October, 2010

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10/31 A number of older photos mid '80's on, from Karl Elze, Sr.

Thanks Karl. I posted them on Airtankers 35, Engines 28, and Equipment 18 photo pages. Ab.

10/31 Have attached a picture of the Cachagua Terra Torch (New Generation Torch) doing a burn for BLM in Fresno County.


Nice. I put it on Equipment 18 photo page. Ab.

10/31 Ab, here are some cool pics from the OR-RSF-Oak Flat Fire, August 2010. LP

Thanks, I put them on Handcrews 27 and Handcrews 28 photo pages. Nice flames. Ab.

10/31 Little Tujunga Reunion, 2010: Attached are pictures of Little Tujunga Hot Shot Reunion, October 23, 2010. I am sure there are members of that crew that would like to see them. There were several crew members that planners were not able to contact. Larry Sall gave permission for you to post.

Thank you, Gordon Rowley

Message with the photos:
Here are some pictures Jimmy Smith's kid took at the reunion. There's a big group picture then he breaks it down into the individual pictures of each year starting with 1970. I'm sorry some of you couldn't make it. It was worth every second.

What a motley collection. Looks like a fun reunion. I posted crew photos on the Handcrews 28 photo page. There were 4 photos that had older members, no year was specified on the photos. They are not currently posted. If anyone would like to see those, contact Ab.

The 4 logo cake photos are posted on the Logo 19 photo page.

10/31 Waveclouds from DP. Ab.
10/30 Fire Season Over? Not even close!

While driving to an Fire assignment on Fri, I was listening to a local radio station reporting that the U.S.F.S. and Cal Fire had "Officially" declared Fire session over. For the last two weeks, there have been conference calls stating that the session is over due to rain and the grass turning green. I would strongly recommend anybody that believes this to go back and review the fuels unit's in 290, 390 and 490. The observed Fire behavior in coastal brush on 10/29 at 1700 was 20-30 ft flame lengths on min slope with 35 % R.H. and little wind. It is true that the simple cigarette throw from a car or a lawn mower blade will probably not spark off a start in grass, but its not the grass carrying the fire, its the dormant brush that will not green up until late winter early spring regardless how much rain we receive.

So cal will experience mid 90's this week with an off shore flow, the 1/3rd to 1/2 in of rain fall that fell Fri night will not be recognized for another three to four months. "Officially declared over". Not even close.

/s/ 13

10/30 Information Request- Stihl 362 C-Q (or the prior 361 C-Q)

Looking for any field performance reports, formal reports, safety histories, personal stories, SOP, P&P or similar related to the Stihl 362 C-Q or 361 C-Q chainsaws with the Secondary Chain Braking System (Quickstop).

Feel free to call or email anytime.

Thanks in advance,

Ron Marley
530-242-2208 work (no answering machine)
530-949-1210 cell

10/29 RE: Strive for 205

I'm sorry to be such a nit-picker (better than being a nose-picker I would suppose)... It really just comes down to attitude and attitude translates into practice.
The fact that all you saw was folks "just having a little fun" from the Discovery piece was a priceless example of how perceptions influence the fundamental trajectory of an organization's accepted practices, values and what they project to the outside world.

After 33 years I have no issue with folks having fun and enjoying their jobs; I do take issue with folks compromising safety in order to "have fun", or compensate for excessive boredom, lack of leadership, disdain for authority, and the 101 other human factors that are linked to catastrophic failure within the wildland firefighting profession. If we are honest with ourselves and the public- we have no need to "ham it up" on national television, or compromise safe practices. Bottom line is this- the whole wildland firefighting community continues to pay the price for catastrophic failures born of a fundamental disregard for risk management and attention to safety. We have been investigated, checklisted, and bombarded with training requirements that, while they teach sound principles; fail to change deep seated cultural traits that often disregard risk, and that are inherent in some organizations and nonexistent in others. The FWS as a whole seems to do a good job with RX Fire and I salute them.

The Loxahatchee Gang might be the best in the business and were trying their best to "play the part" during this TV segment. But they didn't look that way on National TV and my guess is that this will all get swept under the rug ASAP. The right thing to do would be to shine a light on it with the idea that it becomes a learning opportunity for all of us about attitudes and social intelligence.

Public Affairs Officers are also a handy resource for us heathen firefighter types when we are being exposed to the national media.

Embarrassed in Seattle

10/28 I would like to hear from staff at any colleges who sponsor Type 2 crews for the Forest Service or other federal agencies.

I'm trying to identify the best practices used at each school so we can strengthen our program.


John Bennett
Lead Instructor
Rio Hondo College
jrbfiretch@ nospam msn.com
10/27 Hey Ab,

For all those lonely firefighters who are experiencing flamage withdrawals. I witnessed the best fire response all season last night when the popcorn machine that was used for movie night during the Fire Behavior and Fuels conference set off the hotel alarms. Spokane Fire Department responded but I don't think they realized that the point of origin was caused by an appliance owned by.... you guessed it, the Spokane Fire Department. They have a huge commercial model on loan to us for the event. So, if you want a sure-fire cure for the "whoa-is-me-wildfire-blues", I highly recommend that you attend an IAWF Conference! The next 11th Wildland Fire Safety Summit will be April 5-7 in Missoula. Rumor has it that a special showing of the most classic fire film ever made (starring RW) will be shown on movie night.

Fire Geek
10/27 Pictures of the Green Dragon on the Equipment 18 photo page.

Click the thumbnail to get the bigger photo.

Description that came with the photos last month:

Green Dragon: The Green Dragon on the Oak Flat fire in Oregon on September 3rd, 2010. This was the first time it had ever been used on an actual wildfire. Photos compliments of LP.

also very large 10 MB wav video.


10/27 vfd cap'n and Uncle Louie:

I am keenly aware of the time honored tradition of pimping fire resources...not exactly by the book, not exactly right, but "that's the way it is." I'm just going through the process of learning the game, even though I don't agree with it...hence the moniker.

In response to the (very valid) points regarding IMT cohesion and leadership, I completely agree with the statement that bringing in new people, particularly in trainee roles, can diminish efficiency and effectiveness. I also agree that there are times when you need someone in those roles--NOW, and it doesn't really matter how they get there.

My gripe with the situation is that these weren't leadership or team staff positions. If there's a justification for flying people across the country to function as FFT 1's and ICT 5's when you have qualified folks available locally, I'm all ears.

That said, let me take a second to jump off my soap box and point out that I realize this is a relatively minor issue in the big scheme of things, it isn't going away, and the best course of action is probably just to roll with it.

Thanks for the feedback guys, and be safe out there.


10/27 Embarrassed in Seattle

Why is it everytime we have Fire/Fuels people highlighted on a Discovery show everyone has to nit-pick the faults of what the people were doing? Remember the hotshots and jumpers that were on a special alls anyone could talk about was sleeves rolled up or other little stupid things like that. What i seen last night were people having fun and enjoying their jobs. Oh heaven forbid. Maybe if people would just loosen up and have fun they wouldn't be so uptight and our agencies would be better places to work. Yes the people hammed it up a bit but that was for television I guarantee you. People need to realize that not everyone is wound as tight as we are here in the West and that there are still people who do a good job and still have fun doing it. Props to the FWS and their programs.

Now let the opinions fly.

Strive for 205
10/27 Dirty Jobs segment on the Discovery Channel:

Did anyone get a chance to see the Dirty Jobs segment on the Discovery Channel last night? Not sure if it was a rerun or not. The great fun that they were having on the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge made me want to sign up with the Fish and Feathers. Looks like a great comedy team they have there on that unit. I especially enjoyed the opening act when they ignited a fire upwind from their position and discovered that their airboat was stuck in front of the flame front. It was even more hilarious when they accidently shot off a flare pistol round onto the deck of another airboat full of flare rounds. It's plain to see that they make safety fun there on that unit- a joke actually. Makes me giggle to think what the American Taxpayer might think about how all of us spend their money to execute RX Fires. Our profession demands that we promote attitudes that emphasize safety and maybe even a little social intelligence. The FWS PAOs seem to be really on their toes. As the host of Dirty Jobs, it's Mike Rowe's job to entertain, federal prescribed fire managers shouldn't be playing the part of the clowns. We have enough Bozos within our profession -without celebrating the fact.

Embarrassed in Seattle.

More on this topic: Hotlist

10/27 re: resource ordering

In response to –argh’s concerns about what he refers to as the “buddy system”.

Incident management isn’t like widget production, just because a resource is qualified in IQCS doesn’t make it the best available … a wooden match and a nuclear reactor both produce heat and light but they aren’t the same thing.

In many situations it is very important, essential even, for an IMT to hit the ground running. Development of team cohesion takes time and experience together. Bringing in new personalities, particularly in leadership positions slows the process and lowers Team effectiveness.

Having said that, the point about getting training and experience for local resources is well taken. How else to learn the real job; training and simulation is important but not the total package. Every IMT I have experience with always seeks to incorporate local unit staff into the management of the Incident for obvious reasons.

As to the specific cost issues. I submit that more often then not; due to distance, need for timely response and shrinking agency vehicle assets, a single resource is going to need a plane/rental vehicle. Also if you include the cost of staff time on the road versus airline costs it doesn’t amount to a significant difference.

I believe the deciding factor should be the attributes of the individuals involved and not geography.

Uncle Louie

10/27 re: resource ordering


I believe the process you are referring to is called "pimping" fire resources. I wouldn't expect you to know the proper terminology, since by your own admission, you aren't very good at it.

The details are supposedly outlined in an un-published appendix to every mobilization guide. In summary, who you know has priority over all the other silly little schemes like what you know (qualification,) when you were last dispatched (rotation list,) where you are (closest resource,) and how much you cost (best value.)

vfd cap'n
10/26 resource ordering for incidents and/or severity - Circumventing the "buddy system"

Hi all,

I have a question regarding resource ordering for incidents and/or severity...
Having been in and around the wildland fire community for a number of years now, I recall being informed that the practice of name requesting resources had become increasingly frowned upon in the past several years. I was also under the impression that when requesting resources, the closest available of the kind and type needed would be requested first. If either of these statements is wrong, stop reading now, because the rest of this post won't quite make sense.

That said, I'm aware of several instances where the closest available resources (same agency as requesting) were not ordered in favor of bringing in more distant interagency resources, as well as out-of-region intra-agency resources, both due to the "buddy system" of ordering... while closer, available in-agency resources with qualified and trainee crewmembers sat idle. This is rather disheartening from my viewpoint, as there are local employees that need the training opportunities and experience that these assignments would provide. The cost to the agency involved would be significantly less than using the "buddy" resources (think plane tickets and rental cars); in addition, both the requesting and nearby home units would benefit in the form of having a larger pool of qualified employees to draw from for future incidents. (Geographically, the units are that close.) As a supervisor, I'm disappointed for my folks. As a taxpayer, I'm pretty irritated. Is there an effective way to address or work around this situation, or am I getting worked up to no good end? Any thoughts or suggestions?


10/26 HUUFC:

The Forest Service officials at the Station Fire hearing have been (and were at the hearing) well aware as to who the players were at the ANF Dispatch Center and South OPs; who said what; who did what etc.

Wrong, right or indifferent, not offering those individuals up for criticism from members of Congress or homeowners or the press, just or otherwise, has been the MO of the Forest Service. It is their interpretation of "protecting" their employees. They are happy simply telling Congress and others that corrections will be made to preclude something like this happening in the future. Of course what personnel actions happen behind the scenes may be a different story.

Don't expect the Agency to cough up names unless subpoenaed. With the potential for litigation from the Station Fire, it seems plausible that at some point most, if not all the details will emerge.

Remember that the Congressional panel members were playing to a hometown crowd three weeks before their re-election bids and basing many of their questions off speculative LA Times articles and snippets of reports, most notably the Large Fire Cost report that, in my opinion was off the mark by suggesting that the desire to cut costs played a role in the Station Fire IA. Like one post recently mentioned, they ( the press, congress and those that participated in the Large Fire report) are in the right forest but barking up the wrong tree.

I am aware that the LA Times has been provided clear factual information detailing the INTENT of the now infamous August 5th memo from Regional Forester Randy Moore... with the acknowledgement that the memo was interpreted in different ways by different people at different levels. It seems clear that the LA Times may be more interested in theorizing about a smoking gun than reporting the facts. Obviously it is in their best interests to sell papers.

That being said, hopefully the inquiries into this fire and the lessons learned will lead to greater efficiencies. Maybe, as I've heard it recently suggested, there should be a post-fire incident debrief between fire agencies and homeowners. Maybe homeowners not familiar with the ICS and the complex decisions made in split seconds by fire officials might not agree or accept the explanation of why fire crews did this or that, but dialogue couldn't do anything but help. Of course the ambulance chasing attorneys will want to poke their noses in everything too.

Digging all this up a year after the fact, pitting homeowners against firefighters and allowing Congress, and most notably the press to stir the pot with partial information and a variety of "armchair quarterbacking" opinions from "experts" can't be healthy for the relationship between all these entities who must work together to ensure safer and less destructive outcomes in the future... if possible.

10/26 RE: Station fire fallout


I found the comments and newspaper articles on the station fire interesting. The fact that the Chief of the USFS Fire and Aviation Management cannot find out who canceled the request or why resource orders were not filled is a bit discouraging. The recorded telephone conversations should have answered that question. Or interviewing all the involved parties, maybe that wasn't done.

The fallout I am referring to is separating the telephone systems at shared CALFIRE and USFS Emergency Command Centers. Someone higher up in the Federal system is directing the Center Managers to ensure the that their lines are not recorded. As a result the systems are not connected and the State and Federal dispatchers are unable to answer each others lines, share conversations on the same line or pick up calls routed to the wrong agency. This direction is being done verbally without any written direction.

A question: Why would a dispatcher, whether federal, state or local government NOT want incoming calls recorded? As an example, what if an IC was giving you the next shifts resource requests, by telephone, then a spate of emergency calls came in and the dispatcher returned to the recording to ensure no request was forgotten? Or, what if a supervisor ordered the dispatcher to ignore the IC's request, by telephone, and that recording was available to exonerate the dispatcher in subsequent investigations. Or, what if a citizen reported a fire, them complained to the news media that the call was delayed, the recordings show the time of the call, the radio recordings show the time of dispatch, and the response is demonstrated to be correct.

There is no downside to having Emergency Command Center telephone calls recorded. The USFS and CALFIRE ECC's are variously called inter-agency, co-located, shared, or joint. Having separate telephone systems throws those descriptions out the window.


10/26 Hi Ab!

Do you know anyone who will be retiring in Jan and would love to live in Northern AZ? After we seat the new fire board here in Camp Verde on December 1st, we are going to advertise for the new chiefs position, old one retired, it pays about $80k and is located 20 miles south of Sedona, nice place to live, hunting, fishing and off road fun etc. kind of a Mayberry type of town! The FD has two type 1 engines; a brush rig; a truck company with 85’ rear turn table ladder (it would be a quint but doesn’t have the full compliment of ladders) a pair of new water tenders, 3 ambulances, 28 paid firefighters, including a deputy chief and 10 reserves. Good budget and workload, they average 1200 runs a year, most of them EMS! The web site for CVFD is campverdefire.org. and the department number is 928-567-9401, call after December 1st. We are just trying to get as much outreach as possible! If you could post this it would appreciated!


An old FS retiree from R5 Fire staff!
10/26 Ab & Community,
You are invited....

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is being inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame.
The ceremony will be held at:

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation
2049 Airport Way
Boise Idaho
Thursday Oct. 28th 2010
Starting 4:00pm to 5:30pm
Hor-d'oeures and Casual Dress

Jack Wilson retired director of BIFC & NIFC will be receiving an award for all that he has done of behalf of wildland firefighters. Jack was the first President of the Board of Directors of the WFF. If you know any of Jack old fire dog friends let them know about this.

Please drop by.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Community, I just spoke with Vicki. If you're in the Boise area, please take time to go. The media will be there and it would be nice to show the "face" of the wildland fire community. Wow, Jack must be in his 80's. Good guy. Take some pictures! Ab.

10/26 Ab,

Below is an email, I sent out yesterday. You are welcome to post what is pasted below. Tough time for many of us…Thank you.

CORE VALUES: **Leadership*Competence*Integrity*Safety*Customer Service**

Unit & County Fire Chief John R. Hawkins

Subject: Esperanza Fire October 26, 2006
Importance: High


Tomorrow will be four years since the October 26, 2006, Esperanza Fire killed five valiant USFS San Bernardino National Forest Firefighters at 15400 Gorgonio View Drive, Twin Pines. Many of us still remember that awful morning when just before 8am word came off the mountain of an entrapment immediately followed by the word of firefighter deaths. We were shocked and remain shocked today. Firefighting is a very dangerous job as it was that day for USFS Captain Mark Loutzenhiser, 43, Idyllwild; Engine Operator Jess McLean, 27, Beaumont; Assistant Engine Operator Jason McKay, 27, Apple Valley; Firefighter Pablo Cerda, 23, Fountain Valley; and Firefighter Daniel Najera, 20, San Jacinto. They were very good firefighters. They never knew or expected it would be their last alarm.

Tomorrow morning at 7:57am, I ask the Perris Emergency Command Center (ECC), emergency traffic allowing, to announce a moment of silence for our departed firefighting brothers. I ask all RRU/RVC personnel to honor that moment of silence. I also ask you to think of the deceased firefighter families and reflect on their terrible losses. Life will never be the same for them, our USFS brothers and sisters or many of us.

I know that some of our firefighters visited the burn over site today. In visiting, they made me proud; I only wish I could have accompanied them. They will come away with a better idea of the perils faced by firefighters and the terrible losses of October 26, 2006. Perhaps, some day those who have not visited the site may also wish to do so. You may also see a plaque at RVC FS 24, Cabazon, recognizing our lost brothers.

Thank you very much for paying your respect to our lost brothers. Sincerely,

CORE VALUES: **Leadership*Competence*Integrity*Safety*Customer Service**

Unit & County Fire Chief John R. Hawkins
Riverside County Fire Department

10/25 Strykteam,

You made some very valid points about the news media having a higher chance of getting into trouble. They don't have 54 rules of engagement to follow; the more dramatic the footage/photos, the more viewers/readers.

I believe in giving credit where it is due. The Old Fire stated along Old Waterman Canyon Rd. on BDF (I know, picky, picky) but the news crew was rescued by NPS Strike Team Leader Steven Elenburg from Joshua Tree National Park. He received the Department of Interior Valor Award for his actions.

Elenburg Valor

Fire Geek
10/25 4th Anniversary Reminder, Esperanza Fire

It's me again, Jason's Mom, "E-57 Mom, Reminding you to make sure your emergency cards are up to date. Please, do it now, it can make a BIG difference.

Also this year, I've been thinking, have they learned anything? I think of Oyler and say yes, he got the maximum. But then I hear of a 17 year old who has been starting many fires, and they release him to his parents and don't seem to think it's a big deal.

Every arson has a history, they have family and friends who know what they're doing. But don't take it seriously. They'll show it with tats, or music they listen to, or posters on their walls. At 17, that is the time to stop it, before precious life is lost forever. And before their actions destroy their own family's lives as well.

One thing I am noticing this year, forever is really a very long time.

All of you please take care of yourselves, you are always in my prayers.

E-57 Mom

Thanks for the message, Jason's mom. We think of all of your firefighters and your families often. Ab.

10/25 Ref Station Fire testimony

Just because the media stayed behind does not mean it was tenable per professional firefighter's opinions. Most, not all, news reporters don't know when they are in trouble until too late. Lots of us have experienced these situations. Simply refer back to 2003 Old Fire, BDU and remember KNBC reporter Chuck Henry refusing to leave and area after being told he was in trouble. His news van was destroyed and he with his crew had to be rescued by a LAFD engine. Sure there "might" have been isolated pockets of safe areas around that community but not according to defined safety zone sizes per nationally recognized guidelines.

Chuck Henry (born January 1, 1946 in Los Angeles, California) is a Los Angeles television personality and a newscaster with over 35 years of news experience. Chuck can be seen co-anchoring the 5, 6 and 11 PM newscast on KNBC-TV. Before anchoring at KNBC, he worked at KABC-TV for 11 years, where he served as reporter, anchor and director. Henry gained national attention in October 2003 when he and his cameraman were nearly killed in the field while shooting a report about California forest fires. Although the newspeople were told to leave by the fire department, a sudden change in wind direction prevented Henry from doing so. Their van was completely engulfed and lost to the fire and the team had to be rescued by the LAFD. Chuck Henry was later seen on-air, emotional about nearly losing his life and referring to the newsvan as a "Stupid truck, full of equipment."

The life and property losses in that canyon area were tragic. Making the decision to leave structures are incredibly difficult for us firefighters. These decisions by more than experienced/competent strike team leaders reflected rightful adherence to safety standards in the presence of extreme fire behavior. RIP USFS E57; we will not forget your tragic lessons learned that day nor the recent lessons learned at the Cedar, Malibu and Jesusita Fires. Extreme fire behavior demands extreme safety standards. We need to not lose touch with this concept regardless of arm chair quarterbacking after the incident.


10/25 Re: Qualifications on Applications


Like AC and Skunkape have already stated, it is not recommended that you would claim yourself to be qualified for a position, even if you are "99%" finished with your taskbook. I am fairly certain that employees with access to IQCS data will be present at hiring events to ensure that employees are IFPM standards compliant, which went into effect Oct. of this year for FS personnel.

In the world of IQCS and redcards, there is no "almost there" or "99% qualified". It's the main purpose for having a standardized qualification system. Employees are either "qualified", "trainee", or "unqualified". Until you complete your taskbook and it is submitted to and approved by your FQRC on your forest / unit, you cannot claim this quite simply. However my recommendation to those that I give application advice to is always mention anything that you are a trainee status in or are currently enrolled in (i.e. college classes, academies, EMS programs, etc.) If they are not required qualifications to the position being applied for, they can still show merit to an SME or hiring official. Good luck to you in your hiring process.

Re: SCBA Training

The Duck!!!

I agree that the agency doesn't provide enough training opportunities regarding the use of SCBA equipment, but does that mean it doesn't belong on the rigs? Absolutely not. It's a vital piece of protective equipment and it's on there for a reason.

You stated "As of right now there is a hell of alot of grey area that nobody really knows what the policy is other that we don't go interior on structure fires." I'm assuming you are within R-5, and the SCBA use policy is quite clear to me when I read it to my firefighters during training. Yes you do not engage in interior attack on a structure (we wont go into known life threat). But if you engage in the extinguishment of vehicle fires or dumpster fires or work somewhere in which an IDLH (immediately dangerous to life and health) environment is present, you are required to use the SCBA unit. Furthermore the policy states the employee should receive sufficient training in the use and maintenance of the SCBA and should be able to don the unit within the set time parameters. Pretty straight forward as to what your requirements as a module leader are.

What is the training your engine company personnel require to be effective in SCBA use, honestly? Do you need a blank check to make it happen? Do your employees need a week long class or an academy on how to put on his level D and a breather? I don't believe so. It took my 3 new GS-3 seasonals last year approximately 1 day of solid training to become fully competent in the parts, use, maintenance and donning and doffing of their bunker gear and issued Survivair units, as well as basic familiarity in the use of pre-connected 1.5" vehicle-structure lays and deployment as it pertains to vehicle fires and structure protection/attack. And every so often we refresh on it. It sounds like the engine company you observed needs to drill more often, something the SFEO or engine boss is responsible for. It's really not rocket science. If a firefighter cannot properly don an SCBA in the required timeframe, drill the employee until he or she can.

I get that you're frustrated that the region doesn't appear to be backing the needs of the field personnel 100% about this, but that seems to be the story of our lives lately. Make it happen regardless. Surely there is somebody on the engine with some basic familiarity with the SCBAs, or on another engine nearby? And even if not, the training materials are out there. The region has an SCBA use policy you can read and study. Try to get some of the learning materials from the regional SUBE course. Grab the SCBA manufacturer's user manual. The state Firefighter 1 curriculum is online and talks about the use of and steps to don an SCBA. Work with other engines on your unit or forest to spread the wealth of information around. There's a ton of information on the internet or fire magazines or other training sites about vehicle fires and other IDLH environments that require the use of your SCBA and tactics and strategies associated with it. Work with your local county or municipal fire departments for additional training. Conduct drills, drills, and more drills.

In my honest opinion, individual modules need to take the initiative to make sure they know how to use the equipment they carry as required by regional policy. SCBAs are not going away so best dust them off and hit the books.

With respect,

Centrifugal Pump
10/24 SCBA training:

Ok , i am all for being in the business of serving the public, but if the US Forest Service is going to do so it is going to have to try harder or suffer the consequences!!! When it comes to fighting or managing wildland fires no one does it better. However, when it comes to the subject of issuing turnout gear and SCBAs to undertrained personnel i take issue with that.

I had the pleasure of running a few scenarios this season requiring the use of turnout gear and SCBAs. It scared the hell out of me that there were folks on the Engine that couldn't put that equipment on to save their life, let alone the life of a visitor to our National Forest. Yet we pride ourselves in being an "all risk" Agency. Does all risk mean "Putting our people at risk all the time"? Didn't think so!!

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and fly's like a duck you guessed it !! What good does it do to emulate our friends in the city or county if we can't do the job when we get there? Excluding So-Cal, i highly doubt most Forest's could really respond to an incident other than a Veg or Med call and not look like little kid's wearing Daddy's boots. Oh but that's not our job you say. Then take the stuff off the truck. I agree its not our job, and it shows! Just ask one of the gang in the back seat to Don their gear, pull a pre-connect and do a real time scenario!!! You'll hide behind the nearest bush. It's one of the most primal evolutions in the fire service " to pull a pre-connect" and extinguish a simple fire". It's not the fire extinguishment i take issue with its the total lack of training on how to properly wear and operate in the safety equipment issued.

We can either train on this stuff now or come out with lessons learned later. How much training do we go through as an Engine Boss to operate in that capacity? Why is it we don't expect the same when it comes to the other side of the coin! I can take one guess. The Region doesn't want to commit to that kind of service. Great! take the stuff off the truck and then there is no question. As of right now there is a hell of allot of grey area that nobody really knows what the policy is other that we don't go interior on structure fires. Not good enough! Here is my policy. Defend the wildland and render medical aid other than that let it burn. If the region wants me to take responsibility for the people on my mod. when they bunker and pack up, then they will first require them to properly use and respect said equipment or it will collect dust! Sorry for stepping on the proverbial toes folks but that's the way i see it! If they wanted to train properly there are dozens of certified NFPA I and II firefighters working for the Agency right now that would be more than happy to help! As well, the National Park Service already has a structure training program in place that works well from what i am told, i am sure we could cut and paste!!!!

With the implementation of all of the permanent fire employees on the Forests and the budget constraints of local fire dept's. its only a matter of time before we will be called to protect our own assets. I wonder, will we be ready to answer the call?

Fraternally: The Duck!!!

10/24 Re qualifications:


AC is right. If you are applying for a position, you can only list qualifications that you already have. However, if you are applying for a USFS job opening, and obtain the required qualifications before the closing date (or the date that the cert will be pulled if applying for an Open Continuous Announcement) you can update your application in Avue prior to that date. If you're not sure whether or not you're applying for an Open Continuous Announcement, it should be stated in the first part of the announcement, or the announcement number will preceded by "OCRP." (The announcement will also specify the date that the cert will be pulled within the first few lines.) I'm not sure about the rules for DOI agencies or USAJobs.

Good Luck!


10/24 Re qualifications:


You cannot put down on your application that you are a qualified FFT1. If you are applying for jobs that require FFT1 and S-290 you are required to upload proof into your application.


10/24 Question about qualifications:

I have taken the FF1 classes and have about 99% of my FF1 and ICT 5 taskbook signed off. My question is, as far as the application process can I put qualified as a FF1 down? Also currently doing the S-290 online.

I've made some phone calls and nobody can give me a straight answer.


10/23 The letter is a good reminder to all.


Just another member of the "National Wildland Fire and Emergency Services staff, USDA Forest Service"

Firefighters working for Firefighters, centralized up to the Chief of the Forest Service.

Date: October 12, 2010
Subject: Protocol for the Care and Maintenance of Flags Flown at Forest Service Facilities
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Directors

This letter serves as a reminder to all Regions, Stations, Area and other units that flying or displaying the United States flag at any of our facilities bears a very important responsibility. The United States flag is a patriotic symbol that is held close to the heart by many Americans, some of whom visit our National Forests, National Grasslands, and other Forest Service installations. These same visitors are also very attentive to the manner in which we care for and maintain the condition of the flag.

Just recently, one of our visitors noticed that a United States flag being flown at one of our installations was worn and tattered to the point that it needed to be replaced. He graciously pointed this out to Forest Service personnel. This same gentleman kept watch over this worn and tattered flag for a period of several weeks to make sure it was replaced in a timely manner. He had to make a second inquiry before the flag was actually replaced. On behalf of the Forest Service, I wrote an apology for displaying the flag in poor condition, and for our delay in its replacement. This one example goes to show that we are always held accountable by the public we serve.

We, as employees of the Forest Service, have a responsibility to inspect all flags being flown over Forest Service facilities, and to ensure that worn, torn, or faded flags are promptly and properly destroyed. The United States flag should be replaced with a flag that is in proper condition for display in accordance with 4 U.S.C. 4 U.S.C. § 8, and Departmental Regulation 5160-005 gives clear direction for the destruction of the United States flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display. A local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) may be able to assist in properly disposing of a worn and tattered United States flag.

The flying of the United States flag, the USDA flag, or the Forest Service flag in a condition suitable for display, reflects both our respect to the Nation and pride in our organization.

If you have questions, or need further guidance, please contact my office at (202) 205-1661.

/s/ Thomas L. Tidwell

10/22 Forest Service update on the rappel program


Date: October 18, 2010
Subject: National Rappel Program Update
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, Regional Fire Directors, Regional Aviation Officers

The rappel program in the Pacific Northwest Region (PNW) just completed a successful and safe season. Rappel was used to staff 86 fires with 23 of those fires on one national forest. There were no lost time accidents related to rappel operations.

In late June, the PNW requested that its portion of the National Rappel Program be reactivated. After evaluation and recommendation from the National Rappel Quality Assurance Team, Fire and Aviation Management (FAM) Director Tom Harbour approved the reactivation on July 9, 2010.

An After Action Review (AAR) with the PNW is set following the 2010 season and will review operational and program objectives, quality assurance processes, SAFECOMs, lessons learned and rappel operations.

The process to reactivate other rappel programs will require a coordinated regional and national effort to prepare for the 2011 fire season. The results of the National Rappel Programmatic and Needs Assessment Review will support planning and reactivation of the other rappel programs. Preliminary results will be available by December 31, 2010. The review will examine a number of programmatic issues including but not limited to:

* Evaluate the optimum number of rappel programs
* Staffing, base numbers, and locations
* Additional standardization areas
* Potential types of standardized aircraft

The documents used as a basis to reinstate rappel and the quality assurance documents used in the PNW are available on the web at Quality Assurance. The link also contains the National Rappel Program Reactivation Process plan with an outline and direction to begin the process to reactivate a rappel program.

The successes of the PNW rappel season and the established quality assurance process to reactivate additional rappel programs demonstrate the viability and need for this fire suppression tool. The Forest Service is committed to managing the risk and ensuring the safety of our employees during rappel training and operations.

Questions about reactivation of a rappel program should be directed to Tom Harbour, Director FAM, (202) 205-1483.

/s/ James E. Hubbard
Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry

10/22 Re Seeking S130, S190, I100 and S133 training before January 1:


You all have been beyond helpful I was able to enroll in Colorado's fire camp for the training I need before January. Thank you so so so much.


Good news. Ab.

10/22 Station Fire-Big Tujunga Structure Protection:

To All:

No excuses...I could have articulated my comments about the picture the homeowner painted about her experience in Big Tujunga far better than I did...especially the point about news crews staying and fire crews leaving.

I have spoken to many on the fire and it is clear the fire behavior in that area was stunning...which is why I referred to the dynamics of such a fire in my testimony. I simply was trying to convey the experience/feelings of the homeowner and certainly did not intend to castigate the fire response or firefighters in the area. Heck, I was a captain on an engine on the Oakland Hills fire years ago and felt so helpless despite our resources so I can appreciate the homeowner's point of view as the firefighters.

Rick, with respect to the Fire Safe Council again I was simply trying to offer the experience of the homeowner. She believes fraud was involved in this "personal trainer" getting a grant and persuading officials that he represented homeowners. Apparently litigation is in process and I certainly don't want to get into that arena. Not an indictment on the overall process, just an experience of one homeowner. However as I said, it was not the first instance I've heard of an individual with a weedwhacker getting a grant and doing more harm than good. There apparently was such a situation around the Getty Museum not too long ago that comes to mind.

It could very well be a situation with the Forest Service. I scratch my head every day when it comes to some of the things they do with respect to their fire program.


10/22 I, for one, am with Rick.....

As a Pilot / Forester / Aircraft Mechanic/  ADX and a former Firewise type.....

UNTIL a line firefighter accepts a grant driven job to get the buy in from a community and attend all or as many city council meetings (and OFTEN it take more than 1) and more tenacity to get the buyin from all concerned to include zoning officials and to sit in those meetings OFTEN more times than any State or Federal Chief Forester out there...

FT and Temp firefighters who are getting paid to fight fire DO NOT often see the workings of FIREWISE and Fire Safe Councils other than maybe the occasional brush cutting assignments and BD crew operations to know the operations of former firefighters who have held the these positions as above to steer grants for the necessary fuels reduction projects accomplished.

Sometimes these were often tiresome operations with terrific end results as seen by many communities who did accept grants

MAYBE more LINE and Regional Foresters ought to practice more than preach Firewise..... In many States and communities it is mere lip service when there is no more grants being accepted or when FT permanent personnel in the "land management" world will freely state that it is those "20 % of the programs causing 80% of the problems / headaches."

If one did not have grants to do the operations....just THINK of those operating budgets for those "REAL" perceived programs that "are more important" than the fuels reduction activities, how does one in the land management world think that would affect their bottom line, EH?

So if the land management agencies would pony up more dinero, and more time to REAAAAALLLY get in touch with their communities rather than letting us folks out there in the grant world out to hang and some times in NON PERMANENT positions rather than doing their jobs  "because I'm too busy with other programs/ managing other programs.  Not saying this everywhere... but htere a number of land management professionals saying we do not have time to take on Firewise or Fire Safe Councils.... Really?? What is the Forestry and land management charge then?

The non permanent types who have administered Firewise and Fire Safe grants ought to be proud of themselves and their work..... more so than firefighters coming on these forums complaining about their pay issues.... love your job or leave it.... I loved mine in the Firewise world.... guess what I was the one getting laid off due to the soft grant money and have been told with my forestry and aviation background, I do not qualify for a perm State gig.... or is an age issue nowadays, HUH????

Get ahold of me when you and other want to know the real facts of managing grants

I will be GLAD to to educate you.

Pilot / Forester / Aircraft Mechanic/  ADX and a former Firewise type

10/22 Burney LO closing down today !


Just making sure you heard that Hat Creek folks are headed up the mountain sometime today to shut the LO down for the year !!!!


10/22 Station Fire-Big Tujunga Structure Protection:


Before you comment further about the experience of Big Tujunga residents at the Station Fire, or the actions of firefighters that were there to protect homes, you should be aware of a couple of things. As one of the individuals who was assigned to structure protection in Big T, I will tell you that very extreme fire behavior and a lack of defensible space drove the decision for the firefighters to retreat to a safety zone when the convection column collapsed and caused head fire to turn direction and come straight for these homes. I don't know where the news crew was, not in our immediate area. However, as the fire passed, firefighters were preoccupied with the search and rescue of civilians who had refused our plea to leave unsafe areas before the fire came. Ultimately three civilians were found to have been burned, two critically. Many of the available firefighters were then forced to focus on the victim's treatment and evacuation rather than structure firefighting. Fire conditions were so severe as to cut off access and allow only 11 engines (two type 3 STs and one FS engine) to be available in the most heavily impacted area of 80 or so rural homes, and the majority of these were lost. While my heart absolutely goes out to those that lost everything, be advised it was a tough day for those firefighters on the ground too. Here is a link to one of the AAR reports about the incident which can be found on the National Lessons Learned Center web site. I think you can get from the report a good idea from the firefighter's perspective what it was like.

Casey, by the way, you did a great job representing wildland firefighters at the hearing, keep up the good work!


www.wildfirelessons.net/documents/Station Fire 1400C AAR.pdf (447 K pdf file)

Good job responding in very difficult circumstances. Ab.

10/22 Re Charlie Rossi's passing:

I've worked with Charlie over the last 17 years on fires, instructing at the Colorado Wildfire Academies and at the New York Incident Management Academy. He was one of the most caring people I know, and I'll truly miss him. He always made sure that, in Finance, we had everything we needed, but his passion was for the firefighter on the line. He anticipated and provided what they needed and was very hard on himself if he missed even the smallest something - but that was Charlie. He also assisted with saw courses at the Academies to help ensure our young firefighters knew how to safely operate a saw with the most efficiency. His main concern was that they went home to their loved ones safely. I know there are many firefighters out there who have benefited from Charlie's expertise.

I've never had the privilege of meeting his family, but I know he loved them with all his heart. My heartfelt condolences go out to them.

There are many, many good people in the firefighting community and I've met a lot of them, but we lost a good man this week. I'll miss you, Gumba! You touched us all. Rest peacefully.


10/22 Re: Big Tujunga Fire Safe Council Problems


I am on the Board of Directors of a Fire Safe Council in the Central Sierra's. I also retired after over 34 years in the fire service with the Angeles and then L. A. County. I cannot second guess why the news reporters stayed and the firefighters left. I did see the OCFA's photos and they were pretty impressive.

I can assure you though, that our Fire Safe Council, and I'm sure most others in the state, are constantly monitoring the work being done. We are very aware of where the money goes. Our program includes weed eating, defensible space clearing for eligible homeowners, (elderly, poor, disabled) as well as building shaded fuel breaks that help protect whole communities in our rural county.

With the shaded fuel breaks we have to jump thru many hoops to satisfy environmental concerns. We have to hire foresters, archeologists as well as other 'ologists' before we can put one piece of equipment on the ground. Areas adjacent to drainages have to be bypassed and done by hand. We are proud of all we do to help the community and have an excellent relationship with CalFire and the Forest Service.

I am writing this only to point out that the vast majority of the Fire Safe Councils are not doing what was alluded to by the homeowner. We are monitored and held to a high standard for the work we do. We do not and can not do work on National Forest Land. Perhaps the homes in Vogel Flats were on small parcels of land and backed right up to the Angeles. The Forest Service does not allow clearing/thinning past the property boundary. That is one of the problems we have here. Even if a homeowner wants to create a defensible space he/she cannot.

Enough of my rant. I just want folks to know that the Fire Safe Councils do not get a free ride with the grants they receive.


Thanks, Rick. Ab.

10/21 Follow-up to Station Fire hearing:

I was honored to receive a remarkable phone call the other night from a homeowner from Big Tujunga who lost her home, animals & possessions in the Station Fire. She thanked me for my testimony but raised a concern about my recent comments on TheySaid regarding homeowner responsibilities.

We spoke for quite some time and I was shocked and disappointed to hear that yet another person had apparently defrauded the California Fire Safe Council for a sizeable grant and took advantage of many of these homeowners. Still further, she shared her frustration of watching her home burn while news crews remained at the scene but fire crews left.

She reiterated the proactive steps she and many of her neighbors had taken prior to the Fire... many homes having been there for decades and not touched by fire or other disasters. She shared her frustration with Chief Tripp's (LA County Fire) testimony.

I tried to reassure her that my comments were not an indictment on the homeowners in Big Tujunga but simply suggested that homeowner responsibility is just one of many facets of being as fire safe as possible.

The story about the CA Fire Safe Council and its grant process is not the first horror story I've heard about "folks with weed eaters" getting huge grants to do a variety of services then either destroy habitat, wreck havoc with the environment or don't do the work as promised. Perhaps it is time the wildland firefighting community look into the fraud that often comes along with such a grant program and put a little federal political pressure on the State to hold the Council more accountable for its disbursement of tax dollars.

All in all I was humbled by her knowledge & awareness and sickened by the fact that despite doing everything right to make her property & home as fire safe as possible, at least one person took advantage of her and others and fire crews, for unknown reasons, left her & news crews to watch her home burn.

Not being at the scene prevents me from second guessing any fire decision... it is something I just don't do anyway. But some of these homeowners are aged and infirm and if they are being taken advantage of, it might be time for some of us to come to their aid.

Just some thoughts.


10/21 Helitorch Helicopter Shot Down in ID:

Here’s some wild news from North-Central Idaho: A helicopter doing aerial ignition on a prescribed burn was shot down yesterday, apparently by a hunter upset over the intrusion into “his space.” The Viet Nam veteran pilot was able to land ship safely. It wasn’t the first time he had been shot down. (first time was in combat) Fortunately, there were no injuries. Charges against the hunter are pending. Link to story:

Shooter wings helicopter

“Nozzel Hog”

10/21 Services for Charlie Rossi will be as follows:

Saturday, Oct. 23 – 1:00 p.m.
Mountain View Community Church
201 Whedbee St.
Fort Collins, CO 80524
(970) 490-2262

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the “Charles Rossi Memorial Fund” and sent to mortuary’s address below. Charlie's wife Diane and the family will decide later on where to distribute funds. Diane did say that if someone felt strongly about flowers, those would be welcome too.

Bohlender Funeral Chapel
121 W. Olive Street
Fort Collins, CO 80524
(970) 482-4244

Website: www.bohlenderfuneralchapel.com

For cards, you can use the home address:

3230 Birmingham Dr.
Fort Collins CO 80526


10/21 I have worked with Charlie off and on over many years in fire support. He was a good hand and will be missed.

My condolences to all his family and friends.

Rex R Alford.

10/20 USDA Forest Service Announces New Leadership in California

VALLEJO, Calif., Oct. 20, 2010—Regional Forester Randy Moore is proud to welcome Jeanne Wade Evans, Daniel Jiron and Ronald Ketter, all of whom will serve as Deputy Regional Foresters for the National Forests of California.

New Deputy Regional Foresters

from several contributors, including rmm and AL

10/20 Re Seeking S130, S190, I100 and S133 training before January 1:

For Adam on the Theysaid....

I-100 is offered online, see link below:


Cheers, and best of luck!

Young and Still Learning

10/20 Re Seeking S130, S190, I100 and S133 training before January 1:


Colorado Firecamp has openings in S-130/190 classes on Nov. 11-14th and Dec. 9-12th. We can add in S-133
to the training if he needs that on the cert.


10/20 "The Armies of Summer" Prineville Quote


Here's a pic of the quote at the Prineville Monument.


Prineville quote

The Armies of Summer

"I have met a few fellows that claimed they enjoyed fighting fire, but I have always thought there was something wrong with their heads."
The truth is very more complex. Some are attracted by a youthful sense of adventure, a desire to participate in swashbuckling feats in romantic wilds. Some are proud of their skills, welcome a tough physical challenge, and take pride in their crew traditions.

Writings from 1925 FS Ranger Calkins and Stephen J. Pyne in "Fire in America"

Ab note: I think the first sentence is from Calkins, 1925, and quoted by Pyne in his book "Fire in America" and the remainder is from Pyne ("Fire in America" was published in 1997).

If the title "The Armies of Summer" did not come directly from Stephen Pyne, it may have come from Michael Theole's book " Fire Line, Summer Battles of the West" (pub 1995). His first gripping chapter titled, "The Armies of Summer" introduces the reader to wildland firefighters in all their diversity and tells the gripping story of the Wyoming Hotshots that survived burnover in Eastern Montana on the Brewer Fire, June 1988.

I added the photo to the Memorials & Monuments Page. Ab.

10/20 Charlie Rossi's passing:

Charlie Rossi, well-known logistics chief from Colorado State Forest Service and current Ground Support Unit Leader
for Rocky Mountain Team B (Pechota) died last night of a heart attack. Charlie built fire engines for the state and made
many friends in his years of doing Fire and logistical support. No service arrangements have been made public yet, but I
will post something when they are.


Sad news. Condolences to team mates, friends and family. Ab.

10/20 Seeking S130, S190, I100 and S133 training before January 1:

Hi AB,

I recently spoke to the captain of a BIA hotshot crew. I have a good chance of getting on their crew. The only problem is that their Wildfire Academy funding has been cut and I need my S130, S190, I100 and S133 all before January. I am a volunteer firefighter and already have my Firefighter I & II for my volunteer (structural) position, and my EMT License. I live in Lansing, Michigan and am willing to drive great lengths, spend money, and take sick days from work. I am beyond desperate to get these prerequisites. If you could point me in the right direction or give me the appropriate contacts I would greatly appreciate it.
Thank you for your time and consideration.


10/19 Come and Join in celebrating the Retirement of Michael LaNier

Date: January 8, 2011
Time: 5:00 to ?
RSVP: January 2, 2011

Flyer (2750 K doc file) with all the where's, what's, who's and whyfor's...


10/19 "The Armies of Summer"


My Name is Wes, I'm a WFF from Oregon and a while back I visited the WFF Monument in Prineville. There was a quote on one of the plaques that went something like " These, the soldiers of summer ". I cant remember it or find anything about it online so I was wondering if maybe you knew it or knew someone who did.

That would be awesome thanks!


Readers? We have photos from Pulaski's visit to Prineville Memorial years ago, but nothing close enough to show words on the monuments. 2 Photos Description. Ab.

10/19 Policy change -- FSM 5700 and 5709.16, Instrument Flight Conditions and Night Flying

from the WO memo, link below:

Current Forest Service (FS) policy prohibits single-engine flight in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) and at night except for ferry and cargo- carrying flights. Technology has made single-engine turbine airplanes and helicopters as safe to fly in IMC and at night as multi-engine aircraft when equipped to do so.

All Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) which address IFR and night flight will be required for these flights.

The Entire Correspondence (62 K doc file)

10/19 Dear Ab,

Once again the Combined Federal Campaign has started and Federal Employees, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and Marines are encouraged to make either a one time contribution or a monthly allotment to one of hundreds of worthy charities. Something as simple as $5.00 a month would equal $60.00/year for your favorite charities.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is one of those recognized charities listed and I would encourage you all to consider a donation to this fine organization. It is Number 12544 and this is one of the easiest ways to donate to them.

For more information on the Combined Federal Campaign, or to donate online, go to; Combined Federal Campaign


SPC Brian Kliesen
Fort Riley, KS
10/19 Station Fire and local FF safety:

I had to refresh the Station fire by reading the Blue, Green reports. Before I read the findings, I observed in the initial report that some very big mistakes were made on the part of the burnout. The plan to keep folks safe in an unsafe camp (above a shoot or very steep drainage) was the best they could have come up with in short notice, besides moving out completely. I was not at the fire nor at the camp so I can not really say that I would have done anything differently. My husband works for Cal Fire and I for the Feds so we see things from both sides of the fire hose.

PS I have a type ADD personality, so sitting still and reading all the comments on "they said" is hit and miss for me. If I missed something, forgive me.

On another note, on our local web news outlet, I just observed the local vols and county units extinguishing a vehicle fire, no ppe not scba's, parked downhill from the fire .... as a wildland bonehead, even I know how important it is to put that stuff on, even if it's "how will it look in the newspapers the next day"

Thanks for all you do.


10/19 From the Hotlist:

To: TweetingOnDuty

There was a good panel discussion during the CA/NV/HI Forest Fire Council conference last week over the need to create policy on the use of electronic devices by Government employees. Some believe the policy that prohibits texting and the use of cellular phones while driving is sufficient. Others want to see a more detailed policy... "No tweeting while cutting fireline"? Don't worry, Tweet, I'm not picking on you; I just love your moniker.

There were some exceptional presentations given on the subject. I especially enjoy listening to high-octane speakers like Daniel Berlant. By the time he was finished, the audience was totally exhausted. He predicts that sometime in the not-to-distant future, Facebook and Twitter will have evolved into something much different than it is today. It won't even have the same name. It may be called "Schmeckle"! His presentation, and all the others, may be downloaded from the California Nevada Hawaii Forest Fire Council webpage. One of his slides contained a screen capture from Wildlandfire.com! He referred to WLF as one of the first Social Media websites.

One common theme given by all the presenters was that if you don't keep up with technology, you'll get left behind. There was a very good example by Debra Schwiezer how Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park is being proactive and using social media to get the "official" message out to a far larger target crowd than using traditional media alone. But as we all know, Internet connectivity on wildfires doesn't exist everywhere (unless you're using an Inmarsat BGAN terminal or a TerreStar GENUS smartphone) so the old reliable information kiosk will never go away.

Overall, it was a great meeting and I'd like to thank the organizers for making it happen and providing the presentations for those who couldn't attend.

Fire Geek

10/18 Ab,

I haven't checked in for a while, busy doing that retired fall of the year canning/dehydrating/fruit leather thing some of us old folks do to occupy our time. Anyway, wow, some folks out there are stating their mind with some good reasoning (and anger) and some not so good. If character were really known, some things would never be said much less thought of.

I wonder after reading some of these comments if the shell game is coming to lite and might just be catching up with the agency. I don't think the agency really knows or understands how the continuing pressure in cost containment affect people and the decisions they make in very difficult times. Some --  such as retired Chief Mike Dietrich -- have the clear thought/experience/knowledge to do this well without it affecting the principals of safety first. I can't say the same for others that could overrule an IC request, possibly without having any true fire experience or knowledge. During the initial stages of an incident, few questions should be asked about what is needed. There are times when resources are scarce or not available, but cost should not be up there on the top decision making during IA for resources.

Funding within the agency, as every one knows that has worked for it, has always been a shell game... who sets the rules that creates the game of who is funded, who is not, what work gets done, what does not,... Congress! Who's questioning fault,.... Congress and it sounds like more folks that should have thought about the dangers of where they chose to live. Has anyone else noticed lately how much time Congress has spent on reviews of events that have affected great numbers of people and Congress itself set the rules that has created these events?

Hey, a rambler I'm being, so I'll get out of here. I just needed to express my thought that Mike Dietrich's integrity is of the up most and would never be questioned by anyone who has known him or worked with him.

I hope retirement from the agency is doing you well, Mike, and your new positions pay with the power company is making up for all those years of government service!


10/17 Station Fire

Personally my hat is off to the IA folks, including the IC. Ugly country, period. That type of fuel in that steepness of terrain with little to no road access. I know darn well that the IC knew when the morning sun came up that the slope would be in perfect alignment and the potential for a large fire was likely.

Aircraft could have or could have not caught that fire but you still need crews on the ground to line it and put it out. From what I saw from the Morris Fire they had their hands full from day one.

Dietrich’s team came after the escape and I am sure he would testify if need be. As for Jody Noiron she can’t hide from testifying no matter where they put her.

Casey is right. Home owners need to be held accountable including the insurance companies. Cal Fire LE 38’s are a great way to document who’s been doing their clearance. I have made the decision that if a home owner doesn’t care about defensible space, then I will find one that does. In my opinion only defensible space should be a safety zone.

I do not believe it was any one person’s fault, just a system breaking down and getting weaker.

Again, IA forces job well done.


Captain Short Timer

Thanks Ab, great site to dialog with folks.
10/17 Appreciate the clarification, K. Yep anger in this case is an issue, wish it was otherwise.

Sprinkled last night, looks like it could rain today, could it be FALL?


10/17 From Strider:

Anyone that has something to say should spit it out.
The IC has always been accountable.
What's your beef, K? Something specific? or just generally angry?
If specific, lay out the allegations and let firefighters address them.

I thought I did "spit it out". You are correct, the IC has always been accountable. And THAT is one of the issues, I thought I made. There is all too often, a situation where the IC is held accountable for decisions made by others in position of power (management) and those in a "perceived" position of power (dispatchers and coordinators). The 30 Mile Fire, and the outcome of that "investigation" is a good example, in my opinion. Value calls and interpretation made from outside of the incident, will more often than not have a detrimental effect on that incident.

So, my "beef" is on several levels. Here's one, from Casey's letter.

"....think the FS was content in simply stating that there was a problem with the aircraft order and they are taking steps to correct it. I don't think they wanted to offer up a GS-7 to the masses for execution. However, with the potential for lawsuits, at some point the "whos" will be identified and the steps to correct such problems will need to be transparent."

My guess, is we are referencing a dispatcher at ANF... just a guess. It is also my guess that this person did not make any decision by his or herself. I know this to be a fact in regard to one particular order that was denied. So, kudos to them for not wanting to name names in this hearing, but what about the GS-9, 11, 12, 13 etc. that was either the actual individual that "killed" an order, or who ultimately set up the system (with letters, etc.) that surely, is a causal factor in all of this?

I'm not asking for heads on sticks. I'm certainly not asking for jail time. I simply think that accountability seems to be a word and philosophy, held only by Forestry Technicians that actually "fight" fire. And that frankly needs to change. I'm not angry, just stating an opinion. That kid I talked to on the radio one afternoon last August, who was sitting with his brothers 800 feet below Camp 16..... He was angry. And I can't blame him. Probably still is, and I can't blame him.

And finally, to comment on your last line. That is exactly what I am asking for. Unfortunately that seems to be a fundamental problem. If firefighters can't get the resources they need to have a successful outcome of a mission without being questioned by non-firefighters, how are they supposed to address and fix those issues? According to many, even firefighters, there was no issue pertaining to the Station Fire.


10/16 Station Fire Hearing:

Hi to All:

Lots of emotional posts lately. Since I was at the hearing and had the honor of commenting on behalf of many federal wildland firefighters, I thought I'd add my 1/2 cents worth.

I have provided AB with a copy of our written testimony as well as my oral comments. Needless to say being on the 2nd panel requires a bit of creative editing with oral comments so there was a bit of deviation from what is written.

Personally, I have absolutely no doubt that FS representatives who were at the hearing and offering testimony knew full well the "whos" were, with respect to the dialogue between ANF dispatchers and South Ops regarding the aircraft orders. It was the FS's decision to not divulge that information in such a hearing. It may come out with the GAO report or perhaps someone will subpoena it at a future point. There is no doubt that at least on the ANF, there seems to be a process whereby someone other than the I/C and who is not on the scene of the incident, can some how trump the orders requested by the I/C. Little Tujunga may come to mind.

The LA Times and the congressional panel continued to prod the FS about Mr. Moore's August 5 memo, suggesting it was the "smoking gun" that created a deliberate decision to cancel or delay non-federal initial attack resources. Unfortunately, neither the LA Times nor the members of Congress understood the details of what the memo refers to as "planning and budget methods used to staff the firefighting workforce" i.e. assumed PR cost savings when crews go on assignments and what those "savings" are spent on. I have tried to articulate those details. It's clear that the press and Congress are in the right forest...just barking up the wrong tree. Perhaps Mr. Moore should have been on one of the panels to shed light on his rationale for the memo.

Quite honestly I initially applauded Mr. Moore for the memo (albeit it waaay open to interpretation) believing the R5 RO finally had acknowledged just how much cooperators cost. However I am becoming more resigned to the fact that the effort was more to do with the weird "accounting" the FS does than simply reducing non-federal costs.

I think the FS was content in simply stating that there was a problem with the aircraft order and they are taking steps to correct it. I don't think they wanted to offer up a GS-7 to the masses for execution. However, with the potential for lawsuits, at some point the "whos" will be identified and the steps to correct such problems will need to be transparent.

While disappointed, I am not surprised that no one at the hearing addressed the responsibility/culpability (if any) on the part of homeowner's in Vogel Flats for building/owning property in such a topographical area with a huge fire load. I realize it is a sensitive subject after each major wildfire in which folks lose property and belongings but at what point do homeowners need to stop blaming everyone else and recognize the influence their decision to live in a certain area has on the outcome of a wildfire.

It was patently unfair, and perhaps a symptom of the hearing being so political in nature with 2 weeks to go before an election for members of the congressional panel to push Mr. Spyrison on so many what-ifs...especially during a time in the fire when he had already transitioned command.

Everyone needs to understand the role politics played in this hearing. Held a year after the fire? Two weeks before a congressional election with a standing room only crowd of voters...That being said, maybe this fire, this hearing, will finally peel away enough of the management of the FS fire program to prompt someone in Congress to make some changes.

I was honored that Congresswoman Chu, in her opening statement referred to the FWFSA's written testimony. After the hearing she came up to me and told me our testimony "stood out above all others" she read. She also provided me with an opportunity to expand on our concerns about the role Line Officers play in the management of the fire program.

In the end, it was abundantly clear that despite the prodding questions, Congress still knows little about the fiscal shell games instituted by the FS when it comes to fire money. We have tried very hard to educate folks on the Hill and it is clear we still have a lot of work to be done.

If anyone has any questions on our testimony, please feel free to contact me at cjudd@fwfsa.org or 208-775-4577.

Casey Judd
Business Manager

FWFSA Oral Testimony (21 K doc file)
FWFSA Written Testimony (90 K doc file)

10/16 Re pay cut:

The comment was made in a previous post about a "paltry 2% raise". Sounds like allot when you figure nobody on Social Security is getting a raise for the second time in two years. Many folks on SSI would be very happy with a "paltry 2%" increase in their paychecks! There is a local trailer park that has raised the rent 65% in the last 5 years and majority of those folks are on a fixed income. Need to look at those unfortunate enough to not have a job, and those on fixed incomes before we start complaining about a 7% increase in our health insurance premiums. Very few people I know in the workforce have any kind of health insurance unless they work for some level of government.

New subject: If you know of anyone, retired from fire or otherwise -- key is that they're a VET, and in addition, anyone who requires any kind of assistance with their care -- have them check with the VA. Just found out some folks I know that are staying in a retirement facility are getting the whole months rent picked up by the VA. Also, my father-in-law has someone come in to clean/cook and it should be covered by VA. It is not fast getting the benefits (Average is a year for approval.) but it takes care of those out of pocket expenses. Vet does not have to have been a "Lifer" either. Just served in the military.


10/15 K

In response to the following quote:

"Anyone else notice that just days before the first hearing was supposed to be held, a certain ICT1 resigned. And then just the other day, just prior to this hearing, for really no reason at all, a Forest Supervisor was reassigned? Anyone notice that?"

I am that "certain ICT1" that resigned as the IC of CIIMT5. Yes, it was prior to the first scheduled fire "hearing" that was postponed.

I formally resigned as the IC for CIIMT5 in early August because I accepted a position in private industry. There is absolutely no connection to the Station Fire and my resignation. There would have been a "conflict of interest" to continue as an IC on an Incident Management Team.

I accepted the position with full knowledge and responsibility. My letter of resignation was posted in August to clarify my rationale. It is disturbing to link my resignation to the Station Fire and any other subsequent actions.

As fire professionals, it is essential to avoid conspiracy theories and perceived linkages without sufficient information.

With nothing but respect.

/s/ Mike Dietrich

Thanks Chief Dietrich. Ab.

10/15 Strider,

Yes, one must be red carded to fight fire from the air if one is an agency employee.. contractors must be carded and work under the supervision of an agency aerial supervisor unless initial attack carded.

And yes K is red carded.. minimally red carded as a Division Supervisor and ATGS....among other things... Seems like K laid out some valid issues to me...

yup ... folks are angry.. mostly at an agency that has lost it's way and is eating its own.....

10/15 Ab,

Anyone that has something to say should spit it out.
The IC has always been accountable.
What's your beef, K? Something specific? or just generally angry?
If specific, lay out the allegations and let firefighters address them.

Angry AT Pilot / Forester / Aircraft Mechanic / Aircraft Dispatcher
You ever had a red card?
Are you required to be red carded if you fight fire from the air?

Ab, sorry to stray from some issues that are not stated. People just seem to me to be angry.


I'd be happy to copy, paste and pass messages behind the scenes, or if you authorize it, I'll pass your request for contact on. You can have a hot "dialog" in private all you want.

Pilot (with multiple .../.../... capabilities):
The FS "reassigning positions without fire RETRAINING"? The person reassigned is a line officer (ANF forest supe, now or soon BDF forest supe). She is not required to be trained in fire in the first place beyond a simple-minded "Fire 101" class. No training, no retraining... That's the problem; non-fire people are making decisions beyond their scope of training and experience. This results in a clamor for a centralized fire organization. Ab.

10/15 K
The whole Station Fire debacle proves what you hit upon ACCOUNTABILITY and when the USFS starts taking that VERY SERIOUSLY and stop their silliness of reassigning positions and protecting these people without SOME kind of RETRAINING even it is ALLLLLLL the way back to their S130 / 190 days and restart like many pilots have had to to do to earn their way back to the flying game starting from the private license all the way to the airline ticket.

Proving whether or not aircraft could have saved the day or not..... IT IS very high time that aircraft contracting and operation be COMPLETELY stripped from the land management agencies and reassined to the FAA and Department of Transportation maybe even FEMA or DHS.  If ANY of u are familiar with the Gov move to eliminate Flight Service Stations from the FAA and contracted out to Lockheed Martin...well it has been proven thet contracting out has had its up and downs and many of us pilots were very disturbed at the Fed mov to contract out.

What is the point to all this, you ask?  THIS job of dispatching and contracting aircraft to wildland fire COULD very the wave of the future.  Maybe it is really time for the USFS to do a real deep self reassessment and quite a bit more than just IFPM reqs to prove one is a  fire qual'd individual. 

This whole debacle also proves that there needs to be more SERIOUS fire education training for ALLLLLLLL dispatchers in the system and that includes how to calll people up in the middle of the night and get the job done and what is MORE ....if there are ANYMORE hidden dispatch tapes in the USFS system..... THE ENTIRE DISPATCH staff is fired as collateral damage for an incident like this.
Simple as that. Many people are unemployed this very day that could do the job of ANY 20 to 40 yr USFS veteran dispatcher. Provided the training ALL this experience that has been bragged and talked about sure shows.... A Congressional hearing.   A number of people need to replaced, especially dispatchers who continually second guess folks on the fire ground and the one who "hid the dispatch tapes." This is ALLL very shameful for a certain group of permanent personnel, especially the acreage and loss of property that the USFS proclaims it protects everyday. If this sounds harsh, may it out to be. Maybe Region 5 with all its associated problems for the last 20+ yrs needs a serious housecleaning with folks who truly want to work and not just occupy a chair.
OBVIOUSLY the Congressional was NEEDED for this no matter what any land management agency supervisory type thinks. A situation with thias magnitiude requires a serious look at all operations in Region 5 because for another obvious reason.... there are some very serious lapses in judgement by MANY a supervisor and MANY an employee in Region 5.

Policy changes??? That is an understatement!!! When this is done ....There ought so many a tight regulation that EVERY Region 5 employee may turn out being a highly paid brush cutter technician OR maybe the USFS needs to license land management types like CDFPP (CDF) did in the past. MAYBE is is time to LICENSE natural resource employees like the do aircraft pilots and aircraft mechanics. License to learn you say? IT CAN be pulled for lapses in judgement, etc..... a BIT more serious than RED CARD will ever be. Maybe the Red Card system needs a whole new training revamp after these issues of the Station Fire.

Pilot / Forester / Aircraft Mechanic / Aircraft Dispatcher
10/15 JH,

This is not, in the minds of most operators, about the final outcome of the Station fire. Nor should the final outcome of the Station fire be what is and will be debated. The FACT is that the system broke down. Whether or not this fire would, or could, have been caught by 0900 on day 2 (given that the “airtankers” would have been airborne at 0700) is beside the point. My personal opinion is, not a chance. There were “orders” placed by incident (INCIDENT) management that were ignored by dispatch and coordination centers. Regardless of the outcome, that is inexcusable. It is inexcusable that individuals that are 45 miles away (at the closest) and confined to a box, are making decisions that affect the taxpayers of the United States of America, and the firefighters charged with protecting them. It is inexcusable that this happens every day of fire season. Open up a “Red Book” and read chapter one. That will tell you everything you need to know about this incident, and why those that decided not to follow the National Fire Policy, should be held accountable. Saying that “it would have happened anyway” is akin to a team of MD’s removing the “wrong” leg of a bone cancer patient, only to use the excuse that this patient also had lung cancer, and so would have never needed either leg anyway.

Re-read your third paragraph again, and then remember that most of the property loss, injury… and ALL of the death, on the Station Fire, didn’t happen in either community you listed. And then, re-read your fourth paragraph. There are three questions you pose. You don’t think that some changes in policy might clear up some of the issues cited? Realizing the importance of commanders intent, and applying it, might be a good start. More aircraft? I know that is a hot topic, as there has been a feeling that aircraft procurement has had a detrimental effect on crews etc. However, if the outcome of all of this, there is a clear understanding of what it takes to protect the wildland and those that live around it, so be it. More flogging of the staff, until moral improves? I’m hoping your intended definition of “staff” was “employees". But if, and I gotta tell you by the way I read your letter, you are “staff” (meaning staff officers, management, et al) then yes if that is what it takes, absolutely. In the end, someone must take accountability. The record shows (by radio, and phone transcripts) that the original targets of this investigation (the IA IC in particular) are NOT the ones that need to be held accountable…

Anyone else notice that just days before the first hearing was supposed to be held, a certain ICT1 resigned. And then just the other day, just prior to this hearing, for really no reason at all, a Forest Supervisor was “reassigned”? Anyone notice that?


10/15 We continue to argue about who did or who didn't do what, when, and for why. We argue over un-provable contentions - that more air support sooner would have changed the outcome (science please - it’s all opinion isn't it?) and then argue over who to blame for this supposed lapse in judgment. Pay no attention to the elephant in the room.

200,000 acres of contiguous fuel, mostly chaparral, all over 40 years old, in terrain steeper than the angle of repose, practically roadless - it was going to burn sooner or later. It was going to burn like the Narrows or the Curve or the Williams did. We unintentionally manage the Angeles for large stand-replacement fires buy letting the fuel build up over such vast expanses.

We should acknowledge that the outcome of the Station fire, tragic though it was, was not nearly as bad as it could have been. Had it started in the north or east under Santa Ana winds, it would have incinerated Pasadena, La Cañada, and other front country cities. The Station fire backed into those communities, against the afternoon winds.

What will the outcome be? Changes in policy? More aircraft? More flogging of the staff until morale improves? The result of all this distraction will be slight improvements in our ability to extinguish the "easy" fires (the ones we put out) so we can let the chaparral grow through wet years and dry years to accumulate lots of fine dead material until the inevitable Station Fire burns again. And it will probably burn bigger and hotter. Most of us won't be around to see it, but history will.

10/14 Firefighters, a suggestion. Lets stop eating our young. You know, the ones that wear nomex for a living.....

5000 - 7.2 % of you health benefits is probably around $7 a check more. 2% of your hourly pay is probably around 40 cents an hour more X 80 hours = $32 a check more. So your net gain is $25 out of this deal. haw, haw.

Now the bad news, I wouldn't count on that 2%. What happens the night of Nov 2th, especially in the House of Representatives will have a lot to do with you and me getting that 2%. I hope you're registered to vote, we need you..... I am hopeful for the 2%, however I am planning for a chance of a gov shutdown in early 2011 and keeping a little more in reserve and taking it easy on purchases this holiday season just in case. Support the people who will go to bat for you and your family. Good post, your point is well taken....

The education of Paul Pringle.... organization, organization, organization, RE-ORGANIZATION

paul.pringle@ latimes.com

Coffee, Tea or ?
10/14 Re: Fed Firefighter Pay


I do not believe that you are "getting a 5% pay cut" as you may believe you are going to get. Let's throw out a few numbers and do the math:

Lets say a Forestry Technician (aka Wildland Firefighter) makes $1500.00 per paycheck. Let's also imagine that that employee spends $150 out of pocket on FEHB premiums. This sounds fairly reasonable to me for a GS - 6 or 7 employee with a self + family insurance plan.

Lets imagine in 2011 that the employee's wages go up the proposed 2%. The employee's new wages would become $1500.00 x 2% = $1530.00 per paycheck. Lets imagine that the employee's FEHB premiums go up your stated 7.2%. The employee's new FEHB cost per payperiod would become $150.00 x 7.2% = $160.80.

If you compare the % of the employee's paycheck that goes to paying for FEHB premiums, you will see your statement is not entirely accurate:

in 2010 - $1500 salary / $150 FEHB = 10% of employee's paycheck goes to FEHB premiums

in 2011 - $1530 salary / $160.80 FEHB = 9.51% of employee's paycheck goes to FEHB premiums

Difference of = .49%

So hopefully my math is somewhat on basis, but it shows that your 2% proposed increased should offset the increased cost of your FEHB premiums, and actually lowers the % you are paying into FEHB by almost 1/2% in the stated example. Obviously, the numbers will vary somewhat if folks are receiving a higher or lower salary, and/or are paying more or less for FEHB. I don't believe any employee will be taking significantly less home due to increased costs to health care premiums...

Let's also remember how many in this country are unemployed or are taking pay reductions to keep their jobs. I know we continue to fight for (and rightfully deserve) equal pay and benefits to our municipal counterparts, but be thankful for the 2% if that's what comes around. Enjoy your pay raise, I will!

- Centrifugal Pump
10/14 5000

Your confusion may stem from your math. While a 2.0% raise is a paltry sum and even less when you factor in the increase of healthcare, you formula does not add up. I’ll explain.

Say you are a GS-5 step 5 and live in the rest of US salary area, your annual salary would be $35,489. A 2.0% raise would equal $36,199 (rounded up) or a $710.00 salary increase for the year.

Say you have GEHA Self High option at $2,114.32 per year, a 7.2% increase would equal $2266.55 or a $152.23 increase for the year. So, if you take your raise minus your GEHA premium increase and divide by your new annual salary your raise would actually be about 1.54%. Less than the paltry 2% but not a 5% cut.

Don’t spend it all in one place!


10/14 5000, 
I agree with you on the 79,000+ crap that is going around.  I wonder what District they used for that figure? The health care cost going up can't be right!  I thought health care costs were going down?  hmmm..  Maybe the cost will go down after they go up!? Remember to vote Nov. 2nd.

Controversy about Obama statements on health care cost


10/14 Cost control on the Station Fire: (md)

What would Gleason say? Depends on which Gleason you are referring to. I did not have the honor of knowing Paul, but I have respect for him due to the abundance of comments on his contributions. If you are talking about Jackie, though, it seems to be relevant also: “And awayyyyyyyy, we go!”

10/14 Oversight on the Station Fire:

Questions remaining

The DR or Asst. fire staff officer were called and told there was a problem on the Station Fire. Aren't these the people are tasked with oversight for situation such as this? Would the Angeles Forest Supervisor agree with their actions?

They did not communicate that night nor travel to the scene and contact the I.C.

Was it because they thought it was not something to take seriously? If that was the reason then they made a mistake. If they were ill or had too much to drink and could not drive safely, then they made the right decision.

I would like to know why they did not respond to the situation either in communicating or making themselves available and providing oversight?

Wondering more and more

DR = District Ranger

10/14 Fed firefighter pay

I’m confused.

As federal employee, the average premium increase on plans offered through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program will be rising an estimated 7.2 percent in 2011. The President proposed an increase in pay at 2% (www.fedsmith.com) so am I essentially getting a 5% pay cut?

I know this might chap some folks, but I am just wondering who is making the average federal employee rate of $79,000+ a year with total a total salary and compensation package of about $119,000. I know I am not, and neither are the 80 plus folks working on my district as Forestry Technicians, otherwise know as Firefighters.


10/14 Cost control on the Station Fire:

There is a lot of speculation about what "Cost Control" really means.

It has been with us for a long time. Supply telling us they can't give out gloves and files without an exchange because they are trying to keep costs down while Tankers fly 10+ hours a day for weeks (McNally et all). Bad budget years yield poorly thought out cost control methods. In place for Local Government and State and Feds are all poor policies with regard to ordering that delay fireline commanders from ordering the resources they need as expeditiously as would be prudent. 7 points of light ordering takes forever...

another fine example is unified command without an agency rep present for the ownership (local government and federal dpa). Initially values at risk are considered when expediting ordering, but that details "imminent threat" as a factor to approve deny initial orders. There are few places in CA where a house can't potentially get burned if we do nothing for long enough. Get away from this antiquated ordering and just send it... figure out the bills later.

Additionally Firefighter safety should be a consideration. I was personally on a fire where we waited for crews dozers and never got aircraft for a fire that had few values at risk but insufficient personnel and equipment because of these ownership payment games. At some point when thunderstorms are running around your fire, FF safety needs to be considered. Exposure time is decreased dramatically by pounding the piss out of fires at initial attack rather than playing the game until a team needs to be approved with all the other equipment. This takes the forethought of leaders to influence their elected officials into just doing what is right by public safety first and foremost. All FF care about this principle first and foremost and we cannot allow ourselves to point fingers or drink the coolaide of public hysteria and reaction.

What would Gleason say?


10/14 Control of Costs on the Station Fire:

I will share my thoughts about the Station Fire inquiry:

Either the direction for containing costs was ignored or it wasn't.
The facts of the delayed response could be used to assure the Gov. that the directive was adhered to.
Was the delay in aircraft response evidence of meeting the directive?

Just wondering

LA Times article that talks about costs:
Cost concerns weakened Forest Service's assault on Station fire, study says

10/13 A new article from LA Times regarding yesterdays meeting in Pasadena.

Station Fire


10/12 Congratulations to Tom Harbour.

He remained a true professional in spite of all the questions thrown at him, and at times, the unprofessional atmosphere generated by the audience and allowed.

Congrats to Casey for his good testimony written and oral. Even handed and good explainer. I appreciated his fairness in telling the one congressman that contractors are not untrained.

Will Spryson (sp?) did well with his clear and supported reasoning. There was one silly question about what was done after he handed off command. Like he was supposed to know about all decisions made after he got off duty.


10/12 Station Fire Hearing:

The hearing to delve into the FS's initial attack on the Station Fire concluded after 5 hours of testimony & questions. A total of 11 "witnesses" provided oral testimony and answered questions posed by 5 members of the CA congressional delegation: Rep.s Schiff, McKeon, Chu, Dreier & Sherman.

Both Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron & FAM Director Tom Harbour remained in the hot seat for most of their appearance with repeated pointed questions about the ordering of aircraft, who at SoOps told ANF dispatchers 2 hold the order for tankers, and other policy questions.

The IAFF representative encouraged Congress to take action to eliminate private contractors from the wildfire scene. While Congressman Sherman often referred to said contractors as "untrained", FWFSA representative Casey Judd suggested the proliferation of contractors in recent years was because the federal wildfire response had become a financial feeding frenzy for everyone except federal wildland firefighters. He further suggested to Rep. Sherman that he'd likely face stiff opposition to a plan to cut contractors out of the mix as there would be little support to do so from congressional representatives in the Pacific Northwest.

The Courtroom was packed, with many having to stand for hours. In the end, the members of congress stated they looked forward to the GAO report. Repeated comments were made suggesting that Randy Moore's memo from Aug. 5th relating to the PR budget and reducing costs was a "smoking gun" and that the memo resulted in a deliberate cancellation or delay in resources.

However FWFSA representative Judd pointed out to the congressional panel that unless they clearly understood the "planning & budget methods used to staff the firefighting workforce" as stated in the memo, said comments were speculation. After the hearing he tried to explain the methods to several of the congressional members who were promptly lost in trying to understand that shell game.

All in all a lot of talk, a lot of questions, a lot of anticipation for the GAO report, but no real objectives. It was interesting in that Mr. Judd in his oral testimony referred to previous fires that had been followed by blue ribbon panels and commissions whose suggestions had yet to be implemented.

Also interesting to note that after the hearing, Congresswoman Chu stated that the FWFSA's written testimony stood out above all others submitted.

NorCal Tom

10/12 Let's hear it for centralization!

Only safe and sane way to go.


10/12 Re Congressional hearing

To all invited guests and anyone else given the opportunity to speak.

Don't be afraid to talk about a reorganization.

A centralized reorganization will come with lower operating costs and no reductions in Firefighter strength.

Always remember that it's 2010 not 1910. A new Emergency Service organization for a new century.

We can do this if we stand together.

It's our time to be the leaders of change.....


10/12 Congressional hearing convenes in Pasadena today regarding USFS response to the Station Fire.

Convened by Congressman Adam Schiff, the hearing will include oral testimony from Forest Service officials, LA County Fire officials, homeowners, retired Forest Service firefighters, the IAFF & the FWFSA. FWFSA member Will Spyrison and retired member and former ANF Fire Chief Don Feser have been invited to testify.

The hearing will be held at the Richard H Chambers US Court of Appeals Building, Courtroom # 3 at 125 S Grand Ave., Pasadena from 9:00am-11:00am. All ANF firefighters not on duty are encouraged to attend as are any federal wildland firefighters.


10/11 Hiring practices

There are many postings about the unfairness of life.

Veterans preference – nothing to object to, they have earned their dues in ways we can’t imagine. Say thank you. Veterans should not have to “earn their keep”; they already have. They have also earned the right to try out a new and honored profession, fire fighting. If they are not suited to our line of work, they are courageous enough to say, thanks, but no thanks.

Consent Decree – during those years women may have had preference in hiring, but they paid for every moment of being on the job. Their gender peers were not supportive; they were too busy surviving. The men were frustrated and blame was flung far and wide, but usually at the women who were doing the best they could. Those who performed did, and still have to earn the right to perform each time they gain a new role within the agency; respect was task based. They were/are compared to those who came, did not like the job and left or quite simply, failed. Must we continue to beat up, verbally or otherwise, those who venture forth and pay their dues, just like we all did? Must we take out frustration upon those who bravely waded through the bowels of AVUE, applied and said “yes” when a position was offered? Would you rather have had an incident similar to Rosa Parks to get everyone’s attention that there really are people of both genders and many races who would, in fact, be excellent firefighters, chief officers and incident commanders?

The lessons learned are this: While the Consent Decree brought a wealth of unwanted paperwork and procedures, it also let the agency know, through the courts, that accountability was had. Law Enforcement fought for the right to operate as true professionals, unhampered by individual Line Officer discretion. They now work for a professional law enforcement chain of command and the agency. Why is Fire, Fuels and Aviation Management still just the foresters and technicians that the agency wants to use when needed, but fails to admit are an emergency services branch, with true professional fire fighters.

The missing element in the entire dialog is simply this: we are a professional fire fighting service. The agency needs us for more than moving picnic tables, dumping hazard trees, igniting hillsides on fire and suppressing fires; they needs us because the budget, workforce and services provided are the mainstay of the Forest Service -- the “face”-- and a crucial service that the American public wants the Forest Service to provide.

Line does not see things as black and white. They see no discrepancy in having two women qualified for the director job, and selecting neither, but hammering “the field” to select more women in Fire because women's numbers are going down. There is no notice of duplicity in selecting people based on a name that “sounds like…” something that meets the definition of “diverse”. Line does not select on the ‘best qualified”, so long as an individual makes the certificate, anyone on the certificate is “fair game”. AS the saying goes, “I could simply select by throwing a dart at the cert.” The purpose of interviews and supervisory checks is to find out who is “supported” (meaning will get along with the rest of the Line officers). It’s about whether the individual meets a current Line Officer need. It is not about the ‘best qualified”; there is no such thing. It’s not about capitalizing on the true wealth of diversity – different ideas and methods to make a stronger whole. That is not a measurement that is rewarded.

In our dialog and solutions in this forum, we either live together, team up and be a united entity, or the agency will remain the same.


10/11 Ab,

I was asked to forward this information about 2 Redding Smokejumpers being recognized later this month at the California Firefighters Memorial ceremony.

Thomas Regennitter was an employee of the Angeles National Forest and was also a "retread" Smokejumper. Retreads were part of a smokejumper militia from different forests that refreshed as smokejumpers in the spring then returned to their home unit. During periods of increased initial attack, they were recalled to bolster smokejumper numbers. On June 2, 1970, Thomas was called and the next day he was dispatched with 12 other smokejumpers to staff the Oak Fire on the Shasta-Trinity N.F. He died on June 3, 1970 when his static line wrapped around his neck upon exit from the aircraft.

Steven Grammer was a first year smokejumper. In late September of 1970, he filled a vacant spot with the Redding Hotshots on the Forks Fire, Angeles National Forest. On September 28, 1970, he was killed in a helicopter crash along with two hotshots, the pilot, and a crew foreman.

Also, there are 3 other USFS firefighters being added to the ceremony in Sacramento. It is October 16, 2010 and here's a the link to the website.
California Fire Foundation - California Firefighters Memorial


10/11 Author wants stories for his book:

In the summer of 2009, I decided to write my first book of fiction. The book is a story of a firefighting crew minus any major disasters. I wanted to show how an ordinary crew acts on a ordinary fire with the extra ordinary being limited to story telling and interpersonal relationships. I still plan to sell the book, ideally, so I'm not revealing too much. In late summer I decided to hone my skills before completing it; I finished about 2/3 of the manuscript and started two other books of fiction.

This fall I've made good progress in completing the book. Why write here? I'm still looking for interesting fireline incidents I can fictionalize for my book to make it more real. Do you know an odd firefighter or have an unusual experience that might make a good fictional story during a break on the fireline? I'd love to hear it. Several people responded last year when I made a similar request. One person wrote their own book, a long email that I enjoyed of firefighting experiences. Close calls, frustrating personalities, all make good idea seeds.

I hope to complete the manuscript before the year ends, perhaps much sooner.

For example, I chuckled at rmm's response to AZ trailblazer's note on Native Americans. I chat on QQ with people in China every day now, often in Chinese. They often ask if I am a Native American. Like rmm, I say yes. But I also explain the phrase has multiple meanings.

sedgehead@ nospam hotmail.com

10/11 Line officer on the Station Fire:

Just so we are all clear on this and for those not in the Forest Service. The letter in question in the article was signed by a Line Officer.

Line Officers manage and supervise the Forest Service fire program starting at the Division Chief level. A Division Chief reports to a non-fire Line Officer and not to the Forest Fire Chief. How would that work in your Department?

A Forest Fire Chief reports to a non-fire Line Officer, not the Regional FAM Director.

Forest Service Line Officers were accused of interfering with Forest Service Law Enforcement investigations in the 1990's when Espy was the Sec of Agriculture. At the time Line Officers supervised Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers at the local level (similar to the Division Chief). The outcome after internal investigations, congressional testimony and a segment on ABC's 20/20 show was a complete reorganization of the Forest Service Law Enforcement organization.

It's time people, it's our time. We have zero confidence from some in the public thanks to our Line Officers.

Centralize Fire Management! Step Up

Why: Lower overhead costs, more efficient management and government, better communications with Rank and File and better chain-of-command leadership.



Station Fire

10/10 Paul Gleason...


I stumbled on your website and read Paul Gleason had died. My sympathies to his family and friends.

I met Paul in 1964 when he and I joined the Dalton Hotshots. I remember thinking at the time, "This guy's not your regular sort of person." And he wasn't. He took me rock climbing on Tahquitz Rock, turned me on to the Big Horn sheep on Mt. Baldy, and listened with me to the new hot group, the Beatles...

Still, to this day, I find myself singing the song he wrote for the Dalton Hotshots...

My eyes have seen the flames
Running up the hill
Number 14 brush
And the crew is feeling ill
A pulaski in my hand
And a shovel up my ass
But the shots are gonna fight like hell

Glory, glory, what a hell of a way to die
Glory, glory, what a hell of a way to die
Glory, glory, what a hell of a way to die
But the shots are gonna fight like hell

I don't remember the entirety of the second stanza but it carried forth in a way only Paul Gleason could make it happen. I remember rolling red light and siren and singing with whole crew.

Chuck Hartley - Mine and everyone's greatest!

Sid Newman - He saved my ass more than once. I'd follow him anywhere!

Mike Cole - King of the Cherry Locker. Where are you man?

Rick Prang - Strumming his guitar and singing Dylan.

Larry Armas - I can still taste your Mama's cooking!

Richard Pennebaker - Carrying a cot toward the massive rattler in Cajon Pass !

Theo - How many notches do you have now?

And all the others - too much time has passed below this bridge to remember all the names. Other than being bumped from third brush hook to the McLeods, and the 'mess' Mike Cole left in my Corvair..., the memories are great.

Thanks Paul. I miss you Bro.

Dave Guidinger

Thanks for the memories. Presumably the song is to the tune "Mine eyes have seen the glory..." Ab.

10/10 Line Officer Assignments:

Another piece of the puzzle is that Kit Mullen, the Hat Creek RD DR on the Lassen, will be the acting Forest Supervisor on the Inyo. She already had a detail as the Forest Supervisor of the Lassen this year. I can't add anything negative on this though.

aka Scrape

10/10 Speculation on Noiron's reassignment:

Station Fire

I'm just sorry she precipitated the retirement of another good ANF firefighter manager before she was reassigned.

Noname SoCal

10/10 CAL FIRE Director Del Walters is retiring.


About executive staff Walters

Here is the retirement memo. A link; titled "Chief's Monthly Memo"

About executive chief monthly memo

10/10 Looking for a map:

I am trying to find a map with the boundary of the 1977 Miller Peak (or Carr Peak) Fire in the Huachuca Mountains, AZ. No luck with USFS.

Any ideas?


10/10 Line officer reassignment:

After reading the memo from Randy Moore in regards to Judy Noiron's reassignment to the BDF, I can't get the "What the???? out of my head. History tends to repeats itself, I hope for the BDF's sake it does not. There are a lot of great people there that I would hate to see take early retirement.

The only thing I can offer the BDF is my Sincerest Condolences.


10/10 My 2 Cents

I have been following the hiring posts with interest. Good points on both sides. Being a old timer that fought like hell to keep the Forest Service honest over the years, I learned a few things and they are facts not bs...

The Forest Service outright screwed our Veterans (and non-veterans) over during their ILLEGAL implementation of the Consent Decree. If you agree with veterans pref. or not the Forest Service violated the law (that is a fact and the documentation to prove it still exists today). Believe me, if the veterans get in the way of "a diversity first agenda" the Forest Service (or its employees) will violate the law and bypass them again.

One poster posted the following:


Each federal agency shall appoint a Director of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO Director), who shall be under the immediate supervision of the agency head. 29 C.F.R. § 1614.102(b)(4).(1) The EEO Director shall be responsible for the implementation of a continuing affirmative employment program to promote equal employment opportunity and to identify and eliminate discriminatory practices and policies. The EEO Director cannot be placed under the supervision of the agency's Director of Personnel or other officials responsible for executing and advising on personnel actions."

The above statement means what it says!! It does not mean a selecting official may select a individual for a position based solely on race or gender. As with the Consent Decree the Forest Service went through years ago: "Gender" could ONLY be used as a tie-breaker among EQUALLY qualified applicants... fact not bs. There is no Affirmative Action Plan or Program in the Forest Service existing today that allows the agency or its employees to select a person for a job based solely on gender or race... don't take my word for it look it up!!

The most important thing I (we) learned years ago was that the EEO Complaint process WORKS for ANYONE that has been discriminated against! The number of EEO Complaints that the Forest Service was FORCED to settle in favor of the complainants due to PROVEN DISCRIMINATION was astounding (positions and $$$$$)!! Most of these cases were won due to race or gender being the number one selection criteria, AND THAT IS A VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW, EEOC REGULATIONS and MERITS PRINCIPLES and still is!

Some may not agree with the EEOC or the EEO Complaint Process, but it is one of the only processes that takes the decision making process away from the Forest Service when it, or its employees discriminate, especially when a contract EEO investigator (some are retired FBI Agents) are assigned. I am not encouraging anyone to file a frivolous discrimination complaint, BUT if you feel or know you have been discriminated against, including during a hiring process, you need to file a EEO Complaint! I know this is a repeat for some, I've posted similar messages on this forum in the past.

We need to "keep them honest!"


10/9 Engine Standardization:

For Information


File Code: 5100/7100
Date: October 1, 2010
Subject: National Fire Engine Standardization Update
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director

The Senior Fire Leadership Group’s chartered Fire Vehicle Standardization Committee (FVSC) continues to work through the implementation of national engine standards. Previous correspondence noted that the FVSC was developing a process for units substantiating a need for specific and minor deviation from national standards.

The enclosed deviation request form has been developed and tested through the FVSC over the past months. This form will be available via the Fire and Aviation (FAM) web site: www.fs.fed.us.

The formal process requires the regional fire equipment committee to submit a request through the Regional Fire Director and Regional Fleet Manager, with the approval by the Deputy Regional Forester prior to submission to the FVSC.

The request will be evaluated by the FVSC or other subject matter expert(s) who will deliver either 1) a recommendation for approval or 2) why the request should not be approved. Evaluations of requests will be documented on an evaluation form. The evaluation will be submitted to the Deputy Chief for State and Private Forestry (S&PF) for final approval or denial of the request; the Deputy Chief may delegate this authority.

The intent of the formal deviation process is to ensure the appropriate level of support is associated with the request from both fire and fleet management. Additionally, it is important to ensure the national standards are enforced while also meeting the needs of the Agency. One more benefit of this process is the capture of specification criteria that could be implemented agency-wide to benefit all regions. The FVSC evaluation portion of the process is critical to ensure the deviation will not unintentionally create other problems in the development of the apparatus or potential training and safety concerns.

As FAM continues to develop the national standards for the remaining fire vehicles remember that the standards currently published MUST be used for any current vehicle purchases. Communication with the fleet manager when identifying replacement needs is critical to facilitate implementation of the national standard but also because of the levels of investment. The Washington Office (WO) recognizes there are some localized funding gaps during the transition from current vehicle investment to national standards. Work is being done to determine the best approach to deal with this issue.

The FVSC is working to submit standards for the remaining fire vehicles to national fire leadership by the 2010 calendar year end. To meet this goal additional information may be requested from the field. The level of detail will be determined as the FVSC works through each vehicle category.

Please contact the committee chair, Tory Henderson, FAM Fire Equipment Branch Chief, at (208) 387-5348 or thenderson@fs.fed.us with any questions.

/s/ John Phipps (for)
Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry

/s/ Jim Pena (for)
Deputy Chief, National Forest System


cc: Rebecca A Hutchins, Tory Henderson, pdl wo spf fam regional fire directors, pdl RSA Fleet Managers

10/9 Line Officer assignments in R5:

My question is why was Jody Noiron reassigned? Was it disciplinary or the Region wanting to finish what Jean Wade started: Continue tearing down one of the finest Fire organizations in the Forest Service?

On the positive side I welcome Jody Noiron.

Captain Short Timer

10/9 R5 BoD

It appears the R-5 FAM BOD (Fire Chiefs) are starting to get back to leading with vision and determination. Keep it up, you have a lot of work to do building back the trust that was lost over the past 5 years.

Maintain and reaffirm the R-5 Standard Module Configurations under the RF signature. These standards minimize the effects of rogue Line Officers (Forest Supvs and District Rangers) who don't like to play nice in the sandbox.

The R-5 FAM BOD needs to always remember why they tackle tough problems and who they tackle them for. Always consider what are the effects of any decision on the workforce and finally the R-5 BOD must always remember why they work so hard and on whose behalf they work hard: No, Chief, it's not the person who signs your paycheck.


The Firefighter

Keep up the good work...


R5 Fire Management Board of Directors Agenda
October 14-15, 2010

Embassy Suites, South Lake Tahoe

~~Thursday, 10/14/10~~
Maime/Meteor Room
Time Agenda Item Strategic Plan
Vision Focus
Area (#)
Item Type
(present, discuss,
1000 Welcome
Agenda Check
House Keeping
    Jay Kurth
Dorothy Albright
Dorothy Albright
1030 Director's Comments     Joe Millar
1130 Apprenticeship Stds VFA-4 Present & Discuss Kent Swartzlander
1200 Lunch      
1300 Collar Brass Stds   Present & Decide Kent Swartzlander
1330 Reconfigure BoD
Training Committee
into BoD Workforce
Mgmt Committee
VFA-3 Present & Decide Sharon Allen-Brick
Jeanne Pincha-Tulley
1415 Break      
1430 Standard Module
Organization Updates
  Discuss & Decide Gary Biel
1600 National Fleet/ Vehicle
VFA-3 Present & Discuss Kit Bailey
Linda Keydeniers
1630 Regional Prevention
Potential Forest
Present & Discuss Trudy Mahoney
Ron Hodgson
1700 Wrap-up     Dorothy Albright


~~Friday, 10/15/10~~
Flying Cloud and Pre Fun Room
Time Agenda Item Strategic Plan
Vision Focus Area (#)
Item Type
(present, discuss, decide)
0800 Fire Ecology
Info Resource
VFA-2, 5 Present & Discuss Neil Sugihara
0845 Regional Invasive
Species Issue
VFA-2 Discuss & Decide Neil Sugihara
0930 Break      
0945 BIN Items
Meeting AAR
    Dorothy Albright
Dorothy Albright
Dorothy Albright
  Closing Remarks     Joe Millar
1100 Wrap-up      
10/8 Line Officer assignments in R5:


Additional RLT personnel changes:

Eli Ilano will be the new Deputy Forest Supervisor on the Tahoe NF. Al Olson will be the new Deputy Forest Supervisor on the Shasta-Trinity NF


10/8 Line Officer assignments in R5:
Noiron to BDF:

Just a personal thought. Perhaps the FS could work this like a professional sports team trade: Send Jody, Peggy & Ken to the minors (i.e. forests with little to no wildfire activity) and let the fire staffs off the BDF, ANF and LP draft their successors!!!

Fedwatcher II
10/8 Line of Duty Death Memorial Information for Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Fire Fighter Jim Saunders


Firefighter Saunders Final Call to Duty

Uniform Personnel Directions

The service to honor FF Saunders has three major components to it. The first will be the memorial service that is being held at the Sacramento State University's Hornet Stadium located at 6000 J Street. The second phase of the memorial is the procession in which the family and all fire apparatus will move from Hornet Stadium to Cal Expo. We hope that all fire apparatus attending the memorial will participate in the procession. The third phase of the memorial will be a reception at Cal Expo where all personnel are invited for lunch, refreshments and to pay your respects.

DATE: Tuesday October 12th 2010
TIME: Uniformed personnel are requested to arrive at 09:15 hrs to ensure that we have time to properly stage apparatus.
UNIFORM: Your home units dress uniform, Class "A" or Class "B" with tie are requested.
LOCATION: Hornet Stadium, California State University Sacramento, 6000 J St, Sacramento

Maps are available at sacmetrofire.ca.gov

Upon arrival all personnel will be directed to the appropriate staging location by Metro Fire and Law Enforcement staff. Uniform Fire Personnel will be assembled and then march into the Stadium.

For more information contact:
Captain Scott McKenney 916-215-2732
BC Chris Holbrook 916-826-8381

10/8 Hose Rack Plans:


You can have the person looking for hose rack plans contact me by e-mail, I will hook him up with the guy that’s building ours now.


10/8 Line Officer assignments in R5:
Noiron: Angeles to BDF

Don't celebrate just yet Angelino's. Word on the street is that Ken "double sack lunch" Heffner, Deputy Forest Sup on the Los Padres is interested in the ANF job. If that was to happen you will seriously miss Jody "I am in charge of this fire" Noiron.


10/8 Line Officer assignments in R5:
Noiron: Angeles to BDF


What did we do to deserve this!!!!!

It was on Jody's watch that leadership fled the ANF, did the RO and WO see this as a good thing???

Now they want her to devastate the BDF too?

Does the RO and WO hate the fire shop so much that they are willing to cut off their nose to spite their face????

"Strive for 205"????

How about, "Hang on for 214"?


10/8 Line Officer assignments in R5:
Noiron: Angeles to BDF

A brilliant decision followed by a "what were you thinking" decision.

The good news...for those of you on the ANF...Jody is going away. The bad news...BDF firefighters get an unwelcome early Christmas present...Joy Noiron.

I can understand the need to get Forest Supervisor Jody Noiron off the ANF...Lousy morale, lousy fire policy etc. But to simply move her next door defies basic logic.

Merry Christmas BDF...Or should I say Bah humbug!


It is my pleasure to announce that Jody Noiron is being reassigned as Forest Supervisor for the San Bernardino N.F. Jody began her Forest Service career in 1983 as an Engineer on the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia. She later served as Technical Services Team Leader on the Ottawa National Forest in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from 1989 to 1994.

Jody arrived in California in 1994, where she assumed the position of Deputy Forest Supervisor for the Plumas National Forest. In 1998 she spent 9 months in San Francisco as the Region 5 (California) Deputy Regional Forester for Resources, a responsibility that encompassed oversight of the natural resource programs for all the national forests in California. Additionally, she has served in numerous national assignments and has a wealth of experience that she has garnered from across the nation, at both local and national levels.

Jody has served as the Forest Supervisor on the Angeles N.F. since 2000, and says she is ready and prepared for the change.


Regional Forester, R5
Phone: 707.562.9000
Fax: 707.562.9091

10/8 Re: State Type 1 crews

The Nevada Division of Forestry is sponsoring the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District’s Rifle Peak crew in their pursuit of Type 1 status. Currently Rifle Peak is a Type 2 IA crew but is hopeful to obtain type 1 status in the spring of 2011. In addition to Rifle Peak , the fire district also employs the Slide Mountain Crew and the Incline Crew, both of which are also Type 2 IA.


10/8 IFPM and hiring:

FC 304,

Time in grade is determined at time of hire not projected time in grade. IFPM is in full effect now. If you don't meet IFPM standards, you will not be offered a position. There will be a group of IQCS guru's if you will, running checks on all applicants for IFPM jobs. I think we are going to see a very strained applicant pool and potentially only three levels when it comes to leveling the apps. Level one qualified, level two qualified with undesirable reference checks and level three those that want their application removed. Attached is the IFPM crosswalk sheet. All forest in R5 are a high complexity. Well worth studying if you want to promote so you understand the needed quals.

Noname Fire

IFPM Crosswalk (135 K pdf file)
Forest Service Implementation Plan for the Interagency Fire Program Management Standard and Guide (210 K doc file)

10/8 Re apprentice hiring and hiring in general:

Hi Ab and FFTRs,

I was writing regarding some of the opinions voiced over apprentice hiring and hiring in general. I thought "R-5 Hotshot" summed things up better than I could.

As far as statements made by "H" in regards to apprentice hiring:

"Where are they? Where are all the minorities and veterans that were hired instead of the white guy, who, by the way, always seem to be more qualified and experienced?"

The EEOC website can answer this somewhat. They provide stats on minority percentages in the workforce and stats on how minorities are represented within any federal agency - excepting their own. I'm not sure if the EEOC is fed though, so they may not be required to. I can supply a link regarding overall percentages hired: opm.gov: feorp2009 (524 K pdf file). If you scroll down a few pages you'll notice a graph provided by OPM comparing what the "civilian labor workforce" consists of (this is the actual number of people based on their ethnicity that are available for employment according to census data and what the actual federal workforce contains).

The chart displays percentage comparisons for FY 2009. (I don't know what FY 2010 numbers are, so for reference the .pdf is a year old.) The fed workforce is listed as "FW" and indicated with dark green bars and the "civilian labor workforce" is labeled as "CLF" and represented with light green bars. The URL contains a suffix of .gov, indicating it is an actual government website provided by OPM. According to the chart, minorities are actually over-represented. I think there probably ARE many more whites in the fed workforce - But according to U.S. workforce data, whites are also about 70% of the population who can work fed jobs so whites would probably stand out at about a 7:10 ratio if everything was fair. If you read the OPM stats, whites are actually under-represented within fed jobs at about a generous 6:10 ratio. This data is compiled directly from actual hiring data provided by the government.

If you scroll up the OPM website you'll see a bullet stating:

"Certain groups of women – Blacks, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Native Americans- exceeded their representation in the Civilian Labor Force (CLF) in 2009. Overall, employment of women in the FW has experienced a 4.8 percent increase from 2008 to 2009, but it still lags slightly behind the CLF. Women represented 44.2 percent of the FW compared to 45.9 percent of the CLF in 2009."

I take this to mean that women are actually pretty close to being fairly represented and minorities are actually above whites in representation. (If we want to apply such a banal term as "white" to pink or light reddish-brown people whose father have a European sounding last name who haven't done much genealogical research, since there isn't an actual country I know of called "White".) I would also assume, since we're talking about fire (and I've seen more than a few certs before hiring got so hush-hush and I wasn't allowed to look at certs) - that it would also be fair to say that women apply for fire jobs much less than men making it likely that they are offered jobs much more often than men on average (to meet the CLF% of 45.9. Really, I've seen about 3-5 females applying a year TOTAL on our certs for our district...on the whole cert list. The majority were male). What I'm getting at is that certain jobs see a bias that represents a specific group. As an example, most airline steward[ess] positions are applied for by females, so it isn't really fair to assume that the balance between both genders is even showing up in a cert and it might also be fair to assume that despite progress, certain groups are more likely to pursue certain careers in some instances, due simply to preference.

The final inaccuracy of the data is that OPM cites "CLF". They don't chart "Relevant Civilian Labor Workforce"*. Here's a blurb from the OPM site:

"Blacks represented 17.8 percent (326,523) of the FW in 2009 and 17.9 percent (313,899) of the FW in 2008. Black representation in the Civilian Labor Force (CLF) was 9.8 percent in 2009, compared to 10.0 percent in 2008."

This statement, provided by OPM indicates that "blacks" are hired at about double what the actual civilian labor workforce actually is.

*Another set of bullets clarify the difference between "Civilian Labor Workforce" and "Relevant Civilian Labor Workforce" and I'm just posting it from OPM:

"The Civilian Labor Force (CLF) percentages for each minority group presented in this report are derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) Current Population Survey (CPS). The CPS data, which is a monthly survey of households that is conducted by the Bureau of the Census for BLS, cover non-institutionalized individuals 16 years of age or older, employed or unemployed, U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens. Regarding multi-racial persons, the BLS designation "Two or More Races, Both Sexes" provides the data source for the multi-racial CLF percent."

"The Relevant Civilian Labor Force (RCLF) is the Civilian Labor Force (CLF) data that are directly comparable (or relevant) to the occupational population being considered in the FW. For example, we would compare Black engineers employed in the Federal workforce with Black engineers reported in the RCLF. In this report, the RCLF varies from agency to agency because of the differing occupational mix within each agency. The RCLF is the benchmark used to measure individual Federal agencies’ minority representation relative to the CLF. The RCLF is unique to each agency because it includes civilian labor force employment only for the occupations found within each agency. Unlike the nationwide CLF percentages, which OPM estimates annually using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey, the RCLF percentages use decennial Census data, the only source of occupation data by race and national origin."

OPM actually uses the CLF on the charts. The CLF includes people who can't actually even work for the feds, this might actually lead to even bigger gaps between CLF and FW on the charts.

Finally one more quote from OPM:

"Underrepresentation, as defined in 5 CFR, section 720.202, means a situation in which the number of women or members of a minority group within a category of civil service employment constitutes a lower percentage of the total number of employees within the employment category than the percentage of women or the minority group constitutes within the civilian labor force of the United States."

This statement seems to say that only minority groups and women are considered when under-representation is used as a basis for hiring authorities and data gathering. It doesn't apply to whites or males or... white males.

That's what I found "H". I didn't touch the vets side of things because I think there's maybe more obligation to consider them and I don't want to talk about what I don't know and I'm not a vet. I can assure you that I'm intimately familiar with apprentice hiring procedures and have actually worked in the academy quite a bit and directly supervised apprentices. If you don't see those that aren't hired and promoted due to their ethnic or gender backgrounds, you might not be looking hard enough.

-another pulaski motor

10/7 Re: State Type 1 crews

Pioneer Peak is a State of Alaska Type 1 Crew

AK Old Timer

Hiring:First of all a person is only as good as you train them, if they do not make it they usually figure it out.

I've been bummed when one of my folks don't get hire but I hire them back as seasonal. Some make it some don't.

These people don't hire themselves, the Agencies hire them. As for VETS they earned it, if you do not believe me try it out.

Check this out.



Each federal agency shall appoint a Director of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO Director), who shall be under the immediate supervision of the agency head. 29 C.F.R. § 1614.102(b)(4).(1) The EEO Director shall be responsible for the implementation of a continuing affirmative employment program to promote equal employment opportunity and to identify and eliminate discriminatory practices and policies. The EEO Director cannot be placed under the supervision of the agency's Director of Personnel or other officials responsible for executing and advising on personnel actions.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is authorized to issue rules, regulations, orders, and instructions pursuant to section 717(b) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-16(b); section 15(b) of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. § 633a(b); section 505(a)(1) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794a(a)(1); the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq.; Executive Order 12067, 43 Fed. Reg. 28,967 (1978); and Executive Order 11478, 34 Fed. Reg. 12,985 (1969), as amended by Executive Order 12106 (1979). It is pursuant to that authority that the EEOC issues this Management Directive.

This is found under MD 110 (Management Directive 110), Google it.

This is not any ONE's fault, just a government trying to correct its past. Always name the most qualified, the Agency does the hiring.

Recruit, train, and take advantage of the situation. Vets are coming home again, they will be on the top of the list. Good place to recruit so you have an advantage on who you might hire.

35 years and short, still love my job but its not always fair, and neither is life. Do Your Best!

Signed: still a captain and loving it

10/7 IFPM and hiring:

According to the training officer. The referral list was requested before the IFPM effective date. However they will be giving preference to people that have met IFPM.

Does anyone know the timeline for Fall Fire Hire? When the SMEs go down and when offers will be issued??


10/7 Hiring Vets:


I couldn't say it better.

Salty Cracker

I feel for your situation, but please don't bash veterans. I would hate to see this board become us vs them. I can tell you from my own experience, if you want to work in this field bad enough, you might have to sell your house, buy a cheaper car and move the family not because you can't afford it, but because you want to work for agency with doors in every state. I worked multiple seasons before going to the academy at Hunter Liggett and I had to move 3,205 miles get my foot in the door.

As for all this hiring shenanigans, there are always two sides to a story and maybe your friends didn't tell you the whole situation. As a Selection Official it has never happened to me. Yes, vets do float to the top and if you feelings are strong enough that vets shouldn't get a pass, I would write your congressman or senator. When I hire seasonals for my module, I look for who will make the best team player. I have passed up more experienced firefighters for someone who would be a better fit for us. Case in point, I hired a vet (army reserve combat medic with tours in Iraq) this summer with no experience, but he had the drive I was looking for. He was great and by October I forgot he was a "rookie", I think everyone in the module learned something from him for good or bad.

If you're looking to build a more diverse resume, I am hiring for my winter burn crew. It's on USAJOBS now.

PS. It was great to see the FS, NPS and BLM honor guards at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend. Never thought standing guard at the memorial would be one of the highlights of my career.

And yes I am a 10 point veteran, but my employers keep hiring me on my merit and job skills.


10/7 To FC 304

I assume you are applying for a FEO job. All forests in R5 are considered "high complexity". FS-FPM crosswalk indicates you must be ENGB and ICT5 to qualify. This is mandated starting October 1, 2010. R5 pulled the CERT September 27, 2010.It's not really time in grade you need, but 12 months "Specialized Experience" at the next lower level. If you have ENGB, ICT5 and 12 months specialized experience at the next lower level (AFEO) by September 27,2010, you should have no problem. Unfortunately your time after September 27, will not count until next spring fire hire.

Good Luck


10/7 Cause of Wallowa-Whitman SO fire?

News contact: Angelica Johnson 541-523-xxxx

Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
Visit our website at http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/w-w/
1550 Dewey, Baker City , Oregon 97814
News Contact: Judy Wing, 541-523-xxxx or 541-519-xxxx cell
August 23, 2010

Probable Cause Determined in Enterprise Office Fire

BAKER CITY, OR. A multi-agency investigation of the July 11, 2010 fire that destroyed the USDA leased office building in Enterprise, Oregon, has identified the probable cause of the fire as spontaneous ignition. The facility housed the USDA agencies of the Forest Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farm Service Agency. Sea Side Associates of Chelan, Washington is the property owner.

The investigation has identified the probable cause of the fire to have been spontaneous ignition of materials used in the application of sealantto the exterior of the building. According to law enforcement officials,the investigation included processing evidence, interviewing multiplepeople, and following up leads from the public.

No criminal charges are pending.

There were no injuries in the fire. A visitor center has been re-located in a nearby Chamber of Commerce office, while Forest Service employees have a temporary office in a former elementary school in Joseph, Oregon. NRCS and FSA personnel have relocated to the building previously occupied by Wallowa Memorial Hospital in Enterprise.



10/7 Re: Any state T1 crews?


Platte Canyon Fire Protection District has a crew that the state of Colorado agreed to sponsor for type 1 status in 2009, but I
don't believe they are rated type 1 yet. See Wildland Program Crew for more info about the crew. They do state on that webpage that they are type 2 IA, but I know that they are trying to gain type 1 status and the state agreed to support them. If you want more details there is good info available in the Rocky Mountain Ops Committee minutes from the meeting on Jan. 15, 2009 available on the RMA Ops Committee webpage (see ops minutes 011409  (299K pdf download)).


10/7 R5 Fire Hire:

Having a problem understanding this round of hiring in R5. I'm currently a GS-6 applying for the GS-7 locally, but was told that I wouldn't qualify on merit due to not have one year at time in grade. But if the starting date isn't until PP 1 and you would have time in grade, don't you think you should be looked at as merit? But I would qualify under the IFPM. What about the IFPM? Are they looking at this also in this round of hiring? If so what is the priority, time in grade? IFPM?

Does anyone else have some insight.

Thanks FC 304

10/7 Any state T1 crews?

Does anyone know of any State sponsored Type 1 crews? Not looking for IHCs or National Mob Type 1 crews or inmate crews.


10/7 Apprentice hiring:


Where are they? Step out of the 80s and watch them come and go every few years. You don’t see them because they don’t stay, and about getting experience; Hire the people with experience and you don’t have that problem. They might be well trained but so is a temp after 3 years. So give new people temp jobs and temps apprentice jobs. Then you have experienced people in the workforce. Should people be held back for a job just because they wanted a career in fire when they were 18 and now have experience but can’t use that experience because someone has experience that isn’t even related to the job. Thank you for vets but they should have the opportunity for temp jobs, and still compete with the rest of us for a career.

I know people who have done hiring and when a list was given for recommendations with only names, it was given back and they were told that there wasn’t enough diversity on the list. It was only NAMES so how does that work? I looked in the mirror by the way. I noticed that I was angry that I have a family, a mortgage, insurance, property tax, car payments, etc….. but no career after years of applying everywhere and watching vets that can’t pass the pack test, constantly seeing people that can’t finish one season, and people with no experience all getting jobs over me, only to leave. Then I have to apply for that job again just to watch the whole process unfold again. So you keep living in your little bubble but if you look out the Plexiglas in your bellybutton you’ll see what is happening and you just might see it get challenged!

Salty Cracker

10/7 Apprentice hiring:

Very well put!


10/7 Apprentice hiring:

I just don’t get it. I keep hearing these claims of preferential treatment to minorities and veterans. It is a preconceived notion that is never challenged, a foregone conclusion with no basis in fact. Where are they? Where are all the minorities and veterans that were hired instead of the white guy, who, by the way, always seem to be more qualified and experienced? The agency looks the same way it did when I started my career. Fire hire is like a subconscious trigger that brings out the discontented few who yell the loudest. These days, if you’re willing to move, everybody who wants to, gets hired within a couple of years with few exceptions. Get over it!

While I’m ranting, I think it is worth saying the apprentices of today are better trained and more prepared than I was at the same juncture in my career. Sure they need experience, but so does everyone who is just starting their career. I know of no way around it… Do you? No one can honestly say these apprentices are not well trained, after all, we are the ones who are training them.

When I started my firefighting career in the 80’s, Vietnam and a few Korean war veterans were the Captains, Sups, BC’s and FMO’s in the Forest Service. They were all great firefighters and leaders. They worked well under pressure, were tough as nails, humble and generous teachers. I am grateful that I was able learn from them. And I don’t recall anyone disparaging their preferential treatment. That’s why I don’t have a problem with putting someone who did a tour, or two, or three in Iraq and Afghanistan to the front of the line. They earned it! Damn! What does it take?

Before you send that email to Ab scapegoating everyone who doesn’t look, or think, walk on water like you do, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself, what am I really angry about?



10/7 U.S. code questions/hiring "diversity":

Hi Ab and FFTs,

Been consistently busy on fires enough to keep me from a computer and started reading posts again today. I saw a few posts on hiring with a few counters and opinions thrown out. I'm curious in regards to the claims over the hiring practices of the academy and FS in general. As I understand it, the EEOC is pretty involved with hiring and utilizes something called the: "relevant civilian labor workforce" statistics in determining how many diversity candidates should be hired in a given area. I'm not personally in favor of it because I think certain areas have an imbalance of a specific demographic, which would cause the hired workforce to be "overly represented" with a specific ethnicity if these numbers are used as sort of a criteria (i.e. an area near Northern Mexico might have many Hispanic applicants, whereas an area in the Northern Midwest might not). I'm not sure how these quotas are determined though, so they might be more split up by area. It doesn't seem like they [the EEOC] allow for this from what I've read.

What I'm getting at more though is the EEOC tends to cite a lot of Article 7 stuff. As far as the EEOC material I've seen and their website material, Article 7 seems to be the most commonly cited reference to the actual constitutional legal backing behind what they're doing and also how they provide regulation in the Forest Service among other govt. agencies. So I read some of Article 7 which is really freaking long and I'm curious if basically, at the end of the day if the EEOC and USDA and name-your-other-fed-agency is regulated by hard U.S. Code in finality. Like when it comes down to brass tacks, IS there some other unmentioned set of laws or does the buck stop there? I don't know because I haven't seen anything but U.S.C. quoted. I read pages of stuff, I have a few lines verbatim, from a legal website and I was wondering if anyone who speaks legalese might know if this stuff is valid since it falls under Article 7. The following bits are referenced as being valid as of 2009. I'll cite chapters and subchapters, if it's boring it probably should be.

U.S.C. Article 7, Title 42, Chapter 21, Subchapter 6, item A-2:

[it is unlawful for an employer to:] "limit, segregate, or classify his (their) employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect (their) status as an employee, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex or national origin."

I think this is the quote on the EEOC poster we have at work... So, I know we've been told how many people of "x" racial or sexual orientation we have to hire to meet numbers, how then is the EEOC not violating the legal premise of their own requirements? How is something like "relevant civilian labor workforce" even legal given the bit about not classifying when they do classify and furthermore might exclude surplus applicants beyond the "relevant" percentage they've determined to be "representative"?

There's also a bit under the same subchapter in item B stating it's unlawful to refer an applicant based on the same specifics, how are ethnically targeted recruitment programs legal?

The only exception to this appears to be when a person is hired based on a "bona fide occupational qualification", examples given are: translators, language teachers...people who would need to be deeply immersed in "x" culture to perform their job. I would assume this is a pretty specific niche and not very relevant to most federal positions.

Moving on to item H: "seniority or merit system" - side question... Does this only apply to merit hiring or is it relevant for demo as well?

-This is sort of where U.S. code provisions under Article 7 start to reference the promotional viability of "merit", I assume "merit" means quals, experience etc. It is

"Not unlawful [for an employer] to apply different privileges of employment pursuant to a bona fide- (I assume having a qualification validated by taskbooks and training or a specific amount of experience would be the "bona fide" qualifier in fire? I'm not sure what our barometer is...) -seniority or merit system".

Do we have this? Is it legally bona fide?

Moving on to item J:

"Preferential treatment not to be granted on account of existing number of percentage imbalance"

This one I guess is probably the kicker, I don't see where some of the lawsuits brought forth are relevant when you read this. What is the actual legal backing that supersedes this? I think U.S. Code is pretty much the final backbone of Supreme Court decisions so what did I miss? I'm not asking rhetorically either, I was hoping I could get some laws and codes I didn't look up because I don't think there's an actual legal recourse to some of the hiring stuff and this is just civil rights laws, do further specifications would exist for "high reliability" organizations?

What is a "special hiring authority"? The EEOC mentions it frequently but I don't know where to find the actual legal documentation for what actually can and cannot be done or a description of what a "special hiring authority" is. I've seen no specific place that actually details out the jurisdiction of "special hiring authorities" and how much such a regulation can circumvent standard U.S. Code.

Also when reading the stats on the EEOC website it doesn't actually seem like there are that many imbalances, simply based off numbers, the other issue is that the numbers provided don't actually take into consideration the likelihood of a modern ethnic culture to actually want to work as a "forestry aid" or "forestry tech". Suppose if we made the jobs more easily available to anyone in the public...? (Avue prevents this but I see no actual bias in this system, Avue is just jacked-up in general.) Could we speculate that a certain group would be less likely to want to be in fire or forestry? As a personal example, I grew up in a primarily white area removed from the coast and it's not in a farmable area, so many of the more appealing jobs available for my demographic involved forestry. I would think geography was more responsible for this bias than any sort of racism or anything else. Also, could this be more of a reason for a "existing number of percentage imbalance" than any actual prejudice or subjective trend in hiring?

I'm not specifically trying to stir any pot but I strongly believe in fairness and it seems like the classification of someone as being "diverse" simply based on the color of their skin is pretty trivial. If my upbringing and culture was similar to a genetically Hispanic person from my hometown and was very different from a Caucasian person from say, the East Coast; where there's a completely different culture and lifestyle, would it be fair to qualify the Hispanic person as more diverse when we both share similar cultural proclivities but have different skin colors? If so, this seems a bit archaic, trying to assume a culture in such a large melting pot simply because of what country someone's twice-removed ancestors came from. I believe we [my family] have 1/8th or so Cherokee in our lineage [simply based off family photos] but we have no affiliation with the culture, nor have we done much genealogical research to even figure it out. I wouldn't suddenly gravitate to culturally historic Native American life simply because of my hereditary background.

Another tidbit I've seen is that the EEOC itself is supposedly off in terms of "relevant civilian labor workforce". I'm quoting a biased site but I can't find stats for the group anywhere else. If anyone from the EEOC reads this, could you please post the number of employees you have and what ethnicity they represent? I'm surprised this isn't on your frontpage, given your responsibility... Who works there? When you determined numbers for Hispanics did you include all Hispanics or the number able to apply for a federal job? Is it conceivable that a Norwegian and a white person from Spain or Patagonia or Brazil might be a bit different in terms of culture? Maybe there's a bit more to it?

Also, is it actually illegal or against the rules to talk about hiring? For a while now hiring has been pretty secretive and I was told anyone actually making selections would be in trouble for discussing it. All I have is rumors, is it o.k. to view cert lists? What If names, S.S.#s addresses etc. are blacked out so we can know who got a job and what merit they brought to the table? Being in a position that is pretty much in service to the public I would think this was o.k. as long as we didn't provide information that might result in identity theft or harassment. Hiring would seem pretty shady otherwise, we aren't kept from knowing what politicians have been up to and if this is such a "high reliability organization" why aren't our hiring practices more in the public eye?

I've got most of my information online from legal websites that had posted all of Article 7, the EEOC website, and a place called "adversity.net" (a somewhat biased but supposedly factual site... no joke, you will notice the slant pretty quick but I think they have some valid data). I would like to be objective but it was hard getting much raw data or law from the F.S. sites or some of the other sites, so I split the difference between the EEOC site and adversity.net. I would really just like some places to look so this all makes more sense constitutionally and legally to me. From a fire perspective, I'm told that safety is a #1 priority and I don't see how we can accomplish both goals (diversity and merit) with things being the way they are. If this is all good and right, can we apply these hiring practices to everyone's family doctor, surgeon, pilot, air-traffic controller etc. and would proponents allow this? For that matter can we do it with sky-diving instructors or nannies?

This agency and others hire people because of their ethnicity or gender and these people may never know it until they end up in a "hot seat" position, possibly over their head with pedals well below their feet. If they don't end up in this situation, they may become resented because they were chosen over someone with more experience and/or quals, who spent more time detailing in the same job they got. They may interpret this as being a racial choice and a vote that their skin color or sex is more important than their ability. Many will feel cheated and lied to. Both the people accepting these jobs because they fit in a superficial box and the people being declined these jobs because they didn't fit in a superficial box end up robbed of a chance to prove themselves as a human.

I also heard that people at the forest and regional level get cash bonuses for meeting numbers under what the EEOC or someone sets as standards for diversity, among other things. I don't know if it's true, but I know there's a lot of pressure to meet certain objectives. Someone else said these bonuses were posted online but the website is no longer "available or specific enough..." We're public servants so I don't see why any of this is so hard to track down and provide to the public.

Anyone got anything?

Another Pulaski Motor

Good questions Another Pulaski Motor. Anyone got any answers? Ab.

10/6 Apprentice hiring:

In the quest to hire a diverse workforce we are blatantly overlooking what we know is morally right. Not only is it unethical but it weakens the very foundation of the agency we are trying to strengthen.

In an office, far from the fireline, it was determined that the best workforce for the Forest Service is one that appears diverse in a report representing data regarding race, ethnicity and gender. None of which are factors that determine what makes a quality employee. A truly diverse workforce is not dependent on race, ethnicity or gender; it is dependent on upbringing, life experience, skill sets, personality traits, leadership styles and abilities to name a few. The problem with this type of diverse workforce is it is much more difficult to represent in a report. Diversity in a workforce will absolutely compliment itself by making up for areas of weakness with areas of strength in different individuals. But this desired diversity is not accomplished by simply hiring based on the current criteria.

If the time, money and energy that was spent to try and hire a "diverse" workforce was used to hire the "best" workforce, an agency that rates as one of the worst government agencies to work for, would rapidly see an improvement of both the quality of its employees and of the employees' opinion of the agency itself.

To hire the best employees possible we need to hire based on experience, references and performance. There is no place for one's demographic in the application process.

We accomplish this by removing all questions regarding race, ethnicity and gender from the application itself. The applicants' names should not be visible to those screening the applications, removing any assumptions on an applicants race, ethnicity or gender. Jobs should be offered to the most qualified, thus most deserving, resulting in an unbiased, ethical hiring practice.

But what would I know.... I'm just a sawyer on a hotshot crew.

R5 Hotshot

10/6 Hey all,
We have a member that's looking for a few decent used Port-A-Tanks.
10/6 Getting hired

"I had always heard that the key to gaining permanent employment with the U.S. Forest Service was "a secret handshake, and you don't know what it is."

The apprenticeship program seems like a great alternative to what has traditionally involved stringing folks along for 7 or 8 seasons of temporary employment, just for a chance to get a foot in the door."

Wow all this crying about getting jobs. We now have a "Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies" group of employees, we hire first year seasonals as apprentices, we hire vets with no experience and we hire diversity candidates that we know cannot do the job. The new generation of employees want everything and they want it now, 5-10 years ago there were no permanent openings you were expected to be a multiple year seasonal, now we have people that get frustrated when they don't get a permanent job their first year working for the forest service, and the ones we do hire want to be crew bosses during their second season. People must understand that fire brings forward a list of hardworking, quality employees that we believe will make great leaders to replace us in the future and then line (district rangers, forest supervisors and regional foresters) goes though that list and replaces people just by the sound of their name or sex. I'm sure that line has hired a few Kellys or Jaimes only to be disappointed that they were white males.

There is no secret handshake to get in with the forest service, there is only showing up to work on time, working hard, being a dedicated member of a module and training all you can. You also cannot for the most part expect to work at the same station on the same forest your whole career and expect to move up.

Here is my advice; apply everywhere you think you might want to work, be willing to travel ( \relish this time when you are young to move around the country), learn everything you can including fire behavior, fire management and prescribed fire. WORK HARD, be the first one out to project and be the last one back in, work without complaining, be grateful to have one of the best jobs in the country and show it through the work ethic, show up at the beginning of fire season in shape and ready for the tasks ahead, take on extra duties, and most of all, show up with a positive attitude.

O' yeah and for many of you out there with a few seasons there is always demo hiring authority.


10/6 Boots

Don't know if this is old news or what, haven't been keeping up.
Native American federal firefighters fighting for boot money

Rick Brower, retired FS fire.

10/6 SCBA policy


The policy will be approved and implemented this fall/winter. Leadership didn't want to implement changes in the middle of fire season. Your forest Engine Captains Group representative will have a copy of the draft policy for review.

Captain 64

10/5 SCBA policy


Does anyone know if the 2010 R5 SCBA policy was approved? And if so does anyone have access to it or know where I can get it?



10/5 rmm,

Touché, Shils aashm, touché (Laughing out loud)

Ka Dish Day

AZ Trailblazer
10/5 Dear Ab...

Noticed that somebody asked for a picture of Ben Johnson. Here are a few. He last worked with the Redmond Hotshots this summer.

Thank you for putting these on your page.

K. Renteria

Redmond Shots '10
Ben Johnson

It's sad to meet under such circumstances, but you are very welcome. What a smile. Condolences to all his friends and family. Ab.

10/5 AZ Trailblazer,

I laughed out loud when AW made the comment about Native American. I couldn't agree more with that stand, and I've been saying it for years - I'm a native American, born and raised here in America all my life, and I couldn't be more native American. I'm pretty sure that AW knows what it is referring to - American Indian. The government picked a very poor term to refer to American Indians and I sure wish they'd get over using it. Whenever I'm asked to say whether I'm Native American it will be always affirmative - and no one is ever going to convince that I'm NOT a native American!

10/5 Cause of Wallowa-Whitman SO fire?

Does anyone have any information, inside or otherwise, as to the cause of the Wallowa-Whitman SO fire in Enterprise, Oregon this past July? We (in our office) have not heard much about it since it happened.

“Nozzle Hog”

10/5 Re: Services for Ben Johnson

In case anyone wants to know where they can send cards or flowers, the following addresses are for their home and St Columban Catholic Church in Yelm, WA (funeral service will be this Saturday (10/9) at 10am):

Mark, Sheila, and Molly Johnson
38109 8th Ave S
Roy, WA 98580-9109

St Columban Catholic Church
506 1st St, Yelm, WA, 98597
10/5 Ab,

I had always heard that the key to gaining permanent employment with the U.S. Forest Service was "a secret handshake, and you don't know what it is."

The apprenticeship program seems like a great alternative to what has traditionally involved stringing folks along for 7 or 8 seasons of temporary employment, just for a chance to get a foot in the door.

vfd cap'n
10/5 Just curious as to what I missed in this conversation about Native americans? Did not understand the conversation held below and how native's got thrown in there?


I added the subject at the top of the posts so you can see how the Hiring Apprentices thread evolved. Ab.

10/5 Hiring Apprentices: Native American


In today's PC world, Native American is the term most government agencies are using to promote equal employment to all qualified individuals.

BIA has had a long standing policy to hire folks who are Native American (1/8th blood quantum for folks to be recognized as a member in most tribal nations) first, and then pick up non-native applicants during the second "cert".

INDIAN PREFERENCE POLICY: Preference in filling vacancies is given to qualified Indian candidates in accordance with the Indian Preference Act of 1934 (Title 25, USC, Section 472). Verification Form BIA-4432 must be submitted with the application if claiming Indian Preference. Indian Preference eligibles not currently employed in the Federal service will be appointed under the Excepted Service Appointment Authority Schedule A, 213.3112(a)(7). Consideration will be given to Non-Indian applicants in the absence of a qualified Indian Preference eligible.

Many state and LG agencies, I've seen through my travels, may give additional 'point based evaluation' for NA applicants.

AZ Trailblazer

10/5 Ben Johnson has passed away

Does anyone have a photo of Ben? Any info on a service for him?


10/5 Bodega Fire Greensheet:

Here the green sheet for the Bodega Incident.

CA-LNU Bodega Fire Electrical Exposure from Downed Power Line (216 K pdf file)

Bodega FF Supporter

Thank you. Ab.

10/5 Vick Minor/ Mother Teresa Caring Institute Award

Good evening....

I have attached a press release from the Mother Teresa Caring Institute regarding their upcoming annual award presentation. Vicki Minor, Founder and Executive Director of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is one of the recipients.

Caring Awards (337 K pdf file)

Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Terrific! and richly deserved. Ab.

10/5 Hiring Apprentices:

To 5000, AW, Just a rant and other Forestry Tech/Fire folks:

The US Forest Service has some unique requirements for getting a job to work in the Forests:
-US Citizenship (except for the Baja-500) a few years back when we hired a bunch of folks with paper applications and citizenship was not a mandatory requirement, which I believe you had to have before you could convert.

-Veterans float to the top if they have the 5 or 10 point preference, not all folks who serve in the Armed Forces get this Veterans' preference. For example; I have some Army buddies who were shot at while on patrol in Panama, during the time when we kicked Noriega out of Panama and installed a new government no Veterans preference for them so sorry so sad, though many received in other actions later on (Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.).

If you were to apply to a military installation to become an 081 Federal Firefighter and were a Veteran with 5 or 10 points veteran's preference that is what you would get. No guarantee of a job or floating to the top. You would be rated out and given a numerical score on your application and then the veterans' preference would be added onto it. You might end up with 75 or an 85 or be highly qualified and have a 105 or 110.

Different agencies have different rules. If you want to better your chances of becoming an Apprentice with the USFS, here is one suggestion; join the military, become a bullet catcher. I know folks who did just that through the reserves and as an active duty soldier and marine who were lucky enough to go to a foreign land be in a combat zone, make it back home, an get that veterans preference and get hired. I also know some soldiers from Honduras, Mexico, and other countries who are not US Citizens who join the U.S. Military fight in foreign lands in our all VOLUNTEER Military get medals, get 5 and 10 points veterans preference and if they wanted they could still not work for the USFS. The same is not true with many city departments and CALFIRE. Go-figure!

Why rules are different for Military Installations and the USFS I can't answer, but they are.

I empathize with those who truly give 100% and work harder every time they get passed over, get more knowledgeable and continue to strive to eventually get their foot in the door, where ever they can, even after getting passed over year after year after year. These are the same folks who lead by example and when there is work to be done are right in there getting it done.

Red, White and Blue (Red is to show world the blood we've shed, White is to show the world we are fit to fight, Blue is to show the world we are true) just an old salty army dog reminiscing about a favorite cadence.

One final thought is when a Veteran is hired who has not worked in the Forest Service, I believe we can and should invite them out and show them what we do and what is expected, just like with any new hire. That way they could better prepare themselves, or maybe decide this is not what they want, thus freeing up a slot in a timely manner for another candidate.

10 feet of water and 10 feet of mud

10/4 Sad news: Ben Johnson has passed away

Ben Johnson (Umatilla National Forest - North Fork John Day RD) passed away on September 30 from injuries sustained from an off duty vehicle accident. Ben was a Supervisory Fire Engine Operator stationed in Ukiah, OR and detailed with the Redmond IHC this summer.

Mark Johnson, Fire Management Officer
North Fork John Day Ranger District, UMF

Very sad news, Mark. Please let us know the address where cards can be sent. Ab.

10/4 Hiring Apprentices:


No you did not take any of that out of context, yes we do need to do a better job of retaining Quality folks and yes I will keep mentoring my folks to stay positive and keep applying themselves. However the Agency needs to do a better job to help retain the quality employees so as to get away from hiring ten new people a year on a unit. There are very simple solutions available to retain a quality Fire workforce, it is not rocket science...and if it is I know 24 people from JPL we can hire :)

-Just a Sunday Rant

10/4 Hiring Apprentices:


I totally agree with you, when i was a seasonal I was able to get my class B CDL to keep the engine 7 day effective. In the end I still had to join the apprenticeship program, but I had the experience so it really helped me. Now i dont know what the SMEs look for in an apprentice application, but one would have to imagine some experience is good.

Just thought i would add my 2 cents.


10/4 Hiring Apprentices:

HEY 5000-

That doesn’t sound like equal opportunity employment to me. Everyone should have to compete and what is a Native American? I’m native to this land just like anyone born here. So are you talking about American Indians? If it is an entry level position then why don’t they have a way to hire qualified people, that already have the training and don’t need to have 30,000 dollars wasted on training so they can leave before they even convert.

If I was to wait to apply for an AFEO job I would have 10 seasons in before I could apply. I was a FFT1 and ICT5 by my 2nd year, and had to wait 3 years to be able to work on my ENOP and Commercial License which I've now been qualified for 2 years. So it took 8 seasons to get this and now I’m a GS-5 but I will have to wait 2 more seasons since it is hard to get all of my 1039 completed each season to get my time in grade. So I’m more qualified than a apprentice when they convert but still cant get hired as one for the past 3 years.

When I first started you used to have to meet some fire standards before you could even apply, now you don’t need any experience but to show you once had a job for 6 months. That sounds easy since you can get a job at 15 years old and can’t apply for the agency till 18years old.

I have had the “privilege” of training the new apprentices (as a temp employee) and some of them show up without boots or the slightest idea what the agency does. They think we are a municipal dept. I don’t understand why they hire people with no experience. They had an agreement to hire people with no experience to meet the Hispanic settlement agreement but it was only to last 1 year, but it seem they have never looked back. In my experience when we hire people with experience they stay, if they don’t have experience they run before they even convert.

So why don’t they offer a GS-5 perm senior FF job to people who are qualified. Now they give GS-5 jobs to apprentices with a degree and 6 months experience. So should a temp have to have that type of person as a supervisor, because that is what a GS-5 job is, to help supervise GS-3 and 4 level employees.

So why pay a 5 when a 4 might have to supervise? I know I won’t trust my life to that type.

Now the same person who won’t hire me as an apprentice is talking about taking over temp hiring. So why would that person hire me as a temp if they won’t as an apprentice? So how should I get the rest of my GS-5 time to get that AFEO job? This is the way I see it, the Equal Employment Opportunity website says that people cannot be discriminated against because of age, sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, or genetic information. All of these go BOTH ways.


10/2 Hiring Apprentices:

-Just a Rant

You have to remember the Apprenticeship Program is an Entry Level Job Opportunity. As long as you work for the Government you will always have to consider Veterans prior to even looking at the rest of the list. Did you know that veterans are not even at the top of the list? If someone has a disability, they are higher than the vets are. In some jobs, there is Native American Preference. For the first time the applicants were leveled, that is a step in the right direction, but there are policies in place that prohibit us from hiring the most qualified candidate. No one will ever admit it but there are also underlying qualities some look for as well, but I am not going to go there.

Now as far as seven day to five day staffing, you should never have to rely on an apprentice to cover as a driver for you. If they can drive, good, let them get the experience but you should have a Qualified AFEO and FEO as your drivers. With the implementation of IFPM there should no longer be unqualified folks receiving certain jobs, and in three years when FS-FPM kicks in, there will not be anyone in a position unqualified. The Engine-only-5-day-effective is a reflection on Management not properly recruiting and retaining quality employees. It is not the new Apprentice’s fault. Please do not take it out on them.

It is not too hard to get a Temporary Employee a Government Driver’s License and if qualified; as I have seen them behind the wheel of an Engine. If this particular Temp has good qualities then keep mentoring him/her giving them the skills and abilities that they need such as FFT1, ENOP, ICT5, and Commercial Class B with the proper endorsements so they can apply to the GS-6 AFEO on Demo and possibly qualify as a level 2 candidate in a future round of Fire Hire.

Maybe I took this all out of context, but not sure ....


10/2 In regards to the latest round of apprentice hiring, did we do a good job of hiring the most qualified people?


When are we going to learn? Locally we hired vets with no experience, now don't get me wrong vets should be looked at and weighed into the scale, they are in fact heroes for what they have done and I can not thank them enough. However we are not doing the greatest good for our agency, they in my opinion need to have a little bit of time in this profession to see if it is indeed for them. We have once again overlooked great candidates and will probably loose them to other agencies. What makes a good candidate how about a person with the quals to hit the ground running, a commercial DL, experience and a person who has been with us to know that he or she is indeed a good choice for the agency.

So we will once again start all over train someone with no experience then loose them when they figure out this job isn't for them or they see their pay check as a GS-3. Meanwhile I can't staff an engine due to lack of a qualified driver so we will go 5 day even though I have a qualified driver who is sitting next to me but he can't drive because we have so much red tape in front of us that I have to get the bolt cutters out to cut through it so I can see the Forest in front of me.

New Idea.....How about a different schedule that promotes retention, better coverage for the area and a better life for the employee.

The Ideas are out there we can make this work and retain our folks. So lets do it, the people steering this ship need to realize it needs to turn a bit nothing drastic just a little shift would show they too care.

-Just a Rant

10/1 Boots:

This is at least the fourth time this issue has made an appearance in my career of 26 years. The last time one of my mentors put this thought on the subject into my head when I made a comment about it. "Do you REALLY want the agency you work for to provide boots for you to work in and make the choice of foot gear for you?" He was referring to the fact that if this were the case the employee would have the agencies foot gear of choice provided by the lowest bid vendor. Personally, I value the condition of my wheels much more than I would wish to have my agency take away my choice of foot gear and require me to wear the boots they issued. Makes me think of the quality, comfort, and durability of the first round of BDU Nomex that GSA designed and provided.

That said, there are several of the National Forests that have signed JHAs requiring caulk boots for timber work, burning slash units, etc, and they do provide the employee with a set of corks for safety reasons.


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