August, 2009

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8/31 Here is a webcam image of the Station Fire from the Mount Wilson Observatory.

David S

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.

8/31 CAL FIRE Blue Sheet (24 hr preliminary Report) CA-BEU-Helicopter 404 strike powerlines:

Lessons Learned Hotlist thread

As one risk manager said: "this is about a 9.9 on the pucker factor scale"

8/31 Doug's Fire Behavior Question:


I'll go with 100% RH and 0 c.


8/31 RE: Doug Campbell's FB Question

65 degrees 100% RH

“Another CDF BC”

8/31 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 the fire.

I just got the following professionally produced film (on flickr.com) and it clearly shows plume development which is certainly evidence of the fuels driven aspects of this fire:


Tim Stubbs
Fire Behavior Analyst

8/31 Who are on the RO fire staff down there? Where did the idea come up to get rid of the lights & sirens?


8/31 Mystery FFTR?!

We need to keep more like him... who is this famous firefighter? Sure does look different in a blue uniform.

Fire Geek

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.

8/31 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.

Shari Downhill

8/31 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 control?

Anyone out there care to provide the answer?

Gee, if we only could be sure.

Best regards
Doug Campbell

8/31 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 magnificent.

Joe Hill

8/31 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

8/31 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.

Norcal AFEO

8/31 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 Downhill

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.

Jason Jenks

8/31 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

Kent Contreras

8/31 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 thresholds.

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 overrated.

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.

Doug Campbell

8/31 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.


8/31 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.

8/31 Re: Helicopter crash in Leadville on 8/28

StumpShot –

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.


8/31 From Firescribe:

Station Fire goes 'nuclear': Foothill communities from Altadena to Acton threatened

8/31 Photos from yesterday (Sunday) afternoon Station Fire from Birdchirp

Long 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.

8/31 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.

fireweed lurker

One correction for the helicopter guys, it was a pick-up truck, not a passenger van. Ab.

8/30 LODD,

We will be keeping them in our prayers.


Hotlist condolences thread for the LAC Firefighters. Ab.

8/30 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.

Los Angeles 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.

8/30 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.

8/30 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.

8/30 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.


8/29 Bend, Memorial Announcement for Steve Uptegrove (large 1.2 meg pdf file):

Ab 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 procession. Ab.

8/28 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.

Shari Downhill

PS: second message on Faller Bosses
And since I find it impossible to only immerse myself in one project at a time:

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 position?

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 project.

Shari Downhill

8/28 Silver Lining-

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 day.

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 said.

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.


8/27 Ab,

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 Katelios.

8/27 reply to post by TS (8/21) about the SEAT pilot who died in the Nevada crash:


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.


8/27 Abs,

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 brew.

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.


8/27 Greek SEAT down:

From Mike:

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.

8/27 A/T Crash in Greece:

Local San Luis Obispo NBC said Air Tanker went down today. Didn't sound good for those on board.



8/27 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 !!


8/27 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.


8/26 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 objectives.

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 wfap.net for additional information. You can find the current instructor/staff applications at twitter.com/ wfap.

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 now.

"trying to make a difference"

Recruitment Bulletin. Spread it far and wide. Ab.

8/26 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.


8/26 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

8/26 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 issue.

R9 Engine Captain

8/26 Klamath Hotshots

Hey AB,

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 support.



Good news. Ab.

8/26 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 Jim.

It was an honor, privilege, and pleasure to have known Jim, and to call him Friend.

Be Safe, All; Lessons Learned Honor the Fallen.


8/25 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", period…….

- The Wingman

8/25 Jim Ramage is the recipient of the Helicopter Heroism Award:

From: Randy Jones, Publisher, 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 this event.

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.

Gary M<snip>

Good news. Ab.

8/25 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.

Victoria Fires Report Offers Suggestions

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.

Fire Geek

8/25 From JP

Top Cal Fire official arrested in Plumas County DUI

Sad news. Ab.

8/25 The memorial service for Steve Uptegrove will be held in

Bend on September 1st, at 1:00 pm at Aspen Hall.


8/25 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.

8/25 Announcement for Steve Uptegrove memorial service:

Willie Crippen asked that I send this flyer for you to post.

thanks, Judy

Judy Wing
Public Affairs Officer
Wallowa-Whitman National Forest


Nice one with his photo and directions. Thanks. Ab.

8/25 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 Steve.

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”


8/25 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 stil kept in contact with him to this day. It's good to hear others tal about how he was such a good friend to them. Will miss you Steve.

Burns Brimhall.

8/25 Hi Ab

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.

Linda Spittler
his sister

Thanks Linda. So sorry for your family's and all of our loss. Ab.

8/25 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 Upte's death.

RIP Upte

Tim Pratt

8/25 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.

8/25 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.


8/25 Pat Stone

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 !!!

Mark Ruggiero

8/24 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 a 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 Plumas then you had to meet or know him as the fire community is rather small. Thanks

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

Merv Lent
Battalion Chief
Lassen National Forest

8/24 Heads up on pandemic flu H1N1 possible predictions for Fall

Hotlist thread


8/24 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 knowing him.

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 the woods.

I will forever miss my friend.

John Wells

8/24 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.

Larry Papa

8/24 Re Math Nerdness:

Interesting story considering how much mathematical modeling we have going on in the fire world these days

Averages unreliable for predictions author says

Still Out There as as AD

8/24 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?


8/23 Ab,

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)
Subject: 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 fourth-quarter purchases.

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)
Regional Forester

cc: Ed Hollenshead

8/23 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 Lovelock, Nev.

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
located at
3201 Bancroft St.

8/23 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!!

Pat Williams
Umpqua NF

8/23 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.


8/23 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.


8/23 New Equipment:

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 the apparatus.


Good news. I put it on the Equipment 16 photo page. Ab.

8/23 Crewbuggy rollover:


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.

8/22 There was a crew buggy rollover this morning. The families have been contacted.

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 School.

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 the hospital.

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 families.


Hotlist Thread: Hotlist thread

8/22 Ab,

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.

Sign me,

CAL FIRE Chief who knows to protect my identity. Thanks.

Thanks, we' look forward to reading it. Ab.

8/22 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.


8/22 Texas Firefighting

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

8/22 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 a David McKay Jamsaefighter 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.

Rick Calkins

8/22 Domaque,

I've just been informed of another GIS mapping application called "Buzz for Blackberry".

www.3-gis.com/ products/ buzzforblackberry.phpl

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 purposes.

Fire Geek

8/22 Loss:

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 responses.

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.

Captain 64

8/22 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.

Fire Geek

8/22 Steve Uptegrove's passing:

Dear Ab,

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.



8/22 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.


8/22 Texas Dispatch

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.


8/21 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 several years.

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 great fondness.

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 friends.

Tim Lynch

8/21 Texas Dispatch

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 Texas.

Imagine out-of-state cooperators arriving in Texas:

The Zone Dispatch, the Texas Interagency Coordination Center (TICC) is in Lufkin.

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 located).

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 locations?

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.


8/21 Dave Jamsa's passing:

From TS

Missoula pilot killed in Nevada tanker crash identified; donation fund established

8/21 Dave Jamsa., SEAT Pilot, dies in crash in NV:

SFIDC released (1030, 08/21) the name of the Minuteman ATP killed yesterday; Dave Jamsa.

sierrafront.net news release

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 Missoula.

Dave was a great guy, and a fine pilot.

Dave P.

8/21 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 already programmed 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 Google Lattitudes to track the cell phones. I am not that tech savvy so I was hoping Fire Geek might have some insight.


8/21 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.

Mars Martian

Thanks for the info. Ab.

8/21 A Death in the FS and Fire family; Steve Uptegrove's passing: (Scroll through the rest of August for many more remembrances.)

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.

Here's the news release. Accident Takes Life of Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Employee

(Thanks to SB and others that gave us a heads up. Ab.)

8/21 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 R-5.

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 on.

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 us.
  • 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 organizationally flawed.

"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

8/21 SEAT Pilot dies in crash in NV:

NV-CCD-SEAT crash on the Hoyt Fire

From Sierrafront.net:

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.

Hotlist thread

8/21 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 5.

I do not know their significance... Will people please fill us in? Ab.

San Antonio Mars Base1
San Antonio Mars Base2
San Antonio Mars Base3
San Antonio Mars Base4
San Antonio Mars Base5

8/21 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?


8/20 Burnover on the Lockheed Fire? Where is the Green Sheet???

Ab Question:

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... ?

8/20 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…

Shari Downhill

8/20 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.
8/20 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 safety.


Mark 3 Pump Temperature Testing and Analysis

By Wesley Throop
Project Engineer
Missoula Technology and Development Center

Mark3 temp test (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.

I posted this on the Lessons Learned and Safety Zone subforum of the Hotlist on the Logging Slash Fire Burn thread. Ab.

8/19 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.

Ops Geek

Deputy Fire Administrator Glenn A. Gaines: “We are grateful for the U.S. Department of Justice’s NIJ support of this study that will benefit the fire and emergency services and law enforcement alike.

"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 link.

8/19 Raymond Lee Oyler's Brother-in-Law has been charged with felony jury tampering (7 counts) in the Esperanza case.

Relative of arsonist wanted for jury tampering

Will this have any adverse effects on the trial?


8/19 Ab,

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.

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.


8/19 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


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 reporting loops.)

Fuels Guy

BTW: Why the interest? Feel free to e-mail me through Ab with other questions.

8/18 All,

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.


8/18 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.



8/18 End of the Travel Cap:


managing employee travel

from Noname

8/18 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 firefighter safety...

-Concerned In Midland County-

8/18 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: ...apa-guide08-version030408.doc

Helps create the understanding that safety is not an end state but a consciousness:

Perhaps folks down here are behind the times. I don’t know. The bottom line is this:

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.

8/17 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 move on."

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.


There's a Safenet Website review that reiterates the Safenet program and process below. Ab.

8/17 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.

8/17 Wallpaper Photo:


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.

8/17 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 Luis Obispo.

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.


8/17 FROM : National Wildfire Coordinating Group
REPLY TO : NWCG@nifc.gov
DATE : 08/17/2009

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 (NWCG).

The SAFENET website has recently been updated; however, it will remain at the same web address; 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 concerns.
• Documents corrective actions taken at the field level or provides suggested corrective actions for higher level of action.

• 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 hazard incidents.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 safenet.nifc.gov, click on “Submit SAFENET” and follow the instructions.
• Mail: SAFENET, P.O. Box 16645, Boise, ID 83715-9750
• Telephone: Call 1-888-670-3938 and follow the prompts.

For Additional Information:

• Check out the PowerPoint Presentation, FAQs and other information on the SAFENET website.
• Contact your NWCG-Safety and Health Working Team representative. The team roster is available at team2
• Email the SAFENET Administrator at SAFENET Administrator @ blm.gov.

Thank you for your commitment to this important safety effort.

Michelle Ryerson
Chair, NWCG Safety and Health Working Team

8/17 Photo puzzle:


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.


8/17 Photo puzzle:

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.

8/17 Photos:

I added a nice photo from Debbie King of a K-Max dropping on a fire to the 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.

8/17 Casey THANKS!


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.

Thanks Casey

A grateful BLM Captain
and FWFSA member

8/17 Temporary Employees and Term Employees


You may not to hear this, but management has broad discretion when making personnel decisions. 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 person responded 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 around.


8/17 Hotlist Discussion on rappel standdown in R5.

Hotlist thread

8/17 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

loco cabeza

8/17 The Jewels:

Sorry, Ab…there is one more thing I really need to say…I’ll make this short. It’s important.

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 closed doors.

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.


8/17 Casey's job:


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.


8/17 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 firefighting crews.

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 approximately 150 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.

Misery Whip

8/17 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.

8/17 Casey's job:


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 firefighters.

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 cause.

I'm hoping for a positive response.

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

8/16 Photos by Mike Meadows of the La Brea Fire air and ground attack on Fire 41, Fire 42, Airtankers 30 and Airtankers 31, Engines 24 and Helicopters 27 photo pages.

Hotlist thread on La Brea

Thanks, Mike. Nice! Ab.

8/16 Punching Bags, Stone Walls and Alligators

Misery Whip,

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 them well.

This will be my last post on this subject for now. I have better use of my energy elsewhere.


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 policing themselves.

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.

8/16 Temporary Employees and Term Employees

Hi Guys!

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 time-in-grade.

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 level saved.

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 service.

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 status.

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.


8/16 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.

Quick Connect


"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."

And the running down of contractors will not fix one issue you stated misery whip.

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 fire world.

Contract Crew Boss

8/16 <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 support.

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.


8/16 Contracting:


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.

Misery Whip


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.

from Inciweb

8/15 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 Martin Light Hotlist thread

8/15 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 (esri.com news release: Kempthorne speaker). 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.

Fire Geek

8/15 Video_CA-LPF-La Brea


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. youtube .


Thanks. Lots of fires burning. Ab.

8/15 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.

fireweed lurker

8/15 Contracting:

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 own training.

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 atmosphere!

William Riggles

8/15 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

8/15 OK wait a minute Shari,

Misery Whip (I don't even know who they are) gets DINNER!!! and I only get beer and appetizers?

I know where I stand...


8/15 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 something really new, such as embracing the emerging technologies to do our jobs better. (Like the 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

8/15 Pandemic Plan:

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

8/15 Misery Whip,

Very well said. I couldn't agree more.


8/15 Lack of support for Contractors on Fire:

Misery Whip,

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?

Stay Safe


8/15 Values, Friends, French Fries:

Misery Whip,

I knew your post was coming and actually knew 90 percent of what it was going to say.

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.

Shari Downhill

8/14 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 Maryland.

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.

8/14 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.

Misery Whip

8/14 A Wonderful Site

Hi there,

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.

Phil Terry

Our members make it what it is. Thanks, Phil. Ab.

8/14 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.

Fire Geek

Lightbar.wmv (4387 K wmv file)

8/14 Fire inside the wilderness fought with MIST, moving outside:

Has this 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 Wilderness.

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 stopped it.

Anyhow - just my 2 cents.




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 treasures.
"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 century.

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 forested watersheds.

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 Forest System;
  • 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).

8/14 Hey, the army is wiki-fying their field manuals. Next step for firefighting?


8/14 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 nothing more.

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 road -
* 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 you alive.

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).


8/14 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 our community.

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 Wildfire.

I wish you all the best.

Please..... Keep safe and those around you safer.


8/14 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
October 13-14
Dallas TX

at the Hyatt Place Dallas/Grapevine Hotel.

Click here to download the information / registration packet.

Kindest regards,

Glen Wise
Director of Operations
Outcome Engineering
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.

8/14 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.

8/13 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.)

8/13 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.


8/13 re: Ernie Johnson and Ernie's Friend's Tribute

To Ernie's Friend:

Well and beautifully said.

Hugh Carson (Retired A/S Coord)

8/13 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 uncomfortable.

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 resources.

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 crisis.

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 appetizers. Deal?

Shari Downhill

8/13 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.

Ernie's Friend
Aug 12, 2009

Ernie's Memory Page

8/13 Anyone able to comment on something passed on to me from a recent FS retirees' meeting?

"concerned only 9% of non-fire Forest Service employees are available for any kind of emergency fire assignments"

Still Out There as an AD

8/13 Swine Flu:

Jersey Boy,

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.


8/12 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


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.

8/12 Swine Flu:


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:

Testing for swine flu

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. Ab.

8/12 Scholarship opportunity

From KW:

In case this is pertinent and someone might be interested: firesafe council scholarship

California Nevada Hawaii Forest Fire Council Scholarship program
Posted: 08/11/2009

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 related profession. If you know any individuals who may be interested, please pass on this website.

Application Deadline
Postmarked by September 15, 2009

8/12 Handcrew name change:

Hey AB,

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.


8/12 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 time!) :

(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 flutrackers.com.
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.


8/12 Contractor taking issue with FWFSA office manager:

Dear RW56:

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 response scene.

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 cjudd@fwfsa.org.

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.


8/12 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.

Shari Downhill

8/12 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 seriously.

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 operation.

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 that.

Thanks for your valuable post, Mark


Hugh Carson

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 threads.

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.


8/11 From the hotlist, Reply to Possible swine flu:

Hey, just to clear up a few things,

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 anything.

Stay safe and healthy out there all.


Thanks for the info. Everyone, the best way to prevent it is handwashing. Ab.

8/11 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 VP...

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
Vice President
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA)

8/11 R5 perspective and decisions that affect legal process for all wildland firefighters:


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 not had to work with firefighters on the forests of the West.

Thanks for your service.


8/11 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.


8/11 AB

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.


8/11 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)

8/11 Reply to R5 perspective and decisions that affect legal process for all wildland firefighters:

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.


8/10 Fire Budget in a lean year...

7/10 I wrote predicting this on the Hotlist and theysaid:
Region 5 IOU???
hotlist post

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 story.


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 number also 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 not."

Firefighters from FF1 on up, please invest in Professional Liability Insurance! Lawyer up! Peace of Mind... Priceless!


8/10 Ab,

I found this on Jennifer Ziegler, PhD's blog this morning and thought it worth posting on TheySaid.

vfd cap'n


A Recent Take on the Fire Orders? (sent to me by a wildland firefighter)

Fire Orders for the New Firefighter and Above

F 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 triplicate documentation.
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 happened.


Fair use disclaimer

Go visit her site for a nice collection of info on the 10s and 18s. Ab.

8/10 FWFSA update:

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 resources.

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 posted.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

8/10 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 McCall Helibase.

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 KDL?

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: Hotlist... Ab.

8/10 Casey Saves a life:


You are great.... and you support Casey in being what he is. Thanks for sharing this great story.

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 respect.

Awesome job my friends..... Casey and Micki.

Noname Friend of Casey (FWFSA Member).

8/9 Casey Saves a life:

Dear Abercrombie,

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 thud.

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.

(Casey's wife)

Excellent! Ab.
Added later: ID Newspaper article on the accident sent in by an ID Firefighter (23 K pdf file)

8/9 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 his MRE...

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.

8/9 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.

8/9 Resources:

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

8/9 Resources:

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? Superintendents? FFT2?



8/9 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!)



(But, don't let common sense get in the way of a good disaster!)

I put them on the Equipment 14 photo page. Ab.

8/8 NIMO teams

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.


8/8 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 organization. I think I’m getting sick to my stomach.


8/8 Helijumping pics:


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 ops. Unfortunately, I have not yet had the opportunity to copy them into a computer. When I do, I'll post something on They Said and make them available.

I'd like to say a quick thank you to the Marovich family for your incredible strength and compassion, and to all others who have been so supportive in the recent weeks regarding the accident.

I've been asked many questions and will write more when time permits.


Mike Yearwood
Chester Fly Crew

Thanks, Mike. Ab.

8/8 Questions for GACCs:

I like that folks still want to believe that their GACCs are keeping everything in order, 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.


8/8 NIMO teams:

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.

Cache Queen

8/8 Resources:

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 beginning 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.

8/7 Helijumper pics:

Ab/ J

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.

8/7 Helijumper pics:

Hello Ab,

For the poster looking for heli-jumping pics ... Life magazine did a series about heli-jumping in 1961.

Here's a link: Tucson helicopter jumps fire source etc

Not sure about the use of the photos



8/7 Ya helijumpers

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.


8/7 Helijumper pics:


Here's a helijumper pic, Lynn Biddison, from the Fire Leadership site.


8/7 The Great Peshtigo Fire - 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


Helijumper pics:

See link: from fireleadership.gov

Biddison 1953 Helijumper


8/7 Resources:

"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 drawdown levels?

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 things back.

There is no level that would hold every crew in the entire region, so don't believe rumors like that....


Even the Helijumpers? Ab.

8/7 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.


Helijumper ? Ab.

8/7 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


8/6 R2 Resources

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

8/6 Best Buds Forever of Tom (as a boy) and his Dad

I put it on Tom "TJ" Marovich's Remembrance Page. Ab.

8/6 Remembering the past to make the future safer:

Hey AB,

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...

8/5 Remembering those who perished in fatality fires: Mann Gulch:

Hey Ab,

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.


8/5 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.

Janice Stoel
Madras, Or.

Thanks Janice, and thanks to William. We're beginning to define a Remembrance Project that will have a home on the Hotlist or its own forum 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.


8/5 Lightning strikes Helicopter in ID:

Didn't know if you'd heard about this or not. TS

Lightning strikes helicopter at McCall helibase, 4 injured

01:35 PM MDT on Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Associated Press

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.

fair use disclaimer


In Memory:
Iron 44

Those Lost:

Shawn Blazer
Scott Charlson
Matthew Hammer
Edrik Gomez
James N. Ramage
Steven Renno
Bryan Rich
Roark Schwanenberg
David Steele

Our thoughts are with your loved ones. The Abs and Mods

8/5 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.
Hayward, CA

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 Photo]

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.

8/5 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.

Fedwatcher II

8/5 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.


8/4 For the Helicopter information, check out the Incident Response Pocket Guide, the Standards for Fire Operations (Red Book) and the Interagency Helicopter Guide, all available on the web…


Thanks, Joe. Ab.

8/4 Firefighter book/ question from firefighter author:

Sedgehead -

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!


8/4 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.

8/3 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 Logging Slash Fire Accident Report (pdf from Lessons Learned Center)

Be sure to discuss lessons learned with your crew and co-workers.

8/3 Photo

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.
- - - -
Best Wishes,
GAD, Fire Captain
Arcata Fire Protection District

8/3 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.

Misery Whip

PS I voted early

Haw haw, this just fell out of the server from 10/30/08! Strange. Ab.

8/2 Centralized Wildland fire:

Magruder Fingers,

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.


8/2 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.

8/2 Safety Alert

Rappel Equipment and Procedural Change (1557 K pdf file)

Hotlist thread as well... Ab.

8/2 Tom Marovich...

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 theStanza 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 doingtailgate 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 Modoc NF.

If I ever have the pleasure to cook for you guys again, I'll throw an extra steak on.

Richard Rivers
Food Unit Leader

8/1 Tom Marovich...


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.

Aunt Marlene

Share away. Ab.

8/1 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 looong 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 helibase.

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 spinning

Former UH60 and UH1 mechanic

8/1 R-3 Lights and Sirens:

Magruder Fingers, has a great point worth stressing. It's the perfect example of:

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!

William Riggles

8/1 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 young man.

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.


Fire Mom

8/1 Loss of Heather, Steve and John on Engine 11, July 28, 2002 and for Tom Marovich's family:

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 family.

Heather's Mom

Rob, Heather's friend whose daughter shares her name and a birthday with Heather. Ab.

8/1 Tom Marovich:

Dam! Unbelievable!

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.

8/1 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 lovely Tom.

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

Aunt Marlene, you're part of our firefighting family. Thank you. Ab.

8/1 Tom Marovich:

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 services. The family is grateful for the treasures of memories it contains.

Please pass along our appreciation.

Again lots of thanks


8/1 Centralized Fire:


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 objectives.


8/1 Helicopter ops:

Re: Should we still be flying large groups of folks (firefighters) in late 50's and 1960's vintage rotor wing aircraft?

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 happen.

/s/ Noname Semi-Leader that Anyone Can Call or Knows

8/1 Happy firefighter:


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.

Next time,

Lucky Lindy

8/1 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 emergency incident.

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 plain stupid.

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 please...

Magruder Fingers

8/1 Jobs

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.

Three Creeks.

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