"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland Firefighter
||Here is a webcam image of the Station Fire from the Mount Wilson
Here's the photo from Mt Wilson as the Station Fire threatened the
observatory at 2151 hours before the smoke set in. Nice one. I put it on the
Fire 42 photo page. Ab.
||CAL FIRE Blue Sheet (24 hr preliminary Report) CA-BEU-Helicopter 404 strike
Lessons Learned Hotlist thread
As one risk manager said: "this is about a 9.9 on the pucker factor scale"
||Doug's Fire Behavior Question:
I'll go with 100% RH and 0 c.
||RE: Doug Campbell's FB Question
65 degrees 100% RH
“Another CDF BC”
||To my good friend Doug Campbell thank you for posting your wisdom here
regarding the fact that the Station Fire is pretty strictly a fuels and
topography driven event. Thank God there was not also a lot of prevailing wind
involved (yet). Certainly upslope winds were induced by the extreme behavior of
I just got the following professionally produced film and it clearly shows plume
development which is certainly evidence of the fuels driven aspects of this
EVERYBODY BE SAFE!!
Fire Behavior Analyst
||Who are on the RO fire staff down there? Where did the idea come up to get
rid of the lights & sirens?
We need to keep more like him...
is this famous firefighter? Sure does look different in a blue uniform.
Nice one! It is great he's still around and leading the team. Way to do
it! True leader! He looked good on the news conference yesterday, too. Ab.
||ODF's MO with Fallers:
What does ODF do when they can’t find anymore
fireline fallers? They order them through dispatch and when faller modules show
up at their fire incident they refuse to honor their faller module agreement,
force the fallers to negotiate an hourly wage outside of their EMPLOYER and then
agree to put them to work. This has been going on for YEARS. It happened to us a
few years back. I filed a complaint, told the fallers they were fired if they
took the job and ODF squealed like a stuck pig. It’s still happening to other
faller contractors. Any employer who allows it to happen should think twice
about being in business in the first place, should think THREE TIMES about
paying that worker compensation premium and unemployment insurance on the
fallers who bailed on your a_s. And finally, fallers who go to work “on their
own numbers” for ODF, CALFire, WDNR, or ANY federal or state agency AFTER BEING
TRAINED, EQUIPPED AND INSURED BY A FALLER CONTACTOR has QUIT in my book and
forfeited ALL rights to unemployment when the agencies lay them off… Our
approach…Only hire fallers who will be loyal to the LARGER WHOLE and force ODF
and the others to buck up and operate ethically. What a concept… Fallers who
bail…have decided their own fate. Better hope you have a real good plan during
those lean winter months when your buddies are collecting unemployment.
||Doug is having too much fun with his Fire Modeling questions. Here's
another directed to the media but anyone can answer. The more the merrier.
All the newscasters who continue to focus on lower air temperature
and rising humidity as the thing that will slow the Station fire and
allow firefighters to work direct on the fire edge should ask of the
fire experts in fire modeling the following:
At what air temperature and humidity will the fire behavior be
reduced to a point that would be within the threshold of direct
Anyone out there care to provide the answer?
Gee, if we only could be sure.
||Bill Frost's passing:
I just heard from the smokejumper website that Bill
Frost, a longtime USFS pilot passed away in July.
He was an extraordinary smokejumper pilot and piloted the twin otter for my
first training jump, my first
fire jump, and many jumps afterward. Like so many of these pilots, he prided
himself on his ability to
put the cargo on the ground (where it belonged) with pin point accuracy. He was
||More info on the firefighters whose house burned:
Tahoe Forest Family -
Two Tahoe NF firefighters who shared a rental house in Auburn lost everything
they had in the Auburn Fire that occurred yesterday. Dan Manry, an Apprentice on
the White Cloud Helicopter, was at the house sleeping when the smoke alarm woke
him. He ran out to evacuate in his personal vehicle but the tires were burning
so he got out with only the few things he had grabbed and the clothes he had on.
Robert Crowder, AFEO on Engine 42 at American River, was on the Angeles NF
protecting other people's property when his home burned. Both men have renter's
insurance, but they are already finding out that it won't cover all the "stuff"
we all need day to day.
If you would like to help Dan and Robert, you can make a donation to the Tahoe
Employee's Benefit Association (TEBA). All funds collected will be for gift
credit cards they can use for any items they may need. Checks can be made out to
"TEBA" and sent to Becky in the SO. Becky will also collect cash to
deposit into the TEBA account. If you have questions, please contact Becky at
478-6124. Thank you in advance for your generosity!
If we find out at a later date they need household goods or other donated items,
an announcement will be sent out.
Judie L. Tartaglia
Deputy Forest Supervisor
Tahoe National Forest
You can also contact Casey Judd at the FWFSA who is
working with them. Ab
Any chance we could find out who the firefighters were from the Tahoe and if
anyone might be trying to organize
donations to help them out? Our forest has personnel interested in donating.
||Re: A related question I have is: Should all private sector fallers be
required to be accompanied by a FelB for operational oversight,
communications relay, agency liaison, etc.? And, in your experience, to
what extent are FelBs assigned to faller resources or not?
Again, you can either post your comments here, or email me directly at
shari@ nospam sharidownhill.com. And, this project is being incorporated
into a book project.
Shari- absolutely, every private sector falling contractor (whether as an
individual or as part of an association) should be accompanied by an agency
felling boss. In the National Park Service, we require private sector
fallers to work with both a felling boss and a resource advisor to avoid
unnecessary resource damage in the parks. One clear example I can point to
was the Border Fire in Crater Lake National park in August 2001. Two
private sector fallers were hired (as individual ADs, not association
members) and they were assigned to the fire without the benefit of an
agency FELB. Park service resource advisors were not present everyday of
the fire; subsequently many more "old-growth" green trees were felled than
what was necessary (several over 5-6 foot in diameter.) This required
extensive rehabilitation and additional costs on the agency's part.
More and more we're finding an investment in the wages of a GS-9/11/12
resource advisor and a GS-7/8/9/11/12 felling boss to be very worthwhile
with dividends paying off in much lower rehabilitation costs later on.
Also- even though many western private sector fallers have grown up working
in these woods and are familiar with local topography, species, and fire
weakened trees, they often are NOT familiar with the suppression standards
in national parks, wilderness areas, and certain research set-asides on
USFS/BLM ground. As a former private sector falling contractor, I was
always relieved to have an agency person on fire assignments rolling with
me to show me agency policy and standards.
As per the experience, training, and qualification standards for agency
felling bosses, that's a gray area that really needs to be hashed out.
||Tribute to Steve Uptegrove:
I would like to thank the Wallowa-Whitman and the Malheur NF's for coordinating
an awesome tribute for Steve. It had to be very hard for the forest's to put
everything together during such a trying event.
As I drove to John Day I thought of times I had with Upte, whether it was on
the fireline, skiing, or having a beer at Grover's, I could not think of one bad
time during our friendship. As other's have stated, I don't think he had a mean
bone in his body. Always upbeat and seeing the good in everything. One of the
more memorable events I recalled was being at his house and tuning skis when the
conversation turned to the full moon at hand. Needles to say the next moment we
were driving to bachelor and hiking up the hill for some midnite turns.
I recalled how Steve was our "go to" guy when it came to needing supplies for
the engines or equipment, a quick phone call and the next thing we knew he was
driving to our guard station with those supplies and a little bit extra just for
good measure. The time of my wedding when Upte and the gang drove up to
Washington to be by my side, and of course help us celebrate afterwards!
Many great memories swirled through my head as I made my way through the
canyon that was appropriately smoked out from a nearby incident.
As I drove into John Day I made contact with friends. John told me the funeral
and procession would be in Prairie City so I headed that direction,
unfortunately I didn't make it in time but as I approached I could see the
procession heading back to John Day. I pulled over and watched with tears as the
1/2 mile long procession of FS fleet rigs, Engines from all agencies, state
patrol vehicles, county resources and many others along with the personal
vehicles passed by. It was truly a sight to see. The arrangements at the
memorial were an awesome tribute, it's hard to say enough about the hard work
that truly was put into this.
Thank you to all.
As I read the notes of remembrance and stories from friends and fellow fire
fighters, it is apparent that Steve had a great impact on many in the fire world
and the private sector as well. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and
friends and I will never forget Steve or the times we had on the Rock.
God Bless you Steve, you will be missed
||Humidity on the Station and other fires:
Just thinking about what I have
seen in the past.
This fire is a fuels fire, fuels being dominate and topography being
secondary. The radiant heat output is so strong that fuels
in the path of the fire are prevented in taking on moisture
even if dew should be present outside of the fire environment.
Humidity changes will not affect the fuel bed to a point
that the fire will change behavior and drop within direct attack
I remember Countryman's paper of the Fire's Environment 1972,
and a fire when dew was predicted to form on the fuels. It
did not make a difference to the fire as it had a heat shield
over the unburned fuels in the path of the fire and the fuel
could not cool to dew point temperatures. Therefore I think
that all this talk of humidity in this Station Fire situation is
I wish that the public could be told that it is not safe nor is
it professional conduct to attack directly a fire that is beyond
the threshold of control as this one is.
What, when and where, is the threshold of control for direct attack
and containment of this fire? That is the question to answer. One can
use the fire signature method for prediction, or wait until it becomes
evident and then take action.
Stay safe and within your threshold of control
With deep sympathy for those lost to the fire.
||In response to R3 stance of no more red lights & sirens:
As an R-3 prevention unit, we find ourselves conducting roadblocks, evacs, IA's
in the interface, roadway signage & public contacts on a regular basis that
require adequate 'visibility' on the roadway. I am curious if the R3 guys who
issued the RLAS stand-down have ever parked on the shoulder of an interstate
setting up signs? Or driven to an incident where public onlookers jam the
roadways & limit access? The cost of adding RLAS & reflective striping was
mentioned in the letter from the R3 chief (apprx 4,000 to 8,000 per unit). Who
are they kidding? Can you put a price tag on the welfare of people?
Amber lighting is not the answer for USFS vehicles. It works great for road
construction contractors, as they have additional 'visibility' in the form of
road construction signs , cones, barricades, etc.
||Re 49 fire:
Two USFS wildland firefighters (TNF) -- one from White Cloud
helitack and one from Foresthill
Engine Company -- lost their (rented) home, car and all their belongs in this
fire. One off-duty got
out with clothes on his back. Other is with engine somewhere, trying to get back
to deal with loss.
Bad news. Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Ab.
||Re: Helicopter crash in Leadville on 8/28
Re: Silver Lining
Thank you for your thoughts and words. I will pass the message and the pat on
the back to the trail crew involved.
Station Fire goes 'nuclear': Foothill communities from
Altadena to Acton threatened
||Photos from yesterday (Sunday) afternoon Station Fire from Birdchirp
time follower, former SNF crew member and now hopefully first time contributor.
Photos are from the Acton side of the Station Fire at about 4:00pm on Sunday.
I put them on the
Fire 42 photo page. Ab.
||I watched today on live TV as this tragic event unfolded, as I'm sure others
did as well; it was gut wrenching to see.
I had been watching the live feed all day, and suddenly I heard the pilot say "omg,
did you see that (pause), a vehicle just went over there, a passenger van, it
just went over the edge of the road (pause) what? (pause) oh,", and the audio
went out. They kept zooming in on different areas, but the smoke was so thick
and dark, you couldn't see much. The fire behavior I was seeing around this time
was about as extreme as it gets, I didn't know if a vehicle had really gone over
or not, or where, but that fire was crankin, and undoubtedly they were running
from it. I was away from the computer for a bit after that, but came back to
see, just barely through the smoke, there was a vehicle in the black,
overturned, there were some guys trying to get over to the vehicle on foot, they
went out of the shot and came back with some fire shelters to put on the ground
next to the vehicle, after that it became hard to see what was happening through
the smoke again, and the camera panned out to other parts of the fire, and it
would be a few hours before I knew 2 people had died.
I can't even begin to adequately convey what a real and somber moment this was
for me; after watching this unprecedented wildfire rage for the last few
days, the affirmation of how powerless we are against it, and the risk that
comes with being a firefighter. I have tried to imagine what a burn over would
be like, the heat, the sound, the pain, the fear; and today I was there in that
moment, when it happened, and it was awful. I have never met those people, but
my heart sank, as if I had known them. It feels good to be alive today, and I
will give thanks every day that someone I know returns home safely from a fire.
I am so sorry for the friends and family of these two firefighters, I know that
there is nothing I can say to take away the pain from the their loss, but I will
forever remember today with a deep sadness.
One correction for the helicopter guys, it was a pick-up truck, not a
passenger van. Ab.
We will be keeping them in our prayers.
Hotlist condolences thread for the LAC Firefighters. Ab.
||LA County Firefighters deaths
Sad, sad news.
2 firefighters killed in crash amid SoCal wildfire
By Associated Press Writers Raquel Maria Dillon And Christopher Weber
LOS ANGELES – Officials say two firefighters have been killed when their
vehicle rolled off a mountainside as they battled a massive wildfire in
northern Los Angeles County.
County Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant said at a news conference that the two
men were amid intense fire near Mt. Gleason in the Angeles National Forest
on Sunday afternoon when the vehicle crashed.
A tearful Bryant said the men's families have been notified. He did not
release their identities or give a cause for the crash.
The fire has consumed 66 square miles, destroyed at least 18 structures and
was threatening some 12,000 homes.
||Update on the CAL FIRE Pacheco Fire engines burnover yesterday. Ab.
Message: An accident investigation
team has been assigned, the injuries were minor, not requiring treatment, and
the reports are pending.
Pacheco fire "drive-by" photos
If I had my "heavy iron" cameras with me I'd
have stopped.... right about
where the engine got burned... there's a reason for everything.
The smoke plume is from about 30 miles east of the fire.
Keep up the good work.
Added those to the same Pacheco Engine burnover page below.
Photos from yesterday's CalFire Pacheco Incident from one firefighter
All firefighters that emailed said NO SERIOUS INJURIES. (Nothing in the news.
No reports we have seen. There should be a 24 hour report soon.)
One message among many from another firefighter:
CALFIRE engine burnover on the Pacheco Fire. E1671 (CALFIRE SCU Unit) had
paint removed from drivers side. Additionally, E2763 (CALFIRE AEU Unit) was out
of service mechanical at the heel of the fire and was completely burned over. No
injuries in either situation. Crazy day out here in California. Situational
Awareness has to be key right now.
Memorial Announcement for Steve Uptegrove (large 1.2 meg pdf file):
Note: This pdf file does not allow me to copy and paste text, so you need to
open the file yourself to read the time, date, location and directions. The bare
facts: Celebration is on Sept 1 at 1PM, Aspen Hall at Shevlin Park. There's a
||Fatality/Accident Investigation Training and Faller Bosses
I’m working on a project related to how wildland fire accidents are
investigated, by whom, and how investigators receive their training &
preparation. I’m interested in the methodologies investigators use and to what
extent their approaches are influenced by the agencies they work for. I’m also
interested in how investigation teams are pulled together, who is called, why
and who makes those decisions.
I’d like to put this question out to TheySaid readers, who can either post their
thoughts here or email me directly at shari@ nospam sharidownhill.com.
This research is being used for a portion of a book project.
PS: second message on Faller Bosses
And since I find it impossible to only immerse myself in one project at a
I am looking for any work that has been done by agency personnel relating to
Faller Bosses (FelB). What training do they/should they navigate before being
assigned as a FelB? What are the contributors to the current lack of FelBs on
wildland fire incidents?
I understand that there was an individual/groups developing a specific Task Book
related pathway for FelBs. Are any of you out there and willing to discuss this?
Where did that project go? What was the catalyst for starting it? Where do
things stand now in terms of how agencies prepare personnel for the FelB
Although I know there is ample frustration around this issue, and fully expect a
certain amount of comments reflecting that, what I’m REALLY interested in are
the facts around this issue and potential solutions/approaches by those who have
given it thoughtful consideration.
A related question I have is: Should all private sector fallers be required to
be accompanied by a FelB for operational oversight, communications relay, agency
liaison, etc.? And, in your experience, to what extent are FelBs assigned to
faller resources or not?
Again, you can either post your comments here, or email me directly at shari@
nospam sharidownhill.com. And, this project is being incorporated into a book
9news (Denver) reporting on an Army UH-60 Blackhawk crash in Colorado that
ultimately resulted in the fatalities of all four
crewmembers on board. A tragic loss,no doubt, reminding us of the sacrifice
others are making in our country. Thank you to
all of our servicemen and women out there - we do appreciate you each and every
The reason I post today is the silver lining in this story: A USFS-Leadville RD
trails crew was in the area, heard the crash, and
responded to the scene.
From 9news (Denver) website:
U.S. Forest Service District Ranger (Leadville RD) Jon Morrissey says
they had a crew cutting trails who heard the
crash and tired to help some of the crew, who were alive for a short time
after the helicopter went down.
"They spent two hours with the injured parties providing support and
encouragement for the ones who survived,"
Morrissey says the trail crew members spent the night at the scene with the
mortally injured soldiers.
All four crew members ultimately perished.
I read this and can't even begin to understand how difficult this was for
everyone involved. I don't work for the USFS, never
have; if I did, I would be proud as hell to be associated with the members of
this trails crew. If you know these folks, give them
a pat on the back and the support they may need. They deserve both in my book!
Class act all the way.
Just got this info by email from a pilot friend who flies fires in Australia.
No further details.
Pilot dies fighting Greece's infernos
August 28, 2009 Edition 1
ATHENS: A small firefighting aircraft has crashed in Greece, making its
pilot's death the first reported
during the country's latest runaway fires.
The air force said the accident happened on the western island of Kephalonia
at about noon yesterday
when the single-seat aircraft was fighting a small blaze near the village of
||reply to post by TS (8/21) about the SEAT pilot who died in the Nevada
Having lost two brother firefighters in aviation accidents, I never doubt that
it's a loss of family when a pilot loses his/her life fighting fire from an
aircraft. They are our guardian angels, those folks who have the courage to take
their helicopters or SEATS or air tankers into the hot and dangerous terrain of
a wildfire. No one has been asked to risk more than our aerial resources, and
lives and towns have been saved by them. More than a few fires I've been on
would have been lost without those SEAT pilots willing to risk their lives to
slow down blazes that couldn't be caught any other way.
No, it never gets easier to lose friends and acquaintances. I'm already sick of
that experience, and it's likely I don't have half of your time in the field,
TS. You may not hear it enough, but you and your folks do a great job supporting
those of us on the ground. Be it fixed wing or helos, there's a lot of us out
there that truly appreciate you, that are incensed you don't get PSOB benefits,
that wish you weren't flying around in aircraft that needed new parts long ago.
We ARE all in this together, and I worry that you and yours aren't being given
the respect, kudos or even the safety considerations that you deserve.
Hopefully the future will hold better, for pilot and the groundpounder alike.
This couple of weeks of fire activity in California,
I'm reminded of a colleague from NIFC who told me that So Cal only has a fire
season when the wind blows. No this wasn't over a fine
I want to point out that in Southern Cal the Initial Attack organization design
of the 1950's and augmented briefly by MEL of later years,
combined with public education and fuels work in fire defense systems, is highly
effective until competing demand for resources, risks, fuels,
topography, and of course weather limit the Initial Attack capability. Oh, and
later in the season the hurricane strikes...er, Santa Ana winds.
My best wishes to those who recently lost fine friends and colleagues.
||Greek SEAT down:
Sad news coming out of Greece tonight (8-27). An M-18 Dromander (S.E.A.T.)
Tanker has gone down in the Ionian Sea. Aircraft was working a fire on the
Island of Ketalonia. Witnesses said the aircraft was seen falling out of the sky
in a ball of fire. The aircraft was piloted by Greek Colonel Stergios Kotoulas
who was one of the most experienced pilots in the Greek fire fighting force.
Information is not known if the aircraft was departing the fire or the reload
base when the accident took place.
||A/T Crash in Greece:
Local San Luis Obispo NBC said Air Tanker went down
today. Didn't sound good for those on board.
||Steve Uptegrove's Memorial Service
Today I attended Steve Uptegrove's
Memorial Service, here in John Day, Oregon, along with well over 400 other folk.
It was a powerful, yet very sad occasion, and a 'necessary' part of the healing.
Listening to those who spoke, with their stories and remembrances, brought once
again to my mind of the cohesiveness of the wildland firefighters, in good time
and in sad ones.
I "met" Steve during the summer of 2003, at the Link Fire, on the Deschutes
National Forest. Steve was the Night Division Supervisor on that fire, and I was
the Night Radio Operator. Both jobs are difficult, under the best circumstances,
as being up all night is a challenge. But Steve was so openly friendly, calling
in every hour, or sooner if he had moved around the fire, giving me his updates,
and being so pleasant and positive each and every time. For a week Steve and I
had 30 second chats, several times every night. He definitely made MY job much
easier, and I now I am but one small link in the chain of Steve's life and his
dedication and service to the Forests in Oregon.
Blessings, good journey Steve, to meet with the Head IC of all !!
||don' think twice about safety
On a Cal Fire incident in BEU. Worked all
day with some real shaky LCES. Went down to the ICP in the evening and
got a new assignment. When I talked to the operations about the poor
communications and the command and control
problem I observed, they just released us. I guess the truth hurts and it is a
big heads up.
||2010 WFAP Instructor, and Staff Recruitment Bulletin
The program is working to change culture in Land and Emergency Management by
striving to be dynamic and relevant to the Apprentices and the end user - the
sponsoring agencies. The program promotes Innovation by demanding the highest
quality instructors and course content, as well as through the encouragement and
implementation of outside the box thinking and ideas. Apprentices are strongly
encouraged to adopt a "student of fire mentality," where the importance of
Discipline is emphasized beginning the moment an apprentice is hired and
spanning ones career. By applying these and other principals, the National
Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program is one tool which current Land and
Emergency Managers can rely upon to help in the Execution of agency goals and
We are counting on Interagency Fire Management to encourage and send their best
and brightest to fulfill the Instructor, Crew Supervisor, and Staff Member
positions. We need those individuals who are passionately committed to helping
make both the Apprentice and program successful. Due to the increase in
permanent workforce, it is expected that units will desire to send perhaps more
than necessary numbers of personnel for support. Please understand the Academies
are managed like an incident. As such, it requires a specific amount of
personnel to effectively reach the objectives. Please call Nate or Doug at (916)
640-1061, or visit www.wfap.net
for additional information. You can find the current instructor/staff
Are you ready to make a difference? Are you ready to help effect change? Most
importantly, are you ready to be a mentor? If so, please contact us and apply
"trying to make a difference"
Recruitment Bulletin. Spread it far and wide. Ab.
||Steve Uptegrove and his service:
Tomorrow, I will travel to Prairie City,
Oregon to do something I thought I would never do; bury a longtime friend and
employee. It is with a broken heart and severe mental anguish that I face this
day. Sadly, I have found that you can't control everything in this world. Steve
was loved by many and didn't have a mean bone in his body. He was always
cheerful and never bitched about anything. Truly rare in the current generation.
I truly hope the good lord places Upte on R&R in a great spot with lots of fish
in the river and plenty of cold guys nearby. I will miss him dearly as will
many. He truly was one of the greatest fireman I've ever known. The Brotherhood
is down one. We hope to do his service to this agency right with a good showing
tomorrow. Our zone has suffered a loss and all are pitching in to honor the man,
the myth, the "Upte".
Take care "Brotha" I will see you on the other side someday so don't catch
all the big ones.
||Re Chief Del Walters
I have had the privilege to work with Chief Del Walters, The Chief of CalFire on
a few occasions and have the upmost
respect for him. My few interactions with Del I came away with the impression
that he is the firefighters friend and not
just a political figurehead. I just want to let our CalFire brothers and sisters
know that myself and the firefighters on my
district hope that this will all pass and Del will continue to be the leader
that he is.
John V Estes
||resources locked down? consequences...
To all -
The removal of the travel cap brought a question to mind. Are other regions'
resources being locked down (kept on forest) this year due to the ARRA (stimulus
act) projects? I had heard that it was going to be national, but I figured I
would have heard about or seen something on it on They Said. I know almost all
of R9s fire resources (USFS resources at least) are being held on their own
forest and not allowed to go available this year. They tried to do the same with
Midewin IHC, but I hear they finally got out. Our FUM, or FMM or what ever they
are calling Fire Use this year, is being held on forest. When it was brought up
that the FUM would be at risk of losing its status if it does not go available
for the minimum 90 days, our forest management's answer was that the FUM would
go available and then the forest would "order it up" for the 90 days. It may
allow the module to keep its status, but this decision has hurt all of our fire
resources, both financially (almost no OT this summer) and experience wise (no
assignments = no trainees assignments and no experience gained over the summer).
Just wondering if any other forests or regions are dealing with this same
R9 Engine Captain
Just wanted to get some info out about the crew to dispel and rumors and
assure the fire community of the support we have here. First of all, all the
guys involved in the accident are out of the hospital with the last one being
released this past Monday. Everyone has been able to go home and see loved ones.
We are already into follow up doctor visits and taking the time to heal. Asad
Rahman (Blue Ridge Supt) Brett Loomis and Mike Beckett from the Eldorado N.F.
are here helping out with anything they can from organizing meetings to taking
guys to the doctors. Just want to thank everyone for all the support and calls
the have been maxing out their inboxes. I am hopeful that we will all make a
quick recovery and have an opportunity to see what improvements can be made to
the crew buggies to make them safer and stronger. If nothing else, it goes to
show the importance of good training as the rest of the crew was there in no
time taking care of the guys. Again, thank you to the entire community for your
Good news. Ab.
||Jim Ramage is the recipient of the Helicopter Heroism Award:
This is an
honor that Jim richly deserves, not only for his actions at his final fire, but
for his actions
and behavior over his entire career.
I only hope that this award can serve to communicate to Diane (Jim's wife) the
love, respect, and
admiration that so many of us in the WLF community held, and still hold, for
It was an honor, privilege, and pleasure to have known Jim, and to call him
Be Safe, All; Lessons Learned Honor the Fallen.
||Steve Uptegrove's passing:
Steve and I shared some exquisite moments of
shared adversity during the years we worked together on the Payette in the early
'90's. Because each of us marched to the beat of a slightly different drummer,
we found ourselves in a certain FMO's doghouse at various times. I always took
it a little harder and more seriously than Steve. He always took for what it was
worth, which was a grain of salt or something similar. Steve was always nice
enough to console me during these trying times and with his impish grin he would
unselfishly hand me another "cold one" to wash away my anguish and pain. He was
always able to find a bright side and happy ending to a dark episode. After
Steve moved away to Wyoming, I lost track of him for a few years. In the past 10
years I can distinctly remember three random encounters that occurred on fires
in Florida, New Mexico and Oregon. As I recall, I was at an ICP briefing on one
occasion; a remote helispot on another; and wandering around some
metropolis-sized fire camp on the third occasion. All three times the encounters
began the same way. The eternally cheery voice of some immortal, blithe and
indomitable spirit from my past would call out to me: "Hey Bob….Howya doin' ?"
Momentarily startled, I would turn around and there would be Steve, the earthly
manifestation of the irresistible force that will never consider the possibility
of defeat, complete with his trademark ear to ear grin.
I always marveled at Steve's tales of his triumphs as the "Headquarters Fireman"
on the Ft. Rock. Now I can look forward to the day when I can hear him tell
similar tales of his exploits as the "Headquarters Fireman",
- The Wingman
||Jim Ramage is the recipient of the Helicopter Heroism Award:
Rotor & Wing
Re: James Ramage
Thank you for participating in the nomination and voting process for the annual
Helicopter Heroism Awards.
I am writing to you today to inform you that the editorial board of Rotor & Wing
has selected James Ramage as the recipient of the Helicopter Heroism, Above and
Beyond the Call Award in the Private/Commercial sector for 2008.
The Annual Helicopter Heroism Award is the oldest and most respected such award
in the rotorcraft community. As such, the name of James Ramage will join an
elite list of Helicopter Heroism Award recipients dating back to 1967, when the
first award was issued to Major Bruce Crandall for his actions in the early days
of Viet Nam at the battle of La drang Valley. Major Crandall was later awarded
the Medal of Honor for those actions. With Jim's background, it is only fitting
that he should now join such company.
If you have ever been to the Helicopter Heroism Award ceremony in the past, you
understand the palpable feeling of honor and respect that permeates the room as
200-plus of the world's top helicopter and SAR professionals listen to the
account of the award-winning actions, then all rise in a standing ovation as the
award is accepted. It really is both humbling and inspiring just to be a part of
Jim's wife, Diane, will be joining us in Reston, VA to accept the award on Jim's
behalf during the annual Helicopter Heroism Awards ceremony and luncheon on
September 3rd during the Search and Rescue Summit.
This was his nomination letter:
United States Forest Service
Posthumous Nomination - Jim Ramage
Shasta Trinity Forest - August 8th 2008
- James Ramage - Inspector Pilot
On August 8th a Sikorsky S61 helicopter owned by Carson Helicopters carrying
11 fire fighters and two crew crashed in Shasta Trinity Forest after several
practice drops. The crash is still under investigation.
Jim was the Forest Service Check Pilot and they had finished working for the
day. The helicopter was returning when it crashed.
Of the four survivors, one stated that he owed his life to Jim. He reported that
immediately after the helicopter lifted Jim recognized that there was a problem
and yelled for everyone to take their crash positions. The survivor also stated
that this act saved his life. Jim was however killed in the accident.
Jim had 40 years of service in Viet Nam first with the Army and later with Air
America. On returning to the states he worked contract in logging and
firefighting, later being the first pilot hired by CDF as badge number 1.
Jim knew more about flying and helicopters than anyone I have ever known. He
enjoyed helping anyone understand flying and the joy it brought him. Everyone I
have ever met who knew him held Jim as the pinnacle of what they should be in
skill and in professionalism.
More than 800 people attended his funeral.
I would like to nominate Jim Ramage for this honor.
Good news. Ab.
||Fire Mapping Applications for the Blackberry
Everything we do should be based on firefighter safety. Introducing new
technology to achieve that goal is a noble cause indeed. I can state, with
qualification, that I know exactly what you are facing in R-1. Have you ever
sent an e-mail to someone in the heat of passion and just a nano-second after
you pushed the send button you suddenly feel regret and wished you would have
slept on it first? That's what happed to me the night I was reading a decision
by our State Director of Fire and Aviation to replace all our old, worn out
desktop computers with IBM StinkPads because they were on GSA contract and his
only concern was the lowest price. We had spent countless meetings,
demonstrations and comparative studies convincing the man that we needed
wireless communication modems and ruggedized notebooks with sunlight-readable
screens and swappable hard drives that would enable us to comply with the
Department IT security policy and still be able to integrate with our
cooperators network when working major fires in an ICP. It can reach almost 140
degrees if you park a vehicle with the windows rolled up in July where I worked
and I had to replace the display three times on a commercial-off-the-shelf non
ruggadized laptop. I was informed by the Service Center that the warranty would
no longer cover it because I was using it for fire management purposes in the
field under temperature extremes it wasn't built for. When I read the State
FMO's rational, I was livid to learn that price was the only factor considered
by the purchasing agent who makes the recommendations and we were to be issued
plastic notebooks to help us mange wildfires!
My e-mail accused the State Director of Fire and Aviation of making the wrong
decision and immediately after I sent it I suddenly realized it was
inappropriate. I called the next morning to apologize and was prepared to accept
what I deserved. Too late, he had already shared my message with the entire
State Fire Management Staff. Imagine my surprise when he told me that my
proposal made sense and he obtained the additional funding needed for the
Toughbooks. It was based on firefighter safety and enhanced situational
awareness and eliminating the recurring equipment replacement costs of using GSA
contract office laptops under harsh environmental field conditions. We outfitted
all our engines, command vehicles and the helitack crew with the proper tools
and training the firefighters needed and I'll always be grateful for what he did
for us (Ed Wehking).
Domaque, you have advantages that I didn't. It sounds like you have the support
of the Regional Telecommunications Manager. That's a good thing. There is an
international movement starting to do what you want to accomplish. The Aussies
are also making a similar proposal to their Attorney General in response to the
recent bushfire catastrophe.
Location based services for emergency management is in the limelight now:
I've been invited to give a presentation this week at the Fire Rescue
International conference in Dallas on a similar topic. If you have no objections
Id like to mention your good work to all the Chief's and see if we can crank up
some more support. Convincing the fire service, with it's traditions and
reluctance to change, can be extremely frustrating at times. But, as I
discovered, change can happen if you persevere and keep reminding the decision
makers that firefighter safety is always what motivates us.
Top Cal Fire official arrested in Plumas County DUI
Sad news. Ab.
||The memorial service for Steve Uptegrove will be held in
Bend on September 1st, at 1:00 pm at Aspen Hall.
||Readers, here are some photos of the Krassel Memorial Dedication from Mike
Lewis' mom and this message from Vicki:
What a labor
of love and respect.... dedicated to those who lost their lives in the Krassel
Crash. It was a beautiful gathering
of people who love them....
Krassel Memorial Dedication: In memory of Helicopter N355EV, Pilot Quin Stone;
Krassel Helicopter Rappellers,
Michael Lewis and Monica Zajanc; and Williams
Peak Lookout, Lillian Patten, August 13, 2006.
||Announcement for Steve Uptegrove memorial service:
Willie Crippen asked
that I send this flyer for you to post.
Public Affairs Officer
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
Nice one with his photo and directions. Thanks. Ab.
||Steve Uptegrove, my brother
There are no words that can express my feelings right now. To read all the
wonderful thoughts and memories you have of my, (and your) brother is beyond
touching. I know that Steve belonged to a very large family in the Forest
Service and as a Ski Patrolman. Those ties that bind.
Steve was a wonderful man and brother. Since you all shared, I’d like to share a
few memories also.
Those of you that knew Steve well know of Sam, his first child, a dog. When
Steve was living in Bend, Sam had disappeared. Steve was beside himself. As it
turned out Sam was just around the corner in a garage with his “new
girl-friend”. A neighbor’s dog was in heat so they put Sam in with her since he
was such a good looking dog. After that, Steve would bring Sam home all the way
from Idaho, just to “see his girl-friend.” I thought he was crazy, but that was
I lived with him for a short time when my daughters were very young. I loved
living with him. He was a great room-mate, except for when he put dirty dishes
in the oven when friends were coming over so the house looked cleaned. I always
found out they were there after I turned on the oven to bake cookies.
I used to say that Steve was “Dear Abby” of the Forest Service because we had
around-the-clock visitors. Because he was so kind hearted and couldn’t say no to
anyone, we would have visitors at all hours of the night to tell Steve their
woes. I finally had to move out because I didn’t want my daughter’s first words
to be (%&*^&&!!@#).
For those of you that have seen “The Guardian” with Kevin Costner and how he was
the guardian of the ocean, I truly believe that Steve is now the Guardian of the
Forest. He will always be with us.
I loved skiing with Steve, working with Steve on the mountain, and going for
long drives with him.
And as Steve would say before you left him, “Drive Friendly”
||Steve Uptegrove's Passing
This was very hard news for me take when hearing
about Steve. I
worked w/ him on the Shoshone National Forest during the late 90's.
As the AFMO he taught me a lot about fire and chainsaw use. I still
kept in contact with him to this day. It's good to hear others talk
about how he was such a good friend to them. Will miss you Steve.
A memorial service is being planned for Steven Uptegrove
Thursday at 1:00 at the
7th Street National Forest complex in John Day.
A potluck dinner for the family will follow the service.
There will also be a service for Steve in Bend the following week. Date, time
and location will be posted later.
Thanks Linda. So sorry for your family's and all of our loss. Ab.
||I met Steve Uptegrove in 1977 when I went to work on the Fort Rock RD. Upte
was already well established in the fire organization and he made me feel
welcome. We became fast friends and formed a group of bros that worked hard and
played hard too. John, Kent, Dave, Ron and others, you know what I mean.....
Some of the stunts we pulled while on duty would have gotten us fired if our
supervisors had found out. Back then in Central Oregon, the IA action was fast
and furious when the storms rolled through and recreation opportunities were
endless and uncrowded.
So many memories: Lightning fire IA on The Rock; visiting at the top of Black
Chair while Steve worked and I played/skied; the bird hunting trip Upte, John
and I took to Jordan Valley in my 1960 VW Transporter; fishing and hunting all
over Central Oregon; and heading to Steve's house at lunch to watch Perry Mason
reruns.... just to name a few.
It is amazing to think of how many lives Upte touched in his short time with us.
As we held a moment of silence in Steve's honor at the Williams Creek Fire
morning briefing, there were many in attendance, including myself, who had tears
in their eyes. Upte was a dear friend of mine as well as my wife and sons. The
last time I saw Upte was last summer at China Hat Helibase for a memorial in
honor of another Fort Rock icon, Bruce Yates. It was a short visit but I'm so
thankful for the opportunity to visit with him.
So many have already shared how Upte impacted their lives and the shock and
sorrow of losing such a tremendous human being. Those of you who know me know
that I am a man of few words, but I really wanted to add my thoughts regarding
||Anyone need some volunteers?
Could you please help me with information for
helping behind the lines with serving the brave men and
women fighting Wildland fires. Are there some addresses or links which you could
provide us, particularly
for the Montana and Wyoming areas.
Thank-you! Harold and Vikki
Could anyone use some good volunteers? Ab.
||blackberry smart phone apps:
Thanks Fire Geek for the good info on apps
for Blackberry smart phones. There are several people in R1
Forest Service that are trying out different apps for Blackberry's with the
support of our cell phone person
in the Regional Office. It is a bit of an up hill battle to introduce new
technology, but I do think there is
some real safety benefits to be had. I just don't know what they are yet!
Thanks again Ab and Fire Geek
Pat Stone will be missed, Pat was a firefighters firefighter,
and I had the
pleasure of working with him in Susanville in the late 80's and early 90's
Pat helped me for several years start the DOI Engine Academy in Bridgeport
at the MWTC. Those days were often crazy doing IA in the wilds of the high
plains of the Susanville District and into the Smoke Creek Desert. Pat
always took care of his crew first on that old gas Model 5 !
Rest in Peace Pat !
Thanks Merv !!!
||Pat Stone's passing and services
I haven't seen a posting yet for the passing of Pat Stone? Pat was a good
wildland firefighter for the BLM and spent
most of his career with Susanville
District out of Susanville Station, I had the honor of fighting fire with him as
supervisor (IC) and as a student of fire (fellow firefighter). I do not have
much information other than that there will
be a memorial for him this Saturday.
Pat was the first captain of "Dirty Thirty" (Engine 3230) If you were on the
then you had to meet or know him as the fire community is rather small.
Memorial and Celebration of the Career of retired BLM firefighter Pat Stone
Saturday, August 29 @ 1100 hrs
Ted Overton Training Center on Fifth Street in Susanville
Contacts for the memorial are:
Jeff Fontana and Paul Whitcome 258-5368
Lassen National Forest
||Heads up on pandemic flu H1N1 possible predictions for Fall
||Steve Uptegrove's passing:
I was shocked to hear of the passing of one of
my best friends, Steve Uptegrove on August 20th. I just retired from 30 years
with the FS on the Deschutes N.F.. Steve was one of the first people I met when
I started on the Fort Rock R.D. and we hit
it off right from the start. Steve has one of the best attitudes and
personalities of anyone I have met. Steve and I duck hunted
and fished together quite a bit until he moved to McCall, Idaho to take a new
job. He was a kind and gentle person who held
no ill will towards anyone. He would help you out if he could at the drop of a
hat and give you the shirt off his back. He was
an outstanding fireman and did his job better than anyone. He left the Deschutes
to take an AFMO job and even then we
stayed in touch and whenever he came to Bend he would always call or stop by for
a cold one. He loved his family and all his
friends and anyone he touched. I have to say that I am a better person for
He will be missed by everyone that he touch in his short time here on earth.
Steve died doing what he loved most, working in
I will forever miss my friend.
||Steve Uptegrove " Upte"
We will miss you Steve.
I remember the years of untracked powder snow that you, Bill Bowden, Tim Lynch
and I skied together. The many
laughs we shared and the secret "Knights" handshake we had on the chairlift
rides back up to Bump. The many hands
of power cribbage we all played at the top of the black chair with the other
High Cascade Mountaineering and
Cribbage club members, and the endless antics we had trying to escape "ole Roger
and Otto" on good old "Mt. Tons
O Fun". How lucky we were to know you, and how fortunate the hundreds of injured
skiers you helped were to have
you as the first Pro Patrolman on the scene. You were a great skier, a serious
and talented first responder, and a good
friend. Our lives have been enhanced by your presence. Rest peacefully and save
the next run for me.
||Re Math Nerdness:
Interesting story considering how much mathematical
modeling we have going on in the fire world these days
Still Out There as as AD
||Mitigating Potential Impacts to the Region's Fire Preparedness Budget:
"As appropriate, direct dispatch organizations and incident management
teams under your authority to order agency assets for fire suppression
events in lieu of contracted and state or local government fire resources,
and to replace non-agency resources with Forest Service assets as quickly as
possible. Resource Orders should specify agency resources, whether from
inside or outside Region 5. "
Haven't we been saying this for years? If this is a viable cost cutting
option, shouldn't that be business as usual?
This letter from Aug 5 was posted on theysaid on 8/9.
How are the GACCs dealing with this? Especially as related to Incident
Management Team members?
File Code: 5100
Route to: (6700)
Mitigating Potential Impacts to the Region's Fire Preparedness Budget
To: Forest Supervisors
Nation-wide the agency has experienced a fairly mild fire season compared to
those over the last few years. Overall this is good news. However with the
planning and budget methods used to staff the firefighting workforce, this less
active year has the potential to run the fire preparedness budget into deficit,
an estimated $9.3million based upon recent trends.
The fire season can turn around quickly and make this a moot issue, but I want
to reemphasize the direction set out in the final 2009 program and budget advice
including the requirement that fire resources be managed to ensure no deficits,
that overtime expenditures be minimized, and that there will be no significant
There are numbers of additional steps that I would ask you to implement, as
possible, to mitigate the potential deficit.
- Utilize fire suppression resources to help accomplish the region’s fuels
and other program targets; and
- As appropriate, direct dispatch organizations and incident management
teams under your authority to order agency assets for fire suppression
events in lieu of contracted and state or local government fire resources,
and to replace non-agency resources with Forest Service assets as quickly as
possible. Resource Orders should specify agency resources, whether from
inside or outside Region 5.
By copy of this letter to the Director of FAM, I expect the same actions on
part of the GACCs in terms of agency resources on agency fires.
Thank you in advance for your time and attention to this matter.
/s/ James M. Peña (for)
cc: Ed Hollenshead
||Funeral arrangements info for David Jamsa from LT:
David McKay Jamsa
Posted: Sunday, August 23, 2009 11:50 am
MISSOULA - David McKay Jamsa, 44, passed away on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009, in
A funeral service will be held on
Tuesday, Aug. 25 at 11 a.m. at
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel
3201 Bancroft St.
||Steve Uptegrove's passing:
I'm sitting here in shock!! I worked with Steve
on the Deschutes NF, Fort Rock RD in 1978. We worked on an Engine at China Hat
GS. We were both kids trying to have as much fun as we could find. Steve was a
happy go lucky guy that always had a great attitude and was fun to be around,
both on the job and off. I lost contact with him over the years but never forgot
him. I'm sure many of the folks that Steve worked with through the years would
feel the same way. I've been thinking about him recently (the last few days). I
can't believe he's gone!!
I'll miss you Steve and thanks for the fun we had together!!
||Hey all of you that were on the La Brea Fire.
I have a request from a theysaid community member for any video (or cell
phone footage) that you may have taken between
August 12 and 14, Day Ops or Air Ops.
Please ask your crew. Thanks very much in advance. I appreciate your
attention to this.
||Steve Uptegrove's passing:
Anyone have a picture of Steve Uptegrove? Having trouble placing the name
with a face.
I know I have worked with him in the past somewhere.
Hey Abs how about some good news?
Mariposa County Fire is a small fire department in central California but we
have recently been blessed with the ability to acquire 12 new engines and 4 new
water tenders. They were all built by Pierce and as we speak the water tenders
and 1 engine are on their way out to CA. The other engines are off the assembly
line and inspected. They will follow at a rate of 4 per week. This will allow us
in County Fire to be safer in our jobs and also be more effective in saving
peoples homes. I have attached a photo from Pierce in Florida of the majority of
Good news. I put it on the
Equipment 16 photo page. Ab.
Here is a link to an article in the Chico newspaper about the accident involving
the Klamath Hotshots.
This is consistent with what I heard yesterday with a bit more detail. Ab.
According to California Highway Patrol reports, Gary Russell Hall, 58, of
Sacramento, was southbound on Highway 99 in a 2006 Freightliner at
approximately 9:08 a.m. when he allowed the big rig to cross into the
northbound lane of the highway for unknown reasons.
The mirror on Hall's vehicle reportedly struck the windshield and front
pillar of the northbound 2001 International firefighting vehicle, with the
driver, 30-year-old Brian Janes of Klamath River losing control of the
vehicle as a result of the collision. The fire engine reportedly spun
counter-clockwise across traffic lanes before rolling into an orchard on the
west side of the roadway.
All crewmembers are doing well have been released except for one that had
a concussion and cracked pelvis; he should be released in a day or two. Thanks
community for your good wishes. Ab.
||There was a crew buggy rollover this morning. The families have been
This morning at 0930 we got an alert that there had been a USFS crew
transport involved in a T/C south of Red Bluff on Hwy 99E near Lassen View
We alerted the WFF to see if they'd be ready to help.
We appreciate people not posting about the accident until families have been
notified. I spoke with someone "in the know" and families have been told,
wife, mom, these people matter very much to us. They are making their way to
Here's what we know
• Rollover of USFS crew buggie
• Hwy 99, South of Red Bluff at Lassen View School
• Klamath Hot Shots, returning from Elephant Incident on PNF
• 8 Injuries, 1 Major
• Major Injury was transported to <snip> Hospital in Chico
• 7 firefighters were taken to another hospital and might be released later
today, if they haven't already been released
Please keep our folks in your thoughts and prayers. No doubt there will be a
FS press release as soon as possible.
As far as media speculation about cause, conditions, etc, please remember
that our first priority as a firefighting community, is to care for our
folks, our FF and their families. Investigation will occur; reports will be
released. Any media speculation prior to reports is just that... Please do
not add to the "chatter".
My thoughts and prayers are with our firefighters and their
There was no “burnover” per say on the Lockheed incident in CZU. The two
firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation of hot gases. There is an ongoing
investigation and the Blue Sheet will be released as soon as the firefighters
have been interviewed. Normally the Blue Sheet is issued within or close to 24
hours followed by the Greensheet when the investigation is complete. In this
case the Blue Sheet release has been temporarily delayed at the request of the
local agency until their firefighters have had a chance to speak with
investigators and the department has had a chance to review the document. We
expect the Blue Sheet to be released early next week.
CAL FIRE Chief who knows to protect my identity. Thanks.
Thanks, we' look
forward to reading it. Ab.
||Steve Uptegrove's passing:
Steve Uptegrove was a very dear friend to me
and my engine boss while working on the Malheur NF. It deeply
saddened me to hear of his passing. I agree that all who had the pleasure of
meeting him and getting to know him
liked him. He always made every day a good day! His positive attitude and beaming
personality were just a
couple of his many good traits. He will forever be in my heart and in my
thoughts. I give my condolences to his
family and wife Hope as well as all those who love him.
I have spent several tours in Texas the past 2 years
and would offer the following food for thought.
Some Regional Fire Coordinators drive the tactics on a incident on an ad hoc
basis. Their experience level and red card
quals vary widely and often aren't commensurate with the influence they have on
the tactics employed. A Dozer module
off my Forest experienced a near miss that was a classic case of everyone
involved stretching the envelope (RFC, TFL,
the IA dozer operator). From the outside looking in, it appears that there was a
deference to authority as opposed to
expertise and a command structure that lends itself to that scenario. The
incident should have been reviewed and to my
knowledge wasn't. I don't believe that it is a "cover up" per se but surely is a
missed learning experience for all concerned.
Dozing for Dollars
||Steve Uptegrove's passing:
I was also sad to hear about Steve's passing,
one of the good guys. I worked for Steve back in
2003 I think it was .Good fire savvy and just a good person. This was my
initiation from an agency
firefighter to working for an R-6 contract engine owner. Steve treated my crew
and I with dignity
and respect -- not always the case up there.
Condolences to the family and all who knew Steve.
I've just been informed of another GIS mapping application called "Buzz for
I haven't used it but it looks promising for emergency management. The best
feature about both applications is access to unlimited amounts of information
from a cell phone. All the data resides on a server such as topographic maps,
aerial imagery, roads, boundaries, DPA, land ownership, endangered species
habitat, cultural resource locations, past fire history etc. The list is
endless. USFS, NPS, BLM and a lot of state fire management agencies already have
ArcGIS servers. Enhancement of situational awareness and increasing firefighter
safety is what it's all about. The system could be configured to automatically
transmit a warning if crews are in a high risk area under certain weather
conditions, for example.
We'd be interested to learn how you use the Blackberry for fire management
I've been trying to figure out what I want
to say to all the people who have offered comfort, support, a friendly ear, and
so much more in these last weeks. I've answered many of you with silence. Know
that it was simply because I didn't know what to say, not because I didn't
appreciate what you were doing. I've been humbled and honored by your
The weeks following Tom’s funeral have
been tough. Many of us are simply trying to figure things out. In many ways
this is a solitary process, but you, through your emails and phone calls, have
been with me. I've learned the meaning of the word empathy in the past weeks.
Empathy is defined as the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing
of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. Many of you have said that you
can't imagine how this must feel, well guess what, I think you can. Or else you wouldn't
have reached out as you have.
I met the Craig Hotshots yesterday, we're
working together on the Hat Creek Complex. They experienced a similar loss
during a felling accident that claimed the life of Engine Captain Brett Stearns.
Even now, even after all of this, I hesitated to say anything. I didn't want
to dredge up memories or feelings in people I didn't know. Then I thought about
it and realized that I could say "I'm sorry for your loss" without fear. I'm
not dredging up anything. I know he's right with them everyday, just as Tom is
with me, with us. I'm sorry guys, all of you, everyone who has lost someone. I
haven't walked in your boots, but mine have been down a similar chunk of line, I
know its nasty country.
I had hoped that Tom’s name would be the
last in my book of remembrance. A futile hope, I know, but a hope none the
less. I learned today that we&'ve lost two more brothers. Steven Uptegrove and
Dave Jamsa have been added to my book. They will not be forgotten. I look
forward to learning their stories and in the telling of those stories we will be
keeping their memories alive. To their friends and family, we won't forget
about you either. Any time, any thing, we'll be here for you. To those working
to honor them, you'll do it right. You'll do it right because you care, because
you hurt, and because you have the strength to do it. We've got your back.
I hope that I've been able to include everyone that I need to thank. I know this
is another futile hope so please pass this on as you see fit.
Use of Blackberry phone on the fireline
One of the best applications for GIS use with a Blackberry is Freeance Mobile:
You can track units in the field, map fire perimeters, take georeferenced photos
and upload all the information to a server
so that fire officials in the Incident Command Post receive real-time updated
fire maps. You can also access information
where and when you need it.
Contact Chuck Bridgeman for the best price.
Steve Uptegrove's passing:
I was saddened to hear of the untimely death of a wonderful friend and
firefighter, Steve Uptegrove. He was a
friend to all who knew him, a hard worker, and a credit to the US Forest Service
and the wildland firefighting
community. He will be deeply missed by everyone who knew him.
My heartfelt condolences to his family and his co-workers.
Photos "San Antonio Mars Base":
I recognize the vehicles in the pictures they
are the support vehicles for the Martin Mars. I would assume they are at
San Antonio Lake where the Martin Mars was flying out of. I think they used it
for the La Brea Fire.
I concur with the assessment of BarkR and have held my comments
for a long time.
Safety, of course, is Numero Uno, and with knowledge of in the TX dispatch
system, as well a TX Incident Command, it is time for a review.
On a particular large incident in TX the National Team OSC1 requested a dozer,
citing specific, expressly needed, purpose. The order was placed to TICC
dispatch. TICC dispatch coordinator cancelled the order and advised no dozer
would be ordered. This decision by TICC was questioned and it was stated that in
spite of the express order by the OSC1 it would not be ordered. Within minutes a
review was held, principal individuals in the ordering system were 'called to
the office' and told that insomuch as they did not know what was going on behind
the scenes it was not acceptable to question the decision made by dispatch. It
was only later discovered that the TFS IC had a direct line to TICC dispatch and
that is where decisions were made on orders in spite of what the IMT requested.
When this was brought to the attention of the IMT, the consensus was 'their
hands were tied'.
This is just one example, among many I'm sure, of the total disregard of the ICS
system, operational safety of the firefighters and total lack of understanding
of incident management, that scream 'watch out' if you work fire in TX.
Steve Uptegrove's passing:
Abs & All,
I am so sad to hear that Steve Uptegrove was killed. I met Steve in 1979 when we
were both lift operators at
Mt. Bachelor in Oregon. We both went on to become pro patrollers at Bachelor for
I worked on several very serious ski injuries with Steve, and a number of fires
on the Deschutes. He was a good
person to have around in a tight spot. I will always remember those days with
Upte was one of those rare guys who was universally liked by everyone I ever met
that knew him. He was a
gentleman, a good ski patrolman and a good fireman. I will miss him. My deepest
condolences to his family and
The Texas Forest Service recently dealt with a fire in South Texas (The Hopper
Fire) where there were questionable tactics employed, especially as it applies
to the use of dozers at the head of the fire. I do not know if this is the
incident referred to in your recent postings or not (the date would have been
around August 10 thru 13th or so).
One result that came from their dealing with the situation was the "firing" of a
well-qualified ATGS (Air Attack). That ATGS had raised the issues with the Texas
Forest Service, but was "shot down" and demobed (by an assigned Air Ops Branch
Director from another state forestry organization)... End of issue.... Or is it?
There needs to be a National Dispatch Review (if there is such a thing) for
Imagine out-of-state cooperators arriving in Texas:
The Zone Dispatch, the Texas Interagency Coordination Center (TICC) is in
Except Expanded Aircraft (and Expanded Overhead for those aircraft) is in the
Emergency Operations Center in College Station, managed by the TFS TICC
Coordinator (this is where the headquarters for the Texas Forest Service is
But, the OFFICIAL State EOC, called the State Operations Center (SOC) for all
other agencies (TxDOT, State Troopers, Emergency Mgmt, etc) is in Austin.
But never mind those, as we have another layer, the Incident Management Team
(IMT) located in Granbury, which handles all fire response for state lands in
West Texas (and claims to be covering the entire state for state coverage). This
is who you report to if you are an incoming resource coming to Texas.
And you may be assigned to a local area that has a dispatcher to talk to at a
4th (or is that 5th) tier level dispatch office.
Is this confusing?
The Texas Forest Service TICC Coordinator moved from Lufkin to College Station,
where they have a new title, but who is the TFS Center Manager now at TICC?
There is a designated point-of-contact, but most would agree that the TFS Center
Manager is that person that moved to College Station. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (FWS) had a Coordinator in TICC (Lufkin), but they recently moved to
Corpus Christi to work out of their house, vowing to never return to Lufkin
(this move was mysteriously approved by the FWS). So the only original
Coordinator still at TICC in Lufkin is the USFS Coordinator. An interagency
coordination center that has three Coordinators located in three separate
And then add the IMT that the TFS brings in to manage the fire organization in
Texas, which processes orders and supervises dispatches and dispatchers like
they are the Interagency Coordination Center. Many TFS employees are placed on
Resource Orders under the IMT, and given ICS titles for doing their normal jobs.
Many are given ICS assignments that are not their normal jobs.
The IMT adds an extra layer of administration that actually adds to the costs of
managing fires in Texas, and removes management from the local level. Dispatches
of aircraft not requested (and specifically stated as being a safety issue by
ATGS) are dispatched anyway by the IMT in Granbury. Resource assignments to
local areas are decided by the IMT and College Station headquarters, often not
requested by the local TFS office..
I could go on and on, and I'm sure other folks could, too. I have not even
touched on the 4th tier dispatch center system accepted as normal in Texas. It's
a big state for one zone (OK, the miniscule Federal lands in west Texas are
under the Southwest Region in Albuquerque, but the rest of Texas is under the
TICC zone in Lufkin).
I hope that helps explain the situation in Texas for those unfamiliar with the
state fire organization and situation.
Dave Jamsa's passing:
Missoula pilot killed in Nevada tanker crash identified; donation fund
SEAT Pilot, dies in crash in NV:
SFIDC released (1030, 08/21) the name of the Minuteman ATP killed yesterday;
MM requests all further requests for info re: Dave call MM corporate
offices @ 406/728-9363.
I'm heartsick; my younger son worked for MM for 2 years here in Winn and in
Dave was a great guy, and a fine pilot.
How Blackberry PDAs can be used in a fire setting:
Sent on 8/17 but I just found it. Ab.
I was wondering if Fire Geek might have some ideas on how to use blackberry
phones in a fire setting. I was able to get blackberry phones for some of the
overhead on my unit and have upgraded the vehicles to have cell repeaters that
extend both data and voice connections. I have allready programed in the local
weather and fire links along with Google Earth and find it very handy to call up
radar animations of the storm that I can see in the distance. My next goal is to
use the blackberries and modems for laptops and explore possible GPS tracking
capability such as GoogleLattitudes to track the cell phones. I am not that tech
savvy so I was hoping Fire Geek might have some insight.
San Antonio Mars Base photos:
The pictures named San Antonio Mars Base 1-5 are
screen captions collected with the Martin Mars Bird Dog (call sign: Firewatch
76), taken at the MM mooring location on Lake San Antonio. The MM Bird Dog is a
Sikorsky S76B that is equipped with the latest fire mapping technology used to
provide critical information to Incident Commanders and firefighters on the
ground. It is able to collect data, produce fire maps, Infrared and color HD
video and still photo data - very similar to the two Firewatch Cobras. Firewatch
76 launches when the Martin Mars gets dispatched or can be ordered for its
mapping capabilities. Both Firewatach Cobra's and Firewatch 76 are staffed with
a qualified Air Tactical Group Supervisor.
Thanks for the info. Ab.
A Death in the FS and Fire family; Steve Uptegrove's passing:
Steve Uptegrove died yesterday morning in a non-fire related activity
when he was struck by a falling snag. A 30 year firefighter, he was the station
lead and engine foreman in Unity (Wallowa-Whitman National Forest) and before
that worked on the Malhuer National Forest. Our
condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. Such a loss is always a
blow to the FS and fire community. He will be missed.
the news release.
Accident Takes Life of Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Employee
(Thanks to SB and others that gave us a heads up. Ab.)
FS 2010 budget:
I copied into this post portions of the
budget program direction for FY 2010 for Forest Service fire. Information
below is applicable to ALL Forest Service Firefighters. NOT JUST
Hugh and others, yes, I believe its true this forum is R-5 dominated. And no,
it's not true that the overwhelming majority in R-5 are indifferent to the
problems other regions are facing. We care!
We in R-5 have had enough and we proved in 2008 we can effect change. We will
keep a full court press on until we see change. PERIOD! So we can segregate the
regions in this forum, but it's not going to stop us from keeping the pressure
Starting the evening of April 1, 2008 (Black Tuesday) this forum allowed us to
lead and stay on point as we created the "west coast wave". This forum, our
forum, allowed us to organize, increase consistency and push the debate hard
until the PAO's and the elective officials noticed. To put it bluntly, we won
the first battled. We have not won the war, but you can be dam sure we are going
to be ready for the next battle. I don't see whining, I see a force, and I see
the largest organized group of Wildland Firefighters on the face of this earth.
- We in R-5 see no separation, we see no daylight between us and our
Brothers and Sisters in other regions.
- We are one and we ask all Firefighters in all regions to organize with
- We have secured 10% retention bonuses for our GS 5-8's.
- We are the recipients of 25 million from congress to work on retention
in high cost areas, with 24 million of that carried over to FY 2010.
- We are awaiting word from R-5 Moore and the WO on p to p and Moore's up
to 20% raises he wrote to us about last year and said he will work on.
- We are monitoring the negations between NFEE and the Forest Service to
determine if significant changes relative to fire suppression pay processes
and benefits will be drafted.
- We have placed pressure on the agency about the self imposed travel cap
until it was eliminated.
- We are standing in support of FWFSA and especially monitoring the
efforts of our great business manager and the legislation he is working on
with Congress on our behalf.
- We shall continue the education of fellow Brothers and sisters on the
importance of a centralized fire management program, where a "Firefighter
supervises a Firefighter up to the Chief of the Forest Service".
- We will not allow the few to drive a wedge between us.
- We will go toe to toe with our agency if they continue to hang onto a
business model that is convoluted, confusing, contradictory and
"Browser Closers". Yes, that's what we call them. They are the ones who bash
theysaid as a forum for whiners and misinformation. Yet, just a few minutes
later frantically close the browser when someone walks in the office as they
seek a peek at theysaid. The next time someone says theysaid is a bunch of
whining and misinformation. Remind them that if it wasn’t for our ability to use
this forum to organize, many of you would not be receiving an extra 10% every 2
weeks. Remind them our ADs would not of seen a 25% raise in the middle of the
2nd worst economy in our country’s history if not for the enlightenment found in
this forum. Remind them this forum educated our Regional Forester to a level
where he wrote in multiple memo’s, he supports pushing forward a p to p proposal
(don’t let up on Moore’s commitment to our p to p).
In closing, here are two words that best captures our next steps. I read them
often in this forum thanks to a very wise person(s)……..Carry on……...
Centralized Fire, Today, Tomorrow and Forever
Stand Strong, Stand Together
SEAT Pilot dies in crash in NV:
NV-CCD-SEAT crash on the Hoyt Fire
Hoyt Fire Accident Update: a single engine air tanker (SEAT) crashed in the Clan
Alpine Mountains of Churchill County this afternoon working the Hoyt Fire. The
pilot was transported by helicopter to the Pershing County General Hospital in
Locklock where he was pronounced dead. The aircraft was an
Air Tractor AT-802A, owned by
Minuteman Aviation. The National Transportation Safety Board
(NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have been notified. More
information will be posted when available.
San Antonio Mars Base photos:
The subject line Mars is the only message that accompanied these
photos in addition to photo titles "San Antonio Mars Base" with numbers 1 thru
I do not know their significance... Will people please fill us in?
San Antonio Mars Base1
San Antonio Mars Base2
San Antonio Mars Base3
San Antonio Mars Base4
San Antonio Mars Base5
SEAT Pilot dies in crash in NV:
Today, we lost another brother in Nevada. Although the name has yet to be
released and most of us probably never knew him, he's still family. Does it
matter? Absolutely. He was one of us... a firefighter. Does it matter that his
fire truck had wings? No. We worked together for a common goal and good.
When I started in this business, I'd already lost a few "grown up" friends to
the cause. We all have at some point. It never get's easier and I don't ever
expect it to. Now in retirement, I'm still loosing family, be it in the air or
on the ground. Go ahead and laugh, but this old pilot has scars from 2 years as
a ground pounder before I got enough hours to earn my wings. And there were a
few times I would have traded a sick airplane for a pulaski or brush hook.
Sometimes I read with dismay, of the negative opinions expressed about air
tankers. Yes, they cost money. Yes, the money could have gone elsewhere.
However, we're just another tool in the box, and when used in the appropriate
manner, we do a great job at supporting our brothers and sisters on the ground.
Be it fixed wing or helos, we're there for you.
Do me a favor. When you're battling it out for funding and benefits, think about
the tanker pilots overhead. We don't get PSOB benefits. We don't get new rigs
every few years. When something breaks, we just can't fill out the paperwork and
get a replacement. We are a tool that just may disappear if things don't change.
The planes are getting old and no one seems to care, except for those of us in
the industry. WO has already cut our throats once, yet we're still here at a
minimum level, don't let them do it again. I can't guarantee we'll survive
another attempt at cutting this resource. If any of us up here have ever saved
your bacon down there... and even if we haven't yet had the opportunity, put a
good word in for us the next time you call or write your representative.
Aerial resources are a wonderful thing, used in the correct manner. The fire
isn't going to be controlled and put out by us, that's your job. We're just
there to slow it down for you and help make an IA a bit more manageable.
Sometimes, we can get to places you can't and buy you some time. There's no
glory here other than doing what we do to the best of our abilities. You guys on
the ground are the heroes.
We're all in this together and we can do this together. Isn't that what being
family is all about?
Burnover on the Lockheed Fire? Where is the Green Sheet???
Readers, we've gotten a question regarding an alleged burnover
that seems to have no report or official documentation...
An engine from Camp Parks was assisting an engine from East Bay Regional
Parks in suppression of multiple spot fires when the two engines were
burned over on the CA-CZU-Lockheed (near Santa Cruz) on Saturday (8/15) or early
Sunday (8/16). Two firefighters were sent to the hospital. One was treated in
the ER and released. The other was sent to the San Jose Burn Center with burns
to his upper respiratory tract. On Tuesday (8/18) he was moved to the ICU floor.
Yesterday he was released and he's at home now.
The question is, when will the Blue Sheet (24 hour report) or any other official
report be released... ?
CalFire hiring uninsured fallers:
I just got wind that CalFire is hiring uninsured EERA fallers from Oregon. Now,
this would be an interesting
development given that BOTH CalFire and the Forest Service have Faller Module
contracts in place and ALL
of these fallers are currently sitting unemployed. I believe I will be giving
Sacramento a visit. My goodness…
how the fire world turns…
Ab Note on Confidentiality:
We have gotten one inquiry from a firefighter in
TX asking if anyone sees info posted on theysaid prior to posting.
The answer is NO!
We do not operate like that and never have.
- As I said on theysaid, if anyone wants to contribute information on the
alleged dozer entrapment (in southern Texas), I will copy and paste the
information only, to the TFS person. This allows the firefighters providing
info to remain anonymous.
- Alternatively, if anyone with information would like to be put in touch
with the TFS person gathering facts, I will give them the contact info and
they can provide info directly to him. (WE ONLY SHARE INFO UPON REQUEST OF
THE PERSON WRITING IN.)
- As I understand it, the TFS has identified the incident in question and
is in the info gathering stage.
- If you or anyone you know have any info I'd be happy to pass it on or
put you in touch with the TFS info gatherer.
- We Abs never share email contents or firefighter identities -- and often we don't know
them -- with anyone. We do not BCC (blind copy).
After posting, content becomes available for all to read.
- We only forward emails to someone else if the sender requests it and
wishes to make contact; the recipient can then reply or not as he or she
wishes. It's a pretty simple system that has worked for the community we
serve for more than 10 years.
- With injury and fatality investigations there are usually 24 hour and 72
hour reports and later the results of the full investigation. With
non-fatality incidents there may be an After Action Review (verbal dialog
among the members involved) or some other kind of Lessons Learned Review
(Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA) or Accident Prevention Analysis (APA)).
- When an incident investigation is underway we usually ask people not to
post about the incident or request they wait to post until the investigative
report is released. The truth will be uncovered.
Red Lights and Sirens on FS Vehicles:
Another factor to consider in the issue
of lighting color on USFS (or other) fire vehicles. An increasing number of
states have passed laws requiring motorists on multi lane roadways to change
lanes away from emergency vehicles on or near the roadway with emergency lights
activated. While every law is a little different (just like every state has
differing laws on what colors of lights are authorized for fire, EMS, LEO,
volunteers, etc), the basis is that it applies to emergency vehicles. A vehicle
with amber-only lights, and no siren may well not qualify as an emergency
vehicle. After all, the idea for removing them is “it’s not really an emergency
vehicle”. So, the protection of those move-over laws likely would not apply to
protect folks working out of those vehicles any more. Yet another blow against
Mark 3 Pump Temperature Testing and Analysis
Missoula Technology and Development Center
(398 K doc file, 9 pages)
On July 9, 2009 a crewmember from the Idaho City Hotshots was burned while
checking the fuel level in the fuel tank of a Mark 3 pump on the Logging
Slash Fire in Alaska. As the crewmember was loosening the cap, he was
sprayed with fuel which then ignited causing burns to his face, arms, and
hands. Initial reports indicated that the pump had been shutdown prior to
the incident but a later interview with the crewmember revealed the pump was
operating while the fuel level was being checked.
Photographs taken after the incident showed that the pump appeared to be
equipped with a standard Mark 3 fuel tank that had been placed directly in
the path of the engine exhaust.
etc with photos; click the link... Be sure to read this.
posted this on the
Lessons Learned and Safety Zone subforum of the Hotlist on the Logging
Slash Fire Burn thread. Ab.
||Red Lights and Visibility on Roadway fires"
Since research to determine the effectiveness of emergency vehicle lighting
packages and the safety considerations for their use has been conducted perhaps
the R3 folks should provide some background data to justify their concern
regarding their removal. The bolded link at the bottom contains numerous
references to studies.
"IFSTA was proud to work with USFA and the U.S. Department of Justice in
this study to improve emergency vehicle and roadway operations safety,” said
Mike Wieder, IFSTA Assistant Director. “We believe that the results of this
study will enhance the safety of the fire service, law enforcement, and
other emergency responders.”
The study report discusses best practices in emergency vehicle visibility
and conspicuity, including cutting edge international efforts. It covers
retroreflective striping and chevrons, high-visibility paint, built-in
passive light, and other reflectors for law enforcement patrol vehicles,
fire apparatus, ambulances and other EMS vehicles, and motorcycles.
The Emergency Vehicle Visibility and Conspicuity Study and further
information on USFA’s emergency vehicle safety projects may be found on the
USFA Web site at
||Raymond Lee Oyler's Brother-in-Law has been charged with felony jury
(7 counts) in the Esperanza case.
Relative of arsonist wanted for jury tampering
Will this have any adverse effects on the trial?
I received this note from an employee in the Cal Fire Aviation program. I did
check on it and found it to
be accurate. I thought you and your readers would be interested. Normbc9
The DC-10 is back on exclusive use contract with Cal Fire
WITH a 15 day extension over the
old contract to make up for the lost days.
||Research questions on fires:
The Sit Report is a web based publication available that most fire fighters
reference daily in season.
It has a summary of fire activity year to date at the bottom.
The archive for 1994 through June 2007 is available at:
Simply select the last posting for any year and there are pretty good stats
there at the bottom of each page.
Caveat: Expect some errata as with literally thousands of agencies (all the
individual structural departments
that also fight wildland fire but aren't always in the loops - this includes
BTW: Why the interest? Feel free to e-mail me through Ab with other questions.
I got a message from a friend in the Texas Forest Service that they do, as a
general course of business, conduct After Action Reviews on each incident and
have for the last two years.
He assures me that they will be looking into everything that happened on the
reported incident in question.
If anyone has any facts to share, please
let me know and I'll pass the info on. You can remain anonymous or I can put you
in touch with him directly.
||Research questions on fires
Does anyone have updated info from the past couple years on total number of
fires in the US and what
initial attack forces responded to them, IE- Ground, Smokejumper, Helitack? Or
know where to go for
this? I found some numbers but they are more than 10 years old now.
||End of the Travel Cap:
||TFS Dozer Entrapment Cover-Up
I have only had the 'honor' to fight with
the Texas Forest Service on a few fires - one F-Mag and a couple real
small incidents - so my experience with them is limited. However, I think we
would all like to know more about
the Dozer Entrapment you speak of. I have seen some real shady operating on TFS-run
fires, and am very uneasy
knowing they allow dozers into these situations or worse yet - that they would
hide the incident so that we don't
learn from this mistake.
During their ground-cover firefighting classes, TFS instructors are very
hard-set in the fact dozers are not for
direct-attack, but we have all seen them used for fireline construction on the
fireline of a 30+mph wind-fed fire.
It's very unfortunate, but it appears that they went into CYA mode instead of
investigate and prevent... Hopefully
someone with more info on this particular incident can speak up... Sometimes
management forgets that #1 is
-Concerned In Midland County-
||TFS – Lessons learned?
I was very interested to learn of the possibility of a “coverup” concerning an
entrapment in TX. I work for a Federal agency in Texas and I have to say this
comes as no surprise. After coming over from an agency and region that many
folks here on They Said constantly complain about (much of it merited) I have to
reiterate my feeling that fire folks everywhere should really count the
blessings they enjoy, support your fellows, work to correct issues (lead from
below) and be proud of who you are and what you do.
I do not work for TFS nor have I had much exposure to them. I will say that
there seems to be an almost complete culture difference here (R8 / R2 DOI) with
regard to accountability, professionalism, safety… well pretty much everything
we all should hold dear. I came to an organization that did not use radios on
the fireline (or anywhere else), did not use or understand ICS, does not do AARs,
does not follow NWCG regs for PTBs, has no interest in JHAs, uses equipment on a
regular basis that should be parked until it is in proper working order, BARELY
trains people to use all different types of highly complex and dangerous
equipment …. I could go on and on.
What I am driving at is this; not everyone
“gets it”. In fact, the lessons that have been so painful and won at such a high
cost, (fatalities, near misses, accident investigations etc.) are not only
ignored here, they are willfully ignored. The idea that a vehicle exists for
professionals to learn from their mistakes in a setting that focuses upon “what”
not “who” is anathema to the culture I see here. I cannot explain this culture
difference beyond stating that I believe it is just that, a culture difference.
IMHO it is a miracle that more accidents do not occur down here. Some of the
literature out there including the APA concept:
Helps create the understanding that safety is not an end state but a
Perhaps folks down here are behind the times. I don’t know. The bottom line is
No one anywhere should rely upon management to define, promote or enforce
safety. The people in the field are responsible for our own safety and that of
those around us. Safety is what we do. Safety is our culture. We do not avoid
risk we identify and mitigate risk. It is hard to know what it will take for
things to change here. In the mean time be safe.
There's a newer 2009 updated APA doc. Here's a link to the most
recent version and the release letter doc that goes along with it. Ab.
Coverup of Entrapment of Dozer operator in Texas
We all need to know more regarding your post:
"There's a coverup of an entrapment going on in Texas. Should of been a
after action review, but nada. No one died this
time but had they died
people would of been at risk legally,,, forget the stupido out in front of
the head on his cat. How
do you protect yourself from future stupidness if
there's no AAR? Why isn't the TFS talking about it? It's just shutup and
I know some of what happened there and have been silenced from any
official comment by TFS. Yes, a dozer operator was
entrapped but thankfully
there were no reported injuries.
Why no After Action Review?
I can only hope that the R08 FAST team that was in the area at that time
is reading this forum.
There were a number of other eye-opening screwups by the TFS overhead on
this fire that are also being covered up. I will not
work for them again
after I get off of this assignment.
NO MORE DEAD FIREFIGHTERS!!!
There's a Safenet Website review that reiterates the Safenet program
and process below. Ab.
||Cal Fire employee attacked while off duty:
A Cal Fire BDU Fire Fighter was attacked (Stabbed multiple times) off duty while
in the community of Lake Arrowhead.
I don't know if this was posted on this great site or not but thoughts and
prayers are very much needed. The Fire
Fighter is at Loma Linda University Med Center in the ICU. All the info I gave
you is public knowledge and provided
in this news link.
Our thoughts and prayers for his speedy recovery. Ab.
Below is an image of the Red Rock Fire, near Cold Springs, Nevada. The fire
burned 10,549 acres.
Thanks RT, what a force of nature! I added it to the
Wallpaper page. Click on that large image folks. Ab.
||End of the Travel Cap:
Good news. Forest Service Firefighters win another battle against Line
Officer mismanagement of the fire program.
The Forest Service travel cap/ceiling has been lifted for FY 2010. This travel
cap was hitting our rank and file the
hardest, while our Line Officers traveled to resorts for kegger parties in San
Thank you NFFE, FWFSA for supporting us. Thanks to all the Firefighters who sent
in emails to agency and
congressional representatives. Another Line Officer bad idea that was beginning
to erode Firefighter development
has been stopped.
Soon Line Officers will be removed from our daily preparedness and suppression
operations. It's only a matter of
time. Keep the pressure on people and change will happen. All Forest Service
Firefighters, all Fed Firefighters from
all regions need to stand together and stand strong.
||FROM : National Wildfire Coordinating Group
REPLY TO : NWCG@nifc.gov
DATE : 08/17/2009
SUBJECT : SAFETY ADVISORY : Updates to the SAFENET Website
The SAFENET system became operational in the summer of 2000. The development of
SAFENET was recommended in Phase III of the TriData Wildland Firefighter Safety
Awareness Study and is endorsed by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group
The SAFENET website has recently been updated; however, it will remain at the
same web address;
http://safenet.nifc.gov/ . The NWCG Safety and Health Working Team (SHWT)
would like to take this opportunity to review the intent of SAFENET, highlight
the updates and provide information on how a SAFENET can be submitted.
As stated by Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe (authors of Managing the
Unexpected) “a reporting culture is a safety culture.” The goal is to report and
resolve safety and health issues at the near miss/close call stage, or sooner,
instead of after an accident or injury occurs.
SAFENET is a form and process that was requested by firefighters themselves. It
is a method for communicating and resolving safety and health concerns
encountered in wildland fire and all hazard incidents. The information provided
on the form will also help collect important, safety-related data at the
National Interagency Fire Center, to determine long-term trends and problem
areas (e.g. equipment and supplies). Annual SAFENET summaries are prepared at
the end of each fiscal year and are available on the SAFENET website.
What SAFENET Is / Is Not
What SAFENET is:
• An anonymous reporting system where firefighters can voice safety and health
• Documents corrective actions taken at the field level or provides suggested
corrective actions for higher level of action.
What SAFENET is NOT:
• A forum for personal attacks/defamation.
• A mechanism to elevate “pet peeves.”
• Only used for incidents that need higher level corrective action.
Interagency criteria for posting SAFENETs:
• Clearly stated safety or health issue, encountered on wildland fire or all
What happens to a SAFENET:
• Upon submission, a SAFENET is forwarded to the national fire management
safety program manager for the jurisdictional agency identified in the
submission. These individuals determine the course of action for the submission,
forwarding to the regional, state or local level for response.
• The jurisdictional agency is responsible for researching the issue identified
in the submission, taking appropriate action, and filing a corrective action
outlining the agency’s response.
• There is no punishment or penalty for filing a SAFENET.
• The SAFENET form (PMS 405-2) is no longer available in the cache system.
However, forms already in circulation or forms printed from the SAFENET website
can continue to be mailed in.
• Two substantive changes were made to the SAFENET form:
- The section previously titled “Corrective Action” was renamed “Actions
Taken.” This is where the SAFENET submitter describes what actions he/she took
to mitigate the unsafe/unhealthful event.
- The section previously titled “Supplemental Corrective Action” was renamed
“Agency Corrective Actions.” This is where the agency describes the corrective action(s) that were taken to address the safety/health concern.
• The Help Screen, SAFENET Protocols, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and
other information on the website were updated.
How to Submit a SAFENET
• Internet: Go to http://safenet.nifc.gov/, click on “Submit SAFENET” and follow
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Thank you for your commitment to this important safety effort.
Chair, NWCG Safety and Health Working Team
That photo from TJ's digital collection may of been from the Bench underburn
on the Double Head RD, MDF.
Due to bitter brush and low afternoon RHs we opted for night burning. After
racking my brain and looking at
the picture, I believe it could be from the Bench underburn.
Hope that helps.
Tom Marovich's friends and fellow firefighters.
I have a puzzle.
Tom Marovich's dad found this fire photo among TJ's digital things.
Does anyone who worked with TJ last September (probably into October) know
what fire he could have been on when he took it? This photo has a digital record
of having been taken on 9/30/08. Any stories of that assignment?
TJ's Fire Pic is the last one - flames - on the
Handcrews 26 photo page. Click the thumbnail for the larger photo. Ab.
I added a nice photo from Debbie King of a K-Max dropping on a fire to
Helicopters 27 photo page.
And from Tim:
Collection of tankers on the ramp and taxi way in Grand Junction, July 09.
Put it on the
Airtankers 31 photo page. Ab.
Your sacrifices are well know to us members of FWFSA. Your leadership and
dedication are unrivaled in the business as an advocate for our future.
Please know how much of a difference you are making and thanks for all that
you do on our behalf.
A grateful BLM Captain
and FWFSA member
||Temporary Employees and Term Employees
You may not to hear this, but management has broad discretion when making
That includes the discretion to make bad decisions.
H.R. will most likely tell you that this situation does not directly involve
you, and that you have not
been hurt by it. Kind of like the parable of the vineyard workers.
When I was on the F.D. all firefighters were expected to provide first aid to
the level of their training
until someone more qualified showed up. That was part of the job. How has this
when dealing with an injured member of the public? Does he apply a dressing but
refuse to start a
line when one is indicated?
Like you said, it is a slap in the face, but don't let a bad decision or
another's poor attitude interfere
with how you do your duties. (Easy for me to say.) What goes around comes
||Hotlist Discussion on rappel standdown in R5.
||Number of IT supporters abroad:
Right on about the number of crews the agencies can now field // but if you
need IT and computer
techs - we can send ya about 1 out of 4 employees!
And we still have to call a central number! (should be able to get 'em all on
one resource order and
the NIFC jet)
... they can take bytes out of fire
Sorry, Ab…there is one more thing I really need to say…I’ll make this short.
Ken brings up a really valid point: There is SO MUCH really good work being done
behind the scenes that is serving to create a retooled organization to fit a new
era, mutually beneficial relationships and answers where before there was only
chaos. Some of these people you have, and will never hear about. You won’t know
their names, or what they’ve done as catalysts for positive change. They are
giants of integrity and purpose. They exist inside and outside of the state and
federal agencies. Some are civilians. Some are well known in their positions,
but you would never know the battles they fight in support of change behind
I say this because I want to make it clear there really is no line of
demarcation. It is not one faction against another. And change IS happening,
just maybe so slow it isn’t noticeable.
Ken, Casey, Misery & all, your passion and drive on your chosen paths is
commendable. Thank you. I’m honored to be able to dialog with you.
Just to clarify:
I am not "contracted" to the FWFSA nor do I work on our member's behalf because
I am "contracted to do so."
Let's state the facts...I make about the same as a GS-4. I really get no
benefits and I have no retirement through the
FWFSA. This is more a labor of love for these folks than anything else. I sure
as Hell am not getting rich and am not,
like some think, a high-priced lobbyist.
I moved to Idaho from California so I could continue to afford to feed my kids
and develop enough stress dealing
with Congress, the agencies and the Administration to earn a quadruple bypass
operation in February...all for
about $30,000 a year.
I'd do this for nothing if I could pay the mortgage and put food on the table.
As a result, the FWFSA has to work longer and harder to get the access and
support of Congress. It is a VERY
expensive business to be in. We are a non-profit organization as well. I've got
the best job in the world...course
banging my head against a log home has also taken its toll.
||Number of crews -- Stats
Sorry, you don’t get a free pass on misinformation. The Forest Service had great
plans in 2000 to
fully staff the long-awaited National Fire Plan. It never happened.
According to a recent Webex recording on the WFLLC website:
In the 1970s and ‘80s, there were from 1100 to 1300 20 person agency
From 1994 to 2000, there were 600 to 700 agency and contract fire crews.
In 2008, there were 375 to 400 crews available for fire assignments, of which
were contract crews. (quoted source: Kim Christensen, NICC Coordinator)
To answer your question, my Forest Service has less than one fifth the number of
fire crews it had
during the 1970s.
||Coverup of Entrapment of Dozer operator in Texas
There's a coverup of an entrapment going on in Texas. Should of been a after
action review, but nada.
No one died this time but had they died people would of been at risk legally,,,
forget the stupido out in
front of the head on his cat. How do you protect yourself from future stupidness
if there's no AAR?
Why isn't the TFS talking about it? It's just shutup and move on.
I heard the FS Union initiated some action with Congress. Don't know what
could come of that, if anything. If you or anyone anyone want to lay out the
salient facts here, we're willing to listen and discuss. Would be better if it
was done with those involved or if you filed a
Safenet, which can be
done anonymously. Maybe one has been filed if the FS Union is involved. Haven't
looked. Good for those who speak up. Ab.
Your latest post was the exact style of response that drives people who have
been communicating openly and honestly on this forum, as well as behind the
scenes for years into hiding. It derails years of steady progress back into the
stone ages. Was that your intent?
Let me correct you again.... Casey Judd is an employee and member of the
FWFSA... not a contractor for the FWFSA nor for the federal land management
agencies. He has a monthly paycheck as well as a monthly health insurance
stipend provided entirely by our dues paying members. When you look at the small
monthly dues amount that folks pay each pay period... and the caliber of
representation we get from Casey..... that should give you an idea of our dues
paying membership strength and numbers. It is substantial and recognized.
Secondly, you showed disrespect again to Misery Whip who has been contributing
for years both here on They Said as well as in his "real world" job . Your
"post" without knowing anything about him by calling him "Mistry Whip" was poor
taste and uncalled for. I hope that was unintentional and a typo.
The FWFSA is strong and growing. We are not anti-contractor nor anti-cooperator
nor anti AD as some rally to propose that occasionally here on They Said. We are
representing entirely the views of our membership in improving the safety,
effectiveness, and efficiency of the federal wildland fire program, while
improving the pay, benefits, and working conditions for all federal wildland
If you have questions or comments, please contact any FWFSA Board of Directors
member or Casey Judd, Business Manager/Advocate/Legislative Affairs Specialist.
If you are not a dues paying member but a supporter, please consider joining the
I'm hoping for a positive response.
/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA)
||Photos by Mike Meadows of the La Brea Fire air and ground attack on
Airtankers 30 and
Engines 24 and
Helicopters 27 photo pages.
Hotlist thread on La Brea
Thanks, Mike. Nice! Ab.
||Punching Bags, Stone Walls and Alligators
Yes, I hear your collective pain. It is a long, heart wrenching moan that has
been building in intensity and volume for years. And it is shared by many – from
the ground firefighter all the way up to the WO. Remember, I have been
personally thrown to the ground and stomped on by this agency myself…
repeatedly. However, my anger rises to the point of speaking when you and
others, worn out from beating at the organizational stone gates, turn your
negative mob-like energy on the private fire service, like somehow that’s going
to make you feel better.
I just observed my brother doing a “Managing Emotions Under Pressure” workshop.
One concept from that day that’s stuck with me is that it’s okay to be upset
over something. It’s just very important to assess the real issues behind it
that are making you angry, and then make sure your LEVEL of “upset-ness” is
reasonable, rather than out of scale with the situation or misdirected.
Also, the way you communicate belies the organizational culture in which you’ve
spent your career. In the Forest Service you are taught to mistrust. You are
taught that you, as an individual, are unimportant, and that your ideas are only
worthy if they align with the powers that be…whatever that is at the moment. You
are politically brutalized and taught that you are being closely watched and
that you can and will be punished. That is painful…and brutal… and occurs daily.
But, it is not unique to the Forest Service. The weight and consistency of it
wrings the soul to the point that even the IDEA of professional creativity, TRUE
civility, collective respect and any kind of hope in lasting, productive,
dramatically FABULOUS organizational change are just empty words on a page.
I’m going to tell you something, Misery… it’s all possible.
I too remember the Forest Service when it was a respectable, proud, and
EFFECTIVE organization. It’s INSPIRED PEOPLE that make that a reality.
Hatefulness, bitterness and misplaced aggression are useful only in further
organizational decay. This may sound like a platitude but we’re ALL in this
together. The Forest Service isn’t a “stand alone” citadel. And you are not
alone in your office. We are ALL here. We are ALL involved in creating this
reality – glorious or brutal; effective or circling the drain. By drawing a line
around the castle and building a moat, you’re as likely to be eaten by your own
alligators as those you’re trying to keep away from the castle gates. You could
be really surprised at the gifts that might appear if you just unhitch the lock.
You have to let it in… to receive it.
This is why I embrace you, Casey, the Forest Service… all of it… because I know
that I am responsible and accountable for the change that I think is so
necessary. I will not look away. I will not throw my arms in the air in futility
or cry the victim wail in retreat. And I don’t think you should either, Misery
Whip. What a waste of your intellect and heart. You were given great gifts. Use
This will be my last post on this subject for now. I have better use of my
Shari, one point that Misery Whip, Hugh, Walt, and many others have raised
repeatedly is that the FS "powers that be" are unloading the RISK of fighting
fires onto the private sector firefighters, squeezing them for the lowest cost,
which puts pressure on some to cut corners wherever they can. FS managers did
this for years with the Air Tanker community who are also contractors in a high
risk business. They did this and do this with Timber Fallers, as you know
another high risk group, even when you employ highly experienced industry
fallers. (By the way, congrats on the national contract.)
Thank goodness for a professional organization like the
NWSA whose members work at
In my opinion, recent FS managers have used the R6 contracting model as
one way to divest themselves of RISK and associated financial costs. Systemic
risk inherent in the contracting model (and described in the Swiss Cheese Model
of Accident Causation) now becomes the responsibility of those that might be
pressured to let RISK increase if it's too costly to keep it low and win a
contract. Ironically, it also puts the FS in the position of having to police
the many, many private sector companies beyond what they currently seem capable
of doing. There's a cost with that, too.
One RISK that I don't hear being addressed is the risk of criminal
litigation in the eventuality of accidents involving contracted and/or retired
fire managers: Division Supes, Branch Directors, Safety Officers, ATGS etc that
don't have access to reasonably-priced FEDS Professional Liability Insurance.
When the Sikorski-61 hard landed/crashed on the Backbone Fire, what did the FS
do but hustle the LEOs into action, in spite of the fact that the NTSB had the
lead! Same with the helirappel accident. Saner WO heads prevailed. I hate to be
a broken record, but in my opinion, the private sector should also be thinking
of and obtaining Professional Liability Insurance from an experienced legal
group (like FEDS) -- but to remain competitive, the financial pressure will be
to do otherwise. It's a complicated web.
This will be my last comment on this as well.
PS Thanks to the FS Risk Management Group and the Safety Officers out
there. You all perform a critical service.
||Temporary Employees and Term Employees
I have a question regarding Temporary Employees and Term Employees that I hope
someone can clarify for me that has baffled me from the point of fairness. My
point of discussion is slightly outside of the wildland area, but my Federal HR
department through the NPS made a decision that affect me and my co-workers
We have a man who was hired as a Temporary GS-9 Firefighter/Paramedic who has
been in the position for less than two years. He applied for a Term GS-9./1
Firefighter/Paramedic position but did not do the application properly and he
was not selected. He then applied for a Term GS-7/1 Firefighter/Driver position
and was put in that position instead. However, the man was granted "safepay"
equal to a GS-7/9 because of his specialized skill set, which is a Paramedic.
However, he has said that he will not act as a Paramedic in his GS-7/9 position
because he "is working outside of his appropriate grade of GS-9/1, and because
of the grade change he is not allocated the same protections that a GS-9/1
Paramedic position entails.
The problem is that I have worked in this department as a GS-7
Firefighter/Driver for ten years now, my evals have been Above Average and
Superior each year, and I am currently a GS-7/6 at this time. This man does not
have the experience as a firefighter, let alone a driver, to fill the position
at that level.
I questioned this with my Human Resources Department and their opinion is that
this man is entitled to the safe pay because he should not lose pay by moving to
a lower position. The fact is he screwed up the application process, they
slipped him into another job to keep him on, and when he said he would not
function as a Paramedic at that level rather than make him a GS-7/1, they gave
him safepay to the GS-9/1 level, which was a GS-7/9.
The HR department is standing by that position, regardless of how many years I
have been on the job in the position, stating he is entitled to have his pay
I questioned my Human Resources Department and asked about it, citing that I
have been working successfully as a GS-7 Firefighter/Driver for ten years, with
evaluations in the Above Average to Superior rating for my time there.
Our employees Union fought it and was told the same thing.
Here is the problem that the HR would not address: If an employee is temporary,
meaning no benefits and no step raises reserved for permanent, and is not
serving at the same level of responsibility, and is moved to a lower position of
responsibility he is not qualified to fill (ie a Driver Position), then why is
he entitled to being granted a Term Position that is listed as a GS-7/1
Entry-level position as a GS-7/9?
In my years of working seasonally for the US Forest Service and BLM, and then
three years as a temporary firefighter for the Department of Defense, I never
received a step-raise in my GS-5 level at any of those times. When I became a
Permanent GS/7 Firefighter/Driver I started, with a high level of experience, as
a GS-7/1, not as a GS-7/4 if you counted my previous government temporary
I remember people I worked with who were temporary GS-5 and GS-6 wildland
firefighters who were offered positions in the JAC Program who were dropped down
to a GS-4 position for a Permanent Slot, but they were not made GS-4/7s to make
for safepay, they were made GS-4/1s, and when they received permanent status
they moved up to the GS-5/1 level.
Its my understanding that Temporary Firefighters, wildland or structure, have no
status until they become Term or Permanent employees. What entitles a Temporary
Employee to retain their pay level if they are taking a step down to obtain a
Term Status at a lower grade?
I understand that when a Permanent GS-0081 or GS-462 Firefighter is forced to
take a demotion, not due to conduct or performance, but due to Reduction In
Force (RIF) or base closer (BRACS) that safe pay is granted to the employee
because of the involuntary nature of the demotion. I saw this happen with
firefighters I know through the Department of Defense who had thier base closed,
found another job at another DoD base, and maintained their pay level because
they were forced out. That to me is fair. But those kind of Personnel actions
were related to people who had Status, and Temporary Employees do not have
I kept reviewing this over and over and I can only conclude that the Human
Resources Office made the wrong call.
They won't back down on the decision, but it is a slap in the face to all the
Firefighter/Drivers in my department who have been here longer than this guy has
and have earned the step raises we have.
What is the opinion of those in this forum about this matter? And does anyone
know of a Direct Phone Number to the Office of Personnel Management that can act
on matters such as this? Thank you.
For Shari, RW and all the other non-fed contracting folk.
I agree with you in the sense that this website is called Wildlandfire.com,
so the issues you bring up should be taken into account. I personally don't
think the criticism you are getting is 100% warranted. Maybe just 50%, lol.
However, if you are seeking approval and respect from the FWFSA membership, you
probably won't get it largely due to the fact that the fed firefighter has quite
alot on our plates these days. There are tons of political and bureaucratic
reasons that you don't get the respect you seek,,,, to numerous to name,,,, but
in a sense, the fed also has to deal with such issues. As Misery stated in his
last post, the recently departed leadership with-in the FS and FAM has dug such
a deep hole, we can't even see the topsoil.
In conclusion, I don' think the resistance you are receiving would be so great
if the fed workforce wasn't in such a demoralizing hole itself.
P.S. Shari,, I did read, re-read, walk away, come back and read again. I think
it's ok to send.
"It is no secret that the Forest Service has been on a downhill slide for
the past 20 years. For the past 8 years,
weak Forest Service management dominated by Mark Rey ran the agency into the
ground. Our firefighting
organization has never been lower in numbers and leadership, not to mention
And the running down of contractors will not fix one issue you stated misery
I guess we as contractors need a forum of our own. The anti firefighter rhetoric
gets a bit disheartening. CDF
doesnt like USFS, USFS doesnt like CAL FIRE and no one likes the contractors.
seems we all do the same
job with the same inherent risks.
I for one am not going to bash anyone. I believe we all have a place and that
the battling and rhetoric here is
getting a bit redundant. Every year its " the bad contactor" or the "bad forest
service". Maybe we could set up
a separate forum for "redundant rhetoric"?
I for one respect all of you. And I know if we have worked together you will
respect what I have to offer to the
Contract Crew Boss
||<snip> I would like to thank Shari D. for her support and yes the comments
she lined out were the ones I took as badmouthing the contractors.
I do appreciate the passion that Casey has for the cause he is contracted to
Many of the contractors and the majority of the people that lead contract
resources and manage their companies are X fed employees. When people leave the
agency they don,t forget all they learned on the fire ground they pass it along.
Many contractors serve as the test tube parents for the up and coming fire
fighters that go to the agencies. I know of a few contractors that have raised
up fire fighters that are now smokejumper, hotshot Forman, squad leaders and the
new apprentices. They got their training and experience on the ground burning
and fighting fire with contractors.
Mistry Whip: I'm not sure what Forest Service you are from? The Forest Service
fire program is as big as it has ever been. There are more Engines, Hotshot
crews and type 2 IA crews than ever. Did you hear about the MEL program or what
ever they call it now?
Here is a concept for you. How about contractors being cooperators to the
Federal agencies. I know that the feds engage in cooperative agreements
(contracts) with state and local agencies that charge the F.S. and us taxpayers
an arm and both legs to have them on the National forest fires.
Training NWCG is the National standard, (unless your a state cooperator). If
there are contractors that don't meet the training requirement its the Forest
Services contractual responsibility to check. If there are contractors that are
not providing the quality of service you want document it and get rid of them.
Don't just complain!
I haven't heard any contractors saying that they should take over, I think they
want to be treated like they are a part of the solution.
I know you’re riled up, but so am I, and so are many other feds. It is no secret
that the Forest Service has been on a downhill slide for the past 20 years. For
the past 8 years, weak Forest Service management dominated by Mark Rey ran the
agency into the ground. Our firefighting organization has never been lower in
numbers and leadership, not to mention morale.
We have a brand new chief, but the Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management
program is still a demoralized, downsized, and dysfunctional organization that
is steadily becoming less competent and more dangerous. I believe people have
already died and will continue to die because of deliberate management decisions
made in recent years. Wildland fire fatalities, costs, and acres burned are all
steadily increasing. Are those good enough reasons to get riled up?
I never said nor intended to suggest that you, VA, RW56, or other contractors
don’t have a right to post on this site. I just meant that this site has become
one of the few trustworthy information sources for thousands of federal
firefighters, so when someone comes out of left field and takes an uninformed
swipe at Casey, then finishes it with the standard complaint about how great and
underappreciated contractors are, they had better expect some responses. You
came to RW56’s defense with some hot rhetoric and cherry-picked facts to support
your side of the argument, so I responded.
The problem with trying to debate this subject with you and other contractors on
They Said is that the relevant issues are so complex and require so much
explanation in detail that we could probably go on like this for weeks and not
accomplish much. I honestly don’t have the time for it or the desire to do it.
I’ll be in the office this week if you want to call about having a beer some
evening. Ken, I promise I’ll be civil and on my best behavior so you won’t have
to whoop my ass.
Shari , you really should go visit Casey soon; I think you hurt his feelings by
making me a better offer.
||FIRE INVESTIGATORS DETERMINE CAUSE OF LA BREA FIRE
GOLETA, CA... A week-long investigation by U.S. Forest Service Special Agents,
Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Narcotics Unit and Fire Investigators has
revealed the cause of the La Brea Fire. Investigators revealed that the La Brea
Fire was started by a cooking fire in a marijuana drug trafficking operation.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Narcotics Unit has confirmed that the camp at
the origin of the fire was an illegal marijuana operation believed to be run by
a Mexican National Drug Organization. The Narcotics Unit has been working in the
area within the last month eradicating other nearby marijuana cultivation sites.
||New Main page photo and also on the Wallpaper page:
Yuba Fire, August
2009: Yuba Fire from my living room deck 8/15/09. Photo compliments of
||Mr Vilsack's new direction
Still Out There as an AD,
I couldn’t agree more with your suggestion that the Secretary of Agriculture
should endorse geospatial technologies to help firefighters do a better job.
Speaking of Presidential Cabinet members… it was this time last year when the
Secretary of the Interior was the keynote speaker at the largest GIS conference
in the world and got the audience all fired up over his support (www.esri.com/news/releases/08_3qtr/kempthorne_speaker.html).
It was an inspiring speech and made me proud to remember that I once worked
indirectly for the man.
Unfortunately, Secretary Kempthorne is no longer with us and in the past year,
how many BLM/NPS engines or command vehicles (not counting the ones in the CA
Desert District) do you see on the fireline with wireless communications and
ruggedized laptops to obtain updated fire perimeter maps, the latest fire
weather forecast and can keep track of all the other resources committed to the
incident? Just like everything else in wildland fire management, I believe that
technological innovation begins at the ground level and when the demand is
strong enough to convince decision makers this is what’s needed, it happens.
Tactical applications of Class A foam is a good example. Nobody uses straight
water to suppress wildfires nowadays. But it wasn’t the Secretary of Agriculture
or Interior that wrote a policy stating you WILL put soap in your water to fight
wildfires. No, it was engine captains who learned that the foam will make their
500 gallon tank just as effective as a 1500 gallon water tender. Hotshot crews
realized that it’s a lot faster to penetrate the fuels with a foam solution
during mop up and you don’t have to hump a 5-gallon backpack pump up the
mountain as often. First responders loved hoselays that weighed hardly anything
because it contained 60% air if the engine was running CAFS (I often wondered if
a helium compressor could be used to float the crew to the top of the hill…).
It’s not very difficult to learn. It was good to see SNF Engine 52 and their
Division Chief attend the Military Aircraft Mishap Search and Rescue Seminar
this week at the Minarets Work Center in the Sierra National Forest. I don’t
know if they had planned to participate or read my recent invitation on the
Hotlist suggesting that fire crews learn something useful instead of sitting
around the station complaining that nothing is burning. Doesn’t matter, they
came and learned how to safe an ejection seat and how to recognize other hazards
associated with downed military aircraft. We also demonstrated simple,
affordable data collection methods using a GPS enabled digital camera. Everyone
can take pictures of their kids, right? You don’t even need to know how to spell
“GIS” to accurately document the location where all the airplane parts were
found, for example, and determine which were hazardous throughout the debris
field. Prohibitive costs are no longer an excuse not to use the technology. It
is commonplace to see GPS used for navigation and mapping fire perimeters now
and almost every firefighter carries a cell phone. We’ve discussed on this
website how easy it is to transmit your position and take georeferenced digital
photos of the scene using cell phones. When working in a cellular dead zone you
can keep track of all your resources using a GPS enabled radio
speaker/microphone that works on ANY frequency and ANY radio you currently use
in your system. Even the Secretary of Agriculture can be trained to use it in a
five minute briefing. Are you willing to teach him?
That’s the challenge I’m giving to you and any reader of wildlandfire.com. I’m
just this Fire Geek, you know, but I’ll help supply you with presentations, case
studies, documentation and any support you need to make a difference. If you
have been keeping up with the Australian Royal Commission investigation into the
2009 Black Saturday bushfires, you’ll know their preliminary report will be
released next week. Many of the Victoria emergency service agencies aren’t
waiting for the Commission recommendations and are now planning to implement
geospatial technologies to be better prepared for the next big one. I hope it
doesn’t take 173 fatalities for that change to occur in this country.
I don't know if you would want to post this somewhere or not. Some people
weren't able to access the Tepesquet Peak
webcam yesterday. I think this was taken from Tepesquet Peak or somewhere
nearby. About 1:50 min into the video,
as the camera pans left, you can see the tower that was on the webcam.....
there's music, too, so turn up your speakers
a little bit.
Thanks. Lots of fires burning. Ab.
||re: Vilsack's speech
"With over 80% of the forest area in the United States outside of the
National Forest System, the new vision seeks to increase public-private
cooperation regarding the conservation and restoration practices to
non-federal forests - state, tribal and private forest lands. The
Administration's plan calls for the U.S. Forest Service to play a leading
role in the development of new markets to sustain the economic viability of
forest stewardship and provide landowners with economic incentives to
maintain and restore forests."
What is he saying here, that the FS can't do it alone and the only way to get
everybody on board is to bribe them?
I'm glad he's willing to say that private land owners need to start taking some
responsibility in proper land management, but good luck getting every land owner
in America on board with the Forest C<snip>'s new direction.
There is a set of rules for agency and a set of rules for contractors. The
agency is charged with inspecting equipment, interpreting,
and enforcing rules when using contractors. This is a major distraction from
their point of view, I'm sure. They would be smart to
use a liaison who knows the rules in the contracts so fire can do their job.
Contractors are treated like an outsiders and It's hard to stay in the loop as
an outsider. Simple things like getting your task book
initialized turned into a major headache for me. Red Cards issued by the owner
of the company is so inconsistent that it's scary!
It's a fair question to ask, who issued your card. It would be nice if the
agency would spend a little to train and card ALL
firefighters to the same standards.
The agency shovels liability off on contractors, contractors pass the load to
their employees such as the 1099 route and get your
Misery Whip is right on about feast or famine. Good people find other work so
it's hard on contractors to keep a good crew
together. I feel safer when you think as a crew! BUT IT'S TOO
MUCH TROUBLE FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH! TOO MUCH CHAOS OUT
THERE! I called it quits in 2008, It's a safety thing!
Contract; air support, timber fallers, food etc., but crews really need to be in
the loop if they are going to have it together. Companies
like Grayback have a good reputation, so do some individual crews, but it's
really hard to put a good crew together in such an
||Percent of FS employees taking part in fire:
I read something yesterday,
took me 24 hrs to regain consciousness, that only 9% of USFS employees
are taking part in Fire! Can this be a good figure?
Guess, I am really in shock, forgot my name. OOFG
||OK wait a minute Shari,
Misery Whip (I don't even know who they are) gets DINNER!!! and I only get beer
I know where I stand...
||Mr Vilsack's new direction:
Um, Mr. Vilsack, all but one of your bullets
had to do with water, and the National Forests
have been concerned about providing clean water to the nation for most, if not
all, of their
existence -- what's new? Why don't you come into the 21st century and promote
really new, such as embracing the emerging technologies to do our jobs better.
incredible work that's going on right now to produce a common operational
picture in real
time out on the fire line. Great stuff.)
Still Out There as an AD
Here is the updated Pandemic Plan. The main change is
saying we will follow the direction of each
local county health department during a Pandemic event and encouraging
each safety Officer to
start building that bridge now.
The Union wanted a current signature not 2006, so now we are current.
Pandemic Plan 2009
no name provided
Very well said. I couldn't agree more.
||Lack of support for Contractors on Fire:
Don't suffer any misapprehension at all, you've made it abundantly clear in the
past that contractors will find no sympathy from you or other posters on this
forum. No need to beat a dead horse.
Contractors form an adjunct resource in times when a fire season has grown
beyond the ability of the government to manage it. Contractors work to support
the effort of the truly excellent, and talented agency crews that do the
majority of the work in these instances. Anyone would be insane to suggest that
emergency services and fire suppression should be the primary responsibility of
private companies. Contractors are there for support, a backup resource to be
called in times of need.
What is up with the utter lack of respect contractors continue to receive from
the fire community? The number one priority of most of the contract crews I have
worked with is to provide as good a service as possible for the best price
possible. This may come as a surprise to you but the vast majority of the good
people who make up these crews are actually guided by ethics, and a willingness
to help. They are NOT the greedy profiteering, ill-trained wannabes that they
are often portrayed as.
Incidentally I thought this was a forum for all wildland firefighters. I
supposed what you mean, Misery Whip, is that it is a forum for what you consider
to be real wildland firefighters. Since contractors can't fit in that definition
I suppose we'd better just butt out.
I mean, I know for sure that I can never expect your support. Can I?
||Values, Friends, French Fries:
I knew your post was coming and actually knew 90 percent of what it was going to
In an attempt to keep this debate organized:
1) I have never asked for your sympathy, nor expected it. That suggestion is
repugnant to me.
a. I have been in and around the Forest Service and fire for over 30 years, as
have MANY business people now working in the private fire service. We know the
reality of feast or famine. Having four children to feed throughout the cycles
has taught me a lot. I do not blink away tears when companies, or federal
workers, choose another industry in which to work. It’s reality.
2) I am weary of the suggestion that I have “thrown in” with anyone. We are a
private fire service company and there is no way to separate us out and suggest
we’re NOT a private fire service company. It’s a relationship that has developed
over a decade. I’m proud to be a part of the private fire service. I’m proud of
my peers. But, mostly, I’m honored to have mentors within BOTH the private fire
service and federal fire service ranks.
a. Misery Whip, I could point to “mistakes” you may have made in the past by
your choices and chosen alliances (based on my own position) but I don’t and
won’t. I’ll just observe and take note.
3) I did not build an organization with the intent or objective of being
“solely” dependent on fire. The intent and objective was primarily to provide
timber fallers with extended work opportunities through the summer season when
they are often unemployed.
a. It does appear the Forest Service has become dependent on wildland fire,
however. As a girl who has spent a great majority of her life in and around
forests throughout the West, I sure miss seeing it cared for.
4) I have found They Said to be a valuable forum for discussing these exact
issues. I have talked with the Abs and do not get the idea that they created
They Said as a private playground for federal agency workers. (Abs, please feel
free to correct me.)
a. I believe that idea suggests close mindedness, and the need for MORE dialog
with the private fire service, not less.
5) The Forest Service continues to vacillate back and forth between working with
the private fire service and not working with the private fire service. The
private fire service emerged out of the idea that the federal and state land
management agencies wanted and needed augmented firefighting assistance. The
private fire service didn’t birth itself, Misery.
a. You’ve used your response to my post as platform to attack your own agency
for this decision… by attacking the private fire service. (As my daughter would
say… “I’m just sayin’ is all…”)
b. I agree with two of your points:
i. The Forest Service should strengthen its workforce and support its ground
level firefighters with training, and year-round project work. (Were you saying
this? I thought so. But, I had to infer meaning where it got fuzzy.)
ii. The Forest Service should rethink the VALUE of integrating forest health and
management with firefighting by building an organizational structure that
understands FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY, SOCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY, and its rightful place
as an organization that was first and foremost created to protect our public
lands and SERVE THE PUBLIC. (Which is why it’s called public service.)
c. I vehemently disagree with two of your points:
i. Using the term “welfare for the distressed west” is a statement that belongs
in the garbage can, Misery. I’ll point it out simply to kick it to the curb. I
expect better from you. Come on…bad form.
1. Transporting out of region federal resources (with the corresponding
roundtrip transportation costs, leaving home units and work unfilled and undone,
and LACK OF FAMILIARITY WITH WESTERN GEOLOGY/TERRAIN & TREE SPECIES) and leaving
KNOWLEDGEABLE, PREPARED, PROFESSIONAL private fire service resources sitting and
people unemployed does not create VALUE for the government. It can in no way be
misconstrued as being “in the best interest of the government.” That, Misery, is
absurdity in its pure form.
2. Case in point…we have seen FelBs and B Level fallers shipped from the east
and southeast TO BE IN CHARGE OF commercial fallers raised in these Western
woods. VALUE? I think not.
6) I know how you feel about our organization and what we do. Thank you, but I’m
still riled, and this is why:
a. In the Forest Service’s quest to bolster itself financially, we have been
directly affected by the “demob and non-hire of contractors” in R-5. Fallers
(via faller modules from ALL vendors) are sitting for the most part. Valuable
side-by-side skill & knowledge transfer opportunities are being missed RIGHT
NOW. Seasoned (and wildland fire prepared) commercial timber fallers could be
working beside agency sawyers RIGHT NOW. But they’re not. Because, as you say,
the agency is doing what it needs to do to STRENGTHEN itself and its workforce.
Give me a break, Misery. Field mentoring for young agency sawyers is what is
going to KEEP THEM ALIVE so they CAN become your agency’s leaders in 20 years.
7) I’ll be in Missoula Sunday night, returning to Oregon Wednesday. Want to have
dinner? I like that little “Friends” café downtown. They have fries to DIE for.
||The Krassel Memorial is tomorrow. Scroll down to 8/12 for info. Heard
from Vicki tonight. She's is heading up there.
On another topic:
The Wildland Firefighter Foundation needs people to donate enough air
miles to get three
Iron 44 Family people round-trip tickets to the National Fallen Firefighter
Memorial Event in
Southwest or Alaska Airlines will work. Vicki says Southwest is preferred.
Please call the WFF if you have air miles to share.
Phone: (877) 336-2950
info@ nospam wffoundation.org
Thanks, everybody. Ab.
||Contractors on Fire
Sorry, but if you and RW56 are looking for sympathy for contractors, I think you
came to the wrong website. From my perspective, all your recent posts have done
is focus attention on why it is a bad idea to contract out a large portion of
the wildland firefighting workforce.
Wildland firefighting will always be a feast or famine occupation, and there are
very few organizations that are capable of sustaining a high-performing
workforce when there is no need for your services and no income coming in. Most
contractors, especially the smaller ones, don’t have the resources to keep
people paid, trained up, properly equipped and mentally engaged through one or
two slow fire seasons. This is one of those years.
That is just one of the many reasons why fighting fires on federally protected
lands should be done by a workforce made up of mostly government employees, and
why it is entirely proper to bring in federal employees from other parts of the
country to fight fires instead of hiring much more expensive local contractors.
We already paid for the salaries of our federal firefighters, why shouldn’t we
utilize them and give them more experience so they can become better future fire
leaders? Plane tickets are cheap.
You seem to suggest that this argument about VALUE should revolve around whether
agencies get a break by using contractors so they don’t have to support
employees in the off-season. There is much more at stake than immediate costs
for an organization that has a standing commitment to field a high-functioning
workforce now and 20 years into the future, the long-term effects also need to
be considered when determining the real value of such strategies. The notion
that we should treat firefighting as a welfare program for financially troubled
parts of the west and put aside our own pressing needs to continue as a viable
firefighting organization is absurd.
I’ve said something similar to this to you previously on this site, and it still
holds. I respect the NW Timber Fallers organization. If I was Chief, I’d try to
hire the whole lot of you to work for the government full time and teach our
future firefighters how to be safe cutters. But I think you made a mistake by
throwing in with the contract engine and crew community. Contracted faller
modules provide a highly specialized service that the Forest Service is
currently incapable of providing for itself. The same cannot be said for
contract engines and handcrews.
||A Wonderful Site
Just wanted to tell you that your firefighter site is the best. I have been
retired from CDF for 10 years now
(FireCaptain-CDF Lake-Napa, 32 years service) and when the skies fill with
smoke, I still get ancy and have
to know whats going on. Your site answers my questions and settles my nerves.
Thank you again.
Our members make it what it is. Thanks, Phil. Ab.
||Red Lights and Sirens
In addition to the safety aspects that have already
been mentioned, we discovered the lightbar to be the perfect place to duct tape
a radio for better reception while parked in a fringe area (see attached). When
we first started to map wildfires in real-time in 2005, we didn’t have any
external antennas that would fit the digital radios. I know it looked pretty
tacky but it made a difference as the roof served as a good ground plane. The
data cable between the lightbar mounted radio and the vehicle mounted laptop was
just the right length to reach.
Of course it’s better just to purchase a temporary mag-mount roof antenna and
safer in case you forget to remove the radio before driving away or responding
to the next call. It also identifies you to the whole world that a Fire Geek is
parked on scene.
Lightbar.wmv (4387 K wmv file)
||Fire inside the wilderness fought with MIST, moving outside:
issue ever been addressed here?
I don't want to start an argument/op ed piece but: It seems that we are having
more and more large wildfires starting within wilderness areas, gaining momentum
while the use of mechanized equipment is restricted, and then crossing out of
the wilderness before being controlled. The Zaca was a good example of this as
it took off thru a small area of unsecured line and then burned all summer.
The ongoing fire could well do the same and may be in the headlines the rest of
the season. I know the Los Padres has always had large fires but it seems
ridicules when you think of the amount of this Forest that is Wilderness. If you
add the area the fire that started near Interstate 5 and burned nearly to Ojai a
few years ago it adds up to a lot of burned area. I think we would be astounded
at the total acreage, especially if you add that of fires in the Ventana
The wilderness idea has been a good one and I know crew safety and rugged
country add up to extended fires. (I spent 3 weeks in the back country on the
Coyote fire in 1964 - learned to love Pendola and Hildreth Peak) I sometimes
wonder though, if we continue to not allow mechanized equipment that we should
just build large fuel/fire breaks around the wilderness areas and let er rip if
something gets going.
Tying up resources all summer, each year, seems a foolish way to go. Areas are
stripped with the costs going up and up. I realize the La Brea fire started in a
remote area and really got with the program, so maybe nothing could have safely
Anyhow - just my 2 cents.
AGRICULTURE SECRETARY VILSACK ANNOUNCES NEW
DIRECTION AND VISION FOR AMERICA'S FORESTS
SEATTLE, August 14, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today outlined
his vision for the future of our nation's forests. In his first major speech
regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service, Vilsack set forth
a new direction for conservation, management, and restoration of these natural
"Our nation's forestlands, both public and private, are environmental and
economic assets that are in critical need of restoration and conservation," said
Vilsack. "By using a collaborative management approach with a heavy focus on
restoring these natural resources, we can make our forests more resilient to
climate change, protect water resources, and improve forest health while
creating jobs and opportunities."
Climate change, catastrophic fires, disease and pests have all led to declining
forest health in recent decades. The resulting impact on watersheds, the
climate, local economies, wildlife, and recreation, has led the USDA to offer a
new vision for our nation's forests. By taking forest management in a new
direction, the Department will emphasize the role our national forestlands play
in contributing to the health and prosperity of the country and reverse the
trend of declining forest health.
"Declining forest health and the effects of our changing climate have resulted
in an increasing number of catastrophic wildfires and insect outbreaks," said
Vilsack. "It is time for a change in the way we view and manage America's
forestlands with an eye towards the future. This will require a new approach
that engages the American people and stakeholders in conserving and restoring
both our National Forests and our privately-owned forests. It is essential that
we reconnect Americans across the nation with the natural resources and
landscapes that sustain us."
In addition, the new approach to managing our forests aims to secure the
nation's water supply. Watersheds with a large proportion of forest cover are
more likely to be associated with good water quality, with forests protecting
soil, moderating streamflow, supporting healthy aquatic systems, and sustaining
good water quality.
President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is one component of
this new direction that USDA has already begun to implement. Through the
Recovery Act, the Obama Administration is funding 512 projects that will create
jobs restoring our nation's private, state and national forests through
hazardous fuel reduction, forest health protection, rehabilitation, and hazard
mitigation activities. Nearly 170 of these projects will help maintain our
forests to reduce the potential for fires. Meanwhile, thirty of these projects,
funded at $57 million, will promote the development of biofuels from woody
biomass to help private sector businesses establish renewable energy
infrastructure, create green jobs and build a new, green economy for the 21st
The U.S. Forest Service manages national forests and grasslands encompassing 193
million acres of land, which is an area equivalent to the size of Texas. With
over 80% of the forest area in the United States outside of the National Forest
System, the new vision seeks to increase public-private cooperation regarding
the conservation and restoration practices to non-federal forests - state,
tribal and private forest lands. The Administration's plan calls for the U.S.
Forest Service to play a leading role in the development of new markets to
sustain the economic viability of forest stewardship and provide landowners with
economic incentives to maintain and restore forests.
National forestlands produce economic benefits from a diverse range of sources
including recreation and more than 200 hydroelectric plants operated in national
forest watersheds. With more than 192 million visitors to National Forests in
2008, local communities throughout the country benefit economically from those
who recreate on and near forestlands and high-quality water bodies protected by
A healthy and prosperous America relies on the health of our nation's forests:
- Nearly 87% of all of the country's fresh water supply originates from
forests and agricultural lands and more than 200 million people rely on
their drinking water from public and private forests and grasslands;
- 53% of the Nation's total water supply originates from public and
private forest lands;
- More than 900 cities rely on national forest watersheds;
- 3,400 public water systems serving 66 million people in 33 states are
supplied by watersheds with Forest Service land;
- Public and private forests in the 20 Northeastern and Midwestern States
help to protect more the 1,600 drinking water supplies supplying more than 4
trillion gallons per day to households of more than 52 million Americans;
- 80% of the forest area in the United States is outside of the National
- The estimated annual value of water from national forests for in-stream
uses is at least $3.7 billion.
See excerpts of Secretary Vilsack's speech online:"
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint
of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400
Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800)
795-3272(voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).
||Hey, the army is wiki-fying their field manuals. Next step for firefighting?
||Re: red lights and sirens
Sorry, but this is getting downright funny.
Granted, I've spent more years dropping PhosCheck on your light bars than
actually using them, but I'm going to put my 2 cents worth in on this anyway.
Back in 1976, as a rookie firefighter with (then) CDF/Riverside County, I had to
go through an EVOC....it wasn't called that back then, but you know what I mean.
Aside from the CDF training instructor, there were several CHP officers there to
instruct as well. The knowledge and training I gained were invaluable over the
years. Since leaving CDF and California, I've had the opportunity to serve
several communities as a volunteer firefighter and EMT over the years. I thought
this would be a good time to bring up some of the smarter and stupider ideas
concerning lights & sirens.
Every state is different regarding the use of these devices and there is no real
common ground here. California, for example, does not allow the use of red
lights and sirens by volunteers. In Nebraska, it's a mandatory thing. If you
don't own your own light bar and siren, one will be provided to you without
charge. Next door in Iowa, you can't use a siren but you can have a blue light.
Swing down to Arkansas and you can have a red light but no siren. South Dakota
says you can have a blue light...or a red one with a signed sheriff's permit
(but no siren). Some localities require you to have an electronic "air horn" and
One of the many things I remember one of my CHP instructors telling me was:
* 50% of the population is deaf -
* 50% of the population is blind -
* If you're rolling code, use both, that way everyone gets the message -
* Lights & sirens do NOT make you accident proof or entitle you to ruling the
* If you have an accident while rolling code, it's automatically your fault,
unless you're parked -
I used to get ribbed a lot from my co-conspirators as a volunteer, because aside
from a dash light (choose your color), I'd stick an amber fog light on the back
side rigged with a flasher. That kept me out of more trouble than one can
imagine even though some laughed at the idea. OK, so someone thought I was the
mail man...it got their attention didn't it? Point being, VISIBILITY will keep
Sure, it may be cool to cruise down the road rolling code, but I'd just as soon
not. After having the equipment installed in my personal vehicle for several
years, there's more risk than benefit. Just my opinion. Should marked emergency
vehicles be equipped with the goods? Absolutely.
We represent a service to the public, whether they actually understand it or
not. Lights & sirens are just another tool on the rig, nothing more - nothing
less. If there's nothing showing to the front of the vehicle, at least have
something to the rear. CYA! Now, just because there's an amber flashing on the
rear doesn't mean your 100% safe but it helps.
Removing the equipment from emergency vehicles is nothing more than a budget
measure and political games. Just wait until they have to bury another emergency
responder that would have never been run over had there been lights to warn an
on-coming driver (drunks not included).
||Re: Power and Leadership Quote/Poem
When I first saw this, I thought of the Forest Service <snip> and their
initial (and continued) struggles against the bureaucracy known as the Forest
Service. Folks were threatened with losing their jobs for breaking out of the
previous "norm" as "forestry tech's"... and some great Leaders stood up. The
Forest Service Honor Guard was born.
Today, the Forest Service Honor Guard is something we are all proud of. They
still get crap every now and then when they are activated and asked to Lead.....
and then challenged by bureaucratic "Line Officers".... but each time.... folks
are either forced to Lead or get outta the way.... This message is to <snip> and <snip> who
continue to provide challenges to the services that the FS Honor Guard provides,
as well as the follow up that the Wildland Firefighter Foundation provides to
This is a quote from an Apache Elder regarding the perils of power and
leadership. I found this quote while researching the Bailiff Fire of 1967, and
attempting to locate the family of fallen Firefighter Frank Rios from the Tohono
O'Odham Nation. [Ref. They Said (09/30/2008), (05/11/2008), (02/09/2007),
(12/20/2006), and (11/14/2006).] It is a part of the project to identify and
remember all wildland firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty since
1880, and recognize the losses endured by their families and friends.
The greatest thing a person can have is the Power.
It is scary.
This is the truth.
To live with Power is very challenging.
It's so potent you must be wary.
To have Power is a great responsibility.
It is scary.
You can choose to leave it alone or accept it. It's up to you.
The above quote is from the documentary series, American Experience: We
Shall Remain. From what I understand, it is a pretty well known quote within
the Apache Tribal Community. It certainly is a quote to Live By as wildland
firefighters. The Power is Compassion, and
Compassion Spreads Like
I wish you all the best.
Please..... Keep safe and those around you safer.
||Just Culture Public Course Announcement
“Upper Township mayor wants 'just
culture'...” (Press of Atlantic City, June 8, 2009)
Today’s headlines recognize the need for Just Culture. But how does an
organization make the change, especially in the current economic climate?
Aware of difficult economic times, Outcome Engineering invites you to begin your
Just Culture journey by attending the Just Culture Public Course and receiving a
free Just Culture Starter Kit that includes $3,000 worth of products and
training. The full course cost is only $695 per participant; we invite you to
bring your CEO/COO with you at no cost. If travel budget constraints pose a
barrier, the Just Culture Public Course is also available via live videocast.
Led by David Marx and Scott Griffith, the Just Culture Public Course will
introduce the cornerstones of a Just Culture, the Just Culture Algorithm, the
role of Event Investigation, Managerial Coaching and Mentoring, and more.
The Just Culture Public Course will be held
at the Hyatt Place Dallas/Grapevine Hotel.
Click here to download the information / registration packet.
Director of Operations
Curators of the Just Culture Community
I know the cost is high, but I'm hoping some of you will pick up the
gauntlet and go, to further educate all of us. Ab.
||Re: red lights and sirens
(Yes, these are my real initials.):
That post was hilarious! But just so everyone knows you were kidding, you
need to put a smiley face at the end..... : )
Haw Haw. Those are his real initials. His parents didn't know texting
would become popular in his lifetime. You notice he did not sign his moniker.
Too many people know it and would rib him. Ab.
||Ab, concerning red lights:
One night I was on a stretch of Interstate when I pulled over to the side of the
highway to look up a number and make
a cell phone call. I turned on my 4 way flashers, but for some reason did not
bother with the overhead lights. Traffic was
light so I didn't think to much about it until I noticed that nobody was
changing lanes to avoid me. All of that reflective
striping did not make any difference. I kicked on the overheads and all of the
traffic changed to the left hand lane as
they went by. This is an experiment that could be easily replicated.
I am not a big fan of sirens (I think that they are a necessary evil) but I love
my red lights for parking on the side of the
road. Any decision to change a policy in such a way as to decrease safety is
___________! (fill in the blank)
Dr. Z has way to much class to be involved in a decision like that one.
(Yes, these are my real initials.)
||R3 Lights and Sirens:
I have read the memo and some of the posts about
Region 3 moving forward with stopping the use of lights and sirens and not
having them installed on new vehicles. I find this absolutely ridiculous!! I am
with the agency and Yes, I do not have to use my lights or sirens regularly. I
do use my lights most often as a safety measure while working incidents on or
near the highway. Having official red lights help slow traffic down and let them
be aware that an incident is taking place. We do not use blue lights because the
country understands that is for law enforcement. We don't use amber lighting as
that is the mail man or a tow truck. We use red lights for our safety as this is
recognized in fire and emergency medical services.
Now I hope that an official from R3 is reading.....I do not use my fire
shelter regularly!! I never plan on using my fire shelter. Do you want to take
that away??!! This is the same way of thinking. We have lights and sirens to use
when we need them and we hire Engine Captains to create a safe environment out
of chaos. I have been with the agency long enough I know the response....we do
not want to give the impression that we are a municipal fire dept....blah blah
blah. I have heard that line before. It is 2009 not 1959.
Our personnel act and respond more in one day in a professional manner that
anyone probably ever did in our incipient stages. We respond to vehicle fires
that are threats to wildland and we are the first and maybe only fire truck that
is ever on scene. We assist in highway and road closures that now require us to
wear special vests. Homeland Security wants our people trained. What gives? To
move forward with this removal is a HUGE cheesehole that is probably indicative
of other larger holes in the cheese at levels in which this decision came from.
Line them up R3 and then place that blame as far down the ladder as you can when
something bad happens.
||re: Ernie Johnson and Ernie's Friend's Tribute
To Ernie's Friend:
Well and beautifully said.
Hugh Carson (Retired A/S Coord)
||Contractors on Fire
I would like to say that I appreciate being able to exchange messages with Casey
over really charged issues in a civil manner. I’ve had the privilege of visiting
with him in person, on the phone and via email. Each time our discussions have
centered on issues. That’s the only way to navigate, though I admit to
occasionally getting intense when I feel my position is being ignored. And I’ve
learned a lot over the years posting here on They Said (and getting the follow
up call from the Abs… “Are you SURE you want to post that?”)
For those of you out there who get an adrenaline headache when your finger gets
close to the “send” button, just think things through. Walk away. Then come back
and reread your email. You might even read it out loud. Or have someone else
read it before you send it. But, don’t wimp out and not engage because it’s
Now, Casey, thanks for the offline communication. But there’s a part of this
discuss I would like to keep out front here…You’d asked RW56 to point out
statements you’ve made that infer the position that private fire service
resources should be sidelined…and that they are more expensive than fed
From your recent post:
“Hopefully this means Mr. Moore and others are ‘getting it’ with respect to
strengthening the federal infrastructure to reduce the over reliance on
non-federal resources and save the tax payer serious sums of money.”
I understand the private fire service community interprets your statement to
include us. How could it not? Let’s be fair, here. So, addressing RW56 from the
position that he “misunderstood” your statements isn’t giving him a fair shake.
You also continue to refer to the cost comparison of fed resources to private
fire service resources by pointing to government funded reports with cloaked
methodology (not yours, theirs). If we aren’t comparing apples to apples, and
the methodology of the cost comparison process isn’t shared, I’m sorry, I’m the
first one who’s going to call foul.
From your recent post:
“That being said and to be candid, we believe federal wildfire dollars ought to
go to feds first...bottom line. Given the full spectrum of resources used, they
are overall less expensive and other reports, performed by the way in R6
validate that point.”
Casey, this position is NOT supported in R6, and I’ll show you why:
(From the Fiscal Year 2008 Large-Cost Fire Independent Review – Page 19)
(http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/publications/ilwc-panel/report-2008.pdf (huge 6.1meg
125 page pdf file))
“The other concern involves the cost of contract crews. Contract crews play
differing roles in fire suppression activities from state to state. In Oregon,
contract crew relationships and skills have developed over decades, and agency
fire managers generally see them as cost efficient. The use of contract crews in
Oregon permits the Forest Service to avoid training, liability and off-season
costs. In other regions, the fire managers we interviewed generally expressed
apreference for crews drawn from Forest Service employees and questioned
potential cost savings.”
Let’s pull out the salient point here… “The use of contract crews in Oregon
permits the Forest Service to avoid training, liability and off-season costs.”
Now, if you want to continue this conversation further, Casey, I should be in
Boise soon and I’ll bring a six pack of Fat Tire, my calculator and sharp
pencils. But before we write down anything we’ll have to agree on a “METHOD” to
adequately and fairly compare the true DIRECT costs involved, INCLUDING the
government’s DIRECT employee related costs for supporting people off-season.
Second - and this is what I’ve been trying to point out all along – making
statements such as “federal wildfire dollars ought to go to feds first...bottom
line” is a position statement that suggests that federal resources are the best
choice, EVERY SINGLE time, on EVERY SINGLE incident, in EVERY SINGLE region. And
I just don’t buy that. The fact that “federal wildfire dollars” are being spent
doesn’t support the idea that they should go first to federal agency workers.
Sorry, it sounds good. But, often, that’s not the best use of those dollars.
What makes sense is a collaborative use of the best resources and personnel
available at the time and at the place they are needed.
Case in point…in Northern California there are federal firefighting resources
from the East and South working on the home units of private fire service
contractors. These private fire service companies are high quality,
professional, and know the land. Many of them were born and raised there. Yet,
the agencies have paid big dollars to import other “federal resources” from
across the country to fight fire, leaving the local people sitting, unemployed,
their equipment (that the same agency initially agreed was valuable and
important in the overall wildfire fighting team approach) sits motionless. This
is fiscal insanity and social irresponsibility. It makes a mockery of the Forest
Service “Recovery efforts” which fundamentally were designed to put people back
to work….Why? So we wouldn’t lose our homes and businesses. Why? So, our local
economies and our communities could sustain us through the current economic
Now I realize Recovery Funds aren’t being used in the wildfire arena. I am
suggesting that the Forest Service shouldn’t even bother BEING involved in the
Recovery efforts with federal Recovery dollars, if they’re going to turn around
and make broad sweeping decisions that put hundreds of people out of work,
negatively affecting local economies and communities.
Casey, the idea that federal dollars “belong” to federal agencies by reason of
association, obligation or misconstrued logic will be challenged as long as I’m
standing. No offense, intended, sir. But, I’m a better business person than the
government. And I can prove it. If THAT’s a subject you’d like to chat about, I
might need to bring a half rack and get a taxi back to my hotel. You can buy the
||In memory of Ernie Johnson:
Where does time go? Four years have passed and
I am in shock that we that we lost Ernie Johnson, retiree from Olympic National
Forest on August 13th, 2005. I have seen many tragedies in my career - have
cried and grieved with everyone..... and yet every fire season it is Ernie and
his family that I think of. It is always the ones left behind that carry on so
bravely. Ernie has a beautiful family. I stare incredulously each year when I
get the Christmas cards of his adorable Grand kids growing up..... and I grieve.
I grieve for his friends, his family and his precious Grandkids who did not get
to spend the amount of time with their beloved Grandpa.
What was wonderful about Ernie was that he was so damn good at so many things.
He was an inventor. He was a leader. His crews loved him. His Incident
Management Team loved him. His Airspace Coordination family knew that we had
garnered a real jewel into our organization. His family loved him.... he was
funny, witty, naughty and the best story teller one could know. He'd get that
twinkle in his eyes and that funny smile and you knew that whatever he was going
to share was going to be good - very good.
So - it has been 4 years. There is no closure.... I learned that from the deaths
of my family members over the years. But we do learn to get up each morning and
live with the loss. The loss of a father, a husband, a co-worker, a friend, an
inventor, a leader and a grandfather.....
I will always be grateful to the Forest Service for bringing Ernie home with all
the decorum and honors of a returning hero. It was a typical rainy day on the
Olympic peninsula but the pilot and crew told us they could bring Ernie home. As
the skies momentarily opened up, that beautiful plane came in as the crowd lost
their ability to speak...... Tears were shed and we watched the pilot bring
Ernie home to his family and those he loved. The silence of those standing guard
in nomex, fire t-shirts and uniforms as they paid tribute when he came off that
airplane was numbingly beautiful.
After 30 years in Fire and Aviation, I am at an age where we lose our friends
and family. It is something that I am not comfortable with but I understand the
circle of life. And I carry on with my vow to remember my friends.... and so
today, as I do so often during the year, I remember our lost ones... and am
thankful that my life and the lives of so many other was enriched by the
friendship of Ernie Johnson.
Aug 12, 2009
Ernie's Memory Page
||Anyone able to comment on something passed on to me from a recent FS
"concerned only 9% of non-fire Forest Service employees are available for
any kind of emergency fire assignments"
Still Out There as an AD
Thanks much for sharing the Effect Measure article by Revere and your comments
regarding it. This is (another) one of
the reasons why this website is so valuable! As any of us that are on teams or
crews or groups who work together daily know,
strength comes in sharing of the minds, knowledge, and experience!
The first time I heard about the false negatives on the rapid tests it was 25%,
then jumped to 40%, then the CDC came out
with the presentation that I referenced with the more extreme numbers.
Meanwhile, stories have been circulating about people
that were diagnosed with pandemic H1N1 post mortem, which was then attributed to
being a cause of death. At times we have
to remember to put things into perspective and that article (and your comments)
served that purpose well.
||Krassel Memorial coming up on Saturday:
Please post as soon as possible.
MB (friend to a few of the fallen and ex-Payette National Forest firefighter).
USDA Forest Service
Payette National Forest
Contact: Laura Pramuk: (208) 634-0784, (208) 634-6945
Date: August 11, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dedication of Krassel Memorial To Take Place This Saturday
The dedication ceremony for a memorial honoring those killed during a helicopter
crash in 2006 will take place this Saturday, August 15, 2009. The memorial will
honor pilot Quinn Stone and passengers Monica Zajanc, Michael Lewis and Lillian
Patten all of whom were killed in the crash on the Payette National Forest near
the town of Yellow Pine on August 13, 2006.
The dedication ceremony will begin at 3:00 PM. Those planning to attend should
park at the East Fork South Fork Bridge construction area near the intersection
of South Fork Salmon River Road and East Fork South Fork Road no later than 2:30
PM. The ceremony should last about 45 minutes. Attendees are invited to the
Krassel Helibase at the Krassel Work Center at noon for a barbeque lunch prior
to the ceremony.
The East Fork South Fork Bridge area will be signed to direct visitors to the
river bank where rubber rafts will be stationed to ferry visitors across the
river. The memorial site is a quarter mile hike from the drop off point.
Attendees should wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for warm weather. The
dedication ceremony will take place rain or shine. Signs will be posted
throughout the area directing people to the memorial dedication site.
The memorial overlooks the crash site. A plaque embedded in a rock pedestal and
a bench will commemorate the accident and trees have been planted around the
site to aid the restoration of the area, which burned during the fires of 2007.
Donations to the memorial may be sent to: Wildland Firefighters Foundation,
Krassel Memorial Fund, 2049 Airport Way, Boise, ID 83705. Checks should be made
out to the Wildland Firefighters Foundation with “Krassel Memorial Funds”
written in the memo line.
Attendees may drive up the South Fork Salmon River Road via Warm Lake Highway
and park at the bridge construction site. Rafts will ferry attendees across the
river to the other side. The EFSF Bridge is in the process of being replaced.
Thanks to rmm for pointing out some of the characteristics of the Rapid Flu
Antigen Tests for detecting H1N1 (or any other) kind of flu.
And while his statistics are true, it's not completely accurate to say that
"most doctors are not aware of the false negatives being produced by these tests
and send patients away with an incorrect diagnosis."
The reason is that beyond sensitivity and false negatives, there is another
property of all medical tests called the "Negative Predictive Value" or NPV.
Without getting too technical, basically the NPV is the chance that a
negative test truly means that you don't have the disease (such as the flu.)
The NPV is based on the statistics of the test - such as sensitivity and
specificity - as well as the number of flu cases in the community.
In short, the Negative Predictive Value of the Rapid Flu Antigen test RIGHT NOW
(not in flu season, and with very little actual flu, swine or otherwise, around)
is about 99+% - meaning that if you get a negative flu test, 99+% of the time
you really don't have the flu (or <1% of the time it is a false negative.) This
statistic isn't completely intuitive, but is well studied and is the basis for
modern screening tests, whether it is the flu, strep throat, prostate cancer
tests, etc. Most doctors know that although the sensitivity of a test might seem
low, the NPV can still be high.
Of course, if there is a lot of flu going around, the NPV becomes worse.
A nice article discussing the Rapid Flu Antigen test, and these sometimes
confusing statistics, is here:
In any case, as a public health concern, doctors who have a high clinical
suspicion for the flu should be sending both the Rapid Antigen Test AND the PCR
test, as well as considering antiviral medications. But in the current climate,
a negative test on a Rapid Antigen can be quite useful.
Jersey Boy (formerly a pulaski driver, now an M.D.)
Thanks Jersey Boy, MD.
In case this is pertinent and someone might be interested:
California Nevada Hawaii Forest Fire Council Scholarship program
Each year the California/Nevada/Hawaii Forest Fire Council awards financial
scholarships. The purpose of the
scholarship program is to support individuals
pursuing an education that will lead to a career in a wildland fire
profession. If you know any individuals who may be interested, please pass on
Postmarked by September 15, 2009
||Handcrew name change:
If you could post this on they said please.
Beckwourth Hotshots, Beckwourth Handcrew, and the Beckwourth Crew no longer
exists as this entity.
There has been a change of leadership at the top of the ship and will now be
known as PNF Crew -1 until,
they once again meet type 1 status - but will not be known as Beckwourth. A new
change has emerged.
||Swine flu testing:
One thing that many are not aware of and that we need
to keep in mind is that the rapid tests for pandemic
H1N1 are not very reliable. They give a LOT of false negatives (49 to 90% of the
(Rapid flu test) Antigen detection misses many infections
• Rapid diagnostic tests: Sensitivity: 10-51%
• Immunoflourescene: Sensitivity: 47%
This was stated in a CDC presentation found at
Check out slide #6 of the CDC swine flu - clinical.pdf.
Unfortunately, most doctors are not aware of the false negatives being produced
by these tests and send
patients away with an incorrect diagnosis. If a person were to google or bing
"false negative rapid swine flu
tests" you would see for yourself all the references. The tests that are
reliable cost about $100 each and take
quite a bit of time (48 hours+) to get the results.
||Contractor taking issue with FWFSA office manager:
I appreciate Ken's response to your question but thought it important to provide
some answers myself.
I often wonder why posts like this go to TheySaid rather than someone just
emailing me or calling me directly to get a prompt response to any question.
Nonetheless here goes:
First and foremost I'm sorry that you have interpreted anything I've said as
"getting rid of contractors and bad mouthing them." Personally and
organizationally we have never, ever advocated the wholesale elimination of
contractors and cooperators from the federal wildland scene. In my conversations
with Congress I make it clear, as you do in your post that both contractors and
cooperators are, and will always be an integral part of the federal wildfire
That being said and to be candid, we believe federal wildfire dollars ought to
go to feds first...bottom line. Given the full spectrum of resources used, they
are overall less expensive and other reports, performed by the way in R6
validate that point.
As we all know, there are good contractors and not so good contractors. In fact
some of our members are contractors because they believe in and support what we
are doing and ultimately what we do for federal wildland firefighters will no
doubt translate to positive changes for others.
The issue of fiscal management of the fire program i.e. spending $20 million on
a 6500 acre fire is at the heart of the issues we are addressing. I deal with
this stuff on a daily basis.
If there is anything that I have written that you can refer to that has offended
you, please share it with me at email@example.com.
You are correct, I am no longer an active firefighter. I had a 25 year career as
a federal firefighter. I was hired by the FWFSA in 2003. I do not spend time
trying to get rid of contractors and I'm sorry you feel that way. However the
FWFSA's loyalty and responsibility is to our dues paying members the vast
majority of which are active federal wildland firefighters.
Please feel free to contact me any time.
||Re The Real Issues - Fiscal Responsibility & Accountability
I appreciate your “defense” of Casey. And, once again, the fluent and prolific
praise for his work. However, I don’t think you successfully addressed RW56’s
“questions.” Actually, RW56’s statements reflect the frustration all private
fire service operators feel about the idea that “protecting” federal
firefighters means that private fire service operators need to go away. Casey’s
statements here on They Said and in front of our legislators reflect that
sentiment in various forms. I disagree with Casey on this point, but that
doesn’t mean you or anyone needs to jump to his personal defense. That’s not
going to change my position. And I’m not attacking him. Casey, like many others,
including myself, utilizes They Said (an EXCELLENT example of effective Social
Media at work) to bring up points we feel are crucial to our positions,
platforms and agendas. And yes, we ALL have agendas. Just as we ALL have egos.
That’s natural and healthy. Let’s just say it like it is.
I hear and feel RW56’s pain, particularly mid-fire season when the Forest
Service in R-5 is attempting to balance its budget deficit by sending ALL
private fire service operator’s into the lion’s pit for consumption.
I just ask that the real issues remain on the table and that this discussion not
disintegrate into a personal attack regarding the relative quality and value of
agency versus private fire service resources. The REAL issue is budget right
now. The REAL issue is fiscal responsibility and ACCOUNTABILITY.
||Person dissatisfied with theysaid:
From a personal perspective, let me be clear: I love doing Air Ops in R-5,
especially SoCal. I like the complexity, the intensity, and the folks from
different agencies I have the opportunity to work with. So I am definitely not
an R-5 "hater." Just the opposite: there's nothing quite like landing at Ontario
and the smoke's so thick you can't see across the Freeway, and you know in your
gut you're about to take another ride of your life.
However, Mark, I agree fully with everything you stated in your post. I no
longer post nor really look at TheySaid because it is very much R5-centric,
I know the situation there, I know the frustrated initiatives by the ground
troops to obtain management accountability or some kind of timely, coherent
responses to issues, and most importantly, I recognize the key roles Casey and
FWFSA have played through their diplomatic and strategic vision and execution
via the political route, which is something the ADFA Board could never
understand and which FWFSA has since masterfully pulled off.
R-5-centric postings on They Said are indeed overwhelming: after awhile, the
constant reiteration of the "SOS from R5" got to me and I dropped off (I
certainly enjoy Lobotomy's and NorCal Tom's and others' cogent analyses on any
subject, but the their postings are overwhelmed by a constant barrage of the
same old complaints.).
Many others from around the country dropped of TheySaid a long time before I
did. That is unfortunate to the fire community as a whole, and the perception,
justified or not, from many other parts of the country is that TheySaid is an
"R-5 egotistical whine board," and that was from a retired and dedicated R-5'er.
I would suggest to Ab that TheySaid establish a separate R5-specific page so
that wildlandfire.com can regain some of the 100s of folks who feel the same as
I do and who no longer actively participate in valuable discussions. I find Ab a
concerned, kind, and committed moderator who has been kind enough to delay some
of my "midnight rants" where I pressed "Send," then about 30 seconds later went,
"Oh, s___t," then was able to revise them in the clearer light of day.
Let me also be clear on this: everyone has a right to be heard, no matter what
their rank, to bitch, complain, and vent (god forbid I ever did that - grin).
But enough is enough. So I would ask Ab to consider the separate page idea
Now let's address the issue that "R-5 fire is different, more difficult, their
ff's are the best in the country, etc,"
BS to that, I'm very much with you on that, Mark. That is the height of
arrogance and self-centered thought and behavior (and has in fact led to the
problem of endless R-5 postings described above).
Some of the finest air folks I've had the pleasure to work with have come out of
R-8 and R-9 and elsewhere. In the 80s and 90s, R8/R9'ers were like Avis, they
had to try harder due to the unwarranted superior attitudes of folks out west
(and it was an arrogance not limited to California). I could not have gotten
through "75 days on the road" in '94 without a bunch of R8/R9 folks in my air
As you know, I facilitate L-381 simulations, and folks from other areas do every
bit as well as the folks from R-5. But in the interests of maintaining
neutrality and an even keel with the company for which I work, 'nuff said on
Thanks for your valuable post, Mark
Hugh, We've gotten requests to
split off feds/non-feds/states, women, contractors, hotshot logos, etc, etc. We
did accommodate with a subject line. Beyond that it's unclear what benefit
multiple pages (R5 and other) would be. The Hotlist Discussion allows different
On theysaid, you can tell the topic from the first "subject" line and skip the ones
from R5 you're not interested in.
Looking back through the posts this last month, most posts are related to
LODDs past and present. Those are largely from R5 but not all by a long shot.
Other posts are safety alerts, all of which are now posted
HERE. Those could affect the safety of all wildland firefighters. A
discussion thread or theysaid thread can be initiated about any one of those.
Feel free. I'd love to see some discussion.
R2 Resources...? Lights and Sirens in R3? NIMO Teams? Most other discussion/concerns
(grousing?) about interagency and intraregional resources has shifted to the
Hotlist Discussion. There are other great topics there too.
Hugh, I invite you to sign up for the Hotlist and get others to do
the same. We can all benefit from the discussion. You can create your own threads, autopost, and focus on those
issues of concern to you.
My best to you Hugh Carson. Carry on.
||From the hotlist, Reply to Possible swine flu:
Hey, just to clear up a few
I know a few people on the type 3 Nevada County strike team, and they are
still up there assigned to this fire.
And their strike team member was negative for the swine flu, he just had some
type of flu virus, and was sent
home last Friday, and since made a full recovery, and no one else came down with
Stay safe and healthy out there all.
Thanks for the info. Everyone, the best way to prevent it is handwashing. Ab.
||Person taking issue with FWFSA office manager:
Casey Judd is a firefighter who has long supported both federal wildland
firefighters and "regular firefighters". He has been/is instrumental as a member
of the team with unique talents in both his ability to lead and communicate, as
well as his understanding of federal firefighter issues.
We (FWFSA) were fortunate enough to hire Casey as our Business
Manager/Consultant/Legislative Advocate after he was A-76'd from McClellan AFB
FD, and from his position as the Federal Vice President in the California
Professional Firefighters District 5.... and his bid as the IAFF 16th District
Casey is the only paid member of the FWFSA organization and is not a contractor,
but rather a member.... the remainder of the FWFSA are the Board of Directors
and the membership who are all volunteers. We keep the numbers of our membership
as a "trade secret", but it is very significant and in many cases, well above
the dues paying members from other organizations or entities within the land
management agencies..... but could be improved some as more voices are heard.
The FWFSA membership spans all levels from GS-2 through GS-14 (and communicates
across all levels) and has membership in all Regions as well as folks in RO and
WO positions, as well as membership in all five federal land management agencies
in key positions.
We seek to improve the pay, benefits, and working conditions (including Safety
and Communication) within the federal wildland fire program.
RW56, did those address your points you wanted to address?
/s/ Kenneth Kempter
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA)
||R5 perspective and decisions that affect legal process for all wildland
I take your points and will try to get the data that supports or refutes my
comment about recent hires.
I grew up in R8 with Rx burns (Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida where
green burns) and lived
for 5 yr in R9.
I know there are excellent firefighters in those regions and I know FS fire
people change regions as they
grow their careers. I simply do not think most District Rangers and Regional
Foresters are qualified to
safely manage wildland firefighters. I feel they are less qualified to manage
western fires if they have
had to work with firefighters
on the forests of the West.
Thanks for your service.
||Possible swine flu:
Did anyone hear if that local gov't (Nevada County)
type 3 engine strike team assigned to the SHU that
was quarantined for possible pig flu outbreak.
One of the engines had a sick firefighter on it; they were all put up in a
Redding hotel with a "stay in your
rooms" order pending lab work from the hosptal. That was on 8/6/09, they may all
be home by now.
I can see this one being played pretty close to the chest to avoid a panic.
Does anyone know the results of the Swine Flu A/H1N1 test??? I think the A is
pretty quick to determine.
Most A's are swine flu these days.
I would like to raise a couple of points. If I'm not correct let me know Isn't
Casey Judd a contractor to the association he represents? I believe he is no
longer an employee of a Federal agency. I'm not sure why he spends time trying
to get rid or bad mouth contractors that are actual fire fighters. The entire
federal fire machine would grind to a halt if not for all the contractors
associated with the big picture. Timber fallers, Dozers, water tenders,
Aircraft, caters, Showers, toilets and the list goes on. It's not as if the fire
line going contractors want the Initial attack Agency fire fighters jobs. Many
of them have had that job and for one reason or another left or retired form the
agencies. Contractors bring a wealth of experience to the fire ground as well as
being teachers that raise up young fire fighters that move to the agencies. I
know of several companies that have raised up many young men and woman that have
gone to the agencies and have become leaders on smoke jumpers, Hotshot crews and
the likes. These young people got their training and experience that helped them
get their foot in the federal and state doors from contractors. Contractors are
more than happy to do the non glory job of mop-up. There are many contract Crews
and Engines that work really hard to do a good job and in the most efficient
manner. Contractors and private individuals have been on the line for as long as
the agencies have. The contractor is always willing to stay to the bitter end
with short hours and little support and that's where we save the taxpayers
money... I have yet to figure out what the real problem is??? if all fire
fighters both fed. and Contract put their heads down and worked like we had a
real mission there wouldn't be an issue, but there is someone on the sidelines
feeding the conflict. Just one last thing and I'm sure this will raise a few
hackles why has the federal fire program spent 20 mil. on a 6500 acre fire? Is
that what happens when we have to use 2 management teams to deal with a back
woods fire. I know some guys that could done that job for half the cost.
||Resources and Communications:
The issue is all about communication. Allow
me to liken the situation to a company. When the board of directors realizes
their stock is tanking and taking it's employees' retirement with it, they have
an obligation to notify the employees. I believe GACCs have the same
responsibility when they hold resources. To further this end, the GACCs have a
number of avenues with which to communicate: daily conference calls (from which
notes are disseminated), "News and Notes" on their websites, email, etc. Any
standard format to allow resources to be able to identify their fate quickly and
easily will do. This information should be accessible right down to the
first-year FF. They may not understand the reasoning, but a knowledgeable
supervisor could use the teachable moment to enlighten "grasshopper."
No legitimate reason exists to be less than forthcoming with this information;
if the powers that be have the best interests of the taxpayers in mind, they
should have no problem justifying their actions. Otherwise they are just playing
"hide the iron" for any number of nefarious reasons.
Make it plain!
Stuck in R2 (but enjoying the view)
||Reply to R5 perspective and decisions that affect legal process for all
Ab, Good Morning,
I try very hard to read posts from all your readers and look at all
comments objectively. I feel for all of our wildland firefighters across
the Nation that sacrifice their lives to protect our wildlands and
forests as professional firefighters.
But at time it is very frustrating to see inaccurate information posted on
your page such as the post from Mellie in regards to types of firefighting
outside R-5 specifically R-9 and R-8. I am from R-5 and I am proud to work
and live in R-8. As a Type One IC, and as past Director of PFTC.
It is important to make sure that the facts are correct, as we have very
steep terrain in the south, and large contractions of Pines such as Long
Leaf that cover the South. I do not have the figures, but the South burns
in all these areas well over 500,000 ac per year. Her comment "Region 5
burns hot and big in steep topography; other eastern (R9) and southern (R8)
regions burn differently, on different topography, with different
vegetation and/or fallen deciduous leaves... " Is not all correct as far as
the South is concerned. We have very experienced, trained and qualified
firefighters in the South that can fight fire anywhere in the country. I
can not comment on her statement about who R- 5 may be hiring from the
South but I would hope she has her facts straight.
I do feel her and other firefighters frustration on what is occurring in
R-5 and other Regions. It would appear that until the some of the Federal
Wildland Agencies realize that they have fire programs and fire
departments with firefighters, not forestry technicians and react
accordingly we will continue to have major issues with in the programs. I
applaud all the people such as Casey and others that are trying to make
change, as it is a long time coming.
Please , we are our ALL in this together, lets work together and keep the
facts correct. Thanks AB and Mellie.
||Fire Budget in a lean year...
7/10 I wrote predicting this on the Hotlist and theysaid:
Region 5 IOU???
It will be interesting to see if we have 30 days of major fire remaining in the
season to get this region's firefighters paid out of suppression
funding in order to get us back in the "financial black" regarding
preparedness costs. A more streamlined or centralized financial
accounting would be better. Ask for what we need for Preparedness. Have the $$ go for Preparedness.
Suppression funds if needed for fire, hurricanes or shuttle recovery are another
I guess that I also wonder if those in power in R5would use this
"low fire year" and fire budget deficit to say we do not need and cannot now
afford to pay all the preparedness resources we have, never mind that they catch
lots of fires when they're small...
One way to balance the R5 Fire budget next year is to cut, cut, cut
preparedness resources on engines and handcrews and for gosh sakes, if
firefighters retire or move to a better paying agency, don't replace the full
compliment. That trend is already well on the way. Might be OK if it's another
low fire year, but could be very costly in lives and property if it's a
more average or normal year.
Let me point out what I think may be one other big picture trend with safety implications: a
demographic that I believe has been a growing pattern and, if so, is a cause for
concern. I believe the R5 Forester who is from R8 has been padding
Region 5 with R8 hires in Forest Supervisor, District Ranger and even Forest
Fire Management positions. This may be unconscious as we all tend to hire people we
know and are comfortable with. Anyone have a list of last 3-4 yr regional hires
and where they came from? 17 Forests, New Forest Supes, District Rangers, FMOs?
If the pattern of preferential hiring out of region does exist, why is this a systemic safety concern
(Swiss Cheese Model)? What could be unforeseen consequences?
- Region 5 burns hot and big in steep topography; other eastern (R9) and
southern (R8) regions burn differently, on different topography, with
different vegetation and/or fallen deciduous leaves...
- Not only are line officers (Rangers and Forest Supes) calling the shots
on fire supervision with few fire quals (only Fire 101), but a growing
haven't had any sort of western fire OJT.
- In addition, Regional Forester (and Ass. Reg. Forester
who is from R5) -- can call for criminal investigations (LEO
involvement) of incidents that are clearly accidents with no understanding
of or concern for what that does to increase Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
in firefighters already suffering psychologically and emotionally from loss
of their crewmate(s). (I can't believe Harbour and Tidwell and others in the
WO don't recognize the firefighter safety implications of this... and the
grievances that could result if a bunch of firefighters Doctor Up.)
Still tending to feel like some form of centralized fire org
would be the safest for firefighters.
Still optimistic this "just culture" stuff will eventually work
out... but don't know how many more firefighters will be investigated as
criminals and threatened with jail "we have to prosecute someone" (from the
Colorado NPS LEO that was detailed in by the NPS on the felling accident last
year). I'm afraid it's still a matter of "turn on the law enforcement machine
and it has a life of its own, it sees criminality everywhere, grinds you and
your family up mentally, emotionally and financially whether you're innocent or
Firefighters from FF1 on up, please invest in Professional Liability
Insurance! Lawyer up! Peace of Mind... Priceless!
I found this on Jennifer Ziegler, PhD's blog this morning and thought it worth
posting on TheySaid.
A Recent Take on the Fire Orders? (sent to me by a wildland firefighter)
Fire Orders for the New Firefighter and Above
ind a good Lawyer.
I nvent a story that supports management's current
interpretation of Policy and Law.
R esist the urge to take any direction without
E stablish a good Alibi.
O ffer no info without a lawyer present
R emind supervisors they trained you.
D estroy incriminating documentation that does not
match management's current interpretation of Policy and Law.
E scape to Mexico if things go bad.
R emember next time to turn down all assignments
that involve supervision.
S ay you were scouting when the bad things
Fair use disclaimer
Go visit her site for a nice collection of info on
the 10s and 18s. Ab.
Hi to all:
The FWFSA has been afforded an opportunity to provide written testimony to the
Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee regarding agency fire preparedness.
The hearing was held on July 21st and although we've had the honor of testifying
previously before the committee, I get a sense that because of the relative
newness of the leadership of the USDA and the fact that Mark Rey's position has
yet to be filled, there was little oral testimony other than from USDA, DOI and
the Government Accountability Office (GAO), formerly General Accounting Office.
What was a bit disconcerting was the fact that the testimony provided by the new
Deputy Undersecretary of Ag was eerily similar to previous testimony from Mark
Rey. Of course Mr. Jensen has been in his position only a few months and I think
we'll give him the benefit of the doubt for a while longer.
We have also responded separately yet directly to GAO, whose representatives
offered their testimony by way of a report entitled WILDLAND FIRE
MANAGEMENT-Federal Agencies Have Taken Important Steps Forward, but Additional
Action Is Needed to Address remaining Challenges.
I believe since my meeting with Robin Nazzaro, Director, Natural Resources &
Environment at GAO in March, we have found a great deal in common regarding our
thoughts on land management agency fire programs and the management thereof.
with the GAO. Folks are starting to recognize and validate on their own what
we've bee trying to say for the last 3-4 years.
Additionally, a report entitled:
Fiscal Year 2008 Large-Cost Fire Independent Review completed by the Large-cost
Fire independent Review Panel chartered by the Secretary of Agriculture and
released this month also validates our position on the cost-of non-federal
This in turn has been followed by a recent memo from R5 Regional Forester Randy
Moore explaining the Preparedness budget may run into a deficit and suggesting
ways to mitigate the potential deficit by:
1) utilizing fire suppression resources to help accomplish the region's fuels
and other program targets and
2) "As appropriate, direct dispatch organizations and incident management teams
under your (Forest Supervisor) authority to order Agency assets for fire
suppression events in lieu of contracted and state or local government fire
resources and to replace non-agency resources with Forest Service assets as
quickly as possible..."
Hopefully this means Mr. Moore and others are "getting it" with respect to
strengthening the federal infrastructure to reduce the over reliance on
non-federal resources and save the tax payer serious sums of money.
We'll have our testimony and GAO response on our web site in a few days.
Incidentally, our lead staff person we work with from Senator Feinstein's DC
office will be making a "visit" to the Cleveland NF next week. We'll keep you
||Re: S-64 Lightning Strike Accident at McCall Helibase
While reading the FS Correspondence Database, I came across a memo designating a
Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT) to investigate the accident
originally reported here (They Said, 08/05/2009 - Below) lightning strike at
How are the folks from Siller Bros. doing? Their injuries were reported as "none
of the employees.... .... suffered life threatening injuries...". Are they doing
well? Do they need follow up?
Kinda wondering why a SAI Team would have been convened, rather than an APA/FLA
team for Lessons Learned (if any)? If there was a potential for claims against
the government due to a damaged helicopter, they could add on a qualified
"Compensation/Claims Unit Leader" (ICS Position) to supervise the potential
claims, or appoint a "Claims Specialist" (ICS Position) or an Agency "Claims
Team" (Agency Specific) to document the info separately from the APA/FLA.
Looking at the memo, it "smells" like another uninformed action from the WO-OSOH
undermining the Lessons Learned processes we all strive for in the Fire
Program.... and it is signed (once again) in the typical fashion.....
xxxx (non-Line Officer) For XXXX (delegated Line Officer) acting upon the
behalf of the Chief.... leading to NO accountability whatsoever in
the decision making process again.
This should be a simple two or three page APA with Lessons Learned (ex. - CAL
FIRE "Green Sheet" format)..... not a 40 or 50 page SAI document that will be
produced and never be read in the field..... JMHO.
/s/ Waiting for the Management Evaluation Report (MER) stating the true causal
factors...... Lightning and wet ground... An act of nature...
P.S. - I looked this incident up on the Key Decision Log (KDL) System at FAMWEB/FAMTEST.....
hmm.... Looks like a key decision to me.... Nowhere to be found
anywhere on the Log. I guess only the FIRE folks are required to complete the
No Press Release from the Payette NF.... No 24-Hour Report.... No 72-Hour Report
to be found also.
Got this yesterday; did not have time to save, format and
post it, given it was a birthday Sunday:
||Casey Saves a life:
You are great.... and you support Casey in being what he is. Thanks for sharing this great
Today.... I was asked by a great friend and supervisor during a routine
dispatch..... "Why is E-xx responding to a jet ski accident on xxx Lake." Normal
type call. Should be a County Fire handle and their responsibility. Pretty
amazing you had a similar experience today..... Casey charged in as a
Firefighter and saved a life. Micki was proud.... and wanted to share.
My simple answer to my boss/friend was..... It is across the street from the
fire station.... they are the First Responders and it is the right thing to do
with their training, experience, and equipment. It ended up being a "CPR in
progress call" where the "nearest fire department or EMS was over 20 minutes
away. The Forest Service fire engine provided EMS care until the local fire
protection district arrived. Is it in our "mission"..... ask the folks receiving
the life saving care.
Casey you make us all proud as wildland fire family members. Micki, you take
care of Casey, and watch over him. He is a wildland firefighter we all know and
Awesome job my friends..... Casey and Micki.
Noname Friend of Casey (FWFSA Member).
||Casey Saves a life:
I don't ever send anything in here but I wanted everyone to know that Casey
doesn't just sit behind a desk talking to powerful people all day.
This evening, he saved a life. At about 6:30 pm Idaho time we heard the horrific
squeal of brakes and skidding up the canyon, then silence, then the sickening
Casey immediately got in his truck with our next door neighbor and they headed
up the canyon slowly looking for a wreck. Casey finally spotted a single vehicle
about 40 feet down an embankment with a single person ejected about 24 feet
away. The car was still smoking as our neighbor explained it to me.
While our neighbor phoned 911, Casey quickly checked the car for other
passengers then maintained the airway of the unconscionable driver until the
first volunteer firefighters arrived. Being outside of town and in the hills,
this was almost ten minutes.
Finally what seemed to be the entire medical world was speeding past our house
and finally life flight arrived. Casey and our neighbor were able to give life
flight a viable patient and I am very proud of him. In fact I'm writing this
while he's showering still trying to get blood off of him.
He's my hero.
ID Newspaper article on the accident sent in by an ID Firefighter (23 K pdf
No Grass: book review.
I read your book No Grass and loved every page. Also Legs,
thanks for the answers to all the hard questions.
See you out there soon I hope...
P.S. Abs, Thanks for the forum.
Arlo and All,
I also just finished Legs' book. Couldn't resist ordering it. After the
first chapter, I had to trade a firefighter for a packet of cheese spread out of
Growing up on a ranch is hard work. Ranch kids call it their life; chores
and values, life and death, making do: they don't know any different. Challenges
abound. Nothing goes to waste. It's adapt and overcome on a daily and seasonal
basis, like wildland firefighting.
Thanks Legs for sharing your early life and your later life. We all miss
Marc; he was an inspiration in life.
Legs and Marc. Thanks for sharing some of the answers to questions we had
about his suicide, and thanks for doing what you're doing now -- the Wildland
Firefighters Life Challenge Program -- with the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.
Only by asking the hard questions and seeking to understand the lessons learned
can we foster and strengthen resiliency.
Excellent read. Five Saws! Ab.
||Re: Red Lights and Sirens
I am a retired police sergeant with over 30 years
experience. I've read some of the posts about emergency equipment on Forest
Service vehicles and I'd like to add my two-cents worth on the subject.
If any of the vehicles in question respond to medical emergencies as well as
forest fires which can threaten human life then, in my humble opinion, they are
in fact "Emergency Vehicles"
Emergency vehicles require the installation of emergency equipment such as red
lights and sirens. The purpose of this equipment is to be able to get from point
A to point B in as little time as possible, as safely as possible. I also
believe that the larger the emergency vehicle a corresponding increase in
emergency lighting should be included. If the vehicle has air-brakes then air
horns are a great benefit.
Vehicles equipped with and using emergency lighting and sirens are required by
law to be yielded to by other traffic and by pedestrians. BUT this is NOT
a license to drive with wanton disregard for others on the road.
What might be the cause for such discussion is a lack of a basic set of
written guidelines (note I did not say rules) governing the use of emergency
equipment. Such a guideline would necessarily have to state the form/s of
discipline for non-compliance.
Wishing I have not stirred a hornet's nest,
Thomas D. Marovich, Sr.
TJ Marovich's father.
I found out last Thursday that I was being *held in R-2 as a single
resource* because of certain quals I have. I found this out because I saw a
couple of UTF'd orders from R-6 and I wondered why I never got called since I
was statused available nationally. I called R-6 overhead who confirmed that the
two orders in fact went UTF. I then called R-2 overhead and asked why I had not
been ordered. He told me straight up that it was because of my quals and the
possible need to fill vacant team positions if a predicted weather event
materialized in region. What upset me was that no one let ME know this before
hand. He said it wasn't "practical".
R-2 holds Type I crews, engines, helitack, etc. in region when they hit PL3,
based on draw down levels; that's what R-2 overhead told me. But I've never
heard of that done to an individual. Not trying to second guess RMACC on the
bump up to PL3, but I found that curious considering the handful of large fires
all summer, and lower PLs in NoCal that was having considerable IA.
They did reconsider my plea and I had a resource order within a half hour.
Someone sent this in:
Let ONLY MY PEOPLE Go, from the Regional Forester
stuck in r2,
By no means am I trying to say I have all of the information about why (or
apparently why not) your GACC is holding or not
holding resources within the GACC. Frankly, I don't really care why they do or
don't. Nor do I care if my GACC does the
same. It is just a fact of life in this line of work that nothing is static and
that things like drawdown levels can be changed
because someone way up the line feels they might need to maintain more resources
in their area. Or they might go past the
drawdown level because nothing is happening and they want to p-code save by
getting more resources out.
In an effort to make this a somewhat productive conversation:
How would you propose making the system more transparent? And why?
At what level should that information be disseminated? GACC? Fire Staff? FMO?
||Not sure if you can use this, but kinda gives an idea of the current state
of USFS management and their lack of
"Common Sense"? (Ironic that this situation involves a form of fire suppression)
Rules are Rules.....Railroad Style.....
The Good news: It was a normal
day in Sharon Springs , KS when a Union Pacific crew boarded a loaded coal train
for the long trek to Salina.
The Bad news: Just a few miles into the trip a wheel bearing became overheated
and melted, letting a metal support drop down and grind on the rail, creating
white hot molten metal droppings spewing down to the rail.
Train-fire1.jpg (4 photos on Equip 14 photo page)
The Good news: A very alert crew noticed smoke about halfway back in the train
and immediately stopped the train in compliance with the rules.
The Bad news: The train stopped with the hot wheel over a wooden bridge with
creosote ties and trusses.
(In defense of the crew, according to Sixgun Jr., the crew tried to 'splain to
higher-ups, but were instructed not to move the dam* train!)
RULES IS RULES!
(But, don't let common sense get in the way of a good disaster!)
I put them on the
Equipment 14 photo page. Ab.
RE: "Our suggestion is that if one or two NIMO members want to show up at
incidents to help out -- they should go to places where fires are few and
far between. We believe this would truly be of great assistance to some of
the units that don't have fire in their backyard every week"
We had a similar experience with a NIMO team coming in earlier this year to
give our Forest some training on how to work with them. They put on an exercise
with prioritizing multiple Fires, which is something our Forest is very familiar
with. But, when we discussed that with the NIMO Team, they asked us, "then what
CAN we do to help you guys"? and we told them it would be helpful to go thru a
WFDSS step-by-step, and they took the extra time to walk us thru one they did
for a fire earlier in the year, so we could get familiar. (This was early in the
season, before our Forest got to do a real one..).
The point is, the NIMO teams ARE trying to help. They don't know what your
Forest Teams or resources are good at unless you tell them, and let them know.
There is no list of what Type 3 Teams are experienced, or green out there. Or
what a Forest has experience with, or not, until they get there and interact
with you. Then they can help you find any "Blind Spots" that you may not even be
aware of, but an outside group might see. We took the advice and assistance as a
learning tool, and didn't get territorial about it.
As a Type 3 IC myself, I will take the advice of a qualified Type 1 IC when
offered to help me get better at my position, and more efficient, and not sweat
the "we're already good" part of it.
||red lights and sirens:
I never realized how idiotic R3 can be. Pulling red
lights and sirens. Whatever we do, let’s not
provide the appropriate PPE for initial attack personnel. Let’s have them
respond with yellow
lights instead. What a bunch of goofs. Another fine example of a forester run
think I’m getting sick to my stomach.
While it may be too little-too late, I have Chester's Helijumping program from
the sixties on
Kodachrome slides. Everything from how to don and doff the jump gear and helmet
( yes it's
a bit different from the SMKJ gear...), jumping from the aircraft, and cargo
I have not yet had the opportunity to copy them into a computer. When I do,
something on They Said and make them available.
I'd like to say a quick thank you to the Marovich family for your incredible
compassion, and to all others who have been so supportive in the recent weeks
I've been asked many questions and will write more when time permits.
Chester Fly Crew
Thanks, Mike. Ab.
||Questions for GACCs:
I like that folks still want to believe that their GACCs are keeping everything
but remember they are human also. Case in point So.Cal just packed up a jet load of
Hotshot crews and sent them to AK and nobody at the GACC sees that as a reason
for a post on the news and notes page, meanwhile every time a NEMO team exhales
it hits the media. These are agency failures by local PIOs that get paid very well to not
share info about their resources.
I know this subject has beat around quite a bit, but I have some further input....
Just completed an assignment with a type 3 team. I got there after the initial
cluster, so don't know all the details of what, where, when, but as the incident was gearing up -- 2 members of one of the NIMO team arrived (self dispatch?? Don't know?) According to the official NIMO website the intent of NIMO is "complex fire management as the primary focus of their positions." Now, I've been in the game long enough to know that an obscure type 3 incident that was being very well handled at that level with many of the management personnel actually qualified at the type I level, was not a "complex management issue" AND at the time was the only game in town. So, the IC asked what they were doing there. The answer was "We're here to help." The IC responded with "What does that mean?" Evidently there was no answer given that the type 3 team could figure out.
At our de-briefing, this was discussed, and I believe, an excellent comment was made -- that I hope the "powers that be" that give NIMO direction will take into consideration. At the type 3 level, we run without assistance (i.e. in the form of unit leaders and
additional help), consequently even a couple extra "we're here to help types" adds to the logistical workload. The incident was on a high fire load forest -- the folks in fire management, as well as the team are well versed and have had many, many years of practice managing fires.
Our suggestion is that if one or two NIMO members want to show up at incidents to help out -- they should go to places where fires are few and far between. We believe this would truly be of great assistance to some of the units that don't have fire in their backyard every week. I am not being facetious here -- really would like someone to take a hard look at this suggestion. The "non-fire" units and the NIMO would both benefit. Please don't waste time and money on coming "to help" a well functioning type 3 incident on a well practiced fire management unit -- focus your "complex fire management" practices on someone who really needs it.
burn- You are as entitled to your opinion as I am mine. Without being privy to other issues within the region that makes me suspect of the decision makers at our GACC, I don't believe you have the whole picture. However, I am sure don't either, because the region has been less than forthcoming with their drawndown standards among other things. In fact, in the GACC highlights this morning, our GACC made no mention of crews being held. This could be because they are not being held, but I don't understand why a local dispatch center would perpetuate false information...
A second example: when a "Direction Letter" is published by a GACC at the begin of the year, only to have the direction changed mid-season, I am suspect. This has happened for the last 3 seasons with little to no communication about the "new" direction. All I am looking for is the same transparency being asked of many agencies discussed on this forum.
MJ - I am saying just that. Based on my info (second or third hand for reasons discussed above), all currently available crews are being held in region. I am familiar with the drawdown concept; unfortunately the region, or some other influential force within the region, changes the rules as they go. If you are familiar with CalvinBall (Calvin and Hobbes), our situation is very similar.
How can the decision-makers expect us to follow their rules when they choose not to follow their own? Not questioning this only makes us part of the problem.
I realize my initial post sounds like sour grapes. I assure you it is not. I am not even up for a crew-associated assignment. But
let's stop playing politics and do what is right for our customers, the
public. (emphasis mine)
Calling it like I'm seeing it,
Abs- As far as I can tell, R2 is not holding any helijumpers in region at this point. Good one!
Well, it appears I had at least some bad info. As of yesterday, at
least two T1 crews left the region. So, I will eat some crow and offer
my apologies to the decision-makers I was calling out.
I do still wonder why misinformation is being disseminated from
"reliable" sources. I will also reiterate my request for
increased transparency in the process so the ground troops don't have to rely
on hearsay and innuendo.
Simple request: make it plain.
-Standing up in R2 (the FF formally known as Stuck in R2)
It might be a surprise to you or others, but folks at the GACC level (GS11-13) often communicate "behind the scenes" and communicate with the field on a regular basis (hence "rumors"), especially when stupid decisions are made ABOVE their level (RO and WO) that don't make any sense whatsoever. While it doesn't make any sense to the field, it is a reality in most cases for the folks at the GS14, GS15, SES, and ES levels who "screwed the pooch" and failed to listen to the field. They often try the well respected CYA approach and shift the accountability and blame downwards in an effort to deflect their failures in Leadership. Poor business model.
Most often, they (those that "screwed the pooch") are either Line Officers or folks authorized by a Delegation of Authority to act upon their behalf without any knowledge of the fire program.
I wouldn't discount anything as "rumors" until you read the FS Correspondence Database..... Lots of questionable crap going on. If you have access to the database, you'll get a chuckle everyday at the knucklehead decisions being made that affect the fire program by folks outside of the program. People are making and signing decisions they are not qualified to make.
/s/ Fedwatcher #1
PS - Look for the Jim Pena letter requiring "Fed Only" resources to mitigate preparedness funding (WFPR) shortfalls and shift the burden to suppression funding (WFSU... aka P-Code Savings). RED FLAG example of PPPPP by Line Officers scrambling for a "quick fix" and easy way out for himself and Mr. Randy Moore.... look it up..... Shell game to hide poor and ineffective leadership and management of the federal wildland fire program. Accountability.... Accountability..... Accountability. Crap rolls uphill... so does absolute accountability. Easy to make decisions from Vallejo..... Can't even see the National Forests or drive to one in less than two hours from the RO........ PPPPP.
I have some of the helijumper pics you may be looking for.
Please forward my email to this person so I can help them out
Did it. Thanks, -S- and all. Haw Haw. Ab.
For the poster looking for heli-jumping pics ...
Life magazine did a series about heli-jumping in 1961.
Here's a link
Not sure about the use of the photos
The helijumpers were around till about the late 60s. They were decked out in regular smoke jumper jump gear minus the chute. They stepped out on the skid of the old Bell B-1 helos and plunged off into the brush. The program died in the late 60s as I understand due to
injuries and the transition beginning to the turbine helos. Looking for a picture may be tough. Though I believe there are a few in the historical archives on the Angeles. You may want to try the DR on the LA River Dist as I believe he was the keeper of alot of those old photos before he moved to the DR slot. Also give the F.S. historical museum a call and see if they have any that may have come out of the Corona collection of history.
Here's a helijumper
pic, Lynn Biddison, from the Fire Leadership site.
Great PeshtigoFire - book review
After visiting the Peshtigo Museum and spending the day reviewing documents, this is a
most interesting book.
I do plan to spend additional time visiting the town and reviewing the facts.
I highly recommend this book for anyone in the Wildfire Service as this may have been the
first Urban –Interface incident.
Dan Collins Sr
"FYI - R2 has now chosen to hold all of their available crews and possibly other resources
in region (apparently because we moved to PL3)"
So you are saying that every crew in the entire region is on hold? Not just the predesignated
Where did you get this info? I'll be willing to bet this is second-hand, that you did NOT hear
it from someone at the GACC level.
GACC's have preset drawdown levels for Engines, Aircraft, and Crews. When they get down
to a certain level, and the preparedeness level hits a certain place, due to fires, they hold SOME
There is no level that would hold every crew in the entire region, so don't believe rumors like that....
Even the Helijumpers? Ab.
||Need Helijumper Picture
I'm doing a project and I'm in need of a picture of a "helijumper" in action.
Anyone got one or know where to find one? Thanks.
||Stuck in R2,
This happens all of the time. GACCs obviously need to maintain a certain level of forces for IA
and extended attack. I don't personally understand the need to get on this website and second
guess a decision made at a GACC level and probably supported at the national level.
Just my .02
FYI - R2 has now chosen to hold all of their available crews and possibly
other resources in region (apparently because we moved to PL3). We are
not sure about other resources other than the crews because we had to hear
this through the grapevine, just like we always do every time this happens.
If you need crews for your fires, you will not be getting any from R2, even
though the idea of "closest forces" is a accepted practice and that
our national dispatch system is designed to handle these types of situations.
Please do not hold this against the ground pounders of R2. We would love
to come and visit! Please be safe out there.
Stuck in R2 against our will
Buds Forever of Tom (as a boy) and his Dad
I put it on Tom
"TJ" Marovich's Remembrance Page. Ab.
||Remembering the past to make the future safer:
Im out for the season most likely, with a torn ACL.. (yes major bummer)
But wanted, in this hallowed and dangerous time of year, to ask you to post: let's remember all of um, Heather and crew,
TJ, Storm King, Mann Gulch, and every fire we have lost or found injured our bros and sisters on. Remember and teach the meaning of the 10's and 18's, not what flippin order there in... but what they really mean... seniors firefighters and above, give your experience when it got hairy folks, and teach the new comers, the 4 or 5 ( depending on what school u come from), common denominators ...IF you have seen or fought a plains grass fire, you know how fast and dangerous it rips, or been 40 feet below a tanker drop and watched the fire stand up from the air movement.... , LCES established and working.... just cause we have it, doesn’t mean that its gonna do what it is intended to... remember it’s a early out for us folks.... not just a standard we have to have.... but something we want to have work long before the excrement hits the rotary oscillator. Stay sharp no matter if you’re a first year or a fifty year vet. Work your PT to the top of your ability... stay hydrated, be fit for duty in the am, and leaders be the kinda leader you would trust to take you in to the nastiest fire you have never seen..... Lets stay as safe as we possibly can in a guaranteed dangerous job, and bring them all home... remember leaders ur on the line, and if you don’t like it, pull them out, but if you see it as doable and the rook's don't, tell and show them why its doable so they can lead up laterz. Nuff Said... from me
A Multi-region guy...
||Remembering those who perished in fatality fires: Mann Gulch:
Just remembering those who came before us, and sacrificed all.
On August 5, 1949 on the Helena National Forest, a wildfire entrapped 15 smokejumpers
and a fire guard in Mann Gulch. Before it was controlled the fire took the lives of 13 men,
and burned nearly 5,000 acres.
||Remembering those who perished in fatality fires: Timber Lodge Fire:
My name is Janice Stoel. I am the widow of Kent Stoel who was burned in the Timber Lodge Fire.
I want to thank my son- in law, William Loucks, for his article on 8/2 in memories of the men who
fought that fire and lost their lives that day and the two who survived but who succumbed later due
to the direct results of that terrible fire. I have two son-in-laws who are fire fighters and I am very
proud of them and their dedication.
Thanks Janice, and thanks to William. We're beginning to define a
Remembrance Project that will have a home on the Hotlist where all can be
remembered. Hope you'll participate. Ab.
Timber Lodge Fire burnover:
Don’t forget about Gary Williams. He was the young, first year FF that was on that engine.
He did not like what he saw as they were pulling up to the Timber Lodge for the frontal
attack, and voiced his concerns. He was dropped off and told to wait by a water tank
and the Captain would deal with him later. Gary watched the whole thing. He lived in
Mariposa for years and owned an auto body shop.
With all due respect to the crew, Gary made the right call.
||Lightning strikes Helicopter in ID:
Didn't know if you'd heard about this or not. TS
strikes helicopter at McCall helibase, 4 injured | KTVB.COM | Idaho
01:35 PM MDT on Wednesday, August 5, 2009
MCCALL, Idaho -- Four people were injured when lightning struck a firefighting
helicopter in central Idaho while it was on the ground.
None of the employees of Siller Brothers, Inc., a contract firefighting
company, suffered life-threatening injuries in Tuesday evening's incident, but
they were transported to hospitals in the region for treatment.
The Sikorsky S64E Skycrane helicopter was on a national contract with the
Payette National Forest to help fight forest fires in the region.
The incident Tuesday at about 8:45 p.m. took place just as the four crew
members were doing end-of-day maintenance.
They were tying the chopper down as high winds hit the area following heavy
rain and lightning.
Damage to the aircraft is still being surveyed.
James N. Ramage
Our thoughts are with your loved ones. The Abs and Mods
||Tom Marovich tribute:
This is Tom Marovich, Sr. I am Tom - "T.J." - Marovich's father.
I want to thank each and every person and each and every agency that had anything to do with bringing our beloved son home to us, standing with us in our time of great need and for the turnout at his funeral. From fire agencies to law enforcement agencies; thank you from our hearts to yours.
Tom Jr. loved fire engines since he was a little boy. Each time we'd buy him a toy engine it was a little bigger or a little better than the one before. He had his own "department" by the age of ten; Chief's car, Battalion Chief's car, Fire Engines, Fire Trucks - snorkels and ladders, Rescue Rigs, Bulldozers - you name it - he had it. And he knew how to park them. All backed up against the wall for a ready response. (Thank goodness he didn't catch his room on fire to try and put it out!)
One day I bought him a toy police car and placed it among the fire vehicles while he wasn't home. A few days later I peeked in but didn't see the car. "Where's the police car," I asked. "Over there, dad," He said. I had to look to find it parked on the side of one of his toy boxes. "What's it doing over there," I asked. "He's waiting for speeders," he said.
When he was older, I took him with me on ride-a-longs at my police department. I introduced him to the guys at our fire department and the mold was set. They gave him a set of turnouts and a helmet and let him use the deck gun on one of the engines. Later on, they let him run the ladder up and down and side to side and climb it. When they got a new tiller truck and while it still had the trainer's seat by the tiller, they let him have at it around a large city block. Not a wrong turn, a car scratched nor a curb jumped.
When he was around 14, he joined the Fremont Fire Department's Explorer Program. We hardly ever saw him after that. Every weekend off he went.
When Tom was hired with the U.S. Forest Service, he did not forget where he came from. Every chance to come home he was off to the Explorers as an Advisor or to the Mission Valley ROP to teach Fire Science. When he couldn't come home but was off duty, he was a volunteer for the Adin Fire Protection District in Modoc County.
Tom lived and breathed Fire Service the last 6 years of his life.
I had a pet name for Tom I'd like to share with everyone. I can do this now because Tom isn't here to kick my expletive deleted. Whenever he came home or called me on the phone I'd always greet him with "MONKEYBOY" (pronounced loudly as "Munk-a-boy"). Tom asked me where that came from and I told him it was due to his climbing onto and off of fire apparatus, his adept ladder climbing abilities, and, well, just because.
Tom was a giving, loving young man who lived to serve others. He did not die a hero; he was a hero in the way he lived.
I am 60 years old today and I miss my only son terribly. I've come to grips that I can't whistle him back and that I must cling tightly to his memory in my heart and mind. I know he will be with me forever.
Attached is my favorite picture of Tom Jr. and I. Please substitute the words in the picture with "Best Buds Forever. I love you, son. Dad."
My family's prayers for safe returns are with all who service in the Fire Service. God Bless you.
Thomas D. Marovich, Sr.
Mr Marovich, Sir, thank you for sharing your son and your experience
with us. The photo speaks a million words. His grasp of your thumb, his and
your expressions, priceless! Thanks.
I touched up the developing and aging streaks in the original photo and
am working on changing the words, which require learning a new photoshop
skill. I'll send the revised copies back to you. I'll add the photo to his
memory page. [Added later: Finished
In the coming weeks and years, please know you and your family are a
part of this community. Tom's death has left a big hole in our world. Ab.
||Remembering and being inspired by those who perished in fire accidents:
Engine 11, Tom Marovich:
The recent loss of Thomas Marovich and the focus on that loss by so many is truly
justified, but we must also remember those that have been lost before him. A
poignant reminder to us of the loss of Heather, John & Steve 7 years ago,
as with reminders of other losses is key to our ability, as well as that of
families and friends to keep those people in our hearts forever.
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that Captain 64 is a member of the
FWFSA. What does that have to do with anything? Absolutely nothing. Perhaps
just a thought that the level of passion among FWFSA members is set at a very
high level knowing they belong to something special.
In instances like this, ordinary people transform into the extraordinary.
Thomas made sure that Captain 64, the Chester Fly Crew and so many others made
that transformation. We should be forever grateful to them.
||Good morning, All,
We'd like to welcome our newest Classifieds Ad and Hotlist advertiser.
Jennie Reinish of Tidepool Pictures has created a documentary video called
Behind the Lines: Fighting a Wildland Fire. In the video, she take a look at
some of the little known aspects of fighting fire by filming and interviewing
firefighters and overhead at the base camp of the four month long Zaca Fire in
2007. Many firefighters are giving the film great reviews and support, some
even using the dvd as a training tool. You can see a few media reviews of the
film here: Behind
the Lines Reviews. And you can find the links to order the DVD
videos on the Classified
Page Check 'em out.
||For the Helicopter information, check out the Incident Response Pocket
the Standards for Fire Operations (Red Book) and the
Guide, all available on the web…
Thanks, Joe. Ab.
||Firefighter book/ question from firefighter author:
If you're writing a book obviously you want to get it right... Instead of giving you a dissertation
on They Said. I think the best thing you could do is schedule a visit to a helitack crew - I'm
sure someone would be happy to give you an extensive briefing on their helicopter, types used
on fires, lingo and briefing protocols. There are ALOT of details...
Good luck with the book!
||Writing firefighter book/ question from firefighter author:
I'm writing a book and need a few answers:
1) what is covered in a briefing for firefighters about to get on a helicopter to get a ride
out to a fire location? I'm thinking type II crew.
2) what are the types/names of helicopters used on fires
PS: I just don't have much experience around choppers, having only ridden them out and
back on two fires. I know the briefings are important, I just can't recall the details. And if
I can't describe the right machines, the rotor heads will know that part of the book is nonsense!
Support for Mark Davis:
Check out the Mark
Davis Web Site.
I never underestimated his determination.
Great to see his progress. Check the Updates tab, also Donations still welcomed. Ab.
||Pump Refueling Safety Warning
FROM : National Wildfire Coordinating Group
REPLY TO : NWCG@nifc.gov
DATE : 08/03/2009
SUBJECT : SAFETY WARNING : Pump Refueling Safety Warning
On July 9, 2009, an accident occurred in which a firefighter was burned while checking the fuel level in
a jerry can attached to a portable pump.
The firefighter sustained 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 20% of his body, but after weeks of hospitalization
and often painful treatment he is expected to make a full recovery.
Everyone uses portable pumps. Although one accident of this nature out of the thousands of hours of pump
operations each year can be considered a rare event, the fact that it CAN happen is cause for concern. Please
follow these mitigations in order to avoid a similar accident in the future:
- When refueling a pump, ALWAYS shut the pump down first.
- Take care to locate fuel cans as far away from hot engine parts as possible.
DO NOT set up a pump so that the exhaust from the pump vents directly onto the fuel can.
- When setting up a pump inside a fuel spill containment berm, take special care to
orient the pump so that the muffler is as far away from the fuel can as possible and not
blowing exhaust directly onto it. Consider placing the fuel can in a separate berm from the
one that contains the pump. Makeshift or temporary berms can be made using Visqueen or other
non-permeable materials. Additional berms can be ordered through the Cache system (see “Berm,
Mark III” in the cache catalog).
- ALWAYS wear appropriate PPE when refueling any piece of equipment. Eye protection and gloves
can prevent severe, life-changing injuries.
- Always open the air vent on top of the jerry can when running a pump. Ensure the can is
secured if set up on uneven or sloping ground.
- Remember to STOP, DROP and ROLL if your clothing catches fire. Even Nomex clothing will
burn if it is saturated with a flammable liquid like gasoline.
- Review and be familiar with the NWCG Standards for Burn Injuries:
or know and follow your respective agency’s burn injury protocols.
- Do not operate a radio or any other portable electronic device such as a cell phone while
engaged in fueling operations. The Safety Precautions section of the Bendix-King radio owner’s
manual states: “Do not operate the radio in an explosive atmosphere (petroleum fuels, solvents,
dust, etc) unless your radio is an intrinsically safe model designed for such use”.
- Review the accident report, located at
Be sure to discuss lessons learned with your crew and co-workers.
Attached is a photo of the USFS Cobra
out of Redding, CA. The picture was taken on 8-Jul-09
at a helispot (H-10) on the CA-SRF-Backbone fire. The copter had come in to "rest" (conserve fuel)
while there was no aircraft activity on the fire.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
GAD, Fire Captain
Arcata Fire Protection District
||flail trencher for cutting fireline:
The machine in Red Skies was an early model flail trencher. The flail
trencher is sort of the Holy Grail of wildland fire inventions, every
generation takes a stab at it and gives up. All of the ones I've seen are gas
engine powered. Some use chains, others weird blades to thrash the ground and
throw debris everywhere, thus theoretically creating fireline. The one thing
all flail trenchers seem to have in common is that they tend to beat the sh*t
out of the operator and anyone around them. If you can build a better flail
trencher the world will beat a path to your door.
PS I voted early
Haw haw, this just fell out of the server from 10/30/08! Strange.
||Centralized Wildland fire:
Great dissertation, but....
Just to set the record straight for you and They Said readers....Tom Zimmerman is no longer in the
R03 RO. Hasn't been for over two years nor have several other key folks who kept R03 as
professional as it was in wildland firefighting for many years. You are right R03 is now a disgrace
as a result of the interlopers who came behind, political appointees all, and I, for one, now refuse
to work in the region I live in. It's a personal safety and professionalism thing for me.
Yes, I too am retired so I can make those kind of choices.
I must also add that besides Congressman Teague there are also Senators Bingaman and Udall.
They will all hear from me again on Monday. It is time to take wildland fire away from the US
Forest Service et al and put it into a professional Federal Wildland Fire Service.
||47 anniversary of the Timber Lodge Fire burnover (CA):
As another Fire Fighter is called home, and we remember those we lost on Storm King.
Let us not forget the crew who perished in the Timber Lodge Fire Forty Seven years ago
Sunday. On August 2, 1962 while fighting a wildland fire near the community of Midpines, four Firemen
from the US Forest Service were burned over and killed. Thomas W Foley the Foremen, Martin F Giorgi,
John Vaun Rasch, and Raymond St. Pierre. Two other men were critically injured Kent Stoel and Roy
Chapin. Both Kent and Roy have since passed away from injures directly related to the burns they
sustained. All these men had families and they should not be forgotten.
William (Bill) Loucks
Jerseydale FEO 11
SNF Bass Lake Ranger Dist.
Rappel Equipment and Procedural Change
www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2009/safe/SA-FS-09-02.pdf (1557 K pdf file)
thread as well... Ab.
I never had the pleasure to meet the 20 year old man as to me at the
time he was "another" in the head count. Just one more, one of 365
or so. But somehow this time things were different. I've been to the
Stanza memorial where we started with 4, ended up with 7. Difficult
but somehow different.
I had the distinct honor of feeding Tom his last meal, and an honor
it is. Something I will proudly remember throughout the rest of my
career. Certainly in my thoughts at his memorial, and when doing
tailgate safety with my own kitchen crew, it is a reason to put a little
more love in every thing we prepare for the people we so care for.
Cause we never know when...
My condolences to Tom's family and fellow crew members from the
If I ever have the pleasure to cook for you guys again, I'll throw an
extra steak on.
Food Unit Leader
One additional thing -- we all have so many memories and little things that remind us of Tom or a story that
pops into our heads about Tom that we want to share -- will we be able to read and add to the list of stories
for some time to come? An example of this --
When Janelle and I saw Tom's truck being taken off the flatbed truck -- once we stopped crying and were
able to breath again - Janelle said -- whoever cleaned that truck loved him a lot - it is so shiny and
perfect - Tom would have loved that -- and it wasn't like that when he left this weekend! I so want that
person or persons who cleaned and shined Tom's truck so beautifully to know that we noticed -- that it
mattered to us and that we saw the love and care they put into cleaning it. Those are the types of things
we want to share with all the folks who are hurting right now -- that you matter in ways that you cannot
imagine and we love you for it.
Share away. Ab.
||S 61 to Restricted Use Category
No Name Semi leader...
I got friends in Afghanistan working the S61 project and one in particular I worked closely in the Guard with
on UH1 and UH60A models
You don't think those aircraft are old? The S 61 has had its share of problems, along with any other heavy
lift ship. The only aircraft out there to replace the '61 would most likely be the CH47 Chinook (Boeing 234)
and the Vertol 107 (CH46 variant). Availability of those ships is pretty dependent on Columbia's other
missions. Sure the Agencies should put the '61 on Restricted category. But looking at the history of the
Agencies with respect to the LAT and very large airtanker (VLAT) and having NASA look at the large aircraft
is what should have been done loooooooooong ago with respect to the ships of "yesteryear."
It is time for the land management agencies to admit they are a little slow when it comes to researching
aviation and having a little more testing of aircraft through what NASA, FAA, and aero engineers do to
study aircraft that are turned into airtankers. Again its is the industry and NOT the land management
agencies that are pouring their own dinero into what ever programs to come up with a "purpose built"
aircraft for FIRE. There are not many purpose built aircraft for these type of operations.
So maybe it is incumbent that the people concerned about Restricted Use start writing and calling the FAA
to apply pressure to USFS F&AM -WO. Sure the USFS has a fine record of its aviation resources, but,
this is about working with the FAA, the contractors, and industry to come to solid solution.
But as a former helicopter mechanic, when the world is turning to !!@#$$%%^ out there in any situation,
I will board any one of those aircraft without much hesitation, Restricted Category or not. Right now,
since I am sitting in the Midwest, I can venture to say, there is not much heavy lift out there for troops
out there, unless there is a really good show of 234's, 107's, CH47's or Bell 412's at any one
Maybe the answer is Restricted Category...............but I see alot of old guys at airshows still boarding
B17's, B24's, B25's, etc at airshows..... for a trip around the area for $400 USD and they probably have to
sign a waiver before flying.....MAYBE that is an answer when fire folks board aircraft....
The S61 has had its share of accidents, but there has been a spattering of other helos and fixed wing aircraft
that might need that designation.. Restricted Category....
Sure I am not in the agencies, but as an aviation professional, and one does not have to be "land management
agency personnel" to be an aviation pro, there maybe reason to do it. But this where the rubber meets the road,
and no contractor should have to have their aircraft labeled, for lack of better terms, unless the agency reps
and the contractor have sat down and did some discussion before its labeled.
No life is worth losing in aviation, but then there is no sagebrush patch, single tree juniper, nor large
timber that worth the pilots AND crews (air or fire) life AND certainly there is a number of acres out
there of trees and timber that OUGHT to have been PROPERLY MANAGED BEFORE a prop or rotor ever started
Former UH60 and UH1 mechanic
||R-3 Lights and Sirens:
Magruder Fingers, has a great point worth stressing. It's the perfect
When someone screws up, they make everybody wear diapers.
I have been on some scary rides where our driver would have been safer
text messaging than trying to read a map, listen to the radio and run
the siren. Instead of teaching us to control our epinephrine, and
teaching that we are not the police in a little car and that there is
no need to speed, the powers that be take away a very important piece
of safety equipment.
Used correctly, lights and siren make people aware that you are going
to an emergency. That's all it should be for! We should not have to
sit in traffic when it's safe to go around. If someone is going real
slow, you have to let them know your in a hurry.
Most people have no idea you are in a hurry unless you can use your
emergency L&S. I also decreases the chance of confusion when you are
going around them. (Do they know we are going around?)
This has gone back and forth in R-3 before, I thought it was fixed.
We obey the same laws as everybody else except when we get in a jam
then it's our way of letting people know we gotta go. Don't make
firefighters wear diapers!
|| Tom Marovich
I had the good fortune of being able to attend Tom's memorial service and burial on Thursday. Captain
64's description was very good. I can't be nearly as descriptive, nor as eloquent, but I would like to
add a few items anyway. First, as a family member of a crew member of the Chester Flight Crew, I was
able to stand with the Fire Fighters outside the church. I will agree with Captain 64 in that the
colors, green and blue, ran together that morning. I will also add, in the columns outside the church,
that the tears of a lot of the fire fighters were not green or blue. All of those tears, from all the
agencies were exactly the same. The number of sniffles and eye wiping in the columns was very touching.
I can only assume that many of those men and women didn't know Tom, but cried for him, the family, the crew,
and the fire fighting family just the same. The brotherhood of those firefighters was just amazing and I
felt the love, concern, loss, and sorrow in each of them whether they were wearing blue or green.
At the burial I didn't see everything, so I appreciate Captain 64's description of what was going on. As
I looked over at my son when they were asked to salute, his shirt sleeve inched up a bit and I noticed his
Wildland Firefighter Foundation bracelet on his wrist. I looked over to the next crew member, and the next
and three more after that and they all wore them. I pray that they or their crews will never again need the
help of the Foundation but applaud them for giving their donations for those that unfortunately may. I
heard the bells, I heard the bag pipes and drums and noticed the increase in sniffles, mine included. I
heard the helicopter before I saw it. When it appeared out of the sun, it was magnificent and at the same
time, terribly sad. The service was wonderful. It was a beautiful and emotional farewell to a remarkable
During the service and later Thursday afternoon I was very impressed with the professionalism of the entire
Chester Flight Crew. Dustin, Mike and Shawn, you have done a remarkable job with this crew in such trying
times. I was overcome with pride that my son was part of this caring, dedicated, hardworking crew. After
the service, what many did not see was the crew changed out of their class A attire and into the memorial
T-shirt one of the crew members had made in memory of Tom and his time on the Chester Flight Crew and H510.
The crew are brave and stoic young men and a woman who have been through a life changing event. Their
friend, their brother, is gone from their lives in an instant. I know the crew is glad to have this tragic
chapter of their lives over; over but not forgotten. Tom's death will have lasting meaning. The lessons
they learned from Tom both in his life and in his death will be remembered forever. Chester Flight Crew,
I hope you can return to the work that you all love so much soon.
Condolences to the family, to the Chester Flight Crew, the USFS and to the firefighting community.
||Loss of Heather, Steve and John on Engine 11, July 28, 2002 and for Tom Marovich's
Thanks to Mellie and to Rob (Rob who shares a birthday with Heather, or Rob whose daughter shares her
name?, or another one?) and to all who remembered Steve, John and my beautiful Heather on the 28th of July.
I was away (without laptop or
cellphone), and have just returned to find your kind
remembrances. I find it so hard to believe that seven years have passed, but here we are. I still miss her
every day, and can't help but wonder where she'd be, and what she'd be doing now....I do know, through
meeting people in my travels, that she still influences firefighters, from the lowest groundpounders who
have told me they heard about the accident or saw me in a video, to district rangers who have told me
that they have changed the way they run their forests as a result of that incident. I have met women
firefighters who worked with her briefly on the same fire who admired her and continue to emulate her.
She's still making a difference. I just wish they were all here to do it in person.
Amid my own remembered pain and continued sorrow, my heart goes out to the parents of Tom
Marovich. I pray they find some comfort among the many kind folks here, and in the loving embraces of the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Warm kinship exists in
these places where shattered hearts can rest and begin to heal. We have walked that road, and are willing
to walk with them to help them journey through their grief. My most sincere condolences to his entire
Rob, Heather's friend whose daughter shares her name and your birthday.
Captain 64 that post today (yesterday) was beyond amazing. Those last three paragraphs of your post
today (yesterday) are downright absolutely epic. All your posts this past week or so deserve to be
listed forever more in the "documents worth reading" section. I felt like I was right there every step of
the way. You're are in the wrong business my friend. No, actually you're in the right business, you just
need a side job as a writer. I cannot begin to thank you enough. Amazing!
Casey, thanks for being there too. When you walk in a room Mr. Judd, you raise the spirits of all Wildland
Firefighters, I know, I've watched it happen.
So proud of the Interagency Fire Service, My Forest Service and our WLF.com forum.
Yeah Captain 64, thanks bro. Ab.
||Tom "TJ" Marovich:
Readers, this was sent to us to pass on to Captain 64, which we did. We
asked Aunt Marlene if we could post it. She checked with Janelle and we
received permission. Ab
Hello (to Captain 64 and others)!
Captain 64, Tom's girlfriend Janelle is my niece. Our family has been with the
Marovich family from day one, grieving, helping. Janelle and I were at the
house when you brought Tom's truck home. Just when we thought we couldn't cry
any harder - there we all were in the front yard, sobbing together - trying to
wrap our heads around this tragedy. It surprised me when I read in your post
that you wondered if the family might hate you -- all Janelle and I wanted to
do was wrap our arms around everyone who has ever been in contact with our
Personally, I know Tom differently than his fire fighting family. I know an
amazing boy who romanced my niece in the sweetest ways. Tom was over our house
the weekend before his accident. He had just given Janelle this bright gold
badge that said 'firefighter girlfriend' with his truck number on it. He was
so adorable giving it to her in front of all of us. He made a big deal out of
it - a little speech, a presentation -- just adorable. Tom always gave big
hugs goodbye and this Sunday night was no exception. We hug and tell him to
keep safe. When he left on Sunday he told us not to worry that he is the
safest guy around. Monday night he was texting Janelle - telling her he was
sleeping in the dirt again but that it was okay because he was safe and he
could look up and see the stars. He talked to her about going up in the
helicopter the next morning. He told her he would talk to her afterwards and
tell her all about it because he knew she had an early morning class.
Tuesday afternoon, when the call came from Christie to come to the house right
away, we thought Tom had been hurt. We were a bit angry because he promised us
safety. Never ever could we have imagined what we were going to hear.
There has been a blur of people around, each one gracious to the core. All of
us hurting and wanting to make it better. Wanting to undo what had been done.
Captain 64, your posts have been lovely to read. Thank you for sharing your
thoughts with everyone.
After the reception on Thursday evening, after everything was cleaned and all
the excess food delivered to various fire stations, I sat in my car and cried
again, as if somehow I thought all of this effort and all of these people
collectively pulled together in love would magically bring our sweet boy back.
Thank you again for everything you have done - for all the organizing, all the
attention to detail, for all the love and tears you have given -- and thank
you for sharing it all with us along the way - it is appreciated more than you
can ever imagine.
Aunt Marlene, you're part of our firefighting family. Thank you. Ab.
Abs and All,
I want to thank you soooooo much for the assistance you gave in
getting photographs of TJ.
The scrapbook was beautiful and presented to the family at the reception after
The family is grateful for the treasures of memories it contains.
Please pass along our appreciation.
Again lots of thanks
We have both worked on Forests that were centralized. We both went through the centralization process
and years later the decentralization process on our respective forests. In your recent post you indicated
that the Forest Service needs to be centralized to the Chiefs office. Problem there is Fire would still work
for a Land Management Agency. We both know that will not work.
Fire and Aviation needs to be ripped out of the land management agencies and placed with an agency
whose mission is Emergency Services. Clear missions, clear, effective leadership and realistic goals and
Re: Should we still be flying large groups of folks (firefighters) in late 50's and 1960's vintage rotor
Ab, I apologize in advance. Probably only Hugh or others in the Air world will understand my venting. My
bad, but the underlying simple message is outright.... immediately place ALL S-61 platforms into Restricted
Use category and don't allow my friends to fly on them.
An immediate end to the use of the S-61 platform as a "troop" (firefighter) transport should happen
regardless of the WO memo and an immediate change into Restricted Use Category at the very minimum is
required. You "air folks" should speak up.
I understand, it will piss a few folks off, but it is the right thing to do and I might get censored or
redacted from some. So sorry that the contracting officers did hear the Lessons Learned when they put 3
ea. S-61's back on contract for Exclusive Use/Standard Category missions. I spoke up on the Heavy Lift
Helitanker mess and got them grounded regardless of snipes and attacks they initiated in defense. It was
the right thing to do, regardless of their influence. A half fix is still an Absolute Risk to those on
the pointy end.
The military stopped the use of the S-61 for a REASON years ago and replaced it... and Marine 1 was
changed from the S-61 platform for a REASON in transporting the President of the
U.S... Hello.. It isn't rocket science.
Each and every firefighter fighting FIRE deserves the same protections afforded to our President and
Military members. If they were still safe and serviceable... they wouldn't have been surplussed out.
Certain Civilian S-61 Examples of Failure -
(Ab put this list with verifying links on a
docs worth reading page because all the copied code was incompatible with the theysaid table formatting.)
There are countless other Military examples of S-61 ( SH-3 Sea King) failures I will not even begin
to address or take the time.
It isn't rocket science..... Move all S-61 platforms immediately into Restricted Use Category.... and have
the ground crews temporarily drive to the incidents until a safer and more efficient platform is obtained.
Be a LEADER. Exercise your Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities......... STOP the next accident before it can
/s/ Noname Semi-Leader that Anyone Can Call or Knows
I just got back (yesterday) from perhaps the most enjoyable fire gig in my career.
21 days detailing in CA, South Ops, as a captain of a Type 3 engine.
Thanks to all who made this happen, and allowed me to come back to my old Park where I spent
2 enjoyable seasons in the mid 90's.
I was fortunate to get 9 days, on 2 different fires in some of the most beautiful country in the Lower 48.
I was also was also fortunate and saddened to have assisted with 3 days of search and recoveries, of
2 drowning victims. (Thoughts and Prayers are with the Families),
Funny how this fire cycle goes.
After not doing a fire in CA for 13 years, I have now been there 2 years in a row.
Again, thanks to all who made this happen, and thanks to my engine, crew who helped me out.
I know you will read this since I saw the yellow background screen on your computers now and again.
||In reference to the new "Region 3 Red Lights and Siren Policy,"
I'd like to know what the recommendations of the committee were. Anyone care to answer? I'd like to
know who the decision makers were. Anyone care to provide that information?
The decision makers stated that "We do not believe our personnel, within the scope of our mission, require
a need to have red lights and siren capabilities when responding to incidents. Therefore, we will not
authorize training or use of existing equipment for this purpose on any of the forests within the region."
It should be clearly obvious to all real fire management personnel that this is completely
FUBAR. This is what happens when non-fire line and resource personnel have the authority to make decisions
for fire management operations. I must say that even some fire managers today may also agree with this decision. I will adamantly state that they are WRONG!
This decision is ignorant and absurd. This is why we MUST have a Federal Wildland Fire Department! What
would you have us do, sit in traffic while homes and lives are threatened? Red lights and siren are for
warning other motorists and pedestrians that an emergency vehicle is in the area and responding to an
Let's look at a few examples of region 3 emergency incidents. The Cerro Grande fire of 2000. An entire
county of 18,000 people were evacuated without one
fatality. There was NO WAY any emergency vehicle was going anywhere near that fire without emergency
equipment. Did you study that? What about the
Rodeo/Chediski? Look at the Region 3 communities of Flagstaff, Ruidoso, Prescott, Crown King, Mayhill,
Alpine, Santa Fe,
Truchas, Show Low, Silver City, Pino Altos, etc. etc. etc. Are we going to reduce response times to
wildland fires and say they are not emergency situations all the while peoples homes and lives may be
threatened? There is a point where fires can be suppressed before they threaten homes or lives, or become
escaped fires and large fire costs increase and more personnel are placed in hazardous situations for a
longer period of time. Can you put the fire out at 1/4 acre for $1,000 or wait until it is 30 acres and
suppress it for $20,000 or more? Or wait until it is, or allow it to be, with the modern day forest service
laissez-fairre attitude, growing to large fire size for millions of dollars and the placement of
firefighters in hazardous situations for extended periods of time. Why wait an extra 5 to 30 minutes
because your fire response times are slow? Proceed to the fire, make an accurate fire size-up and develop
an intelligent strategy based upon conditions without delay. This is the appropriate management response.
You spoke about the "Scope of our Mission." Caring for the land and serving people. How do we serve
people as a fire service? We are a wildland fire service whether you like it or not. People rely on
the U.S. Forest Service to suppress fires that threaten their lives, their homes, their livelihood and
their families, Period!!!
And what's this crap about an environmental footprint and driving vehicles? Just knock it off! I can't
believe I or anyone else even has to respond to an ignorant regional policy such as this. This is just
This is another example of why we need a Federal Wildland Fire Department. Forest service line officers
and resource personnel must have nothing to do with fire policy. This is a dangerous job and we are all
tired of losing our friends. It MUST be safety first to the best of our ability. The best people, the
best leadership, the best equipment, the best training, the best fire management program we can provide
with the best and most experienced fireline leadership we have and a SUPPORTIVE atmosphere within which
to perform the fire management job. Modern forest service line officer "Leadership" doesn't give a dam
sight about the firefighter, but I do, the FWFSA does, and so do our firefighters.
I've been saying for over 10 years now. It is time the forest service gives up fire management. Go tell
your secretary of agriculture you can't and won't do it anymore. Go tell congress you don't have the cahones
to support your fire personnel. I'm going to tell 'em. Monday morning, I'm calling Congressman Teague and
I'm going to tell him that I want the forest service in region 3 to treat fires as emergency incidents
until either controlled or a well thought out management strategy is developed. I'm going to tell him
that the authority to respond to emergency fire situations with red light and siren must be up to the
Engine Captain and not some non-fire or fire management officer with ignorance as to real world conditions
and situations. Hellfire, responding to emergency fires with red lights and siren is an international
norm in the fire service, volunteers do it, they even do it in France! Our professional engine crews
should be able to do as they see fit.
The forest service fire management program is in a very sad state of affairs. I spent 32 fire seasons
with the forest service in regions 2,3,4 and 5 and 2 seasons with CDF. The forest service is now a
disgrace to the firefighters who dedicate themselves to protecting our citizens, homes, communities,
and natural resources. There are some great young forest service firefighters in the agency, they and
their families, deserve a whole lot more than the modern day forest service is providing them!
I've had the opportunity to work with the best of the best over the last 35 years (I retired 3 months
ago). I've never seen the leadership of the agency so ignorant and disgraceful.
Battle on Friends! Casey and the FWFSA, stay the course. All federal wildland firefighters should
join and work hard to support the FWFSA.
I'm calling my congressman on Monday about this insane region 3 policy against allowing the responding
unit to decide if they should use RL&S or not. It should be left up to them. Not some non-fire
resource politician in the dirty
R.O. Zimmerman's still there isn't he? He oughta know better than that.
Now then, If I could have a fresh glass
No, I didn't understand the hiring process well enough, but now I do and I thank you
very much for clearing up my misunderstanding of the system. I guess if I was applying
for a GS-11 I probably would have known that. Anyway, thanks again.