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April, 2010

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4/30 New logo on Logos 18 photo page. Ab.
4/30 Re: CA - fall fatality:

Mellie, found this:

Josiah "Joe" Knowles, Jr. was a lookout volunteer with the Sierra National Forest Detection Program at Miami Lookout on the Bass Lake Ranger District.

Hickman

4/30 If anyone wants the IAP for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, please let me know. I understand burnout was not successful the other evening... Ab.
4/30 Thanks for the details on Spencer Koyle on Devils Den (az) and Mark Stanley (tn), Hickman and GA Peach.

Does anyone know if or where there's a US map of National Forests, Grasslands, Wildlife Refuges? Does Google Earth have NF boundaries?

It seems that no two agencies or groups refer to fatalities or fatality locations in the same way. It's surprising but National Forests don't seem to provide a boundary map on their internet sites. It would be nice to quickly view national forests.

Thanks for the help.

Mellie

4/30 Mellie,

The TN -Bolivar- Snag was Mark Stanley. Good man.

I attached the accident report.

GA Peach

4/30 I have a question

Spencer Koyle died on the Devils Den Fire in Utah in 2006. Is this the same incident as the Fishlake NF entrapment that killed 1 on the NWCG list? You can scroll down to 2006 on this pdf file, but info is minimal...

The USFA lists no other UT wildland firefighter deaths that year.

Thanks,

Mellie

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ps another few questions:

The NWCG also lists a wildland firefighter fatalities at

  • AZ - Gila Bend - Heart attack 1
  • CA - Nipinnawassee - Fall 1 Nipinnawasee CA ( mapquest location ) as a result of a fall. Does anyone know the circumstances surrounding that LODD?
  • OK - Ponca City - Run over by vehicle 1
  • TN - Bolivar - Snag 1

None of those are listed in the USFA database that I can find. Anyone have recollections of those? Links to newspaper articles or press releases?

thanks, m

4/29 Regarding HR 4488,
 
I was doing a bit of brainstorming today regarding HR 4488. I know it might be a moot point to a lot of people but if you are registered to any sort of social networking site such as Myspace or Facebook or Myface or Spacebook or whatever(there's a bunch) or you twitter or tweeter, consider posting some information regarding HR 4488 to a blog or your profile or whatever. I blogged on Myspace for awhile just for grins and noticed a lot of people actually read much of what I wrote, at least in the 100s each month (more so than the actual amount of friends I had on the site...I don't get out much and I didn't write anything too profound).

If you also copy and paste the prewritten letter and suggest people do the same or at least send in the letter, odds are someone, even a few or more might take the brief amount of time required to send it off. For that matter they might get involved or at least get a better idea of the sort of passion that we bring to the job. There's also some people that just scan the sites you might not even know that might be in favor of it. I promise that many of the people who read my blogs had no clue who I was and were just poking around using some restrictive search. Just figured I should throw that out.

Thanks again Ab for giving everyone in the community and outside it a place to speak and in my own opinion, thank you Mr. Judd for all you've done.
 
-another pulaski motor

4/29 Another Pulaski Motor,

As the second Pulaski Motor said, WELL SAID! Me thinks someone in management should listen to you as you sound like the voice of the current backbone of the workforce...

a retired pulaski motor

aka

yactak
4/29 Hi all-

After a long windy journey I am back in emergency management.... I was talking to some finance folks (not fed) about the crew card concept. I know crews have a federal crew card... does anyone have policy (any agency/level of govt) for crew card guidance, policies, procedures? My fire books are all packed away- is it in an NWCG publication or agency documentation available on-line?

I know you guys have the answer so week 1 back and I'm already asking you guys questions again ;-)

Smiles,
GISgirl

Well, praise Big Ernie! So glad you're back. All questions welcome! Ab.

4/29 Ab,

Another pulaski motor apologized for being a bit long winded. I'm a man of few words, so I'll just say, Well said, very well said!

There, that saved me writing my own long post.

sign me

Another pulaski motor wishing somehow, my morale will improve.

4/29 Dalton Ragnar 2010 fundraiser for the WFF

The beginning with Burk Minor.

SG

PHOTO of runners and Burk from the WFF.

Great job, Runners. Thanks. Ab.

4/28 Casey and All working on the passage of HR 4488,

This evening I'm working to get all my firefighter friends and extended contacts in line for supporting HR 4488. We need everyone interested to get on board. I know the democratic process of lawmaking is one of development, compromise and change. We have to start somewhere with legislation and let that process begin.

This bill was created in the House. Regardless if it passes or not, we can also educate and drum up support in the Senate.

Thanks for your hard work, your suggestions and your continued support, Organizers, Supporters and Casey.

Count me in.

Strider

4/27 Regarding previous sentiments

I've been in fire for 8 seasons with the Forest Service, I also spent about about 13 seasons on fire lookouts with my parents as a youngster and both dad and mom fought fire as well as my sister, grandfather and uncle. In the small logging town I grew up in, FS employees represented a large portion of the local workforce and I recall BBQs and assorted conversations and complaints and all the usual informal discussions regarding work and the community. I'm by no means any sort of expert and I find every year that I seem to know even less than I thought I did my second season.

I follow They Said quite a bit, every time I go out with friends, we hit that point where someone says "I'm done talking about fire" and then we continue talking about it for another 3 hours. Anyway, I was having trouble articulating myself very well, I posted once regarding something that happened on our forest to someone else and how that person was perceived but I noticed a trend today sorting through my myriad of Lotus Notes and a statement Mr. Judd had made.

I received a survey from a Regional Forester regarding what I felt about morale in the workplace, I also received an email from the Forest Supt. that suggested ways that we could improve morale, it included items like team sports events after work and BBQs and things like that and suggested we work to implement something and improve morale. It reminded me a little of bumperstickers that say "Free Tibet". I'm all for it but I have no desire to confront the Chinese Army over it.

When I was little I remember a bunch of dudes running around with mullets and half strapped radio bras over a wolf-and-lightning bolt t-shirt with the sleeves cut-off. I remember my father playing music with a Mexican gentleman who was one of the early jumpers and killed it on a 12 string guitar and told great stories. I remember women too, I had an adolescent crush on the timber lady (who looked like Catherine Zeta Jones and was mean but friendly). I remember the local finance lady who hid Easter Eggs for the local kids and still works despite her age (I'm now 30) and I remember a sooty and friendly young woman on the local engine allowing me to ride in it so we could find a lightning start very near our lookout. I remember sitting in daycare while mom was working and I remember dad's stories of working in a now obscure guard station as both brush crew and fire suppression and later, his time with the BLM. I recall our FS fire folks running a beer garden (yeah, I know. Heaven forbid, but it was okay then) at a local crafts fair for charity money. We had a grizzled and very lovable old vet who always played Smokey at the booth near the park where the event was held and pretty much worked prevention until he died. Him and some others got us off the lookout one season when we had an unexpected blizzard. This was about late 80s and prior to, a long time to some people and not long to others.

When I was older and had been working on my own after high school (I was doing timber frame joinery as an apprentice). I remember hauling scrap iron and beams around the yard near where I grew up, in the middle of August and seeing yet another massive plume-dominated fire looming over the hill. I was covered in sweat and it was about 110F out and I thought "holy s**t, whoever is up there working right now is entirely insane." I was wearing overalls and a t-shirt and I was already pretty miserable. From when I was little to when I had turned over 20 I always deeply admired the character, cheerful tenacity and diplomacy of the firefighters and Forest Service people I knew.

Later I got hired as a lookout myself and later transferred to firefighting, starting at an engine and then moving to a crew. I'm a squadboss and I'm not in charge of more than about 8 people and a lead so I pretty much have to research and ask questions to get how things really work.

Mr. Judd at some point described how firefighters were being treated like dirt. I'm pretty wordy and I couldn't put it that well or nearly as clearly.

I have no political interests, I don't receive a cash bonus of any sort for doing a good job and I don't know if all of HR 4488 will pass. It would probably cost a lot, probably up to 90% of what using 4 type 1 helicopters to repeatedly bomb the interior of a going burn (see Tumblebug) for a week would cost, or about as much as it would cost to appoint a group to determine why morale is so low, especially if you incorporate professionals to analyze why everyone is so disgruntled, or to try to figure out why not suppressing a type 4 incident at around 30,000 dollars led to spending millions (see Trapper, helped with the medevacs) cost so much. I do agree with Mr. Judd though. We get treated like dirt.

So far, I have a slipped disc and a bad knee, which I ignore because I don't want to be slower or work less than our seasonals. I P.T. on my own all winter and if I have some extra money I give it to charity, as of now it's a lot of money. I support the WFFF, Amnesty, Oxfam, Salvation Army, you name it, I was deeply involved with our refugee program and even the people with the cardboard sharpie signs asking for a buck usually get one if I'm not running late. Not just me at all, many of the folks I work with are committed to causes, they donate at the least and several have started a non-profit of their own. They aren't running for office and they won't make it into any magazines.

My point is, many of the classes I go to and many of the mass emails I get and much of the arbitrary aglearn stuff I have to do and the 2 audits so far (both requests for my purchase information were sent to my government email and I was laid off so it was shut down and I got collection notices and demands for payment when I hadn't misused my TVL card in the first place) as well as the staggering amount of people I know purchasing liability insurance, people our forest supt. has forced us to hire because of whatever bubble they sit in regarding an archaic perception of diversity based off of some arbitrary definition that uses census numbers instead of actual applicant percentages and qualifications as well as the inherent "CYA" mantra seems to indicate that someone with a great deal of influence believes we are racist, sexist, incompetent, criminal, technologically challenged and unable to make our own decisions. If we need a morale survey at this point, Mr. Judd's statement is probably pretty accurate or someone has a bonus lined up and doesn't want to listen to anyone. I really hope we get a professional series and I'm pushing for it because I feel like a great legacy has been devalued and I'm being treated like a 2 year old. Sorry for the long post.

-Another Pulaski Motor

4/27 Serious Accident Investigation Report is out.
Thanks SG. Ab.

Camp 16 Incident
Burnover
And
Fatal Vehicle Accident
August 30, 2009
CA-LAC-09196997

Lessons Learned: Camp 16 Serious Accident Investigation Report (HUGE 13,000 K pdf file)

4/27 Dear Concerned:

You do bring up some important, valid points that have not been raised before. The draft of the bill, nearly the same as the final product, was "on the street" for comment/feedback nearly a year before the bill went to the Congressional Legislative Counsel for final review and language.

With many legislative initiatives that affect federal employees, often agencies like OPM that are provided the authority to develop regulations for such legislation once it is passed, interpret the intent of Congress and the bill differently.

When this occurs, Congress in essence clarifies the intent of the new law often with a "technical Amendment" that provides OPM with clearer guidance on how the regs should be developed. I have no doubt in my mind that OPM may in fact raise the same questions you have, especially regarding FERS employees. They suggested the creation of a wildland firefighter classification series would cause firefighters to lose their hazard pay so we included language that said "No, they won't."

The "intent" of the bill is certainly not to impact the supplement nor the rate at which you contribute because you are required to retire early. That being said, it may be a technical issue that will need further work or a change in language to ensure OPM and others don't mis-interpret the bill.

Everyone needs to understand that currently, there is only the House bill, HR 4488 introduced. We have yet to secure a Senate version. While it would ideal to have a companion bill in the Senate with identical language, often times the two bills (one from the House the other from the Senate) on any given issue differ substantially at which time a conference committee made up of House & Senate members hammer out the final language in order to merge the two bills. In the meantime the backroom deals go on determining how a particular bill will be moved.

As a result, there is ample time for additional thought/ideas to be developed that may create a more palatable Senate bill for all. For instance, the firefighter liability section is not the best case scenario, but it is a start. So too with the concerns from the private sector over the reductions in non-federal resource costs. We have suggested to them that if Congress wants to ID the costs of HR 4488 to be borne by the FLAME Act funding rather than through an incremental reduction in non-federal costs, that would be fine with us.

As I've said before, since each congressional session is two years long, we had hoped to have had this bill introduced early last year to give us more time to educate the Hill, fine-tune the provisions and get the bill moving. Because it was introduced in December, and because of the partisan environment on the Hill coupled with it being an election year, where the current bill goes and how it gets there is still a great unknown.

I cannot emphasize enough the difficulty of navigating Congress. I've used the example of the huge International Association of Fire Fighters and their # 1 issue for the past 12 years or so, National Collective Bargaining. Despite versions of the bill garnering the support of over half the members in the House of Representatives and even with a Democratically controlled Congress and Administration, the issue could yet again be dead by the end of this year and have to be brought up once again during the next session.

Changing the way the government does business is a very slow process. Introducing such a comprehensive package of reforms certainly creates even more debate than if the bill was a one-issue bill only. What I can say is regardless of the passions on either side of the pro-4488 or against 4488, the issues facing our Nation's federal wildland firefighters are now at the forefront of many congressional offices that until the introduction of the bill, had no clue who or what federal wildland firefighters were or what their issues were or the impact those issues have on taxpayers etc.

Lastly, the bill was drafted on behalf of our members, knowing full well it would benefit many others who are not members. The bottom line is they (our members) pay the freight for our work and we are responsible to them. That being said, if there are FWFSA members out there who share this individual's concerns or any other concerns raised about the bill, let us know.

If you are not a member, but would like to offer clear language that you think might make better sense and cover more bases, feel free to share it with us. HR 4488 is a foundation to build upon. It has not been written in granite for all ages, but after years of inaction by the Agencies in addressing issues facing their firefighters, we felt it was time to take some action.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
4/27 FERS and age 65 retirement

I am not sure this has been thought out completely. The FERS retirement system has a couple of benefits for employees with mandatory retirement. The first is the social security (SS) supplement. Since we are required to retire before we are eligible for SS, we get the supplement. The supplement is an estimate of our actual SS amount given to us when we retire up to the point we are eligible for SS. It can be quite a bit of money depending on length of service etc. The supplement ends when are eligible for real SS. The second benefit is that since firefighters are required to retire early. We earn 1.7% of our high three for the first 20 years of service. After 20 years it drops to what everyone else gets. The reason for the higher percentage is because we have to retire early.

It seems that if the retirement age is moved to age 65, we would lose both of those benefits because we would have the same retirement of everyone else. FERS retirements sucks for non fire employees.

It is for this reason I dont support the Bill. I am hoping Casey can talk about my concerns on this forum and put my mind at ease. I have been around a long time and know lots of Federal Firefighters and I never heard much mention of the age 57 thing. Now all of a sudden it ends up in this Bill. We have lots of young firefighters that this will affect. If a person hits the age 57 thing and has not prepared for retirement and needs to keep working, there are other options.

concerned
4/27 Passing of Ron Clowes in AT crash in Canada.

Passed on from RL Tex Smith, Forest Ranger, Wildland Fire Behavior Specialist DNR; this message came to him with the request to pass it on...

Randy, every now and then a big stick hits u in the head. This was my stick to remind me of where I came from. Please send my condolences to all the guys at "Dunphy" aka Miramichi. I consider them my brothers and mentors. Without their guidance and sometimes misguidance I wouldn't be who I am today. They have also saved my bacon both on the fire ground across Canada and also from the wrath of an angry grandfather and father. Getting into trouble was easy and the "guys" made it bearable to be in deep trouble because usually they were helping me along.

Too many good memories of the crazy pilots to be in sorrow so Im going to remember them and our fallen brother with a smile. I do not remember him personally but all wildland firefighters and pilots are the same... Characters. Many condolences to his family... if they only knew the joy young boys get from watching an old turkey groan across the sky and wish that was us up there. I express deepest sorrow to his family, friends and relatives but with this in mind... Mr. Clowes was doing what he loved and was good at. As a firefighter that is a high compliment to a man, who has been part of a great tradition and History in the fire service. Please send this to all our brothers on the ground and in the air that knew Mr. Clowes and let them know they are not alone in their grief.

Sincerely, Lt Garth G
"Former young lad raised by characters from Dunphy Airstrip"
Avenger
Ron

Ron Clowes of Grand Falls dead in water bomber crash

Ron Clowes of Grand Falls dead in water bomber crash (Just before 1400 hours on 4/23/10, TBM Avenger crashed.)

Probe begins into fatal New Brunswick (Canada) water bomber crash
The Canadian Press
Date: Saturday Apr. 24, 2010 5:35 PM ET

MIRAMICHI, N.B. — A federal investigation has started into the fatal crash of a water bomber in northern New Brunswick.

The crash of the Forest Protection Ltd. aircraft occurred Friday not long after it took off in northern New Brunswick, resulting in the death of 62-year-old pilot Ron Clowes of Grand Falls.

Michael Cunningham, an investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, told CTV television news that the debris field of the aircraft covered over 200 metres.

He says when it hit the ground near the Miramichi airport it left "quite a crater," and the impact was so violent that the aircraft came apart in pieces.

Cunningham told CTV that at this early stage of the investigation the federal team is simply gathering facts and it is too early to draw any conclusions on the cause of the crash.

David Davies, a spokesman for Forest Protection Ltd., says that Clowes was conducting a practice flight on the TBM Avenger aircraft at the time of the crash.

Photo of Avenger at the link.

fair use disclaimer

Condolences to friends, family and colleagues. Ab.

4/27 HR 4488

Whenever one lobbies for a specific group, it is in effect an argument that their group deserves a larger share of  "the pie". In order to make this redistribution, some other special interest group must, in the end, receive a small share of the pie.

Increasing the size of the pie is an option, but that requires some group (taxpayers) to make additional contributions.

A retired personnel officer (buddy of mine) would use a different metaphor, "Someone else's ox has to be gored".

Advocate or Opponent, one needs to be prepared to argue for your position, and against the opposition. Some questions that should be addressed may include:

PTP: Why should only firefighters qualify while away from their families? What about wilderness rangers who are out on extended assignments? (Casey has provided some response).

Change of age limitations: Will this be interpreted as an argument against the special retirement that firefighters currently receive?

Costs: Paying other agencies PTP is pointed out as being costly. How will PTP result in lower costs? ie If paying a portion of the firefighting force PTP is costly, how will paying all of the firefighters PTP equate to a "savings"?

If you are for the bill, you should certainly feel free to express your opinion. As pointed out, do so outside of the federal workplace. Lobbying by a government employee in an official capacity is illegal.

If you are opposed, you may also avail yorself of the opportunity to contact you representative. Or, you may wish to organize and hire your own lobbyist to argue your need for an increased share of "the pie".

OFG

4/26 People writing or emailing your House Representative and Senators (2), be sure you do it on your own computer and not on govt time.

Tahoe Terrie, one of the retired taking up the Challenge!

4/26 HR 4488

Dear Cynic:

Since I wrote HR 4488, I guess the proverbial "buck" stops here. It would have been nice to have had an opportunity to answer your questions before you offered your opinion to your elected officials based upon your assumptions and inferences, but as we all saw and heard with the health care debate, many formulated their opinions and offered those opinions to their elected officials without reading the bill or having their questions or concerns addressed. It just comes with the business.

In any event I will try to articulate the method to my madness.

Retirement age:

As long ago as 1999, the GAO forewarned of a growing chasm between those federal wildland firefighters nearing mandatory retirement age/exercising their rights under the special federal firefighter early retirement provisions, and those in lower grades who were to move up to become the next generation of fire leaders.

This chasm has grown in recent years thanks in part to many leaving before the mandatory age of 57 simply because they are fed up and the loss of many in the grades of GS-5 through 9 for better pay and benefits elsewhere. This chasm, or gap, has most recently been addressed in the Forest Service' OIG audit on Firefighter Succession Planning Process.

The idea behind the language in the bill is to offer a choice to the federal wildland firefighter approaching the age of 57 to work beyond the current mandatory retirement age if they are medically/physically capable of doing so. This would allow some of the "brain trust" to remain in place a few years longer while the gap closes.

Naturally, without creating incentives for either those nearing retirement to stay, or those in the lower grades to remain in the system, changing the retirement age would be moot. That's why the legislation contains other provisions which may be incentive enough to stay in the federal system.

Many have already seen the consequences of the Agency trying to fill positions too fast.

Portal to portal:

I cannot emphasize enough that providing PTP to federal wildland firefighters on emergency incidents exceeding 24hrs as well as to those that support such incidents (militia) has absolutely nothing to do with what employees of Cal-Fire make.

The issue of PTP for federal wildland firefighters has been discussed for over two decades, long before the lucrative compensation and retirement packages of many cooperators in California. Back then, the concept of PTP was believed to provide for better morale and the ability for better supervision of a crew on an incident since they would be "on the clock."

The concept of PTP is enjoyed by nearly every paid, professional firefighter in the country, including federal firefighters employed by the DoD. PTP does not always mean getting paid 24/7, it means being compensated from the time you are on duty until the time you're off duty. Countless firefighters across the country get paid for a tour of duty whether they go on a call or not. That tour of duty includes sleep time and meal time. Still further, a close examination of FLSA regulations would lend credence to the idea that the time spent by employees on most wildfire incidents, inclusive of being in camp is compensable.

In recent years, the call for PTP has become one of equity in the methodology of compensation on an incident. Very simply, if the federal land management agencies are going to continue to pay PTP to many cooperators, especially in the West; continue to pay the departments from which those cooperators come from an "Admin fee," backfill costs and lodging costs while taking their own, inherently less expensive federal wildland firefighters off the clock, then we will continue to pursue PTP.

In your opinion, the bill is an R-5 wildland firefighter bill. Let's deal with facts. California has the most federal wildland firefighters employed than any other state. Some cooperators in California make $200, 300 thousand and up each season courtesy of the federal government. California likely results in the greatest percentage of suppression costs because of those resource costs. It is unfortunate that because of the costs of wildfires in California, taxpayers across the Nation are paying the price. So...California, and particularly the land management agency fire programs there and how those programs and their dollars are managed, is a microcosm of what is wrong with the system.

However, if HR 4488 was an R-5 bill, we would have stated as much. Our responsibility is to provide fundamental pay & personnel policy reforms for ALL federal wildland firefighters in all grades and in all agencies. You are entitled to your opinion but I can tell you it is not consistent with our stated goals and objectives.

Hazard Pay as part of retirement pay:

You are reading far more into this issue than exists. In the federal government, among others, there are GS (General Schedule) employees and WG (Wage Grade) employees. Certain WG employees earn "environmental pay" while certain GS employees (federal wildland firefighters) earn "hazard pay." The definition of environmental pay is identical to that of hazard pay yet the environmental pay for WG employees IS included as base pay for retirement purposes while the hazard pay for GS employees IS NOT. We don't know if this is an oversight in the law or not but if WG employees have their environmental pay included as base pay for retirement, than GS employees, by definition of hazard pay, should enjoy the same benefit.

Candidly, I'm really fed up with those worrying about federal wildland firefighters padding the hazard pay for retirement etc., yet seem to have no problem with their tax dollars paying some folks hundreds of thousands each season.

Non-federal resources financial cap: Since I wrote the bill, I have read it a few times and I cannot find the term "non federal resources financial cap." For the number of posts you've made on TheySaid, I would have figured you to have some significant time spent in a fire camp in the West. Many of these camps have developed into a cottage industry of contract services. Many of these camps have expensive, non-federal resources sitting for days in camp...on the clock.

Your scenario of no retardant and no helicopters is a bit like chicken little. A recent memo from the R-5 Regional Forester to his fire staff dictated that during development of cooperative agreements with local government entities, those cooperators should be informed that in the future, they will likely be in camp maybe 1-2 days rather than 3-5 days. Maybe it'll mean that some non-federal firefighter may ONLY make $250,000 next season instead of $300,000.

Anyone who has been in a camp knows where significant costs can be cut without impact to the fire operation. And, as an alternative to your "cap" and the threat to subdivisions etc., perhaps the next time you discuss the bill with your elected officials, tell them the heck with offsets, pay PTP out of the FLAME Act funding they just passed. We'd gladly desire not to take the flak for being responsible by identifying the offsets expected by Congress.

Finally, transparency is supposed to be a good thing. We have nothing to hide but it is clear we have an awful lot of educating to do. We recognize that no matter what we say or how we say it, someone will disagree just to disagree. But remember, this bill was introduced on behalf of our Nation's federal wildland firefighters who, through the consistent application of archaic pay & personnel policies have been treated like crap for risking their lives to protect our Nation's natural resources, its citizens and their property. If the work they do means anything to you, be a part of the solution, not the problem.

All you do is criticize and complain...Offer an alternative, participate in the solution. Until then, I'll take my direction from our members.

Casey

4/26 Hey ab's,

We need to send a special community "shout out" to Fulton and Texas Canyon Shots for putting on a fantastic Sporting Clay Shoot to benefit the WFF Foundation!!

The weather was great, the food was great, the people were ridiculously great and even though my shooting was crappy, We had a crazy good time.

Thanks gang for one heck of a shoot!!

Signed,
Sore Shoulders in North Zone!

Good news! Did Burk survive? Ab.

4/26 HP for retirement:

re: the cynic's comments

I believe Wage Grade employees receive retirement credit for their work on fires, as do the DOD fire employees. Many Fed plough operators in R-8 are WG employees. The retirement provision in this bill sorta levels the playing field. I'll leave the response from the wal-mal post speak for itself. I think if anyone really challenged the Feds to a FLSA violation about what really are compensable hours, the feds would be paying A LOT! of back pay.

Fish01

4/26 Casey, AB’s, everyone,

Thank you for your hard work and diligence in advocating for the Federal Wildland Firefighter, it is painful to imagine what our workplace would be like without the FWSFA and your efforts.

HR 4488 is a far reaching and long overdue new look at how the Forest Service can operate as a land management agency. I see a lot of room for compromise in this bill and doubt it will look anything like it does now when it is becomes law. That is not necessarily a bad thing though; it is just part of the change process.

I do have a few differences of opinion that I would like to share with you. And I hope you will consider them as the compromise process evolves.

I don’t agree the retirement age should be raised. Once you open that door, it will stay open and impact every one. It is a slippery slope, you must recognize that. There are many people, like me, who have worked their butts off, sacrificing and personal lives and their bodies working for this agency and the public good. I cannot be the only one who is looking forward to retiring at 57 (or sooner if I feel like it). There are some people who would like to continue working and I know some of them, however, that should not mean that the retirement age should have to be raised for everyone. I think the new law allowing the rehiring of annuitants could be a good tool to keep those who want to continue working on board. It would be great to see DFMOs move on to District Ranger positions, for example. It would be much more agreeable to lobby for loosening the currently restrictive annuitant rehire policy than raise the retirement age.

I think allowing overtime to be included in retirement deductions would be a more inclusive way to insure all aspects of firefighting receive the maximum benefit from their hard work. By allowing retirement deductions to apply to overtime, it would include support and line going personal equally. Why create that separation; is one person’s contribution more worthy than another’s?

I don’t agree Fire Management needs to be centralized to be effective. I don’t recall if it’s in the bill or not but I hear it a lot when change is discussed. I do agree we need a professional series classification. One that is an equal ladder to District Ranger and Forest Supervisor Positions. Fire is an integral part of the ecosystem and it needs to be managed in concert with other aspects of ecosystem management. Fire Management should have a larger role in forest management. Instead of empowering Fire Management by separating it from the rest of forest management we should empower Fire Management by including it. It is cultural change and assimilation that will have the largest benefit for the workforce. It is a lot harder to do but more effective in the long run.

You are right about the encroachment of for profit enterprises directly correlates to the rising costs of suppressing our fires. It is not the only reason, but it is a significant factor. While the private sector has a role in support, firefighting is a public servant endeavor. You can not be a public servant for a profit. If you work for the federal government you are a public servant. Our interest is for the public good, not a profit. That’s what makes us an employer of choice, in spite of what management does to demoralize us. We need to avoid the dilemma of profit vs. safety, or the public good, or whatever, because in the long run profit always wins and the firefighters always lose.

The White House and Congress are both looking at the private sector vs. public service. Joe Davidson summed it up in this 4/14 article. Hearing on Federal Protective Service examines profit vs. public service

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of writing to our representatives. Emails are effective, but hand signed hard copies through your local Congressman’s office and The White House have a larger impact; it appears as though there is time for it to be effective. If Congress and the White House don’t hear from us, they will only hear those who are motivated by profit. We are already at a disadvantage with funding and lobbying resources; our voice, loud and consistent is most effective tool. We will only get from Congress what we put into it. We need to give Casey, FWSFA, and the Union every tool we can give them.

Respectfully,

h
4/26 cynic-

Your post was cynical, as always, I’m glad you are at least willing admit it with your moniker. You often make some very good points and I find myself agreeing with your posts, despite your rabid cynicism. However, on this occasion, I am disappointed to hear that you have shared your relative umbrage with elected officials as truth. You are giving these politicians the impression that firefighters are divided, and it is counter productive to improving our Federal fire program, which is in every one’s best interest for the long term.

On the issue of PTP, I have to say, I am a bit torn here myself. While I agree that with current financial state of California, and the Nation, that PTP seems like a money guzzler…. Like buying a Suburban, when you could get a Honda Civic (I’m a long time Toyota lover myself, but suggested a Honda instead for obvious reasons), both essentially serve the same purpose, to get you where you want to go. Be that as it may, CA fire employees have negotiated that benefit, meaning the State willingly gave it to them in compensation for their service, so that’s that now. You’re right, currently this is an issue unique to California; but as far as CA goes, if the Forest Service wants fire employees, they’re going to have to pony up and match it. I believe it to be fair compensation for the expectations that firefighters are required to meet.

I gather that you are outside of R5, I can certainly identify with your position as I am also not from R5. I used to think that that R5/CA issues did not pertain to me because I did not live there, nor did I care too; but I have come to realize that the other states that make up the Western US will soon find themselves facing the same problems as the FS and R5 Fed Firefighters. Why not let R5 be the guinea pig?

I think you are missing the principle of things like PTP, factoring H Pay into retirement, and raising the retirement age. It’s about fully reimbursing our fire employees for their sacrifice they make to serve the public. Sure we all do it because we love it (not because we’re forced into it), but don’t negate the fact that a career in fire results in many sacrifices. The numerous physical impacts, the stress on families, time away and missing special occasions, the risk to your life, need I go on? As Casey has said before, these are issues that have been neglected by the Agency for years- morale is low, retention of qualified folks is a problem, it’s only a matter of time before all that becomes a serious, widespread safety issue. Are people not working under hazardous conditions less important? No, they are equally important- but the risk they take on to do their job is not equal. We need to start compensating our firefighters for the risk they are exposed to on a daily basis.

Oh, and as for the cap on Non-Fed resources, I thought people in Washington would like that on since they seem to loove “Cost Containment” so much. While air resources are important, and can assist firefighters in a lot of situations, I think if the American Public knew how much they were paying for those, they would agree that they should be tactfully limited.

So those are my points, you may or may not agree. To be honest cynic, I think you have already made up your mind, and it will not be changed. Even if you do “reconsider,” well, I guess that’s all it will ever be, a personal reconsideration, as you have already shared your opinions with members in Congress.

fireweed (always lurking around)
4/26 Cynic,

My understanding, and I checked with our retired personnel officer, is that the special firefighter retirement came about because OPM (formerly Civil Service) was convinced that firefighting is such an arduous activity that one could not be expected to work a standard 30-40 years in the profession. They agreed that a minimum of 20 years would qualify for retirement (certain other restrictions) and that a maximum age to perform would be 55.

If we now successfully argue that due to whatever reasons (better nutrition, training, equipment, tactics etc) one can indeed perform up to age 62+ on a regular basis...and thus negate the need for maximum hiring or retirement age limits.....then we might find OPM in agreement to drop the special retirement.

Not a rejection or support of 4488, just an observation.

Old Fire Guy

4/26 cynic

A couple agencies that get portal to portal: LA County Fire, Chester Volunteer. I know that their primary mission isn't wildland but whats the difference? They are getting paid Portal plus finance charges and at times, we have to pay for their replacements back home. So why shouldn't we be getting it also? Or why don't they just get rid of it all together on Fed fires and make us all equal. We didn't negotiate this with their unions so why should they reap the benefits?

Strive for 205
4/26 Failure to pass WCT:

Anonymous,

Any federal agency employee can file a SAFENET report should they witness a safety/health violation while on incident or in training (i.e. WCT). This is a productive way to speak up while remaining anonymous. Go to safenet.nifc.gov/

NozzleHog

4/26 Student needs photo help:

I am a student in baltimore county and i was wondering if you could help. I need photos for my photography class to prove that forest fires are a disadvantage to the environment. Please help with any locations in Maryland within the past several years or anything that could prove a forest fire's destruction.

Thank you.

Kevin

We have no photos of fire in Maryland that I'm aware of. Contributors, any photos of fires that show damage to the environment? Ab.

4/26 MT-CRA-Birthday Fire, falling snag accident - Preliminary 72 Hour Report

Lessons Learned Birthday Fire 72 hr Report

4/26 cynic,

I don't know enough about the bill to argue the points you made on non-fed resource cap and I know we are losing firefighters or are unable to hire some due to the age restriction so the age cap raise seems good to me but I would like to offer a small counter point to the portal to portal point you made.

You said that most people do not get paid 24 hours when they are called upon to travel and I would say that is true and I will relate this to my wife who used to work for wal-mart as a manager. She was often asked to attend meetings in other states or locations without being compensated for non duty time. Other times, employees who worked overnight were told (forced) to stay within the confines of the store even during their meal breaks which were not compensated. (They would lock the doors.)

I would say that of the 2 situations, the latter fits the description of what firefighters are told (forced to do). You know, stay here, don't go there, be available at a moments notice...? Sound familiar? Oh yeah I almost forgot. The wal-mart employees who were told (forced) to stay with in the confines of an area defined by the employer without compensation, filed a multi-million dollar law suit and won. But hey, wal-mart was not on fire or dropping snags on them while they were off the clock so it is different afterall... my bad.

DS

4/26 Contact info needed:

I'm looking for contact info for Susie Harvin, who made/makes gonzo gear line packs. Anyone know if she's still in business and if so, how to get a hold of her for some repairs?

thanks

WC

4/26 Failure to pass WCT:

Asking the readers,

What is the right thing to do if you observe; Captains, AFMOs, and FMOs who no longer are able to pass the pack test, and are passed by the WCT administrator because of the perceived need for these people in arduous positions? Believe it or not this is fairly common with the U.S.F.S. in some parts of the country. As a temp, I won't get hired back if I voice my concern.

anonymous

4/25 HR 4488: Ok, as usual I will swim upstream a bit on this one. I think the bill has several strong points, however there are a four points I have some real heart burn with.

Retirement age raised to 65. What was the premise behind federal firefighters getting firefighters retirement? It was my impression (and I could be wrong) that one of the major points was to maintain a young and vigorous fire fighting organization. If we are not going to adhere to that, I have no problem with it, just drop fire fighters retirement. I mean if firefighters want to work until 65 fine, but why should they then get special retirement? Why set the age at 65 why not 85? I will bet you your last dollar if the age is raised to 65 someone is going to bitch when they reach 65 that they are still tough as nails etc etc and da**it, it is just unfair to be forced to retire at 65.

Portal to Portal is a non starter. I have asked numerous times on this board for someone to name an entity that has wildland fire suppression as a primary mission besides Cal Fire that is paid portal to portal and have yet to have someone name a department or agency. So we are going to hang our hat on Cal Fire as a justification to get portal to portal? As a tax payer I say California is in such good fiscal condition maybe someone ought to be looking at taking portal to portal away, not trying to expand it to Federal fire fighters, even though we all know how sound the federal budget is. I will admit to being old school, but come on, how many of your brothers, fathers, sons, daughters etc get paid 24/7 when their jobs take them out of town. I know damn few. In fact I know no one!! I defy you to defend portal to portal to those folks.

Hazard Pay as part of retirement. Boy this is really an equitable one isn't it? So the folks that can gobble up the most HD get a higher retirement package. So where is the incentive to work at a location that does not pound down hours and hours of HD? Are those positions less important? This is another non starter in my opinion.

Non Federal Resources financial cap: yep this is one of those sound good sound bite deals that makes little to no sense. I can't wait to see some Forest Supervisor or Regional Forester standing on the porch explaining that no Retardant ships, no helicopters etc etc are available because we have already expended the money allocated to non federal resources. While the flames gobble up another So Cal subdivision. (Which we all know are more valuable than subdivisions any where else in the US) Come on, some on has to think this stuff through don't they?

So those are my thoughts in a nutshell. I have shared them with my congressional delegation and most of the congressional delegations in the Western US. If some one can convince me I am off base I will be glad to reconsider. In my opinion this bill is basically an R-5 wildland firefighters bill. It is so transparent as to be almost laughable. But hey, if you can swing it more power to you. I will be glad to support it with the exceptions I have noted.

the cynic
4/25 Be Engaged in May - HR 4488 SAM (Support and Awareness Month)

“All Call” - To: WLF Hotlist Forum Leaders Across this Country!

CWZWildfire
Sammie
TFDFF
PA Fire Warden
KHE2232
Milehighbar
Fire Donkey
SLEDGE
Sh9730
roadrunner
Ht
GA Peach
Stringtown
SoCal CalFire
Sr5401
AL
LTP
Midland
MusherCubby
mcleod
Norcal
Todd
Azfirefighter
OFG
Strider

And all other Hotlist Leaders and Contributors!

Join us in support of HR 4488. I don’t know your affiliation or your opinion of HR 4488. We do know that you and many others are the leaders of the Hotlist Forum. If you support HR 4488, write and email your elected officials, phone a friend and family member, spread the word among other members and request them to do the same.

If you’re opposed or neutral on HR 4488, we understand and respect your opinion and your “continuing” outstanding contributions to the Hotlist. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

More information for Hotlist Members can be found if you email or call Casey Judd at 208-775-4577

Write your House of Representatives Member

house.gov Filner

Letterman

4/25 >Memories are short.

I guess I will jump into this debate with a little history. Below was the Forest Service Green Plan time line to study the outsourcing wildland firefighting and other Forest Service jobs. The 2006 mid-term elections and the 2008 presidential race placed this time line on hold. Allow me to emphasize that those elections did not eliminate outsourcing, they only placed them on hold. Future administrations can direct agencies to once again pull these plans out from the filing cabinet, blow the dust off and start anew. Between 2001 and 2008, Forest Service computer, radio and telecommunications services, roads and fleet management services faced competition. We all remember what happened when private industry managed our fleet.

I offer Federal Wildland Firefighters from all 5 agencies two simple questions to think about:

Who was in favor of the previous administration's goal to conduct Green Plan outsourcing activities of Wildland Firefighting jobs?

Who is opposed to HR 4488?

Keep your friends close and the "opponents" of HR 4488 closer.

Federal Wildland Firefighters who believe in the framework outlined in HR 4488 need to get into this fight TODAY! It's your future, it's your family.

Signed,

So Cal Fed Firefighter who supports of HR 4488 and will do what I can to fight for it.


Competitive Sourcing “Green Plan”
FY 2005-2009


USDA – Forest Service
July 22, 2005


A. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FOREST SERVICE FY 2005 – FY 2009 COMPETITIVE SOURCING PLAN.

Competitive Sourcing Plans for 2005-2009.

The agency plans to conduct feasibility studies on 6,180 FTEs from FY 2005 to FY 2009. Follow-on competitions of previous studies may result in studies of 694 additional FTEs. The following tables highlight each year’s plan:

TABLE

4/25 HOG & All:

Thanks for your post. If you want, access the member's area on our web site which will list my staff contact in Minnick's DC office.

I sincerely appreciate the recent posts about HR 4488 and the FWFSA. Just a reminder, I am not the FWFSA, our members are. I just get to be the one to bang my head against a wall on a constant basis :)

TheySaid is read and viewed by many so it is important for everyone to understand that the introduction of HR 4488 and our efforts on behalf of our Nation's federal wildland firefighters is not a "battle" being waged against private contractors or cooperators. There is ample opportunity for all three segments to continue to exist in the federal land management agency fire program scheme of things. However in recent years things have become a bit skewed.

While it may inflame passions on either side of the spectrum, the FACT remains that the federal wildfire response has become a financial boon to many at the expense of our federal firefighters and the American taxpayer. The system has created an imbalance of federal & non-federal resources because the land management agencies, primarily the Forest Service, have failed to address long standing issues facing their firefighters and has been somewhat "loose" with the expenditures of FIRE dollars appropriated by Congress.

This imbalance has led to an over-reliance on non-federal resources. This FACT has been identified by, among others, some in Congress, the GAO, the Forest Service' own OIG and OMB's Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

That being said, the FWFSA has consistently suggested to Congress that even before the FLAME Act was passed, Congress appropriated enough FIRE dollars to make everyone happy, including paying our FEDS portal to portal and other benefits contained in HR 4488. The problem historically has been the management of those dollars by Agency Line Officers. Hell, give the members of the FWFSA a billion bucks to manage the programs and we'll get the job done and have plenty left over! Sorry ASC, you won't get any dough if FIRE folks are actually running the FIRE program... yea I know, what a concept.

In introducing legislation with a cost factor associated with it, the FWFSA was obligated to identify a way to pay for such costs. There is no dispute that non-federal resource costs, especially in the West and more specifically in California have resulted in skyrocketing suppression costs.

Not only are federal land management agencies paying the higher salaries of many non-federal resources, they are paying those salaries for 24 hrs. They are paying Admin fees to the department from which the resource came. They are paying for backfill costs and housing costs. Yup, we all know there are firefighters in the West making in the hundred(s) of thousand dollars each fire season while our FEDS are taken off the clock on the very same incident.

The federal wildfire landscape has created a cottage industry of all sorts of contract services for any incident. The food service contracts alone are mind-boggling. I dare say all the luxuries and Foo Foo stuff available nowadays is not to cater to the FEDS.

It is unfortunate that a small segment of non-federal resources cost so much. It is simply ironic that they exist in the most fire-prone areas of the West. And it isn't a situation where blame is due. These local government resources and State resources like Cal-Fire have a luxury federal employee don't have...the ability to negotiate pay & benefits. They have done an exceptional job providing pay & benefits for their members. It is also a fact however, that in tough economic times, some communities struggle to make ends meet because of public safety officer pay & benefits.

While I was on the Executive Board of the California Professional Firefighters I was in awe of the retirement package CDF was working on. I was shocked by how much some firefighters in California were earning. There wasn't a sense of jealousy or envy. In fact I don't know of any federal wildland firefighter that expects to be paid like other firefighters. What I did feel, and still feel was a sense of duty to work towards a better environment for our federal wildland firefighters so that they too could raise a family regardless of where they chose to live and work.

Yup, California is expensive. But that doesn't mean every federal wildland firefighter in every land management agency, regardless of grade or position, doesn't deserve basic fundamental changes to outdated pay & personnel policies.

One Congressman from California assumed that it was our intention with HR 4488 to "copy" the pay of Cal-Fire and we shouldn't expect to try and provide that all over the country. I had to explain to him and his staff the issue of portal to portal for federal firefighters has been an issue for over 2 decades, long before Cal-Fire's lucrative contracts and retirement package came into being.

Over the last year I have taken the time to respond to every concern raised by the private sector. I have had steady communication with the National Wildfire Suppression Association and have even offered its Executive Director to meet with their Board to ensure all private sector firefighters understand our intention IS NOT to put anyone out of business.

There has been some confusion about Sec. 5 of our bill, Equal Protection Under the Law. Some infer it means that it is designed to eliminate contractors and cooperators. That is not the case. Section 5 provides federal firefighters from the DOI and USDA the same protections against wholesale agency outsourcing of their jobs as currently enjoyed by DoD firefighters. It has absolutely no impact on the seasonal contracts entered into between the land management agencies and private, state & local entities.

The Forest Service fields the largest fire department in the world. It is my humble opinion that federal land management agency wildland firefighters are the best in the world. They are versatile and are relied upon by the federal government to respond to a variety of emergency incidents. Unfortunately (and this is my personal opinion) if the Forest Service managed its fire program more like a fire department, with fire staff managing the program and funds rather than Line Officers, the programs would be more effective and efficient.

That said, it is not the intent of the FWFSA to create an R-5-like fire program across the entire country. However, we do believe that federal wildland firefighters everywhere deserve basic fundamental reforms. Captains in California are GS-8s. Captains everywhere else should also be GS-8s. No firefighter should be expected to risk his/her life for GS-3 or even GS-4 pay. That is an insult and demonstrates the sheer ignorance of OPM and the agencies for not equating the grade with the risk.

If you're going to be involved in a prescribed burn, I don't care if it is in Michigan, Florida or Nevada, you deserve hazard pay. Federal wildland firefighters deserve to not be unduly burdened by the fear of criminal prosecution for making split-second decisions in some of the most dangerous, inhospitable environments known to man. I could go on and on...and I have so I apologize.

HR 4488 is too important to get into a battle among wildland colleagues. However if the Agencies are going to continue to stick their heads in the sand and ignore the voices of their employees, those voices will undoubtedly become animated at times. So let's keep our heads, respect all in the wildland firefighting community and fix this where it can be fixed by focusing on our elected officials.

Respectfully,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
4/25 HR 4488 SAM! - May, 2010

I used this template that I found. Use these talking points or create your own. I changed some of them. I agree that nothing is more important then my family members. We are all family and we all have our families to think about. Lets do this for them. Tool up!

I can tell everyone that when I joined FWFSA, Casey called me and personally thanked me for the support. He was down to earth, easy to talk with and he related to my situation. I knew right then I made the right decision to join. I don't see anyone else fighting for me, my family and my firefighters as hard as Casey Judd.

River Rat

Dear Representative (Insert Name),

I am writing today to ask for your support of HR 4488 – The National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement and Cost Containment Act. I am a (insert “a federal wildland firefighter”, a “family member of a federal wildland firefighter”, a “friend of a federal wildland firefighter”, or what ever best describes your reason for writing in support) and I am one of the constituents in your Congressional District.

H.R. 4488 addresses long standing issues affecting the safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of the federal wildland fire management program. Specifically, the background issues are:

(1) Significant losses of Federal wildland firefighters to non-Federal fire agencies have been experienced by all 5 Federal land management agencies over the last several years. Federal land management agencies have failed to take actions within their authority to reduce or eliminate such losses despite being aware of the issues and solutions for over 20 years.

(2) These losses have primarily been the result of Federal wildland firefighters leaving the Federal system for better pay and benefits offered by State and local fire agencies, particularly in the 11 western contiguous States. Pay and benefits for Federal wildland firefighters have not kept pace with other fire agencies, which continue to offer significantly higher pay and benefits to attract Federal firefighters.

(3) These firefighter losses have resulted in significant vacancies in critical fire positions, resulting in reduced levels of personnel and other resources within the Federal sector as compared to those envisioned by the National Fire Plan.

(4) Federal wildland firefighting resources are, by and large, inherently less costly to the Federal Government than the use of non-Federal resources. Therefore it stands to reason that strengthening the inherently less expensive Federal infrastructure will allow Federal land management agencies to reduce their reliance on higher-priced non-Federal resources and ultimately reduce wildfire suppression costs.

(5) Federal land management agencies have failed to maintain Federal wildland firefighter staffing and resource levels pursuant to the National Fire Plan and its ‘Most Efficient Level’ (MEL) as envisioned by Congress.

(6) It is incumbent upon Congress and the Federal Government to provide America’s taxpayers with the most fiscally effective and efficient wildland fire programs managed by the five Federal land management agencies.

I would like you to consider being a co-sponsor to H.R. 4488, or letting me know that you will support it after it comes out of committee. I can be contacted at (Your Email Address).

Thank you for considering my request.

Respectfully,

/s/ (Your Name)
(Your Address)

(Your Phone Number)
4/25 "HR 4488 Support and Awareness Month" (SAM).

Ab & Idaho firefighters,

Please write your Rep.!!!! District 1 is Walt Minnick (western Idaho and the panhandle), you can email him @ minnick.house.gov.
 
HOG

4/25 Don't forget to

Call or email the WFF with your donations of AIR MILES for Family Fire attendees
(877) 336-2950 or
info @ wffoundation.org

4/25 I added a few posts to Don Studebaker's memory page. Thanks for those. Ab.
4/25 "HR 4488 Support and Awareness Month" (SAM).

Ab,

I want to CHALLENGE all fed wildland firefighting retirees to email your congressional reps to get behind HR 4488. These issues have been around and a problem for many years as evidenced by the archives. Dealing with them would do a lot for FS morale, establishing a sense of fairness or parity for fed wildland firefighters. Passage would increase firefighter safety, and just culture, not to mention it's more cost effective. We need all the help we can get: families, friends, wildland firefighter advocates.

I have friends among the private sector firefighters. My friends are honorable people and hardworking, but this is our fed fight.

New guys and gals, join FWFSA and lend your voice to ours. Old guys and gals, and those that are retired, join the emailing effort. Kick back some bucks to FWFSA to help with the ongoing efforts.

Everyone, get your families and friends involved. Back in the day firefighter wives organizing did a lot to educate and get legislation passed. These days with more firefighting women, I'd have to say firefighter spouses. We're getting there on that issue...

How to communicate with congressionals? I know from working on one particular local environmental issue recently that we've been told by our advisor not to fax, it defeats the purpose and wastes trees. It's also old tech. Anyone have any feedback from DC and local congressional offices on how they like to get requests or hear viewpoints and how do our votes get tallied? Phone calls? Paper copies, probably not since anthrax. Emails, etc? Any of you that teach or train, get your students involved. Lots of new folks coming on next week, mention the issues to them, get them involved... Influencing their congressionals and joining FWFSA...

Together we can make a difference. We can make a change. As you advance in your careers and family, you'll understand how great a difference.

Could someone come up with a "stock" letter? The 9 points from the previous poster were very good.

NorCal Tom

4/24 More HR 4488 SAM - May 2010

A message from Congressman Bob Filner to each of us about HR 4488. Please share this post with your family and friends today.

Introducing Legislation to Support our Federal Wildland Firefighters

I recently introduced H.R. 4488, the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement & Cost Containment Act. This bill seeks to restore the strength of federal wildfire response as it was originally envisioned by the National Fire Plan adopted by Congress earlier this decade. H.R. 4488 will help improve the effectiveness and efficiencies of these programs.

It is about time that we properly recognize our brave federal wildland firefighters and make sure they are on par with other federal firefighters. Congress must provide American citizens with the strongest, most cost-effective, and efficient federal wildfire response possible to meet the challenges and complexities of wildfires in the 21st Century.

This legislation will lead to reforms in fiscal management of the federal land management agency fire programs which will provide significant savings in wildfire suppression spending. H.R. 4488 is also a solution to an outdated personnel law that currently provides federal wildland firefighters with lower salaries and benefits than other firefighters facing similar risks and responsibilities.

www.house.gov Filner

Don't let private firefighting company CEO's control the HR 4488 debate. Contact your representative NOW. Mothers, Fathers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, grandma, grandpa and friends, have them all email, FAX or call and show support for HR 4488.

Support FWFSA - Call Casey today and become a member - 208-775-4577. If you're not a member yet, I ask you to call and just have a conversation with Casey about membership. This is about your career and your family. Nothing is more important than doing something for the ones you love. Get on board and do your part. Read the 9 parts of this bill that supports the work you do and your family.

CEOs = NO - Firefighters = YES

HR 4488 SAM - May 2010

ms - 221

4/24 Dear Ab:

I spent a delightful day today with my daughter and 2 year old grandson, getting home just after 9:00pm mountain time at which time I checked my email.

On my fwfsa.org account was the following email:

Name: A CEO
Message: Kind of proves that you talk out of both sides of you mouth does in not? And I quote right from wildlandfire.com \"CEOs who own private firefighting companies shall not control the HR 4488 debate and shall not control our nations natural resources. These CEOs shall be dealt with accordingly. Hand them a 221. If these CEO's want to play hardball, bring it on.\"

Don\'t bother making excuses, alot of us can see your true colors.

Bewildered, I continued to check the rest of my emails then as usual, proceeded to TheySaid at which time I read the post about HR 4488 and private contractor CEOs. I hope you will let folks know that the post did not come from me. I responded to the email I received and indicated that I use my name on my posts.

I'm not going to comment on the post except to say that it was a bit more "pointed" then even I can be at times.

Heck folks, I don't even know what a 221 is!

Casey

A CEO, that was not a post from Casey, although it is well written as his are. A 221 refers to the NIMS -ICS Demobe Checkout form.
Casey has no need to write in support of himself when it's clear he has a whole organization of wildland firefighters that hold the same positions he does, can write well and have employed him to educate Congress.

Carry on. Keep it civil. Ab.

4/24 Dalton Ragnar relay

We finished in just over 24hrs! Not bad for a bunch of Hotshots. The crew did an awesome job! We had some fierce competition this year!! The High Mountain Men kicked butt. Thank you to all that were there and who supported us and the WFF.

Pics will come soon!

SG

4/24 May 2010 shall be known as; "HR 4488 Support and Awareness Month" (SAM).

In advance of May 1st, here are the 9 major parts of HR 4488 that you need to know about. Many Temp Firefighters have started working or will be starting this coming Monday. Please ensure they know about HR 4488 and FWFSA.

Email or call today your local representative:

house.gov Filner

CEOs who own private firefighting companies shall not control the HR 4488 debate and shall not control our nations natural resources. These CEOs shall be dealt with accordingly. Hand them a 221. If these CEO's want to play hardball, bring it on.

Email TODAY! Join FWFSA TODAY! 1) Call Casey Judd 208-775-4577 2) Log onto you DASHBOARD 3) Done

9 points within HR 4488 that every Wildland Firefighter needs to know.
  1. Retirement age: The bill would change the mandatory retirement age for a to firefighter from 57 to 65.
  2. Outsourcing: It adds protection from outsourcing for the five major federal land management agencies, the USFS, BLM, NPS, USF&WS, and the BIA.
  3. Wildland Firefighter series: It requires that the Office of Personnel Management develop a “separate and distinct wildland firefighter occupational series that will more accurately reflect the variety of duties performed by wildland firefighters.” Anyone who is currently in the 401 series would have the option of transferring to the new Wildland Firefighter series.
  4. Portal-to-Portal: $25 million would be authorized to begin a pilot program in which firefighters would be paid for “all time the firefighter is away from their official duty station assigned to an emergency incident, in support of an emergency incident, or pre-positioned for emergency response”. Standard overtime rules would apply and employees would be exempt from premium pay limitations. The pilot program would begin “with the 2010 wildfire season”. The Department of Agriculture and Interior would participate in the pilot program which would not exceed three calendar years.
  5. Non-Federal resources: The bill requires that during the pilot program there would be reductions in the amount of fire suppression funds expended on non-Federal fire suppression resources.
  6. Hazardous Duty Pay would be treated as part of base pay for retirement purposes. And the following is a little vague, but it appears that firefighters would receive hazard duty pay for all the time they are “on the fire line of any wildfire or prescribed fuel treatment burn or fire“, regardless of the control status.
  7. Benefits for Seasonal Wildland Firefighters: there are some changes related to the availability of life insurance for seasonal wildland firefighters.
  8. Buy Back of Previous Firefighting Time: there are changes related to the buy back of work time and how it relates to retirement.
  9. “Sec. 8. Firefighter Liability”: The bill requires that for every fatality to a firefighter or other employee of the U.S. Forest Service and now the four Dept. of Interior land management agencies due to an entrapment or “burrower”, the department’s Inspector General (IG) shall conduct an investigation. This requirement has been in effect for the U.S. Forest Service, only, since the 2002 Cantwell-Hastings bill, and has resulted in witch hunts, attorney fees, and jail time for firefighters who make mistakes on the fireline. The bill would repeal the provisions of the 2002 bill regarding the IG investigations for USFS fatalities but replaces it with similar requirements that would apply to the USFS and the Dept. of Interior wildland firefighters. The bill does, however, require that IG investigators “have the necessary training, skills, and experience to competently conduct the investigation”, but does not specify what training, experience, and skills are required. It goes on to say ”The investigations and accompanying reports shall be used by all land management agency fire programs to build upon the concept of lessons learned from the fire event. It is not the intent of Congress that the investigations and reports would be used to find fault or place blame for a fatality, but rather to recognize that wildland firefighting is an inherently dangerous occupation and to reduce the number of fatalities from due to wildfire entrapment or burrower.”

The 9 points are from The WildfireToday.com Blog and belatedly permission was granted. Thanks for permission, Bill. Ab.

Fed contributors, the goal should be getting the legislation passed through positive efforts of a whole lot of federal wildland firefighters and their families. Ab.

4/24 2009 Paul Gleason Award Winners. Simply something to be very proud of receiving.

Gleason Award 2009

Dennis Baldridge
Regional Office R-5 - Vallejo, CA

Stan Stewart
Los Padres National Forest, Santa Barbara, CA

Pete Glover
Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Ishpeming Field Office, Ishpeming , MI

Steve Holdsambeck
U.S. Forest Service, Intermountain Region, Ogden , UT

Kathy Komatz
National Park Service, National Interagency Fire Center , Boise , ID

Congrats all. Excellent contributions. Ab.

4/24 A Supt - Thanks for giving us all clarification on that.

For One Sorry Supt, I must of missed something. Maybe post was removed? In any event no worries. Thanks for the work you do.

ms

Now to the bigger fish to fry:

Firefighter Series and P to P - A two year look back in history:

Update In 2008: Efforts to complete this section of the retention strategy are ongoing. Topics within the Regional Forester’s authority being considered for recommendation include: Variations on the concept of “Portal to Portal” pay.

Update In 2008 Assessment and evaluation of a separate firefighter series is ongoing. Regional staff work has been completed and provided to the WO Classification Branch. In order for OPM to consider the development of the firefighter series a proposal must be forwarded to OPM from USDA. OPM does not have a standard timeline for response.

Update In 2009: A WO team at ACS is looking at a Wildland Firefighter series. There is a lot of momentum and inter-agency involvement to create a fire job series. Portal to Portal or Ordered Stand by is still being discussed.

Update in January 2010: After review, the Forest Service did not pursue ordered standby as an alternative to portal-to-portal pay. The complexity, cost of administration, and the ineffectiveness of ordered standby as a one-for-one alternative to portal-to-portal all combined to support the decision to abandon the proposal.

Update in 2010: Pursuit of a separate firefighter series is on hold. Discussions were held with DOI partners and a briefing paper was developed and delivered to the Fire Executive Council (executives for all DOI agencies and the US Forest Service [not in attendance]) on November 13, 2009 (see Attachment 2). There has been no movement since that time.

However we still have this below. Please send an email to someone asking how this evaluation is coming along and how would it work. Pena, Moore, Willie, Boxer or Feinstein, it doesn't matter who you ask, just ask someone.

In 2009: Evaluation of the current Special Salary Rate for firefighters in Southern California area is ongoing. Regional specialists are working in conjunction with the WO to determine if additional changes are required to the current Special Salary Rate.

In early 2010: The Forest Service will develop a plan of action by June 2010 on the requirements needed to determine if a special pay rate for California is needed. If the analysis shows the need, a request will be pursued through proper channels for submission to the OPM.

Ask someone!

HR 4488 is the answer for the two years of Moore updates and Pena-grams that have gone no where. Don't let private firefighting company businessman and CEO's control the debate on HR 4488. These CEO's that are in opposition to 448 need to be boycotted and demobilized. FAX, Email, Call - FAX, Email, Call your local representatives in support of HR 4488

Write your House of Representatives Member

And finally the winner of the 2009 morale gut check award goes to the following......
How those coffee's coming along?

Subject: Region 5 Morale Progress
Key Issue: How the Region is Addressing Agency-wide Morale Issues

Description:

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.
    • Pursuit of a separate firefighter series is on hold. Discussions were held with DOI partners and a briefing paper was developed and delivered to the Fire Executive Council (executives for all DOI agencies and the US Forest Service [not in attendance]) on November 13, 2009 (see Attachment 2). There has been no movement since that time.

No posts removed. Thanks for laying out the info ms. Ab.

4/24 A Tribute to Don Studebaker for Posting on They Said:

Ab,

In 2001, Don welcomed me to CIIMT2 from CIIMT5. I was first introduced to Don in the 80’s at various training sessions, but began to work with Don on a more regular basis in 1991 when I arrived on the San Jacinto RD as a young Battalion Chief (Don was the Division Chief at Palomar).

In 2002, CIIMT2 had a pretty good fire season. This is where Don really was able to show his skills as a leader, both professionally and for me on a personal basis. Most of us have either heard and or seen the events that occurred on the Eyerly Fire. I was standing directly behind the bulletin board when his fist banged the board to illustrate his “sermon” on fire behavior characteristics and firefighting. On the McNally Fire, Don brought his team back to the SQF after taking on the Manter Fire two years earlier. Dj vu for everyone involved. I arrived late to the incident (as I did on almost each incident that year – more on that in a minute), but Don was ready for me and assigned me to work with both the INF and SQF in preparation for the fire to get on the INF. He sent me on a task to Bishop to work with the INF leadership. While enroute, Don called me and told me to look over my shoulder. From 395 I could clearly see the smoke column. He described the events of the day as the incident took out a key drainage and some of the actions we had to take with our firefighters. Without hesitation, he provided me with a different set of intent messages for the INF. This is where I would learn through Don’s style of leadership about the concept of “intent with action.” It was a significant change, well packaged and was all about setting firefighters up for success as only Don could describe.

I mentioned earlier that I was late for almost every incident during the 2002 fire season. I was diagnosed with cancer during the late spring of 2002. During the course of the summer, I was in and out of various appointments, checkups, surgery and other assorted activities while continuing to try and perform in support of CIIMT2 as one of Don’s OSC1s. This is where Don really stood out as a leader, mentor and friend. His support to me as I went through this period was tremendous. Don’s assistance was key in allowing me to make some necessary decisions related to my family and career. Don allowed me to gracefully transition out of my roll as the lead OSC1 as I officially ended my IMT assignment on the Curve Fire in order to spend more time with family. He never made me feel anything but a sense of pride and accomplishment for my service to the CA IMTs as a result of my decision.

I have much to thank Don for, as I was one of those that provided him many opportunities to exercise his leadership and mentorship skills. One of his most impressive traits was his ability to actively demonstrate leadership with what seemed like very little effort on his part. For me, it was his approach to his life, what he was and the person he chose to be. If there was anyone who portrayed the concepts of Duty (accomplishing the mission), Respect (taking care of the people) and Integrity (moral courage) during their career, it was Don Studebaker.

I still think of Don often, and will always remember that sideways look over the rim of his glasses. Thank you Don.

Joe Millar

4/24 Hi Ab, Could you please post this for me. thx - Legs

Entry level hazardous fuels/fire job opportunities for Veterans! Durango, Colorado.

The San Juan Public Lands (USFS and BLM) have an agreement with the Southwestern Conservation Corporation (SCC) to use Veterans hired through the SCC to work on hazardous fuels/fire projects. Currently, the SCC has several Vet's funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helping the San Juan Public Lands with hazardous fuels WUI projects and pile burning. The Veterans take the basic fire and saw classes (5109.17 and 310-1) and are then sponsored by the local fire department, Durango Fire and Rescue, to obtain their redcards. The intent of the program is extensive, but for my intent we hope to train veterans to gain experience working on hazardous fuels/fire projects to build experience for applying to fire fighting jobs throughout the country.

We are working diligently to put our veterans back to work and they are doing a great job! If anyone is interested in this opportunity they should contact Kevin Heiner at 970-759-3935 for more information.

Thanks
Shawna Legarza
Division Chief
Fire Management Officer
Durango, Colorado
4/24 Leadership:

Ab,

Just looked at the memorial page link for Don Studebaker that NorCal Tom sent in. If regular viewers of "They Said It" have
not looked at this page, they need to. Especially the last photo showing Don's idea of LEADERSHIP. I wish I would of had
this when I was in leadership roles to apply to my style. There are some real gems in there that could improve the way people
lead others. For those of you that supervise, from Squad Boss to IC, you can learn by reading these and putting them to use.
Showed me where alot of my shortfalls were located!

Firehorse

Here, I typed the words on Don's LEADERSHIP poster Ab.

Listen - to those you work with. Remember that the further you are removed from the tasks on the ground, the more reality tends to pale and fade from your memory.
Empower - subordinates and allow them to spread their wings.
Achieve - your goals and help those that work for you achieve theirs.
Demonstrate - by being a role model. Lead by example. Show them how it's done.
Encouurage - others to achieve and reach for a higher standard.
Responsive - of the needs of your people and the organization.
Share - what you know.
Help - others meet their expectations.
Inspire - lead and others will follow.
Prepare - your people to succeed.

4/24


~~ ~ ~~
Don Studebaker
10-21-48 to 04-24-05

Rest In Peace Don

~~ ~ ~~

name withheld
 

4/24 Remembering Don Studebaker. Good man, excellent firefighter, FORCE OF NATURE. Hard to believe he's been gone 5 years.

Don's Memorial Page

NorCal Tom

Thanks, Tom. Indeed. Readers, If anyone has memories or a thought to share, I'll add them to Don's page. Was Don on a Hotshot crew in his early years? My best to his family. Ab.

4/24 Big kudos to the R5 dispatchers who raised $1800 for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation at their workshop
through a silent auction and donations!!

I was lucky enough to be able to talk to the group and they are a great bunch of folks. Thanks for inviting me
and remember what a valuable part of the fire world you all are! My hats off to you for all you do.

Lori

Excellent work, Dispatchers! Couldn't fight fire without 'em! Just think of how many IA fires dispatchers have helped pick up with their unique KSAs... lots. Thanks Lori for the post. Ab.

4/24 Ab -- Always enjoy the TheySaid forum. Some scattershooting:

1. In reference to the thread about Felling. The entire curriculum that MTDC developed for Chain Saw and Crosscut Saw Training and Certification (non-fire) is on their website.fs.fed.us/t-d . For some arcane reason(s) the USFS T&D folks must only provide info to agency folks, so this site is password protected. However, non-USFS folks can utilize "t-d" for both the username and the password, when prompted. Gotta search a little, but materials include student guidebook 2006 edition, instructor guidebook 2006 edition, and powerpoint situational awareness programs for both chain saw and crosscut saw. Felling, at least basic felling, is discussed. MTDC specifically developed this based on requests from USFS field units to provide an alternative to S212 for personnel (employees, cooperators, partners, volunteers) who are engaged in saw ops for project work - TSI, trails, recreation, wildlife, research, etc. - but not on the fireline.

2. In reference to the 3/31 USFS WO letter, posted on TheySaid on 4/11 - paragraph 7 - Workforce Development.....wow -- only 9% of USFS employees participate in non-local fire assignments. Of course, gotta wonder about the validity of the numbers, since, for instance, if it was pulled from ROSS, and members of T1 IMTs in at least some areas never show in ROSS as available nationally, but the way the team availability is shown as "local only". Also gotta chime in as a proud member of the agency wildland fire militia since way-way-before "milita" was a term used in this context. The Deputy Chief and the head of the national LOT say this is important to the Chief. I strongly agree that it certainly should be, but if it really is, then the Chief ought to be the person saying so -- through the formal chain of command, and also through direct communications with all employees (...and I'd suggest an e-mail document, not a technologically unwatchable herky-jerky video)

One simple thing could make a huge difference -- if the Chief required that each employee position description and performance elements included some version of the old statement -- "participates in agency fire management efforts consistent with training and experience"........ well, imagine the possibilities....

I believe strongly that my involvement in fire makes me better and more effective in my regular USFS job, and also that what I bring to fire assignments from my regular non-fire job benefits fire and makes me a better wildland firefighter. I'm encouraged to see some of our recent non-primary-fire new hires taking the initiative to get involved with fire. And I'm grateful to work in a region where the militia is still an important component of our wildland fire management resources.

3. I'm looking at my Wildland Firefighter Foundation calendar as I type this -- the April 2010 image is from the Blackhorse Fire in Feb 2008, involving lands of the NPS Blue Ridge Parkway and the USFS George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, during one of the most severe early season fire busts in Virginia history. (Caption on the pix is not quite 100% accurate.). And here in the Old Dominion, we are currently winding down from a mini-bust of T3 incidents -- so a shout-out to our brothers and sisters who detailed in to help us out -- a variety of single resources from across the country, and T2IA crews from the Payette and Targhee, and the Smokey Bear and Silver City IHCs. Thanks and safe travels !

And, Ab, always, muchos gracias for TheySaid.

STUMPIE.

Glad you're with us STUMPIE.
Readers, you can find a permanent link to the MTDC's tech and developmental database on the Links page under Federal Agencies. Ab

4/24 Smokejumpers on CMT:

As an ex smokejumper, after watching this program I can only shake my head. What was the hell was that? Starting tomorrow I think I will deny ever being a smokejumper. That was the most embarrassing piece of crap excuse for a television show I think I have ever watched. Then to realize there were actual smokejumpers involved made it even more incredible. Well, I made it to about the 30 minute mark and had to go throw up and then turned on the xbox! So maybe the second 30 minutes redeemed it to just your ordinary crappy reality type show. I can only hope!

If you are a smokejumper and were associated with this show you should hang your head in shame. How low will the outfit go to allow crap like this to be shown to the American public. If the American people buy this drivel I guess you got by with it. Most of my associates are intelligent type folks and they have been calling me for the last half hour laughing hilariously and baiting me into trying to defend the program. So thanks for putting me in the position of not being able to defend the smokejumper program. In fact I may become an advocate to get rid of the program.

IF you are a smokejumper and were not associated with this show, call those jumpers that were and let them know how utterly stupid they appeared and as a result how stupid they made you appear. If you are a jumper that was involved in this travesty call your fellow jumpers and apologize.

I wish I could think of something worse to say, but the show speaks for itself. For those quote "veteran" jumpers shown and quoted on the show, take a look in the mirror! That is a fool looking back at you! And thanks for embarrassing all of us that went before you.

Gads, I have to go throw up again, I hope this is the last time tonight!!

the cynic
4/24 Don't forget the Mike Schweitzer Memorial Challenge Run today in Scott Valley Pleasure Park, Etna, California. 5 K, 10 K and half marathon plus picnic, etc. Ab.
4/23 BREAKING NEWS!

Burk WFF just called from the Dalton HSs' Ragnar Relay Fundraiser event.

The race has officially started. The Dalton HS crewmember took off and was leading the field of 30-40 runners on this first and one of the longest legs of the relay. The whole crew is there and will be gearing up each to run their own leg of the 199.9 mile relay race. Here's the route: Relay Route : The Map!

Donate to the WFF in support of the great effort.

Ab.

WFF page on Dalton HS relay

4/23 Ab-

I am that superintendent who, in the space of 15 minutes, let outside stresses build up and lashed out with two stupid emails that alienated my peers, coworkers, past crewmembers, and the rest of Fire and Aviation Management; in other words, everyone who I respect and consider my closest friends.

I am posting here in the hopes of quickly reaching IHC crewmembers that are at training and otherwise away from their stations this week to apologize to them for my words.

I have been able to get in touch with most of the Superintendents to offer my apologies to both them in their crew and have sent out an email that should be circulated today throughout the R5 IHC community. It has been very humbling for me to hear from the Supts that I talked to that their main concern was for my home life and mental well-being; not for me offending them. This has shown me what great friends you are, and I’ll never forget it. For the crewmembers that work for these Supts – you are lucky to be working for such special people. Their forgiveness and re-acceptance of me makes me proud to be considered to be one of them.

Everything that your previous posters have said about me is true; my actions were unprofessional, stupid, egotistical, and went against everything I thought I stood for and definitely everything Fire and Aviation Management stands for- Duty, Integrity, and Respect. In particular, my words divided rather than built the team; in this case the “team” is all of us in fire suppression.

To answer a couple of questions I have heard -
No, alcohol wasn’t involved. I can understand the confusion with the time stamp, but I had to run home early that day to take care of a family emergency and then came back to work late in order to get caught up. That this was a sober mistake makes it even more amazing.

Yes, there will be some sort of punishment. You can’t make a mistake without paying the consequences, and I will take my punishment standing up- just like I’d expect my crewmembers to do. My desire is to get past this and focus on re-uniting any divides that I have created.

There are no excuses for my actions. I can only offer to all of you my sincerest apologies and humblest gratitude for your concern. Talking with Supts throughout the last couple of days has reminded me that a Superintendent is just a grown up crewmember; the magnitude of our mistakes is just greater. In my twenties and thirties, I was amazed at the things I could do. Now in my forties, I’m just amazed at the things I can screw up.

If any of you feel the need for a face-to-face apology from me, please feel free to stop me on the fireline or call my office. If I don’t hear from you, please have a safe summer….. and by all means have fun. I’ve had a great time doing this job, and am especially sorry if I diminished that fun, excitement, and passion for the job in others.

Once again folks, I’m truly sorry to everyone.

Sign me- One Sorry Supt.
4/23 Posters found:

We have 2 laminated posters for Suwyn’s Incident Management Team of Great Basin Type 2 IMT.
Please forward a phone contact or call Diane at 801 xxx ASAP.

Thank you,

Diane
Delta Air Lines Lost & Found
SLC

Holler for the phone number... Ab.

OK, done, put them in touch. Ab.

4/23 CFMTTF,

I cannot tell you how each committee member feels. If you are asking for my opinion, I would have to say NO, not every member supports this decision. However, they did the right thing by taking the RHC's issues forward to the Region. My main point of my post was the fact that we as Hotshots have folks we can take our issues to rather than airing our dirty laundry on a web site, that would be the professional thing to do. Many of the CA Hotshots have a rep assigned to about every 10 crews. Some of the Reps are RHC (old term now) Supts.

A Supt.
4/22 Burk Minor from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is going to be at the Dalton HSs' Ragnar Relay and then at the Fulton and Texas Canyon HSs' Sporting Clay Shoot. If you live nearby, go and offer your support or go and join in.

Ab.

4/22 IHCs and Steering Committee:

A Supt,

One question before you go back behind the scenes. Are you telling us that every member of the steering
committee supports this decision? That's a yes or no question.

CFMTTF

4/22 IHCs

Very good decision by the R-5 Regional Office in my opinion. However what was really impressive about the RO
involvement was that this decision was actually approved by the WO before this went out. For that, R-5 RO deserves
praise for following through on this request that originated from the field. This is a done deal.

Some of you might be confused because when you look up Hotshot Crews at the national website, they are all listed
as IHCs. Well now it's official.

Now it's time for the R-5 IHC Hotshot community to: convenio quod opus ut unus

We have bigger fish to fry people!

All R-5 IHCs need to support our remaining Type 2 IA crews still working on IHC Hotshot status. Help them, for
they are us. They have been hit the hardest since the start of the MEL build up. They are the victims of the region's
blind eye on the retention issue that is only now starting to improve and still subject to a reversal.

ms

~~~~
Date: April 19, 2010
Subject: Appropriate Designator for Hotshot Crews
To: Forest Supervisors, Forest Fire Chiefs, Region 5 Hotshot Committee Chair

All Forest Service Hotshot crews in the Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5) that have been certified under the Interagency Hotshot Operations Guide will now hold the designator of Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC). This includes the original Region 5 Interagency Hotshot Crews and those developed under the MEL build-up. The remaining crews that have not been certified as Hotshot crews are to be identified and mobilized as Type 2 IA crews.

If you have any questions, please contact Willie Thompson, (707) 562-8927.

/s/ James M. Pea (for)
RANDY MOORE
Regional Forester

cc: Willie R Thompson, Neal Hitchcock, Kim A Christensen, Paul Bannister, Joe Millar, Susie Stingley, Ralph Domanski, Art Torrez

4/22 Family Fire:

Readers,

I got a call from Vicki at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation this afternoon. She was bubbling about the 7 families that have taken over the planning for the Family Fire event in Boise on May 14-16. As most of you know, this is a long weekend event with activities designed for kids, spouses, siblings and parents of the fallen. Firefighters show up and participate.There's lots of LOVE and sharing and activities. It's always a hit!

So here's what the WFF needs -- on ANY AIRLINES:

  • Air miles
  • Air miles tickets
  • Saver Awards

There are families from the West and the East that can't afford air fares or can't afford tickets for all family members. We can help them get there! No kid left behind!

Call or email the WFF with your donations of AIR MILES
(877) 336-2950 or
info@wffoundation.org

It will make you feel SOOOOOOOO good!

Mellie

Shhhhh... There was a whisper of an Idaho Rodeo Queen... and her mustang Rowdy? Well, maybe I have my mustangs mixed up.... lol!

4/22 AB,

I usually don't post much but felt compelled to respond to the Hotshot Superintendent thread. As a Hotshot Superintendent, I do not condone nor agree with my colleague's email that was sent out. However, I am just as disappointed in the Hotshots that posted his email and lambasting him on this site. As HOTSHOTS, we have a Steering Committee (Who fought for the RHCs to get IHC status) as well as Reps from said committee. As Hotshots, we should be dealing with any issues in-house, not on the web. I would humbly suggest that you contact your Representative with these issues. The works of the Steering Committee in getting the IHC status was a big step, but doing what you doing in this forum only take us backwards.

Respectively,
A Supt.
4/22 Ab--

I got a good kick out of Super Supt. position on the mel crews getting status as IHCs if they pass their evaluations.
Really Super Supt. sounds like you could put out a single fire with your ego. We are all doing our parts in putting out
fires and if you think that because someone hasn't put in as many years on a REAL SHOT CREW that they aren't
worthy, then you are highly mistaken. I remember years ago some of the old crews members saying that the shots
now a days aren't as good or strong as the past crews. So when do we stop this pi$$ing contest? Really let some
air out of that swelled head and let's just do our jobs.

Strive for 205

4/22 Casey sent a message that if anyone needs to reach him they should call his cell or email him. His office phone is on the blink

Last time that happened, he'd burned out around his garage; his office phone cable unbeknownst to him was under the grass! HAW HAW! Ab.

4/22 Here's the 24 hr report for the injured BIA firefighter:

Lessons Learned Birthday Fire 24 hr Report (28 K pdf file)

Ab.

4/22 Ab,

After reading one of the earlier posts, this is an excerpt of the OIG Audit Report that came out. I found it interesting. I agree that there is more that can be done as far as the FS' effort in regards to aligning training with positions that are in need. However, I think the lack of motivation partially comes from the employees perception of the agency's effort to protect the employee in high profile fireline positions (ie. I.C. Ops. Div.). I've seen "qualification delay" occur for that exact reason. I have seen individuals refuse or delay their qualification progression because they don't want the responsibility, because they don't feel confident that the agency will back them. And the fact that the agency encourages Liability insurance, is flat out saying.... if something goes wrong, its on you, or that is the perception anyway. Now, I know that the agency will back you as long as you are within your scope of practice, however, a lot of times, there is a fine line as far as decision making goes that may put you on the fence and I think that this is a dance that a lot of folks don't want to deal with. So they avoid management responsibilities and stay in their comfort zone....... thoughts? I think the agency needs to address the issue of making folks feel confident in their management positions. Additionally, you can't force someone to train in a position they don't want: for this Job, you have to want to be where you are at, otherwise, your lack of motivation could hurt yourself or someone else. Forcing someone into a management fireline position is a whole other can of worms.

Concerned

Forest Service’s Firefighting Succession Planning Process

Section 3: Availability
Finding 2: FS’ Firefighting Ability Challenged by Lack of Participation

FS’ ability to effectively suppress wildfires is challenged by a lack of participation from its firefighters. We determined that voluntary availability and the lack of career incentives have caused most FS firefighters to list themselves as unavailable for the growing number of large, costly fires where they are needed most. As a result, FS faces larger and lengthier wildfire suppression efforts with fewer firefighters, which increases the risk to natural resources, property, and the safety of firefighters.

FS pays to train its employees for firefighting positions but has no formal policy that specifies whether wildfire suppression participation is mandatory or voluntary. After they qualify for firefighter positions, FS practice is to let employees choose whether they will be available for firefighting, what positions they will fill, and where they can be deployed (local, regional, national incidents). Employees who choose to volunteer and are called to duty are not rewarded for doing so but are only evaluated in terms of their primary job responsibilities (e.g., soil scientist). Similarly, qualified employees who do not volunteer are not penalized. Although FS directs its managers to ensure firefighters on their staff are available to participate in local, regional, and national wildland fire incidents as the situation demands,26managers are also expected to ensure employees’ primary work is accomplished.

This arrangement creates a career disincentive for firefighting availability. For example, a soil scientist who serves as an incident commander risks a lower evaluation if his primary work suffers. A manager who makes her employees available opens herself to a lower rating if they are called to a fire and cannot accomplish their local work. Since FS offers no counterbalancing incentives, such as extra firefighting pay or adjusted work targets, managers and employees have largely chosen not to participate. For example, according to a 2001 study, 88 percent of FS’ incident qualified staff said supervisory reluctance to release them for firefighting affected their ability to participate in wildfire emergencies. 27This number mirrors the availability rate in 2008 when 91 percent of FS’ qualified firefighters listed themselves as unavailable t

4/22 "upset" over unprofessional IHC supt.

Today (yesterday) I went to work and found my superintendant in a foul mood concerning an email sent out to all R5 Hotshots.

The gist of the email was that all the mel crews in R5 should not be proud to call themselves IHCs since they had not "sacrificed enough" and lacked the tradition now apparently needed to be typed as such.

My initial reaction was that this guy had obviously made a "Boo Boo" and sent out an "after hours" email. But then I just got angry. I was mad for two reasons. First and foremost, where's the professionalism, buddy ? The guy sent this out from his lotus account!

Second and I'm thinking WAY more important, I work on a crew that came about from the mel buildup. This is my third IHC however and there is a reason that the agency decided to increase its workforce. Every crew had its first year as an IHC. Mr. Boo Boo went on to claim that he had been routinely crushing us mel crews like so many puny grapes these last few years in the line production category. Ya right ! We were all there too, Boo Boo.

I think that Mr Boo Boo needs to get to know his adjoining resources a little better. Maybe then he can extend us the same courtesy that we have always extended his crew in the past which is ........."This is a new year, let's give em a chance!"

In sum, Mr Boo Boo, if this gets posted and you are reading this, I want you to think hard about how your crew really stacks up with what you describe as crappy mel crew. On my crew here are some stats and accomplishments:

  • In our crew's experience, we represent 18 different IHCs nationwide.
  • Our overhead, (top 5) have 70 + years of combined experience from almost every region in this country.
  • We have no rookies this season and our seasonals average 4 years experience.
  • We have senior firefighters that help write burn plans for the fuels battalion.
  • We care deeply about each other, our district, our forest, our region, but most importantly our national resources, which we are ready to respond to within the Interagency time standards.
  • In our SOGs it says " We stand on our line, not on our mouth."
4/22 Some flaming making the rounds behind the scenes following Randy Moore's letter about interagency hotshot crews.

Woo Hoo! All of you are Hotshots! Never mind those of us who've put in decades on a REAL crew and really know the real meaning of personal and family sacrifice in order to uphold a tradition that goes back to the 1940's.
CONGRATS!
<snipped name>
~~~
You know what else?
I'll take my new <snip> crew, who are from different places and whom I know nothing about.... and I'll blow doors off of you new crews cutting line.
I'm sick of it; my crew should be the slowest crew out there, but the last few years you MELs have made us look good.

Please, PLEASE prove me wrong-
<snipped name>

Reply on the email to the snipped name emails above, unknown if it's the person that sent the round-robin:
Sounds to me like if you have not been around for decades on a REAL Hotshot crew, your personal and family sacrifices are significantly less. Thats good news, I'll be sure to go home and tell the family, they'll be relieved!
<snipped identifying info>

4/22 From Roadrunner, I checked the info. Best wishes for recovery. Let us know if there's anything we can do to help. Ab.

There was a bad widowmaker/ hazard tree accident in MT on IA (on Tues April 20 or Monday April 19). A BIA Crew was moving out from in front of an IA fire up a ridge, one member was hit by a falling branch or tree. The injured FF from the Crow nation was life flighted to a hospital in Billings.

Please keep this person in your thoughts and prayers.

4/22 Re Forest Service Firefighting Succession Planning Process OIG Report

I was reading parts of the report and noticed the Estimated Training Inefficiency numbers. Do you think that the numbers reflect issues related to State and Local Agencies' participation on Teams and going out on a few shifts at a fire as STEN or DIVS and getting signed off as Fed Employees are forced and held to a higher standard? Don't get me wrong I believe in higher standards. Its just adds to low moral for Fed Employees to be working around high paid Local Agencies on teams that get porthole to porthole have to work harder to achieve the same rating with less pay. What is really sad is most of these Local Agencies will not allow their people on teams to hold the same quals on their department. Go figure! And the best is that all the ICs are Feds.

Signed: ex team member

P.S. Good report. I like the Agency's cut and paste responses.

4/22 Just found out there is a "Smokejumper" show on CMT this Friday, 4/23, 1900 PDT.

Firehorse
4/22 Former BLM Official Pleads Guilty to Public Corruption Charges

(text below)

Department of Justice Press Release
For Immediate Release
April 16, 2010 United States Attorney's Office
District of Oregon
Contact: (503) 727-1000

Former BLM Official Pleads Guilty to Public Corruption Charges
Sophisticated Contract Manipulation Scheme Defrauds BLM of Over $400,000

MEDFORD, OR—Luis Ramirez, 57, of Medford, Oregon, pled guilty today in U.S. District Court to charges of wire fraud, personal financial conflict of interest, and making a false tax return statement. In 2009, three indictments were returned by a federal grand jury charging Ramirez with five counts of wire fraud, along with separate counts of personal financial conflict of interest and making a false tax return statement. Ramirez pled guilty to all seven charges.

Ramirez was employed as a Contracting Officer’s Representative for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the Medford District Office. He was responsible for administering BLM contracts including approving work to be done on the contracts and submitting invoices to BLM Contracting Officers in Portland for their approval and payment to private contractors. Ramirez, employed by BLM for 31 years, abruptly retired in July 2007 when his schemes to defraud BLM began to unravel. The FBI initiated an investigation upon receiving information from an anonymous source that Ramirez was allegedly receiving personal payments from private BLM contractors involving his official duties.

In pleading guilty, Ramirez admitted that from May 2004 until July 2007, he intentionally devised and carried out various schemes to defraud BLM of at least $481,600. The schemes included Ramirez arranging for private contractors, unbeknownst to BLM, to subcontract work to his son, Evan Ramirez, age 30, on BLM contracts that were being administered by him. In other instances, work he approved for the contractors to complete was never performed, while in other instances he increased the cost of work that was merely redundant and duplicitous of other approved work under the contracts.

As part of these schemes, Ramirez would then submit false certificates to the BLM Contracting Officers in Portland certifying that specific work he had approved under the contracts was completed by the contractor, and seek the Contracting Officer’s authorization for payment to the contractor for the claimed work, all the while knowing that the work was unnecessary, unwarranted, not actually performed by the contractor or was never performed at all.

Upon securing the Contracting Officers approval and authorization for payment, BLM funds were then sent by interstate wire to the contractor’s bank account. Ramirez arranged through various deceptive means to have the private contractors issue checks to Ramirez’s son, Evan, either directly or through third parties, and sometimes directly to third parties who then transferred the funds to him, and the contractors were reimbursed with the BLM payments under the contracts. Large portions of the checks issued to Ramirez’s son by the contractors were ultimately transferred into Ramirez’s personal bank account.

In carrying out his scheme to defraud, Ramirez also admitted that he violated federal conflict of interest laws in taking action as a government official on the BLM contracts he was administering when he had a personal financial interest in them, all without the knowledge of BLM. Further, he acknowledged that he submitted a false personal income tax return to the Internal Revenue Service in 2006, declaring under penalty of perjury that the tax return was complete and accurate when he knew he was not reporting $166,000 of income to the IRS.

Evan Ramirez, of Boston, Massachusetts, also pled guilty today in U.S. District Court to a government charge of making a false tax return statement in 2007. He admitted that when he submitted his 2006 personal income tax return to the Internal Revenue Service it was false and, while declaring under penalty of perjury that the tax return was complete and accurate, he knew he was not reporting $18,055 of income to the IRS, the source of which was from criminal activity.

“We will not tolerate any form of public corruption,” said United States Attorney Dwight C. Holton. “It is important for the public to know that government officials perform their official duties free from corruption, self-enrichment and conflict of interest.”

Both defendants are scheduled for sentencing before U.S. District Judge Owen Panner on June 26, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. Wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Personal financial conflict of interest carries a penalty of five years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, and making and subscribing a false tax return statement carries a penalty of three years' imprisonment and a $100,000 fine, together with the costs of prosecution.

This was a joint investigation by the Medford offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Byron Chatfield.

4/22 TO ALL FEDERAL WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS,

I fist want to publicly thank Mr. Judd and the FWFSA for the amazing work he does for ALL federal wildland firefighters. In particular with the introduction of HR 4488 to congress and keeping us apprise of its status.

Second, its time for us to do our part in this process!

If we've learned anything over the years, one thing is we cannot rely on our supervisors to voice our opinions or improve our situations. The Federal system has its strengths and weakness. One of our biggest weakness is the chasm between the boots on the ground and "supervisors" in Regional and Washington Offices. For far to long we have relied on the FWFSA to fight our battles for us. No longer can we simply hide in our offices, engines, buggies or helicopters. No longer can we simply apply to State or Municipal agencies and hope for better days. No longer can we simply post on 'they said' or complain to our comrades. No longer can we simply do nothing!

In his last message Mr. Judd asked those that support HR 4488 to write their respective members of congress. Below are the Committees and Subcommittees that are reviewing the bill. As Mr. Judd suggested they need to hear from us!! Many of the Representatives on these committees represent districts in which we live or are adjacent to our forest (i.e. Santa Barbara County-LPF, Los Angeles Counties-ANF, San Diego Counties- CNF, etc). If you live in these districts write/ email/ phone your Representative. If you don't send a message to the subcommittees office or the committees chairman. Take some time to look up how to write a letter to congress (its simple but they're some rules). I know fire season is close but lets not wait the time for action is now! LET'S COMMIT TO WRITING A LETTER WITHIN THIRTY DAYS! Tell everyone that you work with, tell everyone that believes in this bill to write a letter. One of our greatest strengths is how we come together to accomplish a task. Let this be one of the first thing we do this year!

The sword has been drawn and one man has led the charge. Let us heed the horn and charge behind him.

DKNS

4/21 I went backwards from both the broken Fire Potential Map and Fire Danger Map links and was redirected to...

www.wfas.net/

Looks like there are links on the left for the information the old links provided.

IRGirl

Oh good, they added a redirect message. Ab.

4/21 Legislative Update/OIG Report and OMB Policy Letter

Hi to all:

We recently updated our staff contact list in the Member's area of our web site as well as provided a follow-up to my trip to Washington last month. It was very clear that members of Congress and their staff need to hear from more federal wildland firefighters. The FWFSA cannot do this alone. Those in Congress have to hear from their voting constituents.

I recognize that many private contractor firefighters read TheySaid and I want to reiterate for the umpteenth time that the language in HR 4488 is not intended to "take food off your tables" or put anyone out of business. This post is not intended to create a new nasty thread. Our responsibility to the wildland firefighting community is to provide facts to those in positions that can effect positive change for our Nation's federal wildland firefighters.

It was very clear during my trip to DC that the private sector had blitzed Capitol Hill with doom & gloom faxes about the affects HR 4488 would have on their livelihoods. Unfortunately, it is hard to respond to such concerns when the FWFSA wasn't provided any information on precisely what the private sector was saying. We have bent over backwards to allay the fears of contractors but apparently to no avail. Some members of Congress and staff passed the rhetoric off while others took it more to heart...requiring additional time to try and educate them on the intent of the bill.

The private industry should be more concerned with the direction of the Administration with respect to the OMB-Office of Federal Procurement Policy's "Notice of proposed Policy Letter" on contracting & outsourcing as well as the findings of the Forest Service OIG report on contracting. The FWFSA has offered to work with organizations representing private contractors but have reiterated to them that HR 4488 has been introduced on behalf of 1) All federal wildland firefighters and 2) America's taxpayers.

I think we all know where the exorbitant costs are in wildfire suppression. But as I have said to many, it was the responsibility of the FWFSA to identify "offsets" to potential costs for HR 4488 and those offsets are rightly directed at non-federal costs. It is time to pull heads out of the sand and recognize that the federal land management agency fire programs were not designed to create a financial feeding frenzy for some as it has become. It is incumbent upon these agencies to provide the taxpayers with the best value for their dollar and clearly that is not happening.

We will try once again to ascertain from some of these groups what precisely they are telling Congress. It has been frustrating that such organizations have told us they support the bill... except the part where the inference can be drawn that they too would be included in the incremental reductions of non-federal resource costs required by the bill.

That being said, there is ample time to try [emphasis added] to please everyone with this bill, but realistically our priority is our dues paying members.

The environment on Capitol Hill is the strangest I've seen in 16 years of working the Hill. The partisanship is as vile as it has ever been. Add to that an election year, violent debate on Healthcare and it'll be a wonder if anything gets done this year in DC other than the effort for self-preservation. It is stunning what affect a change in Administration and an African American President can have on Congress and all citizens.

If you support our legislation, please utilize the information on the FWFSA web site to contact your representative or their staff contact if listed. With the wackiness in DC, I cannot predict, nor would I want to, the success of our bill passing this session. Regardless, persistence in educating those on the Hill is the key.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
4/21 From Hickman:

Driver Involved in Crash Steals Cal-Fire Truck

Driver Involved in Crash Steals Cal-Fire Truck
The battalion chief who stopped to help crash victims was in turn victimized
By R. STICKNEY

An emergency worker who stopped to help accident victims believes one of the drivers involved in the crash stole his truck.

On his way to a meeting at Cal Fire headquarters, battalion chief Mark Ostrander was just doing his job, stopping to help victims in a crash and keep other drivers from colliding near the accident scene.

Ostrander parked his Cal Fire pickup on northbound Jamacha near Hilton Head Road around 8 a.m. where two cars had just collided and vehicles were blocking the roadway. "I was worried somebody was going to get hurt," he said.

He was working through a crowd of about a dozen people to assess who may be injured, when a man jumped in his truck and drove off with emergency lights on.

“I turned around and looked and my vehicle’s going down the road as it’s being stolen,” Ostrander said. “A couple of people standing by thought he was with me and he was just moving my vehicle."

(read the rest at the link...)

Fair Use disclaimer

4/21 OIG report: Just read it

Frank and it ought to be

FS "generally agreeing" what's that all about? "Bout time OIG takes em to the woodshed. IT is time USFS eliminates the "GS401 program" altogether and overall starts practicing some Fiscal RESPONSIBILITY to the NATION.

Oh and that training of Aviation Resources matrix tables........ Pretty Shameful those numbers and the "training time" to achieve ANY aviation or fire ground operation ....coming from a "professional aviation organization." The USFS should have had plan in place for retirements rather than plying their games with social engineering, passing over people with clear quality and qualifications, etc. Time for a agency cleaning. Especially with the antics played on the USFS HR front. This proves the inability for HR to really function.

Time for us aviation professionals including USFS professional aviation staff start running the program.... that means pilots, airport professionals, airline dispatchers, mechanics and other with truly aviation certificated credentials start running the show at all levels. We are out here. But the traditional USFS attitude than no one outside can do the work we do. BS. More OIG reports need to come about addressing all the land management agencies and their parallel issues. Everyone wants an accounting from the Defense Dept... It is time for more accounting of the famous land management agencies and more in depth analysis of their spending

Time for the foresters, forest techs, wildlifers, and theologists and technicians take a break from the USFS aviation operations and start managing the lands

The OIG report ought to have a very tight deadline for the USFS to perform.... it appears since 1903 they have had plenty of opportunity to clean up the program!!!

Forester /Pilot /Aircraft Mechanic

4/20 So it seems Chief Tidwell's 'sensing group' is off to a rousing start!

It has been resolved that correspondence and such will include 'National Grasslands' as well as 'National Forests'. That will rocket us up from 206!

Has anyone checked out the composition of the sensing group? Fire's lone rep is a smokejumper, and that is likely the lowest GS level on the group.

I think we ought to let the Chief know that this weak attempt is not going to cut it.

'from 206 to 214'
4/20 ABS:

I see folks are looking for the Office of Inspector General Report, re: Forest Service's Firefighting Succession Planning Process. Try this link; the report is frank.

Forest Service's Firefighting Succession Planning Process (pdf)

aka Warthog

4/20 Ragnar Relay Race for the WFF:

In a couple days Dalton Hotshots are participating in the 200 mile Ragnar Relay Race. April 23rd and 24th. We are running to raise awareness and contributions for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. I wanted to thank those that have supported us and continue to support the WFF.

Show your support for Dalton by contributing directly to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. wffoundation.org

Visit the Ragnar website and see for yourself what we are about to hopefully take first place in the Public Service group. Come out and show some love!
ragnarrelay.com

Thank you, Scott Gorman

Thanks Scott. It's also listed on the Hotlist calendar. Everybody, support them with your presence if you can and show some love. Somebody take pictures to share, please. Ab.

4/20 Paul Gleason Scholarship:

To the wildland fire community,

For the past 2 years Colorado State University and the Students of Fire Association there have been working towards establishing a Paul Gleason Scholarship at CSU. The initial deadline was Oct. of 2009, but some folks here in Fort Collins and at CSU were able to convince the college to extend the deadline until Oct. 2010. However, the fund is only half way to the needed $25,000 to permanently fund the scholarship. We still need lots of help. We created a new website dedicated to the scholarship. Take a look at this new site:

paul-gleason-scholarship.org/

Here you can learn how anyone can donate directly to the fund. All donations are tax deductible. We are working on a section with good “Paul Stories”. If anyone has a great memory they would like to share, Ab can pass on my contact information or you can give me a call.

If any of the folks out in the wildfire community have any ideas for help with fundraising please share. We have approached a few companies that are active in the community but no luck so far. If anyone has any good contacts with companies that are involved with wildfire, help us present the history and importance of maintaining Paul’s legacy through this scholarship.

Go here to learn more about the Student of Fire Association at CSU

My company helps sponsor this organization. For my contribution, my staff here at The Supply Cache has come up with some products bearing an LCES logo they designed. In addition to these products, any product we sell with LCES on it, we will donate 25% of the proceeds to the scholarship fund. They make great safety awards and reminders.

I know that wildlandfire.com has helped promote this for the last few years and that assistance is greatly appreciated. Thanks for your continued support of this project.

Jim Felix

4/20 MODIS links

Ab,

I have no idea where that USDA link came from or where it is supposed to go. I poked around and this is all I can find. Looks like someone had links combined/mixed up.

Service Center Agencies Online Services for USDA (NRCS, FSA, and RD). There are forms and such links, but no fire link.

firemapper.com/  is a link to the vendor a thermal infrared sensor. Phil Riggins at the FS SW Research Station (N70W, fireimaging.com/ homepage.html ) has one of these sensors as does Kolob Canyons Air Services in Cedar City (kolobair.com). These sites do not have a link to the thermal MODIS data. Both have supplemented the infrared intelligence collection for the (NIROPS, National Infrared Operations).

THE source is the link you already submitted to the forum (Active firemaps fs.fed.us), This is the link to the US Forest Service's Remote Sensing Applications Center in Salt Lake City where there is a MODIS antenna on the roof receiving data from both Terra and Aqua satellites twice a day. This page also has a link for viewing these data in GE.

Hope this helps.
IRGirl

I fixed the most obvious links on our Links page but it's not all sorted out. Nor is our News page. Many thanks for the info IRGirl. Can someone call or email the webmaster(s) to make a request that they fix their pages? Thanks for any help. Ab.

4/20 OIG Contract Crews (click the link to get the pdf file)

Sure you can figure out how to post these came out April 16 thought somebody would have posted by now.

Somewhere in Utah

You're welcome. Don't get lost out there. Ab.

4/20 Pleasant Valley Hotshots:

Attached is the PVHS logo from the back door of one of their rigs in the 1990s.

Tom

Thanks, I added it to the Logos 18 photo page. Ab.

4/20 Broken fire maps links:

Good morning All,

We've been getting questions about maps having broken links from several firefighters.

activefiremaps.fs.fed.us

The Fire Danger map is bad but has a redirect. The new map is here: radar.srh.noaa.gov/fire/ It is showing as 'experimental' and some links have no data or content. It is interesting that there is a listing of KML files in the mid-right side of the screen so folks can see them on Google Earth.

If anyone knows of updated map links, please let us know. I'll be trying to find and correct these links this afternoon.

Anyone know what happened to this one from our LINKS page? Fire Potential Map

This Fire Danger MapDrought Monitor Mapp link is OK.

Ab.

4/19 From the Hotlist:
The pilot episode is scheduled to air on :

CMT (Country Music Telvision) Friday April 23rd 9PM CENTRAL/10 PM EASTERN

Smoke Jumpers

Mike
4/19 felling references:

SB,

They’ll be new felling reference materials out on the market very soon. Good job for looking beyond what is currently readily available. In addition, there’s also effort being put into “Train the Chainsaw Trainer.” While the curriculum is there (i.e. S-212) …that’s not enough. Those who deliver this training need to make sure their training skills are up to par. “Garbage In. Garbage Out.” I encourage you and others to constantly look for ways to improve your training approaches. Just as in chainsaw operation & felling, there is always more to learn as a trainer.

Shari Downhill

4/19 Re; 1952 CDF Dodge,

This engine can be seen at the CDF Museum in San Bernardino. Also pic of it on the video on their website. Follow link to CDF museum then open gallery and watch video. Many old CDF engines on displayy.
CDF Museum

Ret CDF
4/19 SB asked for felling references.

The Faller’s- Buckers Handbook used by the Workers Compensation Board of British Columbia is available at this link:

Faller’s- Buckers Handbook used by the Workers Compensation Board of British Columbia (pdf)

Old Sawyer.

4/18 New firefighting resources:

Carol,

You Rock, Girl!! Whatever you do, keep on charging.

GP

4/18 historical ANF photos

Thanks Capt. J.S. for sharing the historical photos! You are a man of your word!

-Brushfire

4/18 1952 Dodge CDF brush truck

Hello,

I've been surfing the web in an attempt to find a picture of one of the original CDF brush trucks. I have found a Dodge 1952 truck that is for sale, but looking for an original picture of how it was equipped, (pictures of left/right side and the back bed.) The truck was configured with a hurricane pump behind the cab with a single 2 1/2 discharge and a hose reel mounted above the water tank in front of the rear facing jump seats. I did find a picture of a 1949 reo fire truck from Morgan Hill fire that looks similar, but only shows the right side of the truck. Hoping you can pass on information as to how I can find a picture or maybe you have one in your file.

Thank you for your assistance.

FF/PM Scott Robinson
Los Angeles County Fire Department

We don't have one that I know of. Maybe someone can help. Readers? Ab.

4/18 Fallen Firefighter Memorial at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Photo compliments of Tom W. (0210)

Emmitsburg1
Emmitsburg2

4/18 Kegger Party Part 2

Alright, I will stop clowning around. First they will have a very important FLAME Act discussion (Its FLAME not FLAMT, jeesh who reviews this stuff?) and then it's onto the Kegger Party Part 2. I am up for a Chief vs.Line Officer Karaoke competition. Winner takes the fire organization.

CFMTTF

Wasssup

---------------------------------------------------------
Date: April 9, 2010
Subject: May 24-28 Regional Leadership Team Meeting
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors

REPLY DUE MAY 3, 2010

The Regional Leadership Team Meeting will take place May 24-28 (noon-to-noon) in Sacramento, at the Doubletree Hotel Sacramento, l2001 Point West Way, Sacramento, CA 95815. A block of 70 rooms has been reserved at a single occupancy rate of $109.00/night. Please make your room reservations no later than Monday, May 3, by calling (916) 929-8855, or 1-800-222-FREE (3733), under the group code USF

The agenda team for May is: Jim Pea (lead), Kathy Gorman, Kelly Russell, Stephen Deep, Alice Carlton, Eli Ilano, and Rick Balolong. We will have a portion of the meeting to follow up on Safety, EEO training, one full day for other resource topics, and Thursday/Friday will be devoted to the Risk Management for Agency Administrators Workshop. The workshop will help us prepare in FY 2011 for the Forest Service’s implementation of Risk Management on all fires that qualify for FLAMT Act Fund reimbursement. For this portion of the meeting, we require Forest Supervisors and their Deputy, and Fire Management Officers and their Deputy. Plans are developing for a social event on Tuesday evening. For travel planning purposes, please arrange to attend the full meeting from noon on Monday to noon on Friday.

The agenda team is working on their draft preliminary agenda for Regional Forester’s approval, and will be forwarded to you as quickly as possible. Please submit any agenda topics you have; however, keep in mind that we already have a full agenda of topics, and will devote time throughout the week for valuable open forum discussion.

Looking forward to seeing all of you in Sacramento!

/s/ James M. Pea (for)
RANDY MOORE
Regional Forester

cc: Jim Pena
Kathy Gorman
Kelly M Russell
Stephen Deep

4/18 Historical Logo:

Pleasant Valley HS Historical: PV shots used the “Keep on Truckin’” logo in the ‘80s. Marty Rose changed it to the wild horse/Arizona flag insignia during his tenure as supe. Here's the Pleasant Valley Hotshots old "Keep On Truckin" Logo on their buggy. Photo compliments of Tom Jones. (0410)

Thanks for the pic, Tom. I added it to the Logo 18 page along with a number of others that have been sent in. Ab.

4/18 SB,

I have used Procedural Timber Falling, by Doug Dent when I have taught 212 in the past. The Stihl website or your local dealer should have the shop manuals for the saws you run.

GaFiredog

4/17 I added some great engine and engine crew pics of the Station Fire to Engines 26 and Engines 27 photo pages. Ab.
4/17 Notes on Pleasant Valley HS:

Pleasant Valley Hotshots
USFS Tonto National Forest
Pleasant Valley Ranger District
Young, AZ

The Tonto got three crews in the early 1970s; Globe, Payson and Pleasant Valley.
Rumor has it that PV was formed in 1972.

Some of the supes were:

John C Jones 1972 to 1976
Robert Jones 1976
Bob Orlund 1980 Spring
Fred Schoeffler 1980 Fall (Fred was the long serving Payson HS supe)
Ben Cline –1981-1988
Jeff Prevey-1988 to
Bill Mattney
Marty Rose (Former assistant supe of Payson HS)

Fred Thompson (former jumper?)

PV shots used the “Keep on Truckin’” logo in the ‘80s.
Marty changed it to the wild horse/Arizona flag insignia during his tenure.

Tom

I added this to the notes. Do you have the old logo? If so, please send it in for the records. Thanks. Ab.

4/17 felling references needed:

Just wondering if anyone out there knows of any good tree felling books or reference besides the 212 handbook. As far as procedures and techniques go. Also if anyone knows where to find a good chainsaw repair manual (stihl) that would be helpful too. Just looking for some helpful reference material to go along with my training.

SB

4/17 Some pics up on the Engines 26 photo page:

From Erik, fire engine pics of Glacier Peak Wildfire out of Wenatchee, WA.

Some new logos on Logo 18 page. Ab.

4/17 Fire Book:

Monster Fire at Minong: Wisconsin's Five Mile Tower Fire of 1977 by Bill Matthias

Bill will be appearing at various venues where the fire burned between 4/30 and 6/20, sponsored by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.

4/17 Does anyone know any details of a Pleasant Valley IHC founded in 1972, BIA? I got an email last June providing those bare bones bits of information.
4/17 I updated various names and years for the "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project. Thanks, contributors and thanks for your patience.

Someone wrote in "Steve Parr, now Chief 2 on the Eldorado, unsure of what Hotshots, but think he was on one somewhere" anyone know which HS crew?

Take a look at the HS to fire managers page above (control F and enter Parr into the search). He was on the Ojai HS.

Readers, we are still working towards the new wlf.com website and will have a better arrangement for this project and historical info and photos once it's up and running. Ab.

4/16 Here are some photos that belonged to my Dad who started on the Angeles in 1938.

Angeles Crest Station's new 48-50 COE M/H.

Hugh Masterson got a little dent in his rig 1953.

Ranger and crew member 1953.

Old Newhall RS with parade prevention entry 1948. Won a trophy.

John Paige ANF Dispatch 1954.

Have some more, hope you enjoy.

Jody Smith

Very nice Jody. Those were the days. Ab.

4/16 shot crews

Thank you fuelsguy for the great idea. I have also considered that route, taking a leave of absence from my full time job, but our state highly likely would not approve it - they are too geared towards getting timber sale goals completed to allow me to take a leave of absence. Believe me, if that were an option, I would jump on it. Any other options, ideas, or contacts?

thanks once again

a wanna be hotshot

4/16 pre-2010 fire season read:

Abs,

Before this fire season starts and things get…hmmm…active… I just wanted to say how much I appreciate They Said as a venue for provoking thought and healing. Most folks out there might not think of They Said this way…but I do. Thank you.

I have a book recommendation for those getting ready for the season, particularly with so much cultural change about to wake up our particular industry (Hang on…). With change comes agitation and fear. Let’s not allow fear to go unchecked and unhealed.

Here’s my recommendation for a good pre-season read: “Power vs. Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior.” David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D.

The skillful are not obvious
They appear to be simple minded
Those who know this know the patterns of the Absolute
To know the patterns is the Subtle Power
The Subtle Power moves all things and has no name

Ciao,
Shari Downhill

4/16 Polaris Ranger 6x6 UTV: anyone else having any problems with them?

In response to the questions we've been getting about a recent UTV fire that occurred during a Rx burn on 4/7 in Indiana:

First to quell rumors, it was not a burnover and no one was injured. The UTV caught fire independently of the Rx burn.

Tom Krueger the burn boss on the Hoosier NF, Tell Ranger District filled us in.

Apparently the UTV caught fire from a worn fuel line. The line was spewing gas, the gas sparked and fire began burning through the bench seat. The Polaris Ranger 6x6 UTV has 3 bench seats. The operator (only occupant) stopped it, jumped off and used the apparatus on the UTV to put out the fire. No one was injured. Tom is doing an investigation and will send the report when he's done.

He just emailed:

We took the UTV to the shop to have it inspected 4/12 but they have not completed the evaluation yet.
Once we get this, I'll finalize the report. Thanks.

Ab.

Also heard about this Safenet from 3/30/10 that also involves the same model UTV having other mechanical issues with the throttle cable.
(Safenet website here: safenet.nifc.gov/)

Anyone else having problems with Polaris Ranger 6x6 UTV?

4/16 This is Dispatchers' week.

Link to a nice tribute on the Dispatchers hotlist thread. Ab.

4/16 Change in Red-Flag criteria

Thought this was interesting.

Officials Hope Policy Shift Will Save Money and Lives

Officials hope new policy will save money, lives
The frequency of red-flag warnings signaling an elevated wildfire threat has too often become white noise. Today, the Weather Service is changing the rules, which could yield more meaningful alerts

By Robert Krier, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 12:56 a.m.
Firefighters try to get a handle on a wildfire between Ramona and Santa Ysabel.

WHAT'S CHANGING

Old criteria: Many red-flag alerts were issued when the relative-humidity level in a region was projected to dip to 10 percent or lower for 10 hours or more.
Warnings issued: 96 in 2007; 137 in 2008; 36 in 2009, a calm fire year
New criteria: Sustained winds of at least 25 mph or frequent gusts of 35 mph, combined with 15 percent or lower humidity over at least six hours.
Expectation: About half as many red-flag warnings, given similar weather.
Firefighters try to get a handle on a wildfire between Ramona and Santa Ysabel.

(etc at the link)

JW

fair use disclaimer

4/16 shot crews

Years ago a firefighter from one of our cooperating agencies (local gov) had the same desire. He contacted the Supe's of our three closest shot crews and got on as a seasonal. He took a leave of absence from his "real job" for the fire season, then when back to his "real job". It was a very positive experience for him...in fact he did another season with that crew. Just a thought.

fuelsguy

4/15 FS back seater-

KME was awarded the contract for R3 Crew Carriers last year after Unicor (Federal Prison Industries) stopped making Crew Carriers, due to capacity issues. As far as I know, R3 is the only Region contracting with KME for Crew Carriers. The whole process started about 7 years, when the R3 Supts. came up with a standard for R3 Crew Carriers. Through the hard work of several key members of the R3 IHC community and LOTS of fleet management interaction, R3 IHC's now have Crew Carrier designed by Hotshots, for Hotshots. Unicor is still making the Supt. Trucks, also designed by R3 Supts.

Here is a picture of Pleasant Valley IHC's new KME built Crew Carrier.

R3 Crew Carrier photo and specs

azfirebum
4/15 Here's a chapter from a CPS-Rx book Doug Campbell has written. He tells me he's trying to work out getting it posted here on the site. Here's the chapter. (below)

Thanks, Doug.

Mellie

11 Years of Rx Burns: (42K doc file) Intro chapter, about the weakness of  the Rx burn requirements of the day and how we increased the reliability of the program in Ventura County during an 11-year period.

4/15 Making the rounds behind the scenes

Date: 04/14/2010 03:29 PM
Subject: Appropriate Designator for Hotshot Crews

Forest Fire Chiefs - I wanted to give you all a heads up that a letter will be forthcoming from Randy about the appropriate designator for Hotshots crews. It has been determined that all Forest Service Hotshots crews, original and those developed under the MEL build-up, will now hold the designator of IHC. This adds 21 Interagency Hotshot crews into the pool of nationally shared resources. Those remaining crews that have not been certified as Hotshot crews will be identified and mobilized as Type 2 IA crews. If you have any questions, give myself, Joe, or Ralph a call...thanks.

~*~*~*~
Willie R. Thompson
Deputy Director
Fire and Aviation Management
USDA-Forest Service - Region 5

4/15 shot crews

Here's my deal. I am a full time state, department of natural resources forester who is highly involved in our wildland fire suppression. My quals are FFT1/ICT5, FALB with FALC trainee, and engine, dozer, tractor plow boss trainee. I have been on a Type 2 and a Type 2IA handcrews one in Oregon, the other on that wonderful lightning complex in N. CA a few years back. I have 5 yrs of wildland fire fighting and prescribed burn experience.

Ok, so I have a strong, and I mean strong desire to get on a shot crew but just can't give up a good, full time job to go seasonal. It's been presented to me by a few of our folks here that maybe, I could get picked up by a shot crew as a casual AD later in the season when students head back or injuries (definitely not hoping those on anyone) occur to make a shot crew short personnel. I would have to use vacation and comp time to do this but am willing to do so. Anyone out there have a feel for the chances in this or have other options? I have looked at getting on with a full time fire job with the feds but found out there are age limitations, so that pretty much limits me to a permanent full time forestry job. That would be acceptable but those are hard to come by I know. Suggestions, info, contacts?

thanks,

a wanna be hotshot

4/15 Ah…. LCES

Communications Unit version

Let’s Confuse Everyone Simultaneously

Steve LCES

Good one, I added it to Funny Fire Terms & Nicknames. Ab.

4/14 Training:

Just received my message about the mandatory 4 hour Mini EEO training make-up class in Sacramento and was just wondering why we are wasting the time and money on travel when this could be done in a cheaper manner. It cracks me up when I can't get some training because of funds but I have to spend my travel training dollars to go to Sac for four hours. Why can't our EEO person do this training inhouse on the forest instead of bringing in someone all the way from Chicago? Why can't we do a video conference? Just another waste of money so someone in the R.O. can get a gold star for accomplishing something that wasn't needed.

Strive for 205

4/14 Ron,

Thanks I laughed at a couple of your comments. The Temp GS-05 Ops Chief (Beautiful thing about ICS) and the Swapping three engines for an X-use helicopter and 10 "Dopes on a Rope". It was all in good humor. As are my comments. I have long heard the Helitack version of LCES. Along with several others. Locate Camp Extort Supply. <---This is more of a module leader mentality than anything else.

SC,

Seems like that struck a nerve.. Probably still smarts. We are all valuable in our own ways and it is your choice as a module leader to decide what kind of module you are going to run and how you are going to motivate and lead your employees. I have seen some R5 helicopter modules adhere strictly to the LCES joke and I have seen R5 helicopters do some fantastic work on fires. In the end it is the example and leadership that you as a module leader bring to the table that dictates the attitude, motivation, and ability of your crew. This is not only true of Helicopters, but also of engines and handcrews. The nifty thing is that together we strive for success. Divided we become conquered and fall. Personally, three engines for a helicopter is ludicrous. I'd much rather have the three engines and the helicopter. It is kind of like poker. Three of a kind beats high card, but a full house beats three of a kind. Your pride and defense of the rotor world is admirable. Keep up the good work!

Night Flying,

Tax Payers and their elected representatives want me to jump. "I ask how high?" They want night flying. I say "this is how much it is going to cost, how we can do it, and here is the risk involved." They want green engines making house calls at 2am. I say "this is how much it is going to cost, how we can do it, and here is the risk involved." Paving the road to decisions is best done with information.

Northnight

Another good fire acronym. I added that LCES example to the terms and nicknames list too... Ab.

4/14 Ab,

I wanted to thank you for posting my question (Help with a wildland job question). I waited it out after reading what was posted and today I was contacted by HR and they asked what happened, I explained and they cleared me. So I officially start my new job as a Forestry Tech with the feds at the (snip) in (snip).

I cant thank you and your forum enough for all you do for the people out there. Keep it up.

Thanks,
M

You're welcome. Make us proud. Be safe and have fun. Ab.

4/13 Ab note: I'm going to make a hotlist thread for the 2010 fatality information under General Discussion for the time being. Later it will be incorporated into our Always Remember! project.

See here Hotlist: Wildland Fire Fatalities 2010

4/13 Report of second fatality this year dealing with wildland brush fires.

First in Ohio on the 3rd of this month, second in Kansas only 8 days later!

Bells, air horns, whistles, all kinds of alarms should start going off….

Remember Everyone Goes Home from this season.

Remember Everyone Goes Home….

I know there are a lot of young and old creative minds out there looking to ways to improve on the educational and safety side of Wildland Firefighters…

I would like to challenge those individuals to come up with something for the Wildland Firefighter and Everyone Goes Home, and not something to be found on “Youtube”.

videocontest

Hickman

~~~The United States Fire Administration (USFA) has received notice of the following wildland firefighter fatalities

Name: Harold Reed, Sr.
Age: 74
Cause of Death: Exposure
Rank: Captain
Nature of Death: Asphyxiation
Classification: Volunteer
Emergency Duty: Yes
Incident Date: 04/11/2010
Duty Type: On-Scene Fire
Incident Time: 15:15
Activity Type: Advance Hose Lines/Fire Attack (includes Wildland)
Death Date: 04/11/2010
Fixed Prop. Use: Outdoor Property
Fire Dept. Info: Peru Fire District #3
PO Box 70
Peru , Kansas 67360
Chief: Rick Peel

Initial Summary: While assisting at a rural brush fire, Captain Reed was overcome by smoke. He was treated and subsequently transported to the Sedan City Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Memorial Fund Info: Donations may be sent to the First National Bank, 101 West Main Street, Sedan, Kansas 67361.

USFA

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Name: Leo Powell
Age: 74
Cause of Death: Stress/Overexertion
Rank: Firefighter
Nature of Death: Heart Attack
Classification: Volunteer
Emergency Duty: No
Incident Date: 04/03/2010
Duty Type: Collapsed at his residence after working a brush fire with his department
Incident Time: 12:03
Activity Type: Unknown
Death Date: 04/03/2010
Fixed Prop. Use: Outdoor Property
Fire Dept. Info: Morgan Township Volunteer Fire Department
7106 Bear Creek RD
USNG: 17S LD 1886 1141
Lucasville , Ohio 45648
Chief: Tim Phipps

Initial Summary: At approximately 1200hrs on 04/03/2010, Firefighter Powell responded to a brush fire with the fire department. After clearing the scene, Powell collapsed at his residence at approximately 1500hrs from an apparent heart attack and could not be revived.
Incident Location: Pending
Memorial Fund Info: Memorial contributions in honor of Firefighter and former Fire Chief Leo Powell may be made to the Morgan Township Volunteer Fire Department, 7106 Big Bear Creek Road, Lucasville, OH 45648.

USFA

4/13 EMTs on wildfires -

Hello everyone,

I realize some of you may have seen this and some may not. I thought I would provide it so that all may see what R5 has put forth in response to the PALMER  PERSPECTIVE.

R5 Golden Hour Response notice (222 K pdf file, 1 page letter)

While knowing it does not work for all, it does give food for thought.

Bill Arsenault, FFTR/EMTP

4/13 Had a good time reading the Funny Fire terms and Nicknames and it reminded me of a few of my favorites.

------------------------

Paperwork: When you grab the roll of TP and a shovel and go off to the nearest bush

Cone Zone: What inmate crews look like from the air

Breakfast laces: Used when its too dark to lace your boots, the technique of tucking your boot laces into the tops of your boot and walking to breakfast

Helistench: the body odor you get from working around a busy, hot helibase ( not masked by smoke smell )

Murse: ( man purse ) a small canvas handbag created to store wallet, keys, chapstick, cell phone.

Cope stove: an empty Copenhagen can filled with sawdust, pine needles. Made out of cardboard and wax lined, when lit, it generates enough flame to boil a canteen cup of water for coffee.

Booger eaters: crews of questionable skill level and reputation

Prison suitcase: how inmate firefighters smuggle tobacco, dope, cell phones and even chargers in and out of prison, guesses?

Holy grail: CDF term for a full months pay period being paid 24 hours a day portal to portal while working on fires or staffing patterns at home

MIST line: black on both sides, must have missed something somewhere

----
I'll stop for now.. cheers

sting

Good ones! I added 'em to Funny Fire Terms & Nicknames. (Were you on undercover assignment?) HAW HAW!!!  BTW, great Avatar you have on the Hotlist. I like this Avatar too. Got'ta have the humor. Ab.

4/12 hey Ron,

I get your point. I started out on a type 2 crew in Montana years ago. I then went R3 and hotshotted for a long time and came over to R5 as an engine guy almost 3 years ago. I got worked over on the fall fire hire last year and, hopefully, will come up roses in another week or so. My point is: hey folks, let's remember that our tongue in cheek sense of humor is what gets us through all of the arduous things we deal with. We all have rights but those of us that work in the Federal Government deal with alot of challenges from our agencies. Let's speak honestly and with humor. Let's disseminate the wisdom we have and stick to the meat of the conversations. I appreciate your insider information, Ron (I'm considering filing grievances if I don't get an offer this go around (I know I'm tier1, #1 candidate for the job I'm applying for, as I was last fall)).

When I boosted H 332 years ago, the manager taught me that LCES on a type 1 helibase stands for Locate Cooler Establish Shade!
We all have our place and we all like to laugh.

R3 Hotshot

4/12 It is with great sorrow that I share this information to you all.

Last Friday night, Sage River Corpus, who is the son of Joe Suarez, Capt. 6A was killed in a hit and run vehicle accident. Sage was 12 years old. As you can imagine, Joe and his family are devastated.

The funeral is to be on
Friday the April 16th,  10:00 AM
St Lucys Catholic Church
Fowler, CA (google maps)
If anyone would like to attend, Joe has requested that you wear bright colors in honor of Sage.

The Sage River Corpus Memorial Fund has been set up through Citi Bank. The account number is 40058782802. If you're not a member of Citi, you physically have to visit a branch to make the donation.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers for Joe and his family.

John Goss
Arrowhead Superintendent

Condolences. Ab.

4/12 Dear AB,

Its not too late to registered for the 2010 California Interagency Fire Prevention and Mitigation Conference near Palm Springs May 4-6, 2010. www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/management/prev_conf/index.php

There will be a wide variety of excellent speakers addressing topics relevant to the WUI issues. Topics include:

  • Building Standards
  • How to Apply for grants
  • Esperanza Fire Investigation, arrest and murder trial
  • Santa Monica Mountains Community Wildfire Protection Plan
  • Social Acceptability of fuels treatments-

Register for FI-110 (First Responder Fire Investigation) class. Its at the beautiful Agua Caliente Resort for only $89 a night.

Debra Hein-BLM

4/12 SC,

Yours was the second reply that I received to my posting that took offense to my statement about coolers. If I'd known that it would take away from main message that I was trying to get to on unfair hiring practices I probably wouldn't have said it. If there are really a bunch of you that took offense to it then I apologize, but that amazes me since I have heard the same statement hundreds of times in my 30+ years and mostly from helicopter people who make it a joke. Is this one of those things that only helicopter people can say? I never heard this much pushback when I was the OPS or Safety on IMTs and made jokes about hotshots or jumpers at the briefings.

Thanks for the invite to come down, but I've already worked with many helitack over the years. The last time with R 5 helitack was in Quincy. I agree that we all have a valuable job to do. I was also part of the Cramer investigation so I know the danger that you all face.

One thing that I do want to address since it was a major issue to both replies that I received, as a NFFE rep I am not required to lose my sense of humor. That's one of the positives that I bring to the table whether it's with management or BU employees. I think that there are some of us that take ourselves way too seriously. I remember when I first came to the FS after 10 years with the state of Idaho and was told by the guys in charge of training that I wasn't what they were looking for to be a helicopter crewmember. I didn't know enough, but I had only been out of the military for a little over a year and while enlisted I was a helicopter mechanic and crewchief. As a matter of fact I was the crewchief on the first Jet Ranger to come to Southeast Asia. I guess knowledge is one of those things that's shaded by perception.

I'd argue the value of an engine to a helicopter, but I'd probably make one of those engine slugs mad. OOPS ! There I go again. Oh yeh, my FMO calls us "dirt bags" when we talk about our level of firefighters and I don't take offense.

Ron

HAW HAW HAW I added that one to Funny Fire Terms & Nicknames, Readers, remember that the written word does not give us the benefit of face-to-face cues, body language, tone of voice, laughter. I read Ron's post and assumed humor, "tongue in cheek". Fer Big Ernie's sake, he signed his name to the danged post! Of course he was funnin'.

Uh oh, I am told that 70% of communication is nonverbal. (I can hear Mellie giggling and muttering something about chill pill and panties in a wad...She says Check this one, her favorite.) HAW HAW HAW HAW! Made my day! (Checking my ownself's posterior.) Ab.

4/12 Night flying:

Gosh dangit!! I tried to stay away from this night flying thing but Y'all finally roped me in.

"Citing questions raised by the devastating Station blaze, a local House member has asked that Congress require the U.S. Forest Service to consider lifting a decades-old ban on the use of aircraft to fight fires after dark."

Key words: "Lift a ban"

Not "employ night flying helicopters"...just "lift the ban."

If a cooperator on a fed fire by agreement or assistance by hire, has night flying capabilities, already performs night flights, is equipped for them, trained, blah blah blah, the congressman is asking us to consider not kicking them off a fed fire when we send our own ships home. Sounds like something we should consider to me.

Now I will offer a counterpoint to save time. I know through extensive experience that LACoFD ships are very difficult to talk with and have made several drops on me in the day time let alone night time, so part of this consideration needs to be "What kind of ground representation from the cooperator will be in place on a fed fire while a cooperating ship flies at night?" so that we can communicate with them better.

DS

4/12 backhanded helitack comment

Ron,

Your arguments for anything lose clout the minute you talk negatively about a certain discipline... especially Helitack. If you are so astoot in what we do, I would invite you to come for a 2 week stint in Region 5, on one of our Helitack Programs. Being an NFFE rep, and saying those words are a dangerous endeavor to say the least. Nonetheless, I will forgo your comments about coolers... and try to focus on the positive. If we really wanted to get into it, I'd say 3 engines for a heli is an honest trade... but I won't. We all have our part in the system.

SC

4/12 memorial answers:

Brenda Jo
SVFD

Hey Brenda currently I am working on a similar project back in my home unit, what I have discovered in this experienced journey of mine is that it is not a easy task when dealing with permits in or outside of your jurisdicting agency. You did mention that there is currently a memorial that is in place, correct, but is it official? Since it is on a state highway, you might want to check with the local state-trans office and inquire on possibly getting a section of the highway dedicated to the fallen gentlemen.

For those doing something similar or for future reference for thos in CA, here are some contacts of folks that work for Blue Star Memorial Highway, program set up for such situations; J.D. Adams j.d.adams@ nospam dot.ca.gov (530) 741-4299/ Ken Murray,(916) 274-6138, kenneth.murray@ nospam dot.ca.gov District 3.

I don't know the contacts for UT. Hope this helps!

RAGZ...

4/12 memorial questions:

Hello:
I was just wondering about a memorial for the three FF's that lost their lives on Stockton pass (Utah) April 25 of 09.

As a Volunteer FF/EMT I was part of the search for the crash site. There is a very small plaque with three small flags that are barely visible in the sage brush. I was wondering how to go about getting a bigger and better one to honor these men.

Any assistance on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Brenda Jo (Ab snipped last name)
SVFD

Tragic AT crash.
Readers, any ideas for a larger physical memorial there near Stockton? That was a Neptune Lockheed P2V crash that took the lives of  Tom, Risk, Mike Flynn, and Brian Buss almost a year ago (Hotlist thread). This is the current NTSB Info: www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20090425X65240&key=1

Brenda Jo, could you get the lat/long of that memorial site and take a digital photo with plaque and flags so we can include it in the upcoming Always Remember! Google Earth Project we're working on? That way they will be memorialized on Always Remember! at the very least. Thanks. Ab.

4/12 Unfair Hiring Practices:

I've been following all of the comments on the unfair hiring practices that are going on with great interest. I've only been with the Forest Service since 1984 so maybe I missed some of what's been going on. With the CD, Affirmative Action, the Hispanic Imitative, the age discrimination of the Firefighter Retirement, it's been a long hard road to get a job. The FF retirement has cost me my job three times over the years. Maybe with the court victory for the Veteran that said they can't do this at least to vets, is a start for all of us. I felt foolish being a Type 2 Ops Chief when I was a temporary GS 5.

Now for what I want to really say. I've seen where some of you even found out that you were the most qualified Candidate. That's great, except for the rules and regs. don't say that they have to hire the most qualified, only that the person hired make the cert. Morally and ethically you would hope that they would go for the most qualified, but that hasn't been my experience over the years. I did see some of you mentioned EEO complaints or challenging system. I have seen three employees that did this and won. All of them were in R 5, two were for reverse discrimination and one for age discrimination on the FF retirement, so it can be done if you build a good case, but it's risky. It's a personal choice.

It's good that R 5 still gets enough money that they can fill all of these fire jobs. The only year that I can remember R 1 doing a regional fire hire is when Clinton created the MEL hiring. On our forest we are getting rid of three engine modules so we can afford an Exclusive Use helicopter module with 10 members. That's a lot of coolers.

Lastly, thanks Casey for all you are doing. As a NFFE officer we are both working towards the same goal. I wish you luck and we will be in D.C. the week of May 9 to lobby for many of he same things that are in your bill. Maybe I'll get to meet you there.

Ron Angel
NFFE Council Vice President
Region 1

4/12 Night Flying

NZ Supe

Isn't that a requirement a new hire to the land management agencies to be adaptable to change, be flexible to the mission, be able to multitask, and ALLLLLLL those other expectations of a GS4 through GS8/9 employee of all the land management agencies? You'd think they would have to hire Superman with all the expectations

Maybe the taxpayer and the employees ought EXPECT the same from the land management agencies, their employer.

The rappel and night flying program SHOULD have all those expectations to be flexible, to multitask, etc

YET those land management agencies EXPECT, EXPECT, EXPECT from contractors don't they?

Time for the land management agencies get some management types in those aviation positions and get those expectations DONE

How long does it take to organize and clean up and standardize a rappel program? Plenty here will talk BITD when we did this and that to lay foundations for programs..... Where did all those foundations go, huh?

If the land management agencies EXPECT all these things from the temp, intermittent, WAE types in the "lower GS" series..

How about those in the "upper series" get cracking since alll these foundations have been established 20, 30, 40 ,and 50 years ago...with ALLL that land management aviation knowledge these two projects should be done in a year, right?

I'm not buying its too much on the agencies plate...... it is what they claim to do and can do, so it must be pretty easy to get done with all these foundations that have been set, right?

Time for some changes...maybe sending all that to a new FAA wildland fire agency? Sending it to a 52 year old Agency (started in 1958) rather than leaving with some 80- 110 year old agencies.

Pilot/ Forester / Aircraft Mechanic

4/11

Big Congratulations to Steve Holdsambeck for being awarded the

Paul Gleason Lead By Example Award!

Thank you so much Steve for your work fostering Lessons Learned by storytelling (APA) and
your work to achieve Just Culture for wildland firefighters.
I heard the APA conference went very well with more than 50 people of diverse backgrounds attending, learning and being inspired.
Thanks to you and the Cadre! You're the best!
Change takes time and dedicated leaders like you, Steve. My utmost respect...

Mellie

4/11 night fly...fix rappel

I've seen posts about night flying of late and still have a question. Before we dive into new arenas for the FS, lets get the rappel house in order.....too many projects at once usually end in " to be continued"

NZ Supe (ret)

4/11 Hi my name is Alexandre Filiatreault. Last year I did the Fire Fighter Academy at Mirabel and right now I am at the Montmorency College in the firefighting program. So I was wondering, with my experience even if I'm from Montreal if I could apply for the job?

Job Number: 4956749

Title: Forest firefighter (Wildland Firefighters) ( NOC: 8422 )

Thank you
Alexandre

For those who have not used this Canadian job listing: When you get to the page, choose the language, drop down to the bottom left and enter 8422 to see the job announcement. Any Canadians reading that can help? Ab.

4/11 Night Flying:

Letterman and Leadhook,

If you want to talk statistics, maybe you should ask Tom Harbour, he probably knows a lot about statistics. What was it he said to the national Line Officer Team last year? If memory serves, it was something like "the Forest Service aviation management program accident rate is approaching that of military combat operations." MILITARY COMBAT OPERATIONS! Think I'm kidding? Check it out for yourselves, the LOT notes are on the WO FS website.

I don't really give a hoot if you don't like all the "negative waves" on this subject, the reasons for your own optimism elude me. In case you haven't noticed, the Forest Service Fire and Aviation Management program has been in a steady state of severe decline over the past 2 decades, it can't even wipe its own arse right now. If we can't competently manage our current aviation assets, why would we want to consider taking on additional high-risk aviation operations of dubious value? Our past and future fallen aviators may be just statistics to you, but not to me.

Misery Whip

4/11 I have to agree cynic

I should not beat it to death, either. But here goes.....

The realists will have to see the bills and training issues pile up. Just because something was "established" 30, 40, and 50 years ago in the ANF and LPF and NOT been "current" just like the taskbooks say....3 yrs or one gets to start the quals all over again!!!!

Just because the ANF and LPF did it years ago DOES NOT equate to today's EMS and military operations standards and the LA County flying standards.

Let the TRUE aviation professionals set this bar and the USFS come to MEET IT. The best the USFS can do now
  1. LISTEN and watch everyone else
  2. When USFS can stop the 40 and 50 yr "how they did it BITD" and MEET current training standards, the best they can do is establish and monitor contracts.
  3. If the USFS wants this...they had better FUND it and not leave it ago and let the folks tell us how it was done years ago. That merely means two things
    1. Lacking funding and the inability of the land management agencies to stay on task when the going gets tough and simply giving up or in and
    2. A sincere lack of leadership to today's aviation standards or the foresight to keep a program up and going and MAINTAINING a program throughout the years. Just because it was done 40 and 50 years ago, does not mean it is current or viable nor approaching any of those standards.

Time to get with the times...things have changed in those 40 and 50 years more than a few land management types want to admit here publicly.

Let the contractors and the everyday (365 day) aviation professionals and the ONEs who are ACTUALLY going to FLY these missions, rather than coming from the seasonal contract deliberations, set the bar on this.

This issue of night flying isn't new to us professional pilots and mechanics, probably not new to some helitackers or ground folks either.

But this arena requires more than worrying about some grass and fuels issues and some lame NEPA requirements. The issue becomes for the land management agencies....

Better start to get to attending more city council meetings, FIREWISE type fuels reduction projects (which there are plenty going on), establishing tighter zoning standards and getting the buy in from the communities.......... The work needs to be taken taken more seriously by the District and Forest level supervisors than most Region 5 social engineering projects, if you know what I mean.

Let the aviation types, pilots, trainers and yes mechanics who service and fly with these ships establish the night flying program... some of us came from that very training environment (NVG and nights) and are probably up on that, currency wise, than most land management agency types dictating a night program. If Congressman and Congressional types are the ones to convince..... then let it be the folks who are actually going to fly the program, no pun intended.

There will not be enough said on this subject, cynic. The dead horse needs to ride again only to KICK some sense to those in the USFS that thinks they can do this one alone.

Wrong Answer!

Pilot/ Forester / Aircraft Mechanic

4/11 Night Flying:

Letterman and Not Feeling Leadhook,

Thank you for pointing out my errors in being concerned with the increased risks associated with night flying operations. I apologize for being so naive as to not recognize any level of risk that we are willing to sign off on certainly makes it worthwhile to take those risks to protect the brush, trees, and houses. Especially the tremendously valuable brush, trees, and houses of So Cal and No Cal as you guys so eloquently pointed out to me. I don't know what I was thinking and I appreciate you two setting me straight.

And of course any of my concerns with cost were equally stupid and I apologize for that navet also. I should have realized that my concerns in that arena were ludicrous. If the budget will not support it we will just cut the existing resources to make this work. I cannot believe I even mentioned concerns associated with costs or potential tradeoff impacts to other resources. I just don't know what got into me. Thanks again for setting me straight.

This is my last post on this subject. I think the horse has been sufficiently flogged.

the cynic

4/11 It is just one week till my bro Ken Perry leaves for Australia to run in a 250 kilometer (155 miles) in six days.. An accomplished Ultra runner with numerous Racing the Planet events under his belt, Ken is running this race to help another bro (Asad Rashad) raise money to educate children for success in Cambodia and the world!

Both Ken and Asad are Federal Wildland Firefighters..

Check it out!! firstgiving.com/ projectenlighten ; projectenlighten.com ; racingtheplanet.com
--
Tony Duprey

4/11 Night Flying:

To quote Oddball from Kelly's Heroes "Why don't you knock it off with the negative waves?... Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?"

It's disheartening to see some of the terms used to describe the thought of having the FS look back into reactivating night flying on their incidents. Words like "trepidation"? Come on. Someone is fear-mongering, talking about a program they have little to no real idea what it would entail. Why such intensity to disparage a program that had, after the one accident, a stellar performance records and caught numerous fire. And not just in the SoCal front country. It was successfully used in NoCAL including the upper reaches of the Highway 50 corridor on the Eldorado NF, And oh, the Klamath NF (Happy Camp) too.

Since a good foundation was laid with the old program, I would guess that would be a starting point to look at how night flying could be integrated back into an operational mode, based on how things used to be done and how the modern world would/could/should fit in. One of the premises the old program worked on was to provide emergency response on the incident. But it was planned out in advance. Approved helispots were id'd and marked. Yes it was before short haul appeared also. The key was it was planned in advance. I don't see how you would want to compare commercial rotor-wing EMS programs to a new night program. Don't see any real correlation. Those programs are administered by different entities with entirely different core missions

Why all this hooter-ah about risk? Why is it so much riskier? I was much more comfortable with the night program because it had fewer players, fewer a/c to worry about, people had more training and they spent more time making sure they were doing things safely. If there were more risks, then more effort was put in to mitigate them to provide a safe operation. Supplies were flown, troops were moved, recons were made and incidents were kept small because of successful water dropping with crew support at night. Oh, and only 2 ships were under contract to fly at night. one on the ANF and one on the LPF. It wasn't used all the time. There were times multiple requests were made for the night ships and it was first come, first served. I feel fire fighting took a step back when the program was cut.

Some random thoughts about the future.

  • Don't try to compare it to the LAC night program. It's their ships and pilots.
  • There should be a large number of well-trained, night-qualified pilots available to the private market.
  • Technology advances in NVGs and aircraft are real.
  • Quit thinking that every helicopter under contract will be flying at night. No way that will ever happen, although I would push for more than just two ships if the program comes back.. And, if that means other resources are impacted, so be it
  • The greater good is more important than that an engine might be shut down. With all the turnover that is occurring theses day, I doubt very seriously that anyone would lose their employment if some other modules were closed to cover costs.

And, without trying to demean anyone, let's take a look at the risks of the wildland fire environment. If it's as risky as some allude, then we need to stop committing people to the job. If one really wants to use statistics, then take the time to look at wildland firefighting from top to bottom. I think the numbers will prove it is safer than some want others to believe. Let's stop over-hyping the job. Our tragedies are few and far between. But/and they get lots of notoriety for that same reason. So much good work goes into making sure we do the job safely and focus on making it work for all. The key to train; often, correctly, and pertinent to the job hired/qualified to do.

Don't feel like a lead hook anymore.

4/10 The days of obtaining incident qualifications simply by the Boss giving it to you are long gone. This has been replaced by qualification review committees with diverse backgrounds for all ICS position certifications. That is unless you’re a Line Officer seeking an Agency Administrator qualification. Then it's easy. Then you just need to have another Line Officer follow you around a fire camp, go to a few meetings, have someone update WFDSS for you, know where to get your sack lunch, take ONE training class and bingo, you're qualified, “top” of the incident command system food chain. No leadership skills required. Required work on and learn the inner workings of an IMT? Nope. Required to take incident management leadership classes? Nope. Required to even take basic wildland firefighter training or an annual fire refresher? Nope.

The Agency Administrator certification program is a slap in the face to all others who attend training, mobilize as a trainee and then obtain certification by a qualification committee. Can’t you see how foolish it makes you to look to have one certification system for Agency Administrators and one certification system for all other Forest Service employees?

If the Forest Service had any guts they would:

  • Mandate that each IC who worked for the Agency Administrator provide documented feedback of performance, knowledge and leadership skills of the Agency Administrator in writing to the Regional Forester.
  • They would assign Agency Administrators to IMTs and NIMO to build cohesion and eliminate the element of not knowing what a team is mobilizing into on any given large fire federal assignment.
  • They would avoid ambushes of Incident Commanders and IMTs by requiring increased skills, better leadership for Agency Administrators/Line Officers, and documenting those requirements within qualification directives used by all other employees.
  • They would allow strong, talented leaders from the non-Line Officer ranks the ability to perform as Agency Administrators.
  • They would centralize the management of the fire and fuels organization up to the Chief of the Forest Service and eliminate non-firefighters from within the supervisory change of command of all Federal Forest Service Firefighters.

As large fire incident management develops, a well trained, highly skilled land manager with strong leadership skills will perform as the Agency Administrator regardless of the Forest Service unit where the incident is occurring. An Agency Administrator should be appointed on a rotating schedule by the Chief of the Forest Service or mobilize with the IMT. We as a Forest Service should not be handing out Agency Administrator qualifications to someone who just happened to get a good education and was a successful Soil Scientist or other Oligist.

The current development, certification and learning processes used for Forest Service Line Officers to perform as Agency Administrators are a scam. It’s a system that was created to avoid the certification system used by “all other” Forest Service employees. Maybe that’s one reason why fewer than 9% of the Forest Service workforce is involved in incident management. Why bother when Line Officers qualify themselves as Agency Administrators outside of the agencies' required process for everyone else?

In the 7th paragraph below you might find some good talking points in support of HR 4488.

CFMTTF

Signed,

A So Cal Advocate for a STRONG Federal Fire Service

~~~

Date: March 31, 2010
Subject: Line Officer Responsibilities in Fire and Aviation Management - 2010 Fire Season
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director and Deputy Chiefs

The 2009 fire season may have been a far cry from previous years in size, scope, and duration, however, many opportunities presented themselves across the Nation which taught line officers about the evolution of the fire policy and better prepared them for the 2010 season. These on-the-ground decisions implemented our policies in the Wildland Fire and Aviation Management (FAM) programs. These decisions have profound effects on the natural resources we manage, as well as social and political implications that can impact our Agency’s credibility with our public and Congress.

In this vein, we want to emphasize what the Chief believes you should be aware of as we head into the 2010 fire season:

Firefighter Safety - each year we stress not placing our firefighters into situations that jeopardize their safety, whether it relates to getting to a fire (vehicle safety), activities on the fire line (situational awareness), or supporting a firefighting effort (aviation). This year is no different. It cannot be overemphasized that there is no greater effort expected of you than ensuring that our firefighters are not placed into deadly situations.

Two Types of Fire - last year we implemented a modification to the “Guidance for Implementation of the Federal Wildfire Management Policy.” These changes focused on the management of two types of fires: wildland fire and prescribed fire. In 2009 we learned about the challenges of implementing long-term events and the impacts on our firefighting community, as well as communities adjacent to National Forest System (NFS) lands. A number of national forests gained insight in managing these long-term wildfire events on NFS lands. We would encourage you to visit your colleagues who managed these long-duration fires last season to gain insight in how to manage them.

Fire Analysis Tools - in FY 2009 we implemented the Wildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS) that replaced the Wildland Fire Support Analysis, the Wildland Fire Implementation Plan, and the Long-term Implementation Plan. The WFDSS tool will be used this fiscal year and it would be in your best interest to spend time with your fire planners early in the season to reacquaint yourself with this tool. Also, while the “Key Decision Log” was still being developed and tested, this log will be fully utilized in the 2010 fire season.

Line Officer Certification - we have come a long way since Line Officer Certification (LOC) was implemented in FY 2007. Most regions have implemented this effort to improve line officer decision-making, appropriate risk management, and cost containment on wildland fire incidents. Most Forest Supervisors and District Rangers have been certified on an annual basis as Working, Journey, or Advanced. As new line officers come into our ranks, I encourage you to work with your Regional Fire Directors to find appropriate “shadow” experiences, and/or coaches, for those line officers who must be better prepared. Information as it relates to LOC, as well as the Line Officer Team (LOT) is at http://fsweb.wo.fs.fed.us/fire/fam/lot.htm.

Workforce Development - we will begin the 2010 fire season with fewer than 9 percent of Forest Service employees actively supporting large fire management by taking out of geographic area assignments. The number of employees engaged in large fire management has declined for many years and this effects confronting larger and ever more complex fire management challenges. Are you encouraging new employees to explore career development in fire training and assignments? Are you working with your employees so those interested in fire assignments and training are receiving the necessary support? As line officers it is critical, now more than ever, that we take a deliberate approach to investing in fire management training and assignments for our employees.

In closing, we recognize the many programs you must manage on any given day, yet the effects of not keeping our eye on the ball as it relates to our responsibilities in FAM are immense. Take time to establish your expectations as the leader of your national forest/ranger district as it relates to being better prepared when the season begins. We wish you a safe and productive 2010 season in all the programs you manage.

Sincerely,

/s/ James E. Hubbard
JAMES E. HUBBARD
Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry
/s/ Jerome E. Perez
JEROME E. PEREZ
National Line Officer Team, Chair

cc: pdl wo chief nlt mailrooms

4/10 Interagency National Wildland Firefighter Workforce Assessment OR could it be the Restart of Outsourcing???

R-4's response to the national assessment of wildland firefighting. Be heads up to this stuff, people. Ask questions about what is going on here. Hopefully this is all about secession planning and developing career paths for Federal Firefighters (as stated). Lets make sure we're not returning to the attempts made by the previous administration at studying and outsourcing federal wildland Firefighter jobs. That was until they ran into Senator Diane Feinstein. Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. Or as they say in the Wildland Firefighting Community. Keep Senator Feinstien's email close and your enemies even closer.

For those that are interested in the reference to OIG in the letter. OIG has recently come out with recommendations to the Forest Service on how to improve emergency response capacity after an lengthy investigation. Some items within the OIG report apparently support some of the proposals found in HR 4488.

signed,

Ask someone what's going on here. Stay involved

-----
Date: April 9, 2010
Subject: Interagency National Wildland Firefighter Workforce Assessment (NWFF)
To: Forest Supervisors and RO Staff Directors

Enclosed please find Deputy Chief Hubbard’s 1310/1340 March 17 letter referencing firefighter workforce assessment.

In 2004, the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior developed a five-year plan to conduct an efficiency and workforce assessment of key functions within the Federal Wildland firefighting program.

There are two phases to the NWFF workforce assessment. The Phase I (FY09/10) assessment will analyze all wildland firefighter positions including USFS and the DOI wildland firefighting duties that are funded at least 51 percent within their base salary 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.

Please contact Bill Ott (wott@fs.fed.us) or 303-275-5749 if you have any questions.

/s/ Bill Bass
BILL BASS
Acting Deputy Regional Forester, Natural Resources

Enclosure

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)
JAMES E. HUBBARD
Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry

cc: Tom Harbour,

4/10 Region 5's 2010 safety message.

ms

~~~~
Date: April 9, 2010
Subject: Region 5 - 2010 Safety Message
To: All Region 5 Employees

I want to reiterate statements made by Chief Tidwell regarding safety. He and I are dedicated to providing a safe and healthful environment for all our employees, volunteers, and partners. We are committed to ensuring our workplaces are free of recognized hazards and, prior to conducting any work project, all risks are mitigated to the lowest level possible. This commitment can only be achieved through mindful participation of every employee. We must approach every task through a lens of critical awareness, looking for the hazards that may interfere with the safe and successful completion of the task at hand.

Chief Tidwell has stated that Safety cannot be an afterthought. It must be a core value of our culture, ingrained in the character of every employee. As an Agency, we must endeavor to place the safety of our co-workers and ourselves above all else. This obligation requires integrity, trust, and leadership: the integrity of every employee to adhere to Agency standards, the trust in our leaders to place safety as the first priority, and leadership at all levels to provide a culture that encourages employees to communicate unsafe conditions, policies, or acts that could lead to accidents without fear of reprisal.

Accidents are preventable. However, we are often challenged with working in very high-risk and dynamic environments that are not always predictable. Consequently, we each have a responsibility to ensure that we are properly qualified, appropriately trained, and mentally and physically prepared to safely undertake our work. The prevention of accidents can only occur if we commit to safe work practices, continually assess our changing environment, refuse to assume unacceptable risks, and continually address unsafe conditions. Every employee must assume these responsibilities as a top priority.

/s/ Randy Moore
RANDY MOORE
Regional Forester

cc: Jim Pena
Gene Smalley
Peter Tolosano
Michelle Reugebrink
4/10 We can do it... rah rah rah, and debate about Night Flying:

This post I guess you can label as one of those “we can do it” posts that someone recently referenced. It’s interesting how we get those in our forum now and then who tell us how much they avoid this forum and then send in a post. Many in here are here to learn. Read things that are never emailed to them through official channels. They want to grow and understand how to be a better Wildland Firefighter and learn about the issues relevant within our agencies. Whether we read posts about safety, history, pay or remembrance, we are supporting a Wildland Fire community. Although I support Treeline’s 1st amendment right, it’s really abhorrent to me and maybe others to read your cynicism in our forum. “They said” is about coming out to debate the message. How else can we learn and become better if we don’t listen to a good counterpoint discussion on issues. Come to this forum to debate the message. Don’t come into this forum to condemn the messengers or the administrators of this forum. As Forrest says: “That’s about all I have to say about that”.

Now to my post....

I support the The Cynic's post as well. I thought about this for a couple days before jumping in. His post is hard to argue since his points are most valid. However as a starting point, I do think the Forest Service should continue to explore using night flying helicopters from other agencies that already have a night flying program in place. Use should be limited in scope after a risk vs. gain analysis with continuous reanalysis of the effectiveness occurring during the night flying operational period. I would like to point out that many night flying opportunities will occur without an IMT in place. As a matter of fact, probably the majority of night flying opportunities will be during IA and not with an IMT in place. The decision to use night flying may fall in the hands of an ICT3 during IA. The WUI should not be the only consideration to allow for night flying. Fed and even some state agencies who are more prone to large fire events because of the size of available fuel in the large land masses we manage might consider other reasons to have a night flying operation. If night flying is decided upon during IA, can we safely pick up this B or C class fire overnight and avoid the makings of an F or G class fire in the morning? What does a So Cal F or G class fire cost? Answer; Millions! How many hours and days of driving and how many hours and days of firefighter productivity hazard exposure will 1500-2000 ground firefighters be exposed to if we have a F or G class fire vs. if we night fly and pick this fire up overnight?

During IA the Commander should evaluate the effects of his/her decisions not only on the current operational period threats or objectives. They need to also consider what potential effect those decisions or lack of decisions will have tomorrow or in the days/weeks ahead. We don’t mount crystal balls in Chief rigs and we can’t expect them to know the future. However local knowledge of weather patterns and historical fire events go a long way in this business. What we all know and can agree on is that a Firefighter is safer when in a fire station cleaning the engine or buggy after a successful IA, then out on a hillside for 14 days.

The answers are not simple and being forced to justify the decision at a later date is not something we would wish upon any of our Brother or Sister Chiefs. However taking night flying off the table completely and removing this potential tool for the IA Commander tool box is not something that I support.

Many say “it’s only brush or Timber”. True and this statement should guide the Commanders decisions. It’s an extremely relevant statement. However if a Commander determines they have a chance to pick up this fire overnight with night flying and avoid:

  • A long duration fire event with 448,000 hours of exposure to the ground firefighter (16 hour days x 2,000 humans x 14 days = 448,000) and all the associated driving activities for these 2,000 humans.
  • A $100,000 fire vs. a $100,000,000 fire

It really brings home how tough these decisions are especially in a politically charged environments. Risk (having provided for safety first) vs. Gain (fight fire aggressively).

I support the Forest Service continuing to evaluate night flying operations.

Letterman (a fed)

4/10 Night Flying

yactak,

I don't believe I said anything about not performing night medivacs with highly trained crews. However, if you care to look at the statistics, night flying EMS operations have among the worst accident rates in the industry. One of my best friends is one of those statistics. You might want to factor that in when doing your risk analysis for a night extraction to meet the golden hour.

I think you will find even if you have a helicopter sitting on the pad, unless it is running, crew loaded on board with all their stuff unless the accident is at the far end of the helibase you are going to have one heck of a time meeting the golden hour. That is a fact of life and part of the risks of this business. That does not mean we shouldn't do our best.

Also, I did not say anything about not taking any risks. I said that we are in a risky enough business that we did not need to add to that risk with night suppression flying, in my opinion. You obviously have your own opinion which is fine. It just happens to be wrong, ha ha!

the cynic

4/10 Night Flying...

Cynic....

I absolutely agree with you Cynic! Just because we can does not mean we should, this whole subject should be approached with much trepidation. The risk factors As well as the cost factors are and would be sky high. And do I ever agree that there seems to be an increased "money grows on trees" mentality in our Gov, and we are the ones picking up that tab. The only real point I was making with the military argument is that the equipment and training are out there. Oh and one more thing, I do not think night flying should be an agency/region wide policy either. LA County is a whole different breed of land than say the Sierras or the Cascades. But I guess the question to use or not to use night flights in So Cal, when you have the units that are trained and available, should go to the more than capable hands of the IMT. Again, this does not mean we should just blindly jump right in and be all gungho. I am not a pilot and I really don't have any place saying "yeah let's do it!" That voice should be reserved for the pilots themselves and the overhead that represent and supervise them. The people who will be held responsible for lives lost.

JG

4/9 Night Flying

Cynic..

A thought... if we put folks (hotshots, etc) into places where it takes helicopter extraction to meet the golden hour in the event of a medical.... Night flying may have its place...

Of course if we chose not to fight fire because it is too risky... might as well roll up the hose, turn out the lights and go to the beach....

Just a thought,

yactak

4/9 Historical photos

Ab,

Here's some photos of a 1935 Chevrolet fire truck we recreated using an original Forest Service truck cab & Chassis we found in a back yard.

It was purchased with our personal funds and given to the Forest Service. The Forest Service financed the restoration, most of the equipment on the fire truck was donated by individuals, rural fire depts and businesses. The restoration was done by Ochoco Manufacturing of Prineville Oregon.

We finished this restoration in time for Smokey Bears 50th. It was used in many parades etc. for a few years, it is now in the High Desert Museum in Bend Oregon.

This was done by R-6 / Mt. Hood National Forest / Bear Springs Ranger District

Photos:

  • Original old Truck photo is what we used for Specifications, we had no drawings. This picture came out of an old book.
  • New truck photo is the finished truck after restoration.
  • The colored photo is how it looks. This is the original color; we took a sample from the Old Forest Service truck and had it matched.

Pete Martin AFMO and myself Gary Starkovich FMO made this happen. We are both retired now. (Just saving a little bit of Forest Service History.)

Take Care....Gary

Nice. Ab.

4/9 For those asking about Angie Wheelock's service, this came in from Vicki (not sure where it came from or what website deserves credit; if you know let us know):

Obituaries

Angela Kay Wheelock
(September 28, 1958 - April 6, 2010)

Angela Kay Wheelock 51, of Merlin passed away Tuesday April 6, 2010 in Grants Pass.

A visitation will be held Sunday, April 11, 2010 from 5:00 PM – 7:30 PM at Stephens Family Chapel

Funeral Services will be held Monday, April 12th 11:00 AM at River Valley Community Church with Pastor Mark Goens Officiating. Interment will follow at 3:00 pm at Hawthorne Memorial Gardens

Contributions: Living Water Ministries, 1332 Mt. Pitt Street, Medford, Oregon 97501

Angela was born September 28, 1958 in Mesa, Arizona to Billy Don and Patsy Joyce Snodgrass. She married Michael David Wheelock in 1986 in Cave Junction, Oregon. She was a strong Christian and a prayer warrior. She was bigger than life as stubborn as hell, and she was a fierce lover of her family. She was a cowgirl to her core! She enjoyed horse training, camping, fishing, dancing and so much more.

Survivors include her husband Michael Wheelock of Merlin; five children, Nathon Wheelock of Grants Pass, Bryan Wheelock of Missoula, Montana, Audra Moyer of Merlin, Bobbie Kern of Bonney Lake, Washington, Billie Nygren of Merlin; three sisters, Tracy Roper of Casa Grande, Arizona, Crystal Ironside of Merlin, Rhonda Noel of Cave Junction and twelve grandchildren

fair use disclaimer

4/9 24 hr Report on the Bradley Branch NC burnover incident

Lessons Learned Bradley Branch NC 24hr Report

4/9 More SoCal Historical USFS photos from Gordon R:

Vehicles:
1930 Indiana, Lytle Creek, San Bernardino NF
This may be the first fire truck on the Angeles NF, 1930s (Somehow I expect to see Dan Gosnell sitting in a vehicle like that. Ab.)
1935 Chevy, Cleveland NF
1935 Ford CCC Coldbrook, ANF
1947 MOD

Horses, Balloons, Communication & Training:
All the Rangers on San Gabriel Timberland Reserve about 1900
Early Balloon Recon, Los Angeles County Fire Dept
Relaying fire instructions (Fire Geek, that you?)
1941 Guard School at Chilao Station, Angeles N.F.

4/9 There was a burnover in North Carolina yesterday with 3 firefighters injured, one with inhalation injuries.

RADAR sent in the info last night. Thanks RADAR.

Hotlist IA thread on this incident.

As always we appreciate the community's willingness to help with connections to see if the Wildland Firefighter Foundation can provide any assistance. Sometimes I wonder if Vicki and Burk sleep... Be safe All. Ab.

4/9 SoCal Historical USFS photos from Gordon R:

Dalton Hot Shot Crew Truck at Dalton Station Angeles National Forest 1955 or 1956
Horseback patrol Glendora, CA, Mt. Baldy District, Angeles N.F.
First Ranger Station in Glendora 1920s
Civilian Conservation Corp practicing with pumper in 1930s
First Ranger Station on the San Gabriel Timberland Reserve (Angeles National Forest)
Arroyo Seco Warehouse Gas Pump

Thanks, Gordon. Ab.

4/8 Since the Panther Fire Accident Accident Report is out, I wanted to share these photos in honor of Chief Dan Packer. The monument cross was packed up to the area where Dan fell several days after the tragedy and planted by a few guys from Idaho doing the right thing. Ab.

Chief Dan Packer Monument on the Mountain
Close-up
The Hike Up

4/8 Night Flying:

Dear Cynic and All:

Just a bit of clarification:

While the language I posted earlier was to be included in the report accompanying the Interior Appropriations Bill and thus obviously offered by a California Congressman, the actual idea for the FS to revisit the night flying issue was brought to the Congressman by the LA County FD.

I have provided the Congressman's staff with the wide variety of comments on the subject. It was not the FWFSA's intent to offer a "position" on the issue to the Congressman but to ensure he heard from the folks in the field.

For so long it has been the Agencies and the bureaucracies whose comments and voices are heard on Capitol Hill and it is simply time Congress hears the voice of those in the field.

Casey

4/8 Re: Fire Apparatus Builders

Centrifugal Pump,

Thanks for the info. I believe S & S is no more, but I don't have any facts to support that. I have always been very happy with Pierce's but those have been mostly structure engines not wildland. All the LACoFd guys I have talked to seemed pretty happy with there KME engines, so hopefully that will stay true for their wildland engines.

I found an article now, that KME is building 6 CCVs for the FS. I wonder if thats it for the year or if someone else is building more.

Carrierweb.jpg

FS back-seater

4/8 Night Flying:

ABs

Sittin here after completing IEMC E915 (Integrated Emergency Management Course) at Emmittsburg, MD....

I "gotta" respond....

Night flying just cuz one is a land management agency and because of its desires to be like LA County Fire and its program.....

USFS and DOI wildland fire ships, for the majority are contract operations other than the few agency ships around.

So the question begs ... Whos is going to PAY for this? Is this going to be part of a contract? Each ship and operator going to have NVGs and currency every 3 to 6 months just to keep Papa and Mama USFS and DOI happy?

You folks thinking that this stuff "we can do" just cuz LA County Fire and other are doing it, requires probably more dough than the average GS 3 thru 15 wildland fire operator can fathom.

Currency and recurrency costs are going to HAVE to be passed down to the "land management agencies" in the form of higher contract rates to recoup costs. You think the average operator at the major fire helicopter can absorb those costs just 'cuz we want to cozy up to the elected officials just to look good?

Any of you folks read the Federal Air Regulation for fun lately? Any of you folks flown and aircraft or helicopter or fixed wing aircraft when it is coming out of your own pocket at rates of $150 hr with instructor Cessna 172 / 182 with fuel prices ranging from 3.89 to 5.25 per gallon aviation fuel? How about those helo operators running an average 300/hr all the way to 2500 to 6K per flight hour and Jet A parked at 5.25 to 7.00 per gallon?

Where's that money coming from, huh?

NOW the issues of night flight and CFIT and the ever proverbial risk assessment matrix that everyone is using from the FAA and the civilian world and "land management agencies."

Reading and hearing from folks in the field about inexperienced operators in helicopters and some of the incidences in the SAFECOM, how will allllllll that play out? The guys with 5000 plus hours may or may not be up to CFIT every night or the inherent possibility of IFR conditions coupled with night ops and heat and turbulence stress.

You know why LA County and some others are doing it?? Statutes, training money, everyday events, more training, whATNOT... to keep skills sharp.

It will really be interesting to see what happens if the USFS pushes this arena... BE READY for increased contract costs and PLEAASE do not be shocked at any of those costs...those folks doing aviation EVERYDAY jamming out a living outside of the fire season are just not going to give it away for novelty or for the cause of we need to to do this to prove the land management agencies prowess for wildland fire control

The money WILL have to come from somewhere...

Signed

Forester/Pilot/Aircraft Mechanic

4/8 Re: Fire Apparatus Builders

FS back-seater,
I don't have detailed info for the entirety of the FS nationwide fleet, but have a little insight on the R-5 Type III engines that might answer some of your question. Most of this info was provided in an email memo by our regional fleet engineer. For this years engine productions, there are 25 being built for Region 5. These are the new Model 326 and 346 (4wd) builds which are the replacement for the current Type III engine, the model 62.

13 of these models are being produced by BME - Boise Mobile Equipment. The other 12 are being produced by KME - Kovatch Mobile Equipment at their production facility in Nesquehoning, PA. They are then being shipped to the Southern California area for further inspections and readiness.

Over the past few years there were some engines here in R-5 that were produced by Pierce Manufacturing, and I have also seen a few that were built by S & S Fire Apparatus. I could be wrong, but most of the Pierce's were Model 62 4wd's. They looked pretty impressive with all that diamond plate and such a tall clearance, but many operators seemed to report a number of issues with them. I have not seen any new Pierce engines in a few seasons now. The S & S engines I believe were made a few years back when the model 62 was a bit newer. I was never really very impressed with that build. They had vastly different layouts on the pump panels and interior than their BME counterparts and seemed very awkward to work around. But I never was assigned to one so maybe they were pretty reliable?

Hopefully someone else has more detailed or inside knowledge than I do, but it would appear that for the time being that all the new R-5 engines are either BME or KME builds. I would be interested to see who is building what in other regions and who is making the CCVs. Hope this helps though!

- Centrifugal Pump (no longer a dual stage due to cutbacks)
4/8 Condolences from all here at wildlandfire.com to Mike Wheelock at Grayback who lost his wife Angie in a vehicle wreck Tuesday night (April 6). She was a gem all the way around, funny, cheerful, lots of personality, easy on the eye, tall and dark haired. She lit up lives. Class act, great person. Sorely missed.

We're keeping you, your family and the Grayback community in our thoughts and prayers, Mike. All our love. Dave, our best to you too. The Abs.

4/8 Fire Apparatus Builders

Who is building fire apparatus for the FS these days? I have tried to search the internet but am not finding much on who is building what. Once upon a time I know that BME was manufacturing alot of the Model 62 engines (or at least thats the way it seemed). But lately I have seen Pierce's and other brands, and have heard rumors that KME is building some Forest Service equipment. So who is building the FS's crew buggies and engines these days?

FS back-seater.
4/8 Freeman Reservoir tree felling fatality report:

Ab,

Attached is the BLM response to our FOIA request (667 K pdf file) for the Freeman Reservoir tree felling fatality. Seven of the recommendations in the Management Evaluation Report have been withheld "as still under deliberation and no final decision has been made as to the course of action that will be implemented."

In addition to faller training issues, this report is relevant to discussion of the Palmer Perspective and the ability to achieve the Golden Hour if agency EMTs are unable to request Flight for Life transport prior to arrival of a local ambulance on scene. It will be interesting to see whether trauma kits and backboards are made available to agency medical personnel.

vfd cap'n

4/8 re: Night Flying Comments by 'the cynic'...

Rational discussion enters the scene... Your comments are spot on, Cynic....this board could use a lot more discussion along the lines of what you've posted.

I've lost interest largely in this site because comments are generally simplistic and focused on either 'we can do it', regardless of any other issues that might be lurking with any given subject or centered on 'we deserve more because of what we do'. We don't deserve more just because of what we do, by the way. We have free will and are able to choose to do something else where we might be better rewarded if that's our goal... The third topic of concern is that 'I'm where I am because of the "man"....I was cheated or life's unfair in any number of ways.... Welcome to the real world.

It's refreshing to read a comment like yours Cynic....thanks

Treeline (36 fireseasons, OSC II, active on teams for over twenty years,
retired) maybe it shows.

4/8 re: Night Flying

To the cynic,
 
Well said. I was considering a lengthy comment on the night flying thread but you said just about everything I wanted to. Just because the military is willing to expose their people to extreme risks doesn't mean the Forest Service ought to do the same. The major difference between us and the military is that our soldiers frequently have to kill dangerous people while avoiding being killed by those same dangerous people. Their risk assessment is (or should be) different from ours.
 
Misery Whip 

4/8 re: Night Flying

Kudos to "the cynic" for so eloquently speaking my mind on the night flying debate which has been bouncing back and forth for the last week or so. I bear considerable responsibility for the many who fly on my busy unit, and could not have stated the case any better.

Old Boot

4/7 Does anyone know the R5 FireHire schedule. I know that they have been working on supervisor references the last few days and am just wondering about the timeline for offers.

Thank you in advance,
SoCalFS
4/7 Night Flying:

Well I can't resist.

So far everyone has acknowledged this is a riskier operation. So am I out of touch or do we teach our firefighters that no bush, tree, meadow, or house is worth a firefighters life? So why would we want to enter an even higher risk environment to protect a bush, tree, meadow or house?

We can follow the reasoning that the military routinely performs nighttime operations and other highly trained crews are doing medivacs etc at night. Well the military also jumps out of airplanes at night from high and low altitudes and they conduct low level bombing operations at night. So what the heck, lets go to full time night ops with helicopters: rappel, helitack, cargo, bucket and fixed tank water drops, recon, etc. And while we are at it, lets outfit the jumper program and train them to the special forces level so they can jump fires 24/7 so they do not get too big. Then, lets use the military stuff and outfit the retardant fleet from the heavies to the SEATS so they can perform retardant missions at night. Of course the lead planes etc will also need to be brought up to that standard, but it is possible.

Well it all costs money. How many folks are willing to give up an engine, a hand crew, a non qualified night time helicopter etc to fund a night flying operation?? Or do we just figure the American taxpayer will bite the bullet and money is no object? What are the budget deficits in California, the country as a whole? Does common sense enter the equation?? Just because something can be done does not mean it is something that should be done.

Did it not raise a red flag that it was suggested by a Congressman?? Was that Congressman from California?? I cannot believe folks are willing to throw Agency aviation specialists under the bus because a congressman wants to fly at night.

If that is where the current and future leaders of the fire program in the Forest Service are leaning that scares me to death and at the same time confirms some of my worst fears. Maybe some of you folks should scoop up fellow fighters in their body bags before you are so eager to enter an even higher risk environment. There is one truism with the risks with night ops. It is not if an accident is going to happen, it is when. You go ahead and sign on to risk folks lives. Then you look in the mirror the first time they pile one up.

This is wildland firefighting, not war!

the cynic
4/7 Ab, Thought this might be of interest. This is an excerpt from edocket access gpo.gov

Daniel I. Gordon,
Administrator, Office of Federal Procurement Policy.
Policy Letter No. 10-XX
To the Heads of Executive Departments And Establishments
Subject: Work Reserved for Performance by Federal Government Employees

1. Purpose. This guidance establishes Executive Branch policy addressing when work must be reserved for performance by federal employees. The policy is intended to assist agency officers and employees in ensuring that only federal employees perform work that is inherently governmental or otherwise needs to be reserved to the public sector.

Nothing in this guidance is intended to discourage the appropriate use of contractors. Contractors can provide expertise, innovation, and cost-effective support to federal agencies for a wide range of services. Reliance on contractors is not, by itself, a cause for concern, provided that the work that they perform is not work that should be reserved for federal employees and that federal officials are appropriately managing contractor performance.

It Seems like whatever the folks in DC decide, it should be
#1 SAFE and
#2 COST EFFECTIVE......

I'm sure they will screw this up too!

Tired of DC

4/6 Night Flying:

Thanks to all who have offered comments so far on the proposal to have the Forest Service re-study its night flying policy.

"Baffled by the Noise" suggested I get a hold of the Casitas Report. If anyone knows where I can obtain it or has a copy, please feel free to email it to me at cjudd@fwfsa.org .

Thanks,

Casey
4/6 Night Flying.

I think that, to write off night flying ops over what Could happen and what Has happened some time ago, is fear mongering. Yes there are a whole lot more risks to flying at night, but if our military, LA County, and others can do it, then so can the USFS. To just write it off and say it's too risky, is in my opinion, sad. I personally love being on fires in so cal when those ships are flying at night. It's a huge help, and really makes a difference come morning.

I think that with new AN-PVS 22 NVGs and other technology that's out there, that pilots would have a much clearer picture, and higher SA. I also believe that there should be a trigger point established as to when night ops are flown and when they are not. Values at risk, urban intemix, etc... That way we are not flying night ops on a fire out in the middle of bfe like Denny, Ca or anywhere else out in the trinity alps. I hate firefighting out there. Haha but in all reality, do we need night ops on fires in places like the hills around LA, San Bernardino, Paradise, etc... Yes, hey would give an already big upper hand a big boost on catching a fire at night.

Use military standards for training etc..., set up trigger points, use common sense, establish training and standards for incident overhead for optimal and safest use of night flight ops, and ultimately, allow the last go/no go decision to be at the pilots discretion.

My limited opinion.

JG

4/5 Food for thought as the SMEs gather today at WFTC for the next round of R5 Fire Hire.

Cut from the R5 Fire Website: www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/trackingdb/postings.html

I count 30 GS-9 vacant Jobs, considerably more than the previous rounds from my informal remembrance. Is this due the fact that the retention bonus stops at the GS-8 level, and folks will have to take a cut in pay to rise up in the ranks? Yes, they will make it up in Overtime, and Hazard pay, but a Base 80 paycheck would be cut more than $50. What entices somebody to move up in this organization?

Has anyone has noticed this trend besides me?

Thanks,

Thinking Outside the Box

Forest District # of
Positions
Specialty Target
Grade
Lowest
Grade
Modoc
Plumas
Regional Office
Shasta-Trinity
Angeles
Cleveland
Cleveland
Los Padres
Mendocino
Mendocino
Modoc
San Bernardino
Shasta T
Six Rivers
Klamath
Modoc
Plumas
Sierraa
Klamath
Modoc
Plumas
Sequoia
Sequoia
Lassen
Shasta T
Klamath
Lassen
Six Rivers
SO
SO
South Ops
SO
Los Angeles River
Descanso
Palomar
Monterey
Covelo
Grindstone
Warner Mountain
Arrowhead
Yolla Bolla
Mad River
Goosenest
SO
SO
SO
Scott River/Salmon
Devils Garden
Feather River
Hume Lake
Kern River
SO
Weaverville
HappyCamp/OakKnoll
Eagle Lake
Mad River
2
1
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
DISP
DISP
DISP
DISP
FMOA
FMOA
FMOA
FMOA
FMOA
FMOA
FMOA
FMOA
FMOA
FMOA
FMOAP
FMOAT
FMOAT
FMOAT
FUEL
FUEL
FUEL
FUEL
FUEL
HELI
HELI
HOT
HOT
HOT
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
9
8
9
9
9
8
8
8
8
8
8
8
8
8
8
8
9
11
9
8
8
8
8
8
9
9
9
9
9

SO=Supervisor's Office; SME=Subject Matter Expert; WFTC=Wildland Fire Training Center in Sacramento

4/5 competitive sourcing info

All,

Just a few links on the shifts in contracting/outsourcing for government work...

March 31, 2010: OFPP proposes tests for deciding when to outsource work

Excerpt:

"The Obama administration is creating a new test for agencies to use when deciding whether or not to outsource work to contractors. The proposed guidance is part of the administration's attempt to clarify the definition of what is an “inherently governmental function” and to bring more contractor work in-house. “There are too many anecdotes that suggest work that is really inherently governmental — work that needs to be reserved for federal employees — is, in fact, being done by contractors,” Daniel Gordon, administrator of Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said in a speech earlier this month...."

From April 1, 2010: Administration hopes for ripple effect from outsourcing policy

Excerpt:

"The Obama administration proposed policy to stop the outsourcing of government-only jobs also will pressure agencies to avoid contracting out work that is closely associated with the government-only work, according to some experts..."

Be well, be safe -

-butterfly

4/5 Night Flying.

Abs.

I guess most people don't know or remember much about the FS's old night flying program. It was a good program that fell victim to budget woes, real and/or manifested.. It took two more pilots and more support folks to keep the ship available 24/7. That cost a lot more money. There was also some influential SZ critics lamenting the cost; but I think that was more related to the fact that they didn't manage those tools. In fact, the program was used by the State in one area more than by the neighboring NF. The program successfully recovered from an accident on the ANF with LAC, and grew. In fact, several successful night aerial ignitions projects occurred in R6 just prior to the program being dropped. Night aerial ignition was also planned for the Bodfish incident in '84 (??). The reason that didn't happen was the incapability of the torch plug to the helicopter which resulted in the FS WO aviation mandating the plug configuration for national compatibility with all helicopters.

So, I'm pretty darn sure night flying was not dropped for safety reasons as some have alluded to. It was successful both in CA and was taken out-of-state. It was never able to find new champions after it was cut. I feel it has the potential of becoming a very decisive tool with the helicopters and night-vision technologies now available. It wasn't been seriously looked at in over 20-25 years. The best firefighting, in most cases, is at night. We need to maximize all of the available tools and technology to take advantage of the dark, not retreat from it.

Oh, I worked in the night program. Could you not guess??

A1leadhook

4/5 Night Flying.

Every time I hear folks pushing hard for night flying it always raises red flags. Are the folks trained? Are there enough folks trained? How about the Feds who contract? Are they all going to be trained and outfitted? How much NVG time is enough NVG time? Are we being nave to the strides technology has made? I’ve seen many accidents during the day and many more close calls. I’ve seen the arrogance of L.A. County telling the media their night flying would have put the Station Fire out and I’ve seen the Forest Service hesitate to test the waters with NVG.

Somewhere there is middle ground. I don’t think we’re ready as a whole for night flying. Some are but not everyone. I think rushing into it could be very dangerous, especially when we have a hard time talking to each other (different agencies) in the air still. How about crews guiding in drops? Lord knows we would never Heli-mop. What about an in-flight emergency, where does the ship go? Because we know you can see troops on the ground so very well with the great peripheral and situational awareness NVG provides at night. I think night flying to extract the injured is great, you don’t have a giant glow to minimize the technology NVG is supposed to provide. I hope the experts can figure out that middle ground and provide a safe fire area for all of us who aren’t always looking up, down, and all around. Risk vs. Gain. Keep the politics out of this formula.

KC

4/5 Ab,

Please pass on my request that firefighting personnel call/ email/ write their representatives and President Obama to ask why federal emergency workers do not receive medicare or social security credits for seasonal work. We all PAY state and federal taxes on our wages. We need a fair deal.

Thanks for passing on the info.

Pinepixiie

4/4 Night flying thread

To all the Naysayers...

I flew as a crew person on the night flying ship out of Casitas. We (LP Hotshots) trained and flew from Rose Valley to Los Prietos on a training flight during the period prior to the accident.

I have recently talked to the crews of the San Diego and Santa Barbara night flying ships and seen today's night vision equipment. I have also seen their operating plans. One thing that stuck with me that one of the crew told me was that it was much easier to drop H2o on a fire at night given forward airspeed as opposed to hover hold for the medical and rescue hoists they currently routinely do at night. All night flying agencies also have strict SOP's that govern their night flying and the Pilots have the final say.. as with day ops.

So to all you naysayers.. I would say get out of the past and move to the present and beyond...
--
yactak

4/4 Border Crew on the CNF

Hi Ab,

You posted a letter to the Ab account in the night time flying thread from JFF. The poster asked about the Border Crew on the CNF.

Here's a link to the information he/she is looking for. US Forest Service Border Fire Prevention Crew

P

4/4 FS night flying

I'm with JFF these things do make a person say Hum!!!

Maybe the congressional official needs to go ahead and purchase a helicopter and give the night flying game a whirl. Everytime these uninformed suits want an answer the poor old FS just bends and says sure we'll check it out. What about the blood already spilled in the aviation environment for fires in the middle of BFE that people lost loved ones over? If congress wants every fire caught every time then we should let them go ahead and fund the agencies at full capacity to do so. When are we going to start falling Class C trees at night because Congress wants us to? Oh yeah and if I'm the contractor what is my new NIGHT fire flying rate going to be? double/triple the day time rate? What about when the manager and crew have hit their sixteen hour limit 2 to 1 might as well double the over head up on a helicopter because if they went to night flying and for some sane reason the thing didn't fly due to somebody being off the clock then I'm sure heads would really roll.

Let's everybody slow down on losing an IA oh yeah didn't anyone point out that the ANF was engaged in a type 2 incident down the road when the Station really got established. That fire was way overdue.. isn't a fuels problem anyway?

For Casey get your hands on the report from the Casitas days and the accident during that period for a real case study in the other 80 reasons to stay on the ground at night.

Baffled by the noise

4/3 FS night flying

Some days I see posts that just stop me in my tracks and this is one of them. 
 
I have heard bits and pieces about night flying for years, have never agreed with night flying, and never will.  In certain instances it is necessary, such as medical issues or law enforcement activity, but in a wildland fire setting there is just too much that can go wrong for just too little (grass, brush and trees), albeit, there are now homes of humans intertwined in those three elements.
 
I had the opportunity to be on a helitack crew for an entire fire season in 2000.  It was the best season of my, almost 20 year, career.  I learned a plethora of knowledge about helitack, helicopters and what really goes on with those glorious flying machines.  I also learned that flying at night is just too darn risky.  Even during the day, with the sun shinning and no smoke within miles, the pilot, co-pilot and the 5-7 people in the back are not able to see all hazards.  I can't imagine the pucker factor of flying at night.
 
The Station Fire was, of course in my opinion, one of those fires waiting to happen.  Just like the Cedar Fire, Harris Fire or any other fire with tragic consequences.  Firefighters, my brothers and sisters, should not die over a sage bush, oak tree or even a house, but they do.  Why add to the tragic situations by putting even more hazards out in the field during a time of chaos?  The Forest Service should stick to their guns and not change policy.  They should take some of these knuckleheads who want to fly at night for a ride, at night and during a fire, and show them first hand the insanity of such thoughts.
 
By the way, does anyone know anything about a Border Prevention Crew on the Cleveland??

JFF

4/3 In response to the new Minimum Standards of Medical Units

I applaud the NWCG for their Minimum Standards for Medical Units. Its not 100 percent perfect but its much better than the fly-by-night system from before. I know there has been much confusion on standards for federal firefighters. Ever single EMS certified person I know (self included) felt as if they were operating in a 'gray zone' of legalities on what they could and couldn't do.

I do see several potential problems though, one is that alot of federal firefighters I know do not have their state license; they only have their course completion or NREMT card. According to my interpretation of the new standard, that would require most of the NREMT certified EMTs to go to their local EMS agency and jump through the hoops to acquire their ID card. For example in Central California for Tulare, Madera, Kings and Fresno County you would have to be licensed through the Central California EMS Agency. That requires quite a bit of paperwork and livescans etc. Also as I read it, every licensed person would have to know all the protocols for their perspective area. I don't know if any of you have seen the binder for protocols but it's no short read.

Though I am nitpicking here, let me reiterate that I believe that this new standard is MUCH MUCH better for the wildland community, and is a huge step forward. In this day and age where people sue because you broke their name, this is a requirement to have something to standardize care and to cover our butts.

FS EMT

4/3 Race Car competition, vote WFF for most liked:

From Fire Guy:

PLEASE KEEP ON VOTING !!!
This is not over, we all need to keep voting until this is over !!! From the looks of this there will be more to see who gets the most votes this time around + there are some cars that will not pass, no numbers on them + most of cars would be impossible to put on a cup car !!!

Tom ~~~I want to thank you for getting this going !!!
I was a race car driver most of my life !!!

Vote WFF for most liked: sponsafier.com/#/gallery/view/133345

Keep up with the hotlist thread on this. Ab.

4/3 We posted the 27 page draft Minimum Standards for Medical Units on theysaid earlier in January. (Thanks Aardvark.) Links to the final version are on the NWCG web. See memo below. Nice work. Ab.

To: NWCG Executive Board, GACC Chairs and GACCs

What: NWCG#015-2010 Memorandum - Interim NWCG Minimum Standards for Medical Units Managed by NWCG Member Agencies

NOTE: It should be noted that the attachment was created prior to the Safety and Health Working Team being reorganized to the Risk Management Committee. Please note that the Attachment can be found on the Incident Emergency Medical Task Group's (IEMTG) website at:
Policy Guides

Web Location: NWCG memos

Bonnie L. Bradshaw
NWCG Executive Secretary
National Interagency Fire Center
4/3 -just another pulaski motor,

Your post is a prime example of why we need to "Keep them Honest". If you statements about the MB7 case are correct, an EEO Complaint needs to be filed! Not just for MB7 but for future applicants! If MB7 was rated as the highest qualified by the panel all the way up the chain, the Forest Supervisor DID NOT have the authority to drop below the highest qualified and select solely on the basis of a diversity. The Forest Service (Department of Agriculture) has no Affirmative Action Plan, CD, etc. that allows that type of selection. Diversity is one of MANY factors not the sole selection factor.

As I posted earlier during the CD era, hundreds of EEO Complaints were settled in favor of the complainants. BECAUSE Forest Supervisors, etc. selected applicants based solely on gender and or diversity. Most all EEO Complaints went formal due to Region Five not wanting to admit guilt. A lot of the EEO Contract Complaint Investigators (formal stage) were retired FBI some CIA retirees, they saw through the BS immediately after they put review/selection panel members, Forest Supervisors, etc. UNDER OATH to get their statements. The same under oath procedures are used today. This may sound harsh but when someone lies that is their problem!

Your statement about Herger: "Congressman Wally Herger in his testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Service regarding the complaints of California FS employees and it's becoming common where I work too."

2003 and before: Herger statement

This statement brings back a lot of memories. Herger received most of his documentation for his testimony from me when I was employed by the Forest Service. The Forest Service was well aware that I had supplied Herger with the documentation. I never heard a peep out of them (Forest Service)!

If Forest Supervisors, selection specialists, etc. are circumventing EEO laws they need to be held accountable. Their positions DO NOT exempt them from the law, especially the truth!

ARCH

4/3 We posted the draft Minimum Standards for Medical Units on theysaid earlier in January. (Thanks Aardvark.) Links to the final version are on the NWCG web. See memo below. Nice work. Ab.

To: NWCG Executive Board, GACC Chairs and GACCs

What: NWCG#015-2010 Memorandum - Interim NWCG Minimum Standards for Medical Units Managed by NWCG Member Agencies

NOTE: It should be noted that the attachment was created prior to the Safety and Health Working Team being reorganized to the Risk Management Committee. Please note that the Attachment can be found on the Incident Emergency Medical Task Group's (IEMTG) website at:

Policy Guides 

Web Location: NWCG memos are posted at www.nwcg.gov/general/memos.htm

4/2 Congress wants the Forest Service to re-study nighttime air attacks:

Hi to all:

The FWFSA has been asked to weigh in on report language being offered in the House Interior Appropriations bill which calls for the Forest Service to re-evaluate its current policy of night flying. As you might guess, this is in response to the Station Fire where some suggested that night operations by the FS would have made a difference.

After any such fire, politicians come out of the woodwork suggesting all sorts of ideas. Some good, some terribly ignorant. Just a few years ago one Republican congressman from California suggested to me that the FS should turn all mothballed B-52 bombers into firefighting aircraft.

The language below seems innocuous enough and I reminded the Congressional office seeking the language (ANF area) that the FS thinks like a land management agency, not a fire agency. If anyone with sufficient experience and expertise wants to provide any input or feedback on the attached language please email me at cjudd@fwfsa.org

Night and early morning flying. In the wake of the tragic Station Fire in Southern California, it is necessary to ensure that Forest Service firefighting policies provide the most effective initial attack possible, particularly for forests close to urban areas. The Forest Service should examine whether its policy against night flying should be repealed and whether the Forest Service should once again acquire the equipment and provide the training necessary to accomplish night flights. Specifically, they should conduct a study on the efficacy, safety and cost of flying fire fighting aircraft overnight and in the early morning hours. The study should examine several options independently and in combination, including expanding effective flying hours by expanding pilot contracts and overlapping pilot shifts, as well as acquiring and manning aircraft capable of flying at night. The avoided cost of extended firefighting damage to Forest Service lands and structures on the wildland-urban interface should also be estimated. The Forest Service should provide the results of this study to the Appropriations Committee within 90 days of enactment of this bill.
Additionally, I apologize for the delay in getting my "post-DC" report up on our website, it will be there this weekend...I hope. Also, I'm delighted to have an opportunity to speak in Escondido on April 12th at the module workshop and in Missoula Montana the 13th at the R-1 IHC spring meeting. My trip to Missoula and R-1 is long overdue.

Also thanks to the Engine Captain's group from R-5 who allowed me the opportunity to speak at McClellan a couple of weeks ago. It is always exciting to discover who you're going to run into there.

Casey
4/2 Progress in the field... faller module program:

Ab,

I haven’t posted in some time, though some of the topics and issues almost called me to my keyboard (like a sirens song)…However, sometime ago I committed myself to focusing my attention on getting things done instead of talking about them.

Though things may look bleak out in the field in relation to agency sawyers (too complex for a quick turn phrase…) there are productive things happening on many fronts. It just takes time for them to become apparent and “felt” out on the fireline…or forestland.

I realized this morning a trend that I want to mention. I want to thank and applaud the Umpqua National Forest for stepping up on two important fronts. It was the Umpqua National Forest that took the lead in launching and testing the faller module program. They have also been instrumental in fine tuning it and advocating its use nationwide. That takes courage. The faller module program has literally overhauled the way fallers are now hired on 95% of the country’s wildland fires, at least in the West.

Second, the Umpqua has also courageously taken the lead in working with Northwest Timber Fallers to develop and deliver an Advanced Chainsaw Operation & Felling course that is now in the final stages of production. The second Adv. class is just finishing up today up on the Umpqua. I met with them at the Steamboat training center last night for an informal debrief and introduced them to the consultants we’re working with on the course’s interactive online component. The entire program will launch in its final form Oct. 1.

Third, while the Umpqua hosted both the first training in 2009, as well as this past week’s training (Thanks to the efforts of Wolf Creek IHC Eric Miller) those forests who approved and sponsored their own sawyers’ attendance also deserve recognition. The fact that these sawyers walked through the door and out into the woods with our trainers means a lot to us. It means the advanced training we’ve been developing is not only needed, but valued.

What I’m about to say next may be a bit unnerving, but it is true and it is why I’m still here. (Many of my closest friends, peers and mentors know I keep trying to head in a different direction.) Here it is…with each young sawyer that’s died over the past few years, or been seriously injured in chainsaw related accidents, particularly on the fireline – my gut turned. I have a son. He is a sawyer. And he was out on the fireline during the last two fire seasons. After the fatalities, our fallers would talk about the situations incessantly trying to figure out 1) what had happened and 2) how it could have been avoided. And then more began to die. And we all decided we had to try to do something to help. Fallers began to talk extensively with agency Hot Shot crews, advanced crew sawyers, jumpers, and other fire veterans out on fire assignments. The topic: What needs to change so people don’t die?

The underpinning of the Advanced Chainsaw Operation & Felling course is aimed specifically towards that end – It’s designed to save lives. And here’s the kicker…the only way we’ll know it’s working is when people stop dying.

So, here’s to the Umpqua! Here’s to Wolf Creek IHC Sup. Eric Miller, and to all the forests who have sent their sawyers to our first two Adv. trainings. Here’s to the veteran fallers – including my husband, Ken Downhill - who have hung with us and helped us develop this program by translating their decades of woods wisdom into a language and training program that can be successfully delivered to agency sawyers. And last…here’s to the sawyers that have come, laid their egos and bravado at the door (or truck…) and headed into the woods to learn what it takes to trust themselves at their core. They are the leaders of the future. I told them last night as they were lamenting the fact that there would soon be a day when there were no timber fallers left to teach them…There will always be a need for skilled and wise sawyers. And so, there will always be a need for an effective way to teach them. Focusing on the dwindling timber faller population won’t help anything. Focusing on solutions is the only sane answer.

Be safe this coming fire season everyone!

Shari Downhill

4/2 For the quotes page, a quote by john wayne

John Wayne: “The fire is not discriminating. It burns anything in its path for whatever reason.”

JS

Put it on the Quotes page. Ab.

4/2 In response to unfair hiring practices:

I am commenting in regards to MB7's post on 3/9.

What they are describing is accurate, the choice of the immediate supervisor of the module was to hire MB7 because they (MB7) were highly qualified and had a great deal of experience in fire as well as a good reputation among their peers. This choice was overridden by the forest supt. and the module leader was told to hire a female who had much lower qualifications. (I believe this is not appropriate, I have read that the only situation in which a "diverse" candidate can be chosen is in instances where the qualifications of both candidates are fairly equal.) I can also attest that there are some pretty questionable hiring choices being made in other instances in the same area of the region. The primary reason no one has filed a grievance is because

  • a) they feel they will be blacklisted and it will adversely impact their job viability, I don't truly know how likely this is or how much of a scarlet letter filing a grievance creates, but the idea of this happening has led to the advice to "keep your head down" and "wait for it to blow over". [In the big picture of history, this mindset has led to further rights violations in other groups of individuals in non-fire circumstances]
  • b) people don't feel that any representation provided by agency channels will carry enough clout to precipitate much change at the region wide level (as per the case in which the New Haven city firefighters went to the supreme court...and won, this may be erroneous). Not everyone views this as a personal grievance as much a larger problem.

In regards to the comment made on 3/27 in rebuttal to MB7 stating that there was no way MB7 would have been informed by the hiring panel that they were the #1 choice: MB7 had been told by the module supervisor who had selected them as their first choice for the position, that the other selecting officials involved in the panel had also chosen MB7. In this instance and region, fire hire has not been fully implemented. As I understand it, applicants are rated out by qualifications etc. upon reception of their applications. The list of rated applicants is then given to a forest and district comprised panel that makes a final selection. At this point, MB7 had been unanimously chosen by the module supervisor all the way up to the panel line officers and MB7 had been unofficially informed that they had the job. The choice was then overridden by the forest supervisor after the normal hiring procedure had been implemented and the selection made. In short, MB7 was far enough along in the hiring process that they were aware, either officially or unofficially that they had been chosen for the job.

In regards to the other comment made on the 3/27 rebuttal, MB7 said it was the third time that unfair hiring practices had happened recently. MB7 did not state that it was the third time it had happened to them specifically. I feel like the poster assumes that MB7 was an undesirable or inexperienced employee who was jumping the gun or bemoaning others for their own ineptitude. The reference to "dating" solidified the feeling that a preconceived image of MB7 existed in the poster's mind. I'm writing this because I recognized the 3/9 post and whom it referred to and I work in the same area as this individual and have a more intimate knowledge of the situation. MB7 is a respected firefighter with a very impressive amount of experience and a developed list of quals. There has been a definite push for quotas in my area for awhile now that has disregarded the actual merit, qualifications and experience of the applicants. My views are not necessarily those of MB7 nor am I speaking on their behalf but I understand what they are describing.

I know this very issue has already been addressed by Congressman Wally Herger in his testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Service regarding the complaints of California FS employees and it's becoming common where I work too. I've read about Mr. Herger and feel he is normally way too right-wing for my own personal political views but in this instance I think there are some serious problems with how we are doing business. I also feel at some point it will become a safety issue and when it does manifest in a tragedy, the person(s) suffering the scrutiny will not be the forest sups and upper echelon of hiring officials. The Captain, Squadboss, AFEO et al who were unfairly fast-tracked or promoted OR the module supervisor who was commanded to hire them against their best judgment will be the ones at the end of the proverbial finger. We cannot bill ourselves as a high reliability organization while engaging in this horribly misguided attempt at promoting diversity.

-just another pulaski motor

4/2 Binocular recommendations:

I've sometimes appreciated having "birding glasses" with me -- like the Nikon Travelites. They won't give you a very broad view, especially the 9x, but they have great optics for a reasonable price. The 8x might be more practical. Plus they can be put into a quart-sized ziplock bag when not in use and you're in and out of smoke, dust, etc. In a rig, you might want something bigger. Bushnell makes great stuff, but it can be spendy.

Still out there as an AD

4/1 One hundred years ago this August Hell met Earth where Idaho meets Montana.

The Great Fire of 1910 took the lives of 86 people, destroyed entire towns, burned three million acres and killed enough timber to fill a freight train 2,400 miles long.

Smoke from the fire was said to have been seen as far east as Watertown, New York and as far south as Denver, Colorado. Before it was over, 10,000 men were on fire lines that stretched from eastern Washington across the Idaho panhandle well into western Montana.

Growing up in St. Maries, Idaho, I have somber memories of visits to the Firefighters' Circle at Woodlawn Cemetery, where 57 men who perished fighting the 1910 fire are buried. The memorial is on the National Register of Historic Places, and some sources say it is the only Federally-owned cemetery plot that has nothing to do with the military.

For the better part of 30 years I've hardly missed and have always enjoyed your show. I firmly believe that 'Sunday Morning' is, without question, the very best program on television. Period.

That is why I am hopeful that this note will serve to "plant a seed" regarding this upcoming anniversary. I know of no other group of newspeople that would explore and present this story with the sincerity and respect that it truly deserves.

Best Regards,

Duane English
Missoula, Montana

PS - My favorite part of the show is the "...we leave you..." clip at the end. I always guess where your cameras will take me and what I'll see and hear there. It's great -- don't ever change it!
4/1 AB,

I was on a San Berdu Engine and was on the initial dispatch to the Old Fire. The white van that the suspect was driving, was later found within miles of our station. That fire was a tragic and terrible, albeit amazing, fire. I agree with the sentiment of leaving his suicidal a$$ alone. It's a shame that nothing has been done with him after all these years. It would be a serious shame if this guy were to receive reduced sentencing due to mental health issues or something else like that. My engine and a cal fire inmate crew had 2 very hairy situations on that fire, thank goodness for flood control drainage ditches. LOL

Sent from my iPhone

4/1 Old Fire suspect on suicide watch

I say leave him alone and save the tax payers some money!

Old Fire suspect is on suicide watch

TS

4/1 Binocular recommendations?

Just thought I would ask the list what they used for binoculars. Need something small, sharp and clear, for spotting and look out work. Oh ya must be able to take being in a fire pack...

JAJ

4/1 Hotshot Squad Leader hiring:

Ab and ms,

Thanks for clarifying the Hotshot and 10 Person handcrew jobs I just didn't want the get passed up for not applying to the strait 7. I'm in for the 6/7 so we'll see.

Thanks,

854Runner

Dontcha love it when the question gets answered. Ab.

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