July, 2009

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

Return to Archives Page

7/31 Jobs:

Three Creeks,

It's my understanding that everything in the GS - 5 to GS - 9 range in R5 has to be filled during FireHire. Those vacancies GS - 11 and above can be anytime by the forest.

Looks like the next round of job offers will be made in mid-November.

Former NPS Cap'n

7/31 Jobs:

Three Creeks,

Maybe you don't understand the hiring system well enough.

Only GS 5-9 are in the Hiring Rounds used by Fire Hire, and are open/continuous positions. GS-10-11 Fire positions are flown separately, not using the Hiring rounds, so they are filled whenever a Cert is generated.

So, you were being told the correct thing. A GS-11 job can be filled without waiting for a round, a GS-8 has to wait until the next round.


7/31 Tom Marovich, from Captain 64:

Day 14

Day 14 has come to a close and as I sit in my room, everything quiet finally, I can just look back on the day. I'm always my own biggest critic but I can say with complete honesty that I'm satisfied with the outcome. Our objective met, the line is tied in.

I got up early, might as well have, not sleeping anyway. I headed to the hotel where the Modoc folks were staying to lead E44 and Buck to their places for the day's events. I scouted out my planned back road route to keep off the interstate, should work great. One accident on the 880 and we're stuck in gridlock. Well traffic was light... I knew it would be. I handed Buck over to the DIVS handling the vehicle procession well ahead of schedule and took E44 down to the mortuary to get ready. I couldn't be in 2 places at once so I had to trust that the rest of the STEN would find their way through traffic, I knew it would be light, to the church, they made it in plenty of time. I met up with the crew and we formed up in front of the church, with all our fellow firefighters, to honor Tom as he was brought into the church. The FS Honor Guard, the BLM Honor Guard, and the Fremont FD Honor Guard came together to do this right. It was great to see the true meaning of interagency demonstrated with such style. The sea of blue and the sea of green became intermingled. The lines between agencies blurring. The image of FS, NPS, FWS, BLM, State and local FDs, police, EMS, everyone called to attention and saluting as Tom was carried by his friends into the church will stay with me. I stood in the back, in case I needed a quick get away.

The service was held in Tom's family's church. All along we knew it was small but there was no way we'd have the service anywhere else. There wasn't even standing room available inside, 400 people, maybe more. The rest of us moved to the back of the church and watched on a big screen TV. The setup worked great. We saw and heard everything. Probably another 100-200 people outside watching. After the full mass we moved back out front to salute Tom as he was again loaded into the hearse to be moved to the cemetery. This time I stood up front.

The pipes and drums lead the way. We walked 2 by 2 to the cemetery and lined the road to the site. The procession passed under 2 ladder trucks with a flag draped between them. Tom was taken from the hearse. They sounded the final alarm. 3 rings of the bell... 3 rings of the bell... 3 rings of the bell. Tom's last alarm. The flag, crisply folded, representing Tom's service to his country was presented to his family. The bronze fallen firefighter statue, representing all the wildland firefighters who couldn't be here today to pay their respects was presented to his family. The pipes played Amazing Grace. As the pipes faded the sound of a helicopter grew louder. I think most people thought it was another news helicopter but as it circled closer we could see the flashing lights, the red FIRE, and finally the H510. Tom's helicopter circled, dipped its nose, then pulled off over the hills. All together I can't think of a more fitting tribute.

Was the service perfect? Yes it was. No the sound system didn't fail, we just figured Tom deserved more than just a single moment of silence so we did several of them back to back. Could everyone see, no not really , but Tom's family sure could. Today wasn't about me or you or even us. It was about honoring Tom, it was about telling and showing his parents how much he meant to us. What they mean to us. Tom's uncle stopped by tonight and expressed his thanks. He didn't need to say it, none of them need to say it, we know. Tonight it came back to us. Their thanks made all the sleepless nights, all the stressful days, all the pain, all the... everything worthwhile.

I'm leaving here tomorrow (today), diminished without Tom. I'll miss him. I'm leaving here tomorrow enriched with new friends, new experience, new ideas and new memories. I'm going to close this chapter. But the book isn't done, Tom still has a lot to teach us. You will not be forgotten my friend.

These daily discussions with you are also coming to a close for now. I'll check in with you from time to time, feel free to drop in sometime. I've had the honor to meet some of you. I don't know the rest of you, let's change that. See you soon.

I have one stop to make as I leave town tomorrow. I'll say good bye to him for you too.

Captain 64

Thanks Captain 64 and safe trip home. Ab.

7/31 Tom Marovich:

Dear AB:

What an incredible honor to have been able to attend the tribute and send off of Tom Marovich this (yesterday) morning. Not only was I humbled by the opportunity to meet so many FWFSA members for the first time and see old friends, I was incredibly proud of the Forest Service "family" and their efforts on behalf of Tom and his family.

It was a stunning turnout and the Fremont FD and Cal Fire are owed a great deal of our respect, gratitude and admiration for their help in what turned out to be a standing-room only send-off. Also a personal thank you to Tom Harbour, Ed Hollenshead, Randy Moore and Jim Pena for taking the time to be with their firefighters today.

FS firefighters, especially those on the Chester Fly Crew and on the Modoc will need our continued support and understanding for a long time and I hope they all know they can count on the wildland firefighting community for anything they need in the coming days, weeks, months and forever how long it takes.

I cannot properly express the pride I felt today. Thank you to so many who afforded me the opportunity to share this day with you.

That being said, it is clearly time for the Forest Service and other land management agencies to recognize the vital role it needs to play in paying our respects to their firefighters. I thought after Esperanza, the agencies were willing to develop protocols and procedures for such events so as to lessen the burden of so many firefighters who, as in the case of this service, rose to an incredible level for Tom and his family and all FS firefighters.

Hopefully leadership will renew efforts to establish a game plan so the agencies can properly and professionally provide the logistics and support needed for these events regardless of locale.

With great respect and sincerity,

Casey Judd
Business Manager

7/31 Thanks:

Captain 64,

Your updates have been as hard for us to read as they probably were for you to write. I attended the service today (yesterday) and after seeing the turnout, the sea of blue and green together, and the honor guard, all I can say is wow. You guys did a great job in giving TJ a proper sendoff. Our hearts and prayers go out to TJ's family, you, the Chester Fly Crew, and fire organization at the Modoc.

Nor Cal AFEO

7/31 Resource message from Tennessee

I often get frustrated especially in my neck of the country (Tennessee) when they begin to talk about cutbacks and lay-offs. The dangers to both firefighters and the public of doing so is absurd and can be catastrophic. Here in Tennessee we often have 5 or less firefighters on a given fire to control it, how are they going to cut that back and still be safe and get the job done? So, often my first thought is: if we only had news coverage like they do out west maybe people would understand. (I know they talk about cut backs out there too) recently I ran across a quote that made me realize I totally had the wrong line of thought.

"No air pack. You don't always have a hose. And never a water supply. You'll be out there for hours, just you and your crew. Hopefully a bulldozer too. If you don't stop the fire here, its gonna get to houses and people. The public doesn't know you're out there, and you'll make sure it stays that way. Wildland firefighting. It ain't about glory, its about the fire."

While we continue to face the rearward thinking of politicians, and fight and struggle against their unsafe thinking, perhaps this quote will some how remind us of why we do the work we love so much. We do it for each other and the brotherhood, for those who may never know how close they come to danger, and because it's about the fire!

So lets, keep up the fight, keep yourselves safe, and each other!

Charles Dodson

7/31 Jobs:

Does anyone know why some forests in Region 5 can hire fire personnel (not temps), but others can't?

I've been told I have to wait till the next round for a GS-8, but I know of an 11 that recently got hired.

Maybe I just don't know the right people.


Three Creeks

7/31 R-3 Lights and Sirens:


Don't blame the committee.

I'm reading the R-3 Memo completely different than you. I don't know your background, but I work within the Forest Service Fire Program and have served on committees before. Hopefully you have also. I wouldn't put fault towards the committee, but set your accountability goals higher towards the folks actually making the decisions in disregard to recommendations.

I read the Regional Foresters letter more of a..... how to say it politically correct.... 'Thank you' for your hard work and recommendations as a "committee".... but the Regional Leadership Team (RLT), under advice of the WO Executive Leadership Team (ELT) has chosen to ignore your fire experience, knowledge, and recommendations for a successful Red Light and Sirens program where needed and properly administered, instead to end the program completely.

We folks from R5 were admonished with the same 'Thank You' for "fine and thoughtful" work, as 99% of two-years of staff work was completely ignored and disregarded in the R5 Retention Committee Group.

As in both discussions (Red Light and Siren) and (Retention), decisions were made without listening to the field, or the presentation of actual need.

I wonder if similar actions are being taken in Region 3 to remove Red and Blue Lights and Sirens from Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) or Special Agent vehicles in R3?

Mitigator, you bring up a good reason why the FIRE PROGRAM needs centralization to the Chief as an absolute minimum. The Forest Service needs accountability, and accountability of the Forest Service is through the Chief through by delegated Line Authority authorized by Congress. The Chief can correct course and reverse direction..... or wait. The buck stops at the desk of the Chief, good or bad.... right now.


7/31 Re: You-Tube on Federal Computers

Progress is being made. Recently, the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Agriculture - Forest Service have stopped their blocking of You-Tube. In a turn about, several federal agencies are grasping You Tube as a potential outreach tool in community education and information sharing, as well as using the information sharing giant known as Twitter.

Various groups from DoD and the USFS fought for the removal of the blocking of You Tube and expanding social networking possibilities. Within the Forest Service, it was a collaboration effort from the field (District and Forest PAO's, as well as Fire Information Officers and others) who brought their concerns forward to the WO CIO group.

For years, various forms of communication such as You Tube, Real Media Player, and Twitter have been frowned upon within the federal government and have been blocked. The recent change is absolutely positive and in the right direction for effective communication. Congrats to all involved.


7/31 Whistleblowers:

From Anon:

Panel approves hiring reform, expands whistleblower protections

7/30 Tom Marovich:

Day 13...

Every firefighter out there knows what this means. Day 13, you're tired. Day 13, you're irritable. Day 13, you just want things to go smoothly so you can finish up and go home. Day 13.

We've got a good plan. A well thought out plan. Tomorrow (today) we'll execute the plan. Everything will come together despite our worries, our fears. Traffic will be light...everyone will be on time...traffic will be light...no one will screw up...traffic will be light. Tomorrow will be a day of days. I know it'll be perfect. Did I mention that traffic will be light?

I had some time today before an appointment so I went by the church and cemetery. I needed to see the ground again. To scout it out for my crews. I watched the honor guard practice. Listened to the pipes. Tom will be the only one not crying tomorrow.

It was tough seeing my guys tonight. Have I changed as much as I think I have these past days? I guess time will tell. The Modoc STEN got into town on time, traffic was light. I was committed to another project so Seth met with them and got them pointed in the right direction. Fremont Fire opened their wash facilities to us so that we could put a final polish on the engines. Then onto Station 7 for dinner. Yup dinner for 70+ people. You guys are great. It was fun to see our team wearing Fremont Fire hats and their BCs wearing FS hats. The brotherhood that was their all along was reaffirmed tonight. I'll never forget that. Just about every engine and truck in the city stopped by to greet us and express their condolences. Coming from them, it means a lot. I got to Station 7 before my guys. I had some time to sit and think about tomorrow. I had to prep a briefing for the STEN so they wouldn't...well so they wouldn't freak out. Lack of information absolutely drives firefighters crazy. I need it, I need it now, and don't change it once you've told me. Good luck with that. With patience, tomorrow will work out just fine. Remember why we're here.

It seems that writing has become useful for more than I. Check out fremontfire.org. Well done Zach. It's good to know it's helping you as it is helping me. Check it out folks.

I'm tired, I'm irritable, I want tomorrow to go smoothly so I can go home. We sometimes have to leave fires on day 14 with things left undone, line left to dig, hose left to lay. Not this time.

I'm going to bed

Captain 64

Thanks to Scott too, the retired Fremont Fire BC, now webmaster for Fremont Fire. We'll be thinking of all of you today. Ab.

7/30 Cal Fire, DC-10 Key Points


Here is another release from Cal Fire and it deals with the cancellation of the DC-10 exclusive use lease agreement and what the status of the Evergreen 747 air tanker will be with them.

Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 6:46 PM
Subject: FW: DC-10 Key Points

Following the signing of today’s state budget, the exclusive use contract with the DC-10 airtanker has been cancelled. Below are some key points from Deputy Director Janet Upton regarding the cancellation of the contract. If you have any questions feel free to call or email.

Daniel Berlant
Department Information Officer

DC-10 Key Points

  • Cancellation of the exclusive use contract is expected to save approximately 7 million dollars
  • The DC-10 can still be called through our normal emergency call-when-needed process, as can the other two VLATs (747, 2nd DC-10), four other large tankers and 140 helicopters, when needed to augment our own fleet of 53 aircraft
  • Via the Governor’s Executive Order, the Director has the latitude to place the DC-10 on special staffing patterns in advance of forecasted extreme fire conditions as needed
  • This process will be used prudently to balance fiscal constraints with wildfire preparedness

Remember, this should all be couched around our bottom line which is still, “Incident commanders on the ground will use the appropriate, available resources when and where they can be effective on the fires”

Janet Upton,
Deputy Director of Communications

7/30 Redrock / Trailer 1 Fire (NV) Norovirus Medical Lessons Learned

Attached is a Medical Lessons Learned from Chris Graves for H1N1 and for the Norovirus event in NV.

A great lessons learned writeup. The other documents are useful, but I would not advise reading any of these during a meal.

Larry Sutton
Fire Operations Risk Management Officer, USFS

FLU-I-draft[1].doc (36 K doc file)
Norovirus.pdf (587 K pdf file)
noro-factsheet.pdf (31 K pdf file)
norovirus-faqs.pdf (40 K pdf file)
Redrock Norovirus Lessons Learned.doc (20 K doc file)

Thanks for the tech info (gmail will open any kind of file) and for the doc file! Ab.

7/30 Warning Devices

So a brilliant panel of R-3 personnel have decided that the use of Warning Devices during emergency response is no longer warranted as this is not the mission of the federal government. lights-sirens FS correspondence 072709 Or did they couch it as the Forest Service? Rather than leave the decision to the responding party, for example an engine, whether the response required us to ask for the right of way, the Region decided that the bells, whistles, pretty lights were indicative of what? An out of control Fire Service? Does this somehow relate to the retaliation and hostile work environment foisted upon fire personnel in several Regions under what some describe as a corrupt timber lobbyist? One Region removes firefighter insignia, because we're all the same. We're not, we volunteer in fire departments, we serve the communities and we see ugly things, we're not the same. Another Region decides that ooh, Red Lights and Sirens are scary, loud and the firefighters like them for their ego trips so they are baaaaaad!

How about this? Unions alert, we use warning devices to alert the customer to our presence, we hope to ensure our and their safety by operating our equipment calmly and professionally thru our publics with safety. In cities we embrace 25 year old technology with the purchase of traffic pre-emption devices like Opticom to ensure a green light pathway. As the Fire apparatus are not just a regional asset, we know that we will be called upon to intervene in truly life or death and property damaging incidents in other Regions.

So let me leave you with this:
No better case has been made for the centralization of the fire management program than has been created by you. Your retaliatory, harassing and hostile work environment has continued to run contrary to the best of the American Fire Services. Our public, our Governors, and our congressional representatives expect service that you seem oblivious too. So when I see city buses and trash trucks festooned with warning lights, I ask you to reconsider your motivation and allow that single resource commander the decision whether to display warning devices commensurate with the risks at state, do the right thing, not the politically expedient thing.


7/29 FS "Type I Helicopter Use for Crew Transport" posted on Hotlist: Lessons Learned & Safety Zone subforum.

Hotlist thread

You can follow that subforum on Twitter to get breaking safety announcements and report notifications to your email or cell phone. Ab.

7/29 CAL FIRE employee receives Firemark Award:


Here is a great article from the Lassen County Times regarding Eric Ayers,
a fire Captain with LMU's CalFire Unit.

Local CAL FIRE Captain receives Liberty Mutual Firemark Award

July 28, 2009 — It started as another busy day at the height of fire season for California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Fire Captain Eric Ayers.

He was busy helping to contain the Backbone Fire in Klamath Falls, Ore, when he received an unexpected call bringing him back to CAL FIRE’s Lassen-Modoc-Plumas Unit. The only description of why he was being called back was for a “media event.”

When he arrived back at the station, he found that everyone had gathered to honor him as the recipient of the Liberty Mutual Firemark Award. Among those gathered were many of his colleagues from the Lassen-Modoc-Plumas unit, and other members from the fire community. The biggest surprise for Ayers was the fact that the award ceremony also doubled as a family reunion, as 16 members of his family came out to congratulate Ayers on his accomplishment.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Ayers said after accepting the award. “It was definitely a surprise. It’s just really amazing that the unit and CAL FIRE was allowing this to go on and recognize me for such an incredible award.”

The Firemark award was presented to Ayers by Liberty Mutual agent and step-aunt Juli Ayers, who also helped organize the family gathering.

Ayers who also received the American Legion, Department of California, Public Safety officer of the Year Award on Saturday, July 25, is now in the running for one of the two national awards offered by Liberty Mutual, which could award Ayers with an all-expenses paid trip to Florida to accept the award and $10,000 in grants for his department.

Reason for Reward

On Dec. 28, 2007, Ayers rescued a woman from drowning when her car landed upside down in a river.

The Special Act or Gold Medal honors an extraordinary act of heroism by a state employee extending far above and beyond the normal call of duty or service performed at great risk to his or her own life in an effort to save human life.

At 8:50 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 28, Bonnie L. Hull, 58, of Susanville, Calif., was driving her 2003 Honda Pilot eastbound on Riverside Drive between the Sierra Pacific Mill entrance and South Fairfield Avenue.

She safely drove through a curve at 20 mph and then on the straight roadway, she lost control of her car. The car spun out of control traveling to the north shoulder and down an embankment toward the Susan River.

The car overturned as it came down the hillside. It slid down to the bottom of the hill and into the river on its roof. Hull was trapped inside the car by the water and her seatbelt. Ayers, a CAL FIRE employee, was not on duty, but he said he did not hesitate sliding down the hillside and wading into the freezing water to reach Hull.

Hull said she was not injured. She was evaluated by an ambulance crew and left the scene of the collision with her husband. Hull is a physician’s assistant and after changing clothes, she went to work. She said she could not let her patients down.

The brave act gained the notice of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who awarded Ayers the medal of valor, the state’s highest honor that California bestows on its public employees.

fair use disclaimer

7/20 Science on global warming:


This came through "Science Daily" this morning, it might be of interest to the folks

"Scientists Expect Wildfires To Increase As Climate Warms In Coming Decades



7/29 Tom Marovich:

Lets go for a ride…

For those of you who haven't watched a proficient incident command team work you're missing out. It's a demonstration of making order from chaos. It's impossible to deal with the things you need to if you don't know you need to. Chief Lord and team are doing wonderful things. They ask for input when they need it, roll with the things they don't. I'm glad they are here. Thank you East Bay Incident Management Team.

Our FS Honor Guard is here. After you see what they've got going, the pipes and drums will bring a tear to your eye for the rest of your life. Thanks for being here.

We have a new team member that I haven't introduced to you yet. He came in to handle AirOps and got most of his work squared away in quick fashion. Now he's here for us. He told us to expect him to seek us out. I had no idea what he had in mind. This afternoon he asked me to go for a ride. He's been through this before. He knows what we're going through, what I'm going through. He took me to the cemetery and we talked. Well he mostly talked while I cried. He's got me thinking about the future, near and far. It was good to talk. He says I've still got a lot kept inside and I know he's right. I may not know how I'm going to deal with things come Friday, the days, months and years to come but I know He, and others, are going to make sure we all get through it. If you're not directly involved please look to those friends of yours that are and go for a walk with them. No psycho-babble. Just talk. One more thing, get a dog.

One of the images that has been running through my mind and came up in our conversation is a scene from Saving Private Ryan. Remember the scene toward the end when Tom Hanks character says "Earn this". I need to "earn" the honor of living, of leading firefighters, of knowing Tom. Earn it by being the absolute best in all ways. Time to get PTing. Earn it by teaching. Got any cadres Bob, Nate and Doug? Earn it by remembering Tom. I've got plans for this one. Earn it by bringing my guys home safe, every time. Earn it.

When we got back to ICP and I finally checked my messages, 3 in about 30 mins, I was pleased to find one from one of Tom's Chester captains. You know what I heard? "What can I do to help you?" Oh man. Even after all off the loss, maybe especially because of this loss, people are reaching out. Firefighters are a weird bunch. I know, I know… no surprise there. We work in close proximity, we eat at the same fire camp tables, we walk the same line. But if you don't know someone on the other crew most of us pretty much stick to ourselves. This needs to change. Maybe it's because I'm a recluse by nature but it's time to reach out. Thanks for the call Mike, it means a lot. Thanks for teaching another lesson Tom, it means a lot.

Captain 64

7/28 AK-Logging Slash Fire Burn Accident Final Report

Hotlist thread

7/28 R-3 red lights & siren

This letter of direction is the best use of the adjective/noun... "stupidty", I have seen seen since it was introduced to the common language last week.

Fish 01

7/28 Re: Retirement Question


Great question. Hopefully you started your retirement planning shortly after you entered federal service. It is something we need to emphasize to folks entering federal service. For the fire folks, it should be taught at the Basic Apprentice Academy, and re-emphasized in the Advanced Apprentice Academy.

As you probably already know, the federal retirement system that most folks are in is called FERS. It is a three tiered system based upon the following:

1. FERS Annuity
2. Social Security Benefits, and
3. Thrift Savings Plan - 401(k) Contributions and Distributions.

If you are a FERS employee with FERS-M (Firefighter Retirement), here is how your retirement is computed:

High Three - FERS Annuity

Your "high-3" average pay is the highest average basic pay you earned during any 3 consecutive years of service. These three years are usually your final three years of service, but can be an earlier period, if your basic pay was higher during that period. Your basic pay is the basic salary you earn for your position. It includes increases to your salary for which retirement deductions are withheld, such as shift rates. It does not include payments for overtime, bonuses, etc. (If your total service was less than 3 years, your average salary was figured by averaging your basic pay during all of your periods of creditable Federal service.)
1.7% of your high-3 average salary multiplied by your years of service which do not exceed 20,
1% of your high-3 average salary multiplied by your service exceeding 20 years.

Note: Basic pay does not include overtime, premium pay, retention incentives, or awards.
Note: Attempts are being made to change the calculation factor to High 5, rather than High 3.


High 3 Average Base Salary: 60,000
30 years of service.

1.7% of $60,000 x 20 years = $20,400
1.0% of $60,000 x 10 years = $ 6,000

Total FERS Annuity Eligibility= $26,400. 44% of the High 3.

You will receive a yearly statement from NFC projecting your amounts at retirement, but these estimates are based upon your current "High 3".


Social Security Benefits and/or Annuity Supplement

You may also receive an Annuity Supplement until you reach the minimum Social Security Retirement Age of 62 (Important: LINK about the sliding scale of SSA benefits for folks born after 1960). Once you reach this minimum age, your Annuity Supplement will be replaced with Social Security benefits that may be only 70%.

Like Social Security, the Annuity Supplement is subject to an earnings test. If you have earnings through other employment that exceed the SSA exempt amount, your Annuity Supplement will be reduced $1.00 for every $2.00 earned over the SSA exempt amount limit.

For this example, the amount of the Annuity Supplement is $750/month or $9,000 per annum. 15% of the High 3.

In this example, the person would be getting 59% of the average of their High 3.

Your benefits from Social Security/Annuity Supplement will vary, and you should receive a yearly statement stating your projected benefits.


Thrift Savings Plan

Don't forget to consider your Thrift Savings Plan (401k) contributions, and try to maximize your contributions. A good minimal rule of thumb is to "max out" the Agency matching contributions. You automatically receive a 1% Agency contribution per year based upon your federal service. If you contribute 5% of each paycheck, you will receive the full 5% agency matching contribution. Beyond the level of maxing out your TSP matching contributions, I'd consult a financial planner for other retirement investment opportunities that are available and see what is best for you and your family. Note: TSP distributions are taxable income, and if you retire and receive distributions before the age of 59 1/2, you may be subject to an early withdrawal penalty of 10%. Certain exemptions may apply.

You will receive a yearly statement from TSP projecting your options at retirement.


Best of luck with your retirement planning. Start early, and enjoy your retirement years.



7/28 Re Retention bonus & retirement questions:


I would report it right away. For a few reasons. 1) Your new Forest is paying that retention costs. 2) You will probably need to pay it back, but that could be negotiable since it was not your error. 3) It's the right thing to do.

Retirement, many in this forum know much more than me about our TSP. Your % of retirement is calculated on your 3 high annual salary without OT or Haz pay and then some kind of formula is mixed in. However the smartest thing you can do is put away as much money every check as you can afford into your TSP. Period! I know people who have put away as much as possible and now are looking at a retirement check higher than a base salary check they get today. It's the one good deal we get. Also attend a retirement class as soon as possible.

On another subject, wasn't the Stanza Fire on the Klamath? See 7 posts down.


I fixed it! Ab.

7/28 Mark Davis Support:


Sorry about the delays on updates on Mark Davis.

A WebSite has been set up by Mark's sister and has a lot of updates about his long road to recovery.

Mark is defying the odds the doctors gave him. Thanks to all who have donated or have shown support for Mark and his family. They are very appreciative and cannot believe the support from his extended family on and off the fireline.

Mark will be available as a leave Recipient starting Pay Period 18


Thanks, JE for keeping us in the loop. Glad Mark is defying the odds. I'll be reminding people.

Remember Donations can be made to

"For the Benefit of Mark Davis"
Bank of the West
2626 Oroville Dam Blvd East
Oroville Ca. 95965

7/28 Tom Marovich, - Media Funeral Details

Media Funeral Details (36K pdf file)

7/28 R3 Happenings

No more lights and sirens...

lights-sirens FS correspondence 072709  (doc)

7/28 Retention bonus & retirement questions


Im looking for answers to two questions. Im sure the readers of They Said can answer them correctly. Thanks in advance.

I'm working with a financial planner in hopes of being able to retire when the time comes. So, I finally took a hard look at my check stub.

It turns out that I am still receiving the retention bonus, even though I no longer work in R5. After receiving the bonus for about two pay periods while working in R5, I started work in another region. Do any in R5 know if this is a mistake or not? Will I receive a bill down the road for around $5,000 in order to pay back the retention bonus?

Second question, my finance guy wants to know what I will receive at retirement. I thought it was 60% of base salary. And your base salary goes of off your three high GS grades.

Thanks again, I hope to get on track financially and set up a path that works. Mandatory retirement at 57 will be tough.


7/28 Stanza Fire July 28, 2002

A memorial service took place at the Stanza ICP on July 29, 2002 for Steve, Heather and John. Happy Camp resident Marilyn Townsend attended the service.

Marilyn wrote the following (link below) after the service. It will always be timeless and will always apply when there is another that has fallen. Take a few minutes to read you'll be glad you did.

Steve Oustad was my best friend. I still miss him.

(Bob Grate, retired, Captain Engine 11)



7/28 Engine 11 Remembrance:

Thanks Rob.

It's hard not to imagine the "what if". Heather would have been such an absolutely great mom! Sylvia, if you're reading, a big hug to embrace you and the other parents as well!



Chester Memorial page

7/28 Engine 11 Remembrance:

Steve, Heather, John-

Seven years now since you left us. We toil in our earthly endeavors and take a moment every now and then to remember you. Be well and continue to look after us. I can't forget.



Heather DePaolo-Johnny
John Self
Steve Oustad

Died on the Stanza Fire, was Klamath National Forest now Six Rivers National Forest
for sure the "State of Jefferson"


7/28 Tom Marovich:

Service Details:




See Attached.

Request by Local 1689 P-1.pdf (42 K pdf)
USFS Funeral Details P-1.pdf (44 K pdf)


Ab note: Funeral details will be updated here: fremontfire.org

7/28 Tom Marovich, from Captain 64:

Day 5, feels like a lifetime

I say it feels like a lifetime. In so many ways, good and bad. I really can't believe we've only been here 5 days. I can't believe whats been accomplished in 5 days. I can't believe the lifetimes work to be done in 2. It feels like I've known these firefighters down here a lifetime. We've been adopted. Tonight they gave us crew t-shirts. You've gotta be one to get one of those. Well there's another way to get one but we won't get into that. We tell them that they don't know how much this means to us, but I hope they do. I just hope when we return the favor it's under different circumstances.

The planning process is proceeding rapidly. These guys have got it together. Plans, Logs, IC, everyone. I look at what you're doing and am in awe. I've got so much to learn. But I do feel like a battalion. Sore butt from sitting all day, sour stomach from too much coffee, and telephone elbow. I had to charge my phone twice today. Things are coming together. We had so many things that we just didn't know so it was hard to get rolling but now the pieces are falling into place. The info you all want is coming, please be patient.

Today was very much about taking care of each other. I'd prepared to drive home today, spend the night, and then drive back down here tomorrow with Jim's wife. I knew that Jim would need her more and more every day. But as often happens to us, we can push ourselves too hard in our overwhelming drive to help. Home is a good, well not so good, 8-9 hour drive. Sure I can make it under the driving regs. Jim, Bob, Doug, and Nate saw what I didn't see. It wasn't 3 hours after they talked me out of going that I hit a wall. No, not literally Chris, your truck is fine. I'm tired tonight. I'm glad my crew is looking out for me. Who knew this would be so physically draining but emotionally charged. We're tired but can't shut the brain off. Check out the sent times of some of the emails you're getting from us and you'll see what I mean. We're doing ok.

We've asked an incredibly special individual to do some incredibly difficult things down here. There isn't a page in the IRPG or FSM for what he has had to do. He's one of mine, one of ours. Who the HE is doesn't really matter, just know that HE is covered, we've got his back. Each of you have someone in your life that's gone through tough times in many different ways and they need you to look out for them. A smile, a phone call, a distraction, whatever it takes.

The family of firefighters who are taking care of Tom's parents are doing wonderful things. Oh you know they are still hurting and will be hurting for some time to come but people are there for them now. We'll be there for them in the future. If you've been through this yourself then call them, whoever and where ever they are. Do it today. They need it and so do you. And in a year remind me too.

Captain 64

7/28 Need some instructors who are NWCG qualified to come to PUERTO RICO to give some courses

Call me .

Cell 787-365-2202

James P
Forestry Tech/ Dispatch

7/27 Who Casey works for:

Dear Original Hugh:

No need to apologize to me. As with every other organization/association people choose to belong to such as the FWFSA, they do so out of the commonality of ideas, opinions, feeling about the work place, issues affecting them etc. What I do is based entirely on the desires of our dues paying members.

Granted there are times, especially during the fire season when I have to freelance and handle a particular issue, but for the most part, what we are doing stems from the goals and objectives originally envisioned by those who created the FWFSA.

I wish I could say that many of the issues we are dealing with are new. They aren't. However what we are trying to accomplish will benefit not only our members but many others. In fact many who annotate their time cards with special OT codes since 2000 do so as a result of the FWFSA's efforts. Granted, it would be nice if everyone who benefitted from that along with the current (but measly) 10% bonus and those who have converted to 26/0 would "pay to play" and join the FWFSA.

Competing with hundreds of other organizations for access, support and funding from Congress certainly isn't cheap. Given that most such organizations likely have far greater resources than we do simply means we have to work longer and harder. With the economy the way it is, it makes things even more difficult.

Fortunately, the members I work for, many of whom were listed in the recent post about the efforts of so many on behalf of Thomas Marovich, are the embodiment of why we do what we do. The greatest frustration I have is that I don't have the ability to meet and get to know all our members. With members in 27 states and all land management agencies it's just not possible.

Sadly, it's either retirements or funerals like on Thursday that I'll get to meet some of our members for the first time. That truly sucks because of the immense admiration, affection and respect I have for all of them.

I am happy that you are pleased & satisfied with all aspects of your job.



7/27 Thanks from those involved in Tom Marovich's final arrangements

Ab, can you please post this on Theysaid. Thank you for all you do.

Thank you to all for the tremendous outpouring of support in honoring Tom. We know he would have loved it. We are only part way through this but it has already been a very powerful and moving event. We know we will miss some folks who deserve to be mentioned by name and are surely unaware of all that they have done for us, please forgive the oversight.

The efforts of the following individuals and departments are truly appreciated:

  • Buck Silva for your leadership, organizing, guidance and support.
  • Robert Trujillo for your efforts, support and presence.
  • Kent Swarztlander and Bob Rivelle for setting up the amazing procession in Eureka and the hundreds of things involved in that.
  • Curt Stanley and the Honor Guard for your selfless devotion and amazing professionalism.
  • Bob Bell for supporting our forest, keeping us on our feet, not letting us fail, and the tireless efforts in organizing the Hayward side of the memorial.
  • Ben Iverson for your work in escorting Tom’s belongings back home, sharing your words with the rest of us, talking with Tom’s family, and organization of coming events.
  • Joan Chandler and the rest of her dispatch staff for all the behind the scenes action that we didn’t have to deal with, for catching all the little stuff we missed, and making sure we made it safely to where we were going.
  • Jim Gumm for taking care of Tom’s family for us.
  • Ed Hollenshead for your support of this event, the use of the aircraft, the kind words at the Arcata airport and for just being there when we needed it.
  • Jim Pena for your personal attendance in Arcata and your support in allowing us to honor one of our own.
  • The Arcata, Eureka and other local Fire Departments for having your apparatus at attention at each overpass to honor Tom along the way. We are sorry we don’t have the names of the others, we just couldn’t quite read the names on the equipment through the tears.
  • The Hoopa Fire Department and Dick Kirsch for the presence and kind words.
  • Donna McCain and the Lassen-Modoc Cal Fire folks of the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team
  • All the local fire departments for the support, kind words and thoughts
  • Cal Fire for every apparatus and firefighter you sent to honor a brother.
  • Stanislaus and Ukonom Hot Shots for your presence.
  • The engine companies from the Lassen, Klamath, Six Rivers, Redwoods, and any others we missed.
  • The Lassen and Six Rivers secondary pall bearers.
  • California Highway Patrol for the escort.
  • Casey Judd to whom we can never say enough thanks.
  • Vicki Minor and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for this time and every time.
  • Fremont Fire Department (we know there are more that we don’t know of) for the apparatus, guidance, support and in honoring Tom who was also one of yours. We know you share our loss.
  • The cover engines who kept up the fight on the forest during our time of need.
  • Tyler, Walt and Jon for duty officer coverage, support, and all the offers of help.
  • The tremendous support from all the FS employees who both handled the extra workload and shared our loss. Too many of you to name, not enough ways to thanks you.

This has been a humbling experience to receive the help, support, guidance and sympathy from so many people. Many neither knew Tom nor us. It makes us proud to be part of an organization, career and family that cares so much and gave such a wonderful showing of honor and respect for such a wonderful young man and his family.

We humbly thank each of you listed and all those we missed,

District Ranger Laurence Crabtree
Division Chief Boyd Turner
Battalion Chief Joe Johnston
Battalion Chief Chris Orr
Captain Mike Park

7/27 Tom Marovich


I saw a post by Captain 33 looking for info on where to stay for TJ's Funeral Service. The below page has a short list and should be updated with more.


It also has a nice write up from the Fremont Fire Explorer Coordinator.

Doug McKelvey
Battalion Chief
Fremont Fire Department

7/27 Tom Marovich, from Captain 64:

day 4...I think.

I'm calling today the calm after the storm before the storm.

We began the day meeting with our local government contacts. Fremont fire and Hayward fire in particular. Today was about the firefighters fellowship with each other. We've been invited into their stations, their homes. We've been welcomed by another part of Tom's family. Tom was part of Fremont fire. Fremont Fire helped to shape Tom into the man I know. Both Fremont and Hayward have adopted us, given us everything, helped us with everything. Can you feed a strike team? Ya sure, bring em over. Can you feed another? Ya sure, bring em over. Got any idea where I can find 30 hotel rooms? Ya one of our guys daughter works at the Marriott, hold on I'll call him. Got any good places to eat around here? Yup, your coming to Station 7 for dinner. Like I said, they've welcomed us into their homes.

The west side apprentices were asked to help teach part of this seasons fire refresher in Adin. Tom walked up to me that morning and instead of his ever present grin he was completely serious. He explained to me that he'd spent the previous week teaching at the explorer academy and now had to teach here. His serious face and overburdened tone did little to hide his pride. His eyes gave him away and the grin was back. He told me he wanted to take some things he'd learned at the apprentice academy and incorporate them into our refreshers. He had plans for us. I took Tom down south a couple years ago for a late season roll. I remember seeing a funky looking hydrant and making some sort of comment, having never seen a wet barrel hydrant. Tom dove right in and began to teach. I don't think he even realized it, but it came so easily to him. Not naturally, but easily. So here's this rookie apprentice, I think this was his first off forest, teaching his captain about a hydrant. I found out where Tom learned how to be a mentor and a teacher today. If we can get these kids into green we've got a bright future ahead of us.

Today was a good day. Didn't cry much today. A few emails from you brought em on again but they were tears of gratitude. Many of you knew the truth that I couldn't see when I started these. They've been an amazing help. Your responses have been an amazing help. I've also seen some frustration out there. We need you guys to trust us. Doing this right requires patience. The information is coming.

With the added assistance from our brothers in blue some of us are taking advantage of it and getting away for a bit...well kinda. Our phones still ring and we still deal with things, even from afar. I don't want to leave my crew. The added help has allowed me to focus my efforts on getting my friends from home lined out for their trip down here. Representing you guys is an honor. Thanks Chris and Joe. I can't wait for you guys to see this. Tom is going to love it.

Oh ya. You know that Mythbusters episode where they lifted the car with the fire hoses. Yup, I had dinner with those lucky dogs. Hmmm. I wonder if my truck can do it?

Rereading this I'm feeling a different tone, do you feel it? The coming days are going to be tough. I haven't talked to a lot of people who I need too, but I will. I haven't dealt with a lot of things that I need too, but I will. Hope may not be a plan but it sure is part of my future. Thanks Tom for continuing to teach, this was an important lesson.

Captain 64

7/27 I agree with you for the most part . The Forest service has been a great 25+ year career for me in in Region 5
I have seen the up and downs from rifts and downsizing to consent decree's

City Dept nah, Cal-fire no, fish and feathers nope, Blm noo. All have great people and different dynamics that make them unique, But the agency that best fit me was/is the Forest Service.

I have a great fire management team where I work. I get 5 weeks of vacation plus holidays, medical and retirement. I travel all across the nation and get to work with great people. I did not join the Forest service to just fight fire or commit every hour of every day to it like city fire dept's do.....in winter I turn the scan frequency off (YES!!!)

During the summer I work with other dept's doing LAND MANAGEMENT i.e meadow restoration, wildlife habitat improvement, trails work, timber marking etc, etc. In spring and fall I do prescribed fire, pile burning ,In winter run a groomer on occasion

To the people who are giving sick and tired grief relax!!
I for one am embarresed as a Forest Service employee with the ramble of more pay and portal to portal when people are losing jobs and homes. I knew what the pay was when I started and the life style it provided.....I'm Happy!!
True time and and a half? Sorry Casey would be doing the job anyway.
With every thing else going on now days we are low on the totem pole in congress people. Realize it folks an your stress level will go down. If the agency isn't meeting your needs then maybe another job or agency is appropriate.....but be careful for what you wish for.

My wife and I raised 2 kids ( home schooled). Best job I ever had was teaching in the winter when I was layed off. The Forest Service career path I took allowed me to do this!! I was so glad I wasn't full time. Kids are in college now. We bought our house when I was a gs -5 A.F.E.O. The Forest Service has provided for me an my family well!

Original Hugh

7/26 This was circulating in the NPS regarding remembering Andy Palmer on July 25th, the anniversary of his death.. I'm remembering him and his family tonight... Ab.

It was one year ago on July 25th, that Andrew Jackson Palmer's life was ended in a tragic accident on a fire on the Shasta Trinity National Forest.
Andy was a first year firefighter working for Olympic National Park. We had brought Andy on to serve as a volunteer on Engine 701 to serve as the 5th firefighter, with the hopes that he could be hired AD whenever the engine was dispatched to a fire. Just as quick as we made the decision to bring him on as a volunteer, we turned around and hired him as a GS-3 firefighter, after another crewmember took a position at a different area. Andy began his career as a paid firefighter at the end of June, right after basic firefighter training.

When I was first considering hiring Andy, I spoke to his brother Rob, who was working as Olympic's fuels crew leader and had worked for the park off and on since 1999. Rob only said two things, that Andy was a hard worker and that I should hire him under his own merits and that he didn't think he (Rob) should try to persuade me one way or the other. True to his word, Rob left my office and didn't say one more word about hiring his brother after that. When I called Andy to come in for the interview, you could hear the excitement in his voice. Rob is a pretty tall person, but when Andy knocked on my door and I looked up from my computer, Andy nearly filled the doorway. You could tell he was athletic and our conversation turned to his playing football as an offensive lineman for Port Townsend High School and his hopes of possibly playing college ball. The interview continued and I knew right away that Andy would be a good fit with our operation.

He worked with the engine crew for a couple of weeks, going through all the basic firefighter training. Everyone on the crew seemed to like him right away, he had that likeable personality. Andy was a kind and a polite young man, had a great sense of humor. He always had a smile on his face whenever I saw him; you could just tell he was having the time of his life, being a firefighter like his big brother, with a chance to earn a little money before going off to college.

Late on the afternoon of July 22, the park received a resource order for our Type 3 engine to go to a fire in California. The crew was on their day off but available for assignment. Needless to say when I contacted Andy and he found out he was going to his first fire, his excitement was amazing. He showed up at the fire cache about an hour earlier than the rest of the crew. The thing I'll never forget was as we waited for the rest of the crew, Andy said he was a little hungry and I then watched as he wolfed down a large container of Yogurt. Not those single serving sized container, I'm talking the large tub size. After he finished the yogurt off while we talked, he said he hoped they could stop off and grab something to eat on the road because he was still hungry. Of course he had a whole container of food for snacks on the road trip with him also. The kid could eat.

The crew got on the road a little later that evening. We wanted them to get down past the Olympia area that night, since it was such a long trip. The story of the trouble with their brand new engine has been told many times. After the muffler coming off, after having issues with a clogged fuel filter on an engine with around 2,000 miles on and having to limp into Redding and then a bad fuel sensor that would be on backorder for up to a week, the engine captain, John De Luna began preparations to get the engine fixed. After consultation with me on what they should do, he began working with the fire's operations section chief looking for an assignment that the crew could do. The crew ended up being assigned as a saw team to drop hazard trees along the fire line. While John went to get the engine repairs started, the rest of the crew went to work.

Half way through their first shift on Andy's first fire, something went terribly wrong. I received a phone call informing me of the accident, just minutes after it happened. You could tell by Jeremy's voice that it was bad. Andy had been hit by a tree and suffered serious injuries. Even though the crew did what they could, the outcome was that Andy passed away while enroute to the hospital.

Many of the park staff went to the moving memorial service and both laughed and cried at the stories told. I'll never be able to listen to the Pachelbel Canon again with thinking of Andy after the story that was told. All through this, the Palmer family has been amazing. They have been much stronger than most of us could be; they offered more support to us than we did to them. There is nothing we can do to bring back Andy, but many of us will never forget him, even if we knew him for such a short period.

So on Saturday afternoon on July 25 at around 1700, take a moment in memory of Andy. We had thought of holding a small ceremony at the EOC, but all our firefighters are out on fires or are headed into fires Friday and Saturday. Some of the crew that are headed into the fire on Saturday were able to spend some time today with the Palmers. So the remainder of us will just observe this moment by ourselves and give our thoughts to Andy and his family. Maybe we should all make a toast at sunset in his memory while listening to the Pachelbel Canon.

Be Safe.
Larry Nickey
Fire Management Officer
Olympic National Park

7/26 Photos of TJ Marovich needed:


We've gotten a request from Suzie on the Modoc who is putting together a scrapbook and memorial video with music for Tom's family. The goal is to have it done before his service in Hayward on Thursday. She needs pictures of Tom to include in it, alone and with others, working, playing, serious and silly, studying, in nomex and whatever other uniforms and street clothes he wore.

If you have any you'd be willing to include, please send them here to the Ab account or send them directly to her (email me for her contact info). We won't make them available for any other purpose unless instructed to add them to his evolving memorial page

Photos for print purposes should be large, high resolution 300dpi or more, but often one can fiddle with them in photoshop to make them work. Many of the Kinkos/FedEx business sites let you digitize up to 100 print photos for $5 and the copies are excellent.

Please check your computer photo files. Check your print photos. I know this is a fast approaching deadline, but it can be accomplished.

We're sharing all that we have of the sendoff etc.



7/26 Tom Marovich, from Captain 64:

day 3...I think.

Well as I sit down to write tonight I'm composing two letters. Lets see what I can come up with. I never thought I'd keep going with these but I don't think I have a choice now. Thanks for that. You know who you are.

Events slowed down for us today. We couldn't think about Thursday until after we got Tom home. And what a day yesterday was. Today was a day to take a deep breath and get ready for the next part. I didn't know what the next part would be for me when I got up this morning. I wasn't sure what my role would be. Was I done? Would Bob send me home? With how important this next step is I knew that Bob and Jim would need people with special skill sets, skill sets that I'm still in the infancy stages of developing. My knees make me feel old but I'm a young captain. I'm surrounded by chiefs. People more skilled than I. People who have been fighting fires longer than I've been alive. Surely there is someone better, more qualified, more able than I. Once again I should have known. I'm here for the duration. Bob asked me, all of us actually, to stay and be part of the rest of this. To help in any way we can, in every way we can. He's got me doing Plans. Uhhh, how did that happen? Sink or swim. I also have Safety. Now that's a job I enjoy. Keeping my crew safe, of course I'll take that one on. How many people are coming? The things I get myself into.

Thanks for the support at home for staying and seeing this through. Chris, Buck and Robert, thanks for letting me see this through.

Even though planning, meeting with local government, checking out the church and cemetery and countless other tasks go on, I had a lot more time to think today. Probably not a good thing. I've been able to stay focused on my mission and set aside a lot of stuff to be dealt with later. Some of those things came up today. I called my parents tonight. I hadn't spoken to them since calling to tell them that "no, it wasn't me. No Mom I don't do stuff like that". I wasn't able to tell them what was going on here. I never got a call so they didn't see me on the news. Good, I couldn't have dealt with that until today. I had to keep them out of this for a while. Purely selfish. All this time I've been telling myself that I'd want someone to do this for my family if I fall. But no, I couldn't think about my Mom going through this, not yet, not until today. I tried to put it off longer but I guess it was just time. Any firefighter worth anything thinks about the dangers all the time. If we ignore them, blindly go through life thinking everything will be OK, then our days are numbered. I teach the dangers to my crew. We talk about the risks so that they can do this job without a false sense of security. This job can kill you. It gets our best and brightest. It get all ages. All backgrounds. Anyone. Anytime. I don't want my parents to know what I have been willing to accept. I know I'd have set up at the octagon house, I know I would have gotten into that helicopter. The list goes on. That risk is a lot harder to accept after this week. Not the risk to me, the risk that one of you will have to meet my Mom like this.

I've learned so much these last couple days. Leadership, trust, integrity. Things you can't learn from AgLearn or from a book. I'm surrounded by amazing people. Thank you Bob, Jim, Seth, Doug, Nate, and Jim. I've learned so much from you guys just from watching you being you.

I don't know who you are but thank you for "strong enough to bend." That one will stay with me always.

Through all of this we constantly have Tom and his family on our minds. That keeps us focused. It reminds us that this burden is worth carrying. We will do anything, what ever it takes to do this right. If this had happened to me, to you, know that Tom would have been there for your Mom, your Dad, your brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews. Tom would have been scared too. Tom would have taken a deep breath and done it anyway. Tom's Mom reminded us that doing just that is called bravery.

We remodeled our station back home this last winter. Most of our stuff is still boxed up. I came across my framed copy of the Esperanza Memorial flyer, you know the one you have on your wall. I glanced at it and put it back into the box. It belongs on the wall. I don't even remember the inconsequential thing I was digging for. Doesn't matter. I let other stuff get in the way of remembering. I can't let that happen again, I've got a plan to make sure it doesn't. Please remember ALL of our fallen. WFF does that. I hope that Andy's family can some day meet Tom's. In the weeks, months, and years to come Tom's family, Marks, Jess's, Jason's, Pablo's, Danial's, Andy's and all the other families of the fallen have to know that we haven't forgotten them. Put the picture back on the wall, pick up the phone. You're not that busy.

Today we set our sights on the next fire, tomorrow we'll brief and get our assignment, the next day we'll head out onto the line. Tom's got our backs.

Captain 64

7/26 Loss of TJ and others in this risky profession:

Thank you very much Capt 64 and Mike (and Todd, you too). In what you say I hear the common themes, reactions, fears, and great rewards inherent in simply completing the difficult task and sharing your feelings. The bad stuff will never go away, but you will achieve a "new normal", the memories will be integrated, there will be greater understanding, and for most, your lives will be strengthened in unexpected ways.

Capt 64, your sharing is a healing not only for yourself, but also for many who have been through this and who will confront loss like this in the future. Your sharing is a gift. THANK YOU.

It's important to know your reactions to tragedy are part of shared themes of human responses, while being unique to you and to this tragedy. You express it so well, <hug> and perhaps your greatest gift in expressing your thoughts is for people who have lost friends and people who will loose friends in the future to have the "slide" you're providing in their slidetray of experience.

This is the YOU ARE NOT ALONE slide.

Mike, Capt 64, Todd, and Norm, Ken, Mike, Dan, Jim, Dave, Michelle, Chris, and the list from past tragedies goes on and on...

YOU ARE NOT ALONE and as so many in this community have said, WE'VE GOT YOUR BACK.


PS, please protect yourselves with FEDS Professional Liability Insurance. Tony and crew will also protect your back in
ways we cannot easily do. I hate to have to add this, but the legal thing is the reality.


Chief Dan Packer

Died on the Panther Fire, Klamath National Forest

July 26, 2008

7/26 FS Awards:

I would worry about getting an award from Mark Rey, who did more damage to the FS than any Under Secretary since John Crowell. The FS is now at the very bottom of agencies on "the good place to work" scale and the Chief gets a $40K bonus! What is wrong with this picture?


7/25 Captain 64, Mike Yearwood,

Thanks for sharing. Many of us stand beside you in spirit...as we have walked in shoes that are similar but not exactly the same, please know we are with you now.

Your accounts tell of doing the right thing and doing it well. It took me right back to the front door of one of too many parents I had to meet the hard way, and yes, I was scared big time.... give me the nastiest fire any day of the week, anything but that. My hat is off to you and to all who have stepped up in this hard time. Some just cannot face the hardship and I know we all deal with things in our own way, but too many of us firefighters who are so brave in the field are emotional wimps when it come to stuff like this.

As for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation I can never say enough good! Vicki is a Master Gardener. What I mean is that she plants seeds in the minds of the willing and they take root and grow fast. Some of my finer moments in times like this, it was she that inspired me. This is not the right time but please consider coming to the WFF Family Fire Weekend next year. There are so many fine families there to meet and too few of us who have been through what you are in the midst of now. Also very few who can ever really understand into the future.

You are on a good path and making many proud.

Well done


My thoughts are with the Palmer family and every person that was involved or touched by the loss of
Andrew Palmer, July 25, 2008 last year.
(Tree felling accident)

As we go about our daily operations, think about risk assessment and ask: Is the task at hand worth the risk or is there another way to get the job done safely?

Do not ever be afraid to speak up if you see something that could affect someone's safety.

If someone is in need of immediate medical attention, think about what is the most effective and safest way to get the injured person to the hospital. Have a plan in place at all times before you need it and ensure it works and is correct.

We have a long field season ahead of us and we need to take care of ourselves, (Eat right / exercise / sleep) in order to be successful in completing the mission injury free

Safety starts with each one of us.

Be Safe!



Thanks, Michelle. We will remember Andy Palmer...

I was thinking about Andy this morning, actually for about the last week, about his wonderful parents, his aunt, and his good friends and crew Jeremy and Kevin, then 24 years old, and J's mom. I wish the young firefighters had been free to speak last year after the accident as they grieved for Andy, spent sleepless nights and had flashbacks consistent with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They had very few outside their family to help them through their days, that stretched to weeks, to months until we laid Andy's marker. It was my honor and pleasure to meet them and the Palmers at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. We gathered to remember Andy, to talk and share his stories. The young men did nothing wrong, but became and still are the victims of a legal system gone bad. Hopefully, that will be corrected soon and Just Culture will prevail.

Thank you Michelle and the SAIT for your best effort at Just Culture. I don't know details, but I'd bet that, like them, you did nothing wrong and tried to do everything right. No doubt you became and still are the victims of decisions made at a level higher than you and a legal system gone awry.

Thanks Vicki of the WFF for what you do that results in people coming together for healing. Thanks Palmers, Jeremy and Kevin for memories and heavy marker for Andy, a time of tears and laughter, and for deep shared thoughtfulness, and clarification. Andy would be proud of you, as we are of him. We will remember. Ab.

Support the WFF.

7/25 Norovirus Alert:


Not sure if you have this yet... but if not here ya go

Many of the 18 firefighters who became ill while fighting the Trailer 1 and Red Rock fires have tested positive for the norovirus and the number infected could be higher, a Washoe District Health Department spokeswoman said Friday.

Sick FF test positive for norovirus


7/25 Tom Marovich:

The link below is an article and with photos of Tom coming home to Hayward yesterday (July 24th). The Forest Service should be very proud of Tom and the personnel that planned this coming home.

I contacted the reporter that did this article and photos and let him know that photo #3 was not correct.

Captain 64,

Thank you for the heart felt updates! They are hard to read without tears. Your updates make us feel that we are part of this, which we are.


You're right on the leaky eyes part. Thanks for the link to the photos. Ab.

7/25 Tom Marovich, from Captain 64:

day 2...I think.

Tom is home.

Today (yesterday) began with much uncertainty, much planning, and an overwhelming desire to please. To do it right. We had a mission to accomplish today. It was time to bring Tom home.

It's amazing what can happen with a common sense of purpose. Everyone here had the same image in their minds as to what they wanted the end result to be like today. I just never dreamed what it would take to get it there. Of course our expectations weren't that high. We might be satisfied with perfection but it had better be better than that.

The morning was easy. Check out the airport. Plan. Meet with the family. Plan. Prep the rigs. Plan. Meet 142Z. Plan. Send the family off to get Tom. Plan. I blinked and it was after noon.

One of my mentors, Joe, always says "hope is not a plan" and that thought bounced around in my head all day. We knew that Jim had his day set. We knew that Bob had his day set. I am in awe that they were able to concentrate on their tasks, taking care of the family, and trust us to make today happen. We needed a plan. Nate and Doug working on longer term planning and logistics. Working on the coming week. Liasing with... well everyone. Seth and I at the airport trusted to figure it out. We needed a plan. Standing on the tarmac trying to organize 4 or 5 police agencies, 2 municipal fire depts, the hearse, the route, more family then we had vehicles to carry, the Explorer crew, the airport staff and countless other details I kept thinking...Where's Bob. I don't know how many times, in moments of near overwhelming panic, I pulled my phone out of my pocket to call Bob. When is the plane going to get here? No, he's busy with the family. What route should we take? No, he's busy with the family. What order to we go in? No, he's busy with the family. When is the plane going to get here? No, he's busy with the family. Countless other questions bounced back and forth between Seth and I. The easy answer was always "lets ask Bob when he gets here". We'd agree to do just that then seemingly out of nowhere we'd come up with a plan. They'll call with an ETA when they have it. We'll take this route because it makes sense. This will be the order of vehicles. They'll call with an ETA when they have it. Countless other questions were answered. Not with hope but with a plan. Couldn't have survived today without you buddy.

It was all coming together. Tom was 10-15 mins. out. The crews briefed. Decisions made. Another this just got real moment.

142Z taxied in slowly, pivoted around and came to a rest. Seth led the hearse out to the aircraft and I followed. Chief Hollenshead and Mr. Pena, with incredible respect and honor, helped each of Tom's family members from the plane. With Mom, Dad, sister, uncles, grandpa and everyone else watching it was time. Tom's Explorer students had been drilling to do this part right. We all stepped back to watch while they marched to the aircraft in two perfect columns. Stepping in unison. Pivoting in unison. With care founded in friendship and love they took Tom into their arms. March through two columns of blue uniforms, Tom's municipal brothers. Sharp salutes, hands slowly falling. I know they didn't want to let Tom go but they reverently loaded him into the hearse. Time to go. Seth again leading the way, Tom's parents following the hearse with Bob, more family with Nate, Me and Paul, the structure guys bracketing the rest of the friends and family. Our law enforcement escort brought the city to a standstill for Tom. Today he was what mattered. As we progressed through town another engine and more salutes, then another, and another. I don't know how many. Every intersection protected by an engine, a truck co., or an officer. We arrived at the mortuary and everyone gathered to watch as the explorers again stepped up and helped unload Tom. We'll see you again in a few days Tom. We'll take care of everything. Time to take the family home for the night.

Today I witnessed many strong people and more amazing events. Brothers and sisters there for each other. All day focused on the mission at hand I didn't cry. Well maybe a little during the briefing, I just couldn't say hearse and Tom in the same sentence. I was too proud of Tom's Explorer kids to cry. I was too proud of the Forest Service to cry. I was too proud to be part of this to cry. Well Mellie you changed that. You called as we were taking Tom to the mortuary so needless to say I didn't answer my phone. It's incessant beeping told me I needed to check my messages but today it had to wait. After finishing up for the evening I walked back to my truck and played my message. Your words, todays mission accomplished, the thanks, the words of hope and appreciation from Tom's Mom and Dad, everything added up and finally I cried. I cried a lot tonight. Thanks for getting it posted so quickly, I should have thought of that last night. I hope it helps, the responses I got today sure did help me. Thank you all.

Todays end result was so much more than any of us had hoped for. It worked. Tom's home. I didn't screw up. Only now does that potential for disaster hit home. I wouldn't let myself think about that while today was happening.

Some important ending thoughts for tonight. We brought Tom home today but this isn't over. There is still a lot of work to be done. I'm going to call today perfect. I don't know if it really was but I need to believe that it was for now. Thanks to Tom's friends and family, my new friends and family, today worked. Thank you to everyone on the other end. Thank you for trusting us with this end.

It's now time to get some rest. It'll be easier rest then the last couple nights. I hope you are getting there too.

Mike, I read your post on TheySaid. Rest easy friend, they still love you, they always will. I know it. You can believe it. Tell your crew.

Captain 64

You did accomplish that mission yesterday. Job well done! Ab.

7/25 Spanish Ranch Fire info:


This coming August 15th is the 30 year anniversary of the 1979 Spanish Ranch Fire in California. Author/Former Firefighter Joseph Valencia has recently published a book about this event and the lives of the people involved.

A Santa Maria, Ca., newspaper recently discussed his book in an article found here: santamariatimes

A staff ride was developed for this fire and is presented locally.


7/25 4 GRAF Firefighters Died and 2 Critical in wildfire in Spain:

Dear colleagues and friends,

I am writing this e-mail to you on behalf of Marc Castellnou, leader of UT GRAF in Catalonia.

Most of you will have heard of the terrible accident during the wildfire that is still burning in Horta de Sant Joan in southern Catalonia, Spain, that cost the lives of 4 of our friends and left 2 more critically injured.

Since the fire ist still out of control and all forces are tied up in this fire they asked me to distribute some information to colleagues and friends who know the GRAF crews or might be interested to learn about it. Please distribute this information in your agencies to whom it might be interesting or to people who know them.

The accident happened on 21 July at around 1600 hrs. The firefighters who died were overwhelmed by the fire when the winds shifted and blew the fire towards them. They were in their safety zone and had deployed their fire shelter.

David Duaigües (29), Jordi Moré (40), Ramón Espinet (47) and Jaume Arpa (40) were killed by a sudden blaze. Pau Costa (31) and Josep Pallàs (36) suffered severe burns and were transferred to * Vall d'Hebrón Hospital in Barcelona. Pau is still in a critical state and remains intubated since he suffered also from internal burns. All were prepared, capable and qualified firefighters.

The fire in the Els Ports mountains near Horta has consumed around 1.200 hectares by now and most forces are concentrated on the north-eastern flank. The head of the fire could be stopped by a burn out operation yesterday afternoon by the GRAF crews but remains active. However, a forecasted onset of a strong westerly wind will complicate the situation and the fire is expected to make a second run this afternoon. The GRAF crews are also working with handtools along the south-eastern flank since there is a great spotting potential through unburnt patches. The situation remains complicated since the weather conditions will not improve before 28 July and the terrain has difficult access. Around 85 vehicles and 15 aerial means are involved in the operations.

I will regularly check the website of the Generalitat de Catalunya and am in close contact with Marc and his crew. If you wish to receive more updates on the situation just send me an e-mail.

Marc is still on the fireline and cannot answer his phone but he is reading e-mails if you wish to contact him personally. He is beat but he is still being a leader.

All best,

Prayers and good thoughts for our firefighters in Spain. Strength to Marc and his overhead colleagues. Thanks to Detlef for forwarding the details. Ab.

7/24 Tom Marovich:


The recent loss of Tom Marovich hurts me to the core and my thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and co-workers.

God Speed Tom and Peace be with you and your Family.


7/24 About my day -- Tom Marovich from Captain 64

For those of you who know me you'll be surprised to see this email. I generally keep this kind of stuff to myself but not this time. I don't know why I share this now. Maybe I shouldn't.

I spent the day collecting Tom's possessions and bringing them to his family. I arrived at Chester to find his stuff neatly boxed up, his truck as shiny as new, and his hardhat on the dash. Mike (one of the Chester captains) and Rich Clay sunk everything they had left into this gesture. It showed. They were spent. Seth, a Lassen BC, and I formed up around the flatbed hauling Tom's truck and we headed south.

Honestly, I was dreading our arrival. A million and one different scenarios passed through my mind as I was driving through crazy SoCal traffic. What if the flatbed with Tom's truck gets into a wreck? What if I say the wrong thing? What if the the world ends? But worst of all... what if Tom's parents hate us.

I called Jimm when we were 20 miles out and everything just got very real. Jimm and Bob had everything ready when we arrived. As we turned onto Tom's road we flipped on our lights and we rolled in Code 2 (no siren) nice and slow. The first sign that things were going to be OK was the look on Jimm's and Bob Bell's faces. First sigh of relief. I was following the flatbed so I stopped well back, maybe farther then I needed to. Maybe they wouldn't notice me and I could slip away. With incredible care and respect Tom's truck, containing all his possessions, was unloaded. Jimm walked toward me, another moment of panic, and he said the words I was afraid to hear. "Come and meet the family". I'd like to say that things were a poetic blur but the fact is the whole event is clearly etched in my mind. Introductions, hugs, tears, and...no I couldn't of heard that right. More tears. I couldn't say anything. Did Mr. Marovich really say that? Did he say... "thank you"? Did his mother and sister say "thank you"? That we "mean so much to them"? I'm not ashamed to admit it...yup more tears. I've never experienced such relief in my life. A weight lifted. Amazing compassion. Amazing people. Should I have been surprised? No, I shouldn't have been. I know Tom. No surprise at all.

Know that I don't write this for my own gratification. I write it because I've been given this opportunity. I didn't deserve it. I feel that I've cheated everyone that knows Tom. Everyone who is trying to get through this time the best they can. Some of you with friends, some of you with family, some of you alone. I got to go through this with Tom and his family. I've often thought that I was lucky I didn't know the guys on Engine 57, the crew on Iron 44 and all the rest. I was wrong. Those that new them are lucky. You know Tom? It may not feel like it but trust me, you are one of the lucky ones. You didn't? I'm sorry for your loss.

I've learned a lot today. Humbling, devastating, inspiring. Words can't express. When I heard that Jimm was sent as the family contact I was angry. I thought we should have sent a firefighter. Someone who would understand. Someone who has walked in, not just Tom's boots, but mine. It was a selfish thought. Within moments, and reaffirmed by family and friends time and again throughout this afternoon and evening, I learned that I was wrong. I apologized to Jimm tonight, I apologize to him again now. He has my respect and my thanks. You all can be proud of him. Not just my thoughts, Tom's family and friends have said as much as well. Oh ya, Jimm is a firefighter.

I'm glad Bob is here. If you know him, you know what I mean. If you don't...well once again I'm the lucky one. Nate, Doug, Seth, everyone. I'm honored to be part of this crew. Vicki and Burk as always, you're amazing, we can't do this without you.

I guess I write this because because of a hardhat. I simple hardhat. A simple gesture that meant so much to Tom's family. Well done Richy and Mike. I wish you could have seen it. I feel I've cheated you out of this. You deserved to see this. You deserve to have some of the weight lifted. Chester Flight Crew, all of you, when you come to meet Tom's family, please, don't be afraid.

For what its worth, this was my day. Well it was this and a whole lot more. We can talk about it later. Now I'm going to sleep.

Tomorrow Tom leaves the fireground. Chris, Joe, Mike and the E-44 Crew, the FS Honor Guard and all the rest will send him off. Tomorrow Tom comes home. We'll see if I can write about that tomorrow.

Captain 64

7/24 Tom Marovich

With a broken heart and shaky fingers, I'll try to get through this.

To say "sorry" or offer condolences to the Marovich family, almost seems offensive to me at the moment, for those words are so incredibly insufficient to describe or convey what we are feeling and what we wish we could express. The raw emotions are overwhelming¦and I simply don't know what the right words are.

Mr. and Mrs. Marovich, if you are reading this, we love you. I shudder when I consider what you might think of us right now, and pray one day you'll find some peace again. We love Tom. I love Tom. My heart is shattered. I can't begin to imagine what you must be feeling.

We doted on TJ. He was the one. He was that guy you couldn't help liking and knew was always listening. He was always first to work in the morning, he was always smiling, he never complained. That smile is stained into my memory now and I guess that's a good thing, if there is such a thing. Tom was as sharp as they come mentally and pushed himself physically. He was excited for each day and we were very proud of him. Within the seventy-six apprentices that I have had the privilege to fight fire and train with at Chester , Tom had the most pride in having that title bar none. I read something last night about how Tom was the "embodiment" of the apprentice program. I'd like to back that statement 100% and would suggest to the academy that his name be an example to all who walk the halls of McClellan. Some scoff at the subject of the apprentices being our future leaders. Sometimes those comments are true. In this case however, I can tell you with all of the pieces of my heart that we did in fact lose an incredible future leader.

TJ was one of those "fire junkies" Maltese Cross stickers, Maltese Cross hitch ornament, Maltese Cross, well, you get the idea. I don't think he owned a t-shirt that didn't have something about fire on it. He had like, four red bags, seriously. Not because he had a "red bag fetish", but because of his involvement with different departments, agencies, and communities. Tom had an endless appetite for fire. It was a palpable aura that projected from him, and he was damn good too.

He had a great sense of humor, a joker. He could dish out insults, and he could take em' too, always with that smile. In the drama of packaging his belongings, Rich and I couldn't help but laugh through some tears when we came across the rubber snakes he bought to freak out James with. James if you're reading this, they're in your bed again! Tom would have wanted it that way.

I'll stop for now. I have to.

We'd like to express a heartfelt and indebting thank you to the folks from the Eldorado, Shasta T, Klamath, Modoc, Lassen, Six Rivers, Wenatchee, WFF, NFFE, FWFSA, the Abs, and especially to our incredibly selfless brothers who rushed to render aid at the scene: Price Valley, Malheur, Blue Lake Fire, and the Medics from Arcata among others, you know who you are. My apologies if I missed anyone. As for Sean, Phil, Walter, Darren, and Mike, you are the embodiment and definition of true leadership and brotherhood. We will always remember your actions and compassion.

Most Sincerely and Respectfully,

Mike Yearwood
Helicopter Captain
Chester Fly Crew

Oh Mike, our thoughts and prayers are with you all. God bless you. There was a sad, but moving and meaningful sendoff for TJ today. Going home. Click on the thumbnail to get the big picture. I have left them fairly large in case you want to save and make prints. We have many more that we'll be sharing. Mike, take care, bro. Ab.

7/24 Tom Marovich

What a tragic loss... I can feel for the family and friends. I've had loss also (many of us have) of fellow firefighters (and some very close friends) in the line of duty.

I hate this..


More on Thomas Marovich from a Bay Area newspaper:

7/24 Awards to Fed employees:

Ran across a website that shows awards given to Federal employees. What is interesting is the highest paid awards of the Forest Service.

Awards, 2009.doc

And There I Was

7/24 All of my prayers are with TJ and his family. What a tragic loss. Looks like he was a fine young man. RIP.


7/24 Training thank you...

Just wanted to say thank you to the Captain at El Portal YNP and the FEO at Midpines SNF for putting together a GREAT training day. Four different agencies came to participate in Hose Lays, Engine orientations and a barbecue. This lasted most the day and we where able to pull it off with no calls to disrupt us. Also a big thank you to Cal Fire for hosting the party. I think I can safely say a great time had by all. The different departments that participated were Cal Fire MMU Mariposa Station, Yosemite National Park El Portal Station, SNF Midpines and Jerseydale Stations and Mariposa Public Utilities Dist.

Again Thank You.


7/24 SJ injuries in Utah

Two Boise smoke jumpers hurt fighting Utah fire

Looks like they'll be OK. Hope so. Ab.

7/24 To Sick and Tired and Stay Safe

As the old cliché goes, "if you don't like what you're watching, change the channel." If you guys are so tired of listening to all the "whiners," then it seems very clear to me,,, simply don't click the 'they said' button with your mouse. Because quite frankly, we don't need you!!!

I found it oddly humorous that when Stay Safe responded to Sick and Tired's post, he referenced the fact that there would be alot of backlash from Sick and Tired's remarks. You wanna know why there is so much backlash Stay Safe? Because it was a personal attack to the core of the FWFSA membership. You 2 folks probably have no idea how much Casey and the rest of the FWFSA have helped bring the powers that be up to speed on today's elite workforce. A simple Thank You, would suffice, but no, we have to resort to calling people names, kinda like we are back in the 6th grade.

Look fellas, we would all like to go to work and think that we are appreciated by our managers for what we do, but the bottom line is,,, we aren't. An example of this would be the prior Forest Service Chief not wanting to refer to us as "firefighters."

If you two and the rest of your followers want to keep the blinders on, fine, but the rest of us are going to keep moving forward, rather than backward. Perhaps do some more "whining."


7/23 I've set up the beginning of TJ's memorial page. A young friend of his contributed several pics which I've included, in addition to the Memorial pics from the Willow Creek Memorial two days ago. Thanks to whomever sent those in.

If you have photos of TJ, please share a few. In addition, we'll include several from the procession from Eureka to the airport tomorrow afternoon. Ab.

7/23 June 2009 Safecom Summary

Very interesting. Ab.

7/23 July 23, 2009
Fire Information: 530-629-2816
Email: backbone.fire.info@gmail.com 

Honoring Our Fallen

WILLOW CREEK, Calif. - Firefighters will be escorting the body of Thomas (TJ) Marovich Jr., on Friday July 24, 2009 to the Eureka/Arcata airport, where he then will be flown home to the Bay area and transported to Hayward. Marovich incurred fatal injuries this past Tuesday during a routine rappel training exercise while assigned to the Backbone fire.

The procession will begin at 1:15 pm from the Bayshore Mall in Eureka, CA. The procession will be turning left onto Broadway merging onto Highway 101 to the Arcata/ Eureka airport located in Mckinleyville, CA. 

The California Highway Patrol, fire engines from the Six Rivers, Modoc and Lassen National Forests, as well as CalFire, will take part in the escort. Other official Forest Service, State and local emergency service vehicles are taking part. Out of honor to our fallen firefighter, the public is asked to observe a moment of silence as the procession goes by.

Note to Media: The Honor Guard will be at the airport.

7/23 Honoring sacrifice (editorial)

The Times-Standard
Posted: 07/23/2009 01:30:31 AM PDT

Once again this year we've lost a firefighter who had come to the North Coast to help protect local lives and property from the ravages of fire.

As the Times-Standard reported Tuesday, 20-year-old U.S. Forest Service firefighter Thomas Marovich Jr. fell about 200 feet to his death while training to rappel out of a helicopter.

He was killed immediately when he struck the bed of the Trinity River at Big Rock in Willow Creek.

But this incident, as well as the one last year where nine firefighters were killed in a helicopter crash, illustrates again and again that these men and women are putting their lives on the line, and often for communities other than their own.

This kind of selfless service deserves the highest accolades -- these young men and women are not only doing one of the most difficult jobs imaginable, but they do it with their lives and well-being on the line.

We heartily extend our thanks to all of them for doing their absolute best to protect us all ---- without such sacrifice, many more would lose their lives and property from the ravages of fire.

Losing life is always a travesty, but unnecessary deaths are especially tragic. The loss of such young and promising lives has ripple effects that can extend for many years beyond the date of the incident.

For the good of yourself, your families, and now the communities who depend on you for protection, keep safe and don't take unnecessary risks.

And thanks again for being real-life heroes in our midst.

Fair Use Disclaimer

7/23 Subject: Accident Information, Condolences, and Services for the Marovich Family

This message is to consolidate the most current information we have regarding the rappelling accident, contacts for condolences, and services for Thomas "TJ" Marovich. Please share widely.

Any media inquiries related to this accident or the investigation should be referred to: Jason Kirchner, jdkirchner@fs.fed.us, 707-562-9014

Yesterday the Modoc National Forest provided a news release that accurately outlines what is currently known, and provides a little bit of information about TJ for those who did not know him.

(See attached file: T. Marovich News Release7/22/09 (doc))
(See attached photo: Tom Marovich)

At this time, investigation of this incident is being conducted by the NTSB and a Chief's Level Forest Service Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT). No further details or information about the cause of the accident will be available until these teams complete their investigations and issue a final report. In some cases this may take up to a year.

A Forest Service family liaison from the Modoc NF has been assigned for the Marovich Family. The family has indicated that they would like Forest Service employees and friends to send cards, condolences, and letters to their home.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Marovich (Judy)
32124 Trevor Ave.
Hayward, CA 94544

Services have been arranged for July 30, 2009 at 10:30 am. Flowers may be sent to the service, but delivered no earlier than 9:30 am that day. A funeral service will be conducted at St. Clement Parish, followed by graveside services at Holy Sepulcher. Following graveside services a reception will be held back at St. Clement Parish. The family is encouraging attendance by any Forest Service employees or friends who wish to attend. Additionally, the family is working with charitable organizations in hope of setting up a scholarship fund in Thomas "TJ" Marovich's name. Once finalized we will pass that information along for those who wish to donate.

St. Clement Parish
738 Calhoun St. (near Mission Blvd)
Hayward, CA 94544
Phone: (510) 582-7282

Holy Sepulcher
26320 Mission Boulevard
Hayward, CA 94544

7/23 Kenneth Charles Perry, 

I don't have a problem with people expressing their opinions/issues. However I do have problem when  they involve the innocent. During this time of grief and sorrow, leave Thomas out of it. His family, friends  and co-workers are dealing with enough. 

As one of them, I ask you, Please leave him out of it!


Thanks for the sentiment, J. Ab.

7/23 After reading some of the recent posts about NIMO teams, I am also curious as to the intent of these teams. I say that somewhat facetiously because my understanding is that NIMO teams were to apply this new concept of helping Type 1 and Type 2 teams manage fires from a "cost containment/risk management" perspective. Albeit, with fewer people and in addition to being mobed to a fire much quicker with the ability to stay longer, while providing training opportunities.

My question about NIMO's ability to be more cost effective began quite awhile ago looking at past fires, the location and complexity. The cost associated with those fires is quite staggering- I am not quite seeing the correlation that cost containment and risk management is a strategy. With that in mind, IMT rotation seems a bit out of sync because NIMOs seem to be getting preferential fire assignments while the rest of us patiently wait our turn as our commitment to teams. It has that appearance because these types of fires have the appearance or potential to become "long duration" fires, which means to me lower values at risk. Why are we spending so much money on them? What values are at risk?

No team should be exempt from open ended spending authorizations. I fully understand and support the great experienced people on NIMO teams and definitely do not take away that factor, but I don't understand how such small fires can cost so much money considering where those fires are located. Transferring risk from one facet to another needs further evaluation. I think all teams have the aptitude to be all risk or NIMO in nature, therefore eliminating the need for specialized teams that may or may not be that different than the wheel already invented.

No Name

7/23 Here are a few pictures from the memorial this (yesterday) morning we put together for Thomas and  the crews that are grieving his loss.

Next on my list... Photos. Maybe I'll get caught up tomorrow. Carry on. Ab.

7/23 RE: FCO truck

Here is a pic of an old Model 60 Engine with the correct older FS green color, gray roof, and light platter.

Here is a  pic of the oldest FS truck I've ever seen, it's before the gray roofs and lighter green


Will get to them.

7/23 Hey Ab,

Would you mind forwarding this message...

Did it.

7/23 Hello

How do I go about joining this website?

Replied to him with directions.

7/23 Six Updates for AZ fires for the Continuing Fires Hotlist from someone on fire assignment that does not have computer access.

Did not post those from the last 2 days, no time.

7/23 How do I sign up here?

Replied to him with directions.

7/23 I got asked a question from our a vendor on the issue with the chaps and why they were deemed unsafe by the government. I can't find the memo so could someone tell me what the message said and does it only pertain to government agencies.


Find it here: Hotlist thread on chaps The search utility on the hotlist works great for words 4 letters or more. Ab.

7/23 Hey ab,

I was wondering if you had received my email of rebuttal to Sick And Tired Of Being Sick And Tired.. I saw a few other rebuttal opinions as well, and was wondering why you didn't post mine.

Mine was a little harsh, yes. But, I think that you have to realize that when you post these opinions from people like this, you have to expect many opposing views. It really is scary, to real professionals, when we read these types of letters, because the type of person that subscribes to the opinion that we are the greatest, and do what we are told by our employer, because we are tough "men", is the very kind of person that will run down-hill on that spot fire without question. They are also the type, that God forbid, they ever get into a leadership position, will order those under their charge to do the same. 

The US Coast Guard used to have the motto, "You have to go, but you don't have to come back." Even they, who do far more brave and hazardous things than we, have changed their philosophy, and motto.

Below, is the original letter I sent. I'm thinking maybe it ended up in a spam folder...???? If you don't want to post it, that's cool, it is your website, I guess.



Posted it today, below.

7/23 Ab, 

July 25 is the one year anniversary of Andy Palmer's death on the SHF-Eagle Fire. Where is the Investigative Report?

July 26 is the one year anniversary of Chief Dan Packer's death on the KNF-Panther Fire. Where is the investigative report?

Will the investigation into Tom's death take a year? Will everyone be afraid to speak?

Will firefighters get threatened with manslaughter or worse?

I have PLI from Tony. I literally bent down and kissed the ground when I heard about this accident. Then I started worrying about people I know who could get blamed. Rather than grief I first felt relief that I was safely covered. Isn't that terrible? And I know many worried that they were not.

Mellie, thank you for all you do for us.
Abs, Casey, Lobotomy. Thank you. This place gives me some peace of mind, like I kind of know what's going on and have my ass covered on fire and legally.

Tom, godspeed!


FEDS for Professional Liability Insurance

7/23 Mellie:

Thanks so much for your critically important reminder about the need for Professional Liability Insurance (PLI).

Yesterday I spoke with members of the flight crew, folks on the Modoc, Tony Vergnetti of FEDS and even Senate & House staffers on the liability issue.

I do not expect an OIG investigation pursuant to PL 107-203 to be initiated on this accident. It does not involve a burnover or entrapment.

That being said, the lack of clarity and direction on the issue demands fire folks consider getting the insurance. The FWFSA has endorsed FEDS for a number of reasons. Tony and his staff have the experience in dealing with wildland firefighter issues and he has always been gracious enough to talk to those folks needing guidance whether they have PLI or not.

FEDS Toll free # is: 866-955-3337.

This isn't a "chicken little" response but rather a practical reminder that until the issue of liability is "fixed" for Forest Service firefighters, it is a prudent idea to be covered.



7/23 FYI:

Fire engines escort memorial procession for late CalFire assistant chief

By PE News
on July 22, 2009 12:15 PM

Motorists from Highland to Ontario may notice a funeral procession that includes CalFire red fire engines and at least one U.S. Forest Service green engine on streets and highways today.

A fire service memorial for CalFire Assistant Chief Jeffrey Allen Mellinger is underway at Immanuel Baptist Church on East Baseline in Highland.

After the services end, there will be procession back to Ontario for private burial. There will be sheriff and California Highway Patrol escorts along the way but no street closures are planned, Doug Lannon, information officer for CalFire's San Bernardino Unit, said by phone.

Mellinger, who died July 15, started his career with the U.S. Forest Service in 1971and in 1982 joined what is now CalFire as a crew captain at Fenner Canyon Conservation Camp in Littlerock.

He progressed through CalFire ranks and became assistant chief in charge of Fenner in 1997. One of the vehicles in the procession will be an inmate crew bus from Fenner.

--Gail Wesson

Our deep condolences. Ab.

7/23 Hi,

I work for the Forest Service as a videography for <snip> in <snip>, MT. I'm asking permission to use the <snip> photo located at: etc.

Replied with permission.

7/23 RE: Heat stress

" I am looking for any research or information that would support the argument that Wildland firefighters should be placed in a rehab environment while resting in between fires. An example: In between fires, let's say Initial Attack assignments. Should the air conditioning be on in the crew buggies in order to bring the body temps down for the firefighters in between assignments? Let's say the IA travel is more than 1 hour? Any supporting documentation either side would be greatly appreciated."

At the Interagency Wildland Safety Officers Conference, The Orange County ,California Fire Authority put on an excellent presentation on this exact topic, Rehab for Wildland Fire Personnel. (The humans get rehabbed, not the fire for once) I don't have contact names, but if you call them I'm sure they can get you the info. They have beeen doing a study with core temperatures and differing methods of cooling the body after wildland shifts of varying lengths.

Good, solid research there, hope you can get in touch with them.

7/23 ABS...yeah, I'm still a lurker, but concerned about my brothers and sisters:

I enjoy "Theysaid" from my niche in the fire service ecosystem, and the last few days posts on the way it is, or was or should be make me somewhat apprehensive that we're forgetting our primary mission, taking care of the firefighter. No matter where you are in whatever branch of the fire service, striving to accomplish that primary mission within your sphere of influence will strengthen us all. An ol' DIV Chief told me decades ago, "You choose either to drive the change or let the change drive you. One rewards, the other frustrates." 

Stay focused, stay safe... 


7/23 Ab,

Today (yesterday) is the 6th anniversary of the Cramer Fire deaths of Jeff Allen and Shane Heath.

The Cramer Fire has become the classic case study of organizational dysfunction within the Forest Service. If you know anything about the Swiss Cheese Model or High Reliability Organizing, you know that the tragedy of July 22, 2003 was not just something that randomly happens in a high risk occupation.

"Sick and Tired" may well be sick and tired of hearing the "whiners" complain about line officers dismantling Forest and District fire programs to suit their personal agendas, but that's what happened on the Salmon-Challis and the North Fork leading to 2 firefighter fatalities. 

It is happening today on other districts and forests; and by several accounts, it is happening in Region 5 and on the national level to some extent.

Please don't be content to "man up, tool up and step up.'' People on the inside must continue to speak up.

vfd cap'n

7/23 Sick and tired of being sick and tired,

There is soooo much wrong with your statements, it's pathetic. "Man card"??? Are you kidding me? What is interesting is that many of your examples begin with "were" and "used to be". And it is clear to me, as it was to R-5 Engine Capt. that you never were in a leadership position. "Going from town to town raising hell and taking names." is not what professionals do, it certainly isn't what the citizens of the USA pay you to do.

I suggest you do EVERYONE a favor, and go back to school (if you ever went to begin with) and find something else to do.

I'll put my name on this one: Kenneth Charles Perry..... because you clearly can't.

P.S. You think Thomas and his family should be happy with a pine box? From his employer anyway... I'm sure the WFF will provide everything that his agency wouldn't. ... Pathetic, dude. Simply pathetic

Don't worry Ab, I'm chilled.

7/23 Ab, Out of respect for Thomas, I didn't want to respond to "Stay Safe and let's go to work" on TheySaid and start this tit for tat thing.

However if I post something that someone doesn't understand, I feel compelled to try to explain it to them. Of course they all know where to find me if they have an issue with something I say... funny thing, they never contact me. So if you could cut and paste this and send it to Mr./Mrs. Stay Safe, I'd appreciate it.


Dear Stay Safe etc., etc., etc.,

When I post something on TheySaid and someone such as yourself doesn't seem to understand what I was trying to say, one of my many character flaws is to try and ensure that those who did not understand what I said come to understand.

My point about SCBAs, the Moon shot and other advances in technology and thinking is that they were all based on challenges to "business as usual"...perhaps considered whining by some.

Every citizen in this country has the right to petition Congress and make changes in current practices that will benefit society. Every citizen has the right to challenge business as usual. Each and every day there are thousands of people on Capitol Hill representing hundreds of organizations all seeking the same thing from Congress...access, support, money. If you want to call us a "special interest" that's fine. Our interest is in the betterment of the careers for federal wildland firefighters.

To suggest that those that have raised concerns about the current management of the FIRE program are whiners, I'd suggest to you that those that are motivated to change the status quo and improve the FIRE program are those with the most pride in their work among firefighters...they don't want to see the continual implosion of the program through mismanagement...fiscal or otherwise.

It is the right of every federal wildland firefighter to challenge business as usual. If no one in the workplace ever challenged the status quo, perhaps our nation would be significantly different. I think you are mistaken if you believe that if someone challenges business as usual, they don't take pride in their work.

Part of why I do what I do is because of the pride so many firefighters feel about what they do but are hampered by an Agency that candidly doesn't give a damn about firefighters. I do what I do for compensation that probably equates to a GS-4 with no benefits, no overtime and no retirement. I would suggest that every member of the FWFSA makes more than what I do.

Yet all I do is harness the voices of these brave men & women who are not a bunch of entry-level whiners but are hotshots, FMOs, smokejumpers. They include Type I ICs and even some in Regional offices & the WO that support what we do. I simply direct what they have to say to those that can effect positive change for them.

If you truly believe what we are doing is wrong, not filled with pride etc., I'd be delighted to hear from you at cjudd@fwfsa.org. I am not into tit for tat on TheySaid.


Casey Judd
Business manager

7/23 Sick of,

I take it you do not work on a engine. As a current Engine Pogue With time on Helicopters, Hotshot crews, and Type 2 crews as well, I would have to say that you express your thoughts and feelings accurately. I have said some things in the past that have gotten myself blasted by the masses. You seem to have faired well on your pedastool. The problem is that you expressed distaste for a lot of people that have a lot bigger stake in what is going on than you do. I work day in and day out doing my job to the best of my abilities, and beyond at times, to give my crew the best training and understanding of what they do. Sometimes that is hindered by my overhead, Sometimes by the crew, Sometimes by myself. I have put in a decade to a employer that has no interest in changing from the beginning unless forced to do so by acts of congress. At all times I do everything humanly possible to keep my crew safe and return them to their families on a daily basis. 

What Casey and a lot of the great people on this board are trying to do is communicate and gather intelligence to move the Federal Wildland program into the next generation of existence with a sustainable system of innovation and employee pool. If there was not commentary would you know what problems our fellow brothers and sisters were facing anywhere else? There are people from all over the nation and beyond on here. Our program in the FS is currently circling the toilet bowl and without some innovation and forward momentum instead of backlash, it could easily go the way of the Dodo bird. Currently the fire budget is eating up the Forest Service whole. Currently staffing on a majority of forests is being cobbled together with what little personnel they have. Somehow we always make it work. If that is not a team attitude, I do not know what is. 

The old head down butt up attitude no longer goes here. We are all  taught to Look up, Look Down, and Look Around. Maybe it is time  that you listened to the training that is offered to you. Take your head  out of the sand see what is going on around you.


7/23 Heat Stress

Here is a link to a study done several years ago on energy expenditures by FF.

When I talked to the author, some time ago, he mentioned a study on hydration for/of wildland FF.

It's been a while so I don't recall if he was doing the study or someone else was working on this.

His contact info is at the bottom of this abstract. It might be worth an e-mail to followup with him.

John Bennett

7/23 srf rappell accident

hey ab are they going to try to send us to jail? do we need to shut up?

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

7/23 Re: Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired and Casey Judd

Don't even give sick and tired the credit in your response. To them we are only whiners. This poster doesn't understand that we as an industry can change. Originally, I thought that they were management, but my latest guest is that they are fairly new to the agency.

Casey, keep up the good work. Most of us support you with prayers or $$. Personally, I think you are the greatest thing that we have going for us. Don't listen to the nay-sayers. I will support your organization until I die. You are our voice, please don't get discouraged, despite our uniformed brother/sister. You have the support of my family and myself.


7/23 Several "thank you's" to the theysaid and hotlist posting community for holding posts about the accident until TJ's family and friends could be located and told.

Abs and Mods also appreciate the restraint.

7/20 Thomas Marovich, 20, of Hayward California was fatally injured today while performing  routine rappel proficiency skill training, at the Backbone Helibase in Willow Creek. Tom was a second year apprentice with the Forest Service at the Modoc National Forest. He was  working with the Chester Helitack Crew from the Lassen National Forest.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. He will be sorely missed. Ab.

Hotlist thread 
Condolences thread

7/22 From Diesel, 

He contributed to his community as a child, and continued as a man.

Hello Boy Scout & Firefighter Families

This is a very sad note & request for your prayers . . .

Thomas Marovich Jr. - known to his Troop 168 Scouting Family as 'TJ', died today in a helicopter accident while on a training mission with the National Forest Service in Modoc County. TJ was a Cub Scout with Pack 815 before joining Troop 168. He was with the troop through most of his high school years, until the Fremont Fire Explorer program won his heart. Becoming a fire-fighter was his young life's dream. He died living his dream, his life taken far too soon. An investigation is to begin in the morning.

The family asks that you hold your calls for a few days. They have family there with them and people from the Forrest Service to help them through this tough time. They need some time for the first few days to work through this really tough time.

I am asking for your prayers for the family. I will send another email as soon as I know the funeral plans.

This seems so unreal. We've lost another shining star!

Troop 168 MaryAnn
Pack 815 Robert

7/22 A Photo of Tom Marovich and
A News Release from the Modoc NF which was his apprentice "home".

Text below:

Modoc National Forest
USDA Forest Service
News Release

For Immediate Release: July 22, 2009
Contact: Dina McElwain (530) 233-8723

Modoc National Forest employee Thomas M. Marovich, 20, died during a rappel proficiency training exercise at the Backbone Helibase in Willow Creek, California on July 21, 2009. Tom was a second year apprentice with the Modoc National Forest working with the Chester Helitack Crew from the Lassen National Forest. The crew was assigned to the Backbone Fire in Willow Creek at the time of the accident.

Tom started his career with the Modoc National Forest as a volunteer where he completed his basic fire training. He was hired in 2007 as a firefighter on Engine 44 stationed in Adin, California. He worked on the engine for two fire seasons before being hired under the Apprentice Program in 2008 as a Wildland Firefighter Apprentice. He attended the Apprentice Academy in 2008.

Buck Silva, Modoc National Forest Fire Management Officer, says, "The main purpose of the Apprentice Program is to train individuals who are interested in a career in Fire Management. Apprentices are given assignments on different types of crews to give them training in all aspects of wildland firefighting." Tom was currently assigned to the Chester Helitack Crew as one of his apprenticeship training assignments.

Tom came to the Adin area 4 years ago from Hayward, California. While in Hayward, Tom attended the Cadet Program with the Fremont City Fire Department. According to Fire Chief Paul Lemke, of the Adin Volunteer Fire Department, "Tom had been volunteering for the department since he was 17. He came with more fire experience than most firefighters acquire in a lifetime. He was an EMT by the time he was 18 and he played an important leadership role in the volunteer fire department."

Laurence Crabtree, District Ranger of the Big Valley Ranger District, said, "Tom was the embodiment of the apprentice program. He loved everything about fire, the organization, the equipment, and the fire family. This is tragic accident and huge loss to the Forest Service family. Tom will be greatly missed."

The Forest Service has mobilized an accident investigation team and is working with the National Transportation Safety Board.

Anyone wishing to send cards to the family may send them to the

Big Valley Ranger District,
% Thomas Marovich Family,
P.O. Box 159,
Adin, CA 96006.

7/22 People, 

I need to point this out yet again. Accidents and the current state of the Legal Snafu... leave us in limbo... We focus on Lessons Learned to create a safer work environment, but telling the stories to learn the lessons can screw you!

Remember that the FS Law Enforcement investigates to see if there is criminality involved in whatever happens. Hence, talking to Safety Investigators without legal counsel can result in compromising your 5th Amendment Rights!

In addition, I believe EVERYONE needs to have Professional Liability Insurance (PLI) and FEDS is the best!

Some documents posted on theysaid in the past 6-12 months attest to ongoing legal problems and issues of constitutional rights violations:

From most recent to older docs:

From the FS

***Accident Investigation Protocol, 5/21/09 (trying to change direction)

FS correspondence 10 (doc)

From NFFE (FS Union):

12/05/08 on need to protect employees constitutional rights via legal procedures

FSC 081205 Open Letter to Chief (doc)

Another from the FS:

Employees Rights and Responsibilities in Administrative Investigation Interviews, 7/11/08

Administrative Investigation Interviews (doc)


7/22 Bill Allison's passing


Never had the opportunity to meet Mr.Allison in person but did work with two of his sons (Jeff and Todd) during the late 80's and early 90's when they were crewmembers with me on the St.Joe IHC. We did get the chance to work with him a few years later on an incident in Oregon (think it was 1996) on which he was flying either Air Attack or Lead Plane for some retardant work we had requested and he struck up a conversation with me as I was using St.Joe as a ground identifier. Very professional.

The members of the St.Joe that had the pleasure of working with Jeff and Todd wish to send our condolences to all members of the Allison family in the wake of this accident.

Todd Camm
Suppression AFMO
Chugach NF

7/22 Some excellent links to

research on HEAT and FF rehab between Initial Attacks

Check the Hotlist thread 

7/22 24 Hour Notification of Firefighter Fatality is posted on the

Hotlist thread.


7/22 I am looking for any research or information that would support the argument that Wildland firefighters should be placed in a rehab environment while resting in between fires. An example: In between fires, let's say Initial Attack assignments. Should the air conditioning be on in the crew buggies in order to bring the body temps down for the firefighters in between assignments? Let's say the IA travel is more than 1 hour? Any supporting documentation either side would be greatly appreciated.


J P Vicente

President, Prescott Chapter, IAFF Local 3066
Executive VP, United Yavapai Firefighters
JVicente @ nospam IaffLocal3066.org (take our nospam and spaces)

Readers, any info? It's HOT in AZ. I'll also post this on the new thread on the Hotlist. Hotlist thread 

There has been research on heat-related illness in firefighters. CalFire and LA county or LA city. See the thread. Ab.

7/22 Also on the Hotlist:

Rappel Operations Equipment and Procedural Check (both intranet and NWCG links are posted there)

Hotlist thread

7/22 Four firefighters have died in one of a number of wind-driven fires in Spain. Two others have been burned over 75% and 50 % of their bodies.

I emailed Marc Castallnou in Catalonia with all of our condolences. Unfolding information on this tragedy will be posted on this Hotlist Thread: hotlist thread 


7/22 TJ Marovich's passing:

I just got back home yesterday from the backbone fire. I found out from the hotlist posts about TJ's and am heartbroken. Worked with this and all the other fine crews assigned to the incident.

From all of us at the Uni-Engine Co. our deepest sympathy and condolences for Tom's loss.


7/22 William Baird "Bill" Allison

Ab, please share. Thanks Mark !

Family-Placed Death Notice

ALLISON, William William "Bill" Baird Allison July 12, 1943 - July 17, 2009 Bill Allison, age 66, of Helen, GA died on Friday, July 17, 2009 in Clay County, NC. He was a native of Lexington, KY and the son of the late Louie E. Allison, Sr. and Naomi Brown Allison. He was a pilot and had flown for over 50 years and died doing what he loved. He is survived by his wife, Wanda Allison of Helen, GA; three sons, Todd Allison of Michigan; Mark Allison and wife Janice and Jeff Allison and wife Renata, all of Atlanta, GA; one daughter, Ashli Allison Hurley and husband Pete of Streamwood, IL; one stepson, Stewart Sheckler and wife Dawn of Bellbrook, OH; one brother, Louie E. Allison, Jr. and wife Maudie of Lexington, KY; a nephew, Eddy Allison and a niece, Luann Allison, both of Parksville, KY. He is also survived by five granddaughters. 

A celebration of his life will be held on Saturday, July 25, 2009 at Bill's hangar  at Mountain Air Private Airport in Cleveland, GA. Friends are invited to join in  the celebration starting at 2:00 PM with dinner served at 4:30 PM. 

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Civil Air Patrol Foundation at civilairpatrolfoundation.

Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on 7/22/2009 

7/21 Re: Sick and tired,

I can't believe Casey even responded to you…I can't believe I am. What happens to creatures that don't evolve? They die, haven't seen many dinosaurs around lately have you? We can't afford that, we are too great and too valuable to this country and to the cause. We have created the best wildland fire agency in the world; however we have not been compensated to match our performance. 

I'm guessing you're not an old timer, maybe I'm wrong; however if you were in any sort of management position you would know just how under appreciated and under paid you are. You would fight hard to justify your worth and you would do it for the Greatest Good. You would fight for better equipment, training, education, pay, retirement, and treatment. You would respect all in the agency and not punk different resources and label them as "pog", correct spelling POGUE. 

Pogue: An offensive military slang term to describe non-infantry, non combat soldiers and other rear echelon support units. Beyond its military use, POGUE is known to be used in civilian circles to describe a person who is in a less than admirable social position, more than they claim to be, or someone who is inept. 

Sorry back on track, if you don't want to fight for a better work environment, don't. But don't you dare compromise the work others have fought so hard on; to try to create a better work place and work force. Too much progress has been made.

Next time you feel like typing, don't. Instead just write a check to Casey with a thank you card and you to will see how far this agency is coming. Either hop on, hop off or get the hell out of the way because things are changing. 

Two more things: 

  • One don't coin a military phrase and spell it wrong…RUDE. 
  • Second don't insult the largest number of folks in the USFS.

With Respect,

R-5 Engine Captain

How about some Stress Releaser -from Mellie? Maybe we could all use some. Ab.

7/21 Ab; just wanted to add my two cents,

Sick and Tired of being Sick and Tired

I wanted to congratulate you on expressing such an admirable sentiment so clearly.

I figured when I first read your post that you were going to get piled on by just the kind on folks you described. Sure enough... But i'm real pleased to see the number of people who agreed with you and I wanted to add my name to the chorus.

A couple of those who responded to your post somehow equated the complaints about compensation and poor leadership to the founding of the country and the invention of SCBAs. I have no idea what they're talking about. <snip>

I take alot of pride in the job that I do - wouldn't want to do anything else. Safety is my profession. The suppression of fires and the care and management of our public lands is my job description. The taxpayer pays me to do these things - I appreciate their support.

An effective organization is created by the hard work of the people in the field. The various agencies and entities that we work for are only as good as we are. Take alot of pride in your job and the agency you work for will have alot of pride.

Stay safe, Lets go to work.

7/21 Waterdog,

Can you expound on how it is in the USFWS? I have never heard about that situation.


7/21 Alert & FYI - Possible Norovirus breakout in Fire camp

Subject: Alert & FYI - Possible Norovirus breakout in Fire camp
Date: Jul 21, 2009 1:57 PM
Attachments: Norovirus.pdf

Heads Up!
See the email below from the SOF on Whalen's team. (Thanks Joe) Scanning through the info on this virus two things stand out: first is that it is extremely contagious. second is that hand washing is crucial for food handlers and firefighters.

More to come on this but SOFs should put a copy of this info in their kits.

Steve Holdsambeck
Fire Operations Safety Program Manager
U.S. Forest Service - Intermountain Region

07/21/2009 02:10 PM 
Subject: Possible Norovirus breakout in Fire Camp


Whalen's team experienced a rapid spread of GI illness that affected crews, overhead, camp personnel (including camp crews, shower crews, cook crews). It started out with a few illnesses and progressed to approximately 40 personnel or more. In addition crews who were reassigned also experienced the signs and Symptoms upon arrival to their reassignments.

Working with Washoe Count District Health, we were unable to determine entry point, transmission point and actual virus. We were informed by Washoe County HD to treat it like Norovirus until the reports from the tests are in. Having said this, we began to track personnel and found that many of the crew who were going to other fires have experienced some to all the signs and symptoms as those who we captured here. I am sending this to you along with information from Washoe County District Health, CDC and other resources (including you) who have put information on the web.

For those safety officers who are on home units or assignments and have a few crews that experience some GI symptoms, the crews should be at the least isolated with their own shower and latrine facilities until it can be proven that they are not spreading infection to others.

As I get more information, I will send it to Steve for redistribution.

Joe Nishikida
Mike \Whalen's IMT , SOF

CDC Website regarding Norovirus

Information from Washoe County District Health pdf attachment (185 K pdf file, upside down file. Must'a come from someone with their head in the toilet! Print it and turn it the right way up to read! Ab.)

7/21 Bill Allison's passing:

Ab, here is some official correspondence from the USFS R-8 about Bill. Thanks for posting, as he will be missed by all of us.

Thanks Tim! 


Mark Ruggiero
Emergency Services Coordinator
National Park Service, Southeast Region
Incident Commander Southern Area Type One National Incident Management RED Team
Subject: Bill Allison, Retired R8 RAO, Fatal Plane Crash

It is with great sadness this morning that I pass on the news that Bill Allison was killed Friday when his personal single engine aircraft crashed in the Nantahala NF while he was enroute from his home in Helen, GA to the airport he managed in NC. I don't have very much information at this time, so I am attaching the news story from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

I know that many of you knew and respected Bill. Since retiring as Regional Aviation Officer for Region 8, he has remained active in Wildland Fire and emergency management through aviation contract work. Bill was known and respected by all who knew him in the Forest Service, our partner agencies, and the General Aviation community. Please keep Bill's family and friends in your thoughts and prayers. I will forward specifics regarding arrangements as soon as I have them.


Dan Olsen, Director, F&AM
USDA Forest Service
Atlanta, GA 30309

Condolences. Ab.

7/21 Bill Allison's passing:

This put a knot in my stomach yesterday. He taught me and gave me opportunity. I flew a lot with him when I was active. I will really miss him.

Randolph Harrison
NC Crime Control and Public Safety
NC Division of Emergency Management
EPCRA Program Manager

7/21 For those interested in applying for an R-5 Apprentice position or a R-5 GS 6-9 fire position the deadlines and the hiring process are linked below. 

A reminder, those Forest Service employees who receive an R-5 fire position, you will get the 10% retention bonus if selected to an R-5 position at the GS 6,7 and 8 level.


Apprentice and gs6-9 fall 2009 firehire 

7/21 Re: Sick and Tired

A couple of hundred years ago, an English King call a group of colonists a bunch of whiners. A lot of them spoke out against the King, but some only spoke of defeat and accepting that things will never change. I, for one, am glad they kept their eyes on the prize and fought for what they believed in. While I respect your view, I cannot agree with it. I've worked in several places, forests, and agencies. The FS may have been the best in the business, but now its so over-burdened with its own shackles. All of those special policies and regs created in house. This once proud agency has finally been caught in its inability to adapt. Our highest management caught lying on CSPAN.

I too have lost close friends to this job and speaking out for change, at least in my mind, honors them more than just keeping my chin up. Over the last 100 years the FS has made some great changes. Some not so good, others pretty good. A lot of these changes have been facilitated by its own employees comments, complaints, and praise.

Our country was founded for change and is one of the few republics that continues to evolve. Like you, we all love this agency, we're not into it for the money or we'd be somewhere else. But I don't agree with having our firefighters on welfare, commuting 2 hours one way to work, spouses having to live apart because they can't afford to live in the areas they work.

So yes, we are keeping our chins up, because our eyes are looking for change and through change, we can make this a safer work environment.



7/21 Dear "Sick & Tired" & "Waterdog":

Occasionally posts similar to yours show up on TheySaid and each time I take a ridiculous amount of time pondering whether to respond to them for fear of being overly redundant. So, I guess the hook has been set, I've taken the bait and I will respond, based upon my respect, affection and admiration for all of the so-called whiners out there.

It was just about 2 years ago that the out-going Forest Service Chief, Gail Kimbell, provided a videotape to all her employees which I surmise included firefighters, in which she stated that it was a "virtue" to challenge business as usual. It is the "cream of the crop," the "best of the best" of the Forest Service firefighters, whether they be GS-3s or GS-14s, or Type I ICs or NIMO team members or staff from the Washington Office, along with many from the other 4 land management agencies, that make up our membership and who have offered their voice and expertise to us in an effort to change that "business as usual."

It was 40 years ago today that America similarly chose not to be satisfied with the status quo and put the first humans on the moon. Consider where the fire service as a whole in this country would be if folks performing the job didn't challenge or "whine" as you would prefer to call it, the status quo. Would we have SCBAs, would our engines still be drawn by horses, would there be an ICS etc., etc.

Your observations, speaking in the past-tense with the word "was" is exactly what's wrong with the management of the Forest Service fire program. Those developing and implementing fire policy from the Chief to Regional Foresters, to Forest Supervisors to District Rangers all believe the fire program can and should be managed as it was 30-40 years ago. The phenomenon of "progress, in an effort to stay in step with the increased complexities of wildfires, most often attributed to R5, is seen by these Line Officers(most of whom have little to no fire experience or expertise) as some kind of "breakaway threat" that must be reined in. Wake up...its progress. And it's progress the public not only expects but demands.

It isn't federal wildland firefighters that have raised the cost of living in the last 30-40 years. It isn't the firefighters that led the current economic downfall, yet their desire to be able to remain in the federal service and be able to raise a family and make ends meet is met by criticism.

Your comment about knowing it was a federal job and knowing by now nothing would change is the epitome of typical archaic bureaucratic rhetoric that not only prevents the absolute critical necessity of progress, but increases the risk to the safety and well-being of these firefighters.

Your statement of "Nobody is going to help you improve your working condition, no organization, group, or union' is utterly and entirely ignorant and sounds like someone bitter about the fact that changes are in fact in motion as a result of unions and organizations and didn't happen in your career. Ironically, you've left out the one entity that should be at the forefront of effecting positive changes for federal wildland firefighters...THE AGENCY(s).

Just think if we all thought like you. In the mid to late '90s federal firefighters employed by DoD would not have realized pay reform. In 2000 the overtime pay cap would not have been eliminated for one single solitary federal employee group: federal wildland firefighters. The Forest Service wouldn't now be advocating a wildland firefighter classification series and even mentioning the term "portal to portal" and the House of Representatives of the United States would not have passed a bill in December of 2006 requiring the firefighter classification.

You can call it whining if you want to. I prefer to call it folks standing up for what they have deserved for far too long. I've never met a federal wildland firefighter who whined about anything. The issues they are dealing with are sadly the same issues that have been around for 20+ years. Perhaps if you had advocated change during your career we wouldn't have to work so hard now and you too could have enjoyed some of the benefits you deserved.

Credibility...interesting comment. It is the very credibility of these firefighters, organizations and unions who have stepped up and challenged business as usual over the past few years that have now caused many in Congress to rely on our information and data before that of the Agency. It is that credibility that allowed the FWFSA to receive personal phone calls from the new Undersecretary of Ag and the Secretary's office in an effort to open up lines of communication much to the chagrin of the FS leadership.

We didn't tell the Agency and it's USDA leadership to mislead Congress over the last 3-4 years on fire preparedness; suppression costs etc. All we did was call them on it. All we did was provide accurate, irrefutable data demonstrating the less than accurate rhetoric coming from the Agency. If the leadership of the FS can't be above board with the management of its fire program, someone has to, not only for the firefighters but the American taxpayer.

Whining is one thing. Challenging business as usual and offering solutions to make the FS fire program stronger and more cost effective and efficient for the American taxpayer is the responsible thing to do. That is what we are doing.

Contrary to your "it is what it is" comment, I prefer to look at it as "it is what it will be."

Perhaps you should man up and do something for others. It is most parent's intention to make things better for their children. So too should it be in the workplace. Those of your generation and mine should, at the very least do everything we can during our career to make sure those that follow us have it better and safer than we did. Some of us just carry that advocacy a bit further and do everything we can after our career...even after open heart surgery, to bring the changes in pay, benefits and working conditions all federal wildland firefighters deserve.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA...an employee association

7/21 Agreeing with Sick and tired of being Sick and Tired

I so agree with what you said in your statement. I have been with this organization for 20 years and have seen the ups and downs, but one thing that is steady is the outstanding firefighting ability we pass on every year. We are the best at what we do, no matter what kind of politics lurks in the background, and we will always be! Let's perform our job the way we were taught and pass on to the younger generation coming up the ranks so that our Forest Service family will grow and stay strong for the future. Keep up the great work and stay safe!

Light duty queen (unfortunately!)

7/21 Bill Allison's passing:

For those of you who do not know, Bill Allison was the chief pilot for R-8 for a very long time stretching from the 70's until he retired in the mid 90's. He was a lead plane pilot all over America and the chief tire kicker in several regions for the USFS. There were never any issues with aviation safety under Bill's watch. That was his highest priority and I learned a whole lot from him.

He is to my knowledge the only person who still did lead plane as a contractor after he was retired.

He was my chief trainer in the air attack biz.

Bill then went on after he retired to form American East which is a great source of contracted air attack platforms that are now used all over America. He has the best pilots, the best maintenance records, and absolutely the best safety record for us folks who fly fires. The company will survive intact under folks who he worked with.

This guy will be sorely missed. His legacy is one for the record books in our aviation/fire business.


Thanks for sharing, Tim. Ab.

7/20 Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired,

Amen brother.
There are some serious problems for the FS, true.
On the other hand as COMT said...
the "esprit de corps" in the field keeps folks around.
Absolutely true statement. For those who have not gone on to "greener pastures"
Support your comrades, be proud, be safe and do your best.
Keep your chins up!
If you want to see how great you have it try out the USFWS....
You'll realize that with all the challenges facing the USFS it is still the BEST firefighting organization on the planet.


7/20 Re: FCO truck,

JE good luck with your project and I would like to see the pics of the finished product in the future. 

Also I was diggin' around and actually found an old old slide that shows the front view of a 58/58 chevy 1/2 ton. It is an Angeles rig and the RL&S are mounted on a plate similar to the ones you probably remember yet slimmer with the growler siren in the middle of the same style as shown on the 59 engine I mentioned earlier. The lights were still the double cal type. As MJ mentions with the rotary light, those were not added until after the 1967 engine contract. Some were retrofitted to older engines, most notable was the "Coke Wagon" that was at Oak Flat on the Angeles. Also unless the paint color formula has recently changed (last 6-7 years), the paint code was a GSA FED spec 14260 and I believe the gray was 14270.

Again anything I can help you with get hold of me.


7/20 Some advice from the informed militia please...

I'm putting together a couple of prevention rigs and need advice on engine noise. In general is there a significant difference in the noise level between a Honda 2.5hp engine and a B&S of similar hp?

Thanks in advance to everyone.


7/20 Re: FCO truck,

Remember that the green below the gray roof was not the exact same FS green used today, it had a bit more blue in it, and was a little bit darker than the current FS green. And if I remember right seeing the old ones, the red light was on a triangular 'platter' with the front of the triangle cut off, it was a flat steel plate for the round red light to mount on.

On another note:

Anybody else notice on Inciweb that the Jesusita fire from may is still showing as active? This is what happens when a team forgets to close out an incident there?


7/20 Bill Allison: gone, truly a fire aviation pioneer

From Tim, copied from the hotlist"

For those of you who do not know, Bill was the chief pilot for R08 for a very long time stretching from the 70's until he retired in the mid 90's. He was a lead plane pilot all over America and the chief tire kicker in several regions for the USFS. There were never any issues with aviation safety under Bill's watch. That was his highest priority and I leaned a whole lot from him.

He is to my knowledge the only person who still did lead plane as a contractor after he was retired.

He was my chief trainer in the air attack biz.

Bill then went on after he retired to form American East which is a great source of contracted air attack platforms that are now used all over America. He has the best pilots, the best maintenance records, and absolutely the best safety record for us folks who fly fires. The company will survive intact under folks who he worked with.

This guy will be sorely missed. His legacy is one for the record books in our aviation/fire business.


7/20 Bill Allison: gone, truly a fire aviation pioneer  

Missing airplane found, pilot dead
Aircraft left Cleveland Friday morning en route to NC

By Edie Rogers
July 20, 2009 12:03 a.m.

The wreckage of a missing plane containing the body of the pilot was located late Sunday afternoon in a rugged area of the mountains of North Carolina.

Pilot Bill Allison left Mountain Airpark in Cleveland around 9:30 a.m. Friday in a 1978 Cessna 182 RB bound for Murphy, N.C. Allison’s wife, Wanda, reported him missing to authorities when he failed to arrive at Andrews-Murphy Airport. Wanda Allison said her husband was an accomplished pilot who ran the North Carolina airport in the Nantahala Forest.

The discovery was confirmed by Capt. Don Penven of the North Carolina Civil Air Patrol.

“Fortunately, we found it; unfortunately it didn’t have a happy ending,” Penven said.

The Georgia Civil Air Patrol’s Maj. Paige Joyner said that his auxiliary notified Wanda Allison that her husband had been killed in the crash.

The crash site was found by friends of Allison’s who were flying in a local tour helicopter when the pilot spotted wreckage on a mountain ridge in Clay County, N.C., near the Georgia border. The crash site is “very close to what we estimated his flight path to be,” Penven said.

Penven said the helicopter pilot was able to spot the wreckage because the copter could fly lower, some 100 feet, than the aircraft that had been searching all weekend, which had to stay above 1,000 feet.

Investigation and recovery of the wreckage is “going to be very difficult,” Penven said. “It’s really rugged country. The ground team took about three to four hours to reach the wreckage. ... It’s really rough terrain.”

Once they reached the site, the Clay County Emergency Services team confirmed the wreckage was Allison’s Cessna. His body was found in the wreckage. Penven said the team was unable to determine what may have caused Allison’s plane to go down.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration, which has been notified about the crash site, and the National Transportation Safety Board are expected to be dispatched to the site today to begin an investigation, Penven said. An autopsy also will be completed, he said.

A total of six aircraft from the North Carolina Civil Air Patrol were involved in the search and more than 50 members participated in the mission, Penven said. CAP aircraft logged nearly 50 hours of flight time and were recalled from the search just before 6 p.m. Sunday.

The Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, conducts 90 percent of the inland search and rescue missions in the continental U.S.

fair use disclaimer

7/20 Bill Allison,

So many of us are crying right now:

News Story 


So very sorry for all  of our loss. Ab.

7/20 Re: Man up and be glad you work for the Forest Service

The Man up and be glad you work for the Forest Service is exactly the attitude that we have been getting from Management when problems are brought up to them. The problems have been there for a long time and they are getting to the point where if they are not addressed the holes will line up.

It still is a great job, but the way the FS is being run really makes it hard to do the job. The programs and processes that have had problems that don't seem to get fixed yet we still are forced to use them no matter how difficult or obviously flawed are what makes it so frustrating to get anything done. 

If it was small stuff, the whiner argument might hold water, but what is flawed is; pay, hiring, budget and finance, and some of the decisions of upper management. 

The esprit de corps on the ground is the only thing keeping it going, if left to management I would be stalled in paperwork and bureaucratic process instead of getting work done.


7/20 To all of They Said,

Ladies and Gentlemen of They Said I would just like to say how sad it is to see everyone complaining about ....well everything. Folks you picked your job with the Forest Service or whatever wildland agency you complain from. You knew it was a Federal Job. You should know by now nothing is going to ever change. Portal to Portal yah right. Higher base pay yah right. How about firefighter retirement shhhh. The most appealing part about working for the feds was the fact that it separated the men from the boys. It was a place where hard work got you everywhere. Going from town to town raising hell and taking names. It doesn't matter if you're a hotshot, smokejumper, rappeller, engine pog, water tender driver, etc, etc! What matters is that you're shooting to be the best at whatever it is you're doing. If not, your man card should immediately be taken from you. Remember real men can cry, but whining is out of the question. Credibility is everything and when the rubber meets the road people will know if you're weak. So if you're going to fight fire with the F.S. do it proudly like the ones that came before you. Honor those who have passed by going hard and not crying. Nobody is going to help you improve your working condition, no organization, group, or union. And if you're still having issues about crying about your job go back to school and do something about it. Either way stop being a part of this large virus sweeping the feds. It is what it is. The F.S. used to be the best place to work. So what if you didn't get paid the big bucks. We were the best at what we did. Not Cal Fire, L.A. County, or anyone else that thinks they started all of this. Everyone who has migrated to greener pastures from the feds knows what I'm talking about. So man up, tool up, and step up.

Sick and tired of being sick and tired.

7/19 Ab,

I thought you might be interested in the positive response the public is now making in an area where they were incensed at this same time last year. This relates to the Backbone fire and the change in fire suppression methods.

Big shift in fire tactics evident on Backbone Fire


7/19 Re FCO truck:

Thanks Hutch

I remember when I started the engines still had the gray top and the patrol rigs also. The FPT trucks had the basket in the bed on top of the pumper where a fire hose was coiled up.

I remember the radio at that time was a “Wolfsberg” no scan and I believe it was out of military aircraft (probable got a deal on a bulk order through surplus) which you had to select your channel. We had to have a scanner to monitor all nets and switch the radio over to the proper channel to communicate.

Thanks again and some day she will be ready

PS: Our handhelds were Motorola 500 I believe which also did not scan. I remember the day the Sup got a Bendix King which would scan channels and we were amazed at the technology.


7/19 Ranges running east-west:

Thanks for correcting my mistake. I guess it's local lore I'm repeating. This is another great reason for networking.

I did a search and WikiAnswers  mentioned these ranges.

Bill Riggles

7/19 East-West Mountain Ranges:

And I may not be mentioning all of them... The Uintas, San Bernardinos, the Ouachitas (sp?), and I may be wrong, but don't the San Gabriels run east and west too?

Anyway, sorry to repeat fourth grade geography to you all, but it's what I teach when I'm not on fires.


7/19 Good Go, WTF!! I like the message. I pity those who don’t understand..


7/18 East-West Mountain Ranges:

William Riggles,

Just for your info, THE Captains Range (NM) are not the only Mountain range in the US that run east and west. The Santa Ynez Range in California is another Range that runs that direction. 

We also have our own weather events that we get - ie: sundowners.


Santa Ynez Mts near Santa Barbara CA

7/18 RJ, you old marine, you did it again! 

Thanks for firing up the "They Said" crowd. It did lead to fresh ideas and old insights, in a civilized manner. Back in '06, your letter to the editor of the Redding paper about the long burn and smoke problems in same area of NW California was well circulated around the Uncle, Rush, Hancock ICP. At times, fire suppression through management, is frustrating. That is how the rules have morphed into today's regulations. After working for 31 years for 3 different agencies (LNU, ENF, SAC) it boils down to the fact that the teams have very tight restrictions to follow. Under some instances it ties their hands. 

Here's To Honor! Rush, Boggs Mtn Helitack 73/75, NorCal Team 2 retired

WTF? (Where's the Fire?)

7/18 Peppin Fire:

The Peppin Fire on the Capitan Mountains NM is THE perfect example of a place that needed to burn.

It's a mountain range containing pine and fir trees growing in rockslides. It is isolated by pinion juniper flats that really doesn't carry fire well. The locals remember the early 1900s when every summer there would be fire burning somewhere up there, and nobody ever paid much attention to it. They just let it burn itself out!

Then the FS started suppressing every lightning start. We would build the "Great wall of China" to line fires because inevitably fire would find it's way through the rocks and slop over days later. Finding mineral soil was a chore, so we just moved rocks by hand until we felt comfortable we had a break in fuel.

After 2000 there was a let burn policy but it was not clearly stated what we should do with the Peppin Fire. We lined it and pulled everybody off the mountain. It crossed containment by burning through a rock slide, ripped to the top and crossed over and spotted widely on the other side. Like I said it's miserable lining fire in that country! I said to myself, LET IT BURN IT'S NOT GOING ANYWHERE! (Except Pine Lodge area had cabins backing up to the wilderness 9 miles to the east.)

The next day's plans showed the fire perimeter as the base road surrounding the whole east range. (The Capitans are the only mountain range running east-west in the U.S.) We get local weather unique to that range, and while burning out the "gap" the winds shifted, the column collapsed and spotted to the west range. So, same thing, we used the baseline road as line on the west range.

Where they helitorched too big of a strip, it nuked it. I am glad Rich Dolphin got up there, he did a beautiful job controlling the amount of heat! The streams are running again, the grass is thick and elk are everywhere.

What we need to do now is LEAVE IT ALONE! Quit putting out lightning fires! LET IT BURN ITSELF OUT!

William Riggles

7/18 Re: Field Generated Model 62 Safety Alert


Thanks for providing this safety issue to the greatest audience around. Thanks Ab(s) for providing leadership to such a great communication and information exchange platform.

If it hasn't already been done, someone should submit a Safenet about this problem so that it is addressed nationally.... even in areas that don't have Model 62 fire engines. Maybe the WO OSOH could issue a Safety Alert? Or at the very least, they are put on record of knowing about the problem.

I'd suspect the problem might exist on other engine models in addition to the Model 62.

While local International dealers may be able to complete the repairs for "$200" on recently delivered engines covered by a chassis warranty, the Forest Service should seek reimbursement for modifications that were done by the contractor not covered by warranty.

Mike, you brought forward two underlying problems:

1.) The Forest Service has done a poor job of Contract Compliance and Inspection post SERCO in accepting delivery, and
2.) If we still had "mechanics", the fix would cost next to nothing shy of turning a few couplings with a wrench that a mechanic could easily do.... or authorize the FEO to do.

Great job on catching this before it caused problems.


7/18 RE Fallen Firefighter Brett Stearns:

This message was sent to Burk Minor here at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, who played a key roll in helping the friends and families of Brett Stearns, from Tommy Hayes, Engine Captain, Grand Junction, CO. 

Burk asked that I forward this to you to be posted:

This is a letter that the family of Brett Stearns had in the Craig Daily Press....I think that it captures how appreciative the family was to have everyone's support....Thanks for all you do....


Jim Reidenbaugh
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

To the editor:

On June 26, 2009, Brett Michael Stearns, a wildland firefighter, long-time Craig resident and our son, husband and brother, was killed while clearing hazardous trees in the Freeman Reservoir recreation area.

We, as his family, want to thank everyone in the community for the outpouring of love and support in this time of loss.
The demonstration of support by Brett's fellow wildland firefighters was especially moving, with so many interagency units bringing their rigs and following in procession as Brett was transported from the funeral to the cemetery. 

They provided a "sea of blue" for their fallen comrade that proved what a closely knit and supportive community Brett belonged to. Many thanks also to the local Public Safety people, Moffat County Sheriff's Office, Craig Police Department and Craig Fire/Rescue who provided services.

There is a special group who provides for the needs of fallen wildland firefighters and their families on a national level. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation went far beyond the call of duty in helping us deal with the immediate problems we faced after Brett's death, working with the bureaucracy and seeing that the family will be taken care of in the ensuing years.

To Burk Minor with the Foundation, thanks for your help and support. Tommy Hayes, engine captain with the Bureau of Land Management Grand Junction Interagency Fire Management Department, you will always have a special place in our hearts.

Special thanks to the U.S. Department of the Interior Honor Guard Unit and the West Jordan Fire Department Honor Guard Unit who seamlessly worked together to provide honors to Brett at the funeral and at the cemetery.

We would also like to thank the following individuals and organizations:

  • Gov. Bill Ritter for recognizing Brett's sacrifice by asking that all Colorado State flags be flown at half-staff in Brett's honor.
  • Mike Stearns' fellow workers at Trapper Mining Inc.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Wards for meals and food for the family and the after funeral luncheon.
  • The Craig Daily Press for its kind coverage of Brett and the accident.
  • Owen Grant at Grant Mortuary for his kindness and professionalism.
  • Safeway, which contributed to the firefighters' barbecue.
  • Brett's teachers at Colorado Northwestern Community College, especially Mary Karen Solomon.
  • The generosity of all who have sent sympathy cards, flowers, and contributions to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and the Brett Stearns CNCC college scholarship fund.
  • The countless others who helped in this time of need and for which there isn't room to thank.

The loving people in Craig have shown us what a tightly knit and loving community you are, and we are touched, extremely thankful and ask that God bless you for all that you have done for us.

Mike Stearns
Joy Bowen Stearns
Julie and Ken Harris
Cacey and Carol Bowen

Thanks to Burk -- as representative of the WFF and rep for all of us -- for stepping up. Burk described his participation in support of Brett Stearns' family to me on the phone the other day as a very personal "Life Changing Experience". 

We are so lucky to have inspired supporters for the families of our injured and fallen. It always amazes me when I call the WFF, often Burk these days, that he simply says, "We'll get on it. We'll handle it." Thanks Burk and WFF for providing our safety net. Please contribute, folks to make sure this work goes on. WFF. Ab.

7/17 Is this new direction saying that no employees will be in the field without the ECC in service and staffed? Sounds like this could change a few things on R-5 Forests that don't have 24 ECC's. Why can't someone on the 4th floor just write a letter telling us exactly what the expectation is instead of dancing around the subject. 


Rumor Has it..........

File Code: 6700/5100/5300
Date: July 15, 2009
Subject: Field Communications and Employee Safety
To: All Region 5 Employees

During our recent Regional Leadership Team ( RLT) meeting in Sacramento , we discussed the Emergency Communication Center (ECC) operations in support of our Forest Service employees. The Leadership Team agreed when it comes to radio communication responsiveness employee safety is paramount. 

It was agreed that proper radio communication will be provided to all employees. This will include planned and unplanned after-hours coverage as necessary. Employees have a responsibility to communicate and coordinate with their ECC their planned activities after hours and to ensure coverage will be provided

ECC Mangers and their staff will plan enough flexibility into their operations to meet both expected and unexpected radio communications as they arise. Each employee is expected to know how to use a radio and to understand proper radio protocol and use.

The safety of our employees has always been paramount and as such, radio communication will be provided when needed including weekends and after hours. Please take the necessary steps to provide employee safety. The responsibility for this vital communication rests with all of us. 

/s/ James M. Pe?a (for)
Regional Forester

7/17 I added 3 photos from Robert to the Fire 41 photo page. Nice. Ab.

NV Trailer 1,2,3: My brother lives VERY near the Trailer Fire in Nevada. He sent these to me from his house and 2 blocks up.....   Neighbors are very nervous, however the wind tends to blow away from them towards the fire. Photos sent in by Robert.

Hotlist thread on this fire: Hotlist

7/17 William Riggles,

You are absolutely right on! I flew the Peppin Fire from minute one and am the last person to have seen any smoke on it 50,000+ acres later. It did a complete job of fuel reduction in absolute crown fire fashion in the Capitan Wilderness of the Lincoln National Forest. It was lightning caused. I had the best seat in the house.

Yes I watched Pine Haven burn down and evacuated all of the firefighters that were there trying to protect it. Nobody got hurt!

Now, putting on my other hat, we could have stopped that fire small if we had heavy airtankers but that was the first fire in America after they had all been stood down by our illustrious (censored) in Washington. They were not available to us period. The SEATs were useless.

As a retired FMO of many years I understand the proper use of fire in the proper place at the proper time.

I spent almost all of the 1988 fire season in Yellowstone as a division supervisor. It was a way learning experience in "the right thing to do". I do not regret a thing that we did there. It was going to happen that way anyway and nobody got hurt!


7/17 Sikorsky hard landing on the Backbone Fire; 2 pilots appear to be ok. No others on board. Thanks to those sending in info but not posting prematurely until sizeup and official word came out. Thanks for the fast release of info by the incident as well. Ab.

Hotlist thread

7/17 To Icefire, 

Swartzlander's T2 Team and those who punched in the line...Congratulations, that's heads up fire fighting. Mass your troops and be ready to take any advantage the fire or the weather offers.

Royal Burnett, CDF retired

7/17 Backbone:

"I read the latest news release from the Backbone fire and they are building now handline on direct attack. Since neither the fuels nor the weather has changed, I can only assume that someone has changed the direction of the fire teams efforts."

Something DID change on Backbone, the wind. Early on in the Incident, the wind was pushing the fire up into the snag patches. Key word here is PATCHES, they are not continuous.

So, the initial focus on the fire was to protect the communities to the West, South, and North by putting in indirect line, using the old Megram lines, on Devils backbone until the fire behavior moderated. The wind slowed down, and the fire burned through out of some of the worse snag patches, into more open, meadow, areas where you could 'connect-the-dots" by going direct, so the focus was to take advantage of the opportunity. 

I don't see any big change in direction here, just a team that was paying attention to the current and expected fire behavior, and adjusted their tactics accordingly. I think it was a good job, as this fire could have taken out hundreds of thousands of acres, but was caught safely and efficiently.

For those that don't know, the spread has been stopped, all lines are in, and the fire is in mop-up, with the few remaining hotspots being watched carefully. The containment figures should be going up accordingly, as the fire becomes more secure. The SRF Type 3 Team will take over the fire again on Monday or Tuesday, under the NIMO team.


Yeah, I heard several days ago they were trying for 7/24.

7/17 Model 62 BME Engine Safety Alert!

Hope this is the best way to get this out,

Everybody with recently delivered Model 62 BME Engines, check your air brake lines at the tanks more than likely they are routed wrong! It seems the wet tank is feeding your trucks instead of the primary tank, not good!. We noticed this during demob with a few of our engines. International can fix this problem for about 200 bucks. Also check the air lines in the back, they are routed poorly and have been chafing. In some cases all the way thru the protecting sleeves. This needs to be fixed with L brackets to relocate the lines. Any other problems needs to go thru your Engine Reps so we can get this and other issues resolved so as not to get the same batch of engines with the same problems.


Mike Calkins
San Bernardino National Forest

7/17 This Morning Fall River Volunteer Fire Chief Chuck Bethel passed away. I do not have any other information at this time. A memorial service is being planned for a proper send off. Will get that info out as soon as it come available. Condolences to Family and Friends.


Condolences to all. Please do let us know about services. Ab.

7/17 Anniversary of the fatal Battlement Creek Fire, July 17, 1976

Post on the Hotlist by Reddgroom with more details: Hotlist thread

7/17 To the Abs and the respondents. I am tickled by the depth and variety of response to my statements and questions. What a wonderful board you have that allows the exchange of ideas.

4 years of my 31 year career with CDF were spent as hand crew foreman in Alder Camp located at the mouth of the Klamath. Each summer in the late 1960's my crew was assigned to the construction the fuel roadside break on the East end of the Orick to Hoopa road. We made many initial attacks onto the Reservation, Witchpec and Willow Creek. So I do know what the fuels and the country look like and the difficulty of hand line construction in heavy fuels. 27 of my 31 years were spent in Northern California and I've probably fought fire in most of the major drainages.

I hope that clears any doubts about my knowledge or credentials to offer an opinion.

I read the latest news release from the Backbone fire and they are building now handline on direct attack. Since neither the fuels nor the weather has changed, I can only assume that someone has changed the direction of the fire teams efforts. If that was Dave Rhodes and the Concerned Citizens as Brother Cub suggested, more power to them.

You can send the best fire team in the world up there, but if they are constrained by tactics or direction they will not be effective. Its disingenuous of the Forest Service to tell the public that full suppression is in effect when in fact they are limiting the efforts by mandating wilderness tactics or other modified suppression. If the Forest Service has an agenda to burn the wilderness, they should tell the public and not try to hide behind catch phrases like Appropriate Management Response or full suppression effort.

To those of you who wrote that the fire was beating up the Hotshot Crews, what can I say? The public did not send you up there for R&R. You get paid to go into those places and fight fire.

Careful reintroduction of fire into the wilderness is desirable, but to quote Misery Whip "people who now support limited suppression of forest fires during extreme burning conditions are going to be doing some serious soul searching.". I think that was true in Yellowstone in 1988 and is always true in California. In order to learn from our mistakes we've got to admit we made a mistake. Those intense stand replacing wildfires that are allowed to burn in the name of natural events are a mistake.

Royal Burnett, CDF retired

7/17 Let Burn vs. Mega Blazes

Somebody has to make the decision when it's time to aggressively put out any start vs. let burn.

Yellowstone was a prime example, aggressive suppression for decades left it ripe for an aggressive burn. The result was overwhelming!

We can create fuel reduction on the border of public lands, and when natural starts threaten private property, all crews need to do is burnout and patrol for spots. Firefighters work defending developed areas where roads and safety zones exist giving them mobility to adjust their strategy to whatever happens. However, if conditions are severe, by all means; OUT BY 10! (If that fails, fall back to plan B)

Natural starts tend to be so much better at cleaning up without nuking vs. burning out, where we tend to try to save time and money by hurrying it along.

In the long run the more we let burn, the healthier the land will be. More important to the taxpayer, is the fact that fires will cost less and be safer and easier to control, makes a much easier sell once they understand the dynamics of such a move.

As I understand all this is presently in place now, it's just that we need to get everybody on the same page.

Making the decision to let burn is REALLY political. You usually have a big lightning bust just before your rainy season but there is no promise that the rainy season has begun. When in doubt - put it out!

William Riggles

7/17 Firemark, 

You have made some very convincing statements concerning our need to protect watersheds and other resources for our ballooning population. I have read the 1964 Wilderness Act this evening and it has given me pause in solidifying my ideas of what wilderness means from a legal sense on Federal land. I do however, stand by the sane reintroduction of fire into the wilderness as the cheapest and safest method of fire management. I feel that the whole issue is much more complex than the shoot from the hip mood I was in earlier. This thread has been most thought provoking and I appreciate Mr. Burnett for starting it, and of course, Ab for hosting it. Stay safe.


7/17 Even though I think in this case that we did and are doing all we can safely do to fight - suppress - the Backbone/ Red Spot, I am really enjoying the dialog on the issues. How does agency policy influence the way we fight a fire? What are the short and long term unintended consequences of that? If not fire for fuel reduction in the wilderness or outside it, then what? How to deal with the legal and bureaucracy aspects of non-suppression fuel reduction in the west?

Appreciate the dialog.


7/17 Interesting discussion on fire management, direct/indirect, smoke, drinking water, growing populations and interface, etc. Thanks, Royal, Firemark, Misery Whip. Thanks to the Backbone FF and Strider for the reality check from the ground on this one. All the other issues and opinions are quite interesting as well.

Appreciate the lack of heavy smoke so far.

Mellie (not on high speed internet that's for sure)

7/16 Excellent retort Mr. Burnett. 

I appreciate your rational reply to my post. I agree that a sensible approach to reintroducing fire in the wilderness is needed; however my approach would most likely not be viewed favorably by you... ring the wilderness with control lines, fuel breaks etc. and let the fire do what it will. The idea of wilderness is different for all of us... however, heavy equipment is not, in my opinion an option, no matter past what human impact on the land, and intense suppression of fires in the wilderness, on one hand, seems to run counter to the whole idea of wilderness itself. Perhaps, the way to keep people safe is to leave it alone. To the issue of smoke impacts I must agree with Klamathman, it has always been an aspect of NorCal mountain life and is part of the system.


7/16 Royal Burnett,

It is currently popular in some circles to deride old-time Forest Service fire managers as simple folk who didn’t understand the implications that the 10 o’clock policy would have on fuels buildup. I think this view is dead wrong; our predecessors were smart and pragmatic people who understood the risks of not having an aggressive fire management strategy and capability during the western fire season.

The old Forest Service minimized overall risk to firefighters and public by putting fires out as quickly and efficiently as possible. Old-time fire managers understood from personal experience that under extreme burning conditions, wind driven forest fires will occasionally make runs of 30, 40, or 50 miles in one or two days, and that they had a moral duty to do everything in their power to prevent another 1910 type fire disaster. They had a bias for action, they had the total support of the public, senior management and Congress, and they were damn efficient firefighters. We should be so lucky these days. 

I don’t understand the logic that says we should permit large fires to “clean up” (nuke) forests because senior Forest Service management has failed to make a case to Congress for enough fuels treatment in our forests. If we continue this misguided strategy, it is only a matter of time before one of these "cleansing" fires is going to take off and burn many homes and perhaps kill a sizable number of firefighters and/or private citizens. When that happens, a lot of the supposedly smart people who now support limited suppression of forest fires during extreme burning conditions are going to be doing some serious soul searching. 

If we were using prescribed fire on a much larger scale at times of the year when fuels and weather make control more amenable, large, long-term dangerous fires would happen far less often than they do now. And firefighters and the public would be exposed to far less risk. I don't believe we should settle for the wrong way when we haven't even tried the right way yet. 

Misery Whip

7/16 Royal Burnett covered the firefighting issue well, to my way of thinking, but I would like to add a couple of other comments for consideration. No one with any fire background advocates placing people in harm's way as far as I know, but there is a need to more aggressively work to control major wildfires in and outside of wilderness for the nation's well being. Mr. Burnett mentioned air pollution, there are other reasons.

The U.S. population is bumping the 400 million mark, and every one of these people has to have some basic natural resources to survive. Water in the West has to be the top natural resource need, and water collection, storage and release is governed by the condition of the watershed, the forests, being the largest part of the hydrology system.

Burning these watersheds with intense wildfires damages or destroys this function, and in the case of California, fires in Northern California burning in watersheds that feed into the Sacramento River can have a direct impact on communities as far away as the LA Basin.

Watersheds draining into the Pacific are critical to local communities and to the Pacific Salmon, and endangered species and its flying counterpart the Spotted Owl. Yes, these burned watersheds will eventually recover, but it might take several centuries and in the recovery process there may be several fire returns that slow the process.

Then there is habitat for the not yet endangered species, and the economic impacts to local communities when the scenery changes from green to black to green brush with white snags plus a list of other negatives from intense wildfire.

The idea of fire being natural is correct, but not in the context of today's forest conditions. The idea forests should be returned to pre-settlement days would be of some validity if fuels could be reduced before committing the land to fire again, and if that old condition would meet the continuing natural resource needs of the 400 million people mentioned earlier.

The forests are a mess for many reasons, most, in opinion, because of ill advised political interventions; also because most of what we know about how forests work has been learned in the last 35 years by scientists, not a long time in the life cycle of forests. Until we can figure out a better way to take care of the forests, we will need every professional wildland firefighter and fire manager we can find to put the bandaids on until the public and their political leaders can acquire enough understanding and appreciation of these lands to insist on solid long term management.

So be safe out there, but please don't write off burned forests as no big deal.


7/16 Here's the attachment on the Interim Influenza Guidelines for Wildland Fire Responses. 

Post earlier today

Info on Fire Camp Flu.

And There I Was

Thanks, Ab.

Text of memorandum:

Interim Influenza Guidelines for Wildland Fire Responses Page 1 of 1

Reference: NWCG#020-2009
To: NWCG Executive Board
From: NWCG Chair
Date: June 24, 2009

Subject: Interim Influenza Guidelines for Wildland Fire Responses

The U.S. Forest Service (FS) and Department of the Interior (DOI) in coordination with the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) and Incident Emergency Medical Task Group (IEMTG) are working together to update The Avian and Pandemic Influenza Response and Preparedness Plan for the Federal Wildland Fire Agencies. In the interim, the NWCG is distributing this plan as guidance to Incident Management Teams (IMT) for dealing with the current influenza situation.

Home units should not mobilize personnel who have flu symptoms. IMTs should be trained and practiced in the correct use of PPE (personal protective equipment) and know what measures are necessary if an influenza outbreak occurs.

This plan provides information and guidance to help fire personnel take appropriate actions to mitigate their risk of influenza exposure, and general health and safety measures for fire camps as well as recommendations for Medical Unit Leaders and Medical First Responders. Timely response and the use of accepted practices, including using the appropriate PPE and assessing all firefighting resources prior to mobilization, will help reduce the number of cases and could keep incident personnel safe and healthy. These interim guidelines can also be found on the following website: NWCG Influenza guidelines

Attachment: Interim Influenza Guidelines for Wildland Fire Responses

National Interagency Fire Center
3833 S. Development Avenue
Boise, Idaho 83705

Interim Influenza Guidelines for Wildland Fire Responses (same as Guidelines above in case the NWCG server is down)
Template: IMT Risk Management Worksheet in light of an Influenza - outbreak of H1N1 or other similar potential biological risk that may manifest in Wildland Fire Fighting Operations
Appendix D
: on respirators (PPE for pandemic)

7/16 Abs...

I appreciate your posting my letter even though it may express views that are opposed to the majority of the members. I also appreciate the members who have spoken up.

I find it very difficult to rationalize any policy that allows the destruction of thousands of acres of old growth timber or wilderness just because fire is a natural event. Fire is an important part of the ecosystem, but stand replacing fires are destructive. Think of the total cost of the Big Bar Complex, the Day Fire, the Zaca fire and many others that have burned for months in the last decade.

Klamathman suggested that since the Government cannot find the funds to correctly introduce fire into the Forest we should do it with wildfire. The costs of the wildfires in Northern California in dollars and lives has cost far more than the cost of any burning operation. The old timers can tell of lighting fires as they drove the sheep and cattle down from the high country at the end of grazing season... those were low intensity fires ignited when the burning season was on the wane, short hours of daylight and lots of humidity recovery. The same sort of a program of small ignitions could be initiated by the Government at minimal cost and no great liability if the ignitions were well within the Wilderness boundary.

Klamathman said that he expects to live with the smell of smoke in the air. Smoke is pollution. Bonnecksen wrote a 2008 paper in which he calculated the carbon emissions from four Northern California forest fires. The average fire emitted 62 tons per acre of greenhouse gases while the average passenger car emits 5.03 tons of C02. Each acre of high intensity forest fire emits the same amount of C02 as 12 cars driven for one year.

Forest carbon and emissions model fcem

007 commented that the 1987 fires under the old suppression policy got big. Yes, they did. And so did the fires in 1977 (Hogg, Marble Cone, Sacrface etc) and so did the fires during the 1967 lightning storms. These were once in a decade events and now season long fires have become annual events.

Strider sent in photos of a high intensity ground fire burning in a snag patch on the Backbone incident as justification for indirect attack . I'm sure there are portions of that fire that do not burn that hot 24 hours a day. Crews could work the cool flank or the heel and start hooking. The Rate of Spread on that incident has been minimal since it made its first run. I think 500 acres is the most one day spread I've seen posted.

Strider also said this is a Wilderness Area, no dozers allowed. That portion of the Trinity Alps has several old Forest Service roads through it, so its not as if this were a pristine wilderness, never touched by man. I think a dozer line would be one heck of a lot easier to rehab and a lot more pleasing to the public than a 10,000 acre snag patch.

Wilderness rules should be modified to allow and encourage full suppression (dozers and heavy equipment) during times of drought and extreme fire danger.

The fires of the last 20 years have clearly demonstrated what Misery Whip said in his July 7, 2009 post. "you screw around with a large forest fire long enough at the wrong time of year and sooner or later it will get up and rip. " He further states "Limited fire suppression on forest fires in the lower 48 in the middle of fire season is a bad idea that should never have gotten out of committee". I can't speak for the rest of the United States, but I can say emphatically limited suppression is bad idea in California.

I spoke about the changing of the Forest Service from a fire suppression agency to a fire management agency, actually the change is much greater. The Agency has morphed from a Multiple Use Agency to a self described Land Management Agency with a fire program. The policies are much more in tune with the NPS than the USFS of old.

I too hope that under a new Chief some a change in direction will occur.

Royal Burnett, CDF retired

7/16 Here's the first FLA (Facilitative Learning Analysis) using the newly revised FLA guide.

NM-GNF-Farm Flats Smokejumper Proficiency Test

Facilitated Learning Analysis: Gila National Forest Smokejumper Proficiency Test (141 K pdf file, 8 pages)

It's also at the LLC.

7/16 Hi to all:

Despite the incredible pace of staff turnover in Congress which really throws a huge wrench into educating offices and securing their support, the FWFSA is continuing to seek answers from several Senate offices whose members sit on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee as it relates to S 629, the Part Time Reemployment of Annuitants Act of 2009.

This bill was previously introduced during the last session as S 2003. It allows for federal agencies to appoint retirees to positions without impacting their current annuity. The questions we have of course are how it applies to retired federal wildland firefighters who are employed under AD rates and how the bill applies to those based on the mandatory retirement age of 57.

A concern is that agencies have been appointing folks to fire positions who do not have the proper quals and passing over for appointments/assignments those that have the quals simply because they aren't in the "good ole boy network." It appears that some higher graded retirees without red cards are being given FIRE appointments/assignments and get to sit around in MAC groups making a lot of money.

We have always taken the position that federal dollars for wildfires should first go to front line active federal wildland firefighters, then ADs/federal retirees then cooperators and contractors. Currently seems to be the other way around which is why suppression costs so much.

The FWFSA has not taken a position on the bill and likely won't until we get the answers to these questions and get some feedback from our retirees. Although our primary responsibility is to our current, active front line firefighters, we recognize ADs are in some cases being abused and with the scuttling of the ADFA, retirees need some answers and support. Once we get some answers we'll let folks know and solicit some feedback from our retirees and AD members.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

7/16 Royal Burnnet said,

"Many of us who have watched the USFS evolve from a fire suppression agency to a fire management agency are not pleased with the direction or the results."

Actually, the USFS is a LAND management agency , fire is just one aspect of that, and fire suppression is a policy the agency chose to adopt in the early 1900's. I think we are at a juncture in time where we need to re-evaluate this policy. Yes- keeping fires small minimizes the risk to life and property, but eliminating fire from the ecological equation may not be the best option for the long term, which is what aggressive suppression of all fires is doing. The Concerned Citizens Committee is comparing fires from the last ten years, to the history of the previous 50, or so years, to make their case that the change in tactics is what is creating larger, longer fires. They are using a time when frame when aggressive suppression (the 10 AM policy) as an example of "normal fire seasons" for the area. Nonsense, 50 years is a small window of time in the big scheme of things- the question is- what is normal fire behavior, size, etc. before humans came in and changed the fire environment?

fireweed lurker

7/16 To Royal et. al.

I have to take exception to your arguments in regards to the Backbone Fire and USFS Fire Management. First off it has been time to admit that fire in the western US needs to be managed, not merely suppressed, for years now. Outdated views of fire as a merely destructive force fail to consider the vital role fire plays in our ecosystems. Suppression is one tool in out boxes, there are many others. I would like to think that, to most of us, this is so obvious it doesn't need to be stated but sometimes you just need to state the obvious.

That said, I lived in the northwestern corner of California for ten years, starting in '87. You know what? It burns, always has and always will. The fires up there are difficult to suppress for many reasons; fuel loading, terrain, and access being only a few that readily come to mind. Difficulty in using aircraft is another, how many times have we seen Happy Camp, Willow Creek, or Big Flat smoked in for weeks on end making the use of aircraft unsafe. That is not the case on the Backbone Fire, yet, but tactics that rely on aircraft are always suspect.

Also, take a look at the sit report: 35 crews, 8 engines (up from 2 a couple of days ago). What does that tell you about access? It's a hand crew show up there and cutting line around a large fire equals a lot of time and a lot of beat up Hot Shots. Factor in where it is burning and the access/support issues to that equation and it equals more time and more beat up Hot Shots (you're not going to see state crews taking on these kind of assignments with multi day line spikes).

Which brings me to my next point. ICS is managed by objectives, it is basic ICS practice (and good common sense) to make those goals realistic and attainable. Running a bunch of Hot Shot crews into the ground to meet an earlier containment date to make folks feel better would be entirely political and backfire when an unrealistic date is not met. Teams should be setting realistic, attainable containment dates and if it is the end of August, it's the end of August. I tried arguing this with a fire once and it won.

And finally, I have worked with Swartzlander's team several times and am good friends with many of the Ops people on it. I know for a fact that they would be going direct and wrapping this thing up tomorrow IF THEY COULD. To use the parlance of our times, that is how they roll. They are also a good enough team to pick the right tool for the job so it gets done effectively, efficiently, and safely.

It is easy to be critical from a key board, or peering through colored glasses at a rosy past and say how much better you were at catching fires when you were younger.

I've walked that ground and it ain't easy country to travel in, let alone fight fire in.

Processed to Death

7/16 Backbone Fire Discussion:

In my opinion, using the fires that have burned in the Highway 299 corridor are a poor example of comparing fire policy, fire management, or fire suppression. Anyone familiar with the area knows that when a fire starts on north side of the highway you'll be lucky to catch it. As for last year, I think all of us in the fire service know the circumstances that contributed to the length of time it took to suppress those fires (number of fires).

As for the Backbone Fire, I know the area well, having been born and raised in that neck of the woods, I'll say we're lucky it hasn't grown into the large fire that it could. I'm not saying the any of the fire service is perfect, that's obvious, but using fires in the Trinity Alps as an example, to me is a poor example. Personally, I'd just let it burn. Besides the smoke, it's not doing any harm. But that's my opinion and this is my first time here, so hopefully I'll do better in the future.



Welcome aboard SC. Ab.

7/16 RE: Royal Burnett

Regarding Direct Attack. It is true that it is OFTEN the safest way to fight fire and should be used if possible, but direct attack in a 10 year old snag patch is dangerous and counter-productive. In fact, it is more dangerous in this fuel type than having unburnt fuel between you and the fire.

As a firefighter who was on the Backbone incident from the time it was still LT #17, I can tell you that direct attack did NOT work in these snag patches. I spent more time dodging snags (literally), keeping my head up, and chasing spots than I spent cutting line. In addition, the time that it was taking to buck and move the EXTREMELY heavy dead and down did not allow enough time to keep the fire where we wanted it. We tried several variations of direct tactics, including running falling teams through before the line, but that only created a bigger mess.

It was not until we backed off and went indirect that we began covering some ground. It allowed us the opportunity to alter the fire environment and mitigate hazards before introducing fire. Unfortunately, the right flank was already off to the races at the end of the second evening.

I encourage anyone who doubts me to come swing a tool or run a saw for a couple shifts. Our perspective is a bit different than from the air, from fire camp, or from the internet.

Backbone Firefighter

7/16 Fire Columns

I bring this up because knowing where your fire is includes knowing where embers are falling.

Air Bear brings up good points. I used to drive the pickup vehicle for my hang-gliding friends where I learned a little about updrafts being associated with downdrafts. Also, he compared large fire columns with thunderstorms / thunderheads and something else I need to think of; hail.

Sears used to have a display where a shop vac exhaust had a ball balanced on the stream of air coming out of a hose pointed straight up. Seems similar to the way hail is formed. What I'm getting at is the way hail falls from the sky!

When hail falls it seems to be on the outside of the updraft, either before or after the main body of rain. I think of the pattern as a storm passes through. I believe embers being lighter than ice but heavier than air we could learn a lot about where our fire might be headed by studying how storms work.

Fuel height and type would make a huge difference in how far spotting would occur. I remember a cluster of pine cones from lodgepole pine falling at my feet up in Montana, and that really opened my eyes to this phenomena, because the column was not overhead!

I never heard anything about this in fire behavior classes and I am curious if it is taught or studied. Theysaid, had someone write in asking for photos of large columns that made it to the upper atmosphere so I know new science techniques are being applied to weather.

I sure would like a link to some of these findings and have been
searching with no luck. That's why I brought it up at Wildlandfire.com!

William Riggles

7/16 Howdy…

Got a couple questions for you all out there. When I access the USFS Pacific Southwest Fire Hire site and click on the Current Regional Vacancies and see vacancies that are sometimes 3-6 months old; does this mean that the billet is still unfilled?  Is there someone tasked with filling the position in question temporarily?



7/16 Info on Fire Camp Flu.

And There I Was


TO :
FROM : National Wildfire Coordinating Group (Safety and Health Working Team
REPLY TO : NWCG@nifc.gov
DATE : 07/15/2009
SUBJECT : SAFETY ADVISORY : NWCG#020-2009 Memorandum -- Interim Influenza Guidelines for Wildland Fire Responses


WHAT: NWCG#020-2009 Memorandum -- Interim Influenza Guidelines for Wildland Fire Responses

ACTION: Please review and distribute.

Note: Memorandum is dated 6/24/09. The Memorandum was not sent out until all documents mentioned in the Memorandum were in place on the NWCG website.

Bonnie L. Bradshaw
NWCG Executive Secretary
National Interagency Fire Center

And There I Was: The attachment did not come through on this. I assume it's the Appendix that was missing about dealing with firecamp when people start getting infected.

I hope they figured in MRSA (antibiotic resistant Staph. aureus) which has also shown up in firecamp as a skin infection. Reports (2 cases of teenagers in NY) are correlating poor survival A/H1N1 flu outcomes with MRSA in the lungs. Ab.

7/15 Some new photos of the Olinda Shots and the Trailer and Redrock fires in NV.

I put them on Fires 41 and Hand 26 photo pages, respectively. Ab.

7/15 This just arrived, sent this morning... Ab.

Krassel Memorial

Friends of Mike, Mo, Quin & Lilly:

After nearly 3 years a memorial for the crash of N355EV is finally becoming a reality. Over the next month volunteers will be working to construct a trail to a small flat overlooking the site where 5EV and our four friends made their final landing. The target is to have everything ready for an August 13 dedication.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the construction fund may make a tax deductible contribution through the Wildland Firefighter Foundation by going to:


To expedite the process, make sure to state that it is for the Krassel Memorial.

As the dedication draws near, I will send in updates on dedication plans and road closures (there are still many culvert and bridge replacements taking place). At this time, the site can only be accessed through the Johnson Creek/Yellow Pine route or by wading across the East Fork of the Salmon River.


7/15 William Riggles,

I don't like to admit this but several times more than once (once unlucky, twice stupid!) I have flown into either a column or a thunderstorm and had that exact thing happen to me. It sucks.

The worst of those situations that I was in was when a whole bunch of jumpers were running for their lives on a fire I was just ordered over to on the Gila (their gear all got burned up) and I was trying to help them find them an escape route. We in the cockpit were not paying a lot of attention to the fact that the column was collapsing. Our first clue was the hail which is not a good thing on an airplane. We were driven straight down by the downdrafts almost instantly and could not see anything to fly out of it. And we kinew there were some big mountains around us.

But everybody survived intact.

Updrafts suck too but you can usually fly out of them safely. Being sucked up to 17,000 feet in a non-pressurized aircraft does also suck. That happened to me on the Carson and also on the Santa Fe.

Two things you learn in the air attack biz is that you stay out of columns and stay out of thunderstorms.

I have a few more lessons learned the hard way as all aviators do. Questions?


7/15 Why go indirect?

Standing Deadwood
Burning Deadwood
Backbone Burning
Backbone Fuels

Steep country:

Wilderness tactics required. No dozers.

Even so, last summer a woman was telling me that 30 years ago the folks in Denny ran right out after lightning storms and put them out.. What changed?


7/15 Royal Burnett et al., 

I just was wondering if the forest Service was so much better at putting out fires back in the day of Fitch and Rhoades, why pray tell, did the fires of '87 get so big?


7/15 Mr. Burnett hit the nail pretty much on the head. The Backbone Incident has burned several weeks and at one point right after the NIMO team took over they estimated August 30th containment. It is only about 5000 acres and granted it IS burning in the Wilderness but it is crazy to project letting it go that long. It is burning in the old Megram Fire with heavy downed fuels but that's really all the more reason to put it out, not to let it go to an outrageous size.

It is ironic that last year in the same neck of the woods, northwest area of the SHF, on the same District, Big Bar, a helicopter crashed killing about nine people. That was the Iron Incident if I recall correctly and when you jack up the man hours (staffing hours?) on a fire into several weeks you increase the chances of accidents with helicopters, chainsaws, with everything.

The last I heard the containment date had been revised a week or two earlier but Dave Rhodes and the Concerned Citizens group is doing what they can to try to get the NIMO team to allow the fire to be  put out. Many years ago I worked with Dave and he has impeccable credentials and experience as a fire manager and firefighter all the way back to his Texas Canyon Hotshot days. It looks like maybe the NIMO team is actually heading the right direction now thanks to some pressure being applied.

Brother Cub

7/15 Mr. Burnett-

While your link to the site of the trinity county concerned citizens page has some good points ie. negative effects of high intensity back burning, your opinion of current USFS fire management decisions is not shared by everyone. I think that the days of the 10 am policy have long gone and that more aggressive fire fighting tactics is not what is needed. It would be great to have millions to spend on presuppression fuels treatments, however it appears that even with an increase in funding we (USFS) can't begin to shake a stick at the amount of land that needs to be "treated". No one likes to see entire mountainsides blackened, or standing dead timber rot and fall to the ground, however, not all fires result in high intensity/ high severity effects. It should be noted that the trend in large fires here in Nor Cal have a high percentage (>50%) burning at mod to low intensity.

The current direction of the USFS may not be perfect, but the idea of directly suppressing all fires at all costs is the same line of thinking that has led us to the current situation that we are in. I think that a learnig curve is expected and we as an agency are heading in a better direction than where we were. Decades of fire suppression with the thought that all fire is bad and needs to be put out is something that alot of us are trying to end. As for the smoke, it has not been bad yet, however as a resident of far northern california backwoods, I expect to live with some smoke in the air during the summer. It lets me know that things are happening as they are supposed to.



Just a short update on our legislative efforts. Recently staff from Congressman Bob Filner's (D-CA) Washington office submitted the FWFSA's Discussion Draft to the Legislative Counsel for review. As I have posted previously, the LC reviews legislation for proper legalese etc.

Oddly enough, despite Congress recently passing an 11,000 page stimulus bill that few in Congress actually read before voting on it, and a bill obviously reviewed by the LC, according to Filner's staff, they found our bill to be "confusing & convoluted."

Needless to say that was not acceptable. The text clearly defined not only what we wanted to do, but how to do it; why it needed to be done and perhaps most importantly how to pay for things like portal to portal compensation.

I contacted the congressman during the 4th of July weekend to express my concerns and have been advised by his staff this morning that they will be setting up a conference call between the Congressman and or staff, the Leg. Counsel and the FWFSA on the bill text.

This will allow us to understand the LC's thoughts and they ours, so hopefully we can get a bill comfortable for all and which can be introduced soon. This is all just part of the bumpy road that is dealing with Washington DC and although progress is slow, it is being made and I sincerely thank our members for their patience.

More info will be provided once the conference call is completed although I do not yet have a date and time for that. In the meantime if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us through fwfsa.org.


Casey Judd
Business Manager

7/15 Fire Columns

I envision that the inside a massive column from wildfire hot gasses will spin much the same as a fire whirl or a tornado. The outside looks like billowing smoke but inside it's like a vacuum cleaner sucking at the ground and flinging the heavier debris and embers out of the smoke column into other air currents to be carried away and land in places you would not expect.

This explains the high winds and super heating that incinerates green trees. Like a blacksmith's bellows forcing oxygen to increase the temperature.

Does this theory hold water?

William Riggles

7/15 Leadership


At least the Forest Sup was being honest in the response. Many would tip toe around the issue. As a veteran of the "Male Class Complaint" era, some of the "company line" talking points and hiring actions were draconian and pathetic. Hiring for the issue of diversity became the sole an overriding factor in the hiring process. When the agency and the US government decided to institutionalize diversity at all cost; it was a given that this policy would have the consequence of a reduction in quality leadership.


7/15 Backbone fire discussion

I have followed this thread and this fires progress since the start. I'm confused. Did the Fire Team spend the first two weeks of benign weather constructing secondary fireline and only commenced direct attack in the last couple of days?
That's what the containment figures and the press release seem to indicate. Could someone who has attended a briefing or one of the community meetings please comment?

Mellie implied that retired CalFire employees are the only ones grumbling about the tactics used on the fires in the USFS and adjacent lands. That's absolutely not true. There is an organization called Concerned Citizens for Responsible Fire Management in Trinity County which consists of several retired USFS employees with distinguished records in Fire and Forest Management. The committee is chaired by Dave Rhoades, retired FMO from the Big Bar District, who was an probably still is a darned good fireman. Members include Charley Fitch, retired Big Bar District Ranger, other fire professionals and citizens at large. Fire history and research Big Bar Ranger District = Fire Suppression Practices

Some would imply that the tactics are dictated by safety. Again, that's not true. The safest method of fire fighting is direct attack. Anytime there is unburned fuel between the firefighter and the fire, the risk is increased.

The numbers of fatalities associated with forest fires in NorCal have dramatically increased in the last two decades...not because the fires are burning hotter, but for longer duration. The fireline is a dangerous place and longer fires equal more exposure to risk.

If Fire Policy is such that it increases the length and duration of fires by restricting the equipment or methods used on a fire, then the policy has in fact increased the risk to the firefighters.

The same arguments could be made about fire costs. I see constant bickering on this site about the petty items of Motel costs or portal to portal pay when the real reason driving fire cost is that fires are not put out in the most expedient manner.

Many of us who have watched the USFS evolve from a fire suppression agency to a fire management agency are not pleased with the direction or the results. A drive along Highway 299 from Weaverville to Willow Creek should show anyone that the current policy is not a good policy.

Royal Burnett, CDF retired

7/15 Qualified Leadership

Well said.

Some time back I had the opportunity to work on a prototype for certification of line officers and present that to a small group of LOT members. In the critique that followed, I offered the comment that no single training session or STEX could substitute for actual fire experience and knowledge. I asked the LOT why the agency did not follow the Chief's direction of including "fire experience" as an evaluation criteria for line officers. I also asked why we did not adhere to IFPM qualifications when selecting Regional level fire staff.

One Forest Supervisor offered the response of "It would lessen our ability to diversify our workforce".

I would not be surprised to see NFFE some day file a grievance for "failure to provide safe working conditions" by appointing less than qualified leaders.


7/15 From Firescribe:

At FireLab, studying how fire works in order to battle it news.cnet.com

7/14 Ab & Community,

Everyone’s hard work is paying off for our burned firefighters. Todd Wanner is at Harborview Medical Center, a verified burn center in Seattle WA, with his wife and an outstanding liaison (Please believe me when I tell you being a liaison at a burn center is a real tough assignment).

Kudos to the Idaho City Shots, their Superintendent, the BLM’s Alaska Fire Service, the Boise NF, the Forest Service’s R-4 Regional Office, the Director of Fire and Aviation in DC, the new Chief of the FS, and to all of those who have worked tirelessly for several years in the background to make sure our burned firefighters receive the very best care this country has to offer.

I am so very proud of everyone who made this journey possible, including wildlandfire.com.

To tell you the truth, I cried to see how well it all happened.

Family Fire Weekend has come and gone and so have the families of our fallen, but they brought many nuggets of golden wisdom with them, which they distributed to the others in attendance. Those who have experienced this level of loss contribute so much to the Family Day weekend. Their willingness to support and share is so critical in helping everyone realize that they are not alone, but a member of a very caring community. This is especially true for the newcomers. Our family is now planning for the next Family Fire. It seems that it has ignited a flame that cannot be put out.

I would invite the wildland community to visit our wffoundation.org site to view the photographs taken during this year’s Family Fire and see for yourself the healing of our fallen firefighters families, the children, and the injured that attended.

Family Fire was honored to have an interagency honor guard from the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and CalFire, as well as a group from the “Patriot Guard Riders” As always, many thanks to NIFC for their support of Family Fire weekend.

None of this could happen without the continued support of our donors.

Thank you,

Vicki Minor

Hey, community, if you haven't donated yet, Donate online to the WFF now. We need to make sure our firefighters/ families continue to be supported by this great organization. The WFF provides support to our firefighters and their families. It is always a relief for me (and others) to be able to call Burk or Vicki and have them hop right on it to get family members to the injured, arrange transport, lodging, whatever is needed, and later, support the families to help them heal. Phew, that would we do without the WFF? Hit the link. Donate some bucks to help a buddy. Ab.

7/14 72 Hr Report on the AK Logging Slash fire water pump accident that resulted in hotshot burns:

Logging Slash Fire 72hr Report.doc

I have been putting all Reports and Safety Alerts on the Hotlist Lessons Learned / Safety Zone subforum. If anyone has safety information to contribute, please send it to the abercrombie email account.


7/14 Mr abercrombie,

I would like to offer up a new recommendation for the website. I think it might inspire even more dialogue for members/visitors. A chat forum for line officers regarding current policies/opinions regarding our issues as firefighters! They might get current info sooner than they currently receive and disseminate now! It might just change how they perceive their current roles as leaders! divide us!

Centralized fire, not going away!

7/14 The Watchout Hotlist thread on Pandemic Flu has some discussion Things are heating up. Ab.

Hotlist Thread

7/13 Fed firefighters,

If you have any comments or ideas on Retention or Travel Ceiling, you might want to get your thoughts to Dan D.


Region 5 Partnership Council (R5PC) Meeting Agenda,
July 23, 2009
9 -3:30 p.m., Regional Office, Chaparral North Conference Room

Specifics: R5 Partnership Council

7/13 CD,

There really is no one-size fits all answer to your question. The main problem right now is there is really no need for too many positions because it is slow. Also, not knowing what you're qualified as, I can tell you for sure that you have a better chance of getting out if you have some highly in-demand or specialized qualifications. Even then, when it is slow like right now, there are a gazillion Agency employees chomping at the bit to get out, and they will always get sent first. On the bright side, you will get called before other GACCs when hurricane season comes along.

Another AD

7/13 Re: Leadership

The Leadership Development Initiative of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group
5 Year Report
Learning from history... Preparing for the future
September 2006
www.fireleadership.gov/committee/reports/5_year_report.doc (1870 K doc file)

"The most essential element for success in the wildland fire service is competent and confident leadership. The importance of developing effective leaders has been echoed in many venues. In recent years the 1995 Findings from the Human Factors Workshop, the 1998 Wildland Firefighter Safety Awareness Study, and the 2004 U.S. Fire Administration Firefighter Life Safety Summit have all identified leadership development as an issue that wildland fire agencies need to address."

"From 1995 to 2000 a number of independent initiatives were generated within the wildland fire service that revolved around the topics of human factors, decision making, and leadership (see Appendix A). However, this increased awareness regarding leadership was not equally communicated in all sectors of the wildland fire service."

The remainder of the report: Here (1870 K doc file)


Note: Where exactly do inexperienced Line Officers and non-fire program managers fit into support/ learn/ lead from the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program in support of evolving Agency missions and goals regarding fire management? Does the one-week class(es) being offered to certify Agency Administrators (Line Officers) or Resource Advisers give them the tools and ability to provide effective "oversight and leadership" to a complex fire program over others who have been doing the job for 25+ years of experience and had dozens of "one-week" classes? Or should the leadership, decisions, and oversight within the fire program be managed from within by folks who worked their way up in their specialty and gained actual credibility among their peers and their communities? All it takes is one dysfunctional committee with inexperienced folks making decisions to derail years of progress in wildfire management (ie. DLT, RLT, FireLOT, NLT, WFLC, etc). JMHO.

7/13 Lack of Leadership, Plethora of Managers

To LH,

You said:

"One of the problems that continues to perpetuate the current state of affairs is that our agency managers (not leaders) do not recognize good leadership. They are actually threatened by the behaviors (they do not recognize it as leadership, but are definitely uncomfortable around it). They call it “not being a team player”, being “difficult”, “too harsh”, or “not able to get along” among many other terms."

I wish I could show you that you are inaccurate, but alas, I would ad that our current R-5 manager sees the folks that try to lead up as 'whiners'. That is so short sighted, just as the scam that was the retention committees, some folks worked hard on that, very hard and with true intentions. Where has that gone? And when Hefner was put on the facilities committee, it showed that the goal was not retention, but subjugation.

I have hope that Tidwell knows of all this BS and will try to change things. But, we must support that effort with a resolve to continue to 'lead up' and have the realization that we do not control anything except our own little sphere. So, let's resolve to keep our people safe on the ground. Everyone goes home! Even bogus managers cannot come out against that, can they?


7/12 Looking for leaders

I find it interesting that LH's posting from 7/12 (Especially the third paragraph, first sentence) has brought to the forefront the very issue that was discussed for years by the old school fire folks that came up thru the ranks. There were/are many well qualified individuals that came up thru the ranks and learned the job by putting in the time on the ground as well as having the brains to do the jobs right. At the same time, there were/are many folks that got the promotions on a "Fast Track". These are the people mentioned in LH's post. The truly sad part is they do not realize, or do not want to recognize, they rate the job only on paper. But, I must add, having alot of field experience does not qualify a person to fill these upper level management jobs either. A certain ex-smokejumper forest FMO in the Southwest comes to mind that got his job by walking on people and putting himself first above all else. Lots of field experience, but no clue how to manage people! From the postings here lately, sounds like there are more than one forest FMO that will not stand up for their people.

I am glad I came from the "Old Forest Service" where management had the backs of those working for them. No longer seems to be the case in many/most areas?



7/12 Four new photos posted on Fire 41 of the Backbone Fire and fuels in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Lots of standing deadwood from the 1999 Big Bar Complex. Ab.
7/12 Looking for leaders

Listening to all the budget woes of folks, the theoretical causes and a few solutions, and some of the recent decisions at every level, it seems clear if there was a modern day Diogenes, who was looking for leaders instead of an honest man, he would likely walk himself to exhaustion if he traveled through the wildland agencies in fire management.

For example who signed off on the decision to contract the Boeing 747, DC-10 and the Martin Mars, all huge unwieldy air tankers at millions of dollars along with all the other accoutrements that go along with them and cost even more exorbitant amount. These are the same air tankers that NASA, (you know the rocket scientist people) determined in a study that these large air tankers would be ineffective for what they would be tasked to do. Several folks tried to delay that and bring common sense and fiscal responsibility to the decision, but were overridden by upper level management (not leadership). I wonder if this was an example of what happened with CHS, when a decision maker (not a leader) had his palms greased by CHS to ensure they got this big contract. These are just a very few of the decisions that are being made.

Right now GS-13s, 14s and 15’s are creating overtime for themselves just so they can get well into their 6 figures for the year. My own theory is that our agencies are exhibiting the consequences of poor hiring practices in from the mid 80’s and 90’s and many of those folks have now been promoted beyond their levels of competence. Please show me the figures that display good decisions vs poor to horrendous decisions that show me I am inaccurate. The leadership website says that Duty, Integrity and Respect are the hallmarks of what our leadership program is about. Please show me where that is being consistently displayed by upper management (not leaders-just people who hold leadership positions). The best way to make a positive difference in an organization is to get good leaders in place who will display good leadership. One of the problems that continues to perpetuate the current state of affairs is that our agency managers (not leaders) do not recognize good leadership. They are actually threatened by the behaviors (they do not recognize it as leadership, but are definitely uncomfortable around it). They call it “not being a team player”, being “difficult”, “too harsh”, or “not able to get along” among many other terms.

Leaders act, managers deflect, give excuses, and pass the buck, etc… Someone please show me that I am inaccurate.

Wrong or right?


7/12 Ab,

See fit to post as you wish.

2007 fire illustrates need to thin trees, some says article at sacbee.com

The article does a good job of raising concerns about proper thinning of National Forest land when compared to what private forestry companies are doing with their own land. Makes you wonder why it has to be so hard...


7/12 fireweed lurker

"In the study by Alexander, it is mentioned that the 1988 fires in Yellowstone were affected by the cycle mountain pine beetle in the lodge-pole pine, but it did not say specifically what this correlation was. Does anyone know what specifically this relationship was, or the amount of beetle kill previous to 1988?"

In the early 1960's there was an extensive mountain pine beetle out-break in the Teton National Forest and other areas of northwest Wyoming.

I worked as a Fire Guard (that term will date me!) in the summer of 1963 at the Blackrock Ranger Station on the Buffalo District of the then Teton NF. Blackrock RS is located about 6 miles east of Moran, Wyoming. At that time there was a very heavy infestation of mountain pine beetles all around the Jackson Hole area. That summer the FS spent a hugh amount of money and time trying to control the infestation by spraying ethylene di-bromide on individual trees. Thousands of trees were sprayed.

I can remember the lodge-pole pine on the ridge south of Highway 26/287 was infested all the way up to the top of Togwotee Pass. Everywhere you looked all you saw were red flagged, dying trees.

Even Grand Teton National Park was spraying trees with ethylene di-bromide along the Rockefeller Parkway leading into Yellowstone. I remember being amazed that the Park Service was allowed to use chemicals in an attempt to control the beetles.

All the spraying didn't make a dent in the outbreak.

I visited Yellowstone NP in the summer of 1985 and can remember commenting to my family that the area was ripe for a major forest fire. There were hundreds of thousands of acres of lodge-pole pine stands that had been killed by beetles in the previous 10 - 20 years. These LP stands had hundreds of dead, standing snags per acre with a heavy understory of 6 - 15 foot tall sub-alpine firs along with numerous fallen snags. It looked like a jungle. I had never seen such a heavy fuel load like that before or even since then. All I could think of was thousands of gallons of gasoline waiting for a spark.

It was only 3 years later that the stand replacing fires occurred. I was not surprised.


7/12 From TS:

Seaplane to touch down on Lake Elsinore on Sunday

7/11 An Article on the Politics of using NIMO and what's going on with the Backbone fire and Changes from 1999 Megram fire from the northcoastjournal.com.

Friendly fire fight


7/11 re: Documents linked from Misery Whip 7/8

I can see why "The Conflagration Hazard" document is on your all time list.. I think the colloquial verse of the times still conveys the author's concern for the American West's vulnerability to devastating fires. What was the lesson learned from this warning from George Joy, or rather, what change came about because of his speech to congress in 1922?

In the study by Alexander, it is mentioned that the 1988 fires in Yellowstone were affected by the cycle mountain pine beetle in the lodgepole pine, but it did not say specifically what this correlation was. Does anyone know what specifically this relationship was, or the amount of beetle kill previous to 1988?

I ask because of the extraordinarily high percentage (80-90%) of beetle kill that has spreading through the lodgepole pine throughout the Rockies in Colorado. Much of it has been on the western slope, and in higher elevations (like above 7500 ft.) where fire danger is typically lower. It is starting to cross the continental divide and moving closer to the front range which receives less moisture, the fire danger generally higher, and in more populated areas. It is quite a sight to stand in a valley and see hillsides in all directions covered in dead, brown forest.

Interestingly, the epilogue from Rothermel notes a number years with historic large fires, in addition to 1988 and 2000; 1962, 1967 (Sundance Fire), 1968, 1985. All proceeded moderate to strong El Nino patterns (usually with record amounts of moisture in the west) by 2-4 years, and fires started during extreme fire weather experienced in August. In the case of 1988, after a moderate El Nino in1982-83, and a strong El Nino in 1985. Look at the strong El Nino years we experienced in 1997-98 (I recall crazy rain and pretty extensive flooding in Colorado in 1997) followed by the fire season 2000.

Quite a statement Mr. Joy...

"I do not like to play the role of one foreboding evil events,
but after having passed through the experience of this and
other similar seasons, and taken in connection with great fires
to be found chronicled in books, and in the forests themselves,
I feel impelled to voice a warning and to point out the possibility
and danger of this part of the United States being
visited by a conflagration as great as any of the others. All
that was lacking to bring this about this year was for the same
kind of weather to have prevailed during the first week in
August as did prevail the last week in May. Only the caprice
of the weather saved us from such disaster."

fireweed lurker

7/11 old FCO Truck 1958 info:


Sounds like you have a real collector's item there.

As for dressing in FS livery for 58. . . the FS went to the light Gray over light green in '56 and the break line was the bottom of the windows up were a light gray. The door decals were like those shown on page 20 of the engines pictures with Ron Smith (look close behind and to the left of the crew in the second picture). You can see a little bit of the door decals on the them. They were White lettering on a green background to match the paint. As for the warning lights they were a single black can type like shown on the 1959 yellow engine two photos down from the Smith slide, this was mounted mid roof and slightly forward to afford room for the whip type low band radio antenna which was mounted center of the roof.

The sirens were the old growler type similar to the one on the '59. Remember that they had the bar racks on the top of the bed rails as standard equipment. The only downer for your project is that the FS continued to use the step sided design body until 1960. Prior to that the step side was the standard with a shovel, Single bit Axe and banjo Canteen mounted on one side (usually the right) and the spare tire mounted right behind the cab on the left side cut into the fender.

I will look around the ranch here and see if I have any old photos. The dad of my best friend at the time was the local District Ranger and drove one of this type rig, as did the FCO.

Ab can share my e-mail with you if you want it.


Thanks Hutch. Ab.

7/11 Region 5 IOU?

Here are the numbers Mellie. R5 Budget
Even with a slow fire season (so far) we should still make it. However it's going to be close.

I am sure the spreadsheet format looks familiar to our Fire Director, no not him, OUR Fire Director is RQ.

  • Until we fill the position with a leader.
  • Until the FAM BOD meetings become again a meeting you really wanted to attend and participate in the change and the creation of solutions.
  • Until we move away from the decentralized, Line Officer dominated environment who create a work environment and culture that weakens the Firefighter, causes distractions and places lives at risk.
  • Until we get a Director who fights for us, comes to visit us and stands around the tailgate and talks with us like real people vs. getting another long winded motivational speech.

Until then, RQ will always be my Fire Director.

To the young Firefighters who read this forum and have never meet or heard of RQ, you've been targeted by Line Officers. You’re the ones our Line Officers and other FAM officials who collaborate with Line, hope will comply with their new "fall into single file line" attitude, "do as we say" work ethic and not think about the past. We veterans are here to ask you not to fall into the trap.

We miss you Ray. We miss you very much.


Be Proud - Be Wildland Firefighters

7/11 AD Assignment question:

I have looked through your FAQ's page and found no answer. I am wondering if there is anyway to
expedite getting an AD assignment? Part of my problem is being in the east (tennessee).


7/11 Looking for some info

I am the proud owner and have been for a while of a 1958 Chevy Apache 3100 ½ ton short bed Fleet side pickup.
I have her about 95% original. 235 straight six which produces an amazing 124 HP with a 3 on the tree with a top
speed of about 55 MPH if we push her.

What I am looking for is are there any old timers out there with photos or knowledge of what the green the Forest
Service rigs were and what type of emergency lighting and decals they were dressed with.

I would like to re-paint to look as original as possible to an old FCO Truck. For the young FCO means “Fire Control

Any Pics would be great


7/11 Federal Government Leave Donor / Leave Transfer Program

opm leave transfer program

"An employee may donate annual leave directly to another Federal employee who has a personal or family medical emergency and who has exhausted his or her available paid leave.  Each agency must administer a voluntary leave transfer program for its employees.  There is no limit on the amount of donated annual leave a leave recipient may receive from the leave donor(s).  However, any unused donated leave must be returned to the leave donor(s) when the medical emergency ends."

No avenue exists to donate sick leave within the federal government. This is the same procedure with most, if not all, fire departments. Many fire departments allow the donation of vacation and holiday credits to those in need, but reserve sick leave credits to the employee for use throughout their career.

Request to Donate Annual Leave to Leave Recipient Under the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program (Within Agency) Form:
Form 630a- inside Agency (pdf)

Request to Donate Annual Leave to Leave Recipient Under the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program (Outside Agency) Form:
Form 630b- outside Agency (pdf)

Recipient: USDA Forest Service employees should use Form AD-1046 - Leave Recipient Application Under the Voluntary Leave Donor Program. This form is available by clicking the "Forms" link on the left menu on the FS Intranet Homepage.

Donor: USDA Forest Service employees should use Form AD-1043 - Leave Transfer Program - Donor Application. This form is available by clicking the "Forms" link on the left menu on the FS Intranet Homepage.


7/10 Re: New Aviation Policies and Procedures

As a fire manager and safety advocate, I find it troubling that one of the benchmark goals for success in this new aviation direction is the "reduction of SAFECOMS".

As Hugh said, This is beyond comment. "Fewer SafeComs" That's the same logic Mark Rey used to justify the gutting of the large airtanker program, to which I responded appropriately in the Boise Statesman several years ago. From a statistical and logic perspective, this is impossible.

As someone who studies safety thoroughly on the Just Culture model, the goal should be for an increase of SAFECOMS.... I know, that defies conventional wisdom until you understand the intent of the SAFECOM program. Same goes for the SAFENET program. Both programs are rooted in hazard communication.... and self reporting.

A fully functioning HRO seeks to become a Just Culture.... as part of that, a reporting culture is needed and fostered. To set up a performance/validation standard (goal) that seeks to reduce hazard and risk communication submissions (SAFECOM, SAFENET, etc) is destined to fail. I fully understand that wasn't their intent, but that is how it will function in a CYA/Analysis Paralysis/Blame culture.

In a fully functioning HRO, the submissions of SAFECOMS and SAFENETS should skyrocket.... hit an eventual peak.... and then trend downwards as Lessons Learned are applied in increasing safety to redesigned field operations. The trends of accidents will initially remain steady until the "reporting" and "learning" catch up to applied Lessons Learned approach.

I agree with the other posters, there are good points in the new policy and direction, but they are zeroed out by the significant flaws and unrealistic performance measures/expectations, and the jaded expectations that are inferred regarding cost management.

/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Wildland Firefighter

7/10 9 PM pacific time. Firefighters are on Chat. Go to the hotlist and click the WLF Chat button in the top left hotlist bar... You have to be registered for the hotlist. Ab.
7/10 DS,

Unfortunately, you cannot donate Sick Leave to Mark through the Leave Donor Program at this time. I wish we could.

You can however donate accrued Annual Leave to a approved recipient in need if you are a federal employee... regardless of Agency.

Once Mark is approved as an Annual Leave Donor recipient, I pledge the following towards the recovery of him and his family:

I pledge 80 hours (1 pay period) (two weeks) of Annual Leave/Vacation towards the recovery of Mark and the continued support of his family. It is the least we could do for a fellow firefighters or families in need.

I hope others within our community will do the same and follow through on their generous efforts.

We need to support our own "brother and sister firefighters", and their families..... We need to understand and appreciate..... We might be in their shoes someday and want our families protected.


7/10 From the Hotlist:



Come the end of July when the July expenditures for fire will be out, it will be evident that Fire in Region 5 is bankrupt along with everyone else, state, county and local.

Right now the USFS R5 regional forester either does not know or is in a state of denial or is simply keeping mum on the issue to let things fall apart? His money managers are bound to know... Maybe he is letting the Washington Office deal with it. Hopefully someone has told them they should plan??? Maybe they don't care about CA or R5 either. Maybe they engineered this??? (All speculation, of course)

I got to thinking about this last week with only a few lightning busts taking hold and needing to be suppressed (NEED FOR FIRE SUPPRESSION triggers fed funding coming out of life-saving fed SUPPRESSION funds). It's great to pick the fires up on IA and not having smoke is a personal god-send for me; but if things do not change, R5 will be facing a critical FIRE BUDGET CRISIS that could lay off all temp firefighters and freeze expenditures for all others similar to what is happening at the state level.


People don't realize that if firefighting resources are not sent to suppress fires (and thereby get paid out of a WFFU suppression account), the money -- that's needed to pay firefighters and for fire operations that are non-suppression -- runs out. I don't think that's happened in 16 years (since 1993) when fire ran out of money in mid August.

Other regions don't have a "regional solution" because they do not have the combo of huge public lands and a year-round fire season.

R5 does have a year-round fire season, January to December. R5 under Chief Quintenar and the R5 Board of Directors (Chiefs from the 17 forests) have had a regional strategy. The regional strategy supposedly still exists but no one recognizes that ignoring it by the regional forester and the R5 Fire Chief has made it a big HOLE in the swiss cheese of fire safety. And the leadership is not functioning or does not exist?

BOTTOM LINE: IF a regional strategy no longer exists and forests in R5 are going to be left twisting in the wind come mid-August barring the emergence of a huge set of campaign fires, THEN firefighters, the Public and the WO should be informed and get on the same page so alternative plans can be crafted and/ or our fire cooperators and Public will know what faces them... As I have heard from fire people, FAILING TO PLAN IS PLANNING TO FAIL!

Ray Q would always say to fire managers (BOD), "You keep dealing with fires and take care of the ground troops, focus on safety, and let me take care of balancing the FIRE budget needs for this region." And he did with Gary Beahl's incredible skill and intelligence.

Then, with more fires in socal in the early months of our year-round fire season or with more resources from the south ops area going to out-of-region under WFFSA payment to Region 3 or TX, AZ, etc, South Ops forests (BDF, ANF, CNF, LPF, STG, SQF, etc) would share with the North Ops forests that were running a deficit to tide them over. Later when the season heated up in May and June, those Norcal forests (Modoc, Lassen, Plumas SHF, SRF, TNF, Mendo, etc) hotshots, T2 crews and engine crews could go out, work and get paid and the regional fire budget would even out toward the BLACK. At year end it would break even, well it did for 16 years.

Ray supported his fire troops and managers and kept them focused on safety. (And thereby supported the forests environment and the US citizens, BIG TIME.) He did his job. He was a LEADER.


As I understand it, all R5 forests' fire programs are running in the red at about the same % deficit at this time, combined it is in the multi-millions of dollars (except perhaps the Six Rivers and the Shasta T? I haven't asked them, but the Backbone Fire burns there, needing suppression and being paid for out of WFFU.)

It takes 2 hotshot crews working to buy some time for 3 engine crews. With the way the FS rakes $$ off the top of the PREPAREDNESS budget, werstart the year with a deficit for paying fire preparedness costs. If there are no big fires that trigger payment through WFFU fed SUPPRESSION funding to make up for the deficit, where does it come from?

It would take 30 days of out-and-out R5 firefighter assignments to pay the fire PREPAREDNESS bills (including payroll) and break even on R5 forests. There may not be 30 days left even if a BIG fire season were to start now.


  • Has the Regional Forester called Gary to talk with him and number crunch?
  • Has he talked with the Regional Budget Advisor?
  • Have any line officers (Forest Supes) stepped up to tell their boss (Randy the Regional Forester) the state of their forest's Fire Budget???
  • Randy might have the $$ but if so, why is not allocating it? In this risky firefighting business distractions can lead to death...
  • (Another thought: Is Randy being made the fall guy?)
  • Does Harbour know?
  • Does Tidwell know?

Stay tuned...
Please chime in if you know anything different or if you have something to add.

Mellie (as always, hoping for the best)

7/10 Idaho City IHC crew member injured:

From a safety manager, making the rounds...

Here's some preliminary facts on an accident that occurred yesterday.

A hotshot off the Idaho City Crew incurred significant, but not life threatening, burn injuries late yesterday afternoon.
The employee was working on a small fire under the jurisdiction of the State of Alaska.
The employee was performing work that involved a portable fire pump and gasoline.
Somehow, the employee was directly exposed to gasoline when one of the gas tanks either vented or spilled. Soon or, immediately thereafter, the employee was then exposed to either sparks or flame.

The employee was assisted by other crew members and transported to a nearby hospital; and then flown to the University of Seattle Burn Center.

Numerous employees on Boise National Forest are proactively involved in providing assistance to the employee and the employee's family. The Forest is also coordinating support with the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

An interagency accident investigation team has been assembled.

Other rumors and stories you may heard are probably speculation at this point.

More to follow. Please hold up the employees and family members of the Idaho City IHC in your thoughts or prayers.


I added the link to the WFF. If you haven't donated, please do so. We rely on them to help our firefighters when things like this happen! Ab.

7/10 Update on the MREs with possible Salmonella contamination in the dairy products, posted on the Lessons Learned and Safety Zone portion of the hotlist.


7/10 Hugh

Tell me again why u retired? Too bad u are not running this show.....

Still any room in the USFS/ BLM from your point of view for this 50 yr old pilot forester??

Am I better off on unemployment or is it even worth applying any more to the Feds??

I sort of know the answer.... but there has GOT to be room for REAL AVIATION talent in the organization

Know anyone that can help me out??

get my PM from the AB

Signed No Name

7/10 Well, here we go. I need to back up my comment of yesterday " Jeez Louise, the WO doesn't even understand basic concepts of Command and Control. This is going to
be a huge cause of friction. I am appalled and baffled."

Well, SJB furnished some source documents (much thanks) and my take on them is below. My comments are inserted in bold italics

From Geographic Area Level Aviation Meeting- KeyPoints.doc posted on They Said:

  • Communication on these concepts and the change in mode of allocation is critical. Although it is late in the season to begin this, it is still a worthwhile endeavor. Buy-in by incident management teams (IMTS), agency administrators and cooperators are vital. How can you have buy-in without discussion and participation?
    --Nice concept, but in this instance not worth the paper it's written on.
    The opportunity to introduce strategic assessment of risk perspectives on conference calls is valuable and may be the most effective tool in the short term. Excellent - you're on the right track in terms of end state, objectives, and national strategic thinking. Unfortunately, this approach does not carry through.
  • Intelligence gathering for decision support will need to be enhanced. Predictive Services is part of the solution as well as modeling software, but the need for personal discussions to understand management intent on incidents is necessary. Understanding the WFDSS and WFSA outputs is an important part of this. It is yet to be determined whether this will be done through verbal discussions or a report (ICS-209 adjustment for example).
    --No problem there.
  • Any request for critical resources should be described in terms of mission or objective, chance of success, and associated timeframes for the resource to accomplish the objective.
    --Now we're gettin' down in the weeds, asking stupid questions (mission or objective), providing subjective assessments of probability of success, and swag timeframes. So I need a Type 1 Helicopter to keep the fire above Lake Chelan from slopping over into Stahekin (true story, 1994). Does this mean I have to complete some sort of GACC-Approval Form stating: "The helicopter is needed to drop water (seems self-evident); The objective is to keep the fire from rolling over the edge , rolling downhill, and threatening the Stahekin area (didn't we already state that in the 209??); my chances of success are estimated at 50-80%, and are totally dependent on pilot skill and ground crew production rates being met." Folks, I really question this. Any AOBD and OSC who is using high-cost, high-risk resources should be meeting clear end state and objectives, but if the teams don't get it from the AA (75% of the time), then we mind-read and make it up, and if the Teams have no concept of end state, objectives, and strategy (will withhold % of the time this occurs), then we are putting the cart of tactics before the horse. (A few of the old war-horse FMOs like Gene Benedict were masters at giving teams end state/objectives in no uncertain terms, but those folks these days are few and far between unfortunately). So we're going to slap a band-aid on this, layer the hell out of it, and frustrate everyone, all in the name of feel-good but fairly ill-defined statements elsewhere in this document.

  • Operational Risk Management (ORM) is best accomplished locally, with oversight provided by a Fire Management Officer, Unit Aviation Officer (UAO), a FAST or STAT.
    --Wow!! Voila!! Then why, I ask, does the GACC control Type 1 and 2 helicopter missions. Why are they even involved in ORM other than from the long-term strategic viewpoint? Something isn't making sense here ... let's read on.
  • Control of aviation assets is appropriate to manage from a Geographic Area level in periods of high demand. What type of control?
    --Assignment of critical resources (Ty 1 and 2 helicopters) to incidents. Yes, agreed, that's their (and the MAC's job). Mission-by-mission? Bulls__t!! Analysis paralysis at its finest will ensue. And this directly contracts the previous talking point. Has anyone ever heard of Cartesian logic? Or just logic? Or just common sense? Aaarrgghhh!
  • AOBDs should be included in incident planning meetings to assist with ORM.
    --ou've got to be kidding me. Just what in holy H__l do you think we AOBDs do but devote a significant amount of time with OSCs and PSCS and LSCs doing exactly that. Perhaps some folks at the Regional/State, GACC, and NMAC level need to take S-470. I'll be glad to put on a short 2-day condensed version for the same amount of money that was put in by staff to come up with this document.
  • Success can be defined by fewer complaint calls from Incident Commanders and fewer SAFECOMs. Success is also defined by more frequent discussion of ORM and the principals involved with the strategic assessment of risk.
    --This is beyond comment. "Fewer SafeComs" That's the same logic Mark Rey used to justify the gutting of the large airtanker program, to which I responded appropriately in the Boise Statesman several years ago. From a statistical and logic perspective, this is impossible.
  • The process needs to evaluate tasks or segments within a fire (rather than the whole fire) when working at a strategic level. Work is accomplished on a task or segment basis and paid for by investing resources in completing the work.
    --Is this "Appropriate Response" in disguise?Beautiful. I like it.
  • The WFDSS and LTIP process will help with this.
    --Exactly how, but before we go there, what are these acronyms? Then be so kind as to explain your reasoning.
  • Geographic Areas will begin implementation this season.
    --I can't wait (oops, that was sarcastic - I'll try to maintain a more even tone, Karyn). I for one am now approaching the season with trepidation, given this ill-thought-out plan that reminds me of the stories in the early days of Afghanistan with just the CIA and SF on the ground trying to get commanders 4000 miles away to get some close air support - with predictable results. This, on top Michael Jackson's death, has got me extremely distraught.
  • Train UAOs on ORM principals by this July.
    --Unless FS/OAS requirements have changed since I retired, I believe ORM is a requirement for UAOs.
  • Include ORM requirements in delegations of authority to IMTs.
    Not bad - I like it - I can see strategic end state and objectives glimmering here
  • Sensitivity to state and local cooperator needs and requirements is important.
    --Uh-oh - the easy out. And if our cooperators at the state and local level have any sense, they will not buy into this at all.
  • Communicate expectations to IMTs from outside the Area as well as internal IMTS and continue this on daily IC conference calls and AARs.
    --Nothing like good communications to obtain buy-in - love it.
  • Go slowly and conscientiously this year, clarify the process, and document for further analysis. Work with the draft 215-A form to understand its potential.
  • Staffing demands are high and incidents may go un-staffed since aviation expertise gets locked up in Area Command and STAT.
    --Nice to say, but in the past several years horror stories (to an IHOG fan) abound of 5-6 helicopters at bases with no Helibase Manager, no morning briefing, no AAR. Let's practice what we preach. What are 5 helicopters doing at a base with no Helibase Manager? Herein lies one of the roots of the problem, and it's time we work the problem.

Here's a snippet, hopefully not out of context, of the Karyn Wood letter.

NMAC’s expectation is that GACCs will implement protocols and processes in order to assign helicopter resources to priority missions from the Geographic Area Level of Operations. This does not include helicopters assigned to initial attack, medivac, or reconnaissance. However, it does include strategic assessment of risk in the assignment process to priority missions. An example of a strategic assessment of risk would be evaluating a proposed mission to assign a helicopter to conduct long line operations over three to five days into the future. This strategic assessment could consider validating the following:

o Has there been approval of the drop site by pilot, manager and IMT aviation or operations?
o Is there a location that has a larger area for shorter line or internal load?
o Is someone on the ground with the appropriate helitack qualifications?
o Has there been a determination of obstacle height?
o Is the pilot qualified and comfortable with the mission?

Karyn, are you saying that GACCs will do this? Based on input from AOBDs? I know you're not from the aviation side of things, but we AOBDs/ASGSs, as well as countless helibase and helicopter managers, do this constantly. The fact that the powers on high have seen fit to require this unworkable travesty in the guise of safety and efficiency is insulting.

Band-Aids, band aids, band aids, persiflage, illogic, and a great "we've got to do something even if it's wrong" approach. Sun-Tzu is rolling over in his grave.


Hugh Carson

7/10 In today's Press-Enterprise.

Nation's largest air tanker to fight California wildfires


7/10 Sick leave to donate to Mark Davis?

So I guess I missed this during my initial US Forest Service orientation but why in the hell
can't we donate SICK LEAVE to those who need it? Is there a "good" reason we can't?
I have a ton of sick leave (blessed with good health, no injuries, etc) and I'm sure there's
many folks who have more than myself they'd be willing to donate.

Its seems "logical" (I know, I know, scary word, LOL) to be able to donate sick leave when
 people are SICK.

Can someone please educate me on this, I'd appreciate it,

Sign me noname51

7/9 Sick leave to donate to Mark Davis?

Old Green

I worked for the U.S Forest Service as a Hot Shot and as an Engine FF for 9 Fire Seasons; I accrued
some 300 plus hours of sick leave. Now as a FF for another Fire Department, I am wondering if it's
possible to donate this somewhat large number of hours to Mark. I worked with Mark Davis and would
love help him out in this way!! Otherwise what happens to these sick hours I accrued!! Mark Davis is a
great man and I wish him a fast and full recovery!!

God Bless


7/9 Google map of the Backbone Fire with IR is up on the hotlist. Ab.
7/9 Wozers Batman

I find it absolute incorrigible that the W.O. has deemed that type 1 and 2 helicopters are to be managed as the
current Air Tanker fiasco except on a GACC basis. Just how in the world does the National Director F&AM
expect the IMTs to commit to a plan of action that is frequently based on the heavy use of just those type
resources assigned to the incident to accomplish the strategy and meet the objectives?

If this runs anything like the rest of the centralized Forest Service just abandon teams and let the unknowing
committee in D.C. manage all the fires. It is painfully obvious that the present day Forest Service has lost touch
with what was once the agency's greatest strength, DECENTRALIZATION under strong LEADERSHIP
(not today's MANAGEMENT). It is now and will continue to flounder for the centralizing and LACK of
leadership which is certainly evident. It is a very sad, sad commentary when the current director of F&AM left
the Fire Staff position on a high profile Forest he left behind what was his strongest asset LEADERSHIP and
turned into yet another manager Bureaucrat.

Very Glad I am retired

7/9 Nice Aviation Management report...

However, ORM being thrown around as a new buzzzword. Hardly anything new to us former and current military aviation operators


However, nice to identify reducing SAFECOMS but will it really? After all, SAFECOMS are (unscientific claim here) are about 60 to 80 percent maintenance issues which in the real world of aviation and especially the rotary wing world.....is hardly anything new. Vibration, oil leaks, ruptured hyd lines, chips, dings, cannon plug cleaning, etc etc hardly are anything new as far as writeups in the scheme of things but its pretty nice stuff for tracking and COR operations

Maintenance on any fixed wing or rotary wing ship is a constant. But SAFECOMS will NOT reduce aircraft maintenance to any appreciable amount. The real SAFECOM issues that really need to be addressed is all that communication equipment: radio, repeater, etc failures that are contributors to mission success or failure. I realize that as an aircraft mechanic that aircraft radios are susceptible (sp) to failure as are ground facilities.

Hopefully ( and that is not a term we like to use in aviation) The Aviation Management report helps and does not hinder operations....

Signed No Name

7/9 These are the aircraft you see when you're in trouble -- and the people who fly them.

airtanker.org message board


7/9 No word on when firefighting plane will arrive at Lake Elsinore

More news about nothing, LOL

No word on when firefighting plane will arrive at Lake Elsinore


7/9 Aviation Management

Geographic Area Level Aviation Meeting Docs


Geographic Area Level Aviation Management Followup (doc)

Geographic Area Level Aviation Meeting KeyPoints (doc)

7/9 ANK:

You bring up a great question that is always on the edge of my mind regarding aviation operations.

"Is this flight necessary?" has flunked the test many times in after the fact reviews when our friends have been killed.

So many of them.....

When will we ever learn?


The same question can be raised about any resource. Is this engine crew that needs something to do while its engine is getting fixed the right crew to send out without supervision to fell hazard trees? We only look at the proximal causes for tragedy not the upstream decisions that are also causes. The swiss cheese model has holes at every level, systems in place at every level and decisions made at every level. Usually the holes do not line up and no one dies or is injured which only reinforces our belief that we did OK and the system worked and it's OK to have made that decision even upstream.

Yesterday something came up on a hotlist fire. The IA thread became a discussion thread and we soft deleted a lot of comments at the time because they were in IA. Last night we restored all comments and the thread was moved to discussion. This shift of comments from IA to Discussion can and should happen on IA and Large fire any time someone initiates it. Mods at our first opportunity will set up some links from the new discussion thread back to the IA thread so readers can follow where the divergence of opinion arose.

There may be issues that need discussing here on Theysaid or in the Hotlist Discussion that may prevent another Esperanza, another Eagle Fire fatality, another cluster of deaths like of Heather, John and Steve because a fire got away. Some may view discussion as agency bashing or competition, but it is not. In a true Just Culture, discussion should go on between firefighters of different agencies, especially when the bacon gets saved and no one is injured.

Bottom line, in a Just Culture when info needs to be clarified, it should be. We should not just rush on. We should not be worrying about "the image" of any agency, but about what happened and what can be done better, strengths and weaknesses (not a good or bad thing just the reality), and how we work together. Firefighters have the experience they have largely based on their agency's focus and training. Each is good at some things and less good at others. No blame, just a reality. We need to know what we're good at and not so good at, both as agencies and individually. We need to communicate and in a civil professional way. Ab.

7/8 Hugh asks,,, "Why can we not ever do anything that makes sense?!!"

The folks on my district have come up with 2 very distinct, yet easy to understand phrases when dealing with Forest Service Management.

1. Common Sense equals Bad Idea!
2. Idiots Rule the World.

On a weekly basis, I sit at my desk and shake my head at some of the decisions people are making. It is somewhat mind boggling to think that these people are in charge.

Good Luck this summer!

Quick Connect

7/8 Aviation Program

"Incident Management Teams (IMT) would be assigned type 1 or 2 helicopters on a mission basis with
operational control reserved at the regional level (much like large airtankers)."

Jeez Louise, the WO doesn't even understand basic concepts of Command and Control. This is going to be a huge cause of friction. I am appalled and baffled. The Great Basin GACCs for 10 years have implemented the George Martin/Bob Butler GACC Aviation MAC concept quite successfully, with AOBDs in the area sharing resources quite willingly based upon availability and MAC-established priorities.

Why can we not ever do anything that makes sense?!!


Hugh Carson

7/8 Aviation Program

I am glad to hear that regionally there are things being looked at to cut costs with the aviation program. However centralizing things may not be the whole answer. I truly believe in seriously looking at the first question on the aviation card "is this flight necessary?" Shot crews are made to hike, all crews are made to hike; is a crew arriving arriving later than expected on the fire line in these remote areas really worth the amount of money it takes to fly these crews in? Can supplies get to these crews in a more cost efficient way? How many of you have seen money dropped on fires by type 1 helicopters helimopping? Been flown in to rehab lines that are a 2 mile hike in?

I would like to bring up alternatives to aviation. Being from Northern California, and have worked there for 7 years now, I have seen year after year strong inversions settling in and having to rely on pack animals to support crews spiked out, while dozens of helicopters are forced to sit. Pack animals can be used in different capacities: fire, trails, fuels etc. and can be a great link between communities and the agency. There are very few pack trains left within the FS, and even fewer people that have qualifications to use this valuable resource on incidents. If the region is truly looking at cutting fire costs, I believe centralizing may help the situation, but having the region and teams looking into alternatives to troop transport (letting people hike in, trust me it's really not as hard as it seems), and logistics of getting in food, water and equipment to remote areas (pack trains, quads etc.) it would be something that would be a great savings to the region as a whole.

I would like to challenge you all to keep count out there this year of how many times "is this flight necessary?"


7/8 Amazing what you can find on the Lessons Learned Center (LLC) website these days. This paper titled “The 1988 Fires of Yellowstone and Beyond as a Wildland Fire Case Study” by Dr. Martin Alexander is a must read for current line officers, fire managers and firefighters.

Alexander on Yellowstone 1988 fire behavior (pdf)

The epilogue by Richard Rothermel should be taken as a clear warning by the people who support limited staffing of large forest fires during the western fire season.

As should a document with the strange sounding name of “The Conflagration Hazard: Western Possibilities of Sweeping Fires Like Those of Minnesota and Canada,” which can also be found on the LLC website:

Rothermel on Conflagration Hazard (pdf)

The reason this paper sounds strange to the modern reader is that it was written in the colloquial style of the year in which it was written; 1922. I have put this paper on my all-time favorite list because it is priceless and timeless wisdom.

Misery Whip

7/8 Aviation Program

Date: July 7, 2009
Subject: Geographic Area Aviation Coordination Strategy and Operations
To: Regional Foresters

With your concurrence, the need to initiate a fundamental change in how the Agency manages helicopters for large fire support was agreed upon at the October Regional Fire Director’s meeting. The collaborative tactical solution developed at that meeting was implementation of a geographic area level aviation coordination and control concept.

Discussion focused several points of change:

1. Centralize type 1 and 2 helicopter management and control in an aviation coordination pool concept.
1. Incident Management Teams (IMT) would be assigned type 1 or 2 helicopters on a mission basis with operational control reserved at the regional level (much like large airtankers).
2. Type 3 helicopters may be assigned to an IMT.
3. Initial attack helicopters assigned to the local units are not part of the aviation coordination pool.
2. Risk management processes will be used to analyze all aviation missions.
1. IMTs would utilize the ICS-215A to assess the risk associated with all aviation operations.
3. Helicopters would be assigned from the pool based on geographic area priorities, appropriate risk management documentation for the mission, and utilization where and when they will be the most effective and when the probability of success is the greatest.

Implementation of this process will ensure that aviation decisions are risk based, firefighter exposure will be reduced, and aviation costs are a direct outcome of decisions. The National Multi-Agency Coordination (NMAC) group has approved the concept for interagency appreciation and expects that it will be implemented this western fire season.

Paul Linse will be the WO lead for this project and will schedule visits with the geographic areas to begin development of the aviation coordination pool concept. Please make available geographic area coordinators, regional fire operations personnel, and any other essential personnel when a visit is scheduled. Our initial focus will be on Northern California, the Pacific Northwest, and Southern California as these areas have the highest potential for fire activity in the upcoming summer.

/s/ T.C. Harbour
Director, Fire and Aviation Management

7/8 Update on Mark,

Mark has been moved to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, Rehabilitation Research Center.

On Tuesday prior to his move the doctors at Sutter Roseville preformed a few test. It was determined that Mark HAS FEELING in his legs. It appears Mark has feeling except in his left arm.

Today the team working on him in Santa Clara stated it was good news that is getting feeling back and they are starting their rehab with a team of 15.


Good news indeed! May the progress continue! Keep up those prayers thoughts and best wishes! Don't forget to send some cash to his family's fund. They need the help they can get from all of us. Ab.

7/8 The weekly Fire Situation and Outlook can also be viewed online here: Region 5 FireSituation

July 08, 2009

Temperatures throughout the state are holding at normal to below normal levels, but vegetation is continuing to dry in all areas. These conditions have resulted in an increase in initial attack activity, but firefighters have been able to effectively contain most new fires. During the next seven days vegetation is expected to continue drying while temperatures remain approximately the same. Some thunderstorms are possible in Northern and Southern California , but if they occur they are expected to be isolated and not pose a significant threat. Although fire danger is increasing due to warm and dry summer conditions, initial attack is expected to remain light to moderate due to the absence of critical fire weather.

Forest Service Initial Attack Resources:

Availability of Forest Service initial attack resources fluctuates on a daily basis due to staffing schedules, vehicle maintenance, and firefighter commitment to ongoing incidents. The numbers reported below reflect a “snapshot” of Forest Service resource availability in California as of 10:00 am on the day this report is disseminated.

  • Engines: 206
  • Hotshot Crews: 13
  • Type 2 Initial Attack hand crews: 7
  • Type 2 hand crews: 17
  • Helicopters: 20
Out of Region Support:

During the past week, Region 5 has dispatched approximately 13 individual firefighters to provide overhead/management support in Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Oregon.

Current Significant Incidents:
Backbone Fire, Six Rivers National Forest and Shasta-Trinity National Forest

The Backbone Fire is currently 4,848 acres and is 25% contained. The fire is burning on the Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers National Forests approximately 36 miles northeast of Willow Creek in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Due to the complexity of the fire situation the Atlanta based National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) assumed command of the fire under Incident Commander George Custer Wednesday July 8th. The fire is burning within the footprint of the1999 Megram Fire.

Resources Currently Assigned to the Backbone Fire:

  • 10 Type 1 Hand Crews
  • 2 Type 2 Hand Crews
  • 10 Helicopters
  • 3 Engines
  • 9 Water Tenders
  • 412 Total personnel
YTD fires and acres:

National Forest System lands:

  • Fires: 462
  • Acres: 3,455
All Jurisdictions:
  • Fires: 2,674
  • Acres: 13,938
7/8 Good afternoon Ab,

We have a new Fire Science Digest on Community Wildfire Protection Planning plus 8 new Fire Science Briefs in this web update. Take a look at our Science You Can Use section for new information about the Sierra, Great Basin, South, Southwest and more...

All information is available free by visiting the Joint Fire Science Program website at: firescience.gov

To subscribe or unsubscribe to JFSP's monthly update go to this link: firescience.gov: JFSP Mailing List Form

You Gotta Go...
We invite you to Savannah, Georgia for the Association of Fire Ecology 4th International Congress - Fire as a Global Process. Save the dates of November 30 through December 4, 2009. The JFSP will be hosting a 3-day symposium focused on what has been learned from 10 years of wildland fire research, how that has changed science and management, and what we need to learn in the next 10 years.

Best regards,


7/8 NIMO

Hey thanks for the good discussions guys/gals, it answered quite a few questions. Stay safe and have a good season.


7/8 Misery Whip,

As always you are right on.

I was on that same series of large fires in Eastern Oregon in 1996. Uh, I was the Fire Behavior Analyst. It was a most amazing event and as the FBAN I must say I was not necessarily surprised by what happened -I warned everybody big time- but I also learned a whole lot. You are right..... nobody got hurt.

That was a classic plume dominated event that we still need to learn from. It will happen again and probably soon.

Thank you for forwarding the Marty Alexander statement link. I have already contacted him directly with accolades. Everybody that reads this forum needs to understand the importance of what he and you are saying. FIRE BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS CANNOT BE MINIMIZED TO A NUMBERS GAME OR MODELING!!!! What occurs between the ears after years of experience is way more important and very often the numbers are just a distraction.

As Ab always sez.... carry on.


7/8 After reading Misery Whip's thread about NIMOs, I would have to agree.

Based on wrangling and hamstringing the NIMOs to some arbitrary amounts for large fires and then trying to defend them after the fact is ludicrous.

One would think that after this many years, the USFS would have this mastered.....

This further defends the fact that FEMA, NFA, USFA, and in some cases, DHS, ought to take this over. Call it what you will, the "land management agency" in its curent form, needs a COMPLETE overhaul in its mission. Some of the USDOI organizations that I have been with have operated on better shoestring budgets than the USFS, so the 30 / 40 yr old ideas of combining those agencies is an ideas whose time has come.....

Congress should look at combining USFS with USDOI OR taking wildland fire and all its computer applications into ONE large agency who handles all risk / all hazard on a daily basis and send the USFS marching orders to start MANAGING its resources. All these ideas of saving the wildland fire for USFS needs to be changed and maybe some of those NIMO teams rerouted to USFA.

I know this would create ALOT of heartburn for the USFS and its employees, what is different about it now in its current form??

Signed No Name

7/8 NIMO teams

"First, when these teams show up, who sets everything up for them as far as getting support tents, trailers and all the other things that you get with an organized team, oh forgot to mention all the computers and phones. Do they have all this already ordered or do they expect this to be there when they show up."

Apply what you already know about ICS and team operations: the team members travel with Computers/GPS units/Blackberries etc. They have a Logs chief, and since they are such a short team, if they have a bunch of needs, resolving that would devolve to the Logs chief. I bet most people could walk into a NIMO operation and find it pretty much like what you are used to seeing: shift plans, O-numbers, planning cycle, etc., etc. That's the beauty of ICS. And if they're coming along side an existing team in place, why would the current set-up change except to expand a bit? I mean, even when you make the transition from one Type 1 team to another, you don't send all your gear home and start over. You don't reinvent an ordering system or a structure of command. Depending on the personalities of the teams, you may not notice much of a change at all except the color of the T-shirts.

My observation about the uppity ups needing to figure out how to label the situation proved to be spot on -- yesterday's sit report showed the Backbone Fire as a "Type NIMO." Today's shows it as in the hands of a Type 2 team with NIMO listed secondarily. If I were on a team when NIMO showed up, I would be delighted, both for the excellent support they'd give, and the opportunity to learn by observing from some of the best.

Still out there ...

7/8 MREs


I saw this posted earlier from regarding MREs. This is a related article from Army Times regarding possible Salmonella in dairy shakes that are packed in some of our current MREs.

army dairyshakes 07/01/09 

I will draft a memo to the members of our team.


7/7 NIMO teams

Abs & All,

Too bad the NIMO teams got handed the lousy assignment of beta testing the new Forest Service fire management policy of limited suppression on large fires. The NIMO concept is going to take a beating the first time one of their WFDSS-supported decisions to limit suppression on a forest fire turns into dead citizens and burned homes.

When forest fires rolled through Idaho and Montana in 1910, and laid waste to millions of acres and entire towns, the fledgling Forest Service learned a hard lesson that they diligently applied for many years. This is the lesson; forest fires cost a lot of money and energy to suppress, but the costs of not doing so during the peak of the western fire season will inevitably lead to unthinkably bad consequences. That lesson appears to have been forgotten by the people who hatched the really bad new idea of using a computer model to tell ICs that they can only have this many resources and spend this much money because the fire will only get this big.

Marty Alexander seems to be one of the few “smart” people who seems to have grasped this significant fact; all theoretical models are susceptible to failure if all of the inputs are not correct, and there is no way that we will ever get all of the inputs correct on something as complex as predicting the interaction of large forest fires and very dry fuels with weather systems over a period of multiple weeks.

Here's a link to a new article by Mr. Alexander:

Abusing Use of Models and Modeling by Alexander (pdf)

This is the critical point that seems to be missing from the conversation about this radical new policy; you screw around with a large forest fire long enough at the wrong time of year and sooner or later it will get up and rip. And sometimes, rarely, it will move faster and farther than people, or computer models, can imagine. That is the fatal flaw with this new policy, and why NIMO is going to suffer for it if this process goes forward as advertised on the WFLLC website.

I have been fortunate on several occasions in my career to see big fires do amazing things. I particularly remember a day in eastern Oregon in 1996, when a bunch of middling-size forest fires turned into plume-dominated A-bombs and gobbled tens of thousands of acres each in a single day. At one point I could see five giant ice-capped columns; it looked like the end of the world was coming. It was pure chaos; ICPs and lookouts burned over, homes burned, firefighters and public fleeing for their lives, shelter deployments, you name it. If it were not for the scarcity of people in that part of the state, a lot of firefighter skill, and a good dash of pure luck, it would have been a disaster of major proportions.

In case you can’t tell, I am pretty angry that wildland firefighters, and the people and resources we are supposed to protect, are being set up for a failure of monstrous proportions. And I am frankly stunned that so few people seem to be questioning the wisdom of implementing a radical change in large fire management strategy that could quite conceivably result in hundreds of deaths and billions of dollars in damages.

Limited fire suppression on forest fires in the lower 48 in the middle of fire season is a bad idea that should never have gotten out of committee. This further demonstrates that the Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management program is still on a bad track that needs to get reversed. I hope NIMO manages to survive this debacle. I hope our new chief makes some big changes soon.

Misery Whip

7/7 Need WHISP info:

Can anyone point me in the direction of how to become a Water Handling Specialist (WHSP)? Anyone willing to interpret the new directive of opening task books without having all the classes?


7/7 NIMO teams


You seem not to understand that the NIMO Teams are the very best fire folks with the best understanding and the greatest power to ramp up response to any fire if that is what is necessary.

I have forwarded your comments to "Captain NIMO" himself in Boise and I hope he will comment here soon.

I also want to restate that the NIMO Teams are the very best folks in our business to keep everybody safe.....


7/7 The NIMO talk


Most of the personnel for the base camp come from resources that the forest already has. As I wife, I have the option of fulfilling the need for secretarial positions that might be needed. They work with the people they have to create any positions they need. Last year, most of the SRF wives worked on the fires doing whatever work they needed (mostly filing and paperwork). Many employees in the FS work on fires as well, doing whatever side work is needed to help support the fire fighters.


7/7 Ab noted:

"Sometimes I think the FS risk folks are alerted through the Hotlist or theysaid to explore possible issues like this when it comes up."

As a Collateral Duty Safety Officer I resemble that remark. Theysaid and the Hotlist are the quickest route for rapid interagency communication for time critical information concerning wildland firefighter safety. When I get safety alerts that pertain to firefighters through official channels I forward them on to theysaid and I am very glad other folks do as well. It makes wading through the whining worth it.

Sign me: Safety before bureaucracy

PS: Check the dates on your Gatorade bottles before drinking.

Now you can skip theysaid "whining" altogether and go only for the safety stuff and reports by getting on the twitter alert for that forum. Haw, Haw. Don't forget to send in the info you think is important. Ab.

7/7 Anniversary of John Hermo's death:


Quality R & R is important.

Today is the anniversary of John Hermo's drowning in the Trinity River near Willow Creek. Another very sad event that could have been avoided with quality R & R.

No name please..

7/7 The NIMO discussion

Having walked on the side of the Assistance Incident Management Team- AIMT (FEMA short team that assist a a local/State IMT), knowing the requirements of having a effective Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) and the reluctance of some agencies to order a team (cost); the NIMO is a good thing. I like the discussion that is happening. We all will learn more about how and why management (administration) does the things they do. Give this thing time to work. Cost Effectiveness vs Benefit is what drives this animal. Even slow fire years bring out the "bean counters".


7/7 The NIMO discussion

Thanks all for the discussion and it helped answer some of my questions and concerns. But there are some other issues I am wondering about with bringing in these teams instead of one of the established teams.

First, when these teams show up, who sets everything up for them as far as getting support tents, trailers and all the other things that you get with an organized team, oh forgot to mention all the computers and phones. Do they have all this already ordered or do they expect this to be there when they show up. 

Also where are they going to get the personnel needed to do these jobs since they aren't an established full blown team?

Sorry but maybe I am missing the big picture here, but to me it makes more sense to have a team come in then have the NIMO team take over for the next rotation or two. I think if they expect a Type 3 team and the forest to have all this covered and manage the fire at the same time, it's tough. To me this leaves more room for something to fall through the cracks and increases the chance of injury. 

Now I'm not saying that the NIMO team isn't able to do the job its just the point to getting them in place needs to be looked at and addressed. 


I think they can handle it. We'll see. All people need oftentimes is a chance and we need a chance to understand what they do, too. Wonder what role they will play with the Hupa Tribal Council. (By the way, the people are the Hupa, the place is Hoopa or the Hoopa Reservation. I've often seen those mixed up on reports.)  Ab.

7/7 The NIMO organization is compromised of 7 individuals of the Command and General Staff Functions that are all qualified at the Type One Level. I do believe the intent for the organization is that the Command and General staff do not change during a long duration incident, but they ramp up/down as need during the duration of the incident with regards to the Objectives set forth by the Agency Administrator that the team works for. 

We all know that the transition between Teams is one of the times that things can fall between the cracks, as well it costs a large amount of money for transition. My interpretation is that utilization of NIMO teams is to curb all of that and to keep continuity during the incident without the leader's intent changing.. It makes sense to me; now we will see if it works in the real world.

Fan of NIMO

7/7 I've posted several new posts on the WLF Lessons Learned and Safety Zone Hotlist Forum

72 hr report: CO-RTF-Freeman Reservoir Felling Fatality
CNF Crew Carrier Lessons Learned


7/7 Ab, 

NIMO teams are Type One. It is too bad there is still such a
misunderstanding of what NIMO is and does.


MR, sting, KnuckleDragon, Still Out There ... Thanks to those who are writing in and clarifying. I know the ICs of the western NIMO teams and a number of the NIMO command and general staff, and they are excellent. Many, if not most, worked in those positions on Type 1 IMTs prior to shifting to developing NIMO. Carry on with the good work... Maybe someone could give us a better idea of what the NIMO teams do... How do they differ from existing traditional IMTs, etc. Ab.

7/7 Ab,

Got the attached document from my military unit. Essentially, it is a warning not to eat the dairy shakes in MREs. I do not know how long it will take for this to come down through the USFS, But I am going to bring it to my overhead and cache managers attention. Please post if you feel it would be useful to others, otherwise ignore. I don't want to cause undue alarm.


Please send in info like this. It could be important.

We got this info unofficially from the FS yesterday (GSA and the FS downstream are not included on the DLA mailing list) and I posted the warning on the Hotlist WLF Lessons Learned and Safety Zone section where I've been posting all such critical info. (You can sign up for the twitter alert for that subforum (twitter.com) and get cell phone and email alerts.) 

There was a MRE thread started by some firefighters whose agencies did get the alert that the FS did not get. Sometimes I think the FS risk folks are alerted through the Hotlist or theysaid to explore possible issues like this when it comes up. Sharing info benefits all of us. Ab.

7/7 PYG:

I hear ya Bro/Sis! But when did anything the government does make any sense? I retired in disgust after my 40 years..... And I was on Type 1 teams for many years...

But on the subject of NIMO Teams....those are absolutely the best folks we have in wildland firefighting. I think the NIMO idea is the best concept that ever came up. 

The NIMO teams are all aware that their primary job is to keep everybody safe and also to shelter them from government bull$hit. T3/NIMO sounds like a good idea to me and those are all great folks on that particular team. 

Maybe we need to do this more often. The graying and hundreds of years of experience on the NIMO teams might be rubbing off on the youngn's.


7/7 From a fire ground perspective, it almost doesn't matter what "type" 1, 2, 3 is in play -- the NIMO folks have the quals and experience. As I understand it, they would act as a kind of shell around the existing team, bolstering it to handle the up-tick of complexity. From a reporting-up perspective, I have no idea -- perhaps the uppity ups know that Type 3 plus NIMO adds up to whatever is needed at the moment.

Still Out There ...

7/6 phone/email directory for CAL FIRE:

A pretty extensive contact list on our home page. 

about contacts 


7/6 Ab,

To answer your comment at the end of my recent post, I refer you to the NIMO team's website Atlanta NIMO

That is the reason I referred to their ability to provide a "Type 1" organization.

made me wonder if I had missed something along the way!


7/6 NIMO involvement in NorCal:

NIMO has had excellent folks -- folks with great fire and additional professional experiences. The team that's going into NorCal has had an interesting in working alongside IMTs to give particular support for a particular time -- to be able to rapidly deploy and assist in a way that is difficult to achieve with full IMTs.

I've been on fires (who hasn't?) where complexity has demanded a "bump up" in management -- the team comes in, and in a matter of a day, is ready to turn the fire back. That brings the inherent danger of two transitions and can bring a hefty price tag. Think too, that in a slow year like this, everyone is chomping at the bit to get out, so a NIMO deployment may feel more like a stomping on toes -- but what happens in a year like 2008 when there's virtually no teams to deploy? Actually that's the one question I have about this concept too -- in a busy year, the NIMO teams are likely to be busy too.

Let's be open to see how this plays out. With the "graying" of our teams, it might also be a way of bring less-experienced people and teams along over the next 10 years.

Still Out There As An AD


Support for Mark Davis; Pound that Spike


It is very rare that  the Groundpig  surfaces. I felt a strong shudder and had to poke my head up and see WTF. I look around and find out Mark Davis is lying injured in the Hospital. One fine, hard working young man and one dedicated family man and Hotshot.

The Pig is in.  Mark needs our help.

From JE's post below:

Donations can be made to

"For the Benefit of Mark Davis"
Bank of the West
2626 Oroville Dam Blvd East
Oroville Ca. 95965

7/6 NIMO involvement in NorCal

Pyg, I'll try and someone correct me if I leave something out.

The level of management would be based upon the complexity analysis ( see the IRPG ) that is done. If the NIMO team assumes command of the incident, then the management would be considered type 1. If the Type 3 IC maintains command and the complexity analysis says determines a Type 1 or 2 level, then he/she would be operating outside of their quals and they better get their act together. The Agency Administrator ( Line officer ) should also be held accountable as they are really the decision makers on whether to order any kind of team. Maybe the NIMO team expects to take over the fire, it is unknown what the reasoning was.

If the incident complexity is Type 1 or 2 it would be unwise to maintain it at a Type 3 level, regardless of the skill level of the current Type 3 IC. The complexity analysis checklist was developed for a reason and that is to determine the appropriate management level for any given wildland incident. As this plays out we should learn more but you have some good, valid questions.

another student of fire, sting

I heard repeatedly last year that a NIMO Team is not a Type 1 team. Can anyone clarify this? Ab.

7/6 NIMO involvement in NorCal


Here is a link to the Eureka Times Standard story on the Backbone Incident.

Backbone Fire continues to grow


7/6 phone/email directory for CalFire?

Hi Ab,

Do you know if there is a phone/email directory for CalFire? I sure could use some help finding out who does what in that organization....

thanks, t.

7/6 NIMO involvement in NorCal


A NIMO team org is fully qualified as Type 2 Command and general staff, and I'm sure another team has been ordered to fill the rest of the positions. Give it time.


7/6 Mark Davis

A Trust Fund has been established for Feather River Hot Shot Captain Mark Davis and his family.

Donations can be made to

"For the Benefit of Mark Davis"
Bank of the West
2626 Oroville Dam Blvd East
Oroville Ca. 95965

All donations will be greatly appreciated

Thanks JE

Thanks for the info. Readers, let's help out. I am. Ab.

7/6 South Canyon Fire Tragedy


I’m sure that you have a mail box full of reminders for this today, but I thought that I would throw mine into the mix also.

15 years ago today the South Canyon Fire blew up and claimed the lives of 14 firefighters.

Kathy Beck, 
Tami Bickett, 
Scott Blecha, 
Levi Brinkley, 
Robert Browning, 
Doug Dunbar, 
Terri Hagen, 
Bonnie Holtby, 
Rob Johnson, 
Jon Kelso, 
Don Mackey, 
Roger Roth, 
James Thrash,
Richard Tyler.

Be safe, maybe with this slow season, we won’t have any repeats of the last couple of years.

May the families of the lost always know that they are remembered.


7/6 South Canyon Fire Tragedy

Today is the 15th "anniversary" of the South Canyon Fire. Please send prayers and love to the families, friends, survivors of that tragedy.



Today, Monday, July 6, 2008 is the 15th year since the South Canyon Fire. Take time to remember 
the South Canyon Fire on
Storm King Mountain, July 6th, 1994.

(Please stop a remember our fellow brothers and sisters that lost their lives in the Line of Duty.)

FF's Kathi Beck, Tami Bickett, Scott Blecha, Levi Brinkley, Robert Browning, 
Doug Dunbar, Terri Hagen, Bonnie Holtby, Rob Johnson, Jon Kelso, Don Mackey, Roger Roth, 
James Thrash and Richard Tyler were killed in the Line of Duty.

(Picture I took when we flew over July 4th, 1994)

For me I will always remember... shaking my friend Jon Kelso's hand in Colorado at the helispot July 6th, 1994 and then later that day... not getting to say good bye.

Be Safe and remember the most important thing is that you come home injury free.

Michelle Reugebrink

Stand Down for Safety '94
Following the 1994 deaths on Storm King Mountain, firefighters were stood down. 
These are the things they thought about while they reflected
on safety. (A Docs Worth Reading Archive.)

7/6 NIMO involvement in NorCal

I was running this through my head and I guess I'm not high enough up the food chain to understand this, but how is running the Backbone Fire on the SHF/SRF with a Type 3 team and a NIMO team assisting -- safe. Isn't this a little more complex than a Type 3 fire especially with the location and the large aircraft show. Why aren't we managing this with a regular Type 2 team that has the capabilities to run a growing fire. And really what is the NIMO team going to be doing and are they going to be running this fire or just taking up space. I think we are walking a razors edge and it could seriously bite us on the backside. But then again maybe someone could explain this to me.


7/5 I am seeing a lot of posts about to management and hiring.

There isn't much that any of us are going to be able to do about it. We can all share our frustrations and anxieties about it and hope that nothing bad happens in the future due to a management failure. I won't hold my breath though. I work on a forest here in Region 5 and our forest supervisor and deputy forest supervisor make some of the most un-educated and un-informed decisions when it comes to managing fire resources and facilities here. There BlackBerries keep them informed while we in the field cannot fill positions with qualified people, we cannot log onto the computer systems because our networks either don't work or are slow. I think that it is embarrassing when I drive around and look at our facilities. No wonder everyone thinks that the Forest Service is a backwoods organization. No wonder our FS moral is ranked 206 out of the 216 fed agencies. Let's see some leadership that really cares about what is going on with the people and our work environment.

But hey who's complaining, they are doing a great job in their fancy slacks and poser shoes. Speaking of that, what happened to their Forest Service uniform, they ashamed of the organization?


7/4 Photos from Mellie of the CA-SRF-L17 fire column in the Trinity Alps Wilderness and the CA-SHF-Tooth Fire on Fire 41 photo page. Ab.
7/4 CA-SHF-Trinity Fire

Winds picked up in our valley. Looks like a big column building on the Trinity Fire in the Trinity Alps wilderness. We can see it from 10 miles away. Helicopters were thwack-thwacking overhead about an hour ago (1300 hrs).

I don't think it's the fire on Beartooth (near Big Mt), but may be that one.

Going to head to a high ridge for a better view of that column.

Photo coming, I hope.


Hotlist thread

7/4 Some photos of the CA-RUU-De Luz fire 7/2/09, 100 acres:

I put them on Fire 40 and Fire 41 photo pages.

Hotlist thread: Hotlist thread



*-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy 4th!-*


from the Abs
Thanks for your service.

7/3 Re: Need water tank
Pulaski fittings

Need to know what he is working with as far as fittings on the fuel cans and the lines.

I have seen several different set-ups. If it is ¼ od flare, it is a snap. Otherwise, we need particulars. You can send direct, and we can commo off site.


Prevguy, I'm happy to pass a message and put you in touch with Snake. Ab.

7/3 re: 6/18 post Veg treatments in the WUI

Jenks said:

'The disparity in treated acreage is not because of expense but rather politics... Quite frankly, it is not the government's responsibility to save communities from poor development decisions... 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."

Right on, what a poignant post (for me anyways), I couldn't have said it better myself. I am continually baffled by the public's complete lack of willingness to protect their own homes- but always expect whatever land management agency they live next to, to come and save their homes from fire. It seems that what "fire" codes do exist for WUI areas, are just some hassle for home owners, unnecessary, and clearing vegetation "ruins" their view.

I have several family members who live rurally in WUI areas, they have treated large portions of their land through various Federal and State grants at NO cost to them; and when they approached their neighbors about doing the same, they wouldn't even consider it. There was virtually no "sin wave" for most communities in this area after a 10,000 acre fire that burned homes and came very close many others several years ago. I had some one who ran the Fire Wise program through this particular county, once told me that most of the grant money available through the program never gets used.

Perhaps the Angora report could serve as a lesson for the public. As I read this report, I kept thinking about how much public opinion affected the whole approach to this fire from day one (not that this is the sole factor in what happened that day). Public opinion seems to be a huge underlying problem in the way fire is being managed, how many fires have we all been on where good tactics go right out the window for "what the people want." ...And that aerial shot (I believe included the deployment site) showing the how the fire quickly went from crown fire, to ground fire in the open p-pine stand, speaks a thousand words as what fuel treatment around a structure can do.

"MIST is just the way they do it around here" because that's what the people of Lake Tahoe want. Had they known that different tactics might help crews hold a line better- do you think the people who live there, and lost their homes, would rather have unsightly fire lines, than their homes intact? What do you think the public would think if they read in this report that saving homes seemed to be the most important thing to these firefighters, and maybe clouded their judgment for their own safety? What if the outcome had been different and firefighters died, how do you think the people who lived in Tallac Subdivision would feel- would they want their home's saved at the cost of people's lives? They probably have no idea that this report has been released and that their homes, and possibly their own lives, were the major factor in a line of decisions, stated by most of the people interviewed, which led to a near miss. 

It seems that the way things stand now, home owners have no responsibility to keep their own homes protected, and it's kind of a slap in the face to firefighters who work hard and risk much to protect homes. I hope that there is a drastic change in WUI fire codes, it is obvious that most communities will not do the work on their own- it is going to have to be forced upon them.

fireweed lurker

7/3 Need water tank:

Looking for a supplier as well as any input from those with experience in choosing the best small (+/- 70 gals) water tank for a long bed prevention rig.

Thanks - Prevguy

7/3 To all

It saddens us to bring this news and we apologize for the delay but it has been a difficult week.

On June 28 Mark Davis, Captain 3A of the Feather River Hot Shots, Feather River RD, Plumas NF suffered a major injury.

While on a family picnic Mark was severely injured when he broke his neck. Mark was air lifted to Sutter Roseville hospital in Sacramento where he still remains in the Trauma Center.

Mark crushed all his vertebrae in his neck and has gone through 3 surgeries so far.

On June 30th doctors placed 2 rods in his neck to stabilize it.

The doctors' prognosis is not good but we will not expect anything but recovery. Those that know Mark know that he is one of the toughest men we know and he will not surrender.

Mark is blessed with a large family, beautiful wife, 2 children and a lots of relatives. The district is making sure his family is taken care of but it will be a long shift for him. I am sure he is up to the assignment.

It is anticipated Mark will use all his leave and we are working now to get him on the leave donor program which will be available in the near future for all of us to donate to.

We are in the process of setting up a trust fund for the family that will require all of our assistance and when that is in place we will advise.

In 2001 Mark was awarded the Presidential Award in Washington DC for saving the life of a young boy from drowning on the Stanislaus NF which demonstrates his character and commitment to the job he loves.

For further information you can contact the following.

Robert Daniels
Supt 3
Feather River Hot Shots
Plumas NF
530 589-4936

John Estes
Division 3
Feather River RD
Plumas NF
530 532-7430

Our best wishes, thoughts and prayers for Mark, his family and co-workers. Please keep us in the loop and let us know what's needed. Ab.

7/3 Flag Protocol:

Rob and crew, do what's right! I doubt the fellahs at Iwo Jima waited for a memo or IM to put the flag up there. They did it out of their hearts and pride in service and also to honor their own. I also doubt that any of the folks in Iraq or Afghanistan need a protocol to dedicate the flag after a valiant battle and victory, or defeat. I think what you're doing is great and absolutely honorable so proceed as you feel necessary. No need to wait to get things done right!


7/3 Memorial and flag dedication July 4th Eldorado National Forest

Our mission is solely to remember and give respect to all those that died while doing their job.

The dedication will be at
the Georgetown Ranger Station
Eldorado N.F. 
7600 Wentworth Springs Rd.
Georgetown, Ca 95634

Ab, yes, that is a good idea to write the checks to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, and we will forward them in one package.


Thanks Rob for everything you and your crew are doing to heal the hurt of losses and to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. My thoughts and prayers will be with you tomorrow during the dedication. I hope there's a good turnout. Readers, it's a good time to send a donation to the Foundation. Info for that is in Rob's post below. Ab.

7/3 Looking for a parts list...

I am sure somebody out there has already done this, so to prevent me from re-inventing the wheel (which I have done way too often), Im looking for a parts list or directions so that I can connect two fuel cans to a Mark 3 pump. I am envisioning a fuel line from the pump that ends with some sort of manifold that I can connect multiple cans to, but am not sure of the specific parts or where to purchase them. Any help would be appreciated.

Ab - feel free to forward my work email to any responders.



7/3 TS,

You took the words right out of my mouth thank you.

I know for a fact, and I'm sure people that know me would never say I'm cool, at least not in those respects.

I was disappointed to say the least.. My crew has worked their hearts out trying& to make this special and I am very proud of them for that.

We will honor the brave men and women that died doing what they love however we see fit.

I hate that there is any negativity, and I pray it stops now, if anyone else wants to comment on the issue maybe Ab can forward to my personnel e-mail, so we can keep it going on They Said in a positive direction.

Thanks once again

Rob Brown Captain Engine 33

7/2 Flag protocol:

"to be first or cool"? You've got to be kidding me!

Nobody has ever told me how or how not to recognize the deceased and heroes of my country, and I doubt anyone ever will. While I agree that proper flag protocol is in place for a reason, where is the line in the sand that dictates that bureaucracy supersedes honor?

If more people acted out of heart, compassion, and duty, rather than out of political correctness, we'd all be better off. Major KUDO'S to Eldorado!


7/2 PSOBs for Tanker 09

Thanks Del, 

This has been a long time coming for all the pilots currently flying, and those we have lost. Contract or not, this is a team effort and we ALL deserve the benefits due to us for the work we do.


7/2 CAL FIRE Director Del Walters Signs PSOB Application for three Neptune Pilots

Good on him !!! That's leadership.


7/2 CAL FIRE Director Del Walters Signs PSOB Application for three Neptune Pilots

Hopefully this move will assist the families of the deceased aviators. Norm

Sent: Thursday, July 02, 2009 4:38 PM
Subject: Director Del Walters Signs PSOB Application for three Neptune Pilots

I was invited to sit in a meeting this morning with Neptune Aviation and Director Del Walters. Several executives from Neptune flew to Sacramento to meet with Chief Walters and secure his official signature declaring that the three man crew was in-fact, performing the duties as a designated official, that being a fire pilot flight crew.

Chief Walters signed three Federal PSOB certificates, one for each crew member, for submittal to the US Department of Justice.

The aircraft was dispatched on a CAL FIRE Order Number to a fire south of Lake Tahoe from Reno Stead Airport.

I am very proud of CAL FIRE and Chief Walters assisting the fire pilot community and signing off the certificates as the submitting agency.

All firefighting pilots should also know that the CDF Firefighters Union has worked hard at the State level with the California Professional Firefighters and at the National level with the IAFF (International Association Firefighters) to lobby congress to assist in securing PSOB benefits from the Feds. Several meetings on this topic have occurred here in Sacramento and in Washington DC on this subject.

Dave Wardall

7/2 Rob,

I encourage you to Google search for flag protocol. Although your intentions are well meant, there is rationale for waiting for the proper, authorized directive to lower the flag.

To violate that protocol (in an effort to be first or "cool") diminishes the significance of the act.....and I know we all agree that those who give their all in a line-of-duty-death deserve full measure.


7/2 Firefighter liability

Hi to all:

Although the wildfire season has been mild so far, all of you in the business should be mindful of the fact that Forest Service firefighters, and those of other land management agencies continue to be unduly burdened by PL 107-203 and although major cases like ThirtyMile & Cramer have been adjudicated, there is still potential for concerns surrounding Esperanza and future incidents.

As a result, both NFFE and the FWFSA are continuing to work to reduce or eliminate entirely this burden of potential liability and criminal prosecution. There are a number of ideas being worked on, several of which address changing or clarifying 107-203 and others changing the investigatory process.

The FWFSA has included a provision in our legislative draft to address the existing law and eliminate the nexus between investigation and liability/prosecution. We have sent the language of the provision to staff in Sen. Maria Cantwell's (D-WA) office for review as she is one of the primary authors of the legislation that resulted in PL 107-203. We and others have offered commentary to her office and others in Congress, primarily the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee of the "unintended consequences" of 107-203, stating publicly that although the concept of the bill was meritorious, the study of how the law would affect the wildland firefighting community simply wasn't done and the current law remains unclear.

I received a call from her staff today and will again be in discussions with him next week. In the meantime, Tony Vergnetti of FEDS is reviewing some of the various proposals and since the FWFSA endorses FEDS for PLI, we have asked him for his professional thoughts on the proposals.

Some of the proposals may require review/attention from the Judiciary committees which could be extremely difficult and time consuming. In the meantime I can't encourage all of you any more strongly to get covered with PLI if you believe you may be placed in a situation of potential liability.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us at www.fwfsa.org . Once we chat again with Sen. Cantwell's office I'll update the available information.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

7/2 Re: incident support solicitation and how it will affect the bargaining unit

R5 FF,

Here is the explanation I got from Boise:

This contract is to have surge capacity should all of our teams be committed to fires or all hazard work. The first contract of this type was done in R-8 following Katrina for the recovery aspects. Agency/interagency teams go first and are the priority since we want to maintain proficiency and continue to train employees in ICS skills.

An explanation that may make sense in the short term at first blush. But seems to me it may be a symptom of eroding in-house capacity. And it's a slippery slope that could lead to further erosion.

Certainly let me know if you hear of contract resources being used when in-house resources are available. Send to nffe@fs.fed.us.

This is one of a number of areas throughout the agency in which management turns to contract solutions rather than developing our own employees. We'll continue to advocate for the latter approach.

Mark Davis, Chair
NFFE Forest Service Council Legislative Committee

Mark, I agree with your slippery slope. How about purposefully eroding fire forces as is occurring in R5 right now, resulting in fewer that are trained to move up; and in addition bringing in this type of solicitation which further erodes the agency fire forces on the ground both for IA and Large Fires. 

In light of the current number of lightning fires in norcal, that engineered erosion of forces can cost the public;  fewer WUI fires will likely be picked up on IA and we have more Large "managed for resource benefit" smoky fires burning in the forests and near populated centers... I am not anti-private sector but I do want a fed fire system that works, is as risk-mitigated as possible and is sustainable... Ab.

7/2 Defining the "stick" in smokejumping....

Any of you dudes ever shoot pool, or play billiards?

Remember how you keep score of how many balls went in the pocket on a break, the smokejumper "stick" is relater to the number of static lines hung up on a steel cable that the jumpers hood to for static line deployments. This is especially true in the military as well as when they dumped a full load of jumpers out the door.

Sometimes the exits go real fast and on the larger static line a/c, the spotters would look up at the lined up static hook and be able to count them to ensure that that what they counted going out the door is the same as the number of static line hook-ups on the cable - thus the work sticks - like shooting pool. I had an old military triple nickels from the Bronx tell me this as we were talking about the beer halls around Harlem. He was much older but he remembered that in the face of danger, some of the military exits went so fast that the spotters had to count the hardware static hooks to double check on how many went out the door. (to see if anyone was "sticking around...) and to ensure everyone got out of the plane!

And yes the smj's were around teaching the Berets and Ranger Special Forces remote jumping into forest canopies. Bases like CJ and a couple of the other gone big tree bases did a bunch of this pioneer stuff that and its not forgotten how the Cj jumpers used to teach remote parachuting to the Rangers and well as rappelling and setting explosive charges into rock bluffs s to build peregrine and wild raptor feeding and nesting sites.

Lots of lore in the history of smokejumping. I've heard lots of stories about "sticks" including first person out is the one with the short "stick" - no kidding. These people had a culture that was so diverse, many origins of things are unknown but to the wind. the Ghost Load, the Gobi Stone (okay, who has it - it needs to get back to the loft for the remodeling....)

And then there's the old joke about the three jumpers getting ready to jump a fire, one had a stick, one had a stone, and one didn't want to jump! Guess who was the first stick?

Signed, Old Lore from the Gobi.

7/2 Ab

To answer Gizmos question. Firescope here in California has adopted and is currently putting touches on SOGs for FEMT/Line Paramedics. Hoping to have program in place before the end of the 2009 fire season. 

For LVM and a picture of the DC10 on the Telegraph Fire. Several months ago CFSA magazine here in California had a great shot taken by one of our Battalion Chiefs while he was on the Telegraph as a DIVS.


7/2 Can someone from NFFE explain what they know about this solicitation and how it will affect the bargaining unit?

Solicitation AG-024B-S-09-9001 5/21/09 (pdf)


7/2 Ab,

Could you add this to: Re: Chainsaw/Crosscut Operations and First Aid Kit (Belts)

The 8"x10" requirement is the minimum standard per OSHA. Most Hotshot Crews and Fire Engines already carry two or more Multi-Trauma Dressings (usually 10"x30" when folded out) in their EMT packs carried on the fireline. Multi-trauma dressings are available from numerous safety and medical sources locally and online, and through GSA.

Typically, the 8"x10" gauze dressing pad is described as a surgical pad or abdominal pad originally intended to support surgical procedures, but not control/ manage traumatic field injuries such as chainsaw cuts, etc....

Over the years, we have learned that the 8"x10" pad is no more useful than a handful of 4x4s already carried in GSA "10 person" first aid/line packs when compared to a Multi-Trauma Dressing.

I appreciate the message from WO-OSOH that started the discussion, but in many cases, I think they (WO-OSOH) are trying to re-invent the wheel and are not understanding the original intent, or willing to listen to others who have already gone beyond the basics.

I wonder if they will ever attempt AEDs or Epi-Pens on the fireline or workplace?


Gizmo... Former R-5 EMS First Responder Cadre Member

7/2 Snakebite,

Your statement is so true and some can try to blame it on the lack of applicants, but that is not true many times. Las Vegas, NV has the same problems, no qualifications needed, just need to take orders for the higher ups and question nothing. Open positions are being filled without even posting the jobs and allowing others to apply.

Another good example that happened in Vegas is the FEO positions were upgraded, so all the current FEOs had to re-apply for their position. Well, only one position was filled. Others were told they were not qualified enough even though one had detailed into a SFEO for the district last year with no problems. A couple years ago when the AFMO was hired his highest qualification was ICT4 and single resource boss. There were other applicants more qualified that had applied. Now that AFMO is the acting FMO and the only other qualification received since then was TFLD. Even crazier, when acting as the DO he leaves the state and still acts as the DO while out of the state. Policy is being broken due to lack of knowledge from these leaders. 

Bad leadership is obvious across the board with the FS, have seen if for years now and it's really sad. Favoritism, discrimination and employee abuse is also becoming part of the work environment for the FS. Vegas went from 4 strong engines 5 years ago to barely having 2 operational engines now. Seems like someone from up above should be paying attention to what is happening on their Forest. Seems like no one cares any more until something serious happens or someone dies.

Fed Up

7/1 Memorial and flag dedication July 4th Eldorado National Forest

Hey Ab,

I know this is very short notice, but I wanted folks to know that great things are happening on the Eldorado. Engine 33 is stationed at a district office, and we decided to erect our own flag pole, and flag. The reason being is we never felt that waiting for an executive order to lower a flag to honor a fallen firefighter was cool at all. So we took things into our own hands, and put up our own flag. 

During the planning my crew and I decided we should dedicate the flag to all of the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice doing what they love, fighting wildland fire. We decided a plaque would be appropriate to put next to the flag honoring all those who gave everything. When we starting shopping we realized plaques are not cheap, so we started asking for donations to help with the plaque, with idea that any extra money we raised would be donated the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. The response has been awesome, so far we have been able to raise over $300.00 to go to the Foundation, that's beyond the $200.00 for the plaque. 

We are doing the official dedication on Saturday, July 4th, there are going to be several different agencies attending as well many family and friends. I gotta tell ya I'm feeling the love, and figured I better let everyone know, so maybe they could get a chance to make a donation to help our wonderful friends at the Foundation. I could not imagine a better group of people that are destined to go to heaven than the many folks that make up the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

If you have it in your heart to donate, please do, I know times are tough, but imagine how tough they would be if the worst happened and there was no Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Please send all donations to
Eldorado Engine 33
Eldorado National Forest
7600 Wentworth Springs Rd.
Georgetown, CA 95364

We will put all the money together and send one big check.

Thank you and remember WE WILL NEVER FORGET

Rob Brown Captain 33

It's not a tax deductible donation if you do it that way. You could have donors make the checks to the WFF and have your group present them all together... Ab.

7/1 Only Unqualified Applicants May Apply

Another choice fact from awhile ago. John Maupin (retired FMO from the Plumas NF) put out the "infamous" White Paper. The WO and Regional Office imploded! Some quotes from that paper:

Quote, "In a growing number of instances, we are not filling positions when there are no women applicants. In the past three months, we have either re-advertised, left vacant, or filled with unqualified temporaries eleven permanent positions because we could not find female applicants. If the position is in fire prevention or forest fuels management, the job simply doesn't get done and we face the consequence of additional person-caused fires"

Continuing with the quote, "When the roster was completed, the majority of applicants were male and the top of the roster was blocked by male veterans. The Plumas attempted to fill five fire positions from the roster, but could only reach two women. Both women declined our offers. No offers were made to men. All fire positions are presently vacant or filled by unqualified temporary employees", end quote.

Sad as it was EEO Complaint after EEO Complaint HAD to be filed (men AND women) to keep the Forest Service honest and it worked HUNDREDS of EEO Complaints were settled in the favor of the complainants, some had even quit or retired and still won their cases.

Has anything changed? Has the Forest Service in recent years been honest in the selections of "qualified" personnel?

Will the Supreme Court decision have any bearing on the Forest Service? My opinion, NO.


7/1 Would love to have a pic of the Mars on the Telegraph Fire. How can I do that? Even a shot of the DC-10 on the Telegraph?


Do we have one of those? Ab.

7/1 Fire Hiring:


While you are correct regarding that district ranger did hire a BC that has no business what’s so ever to be in that position, that hiring occurred before the current fire hire where that would not be allowed. There are no min quals per se to be in a BC or DIV job just desired quals and until you have had the opportunity to see just how the R5 fire hire works, you and others will be confused and rightfully so. The same ranger did lateral a wildlife biologist over as soon as he could to avoid others from coming in and exposing his lack of supervision. The new Div should be given a fair chance as everyone else should be too.

Noname Fire

7/1 Lightning hitting NorCal to AZ. Ab.
7/1 Fire hiring:


I've been following your posts regarding the transfer of a biologist into the DFMO position on the Modoc. I work for the BLM across the border from the Modoc and I think I know this biologist. Although this person is an ATGS and ICT3 (if this person is who I think he is), I agree with you that the line officers on the Modoc (and other forests) seem to do what serves them best and basically show no regard for actually doing the right thing.

I seem to remember a few years ago this same ranger hired a ADFMO (battalion chief), that  had no business being hired into a position of supervision. It is my understanding that the forest hired a couple of other ADFMOs that truly weren't qualified to fulfill the duties of that position. I guess it just goes to show that it truly isn't WHAT you know, but WHO you know.


Hi snakebite. Welcome to theysaid. In most cases, I find it hard to know the story behind who has applied and who is hired. It's possible that the best choice is made in light of the applicants (or lack of applicants), especially on fairly remote forests. Ab.

7/1 ARCH

You missed another significant part of the announcement:

SELECTION CRITERIA: All of the above plus: Contributes to a federal workforce reflective of the nation's diversity with respect to race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

I've also seen many Vacancy Announcements with this phrase:

SELECTION CRITERIA: Ability to assist in meeting the Agency/Unit's Diversity Goals.

Maybe the Supreme Court's ruling will get rid of this B.S. and get qualified candidates hired.

Ab - Please leave my moniker off this one.

7/1 The Updated Pandemic Plan that includes all fed fire forces is up on the FS Intraweb and on our server, minus Appendices that are only available on the FS Intraweb so far a I know. What we have is posted on the Lessons Learned and Safety Zone portion of the Hotlist.

Thanks to GA Peach and several others for the plan. If anyone wants to send in the three documents in Appendix G that deal with Firecamp guidelines, we'll post those as they pertain to all who fight fire on an incident. Ab.

7/1 "Only Unqualified Applicants May Apply"

Oh my! At first I was assuming the "unqualified" was a typo, until it was repeated. What I especially liked was the note: "4. Ability to learn to communicate verbally." My kids were all born meeting that qualification. A newborn might have a little trouble handling a nozzle though. Although "ability to learn" would cover that too. Somebody please tell me this was a hoax!

Still Out There ...

No hoax. Could have been a disgruntled employee about to retire? It was quite a while ago. Ab.

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