March, 2010

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3/31 Photos: Minden Air's T-55 and T-48 chillin.

Ab, just thought these might be fun to post in the photo section.

Thanks, Buck, I put them on the Airtankers 32 photo page. Ab.

3/31 Hotshot Squad Leader hiring:


The Hotshot Squad Leaders are still advertised nationally on the open and continuous announcement as 6/7's.  Below is the announcement number to search for in AVUE.

Thinking that maybe they pulled a fast one and went back on there word to advertise IHC Squaddies as 6/7's, I did go into AVUE to confirm the announcement shown below is still available in AVUE to submit an application, and it is.

Either I misunderstood your post or you just overlooked it.  If you want ab's can give you my email and I can help you find it in AVUE.  You might have been looking at the 10-person crew or fuels crew GS7's that are supervisors however they are not squad bosses.  The IHC 6/7 Squaddies are not supervisors. 

Hope that helps


Series Title/Specialty Grade Announcement Number 3/FF Coverage Supervisory Status MR#
462 Supervisory Forestry Technician /
P Supervisory A8014
462 Supervisory Forestry Technician /
Assistant Superintendent
7/8 OCRP IHCASST 462-7/8G
P Supervisory FS1364    FS1365
462 Forestry Technician (Squad Leader) /
Squad Leader
6/7 OCRP IHCSQDLR 462-6/7G
PEND Non-Superv FS1629    FS1630
3/31 Hotshot Squad Leader hiring:


I know the Hotshots converted the 6 position to a 7, and last fall the jobs were hired as a 6/7 now I see that the only job available is a Supervisory GS7. I have been working in fire since 2003, been on engines, Hotshots, Helitack and now am permanent in fuels as a GS5. I have been wanting to get back into fire permanently with an emphasis in Hotshots. However when I tried to apply for the Squadleader position Avue's system said I didn't qualify for the 7 because I didn't meet the time qualification as a GS6. Since the GS6 has been eliminated from the Hotshot organization, do GS5's have to bail on their crews to other modules so that the can get GS6 time so they can come back to their crews as GS7's? I'm pretty experienced with Avue and have had to use Avue to get all the positions I've ever held for the FS. I think I could eliminate the possibility that I accidently made an error on my application that would disqualify me for the squadleader position. I have been told that if there is no intervening grade in the current organization you are qualified for the next grade as soon as you have enough time and grade in your current position. I don't know if, since this is a fairly recent application, there might be a glitch with avue. If you have any more information on GS5's trying to get a GS7's on Hotshot crews, that would be helpful.


3/31 African American SJs:

Hey Ab,

Don't know if you have seen this but i think its pretty exceptional! Here's the links.

USDA Forest Service Honors First African-American Smokejumpers
555th Parachute Infantry Battalion- Triple Nickles WWII Film

Rolling Thunder

3/31 Seeking night-time pic of the ’93 Topanga (Calabasas) Fire

Does anyone out there have that great night-time pic of the ’93 Topanga (Calabasas) Fire as seen from the beach north of Malibu (maybe right down from Pepperdine). Has Topanga totally on fire on the left and the sand/ocean in the foreground. I believe it was a Boise BLM Smokejumper who gave it to me to use when I was developing S-470 and now I can’t find the original. If anyone has a copy, please e-mail it to airops@ nospam paonia.com




Passing of George Geer:


November 24, 1948
March 14, 2010

George started his career in the Forest Service in July 1970 on the Arroyo Seco Ranger District, Angeles National. He worked in recreation at Chilao. In 1975 he transferred to fire prevention Patrol 1-5 (Chilao) and then to Patrol 1-10 (Angeles Crest). His entire career he was a leader in fire prevention through: Team Teaching, Los Angeles County Fair, California State Fair, Smokey program to schools and anything that had to do with fire prevention and Smokey Bear. But his heart was with the Southern California Special Olympics. Come June, George and his FS volunteers and friends, spent the weekend with Special Olympic athletes. The last years of his career he worked as a Land Use Administrator on the Santa Clarita River Ranger District. George retired on July 2, 2009.

The motto of the Special Olympics can well be applied to George’s life also.

Let me win. But if I cannot win, Let me be brave in the attempt

George W. Geer

3/30 This house is full of the unsung Hero types.

Date: March 30, 2010

Subject: 2010 Unsung Hero Award Program
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Directors


Since 1985, the first Monday through Sunday in May is recognized as Public Service Recognition Week. This is an opportunity to inform Americans about the broad variety of services provided by Government and an opportunity to show appreciation to public employees, who ensure that our Government is the best in the world.

Each year, the President issues a proclamation extolling the virtues of public service and thanking the many talented and dedicated employees who serve the critical needs of America. To support the Presidential initiative, the Organization of Professional Employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (OPEDA) established a special award program to honor and recognize U.S. Department of Agriculture employees who have demonstrated a high level of service to the public.

The 2010 Unsung Hero Award Program will be held May 4, 2010, on the Whitten Building Patio at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Managers, supervisors or peers may submit nominations for individuals who have demonstrated a high level of commitment to advance the mission, goals and services of their employing office, the agency or the community. Each submission should be no more than one page. The criteria are:

Individual Employee Contributing to the Forest Service Mission:

The award will recognize an active employee that has made a lifetime or singular contribution to advancing the mission, goals and services of their employing office.

a. Define the Region/Forest/Area/Unit mission, goals and/or services.
b. Provide a description of the significant achievements, contributions, difference and benefits the individual employee has made.
c. Letters of support from two individuals containing reasons supporting the nominee.

An Individual Employee Contributing to their Community:

The award will recognize an individual that has provided outstanding volunteer contribution in their local, county or regional community in promoting the Forest Service’s mission and goals.

a. Provide a description of the significant achievements, contributions, difference and benefits the individual employee has made.
b. Letters of support from two individuals containing reasons supporting the nominee.

We apologize for the short turnaround on the reply due date. However, I encourage participation from all levels of the Forest Service. Please send submissions to Rhonda Thomas, Washington Office, Civil Rights Staff, by April 19, 2010. If you have any questions, please contact Rhonda Thomas at 202-205-9507 or rathomas@fs.fed.us. Thank you for your continued support to recognize the many valuable contributions made by our employees.

/s/ Thelma J. Strong (for):
Deputy Chief for Business Operations
3/30 Everyone Goes Home:

Doesn’t matter if you wear yellow and green, brown, black, or what ever color your protective clothing maybe.
We all share the responsibly to see that everyone goes home.

And remember:

You can’t base your life on other people’s expectations.


Everyone Goes Home: This month's feature Situational Awareness

Website: everyonegoeshome and Media Clip

3/30 In response to unfair hiring practices:

Everyone that has posted something in regards to the "EEO" has a legit point! There are unfair hiring practices, unfair labor practices in every industry and facet of America. Get over it! The best chance that we stand in correcting these wrong doings is by sticking together, not by creed or color but by coming together as one and backing each other up the same way that we do every summer.

If you see somebody being mistreated, Stand up!
If you know someone who was skipped over due to race, Stand up!
If you're the real Slim Shady please. Stand up! "Just kidding"
When your Brother/Sister is down carry them! Don't just point and say see, now you know how it feels!
When times are tough we stick together, not because of our skin color, because we fight the same fight.

It's an honorable experience to sit here and have been passed over for a job because i am white and over flow the scale of equal opportunity too far to the "White side". I think of how humbling that is. And then i ponder what it must have been like to live during the 50's and 60's as a person of color!

With that said, i think it cowardly for people who have experienced racism due to color or creed or whatever to sit there and watch as other people are mistreated. That is inexcusable in my book.

Regardless of color, everyone should have the same chance. Period. Hiring agents and SMEs shouldn't even be allowed to know your race until the day you walk in the door. Now that is equality.

Saying that there are too many red jelly beans in the jar is just as bad as saying there is not enough yellow ones (In my humble opinion). Racism is Racism, no matter what kind of face you put on it.

That's the view from this soap box!!!

Signed: Not taking sides
3/30 Unfair hiring practices:

Respectfully (outside R-5)

I am not sure I would consider you comments about MB7's accusation of "unfair practices" as respectful. While most would find the points you make possible even plausible, you weren't there and your opinion should be presented as possibilities, not a dissertation on what really happened or comparison to dating. One reason you might find out a ranking is if a person or persons on the panel were equally disgusted with the situation and mentioned the position informally. I agree that we must be very cautious about the story of the self designated victim, I would argue we should be equally cautious of those who present the hiring & promotion system as the perfect process, as you do. The current culture of PCness seems to find its way into everything.

In the early eighties I held the short end of several consent decrees making my high placement on hiring lists ineligible for hiring positions. The rankings for the list were provided, so this isn't guess work. Anywhere from 50% to all positions were hired from the "underrepresented" list. Racial discrimination is unacceptable. Anyone who engages in it or allows it to occur should be dismissed. True zero tolerance will go much farther to eliminating racism than the PC feel good diversity quotas, oh I mean goals we have now. If you really think the diversity programs don't pass up more qualified candidates on occasion to meet the arbitrary PC goals, you should look again.

Maybe there was more truth than fiction to MB7's story, only he/she knows.

Anti PC

3/30 Ab-
So it's once again time for a little shameless promotion.

It was pointed out to me a few days ago that there's a bunch of newguys coming up who probably haven't heard of or (even better) seen me.. So in a nutshell, here's the story:

2001 season I was 2nd saw on Plumas IHC, based near Tahoe California.. Just before Halloween we received a call to the Daniel Boone NF out in Kentucky- It had been a dry fall & they expected a bunch of arson fires. When we got there there weren't any, but the next day the local arsonist(s) didn't disappoint as we had 30+ fires to contend with.

It was a strange place for a west coast crew- Flame heights of about 1.5' as the fire crept through the leaves.. All of said leaves had fallen so it was difficult for us to identify snags.. Our tool line-out on the digging side changed from shovels, 'pocnas & super-p's to a leafblower, church-rakes & some kind of strange 'rubber floor-mat on a long-handle' beater thing. Thankfully I got to keep my saw!

Second fire we were on we had almost completed the line- A bomber had hit that last flank & pretty much killed the fire so the guys were hand feeling while Jeremy (my swamper) & I were cleaning out anything that would get in their way. Brett & Andy, the first saw team had gone to take a hazard tree so Jer & I were out in front.. I remember reaching up to cut a little bitty stick & next thing I knew I woke in the hospital.. Beeping machines clustered up real close to the bed- Hoses coming out of me all over the place.. One was plugged into my neck & was doing the breathing so I couldn't even make a noise if I wanted to.

I had no idea how I'd gotten there, what day it was or what had happened. Not one clue.

Three of the crew came in a bit later- Mike Sherman, Pete Duncan & Steve Tolen. Between the three of them they told me what had happened- About the time I stopped to cut that little stick, 67 feet in the burn a black locust was on fire. It had a cat face & the fire had gotten inside.. Right then it failed & started falling in my direction. The crew saw it coming & tried to get my attention but my back was to it, I had earplugs in & a live saw in my hand.. My eyes were on what I was doing & where Jer was.. I had no idea I was a target so I just stood there as it hit me right over the back of the head.

The extraction took 6ish hours- That tree broke 30+ bones plus my back & put me in 3 different hospitals over the next 6 months. Although the proverbial "They" have never said it, it's likely I'll be riding this wheelchair for the rest of my life.

There are several silver linings- One of which being now I get to go all over the country talking to the crews about what happened. I have a powerpoint of about... 70 pictures of my life that I put up- My life before the accident, the time I spent in the hospitals and what I'm doing with life now. It takes about an hour and a half.. And seems to be fairly effective 'Safety Training' else nobody would ask me back.

With that said, Now I'll toss it to you guys. If you've seen me & want to leave a comment, good or bad.. Do so. If you haven't & think you might want to drag me in front of your crew / engine / station / whatever.. There's some more information here: krstofer.org/ speaking.php plus there's a few names of folk who have seen me and certainly have an opinion as to if you should.

So. Thanks for reading- If I see you this year say hello, if not then have a great season!


Good to hear from you, Krs. Ab.

3/30 Happy to have been a wildland firefighter:

I recently was required to retire from the F.S. under the mandatory age/years in service firefighter retirement mandate. If I had the choice to make I would still be working. I can truly say that I was lucky enough to be able to say that I can count the days on one hand that I didn't feel like reporting to work that day. I see quite a bit of malcontents posting here sometimes and felt compelled to remind us all how grateful we should all be for the jobs we have, especially in this current job climate. Pay grade may be a lot less than other fire service outfits, but other perks such as living in awesome small towns, working in the woods, seeing parts of the country I would never have seen albeit for fire assignments, opportunity to be exposed to other forestry management disciplines, every paid holiday off except for groundhog day, training of all manner if you are interested in branching out and working with a lot of talented, good, dedicated people for the most part are but just a few reasons that pop to mind about what is great about the Forest Service as a career. Sometimes we all tend to focus on the negative and don't give enough credence to the upside of things. I had a good time and managed to feed my family as I did. Sign me lucky, blessed and grateful.


Thanks for the service! Ab.

3/29 re: Wildland Fire Suppression Tactics Reference Guide


Several years ago, we bought some of the last copies of the PMS 465 Guide from the NIFC Great Basin Cache when it they decided not to re-publish. After cutting the binding off one of the book, we scanned in as a .pdf copy with searchable text at a relatively small size of 5.2 mb for 343 pages, which can be downloaded at Suppression Tactics Guide  (pdf)

We started the process to post the entire book in .phpl format, but have only gotten as far as the section 1, Fire Suppression Principles, Suppression Tactics

vfd cap'n

Thanks vfd cap'n, I made the Suppression Tactics docs we got available to Zimm. Thanks to the firefighters that shared them with us. Ab.

3/29 re: Wildland Fire Suppression Tactics Reference Guide

To Battalion Chief Don Zimmerman:

Back in October of 2002 while re-writing S-336, Tactics and Strategy, I wrote a white paper regarding phasing out the publication you referenced. An excerpt from that paper should help you understand where updated information might be found. The publication was in need of significant updating back in 2002 and was not used like it was originally intended.

"The contents of units 2, 3, 4 and 5 appear to be a compilation of information derived from courses listed in the 1993 edition of PMS 310-1 as “Suggested Training” or the 2000 edition of PMS 310-1 where they are considered “additional training which supports development of knowledge and skills.” Unit 1 is apparently derived from chapter 50 of the 1986 edition of PMS 414-1, “Firefighters Guide” because of the similarities in layout, content, and duplication and commonality of the drawings and figures used. Unit 6 exhibits close similarity with S-215, “Fire Operations in the Urban Interface” for the same reasons. Unit 7 is a reprint of the document sometimes referred to as the “520 Fireline Appendix” because it was originally distributed to students in S-520, “Advanced Incident Management” presented at NARTC. The following table summarizes the possible derivations of the units."

Unit Subject Covered Derived From
Unit 1
Unit 2
Unit 3
Unit 4
Unit 5
Unit 6
Unit 7
Fire Suppression Principles
Use of Water and Additives
Use of Fire In Control Operations
Mechanical Equipment
Tactical Air Operations
Wildland/Urban Interface
Fuels, Fire Behavior, and Tactics by Region
Glossary of Terms
Firefighters Guide Ch-50
PMS 205

I did a quick search and could not locate it on a CD. If it is really vital I could dig out all my old 336 stuff and go through it or you might try a call to one of the training specialists in Boise. It was phased out a long time ago and copies may not exist anymore.


Ops Geek

Zimm, I have another offer from a person that has the material you want July '86 and April '96. Will get it to you. Ab.

3/28 Marty Alexander's Mystery Photo:

The photo is at LAC FS 70 the fire is the 1993 Old Topanga Fire. Mike Meadows is in the photo as is Alan Simmons.. Both out of town right now.

If Marty needs other info on this photo and fire, this area and the fire as it approached FS 70 can be seen in Alan Simmons. 1993 Fire Storm Video (still available from Al).

The 1993 Fire Storm Video has the Green Meadow Fire, Kenniloa/Altedena and Old Topanga Fire, I believe the best Southern California wind-driven (50-70 mph) fire on video.

Alan Simmons is listed in sponsor on “They Said”. (Check the Classifieds.)

JP Harris, LAC retired (sort of)

Thanks, JP. Ab.

3/28 Gleason remembrance:

Hello, my name is Francisco Senra (“Paco”) and I studied at CSU from 2001-2002. While getting my MS Science I had the chance of helping Paul at his Fire Management Course. I didn’t know his background when I met him. In my country, Spain, Paul is well known because of the LCES rule, but at that time I even didn’t know it. The professional I met was unbelievable but nothing compared to his human’s profile. He was very generous and patient with my work as teacher assistant in his lab’s course and offered me his company many times while having his “five-shots espresso” at CSU cafeteria. Seven years has passed since our emotive goodbye in Feb 2003, but it is still, and probably will be forever, one of the unforgettable moments during my stay at Colorado. Rest in peace dear Paul.

(pacologia@ nospam yahoo.es)

Welcome, Paco. Ab.

3/28 Poor everyone!

In this continually fair world our leaders are creating, it's inevitable, someone's toes are going to be stepped on. Whether it's the caucasians, the rich, or anyone else. It's truly difficult to be fair when everyone's definition of "Fair" is different. This whole issue of "Affirmative Action" is a whole lot bigger than just the Feds. There are many inconveniences we all must deal with for the benefit of a minority (like being told to "push 1 for Spanish, 2 for English"). I once lived in an apt that had been totally wired just in case a tenant in a wheel chair ever rented the place. It was a real pain in the ...! All of the outlets and light switches were lower than waist level. Haha

However, During the HSA. I sat in the office of an engine on a so cal forest and listening to my Captain tell my best friend that he couldn't hire him because he was still trying to locate a Hispanic firefighter... That position remained open the entire season. I had another capt on a diff forest, that was Hispanic. He had around 20yrs in fire, and a whole lot of quals. He applied several times for BC positions on our forest, and he was passed up every time. From what I have gathered, it is no secret that this capt had stepped on a few too many toes, and had rubbed the wrong people in the wrong way. Those who had been peers had long ago passed him up in their career ladders, and may just not have seen his drive and motivation. He was passed up for the jobs/details by much younger candidates so... Again, I have no idea what the whole process involves, nor what the reasons were. But this stuff does happen, otherwise we wouldn't have the safeguards that we have.

Again this is a difficult and touchy subject, I honestly say, do some serious contemplation and studying before filling a complaint. Be sure you have your facts str8 and that you are not filing a complaint based on your perception of the situation. Our leaders often have a much clearer idea of what the bigger picture is than some of us occasionally have. I agree with some of the previous posters. There is such a process that goes into our hiring of candidates and so many contributing factors. It is very possible that you may not have made the cut for one seemingly small reason. Just like situational awareness, the hiring factor my have made a decision with a diff or less exp candidate due to a perception that was formed by the hiring party, while putting together all the different facets of your application.

I personally fought a letter of warning that was full of false statements and was a total violation of our family leave act rights, and I won. There are tools and resources for us, protecting all of us, they are there to be used. Dont be afraid to do just that. Just be educated and honest, be honest with yourself and do some serious self examination. Your perception is only YOUR reality.

Now with all that said! I do unfortunately mostly agree with the beaten down white boys. There is a lot of BS and rotten deals goin on with affirmative action stuff. I think that affirmative action has and continues to be way over the top. The HSA agreement was foolish and yet another perfect example of a knee jerk reaction. In trying to do a good thing the pendulum swings too far the other way, crossing other groups of people and stepping on their toes. But alas, just like they say, it only takes one jerk to ruin it for everyone. After all, aren't most Laws and regulations in effect for exactly that reason!?! Alright, Nuff yabberin from me.

Is there such thing as Reverse Racism!?!
3/27 Remembering Charles Krenek:

Hi Ab, please post this remembrance. Thanks.

Remembering my friend Charles Krenek who died this day in 2003 during the STS 107 Columbia recovery mission... He was an all round good guy who loved everyone and left an amazing legacy. The world would be a better place if more people were like him. I'm thankful to have known him and called him friend.

Greg Cohrs

Charles Krenek Memorial (and scroll down to 2003)

Thanks Greg. Ab.

3/27 Since it is spring, and we are getting ready for pre season, I humbly present


Warm up run & stretch

200 Seated Flutter Kicks
20 Push Ups
10 Pull Ups
80 Swimmer Stretch (lay on your stomach, arms at 90 degrees w/90 degree bend, lift arms and legs off deck)
200 Flutter Kicks
20 Dive Bombers
30 Half Jacks
10 Chin Ups
80/80/80 Sun Gods 3 pos (hold arms straight out from the shoulder & circle, then straight to the side, then reach behind)
40 In/outs
20 Diamond Pushups
50 Lunges
10 Pull Ups
20 Dive Bombers
20 Wide Grip Pushups
30 Squats
10 Chin ups
100 Dollys
20 Diamond Pushups
80 Rope Climbers (pin feet, half sit-up position, then reach as high as you can alternating hands. Looks like you are climbing a rope.)
10 Pull ups
20L/20R/20L/20R/40Center Crunches
30 Push ups

Do for time, try to complete in less than an hour. 45 minutes is exemplary. I can't do it in 45 minutes. When done with proper intensity, it will make you want to vomit.

Apparently used by the USMC on ship when they do not have enough room for running/more extensive PT.


Class C Sagebrush Faller
3/27 Ref the photo and Marty Alexander's request:

This was a LA County fire. I believe it was in the Malibu fire of 1995. Fire was coming down on LaCoFD station 70 at the time.

Mike Meadows who is a great LA area photographer should know who took this. Mike, does this ring any bells for you?


3/27 Writer / former firefighter seeking info.

Hi Ab,

I used to be a wildland firefighter for a brief stint--1 1/2 years on a type 3 engine, 1 year on a type 6 engine with details onto the MD900 with the helitack crew, and 1 season on a hotshot crew--and now write nonfiction. I've been wanting to write a book about the season on the hotshot crew for a couple years now but only recently feel my skills as a writer have matched my desire to write! Some time back, I sent the following email to the forest I worked on which was forwarded to the Superintendant of the crew.

"I am interested in obtaining copies of my records from 2003. I would like all information on the Klamath IHC from 2003 such as my IQCS, crew IQCS, crew log, listing of 2003 fires and locations and assignment type, etc. There was an end of year report created for overhead and crew that I didn't receive. Or if you have any other ideas that would be great! I appreciate your help."

He replied that he couldn't find my file and just sent me a list of the names and forests of each fire we went to.

So my 1st question is... is there another way for me to get the information I'm seeking? I've got quite a bit of the book written strictly from memory but feel that the technical information from each fire would enrich the narrative. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Secondly, any information or links or contacts you could provide me for the Flame-N-Go Hotshots would be very helpful. A second project I've got on my mind would involve that crew, at least in part. I've not yet decided if the book will only detail their experiences or contrast that with experiences of other inmate crews but I would like to write a fire book on the from the inmate's perspectives including interviews and narratives from fire and possibly after release from prison.

Love your website. Keep up the great work!


Hi Marie,

I do not know of any database that would have the fire and crew info you're talking about prior to about 2002. Prior to about 2002, no one kept it, aside from some individual crews, and that wasn't too common either.

Several databases could be of some use.

  • The 209 database was formed in 2000 or 2001. Maybe someone with more detailed memory could fill us in on the early history of that. (I'd have to dig back to find the details.) As the R5 web was changing in 2001, several of the first years' data was dumped, I believe by someone that did not realize its importance as a historical record or realize that people were already using it for research purposes. It was more carefully archived after that. Anyway, you can find that info here: fam.nwcg.gov fam-web  scroll down to  Previous years ICS 209s.
  • You could also look in the Incident Management Situation Report (ISMR) Archives for some bare bones info on large fires

Links to both of those can be found among the links on our Links Page. Good luck.

If anyone else has suggestions, please chime in. Ab.

3/27 New R-5 FFAM Director: "Qualities You Want to See in our New FFAM Director?"

The qualities I would like to see in my new FFAM Director are:

The brain of Gary Biehl.
The personality of a Rich Hawkins.
The professionalism of a Joe Millar.
The superior leadership of a Dietrich and Molumby.
The attitude and strong support for the rank-and-file firefighter displayed by JP-T.

Put them all together and we get? Hummm. Well, lets see..... Is it legal to clone RQ?

I know I missed some goods ones out there..........

Decision coming soon. Lead up.......


3/27 Panther Fire Report

I think its all about situational awareness. CPS gives us a bitchin "tool" for fire behavior and verbology to communicate it.
I bet dollars to donuts that 99.5% of this group would bump out without a question if a Hotshot crew left the line.


3/27 Leaders:

I have read the Q/A on the attached website before, however every time I come across it, like I did this morning, I say to myself; I really wish I would of met Paul. His reference to Chuck Hartley brings back so many memories of Chuck who is not only a legendary wildland firefighter. He is also an unbelievable person. One of the most caring human beings I've ever met. We need more Chuck Hartley's in this business.

Paul Gleason - He continues to be an inspiration to me and hopefully to you all. Every time I read about Paul and think about Chuck, it reminds that even with all of are issues, I picked the right business to get into.

Interviews with Leaders - Paul Gleason

Never Forget Black Tuesday - April 1, 2008 - "The Day They Lied from Coast to Coast" If you still have your wristband, I ask you to please wear it this coming Thursday.



3/27 Good Saturday morning All,

I added a pic from Nate H to the Fire 44 photo page. He said "It's the Rail Belt Complex in AK taken around Aug 2, 2009." I put a larger version on the red bags on Equipment 17. Sometimes we get questions about what is a red bag... (Marty's mystery photo is on the same fire 44 photo page. Ab.

3/27 Dear Ab:

Please see attached photo. Looking to track down details on the photographer (including email), date, fire name and location from your readership.

Thanks very much in advance.

Marty Alexander

Any timeframe? Any region? There's a king cab truck in the driveway, but it's scanned, not digital... so at least in the last several decades? Ab.

3/27 Hiring, EEO, CD etc etc

What I like about this discussion is that everyone is right, all these issues are true and have happened or still are happening. To deny it or ignore it, simply put, nothing would change. Everyone has been affected in one way or another. If you don't think there is discrimination just look at American History. We know what is wrong, We need to make change, We need to do what is right. We The People........is the Foundation of Our Constitution.

Thanks for all the input,
Had Enough

Well put. It is interesting to hear all the different perspectives. Ab.

3/27 In Response to MB7's claim of "Unfair Hiring Practices," 3/9/10:

I am very suspicious of the 3/9 post by "MB7".

There is no way "MB7," would have been told by the hiring panel that he/she was the #1 candidate for any position. It just simply is not how hiring was done and isn't how we operate as professional federal agencies. There are many things that contribute to the selection of a candidate, beyond diversity, and more than likely the person selected over him/her was a  more refined candidate based on years of quality experience, qualifications, education, supervisory/personal references and specific knowledge/skills/abilities of which applied to the specific position.

The claim that "unfair hiring practices," have occurred not just once but THREE times...may give an indication that he/she simply is not a good candidate. AGAIN- the hiring panel shouldn't be telling the candidates how they rate out...if a person isn't offered a position then they aren't the top candidate. He/she more than likely was not selected based on an application that did not reflect actual work/life experience nor did the supervisors and references collaborate with the content of the application. It takes more than fluffy words on an application to get a position on a firefighting module. A "Hiring Panel," was mentioned, which indicates he/she applied for a permanent LEADERSHIP position on a fire suppression module of some sort, that being said, fire managers carefully evaluate applicants for positions of leadership...we can't have just any one person hired because they simply meet basic qualifications. It saddens me when people play the role of self proclaimed "victim," perhaps it is time to look within oneself and evaluate why he/she is not genuinely making the top candidate list. "Extremely over qualified," in ones own mind may be perceived completely different by others...think about how people describe themselves in "Dating/Seeking," advertisements....seriously.

Fire Management leaders and Forest Supervisors have the heavy responsibility of selecting individuals who are able to utilize training and experience (fire line / life/ leadership) to keep our firefighters alive in such dynamic and high risk environments. Often times it is best to go a bit slow in leaping to higher ranks within our chain of command...in due time, with refined experience, quality training and a positive attitude, opportunities could improve. The younger generation of Wildland Firefighter's deserve only the best leaders, to entrust their lives to.

To MB7: I encourage you to do some self reflection & to revisit our core values of Duty, Respect & Integrity before jumping to grievances and lawsuits. I feel it is important to reserve those processes for situations and occurrences which warrant deep consideration.

I also leave you with this quote from one of the best all time "pigskin," leaders known to mankind:

" Leadership rests not only upon ability, not only upon capacity; having the capacity to lead is not enough. The leader must be willing to use it. His leadership is then based on truth and character. There must be truth in the purpose and will power in the character." The Honorable, Vince Lombardi


"It's what it is, isn't it?"
( from outside of Region 5 )

3/26 EEO etc

To add to the continuing discussion:

Just my bit of perspective; I too am a white male, who came out on top of an engine captain cert after several years at the district with fully successful and better performance appraisals (not that I think anyone really believes those mean much). A co-worker walked by District Ranger Linda Fee's office as she told the FMO that he would hire a diversity candidate. I found out more immediately though, when the FMO told me himself that it was a diversity decision. The hired individual is an excellent firefighter whom I have complete respect for and didn't overwhelmingly out qualify, it just rubs the wrong way when the law is broken and it becomes personal to you. Fast forward to a future year's hiring (that is, 2010) where you look through applications and find "Diversity Candidate" written in pen across a resume by the recruiter. I'm pretty sure that's illegal, even though it's probably more common than I'd like to think. Much of this conversation has been about male/female diversity, but I think a big problem with our efforts to get ethnically diverse people into the workforce stems simply from where we work. There just aren't a lot of minorities in most of the towns that house ranger districts, at least not in R6. It seems unrealistic to expect people from x ethnic group (or whatever you want to call it) to want to move to what in most cases is a nearly all white community. Even in a totally warm and welcoming community, I think there are times when there is no substitute for people who can relate to you and vice-versa.

Speaking purely for myself, I just get frustrated when the organization -which has so much potential to be great and successful!- touts itself as equal opportunity while people at the Forest Supervisor and District Ranger level tell their subordinates who do the actual hiring to break the law. That two-faced failure of the organization is what prompts me to jump into these conversations.

These are some of the things that have prompted me to begin plotting my pre-retirement exit from the organization. Maybe someday they'll get it together, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

-out there

3/26 Ab,

Well, I've kicked around several different agencies for quite a few years and can see both sides to the discrimination issue, at least as it pertains to gender. On one hand, are there still folks up and down the ranks who would rid the fireline of every last woman, given the choice? Do women still have to deal with these people and their attitudes on the job? You betcha. Until a few years ago, the overhead on a certain 'shot crew prided themselves on round-filing any application with a female name on it, no matter what her skills or quals. And several friends have been turned down for jobs not because others rated above her, but because, in the hiring official's words, 'We've already hired our diversity candidates for the season.'

That said, things are better than they were even a decade ago. Women are moving up the food chain - hopefully on their own merits - in every agency. Sometimes, as 'The ball is in your court' points out, there simply aren't a lot of female applicants for a position. Even with the retention bonus. Even with the outreach. At the same time, dedicated and qualified male colleagues get passed over for positions again and again in the hopes that a woman will eventually pop out of the woodwork and let them meet the quota. IMHO, it's no less insulting to be HIRED for reasons other than your merits than it is to be turned down for those reasons. And eventually some of those talented guys are going to give up and go elsewhere, taking their skills and experience with them.

In an ideal world, the Forest Service, BLM, NPS et al could come up with a system in which applications contain no factors that could ID gender (or race, or what have you), so that hiring officials would be clueless, at least until the reference check/interview phase, by which time at least the field would be narrowed down once according to merit alone. Beyond that, if there must be some sort of Consent Decree-type action, at least implement it as originally intended, where a 'diversity candidate' must have qualifications EQUAL to a white male applicant in order to be selected. But to blindly decree that the workforce be a perfect mirror of local demographics is to ignore reality. And to set someone up for failure, by fast-tracking them into a position for which they're minimally qualified at best, hurts them...and, in a worst-case scenario, could hurt a lot of other people, too.


Well lets settle the IFPM/FS FPM debate right now. Education will only be required at the GS-13 Level and above. It will be under the 401 series onslaught. IFPM is something that I believe is long overdue. IFPM takes effect October 1st, 2010. FS FPM takes effect in 2013. If you are wondering who fits in to what the requirements for each position is there is a great cross-walk that talks about IFPM and FSFPM qualifications. As for what will happen to FS personnel that do not meet the deadline. We are still waiting for a letter from the Chief describing what will happen. As I understand it the DOI has already said that if you do not meet the IFPM requirements by the deadline that the next day you are hitting the road. I hope this helps the thought process? It is not that these folks are dangerous, because they do not meet IFPM. It could be something as simple as they are missing the required class for their position. I mean is a Fuels Specialist really dangerous if they are not RXB2? Where I like it applied and believe in it is at the module leader level with Engine bosses being ENB and ICT4 qualified. That is essentially part of their job. If they are still ICT5 and working on ICT4 are they really dangerous though? Come on folks are we not being a little over dramatic?

As for the poor white male or kill whitey attitudes. Don't we have bigger issues on our plates? First and foremost I will hire the best person for the job. I will tell anyone that to their face Forest Supervisor, Civil Rights Officer, BC, DIV, or who ever else has a problem with it. Hiring the best person for the job does not really mean hiring the most qualified either. Some people have great qualifications, but lack the proper leadership skills to be in certain jobs. Personally, I look for passion, drive, work ethic, and a strong positive attitude in my employees. I don't care what race, sex, sexual orientation, or religion they are. If you are being passed up for jobs, my first advice would be to take and objective look at yourself. Then take a look at your job references. Then seek help in building a job application. (I have seen a lady on here advertising help with that!) Sit down with your boss and ask them what you can do to strengthen yourself for the next round of hiring. If it has to do with Forest Supervisor decisions and you can prove that you were ranked higher than the person hired in Fire Hire, you may have action with the Merit board. It is not anyone in the Forest Service's job to make sure you promote or get a permanent job. It is your own. If you do not know the path the only suggestion I can make is a acronym. F.O.I.A.

On another interesting note! The Region 5 Engine Captain's Committee has had some much needed CPR thanks to our Chairperson and a loyal band of Idealists. Personally I hope to see a large, productive and powerful group come back to full swing. With 272 engines in the Region this will be one of the groups to follow. I expect great things from these folks! The call needs to go out that all Engine Captains need to step up and become involved! Help shape the future of engines in Region 5! The Engine Captain's group gives you one voice to speak loud and strong!


Thanks, Northnight. Ab.

3/26 Wildland/Urban Interface Conference next week in Reno

If any of you will be attending the Wildland/Urban Interface Conference next week in Reno, please stop by Booth #711 and we’ll show you some cool stuff.

Poor White Males are most welcome.

Tom Patterson
ESRI Wildland Fire Specialist

3/26 CD, Fire Hire and EEO Complaints:

For the Record, I have never and never would file EEO, against anyone, even if my rights were violated (again). The resolution process is total BS, ending in blacklisting of individuals, and a scarlet letter for the filer (stamped 4F). and the bottom line for me is, I don't want settlement money (i don't even like money). I want a better United States Forest Service.

Caring for the land and serving the people. Maybe we ought try caring for one another for a change, instead of treating each other, as if finding fault in another will advance our careers.

I let my work stand on its own because I am a Region 5 Hot Shot. If you ever were a lead saw on a Shot Crew then lets hear what you have to say. My blood sweat and tears for acres, you guys (and gals), nothing in my work ethic exists to slam others.


Nice post. Ab.

3/26 To: The ball is in your court

I don't know how to keep women in the fire service or minorities or white males. I am not a retention specialist!!!! My whole point from my first post is I am tired of hearing about the poor white males. I also love my job and my fire community. That is why I stay.

Tired of hearing...

3/25 To 'Tired of hearing about the poor white male',

Where should we get more women?

In the last temp hiring round we had scores of folks on the list, 3 or 4 were women. When we called the women (and, trust me,
they were the first to get the calls) most had already been offered other jobs so we are left with one out of twenty new hires.
Should we conjure up these women to hire out of thin air?

I have worked with many very capable women in fire. Where are they now? Most opted out of fire and into admin positions
or other jobs. Should we have forced them to stay in fire?

How do we keep them?

The ball is in your court
3/25 Ab, & Tired of hearing about the poor white male,

Sorry for the over reaction! Been out of the Fire Service for awhile, but when I heard "...where 3 out of the four fire module over head are not qualified for their job." that scared me! I have lost a few friends due to someone not speaking out! Thanks for the explanation, it appears to be little different from when I use to sign off on my people.


ARCH, I misinterpreted the post too. Ab.

3/25 Whoa, Whoa Whoa ARCH simmer,

Taskbooks do not define experience or knowledge, and no AB's, the basic quals are still ICT 4, crewbooss or engine boss. Everyone is having trouble with ICT4 and engine boss. Only one person gives me the heebies. Post what you want on this one.


Tired of hearing about the poor white male

OK, I guess I misunderstood your comment as well. Ab.

3/25 When it comes to unqualified fire personnel it is due to the fact that the FS has adopted OPM's X-118. Which I believe states you just need time in grade and able to obtain the proper quals in a certain time frame. That is discussed with one's supervisor which develops a training program to meet the needs of the employee. But then again I believe it’s the Agency's responsibility to see that the employee get the training and is put on priority lists for training assignments. Come October we will see if there is a lot of demotions or an extension for the training. I put my money on the extension. The Agency hired them and is responsible for the training.

You are right. If one feels they have been discriminated against it is their right to file a complaint and they should do so. Do not file a complaint just because your P_st O_f, make sure you do your homework. This is serious stuff.

AVUE and Fire Hire is where there are some real issues. I rated a #1 for a BC job, but just because I marked a box yes that said "is this the highest grade you have held in a permanent position" I was disqualified. The position I referred to was a detail, but I am a permanent employee, it was the highest grade I ever held and it counts towards my High 3. I am a type three IC with 35 years experience and the person who got the job does not have the quals, was a GS 7, and was ranked #3. I came up thru a time when You got all your classes and quals, then applied for the job to be competitive.

Guess I'll see were they stand come October.

Signed. 1 Year 6 Days and counting
AKA Had Enough

P.S. Love my job and my fellow FIREFIGHTERS
3/25 "Tired of hearing about the poor white male" stated:

"Right now I am working for a forest in region 5 in an office where 3 out of the four fire module over head are not qualified for their job. They do not meet the minimum requirements that they need to have by the October 2010 deadline. "

"Tired of hearing about the poor white male", YOU need to take action and report this ASAP! This is how accidents and fatalities CAN BE AVOIDED!! Report this! If you fear retaliation call or meet with someone not connected to that office or forest! This is far beyond a gender or race issue it is a SERIOUS live or death safety issue!


ARCH, they are not unqualified under the older pre-existing qualifications and many are eminently qualified in fire experience/ KSAs but there's a new system coming this October that requires a college degree or college equivalent to advance in fire and aviation management above a certain level. If you search on IFPM or FS FPM you'll find references to the new system as it's been laid out in the last few years. Here's a Crosswalk. Deadlines have been pushed back, etc. So I don't think Tired of Hearing is talking about unsafe firefighters the way you'd think about them, but no doubt she's met the new standards. In a couple of years we're going to lose some experienced firefighters that have not met those standards. The world of firefighting is changing... Ab.

3/25 Hello everyone,

I really enjoy this forum and I have worked in the federal fire service since 1995. I have been hearing the whole poor "white male" story my whole career!!! Really are you kidding me? I have worked in 3 different states in fire CA, OR and MT. I am female and every place I have worked has had few women in leadership positions or fire in general. On my Forest there is one female captain. I look around all of my training classes and there is usually one other women in the class. I was actually very surprised when there were two other women in my strike team leader class last year. Three women out of 30. Yep we're are taking all of the "poor white" male jobs that are so wrongly taken from them.

Right now I am working for a forest in region 5 in an office where 3 out of the four fire module over head are not qualified for their job. They do not meet the minimum requirements that they need to have by the October 2010 deadline. So please don't tell me that women and minorities are the only ones getting hired who don't meet qualifications. I don't agree with people who get hired who are not qualified for the job. It brings down morale. I have been passed over for a jobs where a less qualified person was hired. I even had 8 more years of experience than a person and a college education. Oh and guess what, he was a male. Did I do anything about it? No that was my choice not to, but I don't blog about it on they said. (Well I just kind of did.) If it is truly happening to you do something about it, file a complaint try to remedy the situation. It just gets so old hearing about the poor white male . Take a good look at your forest fire organization and you will really see how many women are in that organization . I know that there are 11 women on the forest that are in primary and secondary fire position out of 170 fire positions. You do the math.


Tired of hearing about the poor white male

Haw Haw on the ("Well, I just kind of did.") Good one! Thanks for your perspective. Ab.

3/25 Some new photos posted on Equipment 17 and Airtankers 32. Thanks Contributors! Ab.
3/25 Perspective counts for a lot.

When I first applied for a fed firefighting job, I figured I was applying to do a job I'm qualified for. I'm a minority but don't necessarily look like one. I have an AC/DC gender name that also gives no clues to my ethnicity. Figure I'll make the first cut on my quals (KSAs) and that's how I like it. After that, I'll make it on performance.

MTR, my guess is that you're not a Native American female. For myself, I'll let my KSAs and fireline actions speak for me. As some have said, it's 2010. It's not my parent's or grandparent's generations altho I honor their contributions to change.


3/25 The person sending email from .mil ; please send your message, etc. from a private email account. Thanks, Ab.
3/25 I don't follow the EOE train nor do I subscribe the the BS of that within the current hiring practices. Do I believe in EOE? Yes I do. Do I believe that the best person....male or female, irregardless of race, that qualifies with a top score during testing should get the position? Damn straight. C'mon kids, this isn't rocket science.

It shouldn't be up to the various agencies to "educate" those who couldn't pass step 1, just so their EOE quota's are filled. I don't mean to sound racist or anti-whatever....but the job needs to be given to the most qualified, PERIOD. EOE be damned. Who would you rather have in charge of a your crew, someone who KNOWS what they're doing or someone who THINKS they know what they're doing? This is the kind of thing that makes me so happy I am retired!

Back in '78, there was a girl I went through basic FF1 training with. I remember all the crap about that and the "changes" a woman in the station brought. She's now an Admin. Chief and thinking of retiring with 33 years under her command.....and she KNEW what she was doing! I'd have followed her to the gates of hell, because I knew she was good leader and cared about her crew.

EOE and fair hiring is a good thing, taken in the proper perspective. However, there are quite a few high scoring individuals who are passed over because of the EOE, simply because they aren't the right race or don't have the "correct" background. This is 2010, this crap belongs in the history books from 1964.....not now. I urge those in power to get off their respective ass's and take a good hard look at your state of affairs. EOE may look good in the books, but when lives are on the line, I could care less who'd leading me, just so long as they KNOW what they're doing.

OK, off my soap box now..........

3/24 Re: cd


Are all these white people complaints helping the agency? Or are they just showing the resistance that exists within the agency to racial equality in the federal workplace.

And, why is it that a CD issue about males and females gets turned into a race issue, by those not of any ethnic minority group? I suppose some of the "white males" are beginning to feel like the minority, however you are not. Quit complaining. This country has a long ways to go to true equality, and this federal agency is just a small example of the dynamics at work in our society today. Thing about that is, you only hear about it if its a "white male" thats loosing out? This ain't "tit for tat", this is corrective action for generations of racially motivated hiring practices at the agency... starting 30 years ago... and your still mad about it? Hmmm, lets think about that shall we?

Where's all the minorities voices in this discussion? All I hear are the predominant class here voicing their concern in the name of "white males", calling for "white males" to "stick together". Thats one hellova message the FS is sending to us. "We know there is racial violations happening, and we're going to slap the violators on the wrist with a 3 day suspension, while another qualified minority goes unhired. Anyone mention the qualified females, mexicans, Indians, ect that do deserve the damn job? Funny thing about race in this country is the "white males" are the ones still defining race relations, 150 years ago ya'all Americans didn't even want to accept the Irish as White. Point, the definition of race is relative, and will continue to evolve. No matter the resistance, however flawed, from the predominant class.

Region 5
Native American

3/24 Re: Palmer Perspective

Robert Palmer is one of the finest young leaders that I have ever had the privilege to work with. His character and dedication to wildland firefighters shines through his grief in his well written and well thought out piece, "The Palmer Perspective" and I thank this forum for posting it.

Much has been said previously about the state of medical care on wildland incidents and I won't rehash it here. I just wanted to let Robert and his family know that I will be presenting a lecture this year at our annual Incident Medical Specialist training that incorporates many of the current techniques and lessons learned from military forward medical care, to include maximum utilization of the golden hour.

I can't do anything about people being put at risk in places that should be left to burn. What I can do is pass on these hard won lessons to the men and women who will be the ones standing over an injured brother or sister firefighter. For Andy.

Doc Smitty

3/24 Our friend Jess from Thermo-gel (Thermo Technologies) asked if we would post a link to a press release wherein Thermo-gel and Absolute Fire Solutions joined forces to offer an innovative new way to increase firefighting effectiveness. The big news regards a new 'fast gel' initial attack helicopter bucket designed to increase firefighting effectiveness. You can read the full story here: AFS & Thermo-gel News OA.
3/24 Consent Decree

Discrimination of "white males" has been going on in this outfit (USFS) for many years, since the inception of the Big CD. The USFS had it coming. Some line officers, etc were not even in the ranks back then, but yet it continues. This is, and has been, social engineering. You may be the most qualified candidate, with 25 years in fire management, but the so-called managers could give a hoot. They have quotas ya know! Quotas that determine their ability to manage and create a diverse workforce. Absolutely nothing side-ways with a diverse workforce, need to have it. Humans are just that, we're all in it together. But, if the managers don't meet their quotas, they get shipped out. Simple as that. I am retired after 30 years with the outfit and I'm absolutely troubled that the hiring practices have not changed. Way back when, the late Jerry Levitoff, Mr. Bob Grate, and myself stood up to the agency and went to CNN with the agencies discriminatory practices and still they continue for the sake of "social engineering".


3/24 Filing EEO Complaints:

I have been following the discussion concerning possible discrimination during hiring practices of the Forest Service.  From a historical perspective it is important to know that the Forest Service VOLUNTARY entered into the Consent Decree back in 1979, which the district court approved in 1981. The terms of that decree were to remain in effect until 1986.

In 1986, the female employees' class filed a motion for contempt of court, in which they alleged that the Forest Service had not complied with the consent decree. The district court granted the motion and ordered the consent decree to remain in effect until 1991. In 1992, the parties agreed to a new settlement, which expired in 1994.

Judge Samuel Conti (San Francisco) was the presiding Judge of the CD (Consent Decree).  He questioned the Forest Service on why they wanted to voluntary enter into a CD back in 1979. This is important because Conti had not determined that discrimination had occurred within the Forest Service against women and Conti WAS NOT going to rule that a CD was needed. The Forest Service CHOOSE to enter the CD on their own! That is a true fact, look it up!

As time went on it was very clear that there was no way the Forest Service could meet the demands of the CD.  The pipeline wasn't there.  So... the Forest Service tried other methods and they also failed, in turn, went back to Conti and said they wanted out of the CD. Conti went ballistic.. in the court room (I was there). Conti said BS, I cautioned the Forest Service about entering into this CD and now you want out! Get out there and complete it or I'll put the Secy. of Agriculture in contempt of Court!

Then started the BIG problem of discrimination against anyone who wasn't a member of the Consent Decree. The Forest Service went OUTSIDE the bounds of the Consent Decree! The Consent Decree only allowed gender to be used as a tie-breaker if there was other equally quailified applicants, the highest qualified was still the rule of selection. The Forest Service then started cancelling job announcements if a veteran with preference applied, cancelling rosters when no females appeared, letting positions be vacant until they could locate a female to apply,  by-pass its own qualified Region Five females if a out of Region female applied to bring up the percentage, etc. The Consent Decree DID NOT allow the Forest Service to do these aforementioned things! The most famous example (Read in the Senate, also shown on CNN and 20/20) was the job announcement from the Six Rivers National Forest:



The result of this type of hiring practices was hundreds and hundreds of EEO Complaints. Most of the complaints were settled in favor of the complainants, BECAUSE the Forest Service was outside the bounds of the CD!! Jobs were given, large amounts of dollars in back pay, retirement and Attorney costs were covered. One Regional Office Staff member reported to me that the Region (Region Five)  had paid out 12 million dollars in settlements to the complainants (EEO complainants). This I believed because Court records showed that Region Five had spent 23 million dollars in just a three year period on just the implementation of the Consent Decree. Remember, the CD went on for 13 years!

Discrimination is costly in more ways than one!

If a person feels or believes he or she has been discriminated against, file a EEO Complaint. That is YOUR right! If someone complains to you about filing a EEO complaint ADD them to your complaint, you will hear nothing more from that person! The process is simple. Make sure you meet ALL timeframes. If you believe that the settlement they offer you in the informal stage is not correct, then you need to file a FORMAL complaint.  This can take time. Very few are settled in the given time frames. The longest I know of was 8 years.. BUT, full settlement was made, and that was after the person had retired!

I do not suggest or encourage anyone to file a complaint unless they know or feel they have been discriminated against.

Individually and as a group we need to "Keep them Honest".


Maybe I should add this to the IMWTK page. Ab.

3/24 Had Enough and Others

I started working for the FS in 1984 and have seen discrimination of white males since I started. I have yet to see any discrimination of women or minorities in my 26 years so far, but I am a white male and everytime I listen to our EEO folks they would have me believe it is inherent in me to unknowingly discriminate and they have to balance that out by giving advantages to women and minorities, and even though that is a disadvantage for white males, that is not discrimination. So do what I did. I filled out the AD 1086 form claiming minority status and encouraged the folks that work for me to do the same. You folks in California could end your problems overnight if the Agency met its "GOALS". It is a violation of your privacy to even suggest you prove it. And for all of you who would chastise this response I bet you had no problems with the Forest Supervisor on the Six Rivers hiring practices. After all, no matter what you do, you can't discriminate against a white male, right.

Another R1 FMO

Applicants, this may not be an easy time on the seasonal fire hire jobs front, however, please represent yourselves honestly. Lying is not the answer. Maintain your integrity and values. You should also apply to as many firefighting positions as possible to get hired. Ab.

3/24 Hiring

Had Enough,

Thanks for the idea, if I have a minute between things around the base here, I'll make a call and see what I can find out.


Your comments are spot on. I don't see why we can't do things "the way we used to do". People from the forest going to the S.O. and going over applications, kinda like we go through temporary hiring now. It makes sense that we'd do the same thing with key overhead positions on modules. And like you mentioned, I'd bet its even cheaper doing it that way instead of a week of hotel, per diem and potential overtime at Fire Hire. You can still use AVUE, the continuous open list, etc., etc.

How does the Recreation Department and Biology Shop hire folks for jobs? I know its in no way the same number and scale of positions but it makes you wonder. Job opens, they throw out an outreach, they put the job on the street, it closes, they pull a cert and make a selection, right? If I'm wrong please correct me.

I know as a chief officer (when I eventually get there), I'd want to see the best and brightest applicants for some of my key module leader positions, not "who had the inside info on the position opening" or "that's a garden spot location, I'll throw my app in there" and ended up being one of the few applicants for the job. I'm sure people are doing this (I've begun too, just in case and know a few others who are going to start doing this) to cover themselves on the chance the job they desire opens up.

So people are wasting time calling my supervisors and former supervisors for reference checks for jobs that will probably not be open!

Seems a bit broken.

noname 51

3/24 Reverse Discrimination or Reactivation of Consent Decree?:

I've heard more and more about people not qualifying for specific jobs in the wildland fire occupations with the Federal Government.

I started fighting fire as a volunteer in 1983, and started my first paid season in 1987. During that time of the late 1980s to the early-1990s I saw where white males were continuously passed over for less-qualified minorities of both sexes. If you were white male, you need-not apply.

In 1988 I saw a white male Seasonal Prevention Technician who had five seasons of experience competing for a 13-13 position told that he would not be selected for the position, but he would be expected to train the minority woman with one season of experience that would occupy that position. The male Prevention Tech stuck out the season, then left for another position. The woman who filled the position lost it the next season because she could not do the job.

The California Employment Development Department (EDD) was asked by the feds to fly seasonal fire positions with the emphasis on 'minority' hiring for the fed fire positions. Many qualified white males were passed over or simply had thier applications 'held' if they could not find enough qualified minorities to fill the slots.

About the same time I saw a female seasonal firefighter for CDF (Now CAL-Fire) with one fire season be promoted to a permanent engineer the next season, passing over several white males with more than five seasons of experience.

Some of the minorities hired or promoted because of Consent Decree were good people, but there are a lot of them now who are now in charge and are running programs into the ground with political correctness and useless projects.

In the mid-1990s the Federal Government dumped the 'consent decree' after not getting enough qualified minorities to fill positions and moved back to merit and experience as qualifying traits.

Its very disturbing to me that it sounds like that bad experiment of the 1980s and 1990s is being resurrected again, being "White Males Need-Not Apply". I sincerely hope I am wrong, because I have never discriminated against anyone because of color, sex, religion, or orientation. But I have judged people on the content of their character, or lack-of, and the quality of their work ethic.

Since the early 1990s minorities have held many of the highest positions in State and Federal government, the last administration had two african-americans as Secretary of State, and an african-american now holds the highest position in the land. To me, we are now all equal. Dr. Martin Luther King's dream was realized.

But now were going back down the old roads of "we need to make up for the sins of the past" with a return of a form of Consent Decree. When will I be denied moving up to the next step? When will I be 'bumped-down' or 'bumped-out' because I fall into that category of 'those evil white males need to pay for the sins of the past'.

I hope and pray that what we are seeing is an accident of circumstance, and that content of character, education, qualifications and experience are the deciding factors in selection for a job.

Unfortunately, and disturbingly, the more and more I look at the current administration in power I see that "We're in Charge Now" and "you didn't support us" are the rules of the day.

What's happening to our agencies, our government, and our country?


3/23 Hiring:

Noname 51

You said: "Or, crazy as this sounds, let the forests handle the hiring of their individual jobs that open up, (I know, I know, not many HR and Personnel people left on the forests themselves, would take a long time, a lot of money, etc, etc)

I say: Back when individual forests were afforded the ability to conduct evaluations and hiring on the home unit, it certainly didn't take more time or money. In fact, we spent far less time and much less money.

We approached the task at hand in a motivated, organized, fair and impartial manner in which true group consensus was reached and considered in developing our recommendations. Rarely, if ever, do I recall the Forest Supervisor questioning the quality or validity of our work or recommendations before forwarding to the Regional Forester's Team for approval. I would like to add that while it took a lot of effort, it took far less time than what we currently expend in support of R5 Fire Hire.

As for your reference to "a lot of money" to conduct hiring on the home forest, I'll let you in on a little secret. I have yet to find a line item in our WFPR budget to support the cost of sending folks to McClellan to participate in the process. R5's expectation is that we should send anywhere from 3-5 people to assist in this collective effort. Where I come from, that's around $1000.00 in travel and per diem for a 5 day stint. In the current atmosphere of increased operating costs and declining budgets, I have a problem with this concept. And don't forget, Fire Hire occurs twice a year. Wow! I wonder at what cost for all forests combined?

Is it right to sacrifice scarce fire preparedness funds to support Fire Hire vs. using them for other important things like employee training and career development, supplies and equipment, specialized tools we need to carry out our jobs, etc.? I think not. I believe its time for R5 to redeem its responsibility and "Pay for Play".

Okay, I've had my chance to rant. But the bottom line being: All I know is, it never came close to costing as much to conduct the hiring process on the home forest as it does these days. Nor did we ever come close to making some of the blunders in selection of Level 3 applicants which I've seen affect our organization in recent times.

Carry on and never let 'em get you down,
R5 Pilgrim

3/23 Hiring:

Noname 51,

I am not even sure if backfilling is legal according to OPM. I believe all Federal jobs have to be advertised to make the system fair and competitive. A call or research with OPM might answer that. I believe the Region did that under pressure from Feinstein's Office to fill vacancies.

Had Enough

3/23 Idaho/Montana: 1910 Monument and fund raising

As you are all aware 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of the great fires that burned in Northern Idaho and Montana. Many events and commemorations are planned but this summer and a committee has been formed to finance, construct and dedicate a memorial for the firefighters that lost their lives in the 1910 Forest Fire. The committee has a plan which is in three parts:

  1. Repair and refurbish the 2 mass graves at the Nine Mile Cemetery near Wallace. These graves have 5 firefighters buried in each one. We will also purchase and install directional signs at the cemetery to assist the public in locating these historic sites.
  2. We will have a granite stone that matches Ranger Pulaski’s original design for a memorial for the 6 firefighters that lost their lives on his crew. We plan to have this stone installed at the edge of the grave site in the Nine Mile Cemetery where 5 of the 6 firefighters are buried.
  3. We are going to purchase a large black granite stone and install it as the centerpiece to a memorial that will be constructed at the Wallace Visitors center at the West end of Wallace. The wording on the memorial will be:


    This memorial is dedicated to those firefighters who lost their lives fighting the “Great Fire of 1910.” Their heroic efforts while enduring some of the most severe fire behavior in our nation’s history will not be forgotten.

    Dedicated August 21, 2010

As you can imagine accomplishing this long overdue project it will take a substantial amount of money. We have set a goal to raise $25,000. Any individual or organization that donates $500 or more will have their names listed on a plaque as a donor. Any donation will be appreciated. If you can make a donation please make your check out to:

1910 Firefighters Memorial

and send it to:

1910 Fire Commemoration Committee
Historic Silver Valley Chamber of Commerce
10 Station Ave.
Kellogg, ID 83839

I thank you in advance for your support to our project. We will be dedicating these memorials on August 21, 2010 as part of the 100th year anniversary celebration of the 1910 fire. We invite you to attend this very special event.


John Specht
Box 607
Osburn, Idaho 83849

2/23 Hello, my name is Earl Buenting from Illinois. I was searching for a classmate, Bill Oelig, and found a posting in wildlandfire.com that Bill had died while working a fire. I was wondering if you can confirm that for me. Any other info you can provide would be appreciated.


Earl Buenting

Look at the post on Feb 26. Bill is gone. The info is there. Ab.

3/23 Re: unfair hiring

The complaint process.

I looked at the MSPB website. It looks like the USFS needs to begin the process by calling the EEOC, which yactac posted a while ago. I called the number and talked to someone. It seems pretty scary to go down the complaint path against the green machine and the forest supervisor that screwed me.

One important thing the person I talked to said, is that you have 45 days to file, from when the offense occurred.

Im going to keep thinking about it a little longer....
Again, I dont want to ruin the career I do have?.....


3/23 More Fire Hire:

Another thing that makes me wonder is how do we find out if jobs are going to be open once folks vacate positions?

For example, say an Engine Captain moves up to a Battalion Chief job during the Fire Hire process. That Captain job is suddenly open and from what I've been seeing from Fire Hire, the job is immediately backfilled with someone off the cert, if there are applicants, for that current open captain slot.

This is good because it keeps modules staffed but if you wanted to apply for that captain job, unless you had some inside information about the possible opening, you don't get a chance to apply.

Can a forest/unit NOT hire off the cert, say they wanted to get more applicants for a job or are they held to selecting off the cert that's right there at that time?

I know it would lengthen the hiring process but I think there's a lot of quality candidates that miss out on positions because they don't know they were going to be vacant. Perhaps start fire hire a little earlier in the year, or have a couple of them. Or, crazy as this sounds, let the forests handle the hiring of their individual jobs that open up, (I know, I know, not many HR and Personnel people left on the forests themselves, would take a long time, a lot of money, etc. etc)

So do we apply for locations/jobs that we might want to work at in the hope that the job will open? Do we start calling the incumbents in the position and ask them if they are looking at taking another job so we can apply for it?

I know a lot of quality applicants that would've applied for positions had they a notion those positions would possibly be vacant.


3/23 Re: The Palmer Perspective

Before I jump in, a little background on me; I started in EMS and Fire in 1988, I became a Paramedic in 1990 and have worked in both busy urban and rural systems throughout the Western US. I have also been involved in wildland fire since about 1989. Six years ago I switched to wildland fire as my full time gig but I still keep my EMS quals through a part time job. I am currently run an engine module but I have also run type 2 IA crews.

The state of care provided for our firefighters on the line is pathetic in most cases. I have said for years that there needs to be a change of culture on how we deal with injuries on the line. While I have seen fantastic MEDLs strive to set up a quality system for care on an incident, it is far too often the other end of the spectrum that I see. A MEDL that had their EMT-B years ago, has no line experience and has no direction other than the agency telling them to reduce costs. I have been on incidents were they have pre-identified one of the incident helicopters as a “Med-Evac” ship. Usually these helicopters are doing other work and must come back to the helibase to re-configure and pick up personnel (usually EMT-B level), in addition, most of these ships are not configured to take a litter patient. Folks, if we need to fly a patient to a hospital, there is a 97% chance that they will be flat on their back and need more than basic care (no offense to the EMT-Bs out there).

Unfortunately the culture is not just on incidents, it is a daily thing around our agencies. Why do I get questioned about purchasing basic life support items for the engine? Why do we not require that firefighters have at least the First Responder course? Why do we not request line qualified Paramedics to our incidents? Why is EMS for our personnel always an afterthought?

While I am not advocating that the agencies become EMS system providers, we do have a responsibility to our employees to provide a safe work environment and to provide for their welfare when injured. I would suggest that we look a little closer at the military model, all Soldiers get the equivalent of an advanced first aid course, then they train a percentage of them to the combat life saver level (the ability to provide more advanced care including IVs). After that they have medics and then all the way up to trauma doctors. They attempt to provide a large safety net so that when a soldier is injured they can receive immediate, coordinated care from the basic to advanced level in as short an amount of time as possible. We could most definitely learn from this model.

Whichever way we go, we can’t stay here.


3/23 Discrimination:

Been reading They Said for several years lots of good information being passed around. I am extremely curious as to how many people have been discriminated against or faced Unfair Labor Practices related to FIRE HIRE. For those of you who do not fit in the usual E.E.O. complaint process there is the Merit Systems Protection Board. It can be found at Merit Systems Protection Board website. You need to carefully read through their site. If you have been discriminated against, it is your Constitutional Right to seek settlement. There has been a lot of inconsistencies related to FIRE HIRE that are discriminatory.

Had Enough

3/23 George Geer's passing:

It is with a heavy heart that George Geer, recent retiree of the Angeles National Forest passed away March 14, 2010.

His service will be held at 1:00 PM on Saturday, March 27th at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 400 W. Duarte Road, Arcadia, CA 91007-6819. A map and driving directions are attached.

A celebration of his accomplished, vibrant and generous life will follow at the Arcadia County Park, 405 S. Santa Anita Ave., Arcadia CA. It will be picnic style with George’s favorite food group, barbecue hot dogs, chips, tacos and drink. Please bring folding chairs and blankets so that you have a place to sit and reminisce the good times with family and friends.

If you wish to send your condolences to the family, you may send them his sister Mary Geer, 909 Lotus, San Dimas, CA 91773. The family is also setting up the “George Geer Memorial College Fund” to help kids achieve a higher education and make a difference in this world. Checks can be made out to the fund and mailed to Mary.

John B, ret

photo: George (on left) and Jeff Bradford at Special Olympics (George doing what he loved).

3/22 “The Palmer Perspective”

2009 National Wildland Fire Reform, “The Palmer Perspective”
January 29, 2009
by Robert Palmer

Short History

My world changed on July 25, 2008. I lost faith in the "fire world’s ability to help one of their own".

I had just returned from a 14-day wildland fire assignment in Northern California, when my Fire Management Officer met me in the parking lot to tell me about my younger brother, also a member of a wildland fire staff; "Rob, Andy was hit by a tree this afternoon and isn’t doing well. I’m going to drive you to the airport and fly you back down to California." I made it to the airport, 15 minutes away, when I received a call informing me that Andy had died en route to the hospital.

He was 18 years old, a recent high school graduate, enrolled in college for the fall, and lived a vigorous life. After a couple of weeks of training, this was his first fire assignment and first day of real work when he died. Andy’s incident provided me with a very raw and a very distinct perspective considering my experiences. I now understand what it means to lose a loved one tragically. I know what it is like to watch a falling tree kill a fellow crewmember and the frustration of not being able to change anything. I also know how Fire Management operates after serving over 10 seasons in fire and as a crew supervisor with the National Park Service (NPS).


I have protected our national lands, I have worked with some of the finest employees in this country, and I have fought for their interests. I now need your support as I fight for my brother’s; we have a National Fire Management Program that cannot provide for the safety of its most important resource, its employees. Several weaknesses and human factors contributed to Andy’s death, but Andy is not alone. One would be naïve to attempt to focus corrective actions on one factor, for we have a much larger problem. We aggressively engage too many fires. We need to ask the questions, "Why are we doing this?" and "Why are we here?"

Objective: Golden Hour Response

Determine response and engagement based on the capability to deliver any injured fire personnel to an appropriate medical facility in less than 60 minutes. This will:

  • Decrease engagement to SAFELY mitigate risks during response
  • Establish Emergency Medical Standards on an Incident
  • Dramatically decrease costs associated with wildland fire
  • Decrease impacts to the ecosystem

We must decrease our engagement because we do not have the capacity to evacuate injured fire staff safely.

This is only the beginning. Read the rest of this thoughtful treatise -- complete with recommendations -- by clicking the link below. Ab.

Palmer Perspective  (273 K pdf file)

Thanks Rob and hotshots. My best to you, Palmer family. Ab.

3/22 Pete Barry,

The times I worked with Zig Zag when Paul was running the crew they were running Stihls.

3/22 Forest Service Discrimination

I have recently been prevented from obtaining a position with the Six Rivers National Forest because of discrimination. I had already been tentatively selected for a position. When I called back 3 weeks later I was told that I no longer was going to be hired because the Forest Supervisor Tyrone Kelley had decided that the candidates the captain had selected were not 'diverse' enough. So because I am a white male, I was prevented from obtaining a job.

This goes directly against the stated policy of the Forest Service which I quote

"The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability....." (fs.fed.us/cr/ 2010).

This is not the first time that the Forest Service has discriminated against me but I am not going to let this one slide.

qualified, yet unhired

3/22 Zig Zag saws

Hi Ab,

Researching for the Paul Gleason Wildland Fire Scholarship here at CSU. Can anyone tell me saw brand(s) used while Paul ran Zig Zag?


Scholarship update will be sent soon.

Pete Barry

3/22 Panther report:

I have read the Panther report and have the following comments to make.I think the report is one of the best that I have read and I do not disagree with the content. Some of the language that's taught in CPS classes is there and I think some could be added to help in the recommendations made.

Doug Campbell

Regarding the Panther Fire Entrapment Report quotes and comments.
By Doug Campbell
Doug Campbell's Fire Behavior Language

Page 27 of the Panther Fire Report:

“DIVS 1&2 missed the importance of two critical radio transmissions regarding increased fire activity from a posted lookout. They undervalued the lookout’s messages, compared to the crews who clearly understood the warning given by the lookout and acknowledged the danger associated with hearing “increased fire activity below the indirect line”. This is an example of what is referenced in major industrial accidents as “inadequate cue utilization”21. Proper cue utilization is a function of the clarity of the cue, the ability to understand the significance and meaning of the cue, an understanding of the actions that are required upon perceiving the cue and the ability to react in time to the cue. An alarm such as “Engine Fire!” on an aircraft would be an example.”

A CPS cue:
Fire behavior getting worse; reaching the trigger point of an in-alignment run;
Locate the first run track and perimeter.
The type of fire and best tactic.

Panther Fire Report:

“The ability to react to a cue is also a function of expectancy. Briefings should therefore serve two purposes. First, they describe to the participants what the area(s) of concern is(are) and what the warning should sound like, by reviewing the expected cues to enhance the level of expectancy and preparation. Second, briefings should inform the players of exactly what action is expected to be taken when the cues or signals are transmitted.”

CPS methods Identifying the area of concern:
The variation of the fire signatures, head, flank and heel.
The location of the fire on the terrain and the alignment of forces present, causing the fire (signature) fire intensity.
Make predictions of where and when the variation of intensities is likely to occur.
Identifying the timing of mitigating actions.

Panther Fire Report:


2. Solicit Forest Managers to develop a safety briefing procedure for newly arriving personnel that personalizes the safety briefings used in high risk operations. Establish a working group to assess the current forms of communication of safety information transmitted through briefings. This group should produce guidance to reflect actual conditions facing the firefighters on the line and prepare them for the hazards unique to the specific conditions that crews are likely to encounter. The briefings should address safety considerations and procedures unique to the assignment, based on thorough risk assessment.
(Findings 2, 7, 8, 9)

3. Develop a policy to fully evaluate and, if indicated, develop a system which standardizes communication of safety critical information and Crew or Team Resource Management for ground firefighters. If indicated, include this language and CRM training for personnel engaged in high risk operations.

Thanks Doug. Ab.

3/22 Panther report:

If the Panther Report (1048 K pdf file) does not call out for use of Doug Campbell's Fire Behavior Language, I don't know what does???!!! Doug has released the info from copyright as I recall, so what's the holdup NWCG???? It's logical, fer gosh sakes!!! It allows LCES implementation. (It also worked on the Station Fire- IA to Team transition!)

In addition to groundpounders being able to communicate on the ground, clear communication is necessary during IA to Team transition, especially when newcomers are from outside the area and have not been scrutinizing (sp?) the fire's behavior for days.

Look at the communication comments in the report starting on page 26. Systemic communication problems can be mitigated.

Let's get about it!!!!


3/22 Passing Of Porky Moreno

Hi Ab-

My Dad wanted me to put his tribute to Porky Moreno on They Said for him. He and Porky worked together for many years on the LP. Dad was the LP Hotshot Sup after Porky left the position. MC

"Vaya Con Dios Porky" - another hero gone on to a new place. Julie and the girls hang in there, we are thinking about you.

Dick Calkins LPHS Ret.

3/21 Dear Ab, ms & All:

In keeping with MS' post about a wildland firefighter series, I thought I'd provide the attached document from 1991 that addresses the need for a series. That was nearly two decades ago and we still haven't seen much progress on the issue. In fact, the FWFSA possesses similar documents about classification and portal to portal pay from as long ago as 1985!

Hopefully this will demonstrate to the younger folks coming up just how long this struggle has been going on and just how difficult it is to effect change.


1991 FS doc addressing Wildland Firefighter Series (8,753 K - 17 page- very large pdf file)

3/21 Passing of Howard "Porky" Moreno: U.S. Forest Service, Santa Barbara Ranger District

Santa Barbara News Press Obituary:

March 21, 2010 9:11 AM

Born September 25, 1920 in Santa Barbara, CA to Joseph and Edith Moreno. Died in Anderson, CA February 21, 2010.

After attending Santa Barbara High School, Porky joined the Army Air Corps (8th Air Force). Following his military duty, he joined the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) and began boxing, turning professional as a bantam weight boxer. Porky joined the U.S. Forest Service, Santa Barbara Ranger District in 1947. His duties included being a crew leader and then foreman of the Los Prietos Hot Shots, a respected fire fighting crew throughout the country. Porky retired from the Forest Service in 1978 and moved to Anderson, CA in 1998.

(more details)

A burial service has been planned for the Goleta Cemetery on May 15, 2010 at 1: 00 p.m.

Fair Use Disclaimer

3/21 The Forest Service has a response to OIG coming out in the next few weeks on firefighter job series and incentives for supporting emergency management activities. This is due out in the next few weeks. More soon on that letter. Here is a letter that has some relationship to that response.


Date: March 17, 2010
Subject: Interagency National Wildland Firefighter Workforce Assessment
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director and Deputy Chiefs

In 2004, the Forest Service (FS) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) developed a five-year plan to conduct efficiency and workforce assessments of key functions within the Federal wildland firefighting program. Under this plan, the Agencies completed efficiency assessments for the aviation, dispatch, and training functions. Recommendations are in various stages of implementation.

The area of study is an Interagency National Wildland Firefighter (NWFF) Workforce Assessment. This assessment, which began in August 2009, is examining federal fire positions in the FS as well as in the DOI bureaus. From this multiyear review, the assessment team will identify potential areas for increased consistency and program effectiveness, and recommend improvements to succession planning and career paths for firefighters.

It is important to note that the NWFF Workforce Assessment is not in response to the December 26, 2009, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) Audit of “Forest Service’s Firefighting Succession Planning Process.” The NWFF assessment began prior to the OIG audit findings, with the goal of developing findings and recommendations supporting both agencies as well as our state partners’ wildland fire programs.

There are two phases to the NWFF workforce assessment. The Phase I (FY09/10) assessment will analyze all wildland firefighter positions within the FS and the DOI wildland firefighting duties funded at least 51 percent of their base and will examine how these personnel are recruited, hired, trained, and retained. Phase II (FY10/12) assessment will similarly examine federal positions supporting wildland firefighting that spend less than 51 percent of their time on fire duties. The Phase II assessment will include our state partnership workforce.

Gilbert Zepeda, Deputy Regional Forester for the Southwest Region and Amy Lueders, Associate State Director for the Nevada Bureau of Land Management, are leading the NWFF Workforce Assessment team. The lead Subject Matter Expert (SME) is Dan Olsen, Director of Fire and Aviation Management for Region 8. Robert Kuhn, Washington Office, FAM Planning and Budget Specialist, and Elizabeth Walatka, Washington Office, Strategic Planning & Budget Accountability Management Analyst, are providing technical oversight and support to the team. Other SME members include a highly experienced cross section of individuals from the FS, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The FS invited the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) to designate a representative to participate in this assessment to ensure inclusion of NFFE’s valued perspective and membership’s vision. In response, the NFFE Forest Service Council designated Darlene Hall, Airtanker Base Manager on the Lassen National Forest, to represent NFFE on the team. The team is supported by a consultant, Management Analysis, Inc. (MAI), aligning with the Office of Management and Budget’s direction to use external non-biased experts when conducting program assessments and workforce reviews.

The team will post information on the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) webpage to keep the workforce informed as the assessment progresses. Please contact Robert Kuhn, WO-FAM Planning & Budget Specialist, at (208) 387-5877 or rkuhn@fs.fed.us, with any questions.

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

cc: Tom Harbour, Robert Kuhn, Mike Dudley, Gilbert Zepeda, Elizabeth L Walatka, Joe Migyanka, Ronald Ketter, Mike Kerrigan, Raymond S Thompson, Dan Olsen, Vickie Huelster, Darlene Hall, Merrie M Johnson, Jim Douglas, Kirk Rowdabaugh, Dan Smith, Lyle Carlile, Timothy Murphy, Erin Newman, Aitor Bidaburu, pdl wo spf fam regional fire directors, Erica Kim, Jaelith H Rivera, pdl wo spf fam ad's

3/21 Jobs

If it has not been posted yet please post. Cal Fire Captains Applications are open.

CAL FIRE Status Board

/S/ Torch

3/20 Fire Hire & R5's FS Chief meeting yesterday:

To SME and those in the Fire Hire process: There is a perception (in Washington) that there is an abundance of qualified applicants wanting to enter the federal system...they cite the high unemployment rate etc.

However I've also been informed that previously, even on the first day of Fire Hire, folks are instructed to reach down to level 3 candidates because of a lack of qualified candidates. We'd sure like to pass along the real scoop, especially when the Agency and some in Congress are suggesting the R5 retention bonus and the conversions to 26/0 have eliminated the retention problem for the most part.

While in DC I tried to explain that the slow down in losses from the federal sector really had nothing to do with the bonus but rather the issues Cal Fire is having with their hiring/interview processes and once those are resolved the "exodus" will continue. It is imperative that we be able to provide the facts from the field.

Also I was informed that during yesterday's meeting on the ANF with Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, he was questioned about HR 4488 and indicated he knew nothing about it. Given the fact that the FWFSA apprised him of the introduction of the bill several months ago via fax and mail and the fact that the FWFSA has provided copies of the bill to: The Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture of Natural Resources and Environment; FS FAM Director Tom Harbour; FS Legislative Affairs Director Doug Crandall; R5 Regional Forester Randy Moore and in an article from the Press Enterprise last week FS spokesman Joe Walsh indicated "officials in Washington are assessing the legislation and have yet to take a position," I'd like to be able to validate his response about the bill. It seems very implausible that he would be unaware of the bill.

If anyone has any further comments about the meeting yesterday please feel free to pass them along.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/20 Good Saturday Morning, All, on this first day of Spring.

Can fire season be far behind?


3/19 Re Fire Hire:

"The recommendation goes on to tell Moore that HR violations by SMEs and Recommending Officials during fire hire should result in the SME or Recommending Official getting sent home and face a 3-day suspension."

"Since R-5 Line Officers might be going on a witch hunt at the upcoming fire hire, I would like to warn all Fire employees going down to perform as a SME or Recommending Official to watch your back. Be very careful with what you say and do."

I don't know if this Forest Supervisor's recommendations will be implemented at the upcoming Fire Hire. It doesn't seem needed. SMEs and selecting officials sign a privacy agreement to not disclose anything from there. I live up to mine. What they need to remember is, SMEs are there VOLUNTARILY. If I go down there, I can leave anytime for my home unit. They can't make me stay. Most of us as SMEs give up travel/training $$ to go there instead of personal training. The RO does not give us a Job Code to pay for our Per Diem while there.

So, if things get strange down there when I go, I will just return to Home Unit, and let someone else deal with this from now on. I have been an SME almost from the start, and try to be there every Perm round. To HELP the Region find good folks looking for positions. To increase the hiring pool for Fire folks to choose from. Not to be harassed by Line that started this whole thing. I don't write or say anything down there that's not based directly on the application and reference calls. If that's what you do, you can't get into trouble as an SME.

So, SMEs, lets go there, do our jobs, and come back, to show these others we are doing a right thing, that is helpful. Just because a few folks have done something wrong over the many, many rounds and years of Fire Hire doesn't mean all SMEs or Selecting Officials are doing anything wrong....

-A SME going there to prove 'em wrong...

Thanks for your service on this front. Ab.

3/19 EPA / USFS restrict use of 2 stroke engines such as floto pumps or trash pumps


Maybe you or your followers may have some information, documentation and the EPA restricting USFS/DOI in CaCalifornia from using floto pumps or other 2 cycle pumps to provide a water supply to tenders or engines (maybe due to MTBEs ?).


3/19 Old reference guide

Who might have an electronic copy of the Wildfire Suppression Tactics Reference Guide NFES 1256 from April 1996. It is out of print these days but the information is still very good to use for training and teaching.

Battalion Chief Don Zimmerman

3/18 GS-8's: the rest of the story...

It's really not about the grade level, it's about approved secondary ff coverage. Here is the link to a FS database of approved ff pd's, which includes GS-8. The important issue, also identified in the article posted, is to ensure you are moving directly into an approved ff covered position description before you accept the job.

FS database of approved ff position descriptions (FS intranet link)

I found tremendous benefit in attending the ff/le retirement planning seminar provided by S. Harman and Associates. (Ab, snip if you don't accept plugs) It's your responsibility to keep informed and plan your route. You own the career decisions that affect your retirement benefits, nobody else. The agency will just process the paperwork and forward to OPM when the time comes to walk out the door.

Sign me,
Another R1-FMO
(reaching for the doorknob)
3/18 For all you GS - 8's out there

Don't know what this means exactly, but I would look into it if I were a GS 8.


Ask the Experts... Retirement, Fed Times, by Reg Jones

GS-08 retirement pay

Q. My question is regarding special category employees. I’ve heard that over 16,000 employees would be affected by this. If an employee is promoted to GS-08 before he reaches 20 years of service, he would not be entitled to special category retirement pay. Is this true? If it is, what can I do to retire as a special category employee?

A. To be eligible to retire as a firefighter under the enhanced benefit formula, you need to be employed for 20 years in a covered position. While you must start in a primary position, you may later transfer to a secondary position. If being promoted to a GS-08 position would result in your being in a noncovered position before you had accumulated 20 years of covered service, don’t accept the offer.  More at the link...

fair use disclaimer

3/18 Panther fire report appeared today on the Lessons Learned site

Panther Fire Accident Investigation Report  (1048 K pdf file)


Thanks, Ab.

3/18 To all of the wonderful people who knew Steve Uptegrove, my wonderful husband.

Thank you for the emails, words of support and encouragement.

This has been of great help to me, And my family. Upty was a great man with many friends. And is missed every day.

Please keep us in your prayers.

Hope Uptygrove

Hi Hope, we are so very sorry for the loss of Upte. We are keeping you and your family in our thoughts and prayers. Ab.

3/17 Newhall Ranger Station, 1939 from Gordon Rowley, ANF Prevention Officer, retired, to John Bennett who sent it here. Thanks, nice black and white photo. Interesting that the first commercial color films were available in 1932 (Agfacolor) and 1935 (Kodachrome). Black and white has a certain artistic elegance. Fire certainly benefits from color. Ab.
3/17 Some fine dozers and flames photos on the Equipment 17 photo page.

VNC Dozers on Zaca, Sheckell & La Brea: VNC Dozer 3 on Zaca Fire, Santa Barbara, 2007. VNC Dozer 2 on Sheckell Fire 2008. VNC Dozer 4 on LaBrea Fire, 2009. Photos compliments of Scott Price.

3/17 Re the Intermountain Region Rappel Program:

File Code: 5100/5700/5720
Date: March 15, 2010
Route To: (5100), (5700)
Subject: Intermountain Region Rappel Program for 2010
To: Forest Supervisors

The Intermountain Region has a long-standing and successful aviation program in support of our fire management mission, including rappel operations using 16 helicopters out of 12 bases throughout the region. The Forest Service Intermountain Region helitack crews will not perform rappel or cargo let down operations in 2010.

All Forest Service rope-assisted helicopter insertion/extraction operations for personnel have been told to “stand down” in a letter signed by the Chief of the Forest Service on February 1, 2010. The Chief will require completion of the seven recommendations from the Accident Review Board in response to the 2009 Willow Helibase rappel fatality prior to reinstating rappel operations nationally. The list includes standardization and improvement of rappel equipment, standard training and protocols and an exhaustive risk assessment to assure that operations can be preformed safely. All items have an expected completion date of May 1, 2010, after which the Deputy Chief for State and Private Forestry will determine if the rappel program should be operational in 2010. The Intermountain Region will enthusiastically continue to support the risk assessment and standardization efforts for rappel operations. In the interest of allowing adequate time for equipment development and testing and development of standards and training for safe rappel operations, the Forest Service Intermountain Region will not rappel in 2010.

Our focus will continue to be on safe and efficient fire management using helicopters for helitack, with plans to resume rappel operations following the new national standards in 2011.

In addition, the stand down of rappel operations will apply to all aviation activities within Region 4, including resources assigned to the Region from other agencies or partners. Any questions may be directed to Clair Mendenhall (801-625-5511), Regional Aviation Officer, or Sue Stewart (801-625-5513), Director for Fire, Aviation and Air.

Thanks for your continued attention to safe and professional fire management operations.

/s/ Harv Forsgren
Regional Forester

cc: Susan A Stewart
Clair M Mendenhall
Tom Harbour

letter: Intermountain Region Rappel Program for 2010 (57K doc file)

3/16 Pictures Needed for honoring fallen brothers:

Hello everyone,

I work on CIIMT#3. I would like to make a video presentation honoring our fallen brothers. I am requesting photos to make this video to present at the California Team meetings this month. I would like to honor wildland firefighters who have fallen within the past 5-7 years.

I have tried utilizing the Internet but I have struggled finding photos. I would like to make this a nice presentation. If you have any or have a resource that could provide photos including ceremony and tributes. The meetings start March 30, 2010. Please send to ciimt3@gmail.com.

Thank You

Butch Agosta

3/16 New postings of fire photos on Engines 26, Handcrews 27, Fire 44 and  Equipment 17 photo pages.

Thanks all! Ab.

3/16 Retention/Morale Continued

First off let me commend Casey Judd for his dedication and desire to make the working conditions of wildland firefighters better through Congressional Bill HR 4488. If it were not for his tireless efforts, we would not have retention pay in Region 5 of the Forest Service!

Before FWFSA and Casey acting as "office manager", we had no voice and were always told to be silent. I have seen over the course of my career and working on many different Forests, that it comes down to the age-old Professional Foresters vs Forest Technicians even though Timber is no longer King.

Throughout my career it has always been one more study! We study superficial issues over and over and over again. Then paste band-aids on the issues and problems, rather than addressing the systemic problems. This leads us right back to where we started. When another leadership change at the top comes along so does another study on MORALE. How many study's do we need!?

Change is coming if we stay the course! Educate and inform the whole CONGRESS. They are the only sure reliance for hearing us and acting on our issues. Do you want to know what we stand for? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define us and lead us to our desired outcome! Don't talk about what you have done or what you are going to do. Just do it! EDUCATE and INFORM WITH BOLDNESS!

I encourage all of you to write your Congressional Representatives, as now is the season of Change!

Thomas Jefferson

3/15 Wes Ruise's Service

I agree with Fyrbill's comments.... it was one of the most dignified services I have ever attended, well deserved for a very honorable man that none of us will ever forget. I was honored to drive the X-Vernon Open-Cab 1956 Ford-Crown Hose Wagon that carried Wes's Casket from the Small Catholic Church to the Cemetery on the LaJolla Reservation. I believe about (10) of Wes' Sons, Grandsons and Nephews all in local area fire services from Wes Jr., a CNF BC to Captain's at Pala and San Pasqual and even Young Reservation Fire Explorers also participated in the services.

I first met Wes when I was (18) years old at the Descanso Ranger Station (45) years ago. Wes and Ira Pearman, a CNF Dispatcher then, helped us get started Contracting with the Forest Service. I also would like to recognize CNF Chief, Carlton Joseph who arranged for the Strike Team of USFS Engines and Final Alarm Ceremony, Pala Chief Tony Ravago for Organizing the 25 Mile Procession from Escondido, the Traditional Native American-Fire Services Protocol and the Color-Honor Guards from various agencies participating. Also to BDF Chiefs Dan Gosnell and Greg Ross from the San Jacinto Ranger District for loaning us their restored 1968 D-400 Dodge (Model 50 with a Slide-On Pumper) that brought back a lot of memories to the older folks there, and a I believe a bit of "bewilderment" for the younger firefighters that couldn't imagine it really being used to fight fires up against the brand new units there from the USFS.

Mike McDonald
Western Heavy Equipment
Valley Center, CA

3/15 Ab:

A recent article on the wildland firefighter legislation

Fedwatcher II

Thanks Fedwatcher. Ab.

3/15 Morale/retention:


Thank you once again for a really honest and open forum. This website has dedicated itself to promote open discussions between the forester's leadership vs. the fire and aviation shop!

I would like to offer up this at this point. Change is coming... We should sit together at the table and realize that our mission is the same: Caring for the land and serving the people. Line officers remain dedicated to their old philosophies regarding fire! Those philosophies don't work anymore. They are simply failing to lead us as professional firefighters! So, they need to sit down and try to build the agency together from the bottom up! Or get spit out for towing the bureaucratic politically correct line!!!

Centralize fire!!
Paul Revere

3/14 Blast from the past from Shawn Burke on May 16, 2006:

Tony (Killer)
Tom Plymale 1st Tree
T-14 Air Attack
Smoky Landing 527 EH
San Marcos Station
Sikorsky S55T Heaps Peak Helitack
New LZ, Matias Fire, Killer
M Teague
Killer Circling, 1987
Dozer Line
Arroyo Grande Helishots (After a Long Night of Work)
Arroyo Grande Helishots, Yosemite, '87
527 EH
527 EH Matias Fire, 1987
527 EH Case Fire
527 EH Bob our Pilot
500 EH Arroyo Grande Helibase

Again, I did a lot of photoshop cleanup on these. Ab.

3/13 I posted several pics on the Engines 26 photo page. Thanks, contributors. Ab.
3/13 Decker Lessons:

I've been following a few posts today remembering the Decker Fire and the LODD of several brothers.

A section of I-215 dedicated in honor of firefighter who died of burns

I think it was around 1976 or so, that my father drove me up to a turnout off the Ortega Highway, overlooking Decker Canyon. We parked that old VW, got out and looked out over the hills. It was there, that my dad told me of the LODs, the year before I was born. I was 16 years old and thinking of making a career out of firefighting. I could sense the tone in his voice, as if to ask, "Son, is this really what you want to do? Sometimes there is no turning back". Dad had many years of experience in wildland firefighting, he'd seen the things that can happen when it all goes wrong. I knew at the time, several airtanker pilots who'd lost their lives and just a small bit about those on the ground. I looked at the hills, felt the hot breeze and my answer to the unasked question was still YES.

Here I am in 2010, almost 30 years of experience in firefighting (now retired) and these are my thoughts:

* Dad loved me enough to let me do what I felt I needed to do. Dad cared enough to impress on me, the dangers and possibilities of the profession. We both knew that at any given moment, we may loose one or the other.... or both at the same time. That never stopped us from doing what we were doing. We felt is was all for a higher purpose, other than ourselves.

* Dad is gone now, but his lessons have never failed me. He may not have thought at the time, that a young punk like me was absorbing any of it, but those lessons have served me well. There are several occasions I can remember where his words of wisdom and shared experiences have saved me and/or my crew. These are the things you don't learn out of a book or in any school room.

* Dad and I were at odds for a long time over various issues. In retrospect, Dad was right... experience was more valuable than what the book taught. The book was a nice intro, but fire has a mind of its own and you need to be prepared for whatever it throws at you.

* The knowledge I've accumulated over the years, I so wish I could pass on to the "new kids" starting their careers. Fire is fire, death is death.... there is an unmarked line where the two meet. Sometimes, all the training, skill and experience won't help you, no matter how long you've been a firefighter. It's unfortunate, but that is a fact of the profession. In a cosmic span of time, we are only here but for a blink of an eye. Make that time count for something.

* There is a special place in Heaven for firefighters. All the grassland and forest are green, the water runs clear, and the skies are the bluest.... beyond what anyone can imagine. However, the good Lord knows that firefighting is in our blood and we just can leave that behind. God has a mutual aid agreement with the world, anytime... anywhere, angels are sent to help those in a tough spot. If you've ever spent any length of time in a fire shelter, crawled out and looked up.... you just may see, but if for a brief moment, the shadows of those who have fallen before you. Your backup came from the heavenly task force. Say a prayer for them tonight and remember them tomorrow, because they are the reason you are still here!

Sincerely with eternal gratitude,


Thanks, TS. Words of wisdom. Ab.

3/13 Hi Ab,

A recent post about the Ojai HS caused me to dig into the memory vault ... feel free to pass this on to the CalifHS site.

The Ojai crew picture is from 1978.


Ojai Hotshot Crew History

I am not sure this is exactly correct but these were some of the key players at Ojai during their formation and early years. Doug Campbell being the FMO at the time was on the right track.

1974 Bob Burnett – Supt Foremen – Terry Raley / John Szalay
1975 Bob Burnett – Supt Foremen – Terry Raley / John Szalay
1976 Bob Burnett – Supt Foremen – Terry Raley / Craig Lechleiter
1977 Bob Burnett – Supt Foreman – Craig Lechleiter / Ish Messer
1978 Bob Burnett – Supt Foreman – Craig Lechleiter / Ish Messer
Lechleiter left and went to the Redding HotShots, Mike Freed filled in behind him.

The crew was disbanded in August of 1978 during the great HotShot crew massacre.

1979 No Crew
1980/81/82 Ish Messer – Supt Foreman – Bob Becker / John Bald
John Bald may have left after 1981
1982 Last year of crew

Hope that this is helpful

Other "historical" photos ...

Engine 405 - the Los Prietos RS engine, circa mid 1970's, Darwin Maple was the Captain
H26/Sikorsky S58 - San Marcos Helitack, 1976, Tony Casmero was the Sup, Willie Jewel was the Asst
H27/Bell212 - Arroyo Grande Helishots, 1978/79
H29/Bell212 - Rose Valley Flight Crew, 1979, night flying water drop
Rose Valley Helibase, circa 1978, the second 212 was the sister ship from Tanbark ANF, there for a night training exercise and rx burn
Cosy Dell Fire, Ojai RD 1978, Rose Valley and Arroyo Grande Helishots along with District and local personnel

Thanks, earthpig for the trip down memory lane. I worked a bit on adjusting some color, contrast and brightness parameters to restore the pics. Also removed the dust spots. I don't have time to get 'em into a photo table, but I will do that. We are planning a historical section in our website makeover. Ab.

3/13 Another fire research pioneer has passed away. Mark J. Schoreder who co-authored the black "Fire Weather" book now used in so many courses, and the more technical "Synoptic weather types associated with critical fire weather" died last week in Riverside.

A Mass of Christian Burial for Mark J. Schroeder, 94, of Riverside, who died Saturday, March 6, 2010, will be held Friday at 2pm at St. Catherine of Alexandria, 92506 Brockton Ave. Visitation at church prior to Mass starting at 1:30pm. Mr. Schroeder was born June 16, 1915 in Edgar, WI, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Schroeder. On July 17, 1941 in Milwaukee, he married Eva Zimmerman, who survives him. Also survived by nephews and nieces and dear friends. Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet in meteorology and later served as a weather reconnaissance officer in the European and American Theaters. He retired as Lt. Col. U.S. Air Force. After World War II Schroeder returned and served with the Weather Bureau and he was concurrently Project Leader of the Fire Meteorology Project of the U.S. Forest Service and Meteorologist in-charge of the Fire Weather Research Office of the National Weather Service. While in the Federal Service, Schroeder held appointments as Research associate with the University of Chicago and the University of Riverside, CA. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Eva Schroeder for her fulfillment of Mark\'s wishes or directly to The American Heart Association. Acheson & Graham Mortuary (951) 688-1221 (Riverside CA)

Rest in Peace and thanks for the great book.


3/13 The following was posted in our wlf forum back in December after was sent out by R-5.

Soon R-5 will be announcing a new FAM Director. Once the position is accepted, I would like to see Moore, Pena and the new FAM Director convene a large one day meeting to offer some leaders intent from the new FAM Director and schedule a fair amount of time for questions and answers. The audience should be no less than 100 fire employees from Senior Firefighters to Forest Fire Chiefs with as any Module Leaders as possible. This is NOT a proposal to get a bunch of Chiefs together. We need Rank and File in attendance with a theme that displays a commitment to the organization by asking all to have ownership and commitment as we move forward. The meeting should be at McClellan in early to mid-May.

This is not a meeting just for us. We are not the dysfunction ones or those that have created the dysfunction. It's a meeting that meets the intent of what R-5 outlined in the white paper below. It's a meeting to help the region push the reset button and get started off right with a new beginning for all including our new Fire Director.


Subject: Region 5 Morale Progress

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


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

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

Key Points:

Good communication throughout the Region and Agency is foundational to strengthening employee morale. The Region is currently assessing the following specific actions to further improve communication flow and morale:

  • Initiate opportunities and forums to connect the Regional Forester Team with employees for constructive and healthy dialogue. These forums may include the RF Team participating in regular “coffee” gatherings with several employees who normally do not have the opportunity to interact with the RF Team, periodically joining staff meetings, and greeting employees in areas not typically visited.
  • Identify employees who are willing to serve as “morale liaisons” to facilitate communication and solve issues at different levels of the organization.
  • The Regional Forester will communicate to employees the steps that will be taken to address morale in the Region, including information sharing on the Chief’s sensing efforts. Encourage forests to adopt similar measures that the Regional Office will be using.
  • Conduct simple surveys in the Regional Office to detect and monitor common themes pertaining to morale that may emerge that the Regional Forester Team can proactively address.
3/13 John Guthrie died in 1959 on the Decker Fire, here's his memorial:

A section of I-215 dedicated in honor of firefighter who died of burns

09:34 PM PST on Friday, March 12, 2010
By Gene Ghiotto
The Press-Enterprise

As friends and family looked on, a section of Interstate 215 was dedicated to the memory of a California Department of Forestry firefighter who died of injuries he suffered while battling a fire more than 50 years ago.

"One night, August 8, 1959, this firefighter stood the test," Fire Chief John Hawkins said at the ceremony at the Riverside County Fire Department headquarters in Perris. "John Guthrie did not make it."

(photo and the rest of the story at the link... )

I'll add the additional info on the incident to the Always Remember! forum we're building. Ab.

3/13 Last day to VOTE for WFF race car!!!!!!!!!!!

We're up to 13,267 votes...

WFF Race Car

3/12 Ceremony & tradition...

I attended the services for Wes Ruise this last Saturday and couldn’t help but relate my observations. What I saw was an outpouring of respect, in the midst of ceremony & tradition. It was simply a beautiful time spent honoring a man who served his community as a member of the fire service. From the catholic mass, to the fire service ceremony, to the Native American traditions. All three had their own images, music and song; it blended together in harmony. My thoughts were, “this is the way it should be.” If any of these traditions or ceremonies would have been left out, then the honoring of this man would not have been complete and those in attendance would have missed the full story of this man's life. Each movement, voice, and element told me something about his value and what he meant to those in attendance. The family and community loved and missed him. As a firefighter, it told me this person had served with honor. You did not need to know him intimately to understand these things.

Another friend of mine past away several months ago. He also served his community for a number of years with honor. Due to the wishes of the family there was no ceremony. Oh, we got together at a local pub, the pipes were played, and we toasted him, and convinced our selves this is the way he wanted to be remembered. Perhaps this is true. But it didn’t sit right with me. I felt we didn’t do the community or fire service right, let alone his memory.

My point in telling this story is this. The community has ownership in honoring those who have protected them at the end of their lives. If they aren’t given that opportunity, they lose some of their humanity. They need to see the honor we bestow, the respect we represent, and dignity we give in our ceremony and traditions. A funeral service is that last chance for them to be reminded of these things and the individual from their community who served them. As well, the fire service has a duty and responsibility in honoring those who have served in their ranks. If we don’t, we will become hardened to the fact that our life long sacrifice was a privilege, not a job. This wasn’t an 8 to 5’er. It was everything. We lived and breathed firefighting our entire careers because it was what we wanted to-do, not what we had to-do. The message is this; our traditions and ceremonies speak to those values and sacrifices and should not be overlooked, dismissed, or forgotten. Especially at the end.


Very well put. Ab.

3/12 Passing of Ray Balli:

Ray Balli, retired Fire Equipment Coordinator for General Services Administration, died this morning after a long illness.

I know many of the line firefighters will not recognize the name, but Ray was instrumental for 15 years in making sure that Federal Wildland Firefighters had the equipment they needed. He was well liked and will be missed.


Condolences, Dennis. Please offer his family our best wishes. Ab.

3/12 Lessons Learned:

Tech Tips
Deploying Your Fire Shelter in a Body of Water
by John Smith


* During July 2007, nine firefighters deployed fire shelters in a small pond during the Seven Oak Fire in California.
* Deploying a fire shelter in a body of water can expose firefighters to additional safety hazards.
* This tech tip discusses some of the hazards of deploying a fire shelter in water and some of the precautions firefighters should take if they are considering doing so.

Hotlist thread on this incident from July 7, 2007: Hotlist Thread t=772

3/12 To All:

It certainly wasn't my intent to create a firestorm of an issue regarding my post about not be able to speak at the ANF. There might have been some miscommunication but also a lack of clear understanding of what the FWFSA is and what we do.

The FWFSA is an employee association, NOT a union. There are clear, distinct differences between the two.
For most federal wildland firefighters employed by the federal land management agencies, those up to grade GS-8 in most areas of the country are considered to be a part of the "bargaining unit." That is the group of employees who are represented contractually by a federal labor union...in the vast majority of cases for federal wildland firefighters, this is the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE). Those in higher grades are not in the "bargaining unit."

At the National level, NFFE can enter into negotiated contracts with the land management agencies on a variety of topics identified in Title 5 of the United States Code. The Union is considered the "exclusive representative" for employees represented in their bargaining unit. As such, it is a violation of law for any other union or organization to engage in labor relation/contract issues for an employee represented by a different union.

Additionally, there can be "local" agreements between the Union on a Forest and the Management of the Forest to address local issues. The local union leadership deals with day to day labor-management issues such as grievances. Both the Union and the Employer have Rights & Responsibilities under Title 5. There are some things each can do and things they cannot do.

Being an employee association, the FWFSA is not bound by the requirements of Title 5. At the same time there are things we will not do which are under the purview of the Union. For example if one of our members needs representation for a grievance and comes to us for help, we will refer him to the local union leadership.

That being said, since many of us have labor-management experience, there have been occasions where we have shared information with the Union and/or worked with them on an issue at their request.

There are restrictions on Union activities during "work time." It is not appropriate for the Union to have membership meetings while "on the clock" and undertake activities to recruit additional members. The FWFSA is not bound by such restrictions but we generally recognize that Management has the right to assign work during the duty day and so we are cautious about "membership recruitment" during the work day. Union leaders do have the right to use time during the duty day to work on Union Business but more often than not they must use "official time" to do so. Often that amount of time, in hours in a given year, are included in local labor agreements.

Passing along pertinent information about issues facing firefighters, whether they are in the bargaining unit or not, has, for the most part, been accepted by many areas of the country as a topic that can be discussed during the course of business of a "Fire & Aviation Management" meeting.

While I appreciate "Still out there's" comments, the discussion of political issues that affect employees during such a meeting is not the same as when I visited the USDA yesterday. I am perfectly aware that in an official meeting, Agency leaders cannot offer an opinion on specific legislation unless the Administration has sought their opinion and it is a matter of public record. That has not happened yet so I didn't even ask the question.

However the setting for the ANF FAM meeting, in my opinion and experience, would not conflict with any "meeting" requirements of employees under Title 5 because we are not conducting Union Business. I am keenly aware however, of underlying resentment towards the FWFSA by some Forest Service Line Officers and I would suspect the issues at play in this particular instance are a little deeper than simply whether we could talk about issues during the duty day.

Sooo, once I decompress from my trip I'll put out as much information as I can on what went on.


3/12 Retention/morale

Casey's devotion has our line officers steamed! Their mission is to not acknowledge the core issues regarding the past 20 years during which it has taken alot of solid people in fire and aviation in the agency to be persistent and professional. We are finally at a table because the FWFSA has done its homework and has a very big ear in Washington D.C.!

Change is coming it has been slow and very difficult! But the naive strategies of line officers are showing their true colors! They are trying to deflect and insist that we don't support a true wildland firefighter series and that we don't want professionalism either! We only do our jobs for the sunsets!

Casey educated them to the facts and continues fighting for us. Hr 4488 is in the face of the line officers and they oppose it! So we need to speak up and write with one voice! Change is coming!!!

Paul Revere!

3/12 Legal perspective?

It's All About Me

Can't believe the FS Supervisor on the Klamath came up with this on their own - has to be the latest R5 Leadership tone - what happens to our employees if it's now "all about me". Check this out. BL

and from another poster:
Hasn't the Klamath had enough? Seems like resiliency for the employees and the forest would be first and foremost - not "what's all about me"... "me" being the forest supervisor. CM

To: r5_klamath@FSNOTES
Subject: Reminder on attorneys, etc.

Good afternoon. There have been a couple of situations lately when Klamath employees have been contacted by an attorney representing an outside party and asked for statements, information, etc. about something that happened at work. In one case, the attorney identified themselves as being a "government" attorney, which is a little fishy because the government attorneys I work with don't know anything about it.

A reminder for us all - if you are contacted by an attorney looking for information, a meeting, etc., regarding something you did, saw, heard about, etc. at work, please (1) do not speak or provide any information to the attorney and (2) notify your local Ranger or SO Staff Officer immediately. Please do this even if the attorney says they are a "government" attorney. Your Ranger or Staff Officer will work through Kelly or I to have our attorneys decide who can talk to whom.

The only time we, as federal employees, can speak with an attorney representing someone/something in regards to a work related incident is when our Forest Service attorneys say so. Our attorneys get really grumpy if we do otherwise, and it's never wise to have the attorney who will potentially be representing you be grumpy with you. Okay, I'll be more truthful about that - I don't want our attorneys to be grumpy about anything having to do with the Klamath because I want them to happy to represent me. Yes, it's all about me.

Any questions, ask your local Ranger or SO Staff Officer or Kelly or I. Thanks and have a great weekend.

Forest Supervisor
Klamath National Forest

3/11 I know Forest Supervisor Pam Brown started out as a "Taper" AFEO on the Los Padres NF. I am proud that a Fire Mgmt employee goes into "Line".

Thank you .......... I hope you remember the job you performed. Remember the people you worked with, their skills and leadership. The sensing group has folks with fire backgrounds, There are some "YEARS" in those careers!


Thanks for the perspective. Ab.

3/11 In regards to the FS sensing Group:

After looking at the list, I kinda think you folks on the ground are SCREWED! Did not see any reps from the union either.

Don't know Billy Phillips, but hope he is from the old smokejumper mold and can have some impact in this group.

Enjoying retirement more each and everyday!!


3/11 The Angeles, Chiefs Sensing Group and having each other's backs:

Thanks for the update on the "progressive" Forest leadership coming out of the Angeles.

In response to that, I'd like to invite Casey to speak at our upcoming annual Forest-wide Fire meeting. I'll be in touch with Casey about the details. We have some meticulous note-takers and will share important fire information discussed at this meeting with anyone interested, and in particular, with our brothers and sisters in Fire Management on the Angeles. I encourage fellow fire managers throughout the U.S. to extend the same invitation and make appropriate arrangements (maybe Casey doesn't want us filling up his travel itinerary -- sorry Casey) . Just finished some work on the M581 course that dealt with "leadership" and also recently sent two employees to a Regional Leadership course. It's amazing the disparity between what the agency presents as admirable leadership traits in its training courses and the agency's tolerance for the garbage that passes for leadership in its daily operations.

And yes, JMM, the roster of the Chief's sensing group speaks volumes. 206th headed to 216th faster than greased lightning... But there is something we can all do, and that's to have each others' backs. A Forest Sup in CA wants to muzzle an important voice in the fire world? Then the rest of us need to step up to the plate and turn up the volume -- and -- turn the tables on this unfortunate situation. Yeah Jodi, count the fingers, you're number 1.

Keep up the good work Casey and All.


3/11 I added photos to the Logos 18 photo page and the Handcrews 27 photo page. Thanks. Ab.
3/11 This is the Chief of the FS sensing group, allot of heavy hitters.

Doesn't look very diverse. Not even a Wage Grade on the list. One ground pounder from fire.

No wonder things don't change for the workers.

Chiefs Sensing Group


3/11 Casey & the folks on the Angeles:

I find it very interesting, albeit not at all surprising, that Jody Noiron would nix your meeting invite. What did you expect? A fair and supportive environment where everyone can feel free to contribute to making a more productive, more safe and often less wasteful work environment? From her? Are you serious?

This is in stride with other decisions made by her. It's not a secret (certainly not a well kept one by many Angeles employees) and it won't change until other obvious changes are made.

Hopefully there will be a way for you as a forest to meet with everyone regardless of the morale busting behavior of the forest supervisor. And I think it's appalling that you might have to sneak around and figure out an alternative that might pass muster, how degrading.

Anyone who is truly supportive of their staff, as well as its morale and safety, will support open discussion at all levels. One of the clear lessons we know (and hopefully have learned) from history is that this sort of short-term thinking creates rifts between management and those people (yes, we are people/humans and we should be treated with some degree of respect Ms. Noiron) that actually do the physical labor. To treat employees in such a manner by not allowing them to speak and listen freely invites even more of a lack of respect towards management and ultimately it tells us that someone has no clue as to what real needs are on a forest.

Good going in the morale busting race for this season Ms. Noiron! (You're probably in the lead)

Just a plain old firefighter
3/11 Surely Mr. Judd you understand that executive branch employees have exactly two answers to any political question involving their agency:

> The administration has not taken a position on this or
> This is the administration's position ...

You've made yourself and your association a political entity and that is likely why your speaking to federal employees on company time has been nixed. FWFSA does amazing things for firefighters and their families when someone has been hurt fighting fires, and you should be commended for that. Likely, if that's all you were known for, no one would have trouble with a speech or two.

But when you testify before Congress about matters regarding the Forest Service, that's political. Go back a number of decades, and you'll see federal employees coerced into supporting political candidates and issues. Literally, they had to pay up to keep their jobs. Between federal law and the agency's longstanding position against politically-appointed employees, politics have been kept out of the workplace in an official manner. That is a huge protection that should not be snubbed.

(Hey employees will express their views over a cup of coffee during a break, but that's different than publishing that opinion or going to congress.)

Still Out There as an AD
3/10 More Morale busting from Line Officers

While here in DC working on behalf of our Nation's wildland firefighters I was disappointed to learn that an invitation from firefighters on the Angeles National Forest for me to speak at their Fire & Aviation Management meeting later this month in La Canada, has been nixed by Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron.

My intent in accepting this invitation was to keep folks apprised of what's going on in Washington. It was not my intent to "bash" management so I am a bit dumbfounded as to why the FWFSA continues to intimidate Ms. Noiron.

Given the fact that the Forest Service Chief has commissioned yet another morale study along with the fact that I will be meeting with the USDA's Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment, Mr. Jay Jensen tomorrow I will be certain to inform him of this decision by the ANF Forest Supervisor as indicative of the morale-busting intimidation often felt by firefighters on many California National Forests.

Rest assured that I will keep everyone abreast of the activities here in DC this week and the response to many issues facing our firefighters by the Deputy Undersecretary. For those of you employed by a DOI agency, I had the pleasure of meeting today with Kim Thorsen and Kirk Rowdabaugh from the DOI's Office of Wildland Fire Coordination to bring them up to speed on the issues and our efforts to reform some of the existing archaic pay & personnel policies encumbering their firefighters.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/10 Region 5 BOD meeting notes Feb 2-4, 2010

R5 Board of Directors 2/02/2010

3/10 Hey ms,

I hear you on that letter. Surprising that the LP forest supe committed that to paper. Wow!

For those that don't remember, that's the same supervisor that told the Type 1 Team not to contain the La Brea Fire last season but to let it run to private land and threaten city watersheds. Was that to make the Rx targets or to balance the LP budget or to avoid NEPA or gloss over smoke issues ??? Or was it a lack of KSAs for fire? Was it Micromanaging without the fire knowledge for good decision making? Then the forest supe told the team it did not matter that her decision was wrong, it was a Supe's decision and the Supe was in charge, so there. I think the Supervisor gave the team a bad performance rating for containing the fire before the Supe wanted them to.

Go CWCG! for reversing that and Pena came through too... If that fire had been allowed to run we'd of had it burning LARGE at the same time we had the Station Fire. Now wouldn't that have been a fine load of spoiled mystery meat.


CWCG=California Wildfire Coordination Group; KSAs=Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

3/10 Remembering Charles Edgar, John Greeno and Victor Gonzalez on this day. I fondly remember my friend Charles Edgar and the many good laughs that we shared on the Sabine NF. Pray for the families who lost their dear ones on this day 5-years ago, and for peace and traveling grace for Lori Greeno. The attached link reminds us of a little of how they served the Nation and of the impact they had on our lives... They live in our hearts and we are thankful for the memories.


Greg Cohrs

3/10 Hey Johnny

Call me on the 1140 line! Think about you all the time....and Lori's cookies.


3/10 John Greeno,

You are missed by many...

Rest In Peace...

-Chester Helitack
3/10 Complacency - The standard of idiots World Wide.

"Aw, you set yer stuff on fire, well, Mama Bear always said, 'Stupid is as stupid does"
*Smokey Gump, Forrest's pet bear.

Remember, "I'll do it tomorrow" will not save you today!

Be FIRE SAFE, the burn center is overcrowded as it is.

Your "Things to Do" list will not call 9-1-1 tomorrow.

Just a few we used around the County when I was a volunteer way back when. Donate to whatever District is trying for this.

3/10 In the busy world that we think is so important, I ask you that we all just stop (really stop) and remember that each day that we have together is a blessing & the people that we share each day with, good & bad, are what make this the best job in the world.

5 years ago today, we lost John Greeno. Please stop & remember him and those just like him.

We miss you Johnny Helco

- A Greeno Fan Club Member
3/10 Making the rounds in R5 from a Forest Fleet Manager

SAFETY ALERT - Employee trapped in the back of a SUV -cargo doors

Yesterday, when I was coming back from my walk, a car alarm was going off in the front parking lot of the S.O. I noticed an employee in the back of a Forest Service Chevy Tahoe pounding on the back windows to get my attention. I opened the back doors and let them out. They were driving a vehicle they don't normally drive (2003 Chevy Tahoe) and had crawled in the back to re-arrange items that were moving around during operation. While they were re-arranging, the door swung shut, trapping them inside. These were cargo type rear doors, two hinged swing out doors that meet in the middle. We looked and could not find any handles or emergency releases that would open the back doors from the inside. And of course it was an SUV, so it had a permanent metal cargo barrier, leaving them no way to get out on their own.

At this time, we are working on a "fix" for this situation with SUV's that have these kind of rear doors. In the meantime, STAY OUT OF THE BACK OF THE SUV with these types of doors. By that I mean don't crawl completely into the back of the SUV, to avoid this potentially dangerous situation. If you need something out of the back of the SUV, make sure both doors are open and do not crawl completely in the back of the SUV. (snipped forest communication info)

3/10 Unfair Hiring Practices:

Still an AD is correct and 205 hit the nail on the head. Much pressure is getting placed on Forest Sups and District Rangers. However these lower level Line Officers are not innocent bystanders. Nope, they’re willing participates and accomplices. Remember if anyone feels they have been discriminated against you do have path to seek a resolution.

FS - Treating Everyone Fairly Poster (9,700 K pdf huge)

This pressure is not limited to temporary hiring. Recently, one Forest Supervisor and Dep Forest Supervisor have made a written recommendation to Randy Moore that during permanent hiring (GS 6-9 and Apprentices) that only Line Officers should be Recommending Officials. Usually this is completed by fire GS-11’s and up to the Fire Chief. Additionally this duo made a recommendation that during Subject Matter Expert (SME) week that all fire SMEs work in groups with HR and Line Officers representatives integrated within the groups. Usually this is performed by our Captains, Superintendents, Dispatch Managers and Battalion Chiefs. The recommendation goes on to tell Moore that HR violations by SME’s and Recommending Officials during fire hire should result in the SME or Recommending Official getting sent home and face a 3-day suspension.

These recommendations to Moore detailed examples of perceived violations during past fire hire events. Talk about opening mouth and inserting foot. Two Line Officers have now just gone on record saying that discriminatory hiring practices are occurring at fire hire events. Additionally these clowns just took a swing at fire management leaders throughout the region. I am anxiously awaiting Moore’s response to these accusations. Remember you have the power to FOIA official federal documents and correspondence.

Since R-5 Line Officers might be going on a witch hunt at the upcoming fire hire, I would like to warn all Fire employees going down to perform as a SME or Recommending Official to watch your back. Be very careful with what you say and do. Report back to this forum if you or any other firefighters in support of fire hire are getting treated unfairly. If R-5 Line Officers want to play hardball, we know of a couple local US Senators that have Secretary Vilsack’s phone number on speed dial. Let’s play hardball.

Line has shown some true colors lately by coming after Fire Leaders because someone decided to take off a seat belt. If they now want to blame Firefighters for a centralized fire hire process they designed and approved, then bring it on.

We as a fire community need to continue to:

  • back each other up regardless of our gender, race, age or the type of firefighting module or Forest we work on.
  • We must continue to support each other, look out for each other, and help each other.

Every year Line Officers create more oversight, more distractions and complexities to the preparedness and suppression mission. They hole up NIMO all winter long to work on drafting more Line Officer large fire bureaucracy. Every year something new comes out to implement. The new biz words are “shared risk and responsibility”. White paper after white paper, new rules and more new rules. A never ending flow of new rules and regulations to confuse and distract the Commander in the field and in the office. Let’s go back to basics.

The Architects of this madness will fail. The Architects of this traditional fire organization have created a system of punishment vs. cooperation understanding and learning. Rules and regulations vs. common sense. They compound the effects of this failure with continued burdens on Captains and Chief Officers by centralizing every support function and calling it; “excellence in self-service”. They have centralized almost everything, except for us. The Architects of this madness have failed.

April 1, 2008 - The day they lied from coast to coast! And then about 90 days later admitted that information provided during congressional testimony and the R-5 video conference on this day was "factually incorrect".



3/10 The regional office is soliciting "safety mottos/core values" in which they are offering a district massage chair as a reward for the winning slogan. That's right...a massage chair. Apparently if we can come up with a meaningless safety phrase it will give us time to take turns sitting in a massage chair.

Here's my entry:
"Smokey says 'Be Safe....if you get hurt it's obviously your fault"
or how about "Safety First!!! There, we did our part."


HAW HAW, but really... How about we come up with a meaningful safety phrase? Many criticized the phrase that the old FS Chief used. Maybe we can do better. Any suggestions? Ab.

3/9 Unfair Hiring Practices:

MTB: Join the club, (as others have said) sums it up pretty well. On another note, this was something that was brought up at several meetings related to Forest Service low morale issues. However, I wouldn't hold my breath for any change in this lifetime.

I am betting that we could have a pretty good contest on They Said with many excellent entries on the topic of examples of extremely unfair hiring practices. I can think of three situations in the past five years where the focus of the hiring ignored the concept of hiring the best person for the job, even when safety was an issue.

Now what does THAT do for your morale??

Signed: Hands STILL tied and STILL no one listening (after 15 years)

3/9 Unfair Hiring Practices:

The Master Agreement's definition of a supervisor is as follows:

Supervisor: "An individual employed by an agency having authority in the interest of the agency to hire, direct, assign, promote, reward, transfer, furlough, layoff, recall, suspend, discipline, or remove employees; to adjust their grievances; or to effectively recommend such action. The exercise of the authority is not merely routine or clerical in nature but requires the consistent exercise of independent judgment. For units that include firefighters or nurses, the term “supervisor” includes only those individuals who devote a preponderance of their employment time to exercising such authority".

Since the inception of firehire, Captains no longer have a say in who gets hired on their fire engine. Also, if the staff officers and above are making the decision on temps, what say does the Captain have on hiring temps? Furthermore, I'd like to find out how many Captains actually do the things that supervisors are supposed to do! If they don't spend a preponderance of time "supervising", should they be exempt or nonexempt employees? Should they be in the Bargaining Unit?

For MB7, I feel your pain. I too was a victim of this a few years back. Unfortunately, I don't think there is alot you can do, seeing as the person hired did meet the minimum quals. I think there is a fine line between unfair and illegal, and although this feels like a punch in the gut, it doesn't seem to me that it qualifies as a grievance or Unfair labor practice.

Quick Connect

3/9 Use of Stickers & Inspection of Hardhats

Further Information Regarding Stickers and Hardhats making the rounds with this message from Larry Sutton, Fire Operations Risk Management Officer U.S. Forest Service - NIFC

This is good info -- hopefully should alleviate any concerns out there associated with stickers on hard hats.

Safety: Hardhat Stickers (pdf)

highlighted portion:

If any surface cracks, however small, should appear on the shell surface, either in the vicinity of the stickers or elsewhere, the helmet should be removed from service and replaced immediately.

3/9 Unfair Hiring Practices:


Welcome to the club... My advice.. which is an opinion of which everyone has one! If you feel you were the victim of unfair hiring or labor practice... certainly file a suit / grievance! That is called utilizing the system. A system that was put in place to protect all workers.

Key thing here to remember though is that even if you "win", one of the settlement items will most likely be a statement that prohibits you from disclosing publicly either the amount of any monetary award or any other settlement items such as a different job offer in lieu of the one you applied for, etc..

So your attempts to "make it better for everyone else" will be swept under the carpet so the agency does not look bad and can continue to do what it does.

As I said, welcome to the club!


3/9 I was a recent victim of unfair hiring practices. This didnt happen in R5.

The forest supervisor got involved and said I wasnt a good choice. I rated out as number one by all people in a panel.

I was extremely overly qualified. The individual hired was diverse and did meet the qualifications.

This is the third time in the past few months this has happened - the forest supervisor gets involved and selects an individual based upon sex or race, rather than who the panel recommended, or the most qualified, etc.

Off the record, Im now being encouraged to file a grievance or lawsuit. Everyone from the district rangers to fire staff are fed up and waiting for a bomb to go off. I dont want to be the sacrificial lamb and ruin my so called career. However, maybe it would make things better for everyone else?

I am planning on doing nothing.

Anybody got recommendations, tips, lawyers or smart ass remarks?


3/9 Ab,

Forester/Pilot/Aircraft Mechanic sent a post about 2 articles in Rotor and Wing magazine. Here is a link to their online site  Scroll down to see current articles. I don't know which articles specifically the original post was referring to, perhaps they could give the titles instead of just the page numbers.

There was a reference in the same post to an OIG report from last summer, I believe it was posted on Theysaid on 3/4/10. The link to it is here:

Audit Report: Forest Service's Replacement Plan for Firefighting Aerial Resources  (1690 K pdf file)


Thanks for those. I posted the OIG Aviation Report on out site HERE in case the other link disappears. Ab.

3/9 Weed Firefighter Becky Quigley article:

Sorry but the 3rd line of the article on 3/8 should read that Becky Quigley was on USFS Salmon River Hotshots and not CDF. Thank you!

Conejo (USFS Ret.)

Thanks for bringing that to our attention. I need to read the media more carefully and critically. Ab.

3/8 Captain 64,

Good to see someone taking it in stride and moving forward to make the best of it all. No doubt Tom would have wanted it that way. Leading from the front and making positive change in tough times is what a real leader is all about.

Keep up the good work infecting us all with a positive spirit!

Air Ops Dude
3/8 Tom Marovich:

In the midst of hiring politics, aglearn, and all the other STUFF I too think about Tom. It's when I think about Tom that I feel good about where I am in my career. We're entering a time of great change. Tom's accident and the people I've come in contact with because of it have changed my life in so many ways. I've changed the way I think, the way I lead, and the way that I teach because of these experiences. It's a positive change, it really is. And Tom is along for the ride.

The lessons of Tom's accident are not just for rappellers. I'm not a rappeller either but these lessons apply in many different ways to everything we ALL do from driving to entrapment avoidance to vehicle fire attack. Ever wonder why they put those rumble strips on the side of the road? Ever wonder why the seat belts in the back of your engine are red? Have you seen the moon walking bear? Look into it and you'll see how the science of how we "SEE" can change our way of doing things. Minds greater than mine have laid the foundation but it's up to us in the field to implement these ideas. It's an exciting time.

So when I think about Tom I'm looking forward. I'm looking forward to teaching refreshing refreshers. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends. I'm looking forward to leading new leaders. I'm looking forward to seeing Tom's legacy take shape. Keep thinking about him, and of our other absent friends, and when you do... look forward.

Captain 64

3/8 rappel:


There was a post/study concerning human blindness/perception. I tried to find it in the archives and could'nt.

Any suggestions on where to look..?

Thanks, NZ Supe (ret)

All the links for that accident and Lessons Learned are here on the Hotlist. Here's the Human Factors Analysis that describes the human blindness/perception. Ab.

3/8 This is the gal that was on the USFS hotshot crew. JHMK

Weed Firefighter Honored as Woman of the Year

A 23-year-old Weed wildland firefighter who was crushed accidentally by a water truck last fall was honored today by California lawmakers as the north state’s 2nd Assembly district woman of the year.

Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, awarded Becky Quigley the honor, saying her “fortitude and personal resolve” were inspiring.

Quigley , a Weed High School graduate, was a member of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Salmon River Hot Shot Crew this fall. (Should be US Forest Service Salmon River HS; the article is incorrect. Ab.)

On Sept. 21, after an exhaustive day fighting fires, Quigley returned to the camp’s sleeping area where she set her sleeping bag to rest.

A water truck, attempting to turn around after emptying the gray water from the shower units, ran over the sleeping firefighter.

The driver, having felt something, stepped out of his truck, but didn’t see her.

He then backed up only to run over her one more time.

Quigley suffered five cracked vertebrae, ten broken ribs, a shattered shoulder, and collapsed lungs.

“Following her accident Becky, like a phoenix, rose from the ashes,” Nielsen said in a statement. “Even today she continues the fight to recover from her injuries.”

Quigley, who comes from a long line of firefighters, was joined by her father, grandmother, and brother at the Capitol.

Quigley’s father Darin is a CalFire battalion chief and her grandfather Gerald was also a battalion chief who received Medal of Valor in 1970 for his service, Nielsen said.

Fair use disclaimer

Thanks for that info J. Ab.

3/8 Just posted a pic of a dozer and dozer operator Tom L on the Telegraph Fire with BIG flames. Very cool photo. Thanks Tom. It's on the Equipment 17 photo page. Ab.
3/8 Ab, please post. This was sent via lotus notes from Robin Irvine (R5 Fire Hire). Thanks.

HR became aware last week that the Prevention GS-462-6/7 new announcement was missing several R5 duty locations (44 to be exact). We have added these duty locations to the announcement and due to the date these were added, applicants for this announcement only will have until Tuesday, March 30, 2010 to apply if they want to be considered during the April selection week. The OCR number is OCRP-PREV-462-5/6/7.

All other referral lists will be generated starting tomorrow as originally planned. Please notify those on your unit who wish to apply of these changes.

If you have any questions, please let me know. THANKS

3/8 To those who are interested:

March 2010 Rotor and Wing Magazine March 2010

Articles on pages 56 and 62 OUGHT to be of interest to the natural resources aviation pros

We in the aviation industry have known THESE items for awhile in both civilian, LA County FD, and the military on the use of NVG's.

The other article really surprises me especially what we have been taught in the aviation world when one goes down...STAY with the aircraft..sounds like a training issue

Folks may say this is informed reporting......R&W is a pretty well respected publication....as respected as the 5700 and 9400 series policy manuals in some or most respects....

Did the USFS have an AAR on this??

Food for thought on both issues......

Forester / Pilot / Aircraft

I asked about a link to this article and there is none. Those of you that get the publication could dialog with this poster on the staying with the plane and the NVG issues. Not being able to read the article makes it hard for most of us to participate. I got this reply to my questions about a link, more explanation on the NVGs and staying with your plane: Ab.

Access Intelligence, LLC is the "owner" of the magazine..... sorry I do not have a link... I get this in the mail 1X a month cuz of my affiliation with the field

Maybe some one at the USFS and others in the NR Aviation field already should have access and could help ... sorry

I, personally, have not seen an AAR on the staying with the aircraft.... but it is standard training practice unless civilization is close...no mileage defined... best practice to stay with acft

Thanks for the good follow-up. Also, if anyone has OIG's Aviation Report from last summer, please send it in. I'll post it. Ab.
Posted later:
Audit Report: Forest Service's Replacement Plan for Firefighting Aerial Resources  (1690 K pdf file)

3/8 Abs,

Link to Wildland Fire Fighter Foundation NASCAR vote. You can vote EVERYDAY!

Hugs and Kisses has over 37,000 votes to our 8900.

Wildland Fire Fighter Foundation NASCAR vote

3/8 re: Temp Hiring

"Rumor has it that our Forest Supervisor will be attending fire hire as the SME and Recommending Official! HMMM"

Again, a RUMOR. SME' must meet certain experience levels to go to Fire Hire and work on each type of Cert, Handcrew, Engine, BC, etc.. So, the only way a Forest Sup could be an SME, (which stands for Subject Matter Expert) is if they have experience in Fire to the expert level in one of those areas.

So, that's probably just that, a RUMOR.

Now, as a Selecting Official, Forest Sups are down there fairly often, and always have been during EVERY Fire Hire round. So, Nothing has changed at Fire Hire. Don't listen to rumors, and dont spread them....

-A Fire Hire SME. (and NOT a Forest Sup)

3/8 By Strider, from the Hotlist:

Quote: Originally Posted by yactak

Not all of us in the wildland fire community believe that the residents and politicians of the Los Angeles County communities affected by the Station Fire and the subsequent flooding are entirely wrong.

While there is plenty of blame to go around... it is no secret that the FS has been working at making the fire organization in R5 less effective in the name of saving money..

Yactak, what are the cuts that are having the biggest impacts, especially in the Station Fire area? How do you see this having further impact as time goes on?

I heard that over the next year or two the number of FS Type 1 TEAMS in CA and elsewhere will be reduced and the number of FS NIMOs are going to go up slightly. The NIMOs will be under the direction of the WO. Even now, the T1 Teams are taken out from under the Forest Supervisor's management where the fire is burning and put under NIMO oversight and the WO direction.

This is not ICS as I know it.

Can anyone substantiate or refute any shift in future Fire Team use, who will be issuing the "commander's intent" for them and who will be supervising them? Ab.

3/8 By Stringtown, from the Hotlist:

Quote: Originally Posted by burn

In the middle of one of the worst recessions in recent memory, I haven't even had a second thought about my job being there tomorrow. I think most people in fields outside of the fire world can't say the same.

Then I would venture to guess that you are in R5, I think that people in CA have a little more confidence than the rest of the Regions that their jobs are safe; a few slow years in the Rocky Mountains and it's easy to start cutting fire resources that aren't being utilized. Fires over the last ten years have shown that it would not be smart for the Feds to cut fire people in CA.


I wasn't around for the furloughs and layoff of the nineties. Were those "overnight" decisions or were people able to have 2-3 months of warning?

Most FS employees were given notice about lay offs, some were given the option of a transfer, but many available jobs were to areas with a higher cost of living, and some people weren't interested in that option. The Forests that I know of in particular were in R2, fire folks were initially told that they simply not be able to hire all of the seasonals one season, but then later, many PFT's all got laid off themselves for lack of funding. In some cases, they were told it would just be for the one season, but the money never came back, and Districts stayed at very low staffing levels for years after that. And I tell you what, it was these budget cuts in the 90's that started the down ward spiral of low morale in the FS. People who have been working for the FS since then have continued to pick up the slack for very crappy pay along the way, and they are simply holding out for retirement now.


What, in your opinion, is a fair wage in California for a GS-5 PFT?

That's a good question, I had to think about that for a bit. Lets start out with how a GS-5 is not a livable wage.

GS-5 Base= $27,431
minus Federal and CA State Taxes, Social Security= $20,081
minus Health Insurance = $17,981
minus TSP/FERS (max) = $13,181

Take a look at that final number, why even bother offering that employee those benefits if that is what they will be left with if they use them, what an insult. If you take the 20K and no benefits, that might be an ok salary for a single person; 20K puts a family of four below the poverty line. To make things worse, they probably wouldn't qualify for many assistance programs because they look at the gross salary number. You might be better off taking a job at In-and-Out Burger, at least you would be home to see your family.

Is this how we should pay people who put their lives on the line to protect life and property? So not only do their spouses have to worry about them while they are gone for months out of the year to make ends meet; but also have to worry if the car breaks down, or some one gets sick, that they might go bankrupt. Yes, I do think the Federal Government should set a good example by providing fire personnel, in particular, better pay.

The Feds pay better than the private sector for things like janitors, clerks, cooks, accountants. The private sector pays more for high-skill jobs. I think many FS people would fall into this category, highly skilled geologists, hydrologists, engineers, etc could get much better paying jobs in the private sector. So I think the Forest Service in general does not pay well, and that you must really love your job to work there.

State and Local Government also generally pay better than the Feds. This is the issue. People working for the Feds are long over due for a pay raise to begin with. Most of the public in CA thinks that all FF, regardless of agency, make six figures.....maybe if you work like 2,000 hours of over time with the Feds, I'm sure even Cal Fire folks have to work a lot of OT to hit that. I think that GS-8/9 salary just beginning to actually make a livable wage in R5. If pay doesn't improve, eventually people will find jobs else where, either geographically, or by agency. The idea that people who work for the gov't have "high paying" jobs is really not all that true.

I'm not sure how OPM decides it's locality pay, but it doesn't seem to be very fair. So Cal gets around 25% more, but the average home price is $800,000, at least twice as much as most of the state. The Bay Area gets an extra 35%, the median home price is $1.1M and gas is the usually the highest in the nation there. The LP has no locality pay, but the home prices in Santa Barbara and Monterey County top out the list in CA at 1.9M and 1.8M respectively. Take into consideration that most areas near the National Forest you work on will have home prices close to $400,000, and it is also likely that you will have some sort of commute. I think there are a lot of factors when it comes to a "livable wage".

You're right, the GS system isn't really very fair. Now that you mention it, the gov't could actually save themselves a lot of money in TOS costs by offering pay incentives to reward people with quality performance and stay where they are, rather than constantly have to move around to get promotions to make that livable wage.

3/8 On march 5th, one of our Forest Service LEOs was shot and killed in the line of duty. Christopher Upton was killed by  hunters in a reportedly negligent shooting in Georgia. Keep his family in our prayers.

I have much more to say however this is not the forum for my discussion regarding land management law enforcement.

Rest in peace Chris.


Sad, our condolences. Ab.
USDA Forest Service Officer Shot, Killed While On Duty

3/7 Hi to all from Washington D.C., or FWFSA East.

I am proud and honored to be here on behalf of our members and all federal wildland firefighters. This week is shaping up to be extremely busy but with great potential. Persistence does pay off as I am pleased to have time to meet with the Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture as well as the Asst. Secretary of the Interior for Policy along with a number of congressional and Administration representatives on HR 4488.

If you support the legislation please contact your representatives. Persistence IS the key. For FWFSA members please access the Member's area which lists some of my personal staff contacts. Although the week will be incredibly busy, I will try to keep folks abreast on TheySaid and the FWFSA web site.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

Thanks, Casey. Ab.

3/7 Good thing Angie was in the office.  Another year of retention bonuses


Date: March 3, 2010
Subject: Firefighter Retention Incentive Notification Letters
To: Forest Supervisors

Individual notification letters regarding the firefighter group retention for your GS-05 through GS-08 employees will be sent to each forest supervisor under separate cover. Each employee who received the allowance will receive a letter, regardless of whether their circumstances have changed.

Please deliver the letters you receive to these employees. If you have a letter for an employee who is no longer on your Forest, return it to the attention of Cheryl Roth in the Regional Office.

The notification letter informs our GS-05 through GS-08 firefighters of the extension to the      10 percent group retention allowance until February 26, 2011. It also outlines the circumstances where the retention allowance would be permanently terminated. The Firefighter Retention Incentive letter, dated March 13, 2009, and Frequently Asked Questions are enclosed for your convenience.

If you or your employees have any questions, please contact Lirian Penn, Human Resources, at (858) 674-2945 or at lpenn@fs.fed.us.

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

cc: Region 5 HR, Administrative Liaisons, HRLs 

FAQs for 10% Group Retention
Q1. Does temporary employment time count toward the “Have been employed by the Forest Service continuously for a period of at least one calendar year on March 1, 2009” requirement?
A1. Yes.
Q2. I am in a developmental GS-07 position for a Supervisory Engine Operator GS-08. Am I eligible for the retention allowance while in this developmental position?
A2. Yes, but if the developmental target grade was GS-09 then you would not be eligible.
Q3. If I receive a promotion to a GS-08 firefighter retirement covered position will my retention allowance continue? What if it’s a promotion to a GS-09?
A3. Yes, the retention allowance would continue and the 10% would be based on the GS-08 rate of basic pay. If you’re promoted to a GS-09, your retention incentive would end.
Q4. Why would a temporary promotion to a position that’s firefighter retirement covered end my retention?
A4. The intent of the incentive is to keep you in your covered position and that would not be possible when you are occupying the position temporarily. The incentive is temporarily suspended and would resume when you return to your official position.
Q5. What should I consider before taking a temporary or permanent promotion that would end my retention allowance?
A5. This is a personal decision in which you need to decide what is most important for you and your current personal situation. One thing to consider is the retention allowance is calculated on base hours paid. Therefore, the higher grade may reap more money in the form of overtime. Another is the higher graded position has the benefit of experience at a higher grade and would count as the salary for the “high 3” earnings for the calculation of a retirement annuity. Also, the retention allowance is not guaranteed to last beyond February 28, 2010.
Q6. What if I detail (not receiving a temporary promotion) into a higher graded, firefighter retirement-covered position?
A6. Yes. As long as your official position remains the same and it is eligible for the retention allowance (GS-05 through GS-08), then your retention allowance would continue. The retention allowance would continue to be calculated on your official position and not the position you are detailed in.
Q7. How can I tell I’m being paid the incentive?
A7. You will receive a Notification of Personnel Action SF-50B document saying “Retention Incentive.” Also, on your Statement of Leave and Earnings you will see Transaction Code 52 Retention Allowance.
Q8. How is the 10% retention allowance calculated?
A8. Multiply your hourly rate (which includes your locality or special rate) by 10%. This is the extra amount you will receive. Multiply this amount by the base hours in the pay period (a maximum of 80 hours). This would be your biweekly 10% retention allowance.
Q9. Why isn’t the retention allowance used for overtime or high 3?
A9. It is a statutory requirement that the retention incentive is not part of the rate of basic pay for any purpose [reference 5 USC Sec 5754(e)(3)].
Q10. Is the retention incentive taxed?
A10. Yes, because it is monies received subject to federal, state, and applicable Medicare/Social Security taxes.
Q11. What positions are covered under firefighter retirement?
A11. The following are the list of positions used for the group retention:
Position types in NFP Tracking database qualifying for Firefighter retirement

Air Tanker Base Operations
Air Tanker Base Operations (Reload Base)
NSR Hand Crew, Category 1
Handcrew Type 1 Forest Crew
Hand Crew, 10-person
Hand Crew, 10-person/Fire Use Crew
District Fuels Officer
Emergency Communication Center(Dispatch)
Emergency Communication Center (Dispatch) 24 hour
Forest Fire Prevention Officer
Fuels Specialist
Fuels Assistant
Helitack, Type 2, Non Rappel (10 person/7 day effective)
Helitack, Type 2, Rappel Qualified (10 person/7 day effective)
10-Person Fuels Handcrew
Helitack, Type 3, Rappel Qualified (5 person/7 day effective)
Helitack, Type 2, Non Rappel (14 person/7 day or 21person /7 day effective)
Helitack, Type 2, Rappel Qualified (14 person/7 day or 21person /7 day effective)
Type 1 Helitanker
Prevention Technician
Wet Prevention Unit
Wet Prevention Unit District Fire Prevention Officer
Tactical Water Tender, Type 2
Engine, Type III

Q12. I thought if I wasn’t covered under firefighter retirement I wouldn’t be eligible?
A12. The intent of the retention is to keep specific firefighter retirement covered positions permanently occupied. Also, the Regional Forester’s intent was to equitably compensate employees who were occupying the same firefighter retirement covered position, whether or not individually they were covered under firefighter retirement. Therefore, positions were targeted vice individual coverage.
Q13. Would I receive the retention allowance if I’m currently on nonpay status on March 1, 2009?
A13. Yes, however, you would not see any payment until you started working as the 10% retention allowance is calculated on base hours paid.

Q14. What if I take extended leave? What happens to my retention allowance?
A14. As long as you are paid for the leave the allowance would continue to be paid on those hours.
Q15. What happens if I go on Worker’s Compensation?
A15. If you are on Continuation of Pay (COP) the allowance would continue because you continue to receive base pay. When extended leave without pay due to OWCP begins, then the allowance would no longer be paid.
Q16. I want to apply for a R5 position that’s offering a relocation incentive on a position eligible for the retention incentive. Can I receive the relocation incentive? Would my current retention allowance end?
A16. A relocation incentive may be offered to an employee who is receiving previously authorized retention incentive payments. Therefore, you would be able to receive the relocation incentive and continue the retention incentive.
Q17. Am I obligated to stay until the allowance ends? What if I leave?
A17. The retention incentive is to encourage R5 firefighters to remain in GS-05 through GS-08 covered firefighter retirement positions as long as possible. If you leave for a position not eligible for the retention allowance, the allowance simply ends. Since the incentive is paid after a person is paid their base hours, you are not obligated to pay back the monies you previously received.
Q18. Is there a guarantee the incentive will last until February 2010?
A18. No, there is no guarantee the incentive will last. It is the intent of the Regional Forester to have the incentive last through February 28, 2010; however, there are no guarantees. Also, it must be reviewed at that time to determine if it can/should be extended.
Q19. Can managers recruit firefighters from other regions to come here because of the retention incentive?
A19. It is not appropriate to use the intention allowance to recruit firefighters. However, if hired from another region and the employee meets all the eligibility criteria, they will be included in the group incentive.
Q20. What are the reasons for terminating my allowance?
A20. Please refer to your individual notification letter on your allowance and be aware the retention allowance must be terminated when you are demoted, separated for cause, receive a less than Fully Successful rating, or you leave a position authorized for the 10% group retention.

3/6 Training:

For Stacie Hendricks -

Don't confuse state firefighter certification (municipal/structural firefighter 1) with Wildland firefighter certification (firefighter Type 2/FFT2). Assuming you are in fact talking about wildland certifications, contact the fire management program at the state forestry agency in your new home, the Ken local fire department. You'll need a minimum of S-130/190 classes (4 day basic wildland firefighter all the details. If you can't get what you need there, then you might start contacting federal agencies in your area to see if they can assist.

Best wishes

3/6 re: Temp Hiring


Well goodm, I thought we were the only ones being asked to do illegal things. But in all seriousness it's not good or funny. I would recommend to everyone out there to start writing their representatives and let them know of these practices and let's start putting pressure on our upper management like the pressure they are putting on us.

Well enough from me, good luck with hiring, All.

Strive for 205

3/6 Read that sweet OIG Aviation report last summer...

Nothing new

What was new was.....get ready for it....... "by 1997 USFS did not anticipate the WCF ...." paraphrasing

Looks to me that $450K aircraft back in the '80's are pretty shockingly approaching the $ 5 million to $23 million dollar mark, today.....

That any real surprise circa 2010? Not to us folks buying, fixin and flyin aircraft. The FS must have thought you could buy aircraft on a 1960's and 1970's shoestring budget, huh? NIIIICE planning, folks!!!

Where were these aviation experts?

I have torn down 1 million dollar engines on BOTH fixed wing turbofan engines AND helicopters and THAT was 10 years ago!!!!

Better leave the aviation business to the TRUE aviation experts....cause even the USFS is proven itself when it argues the point(s) made by OIG

That is why there needs to be be more aviation experts in the USFS...not just folks who are foresters and fire types promoted to these positions

This report PROVES it!!


Forester/ Pilot / Aircraft Mechanic

If anyone has the report, please send it in. We don't have it. Ab.
Posted later: Audit Report: Forest Service's Replacement Plan for Firefighting Aerial Reources  (1690 K pdf file) also on our server HERE.

3/6 Hello.

Thomas D. Marovich, Sr. here. I am trying to find where to buy a few more "From the Flames of Hell to the Gates of Glory - Going Home" T- shirts. Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

Sizes are several XL's and XXLT (three extra large and tall size)>

Thanks again.


Hi Tom, you can get them at the WFF store: wffoundation Store

3/6 Training:

My husband and I are State Cert Fire Fighters and have taken the IS 100, 200, 700, and the is 800. We moved from Florida last year where we have taken the classes and now live in Northern KY. Unfortunately Kentucky as far as I can find out does not offer the remaining classes I need to be able to work Logisitics. I believe we are considered Wildland Type 2. My husband would like to complete the 45 # pack test as well. Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated. I was told I could finish the classes and testing on line.

I look forward to hearing from you,
FF1 Stacie Hendricks
State Certs in Florida & Kentucky

3/5 Mary Barr:

I met Mary Barr years ago and I'm so sorry to hear of her passing. Does anyone know whether Mary was interviewed before her illness? I'll check with her family but thought I'd check with the firefighting community too. She was an important part of our fire history....and fire family.


3/5 re: Temp Hiring

My suspicion: someone on high has said line officers' heads are on the chopping block over fire hiring. Don't take it personally, though it's a pain in the $*&@, especially when good folks don't get hired -- you want to know who is going to be out on the line with you. Often forest supervisors, and even rangers, have less power than you might think.

Still Out There as an AD

3/5 In response to the Theysaid post by Strive for 205 about Temp Hiring

I have run into this problem more than once. I even had a captain once tell me that I couldn't be hired for the open position because I was "white". Now tell me, how that is fair? I have been told by multiple captains on one forest in particular that the Forest Sup is breathing down their necks to make sure they DON'T hire people of white ethnicity.

What happened to the best man or women gets the job??

Sign me
Qualified unhired.

3/5 re: Temp Hiring

Strive for 205,

We are also facing the same challenges with temp and perm hiring. Rumor has it that our Forest Supervisor will be attending fire hire as the SME and Recommending Official! HMMM...I guess that means that we are totally incompetent when it comes to hiring our temp and perm workforce, that we (the SMEs and Recommending Official) don't understand what type of individuals with desirable skill sets we are looking for.

AHH enough of my Rant!!


3/4 Hi All, I'm on the road and have been having technical difficulties of sorts. Reminds me of the "bad old days" when every trip and meeting was difficult. Thanks to OA for the email relays and for Q and Bruce and others for the messages. Thanks to the mods, too. Thanks to Finn for the keyboard to plug into my laptop. To anyone that's sent in an attachment to be posted with a message, I'll get to that on Saturday... Carry on. Ab.
3/4 Here's a good article:

Understanding Influences on Risks: A Four-Part Model
Feb 1, 2010 12:00 PM, By Terry L. Mathis and Shawn M. Galloway

There remains in safety a rather naïve assumption that if we could simply get workers to do their jobs safely, the accidents would go away. If workers were the only variable in the safety formula, this would be true. (click the link)


3/4 Temp hiring

Just curious if the other parts of R5 are having trouble with temp hiring because of your rangers or forest supervisors. Where I am at the forest sup. is going through all our temp packets and he is making the decisions on whether or not our rehires are going to be brought back and he will replace them with new hires if he doesn't like the people we are selecting. Also some of the rangers are telling our people to do illegal things during our hiring because they don't understand the process we go through to hire. They think we can just pull certs whenever we want and that we don't have to clear the old ones before we do pull a new one. And all because they don't like the make up of the people on the cert. I am really having a hard time biting my tongue with this "white males" aren't good hires anymore. I thought we were over this; instead we just got rid of the good old boy system and replaced it with a new one. Sorry but let us do the hiring at the districts because we have been doing a damn good job with it for quite awhile. We consider everyone and we don't discriminate. 

Also if we are going to be questioning our rehires then let us know this so we can tell everyone to reapply every year and apply to other places so they have a chance to get a job. It's not fair to tell someone we will be rehiring them then at the last minute we tell them sorry and they don't have applications in to get hired somewhere else.

Sorry for my rant but I am really getting disappointed with our upper management or is it mismanagement.

Strive for 205

3/4 Thinking of Tom:

Over the past few months, many SMEs in the field of rappelling attempted to explain to me what might of happened on the morning of July 21, 2009 in Willow Creek, Ca.  Not having a background as a Rappeller, it was hard for me to put the pieces of this puzzle together.  That is until today when I read the report and looked at photo # 10, 11 and 12.

Thinking about Tom, his family, his friends, the Modoc and the Lassen National Forests tonight.  God bless you all.



Hotlist thread p=62625 

3/4 from Hickman:

LLIS.gov Document
Users are required to login to LLIS.gov to view the full text of this document.

Forest Service: Emerging Issues Highlight the Need to Address Persistent Management Challenges
Date Published: 11 Mar 2009
Publisher: Government Accountability Office (GAO)

Abstract: This testimony was presented before the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies of the House Committee on Appropriations. It highlights some of the major management challenges the Forest Service faces in carrying out its land management responsibilities. The report notes that although steps have been taken to improve the Forest Service's wildland fire management, it has been slow to take action on other issues. Specifically, the Forest Service continues to lack strategies for using its wildland fire management funds effectively, program management suffers from a lack of data on activities and costs, and financial and performance accountability have been inadequate.

OIG audit on FF Aircraft

OIG audit on FF Aircraft (pdf)

3/3 Mary Barr passed away yesterday in New Orleans . If you didn't know her, she was the first woman pilot for the Forest Service. She and her Husband Dave ran the Susanville Airport for many many years. After her retirement she stayed in the area and made it her home. She had a 300 acre ranch near Bass Hill where she lived and enjoyed until she started having signs of Dementia. Her daughter Nevada, invited her to stay near where they lived and she lived out the rest of her life there.

If you knew Mary or know anyone who may have known her, please send them this link. Molly Barr made a memorial page for her mom. If you would like to leave a comment about Mary, pick on the words "Have your say" on the top of the page.

Memorial to Mary Barr at Wordpress

Susanville Airport (Mary and Dave)

Condolences. Ab.

IMWTK First woman pilot for the FS.

3/3 Information on Services for Wes Ruise Sr.

Wes Jr. asked that I forward the following information regarding services for his father, Wes Sr.

Friday, March 5th
Viewing: 4:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Rosary: 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Alheiser-Comer Mortuary
225 South Broadway
Escondido, CA

Saturday, March 6th
Mass: 10:00 a.m.
Our Lady of Refuge Church
Church Rd.
La Jolla Reservation

Burial: 11:00 a.m.
Potrero Cemetary
Highway 76 - west of South Grade Rd.
La Jolla Reservation

Dress for fire personnel: Class A for those who have them, otherwise, long sleeve shirt and tie.

Chief Ravago of Pala Fire Department is handling logistics for the vehicle procession. Contact # is 760-742-1632

Cards and condolences can be sent to the Ruise Family at: PO Box 574, Pauma Valley, CA 92061

Respectfully, Carlton Joseph

3/2 Blue Sheet CA-LNU-Mund E-26 Rollover

Hotlist Thread p=62574

3/2 Navigating IQCS:

Hey dude,

If you open your workbook that you received when you took the IQCS class, it goes through step by step instructions on how to create a course, enroll a student, update records, etc, etc?

If you lost your workbook, you can download the book for dummies off the site: iqcs.nwcg.gov Training Manual


Thanks for the link. Ab.

3/2 In response to "Navigating IQCS":

It's called the IQCS user's guide. You get it when you go to the IQCS manager's class. If you haven't been to the class you are not allowed to be working in IQCS.

-- An IQCS account manager
3/2 There's another race car sponsorship for fallen firefighter Tom Marovich.

Race Car Sponsorship for Tom Marovich

Take your pick or alternate... Ab.

3/2 Race Car Sponshorship for the WFF
(This is the race car Tom and Debbie created for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation last week.)

I just heard that one of the cars has a lot of votes; we need to vote... every day for the next twelve days!


I've been voting every day... Let friends and family know... Ab.

3/2 To all that responded in regards to the Fire Tetrahedron,

I greatly appreciate it. It is refreshing, and I am invigorated with the fact, that we can still carry on a technical and educational discussion on this page.

I have the information I need to move forward. Thanks to “Irony” for pointing out that the wildland community has actually been instrumental with the application of aerial delivered long term fire retardants that, in essence, indeed break the “Chemical Reaction” side of the Fire Tetrahedron.

Thanks to all.


3/2 Navigating IQCS:

I've had it... It feels like no one knows how to navigate IQCS anywhere and there are 10 ways to do just about everything. Does anyone know of a document that maps out step by step how to do things in IQCS like create a course, enroll a student, update records, etc, etc?

Thanks gang!

Signed... When is the IQCS for dummies book coming out?!?!?!

3/2 Dear Ab:

The City of Santa Fe Fire Department is hiring 2 Lead Forestry Technicians ($10.50/hr) and
8 Forestry Technicians ($9.85/hr). These are the requirements:

Age 18 – 25
New Mexico Resident (last six months)
Currently unemployed (at least one pay period before the date of hire)
One season experience (Lead Forestry Technician ONLY)
The closing date is 5:00 pm March 12, 2010.
santafenm.gov jobs

Porfirio Chavarria
Wildland Urban Interface Specialist

3/2 Link to Cal Fire captains application
Cal Fire captains application

noname fire

3/1 Fire Tetrahedron

Centrifugal Pump,

Fire Tetrahedron was developed to explain why exotic chemicals that don’t reduce O2 below burnable levels, remove heat or fuel still put fire out. Some class D fire chemicals are one example and halon which will extinguish A, B, C, or D fires in the proper conditions is the one that brought this to the forefront 20+ years ago. The fourth leg or chemical chain reaction is something all-risk firefighters should be aware of, but is left to level I Instruction ‘Recognition”. Wildland Fires are exclusively class A and as previously stated are suppressed by removing heat, fuel or O2. It is hard to imagine any advantage to adding the fourth leg to the Wildland Fire Behavior equation.

No Bay FC

3/1 Fire Tetrahedron

This is in response to the comment on the Fire Triangle vs. the Fire Tetrahedron.

There is a lot of information on the process of combustion in the wildland environment and will deflect to the scientists on this.

Most wildland firefighters think that the woody material in a fire is burning. This is false. The wood is NOT burning. Rather, it is the gases produced when the woody material is converted from woody material to gas. It is the gas that is burning and not the wood. Remember the book Fahrenheit 451? That is the temperature in which paper is turned into gas and burns.

The only material found on the fire tetrahedron is in Class A Foam curricula from about 1987. There may be other references, but it is largely ignored.

There are books and formulas written on the topic of combustion and it is just an exothermic chemical reaction.

We experience the chemical reaction when fighting forest fires with the application of fire retardant. Once the water component is gone, retardant affects the chemical reaction of combustion! This is real and we need to understand this component. Class A foam also affects the chemical reaction of combustion as well..

The wildland fire community has been amiss for not describing the fire tetrahedron! It is essential in understanding basic fire behavior.

Combustion is a very slow chemical reaction in terms of rate of chemical change! Hence, we need to add in the terms “deflagration” and “detonation”. They are all the same chemical reaction process. The only difference is the rate of speed at which the reaction takes place!

The use of fireline explosives for line construction is the exact same chemical process, except at a much faster rate of speed or chemical reaction. It just happens quicker and creates a big noise.

Combustion is slow
Deflagration is faster (around 600 ft per second)
Detonation is really fast (up to 22,000 feet per second)

Detonation: Really high speed explosives (Iremite) is about 22,000 ft/sec. It is good for cracking big rocks into smaller pieces. However, it is worthless for building fireline or stump removal.

Fireline explosives (FLE) fits into the slower end of the detonation category, but are much slower. Hence, they tend to be more effective in creating fireline by removing brush and shattering things. True FLE is really nothing more than 5-7 strand det cord wrapped together.

On the still slower end of detonation, but closer to deflagration is ANFO. Blasters use this in the forest environment because it is much slower. The combination will force its energy into moving stumps out of the ground.

This information is found in the Blaster’s Handbook and reflected in Forest Service/USDI policies, if more information is required.

Soooooo. The bottom line is that the chemical reaction of combustion should be built into the wildland fire curricula.

The bottom line is still Einstein’s principle of Quantum Mechanics: E=MC2.

Hope this helps (or confuses).


Now, it is important to understand the lack of effectiveness of water as a di-polar chemical, the effects of surface tension, heat absorption and other principles.
3/1 Dear Federal Firefighter Supporter:

First & foremost I think you and I could have a great dialogue about some of this stuff so please feel free to email me or call me anytime...I certainly am not hard to find.

Your comment about the only place you hear about the CPF/IAFF vs FWFSA is from me on TheySaid is exactly the point. As a CPF-IAFF member, why didn't you hear about it from them? Why didn't the entire rank & file membership of each organization hear about it? Why hasn't the action been mentioned in either organizations newspapers or on their web sites? Why didn't either the IAFF or CPF inform the FWFSA of the action when it took place rather than me finding out happenstance nearly a year after the fact when I made the gesture of trying to make time to see IAFF General President Schaitberger while I was in DC? Why wasn't the FWFSA afforded the professional courtesy of addressing the alleged causes of the action before it was taken? Candidly, that is what you should be asking the CPF/IAFF leadership.

I believe in the year since we discovered the action I've referenced it 3 times on TheySaid within the context of whatever it was I was posting about. I would hardly consider 3 times, given the posting I've done here, to be "constantly" bringing it up.

Axe to grind? Hardly. Many members of the FWFSA and I spent years and years working on behalf of the CPF and IAFF legislative agendas. Many of us contributed literally thousands of dollars to FIREPAC despite the lackadaisical effort by the IAFF on federal firefighter issues.

Many of us, perhaps like you, spent a lot of money and left our families to attend IAFF & CPF conferences and other events.

Perhaps the most disappointing fact in all of this is what we suspect is the reason for their action and why they are not being open and up front about it with their own members. We have corresponded with both IAFF General President Schaitberger and CPF President Paulsen asking, on several occasions for information on why the action was taken so that if warranted, we could take corrective action. To date, both have ignored our requests.

I would suggest to you that if the rank & file of both organizations knew the truth, they would be disappointed too. In fact, I am aware there is a growing group of Cal-Fire folks considering addressing the issue at the next CPF and IAFF conventions. If you would like to know the truth, let me know and I will provide you the factual details of why the action was taken.

With all due respect I don't know how you could come to the conclusion that I "make it seem" that the federal budget problems would be solved if there were no local government firefighters. I have never articulated that thought because it isn't true. What I have said is that the federal land management agencies, for a variety of reasons, have come to over-rely on non-federal wildfire suppression resources, particularly in the West, and dare I say it... California and that those costs have increased the cost of wildfire suppression. That is simply a fact. So too is the fact that a number of local government firefighters make an awful lot of money each fire season while their federal counterparts are taken off the clock. Simply another fact.

I agree with you wholeheartedly with your assessment of waste. In fact our focus has been the fiscal mismanagement of the land management agency fire programs.

Your comment about tax payers is a bit broad. We want to see federal tax dollars appropriated to federal land management agency FIRE programs to go to federal resources first, IAW the National Fire Plan. That doesn't mean excluding cooperators and contractors.

I am very aware of unfunded mandates. You're getting into politics which I'd love to discuss with you but not by taking up space on TheySaid. While you can make the argument of how the federal government and state governments screw local governments, an argument can also be made about the FMAG program. It's a two way street.

Finally, the issue isn't hourly rates, the number of weekly hours etc. The issue is the fundamental inequity of how the federal land management agencies compensate their own employees vs others doing the same work on the same fire. I'm sorry if you think I am "using" anyone to improve things for our federal wildland firefighters. It is not our intent to use anyone. It is our responsibility and obligation to provide facts as we attempt to provide our federal wildland firefighters the pay, benefits and working conditions they have deserved for far too long.

Sorry for the length of this.

3/1 Uncle Louie,

Thanks for sharing that information about the Coast Guard. I would have thought that Katrina would have pointed out the need for a organized force that can respond in a moments notice to all risk incidents. I also agree that they have built the model for an emergency response organization that should be used as a model when a Federal wildland fire agency is created. I think that this "change" for the Coast Guard will probably be short lived, America has too much respect for that venerable institution.

3/1 Race Car Sponsorship for WFF (This is the car Tom and Debbie created for the WFF last week.)

I just want to say that we have a chance to let our voice be heard! We are wildland fighters and we are a family. We need to do what ever we can to get this car into a Sprint Cup Race! I dont think people realize how big this stage is to bring attention to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation cause! If we can get this car in the race, we can let the country hear our story and help those in need!

PLEASE VOTE! tell everyone, email all your friends!!!

1 vote a person a day, 10 days left!

Lets all vote!! I want to see that car on the track!!!!!!!

3/1 More on the FLAME Act and Firefighting Liability:

The FLAME Act...seems straightforward then you get into the minutia and it leaves you scratching your head wondering if it is simply another fiscal shell game wrapped up in a pretty package.

If anyone has any specific questions pertaining to the FLAME Act, I will be meeting with Congressman Norm Dicks' Legislative Director next week in Washington. Congressman Dicks is the Chairman of the House Appropriations interior, Environment & related Agencies Subcommittee and authored the House version of the FLAME Act. Please email your questions to cjudd@fwfsa.org before Friday, March 12th.

I will also be meeting with staff from Sen. Cantwell's (D-WA) office and one of the topics will of course be the firefighter liability issue. Again if anyone has questions you'd like me to ask, please let me know.


Casey Judd
Business Manager
3/1 CPF vs FWFSA


As a California local government Firefighter and CPF IAFF member The only place I ever hear about CPF IAFF vs FWFSA is from you on this forum. I believe what you say about our union leaders declaring you a rival organization, but it seems counter productive to your cause to constantly point it out. You continue to mention your former status as a CPF insider, to continually bring it up makes it seem as if you have an axe to grind.

I strongly support your efforts to improve conditions for Federal Firefighters. The vast majority of Professional Firefighter Union members support our fellow Federal Firefighters. In fact we are the ones who consider them Firefighters not Forestry Technicians. We are some of the ones who have lobbied as private citizens on your behalf. You make it seem as if there were no local government firefighters, all the Federal budget problems would be solved. The truth is the Federal Government is screwing all citizens with massive deficit spending. There is so much waste and pork in the Federal Spending it seems that is where you should focus you efforts with congress to redirect some of that spending on the USFS and DOI agencies.

Regarding looking out for Federal Employee first with Federal Dollars. Don't forget where those dollars come from in the first place. That is local tax payers. Do you realize how much local government gets screwed by the states and Federal government regarding un-funded mandates. Maybe that's why cities and counties charge such high administrative fees. Remember unlike the federal government local government can not print money when it needs it.

Regarding PTP ask your members if they want to divide their hourly rate by 1.4 to equal the average 56 hour a week Firefighter from local government. Also ask them if they would be willing to earn 16 less hours per week OT while on a fire assignment. I recognize that some of our base rates are higher but not as much as people think. I think most Feds guys would be surprised how low some of our 56 hourly pay rates are. Isn't that the argument the Feds used against you as they compared CDF 72 hour rates to your 40 hour rates on black Tuesday. My point is to use us as a lever to improve your benefits can work against you. It can also reduce the high level of loyalty and commitment the average local government firefighter has towards your cause.

Signed Federal Firefighter Supporter

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