"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
May, 2010

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5/31 Retention

The Regional Office in R-5 is working on pay options for 2011 as a method to maintain the recent retention improvements. One idea that has been drafted is region-wide implementation of Title 5 Special Salary Rates. Currently these rates are in effect on the four Southern California Forests only. I am not a big fan of these special salary rates for a few complicated reasons. However region-wide implementation would at least be a significant one year wage increase to thousands of Firefighters working in the Rest of the US locality, including most other rural areas of California.

Originally the review was only going to look at an update for the So Cal Forests, however the scope of this has been expanded to all of R-5. My guess is that costs for region-wide implementation are being worked on if not completed. HR is involved with the write up. If Randy Moore approves, the package will go forward to the WO and then to OPM with approval in November 2010 and implementation in January 2011.

The FAM BOD is meeting this week. I hope BOD members ask about the status of this special salary rate proposal. Hopefully members of the BOD filter down the answers to these questions to the troops. If you don't get an update, ask someone.

I am thankful of our Regional Office for expanding the scope of this review and for leaving this option on the table. We also owe a good deal of thanks to Feinstein and Boxer for staying with the retention issue over the past 2 years. Retention has improved, however without continued oversight it is subject to eroding again as the economy continues to improve.

Letterman

~~~~
Subject: Firefighter Retention Update - 12-9-2009

Key Issue: Forest Service has implemented a plan to improve firefighter retention

Description:

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

Key Points:

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

  • All seasonal firefighters were offered the option to convert to full-time firefighter positions; approximately 502 positions have been converted to full time; the estimated cost of this action is $21 million; employees that opted to convert received an increase in their compensation and benefit package;
    • GS - 5 - Seasonal $31, 422; Full-time $35,029
    • GS - 6 - Seasonal $35,029; Full-time $46,885
    • Full-time firefighters also accumulate retirement and leave benefits year round vs. on a seasonal basis.
    • The option of conversion will continue to be offered on an annual basis, and all eligible seasonal positions that are vacated will be converted to full time positions when filled until all seasonal positions have been converted.
  • Effective March 1, a one year 10% Retention allowance for firefighters in grades GS-05 through GS-08 was implemented. Approximately 1,675 employees received the allowance. The one-year cost is approximately $7 million.
    • The allowance will be reviewed prior to the expiration date to determine if it continues to meet justification standards for renewal in March 2010. A decision will be made by January 31, 2010.
  • Assessment and evaluation of a separate firefighter series is ongoing. Regional staff work has been completed and provided to the WO Classification Branch. In order for OPM to consider the development of the firefighter series a proposal must be forwarded to OPM from USDA. OPM does not have a standard timeline for response.
  • Evaluation of the current Special Salary Rate for firefighters in Southern California area is ongoing. Regional specialists are working in conjunction with the WO to determine if additional changes are required to the current Special Salary Rate.
The Forest Service currently plans to employ 4,432 firefighters in California. There are 181 vacancies.
5/31 'Tha Duty'

I understand that some people may have been brainwashed or strung along to tow the company line with misplaced references to Commitment, Responsibility, Professionalism.

With that said, putting blind faith in a Department to take care of the field is not always a good idea,... Especially when there have been repeated attempts to rein-in FIRE, and to get 'them' under control... as if Firefighters are some sort of knife wielding bandits.

Duty, Respect, Integrity, in the field, amongst crews, and on the fire-line are alive and well. Meanwhile honest suppression and fuels money is being siphoned off the top to staff other functions and disciplines... who just don't have itasy as those darn FIRE people.

With regard to unknowingly... volunteering, no questions asked. What a bunch of B.S. Beware when your 'sense of duty' allows you to volunteer your efforts to hide Agency problems.If your sense of duty is to support the field units, then stand-up for what is right, so they don't get saddled with old lingering B.S.

With regard to Standby / On Call Duty:

If the Forest Service wants a night watchman, then they need to say so. The position and duties need to be clearly identified, not buried in some miniscule reference to 'may be on-call' on some random page of my P.D. There are plenty of other expectations that are clearly lined out... like EEO stuff.

Why not spell out the Duty Officer responsibilities and the true after hours expectations? ... I would think a re-classification would be in order.

What Tha,

5/31 To: ready for a change

I currently work for one of the NPS Modules and would highly recommend working for a module, as its been a great experience for me. Regarding applying for jobs on AVUE, I would suggest that you contact a USFS module leader directly.

Here are a few links that have names and numbers, also check out "My Fire Community" ( www.myfirecommunity.net ). The Module community has been active at posting information there.

Best of luck.

Signed:

Buffalo Chip

Interagency Wildland Fire Modules – My Fire Community

myfirecommunity.net

Fuels and Fire Use Committee - Out dated but still some good info

wy.blm.gov Fireuse FUMS

Northern Rockies Coordination Center - Wildland fire Modules

gacc.nifc.gov Overhead

5/31 R9 Engine Captain and Others

If you read my post, I believe I said accepting (volunteering) the role of Duty Officer. Maybe voluntary is the wrong word. But what do you call something that you agree to do with out pay that is simply put in your PD as "May". To me agreeing to do a job without pay would be volunteering. You say you detailed into that position many times, so what did you do? If you were duty officer, did you get paid? What did the PD say about Duty Officer?

As for bargaining unit employees, could any real union paying BUEs outside the Federal sector explain this. If I remember BUEs thru the union negotiate pay raises, health benefits, educational incentives, retirement benefits.

Tell me were Federal employees do that. I have detailed into a GS09 Battalion Chief, I am Duty Officer qualified, I was in a Union prior to my fed time.

My experience with the union in the fed work place was to see that an employee was being treated fairly. If you have ISSUES, contact the Merit Systems Protection Board or Civil Rights. That’s were Federal Employees can get results when they TRULY have been mistreated.

Please call Albuquerque Service Center and talk to HR about where union representation stops. Better yet, call your union rep and complain about this issue of Duty Officers not getting paid after hours.

I support all my Sisters and Brothers in Wildland Fire Service.

Support HR 4488 and write your Reps tell THEM about these issues.

Stove piped FED FIRE is the way to go.

born with a silver spoon in my mouth that said USFS on it

Shorty

5/31 Response to R9 Engine Captain

Good to hear that you guys are BUE eligible. However, my investigation into your PD number A9526, has led me to an abolished PD in AVUE, replaced by FS1471. This PD says BUE status 'not eligible'. But, regardless, if you are BUEs then more power to you. In my humble opinion, Captains are more like working leaders rather than supervisors. OPM would like government agencies to have an employee to supervisor ratio of 10-1, or 15-1. Type 6 Captains lead 4 employees at the most, and Type 3 Captains lead 6 at the most. So, those totals are clearly below what OPM wants. I think Region 1 had sent out a directive a year ago or so, saying that they were attempting to get to that employee to supervisor ratio. So, that being said, it is my opinion that ALL Captains should be considered BUEs.

Quick Connect

5/31 Greetings All,

I'm looking for list of all the USFS Wildland Fire Modules (formerly fire use mods), preferably with contact info. I've found the NPS modules and a couple BLM modules, but so far nothing but broken links for USFS modules. Also...any adviceow to find vacancies for the USFS modules on Avue would be hugely appreciated. Thank you.

Signed, ready for a change
5/31 To: Letterman

Both barrels, followed by an inspirational quote, and concluded with a patriotic tribute.

I think we can agree to disagree on certain items, but don't assume that everyone you don't agree with believes in:
# "shut-up and take it",
# "it’s the way it is",
# "if you don’t like it, leave"

Respectful dialog is infinitely more valuable than a lengthy lecture.

Skip
5/31 Letterman,

HEAR, HEAR!!

Meaning.....

A shout of acclamation and agreement.

yactak
5/31 To Skip:

commitment', 'responsibility', and 'professionalism'

Yes, too many have forgotten the meaning. Who is committed to challenging the agency on policies detrimental to the development of a strong Firefighting workforce? I know one person who we will get to in a bit. The Forest Service now even has Congress in a rare bipartisan effort questioning the agency's commitment to a strong Firefighting workforce. I feel that your fellow Brothers and Sisters in this forum that are challenging the agency and educating Congress to do the right thing are displaying extreme commitment to this agency.

If you want to see how challenging the agency works, you need look no further than this past week. Have you read the letter this week from the WO allowing cooperative night flying on Forest Service land and the commitment by the Forest Service to explore a night flying program? Regardless of our opinion on night flying or our opinion on being confined to fire camp without compensation or required to perform Duty Officer responsibilities after hours, what is more important is that the majority opinion forced the Forest Service to change a policy that has been banned for 30 years, THIS WEEK. Each of us needs to understand the power of us, the power of the American people who overwhelmingly support us, and the rule of law (in this case, labor law).

Responsibility to act, to lead up and have the courage to question superiors in a professional manner. Have you ever in your career listened to a subordinate and said to yourself, “dam he/she is right”. It’s the responsibility of each of us to continue to provide oversight as Duty Officers, we do as instructed, however last I checked we don’t work in North Korea. Without committed, responsible and professional people like What Tha, who are appropriately asking questions and leading up, then we might as well live the life of a mushroom (keep us in the dark and feed us……….).

With the performance based/qualification based organization we work under in the Forest Service, not too many make it to the DIVS and ICT3 qualifications or into positions like Div Chief and Bat Chief without high level of professionalism. The Forest Service emphasis on leadership and ICS qualification requirements before promotion is teaching us a few things:

  1. The courage and commitment to ask questions.
  2. To understand the true meaning of responsibility.
  3. The professionalism to act appropriately in all situations while challenging, asking questions and leading change.

Here is an example of this type of leadership:

Some men see things as they are and ask why, I dream things that never were and ask why not –
Edward Kennedy (eulogy of his brother RFK)

Finally Skip. I am sure you know who Tom Harbour is. If you don't know, he is the National Director of Fire and Aviation Management for the Forest Service. Tom is a very good man, a decent man. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s while on the Angeles Nat’l Forest, Tom was the first Forest Fire Chief in the Forest Service to draft and get approved a 24 hour staffing and pay plan during emergencies or critical weather events  Tom knew the value of being prepared and the cost of being unprepared. Tom was two decades ahead of his time. Tom challenged the system. Tom had high expectations of his fire organization and he worked everyone hard and challenged Angeles leadership to be agents of change. He knew his time was short on the Angeles as he was told time and time again it’s time to move up. Tom knew he had to do everything he could now to be an agent of change before he moved into a world of politics, meeting with Congressional Representatives, Senators and Presidents. He knew that he needed to leave behind accomplishments to inspire another generation of Chief Officers and Firefighters to ask questions and work on similar actives such as those questions being asked by What Tha. Years later, So Cal Forest Fire Chiefs blew the dust off those plans and once again ordered standby 24 hour pay on So Cal Forests on multiple occasions from 2006-2008 and even in one fire camp. I know Tom received reports of these expenditures, he might of even have been asked if he approves of this activity. I’d bet the 10 bucks I have in my pocket that when he received these reports, he sat back in his chair and smiled.

commitment', 'responsibility', and 'professionalism' – If we don’t challenge, ask questions, think outside the box in our careers, then we will never live up to those three important characteristics you make reference too. If we go about our careers with the attitude of

  • "shut-up and take it",
  • "it’s the way it is",
  • "if you don’t like it leave",

then we are not only failing ourselves, we are failing the next generation of Wildland Firefighters. "dream things that never were and ask why not "


CFMTTF:

May those who gave everything they had to give for this country on battlefields from Guadalcanal to Gettysburg to Fallujah have eternal peace.

Letterman

5/31 While reading the 2010 Red Book I saw something that caught my attention in Chapter 17 Fuels Management Ch17 Rx Fire.pdf

Hazard pay for Prescribed Fire Implementation

Current policy is that hazard pay will not be paid for any prescribed fire. Under certain circumstances, environmental differential may be warranted. Offices should contact their servicing personnel office with specific questions.

* FS - is proposing to allow hazard pay for prescribed fire, consequently, this may change this year. If it does, this will not accurately reflect the current policy.

I know the FWFSA is proposing Hazard pay for Prescribed Fires in H.R. 4488, but I have never heard the Agency support this. Does anyone have any more information? Casey?

Thanks,

SRJS

5/31 In response to old n short:

I have been following the duty officer issues for a bit now, and I have a few issues with one of your replies.

You say it is a voluntary agreement when you accept the GS09 ADFMO. Where does it say that? I have been detailed into that position many times and nowhere does it say in the PD that you you will be required to be available after hours, nor does it ask you to voluntarily be available after hours, free of charge.

Another issue is the comment that GS08 Eng Capt. are not bargaining unit employees.. That is not always true. All of our Capts are GS08 and we are all BUE. Not exactly sure how it was done (can't even guarantee it was "legal") but the PD for position for A9526 (Sup. For. Tech-FEO, GS08) was modified to make us Barg. Unit eligible although we are still FLSA exempt.

R9 Engine Captain

5/31 to: Shorty

You used the terms 'commitment', 'responsibility', and 'professionalism'. It seems some may have forgotten what these mean. Thank you for bringing these up.

Skip
5/30 All this talk about Stand-by, On-call, Line Officers, and Duty Officers just proves how much we need 4488 to pass and take a step closer to having our own professional series. Then, we can have actual control over guidelines and policies and not have to argue semantics on Theysaid.

AKFSS
5/29 Memorial Day Weekend - A few things 

On Saturday and Sunday

HR 4488 (SAM); Show your support. 

Contact FWFSA and ask about membership.
www.fwfsa.org

Email your representatives.
www.house.gov
www.senate.gov

Also take time to thank Congressmen Filner for his support for HR 4488.

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.

Congressman Bob Filner

On Memorial Day Monday

This day is for all of us to remember those who never came home. We all have "imagined" a world without war. It isn't hard to do. Maybe one day soon we won't need to continue counting those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We must never forget our fellow Americans who since the 1770's gave it all for their country. 

All Fire Stations and those with flag poles at home, remember to follow Title 4 - US Code - The Flag. Do your part by showing the proper respect for the flag and the fallen.

Remember to bring that flag down until noon on Memorial Day.

openjurist.org THE FLAG 

Title 4 - US Code - USC 7 (m)

(m) The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff.

For those of you attending Memorial Day parades see Title 4 - US Code - USC 9

During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present in uniform should render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute. All other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Citizens of other countries present should stand at attention. All such conduct toward the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.

ms

5/29 Ab, 

Thanks for the clarification.  I have been called many things before....but a Line Officer?!? 

What Tha, I will throw in my two cents worth one more time and call it quits.

5 CFR 550.112....(k) Standby duty. (1) An employee is on duty, and time spent on standby duty is hours of work if, for work-related reasons, the employee is restricted by official order to a designated post of duty and is assigned to be in a state of readiness to perform work with limitations on the employee's activities so substantial that the employee cannot use the time effectively for his or her own purposes.

My understanding has always been that "standby" (see above) is when your movements are restricted to a certain location and you can't go home and watch American Idol, go fishing, or go to the mall.  "On call" is when you can go anywhere you want as long as there is some way to contact or fetch you should the need arise.  Just my understanding.

The 1/2 hour unpaid fireline lunch break could and should be challenged under the standby provisions.  It is clearly a violation of the CFR.

I am not going to address your assumptions about my experience and qualifications. 

Tim

5/29 On call, not standby:

As described in the FSM 5126.4 " Forests utilizing Duty Officers, that serve as on-call leadership and supervision". So it seems they are on-call, not standby.

It seems that the folks doing the job are unclear on what the rules or regulations are, therefore they are accepting (volunteering) the role of Duty Officer upon promotion. If I remember, the incentive was taking home the government vehicle and that could change, considering you might have the call two out of seven days a week.

I believe serving as a Duty Officer is a commitment to your troops and district as responsible leadership and professionalism. I am a Captain that is on-call after hours and days off with no pay or compensation and that is part of the job. My responsibility is to my crew and Forest.

We need to show each other in black and white so let's get the books out and quote some rules and regs.

Shorty, I guess

5/29 New Fire videos:

Ab, 

If you go to YouTube and search under "dozer Boss" you will find 12 excellent dozer vids. If you go to the Public Resources page they have lots of fire vids and management vids.

Matt

5/29 Funny how our forum starts talking about on call duty, availability for immediate dispatch and then the WO re-issues another letter on home-to-work transportation (note the date). Got Lurkers? 

Remember when you were 5 and anything was possible? Happy 5th Birthday . (at&t commercial). Translation - Keep fighting, never give up, anything is possible. 

Never Forget April 1, 2008 - The day they lied from coast to coast. 

Signed,

CFMTTF
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

File Code: 7130-3
Date: May 24, 2010
Subject : Documentation and Authorization of Home-to-Work Transportation
To : Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Directors

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently updated the Department Regulation (DR), €œUse of Government Vehicle for Home to Work€ (DR 5400-005, October 1, 2009) ( google this reg ). To comply with the DR, we are revising our internal direction. An Interim Directive (ID) is being prepared to change the language in FSM 7132.1 €“ Storage.

The DR specifies that, with limited exceptions, authorization of home storage of vehicles must be approved by the Secretary of Agriculture. In most situations, the Forest Service requests for home storage authorizations are under the field work exception and approval of these authorizations has been delegated to the agencies within USDA. Field work authorizations may not exceed a 2-year period and shall be approved as follows:

1. Less than 15 working days within any 6-month period may be approved by the Forest Supervisor, Assistant Directors for Research, Regional Office Staff Director, or WO Staff Director.

2. Less than 90 working days within any 12-month period may be approved by the Regional Forester, Station Director, Area Director, or respective Deputy Chief.

3. Requests for periods exceeding 90 days must be approved by your respective Deputy Chief.

The field work exception does not apply when an employee travels to an office en route to the field location. Documentation for any home storage request shall include a completed form AD-728 and a written explanation of the circumstances for the request. 

In all cases of approved home-to-work transportation, records must be kept as required in the DR. Employees may be subject to fringe benefit withholdings as explained in Departmental Regulation 2600-001. 

A copy of the DR is enclosed for reference. If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Rebecca Hutchins, National Fleet Program Manager, at (360) 891-5212 or via email rhutchins@ fs.fed.us .

/s/William E. Timko (for):
JOEL D. HOLTROP
Deputy Chief, National Forest System

Enclosure
cc: Rebecca A Hutchins
pdl RSA Fleet Managers
5/29 Tim:
I am saying you sound like a Line Officer, but... You sure are focusing in on one side of things.

If you read the 'standby' definition - not 'on-call', you will see different O.T. entitlements. I believe the difference is that on 'standby' you are to remain in a state of readiness, and are being directed to be available for response, and this state of readiness affects your capacity to freely have 'time-off'.

On-call, like a Line-Officer would have, does not require an immediate response, nor pre-requisite qualifications.  Also, a Duty Officer is not allowed to have a non-qualified person take their calls.

If a Line Officer wants their Duty Officer to have no response criteria or time frames, and not need to make 'qualified' decisions, then I guess they can appoint someone from the Rec. shop to be 'on-call', and not have a 'Duty Officer' after hours.

I guess it's your call Tim.

What Tha,

(To clarify: Tim is not a line officer... Ab.)

5/29 VFD

Your post made no sense. Line Officer and Duty Officer are unrelated.

JP
5/28 Triple Nickle President, Joe Murchison will be guest speaker on 1045 FM.com

Ab,

Might want to pass this on.

Charlie

~~~

History of the 555th Parachute Infantry

National President, Joe Murchison will be the guest speaker on Darswell Rogers program this Saturday May 30 at 7AM EST.

The station is 104.5FM WCCG in Fayetteville, NC. The station is owned by two African American Gentlemen James and Anthony Carson.

You can listen to the program by going to the station's website, soul1045fm.com and clicking on the link for live streaming. You will have to have window's media player on your computer or download it for free.

Trooper Murchison will be speaking on the history of the 555th Parachute Infantry "The Triple Nickles".

Is it May 30 which is Sunday or May 29 which is Sat? 0700 East Coast is 0400 West Coast. I wonder if they will re-broadcast... Ab.

5/28 I stand both corrected as well as educated!!!!

Like i stated, my comments were merely for the sake of conversation and idea kicking, i had no real firsthand experience with the IAFF's loose association with "Wildland" firefighters. Thanks for the schoolin, it's people like you, AB and the myriad of others who backup thoughts with facts that make this forum the ideal place for quality conversation and remembering our past as not to repeat it in the future.

It is now crystal clear that the FWFSA is the organization to join and precipitate change!!!!!! Count me IN!!!!!!!

Left Fielder
5/28 What Tha,

Reading through 5CFR 550.112 you can find,

(l) On-call status. An employee is off duty, and time spent in an on-call status is not hours of work if—
(1) The employee is allowed to leave a telephone number or carry an electronic device for the purpose of being contacted, even though the employee is required to remain within a reasonable call-back radius; or
(2) The employee is allowed to make arrangements for another person to perform any work that may arise during the on-call period.

In light of the above CFR, trying to claim OT for anytime I have my government cell phone turned on is not a windmill that I would want to take on.

Tim
5/28 re: duty officer in the big picture

Ab,

However unfair the duty officer scheme may seem to some, that's how folks in the fire management side are allowed to exercise line officer authority, and it's an opportunity (with or without proper compensation) to work their way up to becoming a line officer. And if Fire won't step up to fill the role, then it will continue to be people with paper fire quals from Recreation and Engineering who add to their KSAs in Avue and end up filling the line officer slots.

vfd cap'n
5/27 What Tha,

You are right. Your PD says MAY.. not WILL or SHALL. People that write this stuff know english and law.

Webster's Dictionary defines, May 1) a) have the ability to b) have permission to c) be free to.

I was responding to comments made about management making people be Duty Officers. If they "made you", they would have to compensate you.

In response to Mellie on the standby issue the paper she linked to: Bill Dougan's paper was a call for someone to step up and be a test case.
You should be the test case if you are a Duty Officer. Indentify the three questions you posed to your Supervisor and post the Answers. After all, you work on the forest that is drafting up Duty Officer direction, roles, and responsibilities.

If you are getting compensated for being a Duty Officer, I am sure other Duty Officers would want to know.

As for Duty Officer duties, that’s obvious. If you read my post I said Duty Officer Quals as can be found in the Forest Service Manual 5100. Here's the link. It's on pg 26 of the 5120 manual: FSM 5100

Yes it has to do with IFPM and we all should know what direction that went. But that was the directive?

As for the Union issue, please call Albuquerque Service Center talk to HR. Ask the question, "to what extent is a Forest Service employee represented by the union in a grievance, disciplinary or pay issue?" I am sure the Master Agreement follows Code of Federal Regulations. It does provide employees protection.

We should help each other with our knowledge and information. I personally think the only way out of this mess is FEDFIRE but we are Forestry Technicians for a reason that only people way up the food chain -- sec of agriculture, sec of interior -- know it saves them tons of money

They Said is a great place to exchange info but info needs to be in black and white when it comes to policy.
Everything else is lip service and they have been making up a lot of non-enforceable policies that we work under.

And I never said "don't ask questions on the fireline". You don't know me but that's not even my style. So I assume you asked questions about Duty Officer issues when you accepted your job? What answers did you get about standby pay etc.?

Short and Old... but still cares
Thank You Ab

"Shorty"  Thanks for your many contributions and thanks to your family for their years of service through generations. Ab.

5/27 From Fedwatcher II (Thanks for stopping by with the history lesson old guy. Don't be such a stranger... Ab.)

Dear "old n short" and "way out in left field:"

"way out" is correct. Many federal employees are represented by Unions pursuant to Title 5 USC. However the employees represented by unions must be in the "bargaining unit" which describes to what grades the representation goes to. Usually those in "supervisorial positions" are not in the bargaining unit and certainly management positions are not.

The IAFF does represent some federal firefighters under Title 5. These federal firefighters are employed by the Dept. of Defense, Coast Guard and several other agencies. The IAFF does not represent any federal wildland firefighters who are employed by the federal land management agencies in ANY capacity. Those in the bargaining unit of federal land management agencies are represented contractually by NFFE.

Other Dept. of Defense federal firefighters are represented contractually by the American Federation of federal Employees (AFGE).

IAFF history with wildland firefighters:

"Way Out"...be careful what you wish for. "One voice" One Cause" sounds good in theory. Unfortunately there are too many "causes" in the fire business. Structural firefighters have their causes/issues/ state firefighters have theirs, federal firefighters have theirs.

While it may sound like a no-brainer for those represented by NFFE who are in the federal wildland firefighting business should be represented by a firefighter union, history shows us that the feds of the IAFF consistently get the short end of the stick legislatively. Wildland firefighters formerly affiliated with the IAFF got an even shorter stick.

I qualify these statements having been an IAFF member and federal firefighter for many years and also a member of the FWFSA.

The size of the federal firefighter membership of the IAFF has been compared to the size of a pimple on an elephant's rear-end. Out of 275,000 +/- members in the IAFF, there are about 4,000 feds. As a result, that size is commensurate with what you get back from the IAFF as a federal firefighter. In my opinion, not much.

I'll try make this history lesson brief as I know similar information has been posted previously but it will probably end up lengthy. Sorry.

In 1994 the IAFF crafted pay reform legislation for federal firefighters. At the time the FWFSA was a local of the IAFF for legislative assistance only as FWFSA members were represented contractually (Title 5) by NFFE. There were no wildland firefighter issues in the original legislation. The bills, one in the House and a companion bill in the Senate died at the end of the session.... (Read more...)

5/27 Tim,

The overtime entitlement is CFR 550.111. Also, if you have a Federal Employee's Almanac you will find other references as far as your employee rights, and the associated CFRs.

One interesting thing I have recently read is that when an employee has a recurring assignment of 'standby' duties for a large portion of the year... (large is defined as 2 or more months), then the employee may be entitled to a standby pay supplement of between 5% and 25% of their annual pay.

The FLSA has another set of entitlements. Those non-exempt employees must receive the greater benefit of the two.Exempt employees are not exempt from all benefits, just the FLSA.The CFRs, Agency, and Departmental policies sill apply to 'Exempt' employees.

Proper compensation for the Forest Service Duty Officer... on a 'standby' after hours duty would be overtime in an intermittent assignment, or a standby supplement if the Unit has a large recurring need... (like a fire season)

What Tha,

5/27 From the hotlist:

Keenwild Helitack on the San Bernardino National Forest is preparing to have a ribbon cutting ceremony for our new helibase. We are looking for any info, pictures, or old stories that may be out there. Any former Keenwild Helitack crew members that would be willing to share are asked to contact us.

Daniel Diaz
Squad Boss
Keenwild Helitack
cityshot@aol.com

5/27 What Tha,

In your post you indicated that the FLSA does not apply to fire duty officers due to a CFR. Can you reference which CFR you are referring to?

Tim
5/27 Old Short Guy:

My position description says "MAY serve as a Duty Officer" Not WILL or SHALL. Also, nowhere in Forest Service manual or policy are the duties of a Duty Officer identified.

So, I liken it to saying that you may serve as an Abracadabra at times. Okay, what the hell is an Abracadabra? It doesn't matter, but if it has duties that are outside of my administrative work week, and requires an employee to standby in a state of readiness, and to respond in a timely manner,... Then it requires compensation under the CFRs.

Also, this whole exempt /non-exempt FLSA thing doesn't matter, CFRs are for ALL employees. And Bargaining Unit members are represented well, while supervisors are not, but much of the research and representation of those employees are the same rights that ALL federal employees are entitled to.

As for "no questions asked",... that is not the way to handle things, especially not on the fireline.

1) Put expectations in writing
2) Identify time frames / thresholds
3) Proper compensation for hours worked: or reclassification to an accurate job series

What Tha,

from the Fire Acronyms page:
FLSA=Fair Labor Standards Act
CFR=Code of Federal Regulations

5/27 I spoke with Vicki Minor at the WFF yesterday. Ab.

She has a great inspired idea for an art project but needs an artist willing to help her develop it for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Any of you artists out there have a bit of time and inspiration to contribute? My gosh, look at what Cache Queen's contribution turned into years ago. It pervades the internet wherever firefighters help each other: WFF Circle

contact vicki at the WFF to find out more

Phone: (877) 336-2950
info@wffoundation.org

5/27

" And if you look really hard, government employees are not covered by union representation." (Quote: Old N Short)

The IAFF (International Association of Firefighters) i am sure would be more than happy to challenge that, they already represent a huge contingent of federal structure firefighters and first responders, the DOI & USFS should be no exception! One voice, One Cause! Keep fighting!

And as far as the NFFE having exclusivity! Things can change!

And just to clarify! IAFF doesn't necessarily mean you will make what all other firefighters make but it dam* sure levels the playing field when it comes to FLSA!!!

"Way out in Left Field"

5/27 The Stanislaus Complex Memorial to David Erickson, lost in 1987:

Ab contacted Patrick Karnahan to ask about the words on the memorial. Strider filled us in soon after on 5/20.He said

Lat/Long: 37.822050, -120.038747 There's a pic of a sleeping bear and firefighter tools at the marker's top. The marker reads:

"A U.S. Forest Service crew leader from Siskiyou County, CA lost his life while fighting the Stanislaus Complex
Fire which destroyed 147,000 acres. For the love of the forest he gave the ultimate sacrifice September 11, 1987.
Sit and rest awhile /
listen to the pines whisper in the light wind /
gaze at the trees and look upward where branches reach the sky /
where clouds pass by and day turns to night /
where memories are everlasting."

Patrick replied yesterday about the inspiration for the marker:

As a footnote.

I picked the idea of the sleeping Grizzly Bear, because when I was a child I saw a monument to troops that had died in battle in WW1, and the artist used a sleeping lion. Around it were the tools of battle, same with my bear, tools of the wildland firefighter. Smokey had something to do with it also!

Thanks for taking the time out to remember these heroes.
Patrick

For those that don't know, in addition to his FS career, Patrick is a fine wildland firefighter artist/ oil painter who has memorialized fallen firefighters through his painting (example of his AT artwork: Air Tanker 123 broke up and was lost July 18, 2002 with pilot and co-pilot Rick Schwartz and Milt Stollak while flying on the Big Elk Fire on the Arapaho Roosevelt National Forest near Estes Park, Colorado). Ab.

5/27 Pass the boot to help a buddy:

Tommy Lane, Stanislaus National Forest (STF) and an Operation Branch Director on California Interagency Incident Management Team 2 (CA IIMT 2), has a serious health condition requiring additional diagnoses and further treatment. Tommy has worked for the STF for over 35 years as a Heavy Fire Equipment Operator, Dozer 51. He has served the fire community as a Branch Director on CA IIMT 2 for the past 15 years.

CA IIMT 2 team members have opened an account to help offset his mounting medical expenses. If you wish to donate please send a check to

Wells Fargo 808 East.
Mono Way
Sonora, CA 95370.

You must put his account number on your check, 9957340244. Furthermore, you can stop by any Wells Fargo and make a deposit to his account with his account number.

Please help CA IIMT 2 help Tommy through his personal emergency and hardship.

Quiet Competence Leads the Way

5/27 WOOO HOO HO!!!

Hold the phone...did i just hear Schiff and everyone else on that link call me a firefighter.. correct me if i am wrong but my PD IS FORESTRY TECH....!!!!

Not my fault...maybe we should just bow down to LA CO.. and all their wisdom..

another random thought

TNBG
5/27 Loma Fire October 2009: info on cause

HOTLIST

5/26 Standby

Response to Quick Connect,

Well put. MA negotiations are still going on. They are meeting this week and the reports are that they are finally moving along. They hope to wrap it up by Sept. and get something out.

Fish01 You're correct in that the MA covers Bargaining Unit employees issues and most Duty Officers are supervisors ( but some aren't ), but as we've seen time after time these issues affect us all. If there is something negotiated usually it benefits not just BU, but all of us. Some examples would be Firefighter retirement, hazard pay, OT, pay from the shop to the job site, competitive sourcing, stopping the 401 job series to name a few.

There was also a message that had questions about NFFE/ Machinists combination. NFFE affiliated itself with IAMW some years back for assorted financial reasons, but NFFE has been the exclusive union for the Forest Service since 1917. The concern was that it might be better to belong to a union such as IAFF that concentrates solely on fire issues. AS of last year 51% of the FS budget was fire, and unlike many unions NFFE is made up of mostly agency employees. Their union duties are collateral to their other job and there aren't many that are full time union. This comes in handy when we are looking for someone to negotiate on an issue. I have 34 years as a firefighter. The rep. at the Pulaski Conference is an ex jumper and is a Type two Operations and Safety Officer. So you see, we try to get SME for these important issues.

Quick Connect is correct on another issue. Power to get change is in numbers. If you truly want to help join NFFE, FWFSA or both. Theysaid is a great place to vent or gain knowledge, but you need to take the next step if you want change. Kudos again to Casey for his work.

Ronald C. Angel
Region 1 Council Vice President

5/26 Duty Officer standby and duties:

For old n short and What Tha

Position Number: AR5749 FS1543 ADFMO. Under Non-Suppression 40% it does state that this position does have Duty Officer Responsibilities.
https://www.avuedigitalservices.com/ (Ab removed the link; returned error message; must have login to view)

OK, old n short I'll ask.....What about unions in the Federal workplace?? And What do you mean "And if you look really hard, government employees are not covered by union representation". I realize that most managers attitude is to disregard the union, but there is a functioning union that does protect some people's rights.

BW

5/26 Duty Officer standby and duties:

RA,

I believe the Master Agreement negotiations are all wrapped up and a new issue of it should be hitting bookstands very soon. But, you did hit the nail on the head. If you are Duty Officer, AND you are a bargaining unit employee, AND can't respond to a fire when you are off duty, AND you are reprimanded by management, THEN you definitely have something to grieve. Same scenario stands true for a crew member who is off duty and is called to come into work. Unless they are on Standby, they cannot be reprimanded.

I am a steward and this exact situation happened on my district. A BUE employee was duty officer for hundreds of hours for the past 3-4 years. I asked him if he wanted to take it up the chain to see if he could get compensated. He declined and said he would save for a rainy day. We'll see if that strategy works.

Now to address Left Fielders observation,

yes I have said for years this exact thing. The Forest Service has so many different types of jobs and employees, there should be more union specific areas. That is why some verbiage is very vague and can be manipulated into different meanings by management. (A Great example of this is "Maxi Flex".) IMO, we should be called 'FED FIRE' and have our own union. But, that will probably never happen.

Responding to 'Duty to Call Hello, Hello': The Master Agreement IS a binding contract and should be used as such. I will do some CFR searches and see if I can find something. However, In the letter from Bill Dougan that Mellie attached, he does give some sound advice. Have your DO responsibilities written into your IDP/Performance Plan. Have management give you specifics on what they are wanting you to do. If it requires you to (1)carry a cell phone, (2)remain in a readiness state and (3)most importantly 'respond' to any and all calls, then that is the definition of 'Stand By' and you should be compensated. If you know a union rep in your area, contact them for help. If not, you can contact me through AB.

And as Fish said, all who are reading this and saying to themselves, "That's Me", should be seeking compensation and also joining the FWFSA and NFFE. NFFE being the union and FWFSA being the association that is the leader in firefighter rights. I pay into both and feel that I am definitely getting my money's worth.

Quick Connect

5/26 Senate hearing today:

Ab and All:

Attached is a link to the web cast for today's Senate hearing on federal wildfire policy. To understand the frustrations of Casey & the FWFSA in dealing with Congress and the agencies, all you have to do is watch this hour and a half long hearing of absolutely no substance and a waste of time.

FS Chief Tidwell comes off as a Wall St. CEO while testifying...clearly disconnected from the field and grappling with answering relatively simple questions. For as much information as the FWFSA has provided to Sen. Feinstein and others on the Committee, not to mention the effort to address issues with the agencies, their true understanding of the issues is lacking at best.

Watching this should explain why things "ain't so easy" in getting things done. Kinda scary these are the leaders...

Fedwatcher II

appropriations.senate.gov

5/26 Duty Officer standby and duties:

The only thing I have seen in regards to Duty Officer is the required quals. It is a voluntary commitment when you accept GS 09 ADFMO Suppression, no questions asked. All PDs are available on the ASC site on Gov computers. GS 08 Captains and above are not in the bargaining unit and not covered in the Master Agreement. And if you look really hard, government employees are not covered by union representation. Call ASC and ask that question to HR. Just ask an ex traffic controller about unions in the federal work place.

old n short

and still loving my job

5/26 Duty Officer standby and duties:

The 2010 Federal Employees Almanac (I think pg 48/49) gives the CFRs that entitle all employees to O.T. for intermittent stand by duty beyond their normal work week.

It also indicates that those employees, who are regularly expected to have additional duties beyond their normal shift (during at least 2 months of the year) are entitled to an annual stand by pay supplement between 5 -25% of their basic pay.

On another note: what about employee rights with regards to job descriptions and employment orientation.

Has an Forest Service B.C or D.C. ever been informed of their responsibilities as a Duty Officer during the application process (AVUE) or during their new job orientation?

I think if some Line Officers are attempting to add Duties and do it without additional compensation that there may be improper job classification issues.

I for one was never told to expect Duty Officer duties, or any related pay/compensation issues...  ie. expect to regularly work additional hours for free.

What Tha,

5/26 Duty Officer standby and duties:

Left Fielder:

Your voice can best be heard by joining and getting active thru the FWFSA. If you are a regular to this site, you are well aware of the tremendous opportunity you have right now to get involved by encouraging your congressional REP to support HR 4488. The FWFSA is THE Association that is fighting for the recognition you are seeking.

The NFFE has exclusive barging authority on Forests that have voted to have that representation. They represent all covered employees, which cover a wide variety of job classifications. They can " bargain" for work rules and enter into a Master Agreement. They can help when there are employee issues relating to the MA.

The FWFSA is not in that position, but has worked tirelessly for almost two decades to focus exclusively on the issues of the Federal Wildland firefighter. IMHO the FWFSA is the place to be, for focusing on the "burning" issues of the federal wildland firefighter. If you have not you, should consider joining that Association. There is power in numbers.

Fish 01

5/25 Duty Officer standby and duties:

A Master Agreement doesn't usually cover the folks who usually get the joy of Duty Officer duties. However this attempt to put it into a MA sure could cover Engine, and other suppression employees against any sort of discipline, if they were not ready to respond "after hours" because of other activities. Anyone who is expected to be available after the scheduled shift, should be compensated in some way for that " state of readiness". Anybody not exempt from FLSA should already have that protection if a good attorney was to take that on. JMHO.

Fish01

5/25 Duty Officer standby and duties:

Ab, this discussion speaks right to my current situation. I would like the documents too.

Does anyone know of  actual documentation stating that Forest Duty Officers are required to be available via cell phone after hours and on their days off but are not entitled for compensation.  I know there are some laws in place that address that specific issue. Of course I can't find them now. Having the documentation should be part of the job of being a DO even if some few others may not care. I am hoping that someone out there has those specific CFR (?) laws that address this.  Thanks in advance for your help.

Duty May Call: Hello Hello?

5/25 A Burning Union Question

Just a thought and for the sake of conversation. Do most people find that being represented by the NFFE/Aerospace and machinist union really meet the objectives of the fire side of the feds? I have no first hand experience with this particular union, i just find the association to be quite strange. Maybe i am way out in left field and if so please excuse me because i mean no disrespect.

Would things be more precise being represented by a Union for Firefighters say the IAFF? I know i know there are all kinds of speed bumps and regs/rules!!!

I had an experience with the teamsters representing a Fire Dept. i worked for once and nothing was ever taken very seriously because they couldn't quite grasp the difference between transporting commodities and running into burning buildings.

Perhaps this is why the noticeable difference in pay tenure etc etc. If you want the same treatment as other firefighters then get the same representation.

Signed: Left Fielder

5/25 The Senate Appropriations Committee is hearing testimony on night flying tomorrow morning.

appropriations.senate.gov 

JB

5/25 Duty Officer Standby

In response to Mellie on the standby issue, the paper that she linked from Bill Dougan was a call for someone to step up and be a test case. The union and management could not come to agreement on what the language in the MA meant. From my understanding if you can be held accountable for not responding while you are Duty Officer, then you should be on Standby and be compensated for it. One way that management gets around the issue, at least in dispatch centers, is to have employees sign a letter at the start of the season agreeing to be Duty Officer under their rules. This could be seen as volunteering and would void the accountability issue.

If you have questions on this issue or want to step up you should contact Lonnie Lewis or your regional Vice President. They are presently re negotiating the MA so there could be some changes, but this is backed by regulation so that shouldn't change.

RA

5/25 Regarding Duty Officers:

Thanks for the document Mellie. I work on a forest that is drafting up direction, roles, & responsibilities for Duty Officers. This will go into the Field Procedure Guide and eventually into Performance Plans.

With this direction is the 'after hours' responsibilities and the need to take all necessary tools and equipment (minus the use of govt. vehicle of course) with you at all times... This is to ensure a rapid response in order to provide for Fire Fighter & Public safety. Never mind the extended delay of retrieving the work truck... if you can get to it.

At the same time, Management feels it is not necessary to compensate the Duty Officer for 'lounging around at home.' They don't seem to get it.
I have been an optimist until now, but am seeing the morale meter dropping quickly!

What Tha
5/25 AD Rates:

All information for 2010 AD rates are listed on www.nwcg.gov website with the current 2010 rate

J

5/24 Hey all,

While researching something for Always Remember, I came across this memo on a totally different topic. It's from the Union about Duty Officer Duties:

2008 fed standby.doc

From a post several weeks ago it sounds like the issue is still alive. Did this ever get to or beyond the interim directive stage? Was or is there an Interim Directive? Anything in the newest FS Manual on this and other duties of a Duty Officer?

Thanks, always curious...

Mellie

5/24 AD Rates:

Thanks KSENGB ... I hadn't been able to stumble on it while searching

Jimbo

5/24 In response to ‘And there I was’ – Re Radio Systems:

I could not agree with you more with regard to your assessment of the Forest Service CIO/ISO organization and its lack of priority for radio systems.

You failed to mention why radio maintenance funding was cut short in FY2009. This was because expenditures for networking and desktop support exceeded budgeted amounts by over $12M by July 2009. As you indicated, this is where the priorities are.

Until such time that line officers become adamant about their concern of the individuals who feel they are beyond reproach, their spending will proceed unchecked.

CA COML/COMC

5/24 AD Rates:

Google found this:

nifc.gov CPC Pay Plans

KSENGB

5/24 AD Rates Question:

Anyone seen 2010 AD rates? Or, is there no change from 2009?

thanks......

jimbo

5/24 Radio Systems:

I have to voice my concern over the way the Forest Service ISO/CIO is handling the Radio Systems.

The FS Radio Systems provides for the Safety of Field going Personnel and the public, and should receive priority funding over computers. There is a greater chance of a lawsuit over a radio not working than a computer not working and the FS is leaving themselves open to this.

For the past 3 years the FS ISO has cut all funding to the Radio Program, this has occurred earlier every year. This last year Phone was not funded at all, and now the FS can’t even order a single land line. Since the A-76 study the FS has gone from a 10 year Radio replacement cycle to only replacing when they are beyond repair.

Something has to be done; the biggest WTF moment was when Management announced on a national phone conference that they had paid to consult a cell phone company how to modernize the FS Radio System, in that same call they announced a Contract with a company that subcontracts out bids they win. Contracted Radio has been tried and failed to the point they would not send people into the Forest, there really is no profit in a well built radio system other than selling equipment. There is no one with Field Experience in ISO Management, all the recent hires have been DOD types that have just retired from active duty or worked for a DOD contractor, this is just widening the gap between the Forests and ISO.

Any changes will be fought very hard, the ISO has created quite the castle with special 2210 series pay and all the GS-12,13,14 and even 15s that have been created since the A-76 study. The Millions paid out to consultants and contractors also needs to be looked at.

This might not be the right place to bring this up, but FS Radio needs to be fixed before something bad happens.

And There I Was

5/24 Circulating:

Below is a link to information relating to a Firefighter fatality the occurred this last December in Wisconsin. The incident involved the local Fire Department responding to a dumpster fire. Within the story is a link to a PDF of the full report (69 pages, 5.2 megs).

This incident is an example of what could be any one of us. It is important to keep in mind that outdoor, unsecured dumpsters should be thought of as unregulated, unmonitored hazardous waste dump sites and that ANYTHING may be found inside. It is important for us to learn from these types of incidents so we can prevent this from happening to our Department members.

This incident involved metals that were burning within a large roll off type of dumpster at a foundry facility. As the Fire Department applied water, and then foam, to the burning materials within the dumpster, a large violent explosion occurred that resulted in one Firefighter being fatality injured and 8 other Firefighters being injured. The report lists the cause of the explosion as being a result of the fire suppression efforts and the introduction of water and fire suppressant foam. As you will be able to read, there were multiple indicators that this was not a routine dumpster fire. The flame color was described as blue/green, there were white sparks coming from the dumpster as water was being applied and it was observed that there was a large amount of metal shaving inside of the dumpster burning. Keep in mind that if it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t.

Some additional information on these types of incidents can be found in:

* 4300 manual, section 4327.1, subsection XIV.
* DOT ERG Guide #138.
* IFSTA Essentials, 4th Edition:
o Page 59, Class D fires.
o Page 541, Suppressing class D fires.
o Page 549, Trash and Dumpster/Container fires.

StAnna Wisconsin Firefighter Death (very large download, 5333 K pdf file)

5/23 Gulf Oil spill mobilization information - ms

National Interagency Coordination Center
3833 Development Avenue
Boise, Idaho 83705

To: Geographic Area Coordination Center Managers

From: Kim Christensen, NICC Manager

Subject: Mobilizing Resources for Oil Spill Response and Recovery

Response and recovery efforts in the Gulf region is requiring personnel with specific skills and expertise that are outside of established position codes and are not statused in ROSS. Directors have asked their respective agencies and bureaus to identify individuals who are available to deploy if necessary.

In order to provide resource tracking, reporting, and financial accounting it is important to mobilize and track these resources using the established dispatch coordination system. On the National Coordinators Conference Call on Wednesday May 12th, we agreed to establish a consistent process with respect to mobilization procedures and ROSS.

NICC will work with the appropriate offices and entities to ensure that resource orders and requests are being initiated under the appropriate authorities and agreements, with applicable charge codes. Due to the specialized nature of these assignments a significant portion will be name requests. It not necessary nor is there a compelling reason to enter these resources into IQCS as many will be technical specialists or in positions that do not have specific training and experience requirements in the ICS qualification system.

Guidelines are as follows:

1. Personnel will be entered into ROSS as a New Resource (not Fill With Agreement).

2. Enter the individual into ROSS once they have been contacted and accepted the assignment. Since a new resource can be entered very quickly, it will avoid unnecessary work up front on numerous personnel that may not be deployed.

3. Name requests for personnel will have Unit IDs and contact numbers documented on the resource order.

4. Requests for Technical Specialists should identify an available individual and the skills which they are being mobilized for (example; Animal rehabilitation specialist).

5. Individuals assigned should make travel arrangements using their assigned travel card or their agencies corporate card due to the unique reimbursable authorities of this situation.

Many of these individuals have never been in contact with their associated dispatch office, nor are they familiar with the dispatch coordination system and processes. Their successful mobilization will be incumbent upon our dispatch centers to assist and facilitate each step.

Thank you for your help in the deployment of resources whose expertise may be needed in the weeks and months to come.

/s/ Kim Christensen

5/23 Ab, some photos of a hotshot crew from the movie Nature Unleashed: Fire

1.  Hotshot Crew vehicles pulling into the Ranger Station
2.  Hotshot Crew logo on the side of the crew transport
3.  Unloading the buggies, note the specialized shovel
4.  Receiving a briefing
5.  Going to work

Thought you might enjoy.

Tim

Thanks, Tim. Ab.

5/22 Hi to all:

A week ago I had the honor of joining other FWFSA members at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation's Family Day in Boise. (More on the FWFSA web site) As with other Family Day events I have attended, I truly believe that despite the incredible event Vicki and staff put together for Families, the wildland firefighter community can do more to support the families of those lost recently and over the years and who are honored each year by the Foundation.

One needs only look at the faces of the children attending Family Day for the first time since losing their Father or Mother or sister or Brother. Those that attend Family Day have the opportunity to let these children and their families know that they are not alone in remembering and honoring their loved ones.

There are no adequate words to describe Vicki & Burk Minor and their wonderful staff at the foundation. In fact many who volunteer at the Foundation are family members who have lost a loved one.

An incredible array of members of the Honor Guard from various agencies added a significant measure of respect for the families in attendance. But back to my previous comment of how we can do more.

The FWFSA's membership has grown in Idaho and surrounding states in recent years and although Family Day is held in May when many are gearing up for the season, I would encourage as many FWFSA members as possible to attend next year's Family Day to experience the event firsthand. The walk in the memorial adjacent to NIFC is especially humbling, seeing all the names of those that have been lost to the wildland firefighting community. In fact sadly, space for headstones within the memorial is beginning to come at a premium because of so many losses.

Fortunately, Burk has developed a vision of a bigger & better foundation facility. It is my hope that in the not too distant future the Foundation will announce the creation of a building fund we can all start donating to.

One cannot attend Family Day without sharing the emotions of those families present who have lost loved ones. While many of you no doubt support the Foundation through membership in the 52 Club and developing and hosting fundraising events, I hope you will consider taking a weekend out of your year to join the Foundation at Family Day.

No event or group of people can eliminate all the pain and sorrow from those who have experienced a loss of a loved one. However it is abundantly clear that at Family Day, those families feel a connection with other families who have gone through the same loss and are able to communicate with others who may have known and worked with their loved ones.

Thank you Vicki, Burk and Staff. We all love you.

Casey
5/22 There's a Staff Ride for the Mack Lake Fire that burned many acres in 1980 near the Meridian Boundary Fire in Michigan. It gives a good sense of the vegetation, terrain and the woods where fire is burning again this week. The Kirtland's warbler was my fav warbler in my youth.

location meridian.jpg

Location Map: Mack Lake Fire at red mark; Meridian Boundary Fire appx at pushpin; Manistee headquarters at left FS shield; Huron headquarters at right FS shield.

Staff Ride for the Mack Lake Fire, 1980

Fire Leadership Today also had an article that begins...
THE MACK LAKE FIRE* Oct 01, 2003; Simard, Albert J
It was Monday, May 5, 1980. The skies were clear over the Huron National Forest in northeastern Michigan. The plan for the Crane Lake prescribed burning unit called for the establishment of 210 acres (85 ha) of habitat favored by the endangered Kirtland's warbler...
5/22 Photos of the Michigan Meridian Boundary fires this last week. I posted them on Fire 44 photo page. Some flames there. Ab.

Michigan Meridian Boundary Fires Series: Photos taken 5/18-19/2010 of 2 forest fires in dry and windy northern Michigan: one fire Crawford County's South Branch Township, near the Oscoda County line (8,630 acres; 10 houses or more); and one in Kalkaska County within Camp Grayling National Guard base (Range 9 Fire or Grayling Fire; ~900 acres; 3 houses or more). One photo with engine shows the Meridian Boundary Fire near South Branch Township, in Crawford County. The fires forced people to leave their homes. Fire behavior demonstrated very rapid ROS. At one time, the fire was burning so hot and fast it consumed 100 acres per hour.  Fire Perimeter Map (488 K pdf file) Incident report (158 K pdf file) Photos Credit: Michigan DNRE.

Hotlist thread

5/21 Sad day indeed:

The Forest Service is about to lose another outstanding employee to DynCorp/Cal-Fire, but this time it is not a 5 year crew person or a 7 year Engine Operator or even a 10 year Captain, this time we are losing a 30+ year Lead Plane pilot.

Rick O. Haagenson will soon say good-bye to a career stretching well over 3 decades of Firefighting. 100%, down and dirty, in your face, in the trenches Firefighting. Ricks career included Hotshoting, Smoke Jumping, and Rappelling. Rick has consistently maintained his quals as a Division Group Supervisor as well as Air Attack Group Supervisor. He is highly educated and his talent and skills as a pilot in the lead profile are second to none.

DYNCORP/CAL-FIRE - YOU SCORED BIG

I would like to personally say,
THANK YOU Rick for your service, your integrity, and your work ethic, but more importantly your example of leadership and your ability to stand up for what is right, ask the hard questions and consistently demand performance for a better, safer and productive work environment. Myself and many others are better from it.


As for the very lucky back seater's that will fly with Rick, just one piece of advice, Listen, Observer and Learn, for if you chose not to, you will certainly look more foolish then the Agency who let him slip away.

Rick, you will be missed.

Joel A. Lane
5/21 More firefighter poetry from Marcus Smith (aka: "Nozzle Hog") --

This one written for, and dedicated to Kevin Korbel, career-long Forester & ICT Safety Officer with Idaho Dept. of Lands, soon to be retired. Feel free to share with 'They Said It' readers. Enjoy. MS

MY OLD HARD-HAT (by Marcus Smith, Kooskia Idaho)

Smeared with dirt, retardant, and mud
Stained with sweat and even blood
Battered and bent from constant use
For years you've stood the worst abuse

Yet best companion of them all
Summer, winter, spring, or fall
I'll drink a toast: ‘To my old "tin lid"
For the useful things my hard-hat did

Like fanning flames to start a fire
Digging out a snow bound tire
A water pail to prime a pump
Or cool down a burning stump

Once saved my skull- t'was knocked down flat
I'd be dead now, but for that hat
A burning snag came down one night
Good thing I had the chin-strap tight

Took it along on a few elk hunts
Took a bath in it more than once
Packed oats out to a hungry horse
Required PPE, of course

Mistreated, abused, and sat upon
Walked on, stomped on, spat upon
If it could talk, I'm sure it'd say:
"Boss, could I be off today?"

Fought fire from here to hell and back
Kept rain from pouring down my back
Been everywhere that a hat can go
Forty-eight states and Mexico

Been with me since the day I hired
But now it's best we both retired
But I won't turn you in just yet...
Not till I get my last Paycheck!

Marcus Smith

Excellent Nozzle Hog! I can see that lid in your hands and on your head right now. Our best to Kevin in his retirement. Cross posted this on the Hotlist. Ab.

5/21 please add one of my favorite critters and its charming nickname "whistle pigs" - ground hog, wood chuck . . . . marmot.

to me, they are always "whistle pigs"

grl4ster

I added it to the Funny Names & Terms page. Ab.

5/21 camp 16 memorial shirts

shirts1
shirts2

We raised over $100,000 selling the shirts. I (Jason Hobby) have the ball cap on (#2) with Troy Case who put it all together next to me and the top pic (#1) are the names below.

Organizers:

Volunteer Photographer Troy Case
Retired Assistant Chief Matt Gil
Captain David Broadwell
Engineer Karen Zacowits (Camp Forman)
Firefighter Jason Hobby, USFS

Nice work. Ab.

5/21 Just wonderin'

Region 6 USFS issued its 2010 waterhandling solicitation, and resultant agreements, using a national template that incorporated the NWCG typing for both engines and tenders. The NWCG guidelines were included in the solicitation and used to determine the typing.

It does concern me that you feel you were mislead and I would like to hear the details. Please contact me at 541-504-7273 or bmcgrane @ fs.fed.us if you would like to discuss.

Ben McGrane
Supervisory Contract Specialist
Region 6 Fire & Aviation Contracting Team

Thanks for the contact info. Ab.

5/20 Here is the news report on the Colorado State fire season outlook briefing today.

Colorado fire season outlook

Video:
Fire season outlook good thanks to wet weather. Chris Vanderveen reports. 9NEWS at 4 p.m. 05/20/10

MB

5/20 Doug Campbell's book: CPS and Prescribed Fire

Free download and not too large

CPS Prescribed Fire Book (711 K pdf file)

Also posted on the Docs Worth Reading section of the Archives page and on the Site map. Ab.

5/20 Ab,

Drove and looked at David Erickson's marker on Rt 120 yesterday evening. Didn't have my camera along but did get Lat/Long (try google earth or maps): 37.822050, -120.038747 There's a pic of a sleeping bear and firefighter tools at the memorial's top. The marker reads:

"A U.S. Forest Service crew leader from Siskiyou County, CA lost his life while fighting the Stanislaus Complex Fire which destroyed 147,000 acres. For the love of the forest he gave the ultimate sacrifice September 11, 1987. Sit and rest awhile / listen to the pines whisper in the light wind / gaze at the trees and look upward where branches reach the sky / where clouds pass by and day turns to night / where memories are everlasting."

I heard Dave died while felling a snag on the Hamm Fire on  9/11/87, don't know exactly where that burned on the STF.

He was stationed on the Klamath NF. '87 was one of the big summers of lightning fires in norcal but he came south.

Strider

5/20 Let that little video (approx 2 yrs ago) be a little reminder as well as the Flight Safety brief that came out from USFS and USDOI approx 1 week ago be a little reminder whether the pilots were stupid or not....

IMC and smoky conditions are NOT for the faint of heart

Further to reason why there ought to be VERY LONG study on USFS contracting operators to flight at night ( RE: Station Fire)

This is a very unforgiving environment and I have practiced in the flat lands ... I do have an Instrument rating and will TELL any  Forestry type that even when one is current in all IMC procedures and does this every day ... there are days when staying on the ground is more important than a bunch of vegetation going up in flames.

Ask your Air Attack pilots and Air Tanker drivers someday about their hair raising experiences ... they will give you a liiitle synopsis for a litttle edumacation and why we do and don't the things assigned to us.

Then go back and ask your self ... f LACoFD does this as required by their missions ... then who is paying the training costs of weather / night / and night smoky conditions of the operators out there that will have to absorb the costs of training to standard?  Let the operators and FAA FAR and AIM dictate that world..... surely NOT USFS contracting procedures ... Do they have the dinero to pay the operators the 30/ 60 / 90 day and 6 month instrument currency procedures.

By the way, that little bit of damage to the Bonanza ... could be close to 15K for that wing and position light damage

Then ask yourself ...What did it cost for that DC10 damage two years ago when it may a little CFIT  (controlled flight into tree) damage?

YOU KNOW the operator paid for that

A little lesson (videos or otherwise) to the land management world, this stuff is done every day (aviation work) and it is pretty expensive just starting up an aircraft anymore, let alone stupidity or otherwise ... Have a good, safe aviating day!!!

Forester/ Pilot / Aircraft Mechanic
5/20 Lessons Learned IMC (instrument meteorological conditions when flying)

Now THIS is just plain scary! IMC and they continue -
TS

YouTube - Close call with terrain

Wow. Ab.

5/20 Radio programming issues:

Hi to all,

In addition to various organizations changing CTCSS (GC, PL) tones and frequencies, all firefighters should check with their local fire departments, State Forestry and local Federal agencies to find out if any of their frequencies have been changed to narrow band over the course of the winter.

Montana’s DNRC has been changing their systems to narrow band for the past two years and will complete the process by July 2011.

Steve LCES

5/19

Preliminary Summary Report (Blue Sheet) 10-CA-RRU-042689 Firefighter Burn Injury  pdf file

text below:

BLUE SHEET
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
(CAL FIRE)
Preliminary Summary Report of Serious CAL FIRE Injuries, Illnesses, Accidents and Near-Miss Incidents
Structure Fire
Firefighter Burn Injury
May 14, 2010
Emerald Fire
10-CA-RRU-042689
CA Southern Region

This Preliminary Summary Report is intended as an aid in accident prevention, and to provide factual information from the first 24 hours of the accident review. To that end it is published and distributed within a short time frame. Information contained within may be subject to revision as further investigation is conducted, and other reports and documents are received.

SYNOPSIS

The following information is a preliminary summary of a burn injury that occurred during extinguishment operations at a structure fire. While conducting roof ventilation operations, a FFII received burns to his shoulder and the knuckles of both hands from radiant heat.

NARRATIVE

On May 15, 2010, at approximately 1630 hours, a complete first alarm residential structure fire response was dispatched to a single family dwelling within the contract City of Indio. Upon arrival, units found an occupied single story, single family dwelling with an attached two car garage that had been converted to a living space of approximately 1500 square feet that was issuing heavy fire and smoke out of the rear of the structure. In addition to the fire in the rear of the structure, there was a large volume of belongings in the back yard that was also fully involved in fire. Additionally there were immediate exposures threatened on the Bravo (B), Charlie (C) and Delta (D) sides and a civilian burn victim in the front of the house. An aggressive coordinated interior attack, roof ventilation and exposure protection was initiated utilizing all Fire Department resources as they arrived on scene. Upon arrival, additional resources were requested to assist ongoing operations.

During the roof ventilation operations, the Firefighter who was wearing all of his structural PPE and SCBA, sustained burns to his shoulder and the knuckles of both hands from intense radiant heat. The Firefighter did not realize that he had been injured until he and his FAE were preparing to descend the ground ladder off of the roof. The injured Firefighter was medically evaluated on scene by other Department personnel and Paramedics and was transported to a Regional Burn Center by air ambulance. The employee received treatment for his burn injuries and was released from the Burn Center within a few hours.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMMEDIATE CORRECTIVE ACTIONS

  • Maintain situational awareness at all times while conducting fire ground tasks.
  • Fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first.
  • Understand the limitations of structural PPE.
  • Stay alert to changing radiant heat production.
5/19 Getting radios ready for Field Season.

One thing that is often overlooked is getting annual maintenance for your radios, this involves programming and checking the RX/TX operation with a communications test set (more than just a quick voice check), and checking the vehicle install wiring and antenna.

In fact, the Forest Service Handbook (Green Book) says that testing is required at least once a year. This requirement has often been overlooked as it takes time and manpower that is in short supply.

So (for FS Folks) I would suggest calling the Customer Help Desk and schedule this maintenance. I have heard of some Techs telling their People that radio testing is only required every 2 or 3 years, but the radios do need yearly maintenance and there is that FS requirement that needs to be met.

COMT
5/19 Lessons Learned Helicopter...

DOI Lessons Learned 10-01, Inadvertent Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC)

comment from a forwarder: Alert passenger may have saved the day...

IMC=instrument meteorological conditions when flying

5/19 Ab,
No it is USFS R-6 :(
Just Wonderin'
5/19 standards

KSENGB, NP

Thanks. That's what I thought, however in R-6 they are not following the NWCG guidelines in their agreements. They are limiting the top end size of the type 3 and 4 engines. When the CO was questioned about this, they told us that they were following the NWCG guidelines in whole. When we handed them the handbook they told us that the handbook was wrong. Cost us a contract!!!! This is after we had 3 verbal conversations (1 with 7 witnesses) with CO regarding tank size and they encouraged us to push forward to get an agreement. We are now out several thousand dollars. What burns me the most is the total lack of accountability within the agency.

Just wonderin'

Was that state? Ab.

5/19 Resource Typing Website

nifc.gov Mobguide

AJ

5/19 Controlled burn in Northern Lower Michigan escapes to nearly 1000 acres - burns 4 homes.

Controlled burn Escapes

Got your PLI premiums paid this year?

wrench

PLI= Professional Liability Insurance

5/19 re: hiring related to 1039 hours:

To "Kayak":

In addition to what Former FS/NPS seasonal mentioned, make sure you're coding training time where appropriate. We're allowed 80 hours per appointment on returning 1039 seasonals and new hires have a range depending the department they're hired under. I've gone back on seasonals who exceeded their 1039 hours and brought them back to legality with training time exemptions. Even a weekly safety meeting counts. Time spent in preparation for testing also counts.

In regards to employees working more than one seasonal appointment inside a calendar year, many of the maintenance divisions at National Parks are currently doing so with a slight revision to PDs and a change in work schedule. There's many ways to skin the personnel regulations cat.

/s/ Exhaustion.

5/19 NWCG Memo with links to resources on

Volunteer Fire Department Heart attacks on Wildland Fires

Ab.

5/19 LEADERSHIP for the Wildland Fire Officer byy Bill Teie, Brian Weatherford, and Tim Murphy

Leading in a Dangerous Profession is finally shipping. This is a must read for all. As important as leadership skills are for our supervisors, this book gives the worker bees what our expectations of the leaders should be! With the unprecedented turnover the Fire Service has and is experiencing this decade, this topic is even more critical now than ever.

No. Bay FC

Deer Valley Press

5/19 resource typing:

Yes the UAFS uses the national standards + they are running the next three years NOW. That will finish up in June !! It is too late now - Sorry, but you will have to wait until  2013 to sign up!!

NP

5/19 3 sources for resource typing info, depending on which applies:

FEMA/NIMS
NWCG/National  - that's the Fireline Handbook, see page A40 and A41 for resource typing
Firescope (California)

The USFS and other fed agencies (and most state agencies) use the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) Standards, at least most of the time. If working a FEMA all-hazards incident, FEMA's standards would apply, and within California, when dealing with non-fed agencies, they would be using Firescope I believe.

KSENGB

5/19 Stanislaus Complex Memorial:

Dear Wildland Fire:

In 1988, I designed the David Erickson Memorial while working on the Stanislaus National Forest. David Erickson, a Forest Service Firefighter, died on the Stanislaus Complex Fire in 1987. I just wanted to make sure you had information on it for your memorial page. It is located at the Rim of the Highway Overlook on Highway 120 east of Buck Meadows California. It is located down from the Eva Schicke/ CDF memorial. It is important we do not forget David Erickson!

Thought you might want to know?-
Thanks Patrick Michael Karnahan

Thanks, we are working on the Always Remember! project. Is a larger color photo available? Ab.

5/19 Pyro5755
RE: Region 5 Tac Channels 4-5-6

If you have any possibility of being deployed to incidents within California, I would recommend that you program the above channels. In many cases they are utilized within the first operational period.

CA COML/COMC
5/18 Station fire: Former Forest Service officials want a wider probe

Very interesting.
OLD LPF
5/18 Air Tanker photo question:

Hey ATBS guy in Alberta, Canada, please read your hotmail account.

Thanks,

Ab.

5/18 Water Tender Typing question:

Does anyone have an official link for Engine and Tender typing? I am looking for pump capacities, gallons hauled etc. I would like to know if the USFS uses a National Standard Or some other standard.

Just wonderin'

5/18 Is Fudgie still out there or anyone know how to contact him? He wrote in here... Ab.

Just one more time thread from 4/22/2000

Got this from Daisy, Hugh Masterson's descendant:

Ab,
Thank you for pointing me to the "Just one more time" thread.  I would really like to hear more from Fudgie.
Very Sincerely,  
Daisy

5/18 CA COML, I hope you're over here reading the Hotlist, as well as TheySaid (TS)!

Thanks for an excellent comms tutorial; as a life-long rockbreaker, about all I've known about radio is "find the correct freq & push to talk". Never really knew the "whys" behind freq's and changes. Just figuring out what a repeated freq does was deep enough for me... or so I used to think.

Even we Old Dogs can learn...

Just curious; I can certainly see all resources preprogramming all applicable NIFC freq's, but am wondering: Are you also recommending that resources based in other Regions also preload R5 tac's?

Pyro5755

5/18 Agency Wildland Fire Stations by Lat/Long on Google Earth/Maps

Some of the most popular discussions or threads here on the Hotlist are about maps, making maps, or viewing maps. It's long been on our wish list to be able to view a map showing the locations and knowing more about wildland fire stations. With the dedicated support and contributions of our hotlist moderators over the last winter, we've been creating our own maps showing what we wanted to know. We're very excited to finally be able to share the maps and encourage you to use the following Station Maps link to find out what they are, how to view them, and how you can help us make them more accurate and up to date: Station Maps Info

If you are comfortable with Google Earth and/or Google Maps and want to jump direct to the maps, here are the links. Please use the above link if you experience any problems or or have questions. We know the maps need work, please see the section in the Station Maps Info page on how you can help and how to submit updates. Please do not use the Contact Us link here on the Hotlist Forums or post in this thread to provide updates. We look forward hearing your thoughts, ideas, and comments on the maps here. Thanks, OA.

Hotlist thread on Wildland Fire Stations: Hotlist: Wildland Fire Stations

From Original Ab today:

Quite a few Cal Fire updates this morning from a person traveling south down Hwy 101 from Fortuna. Updates include HUU, LNU, and MEU, with accurate lat/longs and quite a few new photos. Thanks much for the help!

The MEU Leggett station lat/long is closer now than it was, but not quite there yet. Anyone who can put the placemark in the driveway or on the engine bay, let me know.

5/18 Communication:

Pyro5755:

Most inability to transmit problems can be attributed to the wrong frequency and/or PL (CTCSS) tone. Agencies do change frequencies for one reason or another. Many times the changes are directed by higher authorities to accommodate overall frequency management. Keep in mind that frequencies are a finite resource.

The recent (2010) change of the three R5 tactical frequencies (R5 Tac 4, 5 and 6) is one example. Part of the problem is that there is no consistent way used to notify cooperators. Forest Service Fire and Aviation no longer has telecommunication personnel assigned to accomplish this task. The reorganization of the Forest Service’s IT organization in 2005 under a national umbrella has further diminished this priority.

It is recommended that you work closely with the National Forest or BLM District that sponsors your contract. Each will have radio communications personnel that develop their specific area programs with the most accurate and current frequencies.

PL tones present another issue. Although national and state wildland agencies in California have subscribed to a ‘standard’ set of CTCSS tones, this is not true in other states with the exception of the Forest Service. This certainly complicates issues when attempting to utilize user-selectable tones from a given loaded list. The practice of user-selectable tones is a common practice in California, but not necessarily elsewhere. Both mobile and portable radios can be programmed for this feature or a given channel can be dedicated to a specific tone only. The latter is not a very prudent use of channel space, but it does occur. In that case, you may believe that you are selecting a tone (through the radio keypad), but in reality that is not happening.

Another common transmitting error is that you may be transmitting in the ‘repeat’ mode when a given channel is being utilized only in the ‘simplex’ (direct or car-to-car) mode. Most radios have a switch or button to transfer between modes. The function is typically called “TA” (talk-around). When in the TA mode the radio is operating simplex.

In addition to local agency frequencies, always load all National (NIFC) command frequencies (CMD1-12); all National (NIFC) tactical frequencies (TAC 1-7); and Forest Service Region 5 tactical frequencies (R5 TAC4-6).

CA COML/COMC

5/18 "My worst day of building fence or fighting fire is probably better than most people's best day" 1994, A fella from the Kaibab commenting on a Time magazine story about the Storm King fire.

-Oldguy205-

5/17 Communication:

In parts of R4 there have been numerous frequency changes, and there will continue to be changes. By 2019 the entire federal communications plans must conform to a new frequency management program. This will allow for a wide split between the transmit and receive on the repeaters and the simplex (tac) channels in between. In the long run, this will reduce interference.

You will see increased use of ctcss tones on both the transmit and receive. Some agencies use a fixed ctcss on the handheld/mobile receive and vary the transmit ctcss to select the repeaters. On Project Fires, the Comm Units will have ctcss codes on all the repeaters and tac channels, and they will be on the transmit and receive. The teams are assigned a tone by the NIFC Communications Duty Officer at the time the incident is mobilizing and gets a radio starter kit.

You need to get the new information at the start of the season. Also, when you arrive at a fire, you need to get the current information from the ICS 205, and program it before you leave the check-in area. Getting your radio working is just as important as putting on your PPE.

NVJims

5/17 Continuing interesting discussion on Communication:

Hotlist t=13482

5/16 One reply to Pyro's question: Know where every firefighter is!

Pyro,

You and I have had many firefighter safety discussions of the use of geospatial technologies. The situation you just described has been solved in Riverside County, CA. For years, Division Chief Bob Toups and I have brainstormed how best to implement a department-wide system to keep track of responding fire resources during emergency operations. While I was spending time trying to convince my managers and the bureaucrats the value of real-time mapping and accountability, Chief Toups went out and did it!

Here is his outstanding PowerPoint presentation he gave during the 2008 GPS Partnership Council conference at the Space and Missile Systems Center, Air Force Space Command, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California.

CONFERENCE ppt (very large 22,000 K ppt file download)

The wait for the 22MB download is worth it to enjoy the full-resolution flamage photos alone!

I've always had the utmost respect for the Riverside County Fire leadership under Chief John Hawkins and the his progressive support of using the best available technologies to keep his personnel safe. Their GIS Unit is one of the best in the country. I highly encourage all of the other fire geeks to stop by the RIVCFIRE Hq. in Perris for a friendly visit with Fire GIS Manager Dave Donley and bring an empty USB hard drive. They are very good about sharing data and I have never left there empty handed!

This is an example of just one fire agency in Southern CA that can graphically see the location of 200+ engines with a simple glance on a computer screen and each of those 200+ engines can see the locations of each other in the field while on a fire. It's a start.

Fire Geek

5/15 Comms Question:

Random question for you Comms-types out there:

Working in the private-sector side of wildland fire for the past few years has brought some systemic problems to my attention, on occasion somewhat abruptly. Private FFs being outside the intra-agency communications loop leads to some interesting issues of its own...

While I'm fully aware that we're living in a whole new era of security consciousness since 9/11, sometimes people get left out of the communications-loop due to new communications-security policies, as well.

So: Three times in recent years I've found myself unable to communicate with anyone while assigned to early-season fires. My unit receives, but does not transmit successfully.

Twice this was not a remarkable safety issue. Once it could well have become an event of its own, not so much to me-and-mine, but to some other resource.

The first time this happened, I put it down to old equipment. The second time was during the transition period from analog to digital; that too was understandable, we thought. And the problem resolved itself each time by my "reallocating" brand new radio equipment to my engine - which of course meant programming with current frequencies and PLs.

All three of these early-season fires were IA/EA-Immediate Need gigs; once on the road, no stopping at a station for coffee and reprogramming. "Report direct to Div ___ at ____ , for assignment."

The third time we experienced this failure-to-communicate, my engine was needed to back up another engine, who was at the time assigned to a running attack on a hot flank on another division. We heard our change of assignment, both over handheld and mobile radios; I copied the assignment over my handheld, and we began moving in their direction - so now we're no longer present in the area DIVS had initially assigned us to.

Division understandably 'bout had a breakdown: He'd assigned us to work an area and left us to our tasks; he takes an urgent request for assistance from another division, makes a decision, and transmits the change over the radio. And we never copy the order. And now he can't find us. We've disappeared; we've either fell down the Rabbit Hole, we're freelancing, or we're ghosting.

All other resources on our division (he found as he queried them for our whereabouts) had heard him loud-and-clear (we were the only contract resource on that division); we had (as far as he knew) never heard or responded to his message. And now, he's had to travel to the far end of his division just to physically search for us - and we're not there! (We'd already tied-in with the other engine and begun work.)

About this point, I'm sure DIVS was muttering some pretty unflattering thoughts about private contractors who were too stupid or chickensh*t to be able to key a mic on the correct frequency and go help a brother...

Now normally, this would have resolved itself fairly quickly; after all, we all work in an environment where radio communication is a sketchy proposition, at best. But the engine asking for help... needed it. NOW. They weren't in a bug-out situation... quite yet. But they were close to it. So when we arrived on scene, we worked our way to them - delaying even longer the use of a working radio (at this point, I was still muttering some pretty unflattering things about agency overhead who thought they were too important to respond to my radio traffic...)

Of course, it all became clear when we finally tied-in with the Tetra, and the ENGB greeted us with "Wow, I was glad to see you guys comin'; how'd you know we needed help?". As soon as he found we could hear but not speak, he chained us to his pocket and we had communications of sorts until we could reprogram our radios. Even DIVS eventually forgave us...

But here's the thing: We had the all correct frequencies preprogrammed and dialed up; everything was working the way it was supposed to - for last season.

But they'd changed their privacy codes... without notifying the local contractors, figuring we'd all reprogram when we arrived either in stations fire camps.

So: Is there some systemic reason that the Feds can't have a "Reprogram Contractors' PL Codes Day" at the District level? Or send out a mailing to the contract companies who have passed inspection for the new season?

My personal experiences with this glitch didn't turn into anything more strenuous than an irritated Divs and a red-faced engine crew, but I could see where an incident would be possible.

Pyro5755

Hotlist thread

5/14 Ab,

Here is another funny name I've encountered while fighting fire or working in fuels:

"Timber Tiger" = chipmunk

...Old School and proud of it

Thanks, I added it! Ab.

5/13 Ab:

With fire season just around the corner I want to encourage all firefighters red and green to encourage their families to use this site and the Family Said forum. In the past it has been extremely helpful to me to be able to connect with other wildland family members and know that we are all in this crazy business together.

Have a safe season everyone!

Battwife....formerly Firecapwife

The Hotlist FamilySaid requires registration on the Hotlist. It's easy to do folkes. Come on down; support each other. Ab.

5/13 HR 4488

Casey,

I sent the form letter to my Congressman and low & behold he got back to me (yes I was surprised). The letter is below.

It seems he is schooled in this matter and does support some of what is being proposed but like some others have stated on They Said, he too does not seem to think that PTP will save the Feds $$$$.

Personally I am neutral on PTP, I would would just be happy not having a time keeper busting my b***s when the CTR shows 16 hours with H pay (signed by Division) and they want to make the crew show a break or even worse question if we even pulled a 16, while they sit in an air conditioned trailer high grading sack lunches getting 16's, but I digress. I really do appreciate the work the time keepers do and the afore mentioned is few and far between.

Sorry I got side tracked. But back to my my point; they way you have explained PTP on TS and how it could save the Feds money makes sense to me, I know Congressman Herger is only one vote but next time you have his ear, you may be able sway him on this Bill by clearing up his concerns and misconceptions. Keep up the good fight.

Northern Cal FF and Voter.

Herger's letter

5/13 Old Schoolin'

R3'er,

You know, you "new school" folks can learn a lot from us "Old Guys/Old School" fire types. We were a close knit bunch of people, proudly wore our uniforms, listened well to those with more experience and applied it to our actions, were proud of the work we did and the agencies we worked for. To top it off, we had a lot less burnovers, shelter deployments, and tragic consequences than what you "new" folks appear to be experiencing.

Yes, there is a lot more to the chain-of-command and employee titles these days - just means some of us have to work on memorizing all these new ways of saying the same thing. It was easier to know what everyones "title" was in the "old days" but it doesn't mean it was better or worse. Just different.

Maybe you should take a page from us "oldies" and ask questions from those with many years of experience - you might be amazed at what you can learn!

...."Old School and proud of it!"

5/13 A few more for the slang list:

OJs: Inmate crews - from the orange jumpsuits/orange Nomex they wear.

Triple F - Fish & Wildlife or Fish & Game staff - "Fur, Feathers and Fins"

Tourists - News Media

Tourist Attraction - The part of the line that's got just enough action for good video/pictures, but not too much to make it dangerous or for the news babes to get their Nomex dirty.

Boot Bite/Boot Bit - What you get when your stiff new boots rub the hell out of the front of your foot and/or your heel

Honey Wagon - The Honey Hut service vehicle

Mountain Money, Skid Paper, Roll of Benjamins - Toilet paper

Eggbeater, Dragonfly - Helicopters

Supply Nazi - The SUL that wants every single used (insert item here) back before he gives you a replacement.

An addition to "Camp Fifi": Fifi can usually be found in Medical or Finance. Rarely found in Ops or Supply.

--
John "Smokey Behr" Gleichweit FF1/EMT, N6FOG
CalEMA 51-507

Haw Haw, Good ones. I added them to the Funny Terms List. Ab.

5/13 Must be the season, even NWCG's getting into the terminology act... Good ones here, too. Haw Haw. Ab.

NWCG - Fire Management Terms

NWCG #024-2010 Memorandum Terminology Updates 2010 04 30 (pdf) [the memo]

NWCG #024-2010 Attachment A Terminology Updates List 2010 04 30 (pdf) [the terms]

5/13 wildlandfire slang

Abs,

Got some new fire terms to add for 2010...

Junk Show - A group of questionable characters on a mission to fail. "The IMT that showed up is a complete junk show"

Yard Sale - A crewmember's collection of gear, nomex, and personal junk spread out in a disorderly fashion. "Get your yard sale out of the back of the engine, rookie!"

Here's to a safe and busta gut Funny Fire Terms and Nicknames page. Ab.

5/13 Active Hotlist Topics:

Bee, Wasp Stings/ etc: Where they nest and what to do with a new close-up pic of a Stump Fword*er

Educational Info for a New Guy includes a post on HIPAA among other things, including some good links

Australia to have a Centralized National Arsonist Database

Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster - all risk

Real-time GIS fire mapping info: now possible anywhere even on Mt Everest

AED information (Automated External Defibrillator), locating them in public places

Plus there's always Hotlist IA

5/13 Campbell Prediction System, new developments:

For those that have not seen it, Doug Campbell has teamed up with Bruce Schubert (a youngster) to share his Campbell Prediction System information in another way. Doug has finished his CPS RX book and it is now available for free download. From the notes I'm getting, it's being downloaded and used in Europe where CPS has been embraced by the wildland firefighting community for quite a few years.

Bruce uploaded the book to cps.kenai.com site. 
See kenai.com/projects/ CPS downloads
or the direct download link

Ab.

5/13 AB ;

A news article in the Napa Register this morning included a report of the NTSB findings on the unfortunate death of a USFS FF. I have pasted an excerpt form that article and then included the web page for the entire news article.
I have sent this to you for your review and decision as to its relevance and whether to include for discussion.
Thanks,
33F23

— Thomas Marovich, a 20-year-old U.S. Forest Service firefighter who died July 21 after falling more than 200 feet from a helicopter during a training exercise in Humboldt County, failed to properly latch his rappelling harness to the aircraft

Report released on pilot killed in Napa crash (with the info on Tom Marovich toward the bottom of the article under "The NTSB also released its findings into three other fatal plane crashes in Northern California")

Thanks for thatm 33F23. Our condolences to the Marovich family, Tom's friends and coworkers. Many will be attending the Wildland Firefighter Foundation's Family Fire days in Boise that begins tomorrow. I am thankful we have that organization that hosts a celebration of life and healing event for young and older alike.

Here's the text of the report findings from the NTSB database: Hotlist p=64946

Release of the NTSB report makes the Draft FS Serious Accident Investigation a Final Report as I understand it. Ab.

5/12 Hi to all:

By the end of this week, the chairmen and members of the House Committee on Oversight & Government reform and the House Committee on Natural Resources will have heard from hundreds of federal wildland firefighters from across the country seeking hearings on HR 4488.

Hearings are a great way to get the facts in the Congressional Record and before many members of Congress that may have limited understanding of wildland firefighters and the federal land management agency fire programs. Hearings will provide those that support the bill the opportunity to address any/all issues and concerns that have been raised by the private sector and others about the bill and provide us the opportunity to provide additional documentation validating the need for this important and comprehensive legislation and to answer any questions Congress may have.

Next week the Agriculture Committee and Armed Services Committee will hear from these firefighters. Given that HR 4488 has been referred to 4 committees, the FWFSA is trying to ascertain whether one of the committees will take overall jurisdiction on the bill or whether each committee will decide to mark up the bill on their own.

A special thanks to "ms" and others who have grabbed the bill by the horns and developed a clear strategy to educate Congress.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
5/12 FS Duty Officers

The issues of having a Duty Officer in the Forest Service:

There is no direction or Agency Policy that says a Forest or District must have a Duty Officer. Agency direction says that a Unit may elect to have a Duty Officer if they have the need.

There is direction on what ICS qualifications must be held to serve or act as a Duty Officer.(ICT3 and DIVS)

No position description says an employee will or must perform as Duty Officer... some say ‘may perform as Duty Officer’ (B.C. and D.C.s) No position says they must maintain the ICS qualifications necessary to be a Duty Officer.

Duty Officers are not limited to any 1 position, anyone in any discipline can theoretically serve in the capacity as long as they ‘qualify’.

Nowhere is it mentioned what a Duty Officer is or what a Duty Officer does... only the qualifications necessary to act in that capacity.

The problems of having a Duty Officer in the Forest Service:

Compensation...
When a ‘Unit’ elects to have a Duty Officer does the unit need to compensate the employee for their work?
Not during ‘normal business hours’. What about when the ‘Unit’ would like a Duty Officer after ‘normal business hours’?

Is the assignment of serving as a Duty Officer after ‘normal business hours’ a work assignment?,
Not a fire assignment, but a direct management work assignment that should be compensated by overtime?...
No different from extended staffing or any other work assignment exceeding 8 hrs. in my opinion.

Improper Job Classification...
When a Forest attempts to give clear direction on Duty Officer expectations they verge on reclassifying an employee’s job.
ie. “The Duty Officer shall remain available for emergency response at all times, after ‘normal business hours’ and on days off.”
& “The Duty Officer will take all of the necessary tools and equipment necessary to function at home with them.”

The B.C. and D.C. jobs (ADFMO & DFMO) have salaries based on a 40hr. work week. Hence the term ‘normal business hours’.
So when a B.C. is directed that he/she must be a Duty Officer and they must now be available and in a state of readiness throughout their ‘time off’, are the employees rights being violated?

How about when a ‘Duty Officer’ is required to be able to respond emergency incidents at any time, throughout the night, and the Forest refuses to authorize the usage of the Agency vehicle to facilitate the need? (undue hardship?)

What if the B.C. is a poor minority that relies on public transportation to get to work? Does the RTA run at 3 am? Is the Forest Service saying that the poorer ethnicities need not apply?,... you couldn’t afford to be abused like this anyway!

What Tha

5/12 Hello,

My name is Daisy and I am Hugh Masterson's Great-Niece (being related by my grandmother Pearl). I was
wondering if you had anymore photos of Hugh as I am doing a Family Tree.

Thank you,

Daisy

Daisy, this was posted earlier last month from JS whose Dad started on the Angeles in 1938: "Hugh Masterson got a little dent in his rig. 1953".

There are also some comments about Hugh on the Just One More Time thread. Search down through the thread to Fudgie's post.

JS, you have any more photos? Ab.

5/11 Quotes to remember from this past week:
  • From Verizon Wireless Blackberry - “USFS, BLM, FWS, (BIA to) and NPS firefighters need to band together and fight”
  • From The Cynic - “Casey, I think you have worn me down”
  • From The Cynic - “I am confident your heart is in the right place”
  • From Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron after she ordered 24 hour pay - This action is needed to ensure that Initial Attack resources are on duty and available to respond to new fire starts at any time of the day or night.
  • From Forest Supervisor Jody Norion after she ordered 24 hour pay - This action is also intended to reduce safety issues that rise from increasing exposure of firefighters on Extended Attack fires and the additional costs associated with larger fires.
  • From TNGB - Forced to stay in a GOVERNMENT FACILITY??....NOT FREE TO DO WHAT YOU WANT??? SMELLS ALOT LIKE ORDERED STANDBY TO ME!!!
  • From All of Us - Keep fighting people. Stay the course. We have read the posts in opposition. We have read the posts from those that are pessimistic. That’s OK, let’s always respect those forum members and learn from those posts. At the end of the day, whether we win, lose or draw those of us in favor of HR 4488 know we can walk away with our heads held high that each of us, collectively, did our part.
  • Abs and Mods to all the Moms - We appreciate the heck out of you!

Support HR 4488 - Support FWFSA

May, 2010 - HR 4488 Support and Awareness Month - (SAM)

Week 2 - Committee Contacts

The primary focus of SAM is to contact your local representative. However each week this month we will focus on contacting members of the committees where HR 4488 is assigned. This website shows HR 4488 is assigned to multiple committees. thomas.loc.gov

This second week our focus is on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Committee Mainpage

Democratic Committee Members

Republican Committee Members

Email the Committee Chairman

Make time this week to do something positive for yourself and your family by getting involved and letting your voice be heard.

ms

5/11 Just echoing a few other posts,

"Old School" should simply be used to describe someone who's been around longer in fire. Thanks to the retirees
and soon to be retirees and the AD retirees who keep coming back that are still supporting fire with the same
passion many of us freshman and softmore school folks have. I'm not sure how the technicalities work regarding
the retirement age changes in 4488, but hopefully some of you will be back on the line if I read it right?

-another pulaski motor

5/11 R3'er

Let's remember to "keep this about the what (issues) not the who (person contributing)".

An Old Guy
5/11 Let's not over-generalize on the backs of our retirees. There are many retirees like Yactac below that support HR 4488; they created the discussion of issues that are being addressed in HR 4488. There are also AD retirees that have joined FWFSA, they believe so strongly in redressing the issues.
  • Wildland firefighter retention is not a new issue;
  • Increasing costs of wildland firefighting is not a new issue;
  • Pilot program for Portal to Portal  and reducing those costs --Paying firefighters for the time they work, including the time they are not free to do other things due to being on standby is not a new issue;
  • Being named firefighter (rather than "forestry tech" series)... except when people die is not a new issue
  • Outsourcing is not a new issue
  • Increasing retirement age for those that are healthy (to deal with the experience drain) is not a new issue
  • Counting Hazard Duty Pay towards retirement is not a new issue
  • Buy back of work time as wildland firefighter is not a new issue
  • Availability of health insurance for seasonal firefighters is not a new issue
  • Fostering Just Culture and Lessons Learned through changes in Sec. 8. Firefighter Liability is a newer issue -- since 2002 but has a HUGE EFFECT on morale, retention safety through lessons learned and just culture.

Striving for this collection of changes has gone on for quite a while as you can see from the archives of theysaid and Documents Worth Reading. Many of these issues were brought to our collective awareness by people that are now retired but still contribute here. (Sorry if I missed any issues in the bill.)

I copied the rest of the posts of those supporting HR 4488 from theysaid to the Striving for HR 4488 database in the hotlist so they're all in one place.

Join the emailing/ letter writing/ contacting your congressman campaign. Contact your congressional representative.

Ab.

5/11 There is nothing wrong with our FED Fire folks being called (Division Chief, Battalion Chief, Captain, Engineer) or wearing bugles for that fact. There is nothing wrong with it, it's about PROFESSIONALISM. Though we may be a land management agency, we are a fire agency within the DOI or USFS. So there has to be professionalism, with all that's going on with trying to make things better for the rest of us FED Fire folks. It's folks like you (OLD Chiefs and the rest of these OLD schoolers) That are stuck in their ways, and will not accept change or even just a little change. It's not the 80's,90's it's 2010, the OLD ways are gone! Folks are stuck on the past, when we should be looking into the future.

R3'er
5/11 Cynic:

It's not my intent to "wear you down" but rather try to answer your questions. HR 4488 represents a vision that has been sought for many, many years. Just because I try to explain it doesn't make it the best bill in the world. It doesn't mean that we won't accept ideas, questions and concerns from all corners of the wildland firefighting landscape.

The first two PTP bills introduced did not entail a pilot program. We discovered many in Congress didn't understand PTP let alone what wildland firefighters were or actually did. Because of the many variables associated with the potential costs of PTP, we accepted advice from congressional offices for the idea of the pilot program.

The 3 year period would allow all sides of the debate to determine if PTP was an effective retention tool; how much it would actually cost and how much could be saved by implementing PTP on the federal side and reducing some costs on the non-federal side.

The $25 million "seed money" is an arbitrary figure. Again it was simply based upon Senator Feinstein's ability & willingness to come up with $25 million for R-5 retention.

There are now 3 separate pots of suppression funding: The annual appropriation from Congress; The FLAME Act account and the "little discussed" Presidential Contingency Fund.

And to reiterate once again, ensuring that Preparedness dollars actually go to funding Preparedness resources rather than the ASC or other non-FIRE projects would allow for more resources in the field; shorter UTFs; and the theoretical belief that fires would be kept smaller and thus less costly.

I certainly don't disagree with you about who's to blame regarding non-federal costs. Your assessment is certainly on point. I think it would make a huge difference if you had a fire person able to stand up and say what you suggested. Unfortunately there is a very big hurdle to that...Line Officers.

As I've told many members of Congress, just the understanding by a federal wildland firefighter that they would be eligible for PTP compensation on an incident would be a significant retention tool regardless of whether they actually earned a penny of it all season. Going to an incident knowing you will be properly compensated through a methodology used by your own employer to pay others would be a huge incentive for feds to stay in the system

Nowhere in our bill is there a guarantee of PTP in any given season. Heck even last year we had some feds complaining about the lack of OT to which I replied "that's supposed to be a good thing." Federal wildland fires have become a financial feeding frenzy for some at the expense of the taxpayer. However it is the right thing to do for the federal land management agencies to compensate their own employees in a similar fashion as they do others.

I wanna go play golf !!!....

Casey
5/11 cynic,

I am extremely glad that I gained the identity of Battalion Chief as opposed to the generic Assistant District Fire Management Officer prior to my retirement. While collar brass and standard fire rank may not mean much to you, it is huge to the identification, organization and cooperation efforts between departments...

While I agree that there could be funding issues to be worked out (and they will be worked out!) with HR 4488, the essence of this bill is long overdue.

Good luck to all you folks happy where you are, but please recognize there are a lot of folks that would like to see progress and change!

yactak

5/11 Air Force Safety Investigations -- article in May 2010 Flying Magazine

A very interesting article was published in Flying magazine (May 2010)concerning how the Air Force conducts accident investigations. It is a fairly long article so I won't try to repeat its contents here but one thing caught my eye. The Air Force calls their accident investigations "Safety Investigations" and "To ensure full participation, personnel are who are involved in the mishap and provide testimony are immune from prosecution and disciplinary action as a result of the safety investigation. Furthermore, no findings of the safety board can be used against them. Doing so, for that matter is a serious infraction. The Department of Defense says that this immunity is an extension of the executive privilege afforded the president." Very informative and I would encourage those of you interested in safety to pick up a copy and give it a read.

A student of FF Safety

5/11 Message from FEDS  on Professional Liability Insurance, excellent timing... Ab.

Don't forget your PLI protection this fire season.  FEDS Professional Liability Policy works like your home & auto insurance policies...you need to have the coverage in place when the incident occurs.  Most of the federal firefighters we have represented didn’t think they’d ever need to secure such protection either.  Don’t fight fire again without the protection our policy affords.  Your annual policy could be as low as $135 with agency reimbursement.

Visit us on line at fedsprotection.com or call us at 866.955.FEDS with your questions.

5/11 HR 4488 and PTP

cynic

So if you're retired then what is the big problem with the bill and you of all people should be in support of it. You need to get off this kick that this is a R5 bill and that no one else outside our Region wants this bill. You have to remember that to offset the costs of PTP we are asking the agencies to quit relying so much on out of agency folks. Folks that cost alot more than our own agency people. This bill benefits the agencies and thats the bottom line. PTP isn't the only thing in this bill.

Strive for 205

5/11 Rank titles:

Cynic

You can thank NIMS for those changes in rank titles. You know the phrase “300 years of tradition unimpeded by progress” also comes to mind. It looks great on the back of a T-shirt but is it reality. If you’re not aware, that was a motto the modern fire service stood behind because we love traditions. We don’t have to lose tradition in order to move forward with progress! I am sorry but I do not want tomorrow’s leaders using yesterday’s policies and technology. But I certainly hope we never forget our roots!

As far as HR 4488, is there nothing in that bill that is positive? I am not going to sit here and pretend I know everything about the bill because I certainly do not. But if it helps to move the Federal Fire program forward even an inch isn’t that worth considering?

Also there are a myriad of Federal employees that work in the system because they are Firefighters and that is their calling! We are firefighters, and the United Stated of America has called upon us to put our talent and experience to work protecting the property of the Nation! This system needs to be organized (at least in some fashion) to be able to co-exist with our counter parts because in reality we do the exact same thing! We have been left behind in the wake of progress and that is a shame.

Should a Federal Law Enforcement Officer not be permitted to carry a gun? Should we as American citizens not allow them to be paid a wage commensurate with their municipal counter parts? Why would we give them a badge and ask them to put their life on the line to protect Americas Federal property and not give them the power of arrest? We wouldn’t, so why do we ask the same of our federal Firefighters?

“Risk a lot to save a lot, Risk a little to save a little and Risk nothing to save what is already lost”!!!! (From someone much better than me)

With all due respect,

Rolling Thunder!

5/11 Strive for 205, found this. The bill does not affect pay if you're retired. AL

11/8/05 They Said It

... This is not intended as a cheap shot, but when you went to bugles on the collars and being branch chiefs, division chiefs, captains, etc and all that garbage you lost your identity. I just hope the rest of us do not get dragged into the same thing. Not your fault, but that is the essence of it. Thank the fire gods that I got to retire as a DFMO and not a Battalion Chief!!

Good luck to the folks in R-5, but please recognize there are a lot of us that are plenty happy where we are and we are doing just fine.

the cynic

Readers, so far, so good, but let's remember to "keep this about the what (issues) not the who (person contributing)". Ab.

5/11 cynic

Just curious since you are so against this bill, are you going to donate any extra money that get if this bill passes?

Just curious.

Strive for 205

5/10 HR 4488

I would like to add that all USFS, BLM, FWS, and NPS firefighters need to band together and fight. Having worked on the green side for 14 years before leaving I was a 9 step 5 and I now work for the state and within the first couple of pay checks I realized how much the federal management is using its employees. But some people that don't do their homework, they need to understand that in the past the state was underpaid and the feds were above them, then came employees willing to stand up and fight and years later, we have these benefits. I hear complaints of oh if we get portal to to portal we can't go out and have fun on assignments well the pay raise I got I'd never drink again. And I only work 3 days a week so to all the guys that want more get together and fight like hell... those that don't want change retire or shut up you are in the way of progress.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

5/10 In regard to PTP math:

Casey,

Appreciate the explanation. My principal question was if 10,000 GS-3's get PTP for 14 days during the course of a season does that not equate to 23 million dollars? Further, I figured since the GS-3 was the lowest dirt miner on the totem pole, costs in fact would be much higher. I really do not know what might have gone into scoring the budget to come up with 34 million in a season. I will just go on record as saying I think that figure is off the chart low in this day and age.

So, when (not if) the 25 million is exhausted, then the appropriated suppression budget will pay the rest of the tab for the season in question. I assume that is correct from what you wrote. What does that mean? Where does that money come from and what are the impacts, since it was obviously not budgeted to pay PTP for an entire season for the agency. Or is there a slush fund being maintained in the appropriated suppression budget to pay these costs?

The goal to reduce non federal costs is certainly a very admirable one that I heartily endorse. However, I think the only way to do that is to mandate it to the agencies and then they have to manage it and it has to be a firm do not cross this line figure. With aircraft costs being what they are, and they are not going to get any cheaper, that alone will have huge impacts in the non federal cost arena. I personally think the agencies will continue to run up the non federal costs regardless. That is a sad state of affairs, but I think that is the real truth. I stand behind my opinion that no matter what ceiling is put on the agencies in relation to the non federal costs, when they hit that limit and fire is licking at someone's door, it will become a mute point. I may be wrong, but I doubt it. So in essence, PTP is not going to lower costs at all, again in my opinion.

The last point I would like to make is to a large extent Fire has no one but ourselves to blame for the non federal costs. Almost all of these costs are associated with the suppression side of the program, the fire on the mountain, fire in the subdivision, fire in the range allotment, etc, put it out at all cost part of the program. Order what ever it takes and more, and then hang on to it a few extra days just in case. What we really need is someone (a fire person) to stand up and say, no you cannot have that many toys, and you are done playing with the ones you have so demob them! Again, that is my opinion.

Casey, I think you have worn me down. While I am fundamentally opposed to PTP, if you can swing it more power to you. I think I will play a little more golf, spend a lot less time tilting at windmills and let the agencies continue to allow themselves to be flushed down the proverbial toilet.

Good luck to you and all wildland firefighters, especially my brethren in the Forest Service. I will continue to lurk now and then and hope the federal wildland firefighter comes out ahead in the long run. I am confident your heart is in the right place.

I know I have said it in the past, but this is my last post. Really! Honest! I promise! For ever and ever!

adios,
the cynic

5/10 In regards to the PTP figures,

I'm confused cynic, because I'm usually a cynic. A lot of the workforce might not be GS-3 but a lot of the workforce is GS-4. If it's not GS-4 than it might be a 5 or 6 or maybe a 6-7. I'm an SQB (GS5) and I supervise (or "lead" if you read my PD) about 8 people who are all GS 3-4 and we have some pretty experienced folks at that, my leads have usually been 4s. We're an I.A. 20 person crew and if you follow our pay scales much, they are all over the place and a lot of the time, pretty low. I think DOI in our area goes up to seasonal 7s? I'm not sure, I know they have a lot of 3-4s. I also know that on fires at fire camps, there's actually about a bazillion 3-5s running around. There's the main overhead team and I don't honestly know the numbers but logically if you pull PTP the biggest money drain is going to happen at campaign fires. Meaning the relevant workforce affected is actually the 3-4 level or close to. On average, take a TFLD: you have one GS 7+ usually running up to 5 resources, in most cases crews comprise a big chunk of those resources. We'll skip my crew or the T2 I.A. world, or for that matter the T2 non-I.A. world with even less budget and look at an IHC crew on a 1-2-2-2 config. The supt. is 9, step whatever, 2 captains at 8s, 2 squaddies at 6-7s and 2 leads at 5 or 5-6s. That's 7 people out of 20 plus, with anything beyond 3-4. Or an engine: SFEO at an 8, FEO at 6-7, AFEO at 5-6. Bear in mind that these numbers obviously aren't across the board, some engines have less funding, some IHC crews have more or less, but even an engine with a high overhead-to-seasonal ratio has upwards of 5 3-4 "pulaski motors". Or ditch diggers, or dirt movers or hosepullers or groundpounders or whatever you want to call the people that actually make all of it happen. I'm a 5 step 3 and make about 4.00 more an hour on my overtime than a 4 step 1. Then you factor tax brackets and how O/T gets taxed? Again, shooting from the hip but I don't agree that the actual relevant workforce affected by PTP is really a good representation of the actual fire-qualified workforce. Also, if PTP jumps someone (using a single filer as an example) from the 34K to 34K+ bracket, they get hit with a 10% increase in taxes. I mean that's the biggest % jump in the whole bracket system. If you look at the average 3-4 earnings, they actually tend to fall into that division line in many cases. Looking at the ICS structure alone, it creates 1 supervisor per 5ish so there would always inherently be more GS 3s and 4s. Using "GS-3" in your post is a technicality.

Also, PTP seems to be a big crux to so much debate over the bill. I believe it's like 10 million bucks expenditure before they even require a written justification of why a fire cost what it did. How many fires below 10mil does it take to add up to the 25mil you're talking about? Actually creating a separate professional series seems so vastly more important (in my own dirt moving opinion). If you retain quality workers that are able to identify what to use and how to use it, you could save millions pretty quick. PTP is about the least of it and it's the big elephant in the room. When the GS-nothings are actually the bulk of people asking for aircraft (big money there....quick) scouting and punching in line, doing ignition operations or implementing strategy on the ground and seem to be the bulk of the folks roaming around fires and fire camps (which would also seem to be the bulk of people pulling PTP?). Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to throw them a bone in the hopes the ones with options come back? One little error in judgment might get a type 1 ship moving and drive your hourly use on it way up (which would turn into a million on one big fire), or in the worst case; get some people hurt and then you're looking at anything from worker's comp to full-on lawsuits. You'll need to project costs from something less short-sided. If I'm way off here or missed a point I'm sorry, but all I've seen is griping and questioning in your posts, last one being directed at the jumpers... do you have a reason for it or is it for the sake of debate? Are you just upset taxes might go up by a fraction? The cost of living certainly hasn't kept up with wages if you want to bust out numbers. If you were old school, awesome! So are a lot of people who are okay with this. I know it used to be tougher but what's wrong about trying to be proactive?

-another pulaski motor
5/10 Making the rounds...

AED information (Automated External Defibrillator)

Scroll down a bit and you will find some good information on AEDs. Most of it is oriented toward agency establishment of a Public Access Defibrillation program for a facility but there is a lot of related information that's quite useful re. medical oversight etc.

Larry Sutton
Fire Operations Risk Management Officer
U.S. Forest Service - NIFC

Federal Register Vol 74 No 156 (pdf file; begins bottom central column)

5/10 Joel,

Here’s the Eastern Washington interagency training schedule:
fs.fed.us Region 6 fire training 2010 Course Schedule

And the Idaho panhandle schedule:
gacc.nifc.gov nrcc

Islander

5/10 This photo of the Olinda Hotshots of Australia came in several days ago and I posted it on the Handcrews 27 photo page, but I wanted to bring it to the attention of those that have fought fire with the Aussies. Ab.
5/10 Re PTP and being required to STANDBY for duty, costs:

Dear Cynic:

If the FWFSA had not provided ample data on the potential costs of PTP and/or cost savings as long ago as 2004 when our first PTP bill was introduced, the bill(s) would never have been introduced.

In 2006 the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored our previous stand-alone PTP bill at about $34 million annually.

They used data supplied by the Forest Service which suggested 15,000 firefighters each having 6-2 week assignments each season. We recognized early on that the 15,000 personnel figure was inclusive of support (militia) personnel which is fine with us as that was our initial intent with PTP.

While we concurred with the inclusion of the militia, we took a closer look and suggested to the CBO that they should perhaps reduce that 15,000 figure to be more realistic as at no time have there been 15,000 "firefighters" averaging 6-2 week assignments each season. We suggested they look at 5,000/2,500 personnel.

Needless to say the potential costs went down considerably. We also re-emphasized that getting the agencies to stop diverting fire preparedness dollars would result in more funded preparedness resources in the field to keep more fires smaller and less costly thus reducing the number of incidents in which PTP would be compensable.

Both the PTP bill in 2004 and 2006 did not contain "offsets," or a way to pay for PTP. Because we have provided Congress with clear data that demonstrates the significant costs of non-federal resources in the West as compared to federal resource costs, we included a provision in the bill that during the PTP pilot program (again to ascertain the effectiveness of PTP; ascertain its costs and potential savings) the federal land management agencies would reduce their non-federal suppression costs by 10% the first year, 25% the second year and 35% the third year.

The idea behind that is that if the PTP program is an effective retention tool, the federal resources will be stronger after 3 years as envisioned by the National Fire Plan so the land management agencies can start to reduce their reliance even more on expensive non-federal resource costs.

The $25 million seed money was in response to Sen. Feinstein's inclusion in the "09 Omnibus bill of $25 million just for R-5 retention. We tried to convey our thoughts to the Senator that expending the $25 million on a nationwide PTP program would be a more effective plan than spending it on limited R-5 bonuses.

$25 million, especially in the grand scheme of things with the development of the FLAME Act, is pocket change. If the $25 million was exhausted before the season ended, then any other costs for PTP would come out of the annual suppression appropriation.

That language was included before the FLAME Act passed. Conceivably all PTP costs could be borne by the FLAME Act fund and Congress could even exclude the "offsets" we have proposed.

Please let me know if that clarifies some of your concerns.

Casey

5/10 Re PTP and being required to STANDBY for duty, costs:

Doing the Math:

GS-3 is about the lowest level of pulaski motor around. A busy season can easily see 10,000 plus folks out at one time, a real busy season and it can be upwards of that by several thousand. I am willing to accept the figures supplied in the post comparing ptp to what folks are currently paid.

I believe an earlier post indicated there are about 24,000 firefighters in the Forest Service in the US? I hope my memory is right on that. We all know that the average grade is much higher than a GS-3. Now that is just the Forest Service.

So, if there are 10,000 of lowest dirt miners in the US that get out, for one, only one 14 day assignment, or for that matter, 14 days total, doesn't that equate to $2300 multiplied by 10,000 GS-3's. Unless my calculator is broken that equates to $23 million dollars? That is figuring everyone of the 10,000 are GS-3's, which we all know is not the case. The average grade would be much much higher. During the course of even a normal season by the time R-8 and R-3 fire seasons are winding down how much of the $25 million seed money is left? In essence a busy pay period would more than use up the $25 million.

How long is the $25 million going to last realistically? We all know there are a multitude of assignments that are less than 14 days, in fact some folks will do several (many) trips that will fall in the 4-10 days category.

The language in HR 4488 says in relation to PTP:

Any sums required in addition to amounts appropriated ($25 million) pursuant to the preceding sentence may be secured from the existing wildfire suppression budget for the fiscal year in which the season occurred. What does that mean?

the cynic

5/10 From Mellie:

Eureka Times Standard

Humboldt State University, Cal Poly look to blend programs into fire clearinghouse
John Driscoll/The Times-Standard
Posted: 05/09/2010 01:30:49 AM PDT

Plans to merge Humboldt State University's wildfire research program with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's are smoldering in Congress, a union that could make them even more influential in fire policy, education and management.

The universities represent the largest undergraduate fire research programs in the area, and have the biggest continuing education programs for federal agencies that deal with wildfire.

Congressman Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, has made the $1 million appropriation request through the Interior Appropriations Committee to link the programs and make them a clearinghouse for information, education and research on all things wildfire. The California Wildland Fire Consortium would blend HSU's focus on fire in wildlands with Cal Poly's expertise on fire in areas where urban and wildland fire areas come together.  (click link for the rest of the article)

5/10
Video on Chainsaw and Felling Safety (wmv file)
 
5/10 "2010 Wildland Firefighter Challenge Fundraiser"

Wednesday, May 12th, 5 PM,
at the Rock Inn Tavern in
Estes Park, Colorado

The Rocky Mountain National Park Fire Office is conducting its first "Firefighter Challenge Fundraiser" at the Rock Inn, and everyone is invited! Come down, grab dinner, enter for a chance to win prizes, and help support the Wildland Firefighter Foundation!

Thanks for that. I added it to the Hotlist Calendar. Ab.

5/10 To Whom it may concern,

I am looking for training schedules for N. Idaho, E. Washington, for basic fire training and sawyer class. Do you have any recommendations?

Joel

5/9 Portal to Portal without the "to".

Ordered stand-by, 24 hour pay example used for one of the largest fire suppression organizations in the NFS. This is done on all four So Cal Forests as the situation warrants. These folks didn't violate 2 for 1. They took 3 breaks as they should, sleep at night and were paid for 22.5 hours work. Why not for all fire camps? Of course the NFFE guy had no problems with it, his employees were getting paid appropriately and performed as directed.

ms
~~~~~

File Code: 5100/6100
Date: September 30, 2009
Subject: 24 Hour Fire Suppression Coverage
To: District Rangers, Forest Fire Management Officer

Due to the extreme fire conditions on the Angeles National Forest, I am requesting that you staff the Forest’s Initial Attack fire modules, to the extent practical, for 24 hour shifts. This action is needed to ensure that Initial Attack resources are on duty and available to respond to new fire starts at any time of the day or night. The intended outcome of this action will be to prevent new fire starts that occur outside of the normal duty hours from becoming Extend Attack fires due to a delayed response. The Forest’s fire modules, night time fire responses, are normally 1-3 hours longer than our day time responses. This action is also intended to reduce safety issues that rise from increasing exposure of firefighters on Extended Attack fires and the additional costs associated with larger fires.

The Forest will start 24 hour staffing of Engines Wednesday September 30, 2009 at 1800 hrs and ending Friday night, October 2, 2009 at 1800hrs; this condition may be extended for up to 24 hours.

Justification for the 24 Hour staffing is:

  • A Red Flag Warning has been issued for portions of Southwestern California including the Angeles National Forest and Los Angeles County mountains. The area has a prediction from the weather service for high winds to blow at 20 to 30 mph offshore with significant gusts to 60 mph from Wednesday night through Friday Afternoon.
  • This action would provide immediate, direct initial attack, response during this hazardous period and minimize the support needed from the Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center.
  • Low fuel moisture and anticipated low relative humidity indicate potential for large fire growth if fires are not aggressively attacked through timely initial attack responses. A Forest Closure is in effect due, in part, to this situation.
  • The Station Fire continues to have open line at 98% containment. A Forest Closure from the Station Fire continues to remain in effect due, in part, to this situation.

Previous consultation with Robert Etheridge, NFFE, President Local 1650, in 2007 on a previous 24 hour suppression coverage confirmed that this action does not negatively affect bargaining unit members.

Please consult Forest Service Handbook 6109.11, Chapter 10, 13.2, 13.21, and 13.3 and the Interagency Incident Business Management Handbook NWCG Amendment 04-1, 12.2, and 12.4 in order to effect this plan.

We will fund this with suppression funds appropriate to the situation.

The guidelines for implementation are:

  • Show three 30 minute meal breaks on FRS and Cars
  • Follow 2:1 Work Rest ratio
  • Modules maintain 3 minute get-away-time from their stations or staging areas

Staffing will return to standard tours when conditions subside and/or I determine it necessary.

/s/ Jody Noiron
JODY NOIRON
Forest Supervisor

5/9 Seeking some Info on a former air tanker, and finding some...

Here's what TS found out for Steve Penning. First, this is what he said when I asked if we could share it:

You may post whatever info that is there. I've spent many, many years recovering lost data, old reports, images of the various tankers (going back to the 20's and 30's in some instances)...so you might call it an extended family album.

I also operate under Aviation Ark Aeronautical Research. I've always believed that history should be shared, not sold. The information I have in my files is open to all.

Thanks!
Tom
~~~~

Steve,

I may be able to add a few things to what you already know.

According to my records, 4353 was built in 1941 and was the last batch order (4352-4517). I'm not 100% sure, but I believe after acceptance, it was sent to NAS Corpus Christi (TX) and then to the Naval Academy in Annapolis Maryland - where it was used as a training aid. I confirm the surplus date you listed as October 17, 1960. Hill's Flying Service was based out of Chester, Ca. You may want to contact the Chester - Lake Almanor Museum (530)258-2742, as they have quite a local history archive. Another source would be the Pima Air Museum. They have tanker 11, Cod Jenson's N3N, and it is still configured as a tanker, last I heard.

The tanker number as assigned, was E-10 (supporting documents attached). While a 200 Gal tank was installed, it was rare to load much more than 125 Gal on the occasions they were used in Southern California. I don't know if this is typical with your airframe, but it seems that most of the N3N's used as a tanker during the early 60's had Stearman wing tanks installed and the original windscreen replaced with one from a BT-13 for better forward visibility. There were various engine upgrades but I have nothing specific on those mods.

I do have one crash report on file for 4353: OAK73FVG71

Your photo is from the early 70's (notice the cream colored 1972 Dodge Charger parked by the hanger across the way).

If you're looking for parts, you might try Bill Hirzel: Navy N3N Parts and Restoration

Hope this helps. Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

Sincerely,
Tom

5/9 Seeking some Info on a former air tanker, and finding some...

From the Ab account on 5/5

Hi -

Thanks for helping me find out some more info on N3N air tankers.  Dale M and I recently purchased a N3N-3, N7752C, s/n 4353.  The plane has not flown since the early 1980's and was a crop duster the last time it flew.  I was looking thru the old records and found that it was modified in 1961 with a 200 gallon tank for fire fighting by Hill's Flying Service in Sacramento, CA.  In 1964 the borate parts were removed and plane was turned into a crop duster.  I have attached a photo of the plane as a duster, but I am not sure of when it was taken.  The plane was yellow the last time it flew, so this photo could be from the 60's or early 70's.  The plane was sold by the US Navy in October 1960 to Skyway Flying Service in Hunting, Indiana.  Then to Hill's Flying Service in December 1960.  Hill's sold it to Westaire Service in Rio Vista, CA in April 1964.  Alaska Transportation Company of San Jose, CA bought it in February 1966.  Medlock Dusters in Davis, CA  bought it in July of 1966.  Medlock traded it in on a new Agcat in October 1982 to Mid-Continent Aircraft Corp.  Mid Continent sold it to Denny P of Rohnert Park, CA and that's who we bought it from.

Any information on the plane would be greatly appreciated.  I flew DC-4's and P2V's for Aero Union in Chico, CA in the 1980's so I have a keen interest in fire fighting planes.

Thanks,

Steve Penning

Steve has gotten some very good info from TS, like the photo was from the '70s and the tanker number assigned was E-10. (What a wealth of AT info TS has!) If anyone else has any relevant info, or if you flew this plane, please send your contact info. Thanks. Ab.

5/9 Portal to Portal discussion:

Fire crumu....

Just using an old post as an example to show you are not free to do as you please in fire camp...not intended to justify drinking on/or off the clock..strictly one example of many i could "quote" just thought that would be a little more eye catching as it was an old quote from the archive...

TNBG

5/9 Portal to Portal discussion:

The whole "issue" stems from the few of us who can't relax without getting stupid and making trouble for everyone. Most of these people are easily identified, they wake up, walk, talk and shine stupid all day. The professional substance abuser is is harder to spot, but will get what he/she needs regardless of policy or regulation. Both groups should be subjectively identified, evaluated for their worth, and dealt with accordingly. (My profession is fire management not rehab, and all the stupid positions are filled). The carrot (PTP) will be as equally effective as the stick (opaque threats and policy statements) in managing human behavior.

One more thing. If I'm off shift and get recalled to help with some "emergency" what are my work/rest obligations?

The Fire Curmudgeon

5/9 Hello All,

Our wonderful Jared (ENF, Fire & Cop Dispatch) has been chosen as one of five people to win a new car!!! Jared's car broke down five months ago and has been unable to buy a new one, but there is much more to it than that. Any support you can give is greatly appreciated, and please forward this to anyone you might think would like to vote!!! Thanks to everyone. Jared is an awesome guy who has been dealt a rough hand. Please read the request his mom wrote. Let's see if we can get him a new car. Please pass this to all you know.

Here is how to vote:

Go to woodhouse.com difference

Click Vote for the April Winner

He is Candidate 3, you can read his story written by his mom.

At the bottom of the page you can cast your vote!!!

Thanks again!!!

ALB

Good story. Great attitude. (He's currently got 692 with my vote; there's currently an 1131 and a 979). The voting goes on for the rest of the month. We can help him win. Ab.

5/9 Portal to Portal discussion:

First and foremost... Happy Mother's Day to all the mommas and wives of firefighters and the ones who had to take a break from being a firefighter to be a momma!!!

Second, in regards to TNBG's last post...pretty good point.

Griping, venting etc. amongst friends without any reasonable and proactive follow-up is a good way to relieve some tension and brainstorm -but if it alone changed the world, the world would be a vastly different place. Muttering and saying "what they should do" and "what someone needs to do" is great for identifying a problem but it has to go somewhere more constructive after that. A mass grievance might be the right way to handle something, BUT if no one actually tried to correct the problem at the next supervisory level (armed with some logical justification and some reasonable solutions) than it's almost an abuse of the grievance process in the first place. There's entities out there that can protect the employee and it's good there are but it's not the sole responsibility of EEO or the union to make sure we get treated right. Ask questions, get some input from your peers, actually read some of the "fine print". Don't assume someone else has already tried to fight the battle and lost if you don't know. Ask around where you can find copies of policy and law and lead up when appropriate. Find the salty old dogs and ask them etc. I know for a fact where I'm at, hardly anyone is even IN the union. Find out if you're eligible to join and if you are, think pretty strongly about doing it if you want some change. Money talks loud and union dues help pay for much of what's being done to help us out. Some people start talking "union rep", "grievance" etc. when they get in a bad spot but never even joined or read much of the actual rules and regs in the first place or brought their issue up the chain informally.

Anyway, sentiment not directed at a lot of the folks out there but TNBG's post was pretty valid.

-another pulaski motor

5/9 WLF Station Maps:

OA just put up a note on the Hotlist.

WLF Station Maps Available to View

This project has been underway for a while. NICE JOB, contributors. Ab.

5/9 being required to STANDBY for duty, Portal to Portal discussion:

Thanks Sorry.

I need your assistance. Can you please be a little more specific as to which page I should turn too? It would be great if you can give me the page number, CFR, etc? Trying to pull together some facts on this topic. My feeling is that we can find multiple point/counterpoints within the CFRs, agency regs. Just want to identify them and see if this topic has any case history.

I do remember the Sierra Dispatch used or might still use some form of compensation using Article 19 for the Dispatcher that is on-call overnight and must remain available during fire season.

Thanks in advance for your specific references.

Forestry Tech by Day

5/9 Seeking info on an old airtanker:

Hi -

Thanks for helping me find out some more info on N3N air tankers. Dale Miller and I recently purchased a N3N-3, N7752C, s/n 4353. The plane has not flown since the early 1980's and was a crop duster the last time it flew. I was looking thru the old records and found that it was modified in 1961 with a 200 gallon tank for fire fighting by Hill's Flying Service in Sacramento, CA. In 1964 the borate parts were removed and plane was turned into a crop duster. I have attached a photo of the plane as a duster, but I am not sure of when it was taken. The plane was yellow the last time it flew, so this photo could be from the 60's or early 70's. The plane was sold by the US Navy in October 1960 to Skyway Flying Service in Hunting, Indiana. Then to Hill's Flying Service in December 1960. Hill's sold it to Westaire Service in Rio Vista, CA in April 1964. Alaska Transportation Company of San Jose, CA bought it in February 1966. Medlock Dusters in Davis, CA bought it in July of 1966. Medlock traded it in on a new Agcat in October 1982 to Mid-Continent Aircraft Corp. Mid Continent sold it to Denny Parmer of Rohnert Park, CA and that's who we bought it from.

Any information on the plane would be greatly appreciated. I flew DC-4's and P2V's for Aero Union in Chico, CA in the 1980's so I have a keen interest in fire fighting planes.

Thanks,

Steve Penning

5/9 Two new logos.

ANF E-112
Surprise Dist BLM.

Thanks, contributors. Check Logos 19 photo page. Ab.

5/9


Happy Mothers' Day

to the mothers of wildland firefighters and
the wives and mothers that contribute so much to the stability and success of the home
when firefighters are away, often for long stretches of time.

We appreciate the heck out of you!

The Abs and Mods

5/9 While we are bringing up the issue of PTP...
 
Here is a little tidbit from the Archive...
 
DRINKING
from TC on theysaid, 10/20/04:
Below are my opinions on the Drinking issue. I've run them by the Human Resource folks on my forest and they agree.
The Government cannot control your actions when off duty, outside of Fire Camp.
However, Fire Camps are considered Government Facilities. As such:
  • Drinking in Fire Camp is not allowed, either on or off Duty.
  • Being under the influence of alcohol (Drunk) in a Fire Camp is also not allowed either on or off duty. So Crews or individuals returning to Fire camp after partaking may be subject to this.
  • Motels paid for by the government, whether on per diem or pcms card, are an extension of the fire camp.
  • Supervisor’s & Camp Security have been trained (or should be) to recognize the symptoms of someone under the influence. While this may not be enough to stand up in court, it is enough to require further testing, send someone home, or reassign them to other duties.
HMMMMMMM........Forced to stay in a GOVERNMENT FACILITY??....NOT FREE TO DO WHAT YOU WANT??? SMELLS ALOT LIKE ORDERED STANDBY TO ME!!!
 
You know it is surprising to me that the Federal Government has not received a  Very Large slap in the face CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT over this ishue (there is that mispelling again, hmmm... maybe i'll make it my trademark :)..anyone have any comments on this???
 
Also from the previous post regarding mass grievances...well seems to me it might just work....BUT.....how many of you would actually do it??..my guess is very few. Seems ;like a good idea to me.. You know my 10 year old son complained to me once about how he thought he was being treated unfairly at school, and while I agreed with him, I asked him "Well what did you do about it"? His reply was "Nothing, i just got upset and came home and told you". SMELLS ALOT LIKE THEY SAID at times.... Fact of the matter is that "WE" (when i say we i mean the community here on they said.. which seems to be fairly diverse) cannot agree on much.. even though we come from the same "community" our ishue's are very divided on were we all stand... Now as "Management" would you really listen to a bunch of "Kid's" (Referring to the above mentioned school kid remarks) who can't agree on what they want....... just another random thought.
 
TNBG
5/8 Portal to Portal discussion:

Forestry Tech,

I have been following the conversations on this subject and may be misinformed but I was under the impression from times in the past when this conversation has surfaced that the PTP was a flat rate that the employee was paid. No overtime, no hazard, base rate 24/7 for the duration of the assignment. Having been in this game for about 25 years now, my counterparts and myself never could see how it made much of difference paywise, but at that time there were none of the time restrictions ( 2 to 1) and we worked past 16 hours on a regular basis( You can sleep all winter after the season is done abd fewer accidents overall then than now. Go figure!) The other reason we weren't interested in this is that it was being suggested by the WO bean counters and the opinion was that anything they suggested for on the ground folks generally was better for them and worse for us.

Now, if you looked at how many hours over the course of 25 years or so that I was being "abused" by the system and treated unfairly because I was on two hour call with a radio on my chest or beeper in my pocket or stuck in a fire camp sharing war stories with old friends while being restricted to a fire camp on my own time then I might have made a whole lot more money over the course of my career but then again I may be one of the odd ones as I never have been in this job for the sole purpose of filling my wallet. I never really looked at a fire assignment as a place or time to go spend time watching movies, touring town, etc. Can't say we didn't go do things when we were off the clock as I have seen and done some incredible things on my" off time" on assignments while still having to carry a radio or have folks know where we were.

As for folks telling me that it was their weekend, they were offshift and unavailable to work unless I paid them standby to be around the station when I made an inquiry as to where they might be if I needed assistance after hours got to watch their counterparts go chase fire while they stayed at the station on standby during regular work hours. As to the regulation about an employee being fairly compensated for the inconvenience of having to leave a phone number, carry a beeper, etc. it was well understood that you had to compete with about three hundred other applicants for the job you currently filled and maybe some of those other applicants wouldn't be so " inconvenienced " by having to be in touch all of the time next year and would gladly swap places with you.

Joeboy

5/8 Re being required to STANDBY for duty, Portal to Portal discussion::

Forestry tech by day,

Although I agree with you, you didn't read far enough in the regs. Fire suppression is exempted from that reg.
Turn the page and and you will see.

Sorry

5/8 Good Saturday morning all!
Read the hotlist for breaking fire news.
Have a great day. I'll be back this evening. Contact your congressional reps. Ab.
5/7

May, 2010 - HR 4488 Support and Awareness Month - (SAM)
All Wildland Firefighters from
Colorado and Nevada

Colorado and Nevada Wildland Firefighters below are your House and Senate delegations. We thank you for your outstanding contributions to this nations local, regional and national emergencies. We ask for your support by making contact with all your representatives and asking them to support HR 4488.

Colorado
Clerk.house.gov Member Info
senate.gov Contact Info Senators in CO

Nevada
Clerk.house.gov Member Info
senate.gov Contact Info Senators in NV

More information can be found at these threads and in the trailing posts within “they said”. Please read all posts from Casey and call or email him if you have any questions about HR 4488 or how to join the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association.

Hotlist p=64256
Hotlist t=13347

Colorado and Nevada, thanks for stepping up!

Letterman

5/7 PTP and being required to STANDBY for duty

Sagebrush's post.

Think about his posts for a while. Don’t react to it just yet, just think about it. I scratch my head at times wondering if I am off base with my thinking that PTP is a no brainer? I continuously ask myself why I support PTP. I also wonder why others think PTP is so out of bounds, so taboo. It’s not all about the pay. It’s not that much more considering the work environment, work conditions and restrictions. See examples
 

Current Pay Policy - 14 Day Assignment -
At 16 Hr Days
GS-3 (Rest of US Locality)

Base Hr

 $ 11.95

OT Hour

$ 17.93

Haz Pay

$ 2.99

Base Hours

80

OT (14 -->16 Hrs)

144

Haz Pay Hours

224

Base Total

$ 956.00

OT Total

$ 2,581.20

Haz Pay Total

$ 669.20

 

Grand Total --- $ 4,206.40

 

HR 4488 Pay Policy During
3 Year Portal to Portal Test
GS-3 (Rest of US)

Base Hr

 $ 11.95

OT Hour

$ 17.93

Haz Pay

$ 2.99

Base Hours

80

OT Hours P to P

256

Haz Pay Hrs

336

Base Total

$ 956.00

OT Total

$ 4,588.80

Haz Pay Total

$ 1,003.80

 

Grand Total --- $ 6,548.60

Every year, usually the first week of work for our temp firefighters during those SOP/crew cohesion meetings, federal module leaders begin the process to violate labor laws by telling Firefighters when in camp or committed to a fire that when you go off duty you do not have the freedom to do as you want, you cannot do the following....., drink, catch a football game at the sports bar down the street, catch a show, etc. You must stay in camp and be available if something happens. This type of discussion happens on most federal firefighting modules, especially those modules trying to do the right thing.

I do not advocate drinking or allowing anyone, including me, to go anywhere they want while on assignment. I “voluntarily” commit to that, because it’s the right thing to do.

All employees working within a fire camp should be on ordered stand-by or paid PTP as described within 4488. This is no different when So Cal Forests order stand-by and have paid PTP at fire stations during wind events. I have only heard of one fire camp operating under ordered stand-by (round the clock pay). Might have been others. Why not all?

How do we bring these violations of our Master Agreement to light?

I need the help of some of our CFR experts or union experts out there. Tell me how I am off base on this. Tell me how I am missing the bigger picture on this? Tell me why I am wrong.

I guess the answer is easy. Because we “voluntarily” restrict our behaviors. Read Article 19. Next time you're told to stay in fire camp. No problem, just inform your supervisor that you're not volunteering for that and that you consider that a direct order. Tell them you consider this ordered stand-by under Article 19 and that you will follow his/her direction 110%. Then submit an individual crew time report for those hours you were ordered to stay in camp. You will be denied the pay of course. When home, file a pre-grievance and start the process to get properly reimbursed. Who knows, they may settle it early, however chances are it will take months if not years to bring this to a resolution.

Now if one person does this, who knows, we may get one of those Pena emails. ha, ha. However if 10,000 bargaining unit employees file massive amounts of grievances every time they are ordered to stay in camp and or be immediately available and denied pay, then you will see some people take notice. Very important people.

CFR experts, Union experts, help me out here. How far off base is my line of thinking?

nffe-fsc.org Documents 2005MA (pdf)

6. Standby:

a. An employee will be considered on duty and time spent on Standby Duty shall be considered hours of work if the employee (Reference 5 CFR 550.112(k) and (l) and 5 CFR 551.431(a)):

  • (1) Is restricted to his or her living quarters or designated post of duty,
  • (2) Has his or her activities substantially limited, and
  • (3) Is required to remain in a state of readiness to perform work, OR
  • (4) Is required to leave a telephone number or to carry an electronic device for the purpose of being contacted, is required to remain within a reasonable callback radius, and will be held accountable for responding. Note: Time spent at individual’s personal residence preparing to depart on a fire assignment is not compensable.

b. Employees who are involuntarily placed on standby, regardless of the methods Management uses to restrict use of personal time and to maintain their readiness for work (e.g., beepers, cell phones), will be compensated in accordance with applicable Federal pay regulations. Employees who voluntarily restrict their activitiesand/or use electronic communication devices to be available for duty after work hours are not on standby. The Local Parties may further negotiate matters concerning scheduling, rotation, and hardships.

Signed,

Forestry Tech by Day, “Volunteer" Forestry Tech by Night - Don't be Afraid to Fight

5/7 Ab-

Yikes, Strips, Beechnut Gum!! The Dow took a major S—T yesterday.. along with my retirement account. The Wall Street experts said the “machines took it over”, meaning the computer programs automatically reacted to the old binary code.

We’re all in deep doodoo.

GP

I agree. They need to slow it down to human speed. SimLimb? Aerial ignition? Fire whirl? Instead of mother nature, this instantaneous machine trading is a systemic problem that could be set off by fat fingered humans or terrorists. Hit a B (billion) instead of a M (million). Hope they get some trigger points for applying brakes on the trading computer programs. From the archives, documents worth reading:
Time tagged tactics, trigger points, threshold of control;
the Swiss Cheese Model of Accident Causation;
What Was He Thinking? Decision Making and Judging. Lessons Learned???
Personally I'm not doing anything drastic. The weekend should slow things down... But I'll watch on Monday to see what happens with Greece and the European Union. --Gives us lots of confidence in the Stock Market, eh? Ab.

5/7 Did anyone save the pdf files that were located on the Iron 44 Memorial page?

Here are the urls. They don't work anymore.

Shawn Blazer www.fs.fed.us/r5/shastatrinity/home-page/heli-44/d/shawn-blazer.pdf
Scott Charlson scott-charlson.pdf
Matt Hammer matt-hammer.pdf
Edrik Gomez edrik-gomez.pdf
Steven Caleb Renno steve-renno.pdf
Bryan Rich bryan-rich.pdf
David Steele david-steele.pdf
Roark Schwanenburg roark-schwanenberg.pdf
Jim Ramage jim-ramage.pdf

If you saved those pdf files, please send them here for the Always Remember project.

On April 30, the 35th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, Vietnam War, I thought of Jim Ramage who was the FS Check Pilot that died on Iron 44. I believe he was also the pilot that flew the last helicopter or one of the last helicopters carrying American and Vietnamese evacuees from the American Embassy in Saigon. It was a classic photo. Found these while I was looking for it. Did not find that classic photo, though. Maybe it only exists in film footage.

Thanks for any help on the missing pdf files. Thanks for the help last week too.

Mellie

5/7 Hi Ab and All,

So if you've heard about this one disregard, but I was talking to someone who had spent some time in Australia. We were talking about doing some STEX (for anyone new to fire, it's an acronym for "sand table exercises" which are 3-D tactical exercises performed using a table full of sand and some assorted props) simulations for a CRWB class we were putting on.

Anyway, I guess in Australia they came up with an actual live-fire STEX by creating a simple system in which burlap is used as a surface and lit on fire. I want to build one for my crew and the gist I got out of it is that you make a sort of peg board with re-arrangeable pegs of different sizes and drape the burlap over it and actually light it with a lighter at your point of origin.

Trying to picture it in my head, I would think it would just be a flat sheet of plywood with some holes in it on a surface and some sort of dowels of different lengths that could be moved around to create topographic high and low points so you could change the setup of the whole thing. I would assume you could treat the burlap (not sure with what?) to make it burn slower or faster and re-light areas to create "spot fires". Or leave some re-loading powder (it doesn't explode if you're familiar with it, just flares up) to indicate changes in fuel type and flare ups. Toothpicks with cotton balls for trees to simulate a crown run? No idea what sorts of things would work for props but it sounds really simple and cool.... just do it outdoors obviously.

If anyone has built one or wants to try or is familiar with it or wants to troubleshoot etc. I'd love to hear ideas and brainstorm. I remembered a few times doing STEX and coming up with absurdly elaborate ways to emulate actual real time fire spread instead of using string or chalk, but this one is pretty simple and pretty cheap. Also, a sprayer could be used to simulate water drops or retardant line. Any thoughts or input?

-another pulaski motor
5/7 Why should we qualify for PTP?

After 29 safe, successful years on the fireline...
When not in pay status, I will do as I please.
I'll miss that liberty when/if (ever) PTP becomes a reality.

The Fire Curmudgeon

5/7 Why should we qualify for PTP?

When "off the clock" on a fire assignment, are we not expected to adhere to minimum response times should the need arise? Are we allowed to go to the bar and have a few beers? Go see a movie, perhaps? No, because we are "assigned" and may be needed at any time. Our down time is not our own, but contingent upon circumstance and ability.

In private industry, employees who have a job that is subject to callback get payed a "standby wage." (Go ask an RN.) Either our off time is our off time and we are allowed to go to the bar and the movies without any repercussions, or we are entitled to compensation when our time is not really our own.

I am not advocating the need to go the the bar or the movies, mind you, but trying to distill in essence why I feel it important that we get PTP or at least a standby wage while assigned. Time off with a leash is not time off.

Class C Sagebrush Faller
5/7 Welcome to the weekend. A Week 1 reminder; Please remember to contact the House Committee on Natural Resources.
This is one of the committees that is working on HR 4488. Information about how and who to contact on this committee can be
found on a 5/3 post.

Keep up the great work.

May, 2010 - HR 4488 Support and Awareness Month - (SAM)

Week 1 - Committee Contact
PA and roadrunner, strider and GA Peach and Mellie, milehigh etc, we thank you for your support. Job well done!

For those of you that have not had an opportunity to contact your local House Representative, please see the emails from
this weekend. If you have already done so, thank you for your commitment to creating a more efficient and effective federal
wildfire response. Please remember to follow up in the coming weeks and to ask a friend or family member to help out.

Each week this month we will focus on contacting members of the committees where HR 4488 is assigned. This website shows HR 4488 is assigned to multiple committees.

This first week our focus is on the House Committee on Natural Resources

Chairman: Rep. Nick Rayhall (D-WV) office: 202-225-3452 fax: 202-225-9061
Committee Staff: office 202-225-6065 fax: 202-225-1931

Here are the Natural Resource committee members

Please make contact with committee members and express your support for HR 4488. Thank them for working on this resolution. Be respectful, honest and write your emails following the directions previously mentioned.

Remember the primary focus this month is for you, your family and friends to make contact with your "local" House Representative and US Senators. Committee contacts are secondary, however still very important.

Keep fighting people. Stay the course. We have read the posts in opposition. We have read the posts from those that are pessimistic. That’s OK, let’s always respect those forum members and learn from those posts. At the end of the day, whether we win, lose or draw those of us in favor of HR 4488 know we can walk away with our heads held high that each of us, collectively, did our part.

Thanks everyone……..
5/7 The Looking Glass Firefighter:

There always have been good folks in the agency, and it still demands respect in areas that haven't gone through the worst of the fires or environmental battles. A rural agency that served a rural clientele (or summer folks grateful to get away) has gone through tough growth pains.

Trouble is, decisions made in an air-conditioned office eventually hit the ground for the firefighters or regular district folks who have to actually do the work; and they sit on a tailgate scratching their heads, puzzled or mad because their performance is on the line with directions that don't always make sense.

Still, when I come across a belt buckle or photos or get back out in a fire camp I think I was incredibly blessed to have had my years in the Forest Service.

Still Out There as an AD
5/7 A reminder to all about FWFSA Membership. Membership is as easy as going into your DASHBOARD and setting up an allotment. 10 bucks a check to join an association that has one mission, one purpose and one responsibility, YOU.

www.fwfsa.org

Call Business Manager Casey Judd today: 208-775-4577

ms
5/6 RE: Glass Firefighter

For 35 years I've visited that Valley. You enter the service at a time ripe for change. Lead that change; do not let it lead you. I envy you as these are exciting times...

Warthog

5/6 A humble view from the outside

As I sit here getting ready to start my new job with the Forest Service, my excitement has turned to anxiety. Did I accept the right position? How screwed up is this Agency that I intend to work for in the middle of my career? Can I outlast all of the Bull Sh$t? Can I trust my safety to all of this negativity? Can I make a difference? God I hope so!

I have worked for a few different Agencies but when it comes to Wildland Firefighting, I have always envisioned working for the USFS, period. Maybe that makes me stupid? When I asked my Maker to send me to an Agency where I would be most needed, I got the phone call. Was it divine intervention? Or was it a case of be careful what you wish for? Perhaps it was some bad karma working itself out. Either way, it will not change my path.

As I look in through the proverbial looking glass I can’t help but be awe struck at the leaps and bounds the FS has made since the 1980’s. To me it is one of those places that once you hang your hat there you obtain a certain level of respect as a firefighter, or whatever your craft is! I think that there are a lot of people that feel that same way looking in from the outside! “Wow! What a great group of leaders, organizers managers and professionals”. Maybe that’s what the problem is? The respect is so automatic that few rarely earn it anymore. We don’t strive to earn the trust of the lowly firefighter anymore. We are too busy shinning the shoes of those above us! And that is not a problem with just the FS. There are people kissing asses everywhere in the Fire Service. When did it become cooler to be “That Guy” than to do what was right by our firefighters and the Taxpayer? Not taking anything away from those of you who still practice modesty and leadership, I will follow you anywhere!

I have a question! Who is going to run these Agency’s in 15 years? It’s not the person above you (most likely). It’s probably that lowly firefighter who watched and followed every example that was set forth, and then they will strike out to do the same. It’s called "followership to leadership" remember??? (That is if they decide to hang out long enough to learn the craft.) What happened to our Fathers' Fire Service? Why do we change everything that works and makes sense?

God please help me to finish this post before I start vomiting at will and cursing out my window at the nice people walking bye!!!!

Better yet, God please keep my brothers and sisters safe as we prepare to walk into the valley, you know the one, the same one we walk into every summer! Please let us make a difference if we can, let us be thankful to be Firefighters in the greatest Country in the World! No matter what people say!!! Please let our safety be number #1, and above all else let us do right by our People!

If this has offended you please accept my apology in advance.

With Respect and Fraternity: The looking Glass Firefighter

Think critically. Get all the training you can. Pick the good ones and emulate them. They're still out there. The next STELLAR  LEADER in 15 years could be YOU. Ab.

5/6 Dutch Creek Accident 2010 from NWCG --> Key Messages

NWCG Memo Dutch Creek Accident 042910 (45 K pdf file)

This is the accident that led to Andy Palmer's death on the Iron 44 complex in 2008. Ab.

5/6 Employee restriction on hiring related to 1039 hours across PDs and fed agencies?

Hi Kayak...

I don't work for the NPS at the moment, and I'm not a HR specialist but I have some knowledge of the HR processes, and some experience with 1039 appointments that I'd like to share.

I think the key thing from the CFR that you reference is in paragraph C of section 316.401:

"Appointment to a position involving the same basic duties and in the same major subdivision of the agency and the same local commuting area as the original appointment is also considered to be an extension of the original appointment."

So... Are the job duties the same? Doesn't sound like it in real life, but what matters is what the PD says. Do you separate out your Suppression and Fuels "sections" in your organization? Do the two positions report for day-to-day duties at the same location, regardless of whether they are doing the fuels work or the suppression work? If the duties are the same and/or they report to the same location, you may not be able to count them as separate positions. But, if the employee is still not working the full 1039 hours within the year, it shouldn't matter.

Take a look, also, at Section 7 of 316.402, where it talks about non-competitively re-hiring temporaries: that may be a way to re-hire them without quite as many restrictions.

Unless something has changed, it is possible for a temporary employee to work two 1039 hour appointments in one year-- I've done it! It was a few years ago, but I worked my 5 1/2 month season with a FS unit, took three days off (it just happened that way) and went to work for a NPS unit for 6 1/2 months (with training) and then took a week off and went back to my FS job for another 6 months. All were 1039 appointments, and it wasn't a problem. They were in nearby but different work areas, and had somewhat different PDs, but I didn't hear any issues at all with it.

On the FS unit I work on now, we have an employee who is doing something similar, too-- they work in the field in the summer and in the office in the winter, but for two different functional areas. Again, though, it doesn't seem to be a problem.

Like I said, the key is probably work duties/PDs and location of duty stations. Hopefully they are separate enough to make a difference.

Hope that helps...good luck!

Former FS/NPS seasonal

5/6 CALFIRE appears to have started hiring for Captains. All federal units are ask to report in this forum factual information (not rumors) on any federal wildland firefighters accepting positions with CALFIRE or for that matter any other non-federal agency. No names, just numbers and the federal position level that is being vacated. This information may be useful.

Boat Guy - good post, I very much support your insights. We are supporting the newbies and I ask that if you haven't already done so, please consider writing your elected officials in support of HR 4488. Again, thanks for the good post. It makes us all remember why we do this job.

Signed

Walk and Chew Gum at the same time
5/5 All,

While the pressure's of an upcoming Fire Season are upon us all.. and the thoughts of many expressed on this forum pertaining to various ishue's are discussed. I just want to express my feeling's of.....With all the issue's we talk about on this forum.. it's time to concentrate on what we hold dear to our hearts...Having a SAFE and FUN fire season! I am a regular follower of the forum and just wanted to REMIND everyone to TAKE A DEEP BREATH!!! and , while our various ishue's tend to consume our thought's, let's start to concentrate on what is really important... Training.. Safety.. Achieving the goal.... while i am not trying to downplay the ishues at hand ie: FWFSA efforts, night flying, new reg's and rules....  could go on and on..... I am sure with all the knowledge and experience of regular poster's to they said, this is a given....just a random thought on my part...MAY YOU ALL HAVE A SAFE AND PROSPEROUS SEASON!!! TRAIN YOUR "NEWBIE'S", PUT YOUR "EXPERIENCED PEOPLE" IN SITUATION'S THEY ARE NOT COMFORTABLE WITH (with supervision of course) ADAPT... IMPROVISE.... AND OVERCOME YOUR OBSTACLES!!!!

IT'S WHAT WE DO

IT'S WHAT MAKES US WHO WE ARE!!!

THE NAKED BOAT GUY

P.S I know my spelling is terrible!! LOL :)

haw, haw "ishues" = the subtle color tones or hues of the issues we work on. Ab.

5/5 Have fun with your family, Casey.

We're emailing our reps and the ones Letterman suggested.

Be Safe

roadrunner

5/5 No Name:

Wow...I must have struck a nerve! Unfortunately, some of what you are responding to is not what I had written, so I'd like a chance to say a little more...

I don't recall saying anything about Unemployment in my earlier post...I thought I was talking about the opportunity for 18/8 employees to take the winter off for whatever reason they want, many of which have jobs in the wintertime. I also realize that on paper the offer for 26/0 is completely voluntary, in reality it was not. One of our Division Chiefs told several of the 18/8s that if they didn't "take the deal" that they would not be able to go on training or get training assignments (to fill out task books) and he told people that if they didn't go 26/0 that they wouldn't be able to retire in 20 years with FFT retirement. Some of those 18/8s believed him and took the deal so they could retire "on time". (For those who don't know, if you are a career seasonal and work at least 6 mos each year, for retirement purposes it counts as a full year.) I believe that same Div told some people to "grow up and get a real job instead of playing" in the winter, no matter whether they were working or not.

From what I have heard, the conversion to PFT has not really made a difference in retention -- people still can't afford to live in the Eastern Sierra, and an extra couple of months of working for the FS doesn't really add that much to our income. The Inyo is actually pretty well staffed at the moment, but I don't think that has to do with this offer. I'm not making that much more money to make me want to stay here. What has made a bigger difference is that CalFire is not hiring at the moment -- the minute they get their budget figured out (eventually), we will have the same recruitment and retention problem that we always have, 26/0 or not, Region-wide. (Sorry managers...)

I am also insulted that you think that I have no integrity if I gather unemployment (since you brought it up)... I believe we do pay into unemployment in some way, at least that's what I've heard from the FMOs here--"if we're going to be paying unemployment anyways, why not have the FFTs working?" I've heard it more than once. That's great, but... if we don't have enough money to pay all the folks who are now "converted", why are we pushing so hard for it to happen? I'm pretty sure I heard an FMO or two talking about farming out the FFTs to Recreation or other areas in the winter to help pay for them... when no one has money to pay for winter seasonals--- if Recreation (or whoever) has money, I'm guessing they would have their own seasonals in the winter.

I appreciate Ab's comment about the FS possibly being a stepping stone-- you're absolutely right! How many of our seasonals and apprentices do you think are going to make a 20 or 30 year career of this job? Some, but not all. We shouldn't not hire someone just because they aren't sure what they want to do when they grow up.

I realize that many people are without jobs these days... I do feel lucky to have a job. However, just because the economy is bad doesn't give an employer an excuse to treat its employees poorly. "You're damn lucky to have this Fed job, so take all the garbage that management throws at you because we can." Great... no wonder we have such bad morale.

Keeping the conversation going....

More Ground to Pound
5/5 This may get some attention from a lot of those on They Said.

CA: Riverside County may form its own fire department

Normbc9

5/5 Dear Cynic,

I am impressed by the lack of facts and what appears to be a profound arrogance you portrayed in your recent rant about the Smokejumper program. Not once in your post did you ever cite anything specific that bothered you about the program.

If you were truly a Smokejumper, you would possess the mental acuity to more critically assess what you were watching: the process involved in making it and the goals of the program. You should have realized that you were watching a TV SHOW, and that TV SHOWS are geared towards entertaining the public. Because of that they focus on drama, danger and excitement, as that is what brings in viewers. Footage of safety procedures, buddy checks, project work, and weeks of fire-line and leadership training end up on the cutting room floor. By splicing clips of footage together, the final product rarely reflects reality. If you were truly a Smokejumper, you also would realize that decisions to participate in national media productions such as this are decided at the Washington Office, not at the unit level. The decision to participate was not ours.

Cynic, I suggest you shed the bashing for a minute and ask a simple question: Did the show portray Smokejumpers, firefighters, and the Forest Service to the “general public” in a positive manner? If the answer is yes (and focus groups say it did) then it was a good thing. We don’t need to impress you; it is the mass public that votes and supports firefighting programs.

Maybe you should take responsibility for your words and post your name to your ramblings if you’re going to insult others. Or, actually cite specific examples of what you felt was so inaccurate or disturbing about the program so others can actually respond to your concerns. It’s easy to throw stones at others when you don’t know what’s really going on; just don’t do it in a public forum until you know all the facts.

Dan Cottrell
Smokejumper Squadleader

Thanks Dan. Cynic, if you'd like to reply, I'd be happy to pass your email on to Dan or you can lookup his addy and contact him yourself. Ab.

5/5 For the FS fire folks:

Two IFPM Documents:

May 4, 2010 IFPM Qualification Standard and Guide Implementation Update

Information Sheet –DRAFT 2/11/2010
IFPM and FS-FPM Additional Clarification and Implementation Direction

5/5 In response to no name,

I beg to differ with you as to unemployment not being a "right". I have a unique situation where I am not a resident of the state where my employer is based, and am a resident of a state without income tax... I "get" to pay income tax in a state in which I get ABSOLUTELY no benefits... to the tune of 2500-3000 per annum... now I feel in my perhaps twisted justification that I am rightfully entitled to SOMETHING for my 3k in state taxes to a state I do not live in.... so I collect unemployment and get it back that way.

taps

5/5 Employee restriction on hiring related to 1039 hours across PDs and fed agencies?

Abs, could you post this or point me in the right direction of someone to talk to.

Maybe someone reading theysaid could steer me in the correct direction

Background:

We are a small NPS unit that hire seasonals for a winter fuels crew and a summer suppression crew.
- We use the DOI national standard position descriptions (DOI0003, DOI0004 and DOI0005) when hiring.
- We hire GS-04's in the winter to conduct fuels reduction activities and prescribed fire.
- We hire GS-03/4's and one GS-5 during the summer to protect our park and augment a Type 2 IA Crew.
- We normally don't do rehires, returning employees complete and application package on USAJOBS and
go through the hiring process, so they show up on the cert list.
- This year we lost our HR department and now go through a SHRO (Shared Human Resource Office)

Situation:
- At no time did Employee A work past their 1039 hours in a service year.
- Employee A work as a GS-04 in 2009 from Feb-May.
- Employee A was then hired as the GS-05 Senior Firefighter in 2009 from May to Sept.
- In 2010, Employee A applied on USAJOBS to the fuels crew and was hired as a GS-04 from Feb-May.
- Employee A again applied for the GS-05 position on USAJOBS and I was going to offer them the job.

The Park Admin. Officer and SHRO stated that Employee A can not be hired because they have worked more than 1039 hours in a service year. The SHRO feels that even if the positions are different (GS-04 and GS-05 and have different position descriptions) they still count together. The SHRO feels that no seasonal employee can work more than 1039 hours anywhere (same park, different parks, different agencies).

Is this correct? I did bring it to the union's attention and they said hire them and when they show up for work and we send them home, they can file a grievance.

I attached the CFR they cite (154 K pdf file). The FMO is working things from his angle but I figured posting wouldn't hurt.

Kayak

5/5 May, 2010 - HR 4488 Support and Awareness Month - (SAM)

The emailing and responding to congressional reps widens. Thanks Letterman.

GA Peach

5/4 Station Fire and its Reports:

Still Out There as an AD,

I saw your post and I was gonna go to bed but you brought up a great point. When you were listing questions to elicit discussion you mentioned in item #5

5: "Is it acceptable to say "stuff happens." In other words, are there some conditions that cannot be anticipated in which people regardless of preparation or training are going to be in an overwhelming situation?"

That's a great question and I wish I was more plugged into region 5 to voice myself better. I worked with a person during my winter months at the WFAP that was involved with that incident and discussed it.

I can't even wrap my brain around some of the WUI stuff you folks have to deal with in CA, especially Socal. I mean really, I can't actually fit my grey matter around it. Where I'm from we get a ton of "middle of nowhere stuff" and usually we're dealing with a tree or a brushfield and the only threatened public resources are miles away.

The "stuff happens" factor you're describing though is pretty consistent and a good one to bring up. To address it, look at the MCS version of L-380.

One of the big watch-outs they mention in regards to leadership downfalls is a "zero defect mentality". Meaning we won't have fatalities, we won't have accidents, we won't have any injuries. Yet many people at the module leader and above level are buying public liability insurance out of their own pocket.

The honest fact of the matter is people get hurt doing anything, people get hurt and killed flipping burgers or mopping floors or typing at cubicles or driving home and when a giant fire in heavy brush with no RH and heavy winds and a damning topographical influence gets involved the overall risk of Old Man Random nipping at your heels increases.

Yes, STUFF HAPPENS, stuff happens all the time. You put people in a very "Stuff Happens" environment and then it does and evaluate it from a logical and reasonable standpoint with a very healthy and normal heart rate and retrospective blood pressure and try to question it 1 year later, you run a risk of missing a lot of human factors and hanging someone out to dry. No one is perfect and hopefully when you punched off their taskbook or whatever you really looked at your own moral accountability when you did.

Yes! We uphold safety because we don't want to see our friends and co workers get killed or hurt. Bottom line, it's not because we were told to, it's human nature.

A tree falls over or some unexpected wind event occurs and we try to blame someone without really stepping back and looking at the sheer chaotic nature of things, to cover our asses or to avoid litigation or to avoid association and we miss that fragile line that exists between the lower end of chaos and the upper end of negligence.

Hopefully the peer review idea they put forward with fire doctrine will be implemented when we try to point fingers.

I'm sorry I can't respond to any points you presented regarding the Station Fire, I'll read up on it more but I wasn't there.

another pulaski motor

(MCS=Mission Centered Solutions)

5/4 Regarding 26/0


Before I begin on the 26/0 issue thought it would be fitting to give a little background on myself as I have a little insight on the issue. I am not part of upper management or what some refer to as "Old School" actually I am a GS7 and rather young. I have also worked on that Eastern Sierra forest for quite a few years before moving on. Although I dont agree with someone receiving a different tour than everybody else I found it fitting to address some points and add some facts.

First it should be noted that the agreement between the forest and the employee occurred well before any of this 26/0 conversion and retention implementation occurred (years before). As stated previously the employee has a winter job else where not incurring any cost to Government, ie.... Unemployment benefits. The agreement was crafted by a FMO who no longer works there and upper management was not fond of it and allowed no further almost immediately thereafter. The forest has a hard time recruiting and retaining middle management positions (SFEO, FEO etc...) because of a host of issues ie.... high cost of living, no locality pay and relatively low fire load. In my opinion management wanted to retain this individual because they were a good employee and wanted to accommodate him as well as help the unit. What I really don't agree with is ground to pounds comment on being bullied, everybody knows the conversion is optional. It's not a secret, it cant be spelled out any more clearly.

However collecting unemployment is not an option if you deny the conversion, as it rightly should be. I have much disdain for people who feel that Unemployment is a right, nobody who works for the federal government pays into Unemployment, unemployment is an insurance program and since we are Federal we don't have insurance hence no GEICO in glove boxes of engines, don't believe me, check your EPP do you see UI or OASDI withholdings? Unemployment is like welfare, good to have when absolutely needed but not abused. Every firefighter hates to see half their fire check taken in taxes but collecting unemployment is paid with our tax dollars. Might be advantageous to get work out of them if your paying them right?

This is a time of economic uncertainty with unemployment in most states at 10% or higher and there are people who just wish they had a job and who are losing their homes, could you look those people in the eyes and say "its my right to be laid off and to collect Unemployment" if so, you have no INTEGRITY!

To address other posts about not enough work, I work on the only R5 Forest that is completely covered in snow for a significant amount of time and there is always work to be done, that is a poor excuse. Why cant anybody be honest and just tell the truth they want a 4 month paid vacation. If you work a different winter job there is no issue, sign the waiver, no unemployment doesn't matter then no one is forced.

Final, last time I checked the Forest Service didn't utilize the draft, it was voluntary, can always jump in line with other unemployed and try your hand at another career.

NoName
5/4 Hello,

I was writing in response to an earlier post by "OFG". I think I get where you're coming from and if not, I apologize. From a non-fire standpoint in another department it would be frustrating seeing one particular function within the agency asking for a measure that would increase pay and not having that applied elsewhere. I also agree with you, most of the fatalities we encounter are more tied to vehicles (even heart attacks doing the pack test in some cases) than to burnovers or the more romantic hazards associated with fire. I feel the fact that we don't die on fires in droves is more a result of how much we value safety than sheer luck, as well as how we conduct our operations from an organizational standpoint. People used to die a lot more on fires, 1910 was pretty bad but they didn't have much legacy and viable protocol to work with. I also know personally that where I work there is a certain level of bias regarding fire personnel and it seems to go both ways. There are some elitists in the outfit and sometimes we present an inaccurate image of ourselves because of one or two blowhards saying the wrong snarky thing or acting the wrong way at a zone meeting or simply getting a bit carried away. That said, for the most part the fire community isn't like that, bad behavior just seems to stand out more. It's also frustrating being a fed firefighter and seeing other firefighting folks getting better pay and more credit as professionals for the same sort of work and it leads to misplaced animosity and small partisan assumptions that become a distraction from the bigger picture.

Personally, I wouldn't gain as much from PTP as an IHC crewmember because I work as an I.A. resource and we typically don't get out as much. That's my choice though, I like weekends off here and there and working a small fire with a small team. Jumpers usually take an hourly cut too and with PTP they'd make less but they have their own motivations to jump or they wouldn't do it. I've detailed with IHCs and it's a better paycheck and there's definitely a profound feeling of accomplishment in the sheer amount of production and complexity they become involved with but there's drawbacks too.

I've worked for non-fire entities as well, helping with rehab projects and fuels and timber and recreation and one of the tougher jobs I did wasn't in fire at all, it was helping our silvaculture folks do a planting unit on a 2000' vertical mountain that we went top to bottom on about 3 times in a day. It was steep as all hell and snowing and there were shale slides you couldn't see under the snowpack that suddenly surrendered your footing. I got my ass kicked.

Regarding LEOs you're also quite correct, I wouldn't do that job for twice what I make. They get spread thin and have to deal with anything from large-scale growing or meth operations to the random drunk and disgruntled camper and should probably get hazard pay just for clocking in.

I've stuck around late-season marking timber and that's thankless work too, involving a lot of hiking, monotony and horrible weather. I've had about 24 jobs in my life and fire was the only I've stuck with for anywhere near this long (I was only fired once and I can explain...), I think minimum wage is too minimum and the average person running the fry vat at Mc Whatever should make more, my mom is a teacher and spent 6 years in college to make less than I do now and I've had teachers that changed my life more than anyone I've ever met.

HR 4488 sets a precedent if it passes, though when it comes down to other departments looking for some more realistic recognition of their skills and work ethic. Aside from PTP, which seems to be the big crux of much of the opposition, there's the simple idea that people with on-the-ground fire experience should have more input in the administrative aspects of how the department is run. Without that distinction, there's a simple lack of understanding that clouds certain parts of our jobs. Personally, if I had to choose between PTP and still being regarded as a "lead forestry tech" and having to be adjucated, evaluated and guided by such a non-specialized final authority I would even take a pay cut. Just to spend less time feeling like I do.

I'm not going to attempt to value what I do vs. what someone else does unless I've done it. That said, a bit more financial incentive to retain employees speaks more than any sort of plaque or pin or pat on the back, which honestly seem few and far between and severely overshadowed by the amount of passive threats I'm given, via: informal mass emails, required online training, stand-downs and meetings to "be on board" with what most of my peers consider their normal SOPs and values to begin with.

As far as what Mr. Judd expressed regarding an argument he heard that we should be treated more like the military.. .How about the military be treated more like us if this goes through? I mean THERE'S a thankless and hazardous job. There's no bullet or roadside bomb shelter that they've managed to have those folks carry yet and it gets pretty damn hot in Iraq... At least we don't have an acceptable loss margin of 30%.

Finally, the "taxpayer cost". Yes, we would get paid more, not a ton more but more. We would also be more accountable for the time after we bedded down. You can probably kiss your wet crew goodbye and expect to get woken up more but so what? This is a pretty big deal. Also, I can promise you without a shadow of doubt that people stay on the ground for a reason. Many really good supts. captains, module leads, helicopter managers, you name it don't jump the ladder for the next best time and grade because it pays more. They love where they're at. Also many of the folks that do are thinking more of how they can make things better than any sort of paycheck. There are a lot of people in fire who have degrees in some some pretty viable fields, I've seen a Dartmouth grad in engineering (on the dean's list no less) running chainsaw and swamping on an IHC. Swamping is about the physically hardest job in fire from what I've seen.

If 4488 passes we won't spend more money. We might for a couple seasons (and even that's a big maybe) but when it becomes imbedded we'll be empowering people who have had simple and practical suggestions to significantly cut costs for decades. We will increase the competition of quality individuals in the hiring pool, we will force ourselves to live up to the image we are presenting by asking for it in the first place and we will establish a precedence that will allow other non-fire folks to try to ask for some respect and recognition.

Please at least consider supporting it.

Respectfully, another pulaski motor
5/4 Question on 26/0

To PFT FEO Socal,

Now that I'm not at work I can respond to your question. You can't get that deal of being an 18/8 GS-7 FEO. How the afore mentioned FEO managed to get that deal is anyone's guess. He says he's the only one in R-5, and he's proud of it. His excuse is that he can't afford to live in the Eastern Sierras on year around FS wages. Somehow all the rest of us that are PFT manage to get by.

As an INYO fire personnel, the rest of us were told by management that we had to go PFT 26/0 when we got promoted. That's one of the things I dislike the most about our organization. Management will tell one person they can do this and turn right around and tell the the next person they can't do that.

Note to Inyo fire management, a big step towards lessening the morale problem on this forest would be to treat all your employees equally.

Just my two cents worth.

Sage buster

5/4 Strive,

I find this 26/0 topic interesting. Who would rather be temporary or permanent and part time and why? Who would rather be full time permanent and why? Where else but here do you find out the parameters of the FS playing or working field that seem to be changing? Are they changing across all regions or only in R5?

Some of these folks are pretty young and  FS firefighting may simply be a stepping stone in figuring out what they might want to do next or permanently in their long lives. For retention there needs to be a fit between employer and employee. My 2 cents worth.

Ab.

5/4 Question on 26/0

O.K. please quit it that you have to work year round because if you haven't noticed, alot of people are out of work and would die to be in your spot. I'm sorry that you aren't able to get your dial a check from the state but really, enough. We had alot of our people out teaching and doing project work this year that we couldn't do in years past because we were short. There are alot of us working now that have not had it as easy as the people have it today and we would have done everything we could to have to gotten on full time within 5 years or less.

So instead of complaining about working year round put your energy into the job and do the best you can and if that doesn't work, then go down to the unemployment office and share your story with the people there and see how sympathetic they are for your situation.

Strive for 205

5/4 Question on 26/0

"And then there's the FEO (GS-7) who has the special seasonal agreement ("18/8") so he can keep HIS winter job...hmmm, any other forest have that kind of deal"

How do I get that deal??? All the benefits of a GS-7 (pay, retirement etc...) without having to commit to year round. Just asked my boss and that's a no go on my so-cal forest. He said he has never heard of that. I'm assuming you're referencing the Inyo (eastside, eastern sierras). Is that deal still being offered or was it a one time thing?? How did he/she work that?? Post back.

Thanks,
PFT FEO in Socal

5/4 Question on 26/0

In response to the 26/0 question...yes we were pressured to "just sign it." I myself did not for multiple reasons, I also have been treated "differently" since then. In the whole process of trying to get me to sign, I dealt with around 5-10 "lost" faxes and emails, multiple nasty-grams (1 person even told me if I didn't sign, I would no longer have a job...after I researched I found it to be untrue, my P.D of 18/8 would be unchanged but if I vacated my job it would be filled with a different P.D., the 26/0 so scare tactics were in use) and tons of phone calls about it from my leadership. Even though I was told by a captain that the district was having problems keeping the people that did sign up for 26/0 busy during the winter due to weather, lack of projects and as always budget. I could go on with my rant but this answers the basic question asked... good luck.

Norcal Fyrgrl

5/4

May, 2010 - HR 4488 Support and Awareness Month - (SAM)
“All Wildland Firefighters from New Mexico and Montana”

New Mexico and Montana Wildland Firefighters below are your House and Senate delegations from these two great states. Thank you for considering making contact with all your representatives and asking them to support HR 4488.

Montana

rehberg.house.gov
senate.gov Contact Information Senators from MT

New Mexico

teague.house.gov/
lujan.house.gov/
senate.gov Contact Information Senators from NM

More information can be found at these threads and in the trailing posts within “they said”. Please read all posts from Casey and call or email him if you have any questions about HR 4488 or how to join the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association.

Hotlist p=64256
Hotlist t=13347

Below is a message from California Congressman Bob Filner to each of us about HR 4488. Please share this post with your family and friends today. New Mexico and Montana Wildland firefighters, thank you for stepping up.

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.

Letterman

5/4 Good discussion thread on medical issues and potential liabilities for fireline EMTs:

Interim NWCG Minimum Standards for Medical Units

5/4 Date: Mon, May 3, 2010 at 4:59 PM
Subject:: Governor Schwarzenegger Issues Executive Order to Boost State's Wildfire Preparedness and Resources

FYI at They Said.

This should spike all of the rumors I see in the Hotlist. Normbc9

Press Release Text here: Hotlist

Thanks Normbc9. Ab.

5/4 Question  on 26/0 From the Eastern Sierras

Hey Ab...

I got a quick question for the gang...Just wondering how many Region 5-ers were offered and took the 26/0 offer last year? And how many of them felt pressured to do so? Here on the east side, career seasonals were pressured and harassed into taking the full-time offer, even if they had a good reason not to (like they already had a job in the winter that pays better than the FS) and many would have liked to keep their 18/8 but were basically forced into accepting the full time job. And I've heard that management has some sort of a goal to get everyone to take the deal or get rid of them...or at least it seems so here...

And then there's the FEO (GS-7) who has the special seasonal agreement ("18/8") so he can keep HIS winter job...hmmm, any other forest have that kind of deal?

And now, as we are just bringing on seasonals, it's really interesting that all we hear about is how bad the budget is. We can't even spend our allotted budget for supplies to keep our module running or go to training because somehow the money has all disappeared. We haven't spent it, so where did it go? It doesn't make any sense that we are forcing people to work yearround when we seem not to have the money to pay them. WTF???? Why alienate your workforce in the name of "retention" when these people already have a job yearround, just maybe not all with the FS? While the 26/0 deal may be good for some, it isn't a universal fix and shouldn't be applied as one.

I look forward to an interesting discussion and I invite your feedback...

Thanks, More Ground to Pound

5/4 Reminder to write your congressperson in support of HR 4488. It's not so hard. You can do it every day or every few days.

PA Fire Warden

Thread with some details: HOTLIST Scroll down a few posts to PA Fire Warden's post on how he did it. Ab.

5/4 PNW: Golf Scramble to benefit WFF

Attached is the FLYER for the Inland Northwest Wildland Firefighter Golf Scramble, to be held at

  • Dominion Meadows Golf Course in
  • Colville Washington,
  • Saturday June 12.

This is the second annual and we have moved it from September to June this year. Could you please post on the upcoming events. If you have any questions please contact me.

Steve Rawlings

Sounds like fun. I put it on the Hotlist Calendar. JUNE Check out MAY activities too. Ab.

5/4 N3N's

Hi -

I flew for Aero Union in the Late 1980's in the C-54's and P2V's. I love your website and am still very interested in the fire bomber aircraft. I presently co-own a B-25 that was Tanker 338 in Canada and I just bought a N3N-3 project that I am trying to find some history on. In 1961 it was modified with a 200 gallon borate tank by Hill's Flying Service in Sacramento, CA for fire fighting. The "N" number is N7752C, s/n 4353. Do you have any way to find out a tanker number or any photos exist for this aircraft ??

Thanks,
Steve Penning

5/4 Thank You To The Mike Schweitzer Memorial Challenge

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation would like to say thanks to all of you who participated in the 2nd Annual Mike Schweitzer Memorial Challenge. This event provides an opportunity for Mike's family and friends to get together and honor his memory. By participating in this event you shared his joy of running and helped to benefit an organization that does so much to help the families of firefighters across the nation.

There were runners starting at the age of 6 through 68. Great job and well done to each one of you!

As the choir here knows, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation provides much needed financial and emotional support to families when firefighters when tragedies occur. With your help, The Mike Schweitzer Memorial Challenge raised a total of $2,000 for the Foundation this year through race entries and contributions. We hope you can join us next year.

5/4 Striving to pass HR 4488

Hey Ab and All,

I'm treating writing my congressional rep as a daily activity, like getting up and stretching. It does not take much time.

I need to get beyond emailing within the box and try a fax to follow up.

Has anyone talked with a reps "home person"? Is that what's called a staffer? the person you get when you call the local number?

You can tell how new I am to this process. Makes me feel like a citizen.

AL

5/3 Station Fire and its Reports:

I'll limit my comments and questions to the "Stay and Defend" portion of the incident (though I have some questions re: fire behavior and would love to see discussion re: decision and response).

Stay and Defend has been used more extensively in Australia; firefighters there have a greater research record on the topic than we have; I'd be glad to add some links if anyone is interested. Since the terminology is used for homeowners (non-fire personnel), it seems that a Stay and Defend strategy employed by folks trained to some level in firefighting would have the best chance of success.

1. Stay and Defend assumes that the fire is going to burn through the property and that residents are going to deal as best they can with the spots ahead of a fire, shelter, and then suppress the fire remaining around the property. Is the concept of escape routes consistent with this strategy? Residents are generally warned that if they stay behind, they're committed -- that injury is far more likely if they try to leave during the fire.

2. Many homeowners in Australia have made modifications to their homes including glass that is less likely to break from heat, misting systems, surface materials less likely to be combustive, etc., in addition to the clearance and building requirements familiar to California residents. Many of the buildings on this incident were older -- were they a reasonable place to stay? At least according to the reports, it does sound like the camp made a commendable effort to prepare, and used the time in advance of the fire well (outside the firing operations; that's a whole other story).

3. When was the decision made to stay and defend? It's mentioned at least twice -- the day before and the afternoon of the day of the incident. The latter discussion seems bizarre unless there was concern regarding the ability of those left behind to actually fight the fire. (And even then, would it have been safe to move people out at that point?)

4. Should there be standards in place for when to stay and when to go? This fire had all the markings of a tragedy fire regarding fuels and weather. Should a pocket-card type system be used to determine Stay and Defend regardless of the level of capability of those staying behind to fight the fire? Even lacking a fire history in an area, it's not hard to envision what can happen in SoCal under these conditions. We don't (or shouldn't) leave engines behind to fight it out after a fire reaches certain thresholds.

5. Is it acceptable to say "stuff happens." In other words, are there some conditions that cannot be anticipated in which people regardless of preparation or training are going to be in an overwhelming situation?

Still Out There as an AD

5/3 Any people out there have experience with WebEOC from a mapping perspective? The more geek savvy you are, the more this may help...

A GovGeek trying to part sales smoke.

Thanks,
GISgirl

5/3 209s are coming out for the continuing Gulf of Mexico oil gusher. It's being referred to as the Deepwater Incident, but its official name is MS Canyon 252 Oil Spill. State-Unit NPS-SER-MS/FL

One person commented: "Looks like in some of their objectives, the Park Service is gearing up." Ab.

Here are the Type 2 team's objectives under Notes:

5/2, 1900 hrs
Incident Name MS Canyon 252 Oil Spill

Objective 1: Conduct a current-condition resource damage assessment.
Essentially complete. Guidance is being provided to other Gulf coastal parks.
Objective 2: Integrate and coordinate all operations and planning in concert with the Unified Incident Management Teams (IMT's).
NPS IMT personnel embedded in the Unified IMT in Houma (LA) remain at three.
NPS IMT embedded in the Mobile (AL) Sector Unified IMT is remain at three. This number is expected to increase.
NPS IMT personnel remain integrated with operational personnel at field command posts/staging areas in MS and FL.
An NPS IMT representative is positioned at the Area Command ICP in Robert, LA.
Objective 3: Apply preventative measures to protect most sensitive natural resources, especially resources at risk.
Containment boom exists on Cat Island, West Ship Island, East Ship Island, Horn Island, Perdido Key, and Ft. Pickens. Awaiting report on any additional deployments.
The Navy deployed ocean boom in the pass between Cat and West Ship islands.
Objective 4: Provide for safety of visitors as well as the safety and welfare of park staff, and incident personnel.
A Public Health Officer was resource ordered to the incident.
Objective 5: Support and coordinate with the UC IMT the Natural Resource Damage Assessment within NPS lands.
NPS IMT staff continue to work closely with FWS, NOAA, and other agencies within the UC IMT.
Objective 6: Minimize degradation to natural and cultural resources as a result of oil or clean-up efforts after landfall.
NPS IMT personnel in Houma have signed off, with other partners, a Comprehensive Wildlife Plan, to deal with distressed animals for the whole Gulf incident.
NPS IMT personnel in Houma continue to be heavily involved in drafting the Seashore Cleanup Assessment Team (SCAT) Plan.
NPS IMT personnel in Mobile (AL) are also deeply involved in planning mitigation actions to be implemented after landfall and studying additional areas for additional boom deployment.
No oil impacts have occurred to date.
Objective 7: Maintain/restore visitor services and normal park operations.
Visitor services not currently impacted.
Objective 8: Maintain financial responsibility and be accountable for expenditures.
The IMT's Finance Section continues to sort through funding issues.
Objective 9: Accommodate reasonable requests for resources and other assistance by the Unified Command IMT.
Additional staffing is planned for the ICP's in Robert, LA. and Mobile.
IMT General & Command Notes
NPS IMT staff met with Sector Mobile UC staff and crafted a plan for coordinating operations.
Transition to the Pacific West Team (Ziemann, IC) became effective at end of shift today. Future daily briefings will be provided by that team.

5/3 Dear Ab

Please post this or forward to the person looking for a first responder course as you see fit.

A couple of options for first responder training.
Wilderness Medicine Institute at NOLS
Wilderness Medical Associates

Both of these companies teach Wilderness First Responder courses covering everything required under the DOT first responder curriculum. Classes typically run over 10 consecutive days in various locations throughout the country. In addition they cover 'wilderness' skills such as transporting patients and a few specific skills that may be useful depending on your local protocols. The classes are geared toward people that are taking clients into the back-country, such as guides, rafting companies, youth organizations etc. As a result they offer the bulk of their training in the spring prior to the summer field season. I have taken classes from both these companies and can recommend either one for quality instruction.

RS
5/3 from last night

May, 2010 - HR 4488 Support and Awareness Month - (SAM)

Week 1 - Committee Contact

PA and roadrunner, strider and GA Peach and Mellie, milehigh etc, we thank you for your support. Job well done!

For those of you that have not had an opportunity to contact your local House Representative, please see the emails from this weekend. If you have already done so, thank you for your commitment to creating a more efficient and effective federal wildfire response. Please remember to follow up in the coming weeks and to ask a friend or family member to help out.

Each week this month we will focus on contacting members of the committees where HR 4488 is assigned. This website shows HR 4488 is assigned to multiple committees.

This first week our focus is on the House Committee on Natural Resources

Chairman: Rep. Nick Rayhall (D-WV) office: 202-225-3452 fax: 202-225-9061
Committee Staff: office 202-225-6065 fax: 202-225-1931

Here are the Natural Resource committee members

Please make contact with committee members and express your support for HR 4488. Thank them for working on this resolution. Be respectful, honest and write your emails following the directions previously mentioned.

Remember the primary focus this month is for you, your family and friends to make contact with your "local" House Representative and US Senators. Committee contacts are secondary, however still very important.

Keep fighting people. Stay the course. We have read the posts in opposition. We have read the posts from those that are pessimistic. That’s OK, let’s always respect those forum members and learn from those posts. At the end of the day, whether we win, lose or draw those of us in favor of HR 4488 know we can walk away with our heads held high that each of us, collectively, did our part.

Thanks everyone……..

ms

Hotlist thread

5/3 First Responder Info

I am trying to gather intel about first responder training. What certified "group", ie. Red Cross, etc. teaches this course for firefighters?

Thanks.

MC

5/3 Casey said:

"Regarding your question on PTP: First and foremost, the bill is written for our members. That goes back to my previous
paragraph about everyone being a special interest. If a wilderness Ranger wants PTP, then I would suggest they do the
same thing we are doing...exercise their voice."

And, he is right in that it is fitting that his efforts represent the folks he works for. He is also correct that there is nothing wrong with a group of people (and we are all "special interest") petitioning their government for an action in their favor. Again, he is right in saying that the term "lobbyist" has earned a reputation similar to used car salesmen, lawyers, IRS agents etc.....yet they do work that helps our society function.

The point I was trying to make is for folks to be aware that most special treatment for one group comes at a cost of another. Or at least it creates a disparity. There might be exceptions.

It should come as no surprise then, that line officers and fire management leaders may not support HR 4488. It creates a chasm between how the agency treats firefighters and how it treats all other employees. And the focus of agency leaders should be on all employees, not just one "special interest" group. "The greatest good, for the greatest number, in the long run" -- G. Pinchot

I myself grow weary of the mantra of "we put our lives on the line every day". Yeah, so do the employees who drive to work, run chainsaws, operate heavy equipment, patrol rivers and backcountry, deal with irate (sometimes irrational) public, stake out marijuana gardens, risk encounters with dope smugglers etc....

The closest I ever came to meeting "Big Ernie" was as a passenger on my way to a meeting in the S.O. We were involved in an accident that resulted in a rollover and totaling of the government rig I was riding in.

Anyhow, to all that support HR 4488, continue on with your efforts. It is a legitimate right of yours to do so.

OFG

5/2 Contacting my rep in support of HR 4488:

I got my email launched into the ethers. Will get my family to send theirs.

I will try to send one every day or three. I don't have a fax machine, drat!

It's like voting for our favorite nascar only with potentially greater consequences... We can make a difference.

Good-o for the effort. ~Beep Beep~

Casey you have fun at legoland.

roadrunner

5/2 To all:

Just a reminder about contacting your reps about HR 4488. Persistence is the key. One letter/fax/email won't get the message across. Be sure to follow up in a few weeks. Most importantly if you receive a response that raises a question or concern, please let me know at cjudd@fwfsa.org so that we can properly address their concern.

There is a great deal of mis-information out there and while the FWFSA will continue to try and address all concerns, it is imperative that we educate folks "from the same page."

Our sincerest thanks for those that have rallied around the bill. While we are up front about who we represent and what this bill would do for those folks, we are mindful of the questions and concerns that have been raised and hope that those raising such questions/concerns will give us the opportunity to provide an answer. It may not be the answer any particular person may want to hear but it will be factual.

The bill cannot be any simpler than trying to create a more efficient and effective federal wildfire response and save the American taxpayer money that has, over the last 10 years or so, been managed rather poorly with respect to wildfire suppression.

I'm heading to Legoland for a couple of days with the kids but will have access to email.

Thanks,

Casey
5/2 Lessons Learned from the CA-LPF-Indians Fire Engine entrapment:

from stringtown on the Hotlist:

I came across some interesting stuff on Lessons Learned yesterday.

A VIDEO, from the "Firefighter: Remember This" Series, on the vertical column rotation that led to the burn over of the Engine 71 on the Indians Fire.

Link to the main page

Here is the final Accident Prevention Analysis Report (5.36 MB PDF file):
APA 02-12-09

Very effective video. Ab.
The report is also archived on wildlandfire.com. Indians Fire Engine Entrapment Report

5/2 hr4488 sam and first responder class:

I'm emailing everyone I know about HR 4488. I wrote my reps last week, so I can't compete in the timed activity! Should we make it a CHALLENGE with a prize? It would have to be "scout's honor" that your timekeeping is honest! As I recall, mine was 3 minutes and that was one-handed! (raising arms like a contestant that's tied a calf in competition at a rodeo) Just kidding.

Strider, you hold the record so far. (Those with fat fingers would be at a disadvantage...)

-wood,

I'll take a look in my area. There are often courses taught as part of the ROP FF1 programs through county schools. Will check there tomorrow.

Mellie

5/3 Contacting my rep in support of HR 4488:

Hey, I got mine done in 6 min using the tips to make it go fastest.

I simplified my letter a bit. Plan to followup later today and put an email out to the fire and homefront family.

Thanks for those tips.

Simpler than cutting line.

Strider

5/2 Contacting my rep in support of HR 4488:

I gave the contacting my rep in support of HR 4488 a run through to see how long the process took.

First one took 10 minutes. The next will go faster.

The map to click on your district is helpful. elections.nytimes.com/ 2010 map of house districts

Easy to use the link to find my rep. house.gov/house find Member

Ahead of time copy the sample letter into a note tab or note pad or word doc and make the personalized additions/corrections. Then it's really easy to put in the email box provided on the rep's website.

Some of the reps want your zip code with the 4 digit end on it to make sure you're in their district. They provide a lookup link. Zip code lookup

Thanks to those providing info like ms. I have some family and friends coming for supper in a bit. I'll keep the computer fired up.

PA Fire Warden

Dialog on contacting and networking on the HOTLIST

5/1 May, 2010 - HR 4488 Support and Awareness Month

Identify congressional districts and obtain the name of the Representative of your district.

elections.nytimes.com/ 2010 map of house districts

Phone, FAX numbers and web form emails for every house member

house.gov/house find Member

Contact your representative.

Additional Guidance

If a staff contact is not listed for a particular congressional office, call the congressional office and get the name/email of the staff person who handles federal wildland firefighter issues. Email that person, and if possible, follow up with a fax to that office with similar content.

Please include in your message that HR 4488 does not affect seasonal contracts between the land management agencies and private, state and local fire entities; however also note that 4488 could save considerable tax dollars each fire season.

Write the House Representative for your area where you live. Also write the Committee Chairs and Committee members who referred the bill. More specific info on committee members will follow soon. Writing to House Representatives outside your area is also fine; those contacts just will not hold as much weight as communication with your elected official.

If you've contacted, emailed, filled in a form or faxed your local representative and you want to do more, encourage your family and friends to do likewise, help a co-worker get a message off. Also write your two US Senators. We can begin educating them.

It’s OK to just send a short email using the web form. Follow up with a thank you. Persistent communications on this topic is the key. Get family and friends to help, using whatever social networks you use. Provide a sample letter they can modify. Make it so!

Some detractors out there are banking on us not following through with this month of May push. If you support HR 4488, why wouldn't you fight for it and encourage your supporters to fight for it?

Thank you for your efforts. Let’s give our support for HR 4488 with a strong push in May before fire season gets rolling. Let’s give Casey and FWFSA Leadership something to build from, while we and our cooperators respond to our nation's local, regional and national emergencies.

ms

5/1 Norcal First Responder...?

I'm looking for a first responder course ASAP anywhere in Norcal or anywhere in R5 for that matter. It would need to be as compressed as possible rather than drawn out over many weeks. I know it's a bad time to try and find one which is why I'm having trouble... anyone have a suggestion? Links? Outside R5 might be an option too...

Many Thanks,

-wood
5/1 More historical engine photos from the ANF, 1956, sent in by Steve L

CA-ANF-1956-1.jpg
CA-ANF-1956-2.jpg 
CA-ANF-1956-3.jpg
CAR-22 D.W. 'Bill' Longacre CA-ANF early 60s

and one of Dad, 1982 from another L.

5/1 This on the Fire history on the Angeles within the Station Fire perimeter came in last December 3, 2009:

Hi ab

While surfing the web tonight looking up some reference material for rx burning chaparral I came across this research article about large fires and varied age mosiacs in brush. The interesting part is the fire history maps of the late 1870 and early 1900's  on the Angeles NF that show the burn patterns of these fires especially the 1880's fire resemble the Station Fire and where it stopped near Pacifico Mtn. Also notice the picture of the plume with  building in front looks like the Station plume with the LA skyline.

Good read.
Later

bs-cho

Keeley, JE & Zedler, PH, 2009, Ecological Applications 19(1), 2009, pp. 69–94. Large, high-intensity fire events in southern California shrublands: debunking the fine-grain age patch model.
I could put you in touch with the poster if you're interested. Ab.

5/1 Ab,

Engine 6 : City of Napa's first Type III engine. Picture taken just after delivery in Fall of '09 at Station 1

Photo compliments of GeoB -App. Spec. (Ret)

I added it to Engines 27 photo page. Thanks. Ab.

5/1 Camp 16 Burnover & LODDs Final Report

Hi Ab,

The silence is deafening (no posted comments for days), in regards to the final report of the Station Fire - Camp 16 burn over and resulting LODDs !! Are the "Lessons Learned" so obvious that no comments are necessary ?

There are so many questions left unanswered. Healthy discussion on this forum has always been very useful for the safety of those in the wild land fire community.

Respectfully Submitted,

Former Ground Pounder

Please, start the conversation. I know it is being discussed on crews in socal. This week was the week the fed crews cane on board for the season. Lots of people are busy with refresher training and all hands meetings. Ab.

5/1 Scoopin' Ice Cream, Rasin' Money:

I'm sure many readers heard about or participated in the Baskin Robbins 31Cent Scoop Night this past Wednesday. For those that didn't know: baskinrobbins.com  31 Cent Scoop Night

While scooping ice cream and representing my VFD, I set out one of my wildland boots, a helmet and a simple sign I made up asking for donations to help the WFF. To my surprise, my boot was filled with $164.65 by the end of the night. That large amount was due mainly to my department's Jr. Firefighter Joe (who's Dad is one of our VFD Captains) who took up the cause. He put on my helmet, grabbed the boot and sign and got to work. If it wasn't for him, the night would not have been so successful. Thanks Joe!

I'm attaching a pic I took of Joe hard at work. I'll be sending the money out Monday.

mb

Thanks Little Joe! Ab.

5/1 PTP

I have followed the PTP conversation for years and obviously there are many issues which will cause people to enter into different camps of thought forming differing conclusions on the merits of PTP. As a California Firefighter I have always had PTP, with that said I look at this issue from the simplest of terms, PTP is the right thing to do for Federal Firefighters. All of the federal resources I have worked with in the last 5 or 10 years are assigned and in reality are owned by the incident 24/7 and should be compensated as such.

HR 4488 will likely cut some of the OT CA LG receives each year on FRA fires, but hopefully it will be supported or not on the merits, not on what we, they or anyone does or doesn’t get. What will provide the highest level of service at the lowest cost, and is the right thing to do is a good set of criteria to use when evaluating HR 4488.

An Optimist

5/1 The Stump People would like to invite you to our annual Fund Raiser at Route 66 Classic Grill 18730 Soledad Cyn Rd, Santa Clarita
to benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation on Monday, May 10, 2010 from 4 PM until 10 PM
Please mention the WFF to your server and we will receive 15% of the nights profits for the Foundation... Thank you !!
5/1 More logos from Tom on logos 19 (link below), most from hats.

Rogers, Cascade, Eastern Oregon, Alaska, LA Co, Phos Chek, Firemen, AG Flight Crew: Collection of logos on hats, etc. Their captions say it all. Photos compliments of TNBG. (st0510)

Ab.

5/1 Responding to OFG:

The fact is that every American citizen is a "special interest" each provided the same access to Congress. Yes, the realities are that money make that access easier. The FWFSA doesn't have a lot of money to throw around we so we have to do things the old fashioned way...work harder, longer, be more passionate, provide the facts etc.

I'm really tired of the connotation of "special interests" in today's politics. It generally means those that have the financial means and other resources to "buy" that access and support. For most of us we don't have that luxury. At the same time it is a reality that the greater the membership in any organization, the louder the voice. Bottom line, we all have a voice.

In the case of the FWFSA, greater membership doesn't create huge sums of money to bestow upon incumbents and candidates, but it does generate more voices in more places and, when all is said and done, the voices of the voting constituency resonates very loud and clear...especially in an election year.

Regarding your question on PTP: First and foremost, the bill is written for our members. That goes back to my previous paragraph about everyone being a special interest. If a wilderness Ranger wants PTP, then I would suggest they do the same thing we are doing...exercise their voice.

I had this discussion with OPM leadership several years ago when they replied "federal employees on TDY (temporary duty assignment) don't get PTP" to which I replied most of those on TDY aren't risking their lives to protect our Nation's natural resources, its citizens and their property.

I recently had a congressman point out that the military don't get paid "PTP" and that maybe FIRE should be taken away from the land management agencies and a quasi-military type organization be created for wildland firefighting. I told him that's great... as long as you provide the federal wildland firefighters with BAS (separate rations) BAQ (quarters allowance) and free medical & dental... to which he replied "oh yea, didn't think of that stuff."

Also please remember that PTP, as incorporated in this bill would be applied to those that are not necessarily firefighter retirement eligible but support emergency incidents. Maybe if your wilderness ranger supported such an assignment he would be eligible for the compensation.

I have no doubt the issue of retirement age will be used or interpreted as an argument about special retirement provisions. I've illustrated the point as to why it is critically important to try and retain some of this brain trust for a few more years to allow the "gap" I have mentioned to close a bit.

With respect to costs: We have provided congress with significant documentation as to how the implementation of PTP could save money by reducing some non-federal costs. The disparity in compensation, especially in the west is so significant that the costs (in very general terms) of two federal wildland firefighters versus one fed and one non-fed could save nearly $500 a day.

Reduce, if not eliminate the "Admin Fee" many local government fire agencies receive from the land management agencies; take a very close look at food service and other costs that have increased in recent years primarily to cater to the non-federal resources on an incident.

Additionally, there has been talk on both sides of the aisle in DC about reducing the percentage of reimbursement of FMAGs and/or increasing the threshold in costs before local agencies would be eligible for FMAG reimbursement.

Most importantly, find a way for the land management agencies to better manage their FIRE dollars.

It would have been nonsensical to offer a bill without first demonstrating to Congress why suppression costs are needlessly out of control and how some minor changes could provide the taxpayer with more of a bang for their buck.

There are a lot of actions that can be taken to ensure the land management agency fire programs are the most effective and efficient they can be.

Casey
5/1 Historical air attack '78/ '79

Hey Abs,

So much talk about the night flying program. Here is the back of 7-Bravos Crew T Shirt (1978/79). Helishots from Tanbark Air Attack Mt. Baldy District, ANF. We DID own the night along with Rose Valley. Native American design honors Lew Yazzie a Navajo Indian who was the crew foreman.(GS-6 back then). Also the smaller logo from the t-shirt front.

Take Care,
Tom

Thanks. I added them to the Logos 19 page. Ab.

5/1 Always Remember and federal lands

Thanks very much all. Midwest, if that's you, glad to see you back. Great to see some of the old historical photos, too!

Mellie

5/1 Historical air attack '78/ '79

Ab

Here is an old logo from the rose valley flight crew I have a few more old hats lyin around will send in a little while

TNBG
Sent from DA' I phone

Thanks. Check the Logos 18 page. Ab.

5/1 if Mellie has access to GIS I've attached a zip containing a federal lands shape file. Sorry for the large size, It has everything from forests and refuges to airforce bases, federal prisons and the Roman L. Hruska US Animal Meat Research Center, whatever that is.

Eric

I passed it on. Thanks. Ab.

5/1 M,

The 2006 AZ fatality in Gila Bend is sort of an odd story. This would also be why is is not a NFPA statistic. The fatality was actually a "Ride-along" with a rural and I think Volunteer fire department. They were on a roadside fire, I believe on Interstate 8. The "ride long" was for lack of a better term, allowed to help in suppression. I believe he became ill on scene, was treated/transported and then coded. So, it was not a Fire Fighter fatality.

AZfirefighter
5/1 Mellie,

Try this link. Even has EPA, FEMA and USCG boundaries.

nationalatlas.gov Natlasstart

Midwest
5/1 From JF:

Spencer Koyle

Koyle, Spencer Stanley

Age: 33
Cause of Death: Caught or Trapped
Rank: Division Supervisor
Nature of Death: Burns
Classification: Wildland Full-Time
Emergency Duty: Yes

Incident Date: 08/17/2006
Duty Type: On-Scene Fire
Incident Time: 17:00
Activity Type: Advance Hose Lines/Fire Attack (includes Wildland)
Death Date: 08/17/2006
Fixed Prop. Use: Outdoor Property

Fire Dept. Info:
Bureau of Land Management, Fillmore Field Office
35 E. 500 N.
Fillmore , Utah 84631
Chief: Fire Management Officer Tom Suwyn

Initial Summary:
Division Supervisor Koyle died while fighting the "Devil's Den" wildfire in Fishlake National Forest in central Utah. Details pertaining to the incident are pending investigation.

usfa.dhs.gov 2006

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