"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
December, 2010

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12/31 Wildland Firefighter Foundations' Life Challenges Program

The Wildland Firefighter Foundations' Life Challenges Program would like to thank all their members and support during 2010. Please have a prosperous and happy 2011 in both your work life and, in your home life.

Best Regards and Happy New Year!!

Shawna Legarza

Thinking of you Legs. Thanks for doing what you do. Fine tribute to Marc. Ab.

12/31 NASA/Cal Fire Partnership

It is interesting that Cal Fire is partnering with NASA for high level mult-spectral fire imaging capability. It seemed to be viewed as a new and better thing, never been done before.

The FS partnered with NASA after the Columbia Shuttle Disaster and Recovery Project. Here is the link to the FS/NASA WRAP program. NASA.gov: WRAP. It is coordinated on the fed side by the Remote Sensing Applications Center (RSAC) and the Infrared Program at NIFC.

The concept in 2003 was to provide real time imaging capability (not just thermal infrared) on a continual timeline basis. This not just the thermal IR "snap shots" that get placed onto an ortho photo by Infrared Specialists. Another key concept was the data-sharing component. It is available via the internet to just about anyone. This includes ICs on the ground, Coordination Centers, Intel operations at the State and Federal level, and PIOs, elected officials and others with an interest in seeing the same thing. So, it does not rely on a van loaded with specialized equipment or "line of sight" between the aircraft and the ground.

The first successful use of the the technology in real time decision making was on the Zaca Fire in late July/early August of 2007. The Ikhana Drone with the imaging system relayed crucial data during a critical backfire operation between CIIMT 5 and CIIMT 2. The data was overlayed on a Google Earth map and it was able to detect that the fire had crossed a "trigger point" to take the fire to another ridge. The ATGS, FOBS and operations folks could not see the actual fire location because it was obscured by smoke. The drone was flying at 24,000 feet well above the smoke column and tactical aircraft air space.

Irony

12/30 Hey Cache Queen, are you reading? Could someone up there in ID give her a "poke" and tell her to look at this. please...

On theysaid 6/5/04 you said

"Wreckage of the SEAT that went down near Mt. Borah in Idaho has been found. The pilot was enroute to a contract with the FS in Nevada. Second SEAT fatality this year -- and it's still early.
Cache Queen 6/5/04 THEYSAID

James Towell, AZ, participating in the pilots academy was the first fatality on 2004-03-16

Your post preceded the UT (St George) SEAT crash that killed Wayne Dammeron on the Valley Complex 2004-06-17

Could you be referring to an older crash? but you said "this year" 2004, so there were there 3 that year? I recall there were a confusing number of Dromader that went down that year.

Anyone else remember?

Mellie

12/30 To Ab's and all.

It is with mixed feelings that I announce my retirement effective 12/31/2010, ( I couldn't let Kent go without me ) In 1974 when Kent and I graduated high school we went to work for CDF, the following year we both went to work on the Plumas Nat'l Forest. The rest as they say is history, 37 fire seasons later I feel that my time has come to give up my great passion for this work. To the many friends and acquaintances that I have made over the years, I bid you farewell. ( Ah, the stories I could tell ) Stay safe, Enjoy life, Be the best you can be. On second thought maybe I can't count last fire season!

Ab's, Thank you for all you do.

Respectfully, Chris.

Chris, Best wishes at this milestone change. Thanks for your contributions. And remember, although you're retiring, you don't need to be a stranger here. Ab.

12/29 -FarNorCal

Retention Bonus?

With the wording in the attached memo, it would not be likely.

The hope of a new permanent firefighter scale appears to have been pushed back by the president. The increase in the pay scales have been frozen, as have the agency heads authority to act independently.

SUBJECT:    Freezing Federal Employee Pay Schedules and Rates That Are Set By Administrative Discretion
whitehouse.gov

When people return from the holidays, we should all ask questions directly to the line officers, and upper fire management.

How about some written communication from our “Leaders.”

Dan

12/28 Retention Bonuses:

Date stated in last years RO Letter states Feb 26, 2011, which would be end of Pay Period 4.

Rhino

12/28 www.scrippsnews.com/node/58682

NASA's space-age technology may help fight Calif. fires
Submitted by SHNS on Tue, 12/28/2010 - 13:58
* By Ryan Sabalow, Scripps Howard News Service

Astronauts working side-by-side with firefighters?

Not exactly, but NASA, the nation's space agency, has formalized an agreement with California's state fire department in the hopes that space-age aerial reconnaissance technology may be soon be used more to battle the state's wildland fires.

Earlier this month, officials at NASA's Ames Research Center in the San Francisco Bay Area entered into a five-year agreement with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to develop NASA technology that could be used to help Cal Fire battle wildfires across the state.

Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said the state wouldn't have to pay a cent for the partnership, which has solidified an informal (read the rest at the link; interesting info about its use on a drone last season)

fair use disclaimer
12/27 FarNorCal,

I don't know exactly, however it should be around mid-February. You're correct that all should be asking for an answer on this issue. I would recommend you send an email to the Region-5 Union President Dan Dufrene and see if he has any information.

Hoping for the best for all our GS-5-8's.

ms

12/27 Hi folks,

Hope everyone is enjoying a great holiday season!

I don't know if all regions experienced the problems and frustrations that we had getting out for AD assignments as we did here in the Northwest, but wondered if most ADs were going to try to go out this year or just call it quits? We heard the new "rules" were going to be that no ADs were going out of the GACC unless there were no agency folks anywhere within the US (even if an available AD was several hours closer) or the GACC had to be in PL 4 or higher. This is pretty much how it went for ADs in the northwest last year anyway!

I know many folks who decided to quit being an AD after last year - some went to work for other agencies as seasonal or permanent employees, and others decided to just try to live on their retirement and social security. It's hard to see so many of the folks with outstanding qualifications and years of experience sit unused when there were large fires in Alaska and other places last year, and these ADs just sat at home while positions were UTF'd because no "agency people" were available. We all know it's supposed to be "agency" first, but why cut off your nose to spite yourself by ignoring the much closer AD resource, just to bring an "agency" person in from clear across the US? This happened several times last summer!

Enough "venting" I guess, but am curious as to how many folks are going to continue to try to get out as an AD for 2011. Good Luck to those of you who are still trying to depend on AD work for income - I wish you the best.

Everyone have a good winter, and be safe next fire season in whatever region you are working in.

Sign me,

Former highly qualified and experienced AD who threw in the towel
12/27 Abs --

A fitting storypoem for the transition from the Old Year to the New Year -- wishing all TheySaiders all the very best in New Year 2011. And special best wishes and thanks to the community of Abs and Moderators for all that you have done in the old year and all that you will do in the new year to keep firefighters informed and engaged.

Thanks - STUMPIE


The Firefighter

I’m a Wildland Firefighter, or at least I used to be
It seems that now my golden years have done slipped up on me.
A fellow hates to just ‘fess up that he is getting old
But all those trips to the Great Divide have begun to take their toll.

I manage still to keep in shape, even as my hair turns gray,
And I can still pass the pack test, but I need a real good day.
I’ve been on lots of project fires, and I still go when I can
But it’s not the same as once it was, when I was a younger man.

I remember well my first big fire, in the California hills
They paid me real good money, and it helped to pay the bills.
But I tell you, friend, that first trip west had a strange effect on me
It was like a big vacation - I would have gone again for free.

It was just like goin’ campin’, I slept beneath a tree,
And I saw a snow-capped mountain, and that was tops for me.
We climbed this one big mountain, five miles to the top
The air was kinda thinner there, I thought that I would drop.

The only thing I hated then was any trip I had to miss
My motto twenty years ago was – it don’t get no better’n this.
When I was young and full of pep, and still had all my hair
Long hot days or chilly nights, I really didn’t care.

To fight a fire with tooth and nail was just downright terrific
But things have changed in twenty years – now it’s all scientific.
My first trip I had all my gear in an O.D. duffel bag,
But now I have more fancy stuff than I can tote or drag.

The Fire Boss that we used to have is now the big I.C.
They gave him a new fancy name, but it’s all the same to me.
Where once we walked for miles and miles to get out on the line,
Now a helicopter comes, and off we go a’flying.

Twenty years is a long, long time, but it seems like yesterday
I’ve heard that when you’re having fun that Time just slips away.
I like to jaw with the younger folks, but mostly I just listen
I hear them tell of their good times, the good times I’ve been missin’.

You know that the Time does finally come, when you think it through and through,
You’re not just thinking about yourself, but the safety of the crew.
You get caught in a tight spot, and…….well, it just ain’t fair
To put other folks in danger ‘cause they wouldn’t leave you there.

You would have done the same, you know, in past days on the trail
You were full of vim and vigor then, with a tiger by the tail.
But sleepin’ on the cold, hard ground and workin’ days on end
And rollin’out before daylight with a back that just won’t bend

The jet lag that you started with just doesn’t help one bit
And backin’ up through three time zones gives your body clock a fit.
I’ve thought it over carefully, and I won’t give up just yet.
When I think back on the fun I’ve had - how lucky can you get.

And we have some fine folks standin’ by, to take up all the slack
They will hit the fireline runnin’, and never once look back.
Hit ‘em hard and keep ‘em small was what we did back then,
But now to let one burn awhile is not a mortal sin.

They say it’s only natural, a brand new way of thinkin’-
But if we did that twenty years ago, you would swear that we’d been drinkin’
I’ve seen a lot in twenty years, my career is nearly through
I’ve still got some good years left, and this is what I’ll do.

I’ll stay here on the Forest, and to ease up on the load,
I’ll turn into a Big Wheel, and drive up and down the road.
The Incident Commander is a job that seems real nice
Mostly he just stands around and gives folks his advice.

He pulls on his experience; he’s earned this job, you see
And when I think back twenty years, why, he was just the same as me.

Walter Merrill

Thanks, Walter and Thanks, STUMPIE. Ab.

12/27 Retention Bonuses:

Anyone know the date that retention bonuses are due to expire? I'd like to put it on my Happy New Year calendar to let my family know I'll be a little short each couple weeks if things don't turn around for all. Also put a mark on my calendar to remind those who may have a bit of pull to keep tugging at this issue. Though it was brought up originally as a short term fix, it sure feels like the wool getting pull out from under your feet while they are barely helping you keep afloat if the "bonuses" don't continue. Call it what you will, cost of living or locality adjustment, life is not getting cheaper by any means around where I and many others live. Living in or near the woods isn't cheap these days. I know folks from all sides of the fire community in this state and others who would agree with and support me on this point regardless of the color of uniform they may wear. However you can, please urge our management, line officers, and politicians to support the cause of continuing the hard earned pay adjustment for so many hard working men and women helping out as career wildland firefighters.

-FarNorCal

12/25 A very Merry Christmas to all my WLF family and friends....especially the Abs and Mods for keeping the hotlist going all year long.

oh yeah....Jingle Bells, Ho-Ho-Ho and all that jazz too.

Stringtown

12/25 Merry Christmas Everyone !!! And for those of us who are working this Holiday, Be Safe out there !!!

E8371

12/25 Merry Christmas everyone. I am glad everyone had a safe year and can all be home with our families this Christmas (or at Christmas time for those of you working Christmas day). See you all out there next year.

M-C
12/25 Merry Christmas to all!

Have a wonderful holiday and a safe and healthy year in 2011.

WC Advocate

12/25 Merry Christmas one and all!

Captain Emmett (Retired)
12/25 Merry Christmas to my WLF family.

5000

12/25 Merry Christmas to Oswego, Peach and all others anchoring the Eastern Front.

0001

12/25 Merry Christmas everyone!

Thanks Abs and mods for this great forum!

Be safe all firefighters in the East, the South and TX. The grass is dead after it freezes and you've had some of that. It doesn't take long to dry.

Heads up! But have a great holiday!

GA Peach

12/25 Merry Christmas !!! and Hope 2011 brings you much Joy and Happiness !!!

Engine 4579

12/25 Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

Thanks Ab, Mods and contributors for a great forum. It was good to see the John Wendt on Fire article linked again. Times have changed.

Tahoe Terrie

Hotlist on Pay and Benefits

12/25 I'd like to wish my WLF family a Happy Christmas Eve & a Merry Christmas Day with good family and friends.
May all of the spirit of the season fill you with peace and hope for a great New Year.

Sammie

12/25

To ALL:

` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
-=MERRY=--=CHRISTMAS=--=MERRY=--=CHRISTMAS=--=MERRY=--=CHRISTMAS=--=MERRY=--=DAY=-
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

From the Abs at wildlandfire.com

12/24 Salmon Complex in 1985 pic

I took this one, stepped off to the side of tool order and snapped this beauty of El Cariso and Laguna Hot Shots movin in for the kill.

DM

Thanks, I put it on Handcrews 28 photo page. Nice snapshot of the shots heading out. Ab.

12/23 That Stihl Saw (MS 361 C-Q) that had a problem with sticking throttle reported in August has now been recalled.

Hotlist

Wildland fire in NJ

Hotlist

12/23 Texas fire season is shaping up to be a bad one. Missing NMAirbear's input in that area, but thanks Midland for the heads up. Ab.

Hotlist thread

12/23 Nice job on the arrangement and new look to the Alaska Fire and Aviation management website.

forestry.alaska.gov

Portage Pulaski

Thanks, I updated the info on the Links page under States. Ab.

12/22 9/11 Health Care Bill in the House

Good work, everyone. Our best to our 9/11 volunteers.
Made my day!

Mellie

Hotlist discussion thread

12/22 Non-competitive Promotion/Reassignment of Helitack Squad Leader (GS grade thread)

Date: December 21, 2010
Subject: Non-competitive Promotion/Reassignment of Helitack Squad Leader
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director and Deputy Chiefs

In April 2008, representatives from the Helicopter Program, Human Resources and a Fire and Aviation Management Deputy Director convened to review the current position descriptions (PD) utilized by Helitack organizations with the objective to verify content and standardize national helitack positions. PDs were developed for a GS-9 Supervisory Forestry Technician (Helitack Manager), GS-8 Supervisory Forestry Technician (Assistant Helitack Manager), GS-6 Lead Forestry Technician (Helitack Squad Leader), and a GS-5 Forestry Technician (Firefighter).

During 2010, representatives reconvened to revisit the GS-6 Lead Forestry Technician (Helitack). As a result, it was reclassified to a GS-7 Forestry Technician (Helitack). In essence, Squad leaders typically serve as the advanced initial attack incident commanders once delivered to an incident via helicopter; they fill critical roles and provide leadership on various assignments. The direct daily leadership and supervision support they provide to crews make this one of the most relied upon positions within the helicopter program. Throughout the day, Helitack crews staff and manage multiple fires, placing squads of firefighters on separate fires a high percentage of time. The squad leader is often in command of one or more fires and the personnel assigned while the crew supervisor and/or assistant manage the helicopter and personnel assigned back at the helicopter base. Since the dynamic mission/duty profile has increased within the fire and aviation community, the roles and responsibilities of our current GS-6 Lead Forestry Technician (Helitack) position have also expanded.

Based on our analysis of the GS-06 Helitack position, we have determined the appropriate classification to be a Forestry Technician (Helitack), GS-0462-07, with the organizational title of Helitack Squad Leader.

There are two most common organization structures for Helitack Modules in the Forest Service.

Structure 1
(1) Helitack Manager, GS-462-9
(1) Assistant Helitack Manager, GS-462-8
(2) Helitack Squad Leaders, GS-462-6/7

Structure 2
(1) Helitack Manager, GS-462-9
(2) Assistant Helitack Manager, GS-462-8
(2) Helitack Squad Leaders, GS-462-6/7

It is important to note no other positions in the Helitack organization will be affected by this noncompetitive action. All other positions on the crew must be filled using competitive procedures. This change will not affect the reporting line for Helitack Managers, as who they report to varies within the agency. The Helitack Manager may report to a District FMO, a Base Aviation Manager, a Forest Aviation Officer, or another position.

The implementation of this classification eliminates the GS-462-6 Helitack Squad Leader position. There are three critical action points to consider.

  1. Non-competitive promotions for individuals encumbering the eliminated GS-462-6 Helitack Squad Leader position.

    All current employees occupying the GS-462-6 Helitack Squad Leader for at least one year (52 weeks) will be noncompetitively promoted to the new Forestry Technician (Helitack), GS-462-7, position upon Human Resources’ receipt of an approved request in the SF-52 Tracker. Upon receipt, an effective date of no less than two full pay periods will be established for the non-competitive promotion action. Units are responsible to ensure timely submission of actions.

    Enclosure 1 contains step-by-step instructions to initiate and approve the action to non-competitively promote the current employee. Personnel actions cannot be backdated nor are employees entitled to back pay as promotions cannot be processed retroactively (5 CFR 511.701).
     
  2. Non-competitive reassignment for individuals encumbering the eliminated GS-462-6 Helitack Squad Leader position that have not occupied the position for at least one year (52 weeks).

    All current employees occupying the GS-462-6 Helitack Squad Leader for less than one year (52 weeks) will be noncompetitively reassigned to the new Forestry Technician (Helitack), GS-462-6, position upon Human Resources’ receipt of an approved request in the SF-52Tracker. Upon receipt, an effective date of no less than two full pay periods will be established for the non-competitive reassignment action. Units are responsible to ensure the timely submission of actions. Upon meeting the one year of specialized experience at the GS-06 level, the unit must submit a request for noncompetitive promotion as identified in number 1 above.

    Enclosure 2 contains step-by-step instructions to initiate and approve the action to non-competitively reassign the current employee.

  3. For vacant positions, we have closed the GS-6 open continuous announcement ( OCR ) and opened the new target level GS-07 OCR.
    • a. The GS-6 Helitack Squad Leader open continuous announcement ( OCR ), OCRP-HLTKSQDLR-462-6G and OCRP-HLTKSQDLR-462-6DP has been closed. No further referral lists will be issued from this OCR .
    • b. Actions in Progress. Where referral lists have already been issued or selections made, supervisors can continue with the process.
    • c. A new career ladder announcement opened December 13, 2010 target grade level GS-7 OCRP-HLTKSQDLR-462-6/7G & DP. Referral list requests will be accepted after the OCR has been open for 28 days (as per Merit Promotion Plan). The unit may request referral lists at the GS-6 level (with promotion to the GS-7 level) or the target level GS-7. Applicants must meet one year of specialized experience at the GS-5 level to be considered for a GS-6 or one year at the GS-6 level to be considered for a GS-7.

ASC-HRM Fire Team will work with the supervisor to review and process the non-competitive promotion or reassignment actions. Both of the newly classified Helitack Squad Leader positions, (career ladder, GS-0462-06 and full performance level GS-0462-07) have been approved for special retirement coverage under Title 5, USC sections 8336(c) and 8412(d).

<snipped contact info> This is the official notification for the Forest Service field personnel: Link

/s/ Janet Ford (for)
ROBIN D. BAILEY, JR.
Director of Human Resources Management

/s/ Victoria C. Christiansen (for)
TOM HARBOUR
Director, Fire and Aviation Management

Enclosures
cc: Bill VanBruggen, Eric J Bush, Erin Newman, pdl wo ops asc hrm fire team, pdl wo ops hrm hros, Richard Z Martinez, pdl wo spf fam regional fire directors

Congrats Squaddies, and Merry Christmas from all the Abs!

12/22 Recruitment Proposal

WOW this is being circulated!

JS
~~~~~

DRAFT

To: Fire Operations Group (FOG)
From: Hector Madrid, BLM Boise Smokejumpers Base Manager
Objective: Proposal to recruit, hire, retain, develop, and promote more diversity candidates into BLM engine, helitack, hotshot, and smokejumper programs.

Problem

Engine, helitack, hotshot, and smokejumper managers hire the best candidates they can from existing candidate pools. However, current candidate pools are poorly populated with diversity candidates. For example, in 2009, the Boise Smokejumpers received 97 applications for five rookie vacancies. No women were among the 97 applicants. It indicates poor diversity in our hotshot, helitack, and engine programs, from with the smokejumper program recruits. This directly contributes to the same lack of diversity throughout our fire program management structure.

Proposed solution

To more successfully recruit, hire, retain and develop diversity candidates, and to improve diversity on future candidate pools for higher level positions, we propose the following:

  • Develop, train, and deploy a "BLM National Recruitment Team" comprised of experienced firefighters from the primary BLM firefighting organizations: engines, helitack, hotshots, and smokejumpers. Each representative preferably would come from a different state.
    • A FOG Representative would coordinate assignments and venues for the pre-identified "BLM National Recruitment Team."
  • Target entry level diversity candidates at particular high schools and colleges. In addition, work closely with military recruiters to offer diversity veterans entry level fire jobs. Send the team to recruit these candidates.
  • Direct the recruitment team to establish formal follow-through processes in support of the indentified candidates and receiving units.
  • Explore all hiring authorities (STEP, SCEP, or Wildland Fire Apprenticeship Program).

Funding

Recruitment Team:

  • Labor: Five GS-8/9 team members for four months: approximately $26,000.00 each
  • Operations: travel, per-diem, recruitment products: Each state who sponsors a team member must be able to provide the operational support funding pertinent to their field of expertise (Hotshot, Engine, Helitack, Smokejumpers).

Immediate team requirements

  • Develop comprehensive recruitment team operations guide and objectives.
  • Develop brochures, business cards, displays, new-hire information packages, and a fire recruitment webpage.
  • Develop an action plan for first season.

Benefits to this plan

  • Increase in number of all candidates for fire jobs.
  • Initial improved diversity in engine, helitack, hotshot, and smokejumper programs.
  • .....

ETC... To read the rest, click the link: FOG101810.pdf (68K pdf file)

12/22 I hope this message finds you all well, enjoying a little deserved time off, I wanted to pass this along from me and the Arizona Wildfire and Incident Management Academy. Hoping you and your family have a great holiday season and a happy new Year. I can not tell you how much we appreciate your support to the AWIMA in the past and looking toward the future. It is only with your commitment we continue to move forward.

THANK YOU.

Tony Sciacca

Happy Holidays to you too, Tony. Ab.

12/22 Safety Advisory post about Rhabdomyolysis

The NWCG safety advisory post about Rhabdomyolysis caught my attention. It didn't explain "risk factors" very well, so I went looking. It seems extreme physical exercise without proper hydration is a risk factor for "arduous-duty firefighter job duties and conditions". Note the prevention section.

Here is a link:
nlm.nih.gov

Prevention:

Drink plenty of fluids after strenuous exercise to dilute the urine and flush the myoglobin out of the kidney. Proper hydration is also necessary after any condition or event that may involve damage to skeletal muscle.

Fishtales

Thanks for the link to that article. Ab.

12/22 9/11 Health Care bill in the Senate

The bill was passed. Because it's a different version than the original House Bill, the new version will have to be voted on by the House.

Good work, everyone.

Mellie

12/22 9/11 Health Care bill in the Senate (House passed it in September)

I was just watching Morning Joe (Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski) . The next step timeline for this bill is to vote on cloture to bring it to the Senate floor at about noon eastern time. The 60 votes for that are there. However after that, it only takes one opposing Senator to take this bill down because any one of them can filibuster for more than 90 hours and take it past Christmas.

I do not know which senators might filibuster but Joe mentioned a few. If anyone knows who they could be, please let us know so we can call or fax their offices. Elected officials who might do the wrong thing need to know that we will take them down if our first responders do not receive their support.

The analogy that Joe made is that NOT passing this bill, which is the right thing to do is like NOT supporting our heroic Pearl Harbor military survivors.

Thanks for any names to target,

Mellie

PS: I see Rep Tom Coburn (Repub - OK) is one of the blockers. I am calling, sending him a message at his Senate
link, and faxing him now.
senate.gov: Contacts

I filled in the topic on his webform as "Homeland Security" because it comes the closest. I entered this message:

Please do not block the 9/11 Health Care Bill for our first responders at the World Trade Center with a filibuster. If you do, we will do everything in our power to filibuster against you to block your further political career.

You don't have to vote yes, only to let the vote in the Senate proceed.

Mellie and <spouse>

I called his office (202) 224-5754 and asked them to tell him not to filibuster the bill. Easy. Pick up the phone, fill in the form at his website.

If we all do this, how can he or any of them stand in opposition?

Hotlist discussion thread

12/21 9/11 Health Care bill

We’ve heard about the hardships endured by police/fire personnel who worked the pile at Ground Zero. Attached are a couple of video clips I recorded when George Martin completed his cross country hike. A paramedic (Marvin Bathea) and an iron worker (John Sferazo) gave gut-wrenching accounts of what has happened to them since that tragic day. Our Government has turned its back on these remarkable, unselfish individuals. It’s time that Congress makes it right and passes the bill.

Fire Geek

Paramedic speaks.wmv  (6,900 K wmv file)
Iron worker speaks.wmv (8,800 K wmv file)

12/21 From the Chief of the Forest Service

Date: December 21, 2010
Subject: Taking Stock and Looking to the Future
To: All Employees

I feel it is important at this time of year to take stock of where we are. I've had the honor of serving as your Chief since the summer of 2009. I'd like to reflect with you on our accomplishments, and I'd like to look ahead to where we will go from here.

We should celebrate the many ways we are restoring resiliency to our forests and grasslands. Each of you has an important role to play in these restoration efforts, and I want to acknowledge your hard work and dedication as we close out 2010. The American people are the beneficiaries of these efforts in the form of clean air and water, habitat for wildlife, opportunities for outdoor recreation, and jobs.

We've worked very hard through focus groups and my sensing group to better understand and address the morale issue. We've made numerous changes around technology and communication, and we will actively change systems when needed to help us do our work more efficiently and more easily. The National Leadership Council (NLC) heard you on human resources delivery, and made important and deliberate changes to restore your confidence in how we get our HR work accomplished. This was no small accomplishment, and I want to thank everyone for your input and your efforts to improve the way these services are delivered. The Partnership Council and Management, led by Ron Thatcher and Jim Reaves, signed off on an historical partnership agreement. This has been described as the "best in government". I continue to receive valuable counsel and I want you to know I'm committed to our dedicated employees feeling proud and happy to work for the Forest Service. The NLC has also made a deep dive into our culture with safety and civil rights, and we will continue our momentum on those, with your help.

We should feel good about the resource progress we are making. We've redesigned State and Private Forestry to focus on landscape-scale conservation, using statewide assessments to identify the most valuable and vulnerable landscapes. We've designed an action plan around this landscape-scale approach, and you'll be seeing and hearing more about that soon. Building on our fire science, we are working with partners to develop a new interagency Cohesive Fire Management Strategy. We've charted a new national roadmap for addressing climate change. We've developed a watershed condition classification system to help us set priorities and track improvements. We are addressing bark beetle infestations and have launched numerous projects to address public safety and threats to communities from wildfire. Through the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, we will show the benefits of investing in multi-year projects to restore key landscapes. Through your outstanding work on the Recovery Act, engaging communities for a restoration economy, we are creating jobs and helping those hit hard by the recession.

OUR FIVE FOCUS POINTS FOR THE FUTURE:

SAFETY, INCLUSIVENESS, RESTORATION, FIRE AND COMMUNITY

SAFETY: We will engage the entire workforce in 2011. We will travel a learning journey that will make us a zero-fatality organization.

INCLUSIVENESS: We will build a work environment that fully supports the diverse workforce of the future. We want our agency to be free from barriers and discrimination, for our employees and for the public whom we serve. We want diversity to be actively embraced by every Forest Service employee.

RESTORATION: We need to meet the challenges of ecological restoration, to address fire and fuels, invasive species, and watershed degradation. We will do this through collaboration, landscape-scale conservation, climate change science and fire-adapted ecosystem research.

FIRE: We will partner with communities and fellow agencies to maximize our suppression capabilities, and support community efforts to reduce the threat of wildland fire. We will be ready.

COMMUNITY: We will engage communities to help America reconnect to the outdoors, expand on recreation benefits and create a wide range of opportunities for economic expansion. We will do everything we can to put America back to work.

This is my vision for where we are headed, to build on our conservation legacy. With your help, we'll get there. I hope your holidays are warm and wonderful and that you take some time to reflect on everything we have accomplished this year. Most importantly, I want you and your family to be safe.

Thank you for all that you do.

/s/ Thomas L. Tidwell
THOMAS L. TIDWELL
Chief

12/21 FROM : National Wildfire Coordinating Group
REPLY TO : NWCG@nifc.gov
DATE : 12/21/2010
SUBJECT : SAFETY ADVISORY : Rhabdomyolysis Epidemiological Study

Rhabdomyolysis Epidemiological Study

The NWCG Risk Management Committee (RMC) is very concerned with the number and severity of reported cases of rhabdomyolysis within the wildland fire community. The first confirmed case was documented in our firefighters in 2006. To date, one probable case and nine confirmed cases of rhabdomyolysis in wildland firefighters have been brought to our attention. Two wildland firefighters are permanently disabled from rhabdomyolysis, which can cause permanent kidney damage. The actual number of affected wildland firefighters is likely higher due to suspected under-recognition and misdiagnosis. An assessment presented to the RMC November 4, 2010, showed that the arduous-duty firefighter job duties and conditions involve several risk factors for rhabdomyolysis.

The RMC has requested a study, called an EPI-AID, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since this type of study involves risk factors unique to a work environment, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) will be providing technical assistance.

The objective of this study is to:

  1. Determine the risk factors for rhabdomyolysis among wildland firefighters.
  2. Assess under-recognition of rhabdomyolysis among wildland firefighters.
  3. Recommend measures to prevent rhabdomyolysis among wildland firefighters.
  4. Recommend improvements in the wildland fire injury and illness reporting system that will improve detection of future cases of rhabdomyolysis.
  5. Recommend further studies that would decrease the risk of rhabdomyolysis among wildland firefighters and improve clinical outcomes.
  6. Develop targeted educational materials for firefighters and local healthcare providers to increase prompt diagnosis and treatment of rhabdomyolysis.

The EPI-AID will include:

  • A review of medical records of firefighters diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis.
  • A survey of selected wildland firefighters about work history, medical history, known risk factors for rhabdomyolysis, and signs and symptoms consistent with rhabdomyolysis. The survey will be distributed both to firefighters who did and who did not have confirmed diagnoses of rhabdomyolysis. It is very important for all firefighters who are asked to complete the survey to do so, even if they did not have symptoms and/or risk factors for rhabdomyolysis, so the results of the investigation can be as accurate as possible.

NWCG will NOT have access to information collected by CDC/NIOSH as part of this study. Although the NWCG will assist in disseminating instructions to wildland firefighters on how to access the online questionnaire for this EPI-AID, responses can only be accessed by CDC/NIOSH personnel.

CDC/NIOSH personnel will ask firefighters diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis to complete a medical records release form so that CDC/NIOSH personnel may obtain their records for review. CDC/NIOSH protects any individually identifiable information according to federal law. Results of review of medical records and analysis of survey data are presented in the final report for the entire group surveyed as a whole and never as individual or identifiable results.

CDC/NIOSH investigators will be making a site visit to meet with NWCG the week of January 10, 2011, and we plan for the survey to be ready around that time. RMC is requesting full cooperation and participation within the wildland fire community to support this study and encourage those contacted by CDC/NIOSH to provide timely and accurate information.

We are anxious to get results from this study so we can move forward on prevention measures and educating the wildland fire community and medical facilities that support us in the time of need. NWCG has asked CDC/NIOSH to complete their assessment by mid-February so that the results of this investigation can be disseminated before the annual spring training events. Therefore, timely responses to questionnaires from firefighters and prompt completion and return of medical records release forms are essential if this deadline is to be met.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at (208)387-5175 or michelle_ryerson@ nospam nifc.blm.gov.

Michelle G. Ryerson
Chair, NWCG Risk Management Committee

Original Risk Management Committee Document (126 K pdf file)

12/20 To all FWFSA members:

AB was kind enough to allow me to post this.

Despite our best efforts, invariably when we send out newsletters, Christmas cards etc., by mail we get a number of them back. Some with forwarding addresses, some without. Trying to track folks down, especially this time of year can be extremely time consuming and expensive in re-sending material by mail.

If you have not received a newsletter or Christmas card in the last week or so and are a current FWFSA member, PLEASE contact me either by phone (208) 775-4577, or email at cjudd@fwfsa.org to make sure we have your current address. Since we plan on holding a membership conference at the end of 2011 it is vitally important we can communicate with you through regular mail.

Thanks for your help.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
12/20 Hotlist threads:

GS grade for helicopter squad leaders

Fire Hire questions, including who's hiring on the LPF?

12/19 Hotlist threads:

Porterville (OC) Organized Crew program back in business for 2011

Tina Terrell has accepted an assignment as Assistant Director, Job Corps National Office, in Golden, Colorado.
Tina is currently the Forest Supervisor, Sequoia National Forest, California.

12/18 Letterman and Casey,

Your passion and commitment show.
Good to be with you.

Dan
12/17 A Federal Pay Freeze and the R5 Firefighter Scale etc

Thanks Dan, you're right. You make some excellent points and I hope to read more of them soon.

I do plead guilty for jumping on the "thanks" only because the solidarity was real and the cause was just. The interesting thing is we would not be having this discussion right now if not for wlf.com, FWFSA and Wildland Firefighters (fed and non-fed) who stepped up on this issue from all around the country in 2008.

Letterman

12/17 A Federal Pay Freeze and the R5 Firefighter Scale etc

Dan:

I sure wasn't trying to offer a negative post to yours. I have to be honest and give some credit to Randy Moore for his efforts and for taking the time to call and chat with me from time to time. Certainly a fresh approach from ROs in the past and others across the country. I think he understands the uniqueness of R-5 and its fire program and the microscope it is under from every direction.

3 years ago you wouldn't have heard a Forest Service RO state he supports PTP let alone even mention those nasty words as well as classification, so I do appreciate his efforts.

The point about yesterday, today & tomorrow is that unfortunately PTP and many other issues have been on-going for years. It certainly would be nice to get an inkling of support from the Agency(s). I had hoped with Tidwell becoming the Chief and Gail going bye-bye, we'd have a better dialogue with the FS on firefighter issues. Sadly, Mr. Tidwell has been MIA and his public commentary at congressional hearings has been, at least in my personal opinion woefully inept.

That being said, the only course of action is to continue to educate those that have the ability to effect positive change through the legislative process. You mentioned the efforts of Sen. Feinstein yet politics has reared its ugly head. In 2008 she was on top of the FS, holding it accountable for this & that. Of course that was during a Republican administration. Since the end of 2008 when Democrats took over the Administration there has been an unwillingness by those same Democrats who previously pursued action & accountability by Republican appointees to pursue such with current Democratic appointees. In other words, apparently all the problems have gone away and are now fixed.

More likely than not, the Republican controlled House and those Republicans who have supported us in the past will now challenge the Democratic Administration and its land management agency appointees with respect to fire issues.

Thanks,

Casey

12/17 official passports:

Sandy,

I have an official passport and as you well know, it is stored in Washington, DC. There have been times when I thought I could be going on an international assignment, so I tried to get my official passport from DC to be ahead of the power curve but I needed some official documentation (resource order). I didn't have it at the time so no luck.

Sometimes these request come with a quick mobilization time frame and getting the passport in a timely fashion can be impossible, especially on a weekend. Why can't I have it in my possession? What's the best way to get a hold of it in a timely fashion at a moment's notice?

Thanks,

Hoping to go overseas

Ab addition from 12/6 post
Passport Info Communication from May, 2010 (57 K doc file)

Hoping to go overseas,
Maybe someone will send your question to Sandy:
sfarber@ nospam fs.fed.us
It would be nice to know the parameters of the "traveling process" so people could expeditiously follow the steps to be sent to international emergencies. No need for bureaucracy to be more cumbersome than it is.

Maybe she could advise everyone that would be eligible to go.
What is necessary ahead of time?
When the need arises, what are the steps and sub-steps to get deployed?

Maybe this is explained in the Notes links, but clicking on them gives the message that you have to have an application to open it.

Ab.

12/17 Beneficiary on file?

Ab and Fed Firefighters,

It's the time of the year that you should check with ASC to make sure you have a designated beneficiary
on file or the correct beneficiary if you've been through a divorce or some other changes.

GA Peach

12/17 Federal Continuing Resolution:

Interesting...

Lots of questions about the CR that expires this Saturday. This morning we were hearing talk of a CR into Jan/Feb, but just saw:

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-MD., said the House would take up a short-term continuing resolution that would keep the government funded through next Tuesday, Dec. 21. House and Senate leadership are expected to continue discussions around a longer-term CR that would fund the government into early next year. The current stopgap funding measure expires on Saturday night.

So we don't know how long the CR will run, but it appears pretty certain that something will be passed today that keeps the gov running into at least next week..

fuels guy

Ab link:
Bloomberg: Congress Seeks Temporary Fix

12/17 re: Dan Cotrell's response about Israel and official passports:

If official passports weren't the issue, why were these folks sent home for not having them?
here's the letter that came out today....

Here is the official word on official passports vs personal for full time FS employees. For other employees,
seasonal, part time it all depends on what is on their SF-50, Personnel Action.

MJ

All official international travel must be on an official passport. For example, the latest deployment to Israel last week-end, those without official passports were sent home. Even though a couple folks came into DC for the briefing, they were sent home for lack of official passport.

A letter came out end of May and is attached for your information., Official passports should have been started even without a trip.

January 1, 2011 will be the cut off for any exceptions, which we have had in the past. Bottom line, no official, no go.

Please pass this on to others who may be interested as I understand R5 never passed the letter on.

The following Correspondence is archived in the Records database. Any enclosures will follow the letter in this message.

<some broken link>- FS_correspondence.doc

To open this document in the Records database, click on this link ->Notes Link <requires an application>

To access all documents in the National Records Database, click on this link ->Notes Link <requires an application>

Thank you.

Sandy

><> ><>

Sandra Farber, International Travel Specialist/Program Specialist
International Programs/Travel
sfarber@ nospam fs.fed.us
"Helping those who help make a difference"

12/17 A Federal Pay Freeze and the R5 Firefighter Scale etc

Hey Letterman and Casey,

One of the focuses of my posting in my mind, was really to help educate folks beyond the headlines- most news articles on the pay freeze have never gotten down to the specifics in the US Code.

I also wanted to point out factual ways the new scale might still be implemented, despite the headlines of frozen pay.

I stated, in part, “I would extend some blind faith thank you…”

Since nobody I know has seen the R5 proposal to OPM, it was just an attempt to stay positive and hopeful.

Take a look at the wording – some, and blind faith. These words in a sentence do not exactly imply a 100% thank you, a 100% ownership, or a 100% belief in what is or has been done by the RO, if anything. Additionally, my original message to Ab did not have “thank you for your work” underlined.

Furthermore, I never thanked the RO for past or current retention pay. Reread what I said, it was about the R5 proposal to OPM. The rumored R5 proposal.

Letterman, one of your bullet statements led with-

“I choose to not thank RO or WO for retention pay Dan…….”

Once again, please, be fair, the post was about the rumored proposal and moving it to the final stage of implementation, and by me using the word blind, it implies I am not totally sure it happened.

One of the problems of posting a message is that a person has to attempt to be concise in order to convey a general point, and not lose the reader’s interest. This leaves the door open for misinterpretations.

Letterman- Thank You for the specific reminders on some of the history of this fight, and all involved.

I want to let both of you know that I have recruited several people into FWFSA – sighting the fact that the FWFSA was directly responsible for thousands of extra dollars into their pockets for 2 years, and the least that they could do is kick back a couple of hundred a year to this organization. So we are not on the opposite side of the fence on this. I have also said to these folks that the RO would not have acted without pressure to do so from FWFSA members.

Letterman – You seem to read more into my comments then are truly there, suggesting that I thought / think the retention pay came from the RO.

Far from it.

A question I asked in my posting was - “Will the RO do the right thing if it is still allowed, and finally take a solid corrective action for this long fought, long overdue, and deserved pay issue?

Is that anti FWFSA? Long fought I said. Who do you think I meant?

Your post seems to imply that I am ignoring a large group of people who have worked hard on this issue.

Try being a little more fair in the future. Ask a clarifying question before cutting someone off and racing away on a tangent.

Stated another way, Don’t eat your own children.

Casey , You stated –

“The day for PTP was yesterday, today & tomorrow.”

I agree with the today part and tomorrow part , I can’t do much with yesterday other than grab some facts. My take is “You can’t should have done anything,” unless you have a time machine. Yesterday is over. We can however, use yesterday for facts and foundation.

When I brought up PTP, it was simply to point out that it is a separate issue from paying folks what is fair under these special series, or locality charts. How much longer are we going to stick folks in CA in the RUS chart? No longer for my group , I say.

Houston TX for example, has a higher scale than a lot of us in CA, and a lot of people I know say Houston is not expensive in that way. At least if you compare it to some areas in CA. The higher scale being attributed by some to the presence of NASA folks. Good work on their part.

I was glad to hear you say you certainly support special pay rates in certain areas of the country.

The FWFSA has members in a lot of areas that are covered by these special rates, and I do not believe it is divisional to the organization, or the federal workforce for a sub group of federal employees to make a push to have consideration for the same. If this mysterious/ rumored proposal were to have a job series change to Firefighter, and not Forestry Tech, this might be a baby step towards forcing the Congress and the Agency to finally act on PTP, and recognize the job for what it truly is.

The R5 pay issue has to be fixed, and the avenue to get it fixed is through the RO and OPM. The PTP as you have educated us Casey, will have to come through legislation.

I do have an R5 slant, as I live and work there, and feel if we in R5 were to receive a Firefighter scale, it would be a door opening for other regions to follow or piggyback. It has to start somewhere, just as the PTP pilot program would fit best in CA.

Yep, I know some verbal Judo too. Glad to be an FWFSA member, and speak loudly and positively about it.

Dan

Yup, my bad on the extra underline. I copy and paste posts and then retain text only to get rid of extra code. Only then do I try to add the special underlines and bolds and quotes or bullets back in. I thought you had some, but it was only a link that was underlined. Apologies.

It is hard sometimes to know who is posting and exactly what they mean. We're handicapped because a posting forum like this is not face to face communication -- with all the rich human facial and body language and tone of voice cues. Nice job of clarifying, Dan. Ab.

12/17 9/11 First Responders' Health Care Bill:

from milehighbar:

Allow the Senate to vote on the 9/11 Zadroga Bill

Mitch McConnell - REPUBLICAN
DC Phone: 202-224-2541
DC Fax: 202-224-2499

Susan Collins - REBUBLICAN
Phone: (202) 224-2523
Fax: (202) 224-2693

Olympia Snowe - REPUBLICAN
Phone: (202) 224-5344
Toll Free: (800) 432-1599
Fax: (202) 224-1946

Jim Demint - REPUBLICAN
Phone: 202-224-6121
Fax: 202-228-5143

~~~~~
from PA Fire Warden:

Senate:

senate.gov Contacts

It's clear who the R's are. Email or send a message to each of them. Lets make this like Fire Geeks link of "firefighters running the country".

House of Representatives:

house.gov Contacts

I'll see if I can find a list we can go through to contact the Republicans over this one.

And forget going home for Christmas until this is passed!!!

John

Hotlist thread on contacting your congressional reps...

12/17 9/11 First Responders' Health Care Bill:

from the Ab account:

Stewart's last show of the year last night was dedicated to the 9/11 Zadroga Bill.

The second video from the responders themselves gets emotional. (link at bottom Ab.)

Stewart Spends Last Show Of 2010 ENTIRELY On 9/11 First Responders Bill (6 minute video)

It makes me ill watching some of these elected officials.

If you want to know who you should call or email today and tell them to allow a vote in this Bill, just go to the US Senate or House website. Look for anyone with a (R) to the right of their name. So I am clear on this ---> Any or all of them with an (R) to the right of their name.

Republicans, you can vote no, it's your elected right. Just please allow it to come to a vote. Republicans, please can just 3 of you vote with the other 57 Democrats to stop the filibuster? Then on the up or down vote on the legislation if you wish to vote no, fine. We know the Tea Party is watching every vote you make and will primary you if you do not do as directed by them. But this is not the time to worry about such politics. Just 3 of you, 3.

Allow the majority of our elected officials who want to go forward on this legislation to do so.

Just let them vote.

mhb

second video: 9/11 First Responders React to the Senate Filibuster "We are disgusted, disappointed and hurt"...

Sad indeed! Email your congressional representatives! Tell them to pass the dam* bill!!! What a pile of cr*p! Anyone have a list of people whose email inboxes we should flood? or Step by Step directions on how to find each of them at what websites? Ab.

12/16 A Federal Pay Freeze and the R5 Firefighter Scale etc

Dan:

I do not believe Congress and the Administration's effort to treat a hangnail by amputating a finger, i.e. to solve the economic ills of this country on the backs of federal employees by freeing their base pay, will have any impact on our continuing efforts to secure portal to portal pay for our Nation's federal wildland firefighters.

While your post's focus was on Region 5 of the Forest Service, every federal wildland firefighter employed by all five federal land management agencies deserve a 21st century methodology of compensation when on an emergency incident.

While I certainly support special pay rates in certain areas of the country, basic, fundamental pay reform must be accomplished for all.

There are several key points with respect to our continued efforts on PTP and the freeze in base pay. Our PTP legislation does not seek a change in base pay. Furthermore, using a pilot program to initially implement PTP allows greater flexibility when conforming to existing regulations, laws etc. In other words a pilot program doesn't need to strictly adhere to certain things... if that makes sense.

The day for PTP was yesterday, today & tomorrow. The way has not changed and will not change. We have already received commitments from several Republican offices to take the lead on our legislation and it will be incumbent upon us to continue to educate folks on the Hill as to how our legislative proposals can result in a more effective & efficient federal wildfire program.

I am disappointed that the labor unions representing federal employees have not been more vocal in their response to the proposed freeze. Sadly, federal employees continue to be an easy target for politicians to take advantage of. The FWFSA can't change that but the federal labor unions can and should. All we can do is illustrate the idiocy of freezing the pay of those federal employees who are on the lower end of the pay spectrum and who, ironically are the federal employees who most often risk their lives to protect our Nation's natural resources and all federal assets.

Candidly speaking, the freeze is born out of ignorance and expedience. And while I continue to work with those on both sides of the aisle, I have not held back in my communications with them expressing the ignorance of such an action.

So, with all due respect and appreciation for your kind comments, we will remain persistent in trying to deliver all the benefits all of you have deserved for far too long.

Casey

12/16 A Federal Pay Freeze and the R5 Firefighter Scale etc:

BLACK  TUESDAY

Quote from Dan:

Perhaps quietly getting this done, rather than sharing the draft is a good route.

Hi Dan, I hope they do not plan to stay muted for too much longer. In about 45 days, retention pay for all GS 5-8’s is going away unless something happens. Given the current issues on the table for the country, some would say that it is a tough sell to continue them. Even though I support continuing them for our lower grade employees, I would have to agree. Although staffing is not perfect in R-5, it has improved mainly because of the second worse economic down turn in American history. The issue can return if the agency forgets the lesson it learned in 2008.

If R-5 would have moved on this new pay concept last spring/summer when it was secretly being worked on before the mid-term shellacking (his word, not mine) it might have been a different story. Kind of like running out the clock?

However, unfortunately I think you are on the right track. All retention will most likely go away in the next 45-60 days. I hope I am wrong, however employees need to be prepared.

Dan said: thank you for your work

Thanking someone? We have a great deal to be thankful for from our FAM group in the RO and WO. Although they still have some work to do and much to improve on, especially when it comes to the acceptance of organizational change, in my opinion, most of those in RO/WO FAM positions are working for the good of Wildland Firefighters. However thanking them for retention pay is like thanking Ireland for building the Great Wall of China. They had nothing to do with it.

Thanking them for retention pay? Memories fade, reminders are a good thing.

  • I choose to not thank RO or WO for retention pay Dan. The retention issue became a serious reality because of the blinders the RO/WO had on for many years. Although immeasurable in the real world, one can come to a reasonable conclusion that our retention issues caused performance reductions and maybe even lead to injuries.
  • I choose to offer thanks for retention pay to the members of this forum and members of FWFSA for who sent thousands of emails and made hundreds of phone calls after the events that occurred the morning of April 1, 2008.
  • I wish to thank the hundreds of Wildfire Firefighters from outside of California who stood up and joined in even though they knew they would probably not see any monetary benefit from the success. Yes, two groups in 2008 had a 50 state strategy. Both groups won!
  • I wish to thank the two Senators from California who listened.
  • We need to thank a Congress who appropriated $25 million for retention pay within the Forest Service. This effort was lead by the two Senators from California. Very few in Congress believed the April 1, 2008 testimony.
  • Thanks must go to all Wildland Firefighters who worked to relieve staffing issues on modules due to retention issues.
  • I will not thank those who falsely testified before Congress about the retention issue.

April 1, 2008 – After months of studying the retention issue, this was the date we learned during an R-5 videoconference and during Under Secretary Rey’s testimony what they thought about Wildland Firefighters. A coast-to-coast smack down. A shellacking! I often think of the events that day and what happened afterward as the perfect storm. We took some hits that day, but we stood back up, dusted off the nomex and using a basketball term, it was a full court press, GAME ON!

April 2, 2008 – The date they learned, they were wrong! Uh-Ohhhhh...

The rest is history. However, good reading if you ever have an opportunity to go to the wlf.com archives. The one thing that sticks in my mind most about the events in 2008 was the multitude of emails from lower level Forest Service PAO’s about the retention issue. All of them ended with “if you’re asked about this issue (retention) forward all inquires to the RO.” It made me chuckle more than a few times.

That was how we received retention pay Dan and who is deserving of a thank you. We owe a lot to everyone who stepped up and decided to fight back until the 25 million was appropriated and only then did the agency admitted mistakes. Without us stepping up and rallying together on this issue, does anyone really believe retention pay would have happened? Not a chance.

As an organized group of Wildland Firefighters, we must never forget that.

Portal to portal – Another day, another way? Perhaps.
More important things in the country to work on now? Absolutely.

However, thanks for everyone's good work in 2008, a bureaucrat is going to think long and hard before they mess with Federal Wildland Firefighters.

Letterman

CFMTTF

12/16 Jobs Announcement numbers:

Just got off the phone with ASC.

You posted the 2008 announcement numbers link. 2011 Announcement numbers are here

2011_OCR_LIST.pdf. (FS intranet)
2011 OCR list (36 K pdf file that's posted on the FS web)

Some of the posted announcement numbers are missing a "-REL2" at the end which reflects the new IFPM standards and may be difficult to locate in AVUE. Example: Helitack GS-05 positions will be OCRT-462-5-HLTK-DT-REL2.

There's a lot of misinformation out there.

GS-05 Senior Firefighter positions may need to add to the end of the announcement number -REL2
in their search on Avue. This is to reflect the re-release of IFPM standards in the announcement.

JD

Hi JD, It has been very confusing. I'm getting questions from people that are not FS employees and do not have access to the FS web. The link I posted is the link that's on the FS Nationwide Temp Employment website.

A number of people have applied under old appointment numbers and are wondering if they should reapply under new numbers. Thanks very much for the pdf file of the 2011 OCR list. I think that will help. Ab.

12/16 9/11 Health Care Bill

ms, here's one that's Way TOO FUNNY! (and sad...)

Stewart To GOP: No More Using 9/11 For Political Gain Until First Responders Bill Is Passed (VIDEO)

Scroll down to the video and watch. The last 2 minutes (of the 3 min) are the best! What a strange reality we live in.

GA Peach

12/16 Jobs:

R5 2011 Temporary Recruitment Bulletin

U.S. FOREST SERVICE – Region 5 (California)
Forestry Aid and Forestry Technicians
Temporary Wildland Firefighter
2011 Fire Season
Apply Now – Contact Captains ASAP – Job Offers may be made in January and February

The Forest Service requires talented people working safely together to be successful. Wildland firefighters work in a variety of specialized positions, including fire engine crews, fuels management, hand crews, helitack, interagency hotshot crews, and patrol and prevention technicians. Some locations offer fire lookout positions. Crews often travel throughout California and other areas across the country performing fire suppression and other incident activities. The actual job title for firefighter positions are “Forestry Aid and Forestry Technicians”.

Much more at the document including a table of Avue 2011 Temporary Employment Open Continuous Vacancy Announcement Numbers

Would someone please clarify if the announcement info on this new recruitment bulletin is consistent with the information at this official website

NW Centralized Temporary Hiring.php

This first link on that page has the old '09 announcement number info and we've been getting questions here at wlf.com.

Temporary Vacancy Announcements.

I haven't had time to track that down right now, but applicants and reapplicants should know what announcement numbers they should be applying to in a timely fashion. Especially since this is the message being sent

"Apply Now – Contact Captains ASAP – Job Offers may be made in January and February"

Ab.

Hotlist Thread on this topic and on hiring:with comment from Loomis-Hannah.
Hotlist

12/15 Seasonal holiday message from R5 Forester:

Date: December 14, 2010
Subject: Regional Forester's Holiday Message
To: All Region 5 Employees

As we approach the end of the year and celebrate the holiday season, I want to express my gratitude and appreciation for all of your hard work and commitment to the Region this past year. Together we are making the Pacific Southwest Region the best that it can be!

We have much to celebrate. We have helped create thousands of jobs to assist in the economic recovery. Whether you were directly involved in administering Recovery Act projects or helped pick up the workload to free up those that were, through your efforts we put people to work in ways that addressed our regional priorities of ecological restoration and resiliency. Examples include building wood-to-energy production facilities, working on hundreds of miles of trails, and restoring thousands of acres to be more ecologically healthy and productive to provide ecological services to the public.

This year we also refocused on embracing Safety as a core value. We began a comprehensive dialogue with all of our employees to ensure that safety is first and foremost with all that we do. No job is so important that we cannot take the time to do our jobs safely and ensure all employees return home safe and secure at the end of each day.

Today, we celebrate and reaffirm the core values we all share. These values help this agency to thrive towards a commitment to conservation, appreciation for each other, and a spirit of service to current and future generations. In keeping with the holiday spirit, we ask you to reflect on your year and consider the fellowship we can share as individuals with one another in this season of thanks-giving.

As we move into the New Year, I want to share with you my great optimism and confidence in our talented workforce. On behalf of the Regional Leadership Team, we wish you a happy holiday season with family & friends, and look forward to moving into a New Year filled with great opportunities and successes.

Have a safe and happy season!

/s/ Randy Moore
RANDY MOORE
Regional Forester

12/15 A Federal Pay Freeze and the R5 Firefighter Scale

Since the RO in region 5 has never published the proposed/ much talked about “new salary table” for the firefighters in the region, I can only guess how it was laid out compared to the rules that it would be boxed in by. (OPM rules and perhaps the proposed pay freeze.)

I would extend some blind faith thank you here to those that did craft this proposal, because from what I have heard, it would be for GS-5-9, and the RO folks that worked on this are certainly above that group in GS, so whichever way it goes, thank you for your work on this. Perhaps quietly getting this done, rather than sharing the draft is a good route.

Here is what I dug up on President Obama’s OMB proposal to congress for the pay freeze, with the house passing a pay freeze on 12/8/10, and the senate likely to do the same.

The specific details of the OMB proposed pay freeze-

whitehouse.gov

The senate’s FY 2011 Omnibus Appropriations Act – The pay freeze is also attached to it.

Page 6 of 1924 covers the pay freeze issue, and is easier to decipher, than the OMB letter. It seems to be focused on statutory adjustments, and doesn’t directly exclude creation of new job series, or pay scales.

appropriations.senate.gov

From what I can gather, step increases, promotions, and retention pay would not be affected by any of the proposed legislation.

US Code title 5 5305 Special Pay Authority would be my guess as to how the RO submitted their proposal to OPM, and 5305 is not listed under any of the proposed freeze versions.

The devil is in the details, and a person does need to be part lawyer to fully understand the legal language in these things.

Will the RO do the right thing if it is still allowed, and finally take a solid corrective action for this long fought, long overdue, and deserved pay issue?

I hope so, they do visit this site. Let’s stay positive, and supportive.

This is a big deal to us north of the southzone pay scale – in areas equally, and even more expensive than say the LA area currently.

Portal to Portal - Another day, another way, another fight. Thank You Casey for your work on this.

Dan
12/15 Re, 12 days of Christmas

Sounds like Oliver works in R-5.  ; )

Robert

Nope, from your neck'o'the'woods. Haw Haw. Ab.

12/15 I came across this today, very interesting. Ab.

Blast from the past:

I recently learned that the Forest Service has a library that has some of the old books I wrote to you about- like Water vs Fire. After waiting only 2 days I received a PDF copy of it from them. See attached.

They indicated there were no copyrights to this book, and perhaps similar others, so OK to distribute.

The FS library seemed to be internal user only, kinda hard to find something unless a person knows a title.

Anyway, I will continue to seek their copies for future use if you are ever interested.

Water vs Fire (3,837 K pdf file)

D

12/15 12 Days of fire season

On the first day of fire season my employer gave to me
A stand of burning pine trees

On the second day of fire season my employer gave to me
Two sack lunches and a stand of burning pine trees

On the third day of fire season my employer gave to me
Three miles of hand line…two sack lunches….
And a stand of burning pine trees

On the fourth day of fire season my employer gave to me
4 contract crews…three miles of hand line…two sacks lunches
And a stand of burning pine trees

On the fifth day of fire season my employer gave to me
Five Rookie fire fighters…Four contract crews…Three miles of hand line
Two sack lunches …and a stand of burning pine trees

On the sixth day of fire season my employer gave to me
Six non- carded helicopters…Five Rookie fire fighters
four contract crews…Three miles of hand line…Two sack lunches…
And a stand of burning pine trees

On the seventh day of fire season my employer gave to me
Seven shifting shift plans…Six non-carded helicopters
And Five Rookie fire fighters
Four contract crews…Three miles of hand line…Two sack lunches
And a stand of burning pine trees

On the eighth day of fire season my employer gave to me
Eight water tenders missing….Seven shifting shift plans…Six non-carded helicopters
And Five Rookie fire fighters
Four Contract Crews…Three miles of hand line
Two sack lunches... And a stand of burning pine trees

On the ninth day of fire season my employer gave to me
Nine National Guard troops… Eight water tenders missing
Seven shifting shift plans…Six non-carded helicopters…
And Five Rookie fire fighters
Four contract crews…Three miles of hand line…Two sack lunches
And a stand of burning pine trees

On the tenth day of fire season my Employer gave to me
Ten television reporters… Nine National Guard troops… Eight water tenders missing
Seven shifting shift plans…Six non-carded helicopters…
And Five Rookie fire fighters
Four contract crews…Three miles of hand line…Two sack lunches…
And a stand of burning pine trees

On the eleventh day of fire season my employer gave to me
Eleven Shot crews on R and R…Ten television reporters
Nine National Guard troops… Eight water tenders missing
Seven shifting shift plans…Six non-carded helicopters…
And Five Rookie fire fighters
Four contract crews…Three miles of hand line…Two sack lunches…
And a stand of burning pine trees

On the twelfth day of fire season my employer gave to me
Twelve New Fires… Eleven Shot crews on R and R
Ten Television reporters… Nine National Guard troops… Eight water tenders missing
Seven shifting shift plans…Six non-carded helicopters…
And Five Rookie fire fighters…
Four contract crews…Three miles of hand line…Two sack lunches…
And a stand of burning pine trees

Oliver…Merry Christmas to All

Nice! Ab.

12/14 Missing Michele:

Aloha, In a few more days (12/17) it will be one year since my wife went away. I can't tell you of the hell I have been thru because of finding her dead.

I take some consolation in this poem by John Updike, noted author and some would say great poet.

Fine Point 12/22/08

Why go to Sunday school, though surlily,
and not believe a bit of what was taught?
The desert sheperds in their scratchy robes
undoubtedly existed, and Israel's defeats--
the Temple in its sacredness destroyed
by Babylon and Rome. Yet Jews kept the faith
and passed the prayers, the crabbed rites.

We mocked, but took. The timbral creed of praise
gives spirit to the daily; blood tinges lips.
The tongue reposes in papyrus pleas,
saying, "Surely" ---magnificent that "surely"---
"goodness and mercy shall follow me all
the days of my life," my life forever.

God bless us all and God bless Michele.

Aloha, Old Bri

Bri, I had no idea! My best to you and your son, man. So sad for your loss of Dr. Michele Rose, best wife, best mom, vet and goat person extraordinaire, beloved by many, sorely missed. Ab.

12/14 Abs -

Wishing you and all TheySaid-ers the joys of the season. And here's a gift -- I can't take credit as the author, just the transcriber.

And one note that might help some folks as they read it: in some areas in New England and in the rural south, "dinner" is the big meal of the day, often the noon meal, not necessarily the evening meal.

STUMPIE

~~~~~

A Firefighter Christmas

It’s the Night before Christmas, and, well, here I sit - out on the fireline and havin’ a fit.
I had just settled down for a Christmas Eve dinner, and that telephone call was surely a winner.

‘Twas a call from the Ranger ‘bout a quarter to one, saying, “Fire on the mountain – run, boys, run !”
That ham sitting there on that big dinner plate, was a-callin’ my name, but it’ll just have to wait.

So I started the process of rounding up gear; some over there, and some more over here.
I was just not prepared for a fire at this time; I only had thoughts of that ham on my mind.

The dog had my boots, now one can’t be found, my radio won’t work, guess the batteries are down.
My head lamp is shot and I can find my hat; my wife’s yelling at me ‘cause I stepped on the cat.

This time of the year our house is a riot, it’ll be nearly midnight before there’s peace and quiet.
I grabbed up my gear, told Mama I loved her, I won’t be gone long, dear, just save me some supper.

I had to look back at that ham just once more, then I stepped on my bootlace and fell out the door.
I fell like a rock in that big pile of gear, and my wife called out sweetly, “Now, be careful, dear!”

I got myself up and I loaded my stuff; but leavin’ that ham was sure gonna be rough.
My truck wouldn’t start so I rolled down the hill; then off to the rodeo like Buffalo Bill.

I drove to the fire and announced, “Here I am”, but my thoughts were on dinner and that big juicy ham.
Potatoes and gravy and a big piece of pie, just thinkin’ of that food brought a tear to my eye.

Now I get mighty hungry while a-diggin’ fireline, and I’m ready to eat when it comes to mealtime,
We’re almost tied in, and I’m sweatin’ and dirty; I look at my watch and it’s 23:30.

The folks from Logistics have finally got to me, but all they brought to eat was a cold M-R-E.
With stale Gatorade in a styrofoam cup; too tired to sit down, so I ate standin’ up.

I have dug this dang fireline till I’m almost dead; with visions of ham floating ‘round in my head.
When I stand up straight there’s a pain in my back, and my get-up-and-go has done jumped the track.

Without any gloves I have blisters galore; my socks are too thin and my poor feet are sore
I walk like a zombie, I could sure use some sleep; my pants are all wet, my canteen sprang a leak.

Back home all the kiddies are snug in the sack; while I’m out on this fireline, a-breaking’ my back.
I just slipped and fell, and skinned up my knee; and I think of that ham, just a-waitin’ for me.

It’s getting real close to the stroke of midnight; about time for ol’ Santy to be making his flight
I’ll sit for a minute till the others catch up; I could sure use some coffee, just one little cup.

I’ll lean back on this tree, close my eyes for a minute; I’ve worked pretty hard, can’t see the harm in it.
But…..what is that noise that I think that I hear ? Sounds like a sleigh and a bunch of reindeer.

Am I goin’ crazy ? Am I feelin’ alright ? What is that I see flying by in the night ?
A man dressed in red, with a great big fat belly, that shakes when he laughs, like a big bowl of jelly.

Whoever he was, well he gave me a fright; and I yelled after him as he flew out of sight,
“If you’re looking for me, well, you know where I am, and all I want for Christmas is that big piece of ham.”

Walter Merrill

12/12 CS, MJ and MB7....

Israeli Wildfire Response:

I was involved with the Israeli Wildfire Response and want to clear up a bit of misinformation swirling on "They Said". First, the lack of official passports was not why firefighters were stood down in Boise. The passport issue was discussed with officials from Israel well before crews were mobilized to Boise, and tourist passports were approved by these Israeli officials. Significant rainfall, as well as an aggressive aerial attack on the fire were the primary reasons for earlier than expected containment, and thus the cancellation of various resources.

Next, the US government response was significantly more robust than just the 747 supertanker (which was contracted directly from Evergreen by the Israeli government). As the lead agency for US government response to international disasters, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) stood up both a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) that was deployed to Israel as well as a Response Management Team based in Washington DC. Disaster management and fire specialists from both the USFS and BLM (through the Disaster Assistance Support Program) were included on each of these teams. USAID, in response to requests from the government of Israel initially sent approximately 50 tons of fire retardant and foam. This was followed by the deployment of the DART to Israel, which included George Custer's NIMO team to provide technical assistance. USAID also worked in conjunction with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the USFS to mobilize 8 C-130 aircraft equipped with Modular Airborne Firefighting Units (MAFFS). These aircraft were in various stages of deployment when the order for them was cancelled by the Israeli government on Sunday.

Most pre-planned International work assignments do require an official passport, however this has been the second time this year I have seen firefighters mobilized or deployed without (Smokejumpers went to Canada this summer on tourist passports as well).

I hope this clarifies things a bit!

Dan Cottrell
Missoula Smokejumper and DASP Detailer
12/11 Israeli Fires and possible depleted uranium effects. What's in the smoke or dust???

Did PM Netanyahu get a Lethal Dose of DU?   (DU=Depleted Uranium)

Do members of the Israeli military? Do firefighters?

Firefighters want to rush to help but are there unforeseen consequences?

The article is written by an anti nuclear war author, but is there important info in his article none-the-less? Research as far back as 1982 has shown sperm counts are down and there's been speculation as to why... what's in the smoke or dust is something to consider, though, when going to a new place to fight wildland fire.

Sperm counts down by a third, 2004 study shows
Down For the Count, 1982 study shows decreased sperm count
In Japan

Mellie

Hotlist thread

12/10 Transfer of Station Benefits:

I wasn't aware that TOS benefits for assistance with selling your home had been reinstated at all, under any circumstance.

Have they been reinstated?

wondering

12/10 Search and Rescue

If the Forest Service wants to help with Search and Rescue, there will have to be some kind of agreement of meeting between the two agencies. SAR works for the Sheriffs department and even as volunteers, we are required to go through background checks, fingerprints and attend monthly training. Its close to like putting together a shot crew, someone can't just jump in and know how things are going to be run. That being said, I joined for the reason of helping out lost folks even though I am working for the Forest Service. It is just a balance between the two agencies. A few times I have been used for knowledge of certain parts of the forest and road as local knowledge is invaluable. I definitely agree that the Forest Service should be willing to help out lost people in the woods since we are "stewards of the forest" and are there to serve the public.

Brian

12/10 In answer to the question if donated leave is tax deductible.....depends.

If it is a "tangible asset", meaning you are entitled to payment of the leave if you sever service, than yes. If use or lose, no.

Firecapwife
12/10 Donated Leave:

I am curious if anyone out there can tell me.. if you donate leave, can you write it off on your taxes? I have donated five weeks in the last couple years and was just wondering.

Happy Holidays

Strive

12/10 Here's some input on a few things, I will keep it short.

1 - As far as Israel, there were 61 one of us ready to go with resource orders in our hands out of NIFC. We reported there on Sunday at 1000, were put on standby and returned at 1700. At 1700 all aircraft were cancelled. We were told to return on Monday morning, at which point, we got the not surprising final cancel at 0900. There was no talk of official passports, they simply picked up the fire. So the 747 was the only US resource that made it to Israel and it put the fire out.

2 - Search and Rescue. A couple years ago, there where lost hikers on our forest. One Fish and game guy was on scene and in charge. We called our dispatch and volunteered to go help, the dispatcher said OK. Less than two hours after putting the trucks in park, we found the hikers. Some public folks on ATVs drove them out. All was well, until we got back to station. We basically got reprimanded for our actions. Search and rescue isnt what we do and there werent any funds for OT. Fortunately, we made it back to station at about 1815 and all crewmembers were glad to help and didnt care about the extra $ compensation.

3 - Dog tumor. I take my dogs to a local pet store for vaccinations, performed by a vetrinarian. It saves me from paying for a vet exam. Anyhow, I have a 10+ year old aussie who has a marble sized lump on her ribs just above her belly. Vet said it is a fatty lump, not a big deal. Also, said take her to a vet and stick a needle in to confirm. Im going to leave it be for the moment, its been there for a long time.

4 - Economy is tough out there. Lots of folks are upside down on their homes. It is causing home owning perms to not apply to jobs outside of their local area. Apparently, if you're upside down on your house, you cant enter the TOS relocation program. Sounds like all folks will be held to their tours. Our silviculture budget got completely wiped out.

Anyhow, Im glad to have a job and health insurance, happy holidays

MB7
12/10 WC advocate

Thanks for the tip on the insurance....

firegirl

12/10 WC...great information on the Fed Insurance. I'm glad my post brought some light on the situation and hopefully Shawn has the benefit and his family can get some relief. I also hope that the typical government process doesn't stand in the way.

If you have inside knowledge of the process, maybe you can reach out directly to Shawn's family to ensure that it goes smoothly.

Firecapwife
12/10 Oliver,

My (veterinarian, specialist, university-employed, non-whiny, non-entitled) girlfriend agrees with Pyro and Abs... the chances are low, but spring for the biopsy, just to be safe.

Best,

SkunkApe

12/9 Fed Life Insurance:

This message is in response to firecapwife.

The Federal Employee's Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) has a living benefit under the Basic insurance, which all permanent and term employees are automatically enrolled in unless they waive it. Shawn or someone acting on his behalf should contact their Human Resources office if this applies to him.

WC Advocate

12/9 Expertise humor:

Say, Oliver, if you think it'd help I could nail some shoes on your dog...

Seriously though; Ab's right. As all varieties of Labrador Retriever tend to be prone to both benign sebaceous tumors and to malignant cancerous tumors (not to mention hip problems) you probably want to have that biopsy'd.

Pyro

12/9 9/11 Health Care Bill...

We have come a long way. For the second time in a few months the 9/11 Health Care Bill failed to get through the Senate. A majority of our US Senators (58) supported moving the bill forward. Two shy of the required 60. Not one vote.

washingtonpost.com
abclocal.go.com
www.cnn.com

ms

12/9 Expertise humor:

Hey…since there seems to be some expertise in the forum I have a question…my Black Lab has a little fatty deposit next to her hip, about the size of a marble…should I be worried? It hasn’t grown over the last year or so.

Sorry Abs couldn’t resist…

Oliver

It could be a sebaceous lump, probably not cancerous if it hasn't gotten bigger in a year. If you want to be sure it's not malignant, take her in to your vet and get them to palpate and do a quick fine-needle aspirate test. Anyone else, chime in to answer this trickster. HAW HAW I couldn't resist. Ab.

12/9 Public servants: firefighters and other demanding careers

Good Morning, Jimbo;

Congratulations on being able to juggle your agency career and a marriage to a veterinarian; that's something I seem to be incapable of doing...

I too was, at one time and for quite a few years, cohabitating with a veterinarian. My fiance was also boarded (surgeon - I'm sure you know what that takes), but was self-employed and a sole practitioner, running a mobile equine practice in 3 counties in SoCal.

If I must say it, she was, in a word, busy. I certainly can relate to your account of late nights, emergency calls at all hours and in all weathers, injuries (hers were, last I heard, several dislocated and fractured shoulders, several foot fractures, and a fractured knee) and long hours with the clients over the telephone, etc.

At the time, I was an engine captain. Although I did have several opportunities to promote both within and without my agency, I chose to remain at captain level for the remainder of my career, for several personal reasons. I enjoyed the work immensely, and received a great deal of satisfaction from working in the field. And I'd have been, quite simply, an abysmal failure as an administrator. I can do it; I am now. But I'd have hated it at the time, and wouldn't have performed well. So... my income was limited to the rank.

During the time we were together, I watched as she progressed from an employee of a clinic (as you well know, new grads don't exactly get rich as an employee with no specialties), to self-employment, to a self-employed specialist. I also watched as she progressed from a near-destitute state to being financially secure and solvent enough to enable her cash purchases of a new pickup, new radiograph equipment, and new sonograph, along with all the other equipment and supplies required to outfit her new business, all within a year of her beginning her self-employment. And at the time, she was the lowest-priced mobile vet in the area by quite a margin, in order to build her practice.

I hear what you're saying, in your very well written message. There are, however, no direct comparisons between the careers of a veterinarian and a Federal agency wildland firefighter. Attempting to do so is akin to comparing the careers of an astronaut and a crop-duster pilot - yes, they both fly, but that's about where it ends.

My fiance had several options available that I, and others, did not and still do not. PTP pay for veterinarians? Well, yes; it's called a "Farm call fee". Lack of time with family? Well, yes; same-same, except I never saw her spend 3 weeks in another state with a colicky horse...

And I can definitely relate to the hours, commitment and rough-and-tumble of a veterinarian's occupation: at the time, in order to pay my bills, I maintained a side career as a mobile farrier service, and worked it every available day off from my agency job.

My point is that, although, as you infer through your wife's example, there are many highly demanding professions, many of those also allow the professional options not available to the Federal wildland firefighter, particularly those in the "station" GS grades. I was one; my son is one now. I know what he's paid, and I know well what he does, and what he sacrifices now in order to receive that paycheck. I also know well what he'll ultimately give in order to receive that paycheck, should he choose to remain with the agency, and in the field as a firefighter. And with all due respect, I never saw my fiance have to resort to hunting cottontails after work every day for months at a time, in order to have meat on the table; I doubt your wife has had to either.

As others have pointed out, Federal wildland firefighters asking for a bit of parity in their compensation and benefits is not whining; a person, particularly a head-of-household, can only cut back so far - beyond that, they're unable to feed, clothe, or house themselves. And yes, they're close to that minimum level now. I've never heard a FS, BLM or NPS firefighter argue they should be paid enough to buy McMansions or a new ski boat every year; that's not what we're talking about. We're just talking about being able to afford the basics for our families, with some degree of predictability: food, clothing, housing, transportation, medical care, etc.

With respect;

Pyro

12/9 Government Employee Life Insurance

Reading the post this morning about Shawn broke my heart. It also raised some questions regarding the life insurance benefits offered by the agencies and how inadequate they really are.

So many government employees, and for that matter private sector, rely solely on the benefits provided by their employer and don't look further. What people don't realize is that if they had private insurance, in a case likes Shawn's, a portion of the benefits could be paid out now to cover expenses, avoiding financial burden to the families.

I know this isn't a subject that many want to talk or for that matter hear about, but it is the reality of the situation. I have met so many destitute individuals who lost a spouse or loved one with either no life insurance at all or policies that only paid benefits after passing. In more cases than not, families would benefit more from the insurance prior to losing a loved one than after.

Firecapwife

12/9 Burning now!

The current plan is to begin the burn of the house at approximately 11. Interstate 15 through Escondido is now closed. More than 100 homes have been evacuated. They're waiting for the inversion to lift.

www.cbs8.com

12/9 Bomb-making house to be burned...

This event might interest some... it's not wildland, but the mods have been following it for days. The links are up on the hotlist...

Burning of a Bomb-making house in Escondido CA is supposed to occur at 0900 Pacific time but may be delayed until 1000 or later. One issue may be that they want the wind to be between 2 - 4 mph. A 16' firewall has been built around the house, neighboring homes have been evacuated, I-15 is being shut down. The process and outcome are fairly unknown, I'm guessing. Hope they are being safe.

Ab.

12/9

Missing Hiker's Body Possibly Found on Mt. Baldy
08 Dec 2010

Mount Baldy - Los Angeles County search crews on Mt. Baldy have found a body that could be that of missing hiker Michelle Yu. Search and rescue teams from several counties have been scouring Mt. Baldy for the past four days for Yu, an experienced hiker from Venice who never returned from a weekend trip on the mountain.

US Forest Service employees in Southern CA have opportunities to volunteer for some of the finest SAR organizations in the country. Many of them do. Here are links that describes some of them:
sbsar.org
crmra.org

You don't make any money but the job satisfaction is the best. Nothing beats returning a lost child to its parents or finding someone alive.

Fire Geek

12/9 JIMBO,

My guess would be that your wife hasn't been standing up for herself as the wildland firefighters are trying to do. That's not their fault and should be no reflection on them. Having been there myself I no longer feel sorry for anyone who doesn't try to improve his/her own life - we all have that responsibility if we feel the need. It's not anyone's else's fault that she puts up with it, and just because she does doesn't mean that others should also. If she doesn't feel the need and wants to "sacrifice" that's wonderful, but that doesn't mean that is what everyone else should do. Each person is different and so are circumstances. Sounds like quite a bit of money coming in, and that's the bottom line for many people. You reach the lower limits of being able to afford the basics and it doesn't matter how many sacrifices you make - you still don't have what you need to live on. That doesn't sound like it's the case at your house. Not to say it isn't admirable that she works that hard, but her sacrifices are much different and result in a different bottom line than many others. I don't care much for people that don't try to help themselves.

rmm
12/8 a message regarding Shawn Price, "Captain 74" at Lava Beds National Monument. I took the liberty of turning the very large 35M doc into a html page and put pertinent donation info below. Our best to Shawn and his family. Ab.

Shawn has pancreatic cancer and he and his family could really use some donations. To READ the STORY

Donations can be made to (in person, or mail check):
First State Bank of Newcastle, Wyoming
Shawn Price Fund (Steve Price)
PO Box 910
Newcastle, WY 82701
Acct # 17999, Routing # 102301 775, Phone: 1-307-746-4411 or 1-888-788-2892

For those who would like to send a card or letter to Shawn, the mailing address is:
Shawn Price c/o Betty Price
PO Box 225
Osage, WY 82723

12/8 Official Passports

How many firefighters had the same conversation with their wives as my husband and I had? "Honey, how would you feel if I wasn't here for Christmas?" Being the supportive firefighter wife, of course I said, "Go for it, I would manage.", even though I really wanted him to be home. At that point it could have gone either way. Then the call came in....he was going, just waiting for the orders. For the next several hours we called crew members, kids, got gear together and put together a Christmas contingency plan. Having done all that, we get the final call...."stand down".

I was relieved to know my husband would be home for Christmas...then, when I read MJ's post about "official" passports, I was pissed. We and I'm sure hundreds of other families went through chaos over an assignment that they didn't have a chance of getting because someone on their forest didn't do their job and pass along important information.... the May memo regarding passports.

CS

12/8 Official Passports

MJ,

Just to offer a little clarification about official passports and the Israel response. Like any response there are so many factors that are involved when sending individuals overseas. The lack of official passports was not a factor for the crews not being sent. The issue of official passports can be waived by the U.S. Embassy in the host country.

MJ is correct that if you are involved with international work for FS, you must travel on an official passport.

unnamed

2/8 JIMBO,

Please tell your wife thank you for her service and dedication, I’m happy that you two don’t argue…

Sign me,

The lazy, undeserving, over paid, over insured, whining, risk-less, pampered, may as well be a useless prison-guard, @#&%*! Firefighter.

P.S. – Someone needs to update that “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” thing…203 out of 224..?!...that can’t be right……..right?....

2/8 Why is it that there is a lost hiker (4 days overdue) on the ANF... and USFS employees are not engaging??

Unless you belong to one of the 22 San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Dept. or Mountain Rescue Association teams, most USFS employees don’t have the Alpine Rescue certification for this search area.

Fire Geek
12/8 We here at WLF would like to welcome the newest member of our advertising group. AirTankerArt.com is a Hotlist Forum sponsor and also included on the Classified page. Following is an introduction from AirTankerArt to let you all know a little more about what and who they are . Check 'em out, keep us online by supporting our advertisers.

SteveM

+++++

Greetings and best wishes to the wildlandfire.com viewers. I would like to welcome everyone to visit my new webshop at airtankerart.com . Featured items are limited edition prints, t-shirts and gift items featuring my original aviation artwork. Suggestions for additional products are always welcome. If you would like to see your aircraft, tanker base, etc on a product let me know! For now I've started with what I know - and that is the P2Vs my husband flew.

I have been a professional artist for more years than I'm going to admit to. I'm primarily a "Space Artist", and have done work for NASA and numerous science publications. I also have a PPL (private pilots license, currently collecting dust) and love flying, but it was my fascination with the wonderful old warbirds that my husband flew, and getting to know the wildland firefighting community, which inspired me to start painting aerial firefighters as well.

12/8 Hey Steve LCES

I don't think Casey was referring to the state agencies on the Teams but it was more directed to the city and county personnel and also volunteer units like the one out of Chester. We deal with these people alot here in California and their pay rate is ridiculous. If you look at the rosters of some of these teams you will see very few feds and alot of retired feds now working for volunteer units and making a chunk of money now, so I think thats what Casey was getting at not the State employees.

Happy Holidays

DM

12/8 AB,

From the Sacramento Bee this morning on the NTSB meeting yesterday in Washington and their findings. Of particular interest is the last paragraph.

"The Forest Service and FAA and their inspectors indicate they aren't even sure what they are supposed to be looking at, and the lines are blurred," Hersman said. "I think neither wants to take responsibility for this is because they don't have the resources to do what needs to be done."

Let’s hope they figure it out.

CAFBAN

NTSB Government Aircraft are Safety "Orphans"
Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010

WASHINGTON -- Government planes and helicopters are used every day to help protect public safety, as well as countless other tasks. But who is looking after the safety of the flight crews, government employees and other passengers on those aircraft?

No one, the National Transportation Safety Board said this week.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it doesn't have the authority to regulate the safety of aircraft operated by other federal agencies or state and local governments. And those government agencies, with the exception of the military, generally don't have the aviation expertise to do it themselves.

<snip> (rest of the info at the link)

"The Forest Service and FAA and their inspectors indicate they aren't even sure what they are supposed to be looking at, and the lines are blurred," Hersman said. "I think neither wants to take responsibility for this is because they don't have the resources to do what needs to be done."

fair use disclaimer

12/8 Why is it that there is a lost hiker (4 days overdue) on the ANF... and USFS employees are not engaging??

Search for Missing Hiker near Mt. Baldy Enters Fourth Day
Michelle Yu was not dressed for the winter weather that hit the area.

MT. BALDY ( KTLA) -- Authorities on Tuesday were continuing their search for a 49-year-old woman who disappeared while hiking near Mt. Baldy in the Angeles National Forest before a winter storm moved through the region.......

Michelle Yu has been missing in Mt. Baldy since this weekend. USFS resources have been awaiting a response on why we have not responded to a missing hiker in our response area. It has been stated that it is not in our mission statement. Our Mission Statement is very broad and works when it is beneficial. Although staffing has been reduced on the district our resources are more than available and ready. Why, Havn't we been dispatched to assist? Several district employees have volunteered on their own time for the search, while the agency allows others to do our job......

fair use disclaimer

Anonymous

12/8 Iron 44 Crash

The Forest Service saying it will not give a statement on the Iron-44 crash investigation reports until the "final is released" might be the safe route, but it sure isn't the smartest route. It makes it look like the agency is hiding and the media will gnaw all the meat off that bone!

Still Out There As an AD ...

12/8 New hotlist thread for the holidays featuring gift specials from our sponsors... Nice wreath, Original Ab (my longtime friend and partner, SteveM). Ab.
12/7 a summary

Short Old Timer - Nice post, great approach, great attitude. Do you think we can fit it in a stocking?

Intothewind - great questions. I hope this community continues to discuss the pros and cons of centralized fire or Yac's ideas on this. Lets all address wind's questions.

Treeline - OK, too tired to get into the lefty comment tonight. So lets just call it Treeline 1, Letterman 0. But I will be back ......

Rotn Ron - You have nothing to apologize for. Keep fighting the good fight. It's people like you that we want on our team.

Green Grass - Good post, great observations.

Letterman

Peace

12/7 NTI 590 Tactical Tender Crash:

Hey There,

I was the driver of the tender on May 14, 2009. Captain, Strike Team Leader, HFEO, and many more quals... Anyhow, the cause of the wreck was a catastrophic front left sidewall blow out from an old tire that should have been replaced. Anyhow that is old news.

I am curious if you might have any pictures that I may not have of the wreck. Also wondering if you know the Captain on the lead engine of the AEU Strike Team. I never got a chance to thank him for staying with me, and everyone who helped get me to the hospital for that matter, thank you as well!

Jeremy Roberson
Northern California/Southern Oregon

I'm happy to put people in contact with Jeremy. Ab.

12/7 Oak Grove Hotshots:

Please send this around to your network. We are trying to promote a crew reunion and the blog has all the information.

Thx. S/

oakgrovehotshots blog  

12/7 AB,

The NTSB met today on the crash of the Sikorsky S61N near Weaverville, California on August 5, 2008. Here is a link to the information contained in the files. Lots of material and interesting reading to those with an interest in aviation firefighting and flight safety.

ntsb.gov: 2010 Weaverville CA -presentations

CAFBAN
12/7 MS,

Well said. JIMBO, be glad to share this debate some more via private email as my response to your post will be VERY long and more educational than all your wife's hard earned degrees

TNBG

Sent from DA' I phone
12/7 JIMBO,

Interesting journey about your wife. You almost had me hooked until I started feeling slapped in the face before, during and after reading it. Thank you very much.

Obviously you don't read theysaid that often because the much of the discussion themes have changed over the past couple years or at least have toned down. Even more so recently as many of us are seriously concerned about what this country will look like in 10 years. Our discussions and debates are healthy. They allow for one to think creatively, outside the box, get involved and be part of a solution. But wait, I am not going to defend this with you. I have a more important item on my mind right now.

I am not sending this post in to defend myself or my fellow Wildland Firefighters. Heck my wife calls me a whiner daily, lol. Having you or your wife call me one is no skin off my back.

But here is why I am sending in this post. This is where it gets good.... Do me a favor tonight. Sit back and read "your" post again. Take it in for a while, think about it, then please read it a second time. Reading it out loud might help you to see where I am coming from. When done reflecting on your letter, ask yourself one simple question; Did I just write a 15 paragraph post that makes me and my wife look like Whiners? If you need some assistance with answering that question, please ask Abs for assistance and I would be glad to assist with helping you seek an answer to that question via email outside of this forum.

Please thank your wife for her service in the proper care and treatment of animals. A profession to be proud of in my humble opinion.

signed,

ms - (you know, just one of those guys who gets called a bad word by JIMBO's wife every time she sees me)
12/7 Thankful, Very Thankful.

Every day I wake up and I am thankful I have a job. That my check comes every two weeks, that I have health benefits for my family.

Federal pay freeze won't be that bad. If I lose the 10% retention bonus it was nice while I had it but was never promised that it would last forever.

Its Christmas time and a time to be thankful. Look around and help others that are less fortunate. Is that not what firefighters do?

If you think the grass is greener on the other side maybe you should start watering your own. Don't give up.

Thank you Ab and Casey and all the people who have put positive energy into promoting Federal Wildland Firefighters as a professional occupation.

Happy Holidays my sisters and brothers,

Short Old Timer (very short)

yes Santa I do believe in Centralized Fire (LOL)
12/7 You might want to look into this.

22 killed in fire in China (southwest China's Tibetan area)

I've learned to speak Chinese but have not talked about it with my Chinese friends yet.
--
pH

When you do speak with them, please fill us in. Ab.

12/7 Ab,

Casey is usually right on the money. Not this time. He stated:

“Ponder for a moment why so many federal teams have a majority of non-federal fire resources as members...$$$”.

To Casey: “The trouble starts when I fail to notice that I see only whatever confirms my categories and expectations but nothing else." -Managing the Unexpected by Karl Weick & Kathleen Sutcliffe

As a State employee, I make considerably LESS money (about 2/3) than my federal counter parts. So do most of the other non-federal fire resources employed by my State and those surrounding it. Even with overtime, I don’t make as much as my counterparts base wage.

The two Type 1 IMTs currently in the Northern Rockies have few federal employees with both ICs being State employees and the Command Staff is typically State employees. We don’t do it for the “money”. It’s our job and if we don’t do it, nobody will.

Let’s not confuse the lack of personnel staffing support for Incident Management Team (or fire in general) at the federal Regional and National level with other professionals stepping up to fill the gap. It may always be about money in Washington but it’s about doing what’s right everywhere else.

Steve LCES

12/7 From CC:

Gov't air safety questioned in firefighting crash

By Joan Lowy, AP
Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010 - 7:37 am

WASHINGTON -- The chairman of a federal safety panel says an investigation of the crash of a U.S. Forest Service firefighting helicopter that killed nine people two years ago has revealed "multiple layers of failures" in government safety oversight. National Transportation Safety Board chairman Deborah Hersman said Tuesday the company that leased the helicopter to the Forest Service provided inaccurate and altered documents that led pilots to overestimate how much weight the aircraft could lift.

Hersman said the Forest Service and the Federal Aviation Administration failed to oversee Carson and detect fatal errors. The accident has revived concerns about the safety of government aircraft. The board is meeting to determine the cause of the Aug. 5, 2008, crash near Weaverville, Calif (more at the link)

fair use disclaimer

12/7 thots about jobs, pay and public servants

I'm sorry this a bit long.

I’ve remained silent thru all the discussions about pay, retirements, overtime rates, on-call duty etc. I do appreciate all the efforts of those who post here…. especially who continually work for better and safer working conditions.

But, I’m frankly sort of tired of the whining and I’ve been biting my lip for a while. I don’t contribute regularly here but I do keep track and read the posts often. I REALLY mean no disrespect….. but, let me relate a situation close to home.

I retired a few years ago as a GS-11. Not fire retirement, I had to work 33 years (until I was 57) to get it. It is good retirement – I can’t carp – and it has especially great health benefits. Even though I didn’t work in fire after my first few years on a helitack crew, I spent a lot of my career supporting fire. Variously, I held quals up to DIVS, AOBD, and ASGS, and spent 10 years on an IMT2. I still do some AD work. I have the highest respect for anyone – in fire or otherwise, who works hard everyday – in (or out) of public service.

Here’s what’s bugging me when I read all the recent posts. It is my wife’s story:

She is a Veterinarian (25+ years experience). She has a BS, did an MS and then got a DVM (the DVM took her 4 years after the MS). On top of that she did a double Residency, (5 more years of study after the DVM), and maintains Board certification in two specialties (only about 5% of Vets have even one specialty). She has more medical training than the average MD. She went to college for 16 years – ALL at her own cost. Her dues for the 4 States where she maintains a license, plus all the professional organizations she needs to belong to, all the journals she has to keep up on, and associated travel costs, easily top $2500/year – she pays that herself. Her licensing in each State was a 2 or 3 day exam, which many fail on their first attempt. She studied 90+ hours a week for 3 months to pass just one of those multi-day exams. And, she studied MUCH longer for the far harder multi-day exams to gain 2 Board certifications.

Compare that to an average FF who may or may not have any college degree (a degree which maybe wasn’t in any pure fire-related study) and who has benefitted from an entire career of OJT paid for mostly by their employer.

She works as a Clinician at a University. If your local Vet can’t figure out your pet’s problem, it is referred to someone like her. She is a Professional Public Servant. 1/3 to 1/2 of her time is 60-65 hr. weeks in a clinic. The rest of the time she prepares and delivers lectures, does administrative work and tries to get some research and writing done. She mentors, and is completely responsible for, the decisions made by the 6 to 8 Residents under her. She has authored hundreds of peer reviewed scientific papers, serves on the editorial board of several publications, just finished writing a book, and is writing/editing chapters for another book. For this, she is paid a bit over $100K/year - about standard pay for a Veterinarian with specialty accreditation, whether in public or private service. She receives no extra pay for overtime, no extra pay for the one night a week and one weekend a month she is on call. No – she doesn’t get any PTP! The real expectation is that she is available at home or at work for consultations from clients, her Residents and her peers at the University (and every other Veterinarian within 300 miles) - 24/7/365. She does pick up some extra $$ consulting for pet food and drug companies – maybe $5-10K/yr. She spends many nights and weekends grading exams and preparing lectures. The University figures her job is 35 hours/wk.

On top of her considerable professional and technical skills she has to be articulate and compassionate enough to tell a grieving client that ‘Spot’ or ‘Fluffy’ has passed on to the great pet playground in the sky. And, because she loves animals, she gets to take that grief home with her, too.

Oh – you put your life on the line? She’s been bitten, kicked, stomped on and beat up by animals thru her whole career. She has 2 bad ankles, a bad back and a degenerative hip. A few years ago a 1600 lb. draft horse stepped on her back, running over her. Her MD and physical therapist say she needs to stop the grind of clinical work – her body can’t do the12+ hour days on her feet any longer. She also deals with every infectious disease carried by her ‘clients’.

And, you might be sued? She was sued - in private practice years ago - by some rich nut job. The suit went all the way to a jury trial, and she could have lost every asset she had. She was found not guilty, but she - not any employer - paid 100% of her liability insurance premiums.

She just turned 60 and can’t retire until she is 65 – when she will have 20+ years with her current employer. Then, she will get a pension of about $35K/year. That pension will NOT be indexed to inflation – it will still be $35K even if she lives to 95.

She has a step-nephew – 10+ yrs younger - who barely made it out of High School and works for the CA Prison system. He is a well-paid Guard with 15+ years experience and will retire with a better retirement, by far, than she could ever hope for. She is genuinely puzzled by how he got to where is his (frankly, I am also). Oh yeah….he’s also one to carp all the time about his pay, hours, bosses, etc.

Once – and ONLY once - I tried to explain to my wife the “plight” of wildland firefighters with regard to pay, risks, seasonal employment, liability, travel, health problems, lack of training, retirement, politics, know-nothing bosses and lack of time with family, etc. She just looked at me, crossly, and said a VERY bad word. Now, when we see an Engine or Agency rig driving down the highway she just repeats that bad word. I can’t argue with her, really……

Given how she feels, how do you think the average Jill or Joe, who’s hoping their $10/hour job doesn’t disappear in today’s economy, feels?

I don’t begrudge anyone – including my wife’s lame-o step-nephew – whatever they can get. However, please keep things in perspective. Ultimately, the name of the game is Public Service. If you don’t want to - or can’t - do THAT Service, maybe you should look elsewhere for work? Please STOP trying to squeeze every last nickel out of the system by complaining about uncompensated lunch breaks, duty officer work, non-centralized fire, no COLA etc. Reconsider whining about your situation.

JIMBO

12/7 Ab,

Your reply to “Humble Servant” was right on the mark. Keep up the good work!

Exfed

12/6 Dear "Humble Servant":

I've tried to clarify this before on TheySaid. The FWFSA is not a union. We are an employee association. Compared to large federal labor unions and all unions, we are miniscule in size.

Although I have been a former local union president and district VP for the California Professional Firefighters, I candidly share your thoughts about the role of modern day unions and how their efforts, on behalf of their members, can and have affected inflation and the fiscal stability of many local governments and some states.

There is a significant difference between most state & local government public safety officers and those employed by the federal government. Many non-federal firefighters have the right to negotiate pay & benefits, while federal firefighters do not. Without such rights, historically federal employees have been an easy target for furloughs, pay freezes etc., or whatever happens to be politically beneficial at any given time.

The federal wildland firefighters we advocate for did not create the current financial mess this country is in yet it is easy to place an undue burden on them. I don't think anyone is unwilling to make sacrifices during these times. Many of our members have. in fact we've lost members who felt they needed every dollar in their budget to make ends meet. Every member of the FWFSA makes more than I and I receive no benefits or retirement. But I do what I do for the same reason most federal wildland firefighters do what they do.

That being said they too are entitled to make a living and raise a family. Unfortunately when politics comes into play, invariably federal employees, especially those on the lower end of the pay scale take the biggest hit.

Would it make more economic sense to you to freeze the pay of GS-3s,4s,5s wildland firefighters and have them continue to leave the federal system thus perpetuating the current over-reliance on significantly more expensive non-federal firefighting resources that have driven the cost of suppression up dramatically, or take better care of your inherently less expensive federal workforce so as to begin to reduce the reliance on expensive non-federal resources and save the tax payer money?

I would respectfully disagree that federal wildland firefighters are 'enriching themselves" at the cost to the general public. I would submit to you that some non-federal firefighting resources that are making $200,000-$300,000 courtesy of the federal government during wildfire season may be. Ponder for a moment why so many federal teams have a majority of non-federal fire resources as members...$$$

If you've read anything I've put out, you'll notice that our recurring theme is not simply to improve pay, benefits & working conditions but to change the organizational structure you mentioned. We remain convinced that a fire program managed by those with the experience & expertise in fire management would save significant fire dollars each year.

Finally, with all due respect, when citizens are mired in an economic downturn that they themselves did not create, the only way to survive is to "protect our piece of the pie." If you want to discuss what's best for this country, I'll oblige the discussion but not on this site. It would take far too much time and space.

I'll offer my personal belief: properly compensating and recognizing federal wildland firefighters and changing the organizational structure of who manages the land management agency fire programs is without a doubt what is best for this country because the fire programs would become more cost-efficient & effective.

Maybe you should ask the leadership of the two major political parties to do what is best for the Country rather than what is best for themselves and their party. Then maybe we'll start moving in the right direction.

Respectfully,

Casey
12/6 If you really think about how a centralized fire agency would work, does it make sense? How would these questions be answered?
  1. Would it improve efficiencies', in this case reduce redundant operations, or parallel organizations.
  2. Would it be better organized and operated in a manner that supports an appropriate mission, common goals and objectives.
  3. Would there be less overall administrators, policy makers, manual writes and redundant positions at high GS 12 and above.
  4. Could there be more firefighters on the ground that have good equipment, and are paid appropriately.
  5. How would the fuels management program be dealt with.
  6. How about all-risk management at all scales, international, national, regional, state, sub-geographic, and local.

Intothewind

12/6 Len Dems passing:

Services are set for Thursday, December 9th at 1030am at St. Francis Cabrini church in Littleton, CO. A celebration of Len's life will take place from 1 - 5pm at the Red Barn at Chatfield Botanical Gardens, off of C470 and Wadsworth.

In lieu of flowers, we would like donations to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation - website information to follow and we will pass the boot. Every time this year, Len donated food and toys to homeless shelters or food banks. We are asking you to bring a non-perishable food item, toy, or jacket that we can donate in Len's name.

The following is from the NPS Fire Web Page regarding Len's retirement:

Leonard (Len) F. Dems the Fire and Aviation Officer for the Intermountain Region of the National Park Service has announced his retirement effective December 3, 2010. He has over 30 years of service in NPS.

Len started his career as a Park Aid GS-3 on the fire crew of the Grand Canyon North Rim ‘Longshots’ led by Steve Pyne in 1978. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Forestry and Forest Biology from the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science in 1980. After graduation he rose to foreman of that crew as a GS-6 by 1984. He also served a stint at Santa Monica NRA as fire crew lead during the winter of 1981-82 under Chief Ranger Rick Gale. His fire acumen was demonstrated on several challenging fires during a period of fire policy evolution. He was noted for his mechanical aptitude, work ethic, leadership during crisis, and teamwork with other echelons of the NPS.

His first permanent position was as a GS-3 ‘fiscal clerk’ at Grand Canyon National Park in September 1984. His time in administration provided him with the skills to grow with the expanding computer and software applications throughout his career. The NPS collaterally used his fire leadership as crew boss and incident commander for fires. He also was called to serve on all-risk incidents in several capacities, most specifically air operations.

Len got his first ranger position at Everglades National Park as a GS-5 in March 1987. He attended the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) and graduated with the highest marksmanship scores in his class. He transferred to Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in 1988 as GS-7 law enforcement ranger. Later in 1988, he led a fire crew to Yellowstone National Park composed of interagency firefighters from the area of the Southwest, known as ‘Color Country’.

Len was in the first wave of new fire management officers (FMO) hired in the expansion of the NPS fire organization following the 1988 fire season. He became the FMO at Shenandoah National Park as a GS-7/9.

In May 1993, he was promoted to the FMO position in Grand Teton National Park as a GS-11, and subsequently as GS-12. His accomplishments included interagency cooperation and collaboration with both aviation and fire management activities. His work with the U.S. Forest Service has yielded benefits in efficiencies and goodwill to the present day. He was the NPS agency lead for the Teton Interagency fire organizations, and served as chairperson and NPS agency representative for the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) fire organizations.

Len was on the initial group that established the Working Capital Fund for NPS Wildland Fire Management, which modernized the fire fleet while providing a recurring way to replace aging equipment. This was done with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) at the national level. In June 2001 he was reassigned to the Intermountain Region as a GS-12 Wildland Fire Specialist (vice Paul Gleason). The fire seasons were very active and as chairperson of the Rocky Mountain Coordinating Group in 2002 he had to adjudicate interagency controversies with good judgment, fairness and consistency for interagency policies.

He was promoted to the GS-13 level in June 2003. It was another hot fire season and with increasing pressures for accomplishments in prescribed fire. Len was promoted to the GS-14 Regional Fire Management Officer position in February 2005. He has held that job until retirement. He is a respected leader in Fire and Aviation Management by his organization, state cooperators, and the interagency Federal fire agencies.

His ‘Red-Card’ reads: Incident Commander T-2, Plans Chief T-2 and Prescribed Burn Boss Type 1, along with several other qualifications.

He served on interagency fire overhead teams throughout his career as well as NPS All-Risk overhead teams, notably during the Yosemite Flood of 1997. He was instrumental in development of and participation with the original Interagency Wildland Fire Use Teams. He has developed the configurations of the Fire Use Modules and the Alpine Hot Shots, based nearby in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Other notable accomplishments include his participation on the original cadre for the first national Prescribed Burn Boss course RX-90, NPS representative and cadre member for Advanced Wildland Fire Applications S-580, cadre on the course development for the Fire Program Management Course and the Region 2 regional lead for its field presentation, author of the original NPS Business Rules for the FIREPRO budget, active member of the FIREPRO steering committee. In addition, he was engaged with numerous task groups and subcommittees, serving as chairperson and ongoing NPS representative to the Region 1 coordinating group.

Len participated in numerous incident reviews most notably the Cerro Grande Fire Board of Inquiry and Dutch Creek Board of Review and many others in the western States.

He and his wife Jenny Dems plan to continue residency in the Denver area as their two sons Cody and Dylan finish their education.

12/6 Official Passports

MJ

An issue that we have with our "official passports" is that they are stored in Washington DC. It would have been tough for anyone to have received their passport on the weekend. Once used the passport is to be returned to Washington within 5 days and they are sent to you once you fill out a 6500-1. Hopefully they will realize that they may be need on short notice and let folks keep them locally.

Does some traveling

12/6 X2. We had better slow this train down or there won't be anything left...As of tonight the President is being forced to deal... his own debt commission has recommended drastic changes to prevent an implosion. Lefties don't like it but it ain't right to leave the bill for our grandkids...

Treeline
12/6 Re: Federal Pay Freeze

-humble civic servant,

Because were all getting rich right? After 12 years with my agency I still don't make as much as a structure firefighter makes after 2 years. I also disagree with your take on unions. I think there has been a lot of propaganda aimed at unions, mostly sponsored by big business and a general lack of understanding on the part of the American public. Union activist shed a lot of blood to bring us sick leave and safe working conditions not to mention a fair wage. Don't think for a moment that big business did that out of the kindness of their hearts. Your rights can erode quicker then they were created. A little solidarity is what we need, not union busting. I wonder how much we could save if we took a little break from fighting wars,,,, just think, then we could really focus on fixing some economic issues. So I apologize if my response sounds a little snippy. It may not sound like it, but I do appreciate your perspective, It's different than a lot of what I've been reading and I can respect that. However I don't agree with you.

Rotn Ron

12/6 Official Passport Required for ALL Official International Travel, including Canada

One of the reasons very few folks made it to the Fire in Israel, and Australia had problems getting US firefighters last time, is that
almost no one has seen this letter. ALL international official travel has to be on an OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT passport, NOT
on a personal one. Signed late last year, and still very much in effect. Get your applications in for official passports in! -Mine is....

Passport Info Communication (57 K doc file)

-MJ

12/6 Len Dems passing:

Len Dems from NPS lost his battle with cancer last evening. This is what is posted at his Caring Bridge website:

Len fought his last fire at 7:05 pm on Sunday, December 5th. He was born at 7:05 on a Sunday.

Service information will be posted tomorrow.

Thanks for all your love, prayers and support.

Jenny, Cody, Dylan and all the Hinsons and Dems

So far there hasn't been anything posted regarding the services.

rmm

Thanks for the info rmm. Another good one gone. When the info comes out on services, please let us know. Ab.

12/6 Federal Pay Freeze:

Sometimes I can't believe the things said on this site. I live in a state, Oregon, that is having record unemployment. The county I live in is in the top 3 in the nation for unemployment. Homes are foreclosing all around me. The state fire guys I work with are taking unpaid furloughs, pay freezes, and reducing staff. This is happening everywhere, especially Oregon and California, and what do we do? We complain about a cost of living pay freeze, when the cost of living has actually decreased. Have you all forgotten what our job is? It is not to enrich ourselves at the cost of the general public. It is to provide a service for the American people. You complain about the pay and benefits the state workers receive. What shape fiscally are those states in? They are broke. Where do we stop. The rest of the country is making sacrifices and we want more. This is where most of our problems come from, everyone cares only for themselves. Instead of trying to protect your little piece of the pie, look at what is best for the country.

Casey, I appreciate the work you do, but this is why the American public has soured on unions. Always demanding more until the company or country is broke. Are there inequalities in pay? Yes. If you want to help the GS-5, 6, 7's than look at our organizational structure. We have increased overhead everywhere, but when cuts need to be made, where do we do it? Always at the lowest level, usually the seasonals, who do the bulk of the work for the agencies.

Sorry for the rant, but try and look beyond what's best for yourself.

Just a humble civic servant

I appreciate hearing from you. Ab.

12/6 Letterman...

I beg to differ on your point.. Centralized Fire will only work if it is Centralized outside... far outside, of the Land Management Agencies... Particularly the Forest Service..

You are correct.. it is only a matter of time.

yactak

Visit fireleadership.gov
12/5 Lots of good questions Mellie. One answer addresses them all.

CENTRALIZED FIRE MANAGEMENT

It's only a matter of time.

Signed

Letterman

12/5 Some thoughts on the SQF situation:

Please remember that line officers are overburdened with following all the "accountabilities" the FS system mandates these days. In a sense it's very unfair to them that they are not trained much in fire but are being required to make cost-cutting decisions for fire forces and the fire program. Lots of unintended consequences. If we keep this discussion about the what" (issues) not the "who" (personalities), I think there can be a more meaningful discussion of what should change.

I'd ask, what fire training is required to be a forest supervisor? what other schooling and experience in fire or management are required? How do very good forest supervisors differ from those that are not so good? KSAs? communication? team building? How do we bring them up to a standard? Is it possible to do that? (Do we have the budget or the miles?) What budget constraints do forest supes operate under? I've heard there'll be a smaller budget next year, at least a 10% reduction. Where are cuts made? If bad stuff happens, you know forest supes are held accountable, and especially if cuts they made caused the bad outcome or made it worse. No doubt they all carry professional liability insurance.

Think of this like looking at holes in slices of the Swiss Cheese model. What could line up badly from the "System" on down to training etc that affect firefighter safety? How can we mitigate those risks or fill the holes? What would a more perfect system look like if we could start from scratch?

Required training? university degrees?

What additionally should be required?

What kind of testing (like the Type 3 ICs had to undergo after Cramer) should be required for a person in a Forest Supervisor position? Are they a Lessons Learned culture?

Thinking about questions like this are especially important because it's likely that federal retirement will soon be based on the "top 5 years" instead of the "top 3 years". As soon as that possibility approaches reality, we'll have another large exodus of experienced fire managers that are retirement age that don't want to have to stick around for 2 more years.

Am I missing anything?

Mellie

PS Letterman and Fed x, interesting comments. How does a forest supe learn that stuff? Delta DivA, I had a good laugh when I realized you're not a DIVA but Division A <grin>. For a moment there, I mighta invited you into the ladies room to pick your brain!

12/5 SQF Supervisor antics

As a cooperator, I will say the current Forest Supervisor of the Sequoia is an embarrassment to the agency. I have watched her “strut like a peacock” at fire planning meetings and make comments she felt would show her prominence as the boss, only to look foolish and ill-informed at the best. Everyone who would hear her rants would just roll their eyes as she spoke, except the poor men and women who have to work for her who would feel compelled to make excuses for her after she left. It’s clear she is clueless about fire. But it appears she is on a one woman mission to screw up another forest. Friends say she was just as uninformed on the Cleveland and refused to take any responsibility for problems she created there. Doesn't anyone hold people like her accountable for their behavior? She is not only screwing things up for the good people of the Sequoia, but will damage external relationships that have been successful for years. Shame on FS Region management for allowing this rogue to be all she can be.

green grass

12/5 Thank goodness the SQF Supervisor left the cleveland in just the nick of time, sorry SQF
 
-greenlegs
12/5 Casey Judd

Who has made a difference at work? Who is out in front fighting for Firefighters?

Although I was a pre-teen and teen in the 70's, I remember in the 80's listening to my supervisors talk about how bad things were during the 70's. The cuts were tremendous to our national firefighting organization.

They did not have the benefit of an FWFSA, internet and wlf.com in the 70's.

The next 10 years look to be very tough. Some people smarter than me are telling us if the next 10 years are not tough and as Americans if we are not prepared for sacrifice, then welcome to a 3rd World America, where we are scrambling to find peso's or gold and running from our dollar.

With sacrifice comes reason. As an FWFSA member, I know that every day I have someone out there fighting for my co-workers and me. $10 every paycheck, $260 a year, $2,600 over the next 10 years is well worth the security of knowing we will not be alone this in this fight over the next decade.

Come together people. I am a member because of Casey Judd. Period. I have a level of professional trust in him that is higher than anyone I know. Call him see for yourself. 208-775-4577.

When I joined, I knew that if this association was not for me or if FWFSA was not meeting my expectations, I knew (and so does FWFSA), it takes 5 minutes to stop the deduction.

This is a partnership and association of Wildland Firefighters, not a union or a political group.

It is easy to stay on the sidelines when things are going good. However, we cannot afford to have any Wildland Firefighter on the sidelines over the next 10 years.

Come together people.

ms

fwfsa.org

12/5 Ms. Terrel,

You and your fellow Forest Service Line Officers across this nation designed and approved our training and qualifications system. You and your fellow Line Officers are the ones REQUIRING a level of training significantly above NWCG recommendations and above what our IFPM partner (DOI) requires.

DO NOT BLAME OR PUNISH THE FOREST SERVICE FIREFIGHTER for following YOUR rules.

example:

ENGINE BOSS (SINGLE RESOURCE) (ENGB)

NWCG 310-1 REQUIRED TRAINING

  • S-290 Intermediate Wildland Fire Behavior
  • S-230 Crew Boss (Single Resource)
  • RT-130 Annual Fireline Safety Refresher

FOREST SERVICE ADDITIONAL REQUIRED TRAINING:

  • I-200 Basic Incident Command System
  • IS-700 National Incident Management System (NIMS), An Introduction
  • L-280 Followership to Leadership
  • S-215 Fire Operations in the Urban Interface
  • S-231 Engine Boss or Geographic Area Engine Academy
  • S-234 Ignition Operations
  • S-260 Interagency Incident Business Management
  • S-270 Basic Air Operations

NFFE look into this letter. The practice of requiring training and then reducing training opportunities is an unfair practice when not applied equally across the region under the current fire budgeting process. R-5 FAM BOD or Regional Line Officers have not requested travel reductions. This reckless denial of training by one unit is not a consistent standard that all other Forest Service employees on other units are working under.

Support from our association on this subject is vital. FWFSA thank you in advance for inquiring about this.

Forest Service Line Officers working with DOI created IFPM. IFPM and FS-FPM that require qualification benchmarks to apply for a job. Restrictions on training attendance reduces the number qualified applicants. Fewer applicants give us fewer skilled Firefighters.

Quotes to Remember:

The Forest Service firefighters are the best trained and the best equipped firefighters in the world – United States Forest Service - www.fs.fed.us/fire/links/links_people.phpl

Our nation's Wildland Firefighters are the best trained in the world. – Casey Judd

Signed,
Delta DivA

12/4 SQF Lack of Further Education

In response to the docs that Casey posted:

It looks like the SQF will probably have an issue or two.

  1. Aren't employees able to file a grievance if staff is stopping career advancement by not allowing people to go to necessary training.
  2. It will get real hard to staff anything locally if you don't have folks that have received any training to be able to fill ICS positions STL, DIVS, FOBS, etc. etc.
  3. Maybe if she is going to call it a cost savings for now....then every time somebody from another forest or local/state gov. comes in to fill an ICS position that would have otherwise been filled locally based off of history....the region charges the SQF directly instead of P# money.

I know the discussions will go on for a long time and do hope that the folks on the fire staff will get creative so I hope it all turns out well. In the meantime, if you work there you should be taking a hard look at your "leader" and decide if this somebody that is going to stand by you when it goes bad. Plan B she is retaliating for looking bad on the OC crew thing and this is retaliation.

Signed

Fed x

12/4 Casey said

It's up to the fire folks on that Forest to determine if these actions epitomize our increasing concerns over Line Officer
involvement in the management of the Forest Service fire program.

Almost right. Actions that Line Officers take such as the SQF training letter have a tendency to spread across boundaries as other Line Officers hear about them. They try and one up each other, with Firefighters caught in the middle.

The FAM BOD equally spreads training and travel dollars through a FAM Budget Allocation Committee to all Forests. Distribution is fair and equal. If a reduction occurs, then we all take the hit as one group, one region. When the travel cap occurred in 2009 we all took the hit and we all fought it back (and won)!

We cannot allow for rogue Line Officers to make these decisions unilaterally. The current FAM budget is set up to minimize risk at the Forest level with regional Line Officers holding primary budgetary risk.

I am appalled at the attitude and swagger of this person and her lack of understanding she expresses in her letter below. I consider her letter a slap in the face to Firefighters who are only trying to work within a Line Officer built training and qualification system.

Firefighters do not sit back on wonder how they can bust a travel budget. They do as directed and attend training when scheduled to do so.

This is a dangerous letter and one that needs to be withdrawn. Other R-5 Forests have not received direction to eliminate training slots and reduce travel cost for Firefighters within the region. Ms. Terrel is acting independently and without regard of the greater R-5 firefighting organization.

This letter shall not be allowed to stand. Just like her OC program decision, we will get this reversed and it all starts Monday morning!

This is not about budget. This is not about asking for more. This is about firefighter development. This is about being successful in a training and qualification system our Line Officers created for us to use.

Letterman

And yes Casey, the concerns increase daily. The management of the fire program must change and eventually it will change. It's only a matter of time.

12/4 AB:

There have been a few posts regarding the actions of the Forest Supervisor on the Sequoia NF with respect to the training & the Porterville crew.

Attached are a couple of memos from the FS regarding her actions on both issues. It's up to the fire folks on that Forest to determine if these actions epitomize our increasing concerns over Line Officer involvement in the management of the Forest Service fire program.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

Porterville Organized Crew (58 K doc file)
SQF Training (61 K doc file)

12/4 Can anyone confirm that Sequoia NF Forest Supervisor Tine Terrell has cut 2011 required fire training for Firefighters? Is it a proposal or has she issued direction on this?

Forest Service Firefighters are required to attend fire training up to 3 times the amount that NWCG requires. Attendance at fire training are based on Forest Service mandates. Attendance at fire training for Forest Service employees allow them to abide by Forest Service requirements to successfully perform in their current position and prepare themselves for the next level.

Reducing fire training opportunities without reducing fire training requirements doesn't make sense.

Any information?

Low Cal
12/4 Could you post a request for any FFT2, regular agency with passport to contact their dispatch center before 1230 MST today? We are trying to get a rough count on how many folks would be available for an assignment to Israel if requested. They would be organized as Type 2 crews; no word on when if or when they would be mobilized, but it would be a HUGE help to the GACCs who are currently trying to get that info and I'm sure more people will respond if they see this posted on They Said.

Many thanks!

Have them contact their local dispatch or GACC directly.
12/3 Federal Pay Freeze:

Well said, Casey.

GP

12/3 Federal Pay Freeze:

Once again our government leaders have chosen to lay the burden of our economic dysfunction on the backs of federal employees by proposing a 2 year pay freeze. Politics makes strange bed-fellows;

The Democratic President proposes the freeze while the Republicans endorse the proposal as a "good first step." Obviously the memory of those in Congress is short-term. It was the Republicans, under the leadership of George Herbert Walker Bush which passed and signed into law the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA) in 1990. The law, which has yet to be fully and properly implemented under any President since then, was designed to lessen the pay gap between the federal employee and the private sector.

Now, not to too much surprise, federal employees are once again asked to be the scapegoats because they are often relegated to the status of pay & benefit ginny pigs. Oddly enough the military is exempt from such a freeze despite the fact that many federal employees, especially DoD federal firefighters work side by side with these military members on military installations across the country and across the globe doing the same job.

Imagine a GS-6 federal civilian firefighter at an Air Force base having his/her pay frozen while his crew member on a rescue squad, a Senior Airman doesn't. Yet that GS-6 civilian is tasked with leaning over a hot ejection seat of an F-18 to safety it, shutdown the aircraft and remove the pilot in an emergency.

Take the GS-3,4,5,6 federal wildland firefighter who struggles to make a living, let alone raise a family on a Southern California forest, or anywhere in the west for that matter, while working to protect our Nation's natural resources, our citizens & their property from wildfires and learning his pay is frozen to help the Nation out of the economic demise.

At the same time, financial CEOs, folks on Wall street, in the banks etc., get bailouts from the same government who want to freeze your pay.

Not too long ago a study concluded that the average pay & benefits package for a federal employee amounted to about $150,000. Tell that to the federal wildland firefighters and federal DoD firefighters. Sadly, ignorant politicians lump everyone into one category. It is our responsibility to continue to educate the government on the facts that there are some federal employees who are on the bottom of the pay scale and who ironically risk their lives to do so. There are many federal firefighters who will say 'to hell with this" and leave the system for better pay & benefits.

How will those in Congress who rallied behind our concerns about federal wildland firefighter retention in the West just two years ago now respond to a call to freeze such pay and risk an even greater exodus of employees and create an even greater retention problem?

This proposal, with all due respect to the President is a symptom of what is wrong with our politics as usual. Everyone wants smaller government...so let's freeze the pay of those overpaid federal employees...until the next Katrina or gulf disaster when these same folks criticize the Government's response as not being big enough.

To all of those who are federal wildland firefighters, federal DoD, Coast Guard etc., firefighters, LEOs and other federal employees, you have got to exercise your voice and not be trampled on. Don't whine & complain to your elected officials...educate them and make your voice LOUD & CLEAR.

Respectfully,

Casey
12/3 Re; Fed Pay Freeze

The National Federation of Federal Employees website has some great sample letters and contact info for your senators and representatives regarding the pay freeze. Even if your not a member you can still access their site at www.nffe.org to obtain the info you need to fight this. Just because we work for the government does not mean the poor economy hasn't hurt us.

Fight The Freeze: do it now or live with the consequences for the next two years!

Rotn Ron

Live*Life*Good

12/3 Porterville Crew program:

To All the concerned employees and people,
From the horse's Mouth.
There Will Be a Porterville OC Program in 2011.

Bigger and better than ever.
15 -18 Type 2 IA and type 2 Crews will be able to be staffed,
2 Camp crews,
and the 3 1039 Temps Crews will again be available for Project work on the SQF or other national forests or national parks.

We all Can agree. The end goal was to improve training records and files. It was completed.

Why, Who, When or How this issue on the SQF happened really doesn't matter. Of course no one person is ever to blame.

So here's to another safe year. Welcome back and Good Luck.

Happy Holidays to all.

Anonymous

12/3 Topic: Frozen Pay

A link to a short article in FEDweek, which speaks to retention pay, step increases, etc. for those folks who posted with concerns and questions about the federal pay freeze "proposal". It will probably look much different when it comes back from Congress.

fedweek.com

Fishtales
12/2 We are getting more WildCAD centers all the time, Do you or someone else update the new states that have WildCAD ???

New Center with WildCAD are

SC-SRF SAVANNAH RIVER DISPATCH CENTER
SC-SCC South Carolina Interagency Coordination Center .
VA-RCC Roanoke Coordination Center

We are trying to get more centers with WildCAD in the Southern Area next year.......

I have been a watcher of this site for many years, thanks for the good work in keeping this board going ........

Brad

We'll get those added. Ab.

12/2 Porterville Crew program:

Hi Ja,

The scenario you outline is not how this came down. However to address your question, I would have done the following:

I would have started disciplinary procedures against the subordinate.

What I would not have done is:

  • Sent an email to my FLT and the subordinates of my Fire Chief outlining my displeasure.
  • Meet with media.
  • Meet with Porterville City Council members.
  • Brief County Supervisors.
  • Cause a congressional to occur.

You also said: "By the way, I am not a big fan of most line officers,"
Sorry to hear that. Personally speaking, I am a strong supporter of Line Officers. Being responsible for managing our public lands is one of the most important jobs we have in federal government. This was reinforced this week during the President's announcement of a two year wage freeze. He mentioned in his speech the importance of managing public lands right along with other important federal responsibilities.

The Line Officer job is a tough one and I am proud to call a few Line Officers friends. I just do not think they should be managing Firefighters. It's as simple as that, and this unfortunate incident reinforces my beliefs. The interesting thing is if you ask Line Officers many will tell you they agree with me. They have plenty of other land management issues they can focus on if this outdated organization model was changed.

ms

CFMTTF

12/2 Porterville Crew program:

ms,

For the sake of argument, lets say, you know for the "sake of argument" that there were some problems with the program ( and I, for the record do not know one way or the other).

But for the "sake of argument" suppose the line officer did the following:
1. Called the Chief into the office
2. Explained the issues
3. Told Fire Chief to Fix It
4. Fire Chief does not fix it!

Now what??

I guess "Now What" translates into a bunch of rumors and innuendo posted here running down the line officer. Isn't the bottom line the program is back up and running? So how and why did that happen? Is the problem that folks do not agree with the way it happened? If so, fair enough. But, I guess I am wondering if the "Chief" could have taken care of it in the first place, and to me it seems like an issue that surely should have been dealt with many moons ago, why did it ever get to be such a big broohah in the first place? Are you telling me this issue was a complete surprise to the Chief, that he/she had no clue there was a problem?? Are you telling me that no one knew there was a problem until it got splashed into public view? Seems to me somebody, maybe not the "Chief" , dropped the proverbial ball and then got called for a foul and now the spectators are booing the ref.

How could something like this be a surprise? I still have to be able to prove that I took S-130 or its equivalent in 1967!! If in fact there were problems with the program being able to prove up on some qualifications I would think most wildland firefighters would be pretty unhappy with that circumstance. Especially if they were involved in some kind of incident with one of these crews and then found out there were problems with qualifications of the folks involved. I don't care if it is 1 person or 100, I thought being able to substantiate quals was a big deal for fire folks. Guess I was wrong.

By the way, I am not a big fan of most line officers, but fair is fair.

ja

12/2 Frozen pay:

Hey ab,

Just wanted to go out on a limb and say probably safe to say R - 5 retention bonus will not be renewed. Just my thoughts.

Another R - 5er

12/2 Frozen pay:

Looks like no "raises" for us Feds in the next couple years to "keep up" with inflation. Hope health insurance doesn't go up too much again. Good thing we have steady jobs though. Anybody have any good insight on the predictions for the retention bonuses or locality adjustments proposals in R5?

Far-Norcal

12/2 Frozen pay:

Soooooo... IF.... There is a two year pay freeze on Civil pay. Does anyone know what the repercussion to USFS personnel would be? Does this mean no step increases? Retention in R-5 going away? Any answers would be appreciated.

Confused

12/1 Check out this website, Firesmoke.Org, which provides resources for firefighters on the hazards of smoke and fires. With the ever increasing Hazardous Materials now encountered in the Wildland / Urban Interface, this is a start in the right direction for understanding and information on smoke inhalation and their effects.

www.firesmoke.org

and their newsletter

firesmokeorg-november-news

SPC Brian Kliesen (68W/NREMT-B)
Irwin Army Community Hospital
Fort Riley, KS

Santa Fe Helitack
Los Alamos, NM
12/1 Bud Moore passing:

Well, we lost another member of the Forest Service's old breed this past week. Bud Moore passed on last Friday after a battle with cancer. He was in the group that developed the original 10 Standard Fire Orders (getting the idea from the USMC 11 General Orders if memory serves), led the charge for the use of natural fire in the wilderness areas of MT and ID, and retired as the head of Fire Control and Aviation for Region 1 in 1974. One of the old-timers for sure, and someone I know a lot of us looked up to.

Obit:
missoulian.com

JV

Condolences. Ab.

12/1 Forest Service Disaster Assistance Support Program (DASP)

Ab,

Was wondering if you could post the following training announcement for the Forest Service Disaster Assistance Support Program (DASP). This is an incredible opportunity for FS and BLM employees to get involved in international disaster assistance. Below is a brief synopsis of the program, and I've attached a more thorough description, as well as an application. We have a deadline of December 10, 2010 for applications.

Thanks ab and let me know if you have any questions!

Dan Cottrell
Missoula Smokejumper, currently detailed as DASP Detailer Program Coordinator

The US Forest Service’s International Programs, Disaster Assistance Support Program (DASP), will offer one 16-hour orientation course to introduce Forest Service and BLM personnel to the DASP and its partnership with the US Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA). The session will also provide an introduction to the response options exercised by USAID/OFDA to support host governments in affected countries. The course will be offered March 2-3, 2011, in Portland, Oregon. Details about course location will accompany the acceptance letter. The course will begin at 8:30 am on Wednesday and conclude at 5:00 PM on Thursday.

The 2011 Orientation to the DASP is open to employees of the US Forest Service and USDI Bureau of Land Management (BLM). 1039 Seasonal employee’s are not eligible to apply. Attendance will be limited to 30 participants. Generally this course is offered every 12-18 months.

Dan Cottrell
DASP Detailer Program Coordinator
(202)712-0746- office
(847)217-6692- cell
daspdetail@ nospam usaid.gov

Holler if you want it. No time to upload, format, etc, etc. Ab.

12/1 Bob Finer's service:

A memorial service will be held at Calvary Chapel, 123 Auto Drive, Boise, ID on Thursday, December 2, 2010, at 12:30 p.m. Burial will follow at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery at 3:00 p.m. will full military honors by the United States Marines. Local arrangements are by Alden-Waggoner Funeral Chapel, Boise, Idaho.

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