November, 2009

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11/30 Longest served lookout - Nancy Rebecca Hood

Hello folks

I just read the IMWTK Q and A regarding the longest served lookout. Incredible dedication on Nancy's part! 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 helicopters!

Tim Klein
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.

11/30 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 position.

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?

11/30 FS Outreach notices

Heres a link to the outreaches in R-5. outreach.fsr5.com


11/30 FS Outreach notices

Hey Ab!

Hope all is well this Holiday season! In regards to the post about outreach notices without a Gov. computer. If you click on the fire jobs portion of this site you are able to select the outreaches! Thanks for the great site!


11/30 FS Outreach notices
Grass is greener somewhere,

Here's a good location for finding FS job info for R5: fs.fed.us/r5/ fire/jobs 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 away entirely. wodata01. fs.fed.us/ fsfiles/ unit/wo/hrm/ outreach.nsf

Here are the fire jobs that are unfilled in R5.

All regions and agencies should make this information readily available.


11/30 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 ( www.fs.fed.us/r5/sixrivers ), 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...


11/30 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 computer?


Grass is greener somewhere

11/29 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 GIS office.


11/28 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.


11/28 EMT

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 2 hours.

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

11/28 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 expensive

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 once.

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.

Good Luck,

Brian Kliesen
USFS Helitack
USAR 68W Combat Field Medic

11/27 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 (geomac.gov). 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!


11/27 Tim,

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 incident.

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.


11/26 I've placed some new logos on the Logos 17 photo page. Ab.
11/26 Medical evacuation, control and training

Thanks Doc,

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 the opportunity.

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.


11/26 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 critical skills.


11/26 Thanksgiving Wishes

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.

11/26 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, prior apologies.

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.

I'm clear,

Doc Smitty

11/26 Unemployment

Quick connect,

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






We give thanks for all of YOU, and for this country, too.
Be safe. Carry on!
The Abs at wildlandfire.com

11/26 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.


11/26 Unemployment,

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?

Quick Connect

11/25 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.

11/25 Re: Unemployment

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

11/25 Brian Kliesen,

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 mirror.

Doc Smitty

11/25 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!


11/25 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 the situation.

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


Brian Kliesen
USFS Helitack
68W Combat Field Medic

11/25 If anyone has other events for the GIS Inquiring Minds Want To Know (IMWTK) Fire GIS page, please send 'em in.


11/24 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) 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 years.

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 tablet PC?)

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 Management.

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 worked.

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 PDAs 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. More on the viejas

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 (wmv) – 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 (wmv)– 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 (pdf)

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. 

Fire Geek

Thanks, Geek. I'll have to browse through those. Ab.

11/24 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.


Doc Smitty

11/24 The Wildland Firefighter Foundation would like to wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving. We want you to know that we are thinking about you at this holiday season.


The staff at the WFF

11/24 Hello Wildlandfire

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.

11/23 RE: Night Flying

Brother Cub,

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 if requested.

Eddie Munster

11/23 wilderness EMT

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.


11/23 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!


11/23 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 at best".

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.


11/23 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: 1957 Forest Service Report

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 he!

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 mission/vision.

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 Fire.

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...


11/23 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 deserve better.

I'm clear,

Doc Smitty

11/23 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:
esperanza/ arcglobe animation.wmv (large wmv file)

11/23 Great LA Wildfire 2009 powerpoint from MR

la wildfires 2009.pps (3652 K pps file)

11/23 Happy Thanksgiving everyone.


11/22 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 summer's job.

Any thoughts or knowledge would be helpful.


11/22 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)

11/22 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 (56 K pdf)
fatalities 1910-1996 (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.

11/22 $25 million?

Dear confused:

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 conversions.

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.


11/22 Unemployment:
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.

EMT Standards:
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 there?

fireweed (still lurking)

11/22 "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 of Unemployment Insurance Tax Topics.

Smokey Bear

11/22 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

11/22 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

11/22 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.


11/22 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 that's great, BUT don't criticize people who are in situations you know nothing about!


11/22 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 we not?

Tahoe Terrie

11/22 In Memory of FF / Paramedic Al Bench

Hello all,

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 Aneurysm.

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... ><>

Fyre Warden

11/21 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 introduction.

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.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

11/21 Unemployment

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 true.


11/21 Unemployed

Sleeping in,

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 leave. Use 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 pay periods 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 work.


11/21 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 book.

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.

11/21 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.

11/21 Unemployment

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 throttle 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.


11/20 Sleeping while Unemployed

sign me,

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 safe.

Sleeping In Tomorrow!

11/20 Helicopters at Night

Brother Cub-

I believe LA City FD also fly fires at night. Both staff 24 hrs for EMS runs too.


11/20 Incident Injury Forms (relating to the medical evacuation discussion earlier in the month):

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 reduce confusion.

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.

11/20 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.

Brother Cub

11/20 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 lazy.

sign me-
willing to work for a living, and THANKFUL to have a job, AND young enough to fight fire

11/20 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)
Regional Forester

Acceptance/Declination of Conversion to Permanent, Full -Time Status

I, ___________
(Print name)

__ 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.


11/20 From JW: Another LA Times article

Forest Service should change firefighting policies, report says

11/19 Fire Hire:

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 SMEs.

* January 22, 2010 - Units need to have all recruit/fill 52's approved in 52 Tracker.

* 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.
Regional Forester

cc: Marsha Kearney, Reta Laford, Jacque A Buchanan, Jenny Bartok, Robin L Irvine, Clay Templin, Chad Stewart, Richard Bustamante, Bill VanBruggen

11/19 GIS

Hey Ab,

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.

www.esri.com/news / arcwatch / index.phpl

Fire Geek

GIS has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years, including today in spite of the recession. Ab.

11/19 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?


11/19 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.

Doc Smitty

Thanks to contributors from across the country. Solutions and ideas for solutions, we need them. Ab.

11/19 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)

11/19 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 the Division
of Forestry, Fire and State Lands continues, according to a state official.

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

11/18 From Doug Campbell re the discussion of learning from the fire signature of a test fire before firing off a line:

First email:

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.

Footprint Test

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

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

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 signature.

11/18 Federal Wildland Firefighter Bill

To all:

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 support.

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 response.

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.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

11/18 Remembering Eva

SoCal CalFire person
Your question: 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.

11/18 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 LODD I hope to god that you all are talking about how I could have done it safer.

RIP Eva.


11/18 From the hotlist discussion on the Tuolumne and Remembering Eva

SoCal CalFire,

And consider the time frame.

We need to set trigger points for when we reevaluate tactics so we don't charge blindly ahead. 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.




Tom Patterson
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:
SoCal2003.wmv (video)

11/17 Fred;

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

11/17 Remembering Eva - What YOU Can Learn from Firefighter Eva Schicke’s Death on the Tuolumne Fire

So Doug, next time I encounter this situation of low intensity fire backing downhill and against the wind with low flame lengths
I should

  • 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.

SoCal CalFire
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 similar conditions

11/17 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.

signed Rhino

Best wishes. Ab.

11/17 Line Officer:


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.

11/17 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.

Brian Kliesen
USAR 68W Combat Field Medic
USFS Helitack

Thanks, Brian. I know you have tried to share this message for years. Be safe. Come home when you're done. Ab.

11/17 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 information.


I'm glad all went well. Ab.

11/16 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?


11/16 Remembering Eva - What YOU Can Learn from Firefighter Eva Schicke’s Death on the Tuolumne Fire

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.

11/16 confession was bogus:

How did he know what he knew when he confessed? (Unless LE filled him in on the details...) from post on 11/14: Old Fire suspect says confession was bogus


11/16 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!


11/16 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.

"no name"

11/16 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
11/15 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)


11/15 Remembering Eva - What YOU Can Learn from Firefighter Eva Schicke’s Death on the Tuolumne Fire

From SoCal CalFire

Lesson Learned?
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 Tuolumne Fire

myfirevideos.net (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: 37.844772N 120.037922W to copy and paste

Download google earth then center lat/long in the box.

or google maps link:
maps.google.com /
Copy, paste and enter lat/long in the box.

11/14 Don't know if you'd seen this.

Old Fire suspect says confession was bogus


Wow. Ab.

11/14 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:
latimes.com article



FS Report pdf Download:

www.fs.fed.us/news/2009/releases/11/station-report-11-13-2009.pdf (3369 K pdf, 72 pages)

11/13 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 Village CA.

We have section of seats reserved for uniformed members from any agency. Fire personnel please 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

11/13 To all:

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).


11/13 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.

Quick Connect

P.S. I will be laid off for 8 pay periods.

11/13 Fireline Paramedic position description:

Sacmedic –

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 Firescope’s example.


11/13 The Education of Paul Pringle,

You are spot on with your assessment ... one can only hope that Mr. Pringle connects!


11/13 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 line.”

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 them.


11/13 Earl Cooley

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

Remembering Earl Cooley

I will be sending copies of this and the Missoulian article to my neighbor Mr. Bob Cermak, USFS ret.

Kathryn Weiss

11/13* 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 State.

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 +

Gordon Foster

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

iawfonline.org texas 2010


Submit abstract

The deadline for abstract submission is December 1, 2009.

Registration Now Open

Register Online

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

Register Online

Hotel and Lodging

For hotel and lodging information please visit hotel travel.

Conference Objectives

  • 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 hazard mitigation
  • Fire communication and education
  • Social and economic impacts of fire and fire suppression
  • Organizational performance – from operational efficiency to cost management and from community relations to ecological outcomes
  • 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
Visit Submission
to submit your abstract for consideration.

The deadline for abstract submission is December 1, 2009.

Submission Guidelines

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:

  • Communication
  • Economics
  • Organizational Effectiveness
  • Social Acceptance

Poster presenters will be expected to attend their posters at designated times during the conference.

11/12 Earl Cooley

Did anyone know him well enough to tell stories or share a picture? Ab.

Here's a story and picture in the Missoulian today. missoulian.com

Tom Jones

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 FireBooks 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.

11/12 Earl Cooley

Dear Ab,

I never had the honor 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 shot..............God Bless

Sign me,

CDF Fire Captain......Former Green Soldier...

11/12 Grad Student Project:

Hi all.

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 - 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 below.

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:

Email: paul.marsella@ nospam strath.ac.uk
Mobile: +447957433332
Address: 7 Burnet Rose Place, Stewartfield, East Kilbride, Glasgow, Scotland, UK, G74 4TF

11/12 What's a line officer? Joe
11/11 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 = Reorganization

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..... swing!

1993 Allegations Prompt Changes

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

fire acronyms list

11/11 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.

Perhaps we might get you to make contribute a presentation? :-)


Marty Alexander
Program Committee SC

Thanks, Marty. Sounds good. Thanks for working on it. Ab.

11/11 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

11/11 RE

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 LEADERSHIP issue.

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.

No Name

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.

11/11 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?

- Confused...

11/11 Earl Cooley's passing:

Earl Cooley Obituary

"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"

Tom Jones

Thanks for sharing the info, Tom. Did anyone know him well enough to tell stories or share a picture? Ab.

11/11 Really this is what the people of So. Ca read on a daily basis: latimes article on theStation fire

again i ask..... ARE YOU SERIOUS??

Naked Boat Guy

11/11 ST,

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....


11/10 are you kidding me!!!???

Missed Opportunities Let Station Fire Become a Disaster


11/10 Firefighter Banister's passing:

Captain Burris,

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.


11/10 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.

11/10 Jobs?

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?


11/10 Good information:

IC Ops notes (99 K pdf file)

October 2009 BOD Notes (183 K doc file)



Route 66 Fundraiser Nov.11, 2009
For the Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Be a hero to the children of Fallen Wildland Firefighters!

FLYER (143K doc file)

11/10 R5 Hiring

Ok Ab,

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 nationwide? If you don't you probably weren't as reckless and single as I was at 19.

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

11/9 Defense Bill:

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.

11/9 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?

Thanks 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. We try.

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.


11/9 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.


11/9 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 projects.

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.


11/9 I posted a couple of AZ Reno Fire photos MRB on the Fire 43 photo page. Ab.

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 have members.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

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 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

Chart 1
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.

Chart 2
44 less GS 11/12
42 more GS 13/14/15

Chart 3
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.

Chart 4
Boots on the ground 255 at specific locations.
424 employees at DC, ABQ, DEN, SLC, or KC.

And There I Was

11/9 Medical Evacuations

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 evacuations.

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.


11/9 The Flame Act

Obama signs bill to help agencies manage skyrocketing wildfire suppression costs
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 suppression costs.
“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?

Quick Connect

11/8 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 (The rich support mccain the super rich support obama ) 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 pockets?

Please sign me,

I was just a hotshot, and now I'm just a lurker (but I sure miss it...)

11/8 Apprenticeship App:

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 position.

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 application.

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.


11/8 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

11/8 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 first place.

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.


11/8 To WL,

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".

Kibble Free

HOTLIST discussion

11/8 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 in.

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 process?

Big Head 1

11/8 Additional questions on where internet access to OCR hiring and outreach notices might be located:

Hotlist thread


11/8 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 orders.

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 airway issues.

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.


11/8 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 leveled.

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.

11/8 To participate in further discussion of the importance of affordable health care insurance for wildland firefighters, please sign up and contribute to the hotlist thread.


11/8 Health Care:


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.


11/8 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


11/7 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 Kennedy.


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


11/7 Praise for the WFF from a parent re sons who are wildland firefighters involved in accidents.

Greetings Ab,

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 recovery.

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.

David Johnson
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.
Wildland Firefighter Foundation, donate now.

11/7 Ab,

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 forest practices.

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

11/6 Hiya, AB !! I just wanted to say it’s good to be home.

Ground Pig.

Welcome home! Bust a coldie! Ab.

11/6 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 retirement annuity.
* 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.

11/6 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
11/6 Ab,

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@ nospam fs.fed.us

Julie Molzahn, Northern Region's 1910 Fires Commemoration Coordinator.

11/6 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?


11/6 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.

GA Firestorm81

11/6 Hugh,

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)
Visit http://www.fireleadership.gov/

11/6 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 affected.


11/5 Isabella Decision:

I came across a little information about it.

forums @ officer.com

Gov Exec - article - (can ignore age when there are special needs)

Real Police - forum

US Code Collection


11/5 Hey, Hugh

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 gigs.

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!!

No Name

11/5 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 season.

Anyone care to comment?

<Mid-40's, fit and prepared for retirement>

11/5 Aviation Discussion:

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 the system.

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 Cheese.

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,


Hugh Carson

11/5 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?


11/5 Good Hazards of Drip Torches and Fusees discussion here on the HOTLIST.

Also, someone sent this in:

Interagency Transport guide for gas, fuel, diesel... (if needed, password: t-d)


11/4 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 learned.

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 insurance?


11/4 isabella decision

I am all for supporting our vets and I see this as a great decision.
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 >

11/4 Article on the accident report at Dutch Cr. COMT

"Report Details Errors That Led to The Death of A Young National Park Firefighter"

11/4 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
233 Broadway
Phone 510-452-5973 1- 800-633-5973

11/3 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 memorandum.

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 guidance.

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
USDA-Forest Service
ASC-Human Capital Management
Mailstop 311
3900 Masthead St., NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109
(snipped phone numbers)


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. 146, that affects preference eligibles who apply for federal positions having a maximum entry-age restriction. The Board decided that the agency's failure to waive the maximum entry-age 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 that a maximum entry-age was essential to the performance of the position.

Based on the Board's decision in Isabella, qualified preference eligibles may now apply and be considered for vacancies regardless of whether they meet the maximum age requirements identified at 5 US.c. 3307. In order to determine whether it must waive a maximum entry-age 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' 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 Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) service for the entitlement to an immediate enhanced annuity.

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 Federal Employees Retirement System, 5 US.C. 8401 et seq. only).

Agencies are reminded that they are still required to apply suitability, occupational qualification standards, and medical qualification determinations when waiving the maximum entry-age requirements for preference eligible veterans.

Please contact the OPM Human Capital Officer that services your agency should you have questions concerning this policy change.

cc: Chief Human Capital Officers
Human Resources Directors

11/3 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.

Dutch 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 website above.

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

11/3 Aviation Discussion

Wow Hugh!

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.


11/3 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.


11/3 Aviation Discussion

Sorry Hugh

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...

No Name

11/3 Aviation Discussion:

No Name

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.

Hugh Carson

11/2 Del Rosa Hotshots 2nd Annual Golf Tournament to benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Here are the Flyers for the Del Rosa Hotshots 2nd Annual Golf Tournament. Reserve yours now!!!!!

Golf Tournament Announcement (201 K doc)
Golf Tournament Politic (156 K doc)

11/2 Re night flying:


I must have struck a chord. I retired from Army Aviation and still am flying commercially.

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.....

No Name

HOTLIST thread on night flying

11/2 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

11/2 Night flying

"LAFD and the rest have a mission to do that none others have chosen......"

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 firefighter..

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 right.

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 Situational awareness...


11/2 Re DUI:


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.


11/2 Howard Rayon:

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.

Signed…Paula Martinez

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 archive. Ab.

11/2 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 firefighter!

William Riggles

11/2 DUI

I was wondering, is it possible to become a forest firefighter, with a DWI (DUI) on your record?


11/1 Night Flying.

Mr. Harris,

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.


11/1 Night Flying.

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

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