"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland Firefighter
A review of some of the work that is being done by the Bushfire CRC (presented
in a science orientated
programme). Well worth a watch. I particularly found the part relating to
decision making very interesting
& probably spot on.
Thanks OB. Ab.
Have a safe and fun day, one and all!
airtankers 32 photo page: halloween (photo)
Happy Halloween from Ramona AAB compliments of HPWren:
airtankers 32 photo page: hpwren-halloween09 (photo)
CWCG Meeting without notes distributed to Fire Cooperators or Stakeholders:
The California Wildfire Coordinating Group (CWCG) recently had another meeting.
The primary topic reportedly revolved around IMTs. The agenda of this meeting
was not distributed to California Fed, State and LG Fire Service employees.
Notes of this meeting or any CWCG meeting are not distributed or posted on the
CWCG website. This is in violation of the CWCG charter:
“Minutes of each meeting will be kept and copies will be posted on the
CWCG website and forwarded to CWCG members and the signatory agency
administrators. The Chair will make arrangements for a note taker at each
“Each committee will elect a chairperson. Minutes of meetings or key
decisions and action items will be documented and distributed to CWCG”
Members and leaders of the CWCG need to remember that CWCG works for the
citizens of the State of California and or the Executive Branch of the United
States of America. The work CWCG does affects thousands of bargaining unit Fire
Service and non Fire Service employees (Fed, State and LG). The work CWCG does
also effects stakeholders, hundreds of Fire Safe Councils and cooperating
disaster relief organizations.
Complete transparency for the CWCG is required NOW.
Citizens and employees expect to receive all meeting minutes, decision logs and
updates when CWCG leadership changes. We expect information on all CWCG
activities in a timely manner so members and citizens are briefed and given
adequate time to provide input prior to the making of decisions. The meetings
should be open to the public.
CWCG works for the Fire Service, not the Secret Service. We expect transparency
on all topics including IMT management by December 1 or the FOIAs begin December
2. If you have no intention to seek change, being open and allowing your fellow
Brothers and Sisters not on your group to learn and lead, then CWCG members
might want to get busy learning where the delete button is.
CWCG Meeting Notes, 2009
Southern California Local Government Fire Agencies
(Orange County Fire Authority, LA County Fire, LA City Fire):
Are you listening? Night flying is not worth it!
www.latimes mid-air collision story
Paul Gleason on Cerro Grande Lessons and random thoughts on Cancer Clusters
Interesting VIDEO walk-through AAR/Lessons Learned from Paul Gleason
who presented to a S-490 Advanced Wildland
Fire Behavior Calculation class at Colorado State U. in Fort Collins, CO on
January 23, 2001. It's about a half hr
including several explanatory slides and photos at the beginning and end. I
appreciate that he sucked it up to talk about
this even in 2001.
AAR Video from myfirevideos.net
One interesting thing Gleason says near the end is that complexity and
risk are generally evaluated together in planning.
He suggests they should be considered separately, that complexity is
logistical and relates to how to do the job with
whatever resources; while risk relates to the threat to resources, public
homes, etc something "goes seriously awry".
He adds that there are "two vectors" that should be included in a worst case
scenario risk assessment: 1) the worst case
conditions on historic fire spread in 2 operational periods with resources not
available, compounded 2) by the added
risk of something else like a wind event.
In addition to fire behavior and decision making, one thing that periodically
concerns me is the cancer rates among
firefighters. At times it seems there are clusters of firefighters I've known
that have worked as a crew that have a high
incidence of cancer. There were concerns of radioactive soil and fire burning on
radioactive soil on Cerro Grande.
Does anyone have any potential exposure information? I've heard the same
concerns for HAZMAT risks at Hanford
fires in WA. We all suck smoke, its part of the risk, do we know where that risk
could be higher? Does anyone have
a list of clusters of cancers?
To those that are interested, the latest from our congressional sources is that
the USDA OIG report on the
Esperanza Fire will now be out on November 17th...a wee bit past its promised
release of last March.
According to congressional staff, the report will be short on conclusions, but
include some questions. Until
it's out, I guess it would be hard to surmise why it has taken so long to
prepare the report. More to follow.
For those that are interested we have posted a video of the gathering at
Hooley's for those that could
not make the event. The video is available at:
24 Hour Report STF Burn Injury
Date: October 26, 2009
Subject: Prescribed Fire Burn Injury, Preliminary 24 Hour Report
To: Susan Skalski, Forest Supervisor
Location: Bald Mountain Helibase, Mi Wok Ranger District, Stanislaus National
Date of Occurrence: October 22, 2009
Time of Occurrence: Approximately 11:15 PDT
Summary: A firefighter assigned to lighting piles of activity slash in a five
acre project area received burns caused by ignited drip torch fuel unknowingly
applied to his pant leg.
Injuries: One firefighter received 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree burns to the
right leg. The firefighter was transported to a local medical clinic for
treatment and was released. The following day, the firefighter received
additional care from UC Davis Burn Center.
Property Damage: None
Preliminary Findings: A firefighter assigned to lighting piles of activity
slash with a drip torch, stopped to carry two additional drip torches that were
nearly empty back to the fueling area. While in route to the fueling area, the
firefighter continued to light piles with a torch in one hand and the other two
torches carried in the other hand. The two torches not being used for lighting
at the time were carried with the wicks down. The firefighter unknowingly
dripped fuel from these two torches onto his pant leg. When the firefighter
walked past a burning pile, his pant leg ignited. Two other firefighters working
nearby assisted in extinguishing the fire and provided first aid.
A final report and facilitated learning analysis is forthcoming.
/s/ Bobby J. Shindelar
Review Team Leader
FERS sick leave bill
I read the FERS sick leave bill the same way that LM
does. If a FERS employee retires before Dec. 31 2013,
he/she will only be able to claim 1/2 of their accumulated sick leave hours
towards retirement. But, a co-worker
of mine has got another theory. His interpretation is that until Dec 31, 2013,
All FERS employees will only be
able to claim 1/2 of their sick leave when they retire, but when 2014 hits, they
will be able to claim 100%.
For example, if I had 500 hours of sick leave on Dec. 31, 2013, only 250 of
those hours would be available for
me when I retire. Then, on Jan 1, 2014, all the sick leave hours I accrue are
put towards retirement.
I went back and re-read the bill and to me it doesn't really spell it out.
Does anyone know which of these is correct? Casey, Ab, LM.
Centralize fire, it worked as a model program in R5:
Okay' we all as employees
of the forest service need to desperately join the fight take the fight to the
Take this fight away from the people that think they have control! Like on the
los padres! We are a land
management agency that always serves the people! That remains our mission and we
continue to give to people
that use our trails too! Without forest service firefighters continuing to serve
and step up, this agency won't exist!
So be careful like Smokey always says! Line officers need to listen, your last
grasp on power is a confirmation
that your leadership is archaic! Your leadership is outdated and misguided! The
so called professionals in this
agency have lost their mission! Centralize fire and excommunicate the line
I was here when we promoted the fire re-org! The pilot program in california!
It was progressive and efficient!
Thom myall and lonnie briggs were out front as leaders! They made a huge
difference and showed that that
fire management can not only be more efficient outside of the rec/res shop but
the sup office as well!
I can tell you this, the current so called "leadership" or line officers
despised our fire fighting model! They
brought in people after that who were afraid to lead! Now we're a forest of
followers, not leaders anymore!
We need to keep working towards a just culture. Sometimes we are faced
with new situations where
things go wrong, sometimes its fire behavior, sometimes its accidents, sometimes
its the movement of the
emergency itself. Often the public or whoever is clamoring to place blame cannot
see why we did not think
of a,b.c,d. We get blamed for too many overhead or people "sitting around". It's
easy to think like that old
problem resolution flowchart . Fear of Blame can get anybody looking for
self preservation. Blame can
keep us from hashing things out so we can be safer.
Good morning -
It is with great sadness that I share the news that Joseph (Joey) Gallegos
has passed away in Iraq. The National Guard confirmed that Joey was
found in his bed yesterday morning, having passed away in his sleep. The
Guard is not yet certain of his cause of death. When we receive any
information, I will let you know. It appears that it will be a week before
his remains are returned to northern NM. Once we have information on
the details of the funeral, or any other opportunities for the Forest Service
to participate and give honor to our fallen comrade, I will share.
Please keep Joey and his family in your prayers.
Please keep us in the loop for services. Community, please remember Joey's
contributions even beyond his military service: Here's
one award (archived doc) he received in 2007 based on a 2006 action he took
that saved a life. My condolences to his family, friends and coworkers. Ab.
Response to BarkR 10/24 Post:
BarkR maybe Barking up the right tree with
respect to challenging the vendor rating system for Variable Term SEAT
contracts. It is being operated by the BLM SEAT Program Office under the guise
delivering the ‘best value to the government’, but in reality the vendor ratings
are based on good ol’ boy politico’s that smell of favored status concocted in a
smoke filled room.
Having been the pilot of T452 in the Colorado accident you refer to, and my
perspective from having flown for both a highly rated vendor and a lower rated
vendor over the previous ten years, I can tell you that my personal attitude
towards any mission relied on safely conducting operations first, then the
mission was second, it did not matter what your vendor rating at the time was.
There were times when you simply declined the proposed drop and requested
The T452 accident story delivered to the masses by the AMD/BLM propaganda
machine; AMD through the web site and the BLM through their mandatory training
sessions assisted by my highly ranked former employer were to portray a rouge,
unprofessional, sleep deprived, poor communicating and mission fixated pilot
that directly led to the accident. The reality is that the aircraft door latch
system as designed is capable of opening by itself in rough air, in fact after
22 minutes into this flight and that no procedures existed relating to a door
open in flight or what can happen to the handling of the aircraft or an increase
in aircraft stall speed. Through my persistence, this is now been corrected and
included in the Aircraft Flight Manual. What caused this accident was the open
door providing a slip stream disturbance that produced an erroneously high
airspeed indication through the corrupted air static reference sensing system
located directly downstream of the cockpit door. The idea that immediately
jettisoning the load would have prevented the accident is flawed, as the unknown
door open indication and aerodynamic issues would have continued to be in play
and the aircraft control could have been similarly lost maneuvering to land.
To be factually accurate, (something that you won’t read coming from the AMD or
BLM) the planned continued flight following the door opening was to execute a
JETTISON (high and not precise) of the remaining load over the fire, free from
retardant restrictions and not to be confused by ‘conduct continued aerial
operations’ as was listed by the NTSB (READ AMD). This specific geographic area
was retardant sensitive and this plan was discussed and approved prior to
attempting the jettison with the aerial supervision that it would be acceptable
to jettison over the fire as this is required for aircraft handling and weight
considerations prior to landing. This is record and fact supported by transcript
dialogue from both myself and the aerial supervisor taken during the post
accident interviews. What followed from the AMD & BLM politico’s was the
defamation and marginalizing of me as a Tanker Pilot directly assisted by my
former highly ranked employer. The AMD investigator was not interested in any
GPS data that was recorded during the accident sequence (altitude, ground speed
or derived airspeed) that would have disputed what their well orchestrated
pre-ordained method to place the entire blame on myself without regard to any
factual data. My personal observation of what the AMD accident investigator or
the AMD leadership produced would rival something reported by the National
To be sure the AMD contrived story would not be challenged; they cancelled my
scheduled by AMD Rule mandated Pilot Review Board the day before, after witness
had been scheduled to appear and airline tickets had been purchased. Criminals
in this country are afforded at a minimum due process, where some sense of
factual balance can be presented. Not in the AMD world. So, this is where the
Vendor Ranking comes into play, once the AMD / BLM put’s the word out to the
SEAT vendor community, no potential employer will jeopardize their vendor
ranking, called AMD/BLM CONTROL. I have been told by two SEAT contractors that
they would wish to hire me, except they could not stand the repercussions by a
retaliatory drop in their VT vendor ranking, which leads directly to their
Fatal accidents do not permit any direct opportunity for investigative balance
or voice of reason. Politics run deep throughout these organizations and finding
a sympathetic ear within brethren government organizations willing to look into
allegations such as these takes persistence and lot’s of money. To my former
colleagues who continue their journey within the SEAT pilot community, be very
aware, you could be next.
God Speed Dave, and my sincere sympathy to his family.
Ab disclaimer: I do not know aviation or any of the posters on this SEAT
Here are some more photos of Howard, I had the great opportunity to work with
and along side
of Howard on many incidents, projects and on Team 2. He was a close friend and a
leader that the fire
service will miss. The wildland community has lost another great brother.
Here are some photos of Howard Rayon at the Tripod Fire, 2006.
April 11, 1948 - October 19, 2009
Proudly served from January 1977 - December 2005
I had the opportunity to meet Howard in person only once. My loss. He was
a member of this wildlandfire.com community. Knowledgeable and helpful man. A
loss for all of us. Wish I lived close enough to attend the LaMesa gathering in
his honor tomorrow evening. May the spirit prevail. Ab.
Re: terminology ... Flycrew, Helirappeller, Helitack
Thanks for the info.
re: seat contracts
how can it be legal to have a rating sys. on gov.
contracts? you are a qualified vendor or you are not
I see someone asked Fire Geek about an older decision making flowchart on
the hotlist. You posted the
updated Learning Analysis Guides in August... August 18. Here's your link. It's
also at the Lessons
Learning Analysis Investigation Guides 07/20/09 (149 k pdf, 7
I think what the poster was asking about was the earlier animated problem
resolution flowchart from 2007:
Flowchart Resolution (pps)
The Santee Firefighters have announced an informal gathering in memory of Howard
Rayon. Here is the information I have:
Hooley’s Pub and Grill
5500 Grossmont Center Drive
La Mesa, CA
1700 to 1900 hours on Wednesday (October 28th)
We will be updating any changes
Lakeside Fire Protection District
Thanks Mark. Ab.
Check this out. I will be out of service for 30 minutes. Radio
off. S.A. off. All resources bug off I am on my meal break.
Dear Ab & All:
Although there is a separate thread on the hotlist for E-57 comments, today's
anniversary observation and remembrance should also include the fact that
despite being promised nearly 8 months ago by the USDA OIG, the Esperanza Report
has yet to be produced for review.
The FWFSA faxed a letter to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack this morning and
received word from Senator Feinstein's office they would make yet another
inquiry in the morning.
While we should all be mindful of the unimaginable impact the loss of the E-57
crew has had on the families, friends, co-workers and the wildland firefighting
community, we must also remain cognizant of the responsibility we have to the
crew to ensure the Agency complies with the law in a timely manner and provides
our firefighters with all the tools necessary to make this incredibly dangerous
job as safe as it can be.
Remembering Engine 57
On October 26th, 2006, 5 Wildland Firefighters
lost their lives in the Esperanza Tragedy.
The crew of San Bernardino National Forest Engine 57 was defending an unoccupied
home located at the
top of a steep drainage when the fire over ran them.
- Capt. Mark Loutzenhiser, 43;
- FEO Jess McLean, 27;
- AFEO Jason McKay, 27; F/F
- Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20; and
- F/F Pablo Cerda, 23.
Hotlist thread Please add any comments there or send them to me and I'll
add them. Ab.
Re: Single Engine Airtankers (SEATs) and Competitive Firefighting…. from 10/24 (BarkR
David Jamsa's family clearly has a wrongful death law suit against the
AMD. Policy limited David's Jamsa's ability to put safety first.
AMD = Aviation Management Directorate. The institution that puts key
management people at arm's length from bad policy.
Sent from my iPhone
Ab note: JG says the bad policy is explained in BarkR's post
10/24 Beyond that I do not know aviation...
Help us produce an ember awareness brochure to help raise awareness of
structure fires. We're looking for high resolution, clear images that
depict burning embers. Submit your own photos for consideration to
I asked LM what bill he was talking about in his post yesterday and here's
his reply. His post also got picked up by the
hotlist discussion thread... Ab.
It was /is the Defense Authorization Bill. I think it's pretty funny how
these "riders" get attached to bills. First, the FERS sick leave (and
other matters) were added to the Smoking Bill, but later they were removed.
Now it appears that they found a home in the Defense Authorization Bill.
But the President still needs to sign it!
I just posted two nice photos, one of a dozer with flames on Humboldt Fire in
Butte, 6/15/08; and a second of engines E-2180 and E-2169. Photos compliments of
BTU Oroville Station.
Thanks for those. I put them on
Equipment 16 and
Engines 26 photo pages. Ab.
Cramer Fire Memorial North Fork, Idaho
I just returned from a hunting vacation in eastern Idaho, and was able to
visit a memorial at the USFS North Fork Ranger Station.
It honors two Helitack firefighters who lost their lives during the "Cramer
Fire" 2003. If you care to post the photos on the
memorial page here they are.
Dan Padilla, Chief
Page, scroll down to Idaho... Here's the image of the
memorial for Jeff and Shane.
Dan, do you know the Lat/Long of that site. We could use that info for the
Remembrance Project. Ab.
Helitack Crew or Fly Crew? Who cares? Maybe it makes a difference on shirts and
It definitely makes a difference on the fire. I’ve been on Helitack Crews
that fight like banshees on initial attack long before any Hotshot Crew gets
there. I’ve been on Fly crews that wait all season long and don’t go to one I.A.
So it goes like everything else.
You’re a reflection of your overhead. If you have aggressive overhead you
probably act more like a Shot Crew with a ship. If you have less aggressive
overhead you’ll probably take shelter at a water point or set up helibase as
fast as you can.
What matters is what kind of product you produce at the most critical time of
the fire. Isn’t that the reason behind rapid initial attack, whether or not it’s
a helicopter or fixed wing? We can put too much emphasis on the name and lose
sight of what’s always the more important factor, which is our commitment to
safely putting these fires to sleep before they turn into gobblers. What
Helitack Crews or Fly Crews should be focusing on are the operations that
separate us from driving in, like the dynamics of picking a spot to engage a
fire at the most crucial time and then trying to make a difference.
All Helitack or Fly Crew Capt’s. and Supt’s know that the greatest aspect of
flying is the initial attack experience gained over and over. Anyone can drive
up and pick a flank. So give thanks to the ones that are at the head sweatin and
gettin and bump past the ones you know that rather be setting up carnival
New shirt perhaps.
Just some clarification on the sick leave issue;
I spent some time reading the Bill that had this rider attached, and one
important date for the FERS employee to remember is 2013. If you plan on
retiring before 2013, you will only be able to apply 50% of your accrued
sick leave toward creditable service. But, after 2013, you will be able
to apply 100% of your accrued sick leave toward creditable service.
I noticed that this comment got picked up and referred to on the
hotlist discussion thread about 2 new bills. Thanks, I must be on vacation. Ab.
Good Morning All,
It seems to
start earlier each year, but the Jobs Page
has a couple
of new announcements. The Lone Peak Hotshots are looking for a new
Superintendent and the Ventura County FD in California is looking for a heavy
There is also getting to be a good variety of heavy equipment being sold on the
company with multiple engines going out of business.
Check 'em out. OA
"Rehiring Federal employees at full salary is now a signature away
from happening. Within
the next 24-72 hours the President will sign the Defense Authorization
How sweet it is.
However, before we break out the bottle of Veuve Cliquot, I'm assuming a lot
1. That "they" have not loaded this down with so many bureaucratic requirements
that it is unworkable;
2. That the federal wildland fire agency managers don't do the same, as they did
when they required a PL 4 or 5 prior to implementing;
3. That a streamlined process can be put in place to rehire (e.g., where it
doesn't take a week to get a desperately needed resource);
4. That the IBPWT - at least those with well-known personal and past-documented
prejudice toward retirees - stay the hell out of any interpretation, stay the hell out of
sabotaging this as they have so successfully in the past, and just do their job
of laying out the letter of the law in the Business Mgmt Handbook.
Back to low-profile "retirement."
Best to all of you.
||Rehiring Federal employees at full salary is now a signature away from
happening. Within the next 24-72 hours the President will sign the Defense
Sick Leave toward retirement for FERS employees is also hours away from
PLUS the bill indefinitely suspends ALL A-76 Competitions.
The change in administrations is starting to pay dividends.
Yes We Did!
From the hotlist: go there to participate in the discussion:
Hotlist thread Ab.
You can find the minimum stocking level for engines in Appendix R in the
Interagency Standards for Fire
and Aviation Operations more commonly called the Red Book. BLM, NPS, USF&W, and
USFS all use the book. You should be able top find an electronic copy on line.
R-5 Retention Bonus:
The 10% retention bonus for our GS-5's through 8's expire in Feb 2010. Randy
Moore will be making the
decision to extend them for another year (or not) within the next 45 days.
To assist him with this decision, you might want to let him know your thoughts
on this subject. Even if you
choose to post your comments on this subject in this forum, he will read them,
trust me, Randy is a wlf.com
Speak up, and while you're at it, ask him for an update on how the "Randy Moore
PTP Proposal" (RMPTPP)
is coming along since he sent it forward to DC for final approval in late 2008.
It would be a good time for
Hotlist Thread on retention
Single Engine Airtankers (SEATs) and Competitive Firefighting….
Only a few SEAT vendors are awarded the profitable Variable Term Contracts,
where the number one contractor must have all their aircraft assigned and
working prior to the second vendor getting even one of their planes assigned to
work. Could the pilots for vendors in the number 4, 5, or 6 positions be “trying
too hard” to help their contractors move up the ladder of preferred vendors?
The rating criteria for SEAT vendors on the Variable Term Contracts have never
been revealed to the vendors (other than a vague “performance over the past
three years”). Safety, accident occurrence, Safecoms, and contract bid price
were apparently not included in the rating system criteria. No SEAT vendor has
seen the criteria on which the “preferred vendor list” was compiled, so could
their attention to mission accomplishment (and ratings) be heightened
Many SEAT vendors in 2008/2009 were on fire contracts for limited time periods
when compared to past years, prior to Variable Term Contracts. Most of those
vendors that continue to work agriculturally (spraying or fertilizing) in the
off-season are positioned at the bottom of the preferred vendor list. Those
companies that do ag work in the off-season keep pilots in the cockpit on an
almost year-round basis, which provides for proficiency in flight operations.
The vendors at the bottom of the preferred vendor list may have little hope of
moving up in the rating system to a point where it could make a difference in
their companies getting hired under the Variable Term Contracts. With little
hope of moving up the ladder, pilots may feel less pressure to perform close to
the edge of safe operations. Several of the lower rated companies continue to
fly relatively high numbers of flight hours under the “On-Call” Contracts, or
under state contracts. Several of the lower rated vendors fly more fire flight
hours than those vendors rated higher on the Variable Term Contract preferred
vendor list. These lower rated vendors, logging more fire flight hours, have
also had fewer accidents. Are fewer accidents a result of proficiency and the
lack of the pressure to exceed in order to elevate their company in the ratings
A preferred vendor pilot may miss a drop completely, drop too high at 200 feet,
or drop at too fast of an airspeed, with no repercussions. However, those pilots
working for vendors in the median range on the preferred vendor list (flying
under the “On-Call" Contracts) may be trying to nail their targets right on the
money to impress the ground firefighters and other air resources. This might be
especially true with ATGS’s or ASM’s when working on BLM fires, since the BLM
has oversight for the SEAT Program.
The “safety first” attitude fostered in the past, prior to the Variable Term
Contracts, may have been replaced by an atmosphere of competition between the
Variable Term contract holders and the “have-nots”. Could this be a Human Factor
partially responsible for accidents such as the one in 2008 in Colorado with
Tanker 452, and the one in 2009 in Nevada with Tanker 857?
In Colorado, Tanker 452 initially had a cockpit door open unexpectedly. Rather
than jettison the retardant load and return to base, the pilot continued to fly
and attempt a retardant drop. If that pilot had been working for a vendor that
was rated high on the preferred vendor list, would he have made that same
decision? Or did the cloud of the vendor rating system urge him to make a drop
at whatever the cost? Are other pilots from vendors in the median range of the
preferred vendor list unintentionally making similar decisions based upon
elevating their vendor in the rating system?
Conversations with the pilot of Tanker 857, during the week before his fatal
accident, revealed that he was focusing on doing the best job possible since
being mobilized under the “On-Call” Contract. That desire to perform efficiently
was part of his nature. Witness statements of personnel on the fire indicate
that another SEAT had dropped at a much higher elevation than he attempted when
he crashed . Was the pilot of Tanker 857 subconsciously trying to “get lower” to
perform in order to get his vendor elevated in the rating system? Was his focus
on mission accomplishment, rather than a safe exit flightpath or an emergency
jettison? Is there a possibility of disruptive CRM due to these contracts, and a
sense of competition created in the SEAT aviation fire world?
An example: If the fire agencies told Hotshot Crews that they had been rated
(but that the criteria for rating them was not to be revealed), and that the
highest rated (preferred) would be ordered for fires based on that rating, not
geographic locality, how would that work? Would those lower on the list work
harder to try to improve their rating? That would seem likely, if they knew what
to work harder at, since the rating system criteria were not revealed. Would
those crews low on the list cut more fireline per hour? Saw more trees per day
while cutting line? Saw more burning snags? If they did not know how they were
being rated, but were told that safety was not part of the criteria, what would
they do? Burn out more line, even when it was not needed? Would the crews create
more Safety Zones? Oh, that's right, safety isn't considered. Then cut more line
and FEWER safety zones? And if a preferred crew was working side-by-side with a
crew that was lower on the list, which crew would produce more? Which crew would
suffer more injuries?
Another example: What if bulldozer contractors were rated and hired based on a
rating, and the criteria for that rating system were not revealed? Would a
preferred vendor of the bulldozers perform differently than one lower on the
preferred vendor list? Would they plow more direct line or indirect line? Would
a vendor rated lower on the list try to “pinch the head of a running fire” in
order to be rated higher? If a bulldozer from a highly rated vendor, and one
from a lower rated vendor were working side-by-side on a fire, would the lower
rated vendor work harder? Push more line? Push line in steeper ground than the
highly rated vendor was willing to try, in order to move up in the rankings
system? These are an approximation of what may be occurring now with the SEATs
caught in the Variable Term vs. On-Call contracts. The Variable Term Contract
may have resulted in a competitive environment when working fires, and may have
not fostered a “Team Effort” among SEAT pilots. This competitive environment may
be an unrecognized Human Factor contributing to actions leading to accidents in
the SEAT fire environment.
I please need some help in locating info on what the minimum equipment is
for wildland engines. Our chief here at our station is clueless about
wildland fire and is not willing to listen to us that have wildland
experience here on the east side of the Sierras. Everyone knows that has
been out to the Sierra Front knows how challenging these fires can be.
Anyone that can help myself and our department, we'd appreciate the help.
Re: helitack crews
In addition to Tom's post, CalFire staffs 11 helitack crews throughout the
state. Normally they consist
of two captains (one in the ship), and about 5-7 firefighters, so it is not
really a "flycrew" by definition.
Some are trained as rappellers, but the crews are not referred to as such.
Wilder Ranch State park RX pics
Wilder Ranch State park RX (photos)
My name is Joe Chandler. I was originally assigned to the Del Rosa Hotshots in
1969. Some of us then were transferred to the Converse Hot Shots to finish the
season. I believe we were the first Converse Hot Shot crew. My memory is bad so
the only names I remember were John Eby, and Jim Witt. Witt was our foreman. We
were put in an old CC camp with a four seat outhouse and lousy beds. I believe
we fought seven Class E fires that season. A couple of the ones I remember were
the one that burned down the Morton Peak lookout, and the Stable fire behind
Arrowhead. Also a couple in Cajon Pass. Bob Chandler, my brother known as Moe,
was on the crew in later years. I wish I could remember more and if I do I'll
Thanks, Joe. I posted this on the
to Fire Manager" Project. Take a look at what several other former
members have said. Maybe their comments will jog some more memories.
Readers, I got some great National IHC history from Dave Provencio, but will
need some wintertime hours to get it up and running here.
Carry on. Ab.
I do believe that is the original logo, at least it was when I started on the
crew. And now you mention it I
remember something to the effect that Howard’s wife did design it.
Still missing that voice
Re: terminology ... Flycrew, Helirappeller, Helitack
If you go to the Field Operations Guide ( ICS 420-1 ) Chapter 13, a lot of
your questions can be answered on common terminology ( which is what Firescope
and ICS sought to clear up.) The true name for a helicopter delivered Type 1
handcrew is a "Flycrew", here is the breakdown based on affiliation:
State and Local Govt Flycrews: 8
If the crew meets the minimum requirements as laid out in the FOG, they are
technically a Type 1 Crew.
Now in the same document, "Helitack" refers to a minimum number of 3 personnel,
and their job would be in more of a support role. Remember we are talking
terminology here, not real life. Heli-rappelling is an appendage of flycrews and
The Arroyo Grande Flight Crew was established in 1977. It's primary mission was
the fast delivery of firefighters in Initial Attack of wildland fires on the Los
Padres NF. Based on budgets ( good and bad ) the numbers of employed
firefighters has varied from 7 to 28 in any given year. It has a longstanding
tradition of being firefighters first and helitack secondary, which explains why
they retain the name of "flight crew" a variation of "flycrew". They have also
been called "helishots" but the name has no historical reference in ICS. The
first rappel crew was in 1993.
In 2000, Region 5 implemented a pilot program called FireSTOP ( Standard Type
One Program ) using Type 1 passenger carrying Helicopters with a large crew to
evaluate the effectiveness of delivering large amounts of firefighters with
support from a Type 1 Helicopter. The LP sponsored one of the modules and it was
very successful. This concept was talked about for years on the LP and it
finally took hold.
In 2001, when the National Fire Plan was implemented and money was available,
the Region decided to place a Type 1 Helicopter with a 28 person crew at Arroyo
Grande. The intent was to field a fully certified Type 1 handcrew, have them all
helitack and rappel qualified and have enough personnel to manage and utilize
the Sikorsky S-61N as the delivery platform. The crew got certified in June of
2001 as a type 1 crew based on the Interagency Hotshot Crew Operations Guide.
Shortly afterwards, the crew developed SOPs for rappel, cargo letdown and two
wheel main gear landings. The performance and capabilities of this program
exceeded anything that had been previously done in the nation. The aircraft was
able to deliver an entire 20 person crew by rappelling in 2 loads. 2006 was the
last year for the Type 1 helicopter and 28 person flight crew at Arroyo Grande.
2007, The Region was looking at costs and decided to drop the program back to a
Type 2 helicopter with a 14 person flycrew. The LP determined the investment
that had been made in the land based Type 1 Crew had been too great to let it go
and fought for it, the Arroyo Grande crew remained.
In 2008 the crew was certified as the Arroyo Grande Interagency Hotshot Crew.
The Arroyo Grande Flight Crew remains separate from the hotshots but they share
the same base. They also share a common history, camaraderie and work ethic.
Someone else can weigh in on other programs and their evolutions. I worked at
Arroyo Grande from 1987-88, 1990, 1993 and 2001 through 2005.
More good ones than bad... from Captain 64:
I’ve tried to go back to a life of
quiet obscurity but it seems that fate and Aunt Marlene are working to prevent
I’d heard that Tom’s name was to be added to the California Firefighters
Memorial wall this year. I knew that most, if not all, of Tom’s crew would be
there. I knew that most, if not all, of the crew that brought Tom home would be
there. I knew that most, if not all, of Tom’s friends and family would be
there. I just didn’t know if I would be there. At the last moment the dark
clouds over the Modoc opened up and the rain started poring down. Well there
goes my last excuse, so much for fire season.
I read Aunt Marlene’s note on They Said asking about how the crew was doing and
was moved yet again. It was good to see Yearwood respond. He really summed up
what many of us have been thinking and feeling. I know I have felt the need to
write or call but haven’t been able to find the words. I know I’ve deleted more
than one message to Tom’s parents. It seems that others have too. Words
continue to seem inadequate.
I arrived plenty early on Saturday morning. Partly because I couldn’t sleep but
mostly because I HATE being late. I decided to take a bit of a walk and kill
some time. As I walked around the capital I passed a group of people who seemed
to be just about as lost as I was. Then I heard someone say “don’t we know
you?” I turned and yup they were talking to me. And no, I hadn’t a clue who
they were. Under the best of circumstances I’m horrible with names and faces.
During Tom’s going home I met so many. It ended up being Aunt Marlene and
family. Then they asked, “Do you know who Captain 64 is?” Well, most days I’m
not sure I know who THAT Captain 64 is either. It was good to meet them… again.
I will remember that conversation and it really set the mood for the rest of
the day. It wasn’t a sad day really. There were smiles, funny Tom stories,
seeing old friends, seeing not so old friends.
Memorials like this are good. Even if you don’t know any of the fallen
personally I encourage you to go. I was stunned by how many of US are on the
wall. Forest Service, Park Service, CalFire, city, volunteer, whatever. All
that falls away when the name is carved in white marble. They are simply one of
US and we’ve lost so many. I’ve learned these last months how people who didn’t
even know Tom were irreversibly changed by his, no not death, but by his life.
He became a son, he became a brother, he became a friend to so many. Simply
I can’t say that when Governor Schwarzenegger talked about Tom that I wasn’t
moved. I can’t say that when they read his name that a tear didn’t come to my
eye. I can’t say that when the mass of bagpipes faded to the lone piper that I
didn’t cry. But it was more of a day of smiles. That day I saw Tom’s mom
smile for the first time in my life. Now that is the measure of a good day.
Esperanza Fire Before/After Fire Effects demo
This may be useful for training. I’ve attached some data layers in a KMZ file
that will open in Google Earth or ArcGIS Explorer. By turning on the various
perimeter files and imagery and adjusting the layer transparency you can teach
fire progression and before/after fire effects at the fatality site. I was in
the GIS Unit during the fire when the GIS Specialists were discussing the big
hole in the perimeter file around Poppet Flats. I had my PDA that still had the
Poppet Flat Rx fire shapefile from when I mapped it the previous year. It lined
up perfectly with the Esperanza perimeter and thermal image thus visually
explaining the unburned island. It is a convincing way to depict the benefits of
the hazardous fuels reduction projects that had been conducted by CAL FIRE and
International GIS Day is coming up on November 19. I’ll be speaking at Humboldt
State University and will be happy to show you how to use GIS to help tell the
Esperanza Fire story.
esperanza before and after.wmv
Re: Desperately seeking BC Satellite Scenes
Thanks very much for your help!
Hi Ab and everybody,
I'm trying to get some crew details straight. This came up in a discussion
the other day...
What is the difference in duties, mode of delivery, any other quals or number
of firefighters on a crew between
heli-rapeller, helitack, and "flight crew" or "fly crew" or "type 1 crew" for
feds (and CAL FIRE helicopter
resources if they use different terms). That Arroyo Grande crew on the LP that
had the flight crew photo page
is now a type 1 crew or hotshot crew, I think. Does anyone know the history of
that? Are most flight crews or
fly crews type 1 crews? How many are there in CA, in the US? How many CALFIRE
crews are there?
Photos of the AG crew
FS site that explains some of it: Helitack and Rappellers
Partners in Fire Ab.
God bless you Howard
I believe Howard Rayon was the original designer of the traditional Laguna Hot
Shots Oak Tree crew logo
back in the 70’s when he was on the crew.
I miss that voice already
John V Estes
Thanks, John. He was on that crew. Is this the right
Laguna HS logo? I believe Howard's wife Kyle actually designed that one back
in the day, '74?? Does anyone have old stories of Howard, or new stories...? Ab.
Some very nice Airtanker photos from the CA-BDU-Oak Glen Fire by Cy Phenice.
I posted them on on
Airtankers 32 photo page. He sent a fine photo of the fire behavior, too.
That's on the
Fire 43 photo page. Ab.
I've attached some photos from the La Brea Fire on the Los Padres N.F.,
taken by Black Eagles 5 from here on the Sequoia N.F.
I put them on
Fire 43 photo page. Looks like they were taken between 6 and & 7 PM on 8/13.
Some big flames. Ab.
Howard Rayon's passing
It is with great sadness that I received word of Howard
Rayon’s passing yesterday morning. I have never met a more professional
firefighter and chief officer. Howard came to work for me in 1976 as my Fire
Engine Operator at Descanso Station on the Cleveland National Forest. To me he
was more than an outstanding employee, he was tremendous friend! And we stayed
close friends over the last 33 years.
Howard left the Forest Service in 1977 and joined Santee Fire Department and
worked his way up from a rookie firefighter to Deputy Chief. And in addition to
this new career, he went on to earn a Law Degree, pass the California Bar and
practice law, specializing in fire litigation. After his retirement from Santee
he continued to work as a Safety Officer on California Interagency Incident
Management Team 2 and teach fire service classes around California. As an
outstanding fire service instructor Howard was recognized this year by the
California Fire Service Training Institute; receiving their Distinguished
And here is a little know fact: It was Howard who convinced the Santee Fire
Chief, way back in the late 70's, to put drip torches on their Type I Engines!
You couldn't get the "wildland fire" out of him!
He was the consummate professional and personal friend who I will miss very,
very much! The Fire Service has a big hole to fill!
Old (2003) Fire suspect charged with murder, arson
Posted: 10/20/2009 03:34:42 PM PDT
A state prisoner accused of starting the catastrophic Old Fire in 2003 was
charged Tuesday with murder and arson in a Grand Jury indictment.
Rickie Lee Fowler, 28, of San Bernardino, has been jailed on an unrelated
burglary charge since six weeks after the devastating Old Fire began ripping
through mountain communities and Lower Waterman Canyon on Oct. 25, 2003.
An 18-member Grand Jury panel considered evidence for two weeks before returning
the indictment, charging Fowler with five murder counts, arson of an inhabited
structure, aggravated arson and two special circumstances for multiple deaths
and arson causing death.
The decision came five days before the statute of limitations for arson runs
out. Investigators said the six year delay was due
to "identification problems" and that new evidence surfaced as recently as three
weeks ago. (click link for the rest and a photo of Rickie Lee Fowler, 28, of
Howard Rayon's passing
It is with great sadness that I share with the fire community the passing of
Howard Rayon. Howard finished his battle with cancer yesterday morning after
nearly two years. I know many of you have tremendous thoughts about Howards
incredible career. My own are his service to CIIMT 2 as Safety Officer. I came
on the team while Don Studebaker was the IC and Howard was Safety. Howard always
gave you that confidence that he had his end of the operation well in hand in
his quick assessment of the situation and his smooth and deliberate deliveries.
As I grew to see this master work, I gained incredible respect for him, both as
a person and professional. Howard never bragged although he had plenty to boast
about. There are many people out there I know who can fill in some of Howards
career highlights better than I can, so please share with the rest of us what
you know and loved about Howard.
To Howards wife on behalf of CIIMT2 I extend our deepest sympathies.
Howard, we will miss you.
Fire Management Officer
FWS Southern California Zone
Incident Commander CIIMT 2
Benefit for WFF
We are holding a fundraiser to raise money to help the children of fallen
wildland firefighters. Help brighten a child's day this
holiday season. Come meet some great people and have a good time at Route 66
Classic Grill. We will not be soliciting
donations, rather, 15% of proceeds will be donated to the Wildland Firefighter
Foundation Santa's Helper Fund. Make
sure to bring your flier or mention that you are here for the fundraiser.
Route 66 Flyer
From a Santa Helper
Address: 18730 Soledad Canyon Rd. Canyon County, CA
Readers, this request came in from a member of the community.
Does anyone have fire behavior photos of the Station Fire between 8/28
through 9/4 with a brief description of location, date and time?
thanks in advance
The OSHA Report:
(386 K pdf)
Re: Desperately seeking BC Satellite Scenes
For Lynn Wood,
Landsat scenes are available for free. You can browse, request processing,
and download from the USGS' Global Visualization Viewer... http://glovis.usgs.gov
There is an overview of the viewer at...
The area Lynn is interested in lies on both 44/24 and 43/24. There is a nice
scene 43/24 on 8/20/2003 that has the fire burning. The next cloud-free scene is
9/5/2003, 9/21 has some snow higher up as does 11/18/2003. The 43/24 scene
acquired 2/12/2004 has snow on the burn. The next clear scene is 6/3/2004.
Station Fire Behavior Pics, sent in on 9/19/09
Here are some pics I took while working as a FOBS. Pretty amazing to witness
this kind of fire behavior on a daily basis. These pics were taken on Div Q from
the south side of Cogswell Reservoir.
dozer walking up to start pushing indirect line between Pine Mtn and
Monrovia Pk. Drainage shown is the mouth of Devils canyon as it spotted across
and started chewing up some real estate to the north towards Chilao and Mt
Waterman. Photo of Texas Canyon HS walking up Cogswell Reservoir to try to
anchor in and try to get direct line up out of river canyon and keep fire from
spreading any more to the south of San Gabriel River. Increased fire behavior in
that area caused the HS Crews (Mendo, Dalton, Truckee and Little T) to pull back
for a bit while the helitankers put it back in check.
Some nice photos on Engines 25 and Airtankers 32 photo pages. Thanks,
La Brea Fire "Engine Show" on the ground, 4 photos: La Brea, ORC
E-307, Orange County E-307, E-307 & SEAT, Orange County Strike Team 1400C.
Photos compliments of Bruce Bailey. (0909) For more photos by Bruce, see
Airtankers 32 photo page. Firefighters on the ground and in the air
compliment each other's efforts.
La Brea Fire "Air Show", 4 photos: La Brea T-100, T-100 again, T-21,
T-45 at Schoolhouse: Photos compliments of Bruce Bailey. (0909) For more photos
by Bruce, see
Engines 25 photo page. A firefighting air attack needs firefighters on the
ground to be successful.
Arnica Fire Column from Space: NOAA
I don't know where this should be posted but thought your group would
benefit from or enjoy this view from the International Space Station.
Arnica Fire Column from Space compliments of NOAA
All the best,
New Facilitated Learning Analysis up on the
Just getting a drink of water...
Pictures from the tribute to California Fallen Firefighters in Sacramento
Thanks Fire Mom. I added them to
Tom Marovich's memorial page. Ab.
Been reading the discussion about rainfall totals on the Hotlist. Maybe
the trailing info can put some perspective on things.
This is the 24hr recorded total for California. Yes, there could be higher
totals out there but they were not recorded.
I knew 2 people, 1 who ran the pack train to this location and the other a Flood
Control Employee, who both had first hand knowledge of the event.
This was recorded on a LA County Flood Control rain gauge.
Location was a mountain resort, now site of a FS hike in campground.
General vicinity; 2.5 miles by trail from Chantry Flats Station, Angeles NF.
Record Maximum 24-hour Precipitation
26.12 22-23 Jan 1943 Hoegees Camp
CA rain extremes
Private Industry with no home?
I find it almost laughable that the private industry folks are screaming
about the Federal Firefighting bill and their perception that they will be out
of work. That will never be the case (even if it were for the best of the
publics benefit!) They will have enough protection from DC insiders to make sure
privates will always have a place at the government table, it just may be not he
place they want (or the job). Private engines, in my opinion, have always been a
mistake. If we need more engines, staff them on a Federal/State/Local level and
move them around as needed. As I have said many times in the past, if there is
money to pay for privates, there is money to pay for Agency equipment.
My experience on the State and Federal level has always had one constant.
privates always overcharge for something if they know an emergency is attached
to it, then fall back to the same old line of "we were there to provide
something the government couldn't...". This is the case solely because some
folks in DC protect that private industry supply group with the same old
'un-American' diatribe if the government tries to provide the same product. I am
tired of hearing how much a sack nasty is costing the agency buying them, then
hearing the private suppliers complain that they may lose that money! Responses
to things like Hurricanes and Wars need to be done by government entities.
Hoping the privates will step in and provide the quality needed without gouging
is not realistic.
A simple thank you:
Over the first 10 months of this year, and perhaps longer, the economy has
played havoc with almost everyone. Despite the
incredibly humbling growth the FWFSA experienced nationwide in both 2007 & 2008,
things slowed considerably this year.
It is not lost on all of us at the FWFSA that membership dues, no matter how
reasonable we think they may be for the work
we do, are not the priority when it comes to working through the economic
environment we find ourselves in. That being said,
those that continue to support the FWFSA in 27 states and the recent new
members not only from California, but
Washington, Virginia, New Mexico, Wyoming and South Carolina deserve our
Thanks to all,
total knee replacement
Reference this post from September 8th. I had TKR
December 2007 and have been back to full duty since May of
2008. If anyone wants to know what the story is (I had a lot of time to write out
the beginning the middle and then end),
I can get with them. I also, have a blog on the firefighternation.com
website. I started a blog and others contacted
me about what I went through. I can be contacted at dczimmerman6@ nospam yahoo.com or if
they want by phone
Good Morning to All:
The wildland firefighting community has been afforded an opportunity from a US
Senator's office to develop/offer ideas & solutions
to the current grant process administered by non-profits such as the California
Fire Safe council Inc. for fuels reduction work.
The link below is an article outlining just how fouled up the process can be.
The article represents just one example of the
phenomenon of all sorts of folks coming out of the woodwork seeking grants for
fuels reduction, many of whom have no wildfire
experience and possess nothing more than a weedeater.
If you have any ideas that might be of benefit to make the program and the grant
process more efficient and effective, please feel
free to email me at email@example.com.
To: Casey Judd and all FWFSA Leadership
Four words-----> Thank YOU so much!
Update for the scholarship total on the
Paul Gleason Memorial Page
The current Scholarship Total is $9,400. The goal is $25,000 and the timeframe
has just been extended to 10/2010.
Karen Miranda Gleason
Thanks, Karen, I updated it. Readers, contributions
to Paul's Memorial Scholarship fund are still open. I'm not sure quite how this
is set up, but it would be nice if the principal of the fund was large enough
($25,000) to fund the scholarship(s) off the interest, in perpetuity. Ab.
Your post is woefully ignorant when it comes to the FWFSA legislation. Do you
not understand that legislation these days, especially when it comes from
modest-sized organizations like the FWFSA, needs to demonstrate its
cost-effectiveness and efficiencies before anyone on the Hill will commit to it?
It has taken years; a lot of time, effort, money etc., to educate Congress on
these issues and to develop a comprehensive piece of legislation addressing our
member's goals and fulfilling the obligations set forth by Congress.
Not good for the public is absolutely absurd. In fact the strongest part of our
marketing strategy is the benefit to the taxpayer under this bill. You are
correct...it would benefit federal firefighter bank accounts. What a concept
considering they foot the bill for our work with their dues. It would also
benefit many more federal firefighters than we have members...but of course we
won't get credit for that.
Since you're not a federal wildland firefighter, perhaps you can't truly
empathize with those who are taken off the clock while on assignment by their
boss...the Federal Government while that same boss pays others a full 24 hrs at
much higher rates, in addition to backfill costs, admin fees, housing etc.
So...one more time: There is already sufficient funds in the FIRE budgets for
preparedness, fuels and suppression. The problem has been the fiscal management
of those dollars by Line Officers who routinely spend such FIRE funds on
non-fire projects (The vast majority of these Line officers have little to no
wildland fire experience or expertise) ASC comes to mind. When preparedness
dollars are not used for preparedness resources, something is missing in the
Further, The Agency(s) have failed to maintain the strength of its forces due to
archaic pay & personnel policies and their failure to recognize that in the 21st
century, their fire programs must be managed like a fire department with those
that have the fire experience and expertise developing & implementing fire
policy AND controlling the fire dollars.
Fiscal mismanagement, very little congressional oversight until recently and
significant losses of staffing have led to the Agency needing to find a way to
"fill in the gaps" during the season. As a result, we believe the agencies have
become over-reliant on non-federal resources...especially in the west.
You can complain and criticize all you want but the facts, now supported by GAO
and congressional reports clearly show the sizeable impact non-federal resource
costs have had on the skyrocketing cost of suppression.
Why has the FS had to seek a half a billion dollar emergency supplemental
appropriation almost every year? They claim climate and WUI have increased the
number of fires, etc., but have failed to come clean on their non-federal costs.
Now the "cat's out of the bag."
That being said, through proper fiscal management of the fire budgets, a more
cost-effective balance of federal, private, state & local fire forces can be
accomplished and ultimately save taxpayers hundreds of millions each year.
Will that mean that some local government (municipal firefighters) might not
make the staggering sums they make now by taking federal fire assignments...yup.
Does that mean contract crews that don't pass muster won't be called
anymore...yup. Will it mean that the taxpayer will get a bigger bang for their
buck with a stronger federal force as envisioned by the National Fire
The wildfire landscape will always be sufficiently complex so as to require
cooperation from various governmental and private entities. Can it be managed
better and more efficiently while providing federal wildland firefighters some
benefits they have deserved for decades...yup.
Remember, other groups also have advocacy groups to work on your behalfs.
As always, I can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org
Where can I find a link to the Wildland fire fighter bill, so that I may
peruse it. Thank you.
An inquiring mind.
From Casey's 10/9 post:
Draft Legislation Wildland Firefighter Bill (84 K doc file)
I am just wondering if the reporter and camera operator in that report
were "qualified with currency." According to regulations
don't people going to the "hotline" need to have some training, and have an
"arduous" physical capacity test. And I am not sure
I saw "shelters" on those folks.
Good thing the burning ops went well!! Can you imagine if that fire turned on
them and they had to run for it or pop shelters?
Bad idea bringing media to burnouts!!!
Too bad FEDS doesn't offer any coverage for state and local firefighters.
re: Station Fire and FWFSA legislation
Paul Gleason is quoted in the first chapter of Weick and Sutcliffe's "Managing
the Unexpected" as saying after the Cerro Grande Fire, "If someone phones and
needs help, don't talk budget. This is fire! Do the money thing later."
There are legitimate questions about how the not-signed-by-Randy-Moore memo
influenced the resource decisions for the second day of the Station Fire. The
memo clearly asked the field to shift the burden from preparedness funds to
suppressions funds to finish out the fiscal year. Sadly, the regional office got
the September fire they needed to work out the budget.
The FWFSA legislation would benefit federal firefighter bank accounts by
reinforcing a "don't ask for, don't keep" policy for non-federal resources.
Might be good for agency budgets, but not good for the public.
I wrote the draft legislation. I'm not quite sure how long you've
been a contractor but the issues addressed in our legislation are issues that
have affected our Nation's federal wildland firefighters for over two decades
and which have been summarily ignored by the agencies.
As an employee association, our goals and objectives are identified by our dues
paying membership. Most, as you might imagine are federal wildland firefighters.
As with any organization, we serve our membership. However in this case, should
our legislation pass, it will benefit far more firefighters than we currently
Unfortunately you may not be clear on the political/legislative process and what
it takes to get a bill introduced and passed but I would be more than happy to
answer all your concerns/questions...but not on TheySaid. I've posted our
position enough on this site and explained Politics 101 enough it doesn't need
to be spelled out yet again. However if you or anyone else truly wants to
understand the legislation and understand what we are trying to accomplish, and
perhaps understand the years and years of work it takes to get Congress to act
on such issues rather than just being critical based upon ignorance, please feel
free to email me directly at email@example.com.
LA Times and Professional Liability Insurance:
I have been reading some of the
recent news items from the LA Times about the Station Fire and fire fighter
“accountability” and I thought it would be a good time to re-introduce your
readership to Federal Employee Defense Services (FEDS) and provide information
on the necessity of professional liability insurance for all those involved in
wildland fire fighting. As many of you know, FEDS has assembled a nationally
recognized panel of attorneys to provide the legal defense under the policy who
have had specific experience in defending federal employees involved in the
Thirty Mile, Cramer and Esperanza fire tragedies. It is our commitment to and
understanding of the federal wildland fire fighting community, along with the
quality of the legal defense provided under the plan that sets FEDS apart from
other professional liability programs. I know that if you ask around, you will
hear that FEDS truly cares about the wildland fire fighting community.
This is one of the many reasons that FEDS is endorsed by the Federal Wildland
Fire Service Association and many other federal employees associations. I
encourage your readers to visit our web site at
and read the endorsements from these associations and former federal
firefighters about liability insurance and FEDS.
Now, more than ever, the need for liability protection is necessary for all
federal employees — especially those engaged in wildland firefighting. In light
of the dangers associated with wildland firefighting, and the scope of the
criminal and administrative investigations into firefighting fatalities due to
entrapments or burnovers, training and other accidents, professional liability
protection is an absolute must for all line officers, fire management officers,
incident commanders and any employee involved in firefighting or fire
For more information about the benefits of professional liability insurance
visit our web site at
fedsprotection.com, or if you are interested in speaking with someone at
FEDS, our telephone number is 866-955-FEDS.
Very Truly Yours,
Anthony Vergnetti, President
Federal Employee Defense Services, Inc.
Thanks, Tony. Knowing you guys/gals care about firefighters and are
helping on the legal front lets me breathe a bit easier.
Readers, the FEDS permanent link is located on our Classifieds page which means
FEDS supports this website financially. However our endorsement of FEDS is not
primarily about financial support, but about necessary wildland firefighter
Readers, read what Tony's FEDS site says. You can ask any federal wildland
firefighter (or AD firefighter) -- who has had need for professional liability
insurance through no fault of their own -- what they think. Let them tell you
how FEDS provided a safety net for them. In my opinion, FEDS is a must for all
federal wildland firefighters from the ground up. Unfortunately, it's not enough
to do your job with professionalism and integrity so long as we live in this
blame-game legal reality.
Again, THANKS FEDS! Ab.
Ab, thru the smokejumper channels ...
"Orr, Roderic A. (Redmond 1983)
Roderic died September 30, 2009, at his home in Eagle River, Alaska, after a
four-year battle against cancer. He was a graduate of Humboldt State University,
California, with a degree in wildlife biology. Roderic rookied at Redmond in
1983 and transferred to Fairbanks in 1984. He began a flying career in 1991 as a
charter pilot and eventually flew freight internationally in 747s for Atlas
Rod (Bam Bam) Orr grew up in Santa Barbara and started in fire on the LP. He was
a member of the Rose Valley Helishot and Ojai Hotshot crews. He was a great
crewmember, a tremendous worker and the source of much humor and good times. He
was a hell of a guy and although he lived life to the fullest he passed much too
Sorry he's gone. Ab.
Couple of new posts on the Hotlist Lessons Learned forum:
Missed Target Drop with Heli-tanker and Fractured wrist from helicopter water drop
ABC on Station Fire
Great to see the USFS getting some positive press in
regards to our fire management although I wish the media
would stop calling Hotshot Crews "Hotshot Teams"...
One thing that disturbed me when I viewed the newsclip was the total lack of
GLOVES being used during the
firing operation. While running drip torches and firing quoin guns, nobody had
that basic piece of PPE on.
I have witnessed first hand when a firing device decides to do what it wasn't
designed to do, causing serious
burn injuries to the persons UNGLOVED hand.
Even the PIO doing the interview wasn't wearing gloves...LOL
Anybody ever see how they rehab your hands after they've been burned? Its not
pretty. I use that "visual" every
year during refresher with the crew, it paints a good picture as to why you
should wear gloves.
You'd hope that Hotshot Crews, which strive to be the best and most professional
resource we have, would set
a better example, especially in front of national news media.
Sign me, noname 51
Wrapping up for winter and collecting the helpful hotlist fire links:
a couple links for Arizona if you are interested, its the Central Arizona
Wildland Response Team.
(Made up of City/Town Fire Depts from around the Phoenix area that respond under
contract with Arizona
State Forestry Division)
Central Arizona Wildland Response Team East (Departments East of Phoenix)
Central Arizona Wildland Response Team West (Departments West of Phoenix)
Thanks, Mike. I've added them to the list. Ab.
I guess the Casey’s done sharing the sand box. I think that the association
would have been better off recruiting the private sector to help them in their
fight for increased pay and benefits. As I see it now they are attacking a
select few in the private sector (Engines and crews) and for what? To build an
organization so big we will need to be taxed more to pay for it. The private
sector bears a great deal of the tax burden in this country. If we use the 80/20
rule and apply it we could decrease the size of the organization. You all know
that rule 20% of your employees produce 80% of the completed work. I’m not sure
that’s what we have in mind here.
I find it odd that Casey would mix cost effective fire fighting with 24 hour
pay. Will that actually cost less as a pilot program ? I am confident that we
won’t be saving any money by doing all the fuels work with force account. We
couldn’t do it in the 70s,80s,90s and as far as I can tell the work force isn’t
getting more productive.
ABC on Station Fire
I had to send in this link to an ABC report on the Station Fire, lest we forget
the reality of fire in SoCal.
The Monday morning quarterbacks, how quickly they forget.
I hope you
firefighters are proud of the work you and your teams do. This was a stellar
effort. This made
me wish I was in the West during the Station Fire siege. Maybe next season if
it's busier I can come "home".
Who are those guys in the white helmets, anyway? Hotshots I guess. Good to
see Dietrich doing his job.
I miss the West Coast!
ABC report on the Station Fire
GA Peach... wish I was CA Peach these days
Humboldt State University - Wildland Fire Studies Program - SESSION-4
Many have seen the R5 RF letter stating this program is no longer regionally
sponsored. Local units must contact HSU directly to register for Session #4. The
program has not changed. It will be presented in the same format as Sessions 1,
2 and 3. Classes will be located at WFTC and on campus at HSU.
One can debate the pros and cons of the 401 series For the FS it's on hold and
probably DOA which most likely lead to Region-5 reducing the importance of this
program. Fortunately HSU did not throw the baby out with the bath water. College
level education that relates to wildfire management and natural resource
management is a good thing.
Humboldt State University - Wildland Fire Studies Program - SESSION 4
Grant to Colorado State University for improving FF Gear
This research is in
good hands...one of the professors on the team is Wade Troxell. He is the son of
Harry Troxell who
taught Wood Science at Colorado State for over 30 years. I did a search on the
CSU site and Wade Troxell is credited
with work in energy, water, and robotics as well.
CSU Forestry Alumnus
I'm desperately looking for an aerial or satellite image of Marble Canyon,
British Columbia, Canada
latitude: 51°11'00" Longitude: 116°08'00", between Sept 2003 and May 2004 to
show the forest
fire aftermath. Preferably no sun, no smoke, few clouds and even snow cover.
Is this an image you might have?
Any help appreciated
Dear private industry:
First & Foremost, the FWFSA has never (and I've repeated this many times on
TheySaid) advocated the wholesale elimination of contractors and cooperators
from the federal wildfire landscape.
After my conference call with the Congressional Legislative Counsel, some
sections of the bill have been rearranged. I presume you are speaking about the
"Equal Protection Under the Law" section? If so:
The FWFSA did not create the existing language in Chapter 146, sec. 2465 of the
United States Code regarding the outsourcing of federal firefighters. Adding
Dept. of Interior and Dept. of Agriculture firefighters to those federal
firefighters employed by the Dept. of Defense simply seeks to provide similar
protections against outsourcing as currently enjoyed by those DoD federal
The language does absolutely nothing to put anyone "out of business." Simply,
the "Big Government" you refer to has done more than enough "studies" of federal
firefighters at taxpayer expense to determine again and again that it is neither
cost effective or efficient to "contract out" federal firefighting services. In
fact it was former Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey who on July 14, 2008
in a nationwide TV show I happened to be on, stated that wildland firefighting
is an "inherent government function."
The language will not affect in any way the current processes of the land
management agencies entering into contracts with private resources. The language
isn't to eliminate private industry but rather to protect the existing federal
If you are in the private industry providing wildland fire services, this
language does nothing to impact you other than perhaps to say we're not going to
spend anymore tax dollars studying the outsourcing of these firefighters and
we're not giving a federal firefighter's position to you...but you certainly can
continue to enter into agreements with the land management agencies for your
If you or others have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at
firstname.lastname@example.org. By the way the revised
(post-conference call) language is on the FWFSA web site.
ASC has been put on notice per say, according to a forest supt. The new chief
of the FS and others in Washington
are very interested in the issues coming forth.
With any luck, ASC will be shut down.
Wow! What a storm the Ca NOPS area is going thru...hope it extends to SOCAL as
well without too many flood slides.
Historical records suggest this may be the earliest precip Oct storm since
1962. I am old enough to remember that event.
I was confined indoors as a Boy Scout!. in SF bay area!!! in OCT..UGH!! Now if
only the snow level lowers for this
winter to get Ca outta this H2O dilemma.
Proud to be a FWFSA Member,
I am a retired US Forest Service Federal Firefighter (Supervisory Forestry
Technician according to the Forest Service).
I joined the FWFSA shortly after it was originally formed. I still believe that
it is the only voice that truly represents federal wildland firefighters, both
currently employed and retired. As you stated, many have worked tirelessly to
increase awareness and education among the policy and lawmakers in Washington
I was an OSC2 on a local team, a chief officer and type 3 IC on a complex, fast
fire paced district in Southern California and spent six years on a Type 1 team
as an Air Tactical Group Supervisor. The bulk of my career was spent on Hotshot
and Helishot crews with three years as an Air Attack Base Manager and two as a
Forest Aviation Officer and full time ATGS.
When I was a Foreman (Captain) on a Hotshot crew in the 80’s, contract fire hand
and engine crews were just starting to appear on the scene. We all had huge
concerns that our jobs would be threatened, who would make sure these crews had
“real qualifications”, etc, etc, etc…
Well, we still have hotshot crews; engine crews and the Contractors have formed
organizations to police themselves (such as the National Wildland Suppression
Association or NWSA).
Contract crews, both other agency and private, have provided invaluable services
in the form of trail building and maintenance, fuel break construction and
maintenance, felling, private land clearing and fire control. All hand in hand
with Land Management Agencies as well as State and Local Fire Departments.
Why are the contractors being used? As you stated, Federal, State and Local
Government crews are often spread thin, at times due to many incidents being
staffed and other times due to the agencies inability to staff modules due to
budgets or administrative issues such as FTE ceilings or lack of qualified
One thing that is certain, contract crews will continue to be used, and I for
one would prefer to have a contract crew that is used in rotation to keep them
sharp and not just bring them out for the “few and far between” as you put it.
To do so would be courting disaster.
I also have worked with and been an IC on fires with contract crews. What I have
found is that some contract crews are outstanding performers and some leave
something to be desired. I also have found this to be true of agency crews. The
best solution here is proper documentation to the home unit and then good follow
As for your stating that Federal Resources are less expensive… well I would
tread carefully on that one, especially with FERS and true cost to government.
Another reality here is year round cost for federal workers as opposed to a one
shot project approach with “contractors” or other agency crews.
Lets talk aircraft. In the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s the Forest Service owned
and operated air tankers. What they found was that it was less expensive and
more efficient to contract out for air tanker services. Much the same as
exclusive use helicopters.
As for the FireWatch Cobras, you are correct, the US Forest Service owns both
aircraft, both attached GIS Data Vans and all of the equipment on the aircraft
and vehicles. HOWEVER, a contractor provides all maintenance on both aircraft
and all the wiz bang mission equipment and the primary Cobra pilots and the GIS
technicians. Due to a lack of ATGSs, the primary South Zone ATGS position was
also contracted out to a former agency ATGS for the first two years the aircraft
was based in South Zone.
CAL FIRE aircraft… the USFS name is on the data plates on the S-2 air tankers
and OV-10 air attack platforms. Why? Part of the Federal Excess Property
Program. So for all intent and purpose, CAL FIRE owns the aircraft and again,
contracts out all the maintenance and pilot services for the S-2’s and OV-10’s.
The CAL FIRE helicopters are also owned by the state, a contractor performs
maintenance and the helicopter pilots are CAL FIRE employees.
Lead / ASM aircraft… Both the Forest Service and the BLM lease the current
aircraft and the contractors provide all of the maintenance. Why is this?
Probably because the “fund” to replace the Barons was mismanaged by the agencies
and no money existed to purchase new aircraft at the end of the Barons service
life. Even when the Forest Service did own its own Lead aircraft… Maintenance
was contracted out as FAA quals come into play here.
I agree with you in principle that it would be nice to own our own fleet of
“state of the art aircraft designed for wildland firefighting”. Canadair
(formerly Bombardier) of Canada does this.. they are called CL-415’s and cost in
the neighborhood of 30 million each. Maintain our own fleet?? We (the Forest
Service) cannot even maintain land-based vehicles much less aircraft. I for one
was extremely thankful that the Air Attack aircraft I flew in while working were
operated and maintained by contractors. It would be scary propositions to have
an agency that cannot even manage Human Resources (current ABQ fiasco) or keep
vehicle fleet mechanics try to maintain aircraft!
So what is the right mix of federal, state, local government and private
contract resources? I am sure we will continue to struggle with that answer and
it will ultimately fluctuate with budgets and who is in “power”.
I do know though, that there is a place for all of these resources on the
fireline and just as agency resources come and go, so do private contractors.
Proud to be...
Excellent presentation of the fly or artificial lure...but as good as the bait
looks I'll just swim by for now
on your Federal approach to fire fighting and hope that in the future you will
practice catch and release
angling instead of indiscriminate trolling.
Ab, please let folks know who are in Region 5 if they are not getting paid
contact me directly
and I will get the problem resolved.
NFFE Local 1771 guy
Good Bye private industry!
This bill was written by the
The Federal Wildland Fire Service Association is an employee association formed
in 1990 by and for federal wildland firefighters. We are THE political voice for
all federal wildland firefighters. Our membership spans the full spectrum of
federal firefighter positions from entry level through management officers.
The FWFSA is dedicated and committed to improving pay, benefits and working
conditions for the Nation's federal wildland firefighters as well as providing a
forum for our members to become active advocates in the process of increasing
awareness and education among those in Washington D.C. who are in a position to
effect positive change.
The Dues Paying members had a say regarding what was put into the draft. If your
perception is that it will hurt the private industry, you may be correct, but
remember it was drafted to protect Federal Employees and we are not from the
Am I prejudiced when it comes to using Federal resources or Private? Yes I am. I
am not new or naive on the fireline and my experience tells me that 99 times out
of one hundred I'd rather have a Federal Engine or Crew backing me up, or
working for me out on the line.
Are there times when we are spread too thin and have no other choice than to use
the Private Industry, yes, but those times should be few and far between like
the Military. It makes me sick and pissed off every time that I see Federal
Crews leaving a fire to be sent home while Private Industry Crews are left to
Patrol, and clean up. Our folks are cheaper, and usually produce a better
product. I have personally been an IC on several large fires after the team
left, and got stuck with all Contract Resources, and it was a nightmare.
Am I in this job for the money? NO, but it would be nice to get compensated for
the work I do. No one should be out on the fireline for the money; it will get
someone hurt. They should be there for the sense of Duty, Respect and Integrity.
Will the wildland firefighter bill put 10,000 people out of work? NO, a number
of people can come and work for the Federal Government bringing the Federal Fire
Department up to MEL (Most Efficient Level).
I also believe that we should get out of the contractor game when it comes to
Aviation. We should own our own Aircraft. Other Government Agencies have their
own fleet, designed for safety for their own special needs, why don't we? We are
using World War II Aircraft when we should spend the money to design, develop,
and maintain state of the art Aircraft designed to our specs for fighting fire
from the air. Not sure but I herd we own Helicopters, but lease them to CalFire.
I do believe the Fire Watch (Cobra) Program is successful with federally owned
and Maintained Aircraft, why can't all of the Firefighting Aircraft be like
Proud to be a FWFSA Member
ASC problems and not being paid:
Thank you everyone who responded to my pleas for help regarding my not being paid.
It would be great if I could let you all know that something has changed, but
alas... nothing has.
However, I have followed the advice you all provided and contacted a variety of
people (congressperson, WO, RF, union)
and as is usually the case when you research something, you learn a great deal
more than you ever thought you would.
I have learned from someone within ASC (who wants/needs to remain anonymous) as
well as from other regular working
class citizens like ourselves that I am most definitely not alone. So, in order
to hopefully turn this ugly situation into something
which can benefit myself and others I am looking for people who have had to deal
with similar or other situations related to
the ASC. Your names will not be shown on the web, Ab will get your contact info
to me and I won't do anything with the
information without clearing it with you first. I am looking to maximize my
efforts with a show of force, so-to-speak. So,
even if your situation has been resolved, give us the details and hopefully this
will help the situation. After all, knowledge is
Unless someone else knows something I don't know, I don't see a change on the
horizon. I'm guessing and assuming that
eventually a HR person will be placed back at the forest level around the
country. Hmmm, isn't that what ASC was supposed
to replace?? Seems like an awful expensive and demoralizing way to make a
circle, don't you think?
So, send in your experiences and I'll try to create some change that will
benefit more than just myself. Oh, and enjoy your
paychecks a little extra for me.
Signed: Still haven't been paid.
I am happy to forward emails and think this is an opportunity for folks
with a similar problem to band together. "Still haven't been paid" has made some
contacts in high places and is capable of sharing the information in circles
that can effect change, so if you've had trouble with ASC and getting paid,
please join the effort. Keep in mind that this is not directed against the
PEOPLE at ASC who are doing the best they can and in some cases did not want to
be moved to Albuquerque to a centralized "service center". Rather it's directed
at correcting the bureaucratic process that hinders people getting paid or
otherwise having their needs met. Ab.
Becky Quigley Fundraiser:
Here's another note with
Flyer on an upcoming fundraiser (on 10/17) for Becky. I hope all will
support her and her family in any way possible. Text of flyer below:
Friends of Becky Quigley
Sons of Italy Hall Weed
Saturday, October 17
5:00 pm No-Host Cocktails
6:00 Dinner by The Garden Party
Tri-Tip, Salad, Beans and Weed Bakery Bread
Raffles, Silent Auction,
Tickets Available at: Weed Cal Fire, Scott Valley Bank-Weed & Mt Shasta
Cal Fire Yreka, Fifth Season-Mt Shasta
Monetary Donations can be sent to any Scott Valley Bank location or to “Friends
of Becky Quigley” c/o SVB PO Box 297 Weed California
Message circulating among the hotshots:
We have a benefit event being organized for Becky Quigley (Salmon River
Hotshots) and her family. We are hoping to get
word out to all R5 hotshot crews. Jeff (Shasta Lake) seems to think you're
someone who can help pass on the information.
Here's the flyer with information for the event:
Donations can be made to the Wildland Firefighters Foundation in Becky's name or
Checks payable to: "Friends of Becky Quigley"
Send to: Scott Valley Bank, P.O. Box 297, Weed, CA 96094
The family has set up a webpage at carepages.com.
Updates on Becky's condition are posted daily and messages of
support can be sent here. You need to sign in with a username and password -
then search for beckyquigley (all one word).
Here's a link to a recent local newspaper article:
Benefit Dinner for Becky Quigley
Wildland Firefighter Bill:
As I read the draft legislation I can only wonder what will happen to the
private industry. I am all for the Fed Firefighters getting the respect and
recognition they deserve and I hope it will create working conditions that
increase retention and recruits. But section 3 seems to close the door on the
private industry! Not just the private wildland firefighters, Fallers, aviation
folks and support personnel but all the supply companies that support those
companies. This bill may be good for the growing federal government and its
control over the tax payer, and it may be great for federal firefighters, but is
sucks for the private industry and the 10,000+ people it is going to put out of
business. Not to mention the tax payer who is going to foot the bill for another
growing government agency that repeatedly fails running programs. It will be
very interesting to see what happens during the next fire storms. I hope Canada
and Australia can get here quick...or maybe we can get our national guard
trained up with a 4 hour on the job training session again... One person's
gain is another's loss!
Good Bye private industry!
Wildland Firefighter Foundation Fundraisers, including the 2010 CALENDAR
I want to let everyone know that the 2010
WFF calendars are in house and ready to ship. At $10 each a real
bargain compared to $15 to $20 for calendars at the mall. And ALL $10 goes to
the Foundation. This calendar is larger, 8.5” by 12” and we returned to the
“traditional” format of squares for each day. We only printed 3000 this year as
we have had to throw away many the last 2 years when we printed 5000. So hurry
and get them while you can.
Also, I wanted to promote another WFF fundraiser. The Region 2 Hotshot
crews are holding their annual golf scramble Oct. 30th here in Fort
Collins. If you are a R2 hotshot, current or alumni, you can form a team and
come play. If you can not make the scramble, you can give a donation to WFF on
their website supporting this fundraiser. For more information contact Michael
Lehman of the Roosevelt Hotshots at 970-419-4431.
Thanks to everyone for supporting the WFF.
The Supply Cache, Inc. &
Board member Wildland Firefighter Foundation
Grant for improving FF Gear:
I thought this might interest you.
Colorado State Improving Firefighter Gear
Smokey Val contact info
Contact San Bernardino Tanker Base @ 909 382 4974. The Tanker Base Mgr there
(Leslie), the FAO
(Kenneth) or any one of the folks on duty will be able to get you Smokey's
If that fails, Ab can send you my contact info and I will get Smokey's 411
info... Smokey is one of my
hero's!! He was one of the "voices in the sky" that we could ALWAYS trust!
Smokey Val' story:
It wasn't too bad!
Re: the investigation on the Camp 16 vehicle fatalities:
is not out yet.
I was told that when it's complete, the report will become part of the
arson homicide investigation like with the Esperanza investigation. Perhaps
there will be something in the interim. I'm sure we'll hear as soon as possible.
Smokey Val contact info
As long as were in the "looking for" mood, I'm looking to get into contact with
Smokey Val, aka Frank Vallesillo.
He was my dad's counterpart at Ryan AAB back in the 70's and early 80's. I've
heard he is semi-retired now, but
occasionally fills the tankers at SBD...just for fun I assume.
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Tom Stein (jr)
I found his contact info given a clue from Yactac and
emailed it. If he has email and anyone knows it, please send it in for Tom. Ab.
Re: Tom Marovich
As I would normally refrain from responding during work hours, I returned from
an IA dispatch this morning to a
phone message asking me to check They Said and decided to make a quick response.
I must have written at least a dozen letters with the intent to send to your
family, only to delete them feeling unable
to properly convey our feelings as a whole or even personally. Even now it’s
difficult to write something short.
We are doing as well as can be expected and indeed returned to the ship after
spending some time as a handcrew.
The Lassen and Modoc National Forests and the national aviation community as a
whole have been extremely
supportive. We are focused to finish this season as strong as possible.
Thank you for your kind words. They mean more than you can imagine. As this
season comes to a close I’m sure
we’ll be in contact.
If Ab doesn’t mind, he/she can pass on my personal contact info to you. Please
don’t hesitate to use it.
Chester Fly Crew
I passed it on. Thanks for writing during your lunch
Re Tom Marovich
Hello again, AB,
This Saturday, October 17, the Marovich family, along with my family will be
traveling to Sacramento for
the tribute to fallen firefighters. We are looking forward to the tribute and
once again to honoring Tom.
We miss him so. It is hard to move forward - you just don't want to forget a
single moment of his life.
I'm wondering if you have heard from any of his crew - we are wondering about
the helicopter crew -- I'm
sure they are back up and flying - we are just wondering about them - wanting to
extend our love and
support. Any news you might have would be appreciated.
Thanks so much for all you do!
Hi Aunt Marlene. Thanks for writing in. Our best to the family. Let me see
if anyone is near a computer and reading. Ab.
Marty contact info:
I'd like to get in touch with an old friend. Last I heard, he was up in Payson,
working as a Hotshot.
We grew up together in Phoenix 40 years ago.
If anyone knows of his whereabouts, please forward my email address to him?
His name is Marty Lankford, he is from Phoenix originally.
He and i were great friends.
I moved back to Michigan in 1976, and haven't talked to him since! Please help?
Kieft-wescoshoppers@ nospam sbcglobal.net (remove spaces and nospam)
Camp 16 vehicle fatalities:
I haven't checked this site for a while. Did LAC ever finish the
investigation on the fatalities on the
Station Fire? I used to work there a long time ago. Thanks.
The Wildland Firefighter Bill:
I read the proposed draft bill, and really like
the proposal. The only thing I saw that I think might
need an extra word is in Section 5. The (b) Requirement mentions HP for airborne
should include helitack also. It would make the requirement section more
"airtight" in determining
that pay differential.
Re ASC and Person not getting paid:
A good place to start at this point would be the
union to talk to your union representative and file whatever
paperwork it takes to make ASC's life very difficult. I hope you have been
documenting all of this.
My next stop would be the District Ranger's office. If he/she isn't any help
then the next door I'd be knocking
on is the Forest Supervisor's door. This may not be the most politically savvy
way to go about this, but I'm not
particularly politically savvy and they aren't paying you.
Have you asked if they will advance you part of your paycheck while they figure
out their end of the problem?
They will typically do that if a paycheck is not submitted on time.
I worked on photos and there are a number of very fine new photos posted on
Fire 42 and
Equipment 16 (includes foam treatment and hotshots burning out). Ab.
re ASC and person not getting paid:
Unfortunately, this is not the first person who has had this problem. I know of
one case years ago that ran
for 4 months.
Suggestion: congressional assistance. The employee needs to gather their info,
contact the field office of
their congressperson and ask for assistance. Info needs to be as complete as
possible; copies of e-mails,
correspondence, names and phone numbers of persons contacted etc.
They need to specify what result they want: back pay with interest due to
Also suggest CC of this info to Regional Forester and the Deputy Chief for
They might also try providing this info to the local press is they are in
general "good" to local forest issues.
Hope the local unit has an employee assistance fund.
John Bennett USFS Ret.
Firefighter series and centralized fire:
It's definitely time to let everyone that is waiting and watching know it's
time for all the land management agencies to stand together with a very clear
and direct voice! Centralize fire management. Congress gets it, we get it, the
public is realizing it but the line officers think we signed up because of the
sunsets? Casey is not our voice alone, we are and we need to start taking more
ownership together on our own behalf!
working for free: ASC and person not getting paid...
Do any other FS fire employees know how a person (me)
who hasn't been paid in three pay periods can go about getting more attention
and help from Albuquerque? Neither myself, supervisors, or calls to Albuquerque
seem to be very effective. I find it hard to believe that I'm the only person to
have this problem, could it be?? And thank you, but please don't tell me to get
a case #, I've had several, I've even had a couple closed (meaning the problem
was resolved). And also don't tell me to ask for a supervisor, because that
hasn't worked out very well either.
I realize the ASC is broken, or perhaps was never really assembled properly, but
this seems unbelievable to me.
And if I can offer a bit of advice to anyone calling the fine folks in
Albuquerque, be careful if you mention something that is wrong (like not getting
paid for a couple of months), because apparently it upsets them, and we wouldn't
want to do that. Afterall, I'm sure they aren't being paid to be upset, and I'm
just not being paid.
Signed: Would rather not work for free
You may be the only one; you're certainly special. Haw Haw. Ab.
I posted Nin Terry's very nice photo of the Sugarloaf Fire, LNF 8/09
on the Wallpaper
page and featured it on the wildlandfire.com
Thanks to Nin and Phil for the sweet addition. Ab.
Wildland Firefighter Foundation 2010 calendar fundraiser:
Good evening Ab,
Just wanted to let you know that one of the photos I sent in
to you last week was selected for the wildland fire 2010 calendar :)
Great news! Hey All, preorder your 16 month calendars from
The Supply Cache. It's
to benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Nice. Ab.
With all due respect, you must've been an Army dog. you cats are
always tryin' to cut corners: three General Orders! WTF?
Us Devil Dogs would never call a Master Gunnery Sergeant anything but that, or
possibly Master Guns if you both are on
familiar terms. Same goes for the Gunny; officers are simply addressed as 'Sir'.
Just had to bust yer balls a little, still p.o.-ed that I had to learn 11
Wildland Firefighter job series and names:
Just keep on keeping on! You are correct... all the dinosaurs are extinct and
the ones that are left in the agency will soon be retired. Keep up the good
fight as you are right. Times do change and government will eventually have to
change with them. The public deserves it as do our Firefighters (notice I did
not say forestry or range techs!).
As for the "Chief" name discussion.... Standard historical fire department
protocol has been to verbally address all "Chiefs" with the rank of Battalion
Chief or higher simply as "Chief". Very similar to the military.. a 1st or 2nd
lieutenant is simply addressed as "Lieutenant" as in Lieutenant Dan.. A
sergeant, whether a three stripe buck sergeant, 4 stripe staff sergeant or multi
striped (cause I can't remember, as it has been awhile) Chief Master Sergeant
are addressed as "Sergeant". Same goes for the Genera Officers... no matter how
may "stars" one has .. they are generally (lol) verbally addressed as "General".
Re: Name Calling and FF names
Ah, but "What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would
smell as sweet"
Are you in love with the name or that which the name stands for? Many of us in
R-6 are still left
out of the name calling club as well, but don't be so sad - notice the true
atrocities that occur
around you daily...oh, and I would prefer from now on to be addressed as "El
Haw Haw! Ab.
Firefighter name and firefighter series:
A quote from the movie "American Pie" keeps going through my head…"Say my name
So, if I refer to the FMO of a district as "Division Chief", and the AFMO as
"Battalion Chief", and the FFMO and AFFMO as "Chief-1" and "Chief-2" but refer
to any one of them simply as "Chief" while in conversation or written reference,
should the chiefs then decide who is in fact the best choice for the title of
"Chief", or is the chief complaint the title itself? Good thing we all call the
SFEO, FEO, and AFEO by their acronyms or we could really get confused, people
might want an Engineer to inspect a bridge or something…but someone help me out
here, should I call a Foreman "Captain" or a Captain "Foreman" and if I call
that person by the wrong title will they answer me? Maybe I should ask their
assistant what to call them first? Cr p, how do I address the assistant?!
Suffering from CRS, BS, and simply LMAO,
CRS? I had to look that one up. (CRS=Can't remember S***, a syndrome) Haw
Wildland Firefighter Bill:
Attached is the most current copy of the draft.
Draft Legislation (84 K doc file)
Passing of Remy Pochelon:
Sad News, Remy was a excellent Safety Officer and a great person who long
ago helped me become a Safety Officer. Rest in Peace Remy!
Is there someone on TheySaid, the hot list, or elsewhere that we can see the
content of the
FWFSA bill? Seems like I’d seen it before, but can’t find it now.
Casey and all, keep up the good work!
I asked Casey to send the most recent version. We have one that is older.
from OZ - new DANGER WARNING SYSTEM
Following the tragedy in Victoria earlier in the year it has been decided to
change the fire danger warning
system across Australia.
(It appears that stinking hot temperatures, gales force winds & a lack of rain
are obvious enough signs...).
The message "Wait until the fire is on top of you, and you may die" = <tick>.
It's about time we stopped
being warm and fuzzy.
The craziest thing I heard after the initial report was from a resident in one
of the towns that got razed. It
went something like "I always knew there was extreme fire danger, but now I know
there the Forest Fire
Danger Index that tells me just how extreme it really is". <WTF?!>
The attachment better explains the new standards, as do the following videos
which have been put out.
* Bush Fire Survival Plan
youtube Bush Fire Survival Plan - NSW Rural Fire Service TVC
youtube Survive - NSW Rural Fire Service TVC
youtube Act - NSW Rural Fire Service TVC
youtube Prepare - NSW Rural Fire Service TVC
youtube Prepare - NSW Rural Fire Service TVC
* Rebel Talbert
youtube Rebel Talbert
Operational Brief New Bush Fire Changes for Coming Season.pdf (530 K pdf)
Searching for Colorado State Alums fighting fire
I'm a student at Colorado State University I'm looking to apply for
IHCs next season. I was wondering if there
were any CSU alums on shot crews and what crews you are on and any tips or
advice you can give me. Thanks!
What...you think the LP is the only place people expect various colored fire
trucks to show up and save their houses?
I know what the public thinks- I think they expect too much. If they want full
scale fire protection of their homes-
which is what they expect from the various land agencies simply because they are
a gov't agency with engines- they
should pay for their own municipal departments. If they expect land agencies to
protect their homes in the capacit
that they catch the fire before it gets there- then there might be times when
lights and sirens might get them there
faster to better accomplish this mission. And don't worry- I won't be on the LP
any time soon.
Wildland Firefighter Bill:
Hi Ab & All:
The conference call between the FWFSA, Congressman Bob Filner's office and the
Congressional Legislative Counsel was rescheduled to today.
I was pleased with the result. The Legislative Counsel commented on the amount
of work and effort that had apparently gone into our discussion draft. He also
indicated it could be introduced "as-is" to which Rep. Filner's staff concurred,
or we could do a bit more "homework" to make sure the portal to portal provision
isn't written in a way that could produce "unintended consequences" since the
laws are so varied for different federal employees, tours of duty etc.
He also remarked that I was "preaching to the choir" but that he wanted to
ensure the technical aspects of the language were sound. Thus we agreed we would
pour through our stack of documents, re-read them, review Title 5 USC once again
and ensure the language meets the intent.
In the late '90s, legislation benefiting many federal firefighters employed by
the DoD was passed but it required a follow-up technical amendment because the
language produced an "unintended consequence." We would like to ensure our bill
is thorough and meets all technical questions.
The Legislative Counsel had no other questions on any of the other provisions,
mainly just language referring to Title 5 so I am hopeful we'll get a bill soon.
All of this takes a tremendous amount of work and it costs a lot of money. Once
the bill is introduced it will require a commitment from everyone who supports
it to contact their elected representatives for support. If you've been sitting
on the fence as far as joining the FWFSA, this is yet another step in the right
direction and I hope you will make a commitment to support our efforts through
membership as so many wonderful folks across the country have.
More information will follow.
Re fed mission:
There are many of us out there who are old school and still
think of positions in terms of FMO/AFMO.
A Forest AFMO can hold the ranking of Chief, just like the Forest FMO- many
actually do. I looked
around at a number of the WildCADS, and with the exception of some in MT and NM-
most of them
used the new ranking systems with Bat. Chief, Div. and Chief. Not so absurd.
Re fed mission:
Your comment about our mission! I hope that you don't get
confused when showing up on a lp fire.
During the jesusita fire, people didn't care a bit about what color truck you
had, it was about our
mission caring for the land and serving the people. Dinosaurs went extinct
awhile ago. Lead or follow.
Remy Pochelon passes:
Obituary for Remy Pochelon, long time IMT member from
From his obituary and there's a nice picture of him at the link:
Throughout his career, Remy was active in the fire program and continued
to be a member of a Northern Rockies Type 2 incident management team after
his retirement. He was one of the longest-serving safety officers for the
USFS and had just completed an assignment on the Table Mountain fire
southwest of Philipsburg. Indeed, Remy was around for so long, his
co-workers eventually gave him a symbolic stuffed dinosaur that was a
permanent fixture on the dashboard of his pickup. His knowledge and
experience with forest policy and recreational issues continued to serve him
well in retirement.
He is missed. Ab.
Firefighter names plus lights and sirens:
I don't think BLM'ers comment was horrible, but it was a bit misinformed. I
believe that an AFMO is supposed to be called "Battalion" and the FMO is
supposed to be called "Division." The Forest FMO would be called 'Chief' and his
assistant would be called 'Deputy Chief'. I am also in R3, but with the FS, not
BLM and I don't see these titles being implemented any time soon.
I agree that
his AFMO's comment about 'saving houses' was a bit strange, as we don't
physically go into houses to save them when they are on fire. We have a more
indirect purpose, which is to save any savable houses before the fire reaches
The lights and sirens comment is NOT, specific to his area, in fact that
relates to R3 as a whole. R3 includes Arizona, New Mexico and a slice of Texas
Regarding R3 BLMer's comment:
Those comments are so specific, it's hard for
anybody to relate. Also, if the chief is the AFMO, as he sarcastically
states, what is the FMO, the Super chief, or would only the old schoolers get
that as he puts it.
I enjoy a lot of They Said comments but this one was horrible. The large
majority of the country has not and will not
adopt the ranking terminology as he puts it. Therefore, to state it as if the
BLM in NM is one of the last outposts
calling their positions AFMO's and the rest of us would all look at our screen's
and agree at the absurdity is absurd
From Regional Forester Randy Moore. This came out today.
I wonder who wrote this for him? End State?
By now you have read the announcement of a Chief’s level review of the Station
Fire. The intent is, with our partners, to explore the decisions made and
actions taken during the initial attack phase, based on the context of the
environment and situation at the time not in context with our knowledge of the
outcome. The team will gather the facts and peer review the actions taken to
identify what happened. The end state will be to tell this story in a way that
improves our collective performance and that allows the public and others to
understand the complexities, the issues, and the limitations we face in these
dangerous and difficult situations.
This review is in keeping with, and will help us articulate our fire suppression
doctrine. “Leaders regularly monitor operations for effectiveness…”, and the
principles that we rely upon to be successful… “Command and control must be
decentralized to cope with the unpredictable nature of fire… subordinate
commanders are required to make decisions on their own initiative…”
Because of the seriousness of the Station Fire, we should expect open
expressions of concern and doubt in our performance; there has to be a reason
that can be held up as the cause for all the pain and the loss. We know that the
reality of these very complex incidents is not so simple. I welcome this review
with confidence that it will show that our and our partners actions were
appropriate for the environmental conditions and fire behavior we faced during
the initial attack of the Station Fire.
We have many weeks, and perhaps months of critical fire season to go, and we are
entering into the time of periodic high-wind events in Southern California. I
want us to ensure our situational awareness and our focus on the tasks at hand
is not clouded by worries about this review or an outcome that hasn’t yet
happened. Please stay focused and engaged. This will all sort itself out in
Stay sharp, take care of each other.
While I am surprised that a Chief/AFMO would flat out say that
saving homes is not a priority of the Federal govt,
this person is absolutely correct. Unless the feds decide to centralize fire, in
which fire suppression and protection is
their sole mission; until then the so called "land management agencies" are just
that- agencies charged with taking care
of the land. As long as fire employees work directly for various fed agencies,
NPS, BLM and FS, and not for a "fire
department," I don't see how protecting homes should be the mission of fire
About three weeks ago, our (Chief) or AFMO for you old schoolers,
was talking to us in our office. Talking about
not needing to run lights and siren, now and in the future, and some other stuff
that BLM shouldn't do. Then I was
surprised to hear him say that "Protecting homes is not our mission", now
correct me if I'm wrong, weren't we all
taught, our mission was to protect; Life, Property, and Natural Resources ? I
was surprised to hear this coming from
a chief, Ooops I better say AFMO since NM BLM will not adopt the ranking system
Firefighting from the air:
Here's an Article that I thought would be nice to
share with the other members. khe2232
Standing on the edge
Post: Painting Mountains
Subject: benefit event for Becky Quigley
As many of you know, firefighter Becky Quigley of the Salmon River Hotshots
received severe chest injuries two weeks ago on the Silver Fire near Quincy. She
has been making steady progress at Enloe Hospital in Chico, but this is going to
be a long hard journey for Becky and her family.
The Quigleys are local (Weed) and many of us know the family through
firefighting, running, skiing, school, church, etc. Nancy and Darin are always
among the first to step forward as volunteers for community events or as
coaches. Darin is also the local CalFire battalion chief out of Weed.
A community event is being planned to help the family. Although still in the
initial stages, the plan is for a dinner/raffle/desert auction on Oct. 17th at
6:00 in Weed. So mark you calendars.
We are also looking for raffle prizes and desert items to auction. Several cords
of wood have already been promised. If you have any items you’d like to donate,
let me know and I’ll pass the information on.
I should have further details and tickets on Friday.
It sounds like the COS Fire Academy will set up the dinner. Are there any crews
that would like to help with cleanup or during the event?
I’m sending to all USFS contacts I can think of – but please forward this
information to other hotshot crews (esp. Salmon River, Klamath, Smith River,
Redding, Feather River – I don’t know contacts for these). Also pass on to any
other fire crews or individuals who might be interested.
If anyone wants contact info for Dusty,
please email me or you can look him up on the FS Lookup. Also, if anyone has
good wishes for Becky, please send those. I'll compile them and get them to her
family or her nurses. Or you can sign up at her website and follow her marathon
and send your best wishes that way.
beckyquigley one word in the search, then sign up so you can send
We can all support her and her family as she heals. It's not an easy task,
although optimistic attitude prevails. Ab.
NFFE Survey, survey takers needed
Ab, please help get the word out on this.
Subject: Reminder -- NFFE FSC Survey on Use of Temporary Hiring Authority
Reminder: temporary employee survey. We have already received 2,000 responses.
We need more. The survey can be taken from any computer. You don't need FS
intranet access; you can access the survey at the public library. If you know
someone on a 1039 appointment who doesn't have agency computer access, please
let them know about this opportunity to be heard. We will carry your concerns
and your stories to Agency leadership, to the Department, to the Whitehouse, and
to the Halls of Congress and use them to fight for some long-delayed justice.
Many thanks to those who have already spoken up.
Chair, NFFE FSC Legislative Committee
Access the survey via this announcement page. Tell your friends who have
worked as temps on a 1039 appointment:
What happened to Cleveland Wildcad?
Did budget cuts cut that program since September 30 it hasn't been updated.
They were always up to date prior to October 1st.
Thanks OB from OZ-
I went ahead and found the articles from Australian Meteorolgy Magazine about
this study, it was published in
2 parts, I didn't get a chance to read them- but here they are if others want to
Re: Ice Capping? Column Collapse?
Late coming in to this.
Slightly off topic but relevant.
The Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre has published a report which may have
Initial overview can be found at
Cooperative Research Centre report. I assume the US fire weather
forecasters are aware of this. For mine it seems to explain the column collapse
that I've seen referenced in earlier posts.
Added the Beiber Helitack Logo (LMU) to the
Logos 16 photo page. Nice one. Ab.
Dealing with OWCP:
Here is a Link to an interesting article in 'FedSmith" about dealing with OWCP
All Hope Abandon Ye Who Enter Here.
The author is a retired Regional HR director with GSA. If someone with his background
can't deal with them, what hope does the average employee have?
Message from the WFF:
The WFF has received several inquires about the Combined Federal Campaign and
the WFF not being listed in this year's
catalog of choices. We are not in there this year due simply to a timing error
with the submission of a unsigned 990 form.
We plan to be listed next year. Thanks to all those who contributed through CFC.
In the meantime people wanting to contribute to the WFF can use a variety of
existing ways, such as joining the
a donation, or contribution.
With the receipt we provide by return mail, you can
still enjoy all of the tax deduction advantages
that you would have gotten through the CFC.
Thanks to all our supporters. It makes such a difference in our wildland
firefighters lives when death and serious injury strikes.
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20250
Dear USDA Colleagues,
As many of you know, last week President Obama launched the SAVE Award calling
on all federal employees to submit their ideas for innovative ways to reduce
spending within our respective agencies.
This is a reminder that the deadline is less than two weeks away.
With 917 ideas contributed so far, USDA is running in 4th place right behind the
Department of the Treasury.
I urge you to participate not only so USDA can win the award for the best
participation, but also because this effort is an important way to give the
American people a government that does more for less.
Submit your idea at
SaveAward.gov. The winner will meet the President and have his or her
idea included in next year’s budget. No idea is too small or too bold.
Thank you for your contribution to this effort.
Evan J. Segal
Chief Financial Officer
Slideshow of Fire Camp 16, destroyed during the Station Fire
Everyone is over on the HOTLIST... Ab.
I have a question for any forum participant who is expert with CFRs and can
comment on the following CFRs
USC 5333 and 5 CFR 531.212
531.212 applies to "superior qualifications", not performance ratings, but more
qualifications such as research abilities, designing experiments, etc. The CFR
allows for higher pay setting (ie instead of a GS-7 step 1, could have pay set
at GS-7 step 9 for superior qualifications). Do you see any opportunities for
"mass" application of this CFR for those with ICS qualifications with
pre-determined agency agreed to qual requirements? Not asking for myself,
looking more big picture here (fire and non-fire), all emergency responders. In
other words, set pay higher for those who build qualifications and perform as an
Reading some of this on line, I see some limitations agencies may run into,
however I wanted to ask the CFR Pros.
AZ is burning...
AZ-KNF-Twin Fire bumping Williams AZ:
Twin Closure Map
I would like to have these two pictures posted on the site.
The first pic is when i had my blm engine stationed at Mill Creek station (ANF)
October of last year.
Second pic is when i came upon the station after the Station fire burned
through. It was a sad sight seeing the station burned down. Our Strike Team 11C
hoisted a flag to honor the firefighters of Mill Creek station.
Thanks FP, I put them on the
photo page. Ab.
Update on the photo. It isn't Carol's photo:
Ab, Angeles NF sign: "Photo
courtesy USDA Forest Service / Nathan Judy."
Photo is on the
Fires 43 photo page. Ab.
Thanks EA and Ab !! bp
Wildland Firefighter Bill
Dear Ab & All:
I am pleased to report that the FWFSA has finally secured a commitment for a
conference call between it, Congressman
Bob Filner's office and the Congressional Legislative Counsel (LC) for Tuesday
the 6th of October to discuss our legislative
draft language entitled the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement &
Cost Containment Act.
It is certainly our hope that the call will result in a clearer understanding on
the part of the LC of the draft's provisions so
we can get a final bill drafted and introduced and we can work on securing
bipartisan support. More information will follow.
Nice job, Casey. Let us know if we should write letters or call in
Search for photographer
According to the 'RoadTrip
America' website, the photo
was taken by Carol Underhill U.S.F.S. It's at the bottom of the page titled 'Sign of the times'.
the original on inciweb and another DIFFERENT one
after the flames. Ab.
Photographer ID needed for
ANF sign, burning during the Station Fire:
Does anyone know who took this
picture? Several request have been made to
use it in publications. Would like to get the name of the photographer for
permission and credits.
I'll pass any information on. Ab.
Lessons Learned and Safety Alert:
Bear Canyon Fire on the San Carlos Agency
R3 Hotshot Crewmember Burned by Flare