January, 2010

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1/31 Abs & All,

I was saddened to read about the death of Tim Stubbs. I never got to meet Tim in person, but last September he called me out of the blue to discuss a proposal I had shared on They Said. It didn't take me long to figure out he was the real deal; a salty old fire dog who was also a scholar with a passion for sharing what he knew. We wound up having a couple of very long conversations about extreme fire behavior and threat recognition, and exchanged a few private emails on the subject afterward.

I know Tim was really enjoying the string of extreme fire behavior dialogue that was happening last fall on wildland fire.com; he had a link to it on his own fire behavior website, fbanservices.com.

My deepest sympathies to Tim's family and friends.

Tim Lynch
1/30 re: 'Golden Hour' and Med Evac Plans

As an EMT and fire fighting professional, I am disappointed that Med Evac Plans are not already in place. I have written plans for Forest and Regional Level programs that are probably sitting somewhere in a recycle bin. I do know that most Forest Supervisors have no idea how to handle medical or other emergency situations. One only has to look at recent emergencies to know that as an Agency we lack any ability to coordinate with outside programs. Of course any plan written that is not known to the masses and practiced is as worthless as the paper it is written on. I seriously doubt that they'll work with locals or EMS or find people who know what it is like to work in the field. This will only become an exercise in 'Cover Your Ass' by formulating something that looks good on paper to be filed away.

Firefighter safety? R3 can't put red lights or sirens on their response vehicles. Training is limited. AgLearn is a joke. Resources and equipment are scarce and it looks like they are going to gut the rappel program.

We're back to what was said before. The FS isn't going to do the right thing, so the people on the ground have to be the ones ready, willing and able to handle whatever may happen. Get trained, get equipped and be smart. Just don't count on the FS helping.

1/30 I just got back from doing L-381 in Missoula and was devastated to hear of Tim Stubbs' passing from Casey.

As many of you who knew him are aware, Tim always called it like it was, regardless of political fallout or adverse personal consequences that resulted from his forthright and honest approach.

Great air attack, FBAN, stalwart member of ADFA, a musician who streamed my radio shows regularly on the internet and never failed to give a call to the station.

He will be sorely missed, and I will miss him especially.


Hugh Carson
1/30 Model 48 Wheel:

The Groundpig learned that fire still burns uphill on the 48. Back at Little-T around 1970’s.

I still hate that little wheel!!!


1/30 Med Evac plans for the golden hour:

The Regional Safety does not know anything about Medical evacuation and response plans, nor does he do anything but pass his work on to others, in my opinion. (Retirement time...) I think it would be good to get Andy Palmer's dad who is a MD to share his thoughts. When I spoke with him over several days last year he had some pretty clear, logical medical guidelines for rapidly dealing with emergencies on the line.

We need the best and brightest and most motivated individuals heading this up.


1/30 Model 48 computer:

Thanks Doug.

I actually have one; I think I got it when I took S-390 back in 1975. Just looking for lesson plan material or perhaps a guidebook or manual which hopefully covers the basis and origin of it.

Very best regards,

Marty Alexander

1/30 Model 48 computer, aka Whiz Wheel:


I have the one I used to teach how to use it. The Region had a large one 5 ft. in diameter that we used. I have not seen any in my travels but there must be someone who knows where you could find one to obtain.

Doug Campbell

1/30 I had a good chuckle the other day. I over heard a conversation with a Line Officer and a Staff Officer. One of them said "you know, the Chief (Chief of the FS that is) really wants us to work on improving communications up and down the ranks with all employees, we need to figure this out and work on this". (Commence with Chuckle)

I pondered the comments for a while and thought to myself, this is not rocket science, HELLO, not to hard to figure out boys, got email addresses, got a mailing list, hit send button, email goes to employee. WOW, now you don't need to go out and contract with that communications firm to learn how to improved communications. You just saved $100,000.

If they only listened to OA a decade or so ago, problem would have been solved. Then I thought, well since you can't figure this out, we will. Forest Service, et al, should just send all letters fire and incident management related to wlf.com. All within the Rank and File will then have a one stop portal to see the multitude of official correspondence that affects them as a Wildland Firefighter. What a genius, haw.

My message back to the Chief of the FS and Line is, "We got your back Brother until you figure out the location of those elusive mailing lists and that darn send button".

Here's another one that went to your Forest Supervisor and chances are didn't make it to you. Might be a good idea for those Forest Supervisors to ask for some feedback from those Firefighter SME's for your plan. You know the ones in the field that will either provide direct care for the medical incident or direct support to medical emergency responders. Just a thought Line..........

Letterman ..... Enjoy

Date: January 21, 2010
Subject: "Golden Hour" Evacuation or Response Plans
To: Forest Supervisors

Medical evacuation and response plans are designed to ensure persons who are victims of trauma are provided adequate care in time to make a difference. Emergency responders refer to the “golden hour” as the brief window of time in which the lives of a majority of critically injured trauma patients can be saved if definitive treatment is provided. The golden hour begins at the moment of injury and ends with the necessary life-saving intervention. Which means trauma is “time sensitive”, and there is no time to waste.

Because the landscape within which our employees work is so different upon and across all 18-National Forests, I want every Forest Supervisor to develop a plan by June 1 that meets the intent of connecting employee trauma victims to adequate medical care within the golden hour across the diversity of your forests. I leave to your discretion how this will be done but encourage you to consider a number of contingencies, not relying on one method alone.

It is my expectation that these plans will be shared with Incident Management Teams during team in-briefings and that you require their use during incident management operations.

Once you have completed your plans, I would ask that you practice their use on every Ranger District through simulation or other means. I would appreciate an invitation to observe and participate in these exercises.

There are a few examples of these plans out there. Please contact Gene Smalley for more information.

Thank you for your continuing commitment to the safety and well-being of our employees.

/s/ James M. Peña (for)
Regional Forester

cc: Gene Smalley
Peter Tolosano

SME=Subject Matter Experts

1/30 Passing of Bob O’Connor:


I have posted the thread on facebook from the website (after reading it). We moved to Bouquet Canyon in 1968 from Claremont. My dad was the patrolman at that small 4 room oak house that used to stand next to the Inn. We moved down to the Texas Canyon Station while I was in Jr. High School, 70 or 71. We were there when Ron Smith, Ray Guardado and Bill "Willy" Smith were. I remember most of the Zuni hotshots, but in particular "Herman" who taught me how to play pool in the barracks. I also remember Judy Ferrel the cook for the crew. As a teenager, I hiked the firebreaks and ridges all over that canyon and went with my dad many times up to the lookout on Sierra Paloma ridge. We used to bring groceries to "charlie" don't recall his last name but he had a glass eye. Willie Smith taught me to drive the switchbacks in a VW baja up near "the falls" campground.

We moved to Oak Flat in 1974, 75. My dad worked with the Tanker Crew there. I was a rebellious young man at that time so I didn't get to involved but I loved the terrain and the ridges there. My Dad had it rough then, and after the tour at Oak Flat he left fire suppression and moved into Recreation at Crystal Lake. I think he started out at Dalton with the hotshots back in the early 60's. He was driving back and forth from Claremont when I was younger. I have HS pins from Dalton as well as Redmond. Also have a Zuni Hardhat and his fire vest from the Saugus District. My most memorable story told by him, was a fire he was on where the Cat Operator had to scoop a couple of digs so they could crawl under it. Seems a wind shift had brought the fire back at them so they prayed under the Caterpillar while the flash passed over them. He showed me the burn holes in his underwear which became the inspiration for the poem I wrote.

I miss him and my Mom both. All for now.

I want to thank you for putting the passing of my Dad on the website, I thought his fellow warriors of wildfire should know. We (Dad and I) became close after I became a father myself (as most do). Now, I am he and proud to be... So again, thank you so much!

Tony O'Connor

Nice memories, Tony, thank you. Ab.

1/30 Doug Campbell sent this to me as he sends many communications illustrating European and worldwide developments in wildland firefighting. I'd like to share it here. European Firefighters have embraced CPS language and tactics for evaluating fire situationally from the ground (as did Tim Stubbs who viewed iot as a critical tool in the FBAN toolbox).

Doug is in his 70s and is well and truly retired. He offers his CPS or Fire Signature Prediction Method free to any an all that want to use it and incorporate it into their firefighting tactics around the world. (Actually, he's done this for years.) Much of his LANGUAGE for conveying what the fire is doing and is likely to do has been incorporated into wildland firefighting courses and firefighting books by authors other than Doug in the last 10 years. Terms include those found here: CPS: Glossary of Terms and Doug's website: dougsfire.com and a must-read paper by Doug Campbell and Bruce Schubert THE  ART  OF  WILDLAND  FIREFIGHTING Ab.


Video Bosa, Sardinia, Italy 2009:

Dear Doug,
Here's attached the link with the Fire Paradox page where there are 4 movies of the summer base of Bosa (Sardinia) where operationals firefighters meet with Universities and firefighters of Spain, Italy, Morocco, Poland, France.
Text are in english and other languages are substituted.
So I think that for you is a good opportunity to know what we're doing in improving fire fighting.
Best regards.

On ven 29/01/10 5:31, François Binggeli <francois.binggeli@snip> wrote:

Video Bosa 2009:
Queridos amigos,
El dos primeros v&iacute;deo sobre Bosa 2009 est&aacute;n disponibles:

  • una s&iacute;ntesis : http://www.fireparadox.org/interact.php [1]
  • la versi&oacute;n completa de este rico momento de vida profesional y personal :
    http://www.fireparadox.org/professionnals_exchange.php [2]
    Chers amis,
    Les deux premi&egrave;res video sur Bosa 2009 sont disponibles :
  • une synth&egrave;se
  • la version compl&egrave;te de ce riche moment de vie
    professionnelle et personnelle


fireparadox.org interact.php with short Video from the Fire Paradox Base in Bosa, Sardinia, Italy, noted as [1] above
from the FireParadox website, link above:

Sometimes breaking away from conventional fire fighting methods is necessary
What does it mean to interact differently?

* To exchange and transfer the knowledge accumulated by fire experts

The creation of a global knowledge database, starting with information provided by fire fighting experts and practitioners.

fireparadox.org professionnals exchange.php with Video (4 parts) of approx 32 min duration, noted as [2] above
from the professional exchange page, link above:

During the summer 2009, the fourth operational and scientific international gathers 80 operational, scientists and students in Bosa, Sardinia - Italy, one month after an episode of very large wildfires.

Personnel of fight and scientists works on the propagation dynamics of these wildfire, the many suppression fires carried out, the capacity of fire resistance of the trees, the territorial correlation between agriculture, breeding, fire behavior and fight methods. Education acts and research orientations supplement this multi-field synergy. This rich professional experiment from two weeks is presented with the contribution of the participants who synthesize conclusions and prospects.

1/30 Historical Question for Wildland Firefighter Readership

Dear Ab:

I'm wondering if anyone out there has any information on the USFS Region 5 Model 48 Computer. I believe it was produced in the 60s based on spread rates from individual fire reports but I'd like to get confirmation.

Thanks very much in advance for any responses. Greatly appreciated.

I'm attaching a scan of the "Whiz Wheel" as I believe it was called.

Marty Alexander

1/30 Re Passing of Tim Stubbs; memory of Paul Gleason


I just read the post from Charlie Possee about Tim passing away. I too, as many others are deeply saddened. I had the rare opportunity to work with Tim and Charlie a couple years ago in Tucson. They were delivering the Paul Gleason version of S-490, Advanced Fire Behavior. It was a BETA test and I was asked to sit in as an independent review and audit of the course. I submitted a 20 page report at the end of the session.

Tim was welcoming and very easy to work with, and I was then, and still am today, professionally impressed with his keen knowledge of numbers, statistics and his “down home” style in communicating complex and technical information to his students. At the end of each day, we would conduct an AAR and discuss the day’s events and tomorrows plans, then adjourn to the lounge, where Tim and Charlie would pull out guitar’s and Tim’s case of flutes, and just start playing music. Tim kept in email contact with me since then, always inquisitive about fire behavior, politics or just how I was doing.

Just before Paul Gleason passed away, he asked us all to visit him someday. He said we could find him sitting on a grassy bench a few feet above a small mountain creek. I’d like to think he has Tim’s company now.

Thank you, Tim. For everything.

Don Will
Tahoe National Forest
Deputy Chief (Ret.)

Ref: Paul Gleason's historical letter Nice image.

1/30 Ab emailed Tony O'Connor with questions about Bob's age and his and mom's duty postings. Here's his reply:

My dad was 72 years young. He retired from the Forest Service in 1999, as the recreation supervisor at crystal lake.

He and my mother were joined (in ash) at Camp Williams (east fork San Gorgonio. Mtns) this past year. My Mom was the mail carrier in the S.G. Mtns for 17 years.

Thank you for emailing back.


Tony, thanks for sharing anything you'd like to share. This site is a historical repository among other things. Ab.

1/30 NMairbear…

So many nights I sat angry at my computer trying to wrap my mind around the dynamics of this occupation …. keyboard in front of me, Johnny Walker at my side…NMairbear…yac…lobo…ember…OA…and many others, typing into the wee hours…my friends whom I've never met face to face, yet looked forward to "speaking" with whenever time permitted…

The good ol' chat room…I just realized how badly I miss it...

I'll miss chatting about backpacking in the Sierra Nevada backcountry with my friend. I'll miss his advice and perspective. He's given me his ear and never judged me harshly while putting me in my place. He always greeted me with a "!"

I never knew him as Tim Stubbs but now I will never forget.

Rest in peace NM…Thanks for being my friend…I will miss you.

My heartfelt condolences go out to Tim's family…

Most Sincerely,

P.S. - If you are reading this, check out the chat room any night that you remember to do so, just to see who is there…lets bring the chat room back to life!...NM would LOVE it…
1/29 I spent last week with Tim engaged in his second love – music. We took his camp trailer from Carlsbad down to Terlingua, Texas and played music for four days on The Porch in the warm sun. I have attached a picture withTim and his beloved flute plus a few friends. I’m glad he had a great week.

Charlie Possee
Johnson City, Tennessee

Thanks, Charlie. I'm glad he did too. Ab.

1/29 Hey All,

We have a survey thread. Please go vote for the best hotlist poster.

Here's Original Ab's note:


If you missed it on the way in, please read the announcement at the top of the General Discussion forum before voting. Here's a shortcut: Read Me First

Your vote on this poll is important and highly appreciated!



Best IA size-up poster... who do you think?


1/29 Re: FS is Loosening Contractor standards:

Hi Ab,

I would like to have this person who feel let down contact me, I too am upset at these new rules and there are ways to possible get changes made by talking with LuAnn and Kermadine, if enough people complain. Can you send him, or her my info. (snipped email address) Also the new rule does not require tender drivers to even take the walk test anymore.


Thanks Jim, will pass your contact info to Let Down. Ab.

1/29 Re Passing of Robert James O’Connor:

I didn't know Bob passed away until now & probably a lot of other people didn't know either. I will pass your web page link to others. I worked for Bob in 1976 & 77 at Oak Flat. If you would Please pass along my e-mail address to his son so I can share some funny stories with him. Also, I wonder what the status is on Bob's brother Dick is now.

Thanks Very Much


Good to hear from you Bruce. Will pass your contact info to Anthony. Ab.

1/29 Passing of Tim Stubbs:


I am absolutely shocked and saddened to hear of Tim Stubbs passing. I've known Tim for over 17 yrs - ever since I was the IA Dispatcher for Roswell BLM and Tim was the FMO at Carlsbad National Park.

Over the years I've run into him on various fires around the country and it was always fun to catch up on news and hear Tim's unique thoughts (and opinions) on everything from fires to politics.

Tim was a very intellectual person who, with his longish hair and way of dressing, really surprised people. He really had a way with numbers, figures and stats and loved working as an FBAN and also his beloved ATGS work.

He sometimes became very disgruntled with working as an AD after he retired, and often threatened to quit going out, but his commitment to the safety of firefighters in the air and on the ground wouldn't let him deprive the fire community of his years of expertise.

He was such an important part of the fire community, it just won't be the same without him. My heartfelt sympathy goes to his family and friends - he will be missed by all of us.


1/29 Passing of Tim Stubbs aka NMAirBear:

Dear Ab,

Unfortunately I seem to find myself setting up shots in remembrance of old friends. Some I knew and some I didn't.

I never had the honor of meeting NMairbear, but shall miss his knowledge and expertise.

Tonight, I raise yet another shot to a great man, a great firefighter, and a great AIRBEAR.

I've always said the following prayer for helitack and any Fire Aircraft,

"Fly long, and fly safe ... and may God bless you S.O.B.'s ... (Souls on Board) .....

Fly long  .... NMAirBear .... God bless you

sign me.....

CDF FIre Captain

1/29 Fed Firefighter Legislation:

Dear Just Curious:

On January 27th I submitted a post on TheySaid regarding the liability section of our legislation and the thought process of why the language reads the way it does. Please take a look at that post and if it doesn't answer your questions, please feel free to email me directly at cjudd@fwfsa.org and I'll try to explain further.

With respect to your questions on portal to portal compensation: The FWFSA's initial work on the PTP issue started perhaps nearly a decade ago under the FWFSA's leadership of then President Kent Swartzlander. He and I and others from the FWFSA spent many days in DC and many emails back & forth to congressional staff trying to put together adequate language to address the complexities of the issue.

From the earliest time the effort & intent of any PTP legislation was to provide such compensation for all federal land management agency employees who respond to and support "emergency incidents." The legislation continually refers to "wildland firefighters" but the definition of wildland firefighter for this legislation not only includes those eligible for federal firefighter retirement benefits but "an employee of a federal land management agency who is assigned to support wildland fire suppression activities." We fully expect those in the militia and others who are also on these incidents in excess of 24 hours will be included. In fact in 2005 when the Congressional Budget Office used some data from the Forest Service to calculate the costs of PTP under our previous legislation, the data included all manner of employees on such incidents.

That language would seem to suggest that PTP would only be compensable under wildland fire suppression incidents. However under the actual "Pay & Benefits" section of the bill, it states "...inclusive of all time the firefighter (again taking into consideration the aforementioned definition of wildland firefighter) is away from their official duty station assigned to an emergency incident, in support of an emergency incident, or pre-positioned for emergency response..." In other words, it is our expectation that PTP will not be limited to just those that qualify for federal firefighter retirement and will not be limited to just wildfire incidents.

THAT BEING SAID: I have also posted here on previous occasions that early '90s case law found in favor of the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) and against the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in a case that greatly expanded the definition of wildland firefighter. This case opened up the opportunity for many in the militia or those with firefighting as a secondary position to petition OPM for eligibility for federal firefighter retirement benefits.

Obviously neither the federal land management agencies nor OPM did, or ever has publicized the decision. I would surmise there are many out there (and I know many who have successfully petitioned OPM for eligibility) eligible but who assume they don't qualify. If anyone even remotely thinks they might be eligible for federal firefighter retirement benefits, I would pursue the matter through OPM.

Certainly the cost of PTP for every federal employee on such incidents would be greater than if we tried to limit such compensation only to those eligible for firefighter retirement. However seeking it for all is the right thing to do. And, if somehow we can get Line Officers to stop raiding FIRE preparedness appropriations and spending it on things like ASC and other non-fire projects, sufficient preparedness resources would be in place to keep fire incidents smaller and in turn the number of incidents (fire related anyway) in which PTP would be payable, would be further reduced.

The bottom line is that the amount of money DOI and the USDA get from Congress for suppression, fuels and preparedness is sufficient to provide PTP and the other benefits this bill calls for. We are not necessarily seeking a new big bunch of money to pay for all this. Yes, we included language for $25 million in PTP pilot program "seed" money. That is pocket change in relation to the overall suppression budget. With the inclusion of the FLAME Act language in the Interior Appropriations bill, more money for catastrophic wildfires will be available.

The real issue is the fiscal management of those FIRE dollars. Personally, I believe the funds received by Congress can and should be spent more intelligently and (preparing for the flaming arrows) I firmly believe that federal dollars ought to go to the feds first.

Sorry for the length of this. Hope it answered your questions.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

1/29 In memory of Robert James O’Connor who died July 28, 2009:

He has departed for the Fire Camp in Heaven in July of 2009. “God rest his weary soul”

Robert James O’Connor, a Thirty Two year veteran of the USFS (most of it on the Angeles NF)

I am his son, a 20 year US Marine Corps Veteran and this is for my father:

He served by my recollection with the Texas Canyon Hotshots, was the Bouquet Canyon Patrol Ranger, Texas Canyon Crew Forman, Oak Flat Crew Forman, Crystal Lake Recreation Supervisor, and many I know nothing about.

He had stories of brave and scary brushes with near death. He would come home stinking of smoke and bloodshot eyed on many a day in my 18 years being raised by him and my mother (whom departed the preceding fall). I wrote the following for him and my sisters, all of my family has it (including my uncle, a retired USFS firefighter as well):

Do with it what you will.

Anthony W. O’Connor

GySgt USMC (ret.)


Soot black faces with clothes a smelly muss
Hair sweaty so full of dirt ready just to fuss
Burn holes in the drawers a cigarette a glow
Coughing, sputtering and just raring to go

Siren wailing adrenalin pumping flying low
Mountain burning wind blowing a red glow
Water drops hot shots hop all fired up now
Swinging blades moving dirt like a plow

Wind a shifting firestorm rising never any rain
Dozer moving digging faster to avoid the pain
Crawling under praying for life as fire roars
Fire passes soot black faces holes in drawers

Back to camp dog ass tired ready for a rest
Beat the beast had the feast head for the nest
Sirens wail time to bail back for round two
On the truck grab the rucs, helmet and chew

Dad (07/28/09)

Our Condolences, Anthony.
If anyone has stories to share of Bob O'Connor, please let us know. Anthony, do you know approximately when he was a Texas Canyon Hotshot? Ab.

1/29 FS Loosening Contractor standards:


You may post this with out my name in they said and the Hotlist. I know I may be opening up a door for some contractor criticism, however we all need to be educated on what kind of trash is being done up here in Region 6.

I too am sad to hear about the passing of the airbear. We had many PMs over the years and I got to hear him over head once :) Now he is up above looking out for all of us.

It is with great sickness that I am writing this. I attended an R6 preseason contractors' meeting this last week and found that the FS in all of their infinite wisdom is taking a huge step backwards in their contracting program. Specifically they are going very lax in their requirements for contractors. It is extremely frustrating to us contractors that have worked long and hard with our heads held high to raise the standards.

Some of the backward changes:

  • Previously our annual inspections were performed by a company without conflict of interest that was chosen by the R6 Forest Service. Now, the annual inspections are to be done by a "qualified" mechanic that we find and hire independently of the Forest Service.
  • Our weight tickets are not verified at the scales.
  • Our pack tests MAY or MAY NOT be monitored.
  • Tenders no longer will have to carry a spare tire (this is because in some other region they are not required to have a spare tire and in typical Government form they wouldn't want them to step up to the plate, but rather have us lower our standards as to accept the other region).  
Over the past several years here in R6 we have been able to weed out the poor performing contractors, fly by night folks and those in it just for a buck. We had made great strides in providing a professional service with professional personnel and equipment. This is not meant as an outright jab, however in general, compared to other regions, R6 provides some very nice contract equipment and crews which we can assume are safe due to oversight requirements !

Now it seems to me like the FS in R6 is taking the easy road out on this one by not holding up the high standards we have struggled to develop and uphold!

Pissed and let down!
1/29 Tim Stubbs Passing:

My heartfelt condolences to Tim's family. He was a good friend.


1/29 Behind the Lines film:

Hi Ab!

Just wanted to let you know that "Behind the Lines" was accepted into the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and will be playing on February 8th and 14th. More information on my website: Fire Film or the festival's site: www.sbiff.org


Jennie Reinish

1/29 Tim Stubbs Passing:

A recent photo of Tim.

Hotlist thread for Tim.

I'm collecting photos and career info on Tim. If you have any, please send them in. Ab.

1/29 Ab,

I previously sent you the State Personnel Board's (SPB) drubbing of CALFIRE over their abysmal handling of the
Fire Captain exam and am saddened to provide more salt into the wound today.

Attached is the SPB Resolution abolishing the Fire Apparatus Engineer (FAE) and Firefighter II (FF II) lists. I have
also attached a letter from a Sacramento person passing on the bad news to the rest of CALFIRE. As she states
The SPB suspended CALFIRE's examination delegation and abolished five of its lists.

Read the attached PDF files and weep. Thanks for nothing Sacramento. One question I have, do any of you at
CALFIRE's Sacramento Headquarters work for CALFIRE?


Appeal FC Exam (652 K pdf file, 16 pages)
FFII and FAE (331 K pdf file, )
examination information (77 K pdf file)

1/29 Tim Stubbs (nmairbear),

I have followed his posts here and have valued his contributions to the community with his wisdom and knowledge. Some of his legacy will live on in the archives of this website.

My heartfelt condolences goes out to his family and friends. Just know that this loss is felt throughout the wildland firefighting family.

God be with you Tim,

1/29 Ab:

I am absolutely heartsick and shocked over the loss of our FWFSA member Tim Stubbs. As someone who is still recovering from major open heart surgery, the loss of several friends to heart attacks during that time reinforces the fact of just how fleeting life is.

Tim was a huge voice in the wildland firefighting community to be reckoned with. His silence will be deafening. Our prayers and thoughts to his family and loved ones and all who knew him.

1/29 Ab,

My condolences to Tim's' family on his passing. I spent time on many fires with Tim, and he always wanted to do what was best for the resources.


1/29 Very sad news, Tim Stubbs passing, our NMAirBear is gone...

Tim Stubbs, ATGS and FBAN, died of a massive heart attack Thursday in Albuquerque, NM . He had been attending the annual ATGS refresher course and was at dinner with his co workers when the attack occurred. Tim was retired from the National Park Service and frequent contributor to They Said.


What a shock. Condolences in the deepest sense of the word to all of us. I spoke with Tim just last week. Truly sad loss for the wildland fire community, his family and friends. Ab.

1/29 update on rappel/helicopter review... (making the rounds in R3 and R6, received from several sources)

Hi folks,

As most of you know, I'm involved with the rappel standardization effort as mandated by Deputy Chief Hubbard in letter to Fire Director Harbour dated December 17, 2009. As almost all of you know as well, the process to standardize the rappel program began in earnest in August of 2009, fueled in large part by the tragic fatality last summer. To date, the standardization effort is progressing very well. Our target of having the rappel risk assessment done, hazards enumerated, mitigations identified, and a package compiled for senior leadership by spring appears achievable. The purpose of the package is to factually present where we are in the standardization process, outline programmatic weakness and impediments to standardization, and make recommendations of how to proceed for 2010 and beyond.

As part of the standardization process, two groups have been convening to complete various tasks. The two groups are the Interagency Helicopter Rappel Working Group (IHRWG), and a group of senior rappel check spotters. Both groups have thus far been instrumental in moving us forward with standardization.

As an off-shoot to the rappel standardization effort, a few weeks ago the IHRWG met in Boise and drafted an "Issue Paper" outlining a comprehensive list of issues currently being worked on within the rappel community. Like any specialty fire and aviation group, this group exists to track all major and minor programmatic issues and deficiencies. It should be noted that at the time the IHRWG drafted their paper, they were not privy to the rappel risk assessment, associated hazards, and most importantly the identified risk mitigations associated with rappel. Now that we’re further along in the process, I’m suggesting that both groups sit through an in-depth review of the risk assessment headed by National Aviation Safety Manger Ron Hanks so that they have access to the same information I and others leading this effort have had.

As was outlined in the IHRWG paper, a few years ago the rappel community recognized through their quality assurance inspections a significant increase in the incidence of defects of the descent equipment. Through close work with the manufacturer and by applying mitigating measures, the rappel community has been able to continue safe operations with the current equipment. However, because of the questionable quality control by the manufacturer, we have no assurance that we can continue to rely on this manufacturer and equipment. Missoula Technology and Development Center has been working on a replacement system, and we are confident that we will make progress in the evaluation of new descent equipment in the next several months.

In the paper drafted by the IHRWG, the group offered three short-term recommendations for the rappel program: 1) Discontinue rappel for 2010 w/ the goal of commencing rappel in 2011; 2) Stand up a portion of rappel programs using only Bell medium helicopters; 3) Continue to work toward restoring the current rappel program. Their preferred recommended alternative was number 1.

The IHRWG paper has been circulated through the fire and aviation community, and has generated many questions and concerns. Here are the facts:

  • No decision has been made with respect to rappel operations in 2010 - that decision will be made by the Chief, probably in conjunction with the rappeller fatality report. The conservative approach would be to assume the agency will not rappel until a viable package is submitted to senior leaders justifying rappel as beneficial to the agency (i.e. all risks mitigated) balanced against employee exposure.
  • It is premature to consider offering recommendations to senior leadership as to our readiness to rappel given that we're in the month of January with many identified and planned standardization tasks yet to be completed before spring.
  • Although the IHRWG issue paper outlines many programmatic weaknesses, there is a substantial effort underway to mitigate each deficiency (even if temporarily) prior to field season 2010.
  • Whether the USFS rappels or not in 2010 and beyond, no helicopters are being eliminated. Helitack is a viable option.
  • The effort to vet the new rappel system (rope and descent control device) is proceeding rapidly.

I know there are many rumors and much conjecture swirling through our ranks regarding the rappel program. I am confident in our Agency's resolve to make this program better, and ask each of you to stick with the facts and help us with this process. I'm happy to answer any questions.

Tks Jon
Jon Rollens
Regional Aviation Officer, R6

Thanks to Jon for the definitive update on rappel program review. Ab.

1/29 Weighing in on HR 4488

A thought and a few questions:

First: I thoroughly respect the work that Casey has done on this so take this comment with that in mind.

I am not convinced that leveling the playing field in regard to liability issues by including DOI agencies is a good idea. The logic follows,"Its not fair to forest service employees that they are subject to some poorly considered policy so let's bring in the DOI employees, too!" The better solution would be to not subject any firefighter to the policy at all. I know that making PL 107-203 go away is hard, but lets not give it more leverage and subject more firefighters to it.

Two questions:

Will portal-to-portal rules apply to only those in the new firefighter series or anyone who responds to a qualified incident?

Will portal-to-portal rules apply to only fire incidents or for all-hazard incidents as well?


Just Curious

1/28 No name and Ab thanks,

I lost my retention bonus when I took a perm promotion to the GS-08 level, but according to that document I am supposed to have maintained it. So I have some retention back pay coming.

Q3. If I receive a promotion to a GS-08 firefighter retirement covered position will my retention allowance continue? What if it’s a promotion to a GS-09?

A3. Yes, the retention allowance would continue and the 10% would be based on the GS-08 rate of basic pay. If you’re promoted to a GS-09, your retention incentive would end.



1/27 Federal Spending Freeze-

Pres. Obama is supposed to announce tonight in his speech a 3 year federal Spending freeze. This will affect the Dept. of Interior as well as Agriculture.

Little is known yet other than that. A few early articles are out on the net about it. I wonder what will get frozen?

Remember last year's "Travel Ceiling"?....We'll see.....


1/27 re rappel standardization:


Having been in the Rappel program from 1987-2001, and having been a part of the renewal of this program, I was involved in attempting standardization within the region where I was employed as well as nationally. The process of Rappelling itself is fairly standard, the over skid exit and between the skid and belly of the aircraft. The issues seem to be with the configuration of the contracted aircraft as well as the local needs......

The mindset of launching every time configured to Rappel on every call vs arriving on scene and making decisions based on location, behavior and responding resources as well as the land designation ( ie wilderness vs general forest.) seemed to be a major hurdle.

One of the tools I developed to assist with our decision to staff these fires was this:  I did a 10 yr. fire history overlay with the roads in the layer. Then depending on the percentage of the slope, we added 1/4 to 1/2 mile on either side of the road. The fires that fell within these parameters we called Ground response. And all else we called this Aerial delivered fires. The facts showed that approx. 65% of the fires on our unit fell within the grounds that were Aerial delivery. So when we got a location of the new start, we had a fairly good idea if this was going to require delivering FFtrs. via Rappel. I am not saying that this is the answer to the question of standardization but could be considered when working on this process.

Complete standardization will be difficult with the way that the agency procures aircraft for this mission. All helicopters are not equal, as well as all Spotters are not created equal as well as all Rappellers are not created equal etc. etc. Standardization will assist the human part of the equation but the procurement process will need to be standardized also. The program itself has been proven viable and needs to continue into the future. Perhaps the agency needs to look at the # of programs and analyze whether or not there truly is a need on that unit or within that region. Limits need to be identified on the # of Programs that utilize this system and these limits need to be fair and equitable to all.

I say to all the folks involved in this program, You need to become part of the solution and sometimes the hard decisions are not being analyzed. Not sure if all will agree with everything I say here but the only way standardization will be achieved is if all the players realize that they have an opportunity to enhance the program by becoming involved and perhaps we will see this program well into the future! IMHO!


1/27 More on HR 4488

Hi to all:

Since the introduction of HR 4488, some questions and concerns have been raised about Section 8-FireFighter Liability. I can assure the federal wildland firefighting community that no one is more interested in getting rid of the potential liability issue in its totality than we here at the FWFSA.

The language included in this bill with respect to liability was based upon the fact that despite the issue of firefighter liability having risen to the level of Congressional hearings; the level of the Forest Service acknowledging the "unintended consequences" of PL 107-203, no one in Congress or the Agency as a whole has offered any legislative or administrative remedy to the issue.

Rather than allow the uncertainty and ambiguity of PL 107-203 to languish & fester without challenge, we sought to at the very least mandate requirements for the publication of procedures and protocols for training OIG fire fatality investigators; reemphasize the requirement that the OIG investigation be independent; require a specific timeline for submission of the OIG report; ensure that those assigned to conduct such investigations have the necessary training, skills, experience & expertise to competently perform the investigations; and to emphasize the intent of Congress that such investigations be a tool for building upon the concept of "lessons learned" and not to be used to find fault or place blame.

Further, some have inferred that including DOI agencies in the investigatory process is expanding an already bad plan. The idea first & foremost was to create a fair playing field... The Forest Service fire program should not be the only land management agency program selected for such independent investigations. In fact, if PL 107-203 wasn't so ambiguous and open to such wide interpretation, the idea might be palatable.

Some have suggested that since multiple agencies often participate in such incidents in which fatalities occur, perhaps the investigation process should include state, private and local government fire entities.

The bottom line is that if such investigations should be required by Congress, they should promote such authoritative language, either legislatively or administratively to ensure the OIG investigations do not inherently start out criminal in nature; include totally qualified, full time, independent investigators with subject matter expertise and provide a level of confidence among firefighters that they can make complex decisions under dangerous, ever-changing environments without fear of prosecution.

If the existing language does not meet those needs, then there is ample time for redress. The introduction of legislation is simply a starting point for dialogue. It brings the issues facing federal wildland firefighters to the forefront of those in Congress and the Administration that heretofore may not have had any idea of the impact the issues are having on firefighters and the taxpayers.

Our members are always welcome to offer ideas and concepts on legislative initiatives. I have spoken with several folks over the last few days about these concerns and will continue to work with them and others with the legal expertise to put together the best legislative language possible.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
1/27 retention bonus rules:

I have read a few post where people say they will lose the retention in a detail. That is NOT the case. If you are in a detail, your official position remains the same, and you continue receiving the bonus. However, if you take a temporary promotion, you DO lose the bonus because you are not in your official position.

Here are the 'rules' (from your site) with all the questions and answers.

I have been both in a temporary promotion and a detail since I began receiving my retention, and everything on that sheet was true. I lost my retention during my temporary promotion, and continued to receive it while in my detail.

Hope the info. helps-

No Name

Thanks for that No Name. I had forgotten we had it. Perhaps several detailers reading here will further clarify their own situations in light of those rules. Ab.

1/26 re rappel standardization:

Sign me skeptical....

The rappel standardization has nothing to do with the rappellers vs helitack. It has been a process that has been in the works for years, unfortunately it's a catalyst from this year's accident that is forging the current discussion. Rappel has its application in many different arenas, and as such, it is felt that the procedures from every base need to be crisp and coherent... and yes, standardized. It is a long process for those who are engaged, check spotters and many others.

Nationwide there is a push for standardization in aviation, and to some degree what we do with our rotor assets.... and how we deliver our personnel. It simply has nothing to do with how you get there, and the group as a whole needs to realize that.


1/26 Ab,

Do the Abs or anyone else know the rules for receiving the retention bonus? Some folks that were promoted are receiving it and others are not. I am trying to figure out if I should or should not be receiving it?


It would be good to know exactly what the rules are. Ab.

1/26 Fireline Mapping with the Adapx pen

I was just made aware that the November issue of FireRescue Magazine has a pretty good feature article how Adapx pen technology is beginning to make its appearance on the fireline. See attached. This would be extremely useful for damage assessment or making annotations to the IAP map by non-GIS trained personnel.

Fire Geek

Nov09_ThePenAndThePaper.pdf (229 K pdf file, shared with permission from the author and the Fire & Rescue Magazine)

1/26 Re: National Rappel Program

I encourage those involved with this process to ask what "Program" means. Do we have a longline program? A fixed tank program? Bambi Bucket program? Rappelling is a tool within the helitack program. We use it for getting to fires that we can't land at and more often as a recruiting tool to attract applicants.

I sincerely hope that there isn't someone at a high level in the organization driving a personal agenda to get back to the old days of Rappellers vs. Helitack. There is a distinct possibility of specializing ourselves into inefficiency.

Sign me Skeptical...

1/26 Rattlesnake staff ride invitation announcement

The Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program is putting on leadership development training exercise; Rattlesnake Fire Staff Ride. Anyone interested is encouraged to fallow the instructions in this announcement.


Text below. Ab

Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program

Rattlesnake Staff Ride Announcement 2010

The Wildland Firefighter Apprentice Program working in partnership with the Mendocino Interagency Hotshot Crew and the Mendocino National Forest is putting on two staff rides for the Rattlesnake fire. First session will be conducted on January 29th and 30th. Second session will be conducted on March 5th and 6th. The hands on learning experience that is provided during these staff rides is invaluable. Currently we are looking to diversify our attendee base to include different units/ agencies with different backgrounds.

The material will be presented over the course of two days; the first part being presented in the classroom Friday night here at the Wildland Fire Training Center in McClellan CA, and the second part being presented at the site of the Rattlesnake Fire on the Mendocino National Forest.

We would like to take this opportunity to extend an invitation to you and your employees to participate in this staff ride. There is no cost for these staff ride sessions and attendees are expected to provide for their own transportation, food and lodging. If you have any individuals on your units/ departments that would like to attend the staff ride please feel free to contact us. This would be a great experience to expose your employees to an important fire and leadership training exercise. Please respond by Wednesday January 27, 2010 for the first session and February 18th for the second session.

For more information and to sign up for this event, interested parties are encouraged to contact:

Ramon Gomez
Assistant Apprentice Coordinator for January 30th staff ride
(916) 640-1102
Aaron Grove
(916) 640-1061
Apprentice Coordinator for March 6th staff ride or

Nate Gogna
Wildland Firefighter Apprentice Program Manager - BLM
McClellan AFB
3237 Peacekeeper Way, Bldg. 200
McClellan, CA 95652
ngogna@ nospam ca.blm.gov

1/26 Greetings abercrombie,

I'm writing to let you know the poll to vote for the 2009 best Hotlist IA posters is now open. Please take a few minutes to visit the
Hotlist Forums and vote on who you think did the best job of posting the new fires. This is your chance to recognize and reward
those fine folks who spend so much of their time keeping the rest of us up to date.

Here's the Announcement.

Thanks for your time.

Sincerely, OA

Haw Haw. Fun. Ab.

1/26 Re Fire videos for training:

I just took a look at those suggestions and they are exactly the info I was looking for.

Thanks a million for the help. Stay Safe.


1/26 "So there are three ways in which a civil leadership causes the military (USFS) trouble.
  • When a civil leadership unaware of the facts tells its armies (wildland fire managers) to advance when it should not, or tells its armies to retreat when it should not, this is called tying up the armies.
  • When the civil leadership is ignorant of military affairs but shares equally in the government of the armies, the soldiers (firefighters) get confused.
  • When the civil leadership is ignorant of military maneuvers but shares equally in the command of the armies, the soldiers hesitate.

Once the armies are confused and hesitant, trouble comes from competitors (fires). This is called taking away victory by deranging the military."

The Art of War, Sun Tzu

1/26 Mr abercrombie,

Again I would like to make a case for the centralized fire organization! We simply cannot continuing allowing the state and local agencies to receive all the positive press in managing complex campaign incidents, including non fire incidents! It isn't fair and never has been "we all know that"! Simply put these agencies have lesson learned on how to manage and mitigate their decisions on these extremely complex situations! They have learned well from us and in many circumstances have mastered well how to take advantage and educate extremely well why they provide a positive service to whom they protect and serve.

The one thing we need to communicate more effectively to the press and the alternate agencies over and over again, is that we have the qualified leaders experienced enough with the resources aligned behind us to step up and intercede on their behalfs. So they don't have to take the political heat, and risk their political futures and their funding within their representative fire protection districts! It is finally time for those that cooperate with us, and look to us for professional advice in these adverse situations too band together with their full support as firefighters and respect and support our only request! Its simple it's really not a competition: they have their role and we know ours! Who really makes decisions after all! We all do collectively. We just have different priorities!!!


1/25 I don't know of any other websites that have good collections of fire videos, but I do know that you can save YouTube videos. It's actually pretty easy to do. I use Firefox so the program I'm using for this is designed for Firefox, but if you're using Internet Explorer there's other programs you can use, like this one or this one. Either way, here's how it works. I downloaded this add-on which is called "1-Click YouTube Video Download" and installed it onto my Firefox. Quick and easy, and the file is small.

When I look at a YouTube video, this is what my page looks like now.

See that part I circled in red? Those are download links. I can download it in FLV, MP4, and 3GP (whatever that last one is). I just click on the link and it downloads the video. Pretty handy. Hopefully that works for you. If you can't get it to work, feel free to send a message back and I'll see what I can do.

Saving Hawaii
1/25 Training videos:


You can download and save youtube videos completely legally by downloading "free flv converter". Google flv converter and there are results galore to download and convert youtube, metacafe, and almost any other type of embedded videos. Once downloaded the same software will allow you to convert the videos to wmv and embed in powerpoint. Not sure if that's what you were asking but... Hope it helps.

Sent from my iPhone

1/25 Hey Ab,

Sorry to bother you with a relatively small issue, but Im kinda lost. My department is a small town combo department that is trying to get with the times of the Redcard system. My problem lies in the fact that I have a very small library of videos to pull from to develop a good engaging power point. If you know of any websites that are unlike youtube in the fact that you cant save the videos, I would greatly appreciate it.



Drew, I don't know, but perhaps someone here will. Ab.

1/25 Found this link on the Lessons Learned Website


Lots of good videos.

Reel to reel

1/25 Hi to all:

Attached is the Dear Colleague letter sent out to Congressional offices by Congressman Filner. Yes, the typos we alerted staff and the legislative counsel to several months ago appear to have made their way into the introduced version however according to the staff and Leg. Counsel they will not disrupt the movement or consideration of the bill.

I am still working on congressional contact info as well as a fact sheet. A wee bit under the weather the last few days but I'm working on it.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

H.R 4488 Dear Colleague (46 K pdf file)

I hope you feel better soon Casey. Ab.

1/25 Abs -

Among the many folks helping our brothers and sisters in Haiti in many ways is a member of the Southern Area Incident Management Teams. Peter Dybing, SPUL of the Southern Area Type 2 Team, is a resident of the Virgin Islands, and an EMT with St. Croix Rescue, which has a group of medical volunteers helping injured Haitians. They could use our support. More info is on the Hotlist.

Thanks ... STUMPIE
1/24 RE: rappel standardization

NZ Supe (ret),

Up to now there is no National Rappel Program. There are a gathering of Regional and Forest programs. As you well know we have task groups assigned to sift through the constant changes in equipment (QC), procedures, and governing standards (NFPA). These groups give their time freely to try to keep the program afloat. But they cannot truly succeed until we make the commitment to pare down from the multitude of platforms, correct variations in procedures for cargo delivery, and decide with one voice what the primary mission for the program is. The end state of a national program cannot succeed until these processes are complete. I don’t know if you’re clairvoyant, in the know, or just stirring the @#$% but I sit here in my motel room tonight getting ready for another (the fourth) week of the continuing process. You felt you couldn't make a difference. That is unfortunate. However, the time has come, the motivation and the support are in place and the program will be better for it. It won’t happen overnight. It may not happen in 2010. Change is never easy but it will come. Keep the faith.

sign me, working toward the change

Thanks for your contribution. Ab.

1/24 ms,

I don't know for sure what the status of "the guy" is. I'll try to find out. I simply wonder why
when the R5 "Chief" is gone the Deputy Chief does not fill in. Edward as you call him is back
now so maybe it is not important.

Boyz and Girlz in the Woods

1/23 Soon to be Flamed,

Good information and insight. You won't get any flaming from me!

We don't get massive amounts of snow and for the most part my forest is workable 365 days a year, so its good to understand your dilemma. As far as the commute goes, I know myself and many others have driving times close to an hour or more each way and can be very costly. Here on the Angeles N.F. fire staff implemented a 4-10's working schedule during the 2008 fire season that was very effective as far as reducing fuel costs to the individual (among other things!). I would estimate it saved me personally almost $75 - $100 a month, especially since gas was near or above $4.00 per gallon at the time. I know many other forests have been interested in similar types of pilot programs. Hopefully your forest will soon look into or implement alternative working schedules based on the success of the program on other forests.

In regards to the costs for a GS-5 and GS-6 salary that the region posted on that letter, I looked up the 2010 OPM salary tables to compare the numbers. Here is the link for anyone who is interested to see what the new pay scales are for their respective localities.

www.opm.gov - 10 tables index GS.asp

I used my area, Los Angeles County, to compare. The region letter stated that a GS-6 full-time employee costs $46,885 per year. I'm assuming that's an average of GS-6's throughout the region? Per the 2010 OPM salary table (again, Los Angeles County area), a GS-6 / step 1 makes $38,882 per year. Los Angeles even has a high locality pay too (an extra 27% increase in pay over the standard GS-6) and its not very close to that number the region provided. But again, depending on your step level and other factors, everybody's pay is slightly different. I'm just wondering if those numbers the region provided represent a total cost to the agency of that employee (i.e. TSP matching, retirement, health benefits, etc.) If that's the case, then the $46,885 sounds more reasonable in my opinion. But the region of course did not really clarify how they came up with those numbers. Maybe someone has some insight and can share?

I hope the PFT conversion process somehow works out for you. I understand the complexities that yourself and most likely many others must have, but I personally believe that the PFT conversion move is a big step forward. All permanent employees, including non-converted apprentices, should be guaranteed year round work. Those that have families, bills, and mortgages to pay appreciate the security of year round paychecks. The region should develop schedules or work assignments that can be flexible for personnel working out of forests subject to weather conditions. But your story is a good reminder that there is no "one size fits all" solution to our retention and pay issues.

Oh and one last thing... Thanks again to Casey and everyone else behind the scenes with the FWFSA for all their hard-work. Our time to get what we deserve is near!

- Centrifugal Pump
1/23 Boyz and Girlz in the Woods,

Thanks for the post/agenda. Curious what is the name of "the guy" you reference in your post that is acting for Edward? I knew Edward was retiring, I didn't know he had an acting in place, or maybe I misunderstood your post.

1/23 R5 Partnership Council Agenda and out-of-region acting chief...

Some interesting topics being covered in this labor relations meeting: Region 5 Partnership Council Agenda, January 27th meeting

Many relate to fire and to morale.


On another topic. Does anyone know if the guy who is "acting" for Ed Hollenshead is being groomed for R5 Chief position when he retires? Interesting how whenever a very well qualified woman gets close to and applies for the R5 Chief position they bring in a man from somewhere else. Why doesn't it feel like the best man or woman will be hired? No doubt they'll choose someone from R8 so R5 can continue to be whipped into line.

Boyz and Girlz in the Woods

1/23 Dear Concerned for Morale and for Safety:

What is your idea of a functional movement process? Is this like PT time being supported? Is it a program that's different from what we have?


PS. Nice job Casey and FWFSA and supportive letter writers!

1/23 Congratulations to Casey for getting HR 4488 introduced! It is doubtful that we'll see it passed right away, but the mere fact that the firefighters have the clout to have a bill introduced into congress means a new way of doing business has arrived. I am impressed and hopeful that things might change before I retire. Good job Casey and to all the folks who have written their representatives.

Just An Old Chief
1/23 HR 4488 is introduced!

H.R. 4488 To implement updated pay and personnel policies in order...

A bill in the US Congress:
To implement updated pay and personnel policies in order to improve the recruitment and retention of qualified Federal wildland firefighters...


I am usually content to browse They Said. However, so much of the following information is misleading, I had to say something.

For the record I feel bad “bitching and whining” when people are out there fighting and dying, and terrible things are going on in the world, but we must all continue on.


The firefighter retention plan was implemented in FY 2009 and has resulted in a decrease in R5 vacancies from 363 vacancies in June 2008 to 181 vacancies in December 2009.

(Of the people I know who were hired into permanent positions or changed positions since the retention incentive started, none of them were hired strictly because of this incentive. None of them applied for their current job because of this incentive. They WERE hired because of a more aggressive hiring policy, and often lower standards in the hiring process. Remember the June-July 2008 hiring joke? Job references were not even checked!!)

Key Points:

The plan includes 4 actions being taken by the Forest Service:

  • All (permanent) seasonal firefighters were offered the option to convert to full-time firefighter positions; approximately 502 positions have been converted to full time; the estimated cost of this action is $21 million; employees that opted to convert received an increase in their compensation and benefit package; (I was not "offered" PFT, I was coerced. In fact I am still being coerced, and I am now being threatened. I have been told that if I do not accept PFT soon I may not have a job anymore.)
    • GS - 5 - Seasonal $31, 422; Full-time $35,029
    • GS - 6 - Seasonal $35,029; Full-time $46,885 (these pay increases are because of A: our regular yearly increase which is still far below the rate of inflation; and B: the 10% increase that is conditional, and may be terminated at any time.)
    • Full-time firefighters also accumulate retirement and leave benefits year round vs. on a seasonal basis.
    • The option of conversion will continue to be offered on an annual basis, and all eligible seasonal positions that are vacated will be converted to full time positions when filled until all seasonal positions have been converted. (Annually? I have been "offered" 4 times already. Again, I am being told that I may not have a job much longer if I continue to refuse.)
  • Effective March 1, a one year 10% Retention allowance for firefighters in grades GS-05 through GS-08 was implemented. Approximately 1,675 employees received the allowance. The one-year cost is approximately $7 million.
    • The allowance will be reviewed prior to the expiration date to determine if it continues to meet justification standards for renewal in March 2010. A decision will be made by January 31, 2010. (remind me why this is not applicable to details? Where is the “incentive” to step up when you lose money?)
  • Assessment and evaluation of a separate firefighter series is ongoing. Regional staff work has been completed and provided to the WO Classification Branch. In order for OPM to consider the development of the firefighter series a proposal must be forwarded to OPM from USDA. OPM does not have a standard timeline for response. (I think we all know how long it takes OPM to change something.15+ years?)
  • Evaluation of the current Special Salary Rate for firefighters in Southern California area is ongoing. Regional specialists are working in conjunction with the WO to determine if additional changes are required to the current Special Salary Rate. (Southern CA is not the only part of the U.S. that is expensive to live in.)

"The Forest Service currently plans to employ 4,432 firefighters in California. There are 181 vacancies.”

The level of disrespect in my workplace has increased as a result of turning down PFT status. My quality of work remains at or above the expectations of my supervisors, and my references and performance appraisals reflect this. I consistently take on duties far above my pay grade, and I have always taken on a variety of collateral duties...whether on my module or my district. I like to think that even through the coercion and harassment I have remained a loyal and motivated employee. I believe in sticking around to make this a better place to work. I am a paying member of the F.W.F.S.A., and I actively try to recruit new members. Meanwhile many past colleagues have bailed to chase a better paycheck and retirement. However, my patience is wearing thin.

The best part is that there is NO work for several months a year at my station as it is snowed in. Even getting to work is a chore, and can be extremely dangerous during the winter months. There is no housing available on the F.S. grounds, there is little available locally with none that is affordable at my grade, and I have been told that permanent employees about GS-5 cannot stay in the barracks. This leaves no option other than making a 1 hour to 1.5 hour drive each way into the mountains. This not only costs $320-$400 a month, but it is dangerous on our narrow mountain roads...roads that are questionable during the summer months!! I think we all know the statistics on traffic related injuries and fatalities.

The reality is PFT is not a perfect solution for those of us in lower pay grades, or those of us at out stations. Additionally, some of us retain the “old school” belief that experience is of value before climbing the ladder into a leadership or supervisory position. This is not a pay game like in the business world; we are directly responsible for peoples lives.

I am sure many will think of me as a whiner who does not know how good he has things in a poor economy. Fair enough. I have never asked for PFT or an increase in pay, or a cash award for the additional duties I take on. I was content to do my job and move up when I felt I was ready, or when I needed a bigger check.

The following is a list of things that I think the R.O. SHOULD spend their time and money on, many of which have already been proposed by the F.W.F.S.A. and ignored:

  • A:  Benefits and retirement for our temps, the backbone of our workforce;
  • B:  A flat 20%-25% pay increase across the board for all fire personnel;
  • C:  Updated the pay scale to account for the actual rate of inflation;
  • D:  PFT for those that WANT it, or those who work in places with longer fire seasons;
  • E:  4 day work weeks, or guaranteed overtime similar to Cal Fire. This could address B if played right.
  • F:  Portal to Portal.

Maybe my experiences are unique, I am a whiney little wuss, and my ideas are crazy. I believe it is a case of terrible leadership, and years of accepting exploitation. I endeavor to be a better leader to those that work for me. But right now I want this propaganda exposed for what it is: a LIE.


Soon to be Flamed (no pun intended)

Thanks for the perspective and suggestions. Ab.

1/23 rappel standardization

I have listened and shook my head for the last sixteen years about standardizing the rappel program. I have attended Regional Spotter Workshops and come to consensus on procedures for make and model and after everyone went home, we were right back to "business as usual". We have a guide outlining procedures for make and model and I still find no matter where you go Region to Region there are "geographical differences" to those standards. The rappel bases within the FS, BLM and NPS need to ADHERE to those standards as written and not "roll your own". I hope one day someone can show me that we truly have standardized procedures within the National Rappel Program..

NZ Supe (ret)

1/23 CO-RTF-Freeman Reservoir Felling Fatality Report is out. Fallers, a "must read".

Lots of lessons learned reports have been posted on the Hotlist in the last 2 days. Ab.

1/22 Legislative Update:

I am proud and honored to announce the introduction of HR 4488, the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement and Cost Containment Act in the US House of Representatives yesterday.

The Dear Colleague Letter as well as the Congressman's press release will be provided shortly.


Casey Judd
Business Manager

Excellent! Ab.

1/22 Death sought for Rickie Lee Fowler

10:58 PM PST on Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Press-Enterprise
Special Section: Inland Wildfires

Prosecutors announced Thursday that they will seek death for the man charged with setting 2003's Old Fire in San Bernardino County, drawing an emotional response from his attorney.

Rickie Lee Fowler, 28, was indicted last October on five counts of murder and one count each of arson of an inhabited structure and aggravated arson.

"I'm so shocked and dismayed," said his attorney, Don Jordan. "The five people this man is accused of killing died of natural, medical causes, not from smoke or fleeing the fire."

The Old Fire destroyed 1,003 San Bernardino County homes over nine days beginning Oct. 25, 2003. It burned 91,281 acres, wiping out entire neighborhoods in San Bernardino and surrounding mountain communities.

Ultimately, prosecutors linked the blaze to five residents who suffered fatal heart attacks while fleeing. (more at the link)

1/21 Big Hill Helitack is approaching 50 years of service on the Eldorado National Forest.

The crew is compiling information to preserve the origins that have formed the foundations for an extensive tradition of hard work and solid wildlandfire firefighting. These traditions were built on the shoulders of many individuals who proudly served on Big Hill Helitack over the years. The helitack crew is seeking assistance from former crewmembers, pilots, and contractors to gather historical information pictures, memories, and accomplishments of our crew. Any documents, photos, stories, or experiences can be forwarded to bigallan516@ nospam aol.com or contact us at (530) 647-5413.

Thanks in Advance,
Big Hill Heitack

1/21 Southern California Association of Foresters and Fire Wardens Training and Safety Conference

It is with great pleasure that we announce the dates of our upcoming 80th annual Training and Safety Conference in the lovely hilltop community of Oak Glen, California. This years conference dates are May 6th and 7th, 2010.

Today, the Southern California Association of Foresters and Fire Wardens carries on the work started 80 years ago, that of providing training and safety programs for the men and women involved in wildland fire control throughout Southern California. This is accomplished through an annual conference held on the first Thursday and Friday of May. At the Annual Conference, programs selected by the Board of Directors are presented by experts in the field of fire control, vegetation management, fuels, weather, and a host of other subjects that are pertinent in today's wildland work environment.

Our web site is a great place to find the latest details on the Association and our upcoming conference.
We encourage you to preregister. Contact us at SCAFFW.org


Nice, J. OA added the conference to the Hotlist Calendar. Ab.

1/21 Ab, please post.  Thanks. noname fire

IFPM / FS-FPM Conference Call (doc)
January 20, 2010

Agenda Items:

C-305 IQCS 1/10 Data: In the last few months, IQCS shows we have gone from 280 unqualified employees to 297 unqualified. The increase is most likely due to more employees being entered in IQCS. The total IFPM respondents in IQCS is 2,770 as of Jan 2010. 297 unqualified = 10.7% This is on par with the DOI bureaus.

In the last few months, we have reduced the number of employees who were incorrectly entered in IQCS from 36 to 8. Thanks to all the Regional Reps who have been trying to get the data cleaned up.

  • We’re estimating that there are 124 IFPM employees who will not meet their IFPM Standard on Oct 1, 2010. This estimation is based on lack of any supporting documentation in IQCS that shows they have a PTB for 1 or more qualifications that they are lacking for their IFPM position. These employees are of high concern.
  • We’re assuming that those employees who only lack an NWCG class, or have an initiated PTB with recent experience in that position will have a very good chance of completing their IFPM requirements before the implementation deadline.
  • Please see the C-305 spreadsheet that Evans sent out listing employees who lack required elements and pass on to units to address deficiencies.
  • We’re asking the Regional Leads to start making inquiries on the identified unqualified employees on the C-305 report that do not have a PTB initiated for the NWCG qualification(s) they are lacking. “Do they know they are lacking a qualification (or two) and do they have a plan to be qualified by Oct 1, 2010?”
  • Evans will pull the next C-305 report in March, then early summer, and again prior to the implementation deadline. If anyone needs further information, let him know.
  • If a person has an incorrect Job Task (Technical, Professional) the information in the C-305 report may not show the correct data (Tenna). This came about when some of the Job Tasks were revised in IQCS, and if the person was entered into one of the Job Tasks that was removed, then their competency status may be in error. This can only be accomplished manually by the IQCS account manager, and is not something that can be fixed by the IQCS program.
    • This is a reason why we’re asking everyone to double check that the information entered into IQCS is correct for each IFPM employee.
  • R4 requested a data call from all their Forests, asking that each Forest submit an organization chart and IFPM position identification worksheet. So far, this information has been very helpful, and can be used for other purposes. See Tenna Biggs (R4) if interested in more information.

Seasonal SFFs: Technically speaking, the SFF category also applies to 1039 Temp-seasonals at the GS-5 and GS-6 level as it does those on a PSE appointment. However, due to the transient nature of 1039 temp-seasonals, it puts a big burden on the unit’s IQCS Account Manager to enter them into IQCS when they may not be returning the following season, or if they get a permanent position.

Prior to the implementation deadline, a 1039 temp-seasonal may be hired into a SFF position, but must be qualified on Oct 1, 2010. If the employee’s season of employment will transcend the Oct 1, 2010 deadline, they must be informed upon time of hire that they must meet their IFPM Standard on Oct 1, 2010, or be subject to the additional requirements for unqualified employees (which may entail removal from their position) if they fail to meet IFPM Standard on the deadline date.

For 1039 employee’s with rehire status, the local unit will have to be cognizant of the implementation deadline, and work to ensure the employee will be qualified on Oct 1,2010. Evans will bring this issue up at ASC in February.

T1 Helicopter Managers: Managers of T1 helicopters on exclusive-use contracts are <etc at the link>

1/20 RE hiring a non citizen:

We hired two over the last 3 seasons on the Hotshot crew. We had to use the student hire STEP program, they both worked out really well. One of them became a citizen last year. Great time!


1/20 Re hiring a non-citizen:

A couple of years ago my (R5) forest hired a green card as a temp through the Central California Consortium. Not sure if it was "legal" or otherwise, or if the same's true today.

Good Luck!

No name please

1/20 Legislative Update

After unsuccessful attempts last week to ascertain the reason for the delay in getting our wildland firefighter legislation introduced, I was humbled to receive a call on my cell phone just a short while ago from the Lead Congressman himself who apologized profusely for the delay and some miscommunication between himself and his staff. He indicated he would be introducing the bill, The National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement & Cost Containment Act, tomorrow.

Once a number is assigned to the bill, we will provide that information and start putting contact information on the FWFSA web site for those interested in contacting their representatives for support. We are also crafting a information "cheat sheet" so those of you who support the bill can all be singing off the same page.

The introduction of this comprehensive piece of legislation, while precedent-setting and a milestone of an accomplishment for a modest-size organization pales in comparison to the effort we must make to get it passed. While we will take advantage of our contacts in the media, the voices of those who will benefit from this bill, whether you are an FWFSA member or not, whether you are a firefighter or member of the militia or a family member of any of the above must be proactive in the coming months.

I truly hope those of you in the federal wildland firefighting community will embrace the opportunity to be a part of this historic effort. Oh yea, and joining the FWFSA certainly wouldn't hurt either.

More to follow.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

Great job, Casey! Ab.

1/20 Ed Hollenshead R5 director of fire is retiring

Director, Fire and Aviation Management, GS-0401-15, Pacific Southwest Region, Region 5; Vacancy Announcement opened Jan 19 - closes Feb 19

The vacancy announcements for the position of Director, Fire and Aviation Management, GS-0401-15, Regional Office, Pacific Southwest Region, Region 5, with duty location in Vallejo, CA, opened January 19 with a closing date of February 19. Serves as the Director, Fire and Aviation Management, and is the technical authority in Fire and Aviation Management with responsibilities for providing technical advice and guidance to the administrator-in-charge of the planning, development, and guidance of resource management programs and providing technical guidance, program review, coordination, and leadership for the Fire and Aviation Management programs.

The vacancy announcement #s are ADS10-R5-RO5FA-00123G (Merit Promotion - internal open to status eligibles) and ADS10-R5-RO5FA-00123DP (Demonstration Project - external open to US Citizens) and can be viewed on the OPM web site "USA Jobs" listed below with instructions on how to search - or - in AVUE. Please continue to outreach this important vacancy throughout the announcement period.

Applicants should print/review the announcement carefully and ensure that their application is filed on or before the closing date of February 19.

http://www.usajobs.opm.gov etc

1/19 Ab, Who's Retiring?

It's never too late to retire.

The underlined was forwarded to myself form Miles City BLM.

Ed Mayberry officially retired as of January 1, 2010, after 46 years. He just didn't tell us until yesterday.

Needless to say, we are collecting fire pictures to create a Memory Book for Ed. We are looking for pictures of people/engines/buildings/incidents from past and present years to include, and even some rare photos of Ed (if he stood still long enough). If you have any photos that you would like us to include, please send them my direction.

FYI: I had the pleasure to work with Ed for a little over 2 years at Miles City, when I was the Station Manager there around 1999.

If any engine or fire equipment happened to break down in BF Eastern Montana you could count on Ed getting it moving again.

Ed retired in Logistics and managed the cache. Ed kept current in fire quals and last took the Arduous Pack Test about 10 years ago.

Ed, not only did fire for 46 years, he was also the College Rodeo Coach, and Math Teacher. This Math background gave Ed the ability to keep a very sharp pencil. This sharp pencil was obvious over time, (Despite Our Efforts) there was little to nothing that escaped from Ed's fire cache without him knowing.

Years ago, Ed was also the BLM's representative to hike, and place a wreath for the 50th anniversary of the Mann Gulch tragedy.

Because of the limited years that I worked with Ed, I cannot begin to speak of what he has accomplished in his life.

But I must congratulate Ed, and wish him a happy retirement.
PS: Ed is 76 years young.

Lucky Lindy

Nice tribute. Anyone have info or photos for the Memory Book?

1/19 ABs, thought I'd pass this along. Sad news for our USFWS brothers and sisters. DCE

Oregon: Two found dead in crashed plane

By Bennett Hall, Gazette-Times reporter | Posted: Monday, January 18, 2010 2:00 pm

Two federal wildlife managers doing an aerial survey of migratory waterfowl died when their small plane went down west of Philomath Sunday afternoon.
Search teams found the wreckage Monday morning. Both the pilot and a passenger were found dead at the scene.

The pilot, Ray Bentley, 52, of Blodgett, was a longtime employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. His passenger, David Pitkin, 59, of Bandon, was a former employee working as a contractor for the agency.

The two men were involved in the annual midwinter count of migratory birds, said David Patte, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They were on their way back to Corvallis after surveying duck and goose populations in coastal estuaries.

“You couldn’t meet two finer people,” Patte said. “They were really dedicated to the work they did. They loved the migratory bird program.” (more at the link)

Condolences. Ab.

1/19 Sad News:

Devin Storz, 21 yr old wildland firefighter on LPF's Mt Pinos District, died yesterday morning when a 90' pine tree fell on his parents' house in Pine Mountain. Winds were reported to be 80 mph.


Condolences. Ab.

1/19 Re: R3 Sirens and Lights

I am shocked that R3 has made such a drastic turn from the Fire Organization that it was 5 years ago when I was an FS Engine Capt there! To think that a Fire Apparatus should NOT be equipped with lights and sirens is appalling. This after the Region took the lead, nationally, in regards to the “Contract brand” tire issue and had Engine Modules replace tires due to the safety concern of the lower ply tire that came standard with new engines.

Will it take a number of near misses or an actual roadside strike before you listen to your subject matter experts again?

Look for all you “Forestry Tech” first people and the “Firefighter” first folks…Point blank, it comes down to safety! I want my Fire personnel to be “obnoxiously obvious” while traveling to/from and while performing their current mission. I do not have a problem with spending $8k funds in order to provide as much safety as I can for them. $8k is nothing to me when compared to a firefighter! As a Management Officer I preach this daily to my personnel.

Do you have to run code 3? Not always…Will Code 2 or Code 1 work (can you use those?).

AN ENGINE IS A TOOL and with that tool there should be safety measures built in and with that, training. Do we give a rookie a chainsaw and say, “have at it boy, bump up that line and cut that Pondo on top of the hill, yeah the one caught up in all those dead ones with the roots burnt out”? I think not.

At this time R8 USFS has a “Train the Trainer” Fed EVOC course that they have begun teaching this past year, I had the fortunate opportunity to participate in the class while helping to instruct an Engine Academy. I learned few things to add to by personnel bag of tricks, which I immediately brought back to my home unit and instilled and felt that it covers many of the issues that have been discussed on past posts.

Am I advocating mach 20 in a unit, lights ablaze with siren blaring? Heck no! That is part of the training. However, if someone can see me or my modules driving down the road and they recognize that, “hey something’s going on, maybe I should pay more attention!” then I think the lights and sirens just paid for themselves.

Red or Blue…Well all I can say it that universally RED = Fire, BLUE = Police. But given that option of Blue or no lights…heck yeah give me some Blue ones.

Please take your GS levels off your sleeves and listen to what the folks on the ground are saying. Keep the lights and the sirens, make a commitment to safety.


Ab, that should do it.. Thanks for all that you do.

You're welcome. The contributors make this place what it is. Ab.

1/19 Are there any agencies that will hire a non citizen that has the right to work in United States?

Thank you for your time


1/18 Ab and all,

Can anyone tell me why it is that after I got promoted I lost my retention bonus. I did not take a detail and I did not move out of the GS scope. Now why would I lose my retention for stepping up? Seems silly to me. Makes me wish I had not taken the promotion. It translates into a loss of money for me. Sure you can argue I will make more during the off-forest stints, but it is the base checks that butter my bread during the winter and losing my retention means losing about $200 a PP.

It is not only Health and Safety, but some of the ludicrous rules put in place that decrease morale. I am getting really tired of working for someone that is completely disconnected from the troops. Speaking of which. Where is Randy all the time that he can not even type his electronic signature to his multiple letters? Why does the R.O. have a full gym? I have to decide between a set of kettle bells or new sleeping bags, because it comes out of my meager module funds. Instead of a mobility or exercise coach, why don't you folks give me the budget to buy the right things to keep my people healthy. Some folks may lack the knowledge to buy their own stuff or they have the newest GPS and choose not to buy things to help keep people healthy. Maybe they are in the same dilemma I am in: using module funds to buy exercise equipment and physicals for SCBA's or buying the stuff that would make us all happier while we are on the road. Like sleeping bags.

I'll climb off my soap box,


1/17 For those interested, check the Google Earth /ArcGIS map of the Haiti destruction. Ab.


1/17 Physical Fitness Functional Movement program to boost morale and safety!


The Forest Service -including our large component of firefighting employees- is made up of a very large percentage of people that do a very physical job. My question is: why we do not invest in each employee's physical fitness at every level, when that would be the most logical action?

Two issues:

  • I have also heard R5 upper managers asking why do we have so many physical injuries? Are we shirking safety?
  • Someone mentioned yet another study of morale.

One thing that would improve morale and simultaneously reduce on-the-job  injuries is to invest in each employee's physical fitness using the functional movement process. Our FS needs to be an interactive health partner. When people feel good about themselves they feel better. Morale and safety increase.

Instituting a Functional Movement program would vastly improve Forest Service SAFETY and MORALE. It would be a cost effective fix!


sign me "concerned for Morale and for Safety!"

1/16 The following was written or approved by Randy Moore and sent to Dianne Feinstein in December on the progress
of our morale. "Morale Liaisons" I gotta get me one of those.


Subject: Region 5 Morale Progress

Key Issue: How the Region is Addressing Agency-wide Morale Issues


Regional leadership adopted a guiding objective of ensuring a healthy workforce and workplace for 2010. This key objective will drive overall efforts to ensure a productive work environment. Dialogue continues at all levels in the Region to identify and positively address issues affecting morale.

In the Regional Office, exercise equipment has been secured in response to overwhelming interest and support by employees.

Key Points:

Good communication throughout the Region and Agency is foundational to strengthening employee morale. The Region is currently assessing the following specific actions to further improve communication flow and morale:
  • Initiate opportunities and forums to connect the Regional Forester Team with employees for constructive and healthy dialogue. These forums may include the RF Team participating in regular “coffee” gatherings with several employees who normally do not have the opportunity to interact with the RF Team, periodically joining staff meetings, and greeting employees in areas not typically visited.
  • Identify employees who are willing to serve as “morale liaisons” to facilitate communication and solve issues at different levels of the organization.
  • The Regional Forester will communicate to employees the steps that will be taken to address morale in the Region, including information sharing on the Chief’s sensing efforts. Encourage forests to adopt similar measures that the Regional Office will be using.
  • Conduct simple surveys in the Regional Office to detect and monitor common themes pertaining to morale that may emerge that the Regional Forester Team can proactively address.
1/16 Tragic passing of Dave Griggs:

Dave was one of the Good Ones; he will be missed. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends for their tragic loss.

>From the Jan 12, 2010 Humboldt Sun newspaper (Winnemucca, NV):

"David Buchanan Griggs, born Nov 26, 1946... passed away on Dec 25, 2009 from a head injury due to a fall.

Born in Willimantic, Conn, David grew up in Davis, CA... (he) graduated from the University of Montana at Missoula as the outstanding forestry senior. During the summers of his college years he was a smokejumper in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska... Dave moved to Moscow, Idaho, to work on a Master's degree in Rangeland Management. In 1976 he began his career with the Bureau of Land Management in Shoshone, Idaho. He later became the Area Manager for the Paradise-Denio Area out of Winnemucca (NV). He moved to Reno in the 1980's and at the time of his retirement from the BLM in Jan 2009 he was serving as the Natural Resource Specialist, and Safety and Occupational Health Manager. In recent summers he used his knowledge of firefighting as a Single Engine Airtanker Manager in Alturas, CA.

Dave was an athlete, a conservationist, and a handyman, but he first and foremost loved his family. He is survived by his wife Josie, his sons William (Gil) and Eldred (Ed), and his daughter Ruth, his mother Ruth Griggs and his sisters Holly Coles and Paula Lenz.

A memorial service will be held at Little Flower Church, 875 Plumb Lane in Reno on January 23 at 12 noon. There will be a reception immediately following the service."

This was typed in from the newspaper itself by one of our mods. Condolences. Ab.

1/15 Dear ms:

The backbone of the FWFSA is its members who provide me with an incredible wealth of information from the field such as that I posted on the retention issue a few days ago.

Because our diverse membership spans the full spectrum of fire positions from entry-level through FMO, dispatchers, prevention personnel, fuels folks, fire ecologists, even a few contractors, a number of Cal-Fire folks and even a few in the WO of the FS and who are in 27 states across the country, the information I receive often exceeds the capacity of my little brain to comprehend sometimes.

Our members have really stepped up in the past couple of years in providing us with information, I'm sure much of it the Agencies are none too thrilled I get and often pass to Capitol Hill. That willingness to get involved and make a difference for the federal wildland firefighting community is what maintains my affection, admiration and respect for all of you and helps to make the frequent banging of my head against the log walls of my home in dealing with the agencies & Congress a little less painful.

Tomorrow I have the honor of joining our President, Secretary, Treasurer and other members in sending off into the retirement abyss our former VP Dennis Baldridge. Dennis was an original member dating back to 1991 and one of a few whose tenacity and passion in Washington DC made me realize my place was with the wildland folks and the FWFSA.

We have lost and will continue to lose a lot of wonderful, dedicated people to retirement but I feel incredibly fortunate & blessed to have learned from them and worked with & for them. I hope in turn, the younger folks recognize the effort so many have made to get the FWFSA to where it is and realize their own opportunity and potential to help mold their own futures with the FWFSA's help.

We still have a long ways to go to get all of you the pay, benefits & working conditions you have all deserved for far too long but we are on the way and I hope all in this community will remain cognizant of the effort so many have made.


Thanks Casey and happy retirement to Dennis. Ab.

1/15 Update from Ed on retention.
Casey is right again! Join FWFSA!


Subject: Firefighter Retention Update
Key Issue: Forest Service has implemented a plan to improve firefighter retention


The firefighter retention plan was implemented in FY 2009 and has resulted in a decrease in R5 vacancies from 363 vacancies in June 2008 to 181 vacancies in December 2009.

Key Points:

The plan includes 4 actions being taken by the Forest Service:

  • All seasonal firefighters were offered the option to convert to full-time firefighter positions; approximately 502 positions have been converted to full time; the estimated cost of this action is $21 million; employees that opted to convert received an increase in their compensation and benefit package;
    • GS - 5 - Seasonal $31, 422; Full-time $35,029
    • GS - 6 - Seasonal $35,029; Full-time $46,885
    • Full-time firefighters also accumulate retirement and leave benefits year round vs. on a seasonal basis.
    • The option of conversion will continue to be offered on an annual basis, and all eligible seasonal positions that are vacated will be converted to full time positions when filled until all seasonal positions have been converted.
  • Effective March 1, a one year 10% Retention allowance for firefighters in grades GS-05 through GS-08 was implemented. Approximately 1,675 employees received the allowance. The one-year cost is approximately $7 million.
    • The allowance will be reviewed prior to the expiration date to determine if it continues to meet justification standards for renewal in March 2010. A decision will be made by January 31, 2010.
  • Assessment and evaluation of a separate firefighter series is ongoing. Regional staff work has been completed and provided to the WO Classification Branch. In order for OPM to consider the development of the firefighter series a proposal must be forwarded to OPM from USDA. OPM does not have a standard timeline for response.
  • Evaluation of the current Special Salary Rate for firefighters in Southern California area is ongoing. Regional specialists are working in conjunction with the WO to determine if additional changes are required to the current Special Salary Rate.

The Forest Service currently plans to employ 4,432 firefighters in California. There are 181 vacancies.

1/15 In case you haven't already seen this, and feel it warrants posting...


From: IAFC News
Sent: Friday, January 15, 2010 4:32 PM
Subject: Urgent USFA Date Call: French Creole/French Speaking First Responders

Urgent USFA Data Call:
French Creole/French-Speaking First Responders

Fairfax, Va., Jan. 15, 2010... The United State Fire Administration (USFA) is gathering information on French Creole or French- speaking firefighters, EMTs and paramedics who may be able to assist with the Haiti earthquake response.

This is currently only a data call to prepare for possible future needs by identifying the availability of specific skills and qualifications. It is not an opportunity for immediate deployment.

The USFA is gathering information from parties who meet the following qualifications:

Operational: Firefighter, EMT or Paramedic
Language: French Creole or French
Deployment: Willing to deploy to Haiti for response efforts (time undetermined, assume 1-3 weeks)

Those meeting these qualifications are asked to complete the Haiti response form. The IAFC will transmit the data collected to the USFA. Again, this is only a data call. Those completing the form are not guaranteed to deploy. If the national response efforts require your assistance, you will be contacted.

1/15 Fire Geek has a very cool utility to share:

Before and After GIS...


1/14 Ab and All,

Two things...

FEMA's NIMS ICS Forms comments are DUE tomorrow JANUARY 15 at regulations.gov - use the search words ICS Forms, open the docket folder, and submit comments online or through one of the other means. I've heard that the staff of the NIMS may accept comments after the 15th, but that you have to request an extension through the NIMS email address. Hopefully you can find that on the NIMS site... fema.gov/emergency/nims/

I just saw an interview on Haiti on MSNBC with US Dept. of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. He said some great things about what USDA as a whole is doing, and I was floored to hear him mention that the US Forest Service is helping with incident management due to their expertise - even advising that they had 5 Forest Service staff working this issue in an operations center in Washington. Also other mention of Forest Service and other USDA assistance, including long-term help with actual forestry, ag and farming assistance, food support, etc. Very nice interview overall, on both short and long-term assistance planned and on the radar.

You all be safe and be well,

1/14 Message about

Next week's weather CA-LMU


1/14 CA team headed to Haiti:

CATF5 just got the call to fly to Miami to stage for Haiti


1/14 Dept of Homeland Security Briefing:

NOC Phase 2 - Concern 0075-10 Update Report 8 - 7.0 Magnitude Earthquake Port au Prince, Haiti (1130 EST 14 Jan 10)

haiti-1noc-phase2-4jan10.ppt (407 K ppt photos)

1/14 Ab,

Just a question about whether the Forest Service follows the NFPA 1901 standard with red seatbelts in new fire apparatus, so supervisors can easily check seatbelt use by firefighters? And has Region 3 requested a waiver from the WO to require amber seatbelts, so firefighters are reminded that they're really forestry technicians?

vfd cap'n
1/14 Helicopter Training for Crewmembers or Managers, making the rounds

Eric C. Graff
Grand Canyon Flight Crew
1/14 Training in Maine - Instructor needed for S-404

I am looking for a Safety officer who would be interested in teaching the S-404. This would be located in the warm southern portion of Maine and it coming up very soon February 22 at 1300 through Feb 26 at 1200. Give me a call or send me a note if you are interested...

Gerald Vickers Fire Management Specialist (WUI Assistant)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Region 5 Fire Management

Email Ab for contact info.

1/14 Book review:

The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan

This book is another telling of the 1910 fires in Idaho and Montana. It is different in tone and scope than Steve Pyne's "The year of the fires" which I also enjoyed. Pyne's book is wide in scope and tells the story of many more personalities and many other areas in the 1910 Fire Storm. The focus of "The Big Burn" is really pretty limited to the story of Wallace, Idaho and environs and the story of Gifford Pinchot and his relationship to Teddy Roosevelt. With those two focus points the story is told moving back and forth from Wallace to Washington. The politics of Conservation and the role of the President, John Muir and Gifford Pinchot in setting the course for all the federal land management agencies of the future is clear. The final scene of the fire run of August 20 and 21, 1910 is almost anticlimactic because it seems the course has been set for the fledgling Forest Service. But the aftermath focusing on the story of Ed Pulaski and Gifford Pinchot is both tragic and revealing. As I said I enjoyed both books but I feel as if I was in Wallace when the fire storm hit after reading "The Big Burn". Highly recommended, 5 saws.


1/14 Good day,

I have been looking to get into the wildland fire fighting service and I came across your website and thought I could chat with someone to answer some questions I have. I am currently working as a mining engineer over in Turkey which has been an incredible experience but I have slowly realized it is not my true passion in life. (I have dual US/Canadian citizenship.) I have become very interested in a wildland forest fighter career (especially after having to fight one here in Turkey at our mine site) and I was just wondering if I could discuss what it would take for a complete career move; certain requirements I will need to be qualified and what/where job positions are available. Overall, my long term goal would be to smokejump, but that is something I would reevaluate in the future if/when I get into the line of duty. I really appreciate you taking the time to read this as I was hoping to get some feedback before I make any serious moves. Thank you for your service to our country and I hope it can be myself one day, look forward to hearing from you soon.

All the best,
Erik B
1/14 ab,

has any one heard if we imts and all risk are going to hati?


As of yesterday, my sources at NIFC said they had not gotten any indication and my contact in DHS suggested not now. It was/is a "get the airport up and running" by the military and a SAR show in the rubble. I believe the situation is so fluid, however that the situation could change, especially over time. My contacts at the CDC and WHO say it will be all about immunizations and preventing disease. They're concerned about diseases from cholera and dysentery to dengue fever to measles. If anyone hears more, please let us know. Ab.

1/14 Seatbelts:

Lets talk about micro managing. Well I know what I do for the guys on my crew to ensure they are wearing their seatbelts. I have done this for years and it works. First I have a lead firefighter in the back to make sure that it is done. When he says chalk up crew loaded we move. Second we occasionally will do break checks, at a slow speed of course. This entails hitting the breaks in a controlled area so we don't cause an accident. I might catch one guy sleeping after a long shift and send him into the seat in front of him. That works for us. We have to look over our shoulder. The moment you don't someone might slip.


1/13 Seatbelts and what follows:


In response to all that have agreed or disagreed with the punishment that was handed down, i'd like to put in my two cents.

  • As a supervisor of a module you take the proper steps each year to go over policy with your subordinates.
  • You go over the standard Driving/Traveling JHA, (which covers seatbelts) and each employee signs it.
  • Like most hotshot crews you go over SOPs, which in this case covers the mandatory use of seatbelts, not once but twice. Each employee signs the SOPs.
  • Prior to driving, the supervisor turns around and verbally tells the employees in the back of the buggy to put their seatbelt on.
  • All supervisors lead by example by wearing their seatbelt.
  • An hour out of fire camp you get struck by a Semi Truck... the buggy rolls.. people are injured..
  • After a few days in the hospital the crew goes home. Some physically injured and all emotionally scarred.
  • Upon arrival to the home unit you expect an FLA or at least a debrief, but instead your forest supervisor wants to do an Administrative Investigation (due to internet rumor that seatbelts were not worn).
  • After all is said and done, the folks that were not wearing seatbelts get a slap on the hand.
  • The HS Supervisors on the other hand get suspended.

At what point was policy and regulation not followed ..... By the hs supervisors? ...  no.. By the adults in the back of the truck that knew they were supposed to wear them?... yes...

To all you supervisors of modules ...... if you don't physically put each individual's seatbelt on for them... and then padlock it in place so it can't be removed .... you will be held responsible... that's the message forest management is trying to send.

Either that or it's a new forest supervisor head hunting an old hotshot supt.

And because i'm sure people will ask where i got my facts...... I was a Klamath hotshot that day. I won't work for that forest again .... keep on fightin brothers .. common sense will prevail some day.


Management without a fire background

JHA=Job Hazard Analysis
FLA= Facilitated Learning Analysis

1/13 Re: Seatbelts

vfd cap'n, I agree with some points on your thoughts. As a crew or engine leader, one is ultimately responsible for the well-being of your personnel at all times, and to that I can understand how some fault can be placed upon crew leadership. Managers often come under fire for the actions of their subordinates both on and off incident.

But where's the fine line as a crew manager between ensuring standard procedures are carried out, and being a micro-manager? Must we always look over the shoulders of our employees to make sure things are done per agency direction? Do I need to personally check the seatbelts of all 20 crewmembers? And at what point do the actions of a subordinate address the ability of a leader to manage his or her personnel? How much control do we really have over what a firefighter in the back of a buggy does while you're not around?

And also as a quick point, does anyone have any information on the legalities of the contract companies that use converted school buses to transport type hand crews? Many of these do not have proper or any seatbelts in place. Is this common practice? I encountered a crew this year whose standard practice was to have new firefighters sit in the back of the bus on top of gear bags and coolers while more experienced firefighters had 2 person bench seats all to themselves. How can this be?

Back to the topic at hand. I do not know anyone involved with the incident nor do I really know any specific details about "who did what", but i'm hopeful that their crew leadership always lead by example and mandated the use of seatbelts. If not, then maybe that's the greater problem. I will agree with others that this decision sends out an incorrect example to other forests or agencies. Individuals at fault should be most accountable and disciplinary actions should be given accordingly. Based on the logic of this decision, the involved crew's battalion or division chiefs should receive suspensions for not placing enough emphasis on the proper use of seatbelts. The district ranger should be suspended for not encouraging his fire staff to place that emphasis on their firefighters... and so on and so on. Doesn't make much sense, but that's the logic that appears to be implied.

I believe the powerpoint example that you linked to sums it up best. On the final page titled Summary, the final bullet point states:

"We are each responsible for the actions we take or don't take"

Buckle up folks.

-Centrifugal Pump
1/13 Re: seatbelts


My personal opinion is that what amounts to about a $1,000 fine for for a GS-9 hotshot sup is not out of line for the Klamath incident, nor are the lesser punishments for the captains and individual firefighters unreasonable.

Here's a link to a 1.2 mb powerpoint on seatbelt use and policy from Firefighter Near Miss.

There is a great article about seatbelts on Firehouse with West Point cadet Lewis Han reflecting on a fire lieutenant's leadership while he was on a fire department ride-along:

"Whether anyone thinks it is fair does not matter. The responsibility to lead and be accountable for myself as well as the other firefighters would have been on his shoulders. It is simply something that comes with being in a position of leadership."

That's worth adding to the Quotes page.

vfd cap'n

1/13 Ab,

As most here are hopefully aware, yesterday a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere. I heard the New York City Police Commissioner say on CNN tonight that he was there last week, and that they do not really have fire departments and not much for ambulance service. I cannot imagine. Essentially it sounds like there are no or few first responders, and only minimal emergency medical care normally, on top of the lack of infrastructure, poverty, and now devastation.

I am forwarding, below, information about aid organizations that are already established in Haiti. This is from a contact in Washington, DC and is a list of reputable, established organizations. If you plan to donate or know others who are, please advise folks to donate to those groups already well-established as aid agencies - such as the Red Cross, UNICEF, etc. Well-established aid agencies will also be better prepared to handle and use a large volume of donated money than any new start-up organizations created for this specific incident. As you all know, experience brings efficiency and helps speed actual relief efforts.

It's worth noting that money is the best way to help with an international disaster. Donated items create more problems than they help, as do individuals who just decide to "go help" without being invited to do so. Individuals who show up to "help" without an invite and without logistical support from an associated aid organization create a need for more people to be fed and sheltered than there were already.

Have not heard word yet about any mobilization of folks from the wildland fire community, although any such response could well be limited to those individuals with a passport, updated shots, etc. - especially due to the likely public health risks.

Please consider the following reputable organizations if you are able and interested in assisting...

** Partners in Health (Paul Farmer's organization) - Zanmi Lasante (“Partners In Health” in Haitian Kreyol) is PIH’s flagship project – the oldest, largest, most ambitious, and most replicated.

**Doctors Without Borders - Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization. They in 1999, MSF received the Nobel Peace Prize. 

** Ox-Fam is a confederation of 14 like-minded organizations working together and with partners and allies around the world to end poverty and injustice, from campaigning to responding to emergencies. 

** A.M.E. Church - Since its founding 28 years ago, AME-SADA has demonstrated the implementation of its mission, Helping People Help Themselves, by providing essential assistance to those in need through health, micro-credit and education programs, as wells as emergency humanitarian aid in Africa and Haiti.

Be well,
-Change Agent
1/12 Klamath Seatbelt issue

Just need to unleash my 2 cents to this mess. It's unbelievable what is going on with the Forest Service these days (Keep the faith
folks, it will get better - you will make it better). I think it all started with the DG (That's Data General computer system for you

When you think about it, the personnel actions fall right in line with the fall-out from the Sadler Fire. Now, why did practically a
whole platoon of team overhead lose their quals due to an independent decision of a certain dumb-ass Crew Boss? No, I'm not
saying that Crew Bosses are dumb-asses for crying out loud! We all know Crew Bosses are the backbone of wildland fire
suppression, give me a break. The answer is that we're in the era of accountability, if you will. What the hell? Accountability
should only count, though, when one is truly accountable. The ultimate accountability to keep one's seatbelt fastened lies with
oneself, I would submit. My sympathies are with the supervisors on this one.

Again, what the hell?

I just hope and pray that when fire season rolls around in 2010, this and other issues will be old news, and the 10 & 18 (remember
the Health & Safety Code too) will be uppermost in everyone's thoughts.

old coyote
1/12 Six Rivers NF Lessons Learned (Eureka CA Supervisor's Office) from the 6.5 earthquake, originally created by
Michelle Reugebrink, R5 Safety Officer:

SRF Earthquake lessons learned (3,900 K pdf file)

This was a huge powerpoint that I converted to pdf to reduce the size. Ab.

1/12 me,

Here is a link to the R5 document on First Responder requirements.

fs.fed.us fsm/6700/6720  (doc)

1/12 Does anyone know where I can find the policy pertaining to medical first responder in R5? And what do we do if the EMS agency in our area doesn't recognize first responder?

1/12 Klamath crew accident:

Just wanted to add alot of our thoughts and prayers were with the Klamath crew after the accident. It was almost retirement time for me when I heard how the incident was handled, Pena and Moore should have put a stop to it, But hey Chief! This should give you a clear indication of why we are so low in the morale department, why, even though this job should by all counts be the best in the world, it's not. Who with any ethics or compassion would level such an adverse action against the crew overhead of a firefighting team and not even visit them in the hospital, does this should realistic to you?

These are. an amazing hardworking group of people who do nothing but good for the public, people who constantly sacrifice their lives for others, they will pull through this persecution, they are Hotshots. . Patty, I am not disgusted with you any more. I truthfully feel sorry for you, what do you see when you look in the mirror? What do you tell your family when you get home? My thought is that since upper management can't do anything to serve the public anymore because of litigation, the only meaningful part of their job is internal affairs. Please resign, retire or change, for your own good, the workforce and the public?


1/12 Just to let folks know if you sell things on ebay you can donate a percentage of your sale to WFF. It is fairly easy to figure out when you set up your auction.

1/12 Casey,

I'm pretty sure that the coconut game is how most of the FS budget is handled.

Quick Connect
1/11 Seatbelts:

As usual the agency finger pointing and knee jerk reaction continues. It seems to me that the agency has it ass backwards in regards to the assigned punishment. Maybe the Supt. and crew need to stay home this fire season and not allow his folks to respond in their CCV's as a safety measure. Since he is ultimately responsible for his employees conscious thoughts and actions whether he is present or not, this would be his only way of ensuring their safety at ALL TIMES. We hire employees to think and when they don't, we can't seem to hold them personally accountable, it's someone else's fault (usually higher up). This appears more like a personal vendetta than really trying to fix the issue. What suggestions did forest management have to ensure seatbelts will always be worn? Shoot, the agency is always great about forking out $$money$$ (REPEATEDLY) on companies to perform surveys on employee morale. Maybe, they can survey employees as to why they do not wear seatbelts, what would make them wear seatbelts, what should be the punishment for failure to not wear a seatbelt?. As always, point the finger at someone not a solution, Business as Usual.

“A good scapegoat is nearly as welcome as a solution to the problem”


1/11 Strider,

Maybe the question should be asked of how many days did Pena get suspended for when he re ended a member of the public on I-80 while driving a Government owned vehicle on Government time. (Bet people never heard of that)

Wonder how many days Pena got suspended for when one of his District Rangers while on duty and in a Government owned vehicle was pulled over and arrested for DUI? (Probable never heard of that either but they are factual)

1/11 retention bonus:


Documentation from R5 indicates that the retention bonus is planned [emphasis added] to be continued past Feb. 2010. Out of the original $25 million appropriated for retention (according to sources an additional $3 million was added to that but the source of those funds and why they were added is still unknown), $3.9 million was planned to be spent in FY '09 on the bonus. However only about $2.4 million was spent as it came down as WFPR funds and it was not tracked separately but simply added to each unit's allocation.

Apparently the allowance was charged proportionately to what the base pay was charged to in each pay period so if an individual spent 6 base days (60% of base) on a fire in a given pay period, 60% of the allowance would be charged to the fire instead of WFPR. Thus apparently $1.5 million was spent and charged to WFSU but it was not able to be tracked.

The 2nd year of the bonus calls for a planned $ 4 million in 2010 and nearly $3 million in 2011.

Now the weird part about the $25 million. Congress indicated that of the $25 million, nearly $17 million was spent on the tour conversions. However according to the documentation the FWFSA was fortunate to receive, since the tour increases did not take effect until the fall of '09, there were no costs incurred for those in FY '09. $21.1 million is planned to be spent on these conversions in FY '10 so obviously money is in the back somewhere.??!!

I've already confused myself just writing this. The game of placing money under one of 3 coconut shells and moving them around rapidly kind of comes to mind.

1/11 I guess the reference to Heavy Mechanized Equipment refers to Wilderness Areas. Would not have stopped this fire, but would have perhaps made a difference in the Magic Mtn., Pleasant View and the Wilderness in Devils Cyn. area in the later stages of the fire.


The fun never ends - Most of these recommendations were in place years ago. Isn't retirement wonderful.
State Legislators Back Antonovich In Firefighting Proposal
1/11 Retention Allowance Question:

Getting close to that Feb. 28 cut off for region five retention allowance. Got really used to the extra couple of bucks. Anyone heard if there's a chance of us getting it for another year?


1/11 Seatbelts:

Concerning the Klamath IHC Accident,

Who's passing the buck -MTR? I wasn't so concerned about the seatbelts that could have been a lessons learned situation if handled correctly, now its a complete FUBAR. This could be all a bad dream, but from what I heard, the supervisors were unjustly reprimanded, the situation was handled incorrectly by the Klamath National Forest: instead of showing any compassion or possibly learning from the situation, or even taking the time visiting the injured employees in the hospital, the action went straight to an adverse one, rumor has it that a JHA was in place for the crew wearing seatbelts, that it was in the crew SOPs, that the state law requiring seatbelts, and that the Crewboss told the crew to put on their seatbelts that morning. Sounds like a personal violation by the non-seatbelt wearing employees to me.

A proposed two week suspension for the Superintendent? a week for each of the Captains? Letter of warnings for the violators? How pathetically insensitive, ugly elitism by the manager involved. News flash, Fire supervisors are good people who care for their employees safety and well being, the real punishment is when someone gets hurt. Don't any of you dare question why FS morale is so low when you support things that are handled like this... -MTR

Get your Insurance guys! So you can protect yourselves from the evil ones!


1/11 Seatbelts:

While it is the law and policy, once the vehicles start moving it is the adult decisions of individual crew members to keep their seat belts on. We all know that those in the back of the crew buggies find them extremely uncomfortable and constricting (hence national discussion to change styles). But to hold squad bosses, captains, and Supt fully responsible to actions out of their control is crazy. We all do checks but 30 minutes down the road. When guys are sleeping, how is it the drivers and other responsibility to check seat belts while driving?


1/11 Seatbelts:

For Strider,

First of all Klamath IHC crunched a crew buggy to a TC clip, on Highway 99, north of Chico. Not Interstate 5.

KNF held the overhead structure of the crew accountable, as any further up "the chain", and the over head HAVE NO CONTACT WITH THE CREW FOLLOWING DEMOB ON THE FEATHER RIVER puffer, nor on other common incident demob's. Therefore do not have any effect on whether or not the crew fastens seat belts.

While it may be nice to want to place this reprimand higher up, I do believe it lies squarely within the Crew's Structure. Responsibility for safety precautionary checks for all 20 crew members on Handcrew or IHCs falls within the crew's structure. We all check one another.

And lastly, because at Fed Ex, there is very little possibility of threat to ones life. In your career choice, as a wild land fire fighter, there is a chain of command. And it is thru this command structure that accountability will be assessed, and punishment if necessary, dolled out. The safety belt in the buggy is no different than making sure the sawyers have their ear plugs in, or the toolers have their sleeves rolled down.

Stop passing the buck, and making excuses for overhead mistakes.


1/10 Seatbelts:

Why didn't the CHP give them a fine on the spot for not wearing their seatbelts?


1/10 Seatbelts:

Why not give an equal disciplinary consequence to Supe and Captains?

Supe says "wear your seatbelt, it's the law"  and has Capt and crew check each other.
Supe and Captains demonstrate "wear your seatbelt, it's the law."
If Supe or Captain sees no seatbelt they correct it.

Sets a climate of seatbelt use. It's a crew thang and "it's the law."

Vehicle accidents kill more firefighters than burnover or falling accidents. My 2 cents...


1/10 Seatbelts:

later on 1/10: Ab, please change the location of the clip to N of Chico on Hwy 99, not I-5. Strider.

OK, here's a disciplinary action I have to call BS on! I heard this from a buddie.

A crewbuggie of hotshots was clipped by a semi-truck last summer on (not I-5 but hwy-99), were run off the road and rolled over. You probably remember that. Some of the fellas were not wearing seat belts. A CHP investigation showed that the fault of the accident was the bigrig, not the crewbuggie. So now what happens?

Crazy but true...

The HS supe that was in the supe's rig - and had no say over the crew in the crewbuggie - has been given a 10 day suspension without pay by the KNF supervisor. One (or more?) of the Captains got a 3 day suspension and the shots not wearing the seatbelts got a letter of reprimand.

What's with THAT???

Why is the HS supe blamed for the personal actions of crew in another vehicle? Where is personal accountability of the individual crewmembers? What kind of message does this send? Crazy!

Where is personal accountability on the part of the Forest Supervisor if she (plus Pena & Moore) are not holding accountable those not wearing seatbelts?? We're each responsible for wiping our own bu**s, brushing our own teeth, snapping our own seatbelt, wearing our own gloves!

If Patty does not get that about personal accountability, and her choice of disciplinary actions were not corrected by Pena and Moore, the additional  message to me is that she and other line officers making decisions like this will never be held accountable for anything. All they have to do is blame the middle manager after the fact for their own failure to come up with real solutions themselves. So much for Doctrine and where the buck stops. So much for morale...

Analogy: you work for Fed Ex and the employee doesn't wear a seatbelt, it's the employee that's fired, not the employee's supervisor; the employee knows they're personally accountable for seat belts!

Maybe our line officers need a course in logic. Maybe we need smarter people running the show.

Bunch of hogwash! Bros, consult a lawyer and file a grievance! Don't let them set a precedent like this!


1/10 Federal OWCP


WC Advocate said on 1/4:

As for Mr. Oppermann’s claim that nobody at OWCP would respond to his letters, if OWCP does not have a written release signed by his wife giving them authorization to communicate with him, they would be violating HIPPA regulations if they did respond to him.

WC Advocate brings up what I consider to be critical point and that is the impact of the HIPPA or health care privacy legislation. All of you need to be aware that if you do not take steps to authorize someone to speak to medical professionals on your behalf if you are injured they may be prevented by criminal law from telling that person anything. Please do what your area requires to establish your health care directive and identify who can deal with the medical profession on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Make sure those near and dear to you know that you have done so and where they can find this information if the need arises.

Now as far as the responsiveness of Federal OWCP to the injured worker; as far as I am concerned it does not exist in any form or fashion. If you have the misfortune to be injured on the job I wish you all the luck in the world in finding a Dr. that is willing to deal with Fed. OWCP on a long-term basis. The county medical association is unable to give me any names of Drs. willing to take on an existing case. Numerous telephone calls have yielded to same result, including several “we wish you good luck in finding anyone” comments from Drs. offices. My personal experience is you will get replies to letters to OWCP in 10% or less of the time including letters sent registered, return receipt requested. If you ask more that one question in a letter and they do reply they will answer only one of the questions. Due to the fact that these letters involved my case, HIPPA should not be a consideration. I am sure there are claims examiners out there that are very hard working, caring people, but from my perspective they seem to be overwhelmed by the system they have to work with. To me Federal OWCP has become a poster child of how the government fails to work and for the good of the employee something needs to be changed.

Now PLEASE everyone, be safe out there and let's not need anyone's OWCP


1/10 We're fine. While walking the neighborhood late last night, the power came back on. Good for PG&E!

Everyone we know of is fine. No gas smell and could not find any problem with our chimney. Some years ago we added "skirts" to the sill plate on our house to tie it in to the stem wall foundation. Nothing walked off the foundation. Ferndale -- south of Eureka -- had a big problem with that some years back in a 7.4 earthquake.

We've been are ready for something like this with long extension cords and whisper generator. Tall shelves are bolted to the wall. Preparation helps.

One or more plate glass windows blew out on Carl Johnson's during the quake as extended family were buying an old table. It landed on an SUV but no one was hurt by flying glass. Carl J is on the fill mud flats near the little Eureka airport so it got shaken up pretty well.

From reports I've heard Ferndale and Loleta fared worse with broken windows, downed electrical lines, etc. Hope all are OK there, but heard there were no injuries anywhere really.

Just noticed this morning that all our pictures are crooked, all closet doors upstairs were open. But downstairs my wall of family handbuilt ceramics -- on a tall shelf that's bolted to the wall! -- did not lose anything except one sturdy little horse that bounced on the carpet. Amazing!

OK, enough of this non-fire stuff. Thanks for all the emails and calls. As my old dad used to say to his Scouts, "Be Prepared".


PS Thanks -MTR

1/10 For Mellie,

Because the GO Road doesn't go thru, actually a quicker alternate route to state HWY 101, would be Sth. Fk. Smith River over Red Mtn Lookout (CDF) and down the Pekwan Creek watershed, ending up downriver, then across martins ferry and out Bald Hills to Orick. Of course you better have your Yurok Tribal ID ready.

That shook Redding pretty good!

1/9 burn gel

In response to Wrench's post and inquiry, I've been to a number of classes taught by burn specialists, and they have universally discouraged putting any form of gel, goo, salve, ointment, or anything else other than plan water on a burn. It will feel great at first - but has to be aggressively scrubbed off in the burn center, so the individual that enjoyed the relief will be cursing your "cure" by the time they get there. Just water, then clean dressings, is all they recommend. Now, that's for serious burns. Boo-boo type burns, knock yourself out if it feels good, but if it's going to require treatment, burn folks insist don't put anything on it.


1/9 re: burn gel


That seems to be common practice from the medics in the field I have talked with. Even my EMT instructor which was taught by a U of U Hospital RN said not to use burn gels on any burns.

We don't carry the stuff within our crew, but use cool water and clean gauze when needed.

Lone Peak IHC
1/9 burn gels

I am attending a WEMT course and we had a presenter from the JMS burn center in Georgia. She stated that the director of the program Dr. Joseph M. Still repeatedly made the statement that Burn Gels are not good to use on 2nd and 3rd degree burns. The reasoning was that they held in heat.

Take it for what it's worth. It's second hand. But she was extremely knowledgeable and talking way above the first responder level.

I would be interested in knowing if anyone else out there had similar or contraindicating information


1/9 Just got back from Scott's celebration of life service in OR. It was awesome!

Got home to a large earthquake 6.5 centered about 20 mi off the coast at Eureka that has taken out power all around the county. I hope CalTrans is checking the construction just South of Crescent City. I even remarked to my partner as we drove over it (1605 hrs) that if an earthquake took it out we'd have to get home via the GO Road thru Happy Camp and around thru Hoopa, Willow Creek and to the coast....

We just got our generator plugged in. Son felt it all the way down in San Francisco where he's visiting a friend.

Whooo hoooo! gotta go see what's on the floor and check upstairs. Safeway has broken liquor etc bottles everywhere. Then we'll check the old folks in the neighborhood.

Stay tuned.


1/8 The Future of Topographic Maps

Hello Ab,

I thought your readers might be tired of using outdated 20 year old topo maps and may be interested to see the new world topographic map dataset available for FREE. One of the components of the map are some large scale designs from 1:9000 down to 1:1000. It can be displayed in ArcGIS desktop or ArcGIS Explorer.


Someone asked me if they can preview the topo maps using an Internet Map Viewer instead of ArcGIS. Yes you can; it works well in Firefox and Internet Explorer 8 if using compatibility view. To use this viewer:

Pan: With mouse click down and drag, or use arrow keys.
Zoom: Use map level control in upper left, mouse wheel, or Ctrl-Drag rectangle to zoom in, or Shift-Ctrl-Drag rectangle to zoom out.

World Topo Map/ MapServer? f=jsapi

Zoom into Portland, Philadelphia, Pasadena or Redlands to see building footprints for the entire city. Check out the Redlands ESRI campus. Someone actually mapped the location of every tree, rock, parking space and picnic table (with umbrella)! See attached screen captures


If you like the direction we’re going or have any comments please contact Mamata Akella makella@esri.com. She is a cartographer who has developed some map templates which will make it possible for agencies to make their own detailed topo maps using local data.

Tom Patterson
ESRI Wildland Fire Specialist
(909) 793-2853 Ext. 2401

1/8 Here is the report people have been wanting to see.

5120 Lights Sirens Committee Final Report (from last April)


1/8 Ab, FYI:

January NWCG Course Revision Status

1/8 Ab, FYI, meeting notes from the Nov. NFES/ Cache meeting in Tucson.

November Meeting notes NFES/ Cache

1/8 From the ORC Strike Team Station Fire AAR, page 7:

“Some residents based their judgment to stay with their homes on a prior and much less aggressive fire experience.
The worst-case fire behavior developed and was much more severe than anticipated.”

Clearly these burned citizens hampered suppression and safety measures, put firefighters and pilots at risk and caused
damage to rescue equipment.

As this is a recurring lesson, perhaps the Lessons Learned Center or the Firewise or similar program should develop a
handout for those reluctant to leave early, containing a powerful, persuasive but quick narrative with visual proofs (burned
out cars and homes in which citizens died, extreme fire behavior in the WUI, the column over LA, burned citizens being
evacuated, etc.).

Engines could carry a small supply of these to give to law enforcement or to reluctant citizens as a last resort effort to help
citizens make more informed, timely and better decisions.

Old Sawyer

1/8 Ab, an announcement of the 1st annual Horseshoe Meadows Hotshots Softball Tournament to benefit the WFF:

1st Annual Horseshoe Meadow Hotshots Softball Tournament
Sponsored By the Horseshoe Meadow Hotshots
When: March, 27-28 2010

Where: Shafer Park, Floral Ave Selma, CA 93662

Who: Hotshot Crews and Their Alumni

Why: To raise money for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. The WFF is a non-profit organization which helps
out the families of fallen wildland firefighters. All proceeds will go to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Cost: $415 dollars per team

Deadline: Feb 14, 2010

Contact Information: Tim Murphy
Horseshoe Meadow Hotshots
Phone: (559) 336-2651

I added it to the hotlist calendar. Ab.

1/8 Rip-stop Kevlar pants are now available thru GSA

making the rounds... Ab.

1/7 Making the FS Fire rounds behind the scenes and an important safety issue:

This reminds me of an incident a few years ago involving one of our fire engines and a contractor we were using for fleet maintenance at that time. All of our fire equipment use automatic brake slack adjusters which do not require adjustment. If you discover too much throw when checking your slack adjuster, it is not functioning correctly. Do not attempt to adjust your brakes. This is the job of our vendors and contractors who are certified to do so. Please remember, if you have issues with your vehicles, contact your FMI immediately. F

Firetruck Parts Not Correct Police Say
Brake chamber, pads ‘unsuitable’

By Donovan Slac
Globe Staff / December 16, 2009

A detailed police report from a recent investigation of a fatal Boston firetruck crash concludes that a Fire Department contractor installed the wrong parts on the ladder truck’s brakes several months before the crash and that firefighters who were not licensed mechanics repeatedly adjusted the brakes in violation of national safety guidelines.

The contractor replaced a brake chamber and brake pads on Ladder 26 with “unsuitable’’ parts in spring 2008, which decreased stopping power significantly, according to a copy of the report obtained by the Globe. A few months later, when firefighters working on the truck noticed the brakes not working properly, they made manual adjustments that may have masked underlying problems.

The report, prepared by Boston police homicide investigators, points to guidelines issued in 2006 by the National Transportation Safety Board that said such adjustments are “a dangerous practice that can have serious consequences.’’

The decreased braking power contributed to the massive brake failure Jan. 9, when Ladder 26 barreled down a steep hill and slammed into an apartment building, killing Lieutenant Kevin M. Kelley, the report said.

The report did not single out the faulty parts or the firefighter adjustments as primary causes. But they add to an already long list of cataclysmic errors that contributed to the crash. Last week, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said his investigation found poor driver training and a lack of preventive maintenance were contributing factors.

The police report, which Conley used in his investigation but did not release, adds fuel to ongoing controversy about how vehicle maintenance is handled in the Boston Fire Department, which was criticized after the crash for using firefighters instead of licensed mechanics to work on trucks and check repairs done by contractors.

Since then, the department has hired four licensed mechanics to oversee fleet maintenance and to help with repairs, but unlicensed firefighters continue to do the bulk of the work.

The report also contradicts the Fire Department’s assertions immediately after the crash that firefighters had not performed work on the brakes.

Yesterday, department spokesman Steve MacDonald said “further investigation revealed that was not the case.’’ MacDonald added that the department plans to hire more mechanics to do maintenance work.

“In the meantime, any work that’s done by firefighters is checked by the fleet safety manager, who is a licensed mechanic,’’ MacDonald said.

The 20-page police report states that the Fire Department hired Avon-based Damian Diesel Inc. to service Ladder 26 in early 2008. Damian Diesel subcontracted the job to Woodward’s Auto Spring Shop in Brockton, the report states. The shop told the police investigator that it had replaced brake shoes and pads on the ladder truck with “comparable’’ parts in March 2008, the report says.

(to read the rest click the link at the top)

fair use disclaimer

1/7 A new AAR from the Station Fire (448K pdf file) is on the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center.  The AAR is from the experiences of an OCFA type 3 engine Strike Team who was assigned in Big Tujunga Canyon when a blowup occurred, forcing them into a safety zone while burning 35 structures and 3 civilians.

Contract County Guy
1/7 Info and directions to Scott Roberts' Celebration of Life service in Winston OR on Saturday morning.


1/7 Re: Individual First Aid Kits

The GSA kits are and always have been quite useless. They were designed to cover the basic OSHA requirements. Rather than have a 10 person kit to lug around (which were also useless), the reasoning was to have everyone carry a small one.

It is best to build your own. While this may be a bit more expensive, you will have a much better kit. First you must decide if you want to build a kit that covers everything, or just those moderate to severe issues that we see in our work.

The everything kit is tough as you want to make it small and light, so you limit yourself on the numbers and types of items you can carry.

The moderate to severe kits can include the big items you'll need and not much else.

The Israeli Trauma Bandage is by far the best and is not that expensive. They are available from a number of sources. This is the type of bandage you want your saw teams to carry, as well as tape, kerlix and a large long ace wrap.

Of course then you need to train and practice using the equipment so everyone knows what to do and how best to use whatever you do get.

Hope this helps,

1/7 A few questions:

I'm looking at possibly leaving my PSE position for retraining (college) and a new career. Does anyone have a source or advice on sabbaticals, retirement and career conditional status and what happens with those when one leaves federal service?

If I get retrained and want to work for a different agency can I use my career conditional status after being away from service for x time period? What happens with your retirement and TSP? How do sabbaticals work? Can I take one for any reason? Who approves it?



1/7 1039 Hires; Washington Post:

Bad morale? I've got a friend that falls under this category of temporary hire. We started hotshots together in 1978 and he hasn't missed a season, ending up as a Wilderness Ranger, which he works presently.

Just missing the full benefits by hours, they do the same job as many with FULL benefits!

We have seen over and over how medical bills wipe out families. Living on the edge... stay healthy!!! You need to work till you drop. Hope your kids and spouse are smart and work hard. Those medical bills you know!

William Riggles
1/7 2010 Temporary Hiring Handout

Temp hiring handout with step by step process for applying using avuedigitalservices.

Good luck...

1/6 Ab, does anyone know how the hotshot gal that got run over -- how she's doing?


1/6 first aid kits


I have never sent a post before. I just wanted to let the person asking about the Individual First Aid Kits know. Light House for the Blind carries the items needed to rebuild the kits. They can also find the same exact kits GSA has for a few dollars cheaper. All the items in the kits they carry, if you don't see on their web site you can call and order those items also.



Thanks JMM. Welcome. Ab.

1/6 Preseason Incident Agreements (I-BPAs) from jac:

Region 5 Incident Procurement

VIPR/National Incident Procurement

Here's the beginning of a letter to Regional Foresters on the subject.


The National Solicitation Plan for Preseason Incident Agreements has been updated and can be found on the Incident Procurement Web site.  2010 represents year four of a 5-year phase-in to introduce formal competition to preseason I-BPAs and establish consistent national standards.

The 2010 solicitation templates will be available in the Virtual Incident Procurement (VIPR) release 2.0 in early January; however, regions may issue the synopsis prior to that time. Regions will use the following two templates to re-compete equipment originally contained in a single solicitation in 2007: water handling equipment and heavy equipment with water. etc at link

1/6 The life of Scott Roberts (our Mod Red) will be celebrated on Saturday morning at 10 AM at Winston Community Center, in Winston, Oregon. Winston is 5 miles south of Roseburg. It looks as if the weather will cooperate for travelers.

My spouse and I will be attending. If any of you would like to come, it would be nice to meet you. Saturday would have been Scott's 40th birthday.


1/5 FS morale:

The Forest Service hired Dialagos just a few years ago to talk with employees, including firefighters and the FWFSA on subjects like morale. Obviously they submitted the results of that feedback to the Agency so I guess a reasonable question would be why is the Agency "re-inventing the wheel" and spending more money with another company to find out what they should already know.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Agency is keenly aware of what the morale issues are with its firefighters. These same issues were identified to and by the Agency and solutions to the issues provided over two decades ago. More recently additional oral & written testimony from NFFE, the FWFSA and others has been provided to Congress on the subject.

Rather than waste additional dollars on yet another study, I would surmise it would be more effective, efficient and less time consuming to act upon the information already gleaned from employees.

Just a thought.

1/5 To All,

Those of us who have been around long enough, know the name of Landell's Aviation. Unfortunately, they've suffered another fatal crash.

3 biologists die in Calif. chopper crash - Life- msnbc.com

I'm sure one of Landell's ships have given us a lift at least once in our careers. I knew Don prior to his death in the late 70's.

Prayers and support for all involved here. The Landell's family was a part of our family.

Tom Stein (Janney)

Sad news. Our condolences. Ab.

1/5 3 biologists and pilot die in helicopter crash

LA News just reported a Helicopter crash with 3 confirmed dead, 3 Biologists doing a Deer count, somewhere in the Sierras near Madera. Not sure if USFS or DFG.

Bob Bock
Battalion Chief
City of Riverside Fire Department

1/5 Just wondering if the pilot was USFS...



1/5 personal first aid kits:

To the medically savvy,

We are looking into the option of creating our own personal first aid kits to be issued to our crewmembers. A few reasons behind this are the cost of the current GSA kits and the amount of obsolete and missing items. Our main concern is trying to find if there are any minimum requirements that need to be met as far as the personal kit goes. How about for a saw team? I have found several discussion and reference to recommended items for a kit, but we want to make sure we meet or exceed any standard if there are any.



1/5 The 2010 California Interagency Fire Prevention/Mitigation and Education Conference is May 4-6, 2010 at the Agua Caliente Resort in Rancho Mirage,

Free registration at the link above. The conference is open to all agencies, departments and organizations with fire and public safety responsibilities. Persons with prevention/mitigation, all risk duties and involvement with Fire Safe Councils are strongly encouraged to attend.

Draft Agenda

  • Key Note Speaker- Dr. Ron Hodgson, Fire Social Scientist
  • Esperanza Fire Investigation, arrest and murder trial-An interesting presentation will discuss the challenges and process which happened in the arrest and one of the first murder trial for an arsonist.
  • Ember bloom Studies and Ember Building Standards-Ethan Foote, CAL FIRE/SFM Assistant Chief
  • “Take Responsibility” Campaign update and free materials-California Fire Alliance state-wide marketing campaign for homeowners to create 100 feet of defensible space.
  • Grant writing presentation-Tips on how to write a grant and where to find grants to match your needs.
  • "What is a Fire Adapted Community and How do We Achieve it?" -Chief Roper, Ventura County Fire Department
  • Fire Safe Council Success Story
  • Santa Monica Mountains Community Wildfire Protection Plan
  • Social Acceptability of fuels treatments-Sarah McCaffery, USDA Forest Service will present the view  of the public regarding fuels reduction.

Don't miss a wonderful opportunity to network,


Thanks Debra, I put it on the Hotlist calendar and it will show up 3 months in advance. Ab.

1/5 FS Morale?

I've always been one to put my guys and gal's in charge of their own morale, (you know... if you don't bring up your morale your performance rating is going to suffer in the attitude department, you're bringing everyone down, I can't have that, it creates a safety issue, bring it up immediately up or you will go somewhere else!) but it looks like we can only do so much, here's my take:

The majority of the FS folks working in the field chose that life, to serve the public and protect our natural resources. The majority of their superiors (the ones in question) are there to serve themselves, promote, make more money, have power over the little people. No judgment here, that's just the way things are, and have always been, each to his or her own, only problem is it causes a huge communication riff! The upper management elite can't figure out why the field worker doesn't want to, or are incapable of being like them, and the field worker can't figure out why the upper management doesn't want to be like them. In the computer age, there is less and less time spent in the field, causing even more of a communications breakdown between the two groups. This past year I have seen this widening gap cause a huge morale issue. To management it seems the value put on the lives of the "groundpounder" is next to nothing., Upper management has their way and the employee has no recourse... whatsoever... to protect themselves against adverse action, ridicule, harassment etc. The EEO and Grievance systems are a joke! The next historical step of course will be to do surveys, set up committees and lay the blame the first line supervisor for being "mean" causing a continued downward spiral in the morale department once again.

How can we fix it? (hire a clown) or...

Just put everyone in charge of their own morale and things will be just fine! A wise man once said: You have three choices, do nothing and be happy in your current situation, do everything you can to fix the situation, or get out of the situation. Your choice!

Reality check

1/5 FS Morale:

The FS Chief is so concerned about the agency's low morale that he fired off a letter about it, and even signed it himself -- uh, nevermind -- looks like he had Hank Kashdan sign it. Hank K. signing a letter about agency morale? Now that's funny. Chief has a sense of humor. Nevermind that Hank K. is an individual (snip)... What was that word that came to mind?... Oh yeah, CLUELESS.

I'd dither on about feckless leadership, but I gotta get to a meeting with local commissioners and explain to them that, yes, in spite of common sense, and the commonly held principles of the universe and all existence, a line officer, with ZERO wildland fire background, can (read have here) override/ignore the input of their fire managers and let a fire burn for the sake of resource benefit.... in fuel model G with 50% percent dead standing trees... with 70+ tons/acres downed woody debris... about 1 hour's burn time from the fringes of their favorite mountain community....

Is there a Bowl game on tonight?

Here's to a fabulous New Year,

(not from R5)

1/5 Photo needed:


We are working on an educational interpretive panel for a park located at the base of Lake Tahoe and need a high-res photo of a wildland fire. We found a couple good ones, but are having trouble locating the photographer. Ideally, we want a picture with lots of flames and pine trees burning. This is a project sponsored by the USDA Forest Service and our local County Parks & Open Space. We do not have a photo budget, but was wondering if someone would like to donate a photo, and we can give the photo credit.

Thank you, Bobbi
Direct: 775.771.7320

1/5 New CA-KNF Crew?

Any info on a new Developmental Crew on the Klamath on the Goosenest RD? Is this going to be a fuels crew, or is this going to be a T-2IA crew going for IHC status? Congrats to Elk Mountain IHC for making the designator.


1/5 Contracting Fire Equipment requirements:

I would like to find out what the requirements for contracting fire equipment what’s required for training and where to start?


bonnie gibbs

brgibbs2@ nospam gmail.com

1/5 Primary vs Secondary FF Retirement:


In response to your question of primary vs. secondary in firefighter retirement, the three things you would want to watch out for are:
1. Making sure you have at least three years in a covered primary position.
2. Making sure that you do not have any break in service between the primary and secondary position.
3. Making sure that the p.d. for your new position has been reviewed and approved by OPM as being covered.

A good source for more detailed information is: Primary vs Secondary FF Retirement

Don't assume that your HR folks know much of anything about fire retirement. There is an incredible range of competence among HR folks concerning this issue. Keep any emails, letters, or other documentation concerning your coverage in a special file.

Good luck with the switch!


1/5 Regarding the IHC or SJ --> Fire Manager Project in response to a question about updates:

I usually archive then update the information semi-annually (or quarterly if there are lots of changes). Since it's the new year, it's time for another update for those that want additional names or new positions added.

Feel free to send in your updates.


1/4 Breaking News: Forest Service Chief admits low morale is now a critical issue within the Forest Service.
The message is getting through to the media and political types. Casey is right again.

Reminder - Get your talking points on Red Lights and Siren into ab. All regions need to do everything
we can to support our fellow R-3 Firefighters.

CFMTT and Forever!

File Code: 1200/1300
Date: December 28, 2009
Subject: Federal Human Capital Survey
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Directors

The Forest Service’s poor ratings on the Federal Human Capital Survey (FHCS), “Best Place to Work,” some media reports, emails, and discussions with employees all confirm that low morale is a critical issue. These are “indicator lights” that I cannot and will not ignore, as I said to you in my recent video. We need to name what is broken, and fix it.

You are the great minds we want to access to learn how we can improve morale. I have commissioned CI International to facilitate focus groups, engage employees in dialogue and analyze data from these surveys over the next few months. The objective is to listen deeply to employees from all levels, test hypotheses and gain clear understanding of the root causes of our issues around morale.

CI International will benchmark our survey results with those of other agencies to present best practices and perspectives on how other agencies are dealing with similar issues, and present ongoing findings to the Executive Leadership Team (ELT). The ELT will work together with you and all employees so the Forest Service is once again an employer of choice.

We need to learn the hard truths about our problems so we can accurately focus our time and energy for real, lasting impact. We will identify where there are centers of excellence in the Forest Service and lessons learned. I am committed to well-targeted, expeditious action.

We will share outcomes of this work along with responses and solutions to issues raised by members of my sensing group on a new website. The link to the website is: http://fsweb.wo.fs.fed.us/chief/sensing.

I am proud of the many committed, creative, and passionate employees of the Forest Service. I believe that together we can improve morale and make the Forest Service again one of the Federal government’s best places to work.

/s/ Hank Kashdan (for):
1/4 NWCG cut CIIMT Team 2? I bet Studebaker is coming back to haunt them

Signed, unemployed
1/4 Secondary FF Retirement Question


Can anyone offer a quick and easy rundown of 'Secondary Firefighter Retirement' with the USFS? I'm looking to make the switch from an engine into fuels, and am not sure what changes to expect when leaving 'Primary' for 'Secondary' FF retirement.



1/4 Dealing with OWCP:


In response to your post about OWCP, I have to agree that the process is definitely broken. Unfortunately, the problem does not lie only with OWCP. Yes, they have not updated some of their processes for many years and, as Mr. Oppermann stated, there are claims examiners who are totally incompetent or are “retired in place”, but you can find those employees in any agency.

The bigger problem that I see as a person who has managed federal Workers’ Comp cases for several years, is the lack of importance the agencies place on the program. In the land agencies I have worked with, employees, supervisors, and HR personnel receive little, if any, training in how to file and manage claims. Employees are not informed of their rights and responsibilities. Employees and supervisors are not trained in completing the paperwork and what is needed to be successful in filing a claim. Until management recognizes the importance of managing the Workers’ comp programs on their units to take care of their employees and also to manage costs, nothing will change and everyone will continue to blame OWCP for everything.

As for Mr. Oppermann’s claim that nobody at OWCP would respond to his letters, if OWCP does not have a written release signed by his wife giving them authorization to communicate with him, they would be violating HIPPA regulations if they did respond to him. Taking your concerns to the political arena may help, but I would also suggest talking to your management about making Workers’ Comp training a priority in your agency. At least you would know if OWCP is really to blame.

WC Advocate


Another Safety message making the rounds:

Interagency Accident Prevention Bulletin 10-02 - Medications, Flying and Fitness (105 K pdf file)

These can be found on the Hotlist Lessons Learned and Safety Zone subforum. Ab.

1/4 Rappel standardization:

Ab, here's the latest

Rappel Standardization Letter (57 K doc file)


1/4 10% retention

I have not heard any new news lately on this. I thought there was going to be decision in December about this. Does anyone have any info?


1/4 Fed OWCP


Here's A follow up article about dealing with Federal OWCP.

Helps you understand what folks have to put up with when they have the pleasure of dealing with OWCP. The only way I see to get any of this changed is by moving the whole question to the political arena and getting them involved.


1/4 Emergency Red lights on Apparatus

From the 2009 Redbook (Which all agencies are supposed to follow) MB

Chapter 14 Equipment


All new orders for fire engine apparatus will include an overhead lighting package in accordance with agency standards. Lighting packages will meet NFPA 1906 standards. Engines currently in service may be equipped with overhead lighting packages. Lighting packages containing blue lights are not allowed. Blue lights have been reserved for law enforcement and must not be used on fire vehicles. A red, white, and amber combination is the accepted color scheme for fire.

Emergency Light Use

Headlights and taillights will be illuminated at all times while the vehicle is in motion. Emergency lighting will be used only during on site wildland fire operations or to mitigate serious safety hazards. Overhead lighting and other emergency lighting must meet state code requirements, and will be illuminated whenever the visibility is reduced to less than 300 feet. Blue lights are not acceptable for wildland fire operations.

  • BLM -
    Emergency lighting may be used during a response to an incident or 20 to mitigate serious safety hazards. If emergency lighting is to be used it 21 must be approved by State Director and meet all state and local emergency 22 services training and certification requirements. Overhead lighting and 23 other emergency lighting must meet state code requirements. 24
  • FS -
    See FSM 5120 and 5135 for red lights and siren policy. 25

Light Use Visibility

Headlights and taillights shall remain illuminated at all times while the vehicle is in operation. Overhead lighting (or other appropriate emergency lights) shall be illuminated whenever visibility is reduced to less than 300 feet.

There's also a HOTLIST  Thread on this topic.

1/4 Informational Summary Report (Green Sheet) 09-CA-LMU-005999 Highway 89 Tree Felling Incident

A tree felling incident resulted in serious injuries to an inmate firefighter. Please provide wide distribution of this document for the purposes of discussion and Tailgate Safety session.

SoCal CalFire

1/4 Code 3 Emergency Red Lights & Sirens


Another source for people to review would be NFPA and their standards for emergency vehicle lighting. I’m not positive, but I’m sure the USFS engine build ups incorporate many or the NFPA standards on emergency response vehicles. One might be able to make the argument against the smorgasbord approach to picking and choosing which NFPA standards to adopt (common).

It would also seem that an agency maintain their standard department (in this case nationwide) as the equipment does transit into adjoining regions. Adopting different standards in an agency produces negative outcomes.

One other idea might be to contact the IAFF and seek their help on this issue as these USFS units I’m sure work alongside IAFF locals which in doing so, this impacts the working conditions of those locals in the form of timely response, roadside warning devices, etc. They might be able to lend some assistance in Washington DC.

Just a few thoughts.

“Another CDF BC”

1/3 Emergency Red Lights:

Aardvark has just showed me that R-3 is ready for a fight. Lets get this machine rolling.

I think we need some guidance from one of our leaders to review and approve between 6-12 bullet style talking points that we will focus on for this email campaign. Your bullet suggestions should be emailed to the ab's for consolidation and review. When the information is ready for posting, maybe the email addresses can be listed as well.

I would like to offer the following for consideration as talking points, thanks to pervious posts on this subject:

  • No information the decision to eliminate red lights and sirens was reviewed by the Forest Service Office of General Council. Agency and employee liability exposure issues have not been addressed.
  • No information has been found that our neighboring Forest Service Regions and local firefighting cooperators were consulted.
  • The decision eliminates standardization with other Forest Service units.
  • The decision compromises a safe and efficient emergency response during all risk local, regional and national disasters.

Send in more talking points to the ab's!

This R5er is ready to fight for our R-3 Firefighters. If any of those in R-3 receive any internal emails or letters on this subject, it would be a good idea to share it with the ab's so we are all updated as to any movement on this subject.


1/3 Emergency Red Lights and Sirens:


This is the stupidest thing I have ever seen in my 43+ years of federal wildland fire service and is obviously the product of people who do not understand wildland fire management. I also suspect, as some other posters have stated, that it is more a slam on wildland fire management personnel than it is any kind of attempt at line officer wisdom. In fact, it is a boldface declaration of the absolute lack of wisdom that now prevails in USFS higher -line officer- management. No wonder our state and local cooperators have lost any respect for us.....this being part of the region's tact. TheySaid readers: You need to read out of this how incredibly anti-fire the R03 and much of the rest of the USFS line management is. As my last resort I am contacting all of my congresspersons and writing all of my local newspapers. We will change this and a few other things too.

Quote: "As we shared with you recently at the RLT meeting, we do not believe our personnel, within the scope of our mission, require a need to have red lights and siren capabilities when responding to incidents. Therefore, we will not authorize training or use of existing equipment for this purpose on any of the Forests within the Region. If any units have authorized this use, I ask that you cease this use as soon as possible. We do concur wholeheartedly with the committee for the need for amber lighting or other approved industry standard lighting to maintain the highest level of equipment visibility for our personnel.

Since seventy-five percent of our fire fleet has been equipped with a full lighting and siren package and nearly all of our replacement fleet is on order, we agree with the committee to finish up the current fire fleet replacement program with the current lighting packages and accessories to ensure consistent fleet equipment packages within the Region. However, when this current fleet is up for replacement, we will need to begin equipping our vehicles with the appropriate lighting packages only to meet the needs of maintaining the highest level of visibility for our personnel, and no longer include red lights or siren equipment for those unauthorized uses.

Training for the use of this approved equipment will be incorporated into such regional venues as the annual Regional Engine Academy. You are also encouraged to provide this training locally on your Forests consistent with state licensing requirements for use of this equipment. The Region will assist if necessary in developing standard training."

Back to me: BullSh**!!!!! This and so many other things need to be dealt with right now. Let us be organized and deal with them.


1/3 Do you by chance have any of the info on the Emergency Red Lights and Sirens issue for region 3?

I am typing up an email, and would like to have the official numbers or memo records and such to allude
to and point or link to when I do so. The directives are posted but there is no link as to where they were
found out, or any way for me to reference them.


Ab reply, anyone else feel free to recall exact dates, and history of this if you remember:

Various docs were sent in to theysaid starting 2 or 3 years ago by a wide variety of people and discussion ensued. I saved the docs to the server and posted links to them. Here are some results of a search of wildlandfire.com (search button in the header) on "red lights".

That lights and sirens policy (and others) were under review as the FS line officers (FLT = Forest Leadership Team) re-evaluated the direction of the FS Fire program as a result of their Pulaski Conference and embracing Doctrine. The FS Manual was rewritten to make line officers accountable for everything (as in they go to jail if stuff goes wrong and they've made a bad decision and don't have Professional Liability Insurance) and to re-focus on the FS mission and vision, which apparently does not include firefighting on the interface.

First I heard of the redirection of FS fire out of the interface was when I was told someone from NIFC (FS in Boise) or the WO (Harbour? someone else?) telling an interagency structure chiefs conference in Novato CA that the FS would no longer be fighting fire on the interface. That was 3 or 4 years ago, after the Pulaski Conference that the FLT held.

The search: OK, here's what I found under "red lights". I know there was discussion on repeated occasions on theysaid, but no focus on letter writing to congress at that point. Did not seem like the line officers were listening.

Interim Directive (Chapter 5130) Emergency Lights and Sirens, (doc) 11/30/07, p5

Southwest Fire Operations Risk Management Newsletter, Spring '08, p4
Interim Directive on Red Lights and Sirens (pdf)

Response to Lights and Sirens Committee Final Report, (doc)7/27/09

"As we shared with you recently at the RLT meeting, we do not believe our personnel, within the scope of our mission, require a need to have red lights and siren capabilities when responding to incidents.  Therefore, we will not authorize training or use of existing equipment for this purpose on any of the Forests within the Region.  If any units have authorized this use, I ask that you cease this use as soon as possible.  We do concur wholeheartedly with the committee for the need for amber lighting or other approved industry standard lighting to maintain the highest level of equipment visibility for our personnel.

Since seventy-five percent of our fire fleet has been equipped with a full lighting and siren package and nearly all of our replacement fleet is on order, we agree with the committee to finish up the current fire fleet replacement program with the current lighting packages and accessories to ensure consistent fleet equipment packages within the Region.  However, when this current fleet is up for replacement, we will need to begin equipping our vehicles with the appropriate lighting packages only to meet the needs of maintaining the highest level of visibility for our personnel, and no longer include red lights or siren equipment for those unauthorized uses.

Training for the use of this approved equipment will be incorporated into such regional venues as the annual Regional Engine Academy.  You are also encouraged to provide this training locally on your Forests consistent with state licensing requirements for use of this equipment.  The Region will assist if necessary in developing standard training." etc

1/3 Emergency Red Lights and Sirens:

The email addresses given for the staffers in the offices of Senators Udall and Bingaman are incorrect (or at least not working when I tried). It is best to go to their respective websites and write to them directly from there.



Having the leadership take away an important safety tool like red lights and siren from myself and fellow firefighters is both embarassing and frustrating. Having been on engines for the past 10 years I know for a fact that having lights and sirens on my engine directly contributed to the safety of my crew, other firefighters, emergency services and the general public. When it comes down to it, I will take the lights off my engine when the leadership team comes down and removes them. If I get a new engine, I will spend the money to move my light package over to the new engine. My safety and the safety of my crew are paramount.


1/3 Minimum Standards for Medical Units:


Attached is the recent 'Minimum Standards for Medical Units' produced by the NWCG Incident Emergency Medical Task Group. This document has been in the making for over five years and it is nice to finally see something from the group. It does not address the larger issues of medical direction, training or EMTs on the fireline, but does give some direction for Med Unit Leaders.

Hopefully it will not take another five + years for the next direction from this group for those of us EMT's on the fireline.


minimum standards for medical units draft (829 K doc file)

1/3 40th Reunion of the FULTON HOTSHOTS


HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours! PLEASE take some of your time to post this important  announcement about our 40 year Fulton Reunion. We know you reach to a large family of wildland firefighters.


Announcement flyer (173K pdf file)

40th Reunion of the FULTON HOTSHOTS

U.S. Forest Service/ Sequoia National Forest
April 16th -18th, 2010, starting at noon in Fulton

It's posted with Flyer link on the Hotlist calendar. Ab.

1/2 Dear OFG:

In my post on this subject I did not state that "assigning program leadership control to line officers that have no fire background is a recipe for failure." I did say,

"The Agency's insistence on continuing the archaic idea of placing authority for the development and implementation of FIRE policy and the control of FIRE funding in the hands of Line Officers who collectively have little FIRE experience or expertise, has led to a myriad of problems with respect to the efficiency and effectiveness of the FIRE program."

Over the last few years these problems have been identified by firefighters, the FWFSA, NFFE, the GAO and others. Significant congressional testimony exists on the consequences of Line Officer authority for the FIRE program in an increasingly complex wildfire landscape. I will tell you categorically that there are some in Congress, both in the House & Senate and on both sides of the aisle that have told me directly, face to face that maintaining the status quo of the organizational structure of the FIRE program is rapidly approaching its breaking point. There is an increasing level of conversation and thought on Capitol Hill looking at

  1. taking FIRE away from the land management agencies
  2. changing the structure of the management of the FIRE program i.e. Line Officers would simply be advised by
    their FIRE staff of what the FIRE staff needs, what its doing, etc.
  3. creating a separate federal wildfire agency.

Neither I personally, nor the FWFSA organizationally, is advocating the stove-piping of the FIRE program... just yet. We believe some simple fixes will lead to a more effective and cost-effective program. We certainly are not advocating the creation of an R5-like FIRE program nationally. R5 is a unique entity and should be dealt with as such. There are many, many firefighters across the country that are not interested in all-risk duties and that makes perfect sense.

However, given the facts surrounding the diversion of FIRE dollars by Line Officers to non-fire projects (the ASC is a prime example) and the consequences thereof on the FIRE preparedness of the agencies and given the complexities of the WUI in the West and the extensive variety of fire agencies involved in serious fires in the West, I believe it critically important to have those with the experience & expertise running the show... all of it.

Quite simply, in the West, some Line Officer decisions in recent years have raised the risk to firefighters and the public. Many of these decisions have been made against the collective advice of the Line Officer's own FIRE staff. These decisions have led to significant increases in suppression costs and the tanking of the morale of firefighters on many forests.

Some of these decisions have been personnel decisions that again defy common sense... at least in the opinion of many firefighters.

I personally think the Line Officer certification program is "too little, too late." Line Officers cannot play "catch-up" in dealing with the complexities... including the politics, of large WUI fires. Some Line Officers in the West have done serious damage to once excellent relationships with state & local government fire agencies.

Finally, I'm confused about your suggestion that it is the FMO who is ineffective if they cannot understand why their Forest takes a particular action on a FIRE and can't find out what's going on from Regional Fire Staff. Communication is certainly a two-way street. But when the FIRE staff is trying to support the Agency and the Agency refuses to support its firefighters, what then?

If your assessment about ineffectiveness is on point, then I and many, many seasoned firefighters, members of Congress and others are truly ineffective because none of us have been able to get an answer as to why a western Forest Supervisor would want to:

run an existing fire to the edge of a previous fire, requiring the burning of an additional 100,000 acres that would destroy significant watershed and create the potential for devastating floods & mudslides; encroach on private property without permission; and cost the taxpayer millions more.

There are too many of these types of decisions to list. Former Chief Kimbell had clear disdain for FIRE and the attention it got. The covert effort to "rein in" FIRE by the Agency was amplified during her tenure. We had hoped that with Chief Tidwell's experience in FIRE and his familiarity with the West, things would change and firefighters would get a bit more support. So far we haven't seen anything from the new Chief.

So, we simply continue to work towards a better future for our firefighters... with or without the support of the Agencies. The introduction of our legislation will hopefully send a clear message to the Agency leadership that it is time for it to support its firefighters.



1/2 OFG said:

I would offer that the effort and passion to create a stovepipe fire organization or separate wildland fire agency is wasted energy.

Just watch. The boat turns slowly OFG, but the boat is turning. I think you have no clue what is going on behind the scenes. A collective effort has been intensified. It may take months or years, however I recommend you sit back and watch. Ecosystem and Land management are huge responsibilities that I want our District Rangers and Forest Supervisors to have more time to focus on vs. doing those 10% wildfire inspections they never seem to get around to do. Having a Line Officer inspect an IC in the performance of his/her duties is like having me inspect a Nuclear Power Plant.

The fire organization is not going to move and set up headquarters in Siberia. We will still be just down the hall. A simple knock on the door and the freedom for increased honest communications begins, promoted by the the removal of the formality that comes with supervision. Non-fire productivity workload will increase as told to me by multiple District Rangers. I currently have strong communications with my Forest Archaeologists, however that doesn't mean she does my performance rating or she gives me the combo to the highly classified maps.

Well ab's, back to my Workplans........ Right full rudder!


Here's to the generation younger than us - ms

1/2 Casey,

Thank you for your response, and please don't get me wrong....I fully agree with you that everyone should be entitled to express their opinion. It just helps me to know what level of experience that person has when evaluating the credence of that opinion.

I also believe we are in violent agreement on your opinion that assigning program leadership control to line officers that have no fire background is a recipe for failure. My own experience in fire helped to make me a better District Ranger, and my years as a line officer helped me be a better and more effective Fire&Aviation Staff Officer.

In further support of you opinion, an earlier Chief of the Forest Service directed that all line officer selections must include "fire experience" as an selection evaluation criteria. That direction has been grossly ignored.

I would offer that the effort and passion to create a stovepipe fire organization or separate wildland fire agency is wasted energy. Fire is such an integral part of ecosystem management and land management that it can not be separated.

I would encourage an effort to persuade the Chief to enforce existing WO direction. I do not know why NFFE is so silent in seeking to ensure the safety of their constituents by insisting that leadership have qualifying fire experience as directed.

I continue to support the inclusion of input from the ground troops, and local fire managers. But I also believe that seasoned leaders must also include the input of committees, OGC, etc. in reaching their decisions.

Lastly, I fully support the idea of clear communication of rationale for decisions made. If that has not been forthcoming, that is a mistake. Remember however that communication is a two way street. A district FMO who does not understand what/why the forest takes a particular position on fire is not communicating effectively. A forest FMO that does not share information, or cannot find out from Regional fire staff what is going on, is also ineffective.

Old Fire Guy (ret.)

1/1 Re: R3 USFS light policy

On my forest we use a simple but common sense approach to the use of red lights and sirens.

If life, structures or any other values are or are presumed to be at risk, they will run code to the fire. Of course, when the first unit arrives on scene if they determine that there is no immediate risk, they will advise any other responding units stop running code and respond normally. More often than not they dont run code from the initial dispatch. When the AAR is done I have them review if lights and sirens were used and whether they should have/have not been used. By only using lights and sirens when they are actually necessary, we reduce the exposure to risk to our firefighters and the public.

I would expect that many other forests and other fed and state/local agencies have a similar policy or SOP using lights and sirens.


1/1 Hi Ab’s. Hope all with well with you all and OA. Many good posts lately, thought I would chime in on a few of them.

Why not have the best of both worlds? - AZfirefighter

Because it makes to much sense! Great post AZ. You bring up some good questions that do highlight additional complications. I repeat I want know if OGC, R-3 Rank and File and neighboring regions were consulted. Recent Line Officer policy changes required all drivers complete red light and siren training by 2011. These policy changes allowed Regions to opt-out. Our R-3 Brothers and Sisters need to know we are here to help them in this fight. Chief Harbour, get in there and fight for us!

We will claim our dignity back! - KnuckleDragon

YES WE WILL! - Every mistake they make will be highlighted and posted. Every funding debacle they cause shall be exposed. Every regulatory burden they develop will be examined. Every policy they pontificate will be reviewed. All of this will be read, studied and debated in our forum. Thank you OA!

Old Fire Guy - Yes I have a Workplan username and password and I balance a large budget. However that means squat, nothing. I want to hear from all employees especially the younger generation. I want our Firefighters, Senior Firefighters, Squad Bosses, Engineers and Captains asking questions, learning, developing and growing. I want them active, making mistakes and learning from them. I have no litmus test for my fellow forum theysaid posters. I respectfully ask you to see the other side and understand that managing a budget or tooling around in Workplan is not a requirement to comment on organizational flaws. PTP in 2010, JOIN  FWFSA!  HELP CASEY  FIGHT  FOR  YOU! When you're in DASHBOARD, you're 3 clicks away from joining an association dedicated to supporting Wildland Firefighters and our families.

Yactak - I believe the post regarding the CAL FIRE use of hotels and other budget issues should stay.

I was going in a 180 degree direction with my post and ask ab's to take it down. I was wrong and almost hit the send button when I refreshed my screen and read yactac’s post and ab’s comments. Yactac and ab’s are absolutely correct. The post should stay. I am a fed, and I look at the bargaining excellence from CALFIRE and other State and Local Gov organizations with much envy. If I remember correctly, CALFIFRE gave up a pay raise for better sleeping conditions, game over. What is comforting to know is that thousands and thousands of fed firefighters throughout the United States are proud of CALFIRE, other State organizations and our Local Government cooperators. Thanks Yac.

12 hour shifts vs 24 hour shifts. - Many scratch their collective heads when they hear what our Fed Firefighters can do when they go off shift. Walk straight out the main entrance of the fire camp and do whatever one likes to do while off duty. Frankly, both sides make good points on shift lengths and to me I can go either way. More important; when we secure our PTP, we will work any freaking shift anyone asks of us, with a smile on our face!

Have a great New Year - from M-R-M
Thanks and same to you and yours MRM

- Never Forget April 1, 2008 (The day they lied from coast to coast)
- CFMTT and Forever
- We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or we are going to perish together as fools-MLK
- We will succeed, because we are right!


1/1 Comments on the Texas Forest Service Problem:

To: Tejas No Mas

First of all these people in Texas do things their way as you said but you must realize this is a STATE fire not a Federal fire. Most of their fires are paid out of the funds from the STATE of TEXAS unless declared a FMAG from FEMA and then they are only reimbursed 75%. So you won't work there anymore and that my friend is your right along with another Federal, State etc employee.

As far as sleeping on the ground well again my friend I have been on numerous Western fires and guess what we slept on the ground and ate bag food or sometime MREs that is what is called being on fires. Texas does try to setup places so that all personnel can have a hot meal plus they also try to see that motels are available. Most of the fires East of the Mississippi fire people try hard to see that firefighters get a motel and hot meals. West of the Mississippi its sometime a motel plus usually its a tent. I have been to Texas on numerous fires and I felt they treated me very fair and I can truly say I enjoyed being there plus enjoyed the people I met from TFS.

I am sure there is a lot of fires that people were on and when they departed or better term DEMOB they knew more than the Feds, or State people and said they would never go back, but if you are in fire you must be flexible and it doesn't matter and IF you think you could make a difference then I suggest you become a IC and have to work with 200 + people who know it all. I do know that TFS was in Georgia on the swamp fire and just like everyone else there FED, State, Volunteer department everyone learned something and my friend every FIRE you learn something if not you do NOT need to be on FIRES just stay home and also you are out there to earn the extra bucks.

So enough is enough now lets start a New Year and think we made a difference in last year otherwise when the call come just don't pack your bags, board the plane and head out for 2010 fire season.


Hotlist thread

1/1 Dear Old Fire Guy:

I suppose I could make things a lot easier on myself and simply post my opinions using a moniker. That way my opinion could be somewhat anonymous and your criticism of that opinion could also be anonymous. It seems that posting using my name makes me an easier target as there are many posts on the lights/siren issue that seem to share my "what was he thinking?" thought but you have not gone after those posters. So be it. Guess it's the nature of the business.

My opinion as to Mr. Newman's decision in this matter is just that; an opinion of which I have a right to as do you. I have not ever expected anyone to agree with my opinion(s) on any subject but suffice it to say, my opinions posted on certain subjects seem to be similar to the majority of other posts on the same subject. No one needs credentials to post an opinion but I'll offer some in a moment.

I have not spoken to Mr. Newman. However I have spoken to many of our firefighters in that region as well as Forest Service FIRE leadership. This decision is in line with a number of other decisions made by Line Officers, both RFs and Forest Supervisors in fire-prone western states in recent years. These decisions have led to a perception by many that the Agency is making a covert effort to "rein in" FIRE. I'd be happy to list these decisions that make me scratch my head but obviously AB knows me well enough to know I can be long-winded. That is precisely why I offer up my email address and phone number often...so that those who have a comment on what I have to say, whether they agree or not, can contact me directly and we don't have to engage in a tit for tat on TheySaid.

I don't believe my post stated that my opinion was "superior" to Mr. Newman's and his staff. Furthermore, I don't feel it a requirement for me to have managed a federal agency fire program to offer an opinion about this decision. I will tell you that the FAM Director for the Agency addressed this issue with me and could only offer the following in regards to Mr. Newman's decision: "The RF's rule the roost." We all know that by now.

I've offered this assessment (opinion) many times and it is echoed by those in every FIRE position in the Agency: The Agency's insistence on continuing the archaic idea of placing authority for the development and implementation of FIRE policy and the control of FIRE funding in the hands of Line Officers who collectively have little FIRE experience or expertise, has led to a myriad of problems with respect to the efficiency and effectiveness of the FIRE program.

It might have very well worked 30-40 years ago but with the complexities today, it defies logic not to have those with that experience & expertise managing the program. The FAM has been rendered ineffective by Line Officers across the country.

Again, I don't need OGC decisions or meetings with committees to offer an opinion that is demonstrably similar to those that have to operate these emergency vehicles, maintain them, supervise the crews, command them in the field etc. Neither Mr. Newman or you have offered any reasonable explanation for the decision other than his belief that within the scope of operation, they are not needed.

I guess we toss out state laws on emergency vehicle operation, federal regs & guidelines etc. By golly if the RF goes against conventional wisdom than no questions should be asked. There are ample reasons for vehicles responding to emergencies to have signaling devices. Forest Service fire engines ARE NOT highway maintenance vehicles.

I spent 25 years in the FIRE business, culminating as an Asst. Chief of Operations. I have been an I/C on a wide variety of emergency incidents in that period. As an Asst. Chief of Operations it was my duty and obligation to ensure the safety of our firefighters and the public...the primary reason for emergency signaling devices.

I assume you are suggesting that because Mr. Newman has been provided such authority by the Agency to make this decision, the decision must be the right one? Again, there are countless FIRE decisions that have been made by Line Officers in the west recently that defy logic from the perspective of managing the largest fire department in the world.

It remains stunning to me that a "committee" was even commissioned and again demonstrates the inconsistency of FIRE policy across the nation within the FS.

It would be one thing if these engines and other apparatus remained on Forest in R3, never went on public roadways, never encountered the driving public etc. But as you know these vehicles are traveling within the public. More importantly they often travel great distances to other states such as California.

If I'm a motorist in California and I see a green fire truck behind me with red lights and blaring a siren, my inclination to give that vehicle the right of way is far greater than if I have a green fire truck in my rearview mirror with amber lights and no siren.

I appreciate the fact you've known Mr. Newman for decades... perhaps the reason for your consternation towards my opinion. I'm sure many Line Officers are good people but overall, they make lousy FIRE policy and fiscally mismanage FIRE funding.

So, while I will acknowledge that Mr. Newman may not personally be a clueless person, his decision is.

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