December, 2009

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12/31 Ab,

In reference to the noname post asking for info on Professional Liability Insurance on 12/21:

FEDS does nothing for those of us that are w/ fire districts, fire departments, or commercial operations. They are only tuned in to the federal employee.

I have checked and found nothing out there as yet.


You're correct, Zimm. The federal legal situation is complicated and that's FEDS specialty. FEDS does not provide PLI to non-federal firefighters, except to ADs that are former retired feds working on incidents that follow ICS.  Perhaps state, county, city and commercial firefighters can make some suggestions. Ab.

12/31 Comments on the Texas Forest Service Problem:

Yes, the problem. These folks (TFS) have made it very clear that they are going to do things their own way (described below) and to heck with any of us who have a problem with that. What they seem to forget is that we (most of us) are still federal employees when we work for them and that all of their funding comes from FEMA, a federal agency. Then their threat becomes something akin to "if you don't like the way we do things in Texas then you just won't work here anymore" I absolutely agree with that: I will not work there anymore. The issue is safety both of the public and certainly of firefighters consigned to TFS on a temporarily suspended agreement that they will keep us safe with the nationally recognized SOPs, i.e. 10 and 18, LCES, Principles of Safe Flight, Anchor/Flank/Pinch, etc. "We do things differently in Texas."

The proof that most of their supervisors are not even remotely qualified (i.e. ICT2/3, OSC2, DIVS) to be supervising large wildland fire operations is the fact that almost none of them go out of Texas on big league fire assignments elsewhere in the US. TFS creates their own redcards in-house with different standards/quals from the national interagency-recognized qualifications. They make up the job as they go when fire is on the land and the Regional Fire Coordinator (RFC) is the defacto ICT2 onsite. But then he/she will tell you that Gomer from the local VFD is really the IC. Gomer has in fact no quals whatsoever other than the buddy-buddy relationship both with the TFS RFC and with the very wealthy private landowners who cater to very wealthy bubbas who hunt to kill the exotic game that he prides his property for. American taxpayers pay for all of this while US federal employees break all of their own rules doing it under the supervision of unqualified imposters!.

Everybody needs to understand that the Texas Forest Service is not even a standalone agency of the government of the State of Texas. TFS is an agricultural extension service of the Texas A&M University. I understand that to mean that nobody in TFS has any line authority at all. I have been told that county judges are the only persons under the governor who have line authority in Texas and that they can only delegate that to their own fire department chiefs, most of whom are volunteers except in the large urban areas. SO WHO CAN BLAME THEM FOR SPENDING ALL OF THE FEDERAL MONEY THEY CAN IF THE CIRCUS (TFS) IS IN TOWN!!! And the circus is happy to help them with that even though, as I see it, they have no real authority to do so.

And TFS is paying with federal funds for a large, revolving cadre of retired federal folks who are hooked on the $$$ and the hotel rooms. The rest of us take questionable orders for low GS wages and sleep in the dirt at least half of the time.

Earlier submissions on TheySaid pointed out absolutely correctly the confusion caused by the multi tiered TFS dispatch system and their political perversion of ICS. Also, FEDS (the liability insurer) has stated that since TFS is so far out of the envelope of SOPs that FEDS doubts that any liability case against any covered federal employee would find in favor of any of us working under TFS supervision.

We watched several federal employees get axed without recourse last Summer by TFS simply for stating the obvious and demanding a safer working environment. Not once was there a formal After Action Review. It seems to me that now the inevitable will be fatalities and/or injuries to get federal involvement in fixing this mess. We just hope TFS does not kill anybody first.

Tejas No Mas

12/31 Hi Ab,

The NTSB has released the factual report on the crash of T-09 out of Stead, NV in September, '08. The Captain, Gene Walhstrom was my good friend for many years. His Co-pilot, Greg "Gonzo" Gonzioroski, was my flight mechanic back in '98 in Wenatchee. Three good men lost in that crash, helping to fight wildland fires. They did their best and gave it their all.


All the best,

Thanks for the reminder, Gordo. What a tragedy. We all lost 3 good aerial firefighters that day. Hotlist thread. Ab.

12/31 A thread for the year -- and decade -- in review...



12/31 Have a great New Year, and keep up the good work

Thank you......


You're welcome and Thanks to All. Ab.

12/30 Re: R3 USFS light policy


What you need to understand first is that the issue of red lights/code 3 has very little to do with the R03 ban on red lights/code 3. It has more to do with a new disrespect for wildland firefighters that is held by the new higher management in wildland fire in Region 3, most of whom have very little wildland fire in their portfolios. The fact that none of them have responded to date to this thread in this forum is certain proof of that. They expect to be able to issue edicts now on just about anything. That is their current modus operandi.

FYI they are also now diluting/relaxing current training standards there in R03. More on that later after I have aired it out with my congresspersons.

To wax political...these are issues that began with the former executive administration and have not been dealt with by the current administration. No blame on the current administration -- they have had bigger fish to fry -- but this must be dealt with soon. The former administration did all it could to subterfuge all firefighter employee issues as long as it was in office.

We will claim our dignity back!


12/30 Professional Liability Insurance:

For those that are on the fence regarding PLI and the reimbursement, this should help with that. I purchased PLI from FEDS last week and was reimbursed this week via direct deposit of $137.70. For ASC standards that's quick. The paperwork can be filled out in 5 minutes.

Noname Fire

12/30 Re: R3 USFS light policy

Why not have the best of both worlds? As a local FF who does wildland response, why does the FS not keep the red lights and siren as an option. On the structure side, we are dispatched Code 2 or Code 3 based on the incident and criteria. If the FS dispatches to fire in a remote area, the first unit could be code 3 or even code 2 if it known there are no life or infrastructure threats. Once the first unit is on scene, they can make the determination if units are needed code 3 for life safety issues or if code 2 will suffice based on fire location, ROS, structures threatened.

It seems with education, training, and then a structured response, accidents can be avoided/diminished, yet the option to provide a rapid response can be maintained if needed.

Additionally, what happens when R3 FS units go to other locations, such as CA, where AZ resources are often sent, and are required to respond code 3. R3 USFS strike teams will be going code 2 amber I guess?


12/30 re: R3 amber light policy


Not that it would ever stop the Forest Service from going off to do their own thing, but the Arizona law for emergency vehicles specifies red or red and blue lights. www.azleg.gov/ars/28/00775.php

Why wouldn't a line officer want their firefighters who might be anchoring up to attack a wildfire near a roadway to come under the protection of a "move over" law? In many states, passing motorists are not required to slow down or change lanes for amber lights. www.respondersafety.com/MoveOver.aspx

vfd cap'n

12/30 Several years ago R6 went with Redlights/sirens. Do they still have them?


12/29 Annual Refresher, R5 letter from last February, '09:

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2009/fed/fs09safety-refresher-training.doc (72 K doc file)


12/29 Re Annual refresher question

From PMS 310-1, the National Interagency Incident Management System Wildland Fire Qualification System Guide

"Annual Fireline Safety Refresher (RT-130) Training

Attendance at an Annual Fireline Safety Refresher (RT-130) is required for designated positions in this guide in order to maintain currency, and for all personnel assigned to positions with fireline duties and for any position assigned to the fireline for nonsuppression tasks.

Annual Fireline Safety Refresher (RT-130) training will focus on mandatory core content subjects and not on a minimum timeframe standard. The required number of hours is determined by the agency. (emphasis added)

Core content is listed under Wildland Fire Safety Refresher Training at www.nifc.gov/wfstar/index.php"

And from the Interagency Standards for Fire & Aviation Operations 2009 (121 K pdf)

"For additional information please refer to the September 2007 NWCG Field Manager’s Course Guide. (514 K pdf)(PMS 901-1)

BLM - 4 hours
FWS - No minimum hourly requirement; core topics as shown above will be covered.
NPS - 8 hours
FS - No minimum time requirement. Content dictated by National Fire Program Managers. "


12/29 Annual Refresher:

I am trying to find out how long the annual refresher course is in each region, and what are the differences per region, if any?



12/29 Lights in NM:

Re Confused

NM –DOT does run blue and amber or amber to the front, and either red/red or red/amber to the rear and sides. Private road construction Co. and tow truck services also have light combinations like this, but are not allowed to have red to the front.


12/29 R3 Overhead Red, Blue, Amber Lights:

Confused in R3

I was recently driving on I-25 from Santa Fe, NM to Colorado. It was a normal drive and a NN Highway Patrol had a traffic stop in place -- using the standard Red/Blue overhead light combination. No big deal.

Next along I-5, a local FD engine/Medic Engine was responding to a T/C using the Red/Blue combination. The Red/Blue Combination is now being used in several states like Oregon on Fire Emergency vehicles. Still no big deal.

Then I looked into my rear view mirror and saw three sets Red/Blue overheads coming up behind me. I gasped, remembered back to the 1960 lyrics of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young "It gives me paranoia, like looking in the mirror and seeing a police car". I slowed down and pulled into the right lane as for all emergency vehicles.

Now, as they approached something didn't seem right! My palms were sweating and nervously reaching for my license, registration and insurance card in anticipation of a traffic stop. When they passed me at 40 mph, the vehicles gave me a strange look and I was astonished. Simply astonished because the first vehicle was a NM Dept of Transportation Utility Truck, the second was a 10-ton dump truck with a snow plow, and the third was a tractor/trailer transport. And they were all using the Red/Blue overhead lighting package! Gone were the Amber lights -- either in transit or working along the highway!

So, later that week, here the RF overrules (bashes) the Equipment Committee and Amber lights are it because they dont want to comply with the new RLS policy. So, now the FS will be using Ambers for emergency work while NM DOT is using Red/Blue for picking up trash along side the highway!

The Amber lighting decision will hinder support to other Regions, especially R5. They certainly cannot respond to an incident, except as a regular vehicle. There will be no front facing solid burning Red light either. They will be sitting in traffic, unable to request the right of way or drive on the shoulder of the road to get to an incident! It might be better to not allow support from R3 to R5 to keep out of the liability aspects. Cooperators will become when coming up on flashing Ambers, expecting them to be either tow trucks or highway workers.

This decision appears to be befuddled, confused and bewildered. The FS credibility in R3 as a firefighting entity has been further eroded. And the FS nationally is really looking embarrassing now.


12/28 Last night I read the Hotlist thread on R3's policy regarding red lights and sirens. I read it again this morning. I appreciated the good discussion points of
  • Is this solely a R3 policy or a beginning of a new national policy?
  • What did the committee recommend?
  • Did OGC have concerns regarding liability?
  • Recognition that there may be legitimate regional conditions.
  • Concern about "mission creep".
  • Inter-regional deployment of engines and consistency.

All appeared to focus on the subject.....and then I read Casey's latest comment and conclusion that this is "demonstrative of a Line Officer without a clue..."

I've been acquainted with Corbin for a couple decades, and nothing I know of him indicates he is "without a clue".

So Casey,
What in your conversations and dealings with him lead you to make that statement?
And, consistent with Ab's earlier suggestion, could you please recap for us your credentials to validate that your opinion is superior to that of the Regional Forester and those on his staff/team that lead to his decision?

ie. At what levels did you manage a federal agency fire program, with "expert" knowledge of laws, regulations, policy and program?
What was your highest level of qualifications in the Incident Command System?
What documents, discussions with committees, OGC opinions etc did you review prior to reaching your conclusion that the R3 RF was "without a clue".....and does that include all who contributed to the thread who do not support your conclusion of the need for red lights and sirens in R3?

Like I said, it started out as a good discussion.

Old Fire Guy

Thanks for laying out the issues Old Fire Guy. We value your logical approach. As far as I can tell, not much info is being shared by anyone that knows what the FS is doing with lights/sirens in R-3, what the logic or goals are, or what the plan is nationally. If you or anyone have this info, please share it.

In a perfect world we could meet face to face and talk, be who we are and not have concerns about revealing ourselves. The Abs do not believe all should give their credentials. I know first hand that some contributors in R-5 have been harassed as their identity has become known. Some of those have not posted anything but a professional opinion. Some have been yelled at because it was thought they might have contributed to a discussion. It's a small fire world and often not too hard to figure out who someone is even if they post from home on their own time. Those activities are protected by First Amendment rights.

Casey is well known. He has often stated his background and FWFSA advocacy, but I'm sure he'll be OK with doing it again. If it's too long winded or redundant, I'll forward it to you, OFG.

Apparently the lights and sirens discussion continues. Firefighters each have their own perspective to share; varied perspectives and opinions are welcome. I'm willing to let it run.

Please contributors, keep it civil (treat others the way you'd like to be treated) and "on point" with the issues as much possible and maybe we'll all learn something. Carry on. Ab.

12/28 Need for Professional Liability Insurance for Federal Wildland Firefighters.

Firefighters, this letter (text below) is making the rounds. I am glad to see it. I spoke with FEDS, who offer federal firefighters Professional Liability Insurance, to get permission to post it and to request they educate us. Over the past few years many firefighters -- who have done nothing wrong -- have emailed, text messaged and called Ab requesting legal representation following an accident. Most have not had PLI. Let me say that PLI is a safety net and well worth it.


In my opinion Professional Liability Insurance is a "must have" and FEDS has the best deal and provides the best, most committed and knowledgeable legal representation available. There's a permanent link to FEDS on the Classifieds page and FEDS is a sponsor of the Hotlist so you can find a link there as well. Ab.


From FEDS:
Dear Federal Wildland Firefighter,

As the 2009 fire season comes to an end and the reviews and meetings begin, we are making a concerted effort to educate federal wildland firefighters about the realities of potential liability and the need for professional liability insurance. Perhaps you recently received information from us or have attended a meeting where PLI was the topic of discussion. If this is the case, please know that our intent of this letter is to educate and reach as many firefighters as possible before he/she is fighting fire next season without professional coverage in place.

Generally speaking, professional Liability protection becomes necessary when a firefighter:

  • is sued personally for job-related actions,
  • is involved in any job-related administrative or misconduct investigation/matter, or
  • is under a criminal investigation for a job-related action.

Good firefighting tactics will not prevent you from being sued or protect you from the scope of the criminal and administrative investigations into a firefighting fatality. While most people think of PLI only as protection for typical upper management claims such as EEO, whistleblower, public complaints, etc. - it is much more than that to a federal wildland firefighter or supervisor.

Before we started this campaign, we wondered why there were so many federal firefighters still without coverage especially after:

  • the passage of Public Law 107-203 requiring an OIG investigation of a fatality along with the possibility of investigations through LE&I, OSOH and OSHA
  • and because Congress passed legislation to reimburse eligible employees up to 1/2 the cost of PLI (for a cost of $137.50 after agency reimbursement). See Enclosure A for eligible positions attached.

We learned that some employees believed this type of coverage was necessary only for higher level managers and executives. However, the reality is that all line officers, fire management officers, incident commanders, and any employee involved in firefighting or fire/aviation management - including temporary fire line employees - need to understand that they could be subject to the full scope of criminal and administrative investigations into firefighting fatalities as well as the potential for civil law suits.

Federal Employee Defense Services (FEDS) is the professional liability insurance company that has specific experience in working with the wildland fire fighting community. Our attorneys provided legal defense in the Thirty Mile, Cramer and Esperanza fire tragedies. It is our commitment to and understanding of the federal wildland fire fighting community, along with the quality of legal defense provided under the plan, that sets FEDS apart from other professional liability programs.

Attached are testimonials by some of the wildland firefighters who have worked with us. Securing a professional liability policy after a tragic event will be too late. Take the time now to complete and send in the application -it takes only a few minutes. This is one financial decision you will be comfortable making this year.

Join Now on-line or by completing the enrollment form, which is included below for your convenience. Or call us at 866-955-FEDS. Then, with a copy of your receipt, contact your HR rep for reimbursement instructions.

Testimonials by Mike Dietrich, G. Elton Thomas and Debra Roth

12/28 Ab,

I believe the post regarding the CAL FIRE use of hotels and other budget issues should stay. I do not agree with the post, but I do respect other rights to opinions no matter how wrong they are.

Ab your tact of waiting to see where it goes is a good one. Even though the CAL FIRE union and firefighters fought hard for the use of hotels when available AND it is proven that quality sleep enhances safety, it continues to be a huge bone of contention and heartburn with many FS firefighters and managers.

To just delete the post because one does not want the pot stirred ... well suffice to say that the pot does need to be stirred on this and many issues. I do believe a forthright, civil discussion can take place on this issue along with the other biggie, Portal to Portal, with the result hopefully being educational information that will enlighten us all.

-- yactak

12/28 24 hour shift

Chief John Hawkins wrote a comprehensive justification for the 24 hour operational shift, but I can't seem to find it. What I remember is the important features of the 24 hour shift are:

  • Not doing shift change during the most fire active part of the day 1800-1900
  • Better and more rest (the 24 off shift is actually more like 18 off due to travel, eating, supply issues, com issues, etc...)
  • One shift plan/planning meeting/operational briefing a day
  • A documented decrease of 67% in accidents

If I can find the white paper I will post it here.

Remember a 24 does not mean the crew s actively fighting fire for the full 24, a rest period is recommended every 4 hours and a longer rest between 0300 and 0500 if fire activity allows.

I have worked a 24 on a hotshot crew in 1981-82, and on engines for CAL FIRE since 1984, and by far the 24 is a better shift for rest, operations and logistics. We still use the 12 where appropriate when the fire is not complex and travel is not an issue (such as day shift on a type 3 or 4 fire).

It seems to me that our federal brethren would be amenable to the 24 if they had portal to portal, but because of financial issues, they make more money on a back to back 16 (32 hours) vs 24 off 24 on (24 hours). That is just the way it is.


12/28 Agency differences and Shift length:


When I first read the post by Federalguy I was offended and a little p_ssed off and thought that it was better ignored. Then, I thought a little info might go a long way

I have to admit I am a little disappointed that the original post by Federalguy was posted at all. It is an obvious attempt to stir the pot. Especially the remarks regarding the "nice paycheck, the hair gel, starbucks coffee and clean red engines". And then the remark about a "pick up lines". Is it that time of year again to bash each other? I thought we were past that. If not we should be.

Toolpusher, Federalguy, Mellie: The money taken out of our checks this year for "variable maintenance" is what we use to buy groceries next year. It's a revolving fund. PCA code 02090 to be exact. The employees are buying those groceries not the tax payers.

There is nothing wrong with firecamp. I have spent many a night there in my career. However, I do benefit from my contract that allows me to stay in a room during my off-shift. I have also declined and been denied rooms because of drive time, etc. recently in my career. Rooms are an agency thing, get over it. I am not aware of Cal Fire employees ever getting rooms over evacuees. That would go against our contract. If that has ever happened I would be surprised and disappointed.

24 hour shifts: Here we go again... I have worked them all. 12's, 16's, 24's, 36's, 48's, and then some in my 28 fire seasons. I prefer a 24 hour shift. More work is done vs. travel, feeding, logistics, rest, etc. Do the math.

R5 IHC Capt.: the 24 hour shift doesn't work for Hotshots. Those of us that have been DIVS and OPBD on all agency incidents realize that and accommodate and utilize Hotshots to the greatest benefit for all.

Cal Fire is constantly scrutinized by those that pay our wages: the taxpayers of California. If you don't think so then you haven't read any newspapers from San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Redding, Eureka, or Fall River. Cal Fire employees are tasked with the protection of private lands in the state and areas contracted outside of state responsibility lands. We are constantly under the microscope from our daily operations to our retirement.

And lastly, don't make this about saving money or cost efficiency. I don't think any agency/department could bare serious scrutiny, especially the large agencies (USFS, BLM, Cal Fire, etc) Think about it.

It's time we all realize that we are not the same. We have different missions. Our cultures vary. Our policies dictate different priorities. Once we realize this it is easier to work together instead of taking the easy route and finding differences.

High Lonesome

12/28 Attention all Past & Present Crew 20 Folks!

The Stanislaus Hotshots will be having a 35th Anniversary - Reunion Party on February 20th.

Hope you can all make it.

Molly Day
Stanislaus National Forest

Announcement text:

35th Anniversary & Reunion
SATURDAY February 20th @ 5:30 PM
Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora CA
Tri-Tip & Chicken Dinner
(25.00 per person)
Please RSVP by Feb 15th
Checks must be received by February 17th
Make checks payable to: Stanislaus Hotshots Alumni P.O. Box 5466, Sonora, CA 95370
If you have any questions or need additional information,
Please call 209 532-5809 or email us @ stanislaushotshotreunion@gmail.com
Also Check out Facebook (Stanislaus Hotshot Reunion) to keep current on the Stanislaus Hotshot event.

12/28 Mikef has some comments, video and questions about the Tatoosh and Tripod fires on 3/4 September 2006. Location: WA/BC border.

His questions are located on the Ice Capping, Column Collapse? Hotlist Thread

Very interesting.


12/28 R3 lights and sirens:

Happy Holidays to All;

I am delighted to have our FWFSA President Mike Preasmeyer visiting with us here in Idaho for a few days. I promise
I'll try and get him on a sled and pics to prove it.

The red lights & sirens issue.

Stunning nonsense but demonstrative of a Line officer without a clue. We have initially provided information to Senator
McCain's office but those in R3 need to follow up with his staff on this issue:

For those in Arizona:

Sen. McCain: Nick Matiella (DC Office) at Nick Matiella or phone: 202-224-2235
(fax 202-228-2862) but they've got to hear from constituents and not just me yakking.

Sen. Kyl: Elizabeth Maier Elizabeth Maier or 202-224-4521 (fax 202-224-2207)

For those in New Mexico:

Sen. Bingaman's office: Scott Miller scott_miller@bingaman.senate.gov or 202-224-5521 (fax: 202-224-2852).

Sen. Tom Udall Lynette Lyman Lynette Lyman or 202-224-6621 (fax 228-3261)

Remember: Please don't use Gov't faxes or phones. Don't send anything by "snail mail" as regular mail is still irradiated in DC.

Be specific. Explain why the Agency needs to remain in the 21st century and utilize proper emergency signaling devices.

Provide the name and contact information for the Regional Forester.


12/28 2010 budget for California

I will throw my hat in the ring here, but not to stir the pot, just wanted to give MHO.

I can see a saving if all incidents are managed on 2 14 hours shifts instead of a 24 hour. (Usually 12 hours shifts end up as 14 hour shifts with briefings, and drive time.) I might be wrong here, but I do believe the Feds were the ones who first went to the 24 hour shift in the 70's but it was not a good fit, so they went back.  From purely a numbers point of view, you have more resources assigned to an incident when you run a 24 hour shift.  

For the amount of work I have seen done throughout the entire shift, I think more would get accomplished by less folks in a 12 hour shift rotation.  Usually a night shift has less folks, and a smaller operational scope, but there are times the night is the time to get after it, but it is hard after the troops have been up almost 24 hours.

Excerpt from MTDC training for Fatigue Awareness

  • Most persons nearing 24 hours on a continuous shift will experience cognitive impairment.
  • Cognitive performance:
    • Tracking task on computer
      • No change for 12 hrs
      • Drops from 12-24 hrs
      • Rebounds 24-29 hrs!
    • Conclusion: Performance declines between 12 and 6 a.m. due to fatigue and Circadian rhythm.

  • Studies show that traffic accidents are caused by drivers falling asleep peak between 1 and 4 a.m., with a smaller peak between 1 and 4 p.m.  Is that the same for Wildland incidents?

I have spoken to many CALFIRE folks about the 24 hour shift, and given the research, no one has been able to convince this Hotshot it is a good thing.

R5 IHC Capt.

12/28 Variable maintenance, what it means

Mellie, to answer one of your questions;

Variable maintenance (why it is called that I don't know) is basically a checkbook approach to billing the employee for food consumed at the fire station. The crew buys a week's worth or so of food, paid for by the state, and enters the cost on the accounting form. They keep track of all meals (generally 3 per person per day). At the end of the month, an inventory of foodstuffs is done. Starting inventory value - Ending value = cost of food. Divide that by # meals = cost per meal. The state makes some money on breakfast and lunch and looses some on dinner. Every unit has a different cost based on the local cost of food. Costs are averaged out between units, so we are actually working on last year's costs right now. Voluntary overtime still requires pay meals, but forced and fire overtime are free meals. These are the only actual costs to the taxpayer. Fire overtime is reimbursed to the station by the emergency fund at the state level, which is some of the backfill expense often referred to in other posts. Clear as mud?

Tool Pusher

12/28 In response to R3 lights and sirens,

Being a current R3 BLM’er I have to ask. WHEN will these OLD chief’s (FMOs, AFMOs, FOS) realize that the old ways are gone? Just because YOU old chiefs weren’t allowed to run lights and siren when you were on the ground, Does NOT mean we cant do it now. This day in age we should be running lights and siren, with fires burning hotter and faster, the increase of WUI.

Fire managers talk about, well that’s all they do is talk, but the talk is how we should be cost effective when it comes to suppressing an I.A. fire, now I’m not say were not cost effective even on large fires, we are, or at least try to be. I’m just using I.A. as an example, because that’s where it starts. But time and time again, when I.A. resources are dispatched to a fire, how many times do you see it, Resources enroute, stuck at traffic lights, stuck in traffic.

While city, county, and vfd’s pass us sitting at the red light, now I’m not saying, if we were allowed to run code, don’t drive like a bat out of hell and what not, but personnel MUST take the required training. Removing the light and siren packages and replacing Amber lights, Geeez come on, ARE WE THE FED’S NOT A FIRE AGENCY? But as long as these OLD chief’s do not want to accept change and some are scared to accept change, and we have pencil pusher’s trying to write policies for us that are out on the ground the Federal wildland agency’s will always be two steps behind, instead of trying to move forward.


12/28 2010 budget for California


I think this post needs to be deleted as it is going to cause a huge sh*tstorm among us proud CALFIRE employees. I don't think you want the sniping to start, but if you allow it, I will be the first to fire back later. I will give a little time for you to respond before I send a response to you.

He speaks about being a former CALFIRE employee, but is spouting some off handed incorrect info. Maybe he's not even from CA and just stirring the pot.


You could be right. Let's see if any of the issues are interesting enough for discussion or just a rehash of prior bashing and flaming.  CAL FIRE and the Fed Fire have different Mission-Vision and different agency policies. Ab.

12/28 Ab,

You people do a very good job of moderating this form, but these comments are just going to start another CDF vs. FED, it's gonna get ugly fast. This person has a bone to pick with us (CDF). I would like to answer him but I do not write well or spell well enough to do it justice, so please do not let it get out of hand

Thank you


12/28 2010 budget and writing a good groundpounder /middle management post from a leadership perspective by "Focusing on the What not the Who" or on "the Issues not the Personalities". I'm interested in promoting real dialog. OK, so forget the Agency name and let's focus on the issues for a minute.

Basic point or main topic to be developed.

Fire Management needs to look at the following with spending in mind. Agencies differ.

  1. Fed Agencies keep taxpayer expenses to the bare minimum based on essentials. Fed Agencies do not have a Union.
    • Fire Camp and Spike Camp food
      • hotshot and smokejumper examples of rations and hot cans (? Dining without crumbs, the art of eating over the fire)
    • Fire or Spike Camp sleeping arrangements in tents
      • Frees up lodging for citizens displaced by fire
    • NIMO Team oversight and cost management
  2. Non-fed Agencies -- in this case a State Agency, while an amazing organization (that the poster knows and says he has worked for and "means no disrespect to") -- wastes money. State Agencies are allowed to have a Union that can advocate for employee interests including  pay and living conditions.
    • Food Costs: "variable maintenance" with respect to food costs; it does not add up; CA taxpayers pick up the bill; but not clear how
      • captains that do nothing eat tri-tip every night (suggesting perhaps another form of "Dining without crumbs"????)
    • Hotel Rooms for everyone even if for only a few hours (of very good, deep, smoke-free sleep)

Final question with multiple parts only loosely related to budget:

Are we in it for the people (Public) or for

  • the money? (vs the sunsets?)
  • the hair gel? (vs bad brain bucket hair?)
  • the uniforms? (vs the dirty nomex?)
  • decals on the shiny red engines? (vs green engines? vs decals on crewbuggies, or hardhats only?)
  • the name hero firefighter?

Just some thoughts on one way to lay out your main idea and develop it logically and clearly so the main and auxiliary issues can be addressed with informative dialog. Some further questions that come to my mind, neither related to 2010 CA budget. One is related to a detail of accounting and the other to the bigger firefighter health picture:

  1. What exactly is variable maintenance and how exactly does it work or relate to taxpayer costs?
  2. Is the incidence of brain and other rare cancers less for firefighters who sleep smoke-free whether in hotels (or air conditioned tents) and greater for those feds that breathe smoke both day and night?


12/27 2010 budget for California

Having worked for many different agencies throughout my career (Including CAL-FIRE) I have a few ideas on how to help mitigate this situation on our fire budget. So we all know California for the most part goes up in flames every year. Our federal resources (USFS,BLM,BIA,USFWS,USPS ect..) go about business in a routine fashion with the bare essentials especially our Hotshot crews.

Fire Camp for one keeps hotels open for the people who really need them.... the evacuees. Our sleeping arrangements for the most part are our sleeping bags and food is usually a catering service on contract and the spiked crews (Hotshots and Smokejumpers) are living on rations and hot cans. Pretty meager standards....just the essentials. Also with NIMO teams in place doing cost management down to the last ear plug, we are truly going in the direction of saving the tax payer.

Well with a little bit of subject matter I have laid out here I might as well get to the point. CAL-FIRE is an amazing organization with a great union. I am not trying to discredit our Brothers and Sisters by any means. I'm looking higher. CAL-Fire's Management needs to take a look into its spending. Again I have worked for the Agency and understand some of the scams put forth to the tax payer. Lets start with "variable maintenance". The Fire Fighters go shopping. Then at the end of the month they are billed for the meals they have consumed based on the unit's average meal costs. While watching Captains who do nothing in small stations that virtually run no calls eat tri tip sandwiches every night, it makes it hard to believe that it only cost the staff under $2 dollars a meal. After factoring the amount of personnel and the number of days on shift. It does not add up. California is now picking up the bill. Then the strike teams that are sent out on assignments that pick up hotel rooms for everyone on board for a measly 4 hours then to go sit in staging and then go and rent another set of rooms is ridiculous. Money wasted.

Whats wrong with fire camp? Are we really in it for the people??? Or for the nice paycheck , the hair gel, starbucks coffee and clean red engines with a pick up line that makes you look like a hero "Fire Fighter". I remember talking with some folks that lost their home and had to drive out of the LA area just to find an open motel room since most of the Hotels were booked with Fire Personnel. Also, what about the uniform changes and the new decals for the new name that had to be emphasized. Enough is enough. I'm sure the federal government can do alot more as well but CAL-Fire's spending is malicious.

Feel free to comment.


12/27 Hotlist Discussions:
I hope all had a fine Christmas. Ab.

USFS to Stop Using Lights/Siren aka code 3 equipment on fire engines; comment from LE&I: hotlist

Ideal Type 3 engine: hotlist

SoCal Fires, recap fire size summary & comments hotlist

Glass/Wood Products, ideal for WUI buildings? hotlist

Fire Interruption Technology-5 (FIT-5) for federal wildland firefighters hotlist

CA-ANF-Station Fire Discussion hotlist/

12/27 code 3 equipment on fire engines

I haven't fought a fire in 40 years, but I did spend 32 in State law enforcement. Reading this site I saw a memorandum about amber lights vs red lights. Until I read this I thought law enforcement administrators held the franchise on writing obfuscating memos , maybe I was wrong.

If I understand correctly some USFS fire engines wont have a code 3 package. I may have misread this issue, if so, please disregard this email.

I have a question. If a USFS engine w/o emergency equipment is operating in a freeway center divider fighting a fire, or on the wrong side of the road, where is the legal protection for the operator? In California, its not there. Could easily get a ticket. More importantly any violation could be a predicate offense for a manslaughter charge against the driver if a fatality occurs.

Is the Forest Service serious about fighting fires,or do they see their engines as big water / personnel carriers?

I would hope that an employee group could get written directions from administrators, explaining what procedures they should take if they are committing what would normally be a violation, while engaged in firefighting, without proper emergency equipment. Don't hold your breath.




` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
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From the Abs at wildlandfire.com

12/24 I am looking for information on a couple rumors….
  • Rappel Standardization-
    I have heard many rumors of what this entails and some make perfect sense while others make little or zero sense. Anybody want to share facts?
  • Brand new C-130 J Model fleet with Maffs vs. government available P3 Orion options- A rumor I'm hearing about this subject sounds ludicrous. Anybody know solid details?

Teddy's quote used to hang above my last desk, superimposed over our 2005 crew photo. It is timeless…love seeing it here…


12/24 Merry Christmas to those with amber lights, a post, for the occasion...

Twas the night before Christmas (Eve) when all through the Regional Office not a creature was stirring except for the RF on this night. The drafts were hung by the thermostat with care, in hopes that an acting signature would soon be here. However all the actings were nestled at home, tightly clinching annual leave slips while visions of mismanagement danced in their heads.

Sorry have to shorten this, The Boss (wife) wants to go shopping, uh oh.

In a wink of his eye and a twist of his pen, soon gave me to know I have much to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work and filled all our Region-3 Brothers and Sisters stockings with blinking amber lights. And laying his finger aside of his "thumbed up" nose, And giving a nod, out the back door he rose.

He sprang to his POV, to his RLT he gave a whistle, And away they all flew with those red lights ah-flash-in. But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight.....

Merry Christmas to All Those with Amber Lights.

On a more serious note, this has potential to be a safety issue. I would suggest that if any R-3 Firefighters disagree with this decision, now might be a good time to let someone know. FWFSA, are you getting any emails on this subject? Any thoughts? R-5 is willing to support R-3 Firefighters, however we need to know what the general feeling/majority feeling is about this within R-3 on this decision?


File Code: 5120/5130/6710
Date: December 23, 2009
Subject: Wildland Fire Emergency Vehicles
To: Deputy Chief, James Hubbard
Thru: Tom Harbour

In accordance with Forest Service Manual (FSM) 5120.4 and FSM Directives ID-5120-2008-1 and ID-5130-2008-2, wildland fire vehicles in Region 3 will be equipped with amber emergency lighting that meets National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards. To avoid a costly endeavor, the decision has been made not to remove the red light package from existing vehicles, but properly train personnel in their use and allow the use of red lights for visibility in stationary situations.

According to the September 14, 2009, National Fire Engine Standardization memo there is a new standard engine package, which includes red lights. The memo also states that any variance must be approved by the appropriate Standardization Committee (FVSC). Also FSM 5104.12 states that the Deputy Chief, S&PF can “review, advise, and approve or disapprove policies, programs, and regulations” proposed by the Director, Fire and Aviation Management. FSM 5104.13 states that the FAM Director can “provide Service wide technical requirements and standards for wildland fire and aviation services.”

Accordingly, we are requesting a variance to include amber emergency lights packages on future acquisitions of wildland fire vehicles. We look forward to discussing this request with Tom Harbour in the near future.

/s/ Corbin L. Newman, Jr.
Regional Forester

cc: Tory Henderson, Karyn L Wood, Neal Hitchcock,  Danny R Montoya, pdl r3 fam_AD

12/24 Merry Christmas to all at wildlandfire.com


Same to you Mike. Thanks for your southwest contributions on the Hotlist. Ab.

12/24 Re MEDL:

You have to take and pass the NWCG Medical Unit Leader course, S-359 and have to be a current or former EMT (FS) or something higher, depending on your agency. Obtaining a Redcard means you have to also have basic ICS courses (ics100 thru 300), maybe fire behavior courses (s110), maybe leadership (l380) and Position Task Book. It's good to be physically fit, but I don't think you're required to by some agencies (safety issue in my opinion especially in a case where the sh*t hits the fan in rugged country and you're needed).

In my opinion, MEDLs should also know HAZMAT involvement is a real risk on interface fires and be able to alert non-fire first responders to the urgency of treatment for potential exposure. HCN for example has an antidote if only people know about exposure.

We fight fire in a new all-risk interface. The liabilities have increased too. Professional Liability Insurance is a must. If you come from a non-fed agency you may not have the most knowledgeable PLI lawyers available to you for a reasonable price. Be sure to check on that or you could be in a whole heap of trouble potentially through no fault of your own. Legal advice and advocacy costs big bucks even if you are innocent of liability. Our legal system has morphed into "innocent or guilty doesn't matter... you still pay the piper when tragedy hits." It can bankrupt families.

My dad tells me about the old days when people helping by using their medical knowledge was people helping. Now what we have is a big financial and legal "pre-existing condition" in spite of any of our best intentions.


12/24 Re MEDL:

Go to www.nwcg.gov/pms/docs/docs.php  and click on PMS 310-1. That is the doc that NWCG, all federal, most state, and most cooperating agencies use for requirements for most qualifications. USFS has its own, but it essentially parallels 310-1 except in some cases requires classes that are optional for others.

That said, a MEDL is supposed to be OR have been a certified EMT or paramedic, take a 3-4 day class, and complete a MEDL position task book. Not terribly difficult to do if you can get the assignments. And, it's not usually a terribly difficult job either, usually handing out routine stuff - nyquil, poison ivy cream, bandaids, tylenol, "boo boo" type stuff that folks probably should have come prepared to deal with on their own anyway. But, in cases like the tragedy with Andy Palmer a little over a year ago, the medical unit can jump from low key, boring, trying to stay awake all day sorts of stuff to life or death. Wow, sounds kind of like a lot of other fire jobs in that regard...

Merry Christmas!


12/23 Dear "Naked Guys" (what a way to start a post!)

Thanks for the comments but again I remind everyone this isn't about me or the FWFSA, it's about our Nation's federal wildland firefighters. I am simply trying to do my part to bring to all of you the benefits you've deserved for far too long.

I have related to many, perhaps here on TheySaid as well, about a billboard I pass when I travel to Salt Lake City to fly anywhere. It is a picture of Abraham Lincoln and next to his face, three simple words: "failed, failed, persisted."

I don't believe the FWFSA has ever "failed" at achieving our goals and objectives but admittedly they have taken longer than we'd have liked. Suffice it to say just a wee bit of support from the agencies that employ federal wildland firefighters would have likely shortened the time it has taken to get things done but in the absence of that support, we persist.

We are a very modest-sized organization. Far smaller than we could be but growing nonetheless. We've got to compete nationally for access to and the support of Congress with many organizations/groups that are far larger than the FWFSA and have the resources to often "buy" that support, or at least attempt to. In order to compete we simply have to work harder and longer, establishing long-term relationships with both congressional staff and members.

In recent years we have been honored to have a number of our members become greater advocates by communicating with their elected officials, providing data from the field to validate our position on issues. This year unfortunately, like many other organizations and entities, our membership has taken a hit, perhaps because of the economy and growth has been slowed as compared to that of 2007 & 2008.

Advocating at the national level is an incredibly time-consuming and costly undertaking. I think many out there believe we should be able to accomplish these goals just by showing up in DC once a year and sending a fax or two. Certainly not the case. What was supposed to be a part-time job for me in 2003 has become a full time job.

Everyone needs to understand the commitment of time and money that is necessary to get their issues heard and supported at the highest levels of government...especially when the employing agencies seem unwilling to support their firefighters as we think they should.

The FWFSA is a tax-exempt, non-profit employee association. We don't offer a whole lot of bells and whistles to our members, just the non-stop effort to work towards changes they deserve. To those that have left the organization in the last year for whatever reason and for those who have retired and may not believe there is any further tangible benefit to being a member and supporting the FWFSA, I can assure you we need all of you.

Not only is financial revenue absolutely critical, but growth across the country provides us a greater voice and thus greater access to a more diverse group of members of congress. Try to imagine just how difficult it is to educate a member of congress on your issues who has no federal lands in their district, no federal wildland firefighters in their district and whose only understanding of what wildland firefighters are up against each season is what they see on TV a few months out of the year.

With the introduction of our legislation soon all federal wildland firefighters will have an incredible, intimate opportunity to change the status quo and create a federal wildfire program they can be proud of and a program they can again consider a career.

We truly need all of you because it is about all of you.

Our very best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season (I really don't like being politically correct) so...Merry Christmas to All and a very Happy & SAFE New year.


12/23 Ab('s),

Just wanted to take a moment and wish you a very Merry Christmas and a prayer that 2010 will be better for us all. Now, for those of us lucky enough to have snow...go build a snowman!

Always in our hearts, with love,
Tom & Debbie Stein
Boise, ID


NICE... Best of Christmas to you too! Ab.

12/23 Teddy Roosevelt quote and Casey:

Teddy said it well! Most appropriate quote! That quote applies directly to those of us in the arena (some in new, different facets) who will keep striving for a centralized organization or a separate organization for the primary Fire and Aviation branch of the Land Management Agencies!

Casey does rock!

The Naked Helispot Guy


“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 fireleadership.gov/

12/23 MEDL

Whats necessary to become a Medical Unit Leader? Would I want that job? That is, what are the risks
of the position? Can they be mitigated?


12/23 Old Fire 2003, who started it?

Fowler implicates self
Old Fire arson case transcripts released

Mike Cruz, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/22/2009 08:57:25 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO - The county's most destructive wildfire, the 2003 Old Fire, may have been started by a group of men who were too drunk and stoned to pull off a robbery.

Suspected arsonist Rickie Lee Fowler told Sheriff's detectives that he was in a van with three other men in the Old Waterman Canyon area. Fowler wanted to rob a man he saw as his godfather, John Aylward, who lived on Forest Lane.

"Once they got there, they realized they were too drunk and/or high to pull off a robbery. So they drove about halfway down the Waterman Canyon Road, where they parked and continued to get high," Sgt. Frank Bell testified before the San Bernardino County Grand Jury.

Fowler then told investigators that he was in the front passenger seat, and he remembered Martin Valdez Sr., and his son Martin Valdez Jr., got out and went to the back of the van. Fowler said he saw them strike a flare and throw it into the brush.

But when detectives later listened to the recording of their interview with Fowler, they realized their suspect had also slipped when they asked Fowler how the fire was lit.

"He said he remembered because he remembers striking the flare," Bell said of Fowler. "And then he corrected himself and said, `I remember them striking the flare."'

Bell's testimony was given during hearings in October before the San Bernardino County Grand Jury. The hearings lead to Fowler's indictment Oct. 8 on arson charges and five counts of murder related to the deaths of five men who suffered stress- related heart attacks during the blaze.

Read the rest of this long article at the link. This portion above is just a teaser. Ab.

12/23 Teddy Roosevelt quote and Casey:

In light of all the recent jibber-jabber about LINE MANAGEMENT I offer you this.........

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms; the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with the cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.. Theodore Roosevelt

Thank you Casey and all at the FWFSA

The Naked Boat Guy, AKA TNBG
ps: go ahead and take jabs at the name, inside joke, if you know, you know, if you don't.... it's still funny.... at least we think so

12/22 Normally this is about where I like to dive into a little discussion on how the largest fire program on the face of this earth is mismanaged by non-fire Line Officers. However I'll go another direction with this one.

I have known a few outstanding Line Officers over the years. Some of them have told me they agree with centralized fire and would like nothing more than to have a centralized fire program. Some are good defenders of the status-quo and as much as I try, they will not budge.

My question is; Who would you nominate (if anyone) for this Annual Fire Leadership Award for our Line Officers and why? Names and locations are not required.


Centralized Fire Management Today, Tomorrow and Forever!

File Code: 5100/6140
Date: December 22, 2009
Subject: 2009 Fire Line Officers Team Awards Request for Nominations
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director


The Fire Line Officer Team (LOT) announces the 13th Annual Fire Leadership Award Program. These national awards recognize Forest Service (FS) line officers who made a difference through their commitment to fire management principles in 2009. Consideration will also be made for unit awards. Nominations are sought for four Leadership Awards by February 19, 2010. All Forest Service line officers (Regional Foresters, Forest Supervisors, District Rangers, Station Directors, and the Area Director) are eligible. Award categories reflect key fire leadership focal points:

Excellence in Line Officer Commitment to Firefighter and Public Safety
Excellence in Line Officer Commitment to Restoration of Fire Adapted Ecosystems
Excellence in Line Officer Commitment to Building a Workforce for the Future
Excellence in Line Officer Commitment to Partnership Efforts in Fire Management

The LOT will choose the line officer or group of line officers for each award based on the criteria identified in the enclosure. The written nominations for each award should be limited to one page and include a completed nomination cover sheet (enclosed). These awards offer recognition for current and retired line officers demonstrating outstanding leadership and commitment to fire management.

All nominations should be forwarded through Regional Fire Directors to Kurt J. Nelson, R4 LOT representative. If you have questions, please contact Kurt at kjnelson@ nospam fs.fed.us or (208) 622-xxxx.

/s/ Robin L. Thompson (for)
Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry

cc: pdl wo spf fam regional fire directors, pdl wo lot, Kurt J Nelson


2009 Fire Line Officer Team

Excellence in Line Officer Commitment to Firefighter & Public Safety

This award recognizes a line officer or group of line officers for outstanding commitment to firefighter and public safety. Nomination criteria include the following:

1. The recipient demonstrates shining examples of leadership and emphasis on promoting awareness, understanding and commitment to safety.
2. The recipient demonstrates firefighter & public safety as the number one priority.
3. Specific actions for selection in this category display the individual line officer or line officer team setting examples for safety, visibility, accountability, ability to be in the right place at the right time promoting safe working practices, recognizing accomplishments in safety, correcting unsafe action and managing risk through appropriate management response.

Excellence in Line Officer Commitment to Restoration of Fire Adapted Ecosystems

This award recognizes a line officer or group of line officers for outstanding commitment to restoration of fire adapted ecosystems. Nomination criteria include the following:

1. Provides leadership in the integration of vegetation management treatments that contribute to the restoration of fire adapted ecosystems.
2. Seeks solutions to address not just the symptoms but the underlying cause of the increasing challenges we face to restore fire adapted ecosystems.
3. Champions policies, programs, and initiatives that will reduce the size and destructive level of potential wildfires and/or seeks to remove barriers to Wildland Fire Use.

Excellence in Line Officer Commitment to Building a Workforce for the Future

This award recognizes a line officer or group of line officers for outstanding commitment to building a strong, diverse, well-trained and professional firefighting workforce. Nomination criteria include the following:

1. Provides leadership in the development and maintenance of strategies for optimizing suppression resource availability.
2. Provides strong support to incident management.
3. Provides innovative approaches to training, employee development and retention.
4. Provides leadership and innovation toward enhancing firefighting workforce diversity.

Excellence in Line Officer Commitment to Partnership Efforts in Fire Management

This award recognizes a line officer or group of line officers for outstanding commitment to create and maintain quality working relationships with our partners in wildland fire management and use. Nomination criteria include the following:

1. Demonstrates ability to work across agency and jurisdictional boundaries toward a landscape approach to fire management.
2. Develops collaborative solutions with other agencies and landowners to improve firefighter and public safety.
3. Improves public understanding of fire with integrated stewardship, interagency activities and appropriate management response.
4. Initiates creative interagency approaches to long-standing fire management challenges.

Nominations should be forwarded through the Regional Fire Directors and selections will made by the Fire LOT. Recognition of winners will include individual awards ($1500); unit awards will be a small grant ($5000) to the unit for use in fire management efforts. Selected winners will be notified by letter and recognized at a Regional forum to be determined by the Regional Forester.


Nominations will be accepted for all Forest Service line officers including District Rangers, Deputy Forest Supervisors, Forest Supervisors, Deputy Regional foresters, Regional Foresters, Research Project Leaders, Assistant/Deputy Station Directors and Station Directors. All Forest Service units (Districts, Forests, Regional, Stations and staff units) are eligible. Nominees do not need to meet all criteria in a category to be considered for nomination.

Nomination Process:

Nominations are due by February 15, 2010. All nominations should be sent through the Regional Fire Directors to Kurt Nelson, (kjnelson@fs.fed.us).

To recognize a line officer, group of line officers or a unit, the nominator should respond in writing to the criteria of one or more of the award categories. Responses should be no more than one page. Since individual awards will be limited to one category, please focus the information toward those criteria.

Nomination Package:

All nominations must include the following:

1. A completed Nomination Cover Sheet (a blank cover sheet is attached below),
2. A write-up of one page or less in which each of the nomination criterion are addressed separately.


2009 Fire Line Officer Team
Award Nomination

**This nomination cover form is required for all 2009 LOT Award Nominations. All fields on the form must be completed
for the nomination application to be considered.

Award Category: Please check the box that corresponds to the award category for which this nomination is being submitted. Please check ONE box only; if you wish to nominate the individual/group for more than one category, a separate nomination packet must be submitted for each category.

____ Excellence in Line Officer Commitment to Firefighter & Public Safety
____ Excellence in Line Officer Commitment to Restoration of Fire Adapted Ecosystems
____ Excellence in Line Officer Commitment to Partnership Efforts in Fire Management
____ Excellence in Line Officer Commitment to Building a Workforce for the Future

Nominee Information: Please fill out the information below for the individual/group being nominated.

Type of nomination: ___Group ___Individual
Nominee Name/Group Name:___________
Address:  _________
City:  ________State:  ___ Zip:  _____
Phone:  ____ Email address:  ______
Nominee's Supervisor:  _______ Supe's Phone:  _______
Supe's Signature: ________ Date:  ______

12/22 Merry Christmas!

from AK:

Little Flash video

12/21 Dear mb:

I personally don't think the health care debate has anything to do with the delay on our bill. We had been promised both orally
and in writing that the bill would be introduced by the time the House adjourned which was scheduled for last Friday the 18th.

On Thursday of last week I received an email from the lead staff person indicating the congressman who has taken the lead "had
the bill, Dear Colleague letter and press release in-hand, but he was very busy with committee work and floor votes and worse
case scenario the bill would be introduced when the House returned from their Holiday recess on about January 12th."

Needless to say that didn't sit too well with me since we had relied on that office' information about introduction and desperately
wanted the bill introduced before the Holidays as promised so as to send a clear signal to all of you that someone in DC gives
a darn about you.

I have since spoken to the Chief of Staff of the congressman in the district office and crafted a note to the congressman about
the delay and asking for clarification. I do not know of any issue with the bill itself that would have created the delay other than
perhaps the schedule during that week was very busy.

The congressional sessions are two years long. The first half of the 111th Congress is now over but I anticipate the bill to be
introduced in January when the House returns for the start of the 2nd half. Even if the bill were to have been introduced last week,
no action would have been taken on it such as being assigned to a committee etc. It would have been nice to have a number
assigned to the bill but there would have been no practical action on the bill until the start of the 2nd half of this congressional
session anyway.

All I can do is ask for your continued patience. If I receive a reply from the Congressman or staff during the recess I'll certainly
pass it along.


Casey Judd
Business Manager

12/21 Hey Casey

Whats up with out bill? Is the heatlhcare BS going to knock our bill out of the running this year?


12/21 Dear no name:

Although we may be biased because we endorse FEDS, I'd like to concur with AB that FEDS is the way to go. We endorse them for several reasons. First is the intimate knowledge and working relationship Tony Vergnetti & staff have with federal wildland firefighters. They assisted firefighters in the Thirty Mile, Cramer & Esperanza tragedies.

Additionally, Mr. Vergnetti is a "hands-on" guy, often providing time and consultation to those who aren't even FEDS policy holders simply to educate the wildland firefighting workforce.

No, we don't get any kick-back for endorsing them although our members do get a modest break on their premiums. We endorse them because, in our opinion, they offer the best protection and representation. Each new FWFSA member gets a FEDS brochure in their new member package.

Further, as I understand it (someone correct me if I'm wrong) another company in the business of PLI for some time and who has had, and may continue to have many wildland firefighter policy holders, has been sold and the future of that company is not known.

FEDS can be reached at:


toll free: 866-955-3337

web site: fedsprotection.com

Hope this helps.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

12/21 Hey Ab

First of all it has been a long time since I e-mailed you. I want to thank you for keeping the community alive and would like to wish you a happy holidays.

Second of all for alonzo being interest in fighting fire. We have a type 2 crew on the cleveland national forest, out of corona that is not to far from where this young man lives. He can contact Kevin Vanderboom whom is in charge of our program at 951-678-3136. Hope this helps!


12/21 Thanks Double....

AFF will load in both IE and Firefox (both latest versions) and the latest version of Java. The problem is they will only run for as little as 3 minutes to 10 minutes. Then it freezes the browser and requires a <Ctrl><Alt><Del> to close the browser. It runs fine on my XP machine in both browsers. AFF 1.3 has never worked for me on a machine outside of the Government system?

Computer Geek Not

12/21 Alonso,

I believe it is too late for this coming academy, but there is an outstanding wildland academy at Rio Hondo Community College in Whittier. It has been extremely successful since its inception in 2001. For any questions you may have you can look on www.firecrew77.com. Or call The Rio Hondo Fire Academy in Santa Fe Springs. The Roadrunners are a good crew as the Alumni List on their website can attest to.

The best of luck.


12/21 I found it interesting that former ANF Chief Don Feser finally came out and spoke out.


Records show no mention of terrain in withholding aircraft during Station fire


12/21 AB,

I am looking at professional liability insurance.  Do you suggest any companies?  Thanks


FEDS has has excellent, very knowledgeable  people and the best rates. Tony Vergnetti is outstanding. Ab.

12/21 hi my name is Alonso Castaneda am 17 and a 12 grader at Sonora High school in the City of La Habra and am enrolled in a fire tech class am taking 101 and 102 am getting credit for through two classes for santa ana college i was wondering if theres any more room for the explorer program? or a wildland firefighter program that i can take or is it too late? if its not too late how can i join ? if you can give me a call on my cell phone <snip> or just send me an e-mail message with information .

thanks for taking the time and reading my message.


12/21 The AFF - Web Tracker is a web based program running on Java VM.

The computer operating system has no effect on this unless you cannot install and run the Java VM. The Web Tracker which is a web based program runs in most versions of Firefox and Internet Explorer through the newest versions (just loaded AFF in each on Windows 7 and Vista), along with other Internet browsers out there. If you can't get Web Tracker 1.3 to load trying and load 1.2, it should work. If you're still having problems try updating your version of Java, there are links on the www.aff.gov/ site.


12/20 Anybody have success running AFF on a Vista or Windows 7 machine? The last time I talked to the nice lady she said they didn't have any Vista machines so they didn't have a problem. Is there a workaround?

Computer geek

AFF= Aircraft Flight Following

12/20 Accident Investigation Factual Report

Loss of BLM Fire Engine 3662 During High Water Crossing of Gila River, 9/6/09 (819 K pdf file)

12/19 hydrogen cyanide exposure:


The cyanide exposure on the Station Fire is still a dynamic issue and transcends two states. Your information of a meth lab and mine of an illegal dump may just be a matter of semantics. It is unfortunate that in today's society and within an Administration that touts transparency, there still apparently needs to be such secrets.

The bottom line is regardless of whether the public ever gets a glimpse of the facts, wildland firefighters, whether they be federal, state, local government, private etc., need to have the facts of this exposure. Further, the land management agencies, while touting the WUI as a reason for escalating suppression costs, have failed to recognize the potential for such exposures to their firefighters in the WUI to hazardous materials.

Many wildland firefighters in California obviously are cognizant of pot farms and things like that but the understanding of exposures to hazardous materials and the Agency's preparedness for such exposure must change in light of the Station Fire exposure.

My most recent information tells me that the primary victim of the exposure is still having health issues and still having tests done. In some regards, the standard of care has been questioned and I understand a conference call was conducted several weeks after the exposure between cyanide exposure experts, safety personnel and others to discuss a future response process. Hopefully 2010 will see that process come to fruition.

Fedwatcher II

12/19 Eagle Lake IHC? LNF

Anyone hear about a new Hot Shot Crew getting stationed at Eagle Lake on the Lassen for 2010?


12/19 Hi Ab,

The information below comes from the Senate Health Care Bill that now has a high probability of getting voted on Christmas Eve night or Christmas Day. This is of potential interest to some in the Wildland Fire Community who have children. This also may be of interest to some of our younger Temporary Firefighters who work for us without access to medical benefits. If this ever becomes law, our Temporary Firefighters can work for us in the summer building a career as a Firefighter and or go to college while still on a parent's health insurance plan up to age 26. FEHB currently allows up to age 22 or 23. Age 26 could be a requirement in all plans, including private plans offering dependent coverage.

from page 18 of the doc linked below:

17 ‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—A group health plan and a health
18 insurance issuer offering group or individual health insur-
19 ance coverage that provides dependent coverage of chil-
20 dren shall continue to make such coverage available for
21 an adult child (who is not married) until the child turns
22 26 years of age. Nothing in this section shall require a
23 health plan or a health insurance issuer described in the
24 preceding sentence to make coverage available for a child
25 of a child receiving dependent coverage.

Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (2074 page pdf download of H. R. 3590)


12/19 Re: stovepiping

In response to yactack's comment.

In a separate emergency services agency (FEMA, DHS, or something new) there would still be a political appointee at the top. There is no guarantee the appointee would be an experienced emergency manager. In all likelihood the job would be a plum reward for many years of loyal party service, (like a ward organizer from some state party headquarters) whose sole qualification would be the ability to spell the word 'fire' two out three times.

Moving to a separate agency would not solve all the problems. It will relieve some issues, leave others unaffected, and create new ones.


12/19 hydrogen cyanide exposure and rappel program evaluation:

Rick asks about information on the meth lab incident on the station fire. Well there has been nothing that I have seen or heard either and I suspect it is caught up in the gag order that is in place with Angeles employees about the Station fire.

On the Standards review for the rappel program I do agree that it is time for that to happen and anyone that has been around The Director of F&AM for the USFS very knows that he is a standards kind of guy and this should not be a surprise. Just like the efforts for a "national standard" for engine packages etc.

Now is the time of the year for those of us in the fire community to put the boots on the back porch, give the nomex its annual washing, put our professional frustrations on the shelf for a while, and to sit back, spend some time with our loved ones and enjoy the season of the year.

Happy Holidays to everyone.

It's not clear if it was a meth lab or an old dump or old goldmine chemicals burning that caused the hydrogen cyanide exposure. One of the people injured in the HAZMAT incident is in very poor shape.

Shawn Longerich -- spokesperson for the CPTC (Cyanide Poisoning Treatment Coalition) at firesmoke.org/ -- said on a conference call,

"Cyanide is hateful; it can kill you in the short term and there are cumulative long term effects that emerge over time. There's not a lot of research (Paris, Dallas), but research is emerging. Long term it attacks the nervous system, heart and brain. It doesn't leave without doing damage."

It's doing damage in this case. There are updates and reminders that we need lessons learned and a SOP on this kind of exposure on the Lessons Learned hydrogen cyanide thread in the Hotlist. Ab.

12/18 As winter approaches it seems we enter the season of renewed criticism of the "They" that have leadership responsibilities in the FS. I read writers that want no involvement of "Line Officers", and see no correlation between resources and fire. The popular proposed remedy is a "stovepipe" organization or creation of an independent agency.

While I enjoy watching pro football on Sunday afternoon (and I am a great armchair quarterback and coach), I harbor no illusions that anyone would take serious my proposed changes unless I could back them up with the proper credentials.

A short while back, Ab suggested that a critical writer submit their bona fides when offering criticism. I like that idea. I would very much like to read proposals for change from those that have established credentials as fire program managers. Without giving location, I think one could list Forest or Regional level fire leadership experience, budget and workplan development, fire program coordination with other resources programs etc.

Or one could simply list their quals as PACQ (Pure Arm Chair Quarterback).......

Old Fire Guy

12/18 Station Fire Poisoning:

Ab -

Never heard of the final outcome of those sickened by the meth lab stuff. Has it been posted and I just didn't see/find it.



12/18 Education of Paul Pringle,

I certainly share your centralization of Fire sentiments. The only thing wrong with it is that even if centralized...

* If Centralized to the WO. the Director of Fire and Aviation would still work for the chief of the Forest Service
* if Centralized to the Regional Level the Regional Directors of Fire and Aviation would still work for Regional Foresters
* If Centralized to the Forest Level, the Forest Fire Management Officers (Chiefs) would still work for a Forest Supervisor

So how bout "Get Fire and Aviation into an emergency services agency" as that is where it truly belongs.. and out from under the Land Mgt Agencies misdirections and mismanagement....

On the rappel note... looks like the R5 program will be ruined ....


12/18 I applaud Mr Hubbard for the evaluation of the "36 yr " program that by all practical purposes and intent, SHOULD have been standardized and implemented 36 YEARS AGO.

Granted the "pioneers" of the USFS rappel program probably had this in mind......

Its just like "New ICS forms"...... It IS time for a NEW evolution and changes in the USFS system. Forms are not going to change wildland fire fighting. Wildland fire folks are just having to face "new knowledge" as observed by other all risk / all hazard agencies. Just time to change with the times.

We pilots and (former wildland fire folks) others who went on to other careers similar or related to wildland fire have had to adopt to other agencies changes.

Time for the rappel program to be evaluated and be standardized (and yes like interpretations to the Federal Air Regulations) there will be those who interpret "their " program differently than others' programs.

I applaud standardization for the rappel program.... I remember when they called air tanker pilots "rogues" due to their different companies and operating procedures and appearing to look "like a bunch of cowboys" as I was hearing during my travels in the fire industry. Didn't hear that about a bunch of rappel folks, though. Although it could have been said

Government aviation operations should be standardized across the board, with SOME leeway for each agency. Rappel operations should have been standardized long ago.... same time everyone was talking about all those "rogue" air tanker operators. Well, those folks had minimum standard hours and flight standards. Many of those operators have paid the ultimate price, as did some rappellers.

Again I applaud Mr Hubbard..... Time for changes and if its hard, well adapt and overcome.

Unemployed Forester and Pilot

12/18 Plumas NF Gets New Fire Center

... Plumas National Forest applied for and will receive $2.2 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act... It also indicated the project would provide barracks and operational facilities for the Beckwourth Hotshots; support for air operations during fire incident management; and an improved strategic location for storing Beckwourth Fire District engines....

Nervino Airport to get fire center


12/18 Ab,


Date: December 17, 2009
Subject: Rappel Program Evaluation
To: Regional Foresters

The first U.S. Forest Service (FS) rappel base was established in 1973 in Region 6. In the intervening 36 years, the program has grown to 48 bases staffed by 700 rappellers across six regions. The rappel program is a valuable tool for fire management which has expanded rapidly in the past decade. I am initiating a comprehensive evaluation that will analyze all components of our rappel program. Additionally, an interagency risk assessment of low-level helicopter operations is being conducted to include rappel operations as well as address specific aviation risks associated with rappelling.

Multiple agency studies, as well as aviation industry best practices, point to standardization as a key to reducing risk and enhancing efficiency. Within our rappel program, training protocols, operational procedures, and helicopter platforms vary from region to region. The Helicopter Rappel Training letter of July 11, 2007, addressed standardization and consolidation of rappel training; however, implementation has not been consistent.

I have directed Tom Harbour , Director of Fire and Aviation Management (FAM), to initiate a rappel program evaluation. Your Regional Fire Directors unanimously concur with this approach. At the conclusion of this analysis my intent is to standardize our rappel program at a national level and ensure that rappellers can be rapidly deployed between regions and bases with minimal local indoctrination. A national, standardized program will result in training, procedures, equipment, and aircraft that will reduce risk for our employees and ensure a cost effective, efficient, and safe initial attack tool.

/s/ James E. Hubbard
Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry

cc: Ralph Dorn

12/17 Edward said:

The failure was not theirs (fire management), and as Allen pointed out we received excellent support from Joni Cook in the Chief's Office. Just exactly why or how our request languished in the Washington Office for six-months without action or inquiry is unknown.

The failure is Line Officer management of the fire program. Line Officers have failed on so many occasions we have lost count. How does it feel to be complete failures in the management of a fire organization?

Centralized Fire Management, Today, Tomorrow and Forever!


The Education of Paul Pringle

12/17 Date: 12/17/09
Subject: Takeaway Messages from the Dec 8-11-2009 RLT in Sacramento, CA (Region 5, RLT=Regional Leadership Team)

1. The Region’s two key Regional Strategic Priorities are: Healthy Workforce and Workplace and Ecological Restoration, in that order. Forest Supervisors and Directors were asked to 1.) disseminate this information to all employees within two months and 2.) provide plans for Ecological Restoration activities they will undertake on their Forests and in the RO for FY2010 at mid-year.

2. A panel of partners discussed the “All Lands” approach in the Secretary’s vision and the numerous ways partnering has already created work on the ground in an economically sustainable fashion. The partners highlighted areas of additional opportunity for collaboration and urged the Region to focus on “the 90% of things that we can agree on.”

3. R-5 has agreed to help the State by providing input to the Cal Fire Statewide Assessment. Laurie Tippin will provide a timeframe for the FS to provide input.

4. The State CA Water Board presented a completed FY2009 Water Plan and offered it as an investment guide to its partners for where to prioritize and invest resources.

5. Acting Ecosystem Service Manager, Bruce Goines will lead an Ecosystem Services effort for the Region and has asked for input. Restoration+Resilient Ecosystems=Ecosystem Services that have value.

6. The Region and PSW must provide a Climate Change Plan to the WO by March 1, 2010 that is consistent with the Climate Change National Framework.

7. The Region’s goal is a healthy, safe, and productive workforce. The Federal Aviation Administration requires utilization of the Safety Management System (SMS) which the Cleveland NF is currently piloting. It focuses on policy, promotion, assurance, and risk management. The Region 1.) aims to foster a reporting culture that allows employees to freely report safety incidents, issues, and concerns and 2.) may hire a consultant to assist in reviewing behaviors and attitudes associated with safety.

8. FS retirees introduced the latest R5 Oral History publication entitled, “The Unmarked Trail: Managing National Forests in a Turbulent Era” whose experiences are relevant to current FS challenges.

9. Succession Planning is a process of systematic and deliberate preparation for future changes in leadership of key positions. The focus for successfully managing change includes: recruitment, retention, career planning, and capitalizing on diversity.

10. The California Consortium is a program we will continue to engage with as a Region given the significant impact these efforts have made in some of our poorest communities surrounding R-5 Forests.

11. Due to retirements, attrition, and the need to meet our strategic priorities, there is an increased emphasis on Workforce Planning. A corporate implementation model will be chosen. Staff Directors and Line Officers will agree on what positions will be recruited in the future. HR will take the lead for Workforce planning. Civil Rights will take the lead for outreach and recruitment and has proposed a reorganization to leverage current resources. A diversity grant program was also proposed. Implementation plans for these programs will be brought to the next RLT for decision. The same group will develop the Leadership Intent paper on Healthy Workforce and Workplace.

12. The NLC has decided on HR changes. More field presence will exist for employees to work through their HR issues using a corporate model. The RLT agreed to share this information with all of their employees by the end of January.

13. For 2010 the RF will develop a Regional Forester’s Awards Program which will cover categories corresponding to our Regional Strategic Priorities.

14. Next 2010 RLT dates are: February 15-19, May 17-20 (soft), September 27-30,and November 29-December 3.

12/17 This past summer Region 5 had a special recruitment announcement for veterans. There was a specific contact person for this announcement responsible for processing applications.

Here is the e-mail address: rlirvine@ nospam fs.fed.us

I don't know the total number VETS hired in the region as apprentices. However, 3 guys off the Rio Hondo Roadrunners were hired as well as 2 others I have personal knowledge of.

I'd encourage interested VETS to follow up on this after the first of the yr.

Good Luck,

John Bennett
Crew Coordinator
Rio Hondo College
Roadrunners Fire Crew

12/17 Info on the Celebration of Scott's Life for Scott Roberts -- Mod Red -- is posted on the hotlist:

Hotlist Thread


12/17 Making the rounds behind the scenes... Coming in from many sources... Ab.

Date: 12/17/09
Subject: Chief Officers Workshop


I am deeply disappointed that we will not hold the Chief Officer's Workshop yet another year. Your committee did everything asked of them to the detail and in the time asked. The failure was not theirs, and as Allen pointed out we received excellent support from Joni Cook in the Chief's Office. Just exactly why or how our request languished in the Washington Office for six-months without action or inquiry is unknown.

It was my responsibility to do all I could to impress on others the importance of this meeting to our cohesion and our effectiveness. I should have been more diligent in keeping the issue fresh and the pressure on to move it forward. For these failures I alone am responsible.

I will engage with the committee shortly after the first of the year to begin the process anew; with greater determination and focus.

In the meantime it is important that the key attributes of the workshop not die with it. I urge all of you to hold video conferences, informal meetings, and use whatever other methods that are available to communicate within and among your groups and committees. The intent of ensuring cohesion and the sharing of lessons learned within and between forests, crews, and leadership must be realized regardless of whether we have a workshop or not. I would recommend inter-forest preparedness reviews and meetings, resource type-specific workshops within your province or group of provinces, or other creative means that achieve the end-state of honing yourselves to meet the challenges of 2010. Knowing your creative genius, I have every confidence you will do just that.

May we all have a successful and safe 2010!

Ed Hollenshead
Director - FAM
Pacific Southwest Region

12/17 Warm Wishes...from the FS R5 Forester to R5 employees:

As you gather to enjoy Holiday festivities please accept my thanks and warm Christmas wishes. While you celebrate with colleagues, I hope you'll pause to reflect on our outstanding year of public service.

We have much to celebrate in the Pacific Southwest Region in advancing the health and sustainability of the Nation's forests. I am proud of our progress in facing climate change, restoring ecologically healthy and productive forests, enhancing the quality of our technical work and improving the health and diversity of our workforce. We couldn't have done it without you; I am grateful for each of you. As 2009 concludes, we can look back on a year filled with achievement, even as we faced challenges that included combating a shorter, but no less intense, wildfire season and improving morale of our valued employees. In addition, we celebrate and reaffirm today the core values we all share, which help this agency thrive-a commitment to conservation, a sense of family and a strong work ethic. These values create an environment where we all may flourish.

Further, I congratulate employees who have already retired--or plan to retire. We're especially grateful for your service and legacy; you'll always be part of this family. We hope you remain connected to and active in conservation's cause. Moreover, we pause to remember special employees we've lost this year. While not in our presence, you remain clear in our memories.

Finally, as we emerge from a severe economic recession, please remember colleagues, neighbors and citizens who-despite the holiday revelry-are struggling to make ends meet. Even if you can only offer a kind word or shoulder, service doesn't stop when the work day ends. It is these gifts that embody the spirit of the holidays.

On behalf of the Regional Forester's Team, enjoy your holidays & focus on quality time with family & friends. We look forward to your energy and vigor to ensure another successful year.
Have a safe and happy Season!


Regional Forester, R5
Phone: 707.562.9000
Fax: 707.562.9091

12/17 new NIMS ICS Forms

From the Hotlist


Good conversation - I have already submitted my comments on line (it said it could take weeks for it to actually appear on the page, although the two that were shown when I was on it were both from today). But comments like formats they need to be available in, or any other needs/ ideas/ suggestions should be submitted, especially from those of you/us who have used these for years. I suspect that once they are adopted, they'll be what we'll be using for quite some time, so NOW is the time to make any comments or recommendations.


12/17 new NIMS ICS Forms

Still Out There As An AD,

I have a friend who has been working on this project (where I heard the news from) that I asked about this. It sounds like if there are concerns like that (about making the forms electronic), they should be sent to the Federal Register as well. It looks like you can submit comments right there online and it is easy to do although you do have to use your name. I have seen other stuff posted to the register and they post all the comments right there online for all to see.

I can't imagine that these things would be provided in paper only - I would hope they would be in Word and maybe in some other electronic format like Excel or maybe some sort of open code. Hopefully they get enough comments on this so they go in a useful direction.


12/17 new NIMS ICS Forms

Looks like the new NIMS ICS forms show FEMA embracing the fire community's years of experience in managing incidents. This is a good thing. And I like that they are holding onto the familiar names. At times, the new forms are a bit more cumbersome to account for a broader range of incident types, but we can get used to that.

My primary concern is that it appears that this system was designed to be implemented with pen and paper. Might this not be a good time to design forms with the assumption that they will be handled electronically for the most part?

Still Out There as an AD

12/17 I remember Dick was one off the most knowledgeable and respected people in the fire organization on the Gifford Pinchot when I moved there in 1974.

Tom Jones

Bend Bulletin Obituary

Richard Albert Gassner, of Bend
May 20, 1943 - Dec. 11, 2009
Arrangements: Autumn Funerals, Bend, (541) 318-0842
Services: Memorial Service
First Presbyterian Church
Thursday, December 17, 2009 1:00 P.M.
230 N.E. 9th Street
Bend, Oregon.

12/16 new NIMS ICS forms

Howdy folks,

I heard from a friend in a sister agency today that the new NIMS ICS Forms are posted for comments on the Federal Register new NIMS ICS forms. Looks like they are a draft then they are taking comments. Due in by Jan. 15 at midnight eastern - looks like there are two things here - one is the announcement, and one is the supporting thing with the forms in it. Had a quick look and I gotta tell you, these are quite a bit different than we're used to.

Sure will be a big impact on our business. Interested to see if anyone else has heard about this or what it would mean for us.

Be safe y'all -

- Evolving

12/16 Very nice pic of the Six Rivers HS crew on Handcrews 27 photo page, compliments of Slowjoe.

These photos of crews in the wild, or in the sky, or helping kids or each other always make me smile.

Thank you guys and gals for being the fine people you are. Ab.

12/16 Now here is the kind of news story that I like to refer to others.

Kudos to the Big Bear Hot Shots for their kindness and generosity at this special time of year. Well done!



12/16 Hey Letterman:

Drats, my invitation to the GAGG event must have got lost in the mail too...if only to attend and learn something...

Oh well, maybe the RO knew I'd likely be back in DC the week of March 8th... :-)


12/16 Wildland Firefighter Legislation:

Hi to all:

Yes, I still anticipate our legislation getting introduced this week. Also trying to see if something in the $1 billion+ bill the Senate passed this week will be of interest to firefighters.

I've solicited the following information before but thought I'd try again. As many know several years ago the Forest Service was kind?? enough to provide the Congressional Budget Office with data that the CBO used to assign a cost to our then stand-alone portal to portal legislation. The Agency suggested to the CBO it calculate costs using 15,000 firefighters each having 6-two week assignments each year. We thought this to be way too high.

The resulting costs came out to approximately $100 million. That stunned us and some in Congress and the FWFSA knew something was wrong. The first error we discovered was that the CBO failed to articulate to Congress that of the $100 million price tag, approximately $64 million was existing salaries, thus making the NET cost of the legislation, even using the inflated figures to be about $36 million annually. Even this amount represented a fraction of the overall suppression budget.

We alerted the CBO to this error and also stated that the data provided by the Forest Service was on the high side. We asked them to run the costs using figures of 5000, 2500 and 1500 employees using the 6-2 week assignment calculation even though we knew even busy Hotshot crews likely did not approach 6-two week assignments each year.

While we were successful in getting the CBO to recalculate the costs of the bill to reflect far less costs associated with portal to portal, little time was left in that session (ending in Dec. 2006) to get the costs requested by Congress.

To date, there are still lingering concerns in the Senate about that $100 million price tag despite our legislation clearly stating that only $25 million would be "banked" for seed money while any remaining costs would be paid using budgeted suppression dollars.

I will be sending letters to each Hotshot crew nationwide in the next few weeks seeking information but if anyone has a thought as to, on average, how many 2-week assignments a Hotshot crew or anyone else for that matter may have in a season, the information would be helpful to preclude any nutty info from the Agencies being used when the CBO works the costs of our current bill.

Info can be sent confidentially to cjudd@fwfsa.org.

Thanks in advance.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

12/16 Preparing for Fire Season 2010 - GACC Workshops on “Continuous Improvement in Decision Making on Large Fires”

Are we missing a few invites here?

It sure would be a step in the right direction for Line to invite the Region Engine Captain Rep(s), a couple IHC Crew Reps, Helicopter Reps and a Prevention Rep. Or is this the Annual Line Officer Puppet Show?

collaborate: To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.


Date: December 11, 2009
Subject: GACC Level Continuous Improvement Sessions
To: Forest Supervisors, Fire Managers and Staff

I am requesting you to attend one of two important 2-day wildland fire management workshops to be held between March 8 and 15, 2009. I want each of you to be in attendance or have an acting that will bring back information. Please hold these days on your calendar. Exact dates will be announced soon. Workshops will be held at McClellan and at a yet to be determined location in southern part of the state.

To prepare for the upcoming fire season and develop a more common approach to fire management, a “Continuous Improvement in Decision Making on Large Fires” workshop is being held at the Geographic Area Coordination Center level. The purpose of these sessions is to provide an opportunity for dialog regarding the challenges fire managers and line officers are facing; and potential methods and alternatives that could be implemented.

In recent years the agency has been experimenting with systematic changes in fire management to ease resource demands, mitigate firefighter exposure and reduce costs of large “problem fires”.

Even though phenomenal efforts have been made to improve effectiveness and reduce risks, additional refinements in managing these “problem fires” are needed. The focus of the GACC level workshop is to share information with leaders at the Forest, Incident Management Team and Coordination/Dispatch level throughout the state. I expect these leaders to have a common understanding of their roles and engage in a collaborative effort of decision making when managing large fires.

Two sessions have been scheduled for agency administrators and their staffs and Incident Management Team Command and General staff members. The workshops will be facilitated by the Atlanta NIMO team, who will provide the framework for a common approach to fire management and the protocols involved in Continuous Improvement in Large Fire Management.

The sessions will last two days. Day One will be an overview of Continuous Improvement with Forest Service expectations as to how large fires are managed. It will include topics such as risk management, line officers roles, social networking, importance of preseason stakeholder engagements and resource allocations. Day Two will be centered on a simulation involving multiple fires within the GACC and the decisions and expectations that can arise from these.

With our busy schedules and constant demands I felt it was important to get this information out to you now, so that time can be set aside for this important engagement. More information will follow within the next month.

If you have any questions about the workshop, please contact Joe Millar - AD North Operations or Ralph Domanski - AD South Operations.

/s/ Randy Moore
Regional Forester

cc: George Custer
Jim Pena
Willie R Thompson
Joe Millar
Judith L Downing
Ralph Domanski

12/16 New Web address for the California smokejumpers:

Hi ab,

Here's a link to our new site California Smokejumppers

I have attached a picture of two smokejumpers for your photo page.

Also it would be great if you would mention the Smokejumper reunion and add it to the calendar on the hotlist page. It would probably be best to link the reunion notice back to the nat. smokejumpers association page as they are the ones organizing the reunion. (smokejumpers.com reunion 2010)

Please don't hesitate to contact me if there is anything else you need for these two items. again, i really appreciate your help and support.


Thanks brian. Great pic. I put it here: Two Jumpers.
Excellent new CA SJ website. I especially like the design and photos on the departments page and the good info it leads to. Sweet!
I added the SJ reunion date and link info to the calendar but it only goes online 3 months in advance.  Ab.

Here's the reunion info I gathered for now so people can begin to plan:

National Smokejumper Reunion 2010

What: Celebrate 70 years of smokejumping at the 2010 reunion ... all current and former smokejumpers, pilots, associates, wildland firefighters and contractors are invited!

When: June 11-13, 2010

Where: Redding Convention Center. Redding, CA

All details are posted Here: Reunion 2010

12/16 Good Morning-

I was curious if you have any specialized training or recruitment programs specifically for Veterans. I work with many young veterans returning from Iraq/Afghanistan with an interest in fire service employment.

Thank you for your time,

Whitney Webster
Social Work Student Intern
American Lake Veteran’s Administration

12/16 Dick Gassner's passing:

Dick Gassner, former Deputy Fire Chief on the Six Rivers National Forest, passed away Saturday morning in Bend, Oregon.

NorCal Tom

Condolences. Please keep us apprised of services. Ab.

12/16 beneficiary:


Same thing happened to me. When I retired, I found out my life insurance was going to go to an old girlfriend, (from the 70's!) not my wife of 19 years, even though I made the benefits change when I got married. That was before ASC. Your advice to double check beneficiary details is spot on. I can't imagine what would have gone on if I had died and the old flame was awarded my life insurance!!


Haw haw haw. Ab.

12/15 beneficiary:


I had a change in marital status a few years back and recently decided to check on my beneficiary status. Imagine my surprise to find out that ASC had no beneficiary on record!

So a heads up to all federal employees....you may want to double check to make sure you have a designated beneficiary on file!


12/15 Regarding the article on Fairmount Fire,

I must say that it is unfortunate that only this portion of the story is being laid out in the newspaper. I don't have any intimate knowledge of or condone what is being presented in that story, but I must say that (from what I've observed) what has been given by Chief Angell is much, much more than what has been taken. He takes a stand and goes for what he believes in - and in the process sometimes people get frustrated and upset with his ways.

Fairmount Fire would not be anywhere near what it is today without his dedication and hard work. Chief Angell and several of his firefighters have done a world of good for wildland firefighting in Region 2 - not without turning some heads, but by thinking outside the box. I've never known anyone to be as sincere about providing the support that is needed to do a job safely as Chief Angell.


12/14 Hi -

I'm a random lurker on They Said and just heard about this story. I was very surprised and disappointed to hear this. It definitely doesn't leave the public with a good image of what fire departments are doing with their money. I think he has a Type 2 team in Region 2 also... Anyway, I thought for sure it would have been posted but couldn't find it anywhere so I thought I'd pass on the info.



Good Afternoon,
I've been meaning to get this to you. Could you please post on logos page? These are from the Sequoia National Forest Organized Crew Program. These are the three Sectors were have, Black Eagles, Cobras, Scorpions.



Thanks Scot. I put them on the Logos 17 photo page. Thanks to Slowjoe and OS, there are also a Smith River IHC logo CA-SRF), the PNW IMT 3 logo, as well, and one "station art" logo from the Howard Forest ECC, 5 mi south of Willits, CA.

12/14 Re: Great morale booster once again LP staff / supporting the memories of the fallen...

This truly is disheartening to me as well. I was fortunate enough to come from 2 states away to the memorial for the Esperanza incident and saw how many thousands of folks from other federal, state, and local agencies rallied to show support for the USFS, when we had no obligation to do so. I saw again this overwhelming caring spirit here in my home state Tuesday as we gave our respects to the Lakewood 4 as thousands from agencies far and wide came with no obligation to do so. Just seems kind of one sided on the USFS part.


12/13 Ab,

Excellent discussion on smoke exposure, carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN), whether structure fire smoke exposure or wildland fire smoke exposure. The Cyanide Poisoning Treatment Coalition (CPTC) at firesmoke.org  is getting the word out on hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide exposure. Too many of our wildland firefighters are dying of fairly rare brain cancer and other unusual cancers. CM

"All Hell Breaks Loose"...Webcast Questions

Several questions pertinent to wildland:

Q. What about the toxicity of wildland smoke vs. structural smoke? What are your thoughts on using SCBA at wildland or brush fire assignments? Does wildland fire cause/contain the same poisonous gases?

A. click the link and read the discussion

Q. Without rapid appropriate treatment, oxygenation of anyone who has accumulated a toxic dose of cyanide does no good. Treatment has to be quick and effective and, at the risk of sounding like an advertisement, Cyanokit is the gold standard. Even with bad budgets, departments need to seriously look at this drug. We have implemented our program by selling it as an "all-hazards" drug (sorry for the catch phrase). It works on the fireground, and not just for us as a firefighter safety issue, but for the civilians who aren't issued SCBA. It can be used in the hazmat environment (manufacturing facilities) and is a primary weapon in the WMD environment. Treatment for smoke inhalation victims who are symptomatic needs to be high-flow oxygen and Cyanokit on the fireground. Waiting for a trip to the hospital will become the equivalent of holding your breath for the ride. I know this isn't a question, but please get the word out that this is now the standard of care for our own (and those we protect). Thanks.

A. Thanks for the information and advice. We agree completely with your assessment and are glad to be partnering with the Cyanide Poisoning Treatment Coalition to get the message out about the Cyanokit. You can check out all the details at firesmoke.org and get some great training tools as well. The coalition is working hard to bring the message of the dangers of smoke to departments everywhere; that will include some case studies involving the use of the Cyanokit.

Q. There are Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health Concentrations (IDLH) levels for HCN and CO individually, but what is the concentration or ratio of a mix of HCN and CO that is considered IDLH? AT what temperature does cyanide start to off-gas?

A. If you go to firesmoke.org and read the smoke supplements they produced, there are outstanding studies that were done in Europe that show the deadly way in which CO/HCN have worked together to kill people at fires. The presence of HCN combined with CO is much more deadly than just CO. The technical data contained in those reports is too lengthy for this type of format, but you can get it all free from the Cyanide Poisoning Treatment Coalition.

12/12 MEDL/ Line EMT/ and Evacs / treatment

Nice post Juggalo.

Are contractors that are injured treated any differently on an incident than fed resources? Are ADs or vollies? Is there any different standard of post traumatic stress counseling among the types of resources? Are some just expected to deal with it?


12/12 Article link sent in by old lpf

Trail Gnomes Charged in Jesusita Fire

Trail gnomes charged in jesusita fire

12/11 A 'co-worker' pointed this article out to me via gov't email. thought I'd share.

Evidently this paper doesn't do its homework.


Funny how a DC paper gets survey responses like that.

all you have to do is fill out a few of the online surveys when your agency morale is in the crapper, and VIOLA! Morale problem solved......

washingtonian again


12/10 Re: Great morale booster once again LP staff

To Pay Respect:

Yes you have a point, the forest Service does not have any obligation to support a member of a cooperator who assists the forest Service in a time of need. I personally could care less for me about using leave or getting paid to attend. I wish to pay respect to an individual and to support the cast (cooperators) who lost an employee. When we work closely with an agency I just feel that it is an easy way to show some support and acknowledgment by allowing a few employees to attend, representing our agency. As You, probably know, a request was made by the County for a chief officer vehicle, engine and dozer from the Feds to park in the procession (which of course the forest Service has no obligation to do), so yes that was denied. Hmm maybe to me it just seems like once in awhile it would be good to do the "Right Thing" as an agency. And for your information, very little cost would have been incurred due to the location of the service.


12/10 Ab,

Non-line of duty death, but relates to wildland fire fighter safety. Tempe FF (non-wildland fire team member) killed by falling tree while hunting. Apparently the tree had heavy "ant infestation" causing weakness.


RIP Skylar


12/10 This one of my favorite topics on wlf.com and that is our Line Officers.

The story: The Forest Line Officers called for a major Monday morning conference call with all Chief Officers and Captains. The topic of the conference call was related to work environment, avoiding harassment, treating people appropriately and how to work together. Important topics in my opinion. When it was the Deputy Forest Supervisor's (A Line Officer) time to say something, he started off by saying: "Well it's time for me to piss on this fire hydrant". OK, so I am thinking "open mouth, insert foot” immediately. Many on the call took offense to the comment, especially since they had just been preached to by the Forest Supervisor and Civil Rights Officer. It created such an uproar that the Forest Supervisor sent out the following memo to her District Rangers (Line Officers) asking them to forward her memo to all employees on the call (cop-out). For those on the Forest who did not receive the apology, here you go. For all, only one thing comes to mind in times like these: Centralized Fire Today, Tomorrow and Forever!

Forest Supervisor memo:

All -- It was brought to my attention that during Monday's conference call on work environment, after I had left the meeting, Deputy Forest Supervisor Snip used an analogy related to dogs and fire hydrants, and some employees have expressed they were offended by this comment. Though I was not present to hear the comments, in keeping with my commitment to ensure a positive work environment for all employees, I have discussed this issue with Name Snip and advised him of the inappropriateness of the comment, and outlined my expectations of him and his conduct in the future. Name Snip expressed remorse for his comment, stated he recognized immediately he could have used a better choice of words, and in hind sight, wished he had addressed the comment immediately. Please share this information with your employees who were on the call, and express both mine and Name Snip apology for this poor choice of words. Thanks.

Snip Name
Forest Supervisor

Snip National Forest? Wondering which Forest? Yep, you guessed it right!

Using an analogy we can all relate to: If a Deputy Incident Commander had done something detrimental to the team, would the Incident Commander send out a memo to Command and General Staff telling them to forward this to those in your functional areas OR would he/she pull the team together for the apology, get everyone back on the same page, have some good communications and move on with the business at hand. I think you all know the answer to that. Line Officers are not built to manage fire service organizations.

The purpose of this post is to again display another example of how each day Line Management and Fire Management grow further and further apart. The two groups simply see things differently and have different approaches to work/life values and working relationships.


Centralized Fire Today, Tomorrow and Forever!

12/10 Neanderthal humor:

Hi Mellie,

“Long time, no talk, me call you soon, when have time!” “Punching little numbers, not easy on call box pad!”

You are correct; the Mike Johns’ white paper is a great read. I keep a few copies in the office for those students whose interest is sparked when we talk about biases and cognitive processes. The “Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making “by Scott Plous, is also a wonderful text.

I like to use myself as a case study when pointing out just how fast the communication process can get screwed up. I will save these for next semester and point out to the students how a document, which appeared to make perfect sense to me, can start a debate in a fraction of a second.

No little Neanderthals at home, as I have about 200 of them here at work (the house is full of broken, brain damaged dogs and cats).

If you go to Neanderthals-R-Us, you will see the special glove we use for holding white board markers along with the full line of knuckle protectors and eye-brow removers.

Have a good Christmas.

Neanderthal73 (aka-FOBS73)

12/10 To: Great morale booster once again LP staff

Is the forest denying you leave or are you waiting for the agency to pick up the tab for your attendance at the memorial? Denying leave is one thing but if it's the other, ask yourself, "Why do I want to attend this memorial?" To make a statement for the agency or to show my support for the individual. The forest is under no obligation to send you to a memorial for a cooperator.

sign me : Pay respect

12/10 MEDL/ Line EMT/ and Evacs

I'm spinning from reading these. I don't get much time on the computer though so I need to get a couple thoughts out before they're pressed aside by pile burning in the snow.

I'm glad this discussion is going on. It's something that needs, not only to be talked about, but resolved. If you want to solve one of the retention problems (making employees feel like the agency cares about them) injured personnel need to be transported efficiently by the quickest/ best means available. Even if, God forbid, the patient doesn't make it, we got them to an appropriate facility as quickly as possible. We've tried and we all know it. How is it better for a patient to lay in the dirt with his (or her) buddies watching them suffer without O2 and suction and suffer or possibly die, than for them to be flying to a medical facility that has those things with the highest rated, medically trained person available (in the immediate area) in a bird that doesn't have O2 and suction? Like someone else said, we drive them in chase rigs to the ambulance or even to the hospital. I'd love to not feel like the cost or liability was more important than my life. It'd improve my moral exponentially. I'm sure there are others like me. I've had intercrew impromptu discussions where we all came to the same conclusions... I'll go to jail for exceeding my scope of operations if it's to try to save your life because this agency (that I love by the way, even as I gripe) leaves you hanging around while someone makes a decision, or hangs me out to dry afterwards for political or liability reasons.

We are a government agency, yes? A Federal Organization that takes over from the locals on large scale incidents? We then have control over a large and diverse set of resources from all over the country that have different standards for their areas of operations but who must abide by NWCG standards to work with us, correct? Why is it different on the same incident for medical quals and procedures? Why can't we have a system like the military where they have state certifications and oversight but can work where they're needed on the quals they hold if it's a Team controlled event?

I know in my heart, at this point in time, it's just like our all risk situation. It won't change unless mandated by higher authority because it's scary. Our organization would then be liable. We'll only do what is required by law (as an organization) and leave the rest of the liability on the backs of the folks doing the work because our Agency doesn't like to look bad when things go wrong, but guess what.... every time we show up to a car or cabin fire with BAs in the truck and say, "we're here to protect the wildland, your house has to wait for county fire.", every time someone gets told, "you, an EMT, can only do first aid 'case you're in the wrong state." and the patient has to wait for another assessment by someone licensed in that state, every time a firefighter dies or is delayed in treatment because the situation doesn't fit neatly into the IAP and we've got to wait around for a decision or get into trouble.... THINGS HAVE GONE WRONG AND WE LOOK BAD! The public's opinion of us suffers, the people in need suffer, and our retention suffers. I'll take the lower pay than the other departments, I'll work harder, I'll live rougher, and I'll stay dirty knowing all along I'll get next to nothing for retirement and do it proudly, but LET US DO OUR JOB HELPING OTHERS IN THEIR TIME OF NEED AND BACK US WITH SOPs, EQUIPMENT, TRAINING, AND LEGAL SUPPORT IF THINGS GO WRONG!

I could go on but I'm wrung out. How do we fix this and implement change? Ideas from you guys'd be great. Can we use Casey for this? I know he's got his plate full but could we put it on the table as desert when he's done with the main course? HELP! I'm tired of walking away after an incident within an incident and having to talk myself out of going into ICP and kicking some A**, getting some sleep in the dirt, shoveling some food down my throat as fast as possible so I can refit to go out again, then having to push the post incident loop of what could I have done to fix what happened and dread that it'll happen all over again, but to me or my crew out of my head so I can keep up my SA and get us all home safe that night, the next night, the next day, the next night....... This has to change. Quickly. Sorry if I sound jaded or like noone cares. I know that those in the teams do the best job they can under the circumstances they are in. We need to change their circumstances too. We all need to get together and force this to happen.


Additional Hotlist thread info. Ab.

12/10 Arising out of the generalizations regarding phone answering person

Relative to h and the apparent Neanderthal in our midst <giggle>

In communication there are human factors issues inherent in both "sending" the message and the "receiving" it.
I think that much of the misinterpretation on a website like this has to do with:

  1. lacking nonverbal communication cues such as: body language, tone of voice, eye contact, facial expression, "mirroring" behaviors from posture to personal space. Research shows that 60-70% of all human communication information is missing in a text message only.
  2. a reader's failure to account for his or her own "lens through which he or she sees the world", for example:
    salience (degree to which the post grabs your attention),
    cognitive biases (fairly "wired" brain biases),
    heuristics (fairly "wired" cognitive shortcuts),
    knowledge structure
    personal experiences, good and bad and
    immediate emotional orientation to the post pro, con, or ho-hum.
    We make decisions about what a writer must have meant every time we read.
    Assumptions are especially true the less we know about the writer: we fill in the gaps...
  3. Both sending and receiving limitations like above are examples of Human Factors... they influence our interpretations of what we read and reactions to it.

See Mike Johns white paper: What Was He Thinking? Decision Making and Judging for a summary of cognitive processes.

h, I can feel where your reaction came from... and that you really don't like stereotypes... me neither...
FOBS 76, I'm having a great time imagining you as a Neanderthal, especially when you're in the classroom trying to write legibly on the whiteboard. It helps that I've never met you in person! Ya got a few little Neanderthals at home eagerly awaiting Christmas (? or Hanukah or Kwanza or Winter Solstice?) 


12/10 Shawna Legarza's new book "No Grass"

For those of you who have not read Shawna Legarza's new book "No Grass" about growing up on a ranch in Elko, fighting fire in AK, becoming the superintendant of the San Juan Hot Shots out of Durango, and working on the pile at the WTC, I recommend it highly. A great read, inspiring.

Her crew was on the Saddle Mtn Fire in '04 up behind our house in Crawford, as was her late husband Marc Mullenix, who was Incident Commander on the Type 2 Team that I came in on as a substitute Air Ops Director out of Boise -- Crawford, CO. where we lived in the mid-70s, and we moved back 2 months later.

Marc was an awesome leader as well as a real cool, fun guy. R.I.P, Marc

I am grateful to Shawna for her humor, passion and courage in telling like it was and is. You can order on Amazon.


Hugh Carson

Thanks Hugh, I added your comment to the Book Reviews page. Ab.

12/10 Fulton HS Reunion:

Ab and All,

The Fulton Hot Shots will celebrate a Reunion of "40 YEARS OF TRADITION" at the home of the Fulton Hot Shots in Glennville, CA, on April 16-18, 2010 (Fri-Sun). More details to be distributed at the first of the New Year, on a more official flier. There is a small group working to make this happen and if you have old pictures, war stories, ideas and want to assist in any way, PLEASE contact Dave Provencio at email: fulton_mso@ nospam yahoo.com or cell: 805-760-4170.

I added the date to the Hotlist Calendar and it will show up on the list on Dec 16. Ab.

12/10 Arising out of the response to my post regarding the FS phone answering person

Wow, where to start.

1. I’m sure I did not call anyone names in my post. So I am “baffled” by “Neanderthal like view,” but to each their own.

2. As I did not besmirch a specific individuals personal character in my post, it is interesting how you implied that I am lying at multiple points in your post- “incredulous story,” “seeming bad experience,” “as you claimed,” and the best “I would question the way you asked for information.” In a contentious one-on-one meeting, I will, if needed, drift into the “Badger” mode, exceedingly fast, but I always fight the ugly battles “face-to-face,” never on the phone. I am a relatively nice guy, and I am very courteous when I call someone. Since you seem to know me so well, here is a challenge. You find me one documented case, just one, where I have made a rude or discourteous phone call (to anyone, in any agency) and I will send you and your significant other to a four-star dinner.

3. You take issue with the “generalizing” in my posting, but the only generalizing is about my personal positive experiences with fire people. If I had wanted to make a “generalized” negative comment about ALL non-fire people I would have definitely done so...but I didn’t. My posting deals with one individual. If you want to extend that brush over the entire non-fire community, that is your gig, not mine. If you look at my posts, I have been very supportive of fire and non-fire folks alike.

4. Yes, I do know how many injured firefighters end up in receptionist duty. It’s possible, but doubtful that that’s who this was (when I stated I was trying to get in touch with “X”, that would have meant something to them if they had a fire background). If, by some slim chance it was a fire person, it reinforces the concept about being very cautious when placing “light-duty” individuals in those roles (this includes training). Light-duty is extremely stressful for many people. They are worried about their current assignment, if not their job; they may have extra expenses and a lesser income; they are frequently in pain, often recovering from or waiting for a significant surgical event; they may be dealing with stressed relationships at work and home-- yep that’s who I want answering phones. All phone contacts reflect on the agency, mine and everyone else’s. The reason is irrelevant, they reflect. If an agency chooses to place them in a public contact position, that’s their choice, but it still reflects poorly on the agency.

5. I also know that this is the end of the year and many employees are on “use it or lose it” vacation. I was not calling a fire station. I called the Supervisor’s Office, for a National Forest, on the web site’s publicly listed phone number. Are you telling me, that you think the SO had no one in that building that the caller could direct me to? How about, “No one is available at the moment, they are all on annual leave, let me take a message, and I, or someone will get in touch with you.”

Try this. Hypothetically, let’s just say that I have a side business as a research consultant and today I am working on a project for an elected representative in Washington concerning pay increases and job reclassification for Forestry Technicians. Currently I need to track down “X” because they are the next person on my “list.” The phone number is dead, and I call the SO, RO, or the WO to see if they can provide an alternative contact number. “Sorry, everyone is on annual leave, can’t help you!” As stated above, all phone contacts reflect on an agency, mine and everyone else’s.

6. Please re-read my posting-- You stated that “Receptionists I have known, in all agencies, through my 28 years with the Forest Service have all been courteous and tactful while dealing with the public, however, some may have hung up on rude or unreasonable people, and I don’t blame them.” I never said anything about courteous and tactful. I referred to “solving the problem, and answering the question.”

If, in your 28 years, you have never called a receptionist (or anyone else) who was not grumpy, surly, or just “pissed off at the world,” good for you.

While it would be great if everyone whom answered a phone was in a great mood all the time, it’s not realistic, I understand. That was not, and is not my rant. Nor was this person rude. Unresponsive, apathetic, or possibly incompetent, but not rude in my book. My rant deals with someone’s inability to do a simple job, find an answer or find someone who can. As Ab stated, death in the family, divorce, financial problems, medical problems-pain, drugs-alcohol, abuse, all impact someone’s attitude when they answer a phone. I don’t care if they are grumpy, pissed off or a full blown, hard core jerk; that is an agency issue for a supervisor to deal with. That is not, nor has it ever been a complaint from me. There is a major difference between “problem solving” and phone attitude or etiquette.

7. “Fire good – everyone else bad,” is the Neanderthal like view you describe. I’m not sure how you got that from my post. Again, I did not say “fire good,” I said I like working with fire people. There is a big difference between the two. As with any aspect of the government, there is a lot of crappy stuff on the fire side of the house. That’s also not the point of my post. I just like working with fire folks.

They way you describe it, you must have an unbiased view of all disciplines within the FS, there is no “good vs. bad” or “us vs. them.” I am impressed. As you are from the fire side, I am sure you have been writing letters and fighting to give up half of the retention funds so it can be evenly distributed to both fire and non-fire folks. After 28 years in the FS, I must also assume that you are both a supervisor and that you remember the lean years of repeated funding cuts. You never fought for fire positions, over resources? Fire, over biologists, over maintenance? Dispatch, over trail crews, or anything similar. You have never gone in and fought for and tried to justify your unit, district, forest, job, etc. over someone else’s? There was never any “me vs. them,” “us vs. them”? If that’s true, I am truly impressed, I really am. I would love to sit down and speak with you. I want to know how you do it.

I’m biased. If it comes down to cuts in fire vs. cuts in resources- for me, fire stays. I am sure the resource folks think the same way (save resources and get rid of fire).

In your model it sounds as if you believe I must like everyone evenly. I am biased, and I understand my bias, but that also was not the point of the post. Read it. It’s simple. One crappy experience, that according to you must never have really happened, reminded me why I like working with fire folks.

8. h, I have no idea who you are, but it is easy to track me down. My phone number(s), and emails are on a number of my posts if you just search WFC-They Said. Ab, also has all of my contact data and all of the Ab’s have permission to give out my numbers to anyone for any reason. My big fingers and knuckles make it hard to pick up the receiver, but feel free to call me at any time. Always happy to talk.

9. Ab, your idea is sound. All agencies should be running “quality control” calls and screenings throughout the year. As I asked for his name during the call, I know who it is. If You want to, feel free to call.

As always, thanks for the rant and the “rant response” privilege.

Neanderthal73 (aka-FOBS73)

12/10 Website for anti-Prescribed Burns. Kind of funny to read


12/10 Compensated Memorial Service Attendance

Once again the LP supervisor drives in another nail: Denied Government access to a local cooperator's funeral.

The forest Supervisor once again has denied Gov time and attendance to a well respected and assistant to the Forest Service. Dean Moore, Santa Barbara County Fire Dept Dozer operator that succumbed to cancer. The Forest Service is not allowed to attend services on Gov time. Trust me, Santa Barbara Fire, the folks on the ground are with you in all respects, only wish that we could get the folks in the Supervisors office on board with the respect and commitment that we feel that we need as cooperators in the fire arena.

Our heartfelt condolences are with you all and Dean's family at this time.

sign me: Great morale booster once again LP staff (sic)

12/9 Australian Fire Helicopter Accidents


I came across this news report, see link below, of 2 firefighting helicopter incident/accidents in Australia this week, one involved fatal and critical injuries, and another a mid-air collision between two helicopters in heavy smoke with no injuries....very lucky for those, and unfortunate for the injured/killed. firehouse.com


Posted it on the hotlist too.

12/9 Open Government Directive and THANKS:

It's now available online:  Open Government Directive 2010.
Movement toward online data and open dialogue with the public using modern web technologies is now formally required. This is expected to happen quickly. Look at the timeframe. In terms of the FS it's in line with the new www Portal migration that is structured to let this kind of agency-wide collaboration happen.

Thanks OFG for the info on transparency about budget. Thanks ms for the research. There certainly is less frustration when info flows freely and in a civil fashion.

I'll do what I can to organize communication with both Regional Forester Moore about continuing retention bonuses and with congressional reps in support of the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement & Cost Containment Act.

Casey, thanks for your work on behalf of wildland firefighters, for keeping us all informed, and for being the leader you are in spite of your FWFSA "Office Manager" designation. You do nice work.


PS: Picture of Mod-Red --Scott -- and info on the Hotlist. Is there anyone out there who is an expert on OWCP that could train me up?

12/8 Dennis Baldridge retirement

Ab if you could post.

After 39 years of service to the United Stated Forest Service, Dennis Baldridge has retired. There are many who have worked with Dennis who have retired themselves or no longer work for the agency. I thought this forum would be a great way to reach those folks. You can get all the Retirement Celebration info from the Laguna Hothsots website. For those who do not know Dennis, he just retired as the Southern California Fire Training Officer, he was the Superintendent of the Laguna Hotshots prior to his last job. He was also the Vice President and one of the original founding members of FWFSA .

Jim Huston
Laguna Hotshots

12/8 Every Available Hour!

Yes, facilities are on Moore's plan to improve retention. I am not surprised that he asked to transfer some of the 25m to do some work. However the facility issue is much bigger than 25m. In my opinion it will take a larger organizational effort to turn the corner on our fire facilities. Forest Service Fire needs to be responsible for management and funded annually for fire facilities. It needs to be removed from Forest Service Engineers who are distracted by too many non-fire facility and trail management issues.

Regarding the origins of the $25m. Here is what I had on file and what I found.

From the Forest Service FY 2010 WO Budget documents released a few weeks ago. Remember this is our Washington Office giving budget direction to regions.

B. Congressional Direction/Emphasis

The Forest Service and the Department of the Interior must work together, along with State and other partners, to maintain sufficient preparedness. The Forest Service is to maintain the levels of readiness needed for public safety that were previously established while analyzing current readiness levels. Firefighter retention initiatives for high-risk areas initiated by Public Law 110-329 shall continue. There is recognition of the need to plan for future aerial fire suppression needs.

Related to this are all the earmarks (projects, priorities) fire funds pay for in all the regions/WO. The 25m is located under R-5 earmarks using brackets. Normally that is a reference to a deficit, however in this case I think it's used as a reminder or place mark to identify that these funds are not a 2010 funded earmark, rather they originate from PL 110-329 back in late 2008.

A google search of PL 110-329 shows the following. Using the Thomas search is an active process so you need to click the first Google search result yourself and follow the links yourself, but it's not hard. This is the main page I got for the original House Resolution. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.R.2638.enr 

When you get to this page, if you search on Forest Service or go down the page --to about the 46th line (under Chapter 6 Department of Interior)-- you will see a Forest Service link. Click it. It took me to this page http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/F?c110:1:./temp/~c110VsMjpT:e62188:

When you open the Forest Service link, it will take you to what I think is the answer to OFG's question about the $25M. Ab copied and pasted the Thomas page PL 110-329 here so you can see the red text.

Under Wildfire Management:

#(4) $25,000,000 is for preparedness for retention initiatives in areas at high risk of catastrophic wildfire that face recurrent staffing shortages.

Not too specific huh? I am not the expert on tracking legislation; it’s as confusing as calling ASC. Huh! But this is what I found, hopefully others have additional information.

If this is all correct, then it appears R-5 spent very little of the 25m. Maybe they funded the tour increases and 10% bonuses last year with the regular FY 2009 allocations and left the 25m for FY 2010 retention needs.

More IMPORTANT than anything above is that Regional Forester Randy Moore is going to announce his decision in the next few days if he will continue the 10% retention bonus for our GS 5-8 employees for another year. The bonuses are scheduled to expire in Feb, 2010. Let’s help him make the right decision. rmoore@fs.fed.us

We proved to ourselves after April 1, 2008 Black Tuesday that we are a force not to be taken lightly. We brought a region to its knees. This was not an FWFSA undertaking. It was not FWFSA’s fault who benefited or not from the 25m. This was us and our forum who, through a united campaign, forced R-5 to admit a retention problem. To remind everyone of the events back then:

  • We forced R-5 to into a corner throughout 2007 and
  • finally they decided to hold a meeting in 12/2007.
  • We waited 5 months for a decision out of those meetings.
  • Then came Black Tuesday April 1, 2008 when we listened almost simultaneously to the video conference with Moore, Pena and Edward on the west coast with Rey testifying before congress.
  • After 5 months of work, we heard that the region felt we did not have a retention issue and that we actually made more money than CALFIRE. The house of cards the region and WO built began to implode.
  • The gloves came off and the Never Forget Black Tuesday wrist bands went on (I still got mine, thanks ab’s).
  • Every Available Hour was dedicated to emails and phone calls which were counted in the100’s daily for all of April, May and early June to Department Officials, Forest Service Officials and elected officials.
  • By the time fire season 2008 got rolling, we had said our piece and made our mark.
  • By September 2008, $25m was in the bank for retention issues.

Now when I say we did this, that means me and you and all others who participated made this happen. Our wlf forum gave us the means to communicate and organize. No association, no President, no VP or acting VP got this rolling. They were not out there negotiating for the funds. It was us -- the Firefighters working together -- that sealed the deal on the $25m in retention funds. It was our time to say enough is enough!

Speaking of FWFSA, as a member my ultimate loyalty is to Casey Judd. He is not my god, he is not my hero. Casey is simply someone fighting on my behalf and on the behalf of my Firefighters. Last time I checked, I haven't seen too many others stepping up and out in front fighting for me or my Firefighters. I will not accept that a person as important as Casey will ever be censored by any person or any entity. (The ab's certainly don't do it.) Firefighters may disagree on topics and processes; however we all need Casey out there active with the freedom to work on our behalf, because we all will share in the benefit of his labor.

The Future:

In the sprit of Black Tuesday, we need to be ready to fight for the passage of the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement & Cost Containment Act. Every Available Hour we have must be dedicated in the support of what FWFSA asks of us. Period! This has potential to be historic, People. This is a game changer. We -- all of us -- must back FWFSA, specifically our “Leader” Casey Judd with our keyboards, phone calls, ideas and with our 10 bucks.

Every Available Hour !


I'll email Randy Moore and get my family to email him. We'll contact our legislators to ask them to submit and pass the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement & Cost Containment Act. Ab.

12/8 $25 million on facilities?

Look- this is all just a big misunderstanding....GP, yes, facilities are a factor in the retention issue and I also don't see any problem with using that $25 million on fixing up some of the completely inadequate working and living conditions out there. But let me ask you, do you trust Randy Moore to allocate the correct funds to such areas when he asks to use some of this money for "Capitol Improvements"? I think this is simply the point Casey was trying to make- if that's really what they were doing with the money- then great- but I wouldn't keep my hopes up.

fireweed lurker

In addition as Old Fire Guy (now retired) points out, where the $25 million went should be searchable. I hope someone looks around. I'm certainly curious 1) if the info is available as a result of greater transparency and 2) where it went... Ab.

12/7 following on the MEDL, EMT, WEMT etc discussion from last month; Interesting EMS Document:


This document came across my desk and I thought the community might be interested in it. Maybe something will come about it.


NPS Engine Captain/EMS Coordinator

Recommended Standards for Delivery of Medical Services on Incidents Managed  by NWCG Member Agencies (3,198 K doc file, 38 pages)

Thanks NPS Engine Captain. Ab.

12/7 Dear OFG:

I honestly didn't realize I was creating an issue when I simply tried to pass along the information provided to me from Sen. Feinstein's office last week. For that I apologize to all. I also certainly didn't intend to push anyone's buttons but suffice it to say, if I were in fact "Mighty" these issues would have been fixed years ago!

In any event, I apparently didn't adequately convey my point that the retention funding was the Senator's idea, not ours. All we did, with the incredible assistance of many firefighters across California, was educate both CA Senators and many House members about the losses of firefighters, the effects on staffing etc.

The data supplied was overwhelming and when in April of '08 the Agency denied any "retention" issues, the Senator took control and demanded action. To be honest, the $25 million was a complete surprise to me. Once I learned about it I offered to the Senator that the issues facing many federal wildland firefighters, while perhaps more pronounced in CA, affected all firefighters in all agencies and the focus of any reforms should be nationally.

However as a CA Senator and Chair of the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee, it was her decision to address the retention issues in her state in the manner in which she did.

Once the RO determined how he was going to use the funds, we did weigh in about how we thought it should be used. We did suggest that limiting the 10% bonus just to those in grades 5-8 was a mistake since many leaving the federal system were 9's and above. We also again cautioned that limiting such a bonus to R5 would send a poor signal to others across the country.

We had been pushing the Agency for several years about converting permanent part time employees to permanent and offering temporary firefighters permanent positions since the Agency found itself seeking extensions of these employees each year from OPM. We felt that by doing so, at least the employees who wanted a permanent assignment would be able to secure at least some benefits rather than simply being extended and abused.

Personally, while I'm glad that many who wanted PFTs got them, I think R5, based upon the feedback it received during retention meetings in Sacramento could have been a bit more genuine in responding to the retention issue by focusing on long-term reforms, not just temporary fixes. Again, just my opinion.

So to all, I apologize if I didn't articulate my information very well. Been a little focused on getting this legislation introduced. I will seek the info you asked for in your post.



12/7 Hi All,

Mellie here. I talked and emailed with Tammy Roberts and her daughter Jayne this morning. They put the finishing touches on Scott's obituary
and got it to the Quincy paper:

Scott Carl Roberts, 39, of Quincy California, passed away in the early hours of December 4th with his wife and family by his side.
Scott was a huge part of the WildlandFire.com Community. He was a major and longtime moderator known as MOD RED on the
Hotlist. Serving wildland firefighters was his passion and he loved every second he spent donating his time.

He is survived by his wife, Tammy Roberts of Quincy; mother and father, Carl and Sally Roberts of Winston, OR; sister and
brother-in-law, Katy and Donnie Raney, of El Paso. TX; step-son James Keffer of Quincy; step-daughter Jayne and son-in-law
Jason Erwin; and his two grandchildren, whom he loved so very much, Jordan and Jessica Erwin of Orcutt, CA. Scott was a great
friend to those close to him.. He will be missed greatly. Scott, we will see you again when we, too, reach the arms of the Lord.

Remembrances can be made in Scott's name to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. wffoundation.org

I talked with Scott's dad Carl yesterday. The memorial service for Scott is being planned to take place in Winston, Oregon where Scott
has a large extended family on Scott's 40th birthday, January 9, 2010. More info on the exact location will be available soon.

A "Pass the Boot" bank account was opened to help Tammy as she deals with this transition. It's not easy financially.
Neither Scott nor Tammy would ask, but I will since they're not eligible for WFF help.

Please kick in 5 or 10 bucks or more. It doesn't take much to support one of our own. You can go into any Wells Fargo Bank and deposit a donation to the Scott Roberts Benefit Memorial Fund or mail a donation made out to
Scott Roberts Benefit Memorial Fund
Wells Fargo Bank
1103 G Street
Arcata CA 95521
(attn Michael Alvarado)



12/7 Ab,

Thank you for removing the personal attack note; it had no place on this site. Agree or disagree, we should do so with respect.

Casey, can you tell me what the fund designation for the $25 million was? Was it an add on to the WFPR, or did it have its own designation? The latter should be relatively easy to track via workplans and quarterly finance statements that would be available through any R5 forest. Know that in a "charged as worked" system, the time for personnel specialists to process the changes in tours, and other paperwork associated with "bonus" payments would be rightly charged to that fund. Good luck with this effort. I hope you are able to get the answers that should be freely forthcoming....especially with our new "transparent" executive administration.


12/7 Wings of the future?

R5: Unmanned Aircraft Conducts Post-Burn Assessments

On Nov. 19, a remotely piloted NASA aircraft conducted post-burn assessments of two Southern California wildfire sites - the Piute Fire in Kern County and the Station Fire in the Angeles NF. Ikhana, an unmanned aircraft equipped with an infrared imaging sensor, completed a seven-hour imaging flight from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. The scanner collected images that will indicate the severity of devastation within the fire area. The FS will use these images for BAER.

12/7 Dennis Brown has retired: USFS to CAL FIRE

The Aviation Management Unit of CAL FIRE has selected Dennis Brown as the new Aviation Safety Officer.

Dennis recently retired from the USFS and comes to CAL FIRE with 35 years experience in many aspects of firefighting with the USFS. Recently he brings experience and insight from his last position as the USFS Region 5 Regional Aviation Safety Officer.

Over the years, Dennis has proven his dedication to improving aerial firefighting safety not only as the USFS Aviation Safety officer, but also with his involvement with the Air Tactical Group Supervisor training program. His calm and effective management style coupled with his skills as a competent ATGS has helped to train many new ATGS candidates.

I am confident he will offer the CAL FIRE aviation program new vision and help to make an outstanding aviation program even stronger!


12/7 Passing of Dean Moore

Santa Barbara County Firefighter Dean Moore
13 Years of Dedicated Service

Santa Barbara County Fire Department will pay final tribute to Fire Heavy Equipment Operator Dean Moore who passed away on Sunday, November 29, 2009. Dean Moore’s Active Duty Death was a result of a hard fought battle with cancer. Dean Moore was 51 years old.

Dean was hired by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department on April 22, 1996. Dean served the citizens of Santa Barbara County and the State of California for 13 years as a Fire Heavy Equipment Operator. Dean was stationed in Los Alamos.
4410 Cathedral Oaks Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93110

A Fire Department Funeral Service is planned for 10:30 am on Thursday, December 10, 2009. The service will take place at the Santa Ynez Mission, located at 1760 Mission Drive in Santa Ynez. Immediately following the Funeral Service, a reception is planned at the Veterans Memorial Hall located at 1745 Mission Drive.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department would be pleased to have your department represented at the Funeral Service and attend the reception. Please RSVP to Captain Martin Johnson (805-681-5519) for personnel and apparatus attendance. Information on the Funeral Service itinerary, staging information, parking and traffic plan will be forthcoming upon receipt of your RSVP.

Thank you for your support.
Fire Chief Michael W. Dyer

12/6 response to post on telephone answering manners:


What a horrible way to give a complement. I am baffled as to why you went through such a lengthy and incredulous story to attempt to pay a complement to “fire people”. What’s your point? It suggests a Neanderthal like view “fire good – everyone else bad” that serves no purpose except to divide. I take issue with the way you generalized one seemingly bad experience to reflect poorly on all non “fire people”. I think you would be surprised how many injured firefighters end up doing receptionist duty. Forest Service receptionists are some of the lowest paid and unappreciated employees in the agency, yet they have to exercise extreme patients while serving an impatient and often rude public. If you have spoken with as many federal employees as you claimed, you would know that we all but shut down this time of year because of our use or lose leave policy. You would not be surprised if no one was available. If I were to believe the description of your anger, I would question the way you asked for the information before I would find fault with anyone who answers your call. Receptionists I have known, in all agencies, through my 28 years with the Forest Service have all been courteous and tactful while dealing with the public, however, some may have also hung up on rude and unreasonable people, and I don’t blame them.

As a “fire person”, I do not welcome a complement at the expense of someone else in the Forest Service family. Judging from your high regard for “fire people” I am sure you would expect nothing less.


h, I know what you mean. Generalizations based on one person's behavior are hard to take. I have a possible solution, a little experiment:

FOBS 73, I know you as fair and balanced and above all, as professional. Your students sing your praises. Send me the FS receptionist's phone number and let me and several others call to see if we're treated the same way you were. I'd be happy to assess the person's behavior. Rather than tarnish all FS non-fire employees in a generalization, we could have other reports of this one person's attitude, telephone answering and problem solving skills. Maybe he was just having one bad day... Maybe he had a death in the family. On the other hand, answering the phone on behalf of the Agency is better done by some than by others. Maybe he is a poor FS representative "voice to the public" and needs to be reported as such to his superiors. Ab.

12/6 Just found this on the server... should have dropped into my mailbox on Dec 3... I can't post the attached article without violating copyright. Ab.

Re: Fire History on the Angeles within the Station Fire Perimeter

hi ab

while surfing the web tonight looking up some reference material for rx burning chaparral I came across this research article about large fires and varied age mosaics in brush. The interesting part is the fire history maps of the late 1870 and early 1900's on the Angeles NF that show the burn patterns of these fires especially the 1880's fire resemble the Station Fire and where it stopped near Pacifico Mtn. Also notice the picture of the plume with building in front; looks like the Station plume with the LA skyline.

Good read. Later


Large, high-intensity fire events in southern California shrublands: debunking the fine-grain age patch model
Jon E Keeley and Paul H. Zedler
Ecological Applications, 19(1), 2009, pp. 69–94
copyright 2009 by the Ecological Society of America

12/6 Scattershooting:


First and foremost, my deepest sympathies to you and to Scott's family and friends; along with belated thanks to Scott for his important contributions to wildlandfire.com.

Second: Very glad to see photos of the SQF Organized Crews on the Handcrews 26 page -- I had the privilege of spending a couple of tours as CREP with the Cobras and Scorpions when the program was titled Porterville Organized Crews a few years back -- good folks and fine firefighters. Glad to see that the program is healthy and continuing.

Third: Recently had the opportunity to take L381 - Incident Leadership. Best class, fire or non-fire, that I've ever taken. Lots of carryover application into everyday work, not just incidents, which is very valuable to me as a member of the wildland fire "militia". Recommend it highly, even if it is not required for your target position.

Finally: Wishing you and the entire TheySaid community a great holiday season, and good health and safety in the new year.

As always, Ab, thanks to you and the others who make TheySaid and wildlandfire.com possible.


12/6 Re: Capitol Improvement $$

Thanks, Casey. Keep up the good work.


12/6 A good message from the Hotlist. Ab.

As the holiday season comes upon us, we here at the foundation have our thoughts drawn toward all the losses suffered in the Wildland community. This season there are 22 new kids added to our list that won't have their dads home for Christmas this year.

Have you ever thought about what you could do to make a difference in the life of a child? A donation from you to our Santa's helper program can insure a little better Christmas morning for a family that needs a little extra love and cheer.

Imagine your home with the stockings hung high. For these families one stocking will be missing. We cannot ease that pain but we can help with the pressures of the holiday season.

We know there are a lot of requests out there for your assistance, but we feel this is a critical need in the Wildland community. Help us show how caring this community really is.

For more information Please email info@ wffoundation.org or call: Toll Free (877) 336-2950

12/6 Condolences

We're sorry for your loss. We're thankful for the work Scott put into this site, in that small thing a positive legacy of him will continue.


Thanks Fred. Ab.

12/6 GP:

I wholeheartedly agree with you that the condition of facilities in which firefighters work and live are of paramount concern with respect to the overall feeling of satisfaction in working for the Agency. Likely the condition of facilities played an important role in the recent "places to work" poll where the FS found itself near the bottom.

My point was that the $25 million inserted into the Omnibus language last year for firefighter retention was not intended to be used for Capitol Improvements which is why the Regional Forester was apparently instructed not to use the funds for such expenses. That being said, some So's got some makeovers???

Capitol Improvement costs are a budgeted part of the Agency. It is the Agency's inherent responsibility to ensure its facilities meet applicable codes etc. It is clear the Agency has done a poor job in that regard.

History will show that the FS has done a poor job outlining its Capitol Improvement needs to the Administration and that it has failed to take advantage of funding for such improvements as the Park Service has in recent years.

When we look at what the Agency has spent on fire facilities and housing in R5, and compare it to the funds it has expended on such luxury management items as Brazil Ranch, Supervisors' Offices and perhaps even the RO, it remains clear that firefighters continue to be at the bottom of the food chain. It also reinforces the mess that is the fiscal management of the Agency overall and it's overall spending priorities.

Perhaps folks would seek information from the Agency on P.L 109-54, the Forest Service Facility Realignment & Enhancement Act of 2005 and see what, if anything was spent on firefighter facilities and housing.

Utilizing part of the $25 million retention funding for improvements to an SO is no different than siphoning off huge sums from the top of the preparedness budget to fund ASC.

These are simply my personal observations.


12/6 Esperanza Report and Acronyms

While not getting into the details of the report, I would like to suggest that folks take a look at the appendix of acronyms that is attached to it. I believe that this is the best compilation of fire acronyms I have ever encountered, I did not read each to verify accuracy but those I did read were right and true. This appendix could easily be used as a training aid for new firefighters, media, law enforcement, law makers, etc. to educate them in the peculiar language of the fire professional.


I added a direct link to our list of Fire Acronyms, Glossaries, Red Card Mnemonics and Unit Identifiers at the top of this table under the WFF ribbon. We're near the end of the year so please feel free to check for additions or corrections. In looking over the list on the Esperanza Report, FBAN is incorrect in that it refers to a redcard position and FBAN and RUC (Rapid Update Cycle) are not referred to in the report. Perhaps an earlier version of the report included more on fire behavior analysis and weather. Ab.

12/6 condolences

Hello Abs.

Just as you all were here for us during Tom's death, we'll be here for you too. I'm very sorry for your loss and since Scott was such a part of Wildlandfire.com and our fire community, we'll all feel a part of that loss as well.

Take care of yourselves and each other.


Thanks Ben. Ab.

12/5 Casey-

Capitol improvement is a MAJOR retention issue. In many instances, Federal FF are working in S--- hole stations. Old relics from the 1940”s in some cases. I say, if some of the $25mm was spent on facilities, GOOD. Some stations have had un-potable water for years. So what if some money was spent on a new water well. . Some stations have had leaking roofs, bad carpet, broken windows, etc. It’s OK to spend retention $$ on facilities. The FF are safer and taken care of. That’s my read.


12/5 Thank you very much!

Lynn Wilcock

12/5 More on R5 Retention funding:

My conversations with Senate staff while in Washington on this subject provided as many answers as it produced new questions.

The same questions the wildland firefighting community has been asking about how last year's $25 million was spent on firefighter retention have been asked by Senate staff. They have received the same answers from the Agency...ZIP!

I was informed that on more than one occasion, the R5 Regional Forester sought permission to utilize some of those funds for capitol improvement, claiming that capitol improvement in some way would help retention issues. On each occasion, he was told NO. However, it is clear that significant capitol improvements to SOs, and elsewhere have occurred.

Although Senate staff understood that some forests had been using Hazardous fuels reduction dollars for the personnel conversions (supposedly being funded out of this $25 million) it did not seem as though they were too interested in publicly seeking transparency with respect to how these funds were actually spent. Thus it may be necessary to seek help from someone in the House to ask the GAO to do a report on where the money went.

With respect to future retention funding, it was clear the potential for continuing the funding of bonuses and implementing other retention tools is in jeopardy. Senate staff suggested that "losses" of federal firefighters had slowed down and cited the serious budget implications throughout California, indicating that likely Cal-Fire and local government fire agencies would be laying off firefighters and thus "job security" in the federal sector would be better than that in other sectors. I responded that job security is not synonymous with high morale.

Hopefully more will follow.


12/4 Hi to all:

Senator Feinstein is interested in feedback from federal wildland firefighters regarding the recently released Esperanza Report. I offered to her office while there yesterday to seek such feedback and forward it along. Therefore if anyone has any comments, please email me directly at cjudd@fwfsa.org.

Additionally my trip to Washington was successful in securing additional bipartisan (both Republican & Democrat) members to join our bill as "original cosponsors." I am confident we'll get a few more early next week and we have been promised the bill will be introduced before Dec. 18th.

The reason we want to have a group of bipartisan folks on board when the bill is introduced is that often times, other members of Congress interested in a bill will cosponsor once they see who is already on the bill. Very few want to take the initial leap but many follow once someone does.

I was very humbled to receive the email below (names removed for now) from a Republican staffer since the bill's lead is a democrat. This type or bipartisan support is demonstrative of years and years of relationship building between the FWFSA and these offices. Hopefully all of you federal wildland firefighters will pay close attention to the last sentence. Clearly your voice is being heard on Capitol Hill.

That being said, the Senate, as I said before will be a tough road. In fact the senate has not finished much of its required business before the Holiday adjournment date. They are a different animal and your voices will be critical to getting a bill introduced in the Senate.

"Also, I was able to speak with Mr. XXXXX last night and he has agreed to jump on board as an original cosponsor. I just let XXXXX in XXXXX’s office know a couple of minutes ago. So I hope this helps them speed the introduction. If there is anything I or Mr. XXXXXX can do to help move the bill along please don’t hesitate to ask. We would both love to see this legislation become law, we both feel legislation of this type is much overdue. Thanks,"


12/4 From all of us at wildlandfire.com:

We're sad to say that Scott Roberts of Quincy CA passed away at 2 AM this morning as a result of the heart attack he suffered several days ago. He never regained consciousness.

We've lost a good friend, community member and major contributor to the formation of the Hotlist. Scott was here almost in the beginning with us as we built the new Hotlist site and worked out the bumps. (Mod Green is our other original Hotlist moderator.)

Scott's input was incredibly helpful. His fire background from Oregon and the PNW was invaluable. We Abs relied on him. In the early days Mod-Red -- Scott -- moderated on the weekdays along with Ab or OA and was also often present on weekends. In addition, he posted under his own moniker sr5401. He was free with his time and attention to those who contacted him. He cared. Scott was easy to work with, professional, a fine writer, and balanced in his interactions with everyone, steady.

He lives on in the community he's left behind. Always remembered.

We'll miss him. Our heartfelt condolences to Tammy and his family.

The Abs and Mods

12/4 Ab,

This should satisfy all the "inquiring minds who want to know" about the Raging Sand Fires...


With your fire behavior background, you'll appreciate this story. In the late 80's we started to receive warning notices about the fuels conditions and extreme fire behavior potential in northern CA and the northern Rockies. One of my engine captains and the BLM Yuma District FMO conspired one night in a pub to use this same format to alert visiting crews to the CA Desert District about unique hazards due to heavy concentrations of potassium permanganate that is commonly found in desert soils.  The fictitious 1990 Shifting Sands Fire shelter deployment was used as a case study to offer further proof of the deadly consequences to unwary firefighters who may not recognize the danger of the "Raging Sand Fire".

Additional documentation was offered by doctored photographs taken with a telephoto lens which showed three deployed and perfectly formed upright fire shelters surrounded by 8-10 ft. flame lengths.  The photos were taken from about 20 feet away and long lens compressed the scene to look like something out of Dante's Inferno. The area surrounding the shelters had drip torch fuel-soaked cardboard buried a few inches below the surface which gave the illusion that the sand was intensely burning.

We had a lot of fun passing out the Raging Sand Fire warning notice and Shifting Sands Fire investigation report during our S-190 courses. We always had one or two newbies in the class who swallowed it hook, line and sinker. We even developed a set of survival guidelines to be followed if you are ever caught in a Raging Sand Fire such as:

  1. You can't outrun a Raging Sand Fire because every step you take will ignite.
  2. You can't scrape down to mineral soil to deploy a shelter because it only intensifies the burning process.

After awhile they would realize they'd been had and we'd joke about it for the rest of the season. We had a bunch of handouts leftover from the 1990 fire refresher course so I sent them to my old Redding Hotshot Superintendent so they would be prepared in case they were ever dispatched down south to a Joshua Tree fire. That was the same year my vehicle, tent and everything I didn't have with me on the fireline was incinerated during the Stormy Complex (not a Ranging Sand Fire) on the Sequoia National Forest. I went to the Forest Supervisors office to obtain some forms needed to file my claim to replace personal items when I noticed the Sand Fire Warning tacked to the safety notice bulletin board. I asked the gal behind the desk if she was aware of the dangers of Ranging Sand Fires in the CA Desert.  She replied, "Oh yes, isn't that amazing? We've circulated this notice to all our fire stations". I did my best to keep a straight face and called Lanky a few days later after I was demobed.  When he answered I told him that the folks on the Sequoia took it seriously expecting him to LOL.  Instead there was a long pause on the phone and he said, "You mean it's not real? Heck no, there's no such thing as a Raging Sand Fire, why do you ask"?

Well, apparently when he received my package of Sand Fire notices he sent one to the R5 Regional Safety Officer who copied and distributed them to every Forest in the region.  A copy was also sent to the WO Safety Officer and I heard that copies eventually ended up going to all the cooperating agencies as well. I apologized and asked him if I should write a letter explaining it was only intended to be a joke and he told me not to, hoping it would die out on its own (like wildland sand fire use?).

So here we are 20 years later and the Foam Geek has resurrected the Raging Sand Fire phenomena.  It wouldn't surprise me if he isn't the author and genius behind it all. Attached for your review is a scanned copy of the original documents complete with spelling errors which should have been the first clue that something is fishy. Sorry, I can't find the photos which went with the investigation report.  Perhaps Foam Geek has them. It still amazes me that it got as far as it did.  Please don't forward it to the WO Safety Officer... on second thought, if you type in "Feasibility Analysis -- Fire Protection Contracting in Southern California (DRAFT) February 8, 2008" as a footer, they'll believe anything.

Fire Geek

12/4 Fire Retirement Age:

Is there any scuttlebutt about raising the retirement age beyond 57 for FS fire folks?

How is this not age discrimination?


12/4 Wildland Firefighters and the Families of Fallen and Injured Firefighters appreciate your support.

Please check out the KTVL.COM website. The video only takes a minute.

My best to you...

The title. Please contribute to the WFF. Ab.

12/3 Why I like working with "fire folks."

It has been a long time since I posted. I have been trying to call one of the Fly Crews today to work out some teaching dates for next spring, and their phone has been out of service. Tried repeatedly over the morning and it would not work. Double checked that it was not at my end, and finally called the SO for that crew.

I had never called the SO before.

It was an experience.

First off, the person who answered the phone, did not give a name. My first reaction was that I had missed dialed. Main line to a major government agency, on the published web-page phone number, and no “This is -----, how can I help you.”

Explaining that I have been trying to get in contact with “X,” and the phone lines have not been working, I asked is there anyone I could speak with whom might be able to help find an alternative number or confirmer that the phone system is operational. Without getting into the long version of this conversation (some of it was really amazing), I finally asked “You are telling me, there is no one there who can help me get in contact with “X” crew or tell me if there is a phone problem at that location.” “Can’t help you” “Click”

After melting an eighty-pound block of ice with my head, and letting my BP dropped below the critical hyper-tension level, I am finally able to think clearly. This is what came to mind.

In the last 25 years, I have spoken with fire people in every federal fire organization, and within every level of those organizations. From the top brass in the WO, to Boise, to regions, and down to first year firefighters. I have had contact with hundreds, if not thousands of federal fire folks. I speak with at least one person at North Zone weekly (three different people today). And guess what, they ALWAYS solve the problem, answer the question or go out of their way to find someone who can. Dispatch- question answered. Training- problem solved. Hotshots, Jumpers, and NZ Weather- support given. Cache- “come on down, we will show you how to make those orders flow faster.” Intel- “here’s the data.” Chiefs- “hey I am swamped, but I know someone who can answer that, let me find the number.”

In 25-years, I have never, had anyone, in any federal, state, or local government FIRE agency, who did not solve the problem, answer the question, or find someone for me to speak with who could.

For all of you fire folks”, all I can say is thank you.


P.S.- Used fire staff at NZ to solve the problem. I should have started there in the first place.

12/3 Esperanza Report

Ab, Esperanza Report is on the USDA / OIG Site:


http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/Esperanza Fire - ROI.pdf

12/3 Dark Ridge Felling Accident, 72 hr report


old hickory

12/3 The Esperanza Report should be out by now.

Not at Lessons Learned. Not at R5 FAM, Not at the national FS website under news releases...

Where is it???


12/3 What burns... Response to Burning Sands Fires  ===> Raging Muck Fires of FL

Hey Ab,

Anything will burn given the right conditions. Raging Sand Fires can be an extremely powerful force of nature. Another example are the Florida Muck Fires. During the 2007 National Fuels and Fire Behavior Conference, Susan McClellan (Florida Department of Forestry) gave an entire presentation on the hazards of Raging Muck Fires. I was even given a plastic bag sample of some Polk County Grade-A Muck to warn CA firefighters what to look for on swamp fire assignments. Attached are a few slides from her talk.


Perhaps a Fire Geologist can better explain how the combustion process is possible.

Fire Geek

Hotlist thread...

12/3 Book sponsor:

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Links to Deer Valley Press and Bill's website are available on the Hotlist Forum, Books Page, and Classified Ads page.

12/3 Learning Culture / Just Culture:
Dr. Kern on Pilot Professionalism

here's an excellent post I clipped off Tony Kern's blog-site.

It touches on a just culture, learning through story telling and risk management.

The Janus of Close Calls: A Tale of Two Mishaps Flight 1549 –  “Miracle on the Hudson.” and TransGlobal Airlines Flight 1144)

In both of these cases (if the NTSB early reports on Flight 1549 are accurate), the pilots failed to activate the "ditching switch" prior to a water landing. The major difference between these two accidents was not the skill or expertise of the Captain or crew, but rather the circumstantial factors that surrounded them. In one case, rescuers were on the scene in a matter of minutes, in the other, they could not reach the aircraft until it went under.

<snip> Outcomes should not be used to evaluate our need to improve or make changes. Please understand that this is not intended to take anything away from the stellar crew of Flight 1514. It is intended to cut through the media fueled hype to take advantage of some free lessons.


Read the whole article. Well worth it. Ab.

12/3 Passing of Chad Howard

Please pass on to the fire community that another great one has passed. Chad Howard passed away the evening of December 1 after a 3 year battle with a brain tumor. It was a long fight and Chad certainly didn't go down easy. Chad worked on the Lolo Hotshots prior to joining Krassel Helitack. His positive attitude and light hearted approach to life was always a boost to crew moral. Attached is a message from his wife Julia (they were married last week):

As the firefighting community was so important to Chad and did an amazing job at supporting us, we have chosen to have people donate to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in memory of Chad E. Howard. If you would like to make a gift in Chad’s memory please go to wffoundation.com and click on the Donate Today link on the left. Then when filling out the form there is a place to type in Chad’s name. This organization has been so wonderful to Chad as well as the families of the 2006 Krassel helicopter crash victims (4 of Chad’s closest friends). The firefighting community is something that is very dear to our hearts. I have never met a firefighter that I didn’t like . Chad used to say to me, “I am a firefighter….I save babies!!” I think this was his pick up line by the way! I guess it worked. As far as memorials, Chad was not much of a pomp and circumstance kind of guy (which made him fit our family quite well) and we thought a big bash in his memory would honor him well. I know that our Krassel peeps are honoring Chad tonight at the Salmon River Brewery in McCall, ID and we are going on a pub tour on Friday with Chad’s best friend and brother. At some point we will put together a memorial at the Blacksmith Brewery in Stevensville, MT and of course there will be a strong presence at the pig roast in June. These are all places that Chad loved and enjoyed. I know they will honor his spirit and he and the other angels in our lives will be by our sides toasting with us!

Thanks for loving Chad with me!! We all know he was a force to be reckoned with!!



Have a safe journey Chad. Your smile will be missed, but your spirit will forever be a part of Krassel. Say hello to the rest of our friends.


Condolences. Ab.

12/3 Casey just called from DC.

He's not near his computer and asked me to relay to all that the Esperanza Report should be out about noon Pacific Time. He said that according to Harbour and Feinstein it does not contain any bombshells. Ab.

12/3 On the Burning Sands question, this came in last night:

Haz Sand Fire Area

I don't know any more than that. Maybe someone from R3 or socal can comment. Ab. (tongue in cheek)

12/2 Wildland firefighter legislation update:

Good evening to all:

These 48 hour trips to DC are hell but I wanted to update folks on our legislation.

I am confident the bill will be introduced before Dec. 18th, the day the House of Representatives is scheduled to adjourn for the holidays. Currently the primary author is working to secure a few bipartisan co-authors or "original co-sponsors" to be named on the bill at introduction. The FWFSA is helping with that.

Although the primary author is a Democrat, I was humbled to chat with a Republican Congressman this morning who indicated just how much he liked the bill. He is a strong supporter of the private sector but agreed that with complexities and costs of wildfires, a better balance of federal, state, local government and private entities must be achieved.

We are also working on the Senate side which is usually a tougher road to hoe. I was a bit shocked to spend nearly an hour and a half with a Western Senator this morning going through the bill. Usually you're lucky to get 20 minutes. I was encouraged that the Senator wanted to learn and understand the issues rather than just rely of staff for advice/guidance on the bill.

Tomorrow will be more meetings. I had requested time to meet with the Deputy Undersecretary of Ag but had not heard back from the office by this evening.

Additionally, Senate staff has informed me that the long-overdue Esperanza report should be released tomorrow. Tomorrow will also be the day I seek answers to the "$25 million question" of how the retention money in the Forest Service' R-5 was actually spent.

I also had the pleasure of having dinner with Tony Vergnetti of FEDS this evening. Although language in our bill seeks to address the current law dealing with FF liability, OIG reports etc., I can't underscore enough just how important it is for firefighters to secure PLI. As most know, the FWFSA endorses FEDS and FWFSA members receive a slight break on their premiums.

Once I return home I will put together a contact sheet for congressional representatives if you are inclined to communicate with your representative. We'll have a "cheat sheet" summarizing the bill to assist in your communications with your elected officials.

Needless to say this communication will probably be more effective once the bill is introduced and has a number assigned to it, but for those offices who we have worked very hard with and who are well-informed on the bill, we can start having constituents communicate with them even before the bill is introduced.

Some FFs have communicated with me privately suggesting we'd never see a bill and should work on the issues one at a time. However our approach to working on a comprehensive bill was validated by every office I was in today and we will have a bill introduced that will at the very least, serve to start the process of providing our Nation's federal wildland firefighters with the pay, benefits and working conditions they have deserved for far too long.

More to follow.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

PLI=Professional Liability Insurance

Thanks, Casey. Ab.

12/2 Alaska wildfire article


I am writing an article for Alaska Magazine for late summer 2010, and was hoping to talk to one or two folks who have been involved in fire fighting in Alaska as well as Washington or around the Lower 48. Any stories highlighting particular dangers or procedures of fire fighting is great, and particularly interested in contrasting the experience in Alaska with the experience down south. Do you have any folks interested in sharing their stories?


Shannon Huffman Polson

Firefighters, I'd be happy to pass on Shannon's contact info. Ab.

12/2 Learning Culture / Just Culture:

Ab, here are a couple of powerpoint programs everyone should take time to view... I'd be curious to hear feedback... jag

http://gacc.nifc.gov/rmcc/Risk Management 2009.pdf (and HERE in case the link is broken)

True Safety Lies in Learning

  • Learning is about seeing failure as part of a system.
  • Learning is about countermeasures that remove error-producing conditions so there won't be a next time.
  • Learning is about increasing the flow of safety-related information.
  • Learning is about…the continuous improvement that comes from firmly integrating the terrible event in what the system knows about itself.

www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/hotshots/ppts/risk-management-2007.ppt and HERE in case the link is broken)

"A system cannot learn from failure and punish supposedly responsible individuals or groups at the same time.”
~~ Sidney Dekker

12/2 Mystery report? burning sands? Big Ernie?

Ab, coupla friends were sitting around the other night talking about warnings they'd seen or heard about long before the days of theysaid. A number of stories came up, but one was about desert sands that burned from the deposits in them. Does anyone know the story or the origin of it? He thought it was late '80s or early '90s. Figured i better ask before all the old dogs that might know are long gone to Ernie, another entity we discussed. When where did that one start. The old guy thought Oregon or Washington.

Lotsa good old stories when you get the older guys lubed up and hair let down a little. if hair is not all gone.


12/2 Update on Scott, our Mod-Red:

I heard from Tammy, Scott's wife. He's still not doing very well following the heart attack. Seizures are a complication. They should know the results of all the tests this evening.

She says to thank everyone for the prayers. A family member will be updating on the hotlist.

We continue to hope.


Hotlist thread

12/2 This will make for an interesting risk assessment. Noname

Night Helicopter ops to be reviewed.


12/2 Prescribed Burning is an opportunity to see what fire does. The Shasta Trinity National Forest is reducing fuels around LakeHead (Shasta Lake CA).

Here are a couple of photos of the Shasta Lake Hotshot Crew from the middle of last month by photographer Nathan Morgan:
Shasta Lake Hotshot Crew
more Shasta Lake Hotshot Crew

Going for the "Poppet Flat island effect" in the next local firestorm.

Hotshot's gal

12/2 Ab,

For folks looking for jobs, don't forget about Savannah River in R-8 (SC). It's a great place to get your foot in the door as while providing details and excellent training opportunities. Not much wildfire and lots of Rx. Great place to pick up Rx experience. Pay attention to AVUE in the near future, they have 3 GS-5 Firefighter, 2 GS-6 Engine Operators and 2 GS-7 Asst. Engine Captains vacant and should be open pretty soon. The folks that leave Savannah River usually leave for AFMO or FMO positions. Think about it.

Sign me....DIV-1

12/2 Update from the group working on the 2010 IRPG update. The guide is scheduled to be available the first week of January 2010

This 2010 edition of the Incident Response Pocket Guide reflects feedback from the first national comprehensive review of this publication since it was initially put into service in 1999. To denote this, the cover color has been changed to orange. There are a number of changes and corrections from the previous 2006 edition. This page provides a summary of notable changes:

New References
Specific Hazards Section (gold pages)
Roadside Response Safety
Oil and Gas Site Safety
All Hazard Incident Response
Heat-Related Injuries
Fire Danger Pocket Card
Fire Behavior Hauling Chart
Probability of Ignition Charts
Fireline Location
Working with Heavy Equipment
Engine and Water Tender Typing
Mark 3 Pump Information
Reporting Fire Chemical Introductions

Deleted References
SAMPLE Patient History (2006 edition page 36)
START Patient Triage (2006 edition page 40)
Flight Manager (2006 edition page 47)
PPE for Flight (2006 edition page 50)
Effective Use of SEATs (2006 edition pages 62-63)
USFS Visual Signal Code (2006 edition page 66)
Line Production Rates (2006 edition pages 88-90)
Dozer Use Hand Signals (2006 edition page 91)
Radio Frequencies and Contact Lists (2006 edition pages 100-102)

Existing References with Significant Changes
Wildland Urban Interface Firefighting
Hazard Tree Safety
HazMat Isolation Distances
Helicopter Passenger Briefing and PPE
Working with Airtankers
Procedural Felling Operations
Water Handling Information
Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics

Existing References Moved
After Action Review (green section to front section)
Direct Attack / Indirect Attack (green section to white section)
Power Line Safety (green section to gold section)
Thunderstorm Safety (white section to gold section)
Hazard Tree Safety (white section to gold section)

12/2 For young people wishing to investigate training or sign up for Fire Fighter 1 training, please visit the Universities and Colleges offering courses and the CA Regional Occupational Program list. If anyone knows of a similar ROP list for other states, please let us know. If you have questions, read through our FAQs. In addition the ebook Wildland Firefighter Jobs is good. Many classes begin in January but as you can see below, some are getting underway now. Ab.
12/2 Wildland Fire Science Class

We're holding an organizational recruitment meeting for our fire science class: 12/8 at Frasier Mountain HS in Lebeck (LPF).
Class starts on 12/11.

Wildland Fire Science Class To Be Offered


12/2 Ab, please post this. JJ

Sign-up now for wildland fire fighting course

The U.S. Forest Service in conjunction with Kern Valley High School and the Regional Occupation Program (ROP) will provide a Wildland Fire Fighting Course for the 2010 spring semester. The course is designed to cover the basic information needed for beginning fire fighters with federal and county agencies in the field of Wildland Fire suppression. It will include instruction in basic fire fighting, engine and pump use, chain saws, firing devices, air operations and others.

This course is offered to high school seniors and graduates who have an interest in fire fighting occupations. (more info on contacts and sign-ups)

12/1 Grass-

The FS Outreach database for upcoming nationwide vacancies can only be accessed through Lotus Notes. (Exception being R5's Outreach website). Your best shot at working year round as a GS 2/3/4/5 apprentice will be in Southern California, most other Regions are more than happy to cut the 13/13 and 18/8 fire personnel for the winter while they work for rec/timber/range/GIS. There are exceptions, you've just got to find them.

My advice for jobs outside of R5 is to call the places that you'd want to work before they even post vacancies and get to know them... USFS jobs are plentiful in the Republic of California, they are not in other regions... so you're going to want to be proactive if you've hopes of perm employment elsewhere. Just keep that pulse and you'll get picked up somewhere in R5 eventually.

Out sick and quite bored.

12/1 We're pleased to announce a new advertiser with what we think is a long overdue product. Our staff spends a lot of time answering emails from folks around the world asking how to become a wildland firefighter. This new guidebook appears to be the answer to those questions and much more. Constantine says," This down loadable eBook will show you how to apply to the correct wildland fire jobs, when you should do it, how you can avoid disqualification, get your name in front of the decision makers, rank well among other candidates, and help you land a wildland firefighter job."

You can find where and how to get a copy by visiting the Books Page or the Classifieds Page. There's a "Wildland Firefighter Jobs" banner at the top of books. OA

12/1 Good morning community.


One of our moderators, Scott (our dear and beloved mod-red) was life flighed from his home in the Sierras to a large hospital and is in intensive care in ICU following an apparent heart attack.

His wife is by his side and parents and sister are flying in from Texas at noon. Please send out good thoughts and prayers for him and his family. Scott has been a major and long time moderator on the hotlist and recently has been spearheading the behind the scenes info gathering for the Always Remember! project. He and his wife were greatly looking forward to a trip to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation middle of December. I am in shock and tears. Scott and I spoke on Thanksgiving day, celebrating family, making plans, forging ahead on projects and adventures... He's made a difference. Good man.


12/1 The International Association of Fire Chiefs' (IAFC), through its Wildland Fire Policy Committee, promotes nationwide efforts to reduce wildfire threats through aggressive prevention, mitigation, preparation and response efforts and public education. In March, the IAFC hosts its Wildland Urban Interface conference, in collaboration with the Department of the Interior, US Forest Service, National Association of State Foresters and NFPA Firewire Communities. For more information and registration, visit www.iafc.org/wui/

Ab note. This event has also been added to the Hotlist Forum calendar (upcoming events are visible at the bottom of the main forum page) . The Hotlist Forum calendar is open to most any non-profit or other worthy event contributing to or benefiting wildland firefighters.

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