"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland Firefighter
Longest served lookout - Nancy Rebecca Hood
I just read the
and A regarding the longest served lookout. Incredible dedication on Nancy's
A bit of northern history from here in Alberta - in 1996 Sam Fomuk retired after
50 years on lookouts. Sam is
still alive and doing well in Edmonton, Alberta. As with others who have served
so long, Sam has observed a
great many changes in the forest fire business. Truly from horses to
Provincial Wildfire Detection Coordinator
Alberta Sustainable Resource Development
Forest Protection Branch
Thanks Tim. I added Sam to the IMWTK page. Tell him he's got a citation on
the IMWTK page. Ab.
FS Outreach notices outside of R5
Thanks for the help. However, Im not in R5
and and was looking for info on outreaches outside of R5?
I suppose if I were in R5, I would never be laid off? I would sure enjoy a PFT
Anyhow, I knew there was access to outreaches in R5 off this website. I was
hoping to keep a pulse on
what is going to be available elsewhere? Any ideas?
Grass is greener somewhere? Right?
FS Outreach notices
Heres a link to the outreaches in R-5.
FS Outreach notices
Hope all is well this Holiday season! In regards to the post about outreach
notices without a Gov. computer.
If you click on the
portion of this site you are able to select the outreaches! Thanks for the
FS Outreach notices
Grass is greener somewhere,
Here's a good location for finding FS job info for
The FS outreach for the region (not just fire) is there.
The FS outreach for the nation (not just fire) used to be here, but it
doesn't work anymore.
Maybe someone knows where that list went, if it's temporarily down or has gone
Here are the fire jobs that are unfilled in R5:
All regions and agencies should make this information readily available.
FS Outreach notices
Hey i was just snooping around They Said and saw the
question from "Grass is greener somewhere" regarding accessing outreaches from a
public computer. Knowing how complicated it can be I looked into it.
He can go to the Six Rivers N.F. Website (
then click on the site map towards the top on the left column. Then click
Employment towards the bottom of the list under "About the Forest", then go to
R5 Outreach or just Forest Service Outreach depending on where they want to
work. Then they can filter from there (series, grade, location, etc.)
Good luck finding greener grass...
Im laid off and dont have access to a gov computer. Im also hoping to apply for
jobs in this off season.
Question - is there a way I can check the outreaches for the FS without a gov
Grass is greener somewhere
IMWTK Fire GIS:
I have been a situation unit leader for about 15 years, and I
can pinpoint the Kirk Complex Fire in 1999 on the LPF as the transition fire for
me. Before Kirk we did everything by hand with markers and USGS Quad Maps and
butcher paper. After that fire it was all digital. I remember being the 5th or
6th SITL in the organization on the Kirk North, and getting my first operational
introduction to GPS, GIS and PC based mapping programs such as DeLorme from John
Newman, the SITL on California Team 3. We had a GIS "toy hauler" trailer that
OES had built, staffed with Alfie Blanch and a few other GIS pioneers. I
remember them sending the display maps to the plotter and going to sleep hoping
that by morning we might have one to use for the morning briefing, all the while
still doing the "tiles" for the IAP by hand with laminated sections of the map
and "sharpie" markers. Some SITLS still do the tiles by hand as a fail-safe! I
also remember John flying the fire by helo each day with a handheld Garmin GPS
III+ receiver and while he was downloading the data, he would draw the perimeter
on a paper map from memory and see how close he could get. Some days we had to
use his paper map and the OES guys would digitize it!
My next assignment as a SITL was the Leonard Fire in TCU, and I never touched a
sharpie again. Our Team GIST flew the fire with a GPS III+ every day and did all
the maps, briefing, IAP, progression, everything using GIS at the local County
MEDL and EMT
Continued excellent discussion! I only hope that those with the
power and position to actually change things are listening. Like several of you,
I've been in contact with people at all levels from local to national, and have
been told that something's in the works, but have yet to see any fruit of that.
Quick responses to a couple of points. "Let's get this fixed" - The issue of
being told your helicopter could not be used as a primary means of transport was
probably (not knowing the specific situation) an issue of state licensure.
States license ambulances, including air ambulances, and typically have pretty
stringent guidelines for minimum required staffing, equipment, etc., and
typically a fire-use helicopter is not going to have on board oxygen and suction
and related systems that would be required in an EMS helicopter - and even if
they did, it would not be practical to go through state licensure every time you
move to a new assignment. Of course just like with EMT licensing, rules are
probably as varied as ever. But there is no doubt some provision for emergent
situations in which you use what's available - just like hauling someone out in
a pickup or SUV or ATV because a licensed ground ambulance can't get to them.
Mr. Kliesen - more great points. Perhaps one reason you've never heard an MEDL
ask for all EMT's on crews/engines to identify themselves is because it is
simply to many to work with. In some regions, especially with high numbers of FD
cooperators on these large fires, there could be dozens or even hundreds of
EMT's, and changing daily. Most local FD engines I've worked with are staffed
with at least one or 2 EMT's or paramedics if not everyone on the crew. It's
simply not feasible for the medical unit to "supervise" all those folks. At the
same time, though, they may have a huge advantage over their non-FD partners, in
that they already have a system of medical control in place, and may be able to
legally operate under their home unit's protocols and medical control, since
they were dispatched as a representative of that unit. I emphasize "may",
because there are still issues if they're outside the state where their medical
director is licensed. A fed resource without protocols and medical control, or a
single resource (such as I am when dispatched as a MEDL/EMTP) doesn't have that,
and is left hanging in the wind, regardless of level of training or additional
certs that individual has pursued - like WEMT.
I've already picked up some great info here, and have plans to incorporate some
of these points into fugure 206's I write on incidents. It appears everyone here
well recognizes the core issues - lack of quality "incident-within-an-incident"
plans, certification limitations, lack of protocols/medical control, lack of
support from fed agencies, lack of consistent standards, ad infinitum. Let's
keep hammering this issue until someone who can change things gets it done.
Otherwise, we're all left hanging, and could easily face legal and civil
repercussions if something bad happens - which we know, in this business, it
eventually will. I dread the day we see an EMT hauled into civil or even
criminal court for "doing the right thing" without the legal authority and
agency backing to do it. But it's coming if the system is not fixed.
One other quick note - it is incumbent on every EMS provider, whether MEDL, line
EMT, or an EMT who happens to be on a crew or engine when something happens - to
think things through and not tunnel in on a given transport option. Helicopters
are great, and can be a life-saving tool, but they are NOT a panacea that will
cure every ill. Sometimes, when you have staffing, simply carrying a victim to
the road to a ground ambulance, or pickup, or whatever, may prove to be hours
quicker than arguing and debating about which helicopter to use. Never get
tunneled in on a single option any more than you would in suppressing a fire.
This has been a good discussion and I feel I should finally put in my two cents.
I have been an EMT (and Wilderness EMT) for five years. I got certified solely
for my wildland fire job and for the single reason to be able to deal with a
medical situation of one of my crewmembers or other fire personnel on fires.
Being a member of an exclusive use helicopter crew I believe our capabilities to
extract an injured firefighter and take them to definitive care can be a crucial
link to someone living or dying. I know full well my capabilities and
limitations, my crew’s capabilities and limitations as well as my helicopter's
and I believe as an EMT my role is only to stabilize, package and transport the
patient to definitive care at a hospital. The less time the better. As an EMT
with a trauma and air kit you are very limited to what you can do, but
stabilizing and transporting I believe is your number one duty. You are not a
doctor, you do not have the tools of an emergency room.
I have zero direction from my agency or local unit on medical standards and
protocol and I follow what I was taught as a national and wilderness EMT. I
constantly train with my other EMTs on the crew, my non EMT crewmembers and my
helicopter for different medical situations. We primarily perform initial attack
operations and have great success for medical situations as we have preplanned
and coordinated with our local dispatch what our procedures and protocol is
going to be. Am I operating outside of my scope of practice here? Probably. But
my crew's safety is number one.
When we do make it to a campaign fire it never ceases to amaze me the amount of
confusion and disorganization of medical units and their understanding of our
operation. Usually we are brushed aside and they want their own EMTs to fly on
our helicopter. I am fine with that but I always fly with them to provide
helicopter oversight as they usually have never been on a helicopter. My main
concern, which has occurred many times, is that when a firefighter gets hurt the
medical unit always wants to get a person on scene, regardless of whether or not
the crew on the ground already has an EMT on scene and performed a size up. More
than once I have sat and waited for a medical unit EMT to get to the scene via
truck or foot and then make the call for a med-evac when it was first reported
by the crew EMT to transport. On one particular incident the time for my
helicopter to fly to, package and transport the patient to a near by hospital
would have been approximately 30min. The medical unit used another helicopter to
pick up the patient, transport them to the helibase and then put them into an
ambulance. The ambulance then waited 45min for a Life Flight helicopter to land
and transport the patient to the same hospital. Total transport time was around
This need to be cleaned up. I was told by the medical unit leader that legally
we were unable to transport the patient and that’s why the called for a Life
Flight. I had never heard this and informed him that we have transported direct
to a hospital several times. Bottom line is we need some sort of direction and
protocols in the wildland fire world. Injuries and accidents occur, that is a
fact of our profession. FMOs want us to provide EMT services but we are provided
no standards to follow. Perhaps we can look at the Park Services program and
adopt a similar one. I look forward to hearing ideas on how we, as the wildland
fire community of EMTs, can make the EMT program better and at the same time
provide ourselves with legal coverage.
-Lets Get This Fixed
re: medical evacuation, training and control
This has been a good discussion. My own history with Medical Units is that they
are unprepared to deal with issues on the line. As they must depend on the line
to give them information, they often get an incomplete picture. Meanwhile the
EMT on the line is waiting for them to provide information and direction. At
the same time communications, the med unit, air support, the division sup and
safety are all talking on the radio simultaneously. Contract Medical Units are
usually better equipped and work better as a team, however they are much worse
at working with the other line and crew EMTs and are typically incredibly
I have identified myself to the Medical Unit as an EMT many times and am usually
politely told 'thank you, but we've got it covered'. I have invited the Med
Unit staff to come to the helibase to get an orientation and often will get
little or no response.
I have NEVER (emphasis added) been on an incident where the Med Unit Leader
stood up in briefing and said 'I need to see all the EMTs identified on the IAP
and crew EMTs to see me after the briefing during the breakout sessions'. Not
We are also forgetting the bigger picture. Typically only type 1 organizations
operate with a Medical Unit Leader (MEDL). Crew level EMTs operate without
supervision or direction on a daily basis whether they are on a large fire or
not. Whether we are working on project work, driving to and from assignments,
patrolling, prescribed fire, or other incidents there is still no direction,
training, protocols or procedures.
If as an organization we start with the EMTs at the crew level, and get them on
the same page, it makes everyone's job a lot easier. As they are the ones most
likely to be the first on scene and providing the necessary information to
dispatch, EMS or the IC, the line EMT should have the training, equipment and
protocols to do the job.
Since this is unlikely to happen in the Forest Service anytime soon, I again
encourage individual firefighters and their crews to take the time and at least
discuss what can be done and what could happen. The Dutch Creek, Iron 44, South
Canyon Incidents, Rappeller and Smoke Jumper injuries, automobile accidents,
heart attacks, and burnovers are but a few examples of what can and has
happened. Other resources, training, time and even funding can be available,
you just have to be creative. It is unfortunate that so little is being done,
and what is being done is at such a slow pace.
NREMT-B / WEMT-B
USAR 68W Combat Field Medic
GIS Inquiring Minds Want To Know (IMWTK) Fire GIS
The infrared community (NIROPS)
embraced GIS in the mid 90's. We were teaching a GIS unit in the S443 (Infrared
Interpreter) Course as early as 1995. As the technology has matured, so have we.
We've gone from providing mylar overlays of the heat perimeter that we
interpreted from paper imagery and hand delivered to the SITL at ICP to
digitizing our paper IR maps and providing GIS heat perimeters to the incidents
after the briefing to now having digital imagery that is ortho-rectified
transmitted from the planes to the interpreter who produces a GIS product and
digital map that are posted to the incident folder on ftp.nifc.gov. Of course,
we prefer to be face-to-face and work with the SITL and GISS at ICP but we've
been able to map a lot more fires in a more timely manner since we went digital.
We pulled the printers out of the planes two years ago. It has been a rewarding
program to be a part of and our goal remains to get the best thermal
intelligence to the IMT as quickly as possible.
I was a member of the original GeoMAC team the summer of 2000 (www.geomac.gov/index.html).
It was a great idea then and remains a great resource. GeoMAC is short for
Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination and it was truly that. The visionaries from
USGS, BLM, and FS who saw the potential of having a public ArcIMS site recruited
the right do-bees from these and other agencies together to make it work and
threw it out there. It wasn't perfect, but we took in feedback and made
improvements. When new data sources such as MODIS were made available, they were
added. There have been several spin-offs from GeoMAC including the Fire Data
Ordering site (now the Rapid Data Delivery System), state specific sites,
all-risk sites, and others. GeoMAC became the standard other ArcIMS sites
emulated. BTW-the computer it was running on had a short and caught on fire a
few weeks into the project. We still don't know if it was from the thousands of
hits it was getting, but we still laugh about it today. We didn't assign the
incident a lat/long so it didn't show up as a green triangle on the map. Hmm,
that would make a nice logo for the tenth anniversary next year!
I respectfully disagree. Fireline triage/medevac, if it has completely relied on
the line firefighters, as you stated, is woefully incomplete. Therein lies the
problem. If EMT "A" thinks evac should be one way and EMT "B" has other ideas on
the same division, how does one provide for proper planning, management and
performance? I have never seen an IAP, formerly called Shift Plan, that did not
have the direction to contact the Medical Unit if an injury occurred. It is the
responsibility of the MEDL to manage illness and injury related issues on an
I'm sorry you and so many others have had bad experiences in the Medical Unit.
The units are only as good as the people that fill the orders for "EMT" or "EMT
(line qualified)" and the management of the unit by the MEDL. The same is said
for\the quality of medical training of a firefighter on a crew, they are only as
good as the person that fills that position. I do not have to check with Hot
Shot Supts. to see the value in having a medically trained person on a crew.
By the way, I have never had an EMT on any crew come to the Med Unit, identify
himself/herself as such and ask about procedure or plans. Perhaps it would be
prudent for all of us to work together to provide the best care and treatment
possible on all incidents.
I've placed some new logos on the
Logos 17 photo page. Ab.
Medical evacuation, control and training
I think we are on the same page. I take the position of MEDL seriously. The
term MEDL is just that, a LEADER. I, too, have seen marginally functional MEDLs
on incidents. And you are correct, it is not a requirement of a MEDL to have any
kind of emergency medical certification. That said, while I personally believe
it is useful, if not necessary for a MEDL to have some medical certification,
the MEDL can function without that certification as a LEADER if, and only if,
they take a proactive role in providing proper management, performance and
planning in the unit and demand the same from the care providers working in the
unit and on the line.
I have used an additional sheet, sometimes two sheets if the situation warrants
it, with definitive information on medi-vac incidents as well as procedure for
ground transport. This additional information is provided to Safety, Comm, Ops,
Logistics, Air Ops and others who need to know. What they choose to do with the
information is up to them, however, I do review the info at briefings if given
Additionally, on some incidents the Med Unit falls under the supervision of
Safety and others under Logistics as is nationally recognized. I have found that
developing a good working relationship with Safety is an additional set of eyes
and ears for initializing a workable plan and great asset should an incident
occur if they are on board with the plan.
I applaud those who choose to continue their education in the WEMT program, and
do believe it is a valuable program for those on the line EMTs. But again, if
there is a lackluster plan for quick evacuation response, there is still a
problem in the system no matter what the level of care on the line.
Medical evacuation, control and training
I have to respectfully disagree. The fireline triage/medevac process has
always relied on line firefighters who, for the most part, carried some level of
medical qualification on their own. If you check with hotshot supts you will
find that they try to hire EMTs when they can, but that there is no extra pay or
dollars for continuing education for these folks. The MEDL has no supervision or
management of the EMTs that are where the highest hazard is. There was an effort
at one time for line EMTs, but that did not work as well as was hoped, there
were folks just hanging out waiting for someone to get injured. I remember
feeling like there were circling vultures around. I also remember having to pack
a couple of them out, so much for being proactive.
My experience with the Medical Unit has been very mixed, it depends a great deal
on the skills and the attitude of the folks staffing it. I had one EMT who was
able to dig a small boulder out of my eye with amazing skill. I had an other EMT
treat what turned out to be pneumonia with Vicks NyQuil for a week. Didn't have
a very good outcome.
My suggestion is for the fire agencies to acknowledge that they have some level
of responsibility and provide the opportunity for fireline folks to get that
training, and then to provide for those folks to be compensated for those
I just wanted to take a moment and thank all of our
frontline federal firefighters for the dedication and professionalism.
You tolerate a less than optimal employment situation and still give it your
all. Not only am i Thankful for all of you, I'm
also extremely proud of you. Keep up the good work and keep pushing for change.
I'll keep pushing too.
An Old Time Chief
(ab, thank YOU for this forum. Many of us are doing what we can, but this
forum really helps.)
You're welcome. Thanks for continuing to help out. Ab.
Medical evacuation, control and training
I am glad you and sagebrush faller have circled back to the MEDL issue and the
"5 P's" ( proper planning prevents poor performance). I commend you for
personally taking the initiative to do field recon and making sure that everyone
in the medical unit knows "the plan". I wish all medical unit leaders were as
proactive as you are, but my experience has proven otherwise. In fact, in
skimming through my MEDL task book I don't see anyplace that requires a MEDL to
have any medical background or certifications at all. If I am wrong about this,
The thread, as these things do, took on a life of its own and was concentrating
on the pointy end of the stick, the line EMT.
I was suggesting that a work around for the holes in urban EMT training is
motivating line EMTs to pay for their own WEMT certification, an existing
program that most closely approximates care "on the line". Slightly modifying
the training would make it even more pertinent but it is very useful as it is. I
know you have been on the radio with a line EMT during an "incident within an
incident" and gotten a less than linear report of patient condition and request
for evacuation. A "whiskey tango foxtrot" report will certainly slow down even
the best planned response.
Agreed, all the filled out IAP medical plans in the world are next to useless if
the MEDL has not done some "ground truthing" and made "the plan" clear to each
and every member of the medical unit AND done a "dry run" medical emergency
drill with Comms, Ops, etc. How do you insure that gets done? I also believe
that the incident medical response is a "chain of care" that needs to be
seamless from the point of contact to the arrival at definitive care. So,we are
not trying to reinvent the wheel with the line EMT stuff, just trying to change
the rusted out steel rims for some low drag mags.
Thanks for the feedback. I think kicking this stuff around in an open forum is
very worthwhile. Time for turkey torpor.
What I was referring to in my statement of use your annual leave, was based on
the fact that one of the posters (I can not find the post at this exact time)
stated that they were going on unemployment in order to rest because of a long
hard fire season. THAT is crap. You had the choice and now because you worked
really hard, you are going to take Unemployment??? As for permanent employees
with less than PFT employment, if they are in the use or lose category, they are
allowed to use their annual leave prior to being laid off. The seasonal, well,
just remember that you are not guaranteed a job for the next fire season. So
looking for work is a good thing. If you get a job, an then get a better one,
quit and move on. An employer has to be competitive.
Sorry for the ramble, and Happy holidays
thanks for all of YOU, and for this country, too.
Be safe. Carry on!
The Abs at wildlandfire.com
Medical evacuation, control and training
If I am following this thread
correctly, the issue at the core of the matter is, as Class C Sagebrush Faller
mentioned, that of an 'incident within an incident", pre-hospital treatment and
evacuation. As a former NREMT-P and MEDL, I believe this is the crucial first
step to improve medical emergencies on incidents. If there is no workable plan
for medical emergencies and evacuation, all the NREMT-Ps, or for that matter,
medical doctors cannot perform treatment in the field with the expectation of
getting our people to definitive care in a quick, safe manner.
The standout in my mind in all this discussion, there is very little mention of
the MEDL. The duties of the MEDL are wide in scope, not just treating blisters
at the end of a shift. Each IAP has a medical plan. It is the responsibility of
the MEDL to make that plan complete, workable, safe and in the best interests of
all personnel, no matter where their location, position or job duties. I have,
many times, done re-con of Drop Points and Helispots in relation to the fireline
for evacuation purposes. Helicopters for evacuation need to be identified along
with ground support resources BEFORE an incident occurs. It is absolutely
essential that pre-planning be done, a 'worst case scenario' investigated and
all those working in the Medical Unit, whether EMT or above, be aware of the
plan and able to respond as set forth in the plan. Nowhere is it written that
what is presented in the IAP be THE complete plan. Directions to those on the
line or elsewhere needing medical assistance and evacuation need to know the
procedure for requesting assistance. It is the job of the Medical Unit to follow
up in the pre-planned, prescribed manner to effect a positive outcome.
I do not believe we need to 're-invent the wheel', merely use the wheels we have
in a more effective manner, beginning with the the MEDL and medical plan.
I may be wrong, but I don't think permanent seasonal employees who have been
laid off can use their annual leave, in lieu of, Unemployment Insurance. Plus,
temporary employees can't use their annual leave because they are given lump sum
payments of unused annual leave shortly after they are laid off.
Also, last December and January I tried to find work when I got laid off.
Probably sent out between 20 and 30 apps and resumes. I never got one response
back for work. Not even from USPS, UPS, or Fed Ex. But, if I did happen to get
an interview with someone and told them that I would be going back to
firefighting in 1 to 3 months, what do you think their response would be?
Dear Ab & All:
We too at the FWFSA would like to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving and to
thank all of
you who give us the humbling opportunity to work on your behalf.
Off to DC next week...taking no prisoners...
Thanks to all,
Thanks for making the trip from Idaho, Casey. We'll be thinking about
you and rooting for you. Ab.
When I was a Carreer Heathenal, I was subject to "immediate recall" by the
federal government. This meant that any employers that I approached while laid
off had to deal with the fact that I would potentially be recalled at a moments
notice. Kind of hard to find a secondary employer that is OK with that.
Re: Wilderness EMT thread
I like the current discussion, but would like to point out that changing EMT
quals would take a long time. During transition, many incidents would probably
be stuck without the capacity to get a WEMT but be unable to use regular EMTs.
Some medical care is better than none.
Something that is immediately implementable and feasible is to get to work on
the evac/incident within an incident plan and look at what can be changed there.
Treatment in the field is just that -- treatment in the field. We as a fire
organization need to do a better job of getting our people to definitive care.
Most of the "incident within an incident" incidents I have been part of have
been an "Oh Sh--" reaction, with everyone doing the best that they can. This
needs to change.
Class C Sagebrush Faller
Thanks for all you do and all you have tried to do. My letters (also unanswered)
to NWCG must be sitting next to yours. First beer is on me.
So that leaves us trying to drive the process from the bottom up. I've had
trouble being federalized while on a federal disaster response team actually
responding to a federal disaster so I agree that is only a remote possibility,
but I can dream.
I do think if someone realizes that they can make a buck (and
the gubmint save one) by modifying WEMT training for the fireline then
eventually the EMTs showing up on the fireline will be working from roughly the
same play book. Pay EMTs with a WEMT-F qualification another buck an hour. The
USFS wins, NOLS or WMA wins and the grunts on the line win.
The nail that sticks up gets hammered down. But you can look at yourself in the
GIS wizzbang stuff
Don't know how long they have doing it but ODF has been
using a GPS in the
dozer with a downlink to a laptop with real-time mapping!
re: medical evacuation, medical control and training.
There have been some excellent postings on this site regarding EMTs and their
use in federal service. It is somewhat confusing and while others better than I
have written on this subject frequently I shall attempt to clear up a few issues
without being too long.
EMT certification comes through the state in which you are tested in. Each state
has its own protocols and procedures and medical directors can further restrict
that scope but not exceed what the state has established.
The National Registry EMT program is in fact not national and is only a piece
meal effort to allow those that take that exam to operate in other states or
jurisdictions. Certain states may accept certification at the paramedic level,
but not the intermediate or basic level or vice versa.
Military qualifications are another thing altogether. A health care specialist
(68 Whiskey / Medic) in the Army must still maintain their civilian NREMT Basic
certification as part of their training. However in the civilian world they are
only glorified EMT Basic's. While deployed they often exceed what some
paramedics are allowed to do, but are always training, and usually work very
closely with nurses, doctors, surgeons, PAs, etc.
As an Agency (with Region 5 as the exception) the USFS has no protocols. The
USFS has no standard operating procedures. The USFS has no medical direction at
the Washington Office, regional or forest level. While there are rumors of a
Dentist at the WO level acting as a medical director, I have found no evidence
of this person and believe that it is merely a myth, an urban legend.
The National Park Service does have medical direction, procedures and protocols,
but these typically differ from park to park. Some of the other DOI agencies
also have their own protocols.
The Forest Service routinely seeks out and hires EMTs for their engine, hot shot
and helitack crews. They are often identified on the crew or shift plan and
usually pressed into service to act as the medical eyes and ears of the
supervisor. They are given little in the way of direction, equipment or
training. Yet a great deal is expected of them in an emergency. EMTs in the fire
service will often have a very diverse background, experience level and
training. Very rarely will you find two EMTs on a crew that took the same
training and agree on how to do anything, much less have a grasp of protocols
and procedures for the jurisdiction that they are currently working in.
The Wilderness designation often seen in our business means only that the EMT
spent extra time learning to deal with situations and scenarios where advanced
life support was not just a phone call away. They spent time discussing and
practicing those skills needed to package and pack out a patient, long term
care, triage, trauma and looked at the pro's and con's of calling for a
helicopter. Realistically Wilderness means that you are more than 2 hours from
Advanced Life Support. So if you are stuck in traffic, on a boat or high in the
back country, you are in the wilderness context. Normal limitations or protocol
and procedure are still in force, you merely have a different way of looking at
Doc Smitty's idea of creating a federalized EMT designation with protocols,
skill set and procedures while on assignment is 'not a perfect solution but... a
workable one'. This is a great idea, however I do not see it happening in my
lifetime. I wrote a very basic protocol several years ago and submitted it to
the NWCG working group, the WO and the region with no response.
So we are back to what can we do as firefighters? Below are a few providers of
Wilderness First Aid, First Responder and EMT courses. I am sure you can also
search online for courses offered in your area by other organizations. These are
the sort of courses you want to consider for yourself and your fellow crew
members. Their teaching philosophy, techniques and training are similar and they
all have a proven track record. Their classes can easily be adapted to your
specific need. Working with other districts and forests, you may have enough
personnel to host your own class. I strongly encourage you to consider the
Wilderness First Responder courses that they offer.
Unfortunately, the Forest Service is not going to do this for us, this is
something we will have to do for ourselves.
Wilderness Medical Associates
Wilderness Medical Institute / NOLS
68W Combat Field Medic
If anyone has other events for the GIS Inquiring Minds Want To Know (IMWTK)
Fire GIS page, please send 'em in.
For IMWTK about Mobile Field Mapping - GIS
Here is a list of events, that I’ve participated in or know about, that
changed the way we map wildfires from scribbling on a paper topographic map laid
over the hood of a pickup truck with crayons, to real-time situational awareness
in the ICP using data transmitted from the field. Hopefully this will prompt
others like Dorothy Albright, Jeannie Taylor, Tim Smith, Jim Kniss, Lyle Koegler,
Dave Kehrlein, Joel Cusick and Charlie Leonard, to name a few to write in and
share their experiences. (see attached)
www.esri.com/news/ArcUser/0703/initial1of2.html There are so many good
stories out there. It’s great that we have a wonderful website like
wildlandfire.com to share them.
Keep in mind that all these changes have only happened in about the last 10
Mobile Field Mapping Landmarks
1997 – City Creek Fire, San Bernardino National Forest – first time a fire
was digitally mapped from the air and a color topographic map showing current
perimeter was transmitted from the back seat of the helicopter to the dispatcher
and ICP as an e-mail attachment. Pilot laughed when he saw all the crap I
dragged onboard (laptop with glare guard attached to the screen, cell-phone,
cables, extra batteries, GPS receiver with no external antenna; had to hold it
next to the window during the entire recon flight). This stuff is in addition to
the paper topo maps and pencils I wore on a kneeboard.
1998 – Banner Queen Rx Fire/Chariot wildfire, BLM CA Desert District - The
“F-Project”, first time information about fire activity was shared using a new
tool, the Internet.
1998 - North Fork Fire, Boise National Forest – mapped entire fire on foot
wearing a dorky-looking Tekmate laptop carrier, cell phone and GPS receiver
(with external antenna attached to the top of my hardhat for better reception
under canopy). It was the only way to provide near real-time fire updates to the
dispatcher directly from the fireline through a spotty cell-phone connection.
Acquired “Fire Geek” nickname.
1998 – Attended FIRESCOPE GIS Taskforce meeting at Ventura County Fire Dept and
gave wildfire field mapping demonstration. Dave Kehrlein, GIS Manager, CA
Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, predicts that soon we will be mapping
wildfires with lightweight sunlight readable touch screen tablet PC’s (What’s a
1998 – Danny Rhymes Training Center, San Bernardino National Forest - Attended
beta Fire GIS course taught by Dorothy Albright and Jeannie Taylor. It later
became the NWCG approved S-343 Geographic Information Specialist for Incident
1999 – Willow Fire, San Bernardino National Forest – first fire website to crash
the ISP server due to high demand by the public. After demob, Doug Parker, the
IMT webmaster and myself were invited to ESRI HQ to explain how we uploaded the
maps onto the Internet so fast. They gave me free GIS upgrades ($6,000 value)
when they discovered that the 3D maps were not generated by the ArcView 3D
Analyst extension, but instead we used a $39 mapping program we could afford on
sale at CompUSA.
1999 – Packet radio modems, GPS receivers and handheld radios are installed in
select command vehicles, air tankers, helicopters and engines for real-time
tracking through ham radio Automated Packet Radio System (APRS) on a dedicated
shared Federal radio frequency used in CA. The “green boxes” would transmit your
position through a state-wide digipeater system installed in existing radio
repeater locations. Resources could be tracked using inexpensive mapping
programs such as Delorme StreetMap. It was a cheap and easy to use solution for
keeping track of resources responding to a fire in near real-time.
2000 – Taught at first national GPS for Fire Management training course at NIFC.
During the aerial mapping exercise we experimented with transmitting fire
perimeter shapefiles from the laptop carried in the ship, to a vehicle mounted
laptop parked at the helibase through a peer-to-peer wi-fi connection. It
2000 – President Clinton turns off selective availability (intentional dithering
of GPS signals for inaccurate readings of +/- 100 meters). Microsoft releases
Pocket PC Operating System in collaboration with the new Compaq iPAQ PDA. ESRI
releases ArcPad 5.0 mobile GIS software.
2000 – GeoMAC goes online
2001 – Viejas Fire, Cleveland National Forest – first fire mapped using handheld
PDA’s and mobile mapping software to within 5-10 meter accuracy. The helo pilot
(same one from the 1997 City Creek Fire) thought it was way cool when I pulled
out an entire GIS data collection platform from my flightsuit pocket and held it
in one hand. The Fire Geek nickname stuck.
2001 - Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, we were prohibited from
conducting Government business on non-secure equipment. All the APRS packet
radio modems were removed from vehicles and aircraft.
2003 – Grand Prix Fire, San Bernardino National Forest – Fire perimeter
shapefile was downloaded from the helicopter to a handheld PDA carried on the
fireline by wireless peer-to-peer network using Microsoft ActiveSync. Updated
color maps were printed on scene with battery powered inkjet printer and given
to division supervisors.
2005 – Paradise Fire, BLM CA Desert District – First true “real-time mapping” of
wildfire using GPS-enabled PDA in helicopter. Helo flight path was transmitted
through digital radio and received in ICP GIS trailer on another digital radio
that was plugged into a tablet PC running ArcGIS software.
2006 – Sawtooth Complex, CA BLM Desert District/San Bernardino National Forest –
Incident Commander makes tactical decision to abandon an entire division based
on real-time video downlink from FireWatch Cobra. Crews retreated into a
designated safety zone; 45 minutes later the fire overran the location where
they had been working.
2006 – Esperanza Fire, San Bernardino National Forest – GIS is used extensively
in the investigation and to explain fire behavior associated with this tragedy.
2006 – Fire GIS Standard Operating Procedures are adopted by NWCG.
2007 – Zaca Fire, Los Padres National Forest – Enterprise GIS is used to
coordinate the response of over 19 agencies during the largest fire in Santa
Barbara County history.
2007 – Southern CA firestorm – GIS is used more extensively than 2003 to keep
fire officials and the public better informed of fire activity.
2009 – Kinglake Complex, Victoria Australia – Real-time data was collected on
the fires and synchronized with an ArcGIS server for the first time by Victoria
Water Police Officers. Maps were updated immediately through Internet map
viewers in the ICP, Victoria Police Rescue Coordination Center and on handheld
PDA’s carried on the fire.
Thanks, Geek. I'll have to browse through those. Ab.
WEMT certification and physician control issues:
Glad you brought the WEMT certification and physician control issues up. When
you take the WEMT or WALS course and pass it (not everyone does) you get a
certificate and a nifty patch that means squat, legally. But you do get a list
of protocols that have been developed by board certified physicians. You take
these protocols to your physician advisor and he/she signs off on the ones that
they are comfortable with (like dislocation reduction in the field) and then you
are allowed to add these skills to your "toolbox" when working in a remote
medical setting. This could equate to the difference between walking a splinted
dislocated patella that you reduced off the line for x-rays vs. a whole crew
packing out a screaming individual who is in major pain for the several hours it
will take to get him to the ER where, duh, they reduce the patella. An obvious
benefit to the individual and the fire suppression effort.
I don't believe that "B" intended to suggest that simply completing the WEMT
course obviates any other physician control issues or makes you proof against a
lawsuit. God knows people will sue for anything these days. It does greatly help
prevent a SUCCESSFUL lawsuit, if you can demonstrate that you were working under
physician approved protocols.
However, this "solution" does not address the issue of working outside the area
your physician (and by proxy) you are allowed to practice in. Also, to cast
further confusion into the issue, many states do not allow a physician advisor
to ok any protocols beyond what the state has decided are your scope of
practice. Having a reciprocity agreement that is signed off for the duration of
the incident to cover out of state EMTs working on the fire has gone a long way
to help, but is not a perfect solution. The situation sucketh greatly.
If we could arrive at a nationally recognized and agreed upon set of skills with
protocols, like a WEMT-F (wilderness emt/-fire line) designation AND
federalization of these individuals as such when on incidents a DivSup and the
crews on the line could have better confidence in the quality of care they can
expect when things go sideways.
This is not a perfect solution but it is a workable one.
EMBRACE THE SUCK
The Wildland Firefighter Foundation would like to wish you and your family a
We want you to know that we are thinking about you at this holiday season.
The staff at the WFF
Here is a picture of our crew, The Rio Hondo Roadrunners
Fire Crew 77 of the Angeles N.F.
at the 2009 Backbone Fire in the Six Rivers N.F.
Thanks G, nice photo. I put it on the new
Handcrews 27 photo page. Ab.
RE: Night Flying
San Diego City also flys at night and staffed 24/7. They drop water, run medical
aids and perform
rescues at night. SDFD also has an agreement in place and is able to drop water
at night on SRA
Several individuals have advocated Wilderness EMT training as
the answer to the fireline EMT issues, especially following the tragedy with the
Dutch Creek Incident. However, a quick google search reveals pages of private
companies offering "Wilderness EMT" courses. Which one? Are any of these courses
recognized by any state as a certification/licensure/basis for practicing EMS?
B mentioned that having WEMT resolves the legal issues, working under a
completely different umbrella set of rules - different than the state laws
authorizing EMTs? Does it provide medical control by a licensed physician,
standing orders, and quality assurance for care provided (do you send them
copies of your patient care reports?) I have a firefighter who's been through
the NOLS WEMT course, and speaks highly of it. It sounds like tremendous
training, and very applicable on the fire line. But, unless specifically
recognized by a given state as a certification under which to practice, and
accompanied by actual physician medical control, it is still not an
authorization to practice medicine, and cannot be used as anything more than a
great way to expand your knowledge base. Kind of like an EMT taking ACLS - you
learn great stuff, but it doesn't give you any license or authority to do
anything you couldn't already do.
If, in fact, WEMT does provide these things, that's fantastic, and I'll sign
up for the course. But if it doesn't, it cannot be viewed as a solution to the
systemic problem that EMs/paramedics on fires are often not legally
licensed/certified in the location of the fire they are on, and lacking
physician medical control, have no legal basis to provide anything beyond first
aid care... a problem that HAS to be addressed before a well meaning EMT loses
their license, their livelihood, and perhaps even their freedom for doing "the
right thing" without legal authority to do it.
Helicopters at Night
Another fire agency night qualified is Kern County Fire.
They don't do EMS unless all the contractors are committed,
but are tanked and hoist capable 365 and 7. I do also believe Santa Barbara
County may be, and I'll bet ORC is also.
I know Kern is, as I have gone up with them during training, and I am impressed
with them all.
Everyone have as good Thanksgiving!
Hey Doc Smitty,
Though the Forest Service does not officially employ EMTs of Engines or crews
as a requirement, it is advantageous
to get an EMT skill set or even better a Wilderness EMT certification.
The nice thing about the WEMT is that you are protected under a totally
different umbrella of rules and laws that keep
you from being sued. A regular EMT can't really be sued unless there is proof of
either assault and battery (helping
when help is not wanted ) or gross negligence (practicing skills outside your
skill level). As a WEMT you are protected
under many of the same provisions but also covered if you are more than an hour
from Definitive care. That is more than
someone showing up with a trauma bag. Many of the Forest Service work stations
themselves are covered in that setting
since it can take well more than an hour to drive someone to a hospital.
As a practicing WEMT, it is nice to not only use the skills on wildland fires
but to know that my A** is covered if
something should go terribly wrong. Our motto out there is "the situation sucks
I would encourage anyone who is thinking about pursuing EMT or WEMT skills to
do so even if you are not paid for it
because your crew members will definitely appreciate it when the time comes that
it is needed.
A blast from the past.
Kelly Andersson created this page and many others for the FS FAM websites
beginning in about 1998 or 1999. She was cutting edge for the time, a first in
many things and a unique personality. archive:
Doug Parker (BLM) forged ahead as well although sometimes not so prettily done, it did
the information-sharing trick. I met and worked briefly with Doug at the end of
the Big Bar Complex '99. He was the webmaster on Joe Stutler's PNW Incident
Management Team 3; Tom Lavagnino was detailing as PIO and great to brainstorm
with as well. The Information Tent buzzed with great information and a way to
get it out. The public had better intel and maps than the groundpounders, crew
bosses, DIVS and residents without connectivity like me.
Incident reporting on the web is fairly recent. I remember hearing about the
'99 Willow Fire in socal that wrapped up just before the Big Bar Complex got to
goin' and blowin'. Doug Parker had helped on that; there were also others that
were making fire web history then. I don't know the details. Anyone know? It
should be written up to go in an IMWTK historical archive, although finding the
archived website linked above is pretty neat.
Original Ab -- Steve -- then on the PNF had a great idea for increasing
efficiencies and sharing fire information among
individuals on forests back in 1997 and maybe a bit before. He proposed having a
"They Said It" site to the
FS since the same problems often come up on different forests and firefighters
could avoid re-inventing the wheel if info could be shared. The idea was
rejected or fell through the cracks, who knows? Steve had the gumption and
wherewithal to create and maintain theysaidit anyway and he got support. Boy did
Doug Campbell also had the vision to
create his website in those early days when very few
websites existed and the logical info he presented was non-existent. I'm
convinced his passion is to save firefighter lives; he describes it his
Today the web is all about social networking, and websites abound. It's easy to get twitterpated.
It's also much easier to find information, especially if you have time to
search. Lobotomy could often find info to share here.
We've come a long way in info gathering and sharing. I remember the first
time someone GPSed my location in 1999. Google Earth was not on my radar then,
but aerial photos were, and topography and a number of other fire behavior
factors that Doug Campbell spoke about. I remember thinking that it would be
good to have location and 3-d topography available to those arriving on a fire.
There's something profound about a picture of our earth. In the intervening years Doug's Fire Signature System (CPS) has gone global and
he has a bright young programmer taking it to the next level. Doug is another
visionary that persisted.
Slightly later (2001 or 2002 Div Chiefs/Hotshots/Engine Captains meetings in
Reno) there was a younger firefighter, part of the engine captains' group, I
think, that had come up with a program to use on the FS web to collaborate and
increase efficiencies. Data was entered, I think it was on resources and
activities, could be changed for some given amount of time like 24 hours, and
then was locked and became an official record. I haven't looked back in my
notes, but he was and probably still is another truly impressive innovator of
the same "just do it" breed. The chiefs might have given him an award the
following year for his innovation and contribution. I hope he hasn't moved on
from the agency.
Jeff Pope (Webmaster on CIIMT 3) was also an early Internet pioneer. He
produced one of the best Incident documentation CDs of its time on the 2003 Old
Thanks to Fire Geek for sharing GIS history at the HSU-hosted 2009 GIS
Conference. Fire Geek, you and your bosses at ESRI also have been part of that
innovative history that's moved at such a rapid pace. GIS Girl is another in
that field that developed some of the new web applications in spite of lack of
support from her bosses.
I'm sure there are many others. Folks mentioned above are the ones I knew and
worked with. Here's to the innovation you fostered!
Fire Geek, it was great fun to hear the stories and see your multi media approach
in that great lecture room. Blast
from the past in more ways than one. Maybe we'll all have to get together for the Kinetic Sculpture
Race if it's not burning somewhere, like on the nations forests or interface or
the Eel Grass Fires of Humboldt Bay or the Burning SoCal Desert Sands...
Med emergency response:
Much of what is now standard practice in the civilian medical emergency response
world was pioneered by the military, from medical helicopters to on scene
patient stabilization. There is much more that can and should be taken from the
military model, especially in the wildland fire setting. But, and this is the
Mother of all Buts, EMTs derive their ability to treat a patient based on
protocols and their level of practice under the license of a Physician Advisor
who is usually only licensed in the EMTs home state. Also, there is huge
variability from state to state and even regions of a state (California comes to
mind) for what an EMT may or may not do.
To illustrate, I recall that while working as a line medic on a fire that had
crossed a state border I was told that if I had an injured firefighter on one
side of the road (the border) I could treat them with advanced life support
techniques. If it was on the other side of the same road, I was only able to act
as a first responder, the lowest level of certification. Most fire line EMTs
have had similar experiences and most will "do what they have to do" to save a
patient, at the peril of their freedom and livelihood. That situation is better
now, but to my knowledge has not been tested in a court of law, yet.
The NWCG has been working on this extremely complicated issue for many years.
Many years. The friction between agencies, regions, physicians, personalities
and outright turf battles has slowed progress to a glacial pace. Those who sit
on the council and who regularly read this website forum (and we know who you
are) please post a comment on the current status of the changes.
So, Fireweed, to answer your question about military medics, yes they can do a
bunch of things that the same individual is not allowed to do in a civilian
setting because they are, obviously, federalized and not very likely to get
sued. The threat of being sued drives much if not most of civilian medical
practice. That is why I advocated in a previous post that anyone working on the
fire line as a crew or line EMT spend the time and money to get Wilderness EMT (WEMT)
training. This training is based on mountaineering and expedition medicine but
addresses issues not covered in the urban EMT world which assumes you have an
ambulance full of medical gear and that you can ask a physician for on-line
direction while speeding towards a hospital. Even better would be a modified
WEMT course specifically addressing working as a fire line EMT. If anyone
reading this has any "juice" in the organizations that teach WEMT, please
contact me and we can kick this concept around.
Wild fires have become so massive in scope and level of complexity that old
medical methodologies are becoming a liability rather than an asset. Again, we
as care givers and the men and women who put their butts on the fire line
Discussion of GIS - Geographic Information Systems - on the Hotlist:
Real Time Information Is Now Available Anywhere
Esperanza Fire Progression
video from Fire Geek some time back:
(large wmv file)
Great LA Wildfire 2009 powerpoint from MR
la-wildfires2009.pps (3652 K pps file)
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
I was wondering if I could get some info from the knowledgeable people here.
I got hired awhile ago (September 15) in R5 for an apprentice position. I
already signed, filled out, and sent in my
OF306. Since I don't really have a permanent address during the winter because
I'm sort of bumming around the
country for awhile, getting mail has been sort of hit or miss. Right now, I'm
just having it sent to my parents house.
Can any of you give me a time line of when the hiring package with the online
passcode is supposed to be sent out
from Albuquerque? I don't really remember when I received it for this past
Any thoughts or knowledge would be helpful.
CALFIRE Fire Captain list abolished
CALFIRE has been harshly spanked by the Appeals Division (AD) of the State
Personnel Board (SPB) for "significant irregularities" and is taking steps to
abolish the Fire Captain list established in 2007 and halting further progress
on the new Fire Captain list.
The AD recommends that the decentralized testing program granted to CALFIRE by
the SPB be suspended. The SPB has received "hundred of appeals regarding
examinations conducted by CALFIRE".
The exam unit of CALFIRE in Sacramento is an example of petty bureaucrats that
were completely non-responsive to examination candidates, management, and Union.
They even "destroyed materials despite being notified of pending appeals".
The attached PDF file outlines sad performance by CALFIRE staff hiring our own
employees, they just didn't care.
I hope heads other than some student intern or seasonal office technician will
roll. Thanks for nothing Sacramento.
Appeal CalFire FC Exam (878 K pdf file)
Fire Fatalities near Springville, CA 1926:
I looking for information on the
fire fatalities in Springville, CA in 1926. In the list of Wildland Fire
Fatalities by Year, it lists the Springville incident.
In the NWCG publication, it doesn't list the Springville incident, but it lists
5 fatalities on the Toiyabe
NF in 1926 on the "King's Canyon Fire".
I have done internet searches without finding any more information. Do you have
any information or
know of any places where I should look.
Thanks in advance.
fire fatalities by year.pdf (56 K pdf
fatalities 1910-1996.pdf (413 K pdf
DE, I don't think I posted this earlier. Perhaps someone will have an answer
for you if you haven't yet gotten one. Apologies for overlooking this. Ab.
We too have been asking what the $25 million was spent on. We suggested months
ago to Senator Feinstein's staff that the limited 10% bonus (GS-5-8) could not
possibly account for the full $25 million and it was at that time we were told
that the majority of the funds went to the position conversions.
Personally I didn't feel such a limited bonus would be the best retention tool
and I still don't. I also didn't think retention funds, based upon the reasons
why it was included in the Omnibus bill, should have been used for the
More recently we heard from Forests that they had been using Hazardous Fuels
money for the conversion and had not seen any of the "retention" funding.
Additional inquiries to Senator Feinstein's office apparently led to some
changes and the conversions were to now be paid for by the "Feinstein Fund."
Still, too many questions about how the funds were spent. I will be in DC the
first few days of December and will be meeting with Senator Feinstein's staff on
2nd. They know I won't leave the office until I get some answers as to the
funding, where the Esperanza report is etc.
I know each state is different, but if I remember correctly, the state I
collected UI (only for 1 winter BTW- when my employer from the previous winters
wouldn't take me back on such a temporary basis) in required that you are only
mandated to look for employment in the area of the job you have been laid off
from. So, if you are going through the application process with AVUE or USAJobs,
then you are meeting the requirements of looking for a job. I would also like to
add that like FF4C, I found that finding some one who will give you a job, when
you tell them that you will be leaving in 4-6 months, can be quite difficult.
Reading the Dutch Creek report, it is gut wrenching to read on and on, looking
at the note on time that has passed since the injury happened. It is tragic that
there is a complete lack of standard guidelines for such an emergency, a lot of
time was wasted "discussing" how to get him out of there; as well as the lack of
requirements for qualified emergency personnel to be available on the fireline.
Unfortunately- being a certified, experienced EMT/Paramedic takes a lot of
training and hands on experience, and not easily acquired.
I used to work on a crew with an ex-Army Ranger Paramedic- I never once thought
twice about what would happen if any of us got hurt- he knew every thing there
was to know about an injury in the field. It's beyond tragic that a person like
that was not there for Andy.
It has raised a lot of questions for me- it seems that there is a lot we could
learn from military medics in the field. What kind of standards are there for
military personnel to treat people in the field? I assume they are exempt from
licensing requirements that other EMTs are subject to that vary from state to
state. What exactly are the training and certification guidelines for a military
designated medic? What kind of med-evac protocols do they have?
I wonder if a national fireline EMT position were created, that they could be
exempt from having to be licensed in the particular state they are in, as long
as they are licensed in the state of their home unit, and also Nationally
Registered. With being Nationally Reg.- then there is some kind of standard
across the board- regardless of state. The Medical Unit Leader must be licensed
in the state the fire/ICP is located in, and each FEMT must check in w/ said
Med. Leader to be briefed on that state's guidelines and protocols, and what is
available locally. Of course, all of this depends on said FEMT (and Med Unit
Leader) have enough medical field experience to appropriately adapt- experience
that is difficult to acquire on your own without the support of the agency you
work for. How much do EMT guidelines vary from state to state? Any medics out
fireweed (still lurking)
"Laid off and looking hard",
If we're going to be "on the same page", we need to be using the same facts.
Not sure if you are a federal employee or not. If you are, you made some
incorrect statements. The federal government does not fund it's UI program
through payroll taxes or mandatory UI contributions. Instead, the cost of UI is
borne by each individual agency as an "off the top" expenditure of program
dollars. Funds are transferred directly to the State administering the UI
benefits. For federal agencies that rely upon a large temporary or seasonal
workforce, these "off the top" expenditures are outrageous and have a large
impact to program delivery.
Also, per the IRS website, there are three states that require minimal employee
contributions into the state UI fund for non-federal employees.
- Unemployment insurance payments (benefits) are intended to provide temporary financial
assistance to unemployed workers who meet the requirements of state law.
- Each state administers a separate unemployment insurance program within guidelines established
by federal law.
- Eligibility for unemployment insurance, benefit amounts and the length of time benefits
are available are determined by the state law under which unemployment
insurance claims are established.
- In the majority of states, benefit funding is based solely on a tax imposed on
employers. (Three states require minimal employee contributions.)
For additional information, visit the Department of Labor's Web site under the listing
Unemployment Insurance Tax Topics.
Unemployment and Account for the $25,000,000.00
Sorry to cause so much
commotion. I did not mean to come across like I
was bragging about collecting UI or complaining about not having a job.
I was just asking where the 25 million went if it wasn't being used
for converting people to PFT. I'm all for the 10% retention bonus but
there is no way it cost 25 million for one year. Where did the rest of
it go or will it be used for another retention bonus this next year?
- confused and looking for an answer
Sent from my iPhone
Unemployment Insurance clarification:
Just so we are all on the same page with
the facts- no employee in any state pays into the funds that
support Unemployment Insurance, that financial burden falls exclusively to
employers via payroll taxes
and mandatory UI contributions.
Sign me, Laid off and looking hard
Good Sunday morning, All.
I hope everyone is catching up on sleep, getting those honey-do's
accomplished, having good time with family and looking forward to the
Thanksgiving holidays. I've been enjoying the opportunity to catch my breath and
catch up with old friends. Prayers for the unemployed; it's very hard to enjoy
Thanksgiving when you don't have a job and can't get one.
Special thanks to Vicki, Burk, et al at the Foundation and all YOU that
support the WFF with fundraisers and donations.
Special appreciation for Original Ab, always a fine innovator.
To: sign me- willing to work for a living and THANKFUL to have a job, AND young
enough to fight fire.
Ok, your post is SERIOUSLY flawed. First off I don't think you have ever been in
the situation these hard working and very THANKFUL to have a job firefighters
are so you either should do some research or better yet not even talk about
subjects you know nothing about. I may be wrong and if I am I apologize.
There are only a small handful of all year round positions in all five
federal wildland fire agencies which makes it very difficult for all the federal
firefighters to work all year long. About 75% of the federal firefighter work
force are seasonal or temporary. That is a very large number of people with a
low number of decent jobs for winter available. How many good paying jobs (ones
that pay more than the unemployment that these folks HONESTLY EARNED by paying
into it while they are on duty) are there? Even if there were enough jobs out
there how many employers would hire someone knowing they will be going back to
their fire jobs five months later?
I have been in this situation long before unemployment is what it is today so
I had to get other jobs just to make it through the winter. It was one of the
most difficult things I had to do. I found myself with three or four jobs
sometime working day and night seven days a week. You're probably saying so
what? These federal wildland fire folks work seven days a week sometimes twenty
four hours a day from Spring to Fall. I can bet you don"t work that hard, so why
do you expect them to work seven days a week the whole year? Most of the folks
are the younger up and coming fire fighters trying to break into a very
difficult profession and most likely going to school in between summers also.
Let me ask you if you would be willing to take a pay cut just so you can have a
job? Could you continue to pay your bills or feed your family?
There are lots of these questions you need to ask yourself before you judge
anyone else or call people LAZY or say that these folks are not earning their
money HONESTLY. You pay into the unemployment system too so I would hope you
would use it if you were to get fired or laid off until you find other work.
That is exactly what these hard working people do year in and year out. Sounds
like you have an all year round job and thats great, BUT DON'T CRITICIZE PEOPLE
WHO ARE IN SITUATIONS YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT.
Hi Ab and all,
I have heard from a good source but still a rumor that R5 Chief Ed H is
retiring on June 30, 2010.
In fire the 19th watchout is team transition and we'll already be into fire
season then. When are
In Memory of FF / Paramedic Al Bench
For those of you who may have known or worked with Al Bench, he was found in his
home in Springdale, UT.
on Friday, August 21st, 2009. The cause of his passing was an Ascending Aortic
Al was a Line Medic for Suwyn's IMT-2, an Instructor at Dixie State College for
the E.M.S. Program, a Mentor,
Friend and Colleague. He had a quick wit, and was often prone to be hard to read
at times. His love for Wildland
was always apparent, and was second only to that for his Family.
He will be missed, Peace, my Friend... ><>
Wildland Firefighter Bill:
Dear Ab & All:
The final "congressionally formatted" version of our legislation is available
for review on our web site.
For now it is only available in the Member's Area.
We will provide the bill text which is only slightly different than our draft to
TheySaid as soon as it is
introduced and assigned a number. I have crafted a new, less lengthy "Dear
Colleague" letter to
accompany the introduction of the bill. I'm not sure what the congressional
schedule will be next
week because of Thanksgiving but there are no further impediments to
By the way, yes, we are aware there is a minor 'typo" on page 16, line 9 of the
bill. That will obviously
be fixed before the introduction.
Thanks for your patience. Getting to this point has been a monumental task.
I would like to point out to the fella who says "GET A JOB" to
the unemployment collector that there are few jobs available for folks who only
want to work til spring when they will go back to their regular job in wildfire,
or do you recommend we lie to the employer and then quit in the spring? Not to
mention the unemployment rate in my state is 13%, not a lot of jobs to pick
from. I personally collect unemployment as a way to get back the 2-3K I spend in
state income tax in a state I do not live in, receive no benefits from, I just
happen to be employed by a company based there, talk about unfair!.... yes it's
Unfortunately I do not agree with you on you assertion of "rights." I am all for
claiming UI in the event that you are
unemployed and unable to obtain more work.
That is the right. UI is NOT for resting. That is why you have annual
it. Do not impact the saved fund if you can find work. Go look for it. I work
year round and have done
so for 5 years now. I work 90+ hour payperiods year
round (except when I use my annual leave) and although I am
tired, I still go to
work and do my job.
I would hope that you can find it in yourself to pick yourself up and do some
U.S. Forest Service Firefighter Passes Away
Blake Kouri worked on the San
Isabel National Forest as a seasonal firefighter from 2005 to 2009. He held a
senior firefighter position on the BLM and Forest Service Engines of the San
Carlos Ranger District and Royal Gorge Field Office. Blake passed away
unexpectedly at the young age of 24. He died while hunting in Iowa, one of his
many outdoor passions. He enjoyed hiking, camping, being a part of the fire
service community and world travel. Blake made friends easy, always had a smile
and was quick to laugh. He will be greatly missed here in Canon City as well as
the Pike San Isabel Forest.
Please see the link below for Blake's obituary and to sign and read the guest
Engine 631, Engine 652, Engine 651 and Staff
San Carlos RD Royal Gorge Field Office
Condolences. My thoughts and prayers for the family and for his friends
and coworkers. Ab.
OCSS site down?
Just wondering is the OCSS so ops web site down for repairs or
are they changing servers? I have tried notes
and weather intel and all I get is my Yahoo site with all of NIFC web site and
most of them are down too..
Just see if you heard anything.. thanks and have a great Holiday Season
Could be routine maintenance. Anyone know? Ab.
Let me get this right, you run yourself into the ground for three
years and you expect to get unemployment
insurance to rest? Sounds like you chose, perhaps naively, to go full throtle
year around. How does that
entitle you to UI? The UI you claim you have a right to is only if you are
actively seeking work. You are
not actively seeking work if you are resting.
Sleeping while Unemployed
I agree complaining about the situation, or even bragging about unemployment is
just too much. However, I think there are certain times when not working can be
a good thing. Ive been in fire for seven years, working the last three year
around. After the western season I would head east for another fire job. The
experience and money was great. In fact in those seven years I only collect
unemployment for two weeks when things were really tight. This year however, Im
all about it. Lazy, no. Dead tired, YES. I know that alot of folk out there are
in the same boat. I didnt realize how tired I was until I started making rookie
mistakes in the last months of this season. Even now, with several weeks off, I
still find it taxing to PT and its driving me nuts. While I dont think its right
to turn down work, sometimes its the only thing that is going to help you in the
long run. Hopefully someday I will actually have that option as a full time
employee but for now Im content resting and gathering myself. Plus, collecting
unemployment is essentially a right we have thanks to labor laws. Not welfare.
Some people in fire just have harder jobs than others and need that rest to stay
Sleeping In Tomorrow!
Helicopters at Night
I believe LA City FD also fly fires at night. Both staff 24 hrs for EMS runs
Incident Injury Forms (relating to the medical evacuation discussion earlier in
Here are a few Incident injury forms that I've collected and might
help someone. You can see the improvement made through the years. At the start
of the season, the first Team Incidents can be a bit rusty, another area where
practice makes perfect unfortunately.
Procedures do vary, Different Teams have their own procedures. The way I like
help prepare is to have a meeting with the MED Unit Leader, Operations and the
COMM Unit (RADOs, INCM, COML) at the start to go over their procedures to help
The form without a number is the one I use the most (or the Team's if they have
one of their own), it has the initial info needed, vitals can be relayed when
MEDL arrives. At the first declaration of a Medical Emergency a runner gets MEDL
and OPS to come to COMM Unit. There has been confusion in the past from someone
trying to direct the operation by radio that is not at the scene or in COMM. The
First Responder at the scene should decide how fast the individual needs to get
out, then MEDL and OPS decide how they are to be moved.
There is also a form we used when there was a National Guard ship available with
a hoist, they had to have all the info before they would launch a ship.
ICC Injury Form.jpg
ICC Injury Form 1.jpg
ICC Injury Form 2.jpg
ICC Injury Form 3.jpg
ICC Injury Form 4.jpg
ICC Injury Form 5.jpg
ICC Injury Form 6.jpg
ICC Injury Form 7.jpg
ICC Injury Form 8.jpg
ICC Injury Form 9.jpg
ICC Injury Form 10.jpg
ICC Injury Form 11.jpg
ICC Injury Form 12.jpg
ICC Injury Form 13.jpg
ICC Injury Form 14.jpg
Thanks COMT. Some of the community is on "use or loose" and may not be
reading. I'll send them an email. Ab.
Helicopters at Night
I'm not aware of any wildland firefighting agency except
LA County that uses helicopters for night time firefighting. I have never heard
CalFire use helicopters at night at least at the north end of the state. This
recommendation is now being made by LA County to the ANF. I know that medical
helicopters typically DO fly at night, they have night vision goggles and
usually a somewhat lit up LZ. I'd like to know what experienced firefighters and
helicopter folks think about this proposal. It would take some equipment
purchases, night time viewing equipment for sure, some training and it might
affect scheduling with mandatory time off for pilots and mandatory helicopter
maintenance after a certain number of hours.
Ab & "Confused"...
I am so SICK of the whining...hey "Confused", get over it!
"Not that im complaining that I get to stay home and collect unemployment
all winter but wasnt this
supposed to be one of the retention solutions?" ("Confused" from 11/11,
where's the 25 million?)
- ARE YOU SERIOUS???? Perhaps you should consider this... if you are young
enough to fight fire, you are young enough to get your ass out there and find
yourself a job for the winter, and if you aren't willing to do that, perhaps you
aren't worth retaining? If all you are interested in doing is sitting at home
all winter and collecting unemployment, then you need a serious reality check. I
am SO SICK of hearing from federal employees that they would rather "sit at home
and collect unemployment" all winter than WORK, with the excuse that they can
make more money NOT WORKING than they could by getting a job and EARNING money
honestly. I know that this does not apply to ALL federal employees, but for the
past 10 years I have listened to enough of them repeat this mantra at the end of
every summer. You are young, get a job, or, call it what it is, welfare for the
willing to work for a living, and THANKFUL to have a job, AND young enough to
The year-round tour...
Second chance for R-5 GS-5 and 6's to secure a full time year round tour. Filing
for unemployment or receiving
unemployment funds after turning down a year employment could be considered an
ethics, conduct or fraud issue.
File Code: 6130/5130-1
Date: October 26, 2009
Subject: Conversion of Permanent Seasonal Fire Employees to Permanent Full-Time
- Addendum to March 4, 2009 and April 2, 2009 Letters
To: Forest Supervisors
In my letter dated March 4, 2009, I informed you of my decision to convert
permanent seasonal firefighters outside the apprentice program to permanent
full-time status, and provided you with information regarding implementation of
this decision. In my letter dated April 2, 2009, I provided additional
information regarding the conversions in a Q&A format. It has come to my
attention that some employees, who had not initially accepted the offer to
full-time employment, are now interested in doing so. Considering the intent for
the conversion, I have decided we will continue to accept employee requests to
convert to a permanent, full-time work schedule.
Supervisors will contact employees on their units, who did not previously accept
the conversion offer, and re-extend the offer to convert to a permanent,
full-time work schedule. Per my previous direction, all acceptances should be
signed and attached to the SF-52 requesting conversion to permanent full-time,
and should be submitted to Human Resources with proper lead time to avoid a
break in service. Once the SF-52 is approved and processed, employees who are in
non-pay status will be brought back to pay status. Declinations should be
retained on the Forest . If an employee chooses not to sign the
Acceptance/Declination Form, the supervisor should sign and date the form, and
make the following notation: "An offer for permanent, full-time employment was
extended, but the employee refused to sign."
Enclosed for your use is a copy of the "Acceptance/Declination of Conversion to
Permanent, Full-Time Status" form. All other direction and guidance from the
above-referenced letters remain unchanged.
If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Stephen
Deep, Director of Human Resources, at (707) 562-8736, or Ed Hollenshead,
Director of Fire and Aviation Management, at (707) 562-8925.
/s/ Angela V. Coleman (for)
Acceptance/Declination of Conversion to Permanent, Full -Time Status
_____ Accept a conversion to a permanent, full-time work schedule. I understand
that this request is voluntary and, by accepting this conversion, there will not
be an opportunity in the future to revert back to a part-time or seasonal work
schedule in my covered position, since once accepted or vacated, my position
will be converted to permanent full-time.
_____ Decline a conversion to a permanent, full-time work schedule. I understand
that declining this conversion to a permanent, full-time work schedule may
affect my eligibility to receive future unemployment benefits under this
qualifying position. If I file an application/claim for unemployment benefits, I
acknowledge that I must advise that I have declined permanent, full-time work
for the period for which benefits are sought.
From JW: Another LA Times article
Forest Service should change firefighting policies, report says
Looks like R-3 is going forward with a version of the R-5 fire
hire. For those interested, it looks like they will be hiring
GS-4 thru 9's, unlike R-5 which is only GS 6-9. Backfill process looks like it
will be in play. For those not interested in
the year round work tours in R-5, this looks like an option.
File Code: 6130/5100
Date: November 19, 2009
Subject: 2010 Winter Fire Hire GS-04 through GS-09
To: Forest Supervisors, Fire Staff Officers, and Region 3 HRL's
Preparations are in process for the Winter Fire Hire for all current vacant
GS-0462-04 through GS-0462-09 fire positions covered by Open Continuous Rosters
(OCR's). The purpose of this letter is to provide dates and required actions for
a successful session.
It is critical this information be shared with your managers, supervisors, and
employees. Current vacant positions and positions that become vacant during the
winter February selection period will be filled from Fire OCR's GS-0462-04
through GS-0462-09. Upon acceptance of a position, applicants must understand
that immediate backfills of their former position will occur. Declining a job
offer at a later date may not be an option if the position has been filled.
The timeline for implementation of Fire Hire are as follows:
* November 16, 2009 - Fire Hire Outreach begins.
* January 4, 2010 - Applicant deadline for 2010 Region 3 Fire Hire. We
encourage applicants to apply early and not wait until the last day to avoid
incomplete applications or errors that could occur.
* January 5, 2010 - Referral lists will be generated from HRM.
* January 5-22, 2010 - HRM will work on application qualifications,
veterans, and printing applications for Fire SME's.
* January 22, 2010 - Units need to have all recruit/fill 52's approved in
* January 25-29, 2010 - Fire Subject Matter Experts reviewing
applications, making supervisor reference checks, and application rating.
* February 1-5, 2010 - Selections made, offers made, and actions
processed by HRM. Time could go into the following week of February 8, 2010 .
* March 1, 2010 - Effective date except for TOS or drug test positions.
Each Forest will be asked to have individuals be available to assist as Subject
Matter Experts during the January 25, 2010 , timeframe. In addition, each forest
with vacancies will be expected to have at least one recommending official
available at the HRM during the week of February 1, 2010 . A subsequent letter
will be forthcoming to all Forests with instructions to provide the names of
individuals assisting in both these processes. Forests are authorized to exceed
unit travel caps to participate in the Fire Hire effort.
It is critical that you inform and encourage employees who are interested in
Fire positions to apply for positions GS-0462-04 through GS-0462-09 by the
January 4, 2010 , deadline. In accordance with our backfill procedures,
interested employees should apply to all locations and positions of interest to
them, even if the position is currently filled. If a Region 3 Forest Service
employee accepts a new position during the fire-hire session, our backfill
procedures will allow the newly vacated position to be filled.
Again, your assistance in ensuring that supervisors and employees are fully
aware of these timelines is appreciated.
Questions for Fire management officials should be directed to Richard
Bustamante, Fire Hire Lead, rbustamante@ nospam fs.fed.us , or at (505)
250-3067. Questions for Human Resources officials should be directed to Brian
McKinney at brianmckinney@ nospam fs.fed.us , or at (505) 563-9718.
/s/ Corbin L. Newman, Jr.
CORBIN L. NEWMAN, JR.
cc: Marsha Kearney, Reta Laford, Jacque A Buchanan, Jenny Bartok, Robin L
Irvine, Clay Templin, Chad Stewart, Richard Bustamante, Bill VanBruggen
The current issue of ArcWatch, which was just published, contains a feature
article about the trials, tribulations,
excitement and job satisfaction of being a Fire GIS Specialist on an incident. A
very noble profession indeed.
GIS has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years, including
today in spite of the recession. Ab.
hotshots GS5 plus time in grade --> GS6?
I heard a rumor. That in R5, all permanent Hotshot 5's once they have time in
grade will be
made into a GS 6. Anybody hear anything about this?
Fireline Medic / Medical Evacuations
I want to thank Brian Kliesen for his
cogent remarks regarding fireline EMTs and medical evacuations.
I overheard much of the radio traffic from the Dutch Creek incident as "bleed
over" while working on a nearby fire
that summer. Reading the Fatality report confirmed my well remembered feelings
of increasing dread as hour after
hour went by and motion was confused with progress.
After many years of working as a line medic I am still astounded by incident
medical units wildly varying levels of
experience and preparation from team to team and region to region.
Working as a fireline EMT is unlike any other medical discipline and I speak
from personal experience as a corpsman,
paramedic and emergency room nurse. I would like to strongly reinforce Brian's
realistic conclusions. If you are a line
or crew EMT you need to step up and pay for your own Wilderness EMT and Basic
Rope Rescue courses at a
minimum. Ideally, modifying a wilderness EMT (WEMT) course to a Wilderness EMT
Fire (WEMT-F) certification
would help to fill in the many gaps that urban EMT training leaves on the
fireline. You owe it to yourself and to our
brothers and sisters on the fireline.
Ab, thanks for providing this forum.
Thanks to contributors from across the country. Solutions and ideas for
solutions, we need them. Ab.
Another Station Fire Report, this time from LAC
This is circulating and could be shared.
memo from LAC Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman (25 K doc file)
Station Fire Review, Observations and Recommendations, Los Angeles County Fire
Department (1991 K pdf file, 39 pages)
||UT is facing a wrongful termination case. Possible Whistleblower?
Former wildland firefighter granted filing fee waiver
By Bryon Saxton (Standard-Examiner Davis Bureau)
Nov 18 2009
LAYTON -- The U.S. District Court has granted former wildland firefighter
Samuel L. Biers a $500 court filing fee
waiver in his multimillion dollar
wrongful termination suit against the state, while an independent audit of
of Forestry, Fire and State Lands continues, according to a
Biers' actions have brought upon the division an independent audit of it,
and that audit is looking into all the claims
and allegations he is making,
,,, etc ,,,
Biers was terminated after he brought to the attention of his supervisors
some questionable practices taking place
within the department.
While employed with the state, Biers provided to state staff a 26-page
report titled "Utah's Firefighters, Public and
Wildland Program At-Risk?"
The report questioned decisions made within the department regarding how
funds are collected and distributed, the
falsification of wildland fire
qualifications and the distribution of firefighting equipment.
Biers said he is pleased and hopeful over the court's ruling regarding
waiving the filing fee. "I'm always an optimist,
regardless." ,,, etc
fair use disclaimer
From Doug Campbell re the discussion of learning from the fire signature of a
test fire before firing off a line:
The Boundary fire was a Rx burn that had an escape of 35 acres.
I have a video of the event. The cause was a burnout that was
from a dirt road at the bottom of a slope. I had anticipated the
potential for an escape and an engine was posted to mitigate
the hazard. The burnout was lit from the edge of the dirt road
and burned in alignment with slope. That intensity was enough
to loft embers up and over the road. The engine company tried
but failed to contain the spotfire and the fire relocated to the
exposure slope and ran to the top of the hill. I use this example
in my training program as a lesson learned.
Second email with photos:
Boundary Rx Escape
These 3 photos are from the CPS workbook.
Morning on the Boundary Rx burn. This was the test fire lit prior to the
start of the burn. These fire signatures show the fire in various alignments
with the forces of wind and slope. The fuel was grass so solar preheating
was minimal at this point. The photo on the right is where the head went
out of alignment with wind, slope and solar preheat.
Boundary escape due to firing out being too hot to prevent spotting
over the fireline. This fire is in alignment with wind, slope and in
solar preheated/fried fuels. What will the fire signature be when
the fire reaches the center of the slope?
Boundary flanking Out of alignment with wind and slope but
in preheated fuel. 3 USFS personnel off an engine took hand tools
and contained this flank. The fire over the ridge replicated the
backing fire signature of the test burn.
What fire signature would you create if you went parallel to the
flanking fire and lit a burnout from a scratch line? You would then
have a burn out fire that would be in alignment and replicate head fire
Federal Wildland Firefighter Bill
No, this is not the proverbial carrot dangling before your nose...simply an
update with as much current information as I can provide.
House staff and the FWFSA are finalizing the "Dear Colleague" letter that will
be sent out to all Congressional members when the National Wildfire
Infrastructure Improvement & Cost Containment Act is introduced.
I previously provided the House staff with such a draft of a letter but as most
of you know, I can be a bit long-winded when it comes to these issues so we are
working to cut the length down a bit.
Additionally, the lead staff is communicating with other bipartisan offices in
an effort to secure commitments as original co-sponsors to the legislation. I'm
hopeful we've worked hard enough to get some folks on board initially. Shortly
I'll be posting contact information for congressional offices on our web site
and will need to rely on those of you who are, and who support our Nation's
federal wildland firefighters to make the appropriate contact seeking their
I want to also reemphasize to the entire wildland firefighting community that
our legislation is not intended to disrupt the private fire suppression
providers nor eliminate cooperators from the federal wildfire landscape.
However, it is far past time for the Federal Government to take care of its own
while producing a stronger, more cost-effective and efficient federal wildfire
More to follow. Most importantly, thanks for your patience. Sometimes my desire
to have a lobotomy is greater than having to deal with an Agency unwilling to
support its firefighters and a Congress that often requires a relentless
education on the issues.
I will also shortly post the final version of the bill.
SoCal CalFire person
Is it always true that any time theres alignment of wind, slope and solar
preheating of fuels, the fire will act as a head fire?
Answer: Yes. The fire signature concept helps one pre conceive how an area
will burn, flame length, intensity. Where there are similar alignments the fire
will replicate the signature of the observed.
One other thing to reduce the risk of the fire jumping over the line is to
go into the green and light spaced spots and make the burnout back to
the scratch line. That fire will burn with flame lengths like the backing
fire you oppose.
We made the same mistake on a RX Burn. We lit from the bottom of
a hill in a canyon and created a head fire, aligned with slope and wind.
The fire put up convection and dropped embers across the fire break.
The result was a 35 acre escape. We adopted the tactic of causing
our fire to back to the fire break thereafter.
Good job and thanks for the feedback.
From the hotlist discussion on the Tuolumne and Remembering Eva
I was an FAE
in RRU when this happened and I remember going over this tragedy with the
volunteers at my station. We talked about the tactic of going indirect. I
explained the issue of roll out and underslung line and how dangerous it can be
to crews working above. The tactic of establishing fireline that is
perpendicular to the bottom of the drainage is a positive approach for overall
incident safety. I understand what they were doing and its probably what I would
have chosen to do but I would have emphasized reflex time. You could say their
trigger points were too close to them. When they decided to start establishing
some black line the main fire was close enough to them that when it changed they
did not have enough reflex time to get to safety quick enough. Some mitigated
the problem by going through the fire front to the black and made it down
towards the bottom of the drainage. Eva went up and was overrun. Fire goes fast
where we go slow.
I now teach at a JR College FF 1 academy and use this example every year.
That same tactic 100 yards away probably could have been pulled off much safer
because of the distance from the main fire which equals time. I wasn't there,
this discussion is purely meant as a discussion of safety and I if I ever die in
the LOD I hope to god that you all are talking about how I could have done it
From the hotlist discussion on the Tuolumne and Remembering Eva
And consider the time frame.
We need to set trigger points for when we reevaluate tactics so we don't charge
It would help to have reminders on a map, like trigger points and tracks.
I wonder why this fire signature method is not widely taught to help
inexperienced firefighters organize fire behavior
and talk about a number of the
main concepts of fire behavior.
Are there other fires where our folks failed to recognize the alignment of
forces as they dragged fire with them?
Simple demos would add a lot to understanding and remembering.
HAPPY GIS DAY!
ESRI Wildland Fire Specialist
Have fun at Humboldt State University.
GIS on the Fireline
Rumors of GIS mapping a WHAT? Does it catch the pucker factor? or relaxed?
I hear there's a party later. Ab.
From the 2003 archives, for those with fire withdrawal:
I worked with A Fred B. at LMFD back in the 70tys. He later went to work for
Ventura Co. Would you be him?
7107 aka 7501
Remembering Eva - What YOU Can Learn from Firefighter Eva Schicke’s Death on the
So Doug, next time I encounter this situation of low intensity
fire backing downhill and against the wind with low flame lengths
- not start any fire until I figure out what it will do considering wind,
slope, solar preheating of fuels -related to slope,
aspect and time of day
- not start a fire that will burn like a head fire
- let the fire continue to back against wind and slope ...with the forces
out of alignment or
- figure out how to change the intensity of the fire I'm lighting, maybe
start small spot fires every so many paces in a line
instead of a dragging a continuous line or
- section up the area to be backfired to reduce intensity, not backfire
off the scratchline itself
Better to go direct with the Black as safety zone. but how would I do that in
this type of case?
Is it always true that any time theres alignment of wind, slope and solar
preheating of fuels, the fire will act as a head fire?
You don't want to be in front of it or have it jump your line and run around
to bite you.
Thanks for your wisdom and tactical language, Doug. Much appreciated.
once USFS like lots of us and an old student of Doug's method of reading the
fire to anticipate what it will do elsewhere under
Three So Cal Fed Amigos retiring at the end of month.
- Acree Shreve DFMO Descanso Ranger District, Cleveland N.F.
- Bill Molumby Fire Manager Refuge Fish & Wildlife Service.
- Dennis Baldridge OSC Training Officer.
Must be one hundred plus years of wildland experience between the three. I
wish you Amigos
the best of luck in your new careers.
All three worked many years on Cleveland National Forest.
Take care friends.
Best wishes. Ab.
In the F.S., a line officer is one who is authorized to make land management
decisions through law, policy and regulation.
A District Ranger is the lowest level decision maker and thus one that makes
local decisions for the management of his/her
district to include fire management, initial attack, etc.
an old ranger.
Fireline Medic Positions and Fireline Medical Evacuations,
Having spent the last several years pushing the NWCG and the US Forest Service
to adopt some sort of emergency protocols, it is especially disheartening to
read the Dutch Creek Fatality Report. As a Medic and Helicopter Manager I have
often had to contend with Incident Management Teams, Incident Commanders and
personnel on the importance of competent and qualified medics on the fire line.
The chaos that is often associated with an emergency on or off the fire line is
something that no team, district or IC is adequately prepared for or trained to
handle. On those rare occasions that the patient is quickly assessed and
transported to advanced care, more often than not luck plays a far greater
factor than it should.
I cannot count the number of times I have sat on the helibase with a loaded
helicopter, trained and proficient firefighter/EMTs with equipment at the ready
and told to stand down while we wait for more information, wait for the Med Unit
to send someone down, or wait for the local fire department/ambulance service.
More often than not, the individual that the team wants to put up on the line is
not a wildland firefighter, not line qualified and not prepared for the
emergency at hand. Our own fire staff on scene are often not trained to provide
the proper information or convey the severity of the injury. First Aid training
is often secondary with most crews and the variety of training and experience
among EMTs on the fireline can be hugely diverse.
Equipment available to fireline medics is often whatever they themselves can
afford as the NFES first aid kit is all but useless. Adequate training and
equipment can be expensive and with shrinking budgets is less likely to be
available at any level. Training to handle emergency situations should be
included at the Individual Resource Boss Level, but is not.
Several years ago I wrote the '6 minutes for Safety - Serious Injury
Procedures', which was edited and watered down from two pages to one. I have
pushed for additional training, adoption of protocols, equipment requirements,
and online training. So far very little has happened though I expect the very
slow progress of the various committees to continue.
If you have the time and resources, you must make the individual effort to ready
yourselves for such emergencies, as the USFS will not help you. The American Red
Cross and American Heart Association offer basic first aid classes, and
depending on the instructor, can be quite good. Schools such as Wilderness
Medical Associates, SOLO and NOLS offer Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First
Responder and Wilderness EMT courses that can be customized to the environment
we operate in. Special, inexpensive and adaptable first aid kits and equipment
are available commercially and should be stocked wherever and whenever possible.
Myself and others have written about this topic again and again over the years
and yet little has changed. It is up to us, the individual fire fighter (or in
our case forestry technician) to train, prepare and equip ourselves for
emergencies. Unfortunately the Forest Service isn't going to help.
USAR 68W Combat Field Medic
Thanks, Brian. I know you have tried to share this message
for years. Be safe. Come home when you're done. Ab.
Bryan Banister service:
On behalf of the Ventura County Fire Department, we express a most
sincere thank you to everyone who attended the service last Sunday for
Bryan Banister. Thank you all for the e-mails and phone calls
expressing support and concern for Bryan's family and our crew.
The support expressed by your presence was a living testimonial of your
care for Bryan's family our crew and department. I know it meant a lot
to Bryan's family and friends, they couldn't believe the care shown by
your attendance and the apparatus displayed.
My one regret was not being able to thank each of you personally for
attending. I hesitate to mention specific agencies since I was unable
to count them all. Thank you to the following agencies for your
attendance and support CAL-FIRE SLU Ventura Camp, Ventura City, Oxnard
City China Lake, Los Angeles City, Orange County Kern County Santa
Barbara County, Rio Bravo Hotshots, Klamath Hotshots, Los Angeles
County, and the California Highway Patrol.
I would like to especially thank Kern and Los Angeles Counties for
providing crew coverage to our county during the service. Thank you to
Los Angels County Explorers for your attendance and help with parking
and ushers. Thank you wildlandfire.com for the forum to share this
I'm glad all went well. Ab.
What is a line officer?
No Name -
Thanks for correcting me, you are correct, sorry for the mis-info Joe! Tac17 I
think what Joe is looking for is the Actual definition...
Whether it's different among agencies I don't know...Does CalFire use the same
designation? Or did your question get answered Joe?
Remembering Eva - What YOU Can Learn from Firefighter Eva Schicke’s Death on the
From Doug Campbell yesterday:
Doug Campbell (November 15/2009)
What a shame. This video is a good effort to learn from this accident. Consider
a few other points regarding how this happened.
Indirect downhill line construction to stop a fire that was backing into the
wind and flanking with 6 inch to 12 inch flaming front looks like no problem.
However, consider lighting fire along the dug line, what is it going to act
like? This fire will be in alignment with wind and slope and replicate the fire
signature of the head of the fire that is aligned with wind and slope. The
result will be active fire behavior along the fire line and it will suck the
backing fire toward the line. The more active fire will slop over the fire line.
I have seen this happen a few times. The lesson I learned from these experiences
is to pre determine what your burnout intensity will be before putting a
torch to the fuel. If you put a torch to fuel and the wind and slope and solar
preheat are aligned you will generate a head-fire.
The scratch line may have held a backing fire but lighting a fire from the
scratch-line is what may have generated enough convection turbulence and heat to
put the fire over the line and endanger the crew.
Did they think of that? Do we think that way? This was an opportunity
tactic but not a viable fire behavior tactic.
CPS SOLUTIONS: How firefighters think about fire situations and how CPS
discovers new explanations of the situation.
confession was bogus:
How did he know what he knew when he confessed? (Unless LE filled him in on the
from post on 11/14:
Old Fire suspect says confession was bogus
What is a line officer? Indeed
A burning question, just what is a line
officer? Well after 20 years in the
USDA Forestry Service and eight more in the military, I have a few ideas.
Most, not all, line officers in R-5 are not worth warm spit. I don't want
to sugar coat this. From what I've seen, folks that have been promoted to
line officer positions share a great many characteristics, diversity, you've
got to be kidding! Have you noticed that when management comes up with some
totally outrageous decisions, the rank and file line officers are meek and
quiet? That's because only the meek are promoted to start with. They
wouldn't say POO if they had a mouth full of it. If you're a type A
personality and able to make decisions, you are marked early in your career
as a trouble maker and won't be promoted. The Forest Service has dumbed
down its management so much, that I'm surprised anything gets done,
let-a-lone the hard decisions.
The issue of Medical Evacuations on fires, is just one of the many critical
issues that need to be dealt with. Don't be confuse basic intelligence and
leadership, our line officer are plenty smart, they've just learned to keep
their head down and shut up at a Management Team meeting. They've selected
to stay quiet and not rock the boat so to protect themselves and continue to
get promoted. If our Military operated like USFS management does, we'd all
be speaking German or Japanese now.
Line Officers, stand up for what's right and good, about the US Forest
Service. Stand up for employee and public safety. Stand up to the craziness
at the Regional and Washington level offices. Tell the King (or Queen) they
have no clothes on, look in mirror at night knowing you did your very best!
What is a line officer?
Correction to Dozershot:
Only District Rangers, Forest Supervisors, Regional Foresters, and the Chief
are LINE officers.
Forest FMOs, while exceedingly important, are STAFF. USFS is organized as
LINE and STAFF.
So, the former (District Ranger, Forest Supervisors, etc) are LINE. Everyone
else is STAFF.
Thanks for info on line officers. How does training and background differ from
non-line officers? What do you have to do to be a line officer? Are firefighters
not line officers? or can they be line officers? or only some? Isn't a FMO a
Fire Management Officer? Isn't that a chief? What's the issue here? Joe
Re: What is a line officer?
Agency Administrator/Line Officer - The official responsible for administering
policy on an area of public owned land
and having full authority for making decisions and providing direction to the
incident management organization. (ie.
District Ranger, Forest FMO, Forest Supervisor)
Remembering Eva - What YOU Can Learn from Firefighter Eva Schicke’s Death on the
From SoCal CalFire
What is the slope aspect? Is it W or WNW? Not clear on the video.
Time of day: Solar preheating of the fuels and the active fire period is from
2-6PM? Combine that with the wind shift & downhill line and seems it would paint
a clearer picture. Time they started line construction was 1:38 PM...
Sad loss of a fellow FF. Nice person. Great athlete!
2004, September 12 - CA-Tuolumne Fire-Eva Schicke's death
Remembering Eva - What YOU Can Learn from Firefighter Eva Schicke’s Death on the
http://www.myfirevideos.net/avc-view.aspx?v=228 (17 minutes)
"They understand their initial attack assignment. No one raises any concerns.
They think scraping this 180-foot section of indirect, downhill scratchline will
be simple and quick. Minutes later, a young firefighter is dead. To honor Eva
Schicke’s sacrifice on the Tuolumne Fire, we need to learn everything that we
can from this fire and its suppression tactics."
Hotlist thread with lat long for Google Earth or Google maps
Here's the lat/long: 37.844772°N 120.037922°W to copy and paste
Download google earth then center lat/long in the box.
or google maps link:
Copy, paste and enter lat/long in the box.
Don't know if you'd seen this.
Old Fire suspect says confession was bogus
U.S. Forest Service report: Station fire terrain too steep to fight safely |
L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times
from last night by Paul Pringle, LA Times:
U.S. Forest Service report: Station fire terrain too steep to fight safely
Today's LA Times article:
FS Report pdf Download:
www.fs.fed.us/news/2009/releases/11/station-report-11-13-2009.pdf (3369 K
pdf file, 72 pages)
Bryan Banister Memorial Service:
The memorial service for Ventura County Hand
Crew member Bryan Banister will be this Sunday,
November 15th 1600 hrs at Calvary Community Church 5495 Via Rocas in Westlake
We have section of seats reserved for uniformed members from any agency. Fire
arrive at 1445 hrs and briefing will be at 1500. We will line the entrance to
the church and be seated
as a group just prior to the start of the service.
Fred W. Burris
Fire Captain Crew 11
Wildland Fire and Aviation Division
Ventura County Fire Department
Don't try to educate Mr. Pringle on TheySaid, educate him at: Paul.Pringle@latimes.com
or 213-237-7675 (office) or 213-258-7994 (cell).
Thanks for the post Casey. You can be assured that Mr. Pringle has been learning
about the system and organization the Commander and the Firefighter work within
for weeks now. He knows about an organization that is a 104 years old. It's
flawed, outdated and not in alignment with current fire service organizations.
The organization model is held together by an old guard within the Forest
Service. The organization is dangerous and set up to distract the emergency
service worker and make him or her second guess decisions. And if you need a
case study on where and why Line Officer leadership has failed within the Forest
Service fire program, three letters; LPF.
The gloves are off.
Always remember the Leaders of Forest Service Centralized Fire Management.
The Education of Paul Pringle
It is up to the wildland firefighting community to educate Mr. Pringle and the
press about the realities of wildland firefighting. I spoke with him previously
and tried to provide him with the bigger picture about the management of the FS
fire program. Ironically last night I received a follow up email from him asking
for additional information on the Station Fire and FS policy.
I've learned long ago that some in the press want to provide the public with
good factual information while others want to take snippets of information and
create a sensational, paper-selling article.
Personally, I am disappointed that the Agency bent to such Public pressure about
the Station Fire. I really wish the Agency would have put as much energy into
getting its own OIG to release the Esperanza Report in a timely manner.
Don't try to educate Mr. Pringle on TheySaid, educate him at: Paul.Pringle@latimes.com
or 213-237-7675 (office) or 213-258-7994 (cell).
What happened to the 25 million? / Unemployment
I feel your pain. Our forest has 6 districts. Of those 6 six districts, all
of them have 18/8 lead forestry techs, aka fire engine operators. At an FMO
meeting about a month ago, Forest Leadership asked the FMOs what they'd like to
do this winter. One of the FMOs mentioned that he'd like to make his 18/8
employees, PFTs. 3 other districts said the same. But, 2 districts said they'd
like to decline because "it's complicated". Guess which district I work on?
Also, my FMO never told me about his decision, I found out from someone else.
P.S. I will be laid off for 8 pay periods.
Fireline Paramedic position description:
It’s great that Firescope has established a position description and
requirements for line EMTs and paramedics. It is needed. But, it still leaves 49
states and all fed agencies outside Cali without any such standard, so
Northnight is correct. NWCG needs to address this – along with issues of
licensure when out of state, and medical control.
As it currently stands, a resource order for an EMT or paramedic could easily
get one who just took 130/190, just passed EMT, has never seen a patient or a
wildfire outside of training, and who is not certified in the state where the
fire is, and has no medical control – and then they are expected to provide
competent care that they have no legal authority to provide under fire line
conditions. There are those who are working on it, but for now it remains that
most EMT/paramedic resource requests on national fire assignments probably can’t
even legally provide more than first aid care once they leave their
jurisdictions. It’s a problem, and other agencies outside Cali need to follow
KSENGB (EMT-P, MEDL)
The Education of Paul Pringle,
You are spot on with your assessment ... one can only hope that Mr. Pringle
Fireline Paramedic position description:
From your earlier post 11/08
“I think it is time for the USFS and BLM to put some sort of policy in
place for Line medical personnel and a way to check abilities. Currently we
have none except being certified by and EMS agency which can be someone with
no field experience at all going out on the line and providing care to our
brothers and sisters in their greatest time of need. Personally these
incidents grind me raw about how we are treated by our own folks on the
Firescope has adopted a Fireline Paramedic position description with
associated quals and a detailed equipment list. It can be found on their website
I believe. This should address the issue you speak of in this post. If the IMT
or Medical Unit Leader is using folks who are not qualified, then that’s on
Today's Wall Street Journal has Mr. Cooley in "Remembrances", and I am sending
the current link, but since
it is keyed 'subscriber content' I do not know if
the entire article and two pix will show up; but it might.
8:42 a.m. PST
I will be sending copies of this and the Missoulian article to my neighbor Mr.
Bob Cermak, USFS ret.
Fire Manager History
This is a very interesting site. It brings back a lot of
memories. I guess I should add my info to the list.
I was detailed to the El Cariso Hot Shot crew in 1968, working for Steve
Gallegos, I was one of two crew foremen on a thirty-four person crew, at that
time there was a Superintendent, Asst, two crew foreman, two cooks and thirty
firefighters divided into two 15 person crews. This is the year that the crew
was busted for drug use. Don Studebaker worked for me on the crew.
After the crew was busted, I moved to Descanso RD on the Cleveland NF working
for Joe Cruz, later moved back to the Six Rivers and back into a Helitack
foreman position, then to the Angeles as a Helitack foreman on the Arroyo Seco
District, then moved to the Tujunga District as an AFMO at Bear Divide and
started the 20 person Bear Divide Fuels Modification Crew in 1972.
I moved to R6 in the fall of 1973 as an FMO on the Bear Springs RD, Mt Hood NF
and supervised the Zig Zag Hotshot crew in 1976. In 1977 moved to the
Wallowa-Whitman NF as the Grande Ronde Fire Zone FMO. In 1990 moved to the
Siskiyou NF as the Forest Aviation &Fire Staff. In 2000 moved to the Oregon Dept
of Forestry and am currently the Rangeland Fire Protection Coordinator for the
I was the Fire Boss on the Wallowa-Whitman Type II team from 1979 to 1984. I was
also the Fire Boss on the Tri-Region Snake Salmon Type II team for three years
1985-1987. I was on a National Area Command Team in Planning 1996. I was
Incident Commander on the National Pacific Northwest Team 2 1997-1999. I spent
25 years in primary command & general staff positions on the Northwest National
Teams, Line Boss, Operations Section Chief, Service Chief, Logistics Section
Chief, Planning Section Chief, Safety Chief, Safety Officer, Deputy IC.
I spent 9 years the NWCG Fire Equipment Working Team, headed the NWCG Water
Handling Handbook Committee, revision of National Training Courses. Instructed
at Marana and on the development cadre for the Fire Program Management course.
Spent 8 years leading the PNWCG Water Handling Equipment Committee and Course
Coordinator for the R6 Engine Academy.
I have had and am still having a great career in fire management. 45 years, 1964
to 2009 +
Thanks Gordon, I'll add the info to the page. Ab.
2nd Human Dimensions of
Wildland Fire Conference
April 26-29, 2010 ~ Omni San
Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade
San Antonio, Texas
The deadline for abstract
submission is December 1, 2009.
Registration Now Open
All presenters and attendees must register for the conference. If you are
not a member of the IAWF
we encourage you to join, doing so will secure a more favorable registration
rate, and you will gain numerous
benefits of membership. The
following registration rates apply:
IAWF Members - $325
Non-members - $385
Students - $165
Hotel and Lodging
For hotel and lodging information please visit
- Provide a forum for sharing what has been
learned about the diverse social elements of wildland fire management
- Discuss how this knowledge can be used and
expanded upon by land managers, fire managers and public leaders to
effectively achieve their assignments and goals
- Identify knowledge gaps and opportunities for
innovation and development
- Explore ways for fire scientists and fire
science users to expand collaborations and develop and test new knowledge
To achieve these objectives the conference will use a variety of means to
share information including individual presentations, panel discussions, and
round table forums.
Call for Papers - Second Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference
Human behavior - at individual, group and organizational levels - lies at the
root of many of wildland fire management’s most serious problems including:
- Firefighter and public safety
- Acceptance or opposition to smoke, prescribed
fire, and fuels treatments
- Community and homeowner fire protection and
- Fire communication and education
- Social and economic impacts of fire and fire
- Organizational performance – from operational
efficiency to cost management and from community relations to ecological
- Public response during fires
Over the past decade fire researchers and practitioners have developed a
significant body of knowledge about many of these social aspects of fire
management. Each group brings key competencies, perspectives and experiences to
the table. This conference will provide participants with an opportunity to
present, discuss, and learn about the latest research findings, management
innovations, and best practices in the US and elsewhere.
Submission of Abstracts
to submit your abstract for consideration.
The deadline for abstract
submission is December 1, 2009.
Abstracts should be limited to 350 words or less (25 to 30
typed lines; font size 12pt) – abstracts over the limit will not be reviewed.
Abstracts should be written in non-technical language and with an emphasis on
management implications of the work. Contributors will be asked to identify one
of four general categories that are most closely associated with their proposed
presentation, these categories are:
- Organizational Effectiveness
- Social Acceptance
Poster presenters will be expected to attend their posters at designated
times during the conference.
Did anyone know him well enough to tell stories or share a picture?
Here's a story and picture in the Missoulian today.
Thanks, Tom. Thanks also to those sending photos.
Readers, try a google search as well. I had some back-and-forth with several
people about photos, but they were copyright. I went to our
page and ordered Earl Cooley's Trimotor and Trail: Pioneer Smokejumpers
book and the Pictorial History of Smokejumping (Stan Cohen) that has
Cooley's picture from the 1970s in it. Trimotor and Trail is a classic. Ab.
I never had the honour of meeting Mr. Earl Cooley. I've read enough about
him to know that he was a stoic man, a man of honour, and a man who
carried enough tragedy with him thru his career more than any of us will ever
know. I know from what I've read that he was one of the two first smokejumpers,
I know that he was the spotter for the Mann Gulch Fire, and I know from reading
the "13th Fire" by Dave Turner, of the Helena National Forest, that Mr. Earl
Cooley was a man of great magnitude. I've googled his name, and read about the
smokejumper re-unions, etc., to know that he was the man of fire.
Like I toasted Tom French back in August of 2007,.......I told my wife thru
misty eyes (okay I was crying......) that Earl Cooley passed away on
Monday....---her first question was who was Earl Cooley. I tried to explain from
what I've read about such a great man, and she went to the cupboard. Now I
understand alcohol is NOT the answer to sad situations, but my wife went to the
cupboard and poured me a shot of "Makers Mark" whiskey. Now I don't normally do
shots ( Tom French's passing was probably the last time I did......) and
fortunately she had a can of coca-cola nearby for a chaser.
Tonight, I toasted Mr. Earl Cooley, for the man that he was. The tragedies that
he witnessed and went thru, and the insight he offered to all of us today.
God Bless you Mr. Cooley, and I thanked you as I toasted you with the
CDF Fire Captain......Former Green Soldier...
Grad Student Project:
My name is Paul Marsella and I am a final year MEng Product Design
Engineering Student at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. I have based
my final year project on designing, developing and testing a method of
protecting homes from wildfires. Due to my geographic location I have found it
hard to get good market research. If you have a spare 10 minutes could you
please be so kind and complete my wildfire questionnaire which can be found on
my project website - http://www.wix.com/pmarsella/Design-Project (navigate to
the 'research' tab and download the questionnaire from there). You can then
email it to me on the address given (email@example.com).
The reason for the questionnaire is to ensure that I develop a product that is
actually needed and will actually work, hence, this is a crucial stage for me.
Furthermore, if you are able to discuss such topics or provide me with any
additional details I can be contacted in the following ways:
Address: 7 Burnet Rose Place, Stewartfield, East Kilbride, Glasgow, Scotland,
UK, G74 4TF
What's a line officer? Joe
The Education of Paul Pringle
Mr. Paul Pringle (LA Times) will do the right thing and focus on the Forest
Service organization the Firefighter works under and not the Firefighter.
LE&I and Fire Organization Similarities?
LE&I = Told what to and what not to investigate by Line Officers. Result =
Fire Program = Told how to fight fire and what to order, including multiple
additional burdens Line Officers have created regarding cost containment and
work processes. Every year the burdens grow.
LE&I = Unable to do the job hired to do. Protect natural resources, citizens and
investigate crimes. Result = Reorganization
Fire Program = Criminal investigations of ICs and Supervisors. Joined at the hip
of a computer model that tells us how much money to spend on a fire. Reading
CWCG notes on the conflicts Fire Managers are having with Line Officers.
Blind-siding ICs with back door decisions with secret chatter behind the back of
Commander. Policy and regulations overburdening the fire program.
If Mr. Pringle continues to educate himself, he will learn about a fire
organization that is heavily influenced by Line Officer mismanagement,
unattainable cost containment goals and the Line Officers' lack of basic
understanding of how a Firefighter thinks and reacts in the performance of the
job. A Line Officer does not have the capability to understand what a Commander
is thinking or even going through mentally while managing an emergency. How can
a Line Officer determine performance of a Commander? Mr. Pringle will learn
about the burdens placed on all Forest Service ICs and Firefighters while in the
performance of suppression duties.
Mr. Pringle if he does the right thing and focuses his research and his FOIAs on
learning about the system -- the organization the Firefighter must work under--
then he just may need to clear a spot on the mantel for that Pulitzer. Go
interview the Commanders listed in the CWCG notes. It's up to you Mr. Pringle.
It's time for you to make a little history, sir.
Mr. Pringle, it's a hanging fastball, over the plate, a suggestion for you.....
The centralists are right. Just read the CWCG notes posted below and count the
number of Line Officer interference and distraction issues they offer our
Commanders during emergency situations. When people are distracted, people die.
The Education of Paul Pringle
3rd Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference IAWF
Good day Ab.
Would appreciate if you were to let your readership know about the upcoming 3rd
Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference
hosted by the International Association of Wildland Fire that is to be held
October 25-29, 2010 in Spokane, WA.
The conference theme is "Beyond Fire Behavior and Fuels: Learning from the Past
to Help Guide Us in the Future".
We are certainly encouraging wildland firefighters to attend and contribute.
The conference website is:
Perhaps we might get you to make contribute a presentation? :-)
Program Committee SC
Thanks, Marty. Sounds good. Thanks for working on it.
Regarding the Station fire article--
Don't we all know that it is aircraft that put out the fires, not firefighters?
Who needs ground forces if we have
a pretty fleet of helitankers and retardant planes?
Who cares if the stated cause for not committing said useless ground forces was
because the area in question
was too dangerous to accommodate crews? Who cares about firefighter safety, when
they don't put out the
fires anyway and aircraft do?
These seem to be the "good questions" being raised by this article.
"Are you $&%*n kidding me" indeed.
Class C Sagebrush Faller
LA Times article.....when you got a heli tanker pilot saying we were not invited
to fire and what ever the press picked up about USFS inaction or inability to
make a decision on a fire in their own arena....... demonstrates a REAL
I would imagine there is more then GOOD to Great chance for an investigation
Leadership better get a good set of Nomex pants on 'cuz when the investigation
really gets a move on ..... they will be more than flame to put out
Well ........ Let us just say IT IS TIME for wildland fire to be housed under
NFA and other all risk all hazard operations
Alll the green soldiers can start flaming me........it is time for a sharp
leadership change and a even sharper re- budgeting of the ENTIRE FIRE budget.
Time for the FIRE budget to be housed under NFA, DHS, and FEMA.... cuz I know
there will alot of USFS folks explaining on how well they do the NIMS and ICS
arena. More reason to house it under a all risk / all hazard operation and force
the land management agencies just to do what it does ...Manage the land
Just remember, the former green soldiers that took care of the land BEFORE the
USFS was the US ARMY.. History also tells that the USFS smokejumpers also taught
the US ARMY how to parachute....an even trade off in my book. Just that the
Army, BITD, did not bow down to alll the environmental groups out there.
NOW with all the tighter budgets..... it is time for ANOTHER agency to take it
over just like 106 yrs ago... You folks out there in land management land gonna
be able to adjust to that idea?....I think the next few years with all the
budget issue will be a telling story and it just may happen
Again, when a helitanker or aviation type tells a story about not being
"invited" to the incident......one really has to question what goes on in the
minds of those fire and non fire leadership who preach this to the GS 2 thru
GS9's every day?
Good luck with future investigations. You who are working in the field with no
perceived layoffs in the future.......thank your lucky stars you are working
during this economy and chirping about housing and whatnot. There are some of us
out here with a Forestry Fire and Aviation degrees still looking for work in
your Agency. End of rant for day...You know the time is coming. Change will be
hard. Hopefully it will eliminate AVUE, the centralization of NFC at ABQ and
clean up the entire mess, in what is known as a "land management agency." GOOD
LUCK folks, in wishing an investigation away.
The review has been underway for almost a month; it was reported
here or on the Hotlist when it began. Hang on to your props and rotors, this is
not about wishing anything away. Ab.
Where's the 25 million???
I am a GS-5 step 2, 13/13 apprentice. I asked my
Supt and BC if I could work during the winter so I could qualify for a GS-6 spot
come March. My Supt told me there was no money in the budget to do this so I
would need to be laid off. I got the same reply from my BC.
I have no insight on where the 25 million went... Right now we have the Supt, 2
Captains, and a Squadie working all winter. What happens next year when there
are 3 more people that will be PFT? Where does the money come from? If they dont
have the money this year to keep one more person on all winter, how will they
have enough money in the budget for 3 more people next winter?
Not that im complaining that I get to stay home and collect unemployment all
winter but wasnt this suppose to be one of the retention solutions?
Earl Cooley's passing:
"Earl E. Cooley, 98, died at home Monday, Nov. 9. Services will be announced by
Sunset Memorial Funeral Home."
He was the first smoke jumper and author of "Trimotor and Trail"
Thanks for sharing the info, Tom. Did anyone know him well enough to tell
stories or share a picture? Ab.
Really this is what the people of So. Ca read on a daily basis
again i ask..... ARE YOU SERIOUS??
Naked Boat Guy
Kidding?? Sounds like good questions posed by the LA Times to me.... Hopefully
the "investigation / inquiry / whatever you want
to call it" will give some real answers to some hard questions....
are you kidding me!!!???
Firefighter Banister's passing:
The Groundpig is standing tall for Ventura County Fire. I share your loss. I did
not know Firefighter Banister,
but by your message, he was a fine young man.
Our Sad Loss:
We are sad to announce the loss of one of our Hand Crew members,
23 year old Bryan Banister.
Bryan and a good Samaritan were tragically struck by a vehicle and sustained
fatal injuries yesterday while trying to refuel Bryan's vehicle on the side of
the roadway. The accident occurred yesterday on I-5 in Fresno County, Bryan was
en route to San Francisco to participate in the SFFD Firefighter exam.
Bryan was a full time Wildland Firefighter assigned to Ventura County Fire
Department Crew 1-1. He was a member of Ventura County Professional Firefighters
Association. He was recently promoted to full time permanent status for his
dedication, work ethic and professionalism. He will be missed by all off us.
Fred W Burris
Fire Captain Crew 11
Wildland Fire and Aviation Division
Ventura County Fire Department
Condolences to family, friends and co-workers. Ab.
Just wondering if anyone has received any calls offering them a job in R5 yet?
Waiting and wondering if I have a job next year?
IC Ops notes (99 K pdf file)
October 2009 BOD Notes (183 K doc file)
Route 66 Fundraiser Nov.11, 2009
COME AND BE SANTA'S HELPER!
For the Wildland Firefighter Foundation
Be a hero to the children of Fallen Wildland Firefighters!
FLYER (143K doc file)
I thought about it this morning, before I get out and perform vegetation
management in my off season, and one idea that may positively affect persons
in JUST MY SITUATION for federal "higher-ups" to roll around in their
non-fire acclimated noggins, is:
Anyone remember the bubble applications? Anyone remember 999 for nation
wide? If you don't you probably weren't as reckless and single as I was at
There needs to be a region wide application procedure for Handcrew/HotShot
Applicants, aside from the forest by forest automated system used allowing
you to select 9 duty locations, (and limiting hiring officials ability to
place you where they need you) and then the FS sends you app to Siberia and
New Zealand. Ooops!
If, when march rolls around and you have a buncha' jumpy sup's wondering
where all their GS-4-5-6's are going to come from, on the Inyo, or the
Klamath, or Six Rivers, federal hiring peeps need a list they can go to,
that they can draw from, thats filled with heavy hitters, much like the DH
in baseball. Give us the option, to work for you, where you need us the
most. Does that sound like a really difficult idea to grasp?
For people like me that never care how far from home we are, or how long we
are gone, it seems the most dedicated and flexible among us ARE NOT EVEN
BEING UTILIZED TO OUR FULLEST POTENTIAL.
-dejected until march 2010
If I may squeeze in on the Region 5/ USFS web site for just a
moment...congratulations Alaska on getting a Locality Pay
and phasing out the Cost Of Living Adjustment. Nice reward after a big fire and
aviation season. Ok, everyone may now
put their green underwear back on and discuss why their state flag has an animal
on it that hasn't been found in the state
since the 1930s.
CONGRATS to Alaska!??!
Green underwear here, probably yes, those that wear it, but not all green and
not all fed. What flag are you talking about? Haw haw.
Who's posting? Of the last 15 posts, 10 FF were from other regions than
R5, 3 were clearly R5 and Casey is in Idaho and often Washington representing
all federal wildland firefighters. 20% R5, 80% 0ther: NICE... Good topics,
enjoying the varied input. Thanks for your post Fireweed. Haw Haw. Ab.
Does anyone know what a med-evac plan looks like. Could we see one here? I asked
around and I've heard that Broyles GB Team has an excellent one and Paul's ORCA
team. Could we see one? Any other teams? Are some teams better at medical
response? Do teams ever share best practices? How can we all do better?
for the earlier replies to my medical questions. What would I do? I still don't
have a course of action laid out in my head. We should figure it out and train
for this. I should. We talk about risk assessment, but you need to know the risk
and you need to know how to logically assess ruling in and ruling out options
fast and make decisions. And HELP!
How many helicopters are certified for short haul? If there had been a FS
helo available could it have gotten Andy out? Sounds like it was smoky. Was it
so smoky that a helicopter could have gotten in there with a line? Why do we
think helo first? Why not ground transport?
I was in that area. the place Andy was hit was close to a road. You could
almost see the road, 10 maybe 15 min downhill from the site. Steep, yes but
doable with enough big people and someone applying pressure. If a bunch of guys
could have carried him down right away he could have gotten help faster,
probably fast enough. It's not like this was In the Heart of the Wilderness. It
was CLOSE! Close to Junction City, near the school and Weaverville and the
hospital was 8 or 10 miles beyond that. I mean, he was a big guy and heavy. But
it could have been done.
If we do not have personnel that know how to respond medically and do not
have personnel that take charge and there is not a good enough medical
plan in ALL its aspects from diagnosis to stabilization to rapid transport,
Likewise If we do not know how to recognize cyanide exposure and get the
antidote or the best medical care asap for a crew,
If a burned firefighter is allowed to decide whether to go to a burn
center and they choose to not go but don't know they could have burned lungs and
can't feel it,
shame on us.
People do what they're trained to do. It's not their fault if they don't know or
they haven't been trained or the system isn't clear. We all want to do our best.
I don't know enough, you may not know enough, but we all know parts of this.
We need to figure it out and get ourselves trained better. We should demand it!
We need to be ready for the next time. A next time will happen. We need the SOPs
for shattered leg with bleeding, cyanide and burn inhalation injury, the cyanide
antidote is easy, an injection. People with cyanide poisoning need help asap and
they'll be OK. People with burns or burned lungs need to get to med facilities
that know how to treat them. We need protocols in our MOUs. There are lots of
agencies interacting. What else do we need to mitigate the injuries?
We need to do better. We need to be part of the solution.
Thanks Class C Sagebrush Faller and RRKC and Northnight and Sacmedic.
Casey said - "Once the bill is introduced it will require a huge commitment from
all of you that support our efforts."
We are ready Casey, just tell us when! Hugh, commitment will not be a good
description of our efforts. We will give
you a monumental push. A full on blitz.
Firefighters, with PAYCHECK8 now implemented nationwide, most Forest Service
Firefighters complete your
paycheck in your DASHBOARD. Every week when you go in to post your time, I want
you to know that you're
only 3 clicks away from setting up a financial allotment. It's so
easy now and it's 10 bucks.
Call or email Casey and in a matter of minutes you can get the information you
need to go into your DASHBOARD
and set up a new financial allotment.
Click = Employee Personnel Page, then click = Self Service, then click Financial
Allotments Make Changes.
Join FWFSA. Be a part of the solution.
Dear Quick Connect:
We obviously were not successful in convincing the likes of Senators Feinstein
(CA) , Bingaman (NM) and congressman Dicks (WA) that the FLAME Act would not be
necessary if FIRE funds already appropriated by Congress and received by the
Agencies was managed better.
There is a continuing euphoria in Congress about leading the Administration and
both Houses of Congress. That has manifested itself in stunning spending.
In fact we suggested that if the FIRE funds were actually managed/allocated etc
by those with wildfire experience & expertise rather than Line Officers without
such experience & expertise and if the FIRE program was managed like the largest
fire department in the world...which it is, then budget transfers which the
FLAME Act was intended to curtail would not be necessary and likely the annual
pilgrimage by the FS to Congress for half a billion bucks in supplemental
appropriations wouldn't be necessary either. We also suggested that little to no
Congressional oversight (until recently) allowed the Agencies to throw the NFP
all to hell and waste staggering sums of tax dollars.
We are glad to see that the 10 year average, artificially inflated over the last
few years through nonsensical suppression spending, may go away. However the
budgeting process must change and must be run by those with the FIRE acumen
necessary to know what is needed and what is not.
The huge irony about the FLAME Act is that those in the Agencies that criticized
how much FIRE was eating up the discretionary spending and complaining about
budget transfers, are the same agency folks who continue to divert stunning sums
of appropriated FIRE dollars and spend it on the ASC and other non-FIRE
I will admit that those who led the effort for the FLAME Act have acknowledged
the issues we presented. Time will tell. In the meantime the FLAME Act should
not in any way affect our firefighter legislation. We have spent years educating
Congress on the issues facing wildland firefighters and are confident that a
good group of bipartisan members of Congress will support these efforts.
I posted a couple of AZ Reno Fire photos MRB on the
Fire 43 photo page. Ab.
WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER LEGISLATION
Dear Ab & All:
I am pleased to report that word from congressional staff is that the FWFSA
sponsored National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement & Cost Containment Act
will be ready for introduction next week.
Further I will be traveling back to DC on Dec 1-3 to work the Senate side for a
Senate bill as well as follow up with those in the House that expressed interest
in cosponsoring our legislation once it is introduced. I also hope to meet with
leadership at the USDA.
The first half of the 111th Congress will likely conclude around December 18th.
If the bill is in fact introduced before then, it will still be on the books in
January when Congress re-convenes. As much as I would love to see the bill pass
out of committee and go to the floor as a stand-alone bill, like most of our
other successes in the last 10 years or so and like many bills, it will likely
take negotiations between a number of folks in DC to have the language placed on
a "must pass" appropriations bill.
The irony is that "legislating" or changing the law is, by rule, not allowed in
Congress. The caveat is that Congress routinely "suspends" those rules to allow
for such action. Gotta love 'um.
Once the bill is introduced it will require a huge commitment from all of you
that support our efforts, whether you are a FWFSA member or not to communicate
with your elected officials to support this measure. As I've said in the past
this bill would benefit far more in the wildland firefighting community than we
More information will be provided as it becomes available.
FS Chief's sensing group Notes:
Here are the October notes from the
Forest Service Cheif's sensing group to improve morale. To me it
seems most of the issues affect Management, not much for the folks on
the ground. Most of the discussion seem to be problems from being
centralized and downsized.
Also let it be known that the FS ISO/CIO (computer/data/phone/radio) is
implementing yet another re-organization (internal FS link http://fsweb.wo.fs.fed.us/irm/organization/
This time they are moving people to major urban centers; Albuqurque,
Salt Lake City, Denver, Kansas City. Another Management decision
adversely affecting Morale.
Here is how an employee with 20+ years put it;
CIO Target Organization Comparison
Here is the most significant change.
According to the “CIO Reorganization Comparison Numbers – FTEs”
chart, there will be 98 less people doing the radio, telephone and
computer work, 21 more people securing our access (restricting it),
and 50 more people to sell the rest of the Forest Service on why it
is necessary and how we are doing so much better now.
44 less GS 11/12
42 more GS 13/14/15
This sheet claims a 25 million savings. Then look at all the
disclaimers. It is all based on guesses, and doesn’t include the
entire budget. So it is all just a big guess.
Boots on the ground 255 at specific locations.
424 employees at DC, ABQ, DEN, SLC, or KC.
And There I Was
I am the pilot of a helicopter on a R-5 contract, at home
now, back to being
a house husband. I retired from the USFS ten years ago and started flying
fires. Almost every year, at fire that I'm on, we will have an injury and a
Chinese Fire Drill will ensue. I've told my Boss that I refuse to stand-by
at the helibase and let someone die on the fire line because the Forest
Service management can't decide whose responsibility it is to do the
evacuation, he agrees.
I have been threatened by helicopters managers that the flight will not be
paid for (R-4) and praised by a helicopter manager in R-3, for doing these
At the Fire Safety Officer meeting this year, this issue was brought up.
The consensus was to DO WHAT IS RIGHT. There is no coherent policy on this,
or many other things involving fire fighting, because the USFS doesn't have
fire fighters, only Forestry Technicians. Good luck if you need medical
evacuation next year on the line, as I doubt this issue or very many others
will be cleared up by then. It might be a good idea to do a little
coordinating with your pilot before next season about this issue. I am
always willing to land and turn over the evacuee to a local EMS helicopter
company, even a few miles from the hospital, so they can charge umpteen
thousand dollars for the flight.
Thank God LE&I stove piped our organization when we did, you firefighters
need to think about doing the same.
The Flame Act
Obama signs bill to help agencies manage skyrocketing wildfire
Washington DC, November 2, 2009 – Washington, DC,: President Obama this
weekend signed legislation that will bring a degree of relief to the
nation’s forests by helping federal agencies solve several of the top
problems caused by the skyrocketing costs of wildfire suppression. The
measure establishes a new approach to budgeting for costly wildfires, which
continually drain the budgets of the Forest Service and Department of the
Interior and lead to the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars from
other agency forest and land management priorities.
Incorporating the concept of the Federal Land Assistance, Management and
Enhancement (FLAME Act) that the House passed and Senate adopted into its
Interior appropriations bill earlier this year, the legislation passed the
House and Senate on October 29 as part of the annual funding bill for the
Department of the Interior and the Forest Service. The bill sets up a pair
of “FLAME” funds that will act as reserve accounts for the Forest Service
and the Department of the Interior to cover the costs of large or complex
wildfires when the annual budgets for suppression are exhausted, reducing
the need for the agencies to transfer funds from vital programs and services
to pay for wildfire suppression.
“President Obama and Congress have demonstrated that the status quo was no
longer working and a new budget scenario was needed,” said Steven W. Koehn,
Maryland State Forester and president of the National Association of State
Foresters (NASF). “This legislation says loud and clear that funding for
emergency fire events should not come at the expense of all other Forest
Service and Interior activities.”
The legislation also gives the agencies another powerful tool that will help
them prepare for fire costs each year: rather than using the 10-year average
of fire suppression costs to calculate yearly suppression costs – the
mandate agencies had previously followed – the agencies are now directed to
develop new methods for estimating future suppression funding needs by using
data on actual prior-year fire suppression expenditures, predictive modeling
and other criteria.
“We have been especially concerned over the past decade about the Forest
Service’s apparent transition from a land management agency to a fire
service agency,” said Deborah Gangloff, executive director of American
Forests. “The FLAME Act will help the Forest Service and Department of
Interior respond to the increasing number of wildland fires without
compromising other critical programs.”
The action was backed by the Partner Caucus on Fire Suppression Solutions --
a coalition of environmental, industry, outdoor recreation, and forestry
organizations led by NASF, The Wilderness Society and American Forests. The
group worked with congressional and federal agency leaders in Washington,
D.C., over the past year to find a solution to the burdens caused by the
rapidly escalating costs of fighting emergency wildfires, which account for
more than 95 percent of all acres burned and consume 85 percent of all
“The FLAME Funds bring common sense budgeting to wildfire suppression,” said
William H. Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society. “No American family
would make its budget for the next year based on what its expenses were a
decade ago. Congress shouldn’t do that, either.”
How does this, impact the Firefighter Cost and Containment Act?
Health Care Reform: (For the full discussion go to the
HOTLIST; OA closed the thread after both sides had their say; thanks for
the good contributions relating to firefighter health care. Ab.)
My feelings on health care reform and why it should matter to everyone- no
matter what you support.
There are about 1.8 million federal employees. Some really rough math puts the
premiums paid to insurance companies by tax dollars just to insure the federal
workforce at $3 billion dollars annually at the minimum. And that is just to
insure ~1% of the taxpayers of this country. Most employers pay 75% or more of
their employees premiums. The government is actually paying less than the going
market rate (look at your last leave and earnings statement and see what part
the gov kicked in towards your premium). If $300 billion dollars are paid
annually in health insurance premiums- that's 2-3% of the US GDP. And you still
get additional bills until you meet your calendar year deductible and/or incur
non-covered expenses. We're all ticked off about what we have to pay for
insurance. And the cost is epidemically rising (
Now here's the part of the equation that may be elusive to some folks:
What percentage of your financial portfolio/TSP is in health care related
stocks? Probably 10-20% if you are invested in index funds (C and/or S funds for
the TSP). Now imagine if you weren't a hard working firefighter, but instead
were a person with $100 million dollars in assets, would you want health care
reform at the cost of a lower return on your investments? Middle class Americans
are fighting each other over this issue, but are really being played like pawns
by much richer people looking to maintaining healthy returns on their
investments and can afford health care no matter what the cost. And with the
current trends- they only stand to get richer.
Not unlike wildland fire/ecosystem management, the deficit created by health
costs comes from reactive management- government paying to take care of
expensive problems afflicting the elderly (Medicare-
www.ssa.gov/OACT/TRSUM/index.html ) and the poor (Medicaid
www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=8485 ). The idea of today's health
insurance reform is to stem this tide of increasing expenses by providing better
access to preventative care. Kind of like thinning and applying prescribed fire
in high risk areas at a fraction of a cost of a type I incident...
In my opinion, the only people who have reason to really be against health care
are 1) the rich who want to maintain the health of their investments (
) and 2) people who are willing to not have healthcare or pay for it entirely
out of pocket. If the government continues to pay and the system isn't changed,
eventually this problem of massive economic proportions is probably going to
cost you your job in the federal service or state or local government. If you
look at the bigger picture- the increasing costs of protracted defense and
anti-terrorism campaigns, healthcare, energy, and the ramifications of climate
change- we are headed towards another Great Depression and this temporary
recovery is really a brief shakeup of the continuation of a depressing trend of
redistribution of wealth in this country. Despite all the hard work of Casey
Judd and many others, if enough people in this country become unemployed, the
fireline personnel of the future will be inmates, military, and CCC-style
volunteers, with a handful of paid positions orchestrating incidents.
Finally, I leave you with this analogy to ponder:
If we all got paid a base salary plus a little overtime year round to
proactively mitigate wildfire hazards, theoretically this would lead to less
overtime windfalls from campaign fire seasons in the long run. If this proactive
approach were managed right (like NEPA reform!), eventually the cost of fire
management would actually stabilize and potentially decrease. The demand for
wildfire response would correspondingly decrease- not good for the fire
suppression industry, but certainly good for the public. In reality this will
never happen because of "special interests" such as "the environment", "public
opinion", and "smoke-sensitive areas."
Reforming health care proposes the same "if's," the only difference being that
wildfire management costs fractions of pennies on the dollar compared to health
care reform- and that we are part of the public in this situation and health
care corporations are the proverbial firefighters and their families. So the
question: is it worth taking a chance on some proactive mitigation- or should we
just keep arguing about the details of hazard mitigation while record fires
continue to threaten our communities and line the firefighting industry's
Please sign me,
I was just a hotshot, and now I'm just a lurker (but I sure miss it...)
Having been recently selected for the apprenticeship program for the 2010 season
for the Forest Service I feel that I might be able to help others land that
Here are some tips.
1. Be Professional- the individuals
selected for Fire Hire 2009 had to wade through thousands of applicants so
making your application look as good as possible (no misspellings, correct
punctuation and other grammatical proficiencies go a long way in showing off
your application) also if possible have multiple people look over you
2. Make an Effort- its best to try to
talk to the people who will be attending Fire Hire from your Forest if you are
already in the Forrest Service, then they can place a name to a face in all
those thousands of applicants, they will also probably make more of an effort to
hire you because they know you.
The tips above are some basics if you are will ing to do absolutely any thing
necessary to get a job I have one more tip for you.
3. Don't Apply to major Forests- you
are far less likely to get hired if you aren't willing to be flexible, so don't
apply to the Angeles or Tahoe those are both very popular Forests instead apply
to smaller less popular Forest's like the Modoc (where I was hired on) or the
Klamath. The government provides housing for its employees and its actually very
nice I stayed in a government barracks last season, and once you work for a
year its not all that hard to get transferred to another Forest and you get
priority because you are an apprentice.
These are the tips that i used to get my self hired with limited experience
little over 2 seasons.
Hope this helps.
RE: Dutch Creek investigation
I have held my piece for a week to allow mysef to contribute in a thoughtful
manner instead of just ranting. Hopefully this post will be somewhat coherent.
I thought that the report was well written, but the main issue I have is with
the recommendations--it would appear that the individual that fell the tree is
bearing the brunt of criticizm and blame. Though I will freely admit that some
of the blame lies with this individual, if we can all agree that firefighting is
a dangerous occupation where accidents such as this will occur, there is a
larger issue that is being swept under the rug here.
It would appear a direct causal factor in the death of Andy Palmer was the
ineptitude of the associated parties in getting him extricated in a timely
manner. I have seen a similar scenario personally on the New York Peak fire,
when a party that had sustained burn injuries and had a singed mouth/nose had to
wait for 3 hours to get a helicopter because the IMT and local dispatch couldn't
decide which helicopter to send, even though there were several available--I
believe in this instance, it was an argument about whether a helicopter without
medical support would be sufficient.
My point is this--we need to seriously consider as fire managers how to best
expedite transport in this type of circumstance.
My intention is not to throw any of the people directly involved in the
treatment of Andy under the bus, as I believe that they were doing the best that
they could. I also believe in the "Golden Hour" and think that if Andy had been
more rapidly transported, he probably would have survived. Beyond the falling
incident (which was preventable), this outcome in my opinion was preventable as
well--but it is easier to fault the person who cut the tree than it is to fault
the organization which FAILED to effectively treat an injured firefighter.
I was sickened and angered in the way that the incident within an incident as
reported here was managed. I was also surprised, when reading the report, that I
had previously not heard anything regarding the time on the ground of the
injured party and that it was always reported as a "tree falling fatality." The
tree was the MOI, but I now believe that it wasn't the tree that killed him.
My sincerest apologies to all of the personnel involved, and to the families of
those involved. All that I can say is that I have learned something from this
incident, and will endeavor to not allow something like this to happen on my
section of line.
Class C Sagebrush Faller
RE: Dutch Creek investigation & Hiring Process:
Hopefully I can answer a couple of questions for you and add a few
thoughts of my own. Hospitals routinely transfer patients between hospitals.
Especially smaller scale hospitals with a more Urgent Care feel. They will
routinely transfer patients via ground ambulance or in severe cases by air
ambulance (helicopter or plane). The goal of the smaller hospital when they
receive trauma cases is to stabilize the patient and get them shipped to a
higher level trauma center depending on the injuries and persons trauma score.
As to Andy’s direct case, there were so many variables in play that it is hard
to say if carrying him down the hill and getting him to Weaverville would have
changed the tragic outcome. In all the medical plan should have been better, the
USCG helicopter should never have been canceled initially, and there should have
been movement to get him in to the hands of any doctor no matter the hospital.
Even getting him to a place where a Cal Star ship could have picked him up would
have been better than what happen. I would never think about using an agency
contracted ship to transport someone as hurt as Andy. I’m thinking supplies,
IV’s, Drugs, and well trained medically qualified personnel.
The question is have we learned a valuable lesson from Andy’s incident? I
think the folks on the ground did. I saw a similar, but less tragic incident
happen on the Station Fire with a Heat Stroke victim. They called in a
helicopter with a winch to get this gentleman to the hospital quickly and it was
cancelled by communications. It took a strong Strike Team Leader and Branch
Director to finally get the ship over head. The EMT-B on the ground was strong
and the Line medic was extremely inept at his job. Asking if he should put in an
IV or not and initially refusing to go up the hill from his truck to get to the
patient. I think it is time for the USFS and BLM to put some sort of policy in
place for Line medical personnel and a way to check abilities. Currently we have
none except being certified by and EMS agency which can be someone with no field
experience at all going out on the line and providing care to our brothers and
sisters in their greatest time of need. Personally these incidents grind me raw
about how we are treated by our own folks on the line.
I agree with MJ and current practices are far better than some previous
attempts. My only compliant is the spring round that happens just before fire
season. So you lose what staffing you have planned for all winter. Other than
making it a once a year hiring. I feel that nothing else really needs to be
fixed. The system seems to work pretty well. The problem you talk about or I
think you are trying to get to, but have not quite realized it yet is that we
need to do more to retain people. That is where the hiring gaps come from in the
On top of that our rate of retirement is quickly accelerating creating new
positions at the top. Right now it is hard to fill the GS-06 job slots in
general, because there is a Time in Grade and generation gap there. Plus, who
wants to be a straight six when you can be a six/seven. With some of the changes
I have been hearing about in the Apprentice Program and a Regional Forester that
is willing to stand up for his employees and do more than a 10% Retention bonus
and a be happy you have a job in a recession attitude. We would have employees
coming out our ears and no vacancies what so ever.
My advice to you and anyone else that has been passed over in hiring rounds:
Take a couple of writing/job type classes at the local J.C. Step it up at work
take on more and new responsibility. Prove to your supervisors you are ready for
the next step. Take the pass over as a learning experience and bolster your
training and OJT to be a more competitive applicant next time. Stop assuming
that you deserve a promotion, prove to your boss and their bosses that beyond a
shadow of a doubt you are the one to fill that spot! And just for information,
just because you stayed at a Holiday Inn last night does not mean you are
qualified to be a Hotshot Squaddie. I know folks that have been SRs on a crew
for a decade before getting the Squaddie job on the crew. I may not be a word
smith by any right, but I know about spell checker and having people you trust
proof read everything. It is a good character trait to have. Unfortunately I
have no one to proof read this right now. So sorry Abs guess you are my proof
reader and I apologize for the diatribe.
I do not know where you got your stats on % of people without health
care, but I thought 3-5%, Holy Cow! I must know a lot of poor uninsured people,
well low and behold the number is closer to 20-25%... guess I only know 1 outta
5 poor people! I feel better now. I do agree this is not a political forum for
health care, but at least let's get our numbers somewhat correct. We need to do
something, and I actually disagree with you in that HEALTH CARE IS A RIGHT< in
my opinion. Guess I know too many (4) people who have died because they did not
have insurance.... good people, hard workers, just not poor enough to get it all
for free and not working for someone who offered benefits, or wealthy enough to
buy it on their own. Count your lucky stars you didn't need it when you didn't
have it... or be unable to get it for that "pre-existing condition".
My problems with AVUE
Ok, first, AVUE didn't ruin my career, but it is kind of
odd that someone like me wasn't hired into the Apprenticeship
Program with the resume and references that I submitted.
Before I pushed the submit key, I had three people in the Forest Service look
over it. I had an English major help
me write it. Having talked to many, some people in the FS thought I would have
been a shoo in: having 14 years
in the woods, 11 years as timber faller, six years as a contract faller on
fires, four years owning my own business,
and having taken basic fire courses and annual refreshers. Apparently not a shoo
At this point I don't know what level I would qualify under (GS 1-4). I
would've guessed GS 2 or 3 but I'm not sure
what these people are looking for. I have asked on the
Hotlist Help Question and Answer Subforum for help in
figuring out what I need to do in order to get hired.
The biggest thing to me is the KSAs. What ever happened to a regular hiring
Big Head 1
Additional questions on where internet access to OCR hiring and outreach notices
might be located:
Re: Dutch Creek/Transport Decisions
You raise some valid points about evacuation of critically injured firefighters
from wilderness locations. The decision to transport a patient a certain way or
to a certain location is a factor of many, sometimes conflicting, organizational
structures and policies. The goal in emergency medical care is generally to get
the ill/injured person to the closest appropriate care in the
shortest amount of time possible. Depending on the situation this could be a
small local hospital or a regional level 1 trauma or burn center. As a qualified
MEDL and Line Medic I can tell you that any similar situation to Andy’s will, at
a minimum, involve three different sets of orders and policies.
- The ground provider has one set of protocols,
- the incident MEDL/safety folks have their priorities and issues as
contained in the IAP and
- the helicopter EMS provider has their own set of protocols/standing
All of the above can work together for an outstanding outcome or lead to
systemic failure in any individual situation.
As for transport to the Weaverville hospital, I will say first that I have no
personal knowledge of that facility whatsoever. As a state licensed basic ER
they have at least a minimum level of staffing as designated by the state of
California. From the remote and rural location they are in, I imagine that it is
not geared to critical, multi-system trauma. The trauma center in Redding is.
The decision to transport to a given facility is a factor of those competing
policies I highlighted above. The Golden Hour, while a catchy phrase, is not
conclusively proven to be better than 45 minutes or 75 minutes of pre-operating
room care. As a pre-hospital provider you must weigh the patients injuries
against your ability to treat them, the facilities available to you, and the
policies you operate under. In this case the decision was made to transport to
Redding. It isn’t possible, if you weren’t there, to guess at what factors
influenced the providers at that point in time. Situations like that are just
way too dynamic.
As for the difficulty in transferring a patient from one facility to another…it
takes much longer than taking them to the appropriate facility
from the field. I work in an area that is rural/suburban and can tell you that
setting-up an inter-facility transfer to a tertiary care center takes, at a
minimum, 45-60 minutes for a critical patient. Sometimes much longer. This is
the reason that all national trauma care organizations advocate transport
directly to designated trauma centers from the field unless there are unstable
One item of note that struck me in the Dutch Creek report was what seemed to be
a lack of qualified Line Medic personnel. The report didn’t identify any in the
initial care group on that division. Having these positions filled, on every
hazardous division, could assist with making these types of critical incidents
run more smoothly. The EMS providers in this situation did an outstanding job
under very, very stressful conditions and I cannot imagine taking their place.
It would help in the future, though, to have line qualified, paramedic level
providers already on the divisions when these incidents happen. They are usually
well versed in the incident IAP procedures/Medical Plan prior to the event, have
a good grasp of the safety considerations of operating in the wildland fire
environment and share common terminology with the other ground forces and air
resources in the EMS field. They also carry, thanks to the recently adopted
Firescope position description, an appropriate equipment cache for the types of
injuries encountered in this environment. Needless to say these types of
incidents are a far cry from the average medical aid that a non-Fireline Medic
encounters in their daily practice.
AVUE applications and Centralized fire hire:
"While dozens of IHC applicants sat powerless while AVUE ruined hundreds
of peoples seasons (careers), yet again this year! What's going on
Regionally? Is there a reason why Forests didn't fill these open slots? With
dozens of QUALIFIED applicants sat on electronically generated hiring lists,
that seem to never have made it to some of the more regional work stations?
It seems like folks applying might not know how the Region 5 centralized Fire
Hire works. I'll try and explain it. Again.
1. Applicants must have an application done properly in AVUE to be seen as
minimally qualified. A few sentences, or gaps, or not filling out everything
in AVUE will result in your app not going any further. At the last Hiring round
as a SME, you could not believe the poor apps we had to go thru. With all the
unemployed folks out there, applicants must step up their game when it comes to
writing apps. I saw many new folks applying that their apps looked better than
15 year experienced folks.
2. The apps are all reviewed by FIRE folks first, the SMEs. These are
Superintendents, FMOs BCs, and captains who volunteer to go to Sacramento for
weeks to sort thru thousands of apps. they will try to find all the info you put
into your app to make you come out as highly rated as possible. But if you didnt
put experience, training, or quals in your app, they cant find it. Then, all the
apps are leveled into 4 categories.
- Level 1: Qualified applicants who have demonstrated experience in
most or all of the position duties and responsibilities. An example of this
would be someone who has performed the position before, either full-time, on
a detail, or acting. Also must have positive references.
- Level 2: Qualified applicants who have only performed few or some
of the duties of the position applied for, but have other qualifications
similar. An example of this could be a Handcrew captain applying for an
Engine captain job. Also must have positive references.
- Level 3: Qualified applicants who have never performed any of the
duties of the position yet, or are missing some of the quals at this time,
but have positive references. An example of this would be a Senior
Firefighter putting in for a GS-7 FEO position without ever having done it,
and not being qualified as an ENGB.
- Level 4: An applicant that is determined to be not qualified
for the position applied for, has asked to have his/her application removed
from the round, or has received 2 negative references. And to make sure a
reference is positive, if a negative reference is obtained, another
supervisor is called to make sure that the negative one was legit, and not a
personal thing against the applicant.
3. Then, all the apps are presented to each Forests Selecting Officials.
EVERY FOREST IS PRESENT AT THIS. There are no forests that do not have lists of
all their vacant positions there, and each vacancy that was advertised on the
announcement is offered, IF ANY APPLICANTS APPLIED FOR THAT LOCATION. The Forest
are not allowed to make up locations on someone's app, or add, or remove what
they put down.
4. The final step is the job offer calls. If someone accepts, then a
backfill is attempted the same day for their old position if they are form
within the region. If no one accepts for the location, or no one applied for
that location....then it will have to go back to next round.
This is the process. No one is 'not seeing' the lists. Every Forest has a
selecting official that sees all the vacancies, and all the apps that have made
it thru the process. Some lists only have 3 or 4 names that make it thru the
process for a location, then all of them decline the position. So, no one is
"keeping these vacant"....
One possible reason for a position being vacant for more than a year, is that
a Supervisor might never have created a 52 in the tracker database for that job.
That way, the system doesn't know it's vacant. And this would fall back on the
Superintendent or Module Leader at the district level.
So, this is the R5 Process. Region 3 just sent folks to watch the centralized
process, as we were able to sort thru 1700 apps in one week, and get all
So, just exactly how is AVUE ruining careers?
And where are these dozens of qualified applicants for each position?
I certainly didn't see that many while I was sorting thru all of the half-filled
out, misspelled apps mixed in with the few good ones...
Don't blame the system if you don't know how it works first...
Thanks for the info, MJ. Thanks to all the people trying to make a
workable hiring system. Folks applying can use all the help they can get to make
sure they are presenting themselves as qualified, and most importantly, making
the minimum cutoff for consideration. Understanding the hiring process and being
able to write makes an applicant more hirable. Ab.
To participate in further discussion of the importance of affordable health
care insurance for wildland firefighters, please sign up and contribute to the
Respectfully the health care topic does not belong on a fire forum. Yes, it
does affect us, but it is not dealing with just us fire personnel (which is
mainly what They Said and the Hotlist is about to many of us).
No matter what the late Mr. Kennedy said, no where in our US Constitution or
the Bill of Rights is it said that health care is a right. I, myself and many
others, would like cars that don't break down and if they do it there would be
no mechanic costs. That is not realistic though. Yes, I know there are those in
our country that do not have medical coverage that desire it and most likely
deserve it, however they are a rather small minority of our population. Between
3 and 5%. We need to be looking at specifically providing care for them only and
NOT change our whole health care system to do this. Do you know who profits the
most in the US health care profession? It is not the insurance companies, nor
the Doctors or nurses. It is the Lawyers! Some of which now are our Senators and
Congressmen. Imagine the reduction we could see in our health care all around if
we could limit the $$ going to Lawyers? Malpractice is a real thing, however it
has gone crazy with the greed of the lawyers. I have heard many of the federal
fire personal talk with praise on how their Senator Pelosi complaining of the
HUGE profits of the health insurance companies profits. Well, they only had a
profit of less than 3% last year! Show me any other company (besides Walmart)
that can operate with the belt that tight (I know my lawyer has a much higher
profit margin!) The bottom line is that right now if a person needs emergency
health care, they will be treated and most of the time the provider will work
with them on a reduced charge and repayment plans if need be. For many years
myself and my family did not have health insurance (and my wife is in the
medical field for work). We now have coverage. Guess how we did it? I worked my
butt off (just as I would for a vacation or a new TV) and my wife CHANGED
employers to one that helped pay some of the costs.
I suppose my biggest gripe is when people say it is a RIGHT. It is not a right!!
Look at countries where health care is a right and you will find that those that
praise their quality of care is in a minority. I have friends in Norway and
other Socialized nations where they pay out 75% or more of their income towards
taxes. They are also told what cars to drive, what to eat, how to exercise etc
etc. Also most of their Doctors are from third world countries whom are willing
to work at a very low wage and lots with little experience.
Ab, The submission by Peace is pure, unadulterated political drivel. This
forum is not supposed to be a place where political attitudes are displayed.
You have lowered your traditionally high standards and should be
The health of every Firefighter, every family member and every
American we serve is important to all of us.
Thinking of you today Senator Kennedy as your sprint fills the halls and the
floor of The People’s House on this Saturday.
In every part of this land, that every American will have decent quality
health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege - Senator Edward
Regardless of your politics, our values and beliefs, we chose this profession
because within each of us is a high level of compassion, bonded with the skills
to help another human being when in need.
Whatever you hope for with today's health care vote, I hope you remember a man
who was considered by many from both political parties as the greatest Senator
to ever live. A man who made mistakes in his life, but never stopped working for
all Americans, especially Americans who are under privileged and in need.
I hope that you remember that many Federal Wildland Firefighters cannot afford
the insurance premiums offered with employment. Due to the hourly wage of our
entry level Firefighters, we have Federal Wildland Firefighters with children
who have no choice financially then to turn down FEHB and use fed and state
subsidized care, often without a regular Doctor, using an emergency room for
care and then receiving a bill they cannot afford to pay.
What happens today won't end the debate. What is eventually agreed upon (if
anything) by our elected officials will not solve all the problems with health
care. However may God give us the knowledge to understand that although we may
disagree on the road to take to get to health reform, ultimately we need take
that drive. If we always remember that we are all Americans and we are all in
this together, then we will be just fine with the results. We need to start down
the road to fix this out of control insurance based health care system. We need
a health care system that is focused on affordable and quality health care for
all Americans. We need reform.
The work begins anew, the hope rises again and the dream lives on -
Senator Edward Kennedy
Praise for the WFF from a parent re sons who are wildland
firefighters involved in accidents.
It has been a while since
we talked. I just want you to know I appreciate your efforts!
I have attached a paper with few thoughts for inclusion on They
Said if you think they are appropriate.
Please feel free to edit or change as appropriate. It has been a long road for
my boys but I do think
they are making it! Thanks for all your help.
Now that the Accident Investigation: Factual Report Dutch Creek Incident,
Shasta-Trinity National Forest has been issued I would like to make a few
comments concerning a couple of very important issues.
First, I would like to comment on the assistance provided to firefighters AND
their families by the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF). As many of you know
my youngest son, Jeremy, was with Andy Palmer when he was tragically killed on
the Iron Complex on July 25, 2008. An hour or so after Andy’s death my oldest
son was struck on the head by a falling tree while on a fire in the Sawtooth
Wilderness, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. My oldest son, Jarred, suffered
a broken back and other associated injuries.
My wife and I learned of Andy’s accident when Jeremy called home to tell us
about Andy’s tragic death. We learned of Jarred’s accident while trying to
contact him to tell him about Andy. Upon learning of Jarred’s accident, we
immediately left for Wenatchee to be at the hospital as soon as possible. Before
we reached Wenatchee, Vicki Minor of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation found
out about both of these accidents and called me on my cell phone to offer
assistance. Vicki (the WFF) offered a cell phone, laptop computer, motel
reservations, cash and emotional support to us.
Jarred was in the hospital for many days and recovery took months. Jeremy
suffered severe emotional distress and is still to this day recovering from the
loss of his friend. During this entire period (a year and a half), the Wildland
Firefighter Foundation has been there for each and every one of us.
Jeremy really started on the path to healing when the Foundation invited
Andy’s parents and Andy’s engine crew to Boise to honor Andy at the Wildland
Firefighters National Monument. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation, knowing
that Andy’s parents and Jeremy and the rest of his crew would be in Boise did
something I will forever be thankful for. The Foundation invited several other
firefighters who had experienced tragedies (and several other individuals) to
meet with the crew and offer support. This was the first real step in my son’s
Here is my point… (Finally)
The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is there for every firefighter and their
families in their time of need. It is much more than money and it is
forever. Vicki and the Foundation are concerned with helping during the
immediate incident but even more important, they are there to provide emotional
support and help in any other way they can for as long as they are needed… Vicki
called me this past week to see how I was doing after the Accident
Investigation: Factual Report Dutch Creek Incident had been released. My wife
and I (and our sons) can never thank the Foundation enough for all they have
done for us.
Every firefighter should know that if something bad happens to them the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation will be there for them!
My second point is that we as wildland firefighters must get to the point
where we can talk freely about accidents and not fear reprisal from
criminal proceedings. We need to be able to look at “lessons learned” and
not have to worry about needing a lawyer to protect us. We need to encourage our
legislators to pass a law protecting firefighters from criminal proceeding when
an accident occurs. Firefighters are trying to protect the lives and
property of our American citizens. We know that wildland firefighting is a very
hazardous occupation. That is why federal firefighters are paid hazard pay while
on fires. What we don’t need is to have firefighters afraid to make decisions
and do the right things because they fear something will go wrong and they will
face criminal charges.
I ask each of you to always remember that the Wildland Firefighter
Foundation will always be there for you if you need them.
Fire and Aviation Staff Officer
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Thanks, Dave. Glad the guys are on the road to recovery. It's been a long
18 months. Ab.
Foundation, donate now.
I've been thinking about FS hiring in Region 5. And I held my tongue for all of
fire season and now that its winding down I really feel a need to let the
overhead folks hear some feedback, and I will try to not be overly critical of
I am a 7 year wildland firefighter. 3 Have been spent on Interagency Hot Shot
Crews. Before that I started on private and OC handcrews back in 1997. It is
safe to say I worked my way up, and have seen hiring practices from several
region 5 forests in action, or perhaps it should be called In-action.
Leadership/line folks need to take a deep look at just WTF MEL means. When the
Meyers WS crew flys 2 squad boss slots all season long without filling them,
something is wrong. When prestigious crews, like LP or Tahoe fly open slots in
June-July and August, it is bad for morale and it is bad for the Forest Service.
And another thing that concerns me are other newer crews are ON ASSIGNMENT with
14-16 man crews. While dozens of IHC applicants sat powerless while AVUE ruined
hundreds of peoples seasons (careers), yet again this year! What's going on
Regionally? Is there a reason why Forests didn't fill these open slots? With
dozens of QUALIFIED applicants sat on electronically generated hiring lists,
that seem to never have made it to some of the more regional work stations? I
emailed several superintendants this summer and was left wondering if they knew
how to use email properly. Why then tout your automated system as anything good,
when the old dogs don't want Boise's "new tricks".
I was around in the old days (70's and 80's) I watched my folks fight fires with
citizens fighting fires back in '87. The way in which recruitment has changed
over the years, I'm not sure it has been for the better of the agency.
It is ridiculous for there to be open slots on Region 5 IHCs while applicants
fill hiring lists in the Grades needed to bring crews to full compliments. The
problem must lie somewhere in HR/District level practices, because any higher up
and I get the same story, that this should not be happening.
The bottom line is, if the Forests in Region 5 truly want the best people
composing their Hot Shot Crews, they're going to have to do a better job of
recruitment and retention.
-dejected hot shot
Hiya, AB !! I just wanted to say it’s good to be home.
Welcome home! Bust a coldie! Ab.
National Defense Authorization Act (Public Law 111-84) creates important changes
to federal retirement
Going round robin from HRM/AQC & Intended Audience= All
Forest Service employees
National Defense Authorization Act (Public Law 111-84) creates important changes
to federal retirement
President Obama recently signed into law, the National Defense Authorization Act
(Public Law 111-84). This new law includes several important changes regarding
federal retirement, this is not an inclusive list:
* The law gives those covered under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS)
the right to count unused sick leave toward their retirement calculation.
* It updates work rules for re-employed annuitants by allowing them to return to
service on a limited, part-time basis without being penalized by an offset of
* It lets FERS employees who return to federal service redeposit their annuities
and receive credit for years of service.
* The bill also phases out the non-foreign cost-of-living adjustment system for
feds in Hawaii, Alaska and U.S. territories, replacing it over several years
with locality pay, which can be counted for retirement purposes.
Please note, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will issue guidance on how
to apply this new law. When HRM receives more information from OPM, ASC-HRM will
quickly pass it along.
Tidepool Pictures is beginning a holiday sales event. You can now buy 2 DVDs and
get 1 free through Christmas. The documentary takes a look at life "Behind the
Scenes" of wildland firefighting. Check the
Classifieds Page for a direct link to order. Thanks, OA
Here is the active link to the
Northern Region's 1910 Fires Commemoration site. This site has information
on the 1910 Fires including: photos, maps, actual field notes, Forest Service
internal documents, books and media coverage of the Fires of 1910. We will be
posting commemoration events on the site along with links to other sites that
have information on the 1910 Fires or planning events in 2010.
Before 1910, the were still questions regarding the viability of the U.S.D.A.
Forest Service has an agency. After the fires, not only was the Forest Service's
support solidified, fire prevention and suppression became an essential mission
of the agency.
As we go forward into 2010, there will be many opportunities to reflect on the
agency and it's fire mission over the last hundred years. We will spend time
focusing and commemorating the 78 firefighters who died in the line of duty over
the 24 hour period of August 20-12, 1910 when the fires blew-up and ran
3,000,000 acres. We will commemorate the civilians who perished from the fires
and communities that were burned over. We will focus on the survivors and their
descendants, who will be coming together during the many events to discuss the
fires impact on their lives.
For anyone who would like more information on the events surrounding 1910 or the
2010 Commemoration events, they can contact me at (406) 826-4325 or jmolzahn@
Julie Molzahn, Northern Region's 1910 Fires Commemoration Coordinator.
It was good to read the MiWok FLA. I feel dumb saying it, but can remember
carrying two drip torches in one hand like that once. Since nothing happened,
seemed to me it was OK, or I never questioned it. I might have gone on thinking
that except for the analysis. Probably are lots of things we do without thinking
since we did it once and nothing happened.
Glad the burned firefighter got to
a burn center.
Reading the other Andy Palmer report on the falling accident makes me think
that sometimes it might be more important to get someone to anywhere medical
where someone knows what they're doing. The hospital in Weaverville isn't trauma
as I read it, but certainly they could have gotten in some kind of an IV and had
better luck at stemming the bleeding than the guys on the hill did. (no slur on
them they were doing their best). The downside of thinking it has to be trauma
or burn center could be that the critical golden hour is lost.
Once someone is admitted to a hospital is it harder to get them to a better
med center? Is there a tendency for fire guys to let the docs take over and the
docs might or might not know what they're dealing with?
Dutch Creek Fatality
I just finished reading the
Dutch Creek Fatality Investigation. It was heartbreaking to read of all the
events that lead to the
needless death of a young firefighter with such a bright future. It is a shame
that part of the story has not been told because
of fear of criminal prosecution.
Thanks for recognizing Mark Linane in your recent post... I was lucky?
to start my career with him on the hotshots and go
on to work for him for a number of years. Mark was and still is a true leader in
the Fire Service!
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without
strategy is the noise before defeat.”
Sun Tzu quotes (Chinese General and Author, b.500 BC)
Kern County Fire
Has anyone heard of the crap Kern County is pulling on its
latest list of candidates? I have a lot of info
on the situation but first wanted to see if anyone else reading this has been
I came across a little information about it.
Gov Exec - article -
(can ignore age when there are special needs)
Real Police - forum
US Code Collection
Apologies always accepted by folks like you.....
Spent a number of years in engine ops and helitack where I could... we can talk
about that later
Applied to many positions in the USFS in the past for plenty-o- aviation type
Some of the interviews were less than inviting.... attitudes of superiority over
the phone......from Agency pax...so that is where I get my Aviation bend -on!!
Through some of those interviews I have often wondered where SOME of those folks
got their Aviation learn-on and whether or not they a list of interview certs a
mile long....left me to REALLY wonder either thru just Agency education and
social engineering, those folks had some pretty low "tolerance" for us folk who
learned the hard way and expensive way of commercial and civilian training paid
out of pocket by whatever we did aviation and by applying to theses Agency
positions, somehow threaten them just because the were Agency.
Again, Hugh, I have followed you, Allamaras, and the Quinitars (sp) of the fire
and aviation world for years now. Most of you guys were the mentors of us even
if we were not in the same geographical circles or employment at the same Agency
or time...I know we all speak the language
Thanks for the apology and let me apologize for the way I came off. I do have a
problem with firefighters and Agency folks who are employed chirping about their
jobs when I am unemployed. Just went thru a Mass Casualties class last week with
a number of emergency management personnel and some were with the State. Some
were there 'cuz they had to and some you could tell were just occupying space
and time. So maybe I picked up the "gov attitude" from the class and I came off
wrong in this venue....
Thanks again, Hugh... I KNOW you know how to get ahold of me!!
Re Implications of the Isabella Decision:
Does anyone (Casey perhaps) out
there know if there either has been or will be any movement towards what
"On Target" is referring to? Will non-vets who are physically and experience
qualified - and who might have
dealt with their retirement in other ways - ever be given the same rights as the
Isabella Decision is granting to
vets? There are quite a few of us who have worked many seasons and held down
other careers in the off
Anyone care to comment?
<Mid-40's, fit and prepared for retirement>
NONAME: Apology Accepted
With your additional comment, I think I understand where you were coming from
(please correct if I'm off base here or have misinterpreted you):
1. The difference between what is espoused by the agencies and the reality of
what is practiced, both by the agencies and by field-level personnel;
2. The attitudes at the field level toward safety and leadership programs
3. Overuse of the foundational concepts (SA, DM, CRM, etc) of the safety culture
to the point of becoming meaningless
4. Claims by the fire culture that they "invented the wheel"
Let's address each one:
1. In this instance we're perhaps looking at something akin to "Say what you
mean and mean what you say." As a long time critic in what has been both the
best (constructive) and worst (demagoguery) senses of the word, I am not one to
give kudos lightly, but I must say that the dedication of the wildland fire
agencies to supporting and funding the leadership curriculum (L-180, L-280,
L-380, and L-381) has been awesome and astounding. L-380 Fireline Leadership way
back in '99 was where the concepts of Situation Awareness, Decision-Making
cycle, Leadership Styles, etc., etc. first started to gain traction.
Much thanks for that goes to Mark Linane (a "lowly hot shot supe") for having
the courage to stand up in the post-South Cyn Safety Summit and call bulls___t
on the standard accident investigation supposition that those who perished as
well as those who survived violated 49.33% of the 10 Standards and 64.34% of the
18 Watchouts. Linane said we had a leadership problem, and after being beat up
sufficiently by the assembled GS-14+s, much thanks to Karl Weick for supporting
Mark. And then, with the assistance of Mission-Centered Solutions (MCS), we were
off to the races. Full-disclosure: I have taught for MCS since 2001 and am NOT
an unbiased observer of what these concepts and the leadership program in
general have accomplished. Hopefully, I am also not blind to the deficiencies in
Given that, now down to brass tacks: "The difference between what is espoused by
the agencies and the reality of what is practiced, both by the agencies and by
field-level personnel." Those of you who had the pleasure or misfortune to
having had to work with or around me during my career in aviation know that this
disparity used to drive me bats__t, and I would proceed to act like a dog with a
bone, driving everyone else bats__t. (My one regret is that I did not have
benefit of the L- curriculum; I think I could have driven everyone bats__t in a
much better way, easier on everyone, including myself!!).
The truth of the matter is that when you embark on an immense project - that of
changing the safety and leadership culture of an entire domain, in this case
wildland firefighting - you are always going to have those instances, those
anomalies, where the agencies or even individuals are not walking the talk. The
trick is (1) to lessen the frequency of these occurrences over time (decades,
and we are coming up on the end of our first decade here); (2) empower (I hate
that buzzword!! let's try enable), enable folks such as yourself to be heard
when you see the talk not being walked; and (3) be a learning organization that
is constantly engaged in a process of self-assessment and course adjustment.
On this issue, I give all of us an A- (the minus only because I've always wanted
things "to happen yesterday" which of course is a totally unrealistic approach
to life but one which served me both well and very poorly during my career.
2. "The attitudes at the field level toward safety and leadership programs."
This is a tough one. The commercial aviation folks out of which CRM was born in
the 80s struggled mightily with this (this being LOFT, or Line Oriented Flight
Training). The basic conundrum was how do we assess and/or measure the success
of CRM training programs? The airline industry and pilot community generally
strongly supported CRM as a method to reduce accidents (exceptions were the "old
guard" whose standard joke regarding shared decision-making was "If god meant
Second-in-Commands to fly, he would have given them wings."). But it was
developed and embraced in direct reaction to a horrific series of airline
accidents in the 70s and 80s (Tenerife KLM 747, Saudia Flight 163, Portland
Suburbs fuel starvation, etc.) that were directly related to loss of SA, tunnel
vision, poor DM, lack of situational leadership, the list is endless.
But pilots were not about to let cameras be installed in their cockpits, so any
scientific assessment of the value of CRM was impossible. It's all anecdotal,
and only measurable in terms of long-term trends, and a decrease in
incidents/accidents related to poor CRM. Certain recent instances (over flights
of destination due to pilots being preoccupied with issues unrelated to flying
the airplane) aside, from that standpoint and those caveats, CRM overall has
been hugely successful. (Note that it is my contention that these recent
instances can be directly attributed to "the glass cockpit," the feeling by
pilots that the computer is in charge and that they don't get to fly the
airplane anymore, an act which requires attention, etc.).
So where are we in wildland firefighting? We continue to have accidents and
incidents that can be directly linked to loss of SA and poor DM, etc. On the
flip side, when I'm fortunate enough to go out on incidents, I eavesdrop on
conversations and briefings and AARs and feel really confident that we have
indeed changed an entire culture for the better. That's the frustrating thing
about safety: it is rare when you really know when you've prevented an accident.
All you can do is the best you can ("best" because from a systems design
standpoint it is logical that because you do A, it is probable that B won't
happen). Example are briefings/AARs, risk mgmt and mitigation, mindfulness, etc.
A huge individual and collective effort.
What works against this are environments such as the California fire busts where
the human mind and the collective effort simply cannot keep up with the changes
in the environment. Anyone who has spent three continuous shifts on the ridge
above Waterman Canyon on the San Berdoo knows of which I speak. I bring that up
because I was facilitating the Sim Room in L-381 2 years ago for a course on the
SBF and we were AAR'ing Ops Tempo and its effect on DM (there go those pesky
acronyms!!). We had an individual in the class who had been the DIVS on that
ridge the year it "all burned down." This individual was very hip to the
Leadership concepts (his statement was that taking L-381 really cemented in what
he knew from L-180 through L-380 and his own natural instincts). What blew me
(and the group away) was his statement that a few months after, he reviewed his
log and counted up 366 decisions that he made over a 40-hour shift that were
"life-critical decisions." I was stunned, as were the others in the AAR.
Imagine, if you will for a moment, the intensity, the pressure, the fatigue, to
say nothing of his own concern about his own house and family ("I just put it
behind me - no time to worry about that - my spouse knew what to do."). Wow.
Bottom line, a lot of the perception of whether all this Leadership and
Decision-Making in High-Risk environments "stuff" is working is anecdotal. My
sense of the frequency with which individuals ignore our doctrine, or that
agencies sweep it under the rug, is that it is rare. High viz, but rare,
especially in light of the incredible amount of risk and potential for error
inherent ion the megafire environment.
Grade: A- again, high grade based on the the incredible efforts being made
against seemingly overwhelming environments. But then again, I am so far removed
from where the rubber meets the road these days that I may be way off base here
and am being overly optimistic.
3. "Overuse of the foundational concepts (SA, DM, CRM, etc) of the safety
culture to the point of becoming meaningless." Always a hazard. It is up to each
of us, in all our roles as followers and leaders, to prevent this from
happening. It takes passion. It takes guts, sometimes going against the grain of
the majority (as Linane did). Just remember, and to paraphrase one of my mentors
Mr. Allmaras, there's only one person you gotta look at in the mirror every
morning: by your past actions and commitment (or lack thereof), you can do that
with pride or regret.
4. " Claims by the fire culture that they "invented the wheel." I remember the
exact location (Marana) and year (1985) when Ron Bell, RAO R-4 did the 1st
presentation of Risk Mgmt, and readily admitted it came out of commercial
aviation CRM. I may have missed something, NoName, but that has never been a
point of contention to my knowledge, that fire aviation owes a huge debt to not
only commercial aviation but University of Texas, NASA, who did some of the
baseline studies, the latest of which we use was the HFACS concept aka Swiss
And I think ground pounders always knew aviation was way ahead of them in check
listing, risk mgmt, common guides (IHOG, Airspace, ATGS, Airtanker Base).
It is to the ground pounders credit that after South Cyn but especially after
30-Mile they started taking SA, DM, Risk Mgmt, Swiss Cheese pretty seriously.
And even more fulfilling was I got to participate with MCS on that cultural
change. Kinda like tying the bow on a career, rocky as it was (grin).
Take care, and I in turn apologize in being so harsh in my response: "arrogance
... not deserving of a reply." Well, for better or for worse, or with my usual
length and verbosity, but hopefully not too sanctimonious and arrogant and
clueless in my analysis,
Manning a brush truck:
I read somewhere about the minimum personnel needed on
a class 6 Brush Truck.
Do you know where I can find that information?
Good Hazards of Drip Torches and Fusees discussion here on the
Also, someone sent this in:
Interagency Transport guide for gas, fuel, diesel...
www.fs.fed.us/t-d/fueltran/guidance/index.htm (if needed, password: t-d)
Thanks to the National Park Service for posting the Dutch Creek Fatality
Investigation Report, the other
reports and the freq asked Qs.
I wish the Forest Service had also posted it on
our public website at the same time.
I wish it had come out sooner. A lot of us that heard it on the scanner have
had bad dreams since then.
I wish the legal processes were clearer so that every incident that we should
discuss does not end up
being about legal liability, clamming up and lawyering up rather than lessons
Is there any way past this impasse with law enforcement? How do we not
have our rights violated when
there are different investigations? Should an engine crew (down to FF1, FF2)
have professional liability
I am all for supporting our vets and I see this as a great
Lets ask out there what will this do for a non vet who has experienced age
issues. like mandatory retirement when still able and wanting to remain involved
and perform? Or one who has skills and talent to offer but will obviously not
get 20 more years in and has other retirement plans in place, since as stated by
opm the intent was to have the employee vested at 20 years, not necessarily that
someone 57 yo could no longer do the job.
< On Target >
Article on the accident report at Dutch Cr. COMT
"Report Details Errors That Led to The Death of A Young National Park
Ab, Info for your website- thanks. Connie
'The 2009 Aerial Firefighters’ Ball,
RSVP Nov 15
'The 2009 Aerial Firefighters’ Ball is a celebration of aerial firefighting,
public education and fundraising for the Associated Airtanker Pilots AAP [to be
renamed Associated Aerial Firefighters or AAF] Memorial Fund which makes
donations to families of fallen aerial firefighters.
• Public Education Symposium 1:00pm - 5:00pm
• Oyster Barbecue & Cocktails, 5:00pm – 6:00 pm
• Catered Dinner 6:00pm – 8:00pm
• Live Band 8:00pm – 11:00pm
$100 per person. Takes place Saturday, December 5, 2009, onboard the USS Hornet
Aircraft Carrier and Museum, 707 W. Hornet Avenue, Pier 3 Alameda Point Alameda,
CA 94501. (510) 521-8448 www.uss-hornet.org
Please RSVP to Gabby Newhart, Treasurer, by November 15, 2009. 707-894-3366
Pay on-line with credit cards at www.airtanker.org or send checks payable to AAP/AFF
to: AFF c/o Newhart Bookkeeping, P.O. Box 336, Cloverdale, CA 95425."
Gabby's lodging info. Here's three places to stay.
All about a five minute ride from the Oakland airport. BART
(metro) is nearby as well.
Jack London Inn (best price $69 double)
444 Embarcadero West
Phone 510-444-2032 1-800-549-8780
Executive Inn and Suites
1755 Embarcadero Drive
Phone 510-536-6633 1-800-447-4136
Room quoted at $189--$289
Possible 5 room booking discount.
Inn at Jack London Square
Phone 510-452-5973 1- 800-633-5973
An interesting decision. This could change a few things. Might start seeing Fire
Service employees making a second career with the Fed agencies. Noname
An email from Assistant Director at Forest Service HR (ASC)
FAM & LEI Management-
As most of you are aware by now, the Merit System Promotion Board (MSPB) found
in favor of a preference eligible who contested his inability to apply for a
position based on the maximum entry age in the case of Robert P. Isabella,
vs. the Department of State and the Officer of Personnel Management (OPM)
ruling dated July 2, 2008. The Board found that the purpose for setting a
maximum entry age for a position is to enhance the retirement scheme by allowing
individuals entering the position to enjoy a full career prior to reaching the
mandatory retirement age. The Board held that for this purpose it is
insufficient to establish that the maximum entry age is essential to the
performance of the duties of the position. The Board ordered the agency to waive
the age limit and to process the appellant’s application to completion. The
provisions of this case apply only to preference eligibles based in part of the
language contained in 5 U.S.C. 3312.
Based on the MSPB decision, OPM issued a memorandum informing agencies that
qualified preference eligibles may now apply and be considered for vacancies
regardless of whether they meet the maximum age requirement identified at
5U.S.C. 3307. Before the agency can pass over the preference eligible, they must
first analyze the affected position to determine whether age is essential to the
performance of the position. If the agency decides age is not essential to the
position, then it must waive the maximum entry-age requirement for veterans’
preference eligible applicants. In instances where the maximum entry-age is
waived, the corresponding mandatory retirement age for these individuals will
also be higher because it will be reached after 20 years of Firefighter/Law
Enforcement Officer (LEO) service for the entitlement to an immediate enhanced
annuity. We have attached a copy of both the Isabella determination and the OPM
As per the terms of the memorandum, Fire and Law officials must carefully
examine all their positions to determine if they can identify positions where
age is essential to the performance of the duties, keeping in mind the outcome
of the Isabella case. These rare cases will be examined on a case by case basis
to determine if the age essential argument is sufficient to pass over the
preference eligible. Procedures will be addressed by HRM in forthcoming
Additionally, the changes brought about by this case require us to work with
Avue to modify all of our Fire and LEI vacancy announcements. To date, the
verbiage in most of the LEI announcements has been changed. However, all of our
open continuous primary Firefighter announcements must be closed to make the
required modifications. Beginning today we plan to close all open continuous
recruitments (OCR) for primary firefighter positions and reopen the
announcements on or about Nov 9, 2009. Avue needs this time to make the
modifications to the announcements and to change the announcement numbers.
When the OCRs are closed, Avue will send emails to the applicants notifying them
of the closure and informing applicants of the need to reapply. Applicants will
be provided the new vacancy announcement numbers in these notifications. We have
timed these closures so there will be little impact to the current fire outreach
and selection processes for Region 5 and Region 3.
If you have any questions or concerns please contact either Geri Esquibel at
505-563-9440 or email her at geraldineesquibel@ nospam fs.fed.us or Colleen
Aragon at 505-563-9462 or email at colleenaragon@ nospam fs.fed.us.
Art Gonzales (ajgonzales@ nospam fs.fed.us)
Assistant Director, Employment
ASC-Human Capital Management
3900 Masthead St., NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109
(snipped phone numbers)
MEMORANDUM FOR HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
Change in max m entry-age requirements for Veterans' Preference Eligibles
FROM: John Berry
On July 2, 2008, the Merit Systems Protection Board (Board) issued a final
decision in Robert P.
Isabella v. Department of State and Office of Personnel Management, 2008 M.S.P.B.
affects preference eligibles who apply for federal positions having a maximum
restriction. The Board decided that the agency's failure to waive the maximum
requirements for Mr. Isabella, a preference eligible veteran, violated his
rights under the Veteran
Employment Opportunities Act of 1998 (VEOA) because there was no demonstration
maximum entry-age was essential to the performance of the position.
the Board's decision in Isabella, qualified preference eligibles may now apply
considered for vacancies regardless of whether they meet the maximum age
identified at 5 US.c. 3307. In order to determine whether it must waive a
requirement, an agency must first analyze the affected position to determine
whether age is
essential to the performance of the position. If the agency decides age is not
essential to the
position, then it must waive the maximum entry-age requirement for veterans'
eligible applicants. In instances where the maximum entry-age is waived, the
mandatory retirement age for these individuals will also be higher because it
will be reached
after 20 years of Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) service for the entitlement to
The same principles set forth above would apply to appointments to other types
of positions for
which the setting of maximum entry ages are authorized under 5 US.c. § 3307.
These types of
positions are: (1) firefighters, (2) air traffic controllers, (3) United States
Park police, (4) nuclear
materials couriers, and (5) customs and border patrol officers (subject to the
Retirement System, 5 US.C. § 8401 et seq. only).
Agencies are reminded that they are still required to apply suitability,
standards, and medical qualification determinations when waiving the maximum
requirements for preference eligible veterans.
Please contact the OPM Human Capital Officer that services your agency should
questions concerning this policy change.
cc: Chief Human Capital Officers
Human Resources Directors
Ab note: This message below came round robin. Andy Palmer died as a result of
injuries he sustained in a felling accident on the CA-SHF-Eagle Fire (Iron
Complex) on July 25th, 2008. His tragic death has affected many of us. Our love
and respect to his parents, his brothers, extended family and to his friends and
co-workers, as well as to those who have worked on this report.
Creek Fatality Investigation Report Release:
Hi there, just a short note to let you know that the National Park Service
has posted copies of the Accident Investigation: Factual Report for the Dutch
Creek Fatality and other related documents, including a news release, on its
We will not be posting any of these documents on the Forest Service website
per direction from the WO Occupational Safety and Health Shop; however we will
be posting a link to the National Park Service website on the Forest Service
Fire and Aviation Management intranet site tomorrow (Tuesday, November 3rd).
Please pass this information regarding the location of the documents on to
anyone that might be interested in viewing them. This fatality is considered a
national issue and consequently all news media requests for interviews regarding
the contents of the documents with Forest Service employees must be cleared by
the Department of Agriculture, per previous direction. If you have any questions
or need more information, please let me know.
Jennifer E. Jones
Forest Service Public Affairs
Fire and Aviation Management
National Interagency Fire Center
We finally got the kind of fire aviation discussion going here that has been
sorely lacking in this forum for a long time.
Something I tell trainees and pilots both is that in my 20+ years now of doing
air attack group supervision -ATGS- (it took me 20+ more years on the ground to
get here) I have both done and seen about every stupid thing that can possibly
be done with aircraft. I now have many dead friends.
Some years back I started my portion of an airport briefing with "Welcome to
another day of doing stupid things with aircraft". I was told by the Powers not
to do that again because several folks present had been put into the awkward
position of supervising from the ground our air operations which was something
they knew nothing about.
That was in the same state No Name talks about and I participated in the same
sort of stuff there this past year. This time I made no bones about it that I am
not putting up with it again. We mutually agreed that I will never work there
again. No Name you are still an old friend.
The Swiss Cheese Model there is set up for serious catastrophe.
By the way, I have quietly figured out through various means that all federal
employees, and that includes ADs now by definition, can grieve or otherwise work
through federal processes to try to fix obvious safety problems. That is
especially true now for federally funded (FEMA) state sponsored fires. In fact
FEMA is very interested in a test case right now to prove that point. I am sorry
to say that will likely take a major accident to make that happen. FEMA would
evidently go that far, though, towards breaking up the the Swiss Cheese.
And to use another one of our new terms....the Just Culture is the last thing
from the mind of entrenched non-federal entities (and federal!) who will just
continue to do the same thing until they kill more of our aviator friends. And
probably some folks on the ground too.
Re night flying:
I have used Helicopters on a large Federal fire for a spot fire at night, and we
probably would not have caught the spot, and lost
homes. In that case it was the right tool for the job, and we had it available
from LA City to make use of it. As with all aviation,
it is risk vs gain. The pilots had the choice if they were comfortable with the
mission or not, and they were great with 3 ships
rotating through drops, as a fourth was used as a Helco platform.
Everything has it's place. Just My honest opinion is that night Flying is
just another tool in the tool box, that some agencies have
taken advantage of. Do the Land Management Agencies need to? Maybe, but there
needs to be more training, and purchasing
of equipment that the feds are not ready to fork out money for yet.
I would like to see more night flying over fires especially in the arena of
Air Attack utilizing Drones to give better SA during Night
Ops, but we are not there yet, probably before I retire. Should the feds have
trained Pilots, with the equipment to fly at night?
Yes, especially if we have folks on the ground for Medevac, and to hold critical
pieces of line. But remember we should not
overutilize them as a political piece or for heli mopping.
Did not mean to say that folks in the aviation industry have said things of the
overuse of SA, CRM, ORM. It appears that the natural resources field has gone
into the mode of making jokes about it and so have some pilots in life
I have to say I am sorry for my post. But the fact remains that the safety
culture in many organizations is a great idea but again in many of the
organizations I have worked for they seem to get on with life without the
paralysis of the analysis.
Firefighters and aviation personnel have been making mistakes like everyone else
in life, me included.
I read Lessons Learned and NTSB reports and many other safety pubs and even here
on wildland fire. In my simple little world.... the same mistakes seem to keep
getting made. How about this years mistakes of the Agencies (USFS) waiting more
than 1 hour for aircraft dispatch to one of the major conflagrations this
year.... seems like some forest officers PREACH SA and CRM ad ORM and yet can
not get the dispatch levels moving. I am sure Wx has had alot to do with it..
Problems with driptorches, verry pistols with wrong rounds in the barrel, etc
etc ... The list goes on.
So if I do not warrant a reply, I can kindly depart this forum anytime. BUT in
my time with all the Safety courses and agencies that preached it while I was
there, I had to look deep into myself and ask what I was doing... was it safe?
Is it going to shorten my life? I sit around with many old retired pilots and
some have welcomed my ideas and some not.
I read these forums while on on unemployment while building a garage and flying
as much as I can. I recently got laid off as a Firewise coordinator in the State
I am from. The "Agency" I worked for is suffering the cuts many States have. My
position has been handed off to a couple of foresters who are near their 30 year
retirements and may or may not EVEN get active in the Firewise program. Suffice
to say, seeing positions handed off to near future retirees that have preached
SA and CRM from their office chairs while still drawing a paycheck, and I am
looking for work....wellll you get the idea
So I am sorry for the rant of "self " this or that... I have seen it PLENTY in
lots of natural resource agencies. Again USFS USDOI and other did not come up
with CRM, ORM, or SA by themselves. Alot of it was spinoffs from the military
culture... such as... land mgmt agencies using "Commanders Intent" ya gotta love
it... That is why the use of buzzwords. Buzzwords need some kind of action and
it is happening in the field...
Maybe I'm missing something, but the arrogance and self-satisfied,
self-congratulatory tone of your post is astounding.
I'm confident that most will take it for what it is; it doesn't even deserve any
kind of reply.
Del Rosa Hotshots 2nd Annual Golf Tournament to benefit the Wildland Firefighter
Here are the Flyers for the Del Rosa Hotshots 2nd Annual Golf
Tournament. Reserve yours now!!!!!
Golf Tournament Announcement (201 K doc file)
Golf Tournament Politic (156 K doc file)
Re night flying:
I must have struck a chord. I retired from Army Aviation and still am flying
If I remember right.... The USFS and other wildland fire agencies have been
borrowing and "copying" the military and
aviation world for about the last 15 years.
15 years ago DOI and Ag did not REALLY have SA and CRM in its vocabulary. CRM
originally started in the cockpit
not in the interior of a wildland fire Type 1 thru 6 fire engines.
I, too, still practice SA and CRM when I fly skydivers, kids, and cargo. I, too,
still know what am talking about. I use it
everyday as a pilot, aircraft mechanic, emergency manager -in-training AND a
former TOLC, ENOP, HECM. Again
15 yrs ago CRM and SA wasn't running around in the agencies as freely as it does
now.....making it appear to be a
buzzword. That is how "alot" of folks in the aviation biz view everybody's use
of CRM and SA
Sorry.... but really I am not.....
HOTLIST thread on night flying
Re Hazards of Drip Torches:
One more comment about the hazards of drip
torches. Many years ago I was with a crew burning large clear-cuts on the
Olympic National Forest. We had finished lighting and were at the at the bottom
of a very steep unit. One of the crew members took the top off his torch and
threw the unused fuel onto a burning log. He didn't want to pack the extra
weight back to the top of the unit. Just as the fuel poured out a swirling ember
flew into the open torch and caused a mini explosion. He was very lucky and only
received a small second degree burn on his arm where his glove met his shirt
sleeve and a singed eyebrow. (And this was long before Nomex was invented.)
Just a reminder to everyone that drip torches (and fusees) can be just as
dangerous as any other tool we use.
AK Old Timer
"LAFD and the rest have a mission to do that none others have
That's because it is in their mission. Right now, do to inept leadership in
the USFS, they can't do anything that might confuse a forestry tech with a
Land management agencies can borrow the term all they want about
"situational awareness" as if a buzzword..."
I spent 3 years as the engineer and acting capt at one of the busiest green
engines in one of the most tactfully challenging working enviorments in the
federal system. Situational awareness was just not a "buzzword". Not sure why
you believe that, maybe you worked with some unmotivated folks. But we drilled
it all the time, among the other things boys and girls train on. Communication,
hoselays, line cutting, SCBAs, fuel models, weather, teamwork, leadership,
first-aid and so forth. Situational awareness applies to crews, engines pilots
and bus drivers. Part of my situational awareness is being a part of yours and
everyone elses out there in a positive, constructive way of course.
Many of these drills and real life incidents were done 24/7, 365 days a week.
Situational awareness was more than just a "Buzzword" as safety and accident
prevention depended on it. It didn't matter, fire, car accident, rescue or
simple project work....
"While wildland firefighters can get some sleep... there is usually a
liiittttle more at stake when these boyz and girls are checking their rotor
RPM and start sequences when pulling the trigger and making sure N1, N2, and
overtemp are within checklist limits....a little more technical than waking
up in the night looking for ones engine...."
I spent several years as a flight crew foreman on a a very busy Type two IA
ship in So.Ca., and several years CWN'ing as a crewman and manager. Yes, pilots
have a difficult and task orientated job, but it is also a team effort.
Situational awareness (SA) starts with the pilot AND the boys and girls. CRM and
SA starts with the preflight, flying, briefings, and fueling among other things.
I have seen and so have some of the other boys and girls things a pilot may have
not and let them know. For example; open or unlatched doors, parts or tools
laying around, coffee cups left somewhere they shouldn't be, leaks, smoke, and
aghast, WIRES, other aircraft, hung buckets, and other stuff that may not look
So, it's just not a "buzzword". Many of us practice it. With the experience you
have, you should explore working with those that may need some positive
reinforcement or training in that area.
"Let me tell you... I lived in both worlds."
I still do....
"Sleep tight and remember those aviators that have given all for the
OPTEMPO no matter for who......."
And you sleep tight knowing that there are many of us that practice
As someone who does hiring for our agency, we will consider individuals with a
prior DUI. However, we
look at time since it happened and are there other charges. I am a big believer
in trusting people for who
they are now, not who they were then. But if there are numerous charges, or the
DUI is recent, then I will
pass for someone who is more responsible now.
I have many fond memories of Howard during my tenure on Team 2.
His commitment to safety for all firefighters was
unwavering whether they were on the line, in camp, flying or even a PIO .
Besides his skills in fire, he was also a great
debater. It must have been the lawyer in him. He was always my “go to guy” when
I needed an “live interview” with the
media. He could charm the “reporter” out of the interviewer and before they knew
it, they had learned a valuable lesson
about fire and fire behavior. I wanted share one of my
favorite pictures of Howard. I took this one when Team 2 was
on assignment in Lincoln, Montana.
Howard Rayon archived Hotlist thread. Feel free to sign on or register
for the hotlist and add to it. If you have photos, let me know. It's a living
Hazards of Drip Torches:
I have a story about the hazards of drip fuel.
I started taking the top off the torch and VERY CAREFULLY, was dumping the rest
of the fuel on the pile.
Others started doing the same, until one person jerked back when the flames went
poof and spilled some on
his leg. He started running but soon realized he had better start rolling.
Someone was there to throw dirt and
it resulted in only minor burns.
But, realize drip fuel and gas is the last thing you want on your clothing as a
I was wondering, is it possible to become a forest firefighter, with a DWI
(DUI) on your record?
The incident I believe you are referencing in your post with the unfortunate
loss of an LACoFD pilot, was an incident that was midair collision with a USFS
helicopter over the Angeles National Forest. I am not too sure if the pilot of
the USFS helicopter made it but I do know that there was a surviving pilot off
the LACoFD ship.
I do agree with you that night flying does have its place like on the Tea and
Jesusita Fires. This is an example of where night flying between many
aircraft worked well. But any time you get in the air there is always the risk.
There will always be people that are for and against this; no matter if there
are structures threatened or human life in danger we must always look at the
risk vs. gain. It is very unfortunate what happened off the San Diego Coast but
there are also many things that can be learned from this tragic event.
FC 180 strong statement! What you basing it on???
I am not a pilot, but as an initial attack BC for LAC I have had WUI w/35 MPH NE
winds, I stated on initial report
that we were going to loose 200 home by morning but, due to 4 mediums
helicopters, good work by two D-8s,
Hand Crews, Engine Crews and a very capable USFS ANG Type 3 ST, the fire was
stopped by sun up..
LAC takes a measured risk vs gain process, such as -- are structures threatened,
wires or other hazards in the
area -- and then decides if to commit air resources at night.
FC 180 as I recall we loose two to three AIR FIGHTERS annually should we stop
day time air operations firefighting?
As far as I know Los Angles County Fire (LAC) is the only Department that has
lost a Pilot in night time operations
on the North Fork Fire, July 24, 1977 Pilot Tom Grady. Probably today we would
not commit to that fire as it was
well within the Angeles National Forest with no structures threatened.
I could make an argument that if night air operations were allowed on the
STATION FIRE night one, we would not
have lost two FIREFIGHTERS.
jp Harris ret. LAC