February, 2010

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2/28 Passing of Wes Ruise Sr.

On behalf of Cleveland NF Battalion Chief Wes Ruise Jr. and his family, it is with great sadness that I share with you the news of the death of his father, Wes Ruise Sr. Wes Sr. passed away yesterday after battling leukemia and complications of diabetes. He was 76 years old.

Wes Sr. retired from the USFS in 1985 as Fire Management Officer on the Descanso Ranger District, Cleveland National Forest. He began his career on the Palomar Ranger District in 1959 and built a reputation over the years for his dedication, toughness, knowledge and expertise in wildland firefighting. After his retirement from the USFS, Wes Sr. served many years as Fire Chief of the La Jolla Reservation Fire Department until health problems curtailed his ability to continue a few years ago.

Wes Jr. and his family are doing as well as might be expected during this difficult time. Funeral services are pending. I will pass on further information as soon as it becomes available.

Please keep the Ruise Family in your thoughts and prayers.

Carlton Joseph

Our condolences to Wes Jr, his family, friends and coworkers. A life well-lived. Ab.

2/28 From Milehighbar on the hotlist:

The hotlist topic of IA response “what do you respond” in another thread is interesting as it presents one of the most significant concepts of wildland fire protection based on values at risk, historical fire behavior, IA success rate, fuel models, weather, topo and politics.

One area all fed fire managers, fed firefighters and our cooperators should take note is how the FLAME Act is going to get implemented especially for all fed fires at the Type 5, 4 and 3 levels. FLAME Act implementation direction is due out in the weeks ahead. For the Forest Service, how our smaller/lower complexity fires are paid for (which pot of funds) including salaries, fire replacement, fleet and cooperator costs at the Type 5, 4 and 3 levels may force changes to IA response and ultimately affect IA success rates.

Early reports of FLAME Act implementation process seem to have the potential to significantly impact local firefighting budgets. Much is riding on how this act will be interpreted and implemented. For now I will take a wait and see attitude as it could lead to an even more effective response or it could lead to status quo or it could radically handcuff an Incident Commander. Like many, I grew up and learned that a comprehensive, inclusive and most importantly an aggressive IA with both ground and air resources is the norm especially when values at risk are massive.

Keep an eye out in the weeks to come when official word comes down to the Forests on how to implement FLAME Act suppression funds. It's times like these that we in R-5 are lucky to have a Regional Strategic Fire Planner who behind the scenes does what he can to deflect and protect our fire organization from negative budgetary impacts of new policy or direction. But don't say you were not warned about the FLAME Act as someone much smarter than me warned us of potential issues with the FLAME Act related to IA response over a year ago. Mike Dietrich is one of the most respected to ever lead a fire organization or command an incident.

Other info about the FLAME Act: Hotlist

2/28 GP,

It's been about 10 years since my formal structural firefighter training so please, anyone, feel free to correct me if I am off base here.

Wasn't the fire tetrahedron, and more specifically the "chemical chain reaction" aspect of it, implemented due to certain Class "D" fires (combustible / flammable metal fires) in which water, foam, and most ABC / dry chem types of fire extinguishers were ineffective? I believe certain chemical agents were developed that specifically stopped these types of rare, but unique fires. You are also correct about Halon being used in expensive computer and electrical systems, but Halon is also no longer legal to purchase in new suppression systems but previously existing systems can still be in place.

My point is that the "Fire Tetrahedron" does have a specific place in the training of the structural firefighters. When one of these situations occurs, it is important to have the understanding and training to attack these incredibly rare fires correctly.

But what are the real world examples for wild land firefighters? In my time on type III engines on a very urbanized forest, I have yet to come across a scenario where we used a unique chemical agent specifically designed to stop the chemical chain reaction process. It would appear that our primary methods of wildland fire suppression cover the fire triangle quite completely. Line construction from hand crews and dozers effectively remove fuel. Firefighters use tools to "hotshovel" and during mop-up use dirt and water mixtures to smother burning logs and what not, effectively removing oxygen. Water and foam from engine hose lines remove heat and separate the fuels from oxygen. Aerial retardant drops, for a lack of a better way to describe it separate the fuels as well.

My point is that wildland fire suppression tactics are not based around removing the chemical chain reaction. We do the actions listed above. I've never yelled at my guys advancing hose to "Get in there and stop that chain reaction!" ... It's something more like "Get in there and cool that down, or hit that with the shovel, or scratch a line around it".

I understand that technically the tetrahedron is probably the most scientifically correct, but in my opinion it's not the best fit for our community. But if you or anyone has specific examples of how the tetrahedron can fit well into wild land fire aspect, please do share. I'm always interested to learn more and improve training where it can and needs to be improved.

Centrifugal Pump
2/27 GP

You forgot that there is one more side to the Fire Tetrahedron:

It is the chief. Take the chief away and the fire will go out.

2/27 GP:

The four-sided fire figure has been part of training in structural firefighting for 20 years or more. You eliminate at least one of the sides and combustion cannot continue. I'm not sure why this concept hasn't been embraced on the wildland side

Still Out There As an AD

2/27 A Future Wildland Fire Service Scenario

For those enthralled with the idea of an independent wildland fire service led by experienced, dedicated professionals I offer a dose of reality as echoed in the NY Times ...

www.nytimes.com/2010/02/27/opinion/27korb.phpl?emc=eta1 (opinion piece)

The "coasties" are as close a model of what a Wildland Fire Service would look like (and where it would end up) as anything ... a small service led by trained and dedicated professionals with a specific mission strongly favored by the public yet, woefully underfunded and constantly under represented in the daily bureaucratic in-fighting.

If we think being rolled within the current land management agencies is bad just wait until until we go up against the real players.

Uncle Louie

2/27 Does anyone know if NWCG is considering, or possibly are in the process of changing the Fire Triangle

To the Fire Tetrahedron ?

The three sided Fire Triangle consisting of Fuel, Heat and Oxygen has been re-designed through research and a fourth side has been validated that is the removal of the “chemical chain reaction” of the combustion process, thus creating the four sided pyramid, or a tetrahedron. All four sides of the pyramid must be broken for combustion to stop. There are certain fire extinguishers, such as halon that are very efficient in breaking the chemical chain reaction of the combustion process.

Any help is appreciated.



An 8.8 Richter Scale quake hit Chile about 0330 local time. Now 78 people are reported dead.

Tsunami Warning is out for all on the Pacific Coast. Expect 4-5 hr before it could hit Hawaii. (Will sound sirens at 0600 hrs local time in Hawaii.). CA and OR and WA not in direct path. Noon or 1300 hrs is the time to be alert for CA.

Stay tuned.



Google News: Earthquake Chile

Hotlist thread with tips on how to get the best online info.

2/26 Chad Howard and Bill Oelig, gone but still making a difference:


This is my first commo with "They Said". In the past I was just a voyeur but something caught my eye and inspired me to write, Bill Oelig's name in one of the postings. This year I have lost 2 very good friends in the fire world. Chad Howard and Bill Oelig. Both were wonderful people who touched so many, many people in extraordinary ways. Both of them gems! I think what we all should remember is when we are gone, people are not going to remember what we did or what we said but how we made them feel.


Readers, Chad died on December 3 following a long battle with a brain tumor. He was dearly loved. He was on Krassel Helitack and before that, Lolo Hotshots. (See theysaid 12/3/09). Thanks BL. I did not know either man, but I certainly feel their gem-like quality through your comment. Ab.

2/26 WFF Race Car


Toyota Racing is sponsoring a race car design contest, in which my wife and I have entered. The theme revolves around the WFF. IF, my design is chosen as the winning design, I have requested that the ARV of the grand prize (approx. $4,000) be made as a donation to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Voting is open to the public and the car may be found here: sponsafier.com

Let's all make the vote count for the WFF!

Tom & Debbie

Nice job! Everyone, VOTE! Ab.

2/26 HR4488 and another firefighter loss: Bill Oelig passed away

Keep up the good work Casey. Nice too know that you are also a fellow veteran of the Armed Forces.

On a sad note, and there have been too many of them recently, former Seeley Lake District (Lolo NF) FMO Bill Oelig passed away last Wednesday at the young age of 59 while working on an FS burn detail in Mississippi with Homestead Helicopters (Missoula). Bill retired three years ago from the Forest Service but remained active in the fire aviation world as a contractor. A long distance bicycle racer as well as a fit runner, Bill went out for a PT run early last Wednesday morning and suffered a fatal heart episode. Another loss in the fire ranks of one who touched a lot of lives over the years. Just to reiterate your earlier note -- need to keep the important things in life prioritized.


2/26 Local Cooperators:

I have been briefly following the debate and concerns of utilizing local cooperators on fires and felt the need to speak out, just a bit. I believe that the generalization that all local cooperators across the country are banking big dollars is not an entirely fair assessment of the situation. I have been a fire fighter in Region 3 since the 80’s, both as a fed and now for a local fire department. I can assure you that in AZ, fire departments that have Cooperative Fire Rate Agreements through AZ State Forestry do not get portal to portal pay and we are not able to charge administrative fees. We do work the same shifts as the other forces, sleep in tents and eat camp provided food. We do pay for our own fuel, supplies and apparatus maintenance. Departments in AZ have a standard schedule of rates that apply to all across the state. Local cooperating agencies are regulated by AZ Forestry, are red carded by a State Red Card Committee, and many of our members serve on federal overhead teams. We make big investments of time, training, equipment, apparatus and readiness to support our neighbors in a time of need. We do recapture primarily exact costs, but if we are taking the fed to the cleaners, I’d like someone to show me the money.


Mtn Man in AZ

2/26 From Hickman:

Big River Midwest Wildfire Training Academy

A link to many training opportunities. Click around.

2/26 Dear Rock,

I hope you can appreciate the fact that although the FWFSA wrote the bill, much of the language and the use of certain verbiage is the result of years of discussion/consultation with congressional members and staff from both sides of the aisle and from both the House & Senate. There would have been no way a bill would have been introduced if it targeted specific non-federal resources to reduce.

Further, it is not up to us to dictate what non-federal resources to reduce. Suffice it to say however that I think most involved in the federal wildfire business recognize where costs can be reduced. Again I refer to Mr. Moore's memo about a new direction in cooperative agreements.

Again, with all due respect there is no language "against" the private contracting community. As I've repeatedly said, if Congress wants to implement the pay & benefit provisions of HR 4488 and not include any mechanism to reduce suppression costs to pay for those benefits that's fine with us. However we were compelled and obligated under current guidelines to at least offer a solution as to how to pay for PTP and other benefits with a cost factor.

As a side note...I too am a Disabled Vet so I don't think it's fair to throw in the suggestion we are somehow against Disabled Vets, women (we have many, many female members and Vets as members) or anyone else. Simply we think that the federal government ought to take care of their own first if federal tax dollars are being used.

I can't offer an invitation for the private industry to join with the FWFSA. That is something the FWFSA Board of Directors would have to address but we do have a number of members (really anyone can join who supports our efforts) who work in the private sector; are ADs, some federal DoD firefighters; many from Cal-Fire etc. The private sector has organizations/associations working on their behalf. We've tried to reach out to them on this bill.

As someone mentioned to me recently the real opposition might be those that represent local government firefighters in the West. We have, unfortunately already been declared a "rival organization" by the California Professional Firefighters and the International Association of Fire Fighters for reasons that remain a mystery and for which the CPF and IAFF refuse to disclose to us or sadly, the majority of their members. Candidly, as a former member of the Executive Board of the CPF and one who was involved with the hierarchy of the IAFF, internal union politics is not a place for the faint-of-heart.

However the same holds true for them. We are not intent on eliminating them from the wildfire landscape. However, there are some who make staggering sums of money each season at the expense of federal wildland firefighters. We simply want to level the playing field on behalf of federal wildland firefighters and taxpayers.

Again, if anyone has any questions or concerns they can contact me personally any time.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
2/26 Worth the time if one has it.

Aerial Firefighting, Vancouver, 16th-17th March 2010


2/25 Nicky O,
Your question leads to more questions:

* Did you just finish fire school or did you have it in the past?
* If fire school was over a year ago did you finish your refresher training?
* Are you State, Private or Federal?
* Do you have a training coordinator or fire officer that handles currency and qualifications?

Sorry I couldn't be of more help and with no disrespect intended but there is more into getting fireline qualified than taking a test. If you are federal, check with your fire folks and look into the policy. The 310-1 is one of the best references for feds. Good luck and be safe.

2/25 There is a new ad on the Jobs Page for the Oregon Department of Forestry. Warning, the application deadline is just a a little over two weeks away. OA
2/25 40th Reunion of the FULTON HOTSHOTS

Ab and all,

Don't forget our 40 year Fulton Reunion


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.

2/25 Mr. Judd,

I believe we are more closely in agreement than you can imagine regarding HR4488. I believe I can speak for a lot of contractors in our support of Portal to Portal, employee retention, pay & benefits for Federal Firefighters.

You ask "what would you have us do to "embrace" the private sector". I would ask you to clarify exactly who the "higher priced non-federal resources", "cooperators", "local government firefighters" are... really who are they?

Eliminate the verbiage against the private contracting community that is made up of Disabled Vets, Historically Underutilized, Women Owned, Disadvantaged and other Small Business. Otherwise you are throwing "us" under the bus with the yet "unnamed" resource.

You have done an exemplary job in your efforts for the work FWFSA does on its members behalf regarding the efforts to reduce the non-federal suppression costs, but the private sector is right with you on those points. Yes, "we" aren't "paying the freight" at this point, is that an invitation to join?

When I was about 4 years old, my Mom said "Don't put your finger in the raccoon cage". About an hour later she said " I told you so."


2/25 A memorial service honoring William Michael Alexander will be held on Saturday, February 27, 2010 at:

Josephine County Fairgrounds
1451 Fairgrounds Road, off of Highway 199
Grants Pass, Oregon

Memorial Service will start at 1230 PM and a reception will follow. Bring a side dish if you would like.

Mike's family has requested that in memory donations be sent to:

Wildland Firefighters Foundation
2049 Airport Way, Boise, ID 83705

Mike will be missed by all.

Thomas V. Murphy
BLM - Medford District Fire Mgt. Officer
Medford, OR 97504
Office - 541-618-2236
Cell - 541-944-6622
2/25 Greetings,

I’ve poured over your website several times now, and can’t seem to find my exact issue. I have been trained now (even got a certificate) and passed the 45# pack test back in November. Wasn’t I supposed to receive a small hard card that basically says I’m “red carded”? Or do I need to go somewhere and register myself to get “red carded”? Or am I automatically on a list somewhere and anyone with proper authority can look me up and I’ll be there?

Any light on my situation would be greatly appreciated!

--Nicky O--

2009 Safety Gram:

2009 Safety Gram (pdf)

Fatalities, Entrapments and Serious Accident Summary for 2009

The following data indicate the fatalities, entrapments, burnovers and other life-threatening accidents associated with wildfire, wildland fire use and prescribed fire operations in calendar year 2009. The information was collected by the NWCG Safety & Health Working Team, with confirmation of the fatalities from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

7 page table...

2/25 Sierraville Crew 6:

If you have the additional info on Sierraville Crew 6 and the decision to no longer fund the resource, I’d be interested. The crew has a special place for me personally.


Jeff in NV

2/25 Dalton Hotshot Relay Run Update:

As Dalton prepares to run the Ragnar Relay for the WFF we get more miles to run. The course is now starting in Ventura and will be a total of 200.4 miles. We got that covered!

There might be many of you out there asking what can I do to support Dalton Hotshots and the WFF. Well, we are looking for EMT Intermediate / EMT Paramedics and above. We need a total of 12. If we fill this number (12) Ragnar will donate $200 to WFF for each EMT. This request goes out to our Professional brothers and sisters. Any and all are welcome!! If you would like to volunteer it would be a 4-7 hour shift. Even if you are not an EMT, you can volunteer!

Those of you that are interested please feel free to contact me. Ab has my number!

The final map update will be posted this week!


Thank you, Scott Gorman

Scott, I put this on the Hotlist too, as many interagency folks read that. Ab.

2/25 Regarding frequencies at airtanker bases:

Interagency Aviation Tech Bulletin 2010-01.pdf (219 K pdf file)

2/25 Re Big Meadow Escape Burn:


I reviewed the Big Meadow escape several days ago.

A couple of comments:
Was the perimeter set up so that fire that crossed the perimeter line went out of alignment? Looking at the picture it was hard to determine the terrain.

Attached is the test fire analysis and record form we developed and tested for 10 years in Ventura Co.

The Go-No_Go check list has a couple of items that would have resulted in a No-Go condition too.

Doug Campbell

2/25 CAL FIRE Emergency Crew Transport (ECT) Pilot Rock #2 accident:

Attached is an Informational Summary Report (Green Sheet) referencing a vehicle accident involving CAL FIRE Emergency Crew Transport (ECT) Pilot Rock #2 that resulted in minor injuries. Please provide wide distribution of the document for the purposes of discussion and Tailgate Safety session.

Dave Teter
Battalion Chief - Department Safety Officer

Green Sheet on hotlist, check the original for photos. Ab.

2/25 Cyanide exposure:

In regards to Vicki's post about the firefighter and cyanide exposure, the source of cyanide was probably left over from Cyanide Leach Mining - used to extract gold. Montana banned cyanide leach mining in 1998 and Wisconsin in 2001. They remain the only two states to have done so.


2/24 Cyanide exposure:

Summary of Case of Injured Wild Land Firefighter
John B. Sullivan, Jr., M.D.
February 16, 2010

A female wild land firefighter was involved in fighting a wild fire in California on September 1, 2009. During the cleanup phase of the fire she was over an area of a hidden defunct mining operation. While extinguishing the residual flames of a tree trunk, the roots collapsed into a hole and a strange blue flame emanated. She backed away and retreated from the site. Minutes later she suffered symptoms of tremors, nausea, and dyspnea. She had what was described as a respiratory arrest and was resuscitated. She was taken to a local emergency department where she was hospitalized for two weeks. A Sherriff’s hazardous materials team investigated the incident three days after exposure that documented an airborne cyanide concentration of 45 ppm near the area in which she was working. An airborne level of 50 ppm of cyanide is immediately dangerous to life and health. I evaluated her on October 19, 2009 in my Toxic Exposures Clinic. I performed an MRI and MRS of her brain as well as a neurological workup. At that time she was confined to a wheelchair because of difficulty walking and neurocognitive deficits (abnormal thinking). I reviewed her brain MRI/MRS with a neuroradiologist. She had non-specific encephalomalacia (brain swelling) within the parietal and occipital lobes, she also had an abnormal choline peak on MRS. The medical literature reports cases of elevated choline with encephalomalacia (brain swelling) involving carbon monoxide and cyanide exposure. She has been in physical therapy with some improvement, however cognitive (the process of thought) skills are worsening. My diagnosis is exposure to cyanide which caused brain injury.

There are no known pre-existing conditions that are related to this injury. The conditions I have described were reached after careful examination and standard testing, and are not mentally imagined or induced by the patient. Wild land firefighters face a number of hazards in the course of their duties. The affects of cyanide inhalation are just beginning to be understood at the wild land level. Suspected cyanide exposure can more effectively be dealt with if proper diagnosis and treatment is given in a timely manner. Proper treatment is available, especially at Level 1 trauma centers. Regional poison control centers can provide medical toxicology consultation and antidote recommendations for the patient. Proper treatment for suspected cyanide inhalation needs to become standard protocol for wild land firefighters.

Ab & Community,

The only thing in this letter that I am not sure about is the source of cyanide.. "hidden defunct mining operation". One thing that I am sure of... we as a community can make a different outcome for our firefighters in the future.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
2049 Airport Way
Boise, Idaho 83705

2/24 Addition to funny terms page:

A Keebler situation. Deep seated stump/Tree fire. "Damn Keebler 's ben cookin in the trees again".

signed 2Badger 

Haw Haw. Ab.

2/24 Death takes yet another beloved friend:

To all:

Although this has really nothing to do with the wildland firefighting community, I hope you'll appease me by allowing to pay tribute to a lost friend.

As many of you know, I was born and raised Hawaii. (yea I know, what the heck am I doing in Idaho?) While there I had the privilege of attending Punahou School from K through 12. This same school produced President Obama, a few years behind me, and perhaps one of Hawaii's best known athletes, Mosi Tatupu who was my classmate.

Although I wasn't considered a jock, Mosi and I were friends who played football together. He was also a Hawaii State basketball All-Star the day we both (and a few jocks) ditched a school assembly in favor of a one-on-one game of basketball.

I did not play varsity basketball, favoring instead the run-and-shoot circus of a community basketball league. On this historical day, I beat Mosi Tatupu at one-on-one basketball and ran into the auditorium late where the assembly was being held and exalted to the world that I had taken out a State All-star one-on-one...much to the dismay of the jocks.

Before and after Mosi and I were friends. Not "best friends" but close friends.

Mosi went on to play fullback for USC and played 14 years with the New England Patriots. During a visit back to Hawaii in 1989 I remember running into him at a local Hotel and we proceeded to go out to the beach and play some football.

Today, the world lost Mosi. The cause has not been released but he was having some health issues and high BP. Nearly a year removed from my quadruple bypass open heart surgery, the condition of my heart being described as a "widowmaker" and just several weeks after the loss of Tim Stubbs, I am feeling like I'm on borrowed time.

I guess the point of all of this is the hope that folks will slow down a bit, take a closer look at what is truly important in this world and don't ignore the signs your body is telling you. Please take care of yourselves.

2/24 HR 4488, the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement and Cost Containment Act:

Dear Mr. Wood:

There is obviously nothing I can say to once again insist that our legislation is not designed to be a "direct attack on the future liability" of your businesses. I referred to the Pacific Northwest because that is where the organization that represents many private entities that I have communicated with on this bill are located.

I certainly agree that the private sector provides a better value than most state & county cooperators in many parts of the West. That statement, in itself should underscore where we expect the reductions in non-federal costs to come from.

Already as seen posted here on TheySaid, the Forest Service in R5 is changing direction a bit with regards to their cooperative agreements; the cost of Admin fees, who gets portal to portal etc. While a baby step, it does signal an acknowledgement that non-federal costs need to be reduced. Could it be that the influence by the FWFSA is congress about these issues is finally having an impact?

You are also absolutely correct that federal agencies need to live within their seasonal budgets. The FLAME Act was created to eliminate the "raiding" of non-FIRE accounts to pay for suppression. Not much has been said by anyone except the FWFSA about those same FS folks raiding FIRE to pay for non-FIRE projects. It truly is a shell game that fortunately is starting to unravel.

We have frequently provided congressional testimony to that end. We have made it abundantly clear that the current funds appropriated by Congress for suppression can not only sustain the status quo (which really isn't a good thing for the taxpayers) AND pay PTP to its own federal firefighters. The fiscal management of those dollars is the underlying key to all of this. We firmly believe that if those FIRE dollars were allocated and administered by those with some semblance of FIRE experience and expertise, everyone would be happy.

Organizationally we have not taken on an "anti-contractor" attitude. Obviously we can't control individual feelings in the field but as we've stated repeatedly, we have never, nor will we ever advocate the wholesale elimination of contractors or cooperators from the field. We simply believe that the resource pool has become a bit unbalanced as a result of the failure of the Agencies to address federal firefighter issues over decades and that has created an over-reliance on higher-priced non-federal resources.

As I recently explained to someone, the bill may make a difference in a cooperator making $300,000 off the federal government in a season rather than $400,000. Yup, costs are that ridiculous. I don't think those costs should be at the expense of the government's own firefighters especially when federally appropriated dollars are being used.

As a former Executive Board member for the California Professional Firefighters I was always awed...and jealous of the negotiating ability of local government firefighters with respect to pay & benefits. I have nothing but admiration and respect for their ability to negotiate some of the most lucrative contracts in the fire business. That being said, at some point in time, especially when the economy tanks, those negotiated contracts can spell trouble for local government coffers and ultimately taxpayers.

The same holds true at the federal level. At some point folks have to look at why the costs of suppression are skyrocketing. Despite the assertions by the "experts" (those in think tanks etc., who have no fireline practical experience) that climate and WUI are the only factors leading to increased suppression costs, we have asserted that it is the fiscal management of the FIRE dollars by the land management agencies that is the leading cause of increased costs.

The FWFSA's actions, its goals and objectives etc., are crafted by the dues paying membership. The issues addressed in HR 4488 have not been created in recent years. They have impacted our Nation's federal wildland firefighters for decades.

The business of advocating any issue before Congress is extremely time consuming and expensive. Thus our actions are specifically geared to seeking redress on the issues that affect our dues paying members recognizing clearly that HR 4488 will benefit far more federal land management agency firefighters and personnel than we have members and will also benefit other federal firefighters such as those employed by the DoD.

I'm not sure what you would have us do to "embrace" the private sector. Simply outlining the offsets for how to pay for PTP and offering the obvious...that non-federal suppression costs can be reduced is not disrespectful and does not treat the private sector as second class citizens. Further, with all due respect, you are asking us to do something for the private sector which doesn't "pay the freight" for the work the FWFSA does on its member's behalf.

Without trying to sound crass, the FWFSA cannot possibly carry everyone's water on Capitol Hill for free. We struggle everyday to compete for the access to and support of congress with organizations that are vastly better financed than we are and who have huge membership bases. It means we have to work longer and harder to achieve our goals.

If our language specifically indicated that the non-federal cost reductions were to directly and only target the private sector, then I could understand your concerns. Some in the private sector have inferred that the section on "Equal protection under the law" is an effort to eliminate seasonal fire contracts with private entities. Not the case. We are talking about the prevention of contracting out the entire federal wildfire operations, not eliminating the seasonal contracts with private entities.

If I didn't respect the private sector, I would not have paid attention to the industry's concerns nor try to allay their fears about the bill. I'm truly sorry you feel that way. Finally, let's not bring this issue down to putting food on the table. Folks sometimes forget the fact that striving for less fires, less injuries, less fatalities, less damage and less cost for wildfires is what we are supposed to be striving for... Last season I even had some our folks complaining they weren't getting the assignments and thus the OT they were used to. The efforts of the federal government on behalf of its citizens is not supposed to be a money-making venture but because of land management agency FIRE policy, it has become a financial feeding frenzy to the detriment of our federal firefighters and the taxpayers.

If you are not getting the "bang" for your buck from those that are representing the private industry, I am truly sorry. But gone are the days of going to Congress and saying "we're firefighters, give us this or that." We too have to earn their support and despite the incredible dollars flowing out of Washington, any bill that changes they status quo or redirects funding from one source to another has to provide the clarity with how that is to be accomplished.

If Congress wants to retain the status quo with respect to its wildfire suppression costs and implement reforms for their own firefighters, that's fine by me.


Casey Judd
Business Manager

Latest LEO post

Idaho Panhandle NF -

On 11/19/08, a fire contractor was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in Rapid City, SD on two counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud.  The case involved a scheme to defraud private fire contractors and the government by forging fire training certificates and task books to obtain higher paying jobs, including instructor certifications in fire services.  In one instance, the contractor forged the name of an FS employee identified as a supervisor on a state fire.

On October 27, 2009, the contractor pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud in exchange for the dismissal of the other two counts and future charges relating to the incident.  On 2/1, the contractor was sentenced to serve 10 months in Federal prison with 3 years supervised release, pay $5,000 restitution to one of his victims and to also pay for his own incarceration.  He was also ordered to receive psychiatric care.  This case was investigated by BLM, OIG and FS personnel including a Region 1 SA.

Sign- Interesting...
2/24 Incident Business in R5:

Ever since Ms. Elliot's arrival in the region, communications to the field on incident business matters is all but dried up. I wonder who in the regional office she learned that from?

This is the R-5's second attempt to tell local gov how things will work in California. Notice the wording from last year about those not in a bargaining unit do not get portal to portal has been replaced with non-firefighters wont get portal to portal. Now who was the genius who made that change? An ambulance chaser lawyer and 2nd year reserve firefighter can figure out a way to drive a mack truck through that legal language.

We wont accept Randy Moore placing on hold his own portal to portal proposal that he promised us he would fight for (see partnership notes 2/21) and we support our LG cooperators as we move into agreement signing season. What if agreement signing season never arrived this year? What if...............?

We forced two federal agencies to finally realize how much they mismanaged a floundering AD program. They proved how much they mismanaged the program by providing across the board 25% raises for our AD's in the middle of the worst economy in 75 years with record breaking deflation occuring in all business sectors. After years of mismanagement casuing many AD emergency responders to leave the program for better paying departments, it hit them like a deer in the headlights.

Date: February 23, 2010
Subject: Local Cooperative Fire Agreements and Annual Operating Plans
To: Forest Supervisors

Last March I provided updated policy concerning Region 5 Local Cooperative Fire Agreements and Annual Operating Plans (AOP). This letter updates that policy and requires certain action by forests who administer Local Cooperative Fire Agreements. These updates are necessary to address issues related to the use and cost of the agreements and to incorporate recent updates to national direction on cooperative agreements.

Below are the significant changes to both the process and content of the documents:

Agreement/AOP Form - The agreement generator will no longer be used. Updated national direction requires the use of approved form OMB 0596-0217; FS-1500-17 for all Cooperative Fire Agreements.

Agreement/AOP Process – Forests are no longer required to post and maintain current agreements and AOPs on the Agreements File Share (FTP) site. Completed agreements and AOPs will now be provided to the Province (or Forest) Grants & Agreements Specialist for proper posting in IWeb. An electronic copy of completed agreements and AOPs will also be available on the Region 5 Incident Business website under Cooperative Relations/Agreements. The site is located at http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/management/incident_business_practices

Administrative Rates - An Administrative (or Overhead Assessment) Rate of 10% has been established for local cooperators that opt to charge an administrative rate on their billings. The option to choose between three alternatives is eliminated. Only language in the AOP has changed.

Actual Direct Rates - Local cooperators choosing to develop and use actual rates will no longer be allowed to include costs associated with retirement, health, life and other benefits that are already covered in the cooperator’s budget. Language in the agreement and AOP has changed.

Support Personnel – Department support personnel (non-firefighters) will no longer be reimbursed for portal-to-portal. These resources will be reimbursed for actual hours worked consisting of straight time and overtime as applicable. Only language in the AOP has changed.

Attached are the new agreement and AOP forms, and further instructions on how to use the documents. As with last year’s direction, these documents cannot be modified without the approval of the R.O. (see instruction sheet). I realize significant work was done last year to update agreements and AOPs. Implementation of these new changes will require a similar effort, but is necessary to ensure compliance with updated direction.

I am aware that some of these changes will involve significant discussions with your local cooperators, as well as adjustments on their part. In recognition of this, I will allow forests the option to transition to these new documents over the next year. Specifically:

· Forests can extend expiring agreements and AOPs for one year. Forests choosing this option must execute a modification for any expired/expiring agreement or AOP,


· Forests can implement new agreements and AOPs immediately. In this case, all expired/expiring AOPs must use the new form. However, since the current agreement language accommodates the new changes, use of the new agreement form is not required until the expiration of the existing agreement. All new agreements must use the new forms.

Furthermore, this year’s review indicated the region administers more than 250 Local Cooperative Fire Agreements. A number of these are solely for the purpose of mobilizing overhead resources for Incident Management Teams (IMT) or other incident needs. Local government resources play an important role in the makeup of IMTs and the management of wildland fires, but the business impact is significant for those forests maintaining local agreements for these purposes. To address this issue, the Fire and Aviation staff will analyze and explore methods, other than Local Cooperative Fire Agreements, for fire personnel assigned to IMTs or deployed to incidents outside the local area. More information on this effort will be available over the next few months.

Any questions or clarifications regarding this direction can be addressed to Willie Thompson, Deputy Director, Fire and Aviation Management or Sheri Elliott, Regional Incident Business Program Manager.

Again, I understand the work associated with managing the Region’s Local Cooperative Fire Agreement program is significant. I would like to express my appreciation for the effort you and your staffs give to maintain these important relationships.

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

2/24 HR 4488, the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement and Cost Containment Act

Response to Casey Judd's 2/23/10 post

Casey, It is not just the Pacific Northwest contract community that is concerned that the Bill will impact the private sector, it is the entire private contractor community from across the U.S. that is waiting and watching. This appears to be a direct attack on the future viability of our businesses. Most of the private sector agrees that the respect that the federal firefighter gets from their own overhead is weak but why have you taken-on this anti-contractor attitude? The private sector has proven themselves over and over again, we are a far better value than most state and county cooperators ( to the Federal Government) and we employ over 5,000 people in any given fire season. Best Value contracting is here and we have proven-up our value, training and qualifications. Perhaps it is time for the Federal Fire Agencies to live within their seasonal budgets, to stop raiding other departments' funding and not rely on the national fire suppression budget to balance their district budgets. Perhaps the FWFSA would gain more favor with the private sector if the FWFSA would embrace us, treat us respectfully and not treat us as second-class citizens. Just like your members, we are just trying to feed our families.

Rock P. Wood, Operation's Chief for Wood's Fire & Emergency Services

2/23 HR 4488, the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement and Cost Containment Act

Hi to all:

Just a reminder that the FWFSA will be heading to DC the week of March 8th in an effort to secure additional cosponsors for HR 4488, the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement and Cost Containment Act as well as work on a Senate companion bill.

We have already enlisted the help of a number of staff contacts on Capitol Hill to get us into see those in leadership positions as well as committee leadership to which the bill was referred. If you support the bill and our efforts and have not contacted your elected officials I'd encourage you to do so before we head back to DC.

For those of you in the Pacific Northwest, regardless of agency, we have tried as hard as possible to allay the fears of those in that area who operate or work for private fire organizations who fear our bill will put them out of business. Further we have worked hard to ensure their congressional representatives that reducing non-federal suppression costs over the 3 year portal to portal pilot program will not put their constituents out of work. I think all can agree that costs can be reduced, especially in the West without significant disruption of the resource pool now utilized.

FWFSA members can access our staff contact information in our web site's Members area. General information for contacting congressional offices can be found on the web site as well under the "links" tab.

Your voice does work. As I've been scheduling meetings, a number of offices in DC have acknowledged hearing from their constituents on the bill so to those that have done so, thanks. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me any time.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

2/23 Mike Alexander passed away


You will be missed. Our condolences to family, friends and co-workers.

Xtreme Wildland

2/23 Mike Alexander passed away

from Oregon: Medford District BLM and Medford Interagency Dispatch

It is with deep sadness that I am informing you that one of our own, Mike Alexander, passed away this morning in Redmond while on training.  Mike was a long-time member of the Dispatch team at the Medford Interagency Coordination Center and held a number of other jobs with BLM during his career.  His warmth, humor, and knowledge will be impossible to replace but will also be his enduring legacy for all who knew him.

Our thoughts are with Mike’s family in this difficult time.

The District will be providing assistance to employees in a session on Thursday.  Location and time will be forthcoming.  For more information about the session or personal counseling, please contact Julie Wheeler at (541) 618-2445.  Employees may also contact Wellness 2000, our EAP provider, who can be reached at 1-800-866-8344 toll free or locally at (541) 776-9167.


Condolences. Ab.

2/23 Fire Season Start Times:

Thanks for the replies on fire season start times. FC180 had a nice document he or she shared on the hotlist. My question was general, not a question about predictions, more historical to illustrate how fire season varies across the US and where resources might be needed.

Fireweed, if I did something to offend you, my apologies. My group is looking at Regions, GACCS and states, so I asked the way I did and included some info on states so they can understand the the organization of the hotlist IA forums. People beginning in fire don't have the experience you do. It's new & they want to learn about firefighting everywhere. We're in the western part of Region 8 so we know some about that and also some about Region 3. Mostly my group knows about TX and heading back east. TX firefighting is different than most places.

What firefighters have done on the hotlist thread is talk about typical historical fire start dates by state where they  live. That has been very helpful. There are posters from FS Regions 8 and 9 and interagency across the country. Your perspective brings up other issues. It's clear you have lots of experience.

Sign me: Finding good answers and a few more topics for discussion.

Hotlist t=13091 Thanks folks.

2/23 Drive Cams?


I have to disagree with Now one too and Strive for 205 on the issue of drive cams.  Drive cams could be used as a great lessons learned tool if they can be made to survive a burnover.  Besides, the engine I run belongs to Uncle Sam and the owner of the engine can do whatever he wants to it. Now, when they want to put one on my private vehicle, I would agree that it would be an invasion of privacy, but not on a government owned vehicle.
On a side note, there are a whole lot of apps for smart phones that allow someone to track the phone on a map from a home computer.  I have tried to get this technology to be used on my Forest, but no one is interested.  Many feel that it is an invasion of privacy.  I have a problem with that argument since the phones I wanted to track were assigned to the engines.  I predict that in a few years, this tech will be used on fire to track resources. 

2/23 Fire Season Start Times:

In reply to "Looking for answers".

As far as fire season start dates across the nation: too soon to tell. I can tell you that your regions are a little out of wack. Assuming you are talking about USFS regions and not NPS regions. Of course the BLM breaks down by states. You are mixing USFS regions and GACCs. Some regions have two GACCS (EGBCC and WGBCC for R-4). Why NV needs its own GACC for cheat grass is a whole other question that has gone unanswered. But I digress. There is no Region 7 and Region 5 has two GACCs also. Region 10 of the USFS (Alaska) has never had a wildfire bigger than a couple of acres in recent history. Alaska BLM (AFS) has many large fires but has two GACCs (SLIC, AICC) for one state. Sort of. But not really. You left out the one region, R-8 that probably will show the first sign of a fire season. But who knows.

Hope that answers your question regarding fire start dates in the regions.

Signed Fireweed

2/23 GIS for Fire Station Locations and Response Protocol


Chief Bill Teie's latest book, Leadership for the Wildland Fire Officer, goes to the publisher tomorrow (today). It is every bit as good, and in some areas better, than his popular Firefighter’s Handbook on Wildland Firefighting. Although, the most recent 2008 NFPA Fire Protection Handbook has an entire chapter dedicated to GIS for Fire Station Locations and Response Protocol, this is the first wildland fire textbook to recognize the value of GIS to enhance situational awareness on the fireline. See attached.

The book may be purchased through the Deer Valley Press link at the bottom of the Hotlist.

Fire Geek

I added this post to the IMWTK: GIS History page. Ab.

2/22 This report - Aviation Management Efficiency Assessment Report - was put out in July 2008.

Has anyone seen an update to it?

av_mgmt_efficiency_assessment_report (1402 K pdf file)

Just Curious

2/22 Some new logos posted on Logos 17. Thanks contributors. Ab.
2/22 R5 Safety Message:

Watchout for Gates Improperly Opened: Most of us have to drive through access gates at some point of our driving careers. We have had numerous incidents with gates swinging in the wind and hitting vehicles. This guy caught a gate that was probably hidden by the tree line as he rounded the corner. Share the following pictures with your personnel. Look at all four pictures to see how lucky this guy really was. (He was inches away from talking in a really high voice! Ab.)

2/22 Drive Cams?

Can we say profiling? Is there a drive cam in Randy Moore's vehicle? Is there a cam in Obama's secret service vehicle? No an No. Why is it allowed to profile FS employees in R5? This is profiling at its best. The Government thinks that FS R5 employees need a special eye to keep them in check. This is profiling.

I believe that this is unconstitutional and illegal. Be warned R5 regional office, a class action suit may be in the near future.

Now One Too

2/22 Drive Cams?

You have got to be kidding me. How much is this little program going to cost us, and why aren't we putting these in the vehicles of R.O. personel? To me this is just another waste of time and money when budgets are being cut. How about office cams? And who were the people that got caught doing the wrong things while driving? Do we really want these people driving if they got caught while they knew they were being recorded? Lets start doing things to improve morale and quit wasting money for these drive cams. But then again I am sure we can find a GS-11 STEP to monitor and evaluate the videos.

Strive for 205
2/22 Big Meadow Escaped Rx burn:

For Burn Boss Refreshers:

Big Meadow Rx Fire Escape Review (Yosemite NP)


2/21 EM sent in some new fire photos from last season. I put them on Fire 43 and Fire 44 and Handcrews 27  photo pages. Thanks, pretty spectacular. Ab.

Here's the message he sent:

Ab, Here are a couple more photos for the wall from last season.

First set of 3: These pictures are all of the Rainbow fire on the Umpqua NF in 2009. This fire started right next to the Boze Fire also on the Umpqua.

Second set of 3: First pic is of the Tumblebug Complex on the Willamette NF taken on the day Boze, and Rainbow on the Umpqua were doing the same. The second closer column is Rainbow on the Umpqua NF about 8 hours after it started. The last is a picture of my crew (Wolf Creek IHC) burning out on the Boze fire (Umpqua NF) utilizing the Tactical tenders for support.

2/21 2010 Firefighter Retention Allowance and other issues:


2/21 Avue Problems:

Hey Boat Guy and others…

Although it looks like Boat Guy’s problems have been solved (awesome!), this is a problem that many people encounter. Here’s a semi-quick synopsis on how to set yourself up to succeed after updating your Profile:

Understanding How Your Profile Works: For most Forest Service applicants, I recommend completing all updates in the Profile section of your Avue account (as opposed to within an application itself). This gives you a solid, straightforward foundation to work from.

The content of your Profile will be automatically transferred into any NEW application that you start. That’s why it is a good idea to have your Profile completely polished before starting new applications. However, if (after you update your Profile) you would like to make sure that your existing applications reflect the updated content, you will have to go into each application and manually update many of the sections (i.e. Work History, Additional Information, Supporting Documents, etc.).

In other words, just because you updated your Profile doesn’t mean that it automatically updates your existing applications at the same time (exception: some limited information, such as your personal contact information, does automatically transfer to all applications).

The Trick to Updating Completed Applications: When you go into an existing ‘Completed’ application to manually update it with the new content from your Profile, for example to update your Work History section, there should be a link/button near the bottom of the page that says, “Update From Personal Profile.” It is different from the text, “Update Personal Profile,” which has a square checkbox by it (checked by default).

If the “Update From Personal Profile” link/button isn’t there, simply go back out to the Home page and then back into the application. When you return to the Work History section, that button will be there. Then, when you click on it, it’ll transfer the updated Work History from your Profile into that application. You must go through those steps with every ‘Completed’ application that you have going (existing ‘Incomplete’ applications will have the “Update From Personal Profile” button/link already in place).

If, by mistake, you hit the ‘Save and Continue’ button before finding/clicking the “Update From Personal Profile” button (and if you forget to de-select the checkbox next to “Update Personal Profile”) you will essentially wipe out your recent updates in your Profile with your old content. This is really easy to do…unfortunately -- partially because "Update From Personal Profile" and "Update Personal Profile" look so similar. When I work on my client’s applications, I de-select that checkbox prior to hitting the “Save and Continue” button *every time* to avoid any mistakes.

Backing Up Your Work: Finally, to reaffirm what others have said, I also highly recommend creating and saving your content on your computer (outside of any of the automated systems) so that you have a backup copy to work with if something goes wrong.

I hope this helps people avoid the cost of ammunition and/or paranormal specialists. I wish everyone the best of luck this hiring season!

Bethany E. Loomis-Hannah, owner
Wildland Fire Careers & Loomis Hannah Wordsmithing
WildlandFireCareers.com  | 1.866.414.1447 (tollfree) | 1.866.686.5484 (fax)
2/20 Hey Everyone.

Big big thanks to all the responses, while general, and somewhat obvious answers, (no offense intended to anyone) i actually got a great big HELLO from the web site itself. I came home tonight (sat) and received a "blocked call" on my cell phone. while i do not normally answer these, call it firefighter intuition if you will, I answered it and LOW AND BEHOLD!! It was a person calling regarding my issue. Now here is where you pay real close attn...... If you are trying to update an application THAT YOU HAVE APPLIED FOR IN THE PAST IE: OPEN CONTINUOUS ETC....or for ANY job you have applied for and are just trying to update and fail to UNCHECK the update profile box (very small print right above save and continue or cancel) ON ANY GIVEN PAGE , very small and easy to miss (i thought it meant it would update info TO APP.. FROM PROFILE.. WHEN IT DOES THE EXACT OPPOSITE!!!!!), it will not only erase all the info you worked so hard to put in.... but also make you want to shoot your computer hahahahahahaha.

HUUGGEEEE THANKS!!!!! to Brenda Bird @ the Avue tech help line. Not only did she take the time to look at my issue and send me an email but she thought to give me a call and make sure i was ALL GOOD TO GO!!! (and here i was bashing the site.. maybe need to bite my tongue.. lol) Little last tidbit for you all. IF you are experiencing problems you can also call 18004070147 8 am to 8 pm EST (i did not know this) AGAIN this person (maybe i got lucky and got a good one) was EXTREMELY HELPFUL and spent about a half an hour helping me with my issue. Thanks again,,, Brenda Bird!!! And all you out there in They Said land as well....

THE "woo hoo!! got my AVUE problems fixed so who knows what will happen to my clothes"


2/20 Avue problem:

Are you spending lots of time working on the text in the window...maybe the page is timing out before you click Save and Continue, and that's why the info is not being updated. Perhaps you should try perfecting the text in a notepad or Word and then copy and pasting to AVUE.

fireweed lurker

2/20 Avue Problems

Boat Guy,

Since you asked me by name, I would strongly suggest that whenever you do any type of work creating or updating online applications you make sure you copy and paste that information somewhere in a document that you keep as a back-up. The worst feeling in the cyber world is doing a bunch of work and having it accidentally end up going down the cyber toilet. If the information is backed-up, you can copy and paste it back into you application.

I would disagree with Pyro in that you should go big or go home. Look at a 45-70 or 12 gauge slug for the maximum satisfaction in tech destruction.


2/20 Avue Problems,

Make sure your tabs or pages are refreshed when you enter info or check for updates. (Using the back button on your browser causes problems.)


Just use your text editor to compose and spell check, then paste it online. That way you have a record and if you have to redo it, it's just a copy and paste operation.

If it's the machine causing problems, call a professional and have it exorcized, you have a ghost in there somewhere!

2/20 Avue Problems

Boat Guy;

If you're using anything less than .30 cal, I've found the 55-grain .223 BTHP to be pleasingly effective on malfunctioning computers, both desk- and lap-top.

Some computer-drivers prefer the lighter grain wieght SP's or AP's , but I find that they simply produce a "laser puncture" effect without producing the desired result.

Of course, from .30 up, just about anything works well...

Best of luck; remember to use solid impact berm, and please police your target area.


2/19 Avue Problems

Anyone who knows!!

So after spending multiple hours updating and checking my profile for errors on AVUE i go to update the jobs i have applied for only to find that my work history WAS NOT UPDATED!!! and most corrections were not updated earlier......Assuming i did not click the save and continue button on certain said pages i went back and spent MORE HOURS (MY OWN TIME ON DAY OFF, NOT IN THE OFFICE) updating my profile by updating ONE work history at a time then clicking save and continue.... seemed to work and was able to update only one "jobs i have applied for". assuming the problem was fixed i then proceeded to try to update the other three only to find that all previous info was reverted back to original profile???? WTF???? not only was this very time consuming but also very frustrating... at least ONE of the jobs i really wanted has the updated info. Anyone know whats going on?? Hannah any input?? I have sent an Email to the help desk guy joe@avuetech.com do not know if i should even expect a response from who knows who!!! i am so ready to just use my computer for target practice SOMEONE PLEASE HELP!!!!!!

The "got my clothes on cause it's winter and cold" Boat Guy haha :)

2/19 Take care of Brother Hoisington:


Just making sure you were aware of this, and he gets the care and support needed.


Forest employee burned in planned fire
Posted: 02/19/2010 12:06:01 AM PST

FORBESTOWN — A Plumas National Forest employee was burned Thursday during a "subscribed fire" at Sunset Hill, near Forbestown.
Plumas Forest spokeswoman Lee Ann Schramel Taylor said Craig Hoisington sustained second-degree burns on his leg. She said the injury was not considered life-threatening and his condition was stable. He was flown by helicopter to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento as a precaution, she said.

The accident was at about 1:15 p.m. at a fire that was part of a hazardous fuels reduction associated with the Slapjack Forest Restoration Project underway near Sunset Hill. The area is rugged foothill terrain southeast of Lake Oroville, about 1.4 air miles west of Forbestown near the Butte-Yuba county lines. Taylor said it wasn't known how Hoisington was hurt. No one else was injured. Hoisington is an employee at the Feather River Ranger District in Oroville.

2/19 Sorry if this was already posted, but does anyone know where I might find the hiring schedule/time line for R5 fire hires?

2/19 Here’s my tailgate on this coming fire season….ask me when it’s over.


Haw Haw Haw. Ab.

2/19 OK, here's my tailgate analysis of the upcoming fire season:

One moist winter won't erase years of drought-stress, beetle-kill and so forth. If (read when for some locations) things dry out, the potential will be there for many years to come.

I've worked fires in several western regions that had lots of precip over the winter, then dried out in the spring leading to significant fires. Except for the higher elevation where the snow pack will keep moisture in the timber longer than usual, what happens between now and summer might be the better indicator.

Even then, I've seen prognosticators take any weather to make bad fire season predictions. In California, it always seems like a dry winter leads to a bad fire season outlook while a wet winter and spring also leads to dire predictions due to the fine fuel loads. "Just wait till they cure out." And when a California fire season stays slow into late summer, someone will remind you that the siege of '87 didn't start until around Labor Day, so "just wait." Even so, in SoCal, Santa Anas streaming over fuels that have sat dry all summer will burn, and burn hot.

Spring fire season in the the east will likely be limited by the wet winter, but ice storms and heavy snow loads in areas that don't normally see them will likely add considerable fuel loads from dead and down branches and trees. That could lead to a heavier fall season if the weather dries out in the late summer and early fall as it often does in the south. Some parts of Florida have stayed dry, so a spotty spring season is possible there.

Will this be a 7-million acre fire season? Not likely, but you still need to go and work out today.

Still Out There as an AD
2/18 Hello Abs,

If you have time you may want to look at what the Federal land mgt. agencies will be getting soon:

Plenary session from the Federal Users Conference in Washington D.C

This link has the entire plenary session from the Federal Users Conference in Washington D.C. It contains segments of Jack’s vision and the new enhancements in the next release of ArcGIS. The “What’s New” video has several wildfire and SAR examples using the Yosemite National Park dataset.

We’re excited and hope more firefighters will want to use the “Geographic Advantage”.

Tom Patterson
ESRI Wildland Fire Specialist

2/18 Mikef offered to keep us updated on the hotlist when Australia had extreme pyroconvection, He posted the following this morning:

Looks like some extreme pyroconvection going on in southern Western Australia today. Here's a MODIS shot: nasa.gov

2/18 Looking for some answers...

At our recent SW IMT meetings we were told that El Nino is now weakening but has caused a delay in fire season. In the last 3 years we've had fires as early as Jan 1, and well into it by Feb. This year...no way. We are hearing that it will be April drying and May being the earliest that fire season will start here in the desert. June until it gets significantly active. They are saying we could see little to no fire season in the timber. So the outlook is a late start, a grass/brush fire season, late starting monsoon season.

What we are seeing on the ground pretty much confirms that. We are worried about our Rx fires due to the potential of green-up. Hope that helps.

Signed BLMBoy

Hotlist thread

2/17 Got a question in training the other day about fire season start times across the US:

I saw a list once upon a time telling when fire season starts for the other regions than R5 (CA)?  We all know socal is usually year-round.

When does fire season pick up in Region 3 (AZ, NM, west TX), soon if not already? (for those new folks that don't know regions: regions map)
Is R8's season (deciduous trees) over with all the green-up of veg? or maybe with the freezin temps in east TX and across the South there's no chance of wildland fire. Eastern Area (R9) is still in a deep freeze... as is AK (R10)

  • WGB (NV: R7)?
  • EGB (ID, UT: R4)?
  • Rocky Mountain Region (WY, CO, SD, NB, KS: R2)?
  • Northern Rockies (northern ID panhandle, MT, ND: R1)?
  • Pacific Northwest (WA, OR: R6)?

Typically there's a California Fire Season Outlook that I get sometime in Feb. Haven't seen it yet. Is that out?

Do other regions have a similar Outlook docs?

Thanks for any info or outlook docs.

I told the guys/gals to check the Hotlist IA categories. Different regions have different styles and agreements in place among cooperators.

I like good questions even if I don't always have answers--- like regional fire season start times..

Sign me: Looking for some answers...

Hotlist for IA by regions. Ab.

2/17 Good dialog on the Hotlist about the Esperanza Report Analysis. Ab.
2/17 Hi Ab,

I was a founding member of the Ojai Hotshot Crew in 1974. Bob Burnett was the first supt. Terry Raley and John Szlay were the crew foremen. Richard Power, Desmond Warren and myself were squad bosses. At the end of 1975, I received a 13 & 13 appointment and went to the Cleveland NF. Worked with Terry Raley again and Lew Yazzie on the ANF at Tanbark Air Attack 1978 &79.

I also worked last half of 1971 fire season on ANF Oak Grove HS, with Chet Cash, 1972 ANF Chilao HS with Dick O'Conner and Don Lopez. I retired last year from a small department here on the central coast of Calif. Hard to believe how fast 30 some years can fly by.

Love the site, mostly been a lurker for years.

Welcome Wrongway. Thanks for sharing the hotshot history info. Time does fly... Seems it flies faster the older you get. Ab.

2/16 various topics -- cutting of Sierraville RD Crew 6; 10/13 or 18; Jennifer Ziegler's paper on the 13/18 watchouts development; Special note on Brad Mayhew's presentation:

It is my understanding that Crew 6 had become a Fire Use Mod sometime over the last couple of years. Before that they were a fuels crew dedicated to fuels work on the Sierraville R.D. They were supported by the use of QLG money on the district. It has been my understanding and may be completely wrong, but it is the information that I have been hearing. That crew has been on the chopping block for several years, because someone at the top of the food chain had taken exception to them. It was only the willingness of the now retired D.R. and retired AFFMO to go toe to toe with the folks in the S.O. that kept this crew alive. It seems that with the reduction in QLG money and a general decrease in Fuels dollars and some recent retirements that the folks at the S.O. took advantage of the situation to eliminate the crew. I do not believe it was the Forest Supervisor. He has delegated all personnel matter to the Deputy Forest Supervisor. I've met the Forest Supervisor and he is a good guy and leader. He has a history of sound decisions. The problem is that he made a decision based on the information he was given from below. Decisions made are only as good as the information you have from the ground.

To all that have contributed! Thanks again! It is all great stuff. I know it may be a bit to ask from some folks that come from a generation that is not really tech savvy, but if at all possible. Could I get scanned copies of some of the older stuff that is in short supply? The old stuff from pre-80's stuff. They are excellent legacy documents that are quickly disappearing. Maybe the ABs would be willing to post them on the site for all to see and read. I feel it is important to study and understand history, because if not we are doomed to repeat it.

It is good stuff! Good Stuff! Appreciate the work you did. Liked the paper! I actually understood all of it which is rare for me.

Special Note
Any of you that have not seen Brad Mayhew's presentation. My advice would be to see if you can get him scheduled for a Forest refresher or just as a extra-special training. He is passionate about the stuff he brings to the table. I think we need to support what he has going more than we currently do. It is some next level thinking that should be employed by all field going folks. Any one that has gone to his presentation knows he has full buy in to what he is brining to the table. Either that or he has had way to much coffee that morning.

Thanks Agian,

We're working on getting some of the info from the Old Guy who offered his documents following his post. Don't know about the rest of the docs others mention.
If you don't know who Brad is,
he won the Gleason Lead by Example Award for initiative and innovation in developing the Fireline Factors Curriculum, 2007. Ab.

2/14 Esperanza Analysis Report:

AMEN to both MW and Royal`s comments on the effort of the BDF captains to set the record straight. They showed real courage. Makes one wonder about the veracity of some past Investigation Reports.

Speaking of which, what ever happened to the final report on the Div. Sup. from Washington State local gov. fire dept. who was killed in the Panther Fire burn over on the Shasta Trinity in 2008?

Battalion 1212 ret.

2/14 Engine Typing:

Ok folks,

I am looking for a little info on engine typing. Now, I may have missed a memo somewhere along the way so I might be speaking out of school here. In October 2007 there was a memo issued from NWCG stating that they had come up with revised standards for engine and tender typing. They also stated that the new standards would be included in the new reference materials coming out this year. So, I got my new orange covered IRPG today and to my surprise, the engine typing standards seem to be unchanged from years past. They also do not correspond with the FEMA standards (no big surprise there).

So, does anyone know what the current NWCG engine typing standards actually are? If so, is there written guidance somewhere on the issue?

Confused in R2

NWCG Engine Typing '08

2/14 Esperanza Analysis Report:


Thank you for printing the Esperanza Report Analysis and the Seltzner perspective. It's downright criminal that these eyewitness accounts were not included in the original report. I join MW in applauding the courage of Fire Captains Gearhart, Fogle, Dinkle and Espinoza for speaking up.

I have worked in and been affiliated with wildland fire suppression for almost 50 years and it has always been the practice of the various Agencies to blame the victims for the tragedy. I suppose the Agencies feel that by publishing Guidelines like the 10 and 18 and various directives they can absolve them selves from liability or blame.

Its time for all involved to recognize that fire fighting is a dangerous profession. The men and women on the firelines are called upon to make decisions with very little information, often at night or when they are sleep deprived, in unfamiliar country in a dynamic environment..

They make those decisions to the best of their ability based on experience and training, but sometimes things just go wrong.

Its time for the Wildland Fire Service to stop vilifying its employees and start honoring its Fallen Heroes.

Royal Burnett aka viejo

2/14 Esperanza Analysis Report:

Hi Ab,

I just now read the analysis report and would like to make a comment about the assumption within the analysis report that the flank of a fire is somehowa safer place to attack the fire than the head of the fire. On Page 4 of that analysis I have added my remarks on my copy.

Quote from the analysis report:
More importantly using the verbiage "main" implies that this was the Head or most active portion of the fire. This is not correct, the initial run that crossed over Wonderview Road as well as the two subsequent runs were Flanking runs **(In alignment runs) not Head runs. Engines 57 and 52 were positioned along the South Flank of the Esperanza Fire not the Head. The head of the fire was north/west of Wonderiew Road and approximately ½ - ¾ of a mile down canyon (north and west) of 15400 Gorgonio View Road (Octagon House).

Doug Campbell's remarks:
**(The head of a fire is a general description of the fire as a whole. Any part of a fire can reach a trigger point where a run can occur. Whether the head, flank or heel of the fire is safer because of the designation, head, flank or heel is not valid. Where the fire changes intensity and becomes dangerous is not dependent on whether it is part of the head or not.)

The old teaching that cautions firefighters not to take certain actions on the fire's head looses  site of the fact that when the ground between your position and the fire is sufficiently “In Alignment” to support a hot run, you could be in a dangerous location.

I applaud the effort made in the analysis report and I hesitate to make this comment, but thinking that tactical actions can be safer on any point of the fire could lead to safety problems.

The South Canyon fire was a backing flank of the fire that relocated to a hot aspect and then the wind caught it and the position of the people caught in the path became endangered. They were taking action on the flank of the fire.

How about the Loop fire and the Cramer, Tuolumne, Calabasas where things are similar?

What folks need to do is to identify
when and where any part of the fire can relocate to a position on the fire-ground where it could host a significant variation in fire behavior. One needs to act on that prediction before the fire changes and causes a use of an escape route and safety area use.

CPS teaches how to
identify trigger points of fire behavior change, trigger points for tactical change, tracks the fire will take on the predicted run and fire signature evaluation to envision the probable intensity based on prior observations of like terrain and fire behavior.

In the name of safe practices,

2/14 Questions about wildland firefighter career following military service:


My recommendation if you want to get your foot in the door with the feds would be to look in Region 8 of the Forest Service. Region 8 (green) covers the south eastern part of the US from Virginia south to Florida and west to Texas . They hire dozer operators on a WG (Wage Grade) basis as opposed to a GS (General Schedule) pay scale. The WG scale in some cases makes more than a GS with a even amount of overtime. Pick a state you might be interested in working in and look up the national forest information on the web. Find the directory of ranger districts and call them. Ask to speak to the FMO (Fire Management Officer) or AFMO (Assistant FMO) tell them about your service and skills with heavy equipment. As a dozer operator in R8 you would not just be limited to running the dozer on fires but on projects as well. Most of your time would be spent pushing line for prescribed fire which is great practice for the real thing. All of your training will be provided by the agency and a large part of it will be hands on. You will need a CDL for this job. It would be a bonus to have it before applying but you could get it on the job. Being the district dozer operator on a unit with a large RX program would be one of the most exciting careers in the USFS. I have many times wished I had taken that path, but I chose the hotshot route and pounded the line out with a pulaski. Believe me it's much easier from the climate controlled cab of a JD-550H. Good Luck and thank you for your service.


2/14 Questions about wildland firefighter career following military service:


I agree with TNF that you might want to try a seasonal position first before you apply for a permanent position. As a temporary seasonal you will not be turned down for a job with the Forest Service unless a justification letter is written and submitted to OPM with reasons why you were passed over. If you do decide to apply for a permanent position you will still have Veterans preference if you meet the criteria for the 5 or 10 point status.. Most entry level or apprentice position only require general work experience which you will have by being in the military, and a 21E MOS will give you some specialized experience also. I am a Vet that took a temporary and have been a permanent for a number of years. If you have any questions feel free to send me an e-mail. I am currently deployed to Afghanistan so I wont be answering any phone calls.

Still dodging bullets in Kunar

Thanks for being on the pointy end of the stick for us, Dodging Bullets. We look forward to you making it home safely. Ab.

2/13 Esperanza Report:

To Captains Richard Gearhart, Chris Fogle, Anna Dinkel, and Freddie Espinoza,

Thank you for sharing your perspectives on the Esperanza Fire investigation report. I applaud the courage it took to publicly challenge portions of the official report. I doubt your individual decisions to participate in this exercise were reached without considerable discussion and anguish. The Forest Service should give each of you an award for your collective example of leadership of the finest kind. Unfortunately, based on the USFS's recent track record, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the checks to arrive.

Misery Whip

2/13 History of 13 watchouts:


I have found it interesting and have been following the posts on the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders, the 13/18 Situations that shout watch out and info on old manuals and publications. I started digging thru old stuff my wife says should have been thrown out 30 years ago and came up with the following: (Make that 40 years)

Oct. 1939 Fire Control Notes. Interesting to see critiques of some fires - nation wide.

1940 Fire Control Handbook, Part III, Region 5. What is interesting here is many examples of potential fires and by looking at their aerial photos with what I guess are 3D glasses, the best and safest places for control lines and suppression actions are explained.

1955 Fireman's Guide, California Region. I could not find mention of the FF Orders or Watch Out Situations.

1957 Fire Control Notebook. Has 'graphs' to predict fire spread, line construction, etc. No mention of FF Orders or Watch Out Situations.

1960 Fire Line Notebook. First page does have the 10 orders and 13 watch out situations. Has job descriptions and graphs as above.

1968 Firefighter's Handbook. Pacific Southwest Region. Seems to be an updated, pocket size Fireman's Guide and does mention the 10 Standard orders, but I could not find the Watch Out Situations. The may be there and I didn't see them. If they are in the 1960 book one would think they are some place in the '68 one also.

Old Guy

2/13 Questions about wildland firefighter career following military service:

TNF said,

"If you separate from the military honorably, you automatically qualify for a government job with the Forest Service under the Demonstration Project...".

Veterans preference does not automatically qualify anyone for jobs. Basic and specialized experience must still be met to qualify.

In addition, the above statement is partially incorrect. For an honorably discharged veteran to receive either a 5 pt. or 10 pt. veterans preference, they must meet the following conditions of service:

5 Point Preference

1. 180 or more consecutive days, any part of which occurred during the period beginning September 11, 2001 and ending on a future date prescribed by Presidential proclamation or law as the last date of Operation Iraqi Freedom, OR
2. Between August 2, 1990 and January 2, 1992, OR
3. 180 or more consecutive days, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955 and before October 15, 1976.
4. In a war, campaign or expedition for which a campaign badge has been authorized or between April 28, 1952 and July 1, 1955.

10 Point Preference

1. have a service connected disability, OR
2. received a Purple Heart.

Veterans' preference can be confusing. The law we follow in Federal civilian employment can be found in title 5, United States Code, Section 2108 ( 5 USC 2108). Not all veterans are considered veterans for the purpose of Federal civilian employment, and not all active duty service is qualifying for veterans' preference.


2/13 Questions about wildland firefighter career following military service:


If you separate from the military honorably, you automatically qualify for a government job with the Forest Service under the Demonstration Project, better known as DEMO jobs, with most of the job announcements ending in "DP", you would have first dibs on these jobs if you meet minimum qualifications, (which isn't much). You may also apply under the merit promotion jobs if you meet certain criteria (I don't work in HR so I don't know the criteria).

However it would behoove you to find a seasonal position first and find out if you like the work. I have seen more people quit than tough it out, including Vets. No disrespect intended by that. I would rather fight fire than dodge bullets and I have much respect for those of you that put your lives on the line for our freedom.

So if you think a life of traveling around the country chasing fires is for you the door is wide open. There are links on "they said" for these jobs or contact Hanna Loomis, she has a Business that specializes in helping folks apply for these job (also has a link on this site). Good luck and Thank you for your service to our country.


2/13 I added these links - that clarify and correct the Esperanza Investigation Report- to the list (under Esperanza) on the Documents Worth Reading page of the Archives. For comparison, the Esperanza Investigation Report (in manageable, down-loadable pieces) is located on the CAL FIRE website. Ab.

September 10, 2007
Report from firefighters on the ground.

Seltzner Perspective (28 K doc file)
2/13 A Forest Supervisor letter below. See 4th paragraph. The Forest Supervisor is apparently cutting a handcrew due to budget.

Is the region going to transfer the funds for that handcrew over to another forest so they can develop the crew and not lose capability? Is the region going to report this capability reduction to the WO? Or did the Tahoe add a different resource to offset the loss in capability?

An air base here, an engine there and a handcrew other there and before you know it we will find ourselves with circa 1999 capabilities. If you do this throughout R-5, before you know it you lose much capability.


Date: February 12, 2010
Subject: Change in Tahoe National Forest Eastside Fire Organization Structure

To: Forest Leadership Team

Effective February 14, 2010, the Tahoe National Forest Eastzone Fire organization, which is currently all assigned under the Sierraville District Ranger, will be divided into Truckee RD and Sierraville RD organizations. There will continue to be one Eastzone Fire Management Officer position which will report directly to the Sierraville DR. Both Rangers will be responsible for coordinating the work assignments, performance appraisals, and the schedule of the Eastzone FMO.

The positions in the Eastzone Fire organization currently assigned to Truckee Ranger District locations will have their organization code changed to reflect working for Truckee District Ranger Joanne Roubique. No other personnel actions should need to be done.

The Truckee and Sierraville District Rangers are currently working with the Eastzone FMO and Battalion Chiefs to develop operating guidelines for continuing to share Eastzone Fire resources for prescribed fire, Multiple Incident Response Guide (MIRG), initial attack, duty officer and target accomplishment situations. Constant communication between the Rangers, SO Fire staff members, the District FMO and the Battalion Chiefs is crucial to the success of this organization change.

An additional organizational change which has taken place within the Eastzone Fire group is the abolishment of Sierraville Crew 6 due to budget shortfalls. The incumbent Crew Leader and Assistant Crew Leader will be officially reassigned to existing vacant Fire positions at the same location.

I appreciate the willingness of the Eastzone Rangers and Fire employees to make this transition as smooth as possible for all involved.

/s/ Judie L. Tartaglia
Forest Supervisor

cc: DRS
2/13 Questions about wildland firefighter career following military service:

Good Evening,

I came across this site while doing some searches and was hoping that you would be able to offer some assistance or recommendations. I graduated high school in 2004, went to a Technical College for two years and received an Associates Degree for Building Construction Technology. Upon graduation I enlisted in the military and have been on active duty since with my main job being as a Heavy Equipment Operator. In July 2010 I will honorably separate from the military and I have been considering getting into a firefighting career, in particular wildland firefighting. My questions to you are what steps or direction would you take to get started in this career? I have read that Heavy Equipment is actually used a lot for building fire lines, do you know how one would go about looking into this type of career? I have no prior training in firefighting or any type of forestry training. Do stations offer any type of on job training or training once you are hired, or must you get hired on with prior training? I am originally from Pennsylvania but would love to move out west to the Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming mid-west region and think this would be a great career and experience. Thank you for your time and any help or suggestions you can provide.

Thank you,

2/13 GP,

Thanks for the offer but I plan to pass it on to my son. I also have a 1957 Fire Control Notebook that has the Mod. 48 computer but plan to do the same with it. I got them both from my father-in-law who went to work for the FS after returning from WW II.


An Antique Road Show surprise value some years from now? Ab.

2/12 Historical Documents relating to wildland firefighting


I’ll give you 100 bucks for the 1949 California Region Notebook, with accompanying Model 48 Wheel.

Whaddaya say ?


Do I hear $125? Ab.

2/12 USFS Region 5 Model 48 Computer aka Whiz Wheel:

Marty Alexander,

I have a 1949 California Region, Fire Control Notebook. It has a Mod. 48 Computer inset in a pocket inside the cover. On page 4 of the notebook, it states: "Values given in the computer were derived from those included in the Region 5 'Fire Control Handbook', Part III, 1940. There are no dates on the supplements. Hope this helps your history quest.


2/12 History of the origin of the 13 Situations that Shout Watchout:

In 2008, I had provided Jennifer Zieglier with some of the earliest references related to the origin of the 13 that I was aware of, notably:

- Gaylor (1974)
- Wilson and Sorenson (1978)
- Mobeley and others (1979)
- Chandler and others (1983)

The Gaylor (1974) reference was the earliest published account (formal anyway) that I had seen on the 13 until I dug up my copy of the 1971 USFS Fireline Notebook last fall. Gaylor gives no particular source for the 13 other than his "Suggested Readings" list the USFS 1970 Fireman's Handbook and Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 Fire Fighting Overhead Notebooks, 1960 to 1972.

A copy of all the these items are attached for everyones' info. All of this is quite amazing.


Marty Alexander

alexander13 watchouts  (pdf)

2/12 History of the origin of the 13 Situations that Shout Watchout:

Wow! Thanks! Lots of good information! I feel the history behind it is important and would love to add this in to our Refresher this year.

Thanks to all,

P.S. If there is more information please feel free to keep it coming! It is all for the good of the order.

2/12 Re Ragnar Race location:

Ab and all,

The Ragnar Race you posted about that Dalton HS are running in starts in Santa Barbara and ends in Dana Point - 177 mile relay. Here is the direct link to the Los Angeles bases run: ragnarrelay.com


Good enough. Ab.

2/11 Firefighting Community and Friends,

One of our Firefighters, Tyler, has been fighting cancer for the last year. Tyler has been a firefighter for over a decade and has worked for Santa Barbara County Fire for the last eight years. Tyler is still being treated after two dangerous surgeries and has gone through a devastating period in his life and is not out of the woods yet. Tyler’s girlfriend Amber has stuck by him through his ordeal and they recently became engaged.

Tyler and Amber have entered a Dream Wedding giveaway competition to win a fabulous free wedding. How fantastic would it be to help one of our own and a very special couple have a dream wedding after all they have been through. All you have to do is vote! Please pass this along to your friends if you wish.

Please click on the link below and help them have an unforgettable bright moment in their difficult lives. Place your cursor over the pictures to see the names of Tyler and Amber.


Thank you for your help!!

Interesting DB. Why not... it's free. I voted. They currently have 39% of the vote with no one else close. Ab.

Updated 2/13: Voting is closed. Updates on the hotlist.

2/11 Re Ragnar Relay fundraiser

Dalton Hotshots are competing in the 180 mile Ragnar Relay So. CAL on April 23rd and 24th. Dalton Hotshots are competing in this race for the second year in a row. This year, Dalton is competing in honor of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

We need to get the information out there so Pass It On!

WFF and the Ragnar Race director are working on a partnership so more will follow.


That starts in the Santa Barbara area. I posted it on the Hotlist Calendar, scroll down to the bottom of the page. Ab.

2/11 Re: Hang Tree safety advisory

There's a huge disconnect between the new Safety Advisory and the Freeman Reservoir Fatality factual report.
The Freeman Reservoir fatality involved a hung up tree.
The second sentence in the Safety Advisory is: "[A hang-up tree] presents one of the most difficult and dangerous felling operations you will face when performing chain saw operations."

The first finding of the Freeman Reservoir report complacently starts out: "The unplanned fracture of the tree trunk during routine felling operations...." (emphasis added)  "Routine" does not properly describe the tree felling operation..

vfd cap'n
2/11 No Name Fire,

I have to go with Captain 64 on this. There is sound reasoning why the agency has spent so much time observing, studying, and gleaning leadership techniques, concepts, tools and tricks from the military since 1994.

Leadership is leadership. At this point, he either has it or does not. My guess is he does. He may struggle with management issues (purchasing, records management, paperclip accounting rules, etc…). If he is a solid military leader he will find those people who are willing to educate his ignorance’s, and help him solve those problems with which he has a limited background. Try and be one of those people. If he is solid, he will give back far more than he takes from the relationship. You may also have the unique opportunity to find out what traits, skills, and abilities the “higher-ups” saw in a 2-year PIO. Sounds like a great opportunity to get some expensive leadership lessons for free. Take advantage, and let me know how it turns out.

2/11 No Name Fire.

No need to watch out...at least not any more than usual anywhere, including on the Six Rivers. I echo the surprise at the bizarre twist. Who would have thought that we (maybe not you but the FS, a line officer, ANYONE) would actually realize that someone who hasn't been FS for years could have the traits to lead a district? Well let's talk about leadership. This man has learned about leadership at the sharp end of the stick. Where did the guys from MCS learn about leadership? Where did the folks at NOLS learn about leadership? From the FS? No, it's the other way around. I will follow this man anywhere, even into a fire. While he doesn't have the fire fighting experience he does know how to get his crew out alive. I can't say that about most long standing rangers. Duty, Integrity, Respect. My words will not convince you that Jim has these traits. His actions will show you that he has these traits. Give him a chance.

We're great at tracking fire experience. We're great at providing training. As an agency we are largely incapable of recognizing ability. Jim's ability will become self evident. I once underestimated Jim, never again. Will this be a learning experience for him? Of course. Will this be a learning experience for you? I hope so.

Captain 64

2/11 Excellent Felling Safety Advisory entitled Hang-ups: ‘Take a Second Look’ from NWCG Safety and Health Working Team. Check the Hotlist Lessons Learned and Safety Zone.

The SHWT has an excellent website on Hazard Tree Safety

I appreciate seeing The Rope Method for Felling Hangers, among other documents and educational materials provided there. Ab.

2/11 Re the recent R5 BOD meeting:

USDA Forest Service
Region 5 Board of Directors
Fire and Aviation Management

Principles Associated with the Roles of the Fire Management Officer in the Incident Management Environment
February 2010

Statement of Intent

In an effort to achieve a focused assessment of the Fire Management Officer role in the organization, the following principles were developed by the BOD to be shared with Agency Administrators and Fire Management Officers throughout the region. The intent is to use this tool in the development of expectations and allow it to guide the role that the Fire Management Officer plays in incident management.


  • The FMO serves as a liaison between the Incident Commander and the responsible Agency Administrator to ensure that intent is clearly understood and implemented through appropriate actions.

    Example Role: Attend planning meetings and interact with incident personnel to ensure the Agency Administrator’s strategy is being implemented through acceptable tactics.
  • The FMO helps the responsible Agency Administrator understand the consequences of their intent and offers alternatives as necessary to achieve the agreed to end-state.

    Example Role: Actively engage in the development of incident strategy through participation in the WFDSS process and discussion with the Agency Administrator and Incident Commander.
  • The FMO facilitates communications necessary to accomplish the agency’s mission and achieve leader’s intent.

    Example Role: Function as a liaison of the Agency Administrator to the IMT and involved stakeholders to ensure relationships are maintained and/or improved.
  • The FMO monitors the safety, effectiveness and efficiency of the incident, identifies issues and makes recommendations as necessary.

    Example Role: Review and provide feedback on incident plans and ensure that selected tactics manage for the safety and efficiency of the incident.
  • The FMO exemplifies the values of Duty, Respect, and Integrity.

    Example Role: Be present, remain engaged and interact with individuals at all levels of the incident in an honest and professional manner. (See Doctrinal Principle #15)
2/10 IFPM & FS-FPM requirements:


The letter posted by JL is a reference primarily to the 401 series and college education requirements. However still scheduled for implementation are all IFPM positions on 10/1/10 and all FS-FPM positions will be implemented on 10/1/13. A decision is due in the next couple weeks from the Forest Service for those in IFPM positions on what will happen if they do not meet ICS qualification requirements and training requirements.

More important than what they will do to those currently in the IFPM jobs, is what future applicants need to be aware regarding the ICS qual requirements to get into those IFPM jobs after 10/1/10.

  • Example; Engine Capt (IFPM) needs ICT4 and ENGB.
  • After 10/1/10 AVUE will ask you if you have these quals, if you answer no, you will not make the referral list.
  • Employees will also be required to provide an IQCS Master Record report to show they meet the qualifications/training.
  • GS-7 FEO on a high complexity Forest needs to be ENGB and ICT5 qualified.

For a list of all positions and the requirements read the crosswalk previously offered in the link by AB.

Desert Rat 2

2/10 AB,

To add to the lack of leadership direction in R5, please read on.

In what seems to be a bizarre twist with a total lack of SA, the Six Rivers NF,

  • Mad River District Ranger has been the detailed Forest Supt. on the Modoc NF for the last month.
  • Now the Modoc NF PIO is going to take the vacated Mad River District Ranger's position, back on the Six Rivers.

Good o’l switch O'ro.

To further erode any confidence we in fire may have, this Modoc PIO has been with the USFS for just 2 years after a life long career with the Military.

  • Arrived on the Modoc NF, January of 2008 as the Forest Supervisor's secretary (Admin assistant)
  • A year later became the Modoc NF PIO.
  • Now heading off to the Six River's as a detailed District Ranger.

Can anyone give a logical reason for this? What could he have possibly learned as the forest supt.'s secretary and a PIO that would demonstrate District Ranger potential? With only two years with the agency.

Can we say “Watch Out”.

Noname Fire

2/10 History of the origin of the 13 Situations that Shout Watchout:


Northnight asked a question about the original 13 Watch Outs. I presented a poster with Bruce Vanderhorst and Kent Maxwell at last year's Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Phoenix where we tried to answer the same questions about the list's origin. Attached is an excerpt from our outline that discusses what we were able to find out. I'll also paste it below.

Thanks very much,
Jennifer Ziegler
Valparaiso University

Excerpt from a poster presented at the 10th Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Phoenix (2009):

Help Solve the Mystery of the Original “13 Situations that Shout ‘Watch Out!’”

Jennifer Ziegler, Valparaiso University
Bruce Vanderhorst, Riverside (CA) Fire Department
Kent Maxwell, Colorado Firecamp

How well do you know the history of the Watchout Situations? Take the following quiz:

True or False?

  1. The Watchout Situations were invented along with the Fire Orders in 1957.
  2. The Watchout Situations were originally created as a set of safety procedures.
  3. The Watchout Situations were originally 13 in number, to honor the number of fatalities at Mann Gulch in 1949.
  4. The Watchout Situations were originally called the “Situations that Shout ‘Watch Out!’”
  5. The Watchout Situations were expanded from 13 to 18 after the 1994 South Canyon Fire.
  6. Spin offs of the Watchout Situations include “WUI Watch Outs,” “Aviation Watch Outs,” and “Prescribed Fire Watch Outs.”


  1. False. The 1957 Task Force report created only the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders.
  2. False. Early fireline notebooks categorized “Watch Outs” under “suppression techniques.” (The Fire Orders were always categorized under “safety.”)
  3. Believed False. No evidence has been found linking this list with that event. It is more plausible that they stemmed from a list of 13 items that was said to have contributed to the Loop Fire tragedy in 1966 (see below).
  4. True!
  5. False. There were already 18 at the time of the South Canyon Fire, and they are cited in the accident investigation report. The Watchouts were expanded from 13 to 18 by NWCG in 1987 (see Ziegler, 2008).
  6. True!


  1. We began this project when we learned that some younger firefighters were developing misconceptions about the 18 Watchout Situations, as evidenced by our “True / False” quiz, namely:
    1. They were developed in 1957 along with the Fire Orders.
    2. There were originally 13 in recognition of the number of fatalities at Mann Gulch.
    3. They were expanded to 18 after the South Canyon Fire in 1994.
    4. They have always been paired with the 10 Fire Orders as tactical safety standards.


  1. Although the history of the Fire Orders is well documented, the history of the original Watchout Situations is less well known. Beginning with the premise that they had been developed after some major event, we narrowed it down to the 1966 Loop Fire (CA) based on the following evidence:

    a. The 1966 Loop Fire accident report was the genesis for the Downhill Line Construction Checklist. And, the first of the original 13 Situations that Shout “Watch Out” is “YOU are building a line downhill toward a fire.”
    b. In addition to mentioning the Downhill Checklist, the Loop Fire accident report (and subsequent documents) mentions the Fire Orders but nothing about any Watch Out Situations, which suggests they had not been invented yet.
    c. Similarly, a 1965 “programmed [self study] text” for safety only mentions the Fire Orders.
    d. A safety task force that was convened in 1967 to update the trend analysis started by the 1957 task force found that the Loop fire had “13” contributory items in common with past fires. There were originally 13 Situations that Shout “Watch Out”
    e. The Situations that Shout “Watch Out” were included in a 1968 training guide for interregional crews that predated the Hot Shots.
  2. We also noticed that most of the early artifacts of Situations that Shout “Watch Out” were dated in the early to mid 1970s:
    a. They appeared on an ICS form from the 1971 Romero Fire in Los Padres NF.
    b. They were included in a 1976 NWCG Fire Behavior course
    c. They were included in safety instruction booklets in 1978 (after Carl Wilson developed the Common Denominators of Tragedy Fires in 1977) and 1992.
    d. In their effort to rework the 10 & 18, Braun et al (2001) studied a list of Watch Outs that they claimed was “circa 1975.”

  3. However, we also became aware of earlier published versions of the 13 Situations that Shout “Watch Out” that predated the 1966 Loop Fire (thanks to Jim Cook and Mark Linane for tracking these down):
    a. A 1960 R5 Fireline notebook
    b. A 1961 R5 Fireline notebook (may not be original pages, though)
    c. A 1962 R4 Fireline notebook
    d. A 1964 R4 Firefighting Overhead notebook
    e. A 1964 R5 Fireline notebook
    f. A table in the 2004 refresher that dates the Watch Outs to “1958-1959” (n.b.: the refresher provides no source documentation and some dates in the same table are inaccurate).
  4. We also reasoned that:
    a. The Watchouts may not have been mentioned in the Loop Fire report because the early 1960s documents mentioned above did not categorize them under “safety.”
    b. Back then, the 13 Situations that Shout “Watch Out” were included in “suppression techniques.”
    c. Additionally, firefighters we polled who began their careers in the mid 1950s to early 1960s stated that the 13 Watch Out Situations were developed sometime between 1958 and 1962.
  5. So, our current theory is that the original 13 Situations that Shout Watch Out emerged first in the field and, perhaps more importantly, emerged for the sake of fire overhead, and not necessarily for fireline personnel. Then, they eventually migrated to NWCG policy in the 1970s.
    a. Note that this is unlike the Fire Orders which began as top-down policy (1957).
    b. But, this is also unlike LCES which emerged in the field but as a tactical safety guideline for firefighters on the fireline.

  6. Incidentally, we do know why and when they were expanded from 13 to 18: when NWCG developed the Standards for Survival Course in 1987 (see Ziegler whitepaper at blogs.valpo.edu/ jziegler/).
    a. They were also shifted from S-190 Fire Behavior to S-130 Firefighter I at that time.
    b. We also know why the 18th Watch Out Situation is “feel like taking a nap near the fireline.” (Kent knows the answer to that one.)

  7. We would like to know when YOU originally learned the Watchout Situations. Please email us at Jzieglervalpo@ gmail.com, with the year, agency, and city and state, and please include your current contact information so we can follow up.

Ab, those asking specifically about the change from 13 to 18 might be interested in reading How the “13 Situations that Shout ‘Watch Out’” Became the “18 Watchout Situations.”

Additionally, readers might check out Wildlfire Today's impressive series of Watch Out graphics developed by the El Cariso Hotshots in the early 1970s, and posted from Feb 2009 to March 2009 here.

Jennifer Ziegler


History of the origin of the 13 Situations that Shout Watchout:

From theysaid discussion in May of 2004. How JSJ eliminated the Watchouts overlapping with Fire Orders


18 --> 13 Watchout Situations

  1. Fire not scouted and sized up. <-- violates Fire order # 2
  2. In country not seen in daylight.
  3. Safety zones and escape routes not identified. <-- violates Fire order # 4
  4. Unfamiliar with weather and local factors influencing fire behavior. <-- violates Fire order # 3
  5. Uninformed on strategy, tactics, and hazards.
  6. Instructions and assignments not clear.
  7. No communication link with crewmembers/supervisors. <-- violates Fire order # 7
  8. Constructing line without safe anchor point.
  9. Building fireline downhill with fire below.
  10. Attempting frontal assault on fire.
  11. Unburned fuel between you and the fire.
  12. Cannot see main fire, not in contact with anyone who can. <-- violates Fire order # 5
  13. On a hillside where rolling material can ignite fuel below.
  14. Weather is getting hotter and drier.
  15. Wind increases and/or changes direction.
  16. Getting frequent spot fires across line.
  17. Terrain and fuels make escape to safety zones difficult.
  18. Taking a nap near the fire line.

1. Keep informed on fire weather conditions and forecasts.
2. Know what your fire is doing at all times. Observe personally and use scouts
3. Base all actions on current and expected behavior of the fire.
4. Have escape routes and safety zones for everyone, and make them known.
5. Post lookouts when there is possible danger.
6. Be alert. Keep calm. Think clearly. Act decisively.
7. Maintain prompt communication with your forces, your supervisor and adjoining forces.
8. Give clear instructions and insure they are understood.
9. Maintain control of your forces at all times.
10. Fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first.

2/10 I have a publication called 10 Standard Fire Fighting Orders published by the USFS and dated August, 1965. Don't know about the 13 Watchouts. I also have a publication dated 1950 called Forest Fire Fighting Fundamentals, also published by USFS, that does not list any Standard Fire Fighting Orders under safety.


The 10 Standard Firefighting Orders came about after the 1957 Task Force. The 13 Watchouts came later. Ab.

2/10 Situations that "Shout Watch!"

My Region Five - Forest Service, Fireline Notebook, dated 1969, has the Situations that "Shout Watch!" listed on the first page. There are 13 of them So they have been published since at least 1969. And, I thought they even date back further but don't have anything to support that. Hopes this helps those that are wondering. I started in the mid-sixties and thought the situations were part of the Fire Order workbook we did every year at the start of the season ('65-'68 time frame). Any other OF's (Fogies) that still have a memory that far back?


Hi there, glad you're still lurking... and posting. Ab.

2/10 Making the rounds: We wish them the best... There's more in detail; if anyone would like to read more, email Ab.

Sierraville Wildland Fire Module's Good Bye

To All,

It has been a pleasure to work with and for all of you for the last 6 plus years in the capacity of Crew 6’s leader. It is with great regret and heart ache that I must inform you that Crew 6, Sierraville’s Wildland Fire Module has been cut due to lack of funding. It does not look like funding will be back any time within the next five years so the decision has been made to eliminate the Sierraville crew’s positions to help balance the district budget. Leading the crew has been an incredible experience that I would not trade for the world. I consider myself lucky to have worked as a crew leader on a very special district with an incredible surrounding community. In the future I still look forward to working on the Sierraville District in a different capacity. Thank you for all your advice, counsel, and your support of our crew over the years.

My assistant Brad Moschetti and I are being placed in vacant jobs within the district’s fire organization and we are thankful for that. Our crew people are most likely to be picked up by other crews on this and surrounding Forest. Again they are all great people and it would be a mistake not to hire them. We are all shocked by the sudden change of direction but moving on. Please feel free to talk with me about it if you have more questions.

Thanks for all your concern and best wishes for the future.

See you soon,

Terry Lim

2/10 Here's a page that explains Doug Campbell's Glossary of Wildland Firefighting Terms

I added it to the Documents Worth Reading Archives.


2/10 History of the origin of the 13 Situations that Shout Watchout:


Long document, with some good history about the 10-13-18 at the front end. wildfirelessons.net documents -Withen (pdf)

This one is directed at the 10 orders, but it helps put the 13WO in context. wildfirelessons.net documents -Thackaberry (pdf)

This is the report that triggered both the 10 and 13's formal development. Report of Fire Task Force 1957 (pdf)

There is a good article in a back issue of Fire Management Today with a history overview of the 10 and 13,
but I cannot find it. I will keep looking and let you know.


Thanks FOBS73. Readers, see Jennifer's article on the next post also. (Ziegler = Thackaberry, she got married) Ab.

2/10 Try this link for fire orders history...

Thanks, Tim. Readers, Jennifer's pdf article on the development of the Watchout Situations is linked there. Ab.

2/10 Jim Cook knows a lot of that watchout situations history.


2/10 Re: A-Star Helicopter

It has a potential problem with the design of its hydraulic system; the NTSB has investigated 3 or more recent crashes in Hawaii and California.

A-Star helicopter = Aerospatiale AS350BA (Aerospatiale Inc later changed its name to Eurocopter, Inc. when French Aerospatiale and the German Messerschmitt-Boelkow-Blohm (MBB) merged (after 1979)

According to one article, the helicopter's hydraulic system is prone to failure.

Nov 14, 2009 ems helicopter crash; NTSB Identification: WPR10FA055

Mountain Lifeflight EMS Helicopter Crash at Doyle, California

March 8, 2007 Hawaiian sightseeing flight crash NTSB Identification: NYC07MA073

Kauai copter crash spurs debate

FAA Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin

Feet on the ground

2/10 Ab, on today's theysaid, there was a mention of 18 situations that shout watchout. There was also mentioned about the 13 chances to watch out. Looks like they were trying to figure it out.

These used to be 13 Chances, but was enlarged to 18 in the 70's I think. I can remember the change, but memory fails me on the year. Know someone will have the answer. Maybe I can find it in some of my old stuff.

2/10 Abs -

Some good info, worth a look, from the recent Southern Area Incident Management Teams (SAIMT) meeting -- several powerpoint presentations posted on the Intel page of the SACC website at:

IMT 2010 Meeting

This was the annual joint meeting of the three southern area teams (Type 1 Blue - Quesinberry, Type 1 Red - Ruggeiro, and Type 2 - Wilder), and was held during the last week of January in Atlanta. The meeting alternates between C&G only and all team members - this year was all members. One highlight was a visit from Burk Minor of WFF, and a fair chuck of change was raised for WFF through a variety of fundraising events.

Thanks -


Among others, that's an interesting ppt on using the social media to share fire info. Ab.

2/10 Making the rounds from R6, OR BLM:

I am passing these notes on to you as they give an update (FS Side) on the implementation of IFPM. I have highlighted what I thought were major points.
On the BLM side- I'm told by the N.O. that the consequences letter and following instructions/directions are forthcoming. Situation on FS side is being discussed at highest levels. No definitive word on GS-401 issue.

implementation of IFPM (doc)

2/10 for northtnight:

found this and more when I googled Chief McArdle's 10 Standard Orders...


KC, I took a look around last night for the Watchout Situations (WOS) and found the same lack of historical info that Northnight found. The 13 watchouts must have been mentioned on theysaid at some time, but I found nothing except the 1957 paper about fire orders. Hopefully someone will have details and we can put it on the IMWTK page and the Documents Worth Reading Archives for next time the question comes up. Ab.

2/9 Ab and all,

I am looking for a paper or information on the original watch outs and where they came from. It is my understanding that they came from fatality fires in the 40's and 50's. So my question is when, how, and why were the original 13 WOS developed? Were they developed from previous fatality fires? If so which ones? Is there any written documentation left as proof or is it all urban legend and oral history passed on from old salt to young salt? I know that they originally showed up in the Standards for Survival package from 1987 and then the additional were added in '89 or so. There is a gap in history from '67 to '75 that is blank on this and to when the WOS were developed. They appear to be mentioned additionally in '75 ,but with no idea where they came from.

2/9 Ab, check this out! Move over ATV here comes something new!!

student designawards.com


2/9 This IFPM Stand Down Letter from the WO was posted on theysaid on 5/30/09 theysaid.

Many thanks for the doc form. Ab.

The attached is a document sent out by the WO on 5/29/2009.

- JL

2/9 Anyone know what is the status of the IFPM and FS FPM deadlines? ARE THEY STILL ON?

As I have been transferring forward on my calendar, October, 2010 is when some people get thrown out of their jobs if they haven't met the 401 series requirements. There's been lots of changes, including the OPM directive that seemed to bring everything to a halt. Is it really halted, or lurking in the background ready to bite?


Does anyone know the status of this? Here's all I could find on short notice: ifpm index Ab.


RE: Budget of the U.S. Government for Fiscal 2011, impact on fuels:

making the BLM rounds

2011 fuels funding for all DOI and FS would be cut by 21% in President budget. "Interesting" is not the word I would choose to describe 2011 planning for PTA.

Thomas V. Murphy
BLM - Medford District Fire Mgt. Officer

Gravy train is over Tom. You can fight wars, bailout banks and fund the Oregon Suppression Contract off the top of the BLM budget- but you can't have it all.

When you are broke- something has got to give. Anyone out there for a National Fuels Trust Fund?

Reality Calling

2/8 Found: Aviation articles:

Good Afternoon

Thanks to Larry Roe for reference on the 1992 type 1 and 2 helo study. Also thanks to Rick Dunlap and Sheila Valentine for finding it.


It is nice to have community that helps. Ab.

2/8 Kneejerked,
I couldn't agree with you more. I will not comment on last year's fatality as I was not there and have only met those folks in passing. I do not feel it is my place to make judgments on things that I have not seen with my own eyes. My heart remains with Tom's friends, family and co-workers as I know a "report" will eventually be released and either contain very little or inaccurate information.

I have trained many first year helitack to rappel. On my unit, there is no pressure to get the ship on the boards. It is my call when training is complete and the crew is ready. Sometimes that happens quickly, sometimes it takes a bit longer. I know each individual is with me for the entire season and possibly many seasons. I only hope that every other crew has the same support.

To clarify, I am not saying our equipment is unsafe, I am very aware of the lack of quality control that we have seen in recent years. The rumor in the field is that a person much higher up the food chain than anyone hanging on a rope has commented that with our current equipment, we cannot guarantee a rappeller making it safely to the ground.

I'm not sure where you got your information from, but I have to tell you it is the same lip service that the rest of us get in the field. Of the sky genies in my program, zero have been X-rayed. It is a visual inspection before and after use, genies are retired based on wear or signs of damage. In recent years, we have received new genies that are shipped from the factory with flaws and had to return them for replacements. Either way, I have never heard of a sky genie failure.

Ropes have been an entirely different story. Once again, it is a visual inspection. In recent years hand tied splices have appeared through visual inspection. Hand tied splices are not allowed on life bearing ropes. Many issues have come up with ropes being twisty or having pigtails. Experienced rappellers can negotiate some of these problems but less experienced personnel are much more likely to get in a bind. These are some of the problems that we have seen on the surface. What is the percentage of a rope that is on the surface? How do we know if there are splices on the inside of the rope? Still, there has never been a rope failure.

I mean no disrespect to Mr. Apicello, but unless someone has hooked in and locked off in the last 5 years, it is unlikely that they are fully aware of what is happening in the field.

For those of you running the meetings and deciding the fate of rappelling, don't look around the room and wonder if I am there. I'm not. I do have a pretty solid background in rappel operations and have the brains to read between the lines. Listen to the check spotters that are working together to ensure a safe and standardized program. There are many grumblings in the field and concern that someone is taking advantage of an unfortunate event to drive an agenda. By eliminating the A Star, we are losing the highest performing type 3 helicopter we have in our arsenal. What else is coming?

Until I see a result that proves me wrong, I am - Still Skeptical
2/8 rappellers vs helitack and other aerial resources:


I'm a newbie at helicopters... and helitack and rappellers. What's the difference between the two? Do they do different things? I thought they both could rappel but some helitack do not, they just get to fires by helicopter? (Other kinds of crews can also get helicopter transport from time to time, can't they?)

I looked on the FS People in Fire page. Helitack and Rappellers are listed differently, but there are not any in California that are listed? Do you have to have handcrew experience to apply for a helitack crew?

I see you have a photo page for Arroyo Grande Flight Crew in CA and they rappel. How is a flight crew different from helitack? What do they do? Looks like they're a Type 1 crew like hotshots. Is a rappel crew a Type 1 crew?

Someone told me CDF has helitack crews and each crew goes with an assigned helicopter. Is that true of all helitack crews, like Eva's crew was Helitack 404 and the helicopter was H404? Seems like the AG crew did not have the helicopter name, but a location and the big helicopter was not called Arroyo Grande.

Are there only 3 types of helicopters? 1, biggest; 2 medium; 3 smallest? What size helicopters carry helitack? Type 2s or 1s? (Was helicopter Arroyo Grande a Type 1 helicopter? Does the agency own the helicopter if it's married with the crew? Do they contract with some helicopter for a season to carry a crew to fires or stick with them all season?

I read a bunch of the names ff are called (feel the ribbing) on the Funny Terms page. I heard "hot rope" at some time and it's not there, so maybe it's not one of the humorous terms. Does anyone know what that means?

Thanks for any help. So much stuff to figure out, so little time...


Consider posting this on the Hotlist. Ab.

2/7 Save the dates for the WFF's 6th annual Fire Family Day: May 14-16. I added those to the Hotlist calendar (bottom of page) and will update info there. Ab.
2/7 Rappellers:

Still skeptical:

Perhaps you are a rappeller and if so you already know the answer is and always will be human error. Equipment used back in the beginning with no QA checks being done was far more subject to failure than the current equipment. The program is solid, but like many programs that the "Agencies" have used in the past, it has grown; when it grows new players get involved. R5 for years was allowing first year helitack crewmembers to concurrently learn helitack and become a rappeller in the same season (too much for some individuals in M.H.O).

You cannot throw everything away every time there is an accident. If this is he new model then we should just keep all the aircraft parked and we can rest assured that we will be 100% safe. If the rappel op is shut down even for the year, all I can say is "be safe jumpers because you will be busier".


2/6 Ab please consider adding this to the quotes page.  roadrunner

“Tactical catastrophes are never the outcome of a single poor decision.Small compromises incrementally close off options until a commander is forced into actions he would never choose freely.” Nathaniel Flick

I added it. Thank you.
For those that might not know, there is a group of firefighter risk managers that have been pursuing and honing alternatives for lessons learned (for example: from AAR to SAI, especially the APA) and pushing Just Culture for the last 5 years. Hats off to them. They are among FIRE's true heroes in their attempts to change the culture in the spite of the cloud of legal mess firefighters live under. Ab.

2/6 Rappel/helicopter questions:

Ab, I asked for some feedback on these questions and received the following. Any replies to his please contact Mike Apicello / with the FS Branch of Risk Management, Human Performance and Development - he is the FS NIFC PAO and I'm sure he will get questions to the appropriate person. Mellie



Now that I know you're a follower of They Said, I would like to pose a few questions in regards to rappel standardization and your previous post.

1) It is my understanding that the reason we would reduce our rappel capability this season is due to unsafeequipment. If that is the case, why would we consider using our current unsafe equipment to rappel at all this year?

The Forest Service puts all of its aerial delivery firefighter equipment and deployment systems through arduous testing procedures in order to provide the safe equipment for its users. The safety of our aerial delivered firefighters is paramount. For example: Sky genies are X-rayed for any cracks or faults; frayed ropes or let-down lines that develop twists or don't spool properly are culled and replaced. Replacement parachutes when acquired from manufacturers are inspected by master riggers many times before they are ever jumped. And perhaps the best example has been the evolution of the fire shelter over the past decade. Safety check must be continuous and ongoing and every firefighter has the right and also the responsibility to check, inspect, and report equipment deficiencies in order to mitigate unwarranted risks.

2) If we are concerned about safety records, why is the Bell medium the apparent platform of choice? A quick look at history shows that the Bell medium (and other platforms that the rappellers leave the ground without being hooked in) have a recurring incidence of rappellers going to the skid without being hooked in.

Aerially delivered firefighters are taught to maintain a constant, and widely focused situational awareness about where they are when situated in aircraft and also how to maneuver in the various types of platforms they are trained and qualified to use. Rappellers, Helitack and Smokejumpers are trained up to mission standards for each different platform that might deliver them to an incident. Practice and Proficiency flights are mandatory to keep skill levels high and performance at peak levels without compromising safety. The issue here is maintaining the ability to stay focused on equipment during equipment checks, while keeping situational awareness keen on all the procedures involved while exiting an aircraft.

3) I hear rumors of a number medium helicopters being dedicated as rappel ships; no bucket, no crew transport. Does this really sound like an efficient use of aircraft?

The Forest Service has no intention to do away with the multiple use capabilities of the aircraft platforms they use for rappel ships. If rappellers are used on a fire, the same platform can be used to bring in other equipment and support the incident as needed.

4) You stated that the development of new equipment has been progressing rapidly. Can you give us an update? There has been no new information in a year on the work at MTDC. Can we expect a safe and functional product prior to the end of FY12? Last word was that MTDC was funded for the project until

Research, development, and testing of new types of equipment is a mission of MTDC. Much emphasis and time is spent looking at a multitude of products, and where possible, adopting the best qualities from multiple types of equipment to develop the safest tools possible. The goal is to build out the "risk factors" to insure the most efficient and safest equipment is developed. These processes take time. As new equipment becomes available MTDC will often issue bulletins, tech-tips, directions, guidelines and specialized reports when it comes to new or replacement types of equipment.

I thank you for prompt clarification of these issues.

-Still Skeptical

I'm happy to copy and paste or forward any further questions to Apicello or send them to him yourself. Ab.

2/6 Memorial Run in memory of Mike Schweitzer to benefit WFF

From Lea Schweitzer:

Mike Schweitzer Memorial Challenge (2738 K doc file)

Some text:

This is an opportunity for family, friends and coworkers that knew Mike to share in his memory, recognizing both his love of running and his passion as a wildland firefighter.  We also invite people who may not have known Mike, but are members of the wildland firefighting community, or running community, and those who just want to enjoy a spring day outdoors to join us.  Families are welcome.

When:     April 24th, 2010, 9:00 am race start time, 8:00 am race day registration
Where:    Scott Valley Pleasure Park, Etna, California
Facilities: Parking & bathrooms available at the Pleasure Park.  Post race refreshments will be available

Course: The entire course is a mixture of road and trail in and around the historic town of Etna.  The 5km route winds through the town.  The 10km and half marathon events continue through the woods outside of town.  The final leg of the half marathon winds through ranches and farmland before returning to the Pleasure Park.   The course will be marked and there will be volunteers to help direct runners.  Water aid stations will be provided along the course for the 10km and half marathon routes.

To Enter
Participants can also print a copy of the registration form online at wffoundation.org/. Please make checks payable to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation with a notation for Mike Schweitzer Memorial Challenge The registration can be mailed to : (see the flyer)

Early entry: 5km or 10km event: $15 Race day: $20
Early entry: Half Marathon $20 Race day: $25
Note entry fees are tax deductible.
Additional donations above the requested entry fee are welcome. All proceeds will directly benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

More info and entry form on the flyer. This is a worthy and fun event. Try to make it if you can. I added it to the hotlist calendar of events. Ab.

2/5 Mcleod's original commentary is in italicized bold black and indented. Fork in the Trail responses are in normal text.


I almost hate to ask this question...

Is there a new policy in place by the Forest Service in Region 5 or Nationally not to release or share Serious Accident Investigations? The National Park Service released the Andy Palmer SAI (accident '08) but not the FS. No one has seen the Packer / Panther Fatality Serious Accident Investigation Report (accident '08). The NTSB released the Iron 44 Report (accident '08), as it was their jurisdiction. Now it's clear there's a Draft Report on the rappel accident ('09) that researchers were given. It seems a bit bass-ackward that the research article was released even before a factual accident investigation report. Don't get me wrong, the article is very good in my estimation and explains the likely human factors causes, but why release it before the investigation's release? Is the article supposed to take the place of the investigation's release?

AB - I am not sure but since the Packer fatality happened on Forest Service land it may be in the hands of the Accident Review Board. They will be the group that determines what needs to be done to rectify or modify any practices, policies or procedures surrounding this type of event in the future. Because these are serious and somewhat rare incidents - they are given time to vet solutions that can work. They do not take these fatalities lightly and the goal is if we can not prevent them - then to determine steps needed in the system that may be barriers or better practices to better react to these very sad and traumatic, somewhat rarer then usual events from occurring in the future - at least that is my take.

Ab, if there is a shift in FS policy, shouldn't theysaid also have a shift?

Hmmm - good question for the editors of Theysaid, (a balanced thinker here?)

If there is not a timely lessons learned discussion because the facts are being withheld or severely delayed or requiring FOIA, I think you should allow us to discuss what we think might be lessons learned. There are critical lessons to be learned from most things that go wrong. How do we ever do better if we can't talk about what was planned, what happened and how to do it better?  

One thing I do know is that in a Serious Accident Review, it can take up to 45 days to compile the final report which in other accident investigations has been a critical factor.  I know that people want  immediate answers after bad incidents occur; unfortunately it takes time to put the pieces together and unfortunately its also during the post trauma period when emotions are the highest, people grieve, and the pains are many and heavy.  However there are other tools out there for finding the lessons in mishaps and close calls that could also be  highly traumatic.  I describe two organizational learning tools below:

First off I certainly agree with McCleod's train of thought.  One thing that the forest service accomplished was they developed a Branch of Risk Management  to help foster along the fire suppression Doctrine discussed during the Pulaski Conference in 2005 as one of their primary missions. Little do people realize that the key to having SAFE outcomes is in the skilled ability to manage, interpret and mitigate risk; hence Risk Management.  Right now - to answer the question above regarding how can we learn from things that go wrong. -- In the Branch of Risk Management for the Forest Service there are both a ground Operations Risk Management Council and an Aviation Risk Management council - there is also a lot of development going on with organizational learning that is finally coming to fruition out of the foundational principles associated with the early thinking about Forest Service Wildland Fire suppression Doctrine.

Two tools that have already been used and we are finding good results from are the called the FLA and the APA - the "Facilitated Learning Analysis", and the "Accident Prevention Analysis".  These tools were first  rolled out under the moniker of  Peer Reviews - with the key to their success dependent  on a few key items:  the ability for a unit to agree to take a close look at an event that occurred on their unit, and the unit's agreement to "own" the incident and the derived lessons learned - all  for the sake of the greater good so others can learn from it.  The type of mishaps and close calls are usually events that can occur anywhere, anytime to fire practitioners.  And quite often they involve common practices that people do every day and because they may have never been addressed or looked  at from a learning perspective, unknowingly slip away from corporate memory or even local unit memory until they happen to a degree people are affected.  These are the moments of yin and yang where great learning opportunities exist and are recognized as such.    In a truly progressive unit, district, Forest, interagency office etc - there first has to be an agreement to let the people involved "tell their story" and without fear of reprisal - It's an opportunity for those involved to truly explain not only what they saw, but what they felt, did or did not do,  and it also allows for them to speak out about what they were thinking at the time - its a very introspective, honest and a real process.  Almost like the type of "reality checks" people take when they know they need to air, vent, share, counsel etc for others to become aware.  And it takes balls to be brave enough to do it.  The key though about implementation and changing to a learning culture is having the passion for safety to be open and honest.  It is the true manifestation of what one person can learn from their mistake and be brave enough to admit it.  Of course this also applies to crews, and any number of people involved in these mishaps, accidents and close calls.  How are we to become a true learning culture - one that learns from its mistakes - if we do not talk about them? And then share the lessons learned.  With an APA or FLA - these are key objectives, with the timely delivery of the lesson made available to the collective family of practitioners and to the Leadership of the practitioners.  To me, it encompasses shared learning and shared responsibility.  

We have had so many brave people participate in a growing number of FLAs and APAs and now it is growing to the point where every leader in the agency should know about these organizational learning tools and be able to distinguish when to use them.  We have had many wise leaders invite the process onto their units.  In fact - there are many outside industries that do this under the concept of a Just and Learning Culture.  And I am sure as we continue our evolution into  high reliability organizing, we will also help improve morale as well as cognitive communication.  We see these type of tools used in high-risk professions such as medicine, military ops, space exploration and other professions.  These tools fit right in with organization and culture change and the implementation of  Doctrine empowerment.  In fact, any reason not to use them begs the question: WHY WOULD AN ORGANIZATION NOT WANT TO LEARN FROM ITS MISTAKES WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY IS THERE TO DO SO WITHOUT ALLOWING "HARM" TO OTHERS and bringing greater knowledge to the future?  That's my personal take and I think it is the right way to go if we are going to become even better at what we already do so well - and oftentimes just take for granted - until tragedy occurs.

Let me say again, I have no inside knowledge of anything on report release timing, but am commenting here on appearances that might be reality.

As far as bad FS morale, I have not seen anyone mention that morale took a real beating and set a powerful downward trajectory when the FS decided to indict employees on the Cramer Fire that were simply doing their jobs as best they could given job overload, etc. I'd say half to 2/3 of Type 3 ICs not renewing their redcards sheds some light on declining morale ya think?


Many people think that work overload, budget, and a number of things are affecting morale- and I have to agree - but WE AS A FIRE COMMUNITY CAN NOT FORGET WHAT THIS DID TO BOOTS ON THE GROUND and to people who care even at higher levels. Did this hurt morale - you bet it did - and the ICT 3 issue is just one fallout. -- Thanks for the time to air out. My English is not that good as I am a member of the foreign legion. Lest I forget - every accident we prevent is a good thing!

- ForkintheTrail.

2/5 Looking for an old aviation study:

Good afternoon,

I'm looking for 2 studies regarding aviation. After hours of surfing the web as well as contacting the FS Library, I have come up empty handed.

The studies are:

  • USDA Forest Service (1992) National study of type 1 and 2 helicopters to support large fire suppression; Final Report. USDA Forest Service. (Washington, DC)
  • as well as the 1991 National Shared Forces Task Force Report (USDA)

Any information email <snip>


Ward L. Hiesterman
Assistant Manager- National Helicopter
Gallatin National Forest Rappel Crew

2/5 Seen this?

Rapid City Man Sentenced for Mailing Fraudulent Firefighter Documents

DOJ Webpage has the sentencing info.


2/5 Lots of new jobs up on the Jobs page. Ab.
2/5 Tips for Applying to Forest Service Jobs (FireHire)

With the R5 FireHire deadline coming up (March 8th), I wanted to share some tutorials that I put together to help people get through the application process for Forest Service fire positions. These first three tutorials were designed to address some of the typical problems/questions that we get asked on a regular basis. We will continue to develop more tutorials over the next few weeks and welcome any suggestions - particularly on topics to cover.

The video tutorials are located together on the "Resources" page of our website: http://wildlandfirecareers.com/resources.php.

Or separately on YouTube:
How to Spot Critical Checkboxes in Forest Service Applications: youtube

What Is My Announcement Number? (Forest Service): youtube

Searching For Announcement Numbers In Avue (Forest Service): youtube

I hope that these videos will help some folks get started in the right direction. Thanks!

Bethany E. Loomis-Hannah, owner
Wildland Fire Careers & Loomis Hannah Wordsmithing
WildlandFireCareers.com | 1.866.414.1447 (tollfree) | 1.866.686.5484 (fax)

2/4 Tim Stubbs passing

Good evening AB and all.

I've been away from the forum for a few days and tonight while the rain is falling horizontally here in Nor-Cal I was catching up. I'm very saddened to hear about the passing of NMAIRBEAR. I enjoyed the mans insight and wisdom. Wildlandfire.com has lost a great contributor. I will miss him.


2/4 Retiree Annuitant Program?

Hey Ab:

I'm hearing rumors that Federal Fire Retirees may be going back to their last GS-wage for the upcoming fire season. Has anyone heard about this and is there anywhere to find out more? Is this the Retiree Annuitant Program?


2/4 Tim Stubbs passing

Dear Ab and All:

I was honored to get a call from Tim Stubbs' sister Terri this evening. We had a nice long chat. There was a recent post about where to send cards, donations etc., but according to her no one will be living at the Texas address listed in the post.

She suggested that letters/notes to Tim's kids Jesse & Amanda could be sent in her care to:

Terri Christofk Stubbs
3700 Trieste Dr.
Carlsbad, CA 92010

She also provided her phone number so if someone wants that, please contact me.



2/4 Mr. Pena;

Thank you, sir, for your response, and for clearing that up.

2/4 Privacy Act and necessary or unnecessary redactions:

From a lawyer friend, there is some discretion in whether or not redactions are necessary.

The Privacy Act and FIOA laws were the origin of redactions. First one was the 1974 act of congress. The first redactions I know of were present to a small degree in the South Canyon Report (1994 South Canyon Incident). There are some good links at the bottom of wilipedia page below on additional amendments.


GA Peach

2/4 Rappel standardization:


Now that I know you're a follower of They Said, I would like to pose a few questions in regards to rappel standardization and your previous post.

1) It is my understanding that the reason we would reduce our rappel capability this season is due to unsafe equipment. If that is the case, why would we consider using our current unsafe equipment to rappel at all this year?

2) If we are concerned about safety records, why is the Bell medium the apparent platform of choice? A quick look at history shows that the Bell medium (and other platforms that the rappellers leave the ground without being hooked in) have a recurring incidence of rappellers going to the skid without being hooked in.

3) I hear rumors of a number medium helicopters being dedicated as rappel ships; no bucket, no crew transport. Does this really sound like an efficient use of aircraft?

4) You stated that the development of new equipment has been progressing rapidly. Can you give us an update? There has been no new information in a year on the work at MTDC. Can we expect a safe and functional product prior to the end of FY12? Last word was that MTDC was funded for the project until then.

I thank you for prompt clarification of these issues.

-Still Skeptical

2/4 Thanks to Michelle Reugebrink:


I just have a simple post. We all owe Michelle Reugebrink - R5 Safety & Occupational Health Specialist a big thank you for her support to the Fire Community. She is a true leader and comes to work everyday and gives it everything she's got. What more can you ask for. She does so much in front of and behind the scenes for all. She has been locally, regionally and nationally recognized as a true leader for her work in Health and Safety Management.

Thank you Michelle


I agree 100%. Ab.

2/4 John Thomas Retirement: (sent in by Hutch)

I would like to let everyone know that John Thomas better known as JT has elected to hang up his Whites after 32 years of fighting fire. JT leaves as the Deputy Chief on the Angeles N.F. He spent his entire career on the Angeles with the very large part of that on the Saugus District (later named the Santa Clara/Mojave Rivers) as a Captain and Superintendent for the Texas Canyon Hot Shots. He subsequently moved into management in 2002 as Battalion Chief and then a stint as the Angeles Fuels Office before becoming Deputy. JT is an excellent leader locally and nationally as well as an outstanding role model for young firefighters.

The celebration of his career will take place March 13, 2010 at the Eliopulos Pavilion located at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster. Time is 1800-2330 hrs. Cost is $50.00 per head which covers dinner, gift and expenses, a cash bar will be available. Any proceeds over the cost of the event will be donated to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. For those from out of town, a group rate has been established at the Hampton Inn in Lancaster under John Thomas Retirement.

Those that are interested in attending please make reservations by February 22, 2010 through either Kenny Ellyson or Rodney Guillery at fs.fed.us, payment by check is requested prior to February 26.

Hope you all join in the festivities and make sure you bring a good story about JT with you to send him off to a well deserved retirement.

2/4 response to Pyro post on 2/1

Pena did make a typo. The date is June 1, 2010.

Jim Peña
Deputy Regional Forester
Pacific Southwest Region

2/4 SAI releases and declining morale:


I almost hate to ask this question...

Is there a new policy in place by the Forest Service in Region 5 or Nationally not to release or share Serious Accident Investigations? The National Park Service released the Andy Palmer SAI (accident '08) but not the FS. No one has seen the Packer / Panther Fatality Serious Accident Investigation Report (accident '08). The NTSB released the Iron 44 Report (accident '08), as it was their jurisdiction. Now it's clear there's a Draft Report on the rappel accident ('09) that researchers were given. It seems a bit bass-ackward that the research article was released even before a factual accident investigation report. Don't get me wrong, the article is very good in my estimation and explains the likely human factors causes, but why release it before the investigation's release? Is the article supposed to take the place of the investigation's release?

Ab, if there is a shift in FS policy, shouldn't theysaid also have a shift? If there is not a timely lessons learned discussion because the facts are being withheld or severely delayed or requiring FOIA, I think you should allow us to discuss what we think might be lessons learned. There are critical lessons to be learned from most things that go wrong. How do we ever do better if we can't talk about what was planned, what happened and how to do it better?

Let me say again, I have no inside knowledge of anything on report release timing, but am commenting here on appearances that might be reality.

As far as bad FS morale, I have not seen anyone mention that morale took a real beating and set a powerful downward trajectory when the FS decided to indict employees on the Cramer Fire that were simply doing their jobs as best they could given job overload, etc. I'd say half to 2/3 of Type 3 ICs not renewing their redcards sheds some light on declining morale ya think?


Fair question. I guess we'll have to evaluate. Does anyone know if the Panther Fatality Report is completed and what is the timeline for release? Ab.

2/3 Tim Stubbs passing:


I found the following on the NPS Morning Report this morning. It gives some information on how to contact the family. May Tim find smooth air on his journey and Gods speed.


Intermountain Region
Passing Of Tim Stubbs

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Tim Stubbs, former fire management officer for Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Tim passed away due to natural causes in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on January 28th. A private memorial service will be held for Tim at his mother's home in California.

Tim began his permanent NPS career in March 1990. He retired as the FMO in February 2003. In addition to being the fire management officer, Tim was a fire behavior analyst, long term fire analyst, and an air tactical group supervisor. He was a wildland firefighter icon and staunch advocate for firefighter safety.

Tim's family has asked that in lieu of flowers, please address any cards and/or donations to his children, Jesse and Amanda Stubbs. Please send your cards and/or donations to the attention of: <snip, please see a better address in post from Casey on 2/4>.
[Submitted by John Lujan, john_lujan@ nospam nps.gov]

2/3 2010 Spring Centralized Fire Hiring - Grades 06 through 10

Date: February 3, 2010
Subject: 2010 Spring Centralized Fire Hiring - Grades 06 through 10   
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors

The first of three planned centralized fire-hire sessions for 2010 is scheduled for this Spring.  The purpose of this letter is to provide dates and actions required to make this a successful event.
Vacant positions, grades 06 through 10, will be available for filling from referral lists generated from the open-and-continuous announcements (OCRs) listed in Enclosure 1.  All positions vacated as a result of the incumbent promoting during the hiring round (referred to as a backfill) will also be available for filling. The timeline for the hiring process is as follows:


March 08: Last day applicants may apply to OCRs for the Spring fire hire.  Applicants are encouraged to apply early and to not wait until the last day to avoid incomplete applications or errors that could occur.  Applicants must also apply or re-certify current profiles within 60 days before this deadline, or AVUE will not refer them on a referral list.
March 09: Referral lists generated by Human Resources (HR).
March 10 – April 02: HR will work on applicant qualifications, veteran preference, and printing applications for fire subject-matter experts (SMEs).
April 05 – April 16: Fire SMEs evaluate and document applications for strengths and weakness, and make and document supervisor reference calls.
April 19 – April 30: Recommendations, selections and offers made, and personnel actions processed.
May 23: Earliest effective start date for new hires.  Extended dates may be required for selections that include transfer of station or drug-testing.


It is critical this information be shared with your managers, supervisors, and employees.

Applicants need to understand that when they accept a position, declining at a later date may not be an option; their vacated position will immediately be considered for backfill.

Forests will be asked to have individuals available to assist as subject-matter specialists during the April 5-16, 2010, timeframe. In addition, each Forest with vacancies will be expected to have at least one recommending official available at McClellan during the weeks of April 19-30, 2010. The recommending official should have a delegation of authority from the Forest Supervisor outlining their responsibilities and authority during the hiring session. Forests will be contacted to provide the names of individuals assisting in these processes.

Each Forest should review their fire vacancies’ SF-52s for accuracy. They are listed on the Region 5 SF-52 Tracker home page. The report is called “Recruit & Fill – Fire O&C Summary,” which is listed on the left-hand side under the section entitled “REPORTS.” Units should also verify that the Region 5 Centralized Permanent Fire Positions “Vacancy Posting” report correctly lists all current vacancies and has an approved SF-52 for the applicable position included in the “Recruit & Fill – Fire O&C Summary” report. The “Vacancy Posting” report is located on the Jobs web page at www.fs.fed.us/fsjobs/openings, by selecting the “Region 5 Centralized Permanent Fire Positions” link on that page.

It is critical these reports be verified, especially looking at AVUE city and duty station locations to ensure that correct locations are used in generating referral lists and placing hires into the correct location. This validation should be completed by Friday, March 5, 2010.

I request that each of you work with your managers/supervisors, Civil Rights Officers, and recruiters to ensure that we document and complete outreach and recruitment for all Fire OCRs in Enclosure 1. It is critical that you inform employees who are interested in Fire positions to apply for positions, grades 06 through 10, by the March 8, 2010, deadline. In accordance with our backfill procedures and new vacancies occurring between now and the close of the generated referral lists, interested employees should apply to all positions and locations of interest to them, even if the position is currently filled. Again, your assistance in ensuring that supervisors and employees are fully aware of these timelines is appreciated.

Questions for Fire management officials should be directed to Gary Biehl, Assistant Director, Strategic Services, at gbiehl@ nospam fs.fed.etc or at (209) 532-3671, extension 315. Questions for Human Resources officials should be directed to Robin Irvine at rlirvine@ nospam fs.fed.etc or at (530) 841-4481.

/s/ Angela V. Coleman (for)
Regional Forester

Enclosure (includes the rest of the info)

cc: Gary Biehl, Robin L Irvine, FCROs, R5 Recruiters, Elizabeth Wright

2/3 Updates on the Work Capacity Test, Medical Standards Transition Information, etc:


2/3 Tim Stubbs' Passing

Dear Ab & All:

Regarding Tim's passing, I received a call this afternoon from the DC office of his congressional representative from New Mexico interested in doing something to remember Tim such as a letter to the family etc., but they have no contact information for family or who would know of such things.

If anyone knows I'd be delighted to pass along the information to the office. Folks can always contact me at cjudd@fwfsa.org  or 208-775-4577.



Casey, from what I've heard there's a small family memorial service at his mom's in socal this weekend. We have a request for info to several people. Someone is forwarding one message this evening when he's back at his computer. I'll let you know what I learn. Ab.

2/3 In honor and memory of Tim,

Doug Campbell is offering an e-version of his

Campbell Prediction System Language: Glossary of Terms

It's normally for sale on his website, but he says he wants it offered free to theysaiders, to all interested in fire behavior.

The file is large, 6,519 K. No breaking fires right now, so our server should be able to handle download traffic.

Here's to Tim Stubbs!



2/3 In Memory of Tim Stubbs:

In the fall of 1996 as a recent S-490 graduate I was fortunate to work with Tim Stubbs for the first time. In 1996 The Calabasas Fire in Malibu nearly took several firefighters lives during structure protection in Corral Canyon.

FBAN Tim Stubbs was brought into the accident investigation team. Tim and I developed a working relationship and friendship that is encompassed by firefighter safety and its relation to fire behavior. This man had a passion or quest for the keeping all our firefighters safe is paramount.

Having developed this friendship with Tim was reality for me and he is one of the great mentors in my life in fire behavior training. After Tim had me hooked I was now a fixed asset and support group for carving change and as Tim would say “making this stuff important.” I was fortunate to be asked to participate on The Southwest S-490 Cadre with great firefighters who are legends, i.e., Paul Gleason and Tim Stubbs…now both sharing stories from above us.

Tim has left our Cadre with fond memories and a continuing deep hearted passion for sending the message to the new folks in fire that “this stuff is important.” Tim was a great friend to The Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Ironically, Tim could not participate in the 2010 S-490 held in Las Cruces due to his commitments with ATGS in ALB.

The cadre was sharing stories days prior of Tim passing. And what a blow when we heard the news.

The Southwest S-490 Cadre is a tight bunch and are all sadden by his passing which was way too soon! The night sessions followed by Tim’s music with Charlie Possie we will miss.

Tim has had a way to group, attract and collect good people who shared his same passion firefighter safety.

Tim you will be missed tremendously…I thank you for your friendship…continued mentorship and I can’t thank you enough for just being a part of my life, Vaya Con Dios mi Amigo.

Your Pal,
Drew Smith
2/3 Ab and Contributors:

I applaud Theysaid for the in-depth perspectives they share and their ability to accurately - and in a timely way distribute news and information to the firefighting world.

I laud the practicality, the insights, and the guts you have to take an issue - determine its relevancy - and with fair minded oversight - share your concerns for the manner in which information is conveyed. Specifically, I think that the message regarding the golden hour and knowing when and how to pull triggers to get harmed firefighters out of further harm's way was brought very positively suggesting discussion with the M.D. regarding his thoughts of capabilities that can be taken when responders are faced with life or death situations; especially in dealing with remote incidents. Although I am not privy to any of the conversation that must have occurred - I do see the tremendous potential in discussing and sharing ideas with knowledgeable people whose professional fortes can cross disciplines and subsequently assist fire agencies with their mission of preventing, dealing with, and implementing the concept of "allow no harm, do no harm." Every first responder, Hot shot, jumper, engine crew - ALL who work firefighting should be as familiar with the "no harm" doctrine as they are with fire suppression doctrine in firefighting operations.

So without a bunch of big, esoteric, bureaucratic words - there are many lessons to be learned - if people are allowed to freely communicate what they saw, what they did or did not do, what they thought and how they perceived the event, or incident. Learning comes from listening. Learning also occurs with good attitudes. Mindful and caring people should never be "put on the block" for trying to do the right thing. No matter the unintended, or "unwilled outcome", we all are aware that even the worst things happen in our line of work. Some of these we can see and can explain, and some we just don't see and try to figure out why; and some just happen - because of timing in the universal matrices of nature. I don't mean to sound crude, but acceptance is always better than denial when it comes to learning and telling the truth.

Much like Jack Thomas used to say about leadership: "Obey the law and Tell the Truth" - what he meant was simply - do the right thing. I believe that in today's firefighting culture there is a high awareness of what people are expected to do in their jobs. Where many problems arise because of human factors - such as fatigue and loss of attentive awareness - all too often greater harm can be done when sense of the bigger picture gets missed, or swallowed up in the vortex of lost situational awareness. However, this may also be the time when no one can sense reality from the unexpected. We must always remember that people are not infallible all the time; however the systems that they work in, do. Without leadership, many important things get overlooked and all too often the boots on the ground get stepped on with blame - and consequently both the system and the people disconnect in the fray. That's why communications is so important if a culture really wants to learn and better itself.

What I am encouraged to think is that a newer, greater effort is being placed on empowering firefighters and boots on the ground to vocalize alone with leadership their sensing of situations that don't feel right. I think that we all try to make systems we are not even aware of work. We must understand what dealing with and managing risk is all about. I believe that intuitive thinking needs to be part and parcel to situational attentiveness in every firefighter, no mater their degree of experience - People need to be listened to, and more importantly - be allowed to openly address what they intuitively feel. Much like teaching a young child to cross the street, intuitive learning is alive and well and more often than not goes unnoticed - or unheard when faced with serious feelings of insecurity and unknowing. Fortunately by nature, most people think instinctively every day. In a lighter analogy, it's one of the first thing school children are taught by their parents or guardians when learning how to cross street. "Look both ways, walk, don't run, and cross where it is appropriate - boom - lessons learned. Kind of like "look up, look down, look around" when operating in the fire environment; only in these cases we know there are multiple risks and we attempt to ingrain situational attentiveness as a learned process as well.

Agency Doctrine has been talked about for awhile now. Many people still have difficulty explaining it. It's almost an esoteric concept, including many with trayfuls of slides of trays noting their experience. However, what I do see is happening is a slow evolution of people speaking out and joining in what is a foundational principle of Doctrine - and that is sharing questions, getting answers, and looking out beyond the next ridge while focusing on spot fires. I also see people making decisions about risk. A good example is the number of qualified ICT3s that threw in their quals because the bigger "risk" to families and loved one was more important; and especially if their comfort in overseeing other people's lives makes or made them uncomfortable, especially with decisions. I believe we will solve morale problems, reduce exposures, and make better decisions when agencies allow leaders to follow their mindsets, intuition and guts.

Regarding the Golden Hour - this is a time where life or death is in the balance - not only of those trying to do the right thing - but also in the mind of the injured. Accidents do happen and for some, there will always be victims and for some survivors. However, let us not ignore the golden opportunity to listen to others. It's fundamentally right that a system of safety allow for this to occur.

So thank you Theysaid for the job you do. Keep kicking tires.


2/3 Budget of the U.S. Government for Fiscal 2011, impact on fuels:

making the BLM rounds

2011 fuels funding for all DOI and FS would be cut by 21% in President budget. "Interesting" is not the word I would choose to describe 2011 planning for PTA.

Thomas V. Murphy
BLM - Medford District Fire Mgt. Officer
more in the round-robin 2/2:

OMB made a significant reduction in our DOI fuels budget, the department has been negotiations for awhile with OMB. Who can anticipate this large of reduction? Of course, it needs to go through Congress until we receive our true allocations. It going to be interesting on how we decide to plan PTA.

Jane E. Arteaga
Detail- Community Protection Specialist
National Interagency Fire Center BLM FA-600
more in the round-robin 2/2:

I was just looking at this document and found that the 2010 budget will be reduced by 44 million for 2011. It is on page 79. Have we anticipated this? Or should we not be worried?

www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2011/assets/trs.pdf (869 K pdf file)

Kato Howard
State Fuels Management Specialist
Alaska Fire Service

2/2 Office of the Secretary

02/02/2010 12:23

cc: wcts.confirmation@usda.gov
Subject: USDA's FY 2011 Budget


Yesterday, President Obama and I announced our proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2011, and I wanted to share with you the rationale behind our proposal.

This budget acknowledges the unsustainable debt accumulated over the past decade and works to get our fiscal house in order. It uses taxpayer dollars wisely and takes common-sense steps that many families and small businesses have been forced to take with their own budgets. We are investing in American agriculture and the American people without leaving them a mountain of debt.

Our proposed budget essentially freezes funding for discretionary programs at the Fiscal Year 2010 level. However, limits we placed on select programs and efforts to eliminate earmarks and one-time funding actually result in a bottom line reduction to our discretionary budget authority of over $1 billion.

The budget also reflects the difficult economic climate of 2009, when more and more Americans had to rely on USDA to help put food on the table, and the challenges that rural communities have faced for decades grew more acute.

Because we care deeply about farmers and ranchers, this budget maintains the agricultural safety net, while instituting some targeted reductions in farm program payments. Just as importantly, this budget pursues priorities that will have the greatest impact in our efforts to address the challenges facing rural America and lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity.

As a whole, the budget is built on our four strategic priorities for the Department:
  • This budget will help rural communities create prosperity so they are self-sustaining, economically thriving, and growing in population. We have already taken important steps in this effort. With help from the Recovery Act, we supported farmers and ranchers and helped rural businesses create jobs. We made investments in broadband, renewable energy, hospitals, water and waste water systems, and other critical infrastructure that will serve as a lasting foundation to ensure the long-term economic health of families in Rural America. This budget includes almost $26 billion to build on that down payment and focuses on new opportunities presented by producing renewable energy, developing local and regional food systems, capitalizing on environmental markets and generating green jobs through recreation and natural resource conservation.
  • This budget promotes the production of food, feed, fiber, and fuel, for the domestic and export market, as we work to strengthen the agricultural economy for farmers and ranchers. America’s farmers and ranchers are the most productive and efficient in the world, and this budget maintains the policies that help maintain our nation’s food security. The budget increases our funding for export promotion as part of President Obama’s National Export Initiative and provides more support than ever before for competitive research.
  • We will ensure that all of America’s children have access to safe, nutritious, and balanced meals. The budget fully funds the expected requirements for the Department’s three major nutrition assistance programs and proposes $10 billion over 10 years to strengthen the Child Nutrition and WIC programs. It also invests over $1 billion for efforts to reduce foodborne illnesses from USDA-inspected food products.
  • We will ensure our national forests and private working lands are conserved, restored, and made more resilient to climate change, while enhancing our water resources. This budget will enroll more than 300 million acres into Farm Bill conservation programs, an increase of 10% over 2010. It will strategically target high priority watersheds for restoration and conservation. And it focuses efforts on forest restoration and hazardous fuels reduction where they will offer job-creation opportunities and reduce the chance of catastrophic wildfires.

You can read about the budget in more detail HERE.

There is no doubt that these tough times call for shared sacrifice. The American people have tightened their belts and we have done so as well. We made tough decisions, but this budget reflects our values, and common sense solutions to the problems we face. It makes critical investments in the American people and in the agricultural economy to set us on a path to prosperity as we move forward in the 21st century.

Thanks so much all that you contribute to the Department,

Secretary Vilsack

2/2 making the rounds, human factors and rappel accident:

Attached is a document recently published that speaks to human factors that affect situational and visual awareness.
I believe it is important enough to ask you to read and discuss it with one another. I would ask you to raise awareness
of the contributions to and pitfalls of change blindness to operational activities. Challenge each other. Take nothing for
granted. Stay sharp.

Rappel Accident HP (doc)

2/2 Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) Smoke Science Plan Questionnaire

Dear Abercrombie:

Dr. Douglas Fox and I of Nine Points South Technical Pty. Ltd. are tasked to develop a Smoke Management Research Plan for the Joint Fire Sciences Program (JFSP). The purpose of the plan is to help guide funding for wildland fire/forest fire smoke research for the next five to eight years by the United States Department of Interior and Department of Agriculture's JFSP.

We have developed a questionnaire hoping to obtain input from a wide variety of different stakeholders on the JFSP Smoke Science Plan. First, may we ask you to take the survey? It only takes about 10 minutes to complete. Second, would you be able to help us obtain input from others you work with in the air quality and fire research community?

The link is: surveymonkey.com

We encourage people to share this link with whomever they think might like to have input. So anyone who would like to share the link with somebody they know is most welcome to do so.

Thank you very much,

Allen R. Riebau, PhD.
Nine Points South Technical Pty. Ltd

2/2 Red Lights and Sirens in R5

I ran into some Smith River HS this morning at breakfast and asked if they were in town for training.
"Leadership class?" I asked.
"No, Red  Lights and Sirens training," they answered.

My husband who knows little about this issue (except for the BS lights and sirens button on my desk). <giggle> asked, "Training? Don't you just push a button in your vehicle after making sure that it's turned on?" <hahahaha>

So it appears that R5 will continue to have red lights and sirens at least for now, or at least on our forest.

Hmmmmm, bet that ate into some travel allotment.... Smith River NRA is up by the Oregon border, an hour to an hour and a half driving time.

Regardless, I'm glad to see R5 will continue using red lights and sirens. Good for Chief Forester Randy Moore.


2/2 Hope this is a typo:
On J. Pena's letter on the retention bonus remaining, he stated the the new salary plan would be:

"We are on track to have the supplemental pay proposal drafted for review by June 1, 2020. "

2020??, really...2020???

2/1 Did Pena make a typo on his extension-'o-retention message, or did he really mean that the supplemental pay proposal draft isn't due until June 2020? If so, that ain't much of a supplement...


2/1 Re: redaction law.

If there was a new law passed, I am unaware of it. I raised this question with the Chief and the National Fire Director in 2004, and was told it was due to an opinion that the Privacy Act required the redaction. I didn't buy that then, and I don't buy that now. The redactions are detrimental to understanding the chain of events; they are an attempt to conceal historical facts; and they are ludicrous in that it is (and should be) public knowledge as to the identity of certain figures eg. "The district ranger (redacted) was attending a meeting".

Neither person could tell me why previous reports did not violate the Privacy Act.


Thanks OFG. Ab.

2/1 Don't forget to answer our Hotlist Poll: Vote for the 2009 Top 10 IA Thread Starters!


2/1 Does anyone know hat law it was that congress passed that mandated redaction of names in investigative reports, etc. Cramer (2003, released 2004) was the first I remember that had all the redactions...


2/1 Cal Fire exam info:

Attached is the latest regarding exams and lists. CAL FIRE Exam info (77 K pdf file)


2/1 Ab,

I recently received a list of recruitment announcements for NV Division of Forestry fire jobs. Interested applicants need to go to the NDOP job search page and search within it. These NDF recruitments are open for varying lengths of time; if interested, check 'em out for details.

Good Luck, and Be Safe.


2/1 Tim Stubbs:

Tim will be missed from this world on numerous fronts, but his passion for firefighting safety and care of firefighters in the trenches will be missed most of all. I never fought fire with Tim but I have had the great privilege to teach S-490 with Tim on numerous occasions in the late nineties and into the last decade. It is ironic and very sad that Tim passed the very week that many who had known and were brought into our cadre by Tim were gathered in Las Cruces teaching a 490 class.

Vaya con dios mi amigo.

John Holcomb

2/1 Will the OV-10 ride again?

WOW maybe the federal side could acquire some of these new aircraft???

Signed, Look Ahead!


making the rounds:

OV-10X Design photo

Also Cal Fire has just acquired three OV-10D, with four bladed props on 1040 hp turbines.
They are going to build them up as spares and relief aircraft when multiple fires hit statewide.
Plus they received 19 30' seatrains full of new spare OV-10 A-D parts, wheels and tires.

OV-10D w/3 blade prop

General characteristics
Crew: 2
Length: 44 ft 0 in (13.41 m)
Wingspan: 40 ft 0 in (12.19 m)
Height: 15 ft 2 in (4.62 m)
Wing area: 290.95 ft² (27.03 m²)
Empty weight: 6,893 lb (3,127 kg)
Loaded weight: 9,908 lb (4,494 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 14,444 lb (6,552 kg)
Powerplant: 2× Garrett T76-G-420/421 turboprop, 1,040 hp (775.5 kW)
Tailplane Span 14 ft, 7 in (4.45 m)

Maximum speed: 298 mph (479 km/h)
Range: 1,382 mi (2,224 km)
Service ceiling: 30,000 ft (9,159 m)

Will the OV-10 ride again?

fair use disclaimer

2/1 Remember. Practice your home escape plan!

DH, fire marshall
Layton City Fire Department, UT

2/1 going round-robin, from several people:

Subject: FY 2010 Firefighter Retention Allowance

2010 Retention Bonus Extension

Forest Supervisors and Directors,
I want to let you know that Randy approved an one-year extension for the 10% retention allowance for GS-5 thru 8 firefighters region-wide. The extension will be effective in March, with no break in coverage, for one more year. We will be noticing employees this week. Affected employees will receive individual letters informing them of this decision.

The evaluation of the first year was inconclusive in the effectiveness of the bonus. Other factors that may have affected the retention outcome are the change we made in back-fill hiring in our fire hiring, the overall economy, and the increase in tour. Therefore, we decided to extend it to see if we can detect a direct effect and have time to complete a new supplemental pay proposal. We are on track to have the supplemental pay proposal drafted for review by June 1, 2020.

Thanks, Jim (Peña)

2/1 Firefighter retention continued --- OMB feedback on what has gone forward is in the attached document

Attached are 4 documents that we believe update everyone on the current status and address the questions asked by (1) Rachael Taylor, Senate Approps. Committee and (2) OMB - John Pasquintino. The papers reflect specific actions and decisions and timeframes that R5 is committed to. I am also copying WO-FAM leadership with these documents. We did not attempt to edit the WO Paper that went to OMB that was annotated by John P. Our belief is that this briefing paper and attachments provide the context and support the actions being taken.

1. Updated Briefing Paper with summary table (182 K doc file) of the Congressional funding and Staffing (Planned, Current and Vacant Temporary and permanent Positions:

2. Attachment 1a (182 K xls file) -- Firefighter Attrition and Resignation Data from 1997-2009 (xcel spreadsheet file)

3. Attachment 1 (522 K pdf file) - R5 Regional Forester Approval of Firefighter Retention Bonuses (2009 and 2010) with attached attrition, resignation, and exit interview information on "What would it take for you to stay or return?".

4. Attachment 2 (522 K pdf file) -- Assessment of Alternatives for Modifying or Developing a new Wildland Fire Technician Series


2/1 The 2010 IRPG is available for purchase through the Great Basin Cache System at the National Interagency Fire Center.

The Great Basin Cache System will be closed for inventory and transitioning to a new cache tracking system from March 1, 2010 until approximately April 30, 2010. Orders to the cache should be submitted prior to the end of February to receive training materials for classes.

The IRPGs cost $1.28, and the NFES Number is 1077
IRPG can also be accessed on the web
2/1 It was with great sadness that I read of Tim Stubb's passing yesterday. I had not been in electronic touch since mid January. Seems like it was just yesterday I was on the phone with Tim and he was chiding me to attend the R3 ATGS refresher with him. Wow... hit me like a ton of bricks.

Don, thanks for posting Paul Gleason's memorial poem.. You are correct... Tim and Paul are laying on that bench beside that cool mountain stream...
Tony Duprey
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