficient. We have also sent a copy of this letter (attached) to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and USDA Undersecretary Jay Jensen as well as key members of Congress.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

6/16 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


AD gal

6/16 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 worth sharing.

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.

vfd cap'n

I never saw that one, so it's not posted here. Ab.

6/16 Todd,

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 representatives.

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 just because 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 administration’s appointees.

Misery Whip

6/16 NFFE update:


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 posted at 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 safety
  • 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 nffe@fs.fed.us. 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.

6/16 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 here: crew13.com/lassen/)

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 answer.

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 make 'em. 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 done.

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 projects.

Krstofer Evans

krstofer.org & crew13.com

Good idea Krs. Ab.

6/16 Re: LLC

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, Accountability, effectiveness, and efficiency of Agency fire mission(s).

The LLC will always be one step behind "real world commo", as They Said always has friends and experts communicating as equal peers behind the scenes focused on the end state goals.

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.

6/15 Here's a spectacular NV DOF fire engine and dozer photo. What a backdrop!
I just posted it on the Engines 24 photo page.


6/15 FYI:

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)

6/15 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.
6/15 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.
6/15 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.

6/15 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.

6/15 Ab,

Here are some cool photo's I shot in 2007 at the Pend O'reille dam fire near Trail, BC, Canada.

Aaron Herrick
Williams Lake, BC

Have A Good Day.

Thanks, Aaron. I put them on Helicopters 27 photo page. Ab.

6/15 Dear CL:

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 convoluted ??!!

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.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

Thanks for your work and persistence, Casey. It matters. Ab.

6/15 Some new photos of logos and engines from the Ukiah Valley Fire District. Thanks Brandon. I put them on the Logos16 and 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.

6/14 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.


6/14 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.

6/14 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.


6/14 Tony Sciacca is the IC for the Central West Type II Team here in AZ. He retired from the Feds and now works for the Prescott FD. You will be able to reach him there.

Mike Bradley

Thanks, Mike. Ab.

6/14 Don't know if anyone is still following this one. Tom

Hot suspect in Old Fire
09:58 PM PDT on Friday, June 12, 2009
The Press-Enterprise

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 investigation.

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 pending case.

much more including a photo of the accused.

6/14 Does anyone know when the new Legislation presented by the FWFSA will be presented and voted upon
by congress?


6/14 Biscuit Blowup 2002:

From ht posted on the Hotlist:

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.

6/14 Initial Impressions from the Northern California 2008 Lightning Siege

A 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 learned.

Original Fedwatcher and contributor

6/14 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

Mike Wheelock

That would be great, Mike, many thanks! I forwarded your email with contact info.

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?
Shari Downhill's 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?

Here's the Photo page on the Biscuit Fire to jog people's memories:
Photo description and Information page

If you want to read mikef's original email research request and view the links he provided, click HERE to skip down. Ab.

6/14 Biscuit Blowup 2002:

Firehorse still reads "Theysaid" everyday. Had nothing to do with Biscuit though.


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 something. Ab.

6/14 > From the Wildland Fire 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 23, 2001.

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 twice.


6/13 From anon:

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 Press-Enterprise reported.

(The rest is at the link: white van found in LA, man who was suspect has since died, Fowler was passenger, incriminated himself, etc...)

6/13 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 takes.

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?


6/13 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.

Thanks Bob

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.

6/13 Mike,

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 a thesis.

Maybe we should talk. Ab can get you up with me.

Tim Stubbs

6/13 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 pictures of the Biscuit fire in the late afternoon hours of 28 July. In particular it would be 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 particular fire. Although it burned for weeks, and was very active on many days, a particularly deep pyrocumulus cloud formed on that date, and shot material high into the troposphere. Here is a visible and infrared sequence from GOES satellite of the "pyrobubble." from rammb.cira.colostate.edu
29jul02/visloop.asp and 9jul02/ch4loop.asp

Even though the fire was going strong all day long, most of the smoke was transported at relatively low altitudes out to sea. But a few puffs of deep pyroconvection exhausted material that zipped on jet stream winds eastward. We'd love to understand what the folks on the ground might have to offer in terms of descriptions of fire-behavior change that afternoon.

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.
Thanks, Ab.

6/12 Hi to all:

Lots of interesting comments lately. Just a little insight on some of the recent posts:

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 overwhelming...

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 chat.

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.

Morale Issue:

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.

Firefighter Classification:

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 temporary time.

We've lost some great folks to retirement this year so please stay safe out there.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

6/12 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:gems@narfe.org]
Sent: Friday, June 12, 2009 6:47 AM
To: jerry@<snip>
Subject: NARFE - Press Release June 11, 2009

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.”

6/12 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
Rachel Cameron

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.

6/12 FS morale:

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


6/12 More info on ATs on contract this season in California: Hotlist tthread
6/12 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 )

6/12 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.

T-d Off

6/12 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 Departments.


washingtonpost.com srticle

"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."

6/12 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

6/12 USFS Morale Article

The Washington Post had an article (6/10) about the USFS - Best Places to Work rankings.


6/11 FYI


The Best Places to Work rankings — the most comprehensive and authoritative rating of employee satisfaction and commitment in the federal government.


6/11 Info shared from FEDS through their emails.

FERS Sick Leave Amendment Left Out of Final Legislation in the Senate

Not only does the FEDS program give updated Federal information, they have a passion for 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 my opinion. Comparison to other companies. Ab.

6/11 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 charge.

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 questions.

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 the FWFSA.

Fedwatcher II

6/11 Congrats to JP Harris for being one of the 2008 Paul Gleason Lead by Example Award Winners

JP Harris, LA County Fire Departmen Mentoring and Teamwork


6/11 Ab,

The NWCG Leadership Committee has released its first annual newsletter. Any
exposure you can give to this publication on "They Said" would be appreciated.

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 leadership_feedback@nifc.blm.gov including “Subscribe” or “Unsubscribe”
from Leadership Newsletter in the subject line.

Pam McDonald
NWCG Leadership Committee, Logistics Coordinator

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2009/fed/LeadingLearning_Spring09.pdf (271K pdf file)


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 to Boise.

AAAaaarrgghh, me buckholds, them were the days!


6/11 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 the summer?

These questions have been on my mind, and I thought I would ask now that the WHO has decided to declare full pandemic.


fireweed lurker

6/11 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 flying skills 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.

6/10 CA-MNF Elk Mountain Hand Crew Type 2 IA made it through two certification days!!!

Now a HotShot Crew. These guys worked hard and got it. Great job!!!!


Nice job! Ab.

6/10 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!


6/10 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)

6/10 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.


6/10 Re AT Ownership:

Thanks Other Owner Names!!!

Needed to get some "my" facts straight BUT that is sure is some GREAT info laid out there!!!!!!


6/10 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.

-Rhys Walmsley

6/10 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 crews.


Thanks, I put them on the Helicopters 27 photo page. Amazing how nice you can make faded old photos in Photoshop. Ab.

6/10 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 contractors.

N494DF super huey...

N494DF is Assigned

Aircraft Description

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

Registered Owner

Street 5500 PRICE AVE
City MCCLELLAN State CALIFORNIA Zip Code 95652-2421

Here is another, now an ov-10 air attack...
Aircraft Description

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

Registered Owner

Street 5500 PRICE AVE
City MCCLELLAN State CALIFORNIA Zip Code 95652-2421

Here is Tanker 83, you can see we are listed as the "other owner" on the bottom

Tanker 83....

Aircraft Description

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

Registered Owner

Street 5500 PRICE AVE
City MCCLELLAN State CALIFORNIA Zip Code 95652-2421


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 Aircraft Records

Here's one example by serial number: registry.faa.gov  aircraft inquiry

Other Owner Names

6/10 Outsourced fire organization:

If the FS outsourced fire (277 K pdf file) would it still get the bucks but avoid all or most liability?

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.

NorCal Tom

6/10 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...


6/10 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...


6/10 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.


6/9 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 Air Attack 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 MAFFS.

To smokeybehr

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.

6/9 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.

6/9 Re: Meld CAL FIRE into CalEMA (Emergency Management Agency)

From the Hotlist

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.

<opinion below>
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.


6/9 Rhys Walmsley,

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 management.

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 maintenance.

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
vice- versa.

Best regards

6/9 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.


6/9 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 up!

Abby B

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.

6/9 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.


6/9 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)

6/9 Misery Whip,

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.

Fire Geek

6/9 Does anyone have any documentation on standards for replacement of wildland apparatus?
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,


6/9 Funeral and Memorial services for Grant Young will be held on
Tuesday June 16, 2009 (A-shift on duty) at
Parkside Church,
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)


6/9 Angora Fire

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 head!

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!

William Riggles

6/9 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)

New Zealand

Thanks, Alan, I'll be following that. Posted your email on the "Australia's Tragic Firestorm" Hotlist thread as well. Ab.

6/8 Lobotomy,

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.

Misery Whip

6/8 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.php Resources Agency abolished???

(I found it here: cdf-firefighters.org)

CDF Firefighters:

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

Fair use disclaimer

6/8 Ab,

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)

6/8 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.

Reality check

6/8 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 stipulations."

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.


6/8 Reality Check,

Thank you.

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."


6/7 Re PAR:

Reality Check:

"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"

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 page. Ab.

6/7 Just wanted to let you know that the Smith River Crew from the SRF did pass their hot shot review on Friday.



Nice. Ab.

6/7 Angora APAR


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,
Reality check

6/7 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!

-Rhys Walmsley

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.

6/7 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?


6/7 " 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.


6/7 IHCs:


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.

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

6/6 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 negotiable!..


6/6 IHCs

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 IHCs.

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-
negative creep.

6/5 Ab,

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 our leaders.

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 responsibility was.

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 responsibility is.

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.


6/5 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."

6/5 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 firefighters.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

6/5 Re: Angora Fire

Misery Whip,

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.

6/5 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 they come.

Don Hill

Our condolences, Don. Please let us know the details of his service. Ab.

6/5 Some new logos on Logos 15 & Logos 16 photo pages. Logos are of Rio Hondo and Feather River IHC and two Howard Forest Laytonville and Willits CFR crew logos. Ab.

Rio Hondo: Shoulder patch designed by Guillermo Macias. Worn as part of the uniform at the Rio 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)

6/4 Abs & All,

Kudos to the Angora APA team for a lucid and courageous report. Posted at LLC: 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.

Misery Whip

Thanks. Ab.

6/4 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

6/3 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 Office of Safety and Occupational Health (OSOH), or with the Forest 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 safety.

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 Bargaining Unit 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.


6/3 Steve Raymer Retirement Party:

Great guy. We'll miss him! Ab.

Retirement flyer

6/2 Black Hills Interagency Helitack 50th Anniversary -- an Invitation:

Reunion / 50th Anniversary of the Black Hills Helitack

6/2 Northnight

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.

Good Luck


6/2 Lobotomy wrote in.

Here's the beginning text of his post is below. Click the link to read the rest.

Rebuttal to Chief's letter

Re: Federal Laws Still on the "books" (2009)... aka Cr*p (Accountability) Rolling Uphill

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 gain:

The FWFSA and NFFE are grounded on the facts supporting our community and our membership.


<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.

6/1 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,
  • network,
  • educate,
  • 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 the WFF,
  • 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: Wildland 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.
  • database

That's it...

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.

6/1 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 procedural documents?

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)
Regional Forester

July 10 Memo:

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

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 uphill.

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.)

6/1 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: nffe-fsc.org

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 interviews.
* 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.)

Copyright © 2014 FWI WildlandFire.com - All Rights Reserved. Your source for Wildland Fire News and Wildfire News and Information.