"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland Firefighter
||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
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.
||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.
||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
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.
||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!!!
||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
We need the best and brightest and most motivated individuals heading this
||Model 48 computer:
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,
||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
||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
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
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
/s/ James M. Peña (for)
cc: Gene Smalley
SME=Subject Matter Experts
||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!
Nice memories, Tony, thank you. Ab.
||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:
and a must-read paper by Doug Campbell and Bruce Schubert
ART OF WILDLAND FIREFIGHTING Ab.
Video Bosa, Sardinia, Italy 2009:
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.
On ven 29/01/10 5:31, François Binggeli <francois.binggeli@snip> wrote:
Video Bosa 2009:
El dos primeros vídeo sobre Bosa 2009 están disponibles:
- una síntesis : http://www.fireparadox.org/interact.php 
- la versión completa de este rico momento de vida profesional y
Les deux premières video sur Bosa 2009 sont disponibles :
- une synthèse
- la version complète 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  above
from the FireParadox website, link above:
Sometimes breaking away from conventional fire fighting methods is
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  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
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.
||Historical Question for Wildland Firefighter Readership
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.
||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.
Tahoe National Forest
Deputy Chief (Ret.)
Paul Gleason's historical letter Nice image.
||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.
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
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…
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…
||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.
Johnson City, Tennessee
Thanks, Charlie. I'm glad he did too. Ab.
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?
||Re: FS is Loosening Contractor standards:
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.
||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.
||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
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.
||Passing of Tim Stubbs aka NMAirBear:
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
Tonight, I raise yet another shot to a great man, a great firefighter, and a
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
Fly long .... NMAirBear .... God bless you
CDF FIre Captain
||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
firstname.lastname@example.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
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
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
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
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.
||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
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
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.
||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:
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 !
- 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).
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
Pissed and let down!
||Tim Stubbs Passing:
My heartfelt condolences to Tim's family. He was a
||Behind the Lines film:
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:
||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.
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
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)
||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
God be with you Tim,
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.
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.
||Very sad news, Tim Stubbs passing, our NMAirBear is gone...
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
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.
||update on rappel/helicopter review... (making the rounds in R3 and R6,
received from several sources)
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.
Regional Aviation Officer, R6
Thanks to Jon for the definitive update on rappel program review. Ab.
||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
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?
||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.
||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
Remember last year's "Travel Ceiling"?....We'll see.....
||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
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
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!
||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
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.
||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
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-
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.
||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
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.
||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
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.
Nov09_ThePenAndThePaper.pdf (229 K pdf file, shared with permission from
the author and the Fire & Rescue Magazine)
||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
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...
||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:
Assistant Apprentice Coordinator for January 30th staff ride
Apprentice Coordinator for March 6th staff ride or
Wildland Firefighter Apprentice Program Manager - BLM
3237 Peacekeeper Way, Bldg. 200
McClellan, CA 95652
ngogna@ nospam ca.blm.gov
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
Thanks for your time.
Haw Haw. Fun. Ab.
||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.
||"So there are three ways in which a civil leadership causes the military
- 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
- 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
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
||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
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.
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
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.
Found this link on the Lessons Learned Website
Lots of good videos.
Reel to reel
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.
H.R 4488 Dear Colleague (46 K pdf file)
I hope you feel better soon Casey. Ab.
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
Thanks ... STUMPIE
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
sign me, working toward the change
Thanks for your contribution. Ab.
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
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
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.
R5 Partnership Council Agenda and out-of-region acting chief...
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
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!
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
Just An Old Chief
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
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
(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!!)
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
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.
- 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
- 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.
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)
CO-RTF-Freeman Reservoir Felling Fatality Report is out. Fallers, a "must
Lots of lessons learned reports have been posted on the
Hotlist in the last 2 days. Ab.
I am proud and honored to announce the introduction of HR 4488, the National
Improvement and Cost Containment Act in the US House of
The Dear Colleague Letter as well as the Congressman's press release will be
DEFINITELY MORE TO FOLLOW.
Death sought for Rickie Lee Fowler
10:58 PM PST on Thursday, January 21,
By PAUL LAROCCO
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)
Big Hill Helitack is approaching 50 years of service on the Eldorado National
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
Southern California Association of Foresters and Fire Wardens Training and
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
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
Nice, J. OA added the conference to the Hotlist Calendar. Ab.
Ab, please post. Thanks. noname fire
IFPM / FS-FPM Conference Call
January 20, 2010
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
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
- 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
- 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
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
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>
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
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.
No name please
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
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.
Great job, Casey! Ab.
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
Applicants should print/review the announcement carefully and ensure that their
application is filed on or before the closing date of February 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
Ed, not only did fire for 46 years, he was also the College Rodeo Coach, and
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.
Nice tribute. Anyone have info or photos for the Memory Book?
ABs, thought I'd pass this along. Sad news for our USFWS brothers and sisters.
Two found dead in crashed plane
By Bennett Hall, Gazette-Times reporter | Posted: Monday, January 18, 2010
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
“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
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.
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
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
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.
Are there any agencies that will hire a non citizen that has the right to work
Thank you for your time
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,
For those interested, check the Google Earth /ArcGIS map of the Haiti
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?
- I have also heard R5 upper managers asking why do we have so many
physical injuries? Are we
- 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
Instituting a Functional Movement program would vastly improve Forest Service
SAFETY and MORALE.
It would be a cost effective fix!
WE CAN DO THAT NOW.
sign me "concerned for Morale and for Safety!"
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.
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
- 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.
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
>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,
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
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.
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
Thanks Casey and happy retirement to Dennis. Ab.
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
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
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
- 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.
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
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
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
Fire Geek has a very cool utility to share:
Before and After GIS...
Ab and All,
FEMA's NIMS ICS Forms comments are DUE tomorrow JANUARY 15 at
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...
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,
Next week's weather CA-LMU
CA team headed to Haiti:
CATF5 just got the call to fly to Miami to stage for
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)
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
amber seatbelts, so firefighters are reminded that they're really
Helicopter Training for Crewmembers or Managers, making the rounds
Eric C. Graff
Grand Canyon Flight Crew
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.
The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy
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.
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,
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.
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
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
- 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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Here is a link to the R5 document on First Responder requirements.
fs.fed.us fsm/6700/6720 (doc)
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
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
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.
I'm pretty sure that the coconut game is how most of the FS budget is handled.
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”
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)
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.
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
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?
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!
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?
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.
Why didn't the CHP give them a fine on the spot for not wearing
Why not give an equal disciplinary consequence to Supe and
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...
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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,
PS Thanks -MTR
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!
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.
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
Lone Peak IHC
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
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
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.
The Future of Topographic Maps
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 email@example.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.
ESRI Wildland Fire Specialist
(909) 793-2853 Ext. 2401
Here is the report people have been wanting to see.
5120 Lights Sirens Committee Final Report (from last April)
January NWCG Course Revision Status
Ab, FYI, meeting notes from the Nov. NFES/ Cache meeting in Tucson.
November Meeting notes NFES/ Cache
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
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
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.
Ab, an announcement of the 1st annual Horseshoe Meadows Hotshots Softball
Tournament to benefit the WFF:
1st Annual Horseshoe Meadow Hotshots
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
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.
Rip-stop Kevlar pants are now available thru GSA
making the rounds...
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
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
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
(to read the rest click the link at the top)
fair use disclaimer
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
Info and directions to Scott Roberts' Celebration of Life service in Winston
OR on Saturday morning.
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
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,
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?
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
Just missing the full benefits by hours, they do the same job as many with FULL
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!
2010 Temporary Hiring Handout
Temp hiring handout
with step by step process for applying using avuedigitalservices.
Ab, does anyone know how the hotshot gal that got run over -- how she's doing?
first aid kits
I have never sent a post before. I just wanted to let the person asking about
Individual First Aid Kits know. Light House for the Blind carries the items
to rebuild the kits. They can also find the same exact kits GSA has for a few
cheaper. All the items in the kits they carry, if you don't see on their web
can call and order those items also.
Thanks JMM. Welcome. Ab.
Preseason Incident Agreements (I-BPAs) from jac:
Region 5 Incident Procurement
VIPR/National Incident Procurement
Here's the beginning of
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
equipment with water. etc at link
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.
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.
Those of us who have been around long enough, know the name of Landell's
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
Tom Stein (Janney)
Sad news. Our condolences. Ab.
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.
City of Riverside Fire Department
Just wondering if the pilot was USFS...
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.
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
- 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
- “Take Responsibility” Campaign update and free materials-California Fire
Alliance state-wide marketing
campaign for homeowners to create 100 feet of
- 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
- 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.
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!
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
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,
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,
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+
woody debris... about 1 hour's burn time from the fringes of their favorite
Is there a Bowl game on tonight?
Here's to a fabulous New Year,
(not from R5)
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
photo, and we can give the photo credit.
Thank you, Bobbi
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.
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?
brgibbs2@ nospam gmail.com
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
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:
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
Good luck with the switch!
IHC or SJ --> Fire Manager Project in response to a question
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.
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
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
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):
THOMAS L. TIDWELL
NWCG cut CIIMT Team 2? I bet Studebaker is coming back to haunt them
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.
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.
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.
Ab, here's the latest
Rappel Standardization Letter (57 K doc file)
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?
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.
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
- 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
There's also a
HOTLIST Thread on this topic.
Informational Summary Report (Green Sheet) 09-CA-LMU-005999 Highway 89 Tree
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.
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
Just a few thoughts.
“Another CDF BC”
Emergency Red Lights:
Aardvark has just showed me that R-3 is ready for a fight. Lets get this machine
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
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
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
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.
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
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,
Southwest Fire Operations Risk Management Newsletter, Spring '08, p4
Interim Directive on Red Lights and Sirens
Response to Lights and Sirens Committee Final Report,
"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
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
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
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)
40th Reunion of the FULTON HOTSHOTS
HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours! PLEASE take some of your time to post this
announcement about our 40 year Fulton Reunion. We know you reach to a large
family of wildland
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.
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
- taking FIRE away from the land management agencies
- 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.
- 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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.)
Re: R3 USFS light policy
On my forest we use a simple but common sense approach to the use of red lights
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.
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?
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!
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.
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
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
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
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
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
So, while I will acknowledge that Mr. Newman may not personally be a clueless
person, his decision is.