"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
January, 2011

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1/31 Hero to Zero and Sunil R,

It's hard to find a lawyer to take a federal OWCP case because the FECA law does not allow them to do it on a contingency basis like state industrial or private sector does. This means you have to pay them out of your own packet as you go along unless you're lucky enough to find a lawyer that will wait until settlement and take a chance that OWCP will allow their charges. Because I was active and not lucky I've been dealing with them since 1998 non-stop on multiple injuries and my latest which is ongoing has been the most frustrating of them all. I've helped over a dozen other employees with their cases over the years so I do know the rules.

NFFE is working on a survey of recent problems with OWCP both the dept. Of Labor and the new FS part in Albuquerque. Hopefully they will be able to take the results and get some of the problems fixed.

Sunil R, if you find any lawyers around North Idaho that will take them, let me know. I'll send a lot of business their way. That's where I'm at.

Safety Angel
1/31 Re: Discovery and PLI (Professional Liability Insurance)

Dear JB:

The recent 9th Circuit ruling regarding "Discretionary Function" underscores the importance that all employees must be conscientious in all of their statements. Whether statements are made immediately after an incident, during the accident investigation, or at a later point in time, they can one day be made public either through discovery in federal court, or under the FOIA or Privacy Act - and can potentially be used against you.

While the agency will usually withhold information that was developed through the deliberative process of agency assessments and evaluation under FOIA or the Privacy Act, the same does not hold true for discovery disclosures made during the prosecution or defense of a civil proceeding. And in a criminal investigation, almost everything is fair game unless the statements were compelled—which brings me to another important message:

No fire fighter should be giving a voluntary statement in an investigation without the advice of an attorney—understanding your Rights and Responsibilities is critical.

The very first thing you should do if you find out that you are the subject of any type of investigation is to take the matter very seriously, and consider obtaining the services of an attorney to represent you during the investigation. If you have a professional liability policy, you can invoke coverage under the policy as soon as you are informed that you are the subject of an investigation. Invoking coverage means the policy will pay for the services of an attorney up to $200,000. If you do not currently have the insurance, you should seriously consider getting it before you become the subject of an investigation. Remember it's insurance, and like your home and auto policies, you need to have the coverage in place prior to the incident.

The next thing you should do, and this is particularly important for OIG investigations, is to find out whether the investigation is criminal or administrative. In asking whether the investigation is criminal or administrative, you should ascertain whether your testimony for the investigation will be compelled or voluntary. If your testimony is compelled, then you have “use immunity” for your testimony, meaning that anything you say during the investigation cannot be used against you in a criminal matter.[1] Most OIGs and federal agencies with a good internal management investigation unit/office will inform you of the type of investigation and read you the appropriate warnings at the beginning of the interview. These warnings may be referred to as Garrity, Kalkines, administrative, or compelled warnings. Regardless of the name associated with the warnings, you should simply ask whether you are required as a condition of your federal employment to answer the investigator’s questions, and if you refuse to answer the investigator’s questions, could you face disciplinary action up to and including removal from federal service. If the answer to this question is yes, then the interview is compelled and you have “use immunity” for your testimony, which means that anything you say cannot be used against you in a criminal matter. If the answer to the question is no (i.e., you are not required to answer the questions), then the interview is voluntary, and you should decline to be interviewed until you have time to consult an attorney, because consenting to a voluntary interview is a waiver of your Constitutional right to remain silent, something that should never be done without the advice of an attorney.

It is imperative that the federal employee and federal agency conducting the investigation understand and respect these constitutional principles. Most federal agencies, and particularly those that have a specific office for employee investigations understand these principles and have a process in place that ensures that the concepts are understood by the federal employee and adhered to by the investigator(s) conducting the investigations.

[1] See Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493 (1967); Gardner v. Broderick, 392 U.S. 273 (1968); Kalkines v. United States, 473 F.2d 1391,1393 (Ct. Cl. 1973).

Tony Vergnetti founded FEDS shortly after representing several wildland firefighters – some of which have provided testimonials for us – you can read Tony’s open letter to firefighters here on our website. Also, there are specific pages on our website that deal only with federal wildland firefighter exposures including the most common allegation of wrongdoing resulting in the investigation of federal wildland firefighters.

You can contact us directly at 866.955.FEDS with any other questions. We can also be reached by emailing feds@fedsprotection.com.

Thanks,
Brenda Wilson
Account Manager, FEDS

Thanks Brenda. Ab.

1/31 Chief Domanski

There are those that lead, and those that lead by example
When I think of you, I think of some one that not only talks the talk-but walks the walk
Thank you for your service, thank you for your leadership and thank you for the support that you have given
me over the years here at SOPS

Very simply put-I think that you are the epitome of leadership with dignity
Congrats on your retirement and wishing you nothing but the best for you and yours in the future

John Campbell
Logistics Coordinator-USFS
Southern Calif Geographical
Coordination Center

1/30 Law Firm who handles on the job injuries?

Hero to Zero,

Where are you, and is this a claim against a state or federal agency? Did the injury occur where you live or are based, or was it elsewhere? A few years ago I did some poking around, and found that where I live and work (Northern Idaho) there were few people taking federal workers comp cases.

Sunil R

1/30 Ab,
Please post to "They Said". Thanks.

Firefighter Matt Smith Fundraiser
BBQ, Live Music by “The Kicks”, Raffle, Saturday February 12th 4:00 pm Carpinteria Women’s Club, 1059 Vallecito Rd, Carpinteria, CA

Matt Smith, a twenty-eight-year-old resident of Carpinteria and current Paramedic-Firefighter from the Escondido Fire Department in San Diego, was involved in a serious vehicle accident on June 7th 2010 in Baja Mexico. Rushed to the hospital after a grueling wait, Matt underwent major surgery to repair a ruptured bowel. During that operation the doctors discovered an unrelated cancerous tumor in his lung. Three months later, Matt was rushed to the hospital with chest pain where doctors discovered a dangerous accumulation of fluid around his heart. After close reviews of his condition, it was determined that the cancerous growth could potentially spread. On the 22nd of November Matt underwent a serious surgery in Boston to remove the tumor. He was only the seventh patient to undergo this complicated surgery performed by a group of world-renowned medical specialists.

Firefighter, surfer, pro-mountain biker, and all-around athlete, Matt is one of the kindest and strongest people that I have had the pleasure to know. Yet he has a long road to recovery ahead of him. Fortunately he has loving friends and family by his side. One of these people, his wife Jenn, is currently pregnant with their first child.

As one might imagine, Matt has accumulated some serious bills due to these medical misfortunes. Please donate to the Matt Smith Fundraiser and help this Firefighter and expectant father to get through these exceptionally difficult times. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Personal Donations can be made by going to: giveforward.com/ mattsmith
Coordinator and contact information:
Nick Koepenick USFS LPF Rincon Station cell 805 886-0009 Nkoepenick @ nospam aol.com (take out the spaces, etc)

1/30 Ab,

Is there anyone out in the Federal Wildland Fire world that would know a Law Firm who handles on the job injuries? Any information is appreciated.

Thanx

Hero to Zero
1/29 Hi Sting.

Yeah, I would need to disagree as well. I have much respect for Gordon, been to a few of his presentations and that it was a good one-liner. However, I disagree on this one. Picked off more than a few good ones at job fairs over the years. Many of them still working and promoting today. You are right that job fairs do bring in all kinds of people. However, I also believe job fairs have a multi-purpose benefit for our occupation and our agency. One other thing you are correct about is for the applicant to get out to fire stations. The #1 most common recommendation you hear at a job fair is to strongly encourage the applicant to visit fire stations and shake many hands.

To: Fire away folks, thanks for the update.

Our forum, your forum, should remain proactive. We cannot wait until the bad deed is done and many applicants are hurt by a violation of EEO law. Everyone needs to raise awareness now (not afterwards) of the forthcoming hiring events on that National Forest. I know that many within the WO, RO and Union have been notified of her comments regarding the upcoming temp hiring season. We must remember she has the right to select all temp employees, however she does not have the right to violate EEO laws. The Independent, the New Press, the Record and the Herald should be notified. Local reporters should do what they do best, Investigative reporting.

Based on her recent comments, she knows people are watching and has even backed off a little from what she said in December.

Let someone know that EEO violations will not be tolerated.

Signed,

FRA Surrounded by six Counties

1/28 job fairs:

FFT2 first, manager second ,

Excellent response, I am pleased you have had success in hiring from job fairs. More power to you. I believe Gordon Graham made a strong point about the types of efforts we engage in to recruit people for a high risk occupation.

My feelings, and you are free to disagree with them, are potential firefighters need to come to us, not us to them. They need to see the stations, experience the long winding roads we drive, see the condition of the station and the barracks ( if you have them ), swat the flies and most importantly realize how far away they are from their comfort zones and that their cell phones will most likely not work. That will be part of their education about whether to accept a job and what life is like in the woods. You can't possibly recreate or articulate that in a suburban mall or college campus.

The anointed ones are convinced that 1: anyone from anywhere can do this job and 2: there is a large population of people who dont realize they should be firefighters. I disagree with them as I have seen many come and go in this field, it is truly not for everyone. I feel the Forest Service firefighter recruitment effort would be better addressed with an aggressive media campaign nationally and all you have to do is recall the Army or the Marine Corps recruitment ads on TV to know where I am going with this. If you know our public affairs shop, they do not have the ability to do this. This is the weak link, not the lack of effort on our part. To really be a recruiter requires commitment, training and experience, that is why the military sets apart those positions and holds them in high regard. Our public affairs folks very rarely come from the fire ranks and are rarely the "face of the Firefighters" that would have the biggest impact on the potential employee.

I agree that leaders should speak directly with potential employees. When I was a captain, I would have a potential employee come out to the station for a meeting to get a face to a name, heck we even took them for a run or a hike. My job was to hire the best people for the job ( AKA Merit ) without discrimination. You cant do that from reading an application.

Good luck in your efforts, one suggestion is when you do your job fair you should request all employees be dressed out in a class A uniform, that'll get their attention.

Care to provide some retention statistics from job fair hires?

sting
1/28 More on PLI

FEDS is not the only company to provide PLI. However...

It is the only PLI company the FWFSA endorses
It is the only PLI company that provides an additional discount for FWFSA members.

Now some might say FEDS offers that additional discount for our endorsement. Not so. Tony Vergnetti and his staff at FEDS have been in the trenches with federal wildland firefighters through ThirtyMile, Cramer, Esperanza and perhaps the Station Fire. Tony is extremely accessible even to those that may not necessarily have coverage through FEDS but have a question or two.

Tony's intimate knowledge of the process as it relates to federal wildland firefighters and his commitment to them has simply resonated with me and many members of the FWFSA. I cannot offer any comments about Wright & Co., good or bad. All I can say is that if I were a federal wildland firefighter considering PLI, FEDS would be my only choice.

Casey
1/28 In response to Stings post:

We have hired from job fairs on my unit. Most of the jobs have been in prevention and STEP firefighters but they have all been very quality employees, so far. Our belief is job fairs give supervisors/managers an opportunity to speak directly to potential employees and describe the working conditions as well as expectations. Candidates can then be evaluated in person rather then just off of AVUE profile or other application. We believe job fairs are a valuable tool for the entry level jobs. Putting a "face with a name" for supervisors and potential employees is a key to successful hiring in my opinion. We are also then able to establish a mechanism for help when the potential employee begins the various application processes (online or other). We live in a technological age were we are sometimes unable to make that personal contact and the more the government allows us to bridge that cyber disconnect the better we can ensure successful hiring.

FFT2 first, manager second
1/28 PLI for non-feds and PLI for feds, and former feds:

Yep, MJ, that's so, there are other PLI companies if you're a non-fed firefighter or a fed firefighter.

But FEDS is the best for federal PLI, and PLI for former federal firefighters, in my opinion. The best defense lawyers for federal litigation broke away from Wright and Co back when they moved to raise their annual price while at the same time offering less coverage -- capping coverage on civil cases. The lawyers at FEDS defended in Cramer, 30-Mile, advised on  Esperanza and others I'm not privy to. They have excellent experience.

The folks at FEDS have a passion for our fed wildland firefighters. The federal system is currently their niche.

Here's somefedsprotection comparison data on costs and coverage

If you need non-federal PLI, of course, check the others. You need PLI. You need to be protected. Otherwise, I highly recommend going with FEDS or switching to FEDS.

That's my opinion... Do as you will.

Ab.

1/28 Re: Professional Liability Insurance (PLI):

Ab –

Chief Dietrich’s note reminded me, do you or anyone know of a good, solid source for PLI for non-federal wildland folks? I’ve checked with FEDS, and they’ve told me a couple times they were working on, but do not yet have such a product, and I haven’t found anyone who does.

-KSENGB

I don't know of any. Some CAL FIRE firefighters have asked the same thing. Ab.

1/28 Re: Professional Liability Insurance (PLI):

With regard to Mike Dietrichs posting on the exposure of fire management personnel to an increased array of potential legal issues.

The post of 1/26 on the recent 9th Circuit ruling regarding "Discretionary Function" plays into what he is saying. A fundamental protection of government personnel engaged in fire fighting or other federal emergency operations and making decisions "in the moment" has now become subject to meeting additional legal tests. This ruling has got the attention of those who handle claims for the FS. This could, at some point, change the way the government reacts to lawsuits especially civil matters.

In addition, his point about the various levels of investigations that go on is also relevant. For example, FS WO OSOH Investigation information is used to learn from mistakes and correct them. This is a worthy effort, but the position of the agency not to share that information with others such as DOJ is going to come to a head some day. Several DOJ attorneys who have worked on matters involving fire fighting civil lawsuit have stated if the request for "Discovery" came in for that information the agency would have to produce it. How that information would be used with respect to what Mike is alluding to is noteworthy. So, do not bet the position of the agency to hold back this type of information will win out. It would be interesting to get some insight from the FEDS staff or other legal sources on the implications of this recent ruling.

JB

1/27 Professional Liability Insurance (PLI):

From FEDS.

Are You Prepared for Wildfire Season? Not if you are still without PLI! It takes about as much time to enroll as it does to read this testimonial from Michael J. Dietrich – Retired Forest Fire Management Officer, USFS:

During the last 10 years of my career, I have observed or witnessed numerous investigations or reviews on serious accidents or fatalities. We have all watched well meaning actions with sometimes tragic results in the world of firefighting. While these events are truly tragic and life-changing, the liability and legal aftermath is even more life changing; and with potential criminal, civil or career implications.

The need for PLI is real. Within the last 3 years, I have witnessed many firefighters and managers finding themselves involved in various serious accident or fatality investigations. What is most disturbing is that the majority of the folks involved with these "unplanned, never happen to me events", do not have PLI! The reasons are highly varied and usually center around the concept it will never happen to me or the cost is too high.

Unfortunately, I have personally witnessed the stress and anxiety experienced by friends, co-workers and other firefighters who find themselves thrust into this arena without PLI.

Fact: If you are involved with Forest Service serious accident or fatality, a 2009 Chief's Memo has declared that the Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations (LE&I) branch is in charge of the investigation. So, a serious accident or fatality undergoes scrutiny for potential negligence or misconduct, before any other investigation occurs. An unwitting or innocent statement made at that initial time, could actually turn into a violation of your Fifth Amendment Rights.

Fact: A fatality will automatically result in numerous investigations: Forest Service LE&I, FS Serious Accident Investigation Team, OSHA (Fed), and Office of Inspector General (OIG). All are theoretically independent investigations. It gets even more complicated if the event involves multiple agencies -- federal or state.

Fact: The Federal Government has the option of whether or not it will defend you. The Department of Justice (DoJ) may or may not defend you, despite claims of being "within the scope of your duties". And, in some cases, DoJ cannot represent you because it is conducting a parallel investigation possibly against you.

Fact: Most employees do not understand "Kalkines Warnings" or "Garrity Warnings". If these terms mean nothing to you, then they need to! The criminal investigators certainly know what they mean. The accident investigators may or may not understand them, or possibly misrepresent their implications.

Rule 1 of self protection: DO NOT PRACTICE LAW WITHOUT A LICENSE. FEDS has amassed a tremendous skill set in terms of today's litigious world, specifically with regard to wildland firefighting.

PLI is cost effective! With or without reimbursement for 50% of the cost, it is truly a Best Buy. Depending on how you file taxes, it may also be considered tax deductible as well. It is less than 5 to 10 hours of overtime.

You can enroll now at fedsprotection.com . FEDS is also looking to make Professional Liability Insurance information available to all Federal Wildland Firefighters. Please call 866.955.FEDS or email feds@ fedsprotection.com to get brochures, enrollment forms, reimbursement forms, etc. for your friends and coworkers. Coverage is $270 per year, $135 if you’re eligible for agency reimbursement.

Ab note: Just because you did nothing wrong in an accident does not mean you won't have legal problems and great expense connected with it. Once the legal process starts you don't have to be innocent, all you have to do is mis-remember or mis-speak or be human and you can be found guilty of something. Mike's right about protecting yourselves now. The time to lawyer up is not when the S*** hits the fan and you're deer in the headlights, but now, when it's inexpensive to get the excellent professional liability insurance (PLI) from FEDS. Don't put it off!

1/27 job fairs

Every time I hear that term I laugh. A few years ago at the Region 5 Chief Officers Workshop in Reno, Risk Management Expert Gordon Graham asked the group ( paraphrasing here) " Dont tell me you have job fairs?" the crowd was stunned when he replied something similar to "the only people who go to job fairs are the unemployable who sleep late because job fairs are usually held in the afternoon". The room erupted in laughter. If someone remembers his exact quote please bring it.

Anyone here ever landed a firefighting job as the result of a job fair?

sting
1/27 1039 Details:

I finally found the "official" answer from the FSH 6109.12 Chapter 60:

63.2 - Promotions and Details.

1. Temporary Not To Exceed (NTE) One Year. Employees holding temporary appointments of less than one year may not be promoted
noncompetitively, reassigned, or transferred to another position. They may be detailed to another position which is temporary in nature.

So, at least according to this, temp can be detailed as long as it is to another temp position and it is not a promotional detail.

R9 Engine Captain

Thanks, Captain. Ab.

1/27 CUTS Act:

Ab,

Press Release on new cost-cutting legislation:
Brady Introduces CUTS Act to Shrink Washington Spending by more than $150 billion

List of Spending Cuts (small pdf file)
Description of Spending Cuts (very large 12,824 K pdf download)
Here's an important, if very general section, relating to Fire. Who knows how far the consolidation would go or how fire would be separated from other agency functions:

Consolidate Federal Fire Management Programs, Reduce Funding by 10%

This amendment would consolidate federal fire management program and reduce overall federal funding for these efforts by 10 percent, as called for in the President's Fiscal Commission report.

According to the Commission, "There are numerous firefighting programs within the Department of the Interior (001) and the USDA Forest Service (FS). Since FY2001, funding for these activities has nearly doubled according to the Congressional Research Service. Despite this increase in funding, three of the past four years have seen a record amount of federal acreage burned. Within 001 and USDA there are almost identical accounts for how funds are intended to be spent - the only difference is that these funds are spent on lands managed by different federal agencies. There are even duplicative research accounts on wildfire research. Specifically, both agencies have the following accounts: Preparedness, Fire suppression operations, Hazardous fuels reduction, Burned area rehabilitation, and Joint fire science. In FY2010, $975 million was appropriated for 001 firefighting activities and $2.592 billion for FS wildfire activities. Total funding between the two was $3.567 billion in FY2010, not including emergency appropriations. Since 1999, GAO has repeatedly found that these activities should be more cohesive and cost-effective. In 2009, GAO noted that Forest Service and Interior agencies had not defined firefighting cost-containment goals or developed a strategy to achieve such goals, despite GAO recommendations in 2007 to do so. Instead, costs have continued to rise."

There is another part further down that big pdf file that proposes to eliminate the NPS Challenge Cost Share Grants for 2011.

Eliminate Challenge Cost Share Grants at National Park Service

This amendment would eliminate the Challenge Cost Share Grants at the National Park Service., as proposed in the President's Budget.

The Department of the Interior's (DOl's) Challenge Cost Share (CCS) programs for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Park Service (NPS), and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) fund land conservation and recreation projects on Federal and non-Federal lands that are matched by partners. Bureaus are responsible for determining whether non-Federal contributions meet or exceed Federal funding for each project. The President has recommended eliminating this program, because "DOl has not demonstrated effective program management or oversight of non-Federal contributions, particularly in-kind services. A recent DOl Inspector General report found that "increased accomplishments through the leveraging of bureau funding anticipated with the CCS Program cannot be accurately measured or maximized. This is the result of the bureaus' failure to verify partner contributions, effectively plan CCS projects, and accurately communicate Program availability and results."" Several other federal programs exist that already provide funding for similar ventures, including the FWS's Partners for Fish and Wildlife program which works with private individuals and groups on recreational and conservation land projects. The NPS matches private donations to fund projects in parks through the National Park Service's Park Partnership Project grants program as well.

There is overlap among the land management agencies. Redundancy costs money. This could get very political.

3Js

1/27 Ok let's fire up a hot one!!!

So a certain unnamed forest just concluded their annual CPT meeting where the hot topic seemed to be that a certain unnamed forest supervisor will be the final say so on who (temps) get hired this summer...

now here is where I think it gets real interesting..... the explanation given was that under direction from the WA office our "diversity" numbers do not reflect the demographic numbers of the location of said unnamed southern California forest...

Now after dutifully doing an annual no-fear act training in aglern, one would come to the simple conclusion that giving preference to an applicant because they might boost your "diversity" numbers and save you a nasty phone call from the "chief" is COMPLETELY ILLEGAL!!!!

Now with that being said, guess we will see what the outcome of this round of hire brings!

Sign me

Fire away folks

1/27 RE: Detail for a temp

Sorry, details can't be filled by temps. They are for permanent employees only. Good luck with the job hunting!

No Name
1/27 What follows are two posts from the hotlist that relate to fire behavior in newly bark-beetle killed tree environment vs environment in which trees have been dead a while. Ab.

Pine beetles exhausting food source?
Some other observations from dealing with the beetle infestations:

During the red phase, after a fire has burned through (crown fire), we tend to see a lot of the tops of trees breaking off, usually about the top 1/3 of the trees. From what we can decipher, it is the heat generated by the fire, in combination with red needles loading up in forks/crooks of the trees, creating fuel pockets in the crooks, that burn longer than the passing flame front, thus weakening an already potentially weak spot of the tree.....This snapp off usually was occurring after 3 days or more after the fire front passed...

During the post red phase/before the full on grey phase (4 to 10 year period), because of the loss of the live trees, the water table on the sites has risen. The increased moisture close to the surface, has increased the ground level relative humidity, speeding up the decay process. We observed a lot of trees rotting off in the lower third of the tree and breaking when a wind came along...This usally occurred from the root collar up to about 6 feet in height...

Just some other safety considerations to keep in mind while fighting fire in the Mountain Pine Beetle affected stands.

The infestations have changed fire behaviour, as well as "Danger Tree" identification and management.

Stay safe, if there are any questions out there feel free to post or PM....

Mike...FBAN/Danger Tree Co-Coordinator

1/27 Pine beetles exhausting food source?
Take this for what it is worth fellow fire fighters:

Here in British Columbia, Canada we have been dealing with the wrath of the beetle for close to 20 years and here is a summary of what we have found....

Red and Dead trees.... Usually fast, rapid, spotting fires.... Do not need to be wind driven, all the wind they need to stand up and run is being done by convection. We look at the rates of spread and intensities as being a cured grass type, but rather than being 3 tons per hectare, its more like 40.... Lots of heat, easy spotting ignition, no direct attack.... The threshold for potential is the Fine Fuel Moisture Code (Canadian Fire Behaviour Prediction system) which is close to being equivalent to your 1 hour fuels (I believe)......

Couple years later, things are fairly quiet, with the intensities and rates of spread dropping....

The grey and dead stands....10 to 15 years post infestation (us now)...We are getting vigorous surface fires, due to the amount of dead logs on the ground, however the intensities are pre-heating the loose bark/small branches and igniting them, with convection they are going up in the column (size of a baseball cap) and being dropped close to a mile away from the main fire.....Second issue...Salvage logging has occurred, which removed as much salvageable wood as possible, however the remaining debris depth is considerably more than the residue left from a green tree harvesting area (red trees are more brittle and break during the felling/skidding process)....The blocks that were harvested in the last 5 years or so have a cured slash load component that promotes significant spotting....The blocks over about 10 years old, with regrowth of herbs/forbs/deciduous were not as receptive to ignition, and when they did, there was low rates of spread and most of the time the spots burned themselves out..

This is all observations that I have made during my 28 year career of fire fighting in the forest service. I realize this is not a technical paper quoting literature and showing graphs etc, just my observations. Take them for what you think they are worth and use it to ensure that you stay safe..

I can attempt to load some of my video footage onto Youtube for others to view, so that they can make their own conclusions. Myself and a fellow Fire Behaviour Specialist have created a Powerpoint for our firefighters, showing how the Red and grey burn similar but differently...

Mike...FBAN/Danger Tree Co-Coordinator
these two  posts are from this hotlist thread

1/27 There's a job fair coming to Northern California.

Could you please post this for us?

It's also posted on-line;

www.fs.usda.gov/

Thanks, J

Nice flyer. Ab.

1/26 re:1039 Work

Nordo is partially correct. The 1039 rule is meant to protect the employee from being worked like perm without getting the benefits. However, once you are terminated, you are free to get another 1039 position elsewhere. The 1039 rule applies to the same job on the same unit. For example, earlier in my career I worked summer in R5 and winters in R8. I usually used or came close to using up my 1039 out west and then worked another few months in the south. As long as you are changing jobs and/or location you can work pretty much year round. Unless rules/laws have changed on this matter, you should have no problem working one temp job and then getting another one elsewhere.

As far as a detail, once your 1039 is over, you are terminated and pulling a 90-120 day detail is not an option. You would have to compete for a new position. Details for 1039s are not something I have come across. Typically, when you are hired in a 1039 position, it is due to seasonal need and you normally would not be available to get out of that position for 90 days. I am not saying it is not allowed or doesn't happen, I've just never heard of it. I do know that as a 1039, you are not eligible for a promotional detail.

Now, after saying all this, understand that personnel rules change on an almost hourly basis, so despite what somebody "knows" it is always a good idea to contact ASC or your agency's personnel people to find what is current and correct.

R9 Engine Captain
1/26 Thank's Ab......

Misery Whip and Old Fire Guy,

As I step out the door after 33 years (starting as a GS-2),

I am struck by the fact that much in the land management agencies has changed over the years.

Much of it has changed by political design and much has changed -well just because we have all changed

since the old days.

During my career I have worked for the administrations of 6 Presidents, 3 Chiefs, 4 Directors, 4 District Rangers,

5 District Managers, 6 FMOs and 2 Wives.

The number of available federal firefighters dropped starting in 1980 because that was the policy

of the Reagan Administration. "Government is the Problem", was the justification as I recall Reagan explaining it.

Of course if you look at the level of defense spending you will notice that the overall level of government spending didn't

decrease- it was increased as it was shifted into defense. With the fall of the Soviet Union and the increasing incidence of

large wildfires, one of Clinton's first uses of the so called "Peace Dividend" was the National Fire Plan in 2000.

It breathed new life into the wildland fire profession just as it was about to "die on the vine". 911 came, defense

spending increased, the housing bubble popped, the economy collapsed and here we are.

As I look back on my years working for "The Government", I am amazed that we were as successful as we were

in managing fire and fuels when so many folks on all sides worked so hard to sabotage the efforts of "The Government".

A lack of leadership? -Perhaps. Politicization of the mission- Yes definitely. (It comes with the job).

However -in spite of all the BS I can honestly say that I would do it all again. Fire Management is an honorable

profession accomplished by dedicated people of all political stripes- working together toward a defined goal.

My message to the pups would be -look out for one another. Take care of each other -both on the fireline

and in the arena of public opinion. Open a history book and learn from the lions of their age- Teddy Roosevelt and

Gifford Pinchot. The answer can be found in a rededication to the notion that the Public Lands and Forests belong to all of us;

so that the idea of "The greatest good for the greatest number of people in the long run." may live on.

Dr Brokeknees, Phd.

PS -Fishtales- Thank's for the picture of Tom Fogata- I do miss that guy.

Dr Brokeknees, Phd., haw haw haw! I hope you continue to write in here. If not, I'll miss your poetry/prose and your insights, delivered in such an individual , unique, and artistically sophisticated way. Damn, you're good! and never the same moniker -- ever -- so one of the :"deep cover contributors.

Funnin' aside, thanks for your insights and wisdom, for your humor and irreverence. Carry on. Don't be a stranger. I think I need to go raise a toast. Cheers! Ab.

1/26 Temp for Life:
RE - 1039 work.

Temp for Life:

As a temporary seasonal employee you are essentially "fired" at the end of your season. Your season can not last longer than 1039 hours. After that you are a free man/woman. The government doesn't have to hire you back, you don't have to go back. You may work whereever you want. As far as a detail when you are working - yes, you could do that pending supervisor approval. As far as a detail when you are not working - as long as you don't exceed the 1039 hours total for the year you could, but if you already worked 1039, then tried to work some more some where else - I don't think it would be legal for the federal government to do that to you with out providing you a permanent appointment. Believe it or not the 1039 rule is there to protect the employee from working more than 6 months for an agency and not getting benefits.

Good luck - Nordo

1/26 Good Afternoon, to all of our friends in the wildland fire community

Just a quick note to let you all know the Arizona Wildfire and Incident Management is still taking applications for the 2011 Academy.

Please visit our website at azwildfireacademy.org.

Thank you,

Tony.

There are a bunch of training opportunities that are posted on the hotlist wildlandfire.com training, wildland fire conferences and activities calendar. Ab.

1/26 Attached is a ruling by the 9th Court of Appeals on the Bullock Incident regarding a backfire and the
Government's defense using Discretionary Function. Note the ruling.... another issue that will complicate
things for fire
personnel.

Glad I'm retired after 34 years.

JB

Bullock Fire Appeal (161 K rtf file)

The Bullock started on the Coronado NF, AZ in May, 2002.

1/26 Attend the 2011 WUI Conference

The WUI conference is a 5 day event where experts in the wildland community discuss the latest in mitigation, suppression and policy. This international event attracts attendees from around the globe to share their experiences and strategies. Be a part of this year’s conference, register today at www.iafc.org/wui!

New This Year! The IAFC has added a sand table exercise to the Wildland Urban Interface Conference. The Northern Nevada Fire Chiefs Association is offering the opportunity for conference attendees to participate in a Type 2 complexity sand table exercise at the Nevada Training Center.  NWCG certified instructors will conduct 3 simultaneous scenarios that will feature local, state, and federal agency involvement in a Type 2 level, multi-jurisdictional incident.

 The exercise is targeted at students who initiated NWCG task books during the pre-conference courses or individuals who have already initiated task books. This is an opportunity to demonstrate competencies and have tasks signed off by qualified instructors. The following 8 positions will be included in each of the 3 exercises:  IC, Operations Section Chief, Air Operations Officer, Safety Officer, and 4 Division Group Supervisors.

What Attendees Have to Say

If you’re involved in the wildland-urban interface you need to attend the 2011 WUI conference, but don’t take our word for it. Hear what past attendees have to say about the conference:

  • “Good location and diverse content.”
  • “I love the fact that I can go to a conference and get the following in one place: certified courses, networking and quality vendors. Keep up the great work, I will come again!”
  • “The classes are excellent and I have taken them for 3 years.”
  • “You try to get international experts and that's good. I like knowing about the rest of the world. Especially enjoy the So. Calif. case studies. My area of main interest is WUI firefighting.”
Find out for yourself why this is the number one conference for those who work in wildland fire, register today at iafc.org/wui

It's also on the calendar. Ab.

1/26 What a great post Keith. I too would like to get an update on Hartley, Yazzie and Rowley. Three icons from the Mt Baldy Ranger
District (The Ranger District name has since been changed... unfortunately).

I look forward to your book and more posts from you in the VERY near future. Thank you for sharing.

ms
1/25 From the Presidents State of the Union speech tonight......... Next few months could get a little interesting........

As long as I am not required to wear the NPS Ranger hat, I am all in, lets roll, bring it on........

Letterman

POTUS: We shouldn't just give our people a government that's more affordable. We should give them a government that's more competent and efficient. We cannot win the future with a government of the past.

We live and do business in the information age, but the last major reorganization of the government happened in the age of black and white TV. There are twelve different agencies that deal with exports. There are at least five different entities that deal with housing policy. Then there's my favorite example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they're in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked.

Now, we have made great strides over the last two years in using technology and getting rid of waste. Veterans can now download their electronic medical records with a click of the mouse. We're selling acres of federal office space that hasn't been used in years, and we will cut through red tape to get rid of more. But we need to think bigger. In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America. I will submit that proposal to Congress for a vote - and we will push to get it passed.
1/25 Paul Gleason

Hi,

I was a Dalton Hotshot (1966 and 1969) and good friend of Paul's since high school. I was the "Green Monster" that Withrow mentions on your website. And (somewhat ashamedly) also removed the bolts which attached the deerhead to the Buckhorn bar. I last climbed with Paul around 2001 in Southern California with his brother, Phil and nephew -- John Gleason. In the last stages of his illness, the day before he took that step around to the other side, Paul and I said our goodbyes on the phone while I was in North Carolina.

One of my few regrets in life is that I have no photos of my summers -- cutting hotline (I was lead brush hook) or with the crew, or the oil painting of the Bighorn I painted (which I believe hung in the old office). Anyway, if you know of how I might acquire some vintage photos of the '66 or '69 season, or if you could say "Hi" to any of the old crew...Hartley, Yazzie, Rowley or anyone else that may still be around and remember the Sunday morning "sermons" of a Mohawk cut redheaded fellow (me), I would appreciate it. Paul and I had many memorable experiences together. Glad to see that he is getting the recognition he deserves.

I continue to climb with Phil, and I'm organizing my memoirs, and would like to someday publish a book about my life as an artist, rock climber, and of my years living on a Sioux reservation in Minnesota. So...Thanks for listening

Sincerely,

Keith Leaman

Sounds like good memories. Maybe someone will make contact and keep you in touch. Ab.

1/25 IMT Succession Options

Abs...

going around; seems the Incident Management Organizational Succession Planning Team (IMOSPT) is looking for feedback.

Analysis of Organizational Models for the Future (1.25 M, very large pdf file)

Warthog

1/25 Ab,

Thanks your continued support for the Grand Canyon Helicopter Training Academy! Could you please let folks know that applications for Helicopter Managers and Crewmembers are being accepted until Feb. 15, 2011. If anyone would like more information, please visit our website or call me directly. Thank you again!

Website:
NPS.gov: helicopter program

Eric C. Graff
Detailed Assistant Helicopter Manager
Grand Canyon Flight Crew

1/25 Another AD work question.

Thanks for your help with my last question regarding AD work, I have another question. If I am a temp worker with a 1039 can I be picked up on a 90 day or 120 day detail while my 1039 is active or expired? I am awaiting an appointment with my base but in the meantime I am being limited to the amount of pay-periods I can work.

Thanks

TempForLife

1/24 Misery Whip,

Thanks for your response. It does indeed make me question my own assumptions. Like others, I believe my "knowledge" is based upon personal experience. I learned long ago that such limited perspective can lead me to erroneous conclusions.

I confess to being somewhat confused when one references the number of crews sponsored by federal and state agencies of the past, and tries to compare that number to the number of federal crews, state crews, and contract crews of today. I think your statement regarding the total number of firefighters available today vs 30 years ago is probably a good measure.

I am mostly concerned about the FS internal capability for firefighting. Perhaps someone has access to the numbers, but I would like to know:

  • How many organized type 1 and type 2 crews were there in 1981?
  • How many are there today?
  • How many type 2 FS crews made up of militia were there in the 80's, and how many are there today?
  • What was the number of "primary firefighter" with career appointments did we have 30 years ago, and how many today.

And while this is fun to ponder, it still leaves begging the big question of how the FS can best manage its resources.....keeping fire as an integral program (with current organization) or creating a "stovepipe" organization, or creating a separate agency. I can envision no scenario wherein the FS can succeed in its land management mission with fire removed to a separate agency.

This too is largely a moot question because I do not believe Congress will give any thought to creating more government agencies.....at least for the next several years of economic challenges.

I do agree with OOFG that the agency has certainly changed over the past 30 years. I believe every generation of career long employees shares that experience. Perhaps it is a good thing in that it weans us old-timers away without remorse. "It's not the same as when I joined up" has been and will be heard forever.

I'm not as old as OOFG it appears. I got on my first fire as a "firefighter" in 1972, and my last as "OSC" in 2006. I was lucky to spend my entire career at the forest level, performing the full spectrum of duties timber, range, recreation, wildlife, lands, minerals etc.....nearly every aspect of managing a forest, and especially fire. I spent some time as a Ranger, and the last dozen years overseeing the fire program. During micro-moments I had assignments as "Acting Forest Supervisor" and "Acting Regional Director of Fire&Aviation".

One thing that has been mentioned is the need for strong fire leadership (some say that is hard to find). I agree that a strong leader is imperative, it is no job for the meek, but neither is it a job for the belligerent.
My experience with Rangers and Forest Supervisors was always positive. Not that we always agreed, but that we always were able to communicate without rancor. I found line officers willing to listen to well presented arguments.....and surprisingly the line officers with the least "experience" seemed the most receptive. I was lucky to enjoy the confidence of Rangers, my own Forest Supervisors, and even some Rangers and Supervisors from other forests who would occasionally call to exchange perspectives.

I'm going to resume spending more of my time reading They Said, and less contributing. I do appreciate your's and other "senior" members leadership in helping contributors re-focus on keeping the discussion about the "what" and not the "who".

Best wishes,
Old Fire Guy

1/24 Hey Ab.

I found this photo while sorting through a pile of post-career debris on a snowy Montana day. It was my first IA fire response flight as a rookie member of the LPF Arroyo Grande Flight  Crew on Sunday, June 29, 1980. This photo was the result of the attempted landing on the Ojai district below Topa Topa bluffs. Nobody was injured in this Bell-212 wreck. We hiked 2 miles out to the trailhead and toasted to our luck later that night. Nobody quit that day and several of us continued on with our fire careers. You might recognize some fire leaders...

(Top L-R)
Ted Mathiesen, Tom Fogata, Willie Jewel, Cyrl Johnson, Joe
Duran

(Middle L-R)
Kevin Cardwell, Ken Doss, Tracy Helms, Mike Teague

(Bottom L-R)
Mike Higgenbotham, Tony Escobar, Gary Olsen

I know of several that have left the planet since then.
Peace be with: Tom Fogata, Tracy Helms, Mike Teague, and
Gary Olsen.

-Fishtales-

Thanks, I put it on Handcrews 28 photo page. How young everyone looks! You were lucky on that helicopter crash.
Recent Aviation Accident Reviews (flash videos) for training and safety
2009 FS Accident Review; Jim Morrison, presenter.
2009 BLM Accident Review; Steve Rausch, presenter. Ab.

1/24 Re info on getting a job with an old felony record:

Thank you so much for the information on theysaid and behind the scenes. It was very helpful. Searching the internet can yield way too much confusing information to decipher.

Thanks Again,

Kris

1/23 Old Fire Guy,
 
I appreciate your efforts to keep this discussion on a civil level. I will attempt to do so as well.
 
I assume from your recent and past posts and your moniker that you are retired FS with fire and line experience. It also sounds like you might have held a prominent position at the time you retired, which I'm guessing was ten or so years ago. If so, I salute you for your years of service and your continued interest in the agency. If I'm wrong about any of this, my apologies, but I'm trying to understand why your perspective is so different from mine.

You are right, assertions are just words unless you can back them up. To back up my "assertions," I'm including a couple of links below to documents available through the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center.

Yes, I too remember 2000 and all of the positive energy that came with the introduction of the National Fire Plan. It was supposed to fix some of the giant holes in the fire/fuels program that were known to exist at that time. Unfortunately, I also remember that shortly after the first wave of NFP hiring, Bush took office, 911 happened, and the National Fire Plan disappeared into some abyss. Since then, the Forest Service has been through some of the toughest years in its 100 year history. It is no coincidence that the Forest Service has rated among the very bottom of federal agencies for job satisfaction and employee morale for the past 2 years. Recently commissioned employee surveys, sensing committees, morale focus groups, and other indicators all say the same thing; a lack of strategic leadership is crippling the Forest Service. There are many references, just Google "Forest Service morale".

Also, I didn't say that the militia had "vanished." If you recall, I mentioned I am a current militia DIVS, so I recognize the militia is still around. But for many reasons, the present number of non-primary fire Forest Service employees who are willing or able to participate in fire is inadequate to even coming close to meeting current agency needs during moderate to busy fire seasons.

The quote below is from a 2006 study produced by the Rocky Mountain Research Station entitled "Factors Affecting Fire Suppression Costs as Identified by Incident Management Teams."

"Another significant factor believed to escalate the need for contracting, and therefore increase costs, is a perceived change within natural resource management agency culture. IMT members state that many employees now no longer view wildfire suppression work as the priority they once did. Some interviewees report that supervisors, intent on meeting home base management targets, are reluctant to permit (and may actually forbid) their staff to participate on fire suppression or team assignments, even after attempts to negotiate solutions. Some describe being chastised on their return to home office stations for what they did not get done to meet management targets while away on an IMT assignment."

Follow this link for the full report: Fire Suppression Costs (pdf)

The statement I made in my previous post about crew numbers wasn't my assertion, those numbers were attributed to Kim Christensen, the National Coordinator at NICC. Look at those numbers again:

"According to an estimate from the National Interagency Coordination Center posted on the WFLLC website, in the 1970s and '80s, the number of 20 person wildland firefighting crews hosted by federal and state agencies ranged between 1100 and 1300. From 1994 to 2000, there were 600 to 700 agency and contract wildland fire crews available. In 2008, there were 375 to 400 crews available for wildland fire assignments, of which approximately 150 were contract crews."

If Kim's numbers are correct (and I have no reason to believe they wouldn't be), that means that land management agencies only sponsor about 225 to 250 wildland fire crews today, or less than 1/4 the number that were available in 1980. Even if you add the 150 contract crews, we are still well below half the numbers we had in the 70s and 80s. 
< in were there as today available crews firefighting wildland of number total the third one about are words, other In ago. years thirty that fourth than less or dispatches, fire for currently agency 250>
If you want to see the source of this information yourself, this link will take you to the "Continuous Improvement in Decision-Making in Fire Management" page on the WFLLC website. From there, click on the webex broadcast entitled Continuous Improvement in Decision-Making in Fire Management on the right side menu.

I disagree that my previous post was a "broad-brush condemnation of line officers or fire managers who do not support your agenda." If you recall, I conceded that the Forest Service still has some very fine line officers, some of whom are friends of mine. But the present path we are on is going to lead to a major national disaster some day unless our present course changes, and soon.

Something to consider; our current Forest Service leadership routinely refers to climate change, fuels buildup, and urban interface (always together like some kind of unholy trinity despite a nearly complete lack of supporting science to prove it) as the primary reasons for the upward spike in fatalities, fire costs, and fire size but they NEVER mention we have less than half the total wildland firefighters available to fight forest fires today than we had thirty years ago. Why is that?

Thanks for the dialogue,

Misery Whip

1/23 Abs --

It's Sunday, the day of rest and reflection for many (when duty schedules and callouts allow). So it seems a fitting day to share this story.

One of the things I reflect on from time to time is the value I get from TheySaid ........Thanks, Abs and thanks to allll TheySaiders.

I ain't the poet, I'm just the "transcriber" -

STUMPIE
=====================

“The Man”

I’ve been a Wildfire Fighter, for 30 years, I guess
And I haven’t had not one close call, for I work among the best

But one early fall a few years back, out in the western zone
Two weeks of grubbin’ in the dirt, a thousand miles from home

A drought throughout the summer had left the forest parched and dry,
The wildfires were a-raging, sending columns in the sky

And on one fateful afternoon, our fire began to blow
And caught us on a spur ridge, with no safe place to go

The plan that led us to that ridge seemed a good one, at the time
A shortcut to the Drop Point, saved a long walk down the line

But the fire had jumped a canyon, about an hour ago
And within what seemed like minutes, the sky began to glow

We had some time to get dug in, there in the fading light
But we couldn’t risk a backfire – the wind just wasn’t right

We got prepared as best we could, our backsides to the wind,
Radioed helibase to get us out, but the ship could not get in

The fuels were heavy down below, the fire was comin’ fast
Should we dig in hard or light it off ? Would this fire be our last ?

We each crawled in our shelters, and we spread out on the line
We tucked in all the edges – there wasn’t much more time

I was the leader of my squad, and to keep things by the book
I raised one edge a little bit – to take a final look

And that was when I saw him – hurrying down the line
If he was looking for a safety zone, he’d made it just in time

He got a little closer, and I had a second look
Chills ran up and down my spine with every step he took

His clothes hung all in tatters, and stained a slurry red
His face was all in shadows, just like the walking dead

His Whites were worn to nothing, down to laces and a hole
And as he drew ever closer, he seemed to tread upon my soul

He stopped for just a second, not one word did he say
Scooped up a wad of fireline dust and let it fall away

He shimmered as he stood there, like he stood in desert heat
Smoke roiled up the mountainside, and curled around his feet

He slowly turned and looked at me, his features ashen pale
He seemed to nod “It’s okay now”, and headed down the trail

Fire flew from his fingertips, as he lay a backfire down
Smoke and flames rose skyward, and ash fell all around.

The roar was like a freight train, the wind was howlin’ high
The air kept getting hotter, as the stranger passed me by.

His backfire rose up to the sky, a cloud of ashes fell
A roaring red inferno, like forty shades of hell.

Obscured by all the smoke and flame, he seemed to disappear
Had he just saved the whole darn crew ---- or was he even here ?

Well, things are looking better now, we made it off the line
That backfire saved our bacon, to return another time.

I never talk about it, no one would understand
I prefer to keep it secret …….. the day I saw --- The Man.

#####
Walter Merrill, USFS.

Walter does amazing work! Thanks, Stumpie. Ab.

1/22 OFG

Just fact checking a few generalizations... we all make them... and we all have different issues that are salient.

OFG, I recognize your issues go beyond searching on a few words as I have done...

corrupt: google search on wlf.com search button turned up 13 instances, less than 2 pages worth, includes one "corrupt politicians" and one ref on the hotlist, almost all in 2008 and prior, one in 2009, zero in 2010, zero in 2011

incompetent: search on wlf.com turned up  44 instances,  4.5 pages worth
several referencing research papers on incompetence (that the incompetent don't know they are), one referencing an Australian brushfire paper "Australian Bushfire Management: a case study in wisdom versus folly" and one a Contract Solicitation Offer and Award, and one a Hotlist entry.
other occurrences in context include other words:
"on others incompetence",
"may not be incompetent",
"are not incompetent",
"if we hired incompetent firefighters",
"if I hired someone incompetent",
"incompetence is similar to insanity",
"good or bad we all sucked and were incompetent" firefighter describing his own and his inexperienced crew's failure to understand a dangerous fire situations
"Is it easier for fire departments to fire incompetent firefighters than for land use agencies to fire incompetent firefighters?"
"
someone with a great deal of influence believes we are racist, sexist, incompetent, criminal, technologically challenged and unable to make our own decisions." discussion related to believing firefighters should have a series that depicts their profession.
1999 (1); 2000 (4); 2001 (2); 2002 (2); 2003 (2); 2004 (1); 2005 (4); 2006 (5); 2007 (4); 2008 (7); 2009 (1); 2010 minus pdf fed solicitation offer (3); 2011 (0)

It's interesting. Punch that SEARCH button, enter the word and look at what comes up and in what context.

That said, I think I know the point you want to make OFG and I salute you for it. It relates to fairness from your or line officers' perspective. You don't want line officers (District Rangers, Forest Supervisors, Regional Foresters and Deputy Regional Foresters, Forest Leadership Team Members, Regional Leadership Team Members and National Leadership Team Members, and others I may have forgotten) to be attacked by rank-and-file (or retirees or association rep or someone like me) when you know those line officers are intelligent, competent, capable people doing their jobs as best they can in the system that currently exists. You want people who might criticize them to have first walked in their shoes facing the decisions they must make.

I know how having more information -- the bigger picture or a different focus -- does modify perceptions, or give you a pair of glasses with different lenses to see through to evaluate a situation. We could use the understanding to create more civil dialog. Keeping discussion about the WHAT not the WHO helps, especially when the WHO are friends as limited by the system, communication and sharing their accomplishments as anyone else.

It's interesting that '00 thru '05 or '06, I attended R5 BoD meetings at Ray Quintanar's invitation. He encouraged me to see how regional (and sometimes national) fire decisions were made, almost always with hearty discussion. Very rarely would he say "Mellie put down your pen" because something was sensitive. From that transparent knowledge base, I sometimes could fill in gaps or answer questions on theysaid. Different perspective. There was also communication, sometimes disagreement, among firefighters and overhead at the R5 Division Chiefs' (or Chief Officers) Meeting each year, a chance for all to get current with each other, discuss, and discuss with engine captains and hotshots and fuels folks. I was always amazed at how Q reframed the anxiety-producing issues or provided info that reduced anxieties and/or directed action. Others that presented did too. Those face-to-face meetings with Chiefs and higher leadership LEADING were breathtaking.

Do I think Leadership still occurs? Do others reading here see Leadership? Well, I don't know, where does one eavesdrop or hear about Leadership in action?

If I may say, OFG, all I can do is offer my piece with the perspective I have. I appreciate and understand yours.

Thanks ALL for the website. Love ya!

Mellie

1/22 Nice to have you back Misery Whip- we missed ya!

OFG- thanks for asking the tough questions.

Keep on keepin it real guys.

stringtown
1/22 Reply to Misery Whip and Old Fire Guy

As usual, your replies always ring so true! You always tell things as how they are, and in a direct and civil way. From my perspective at least! We are headed about 180 degrees, in the wrong direction.

I have been keeping track of the USFS wandering around on "TheySaid" for the last, going on 23 years. I will tell ya, the journey has not been very pleasant, to say the least, as an observer. I served in both primary and secondary fire positions. From retirement, I AD'ed for another eight seasons. I must say it the only way I can, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? All I can say, it ain't the outfit I knew!

OOFG, Old, Old, Fire Guy

1/22 Misery Whip,

As previously stated, making assertions does not make them "facts".

"Despite steadily declining budgets and the many reductions in Forest Service fire management capability that have transpired during the past two decades....."

I think if  you compare the pre-suppression funding of 20 years ago with the current funding, you will find that untrue. Remember the huge buildup and hiring of a decade ago? I recall the day when we had a nation-wide hiring of approximately 1500 firefighters. Pretty good day to be a fire manager. Yes, downsizing has decreased the number of folks available for support assignments, but that does not equate to the vanishing of the "militia".

And I am in total agreement with you that it is your Constitutional right to stand in public, or publish on this website, any broad-brush condemnation of line officers or fire managers who do not support your agenda...... I just think it unnecessary, and actually serves to diminish the credibility of one's opinion.

See...... we just had an exchange of opposite opinions and no one was called corrupt or incompetent.

You're Welcome,
Old Fire Guy

1/21 Old Fire Guy,

Let me see if I understand you correctly. Are you trying to say that yactak and other fire leaders are not qualified to comment on the decisions of line officers if they have never occupied that position themselves? Because if you are, I heartily disagree with you. We still have some fine line officers in the Forest Service, but the number of line officers who can't tell the working end of a pulaski from the handle grows daily. Too many of this "new breed" of Forest Service line officer would teach their own grandmothers to suck eggs if their superior told them to. And persons in positions of authority deserve criticism when they make poorly founded decisions that make forest firefighting less safe.

Just to be clear; I'm not a line officer and have never aspired to be one. Doesn't mean I have to give up my First Amendment rights, does it?

Since "bona fides" seem to be important to you, I've been a primary or secondary firefighter for 30 years, a DIVS for about 15 years and militia for the past ten.

You also said, "Why has the participation of the militia dramatically declined?" On what do you base this assertion? Do you mean that the dramatic increase in organized fire crews and engine crews over the past decade has resulted in a reduced percentage of call-up type 2 crews? Uh.... that's just simple algebra."

Uh... no it isn't. It appears to me that your "simple algebra" is based on some seriously flawed data. Where have you seen an increase in organized fire and engine crews in the past decade other than with the contracting sector? I don't understand how you can say there has been a dramatic increase in organized fire crews and engines over the past ten years when my own observations tell me the exact opposite is true. In recent fire seasons with widespread fire activity, the number of chronic UTFs for overhead and crews has set new records. Go ask your local dispatcher if you doubt it.

Let's face it, the Forest Service of 2011 is a much different entity than it was even twenty years ago. Over the past 2 decades we have:
  • Consolidated the management of many forests with other forests.
  • Eliminated and/or combined many ranger districts.
  • Eliminated nearly all Brush Disposal (BD) crews and many standing 20 person district fire crews.
  • Reduced the overall FS fuels management capability.
  • Centralized or outsourced critical HR, IT, business, communications, and other support functions that were once available on-forest.
  • Shifted other support functions, including hiring and training, to a cumbersome, computer-based, employee operated system.
  • Downsized the entire workforce.
    • Downsizing has severely diminished the FS “militia” capacity and the number of agency non-primary fire personnel who are available for fire assignments during fire season.
    • Downsizing has also increased the workload of remaining employees, which frequently prevents them from being available to participate as militia in fire suppression activities.
  • Adopted a "large fire management" philosophy that displays a preference for contracting for aviation resources, fire crews, and fire engines (most other large fire support needs are also obtained through contracting) as opposed to staffing with agency employees and agency-owned equipment.

Despite steadily declining budgets and the many reductions in Forest Service fire management capability that have transpired during the past two decades, senior Forest Service leaders have yet to openly acknowledge the scale of these changes, nor the cumulative negative effects that this very significant reorganization has had on the agency's wildland firefighting workforce, culture, and firefighting effectiveness.

According to an estimate from the National Interagency Coordination Center posted on the WFLLC website, in the 1970s and '80s, the number of 20 person wildland firefighting crews hosted by federal and state agencies ranged between 1100 and 1300. From 1994 to 2000, there were 600 to 700 agency and contract wildland fire crews available. In 2008, there were 375 to 400 crews available for wildland fire assignments, of which approximately 150 were contract crews.

The criminalization of wildland firefighting due to PL 107-203 hasn't exactly helped the fire mobilization situation, either. Some current Forest Service militia would be more inclined to participate in firefighting if they didn't feel like sacrificial lambs in the making.

You're welcome,

Misery Whip

1/21 The irony of politics:

It is likely with the changes in the House of Representatives this session that Republicans will, as has primarily been the case since 2000 when the OT Pay Cap was eliminated, carry the FWFSA's "legislative water."

This doesn't necessarily mean a Republican will actually introduce our legislation, but it does mean Republicans that have supported our issues over the last decade will need to educate the ignorant of their party...i.e. folks Like Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey and Sen. Jim De Mint of South Carolina that a bill to freeze federal pay for 5 years is, at best, born out of ignorance.

I would suspect that none of the 3 have major wildfire seasons and certainly have no clue that those federal employees who risk their lives to protect our Nation's Natural Resources, its citizens and their property from wildfires and protect all of our Nation's federal assets are by and large found on the low end of the federal pay schedule.

The FWFSA can do only so much educating. This new battle front will require a declaration of war from the huge, federal labor unions representing federal employees. The FWFSA can articulate the argument based on those we represent and believe we can develop sound, intelligent arguments for ending this ridiculous knee-jerk reaction legislation being planned. The unions however have as much responsibility to do the same.

Despite some of the recent posts regarding the FWFSA and IAFF, it is my sincerest hope that the IAFF will stand firmly behind the members of its 16th district and commit the resources necessary to end this ignorance among some in Congress.

The IAFF has spent years and a whole hell of a lot of money working towards national collective bargaining for many of its members in states which do not yet have that right. I truly hope they recognize their obligation and responsibility to their federal firefighters employed by the Dept. of Defense, Coast Guard, NIH and others to make the same effort.

Such mindless legislation will not necessarily have an impact on continuing to work to getting the pay, benefits & working conditions our Nation's federal wildland firefighters deserve. Just think if the Agencies like the Forest Service finally acknowledged they were fielding the largest firefighting organization in the world and started to reform the archaic pay & personnel policies encumbering their firefighters so legislation was not necessary and we could spend less time educating the un-educated on the Hill.

Folks, this is a battlefield. We all know the federal government is not the most fiscally prudent entity. It defies logic when the calls for federal pay freezes exempt the military given the fact the DoD is probably the most incompetent federal agency when it comes to fiscal management.

The IAFF's federal firefighters work side by side with military firefighters. Yet the civilian GS-7 federal firefighter employed by the DoD who is leaning over the hot seat of an F-18 trying to safety the ejection seat, shut down the aircraft and remove the pilot would have his/her pay frozen for 5 years while the Air Force Senior Airman from the same fire crew who is on the ground holding a nozzle from the crash truck won't have his/her pay frozen.

Similar analogies exist with federal wildland firefighters. It is our responsibility to educate, not complain. Our "education" of congress, albeit that has taken years, is producing more & more understanding which in turn creates progress.

Such a situation was the passage of the Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act in 2006 by the House of Representatives. Unfortunately the Senate lost the bill and we have to try again. But the House passing that bill was the result of members of congress learning about the issue and understanding the consequences of maintaining the status quo.

We all have a fight on our hands...feds, Cal-Fire and many others. All I hope for is that when the individual firefighters, their unions or organizations start the educational process, they don't continue to over-use the "if you cut us you increase the risk to the health & safety of the citizens."

That fear mongering has been recycled for far too long and no longer works. Arguments against pay freezes, pay cuts etc., have to be reworked so as to resonate with the full spectrum to society from the public to the press to the politicians. No taxpayer in New York City is going to give a damn if a federal wildland firefighter in California has his/her pay frozen.

A taxpayer in a state or community with no military installation or major federal government mission isn't going to give a damn either. A taxpayer in downtown Los Angeles isn't going to care if Cal-Fire cuts staffing. The education of the issues and the marketing of our necessity to the taxpayer cannot be a "one size fits all." We have to take the time to craft strategies that catch the attention of the public, press & politicians.

In this regard it would be beneficial for all if the FWFSA & IAFF could work together. It doesn't mean that we can't work together without the FWFSA being affiliated with them. The FWFSA & IAFF shouldn't be thinking about what's best for themselves as organizations but what is best for their members.

This collaboration however cannot be one-sided and quite frankly I honestly believe the IAFF (the leadership, not the rank & file) simply thinks they are "better" than us, that they should be the only ones speaking for firefighters and it would be beneath them to offer to knock this nonsense off that is going on between the two organizations and actually work together.

They will only get the message if their membership speaks up. Yea, the FWFSA is tiny compared to the IAFF but I can guarantee we can secure the support of some on the Hill who historically have opposed the IAFF's legislative agenda. It isn't what we do on the Hill that creates that support, it's how we do it.

Just some food for thought.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
1/21 re overpaid forestry tech thread

For all you overpaid and over trained forestry and range techs out there.......

govexec.com

re central thread:

Casey.......

Regarding the last set of questions....Good luck my friend! In the air attack business we call folks that don't believe what you tell them, even though you are looking right at it and relaying exactly what you see, "Atheists" .. I believe you are dealing with an "Atheist"!

yactak

1/21 re: picked up as an AD

The following link may give you some clarification on the AD issue. It appears possible to work as an AD if the appearance of appointment extensions is avoided.

Fish01

AD 1039 Questions Answers  (pdf)

1/20 re: Picked up as AD

Don't plan on being picked up by the FS in Region 1 as an AD if you hold a 1039 appt. We have been told that it is against the AD Pay Plan to hire seasonal employees in non-pay status this way.

Hopefully, you will have better luck in another region.

R1 IADP

1/20 Re: getting hired with an old felony?

Kristen, to refer back to your question on your husband getting hired, here is some encouragement. I know a few good folks that have been hired in the past even though they've had a criminal history. So yes, it is possible. My suggestion to you, in addition to what you already received, is yes, to have him apply through avue digital services. I also strongly recommend for him to put together a resume and visit with local Forest Service station captains as well as Battalion Chiefs or other Chief Officers. It is always easier if they can put a face to a name when they pull a cert of names when they are going through hiring selections. Another source that he can look into is local forest Type 2 crews / AD crews. Remember almost anything is possible in life.

Best of luck!

the step child....

1/20 Good afternoon Ab,

I am looking for an online map (prefer interactive) showing the location of National Forests and Dispatch centers for the Regions 2,4 and 3. Thank you and carry on.

R.

1/20 Happy New Year!

Here’s hoping for a better year for all in the fire service.

Captain Emmett
1/20 Re: getting hired with an old felony?

Kristen,

Yes, a person with a record can get hired but there are alot of factors that go into it. The seriousness of the crime, how long ago it was committed and how long someone has been out. There is a scale (or table) used for judging suitability that can put someone in the "able to hire" category all the way up to "NO WAY". Our forest has hired some employees that put in some time behind bars and they worked out well.

My advice is to have your boyfriend talk to a HR specialist and see if they can check it out for him. If there isn't a HR person on the forest near you, ask for the phone number for the ASC and talk to someone in Human Resources down there. I would also advise him to go ahead and apply. If he doesn't apply he will never know if he could have actually gotten a job. As for what GP said, don't think that applys strictly to your boyfriend. That's going to be the case for most of the people applying for both temp and perm jobs this season. It's a tough job market out there and the competition is fierce.

As for the vets being a mandatory hire - not true. They must be given consideration before everyone else but if they don't qualify for the position they are applying for then they don't get hired.

No Name

1/20 From Australia, from our roving fire geek. GIS being used on flood mapping in Queensland:

Large 9 M video download (set to music "I'll be there") Video runs about 2 minutes.
QLD FloodMapping.wmv

The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service are my new best friends!

Fire Geek

Nice one. Ab.

1/20 Casey,

Thanks again for continuing the dialogue. We may never agree on either changing the mission of the FS, or developing a new agency.

Again, as an experienced lobbyist, you well know that the agency will prepare budget proposals that reflect capabilities at certain levels. The official "budget request" however is compliant with the President's budget proposal (and that reflects what he feels is the best balanced expenditures to meet the needs of the nation).

Congress plays the game by holding hearings, and members know that they are free to ask Agency witnesses about their budget requests. IF Congress wants to know "is this budget request the full dollar amount to offer optimal protection", all they need do is ask. The Chief or his representative must answer truthfully. In past administrations the Chief has taken this opportunity to "accurately reflect what is needed to do the job" as you suggest. (As related to me by that Chief while we were having lunch together).

As far as having to appear before Congress each fall to ask for supplemental funding, again as an experienced lobbyist you should know full well that Congress is aware of and directing this gamesmanship, largely a shell game with the taxpayer dollars.

You have made assertions as if they were "facts", which they are not. You claim that if the budget were controlled by "fire folks" then there would be sufficient funding for PTP..... which again you know has no "authority". And then you go on to vilify line officers who "mismanage and waste".

"Why has the participation of the militia dramatically declined?" On what do you base this assertion? Do you mean that the dramatic increase in organized fire crews and engine crews over the past decade has resulted in a reduced per-centage of call-up type 2 crews? Uh.... that's just simple algebra.

You use the term "diversion of funds" and say "yeah, I hear the argument all the time that there are associated costs". Recognizing the true costs of running a program, or a new agency, is not an argument, but a reality. No government agency or private business gets "free" rent, utilities, HR support, IT services or contracting etc. It doesn't take an "expert" to know that.

I will certainly agree with you that you can find instances of abuse in the management of fire dollars. I think such instances can be found in every program. Are you contending that there will be no mistakes made with a new agency?

I am unfamiliar with the "PR savings" you refer to. If not too cumbersome, perhaps you could share with the readers of this site.

Again, we are probably never going to agree on the best way to manage the fire program. I see fire as an integral part of managing millions of acres of public lands and maintaining ecosystems. The supporters of a separate agency seem to think that fire is a stand-alone program.

What I hope we can agree on is ending the vilification of fire program leaders, and line officers who do not agree with a stove-pipe organization, a separate agency, nor the specialized treatment of one group of employees. You have stated that your sole focus is on the welfare of federal firefighters...... no one else. I do not fault you for that loyalty. Fire program managers and line officers have a loyalty to their agency and to ALL employees, not just one group. The continued bashing of those leaders who do not share the "centralized fire" or "separate agency" viewpoint is....... well it's bush-league.

Old Fire Guy

1/19 Re: getting hired with an old felony?

Kristen,

I’ll tell it like it is, I don’t think your boyfriend will have a chance in hell for a position.

  • First off, he’s a convicted felon.
  • Second, with the economy as bad as it is, everyone is applying for firefighter positions.
  • Next, Cal Fire is cutting back on limited term firefighters, which mostly came from the USFS, which are now applying back to the USFS.
  • And, lastly, fed law requires combat veterans like Iraq/Afghanistan veterans are mandatory hire.

I’m sure he is a great guy but…look elsewhere. Maybe start with a volunteer fire dept. and go from there.

GP

1/19 Is it possible to get hired with an old felony?

Kristen,

Yes.. Is the the short answer too your ?.. I've worked with alot of guys that came straight from an "inmate" crew. If his intentions are genuine and this is something he is serious about, I would suggest going to your local Forest Service "main" office and inquire about entry level positions on type 2 crew (that in my opinion is the best place to start)... Like I said I've worked with alot folks who came from, well let's just say not the best background, and "most of them" turned into lifelong friends and dam* good firemen!!! Good on him for trying to turn his life around... While I can't provide any contact info... Maybe if you reply with the area you live in, some folks on here could steer you in the right direction!

TNBG

1/19 Is it possible to get hired with an old felony?

My boyfriend was told that he could be hired as a Wildland firefighter. He does have a record, but I believe his felony is 6 years old. When he was younger, he was a life guard and worked for the city, then he began to cave to the "bad influences". He hasn't lived a perfect life or even close to it, but he's a good man. He is trying to get on track and someone told him that this would be a good way too prove to himself and his family that he can be successful, while he is doing a valuable service.

I have tried to find information about it and its hard to get a straight answer:

Can he become a wildland firefighter with a record?
What does he need to do to begin the process?
Are there any training courses or "camps" around the Washington State area?

Any information would be appreciated.

--
Best Regards,

Kristen

1/19 Re: F.S. fire organization

old fire guy,

LOL... Big Boy Pants!!! LOL.. now that is funny!! :>) I really prefer to keep my shorts and flip flops, thank you very much!

As far as who can or gets to discuss centralization or any other issue, look at issues with a critical eye AND discuss those issues in any forum of choice.. well I would say that "rank" or hierarchy do not come into play as you have so aptly verbalized. While I do agree that walking a mile in the shoes prior to evaluating is a good thing, the seemingly untrained and or inexperienced eye has much to offer. LOL.. Maybe that high horse of yours worked years ago.. but trust me, things are different now!

Kay, so enough of this silliness anyways.. I do not see fire being centralized in the Forest Service for a variety of reasons. What really needs to happen is the "National Wildland Fire Service" as I said earlier. Of course, that is just my opinion and as you know everyone has one!

Be safe.. I think that a Hawaiian shirt to go with my shorts and flip flops is calling me!

Peace - Out on this subject

yactak

1/19 Re: F.S. fire organization

OFG:

A change in the organizational structure and process of who develops the FIRE budget requests and who markets those needs to the Administration & Congress may indeed not change the politics.

However I believe the Agency owes it to their firefighters (there should be mutual respect... you've mentioned loyalty to the Employer but what about loyalty to the employee... the ones who risk their lives) and taxpayers to submit budget requests that accurately reflect what is needed to do the job.

If the Agency had taken this approach over the last five years or so, they wouldn't have had to appear before Congress each Fall and beg for a supplemental appropriation of a half a billion bucks. If the flow and utilization of fire dollars were controlled by fire folks, I am forever the optimist that the funds annually appropriated in each of the 3 fire budgets would have been sufficient to do the job & provide PTP for feds and still not require supplemental appropriations and certainly wouldn't have necessitated the FLAME Act fund which, to me anyway is nothing more than another pot of money for Line Officers to mismanage & waste.

If you never had a problem getting the militia to participate, then what has changed? Why has the participation of the militia dramatically declined?

With respect to diversion of funds, yea I hear the argument all the time that there are associated costs with fire, that cost sharing is required etc. I am not the expert but have heard from the experts, the fire planners, the FMOs, the Regional FAMs etc., all detail odd uses of preparedness dollars from funding recreation positions, paying for un-funded positions, lots and lots of dough going to the ASC etc.

I'd be delighted if someone in the field would chime in and give you some examples. I also mentioned "PR savings? Are you familiar with that little nugget of fiscal gobblety-goop? I tried to explain it to several members of the congressional panel at the Station Fire hearing and had their head spinning. I am currently trying to determine if the new program Manager for the Forest Service at OMB is aware of the practice and whether it meets their approval.

The alternative to such changes in organizational structure and fiscal policy is the status quo. We all know that isn't working.

Casey

1/19 re: Picked up as AD

Before you leave your current position make sure you have copies of everything that show you are qualified for the positions you wish to fill including verifications of your last assignments! Do NOT count on a previous red card or being able to get this information later. As for going AD, contact the office through which you would be dispatched. Unless something has changed behind the scenes, they'll tell you what yearly paperwork, refreshers and fitness tests you need to complete and get you into the system as available or unavailable. (You probably know most of this, but it needs to worked through the local office.) How much you get called out will be determined by how much your quals are in demand, how many others with your quals are available, and fire activity levels. An AD can be a pain for dispatch offices because of the additional paperwork. On the other hand, I've had dispatchers tell me they like calling ADs because they can usually count on ADs to be eager to go.

Still Out There as an AD

1/19 Veterans Preference Rules:

Thanks bethany!!!

Now that is outstanding. You ask a question and get a legitimate response. Albeit the the response is about the confusion of the system but a response non the less.

Thanks bethany.

- no name

1/19 Re: F.S. fire organization

In regards to Yactak's post on LPF centralized organization. I worked on the LPF during the time centralized fire organization was approved by then Forest Supervisor Dave Dahl. Dave was an outside the box thinker, once presented with the concept and idea of a centralized fire organization he reviewed the proposal and allowed the fire organization to do a one year trial period.

After a one-year trial period he brought in a review team to have the organization evaluated. As I remember the review team found that a centralized organization led to a more efficient and safer organization. After the review the centralized organization was given the stamp of approval to continue. This was a huge moral builder! Does any one have a copy of the LPF centralized organization review report, if so could you please get it posted on WildlandFire.com.

Lonnie Briggs (Chief 2) and Thom Myall (Chief 1) were two of the most professional fire leaders that I have ever known or worked for. I once asked Lonnie what made him such a professional leader and he replied "I come to work each and every day and strive to be more professional in my position as Chief 2.

I don't know how the Forest Service could dismantle an organization that proved that it was more efficient and safer, but sure enough they did. It was true moral buster on the LPF!

I started my Forest Service career in 1975, my career spanned the 70's, 80's, 90's and the 2000's. I have seen many changes over that time period. Read the book the Big Burn Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America by Timothy Egan and it will give you an understanding why the Forest Service is the way that it is. What worked in 1910 does not work in 21st century!!!!

I can describe the Forest Service like this, draw a big box and put the Forest Service shield in the center of the box. They want the organization and its employees to stay inside the box. True leaders and innovators are outside the box thinkers, not puppets on the strings inside the box.

Question the Forest Service with boldness as they ponder why the agency has such low moral!!!!

Thomas Jefferson
1/19 re: F.S. fire organization

Paul Revere change is coming!,

I agree regarding Lonnie Briggs and Thom Myall. I was on the LPF for a long time prior to the fire and aviationcentralization, during the fire and aviation centralization and for the systematic dismantling of the centralized fire and aviation organization. Lonnie and Thom provided a unique united front in approaching all issues. Even though I know (I was there) that they did not always agree on every issue, I do know that they agreed to provide a united front on EVERY issue, supporting a strong, efficient and safe fire shop that integrated with all the other functions.

The "different" leadership came after Thom and Lonnie retired. The "selected" (appointed / anointed?) Forest FMO, aka "Chief 1" had been the District Ranger on the forest during the debate to centralize fire or not and was the MOST vocal in disapproving of the centralization. He was very much NOT in favor of the centralization. The regional fire and aviation leadership that had supported and nurtured the LPF and BDF centralized fire also retired. The rest is history.. the systematical dismantling of the organizations..

--
yactak

Visit fireleadership.gov/

1/19 re: F.S. fire organization, who gets to discuss it...

Casey,

Thanks for the response. We share the desire to see the agency become more efficient in its management of budget and services. We disagree on current conditions, and some of your assertions.

I think the political realities you identify of the agency works for the administration are accurate. The Chief's budget proposal must all in line with the Administration's. To think that a change in organization will change that political reality is in itself unreal.

Your complain that line officers "skim off the top" for non-fire projects. Do you mean for such things as contracting costs, IT support, Personnel, Accounting, rent, utilities? Such services must be paid for by the benefitting program. If you refer to other non-fire projects, can you provide examples?

Anyone with fire program management experience knows that the militia does exist and is integral to the success of the national program. So what if some PIO once mis-spoke? Incentive for militia? How about 80 hours base pay, plus approximately 100 hours OT, plus Hazard pay (if working a line assignment). I never had any trouble getting folks interested. Also, program leaders from all resources helped "orient" their new employees by having them visit with the fire shop and identify where they would best fit in. Support/participation in fire was "expected", not requested.

Again, thanks for being willing to participate in this discussion.

yactak,
Put your big boy pants on. When you are going to critique the performance of line officers, and offer evaluation of the strength weakness of fire program leaders, then expect to be asked to provide your bona-fides. ie. you are working to standard and have equal or superior qualifications as a program manager at the forest level or higher, and line officer.

You responded that your credentials are "impeccable". I'll take that as an affirmative that you have held those positions... as have I.

Old Fire Guy

1/19 Picked up AD?

Hey I was wondering if any one knew of any way to get picked up AD. I am currently a seasonal smokejumper with a 1039, I do have a few red card single resource qualifications, and was wondering if there is any way of getting picked up AD as a single resource on large fires after my 1039 expires.

Thanks TempForLife

1/18 Subject: Information on services for Shawn Price

Services for Shawn will be held at 2pm Wednesday January 19th, at Worden Funeral Home in Newcastle, WY (111 South Railway Ave, Newcastle). Visitation and viewing will be 6-8:30pm Tuesday January 18th, at the Funeral Home.

Per the family, coworkers and firefighters are encouraged to wear fire t-shirts and/or nomex if they desire.

Contributions can be made to the Osage Ambulance fund, or the Shawn Price Fund that was set up to assist with covering costs of Shawn's medical flight to Wyoming. Any excess funds beyond those needed to pay for the flight will go towards a memorial in Shawn's name. More information on contributions can be found in Shawn's obituary, when it becomes available. Obituary should be published later today HERE.

Cards and letters may be sent to:
Price Family
PO Box 225
Osage, WY 82723

Syndy Zerr
Fire Management Officer
Lava Beds National Monument
1/18 re: F.S. fire organization

To: Casey, JD, yactak:

Thom Myall/ Lonnie Briggs the two best leaders the LP ever had!!! Problem is after they gave everything as leaders nobody could fill those boots. I stated a career underneath that visionary leadership. They made an organization for our future. I know how well a model it was, problem was the rangers felt left out of the system! Then came the line officers and they felt even more compelled to put a clamp on the best leadership model we ever had! After that? Everything was dismantled entirely! Why? It is simple, change was coming maybe even nationally, They knew it!!! Stovepipe the LP again and be the model forcing the professionalism throughout this agency that we so deserve finally!

Paul Revere, change is still coming!

1/18 re: F.S. fire organization

Old Fire Guy,

A couple of things that you said that I said that I really did not say..

  1. I did say that line removing fuels from fire was a bad idea. I also said that the fire shop, the fuels shop and the various resource shops coordinated and cooperated to make it work well.
  2. Strong leaders are needed ... weak leaders were put in place by the royal line officer lineage (thanks sting!) to weaken and dismantle the centralized fire organization on the LPF. Fact.
  3. Rescue 911 is your verbiage.. I would call it "National Federal Wildland Fire Organization" ... National Fire Service..
  4. As for my credentials .. they are impeccable. What is your excuse?

yactak

1/18 Veterans Preference Rules:

Hi Ab,

I thought I’d drop a note to address the veterans’ preference questions. One of the reasons that there is so much misinformation out there, as well as vague answers in regards to veteran’s preference, is simply because within federal HR regulations there are a ton of “if this, then that” scenarios. The fact of the matter is, veterans’ preference is real and requiring fire experience is a legitimate “screen-out.” It’s unfortunate that it’s so difficult to find someone within the USFS to provide clear answers, but in truth, the answers to these seemingly simple questions are astoundingly complex.

There are several different methods for rating applicants for competitive appointments/positions, including numerical rating procedures and alternative rating procedures (such as category rating). It’s the numerical rating procedures that most people attribute to veterans’ preference points allowing vets to “score” higher when they apply to jobs. For example, if a 10-point veteran is assessed using a numerical rating procedure, and “scores” a 90 on the assessment, then their score would actually total 100 including the preference points. But, as the ASC-HSM Staffing response on Jan. 4th indicated, the Forest Service does not use a numerical rating process (though many agencies still do). Regrettably, because of the terminology (i.e. “a 10-point vet”), it is easy to understand why people believe that everything is run off of a point system.

In the interest of brevity, to get a better handle on the system used by the Forest Service, I would recommend checking out Chapter 5 of the Delegated Examining Operations Handbook. This will give you a good run-down of the whole system. Take a close look at the section on “Category Rating Procedures” (page 100) for specifics in regards to veterans’ preference. Chapter 5 also discusses the Minimum Qualifications Requirements (page 92) and Selective Factors (page 95) – which will answer concerns about how required fire experience is used.

Also, OPM has a “Staffing, Recruiting, Examining, and Assessment Policy” webpage dedicated to veterans’ preference called the VetGuide . Click on the section titled, “Filling a Position Through the Competitive Examining Process” for a brief run-down.

The important thing to know is that, “a selecting official may not pass over a preference eligible to select a non-preference eligible unless there are grounds for passing over the preference eligible and the agency has complied with the pass over procedures at 5 U.S.C. § 3318.” In other words, it is a very critical component to how hiring is conducted. Nevertheless, it is not the only component that is considered (for example, special hiring authorities, agency-developed merit promotion lists, etc.).

Like I stated above, there are many, many “if this, then that” situations at all levels. But if you are truly interested in how the system works, the above resources will answer many of your questions and will probably give you a good foundation to ask some more! Along those lines, all of my information comes from personal research and I hope that if I’ve misrepresented any information in this post, that someone would ensure proper clarification.

I wish everybody the best of luck in their job seeking. Remember, the Region 4 FireHire deadline is fast approaching: Submit your applications on or before January 31, 2011!

Sincerely,
Bethany E. Loomis-Hannah, owner
b.hannah@wildlandfirecareers.com
www.WildlandFireCareers.com | 1.866.414.1447 | 1.866.686.5484 (fax)

Wow, thanks Bethany. Ab.

1/18 re: F.S. fire organization

Yactak and JD,

Thanks for continuing the dialogue. I doubt we'll ever agree on organizational needs, but we can agree to maintain a dialogue.
Both of you have identified how a centralized organization might operate on a NF.

Both of you mentioned fuels being separated from suppression. JD thinks fuels can be disassociated from fire (suppression), yactak thinks the separation of fuels on the LP was a bad move. If difficult to coordinate successfully in a "stovepipe" how well would fuels be managed with an entirely separate agency? Have you thought about costs, redundancy of personnel and equipment? Do we just create an agency with a "big bang" and see what shakes out?

yactak, you cite actual times and places centralized fire has been tried (to an extent).
Your comments do raise some questions of effectiveness though.

You stated "Strong leadership was needed in the forest fmo and dfmo positions (hard to fin IMHO)" If that is so, why would you want an organization (stovepipe or separate agency) that would be led by weak leaders?

You also seem critical of line officers along with the fire leaders on the forests and in the region. Going back to my earlier posting, do you have the earned credentials to offer an evaluation of the work of line officers or forest and regional level fire program managers (have you actually walked a mile in their shoes)?

Centralized fire might be the way to go.....if someone can show at least an effective model.
Creating a separate "Rescue 911" agency is going to be harder, and still meet the needs of the nation in managing millions of acres of resources wherein fire is an integral component, not just an exciting job.

Old Fire Guy

1/18 Veterans Preferences

AB,

Thanks for responding. I know this topic is getting old. I just think that for the hiring officials to be able use veterans preferences when it appeals to their agenda, and not when it dosent, isnt right. I think it's crazy that after 11 years in govt work I have been able to find a written rule or policy for just about anything official, but when it comes to FS hiring there's a couple standard things people say, but when you ask them what it means you see a blank stare.

It's smoke and mirrors if you ask me. I really appreciate my job and am a loyal FS employee. I just think this is hogwash that the hiring process is not transparent. I am actually less concerned with how the process aids me or not, as I am with actually knowing what the process is. Do you know what I'm saying??? Am I reading to much into these grey areas of hiring??

J

1/18 re: F.S. fire organization

OFG...

In my opinion, I don't think the wheel needs reinventing, but changes are absolutely necessary. There is a reason why the Forest Service finds itself near the bottom of good places to work in the gov't and why the Forest Service wastes staggering sums of fire dollars each season.

Here's my thought/vision, specific to the Forest Service. Most of it is designed to ensure tax dollars appropriated for wildfire suppression, preparedness and hazardous fuels reduction are properly utilized.

The FAM Director can be called the Fire Chief, Grand Pooba, whatever. The title doesn't matter, his role in managing the program does. I also believe some of the layers of the bureaucracy at the WO can be eliminated as well.

The National FAM Director, in consultation with Regional FAM Directors and Forest FMOs develop the budget requests for these budgets. The 10 year average goes away and the requests are again based upon MEL pursuant to the National Fire Plan.

The National FAM provides a copy of the budget requests to the Forest Service Chief who in turn provides a copy to the Secretary of Ag.

The National FAM Director is solely responsible for presenting the budget requests to the Administration (OMB). How many times have we seen the current director sit silently at congressional budget hearings while political appointees from the FS tell Congress all the wonderful things they can do with the Administration's budget proposal.

As political appointees, they are beholden to the Administration and are expected to praise whatever funding the Administration proposes. In the alternative, the FAM Director's budget request to the Administration will be based upon the determination of experts in the field of fire (Regional FAMs and FMOs).

If the Administration subsequently proposes less than what the FAM Director's budget request called for, then the Administration can take responsibility for the consequences.

If the Administration's budget proposal concurs with the FAM director's budget request and Congress decides to reduce the amount actually appropriated, then Congress assumes the responsibility for any negative consequences.

When the dollars are appropriated by Congress, the National FAM Director is solely responsible for their allocation, again based upon his/her work with the Regional FAM Directors and FMOs. No Line Officer shall have any authority to "skim off the top" of these budgets for non-fire projects or to utilize any of these funds. When fire funds are allocated, they are first allocated to the Regional FAM Director than to the Forest FMO based upon the previously agreed budget requests. These funds are not allocated to the RO or Forest Supervisor. If the amount received is less than requested, again, in consultation with Regional FAM Directors and FMOs, allocations will be made.

In the case of national resources such as Hotshot crews, their budgets are allocated directly from the National FAM Director to the Hotshot crew Supt. who becomes solely responsible for the utilization/expenditures of his/her budget as are the Forest FMOs. These Hotshot budgets do not get sent to the RO and they are not manipulated by the RO or Forest Supervisors.

Fire policy will be developed and implemented again by the National FAM Director, Regional FAM Directors and FMOs. ROs and Forest Supervisors will be notified of said policies but will have no authority to develop and implement fire policy individually.

Policies will be consistent among all regions. This includes pay grades (for example if a captain is a GS-8 in Region 5, a captain in Region 9 is also a GS-8. No RO or Forest Supervisor will have the authority to implement unilateral and arbitrary fire policies like removing lights and sirens from Forest Service fire engines, eliminated collar brass from uniforms etc.

Why do it this way? Because we have all seen the impact of fire dollars being diverted or misused by Line Officers. When preparedness dollars are used for other than preparedness resources, the number of resources expected to be in place are reduced. When the season starts and extended attack fires occur, the only way to fill in for these missing resources is by bringing in expensive non-federal resources.

Do you personally understand the concept of "PR savings?" Talk about a Line Officer financial shell game! I am personally convinced that if such an organizational structure is implemented, overall cost effectiveness and efficiency will increase as will morale. Add to this the fundamental act of classifying and recognizing these men & women as wildland firefighters and you will see a better organization.

With respect to the militia, there is currently really no incentive for them to participate in fire. Remember it was just a few years ago when a PIO from the Forest Service WO, in response to a question stated that the "militia was a myth." The Agency must provide an incentive for them to once again choose to leave their families for days or weeks on end and NOT get paid for most of that time.

As with many occupations there are primary & secondary employees.

All I know is that based upon the countless conversations I've had with firefighters and even some in the WO and of course those in Congress, something needs to change. The current system of Line Officer control and authority has failed. I think Congress would like to see the Agency accept this realization and make the necessary changes on its own rather than forcing Congress to legislate such changes. The question remains how many more decades must we all wait for the FS to recognize it needs to manage its fire program in a manner consistent with fielding the largest fire organization in the world.

Respectfully,

Casey

1/18 Dennis Burns post - FWFSA - IAFF

Casey has posted multiple times on this issue. I was there as the voting delegate at CPF San Diego and IAFF Las Vegas conventions. We went to Lobby week in March of 2003, 2 months later we left the IAFF.

Casey has been an excellent voice for our association. I do not "post" very often on they said. I would ask thatyou post this to support Casey, the Facts............ I was there.

Niedermeyer

1/18 re: F.S. fire organization

OFG said:

"In the suppression organization, are all personnel "primary" firefighters?
Where does the 'militia" fit in?
What is your organization for fuels management?
How would the NEPA requirements of fuel projects be handled?
How will non-fuel prescribed burn projects be integrated?
There are many more questions that would need to be addressed, but let's start with these for now.
Again, thanks for being the first to offer a response."

Old Fire Guy

This is just for a Forest Service stovepiped organization. I believe a separate all risk and incident management department is what would serve you, me, and the rest of the taxpayers the best. But to answer your questions on a stovepiped organization:

  1. Primary Vs Secondary, (where militia - secondary - fits in)
    Non issue as you could have primary and secondary positions in a fire organization.
  2. Fuels. In my humble opinion Fuels is not an essential emergency services function of an all risk fire department. Not to say that fuels isn't important, just a different function with a lot of bureaucracy and funding issues that cross many disciplines that at times could become more of a distraction than an enhancement. Fuels should be retained by the forest and free to participate in fire as needed. Fire would participate in implementation of fuels projects based on official agreements with the local forest/district/unit.
  3. NEPA is going down the centralization process as we speak. But I would let that stay where it is needed.... on the forest or regional level to ensure the least amount of distraction to an emergency service stovepiped organization.
  4. Non fuel funded Rx projects would still be able to be completed by agreements with the local unit.

But the biggest question as to a stovepiped or separate agency is WHY NOT?

JD

1/18 re: F.S. fire organization

Sting,

Nice! You always did have a way with words!

yactak

1/18 re: F.S. fire organization

Old Fire Guy,

In response to your "stove-piped / centralized" fire organization post. One just has to look at the not too distant past to see three examples of centralized forest fire organizations in Region 5. The Los Padres and San Bernardino both had fully centralized fire organizations while the Modoc had a "modified centralized" organization. On the CA-LPF and CA-BDF the district afmo's (BC) worked for the district fmo's (division chiefs) who worked directly for the forest fmo or afmo (Chief 1 &2).

Two "issues" we in fire faced on the LPF with this organization:

1. Strong leadership was needed in the forest fmo and afmo positions (hard to find IMHO)
2. The forest fmo still worked for the forest supervisor who worked for the regional forester. A truly centralized fire organization would have the forest fmo work for the regional fire director who would work directly for the national director of fire and aviation mgt.

The one biggest issue that the little gp's (district rangers and forest supervisors) had with this organization was, and I quote a district ranger,
"How can a staff officer, who does not have line authority (forest fmo), have the biggest budget on the forest?"

To answer your last set of questions,
1. Primary and secondary fire designations did not change from the original line officer in charge organization. Centralizing the fire organization had no effect on position description classifications in these examples.
2. The militia fit in as always had... any non-fire personnel who wanted to receive training and become part of either the support or operations sections in fire were supported by fire to do so. The biggest problem we had with getting militia to participate was with the other functions allowing their people to participate in fire. In short, fire supported the militia. District rangers and other staff officers did not.
3. Our fuel mgt on the LPF was pulled out of fire by the forest supervisor (bad move in my humble opinion) and set up as a separate shop. We interacted well, helping to plan and organize fuels projects and burns.
4. NEPA for all fuels projects was handled by the fuels shop .. in conjunction (yes, we all worked together!) with the fire and resource shops. The fire bc's, divs, and chiefs were an integral part of the planning, organizing and implementation of fuels projects as were the forest and regional resource functions.

The above is my knowledge of the CA-LPF centralized fire organization. While I do know that the centralized fire organization chart looked the same on the LPF and BDF, I do not have first hand experience to speak to the BDF interactions between functions.

The centralized fire organization on the LPF and BDF were systematically destroyed by the region 5 and national line officers and was replaced by the traditional little gp's in charge of the fire shop. The biggest reason was money. Back to the district ranger question - How can a lowly fire staff officers have the biggest budget on the forest?

While I do believe in the centralized fire model, the above described organizations were not centralized far enough. The stove-piping or centralization of the fire organization should have continued to the regional and national fire directors. The problem with this model is that the national fire director would still work for the chief of the forest service, but at least all of the little gp "warlords" (regional foresters and forest supervisors) would not be in the direct organizational line.

That all being said, I do not believe the forest service should in any way, shape or form be in charge of any emergency services (which includes fire and aviation mgt) in this day and age. The day of the "every ranger is a firefighter and ever firefighter is a ranger" is long gone. Especially since 9/11. Change is hard, but hopefully soon the whole fire shop will be ripped out of the forest service and put where it belongs in today's environment... under an emergency service's branch. As to integration with the existing forest management structure? That would be worked out as any change is.. may be rough to start but undoubtedly would work out as old ideas and fiefdoms fall off the table through retirements...

Peace.

yactak
"Hope resides in the future, perspective and wisdom are found by looking to the past"

1/18 Thanks to Casey:

Casey,

Just wanted to say thank you much for all your hard work and dedication for all wildland firefighters. You are always a strong positive voice for us, many of us from the Feds and other agencies are are appreciative and inspired by your hard fought battles on the hill and around the country. Seems like some large changes are coming for all wildland fire agencies, some good, some not so. It's comforting to know you and the FWFSA is there working hard for the well being of wildland firefighters around the country. Know that your work does not go unnoticed, and your name is often thrown out as one example of solid leadership. Keep up the good fight and let us all know again how we can help and who we need to contact to make our voices heard. Hope you can get a nice break sometime (not only to shovel more snow).

Take care,

FarNorCal.

1/18 IAFF and FWFSA

Dear Mr. Abercrombie,

Long, long, long time lurker. I always wanted to say that. Federal FF in Calif. for over 20 years. Current member of the CPF and the IAFF and I know you don't like postings that beat a dead horse but I wanted to share a little more information about the latest comments about the CPF and the IAFF and the FWFSA.

I have attended conventions, legislative conferences and followed the amazing leadership of Kenny Harrell, former CPF 5th district vice president and his successor Casey Judd. Why did the unions let these two go?

Mr. Judd commented on a bill in 2007 which I too think led to this "rival organization" silliness. As he also mentioned, as a dues paying member of the IAFF and CPF, I was not informed through official methods of this action.

The bill was AB 384. Below are some excerpts of the bill and the CPF press release:

PRESS RELEASE BY CPF March 2007

The California Fallen Firefighter Survivor Assistance Act of 2007 -Assembly Bill 384- guarantees that all California Firefighters - federal as well as local and state - have access to survivor benefits provided to state and local firefighters under existing law.

"The need for this common-sense legislation was revealed after last fall's devastating loss in the Esperanza Fire. Fire firefighters, Captain Mark Loutzenhiser and Engine Operators Jess McLean, Jason McKay, Daniel Hoover-Najera and Pablo Cerda-died after their engine was burned over during the wind-whipped 24,000 acre blaze. All five were California residents, working on Engine 57 at the San Jacinto Ranger Station in Idyllwild."

"The courageous men of the US Forest Service Engine 57 were Californians, fighting on California land, and they died protecting the home of a fellow Californian" said Lou Paulson, president of the California Professional Firefighters, the sponsors of AB 384. "Securing these survivor benefits is the least we can do for those who sacrifice so much."

TEXT OF LEGISLATION Feb. 15, 2007

"This bill would enact the California Fallen Federal Firefighter Survivor Assistance Act of 2007, which would excuse the mandatory systemwide tuition and fees of any surviving spouse or surviving child or stepchild of a deceased permanent career civilian federal firefighter who was performing services in this state, upon specified circumstances.

Then, as now, I too believe the CPF exploited the Esperanza loss for its political gain and could have cared less what the make up of the crew was, in order to gain support for the measure. It was a deliberate act to introduce this legislation and exploit the loss of firefighters they didn't even represent and it was deliberate to not have the decency to communicate with the FWFSA before doing so.

What Mr. Judd didn't say in this posting but I think he has mentioned it before, is that when the bill was to be amended to include Temps, the CPF and the IAFF provided data on federal firefighter deaths to the committee trying to show that so many deaths would make the bill cost-prohibitive. They included deaths from disease & illness that currently are not recognized as LODD for federal firefighters. The FWFSA countered with the # of deaths strictly from LODD. Obviously the IAFF and CPF numbers were very inflated. We all realized then that because the CPF and IAFF were pursuing cancer presumptive legislation nationally for federal firefighters, and as Mr. Judd mentioned they still are, including those deaths from illness and disease would help to lead to, at least, a California presumptive initiative for federal firefighters. I continue to believe that was the primary motivation for the bill in the first place.

The bill was also amended at the request of the FWFSA to include federal firefighters from California who died in the line of duty in states outside their own, as is often the case with wildland firefighters. They were helped by a wonderful lady who lost her Forest Service husband in a helicopter crash in Texas.

Why do I know these things? Why do I care? Because I have been stifled in my questions to the very unions which are supposed to work for firefighters. And most importantly because I remain a member of IAFF Local F-33, the home to the current CPF 5th District VP who was handed the position on a silver platter by Mr. Judd. I know you don't like the "who" in your posts, but it is time for all CPF federal firefighters who knew and know of the leadership of Kenny Harrell and Casey Judd to acknowledge that the effort to discount & embarrass Mr. Judd and the FWFSA for the work they do was originated right here in our back yard by our own supposed leadership.

Sign me,

My conscience is finally free.

Thanks for your contribution. Setting the record straight takes time and attention to detail. Thank you for taking the time. Ab.

1/18 Motor home charity for firefighters?

Hello,

I heard of a charity that takes motor homes donations, and refurbishes the motor homes for a resting place for firefighters that are on scene. I have goggled it, but cannot find the charity. Do you happened to know the San Diego charity that does this? I have a motor home I would like to donate.

Davina

1/17 re: F.S. fire organization

JD,

A good start, and I thank you for it. Now, if you please, help flesh it out. What you have indicated so far is a fire suppression organization (with minimal detail). As we know, the FS fire 'program" is much more. Some questions that I'd like to see addressed:

  • In the suppression organization, are all personnel "primary" firefighters?
  • Where does the 'militia" fit in?
  • What is your organization for fuels management?
  • How would the NEPA requirements of fuel projects be handled?
  • How will non-fuel prescribed burn projects be integrated?

There are many more questions that would need to be addressed, but let's start with these for now. Again, thanks for being the first to offer a response.

Old Fire Guy

1/17 re: Current F.S. fire organization

(I will approach this with a biblical language perspective as "beget" means "supervises")

On High, the USFS Chief ( Line Officer) beget the Deputy Chief State and Private Forestry who beget the National Director Fire and Aviation. The Director does not beget a Regional Fire Director.

The USFS Chief also beget the Regional Foresters ( Line Officer ) who beget a Deputy Regional Forester ( Line Officer ) who beget the Regional Director of Fire and Aviation. The Regional Fire Director does not beget the Forest Fire Management Officer.

The Regional Foresters beget the Forest Supervisors ( Line Officer ) who retain royal authority to beget any person working on a national forest.

The Forest Supervisors beget the Forest Fire Management Officer who is the royal keeper of the realms fire budget, but the Forest Supervisor maintains royal discretionary authority. The Forest Fire Management Officers do not get to beget the District Fire Management Officers.

The Forest Supervisors beget the District Rangers ( Line Officer ) but maintain royal authority over budget.

The District Rangers beget the District Fire Management Officers.

The District Fire Management Officer ( Division Chief ) beget the Battalion Chiefs/ Handcrew/ Hotshot/ Helicopter Superintendents

who beget the Captains ad infinitum to the apprentices. The District Ranger retains royal authority over any employee of their realm.

Thus maintains the royal lineage ( decision making and budget control ) of the House of Pinchot as it has been from time eternal in the world that is the United States Forest Service. Hope I didn't confuse anyone, it makes perfect sense to me.

If there are any additions or differences to this genealogical record, please feel free to add.

A humble servant of Line,

sting

1/17 IAFF & FWFSA

Dear AB...yea I know...keep it short. One of my many character flaws...facts take time to articulate. And because this is long, I'll stay off the site for a while to give folks a break. Since this is long, perhaps a link to it can be made and if there are those interested in learning the facts, they can take the time to read it without taking up a lot of space on TheySaid.

Dear Mr. Burns:

I hope you don't mind if I clarify some of the facts you purported in your post about me, the IAFF etc.

First & foremost, federal wildland firefighters with the FWFSA, when they were affiliated with the IAFF, were always humbled and honored by the support they received from other IAFF members with respect to the resolutions submitted at convention to address wildland firefighter issues. These resolutions go back as far as 1994.

There is unfortunately, a disconnect between resolutions passed and actual action by the IAFF to achieve the goals desired by the resolutions...especially as it relates to resolutions supporting federal wildland firefighter issues.

Unlike the vast majority of IAFF members, including federal firefighters employed by the Dept. of Defense, FWFSA members, in fact all federal wildland firefighters, ARE NOT represented contractually by the IAFF. They are primarily represented by the National Federation of Federal Employees. This was so even when the FWFSA was affiliated with the IAFF. The affiliation was for legislative assistance. There was no "servicing" or contract actions involved.

Respectfully, your time line is not accurate. I did in fact run for the position of 16th Dist. VP for the IAFF in the Summer of 2002 in Vegas. I ran against the candidate who was originally tabbed to be the 16th district VP back in 1990 I believe only to have personal issues cause him to back out. Subsequently Mike Crouse became 16th district VP. In 2000 in Chicago, Mr. Crouse became Mr. Schaitberger's Chief of Staff and he promised this "candidate" that he would be the next district VP.

Contrary to your post, the FWFSA DID NOT [emphasis added] "de-certify" from the IAFF two months later nor did I become their rep. at that time. That is absolutely false. No resolutions were "dropped." I was still the 5th Dist. VP for the CPF and the FWFSA was still a part of the IAFF through 2002.

Tragically, the new 16th Dist. VP elected in Vegas lost his life in a vehicle accident and an election was held during the 2003 IAFF Legislative Conference in DC. I ran again. This was in March of 2003. I was still the CPF 5th district VP and the FWFSA was still an IAFF local. I was also very happy as a Labor Relations Representative for the California State Employees Association (CSEA) in Sacramento. However, I felt compelled to run because we had not yet achieved the goals we set out to achieve for wildland firefighters and for all federal firefighters.

In this particular election, everyone assembled, including COS Crouse, assumed that I had won even before the ballots were counted as they all knew I had pulled some of the largest East Coast locals. In fact COS Crouse phoned me at midnight in my hotel room the night before the ballots were actually counted demanding that I come downstairs to "celebrate my victory."

I lost the election by 21 votes. The difference being a CPF federal local had not gotten their ballot in on time. At the same conference, Board members of the FWFSA asked the IAFF leadership when they could expect action on their issues. The IAFF responded "wait about 5 years."

rest of the detailed historical post is linked: MORE

Thanks, Casey. Ab.

1/17 IAFF & FWFSA

Casey-

Why was the FWFSA declared a rival organization by the IAFF? This is not something they take lightly in doing.
The FWFSA must have done some sort of action to warrant such a designation.

signed “just curious”

Casey answers that in his post.

1/17 IAFF & FWFSA

Dear Ab, I am not sure how to post on they said but I would ask that you please post my response to Casey’s post on the 15th.

I am a LG firefighter and have been on Federal teams for 13 years I understand the pay inequities between Feds, State and LG fire fighters in Cal. I was also a IAFF Local union officer for 25 years. In 2002 I drafted three resolutions for the IAFF convention held in Las Vegas. The resolutions were as follows:

  1. Portal to portal pay for all Federal wildland fire fighters while engaged in suppression and disaster activities.
  2. Federal Fire Fighter status for any person involved in suppression or prevention activities employed by any federal wildland agency.
  3. A rank structure consistent with ICS and the fire service in the U.S. e.g. Chief, captain, etc.

On my own dime I went two days before the convention started and testified before the Legislative Committee for the IAFF many of the members were shocked that our Federal brothers and sisters were not being compensated while away from home and family. All three resolutions were recommended to go to the floor for approval. All three were subsequently approved by unanimous consent of the IAFF membership and were to be placed on the 2 year IAFF legislative agenda.

At the same convention Casey Judd ran for and lost the election for the Federal Vice President position.

Less than 2 months later I find out that the Federal Wildland Fire Fighters Local de-certified from the IAFF and that Casey was their rep. Needless to say the IAFF dropped the resolutions from their legislative agenda.

My point to all of this is I feel the FWFSA would be better off in the IAFF where when the FWFSA goes to speak to members of Congress (your City Council) they understand it is being done so with the backing of almost every paid professional fire fighter in the US. When we speak with one voice Congress will listen.

Dennis K Burns

1/17 Veterans Preference:

I asked a few questions about hiring and vets pref a few weeks back and am thankful for the response. However, the point i was making by asking the questions about hiring was made by those responses. Though well intentioned, they were all vague and could not breakdown what vets pref is. Is it really anything? Seems like its not really an aid to the vets unless the hiring personell want it to be. I would honestly love to be wrong here but can anyone seriously show me how it is a rule or requirement in any case for someone to hire a vet? I dont think they can. Again, I would sincerely like to be wrong about this. Also im not even sure fire experience could keep hiring officials from hiring whomever they'd like. Appreciate the effort - no name

1/16 Book Review:

A Great Day to Fight Fire: Mann Gulch, 1949
by Mark Matthews

Mark Matthews weaves together disparate sources including interviews, letters, video taped interviews by others, school oral history projects and a time capsule buried at the jump base at Missoula to create a very believable third person account of the events leading up to and following the Mann Gulch disaster. I really felt as if I got to know the victims and survivors better and it brought a very human dimension to each of the victims and survivors. The portrayal of Robert Jansson and Wagner Dodge were especially realistic to me. Overall for those that know the story from reading Young Men and Fire, Smokejumpers 49: Brothers in the Sky and Trimotor and Trail, this will add to your understanding of the Mann Gulch Fire. Intimate details like the red felt hats that the jumpers wore or the Kant Bust 'em Frisco Jeans and Whites boots make you feel as if you were a witness to these events. 5 Saws.

FC180

Thanks, I posted it on the Book Reviews page. Ab.

1/16 re: F.S. fire organization / Stovepipe organization:

Old Fire Guy,

Stove pipe organization from the top down

USFS Chief
Fire Board of Directors: Regional Foresters, Director of Fire and Aviation, Deputy Chief State and Private Forestry
Director of Fire and Aviation
Regional Fire Chiefs
Zone Fire Chiefs...Multiple Forests or interagency units
Division Chiefs
Battalion Chiefs
Superintendents
Captains
Squad Leaders and Engineers
Senior Firefighters
Firefighters
Apprentices

Make any sense? Maybe not.

JD

1/16 Firefighting in CA:

Fedwatcher II,

I am a LG fire/medic in Northern California and you are correct, I do not make the staggering sums that you speak of in your post. Yes, I have been stuck on the line, off the clock, while state and LG firefighters ate and slept in cozy accommodations. I did this while a Forest Service “Forestry Technician”. I’ve been in those same shoes you are walking in. My time with the Forest Service was some of the best experience and fun I had in wildland fire. Sadly, CDF (as it was then) offered benefits that the Forest Service could not. As many of your brothers/sisters have done I made the jump. Casey Judd is correct when he says that state and LG firefighters should not bear a grudge from their federal brothers over the wages and benefits they receive. That blame goes to federal fire management and the fact that federal employees have no right to bargain for wages and benefits.

The federal land management agencies would not be paying the exorbitant amounts of money they do to CALFIRE and LG resources in California if they could staff and manage their own incidents on their own, with their own employees. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. The nature of wildland fire and the resources at risk in California demand that the closest resource respond to the fire, or the PR backlash and potential property loss is too great. Add to that the mass defection of highly experienced federal wildland firefighters to the state or LG agencies and the number of qualified federal employees to staff and manage FRA incidents gets very small, very fast. Then the more expensive state and LG resources have to be kept on the incident. The short answer for the federal land management agencies to cut down on these costs is to invest in their own employees with wages, benefits and training that develop the skills needed and depth of talent that will allow them to handle these incidents in a more cost effective manner. They obviously haven’t gotten this clue at R5 HQ. Just look at the make-up of most R5 type 1 & 2 IMT’s to see what I mean.

I hope your comment on turning wildland fire over to the best agency, the Feds, was indeed tongue-in-cheek. That statement only serves to divide, not unify the wildland fire community in California. Each type of agency, Federal, State and LG have extremely talented individuals and capabilities in this arena that must work together to protect the citizens of this state. The fact that the playing field isn’t even is well known and being addressed by people and organizations like Casey Judd and the FWFSA. What we can do is support them and make our voice heard at the congressional level to make the situation better for every wildland firefighter in California.

Sacmedic

1/16 Firefighting in CA:

Dear Sacmedic;

My comment about the feds taking over all wildland firefighting in CA was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I understand that with CA, Feds, State & LGs are all part of the scene as they should be. However, that doesn't mean some FF in CA should be making $200,000, $300,000 and even more each year, their already significant salaries padded by 24/7 compensation by the Forest Service while the Forest Service takes their own FFs off the clock.

If you are a medic from Sacramento, chances are you aren't one of those South of the Grapevine that make staggering sums of money each year as a result of federal wildfire assignments. While some may not like me stating this fact, that is exactly what it is, a fact.

When the Forest Service pays cooperators their higher salaries (rightfully negotiated) and adds to that an Administrative Fee to the department from where the resource came from and adds to that back-fill costs and adds to that housing costs while taking their own FFs off the clock in the same 24 hr period, the citizens/taxpayers of CA are getting screwed. In fact all federal taxpayers, especially those who don't encounter wildfires, are getting screwed.

Ever been on Coyote tactics and had a paper sleeping bag dropped to you from a helicopter out in the middle of nowhere while you were taken off the clock while the LG who worked the line with you earlier in the day is in fire camp eating, then going to a hotel or motel for a good night's sleep all the while on the clock from the Federal Government?

While I agree California's wildland firefighting resources are inter-related, the playing field certainly isn't level by any stretch. What makes it worse is the federal wildland FF's own employer -- whose actions perpetuate the inequity and whose fire program management decisions, made by those who know virtually nothing about fire management -- continues to cost the taxpayer far more than it needs to.

Fedwatcher II

1/16 In regards to the differences in wildland firefighters salaries and hours, I have been on both ends of the situation. I spent ten years in the F.S. and thirty years south of the grapevine. FedwatcherII's assessment is pretty much dead on. I certainly benefited from those wages and certainly wouldn't have turned them down, but the obvious difference in compensation for doing the same job should be rectified . Maybe by taking everybody off the clock when sleeping.

Just a thought.

1/16 F.S. fire organization

Ab,

I've stated more than once here that the FS is not "working to standard". Some years back, the Chief issued direction to include "Fire Experience" as one of the "Evaluation Criteria" for the selection of District Rangers. That direction has been ignored to the peril of firefighters and the agency itself. A government agency will be the loser in any investigation wherein the agency has set its own standard, and has failed to follow that standard. This is not the point of my recent submission.

ms,
I am tired of hearing the whining of employees who accept a job with clearly stated wages, benefits and requirements, and then go on to complain about the same. If they don't like the job, then quit. Go find something else to do. In the days of the west they called it "riding for the brand", ie loyalty to their employer.

It also appears that there are none among the critics of the FS fire program that have any fire leadership credentials at the program level. I have asked in the past for those critics to outline a viable program organization (stovepipe or separate agency) and identify how it would provide services. I think a while back "Into the Wind" asked for similar dialogue. A period of silence followed our requests. No affirmative responses were made. The whining resumes.

Old Fire Guy

1/16 OFG,

Can you be a little more specific as to what you're trying to get at? Don't need names, just more details as to your issue.

ms

1/16 Performance eval:

There is a standard in firefighting that your performance can be evaluated only by a person having equal or superior qualifications (example: a task book).

If we applied the same standard to evaluation of an agency program, and performance of program managers or line officers, then we would see a marked reduction in the broad-brush accusations of incompetence currently being slung about on this website.

Instead, we continue to hear criticism from those who have yet to document any qualifications as program managers, fire leadership or line officer experience. This is properly referred to as "running one's mouth".

So....if one lacks earned credentials, how do they gain a position of "voice"?

  • One could approach people who have accepted employment knowing full well the compensation, benefits, and requirements of their position.
  • Offer arguments to these people that, although their agency has held to its side of the contract, the employee is being "mistreated".
  • Convince them that they are "special" and should enjoy an "elite" status among their co-workers.
  • Identify yourself or group as their agent for change; change that will bring them special recognition, benefits, and pay.
  • Ask them to join your group in its efforts, and especially to send money.

If one cannot achieve success as a fire program leader, then one can become a professional at "running one's mouth".

Old Fire Guy

In all fairness, we also have yet to see earned fire credentials among most line officers as well, or maybe that's one of your points? Just wonderin'... Ab.

1/15 Re: do they still exist:

I have an 1.5 hr DVD copy of that Gleason presentation PM me and I will get you a copy if you like.

GAFiredog

1/15 Dear North Bay FC:

In an ideal world, all firefighters, regardless of agency would be on a level playing field. The fact is they aren't. Federal wildland firefighters are employed by federal land management agencies (particularly the Forest Service) which continues to ignore the fact it fields the largest fire organization in the world and continues to refuse to manage it as such and recognize its employees as wildland firefighters.

It would be a similar situation if your city or county FD were managed by your City or County Parks & Recreation Dist. It wouldn't work.

Most, if not all LG firefighters in California as well as Cal-Fire employees have the right to negotiate pay & benefits. All federal employees do not. No one is criticizing the collective bargaining process or the lucrative packages many firefighters in California have negotiated over the years.

The missions of these firefighter groups...LG, State & Fed are different. Let's be realists. Many of us on this site have been in the fire business for decades and know that the vast majority of responses for LG & State firefighting resources in CA are medical aids and non-fire calls. We all know that medical aids and medical transports have been "the" key money making venture for many fire departments in the state.

Remember a time when fire departments didn't have paramedics or ambulances. That service was provided by a number of private ambulance services. The fire service learned that this was a way to make money and now you can't become a firefighter in CA without being a paramedic.

Both State & LG firefighters had to realize that while the living might be good with their contracts in good economic times, communities would have to start looking at all expenses when economic downturns occurred. Just look at the example of the City of Vallejo who was bankrupt or nearly bankrupt as a result of public safety costs.

Of course when any community starts to look at public safety as a place to cut, the rapid response is that any cuts to public safety would automatically result in significant increases in the risks to the Public's health & safety. Most often, the fear works.

The federal fire programs ARE NOT under-funded. There is ample money appropriated for the preparedness, suppression and hazardous fuels reduction budgets to accomplish all goals AND properly compensate federal wildland firefighters with portal to portal pay and other benefits enjoyed by many other firefighters.

The problem again lies in the fact that those tasked with managing the federal land management agency fire programs, particularly for the Forest Service, have nary a lick of wildfire experience or expertise and certainly little to no experience on how to manage such a large, 21st century fire organization. As a result, much of these dollars are misused and diverted to pay for non-fire projects. We have worked hard to demonstrate to OMB and members of Congress how the mismanagement of these fire dollars are needlessly costing the American taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars in suppression costs each season.

Your comment about mission retreat is the exact opposite of the concern of Forest Service management...mission creep. The Forest Service firefighters, due to the dynamics in California, often perform all-risk duties much to the chagrin of the Forest Service leadership. In fact in recent years the Forest Service leadership has done a lousy job of hiding its objective in CA and other parts of the west of "reigning in fire."

Silly, idiotic decisions by Line Officers (those who manage the fire program but collectively have little experience or expertise in fire) such as making firefighters remove collar brass up in the Pacific North West; removing lights & sirens from Forest Service engines in the Pacific Southwest and the absolute nutty, anti-fire policies of the Forest Supervisor on the Los Padres National Forest and the fact that the Forest Service continues to refuse to pursue proper classification of their firefighters as such (they are currently classified by the Office of Personnel Management as Forestry Technicians or Range Technicians, clearly demonstrates that the playing field is anything but level.

Finally, the fact remains that the Forest Service and other land management agencies, compensate Cal-Fire firefighters and most, if not all LG firefighters in California 24/7 while on an assignment. This includes time in fire camp. There would be no issue with this if the Forest Service also compensated their own firefighters in a similar manner. They don't. The federal firefighters are taken "off the clock" for a significant period of time within any 24 hour period of time that the LG & Cal-Fire firefighters are being paid full 24/7 plus OT.

That is not a level playing field. There should be no animosity towards Cal-Fire and LG folks about this because they have rightfully negotiated their pay & benefits. The animosity is towards the federal government which continues these abuses of their own firefighters.

There are many, many Cal-Fire & LG folks that our feds work with closely and who share a common bond and respect and support the Feds efforts to improve things for themselves. Sadly, since they don't have the right to negotiate pay & benefits, the only way to change current policies for Feds is through the legislative process i.e. Congress, which is stunningly frustrating & time consuming.

While the rank & file of many LG & Cal-Fire firefighters may be supportive of our efforts, the leadership of those firefighters, the CPF & IAFF are not. The IAFF condemned and threatened the Congressman who introduced our wildland firefighter legislation last year and cut him off from FIREPAC contributions because he had the "audacity" to introduce such a bill without consulting with the IAFF...this despite the fact the IAFF does not represent ANY federal wildland firefighter in any capacity.

Both the IAFF & CPF have declared the FWFSA a rival organization. Oddly, neither the CPF or IAFF has demonstrated any professional courtesy in explaining why they took such action...not only to the FWFSA but to the vast majority of their own rank & file who are only learning of the action through the FWFSA.

It would be great if LG & Cal-Fire folks went to their union leadership and asked "what tha..." It would be great if the IAFF & CPF would stop bullying those that don't belong to their organization (federal wildland firefighters are contractually represented by the National Federation of Federal Employees). The FWFSA continues to support the legislative goals & objectives of the IAFF and is often asked by congressional folks what we think of an IAFF initiative. Maybe if the IAFF/CPF put as much effort into working with the Feds and the FWFSA as they do bullying us, everyone might make some progress on Capitol Hill.

I suspect the IAFF could use the FWFSA's relationships with many Western Republicans to once & for all achieve their long-standing # 1 legislative priority of National Collective Bargaining & their federal firefighter cancer presumptive legislation...both issues that have stagnated in Congress for nearly 14 years.

We'd love to work with those organizations. Many of us gave the IAFF & CPF our hearts & souls & money over many years and to be bullied and treated like 2nd class citizens by their leadership is sad indeed. Conversely we remain humbled and honored by the number of Cal-Fire firefighters who have joined the FWFSA to support our efforts. Maybe the leadership of the IAFF & CPF should take notice and finally listen to their dues paying members.

Respectfully,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
1/15 Fedwatcher II,

I must take exception to your statement that California should, “Turn over the business of wildland firefighting to the best in the business, the FEDS.” Not because I wish to engage in any debate of who provides a better or more efficient service. That argument is pointless and only drags all of us down. Rather than make blanket statements about which agency is supposedly better, why not just recognize that we all (local, state, federal) have a serious challenge in California with wildland fire protection. Shifting the burden or cost around doesn’t address the core reasons why wildfire is such a problem in this state nor does it reward any agency for being better than another. What is helpful to this conversation is the recognition that all of California’s firefighting resources are inter-related and dependant on one another.

Sacmedic
1/15 Shawn Price, passed away January 14, 2011

Hello,

It's with much sadness that I share the news of Shawn's passing, last evening, while surrounded by his family. He fought a very brave fight, right up until the end, with the strength and courage of a true hero, a Firefighter; we should all be very proud to have known him, worked with him, and shared a portion of his bright and proud life.

We will share more information regarding services as soon as we know more, and will include the family's address for cards and letters.

Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts during this difficult time.

I would personally like to thank all of you for the support you have provided Shawn, his family, his friends, and his coworkers. It's truly a blessing to be witness to such generosity and outpouring of support.

Syndy Zerr
Fire Management Officer
Lava Beds National Monument
Oregon Caves National Monument

Sad news, Syndy. Ab.

1/15 Lessons Learned Center changes

Strider,

The video was Paul Gleason talking about the cerro grande fire, to a s-490 class.

DG

That was a good, educational video. Moreover, it was great top see Paul in action. Ab.

1/15 Exploding reactive metal in car on fire

BR,

I don't know which reactive metal it was but reactive metals have been used since before WWII in vehicles like airplanes (Ricky Nelson's vintage DC-3 burned up, killing him and others) and cars (engines, engine blocks, frames). The advantage for their use is that reactive metals are lighter weight. However, once they get burning it's hard to put them out, as water causes the fire to explode. My family/friends found this out the hard way.

A number of years ago a volkswagen bus caught fire at our wilderness place. About 4 of us ran back and forth to the creek dipping water with 3 buckets. We were doing OK until one bucket toss caused the fire to explode. A piece of "something" smaller than a pencil eraser hit the top of someone's heavy White boot. We sloshed water on it but it kept on burning. Finally we immersed the guy's foot in the bucket (consistent and aggressive application of water). It went out. Needless to say the person had a nasty deep burn on the top of his foot about the cross-section of a pencil eraser.

I did some research at the time (pre internet) and discovered some car and plane parts are made of lightweight magnesium (or magnesium alloy which often contains aluminum, another reactive metal). Magnesium or Mg/Al alloy was the ingredient in the VW. Large parts made of Mg are less reactive than small shaved or powdered pieces (old flash bulbs, fire works). Magnesium, once it's produced, is covered by a thin layer of oxide that masks its reactivity. Get it hot enough, though, even if a large car or vintage airplane part and it is highly flammable.

Once on fire, it's hard to put out. Adding water explosively produces hydrogen gas and magnesium oxide. Hydrogen gas fuels the fire.

Research on Magnesium use in cars (web abstract)
LAC HAZMAT article (pdf file)
1985 NTSB report on DC-3 (no official mention of Mg though)

Mellie

1/15 Budgets and fire resources

Reply to Fire Watcher II

I not sure your post encourages debate but rather tit for tat arguments between Federal, State and Local Firefighters. Can’t everyone see the similarities between all three levels? It is Firefighter! Local Government agencies are under the budget axes every bit as much as Cal Fire. Federal Fire programs are already grossly underfunded, and it is a certainty that the next FY Federal budget won’t be a continuation of current spending levels. Unfortunately the pay freeze is only the first step. Mission retreat, responding only to wildfires is a recipe for disaster for the Federal Fire Program, and is has already arrived in some areas such as Whisky Town Unit of the NPS. All three levels, Federal, State and Local are in the same budget boat and need to focus on the importance of the mission we fill, how to do it cost effectively. Should budget reductions at the level California is proposing occur it will certainly raise the risk to firefighters and I for one don’t care from what agency a firefighter is from, I want all of us safe. If there was ever a time to let go of who we work for and look at all of us as trying to provide an adequate level of service and make a decent living while doing it, now is the time.

North Bay FC

1/14 Lessons Learned Center changes

"Do They Still Exist?"

I don't know. Do you know what the page was about?

The FS web has changed a lot in the last year. I thought the DOJ had made the Lessons Learned Center take down a number of Serious Accident Investigation Reports and FLAs, my bookmarks didn't work, but I finally found most of them. A lot of historical documents are gone from individual forest websites.

If you knew what to search on you could probably find the info.

Strider

1/14 FS Outreach database:

Hi Ab,

I don't know if this was already posted but the outreach database has been put on the WWW so us laid-off folks can check it out, which is awesome for me since I'd have to drive an hour in the snow otherwise. I got a letter with some other links as well that I attached if it is useful to anyone. I tested the outreach link and it works and is posted below.

As I understand it, part of this is directly due to the new bargaining agreement, so... props to the union.

-another pulaski motor

hrm.gdcii.com/ outreach/ Default.aspx

I couldn't open the attachments. The link is good, though. Ab.

1/14 Budgets and fire resources

Dear AB & Mr. Wood:

I've snagged my husband's computer to write this. I am Casey Judd's wife. I know he has responded to Mr. Wood but I wanted to add something else.

Mr. Wood, Casey makes less than every FWFSA member. He receives no retirement or benefits from the FWFSA for what he does. In fact one of the reasons we moved to Idaho from Sacramento California was so that he could afford to keep doing this work on behalf of the FWFSA's members.

Some think he is some high-priced lobbyist. I wish. I have watched him over the years, I have listened to him over the years and his passion is contagious. I've read much of what he has written and do not believe for a moment that he is targeting private firefighters.

You need to understand that the 10, 25 & 35% figures are for total non-federal fire suppression resource costs. This doesn't mean each and every contractor, or state firefighter or local government firefighter is going to see a 35% reduction.

I read recently where he stated that the way those resources could be reduced was already happening in California where the feds are telling the cooperators, I think that's the word, that their crews would be on assignment or in camps maybe 1-2 days from now on instead of 3-5 getting paid 24/7.

Although I am biased, I think you are barking up the wrong tree.

Micki Judd

1/14 Budgets and fire resources

Dear Mr. Wood:

To you and others, I apologize for the length of this but it is imperative that you have the facts, and not assume or infer our intentions with respect to our legislative efforts.

The FWFSA is not a union although we have worked with the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) which represents most federal wildland firefighters contractually under Title 5 of the USC on a number of issues.

Federal employees have typically been an easy target for politicians to go after when the fiscal ills of the country, developed by actions from both parties over many, many years, come into play. This is a result of the fact that federal employees do not enjoy the rights many firefighters across the country have to negotiate pay & benefits.

My post was not one of "alignment" but of concurrence with the Unions that represent federal employees. It is my opinion that the federal employee pay freeze, as it relates to "holding down federal spending" is akin to amputating one's finger because you have a hang nail. No one in Congress wants to address their lack of fiscal oversight of many of these federal agencies. Additionally, our point to the Administration & Congress has been that those federal employees who risk their lives protecting our Nation's natural resources, its citizens & their property, as well as all federal assets from high-tech fighter aircraft to nuclear facilities, are often found at the bottom of the federal employee pay scale.

Further, I did not say it was "OK for private sector resources to be cut back another 35%." Non-federal resources include far more than just the private sector and I have been the first to suggest to the private sector that they in fact are NOT the primary cause of skyrocketing suppression costs. I'm sure you know, as well as I where the exorbitant costs are with respect to non-federal resource costs.

In 2004 & 2006 we had a stand alone portal to portal bill introduced. It did not include any offsets...mechanisms for paying for it. Given the obvious, the non-federal resources, especially in California have become over-relied upon as a result of the federal land management agencies unwillingness to take care of & thus retain their own infrastructure pursuant to the National Fire Plan. There are non-federal resources in California making stunning sums each busy fire season... at the expense of our own federal wildland firefighters. And yes, I'll be the first to stand up and say, federal tax dollars ought to go to the feds first!

You want to see our language and efforts to appease the private sector but you are failing to realize that the FWFSA doesn't represent you. We represent federal wildland firefighters. Are you suggesting that we do everything we can for the private sector while it is the federal wildland firefighters who "pay the freight" for our efforts through their dues?

Each group of resources that respond to wildfires, whether they be local government, state, federal or private, have the right to petition Congress on issues that affect them. We have clearly demonstrated to Congress that the archaic pay & personnel policies still encumbering our firefighters have led to needless increases in suppression costs.

Let's also talk brass tacks. You have every right to make a living. However, it is our firm belief that the federal wildfire response, paid for with taxpayer money, should not be a "for profit" business. Yet in the last decade or so, the federal wildfire landscape has become a financial feeding frenzy for everyone except federal wildland firefighters. You are in business to make a profit. Bottom line. There is nothing wrong with that. But let's not be naive as to why there has been a proliferation of private contract companies over the last decade.

Let's knock off the Chicken Little rhetoric of "your bill is going to put us all out of business; you're taking food out of the mouths of our children" etc. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have always insisted to those in Congress that our intent is not to eliminate non-federal resources from the wildfire landscape. There is a place, and a need for all. But we cannot come out in legislative language and say "in order to pay for PTP for feds, the land management agencies have to only reduce the costs of local government non-federal resources in California."

It is not up to us to decide how to reduce such non-federal costs. I can assure you though that any effort to reduce costs... already going on in California, has far less focus on the private sector than the cooperative agreements with local government resources. The feds know who the good contractors are and I cannot envision ANY impact to their use if our legislation is passed utilizing the existing language.

As I suggested to Debbie Miley of the NWSA recently, the private sector's "fight" isn't with the FWFSA. I suggested to her that she secure transcripts of the recent congressional hearing in Pasadena that dealt with the Station Fire. Not to deliberately inflame passions, but the IAFF representative"s only objective at the hearing was to call on Congress to eliminate private resources from the wildfire scene. Playing to the audience of homeowners who lost their homes, the IAFF rep suggested to Congress that the residents deserved more than untrained, unprofessional private firefighters on the scene and suggested private resources be eliminated entirely. That Mr. Wood, is your fight.

Our alternative language for paying for PTP would be to ID any PTP costs to be paid from the FLAME Act funding. If Congress wants to continue wasting hundreds of millions of tax dollars each season on suppression while properly compensating our folks on the incident, than so be it. Currently, since FLAME Act monies have only been "authorized" and not "appropriated", staff in DC are researching whether such language meets the requirements of the new rules.

With all due respect sir, if you want respect from the FWFSA... start paying dues. Otherwise we have no loyalty to you. Our loyalty is to the men & woman who serve this country and our goals & objectives are decided upon by those dues paying members... as with any organization.

We have no problem working with the private sector but why should we be the ones to offer alternative language to exclude your segment from any cost reductions? It would seem to me that it would be your responsibility to offer alternative language that would be acceptable to Congress.

Finally, I have never ever said that money is not all that important to federal wildland firefighters. I have said that the draw to the business is not based upon the desire to get rich. That being said, everyone has a right to make a living & raise a family. I see you are in Reno. Try being a GS-4 on any of the Southern California forests and try to make a living, let alone raise a family. We don"t see a plethora of private firms based in Southern California. Rather that belongs to the Pacific Northwest. Why?

Bottom line: Until the federal land management agencies (the Employer) compensate their own firefighters in a similar manner as they do many non-federal resources on the same incident for the same work, we will continue to be outspoken as to where the waste is and how the failure of the Employer to take care of their own has led to the skyrocketing, out-of-control cost of suppression. Perhaps you ought to take a look at the food service contracts that have surfaced in recent years. Do you think the "cottage industry" of services found at any fire camp has developed to service federal wildland firefighters? Hardly.

Please feel free to contact me any time at cjudd@fwfsa.org.

Respectfully,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA

1/14 Exploding metal in car on fire

Hi Ab,

Just wanted to pass this info along to as many FF as possible.

L.A. Fire Captain Knocked Unconscious by Blast
(Ab note: Not a direct link. The article with photos currently can be found if you click on through to page 2.)

In the comment section one person reported that some pieces of metal blew out of the vehicle (almost hit firefighters)
and continued to burn on the ground. They were eventually put out with consistent and aggressive application of water.

BR

LA Fire Department Blue Sheet Firefighter Injury, Vehicle Fire  (72 hr report) (62 K pdf file)

1/14 Lessons Learned Center changes?

Strider,

I am looking for a video that you posted a link to (hover over this link to see it; doesn't work now).
Is there any way to recover this discussion?

sign me, Do they still exist?

You might check YouTube. The LLC has a number of videos posted there. Ab.

1/14 from the Hotlist: CalFire Cuts and Issues:

Cal-Fire budget proposal:

Ok, time for some debate.

1) all of you feds that went to Cal-Fire...time to come home. The grass isn"t always greener,,er, uh, bluer.

2) I"ve been in the fire business 20+ years and I always thought 4-0 staffing was for firefighter safety, not predicated on how many fires there are or how big they get.

3) If SRA is reclassified and ends up returning responsibility to Local Governments, than local governments can do what they do best...take advantage of the federal government through FMAGs. I can see the FMAG applications going through the roof.

4) Turn over the business of wildland firefighting to the best in the business, the FEDS. Heck they just got hit with a 2 year pay freeze so there likely isn"t too much sympathy from that side of the house for what is going on with Cal-Fire. That way, at least the lower-paid federal firefighters (at least in CA) will be earning the nearly billion dollars a year that their boss, the federal government, pays to local government & State fire resources while taking their own federal firefighters off the clock on the same assignment.

ok, that should be enough to start a brisk debate.

Fedwatcher II

1/14 Budgets and fire resources

Casey,

In earlier posts you said that the FWFSA is not a Union; but now you are aligning with the Unions to denounce the Federal pay freeze? Please comment further. Also , your recent post said it is OK for the Private Sector resources to be cut-back another 35 percent. How about you? Are you gonna take a 35% pay cut? You have stated that you might be willing to change language in the 4488 Bill to be less offensive to private resources; let"s see it!

I think with the whole Nation is dealing with the current economic slump; everyone is dealing with having less money to spend while prices of everything goes up. Why should Federal firefighters not have to feel this pinch also? I thought (from reading your earlier posts) that money was not all that important to Fed. firefighters- that they are dedicated to helping the public Good, so what if Federal don"t get a raise this year? Most of the American working class isn"t getting a raise this year and most of the Contract companies have been forced to take (by the Contracting Officers capping daily equipment rates) rates that are lower than ten years ago! Several thousand contracted people- thinning crews, firefighters- are sitting home unemployed this Winter and maybe next Spring because the Fed.s have almost completely stopped all thinning and fuels work in the National Forests.

Contracted Federal Resources are made-up of normal, average people with families to feed, just like the State and Fed. full-timers. Perhaps in these troubled times it would behoove groups like yours to show some compassion and understanding for your fellow firefighters- many privately employed folks are losing homes and businesses. It is a shame that the USFS can"t see beyond all this in-fighting and get some real work done around communities at risk from wildfire- this would be a prime time to employ thousands of folks, save the forests, get economies going again in the hundreds of small towns across the West that have been devastated economically by the lack of any real action happening in our National Forests or from the timber industry.

Firefighters need to come together to support all of us- the IAWF needs to tone-down the negative anti-contractor Dribble and so does the FWFSA. Perhaps, if your outfit showed us more respect, we could be willing to lend a hand to some of the FWFSA causes.

Rock Wood, Operation's Chief for Wood's Fire & Emergency Services, Reno, NV.

1/14 Some discussion on the hotlist:

Hotlist: Pay and Benefits for Federal Employees

1/13 Hi to all:

The FWFSA has joined the major federal employee labor unions in denouncing the Administration & Congress' action of freezing federal employee pay. All too often, federal employees are an easy target to go after to fix the fiscal ills of the country. Sadly, those who make these knee-jerk decisions have little understanding that those federal employees who risk their lives to protect our Nation's natural resources, its citizens and their property from wildfires as well as protecting all federal assets from high-tech fighter aircraft to nuclear facilities, are found on the bottom of the federal pay scale.

Despite the freeze, the FWFSA has been in negotiations with members of Congress as to who will take the lead on our wildland firefighter legislation this session. Because of the rules changes recently made with respect to legislation, its introduction and application, we will be looking at whether we need to adjust some of our language to meet the new rules. That being said, we already have folks on both sides of the aisle willing to take the lead on the full, comprehensive bill that was introduced last session, or a version that might be a bit more practical given the rules changes. More meetings and conference calls with congressional members & staff will take place over the next 6-8 weeks.

More information will be available of the FWFSA web site once we are closer to determining what will work this session.

One of the primary changes is that PAYGO is back in place. In other words, if legislation is going to cost money, the bill must explain how it is to be paid for. Last session's bill called for a systematic reduction of non-federal suppression resource costs over a 3 year pilot program from 10% to 25% to 35% in the final year.

This raised concerns from the private sector (contract firefighting groups) who felt that such reductions would have a significant impact on their industry. We communicated with these groups to try and allay their fears and we are considering language that may be less objectionable to them.

That being said, I can say without reservation that the pay freeze for federal wildland firefighters has likely eliminated any empathy there was for concerns from any other segment of the wildland firefighting scenario about our language. Quite candidly, if the feds are going to take a hit, then that hit ought to be shared by all who make a living from wildland firefighting paid for with federal tax dollars.

I suspect the Forest Service in R5 will take steps on its own to start reducing the length of time non-federal resources are on assignments, in camps etc. Not only to reduce suppression costs but to make every effort for Line Officers to be able to realize their "PR" savings. A bizarre accounting practice that is an issue for an entirely different day.

The freeze will not impact our legislation in the least and in fact it will fortify our resolve to continue to educate those on Capitol Hill about the consequences of the freeze, especially as it relates to the delivery of the federal wildfire response, and how the freeze will likely have the exact opposite of its intent and actually lead to increased suppression costs.

Respectfully,

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
1/13 Customer Service and Professionalism

It is the responsibility of all of us when the public stops or calls in with a question, info assistance, job information or just to talk that we are there to help them.
~~~~
Date: January 12, 2011
Subject: Customer Service and Professionalism
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors

As I have traveled around the Region meeting and talking with many of our employees, I continue to be impressed with their professionalism, dedication and hard-work, and am proud of the passion and love of the land they bring to their jobs.

I have had many conversations with members of the public who have been complimentary of the work we do. They understand the complexities of managing 20 million acres in a state with 37 million people, and the 53 Congressional districts and a nearly year-round fire season, which is impressive. This Region has managed some remarkable achievements and I ask that you encourage your employees to take time to think about these successes and be proud of their contributions.

As Forest Service employees, we make daily decisions about what is best for the land – decisions that more often than not have an impact on the public. I want us to continuously look at how we can do things better and be more responsive to our customers as we make those decisions. As busy as we are, I think we sometimes need to step back and remind ourselves that “Caring for the Land and Serving People” is not just the Forest Service’s mission, but words to live by as we move forward in 2011.

We have always prided ourselves on our relationships with our various publics, whether they are forest visitors, Tribal members, partners or local and county governments. As Forest Service employees, we understand that National Forest System lands belong to all Americans. We need to follow all applicable rules, regulations and policies, while at the same time being responsive and sensitive to the public at all times.

It is my expectation that you will engage your staffs in a cascading dialogue, similar to the discussions we have had on Safety with our staffs, reminding them of this unique responsibility we have.

Our first Forest Service Chief Gifford Pinchot reminded his employees decades ago to listen, be clear, and, above all, be respectful when working with the public. This still holds true today. Please encourage your employees to live up to our reputation as being responsive, caring customer service professionals and remind ourselves that we are stewards of the public’s land.

/s/ Randy Moore
RANDY MOORE
Regional Forester

1/13 I've posted some historic Dalton HS photos from the mid-80s on Handcrews 28, compliments of Bernie. Read the photo descriptions for crew information.

You can browse through more of his growing Dalton HS collection here on flickr:
www.flickr.com/

Thanks, Bernie. You all look so young. Ab.

1/13 CalFire Budget Proposal

Governor Brown’s budget proposal is bold and makes a serious effort at addressing the fiscal crisis California faces. Everyone will be forced to take a hard look at funding and try to make the argument that the reductions in a particular department warrants additional reductions in another Department, so the debate is finally based, all be it very late, on the fact that the well is dry and there is no more money.

The budget proposes major changes in the mission for CalFire. Re-classification of SRA to eliminate the higher density developed areas stating that the development was under local control is a legitimate argument. The other major proposal is to eliminate the 4-0 staffing paid out of the E-Fund and return to 2003 staffing levels. This reduction is based on the statistic that the percentage of fires contained under 10 acres hasn’t been reduced with the additional staffing and this argument also has legitimacy. The reclassification of the SRA has provisions to return control and some funding to the local level, County or District. The enticement of additional funding may help this proposal gain support.

Hopefully this debate will deal with the effectiveness, safety and cost of the fires that go extended, type 1 and mega. While these proposals will certainly save money in the cost of IA availability, the next question that must be answered is what it will do to the ability to deal with the 10% of fires that go above 10 acres.
  • Who would pay for fires in these areas?
  • Is there is a single fire district that could fund a small portion of a type 1 incident or a serial arsonist that causes a dozen extended attack fires in one season?
  • What is going to happen to the all-risk readiness while fighting fires in these areas?
  • Will these “high density” areas be large enough to suffer a type 1 incident totally within the local jurisdiction?
  • If so, who will be in command and control?
  • Will Local entities be forced to rely on mutual aid, and agencies sending mutual aid have to roll the dice that the incident will become declared a “disaster” to receive any reimbursement?

Assistance for hire through the multi party agreement is about the most expensive way to get resources to a fire, and it is likely that you will see a major increase of assistance for hire if the proposal goes through without some changes. This could also open the door to a major increase in contractors at large incidents. While it is true that the development was under local control when approved, the wildfire protection was provided by the State, right or wrong when these developments were approved.

While it is probably true that 4-0 staffing hasn’t had a significant effect in changing the number of fires contained less than 10 acres that is only one measurement of engine company effectiveness. The Blue Ribbon report from the 2003 So-Cal fires recognized the huge advantage when working structure protection that 4-0 staffing allows the engine to work two lines at possibly two structures without leaving someone alone. When resources are spread thin, 4-0 staffing greatly extends the effectiveness of the engines allowing containment & control quicker. The total elimination of 4-0 staffing may not save any money even in the short run, but is hard to quantify what 4-0 staffing saves in any given season.

Once again the question is the definable cost of IA resources at the ready verses the unpredictable cost of incidents that go larger and longer, not to mention the additional damage inflicted by the fire. What is the cost to local municipalities to take on this responsibility and what will the impacts be on their current mission while working these fires they will now be responsible for? While there are cost saving measures such as increased use of staffing patterns that have a better chance of saving dollars at the end of the day, it is likely that a hard factual study of these issue and others will show that these across the board reductions will not save the State or economy any money over a cycle of slow and busy fire seasons.

North Bay FC

1/13 To All Who Served On the Station Fire

No Name --

Not practicing law but looking for clarification.

What you're saying about the GAO (congressional) "review" (another investigation) of the Station Fire is that if you participate, you may be endangering your 5th Amendment rights against self incrimination. Anything you say can later come back to bite you in a criminal or civil case. In fact, if you remember what happened one way at one time and another way another time like Ellreese did, you can be convicted of lying --at the very least.

Further, you are saying that the rules have changed recently for state and local cooperators: NO Indemnification Clauses. You're giving a heads up that our interagency firefighting brothers and sisters now face the same risks and attacks by prosecutors that fed firefighters have faced since Cramer and 30-mile. That state and local firefighters now also can be criminally charged and go bankrupt fighting the charges (--hmmmm, to me that sounds like "guilty until you pay thru the nose to prove your innocence").

  • The Type 3 IC on Cramer had to cop a guilty plea bargain because he did not have the professional liability insurance or the personal financial resources to fight for and explain his innocence.
  • The Type 3 IC on 30-mile remembered one thing (probably filling in holes in his memory due to the stressful circumstances) and later was contradicted by others and found guilty of lying. His only failing was to try to do the job the FS at the time said he was qualified to do.

Now County, City and State firefighters in addition to Fed firefighters on the Station Fire IF THEY TALK are all at risk of 

  • going to jail for human decisions made in a stressful and complex situation 
  • having to pony up big legal defense bucks if they don't have professional liability insurance, or
  • LATER being liable to be charged criminally and found to be "liars" or "criminals" if they fill in memory holes or mis-remember (due perceptual biases, or to failure under stress to get perceptions and short term memories into long term memory storage).

Please correct me if I'm wrong or let's clarify if we need to. We need a Just Culture for all wildland firefighters. We don't need more wildland firefighters doing their jobs in high risk fire environments and high reliability organizations being threatened with jail for being human.

Please, if you do not have Professional Liability Insurance, get it. It's a small investment for the advice and defense you will get.

I believe there's a 5 year statute of limitations. So No name, what you're proposing is "no talking without your lawyer" for 5 years...

Mellie

1/11 To All Who Served On the Station Fire

GAO ( the Congressional investigatory part of Congress) has launched its "review" of the Station Fire. The distinction of a "review" vs an " "investigation" is one of semantics. They both have the same consequences. A statement made in the "review" can turn into a "statement of fact" in some type of later to be determined "investigation" sometime into the future. The track record is not good. The 30 Mile debacle is the ultimate evidence of good intentions gone bad.

The Station Fire is still a criminal instigation! GAO is not part of it.

So........

--Federal Personnel still employed-- Lawyer up. If you have Personal/Professional Liability Insurance, file your claim now.

--Federal Retirees You do not have to talk to anyone Lawyer up

--Local Government -- Lawyer up -- Your City/County Attorneys do not have a clue as to the significance of this. Have them look at the Local Government Agreements and have them notice the Indemnification Clauses no longer exist. These clauses went away when the Standard Format for local agreements was implemented. Summarizing this event, Local Government is screwed.

And, last, a reminder that is best not to practice law without a license!

Seek Counsel, ask the tough questions.

No Name
1/11 Hi Ab,

I am saddened and sorry to hear of the passing of Steve Blest. What a great guy.

As an airtanker pilot, I worked many fires in R3 with Steve as Air Attack. He was always so level headed and focused on the bigger picture of herding the fire where we wanted it to go. Steve was always very professional, but with a great sense of humor and he made all of us guys in the air look good on the job.

I offer my sincere condolences to his family.

Warmest regards,
Gordo

1/11 Services for Steve Blest

We will have a memorial service for our dad this Friday:

Friday, January 14, 2011
11:00 a.m.
Daniels Family Funeral Home
7601 Wyoming Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109
(505) 821-0010

We also ask that anyone wanting to make a donation can direct it to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in our dad's name.

Thank you all for your support during this difficult time.

The family of Steve Blest

So Steve has passed on. Our loss. I hope many will be able to attend. (First post from Steve's family) Ab.

1/11 Lookin for Hotshot Info and Updates

Greetings Ab!
So after a long transition - and a very slow fire season - the california hotshotcrews.org site is on its way to becoming just a little more functional. It has been a slow and/or learning process...still learning actually...
I thought Id send out an outreach to all the TheySaid-ers out there:
The Vista Grande Hotshots are looking for old Crew Pics. They are currently working to put together a timeline via Crew Pictures - mainly the older years - if anyone has any info, please eMail me at the California Hotshot Crews website.
Hopefully, everyone has seen the Oak Grove blog/site. Some of the OG fellas are working to put together a reunion too, but for now they are looking to piece together as much history and pictures as they can. Again, if anyone has info eMail myself or the OG guys at their blog-site.

I still need updates, history, pictures, and contacts to a lot of the Cali Crews too. So take a look and see where you can help me patch the holes.

Thanks!

CA-HS
Californiahotshots@ nospam gmail.com

Nice job. Good luck with patching those holes, hotshots. Hey, OG fellas, your site lights up my whole office at night. Wowsers, power of billions of fireflies but a bit greener! I added your link to the Hotshot to Fire Manager History page. Glad you're all capturing that history. Ab.

1/11 Shawn Price Family

Today, in my mail I got a hand written note from Betty Price on behalf of the Shawn Price Family, thanking me for the care, concern and generosity for Shawn.

I was so touched that during such a hard time, she would take the time to thank me. It was my pleasure, and it only took a few minutes to write out a check and pop in the mail box the next time I left the house. I would have sent more, but honestly, money is pretty tight this winter. We didn't get very much OT this past season, and if the retention bonus are to get cut, it will be even tighter- but I wanted to give something to a fellow fire family that was more in need than we are.

Thanks for the thanks, Betty, ...it is also much appreciated.

JB

Shawn Price, Captain 74 at Lava Beds National Monument, was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in late October 2010. The cost of his special medical flight home to his family was very costly. You can help them out. Ab.

Donations can be made to:
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

If you'd like to send a card or letter to Shawn and his family, the mailing address is:
Shawn Price c/o Betty Price
PO Box 225
Osage, WY 82723

1/11 I have been offered 2 jobs. one with the Navajo hotshots (BIA) in AZ and one with the Golden Eagle hotshots (BIA) in CA. I have tried doing a little research on both, but am still undecided. Any suggestions?

Abl

I'd be happy to copy, paste and pass on any suggestions. Ab.

1/10 CalFire Cuts and Issues

Well the bomb dropped for some CalFire Firefighters that won't have jobs this year if Gov. Brown has his way. He proposes cutting the forth firefighter from all engine companies in State stations. He also wants to trim back SRA (State Responsibility Area) to be reassigned to LRA ( Local Responsibility Area ) thus cutting CalFire's budget millions of dollars. As a department that has first responders in SRA, It is required to assist local government in EMS where ever it has a closest unit. This will change under Gov. Brown's budget. Will the public go along with this? Will this become a setback that could effect the initial response to wildland threats? What's your thoughts on this?

retcaptb

Hotlist thread

1/8 Thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost their lives today in Tucson, Arizona. We pray for Representative Gifford's fast recovery, we pray for her family and the families and friends of all the victims of today's senseless shooting.

Thanks to all the First Responders and health care professionals for doing what you do!

huffingtonpost.com

ms
1/8 Dear Ab:

Appreciate if you could pass this along to your readership. Thanks.

The International Association of Wildland Fire is accepting nominations for its Wildland Fire Safety Award to be presented at IAWF’s 11th Wildland Fire Safety Summit® in Missoula, Montana, April 4-8, 2011.

For furthermore information, go to: iawfonline.org

Regards,

Marty Alexander
Board Member
International Association of Wildland Fire
1/8 Status of injured KY FF Don Lam:

AL,
Got this from GA Peach: It's making the rounds in R8 and beyond. This message from Hannah was sent on Jan 5th.

Update on Don Lam, KY Division of Forestry firefighter injured back in September.

Back in September, a friend of mine was injured while fighting fire in Livingston County, Kentucky. His condition has been steadily improving in the last few months and he had even began to eat on his own and was in good enough condition that his doctor's had released him to go home.

Regretfully, since just before Christmas his condition has deteriorated to the point where they had to airlift him back to the Evansville, Indiana hospital where he was taken just after the accident. Within the last few days, his family has been faced with the difficult decision of taking him home to make him comfortable in the care of Hospice. He should be arriving at home later today. The prognosis is not good and his family was told that he may not make it through the next couple of weeks.

Please lift his family and his work family up in prayer. This has been a very difficult time for all of them. I was also told that there was a burning ban in place when Don was injured and the responsible party is scheduled to be in court next week. Several of Don's co-workers were served with subpoenas and will be testifying in the case.

The message below contains an address if you would like to send a card.

Thanks in advance for your prayers,

Hannah

This is the account for donations:

First Southern National Bank
P.O. Box 379
Princeton, KY 42445
Attn: Friends of Don Lam Account

If you want to send a card to his family, please email Ab for the address. (I don't want to post it here without permission.) I'm keeping Don and his family in my thoughts and prayers. Ab.

1/7 Steve Blest, good memories

Ab,

Just wanted to share this on Steve Blest. We started our careers together on the Silver City Hotshots in 1980. Our Superintendent was George Grijalva and Steve was referred to as the "old man" on that first day. Alot of the folks on the crews acquired nicknames as they did stupid things. We spent many times on buses heading to fire camp and Steve always had info on places we were going to. He had a degree in Russian history and one day I asked him "Why did you get a degree in Russian history?" His only reply was that he had to major in something so it might as well been that. We parted ways in 1982 when I went on to work for the Heber Hotshots (now the Black Mesa Hotshots). I am from Silver City so I would go visit Steve when I went home to see my folks and family. I remember the power hikes we did above Ft. Bayard and the little "scams" we had going.

There were many things I learned from Steve and many things we shared together. One thing Steve always did no matter where we were in the country was to buy a newspaper and get updated on national and whatever events were going on locally. We were in Virginia once and he told me "This is where those Virginia hams come from" I decided to try some when they took us to one of those buffets the south is famous for and that was the saltiest piece of meat I ever bit into.

We would lose track of one another and then I would hear his voice over the radio as he flew over the fire I was on or as he flew over our forest. I could get on the radio and say a certain term in Spanish and he knew who said it and of course it ended up with us having a beer and catching up at the end of the day. I always thought when I retired I would go to his house and we could laugh at all the old times and the people we dealt with but I have a few years to go and now I realize that its not going to happen.

I remember his kids growing up and there are so many other stories I cannot share. Elaine, Judy and Brian, you know how great your Dad is and so do I. I spent time with him from coast to coast and there are not many of us from the 1980 crew left still working for the government. The memories I have of your father were some of the best of my life. I probably could type more but my tears are clouding up my view of the screen.

Always,

Raymond Vigil

1/7 WY Forestry Division logo needed, from mid-1950's

Hello,

I have viewed your Wildlandfire Logo pages and they are fantastic!

I wonder if you could help me find a Wyoming Forestry Division logo from the mid-1950's? I am restoring a 1957 GMC Suburban 4x4 that was retired years ago from the WFD and I have spent countless hours searching to find the door logo image. I found and then lost the image a couple years ago using Google, and cannot find it again. I sent a request to the WYD and they replied that they don't have the time to look! Any leads would be greatly appreciated.

Thank-you.

Sincerely,
Steve Cook
Grover, Mo.

1/7 Scott "Hoss" Morgan CA-LPF-ORD has officially retired

Abs,

Could you please spread the word that Scott "Hoss" Morgan CA-LPF-ORD has officially retired!!!! He has been my Captain/Mentor/Friend for the last three years...I am trying to put together a video of memories for him and really need some help...I believe Hoss started his career sometime around 78-79 on the Ojai Hotshot's then went on to be a member of the Rose Valley Flight Crew later to be re-org'd into the Casitas Helitack module that was one of the first to implement the "Firestop" program (i believe that's what it was called) that used a T-1 ship to deliver a hand crew to fires (Sundowner Fire Crew, AD fire crew on the Ojai was the guinee pigs i believe) and also served as a FPT and then ending his career as CPT 55...building up the Wheeler Gorge Fire Station (where i am currently the AFEO) from scratch during the MEL build up!! What i'm hoping the WLF community can give me is.....anyone who had the pleasure/honor of working with Hoss on any of these modules PLEASEEEEEE email me a video of yourself talking about a memory of Hoss that i can include in the video i am making (pictures would be a major bonus too!!)...ie funny stories, a certain memory you may have, or just a farewell statement...If you do not have the means to send an actual video, an E-mail with your thoughts or well wishes will suffice and i will print them all out and present them to him with the video...This extraordinary man has spent over 30 years of his life dedicated to the USFS and ALL on the same district!!!...i know you're out there!! Please help me wish Hoss a final farewell into retirement and on to the life we all dream about!!!! RETIREMENT!!! HAHAHA

crew8lospadres@ nospam hotmail.com (Please remove the nospam and spaces.)

Thanks in advance, looking forward to hearing the stories!!!

Scotty Thompson

If your creations are too large for a hotmail account, contact me, send 'em here and I'll figure out how to get them to Scotty. Good luck with that. Scotty. Ab.

1/7 Ab, does anyone know how this KY firefighter is doing? Recovering, I hope.

Don Lam, Forest Ranger Technician for the Kentucky Division of Forestry (KDF), is currently in serious condition at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville after being airlifted following the accident. Preliminary investigations report that Lam was struck from a rolling log—a burning snag approximately 10 ft in length that broke loose and rolled off a bluff. The impact has left Lam unconscious and with serious injuries including second degree burns

Hotlist thread

AL

1/7 Re: Drug Testing

A high creatine level (as one would see with high water consumption) does not pop up as positive on the drug testing. It reports the findings as creatine levels higher than normal and are usually given the green light to pass the person. It's only if a test pops positive for something else that matters are elevated higher.

Lori

1/7 Ab,

A belated that-you for the box of Christmas toffee from Idaho Candy Co. for families of fallen firefighters. I finally ate my last piece even though I rationed it, hid it and finally just splurged. And thought of Matt, with every bite, who I know wouldn't have let me take so long to eat it!!

Thanks again.

Sarah (Matt Taylor's mom)

Readers, Matt was a Prineville hotshot who died of a brain tumor in 2004. This community worked with his family and Lance Honda Prineville Supe, raised money and even held a belt buckle auction, in which  Dan Fiorito (Union HS Supe) and Yactac drove the price way up. Every Christmas Matt's mom Sarah gets something special from us with logistics coordinated by the WFF. (Many thanks, WFF.)

Always Remember! Many families of our fallen firefighters receive some treat at Christmas to be reminded they are not alone, that others remember their fallen sons and daughters, too. Christmas is a hard time to be without loved ones. If you haven't supported the WFF lately, please contribute. Ab.

1/6 Drug testing

When I was in college and playing college sports, the NCAA was just starting to initiate a random drug testing criteria for athletes. Our athletic trainer got all of the players together at the beginning of the year to talk to us about it. She advised avoiding several major retailers of nutrient supplementer because they had a tendency to be contaminated during the manufacturing process with chemicals that would create a positive drug test. I am not sure the FS is looking for steroids but its a thought to keep in mind.

As far as DARE!'s post is concerned-
I know there are places and crews that if forced to do a drug test there would be lots of new hiring, but to assume that that is an across the board statistic is wrong. There are many places and crews that are straight as an arrow and thats how it should be. Just because it is more accepted in society doesn't mean it should be accepted at all in the FS. I don't want a drunk or high firefighter or policeman showing up to my emergency and I sure as heck don't want to be on the line with either of those either. It's hard enough trying to keep myself and my buddies safe without them being unable to comprehend whats going on.

a college student firefighter.

1/6 Drug testing on theysaid

I think you all are taking the posts regarding tampering/verification out of context. People can, and have been, fired simply for "failing" a drug test because their urine sample has tested positive for one of the tampering agents/signals, even when they have not tampered with their drug test.

So....for instance, firefighters drink large amounts of water on a daily basis because they need to stay hydrated. It would be quite easy for a lab to assume that you are trying to dilute your sample and send back a failed result to your employer. Lots of firefighters take creatine (and other various powdered substances during fire season). Taking a creatine supplement on a daily basis could raise creatinine levels- and so can muscle metabolism apparently. Retests may clear you....then again they may not if you are doing these things on a daily basis.

Labs just test for what they are told to, and send the results back to your employer. There's lots of supplements out there, lots of new fads....if the FS does decide to implement random drug testing, do your research, watch what you are consuming. You could easily get in trouble even if you have not done anything wrong.

SQ

1/6 This is in response to "DARE!"'s post about random drug testing and use in the USFS.

DARE!

I'm not sure how things operate at your duty station, but it must be very different from what I have experienced in the USFS. I find your post to be foolish and insulting. All of the modules that I have worked for have had a strictly enforced drug policy. Random drug testing would not bother me in the least (personnel with a Class B drivers license already get tested through the DMV). I know that some people would be weeded out here and there, but the Type 1 community certainly would not be "decimated". Your stereotyping of "young, fit, looking for adventure, college students, outdoors type" as drug abusers is ridiculous.

A fit, looking for adventure, college graduate, outdoors type, drug free, IHC squad leader
1/6 Shawn Price (Captain 74) Fundraising event, taken from the flyer...

Shawn Price has worked for the past 6˝ years as an engine captain at Lava Beds National Monument. He was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in October 2010. Since the diagnosis his health has continued to deteriorate. Shawn’s family arranged for a life flight for him to get him home in December to be close to family and friends. His health insurance will not cover the cost of the flight to Wyoming, as it was not a medical necessity.

Fundraiser and Luncheon to benefit Shawn Price

What: BBQ Lunch: Hamburgers, Hotdogs, Jambalaya, etc.
          Bake Sale: Contributions are encouraged

Where: Tule Lake Fire Engine Bay
            4409 Hill Road, Tule Lake

When: 12:00 Wednesday, January 19

Cost: Suggested $5 donation

Please reply to ruth_m_johnson@ nospam fws.gov by 1/14/11 if you plan on attending. (Please remove the nospam and spaces.)

If anyone would like the flyer that's making the rounds, please let me know and I'll email it.
Let me add that if you'd like to contribute to help defray costs, you can do that too. Here's the Shawn Price Story with addresses I put into html last fall for easy viewing.
Here's an idea. We could all send in our $5 (or more) and have a virtual Shawn Price luncheon on that day. Ummmm, hot dogs. Ab.

1/6 This seemed an appropriate forum to post some updates on my dad, Steve Blest.

I know many out there know him and may be interested in sending your thoughts and prayers his way. Since Sept 2009 he has been battling advanced lung cancer. In November 2010, he decided to stop treatment and focus on spending his remaining time with his family here in Albuquerque. In the past 2 months he's been able to smile and play with his grandson, Hunter. My sister, brother, and I have been by our dad's side every day, remembering stories and people together, and making some new memories. Several close friends have come to visit or sent notes over the holidays and I know he has really appreciated that. And still others recently have helped pack and move my dad's belongings back to NM -- we can't thank you all enough!

We set up an email address for anyone else who would like to contact my dad: sblest09@ nospam gmail.com (take out the nospam and spaces)

I know many of you will be in Albuquerque next week. I will try to keep you posted via this website or through some of dad's fire friends who have been in touch. We will check this email address regularly and will also make information available of memorial services when it comes to that.

One request our family has is for any fire pictures and poems you might have. (Ab's bold) We would like to put together a slideshow of dad's life. You can send them via email, as well.

Thanks,

The family of Steve Blest
(Elaine, Julie, and Brian)

Elaine, I am so sorry to hear this. Our best thoughts and prayers for Steve and your family.
Readers, for those who don't know, Steve has been the Assistant State Aviation Manager in the Arizona BLM Organization. He's an ATGS, I believe. Please share photos or poems with Steve (the sky snake) and his family as they review and celebrate his life and accomplishments. Ab.

1/6 drug testing, retention and thanks to Casey and Dan:

A few comments on some good posts out there.

Northright said - Personally I like to have sober people on the line with me - AMEN Brother or Sister (who ever you are).

To add some comments on Mr. Sutton's briefing paper on what seems to be the preferred option. This option is administratively unmanageable for a large organization such as the Forest Service. How do I know this? Two reasons: 1) The option only expands the complexity of the current random drug testing system that tests only commercial drivers take. 2) The Chief of Forest Service said in a 2008 letter that our current drug testing system is not being managed properly (which continues today) and has potentially hundreds of commercial drivers, that due to HR processing errors, supv failures or lack of knowledge and other administrative issues mostly related to the centralized HR at ASC, are not unknowingly not in the drug testing pool; however they are out there driving commercially. Solve the problem by testing ALL Forest Service FAM personnel. Duty, Integrity and Respect = Not being a drug user or alcohol abuser.

To Casey and Dan regarding your update on retention and other comments; Thanks for all you do. Thousands of us have a high level of appreciation for your continued efforts, updates and support. In short, we all owe you. That must be a good feeling. Your continued support for Wildland Firefighters is needed now more than any other time in the past two decades. You are us, we are one!

Finally to our GS7 Helicopter Squad Bosses. Congratulations on your non-competitive promotions. If you have not started the process for your upgrade or have not seen the letter with all the attachments, let someone know. We might be able to get the complete correspondence for you posted in this forum. Again, congratulations and much deserved.

Letterman

1/6 Hiring and points and drug testing:

After reading the messages from MJ concerning Vets points and drug testing I felt the need to respond. There are a few inaccuracies.

First vets points are a consideration in FS hiring. In the old days when I first dealt with it, personnel told me that they had to use the rule of three which said that if there are three or more 10 point ( disabled ) vets then one of them have to get the job. I'm being told now by HR that's not true and all vets are lumped together.

I believe there are four levels of 10 point vets ranging from disabled , but receiving no compensation to a 30% or more disabled vet.

Most non disabled vets are 5 point, but again I think they had to serve while there was a campaign going on.

My wife gets the 10 point preference from our disabled son that passed away.

The important message is yes vets. preference is a major consideration in FS hiring. There are all kinds of rules and regulations that cover this.

Drug testing:

Management says that the FS is the agency of choice for drug users because we don't test everyone and it is a major problem. In my 30 + years on the fireline that's not what I've experienced. The large percentage of any problems were with contractors, ADs, or other agencies personnel.

As many that grew up during the 60s would say " I studied for years for these tests so they were no problem". It makes more sense to have these tests for reasonable suspicion rather than random. The tests cover a wider range of drugs including more prescription which are the drugs of choice nowadays. If we are going to random lets start with Tom Harbour and work our way down.

The cost of adding these new positions to the pool is estimated between 1.3 to 4 million dollars. This at a time when the prediction is for a 10% to 15% reduction in the fire budget for 2012.

Safety Angel

1/6 Hiring and points:

MJ

A 5 point Vet preference has nothing to do with disabilities, it is a preference that you get for being in the Service for a specific time period or for a campaign badge or expeditionary medal. For example during the 80's you had to have been in a war zone to get a campaign badge or expeditionary medal. During Gulf War I from 91-92 everyone who was in the service got the 5 point preference no matter where they were at. This changes it seems with each new President and what they want to do.

A 10 point vet is someone with a 30% compensable disability coming out of the service.

For agencies that have a test to qualify like the old civil service test a vet might get 5 or 10 extra points depending on what they qualify for. If agencies don't have a test to qualify then the 5 or 10 points just becomes a preference, and that is where most agencies are nowadays. Hope this helps...

Snapper

1/6 Hey this is awesome! Getting some answers. So..... What is veterans preference then? If the points arent really a part of FS hiring,  what advantage is vets pref? Is it a. "option" for mangers to use at there discretion?

Thanks for the help

1/6 If the USFS ever implemented a serious drug testing program, we couldn't even put a Trails Crew together. Much less an IHC. The Type 1 community would be decimated. Heck, not just the fire folks either. What would this mean for the Recreation and Trails departments or the guy/gal in the next office?
It's everywhere and everyone knows it.

The USFS is just a segment of society, and a society where drug use is becoming more widely accepted. Then look at our demographic for hiring that we take out of that society, Young, fit, looking for adventure, college students, outdoors type. It's mind blowing that we are just now talking about drug testing.

It is my belief that the reason we don't have a drug testing program is because management knows what havoc it will reek and chooses to look the other way.

This has been and will continue to be the green 900lb smoking gorrilla in the room.

DARE!
1/5 Random Drug Testing:

I've been part of the random drug testing pool for ages. Thanks to a Commercial D.L. What I do not understand is why the US Government is not a drug free work-place? Why can we not just make everyone employed for the USDA submit to random drug tests? Are we worried all the cattle inspectors will quit? In the private sector for pretty much any job these days you have to submit to a pre-employment and random drug tests during your tenure. I went about looking up a little information for everyone's enjoyment.

#1 Snopes: During the early years people did test positive for Opiates by eating poppy seed muffins. This prompted a raise in the level required to test positive. So that you can eat two poppy seed muffins a day and still not test positive for Opiates.

poppyseed.asp

#2 What they test for is a second major question that comes up. They usually test for commonly abused substances. Pain pills, THC, Opiates, etc.

aa090301_3.php

#3 General information about the laws and regulations and how they actually test.

aa090301_4.php

#4 How long will I test positive for? Some things as little as 2-4 hours and as long as 5-6 weeks.

aa090301_5.php

#5 What is creatine checked for? They just use it to see if you screwed with your urine sample. Low levels of creatine suggest that you tried to dilute it. High levels show that it is a good sample and that it is a viable test.

answers.yahoo.com

Personally I like to have sober people on the line with me.

NorthNight

Hear, hear. Thanks, Ab.

1/5 To All:

Lots of questions about the R5 retention bonus, special pay etc., as it relates to the President & Congress' Grinch-Like Christmas present of a pay freeze.

Dan Duefrene. Regional VP for NFFE was kind enough to call me today and chat with me to fill me in on what they know so far.

Apparently OPM issued their annual call letters on Special Pay yesterday. This means that there appears to be no change or impact on special pay by the freeze.

As I understand it, there was still money left from the original $25 million for FF retention budgeted for 2011. I am hopeful as Dan is that the RO will get some clear information out to all sooner rather than later.

For those of you on the LP, NFFE is addressing the hiring of temps by the Forest Supervisor within their rights under the exclusive bargaining contract and the FWFSA will be addressing the issue with members of Congress who represent areas surrounding the LP as early as Saturday as I travel to Carmel to meet with Rep. Sam Farr to discuss his role in our legislation for this session.

Both NFFE and the FWFSA strongly believe that crew cohesion is absolutely critical and the desire to be diverse notwithstanding, PFT firefighters deserve to have those who have worked with them previously as temps be at the forefront of hiring for the season. If the Agency is serious about firefighter safety, then it has to understand that diversity cannot be the priority if it compromises crew safety.

More to follow.

Casey Judd
Business Manager
FWFSA
1/5 Hiring and points:

JM,

The veterans points you are referring to, (5 or 10 point) are not FS terms. They are designations the military uses for different levels of service-associated disabilities.

For example, a 10-point vet might be someone who lost both legs in combat.

A 5 point vet might be someone who just lost hearing in one ear. (both just examples, might not be 100% accurate)

The spouse of a veteran killed in combat also gets a point count with the military, I'm not sure which one.

These points are used by the VA and the military to determine how fit for a certain job a disabled person form the military is. They have nothing at all to do with USFS hiring.....

-MJ

Thanks for all the info, MJ. Ab.

1/5 Ab,

Having been involved with 3 different types of emergencies this past year (Flood/ Fires/ and Oil Spills) I thought it might be important to pass along a little medical knowledge/lingo that I gleaned along the way from these emergencies.

Could be useful to the EMTs and medical staff in our business.

Lucky Lindy

Artery...................... The study of paintings
Bacteria.................... Back door to the cafeteria
Barium..................... What doctors do when patients die
Benign...................... What you be, after you be eight
Caesarean Section.... A neighborhood in Rome
Cat scan................... Searching for Kitty
Cauterize.................. Made eye contact with her
Colic......................... A sheep dog
Coma........................ A punctuation mark
Dilate........................ To live long
Enema....................... Not a friend
Fester........................ Quicker than someone else
Fibula........................ A small lie
Impotent.................... Distinguished, well known
Labour Pain............... Getting hurt at work
Medical Staff............. A Doctor's cane
Morbid....................... A higher offer
Nitrates...................... Cheaper than day rates
Node......................... I knew it
Outpatient.................. A person who has fainted
Pelvis......................... Second cousin to Elvis
Post Operative........... A letter carrier
Recovery Room......... Place to do upholstery
Rectum.......................*** near killed him
Secretion.................... Hiding something
Seizure....................... Roman emperor
Tablet......................... A small table
Terminal Illness........... Getting sick at the airport
Tumor........................ One plus one more
Urine.......................... Opposite of you're out

1/5 Re: Mellie's post about testing positive for THC or poppy seed bagels:

Mellie, The Government's contracted labs to test personnel for drugs have 'threshold testing levels" established for each drug. For example, a tiny amount of THC would register as a negative test. As would a poppy seed bagel. The amount of opiate in each one is too small.

They have done extensive testing about background levels of these drugs to determine these levels. For example, for someone to test positive for THC , they would have to either smoke pot, (more than just once, too) or be locked in a room with pounds and pounds of burning pot to get urine threshold levels that high. "Second-hand smoke" would not trigger a positive test.

Same with poppy seeds. the testing has shown you would have to eat many, many pounds of pure poppy seeds, unbaked, to test positive for an opiate. So again, that would be under the threshold levels.

The only way someone in the USFS tests positive for a drug, is if they have been using it, period.

There is a lot of info about drug testing in the Federal Gov, and threshold levels in testing, on the internet.

-MJ
1/5 Hello All,
 
Re random drug testing.  The link to "alwaystestclean" posted earlier is basically to a site selling products designed to allow you to pass a drug test despite being a "casual user." I'm not naive, but I am wondering where under Duty, Integrity and Respect this would fall. With budgets being slashed, salaries frozen and modules eliminated, this is the kind of crap our detractors will exploit. Some things are really better left out of public forums, IMHO.

Happy New Year, be safe.

JH

JH There's no way we advocate drug use or tampering.
That said, I hope that there can be a discussion about what are standard drug tests, how they work, what they test, their false-positive rates, etc. Firefighters should know how some fairly standard drug tests might result in false positives for wildland firefighters possibly due to physical demands of training and the job, or smoke conditions, or consumption of current fad power drinks, or... poppy seed bagels. We don't even know if such things could, in fact, yield a false positive. Type 1 wildland firefighters that are on the line for the season do not do a "normal job of work" and they breathe a lot of body-altering particulates. Tests should be fair. Duty, Integrity and Respect demand it. Maybe some out there could do some research. Maybe you could find better online information that could serve this community. I privately requested that J find online info and that was the quickest. As for detractors, well, they'll always be out there regardless of what's posted here. Carry on. Ab.

1/5 Re random drug testing for wildland firefighters.

Ab,

first of all, any tampering is considered a failed drug test.

did a search..... found a couple of things that are useful, and a few of the tampering/verification things
could easily apply to FF.

this one has a chart with a brief little list of tampering signals they test for:

alwaystestclean.com/ home drug test/ instant drug testing.php

did not read all of this one, but it looks like it's got quite a bit of info. read about the creatinine in this pdf doc it says creatinine can build up in your urine after excessive water consumption; and creatinine is a metabolic byproduct of muscle metabolism, so I would imagine it would be easy for that balance to get out of whack if youre physically exerting yourself day after day..... so it seems like a lot of firefighters could very easily be accused of tampering just for unusual creatinine levels.

specimen verification

J

1/5 Re random drug testing for wildland firefighters.

Glad to see there's an effort to co-create a policy with the union. Tongue in cheek considerations...

On some fires in the frequent "golden cannabis triangle" of Trinity, Mendocino and Humboldt Counties, it will be the rare firefighter with SCBA that does not test positive for the THC in burning pot smoke. And if you have the poppy seed bagels for breakfast in firecamp, you will fail the opium screen too. And whatever you do, firefighters, don't supplement your nutrition and training with anything "power" that can surprisingly contains something on the list of things druggies take to mask their drug use. Please check the ingredients and research carefully.

Mellie

1/4 In response to the Tim Curry hiring freeze link;
Page 17
Q9 Does the pay freeze apply to performance awards and bonuses and other types of payments that are not part of an employee's base salary?

A9 No, Employees may continue to receive additional payments such as performance awards/bonuses, recruitment, relocation, and retention incentives

Sooooo? does this mean there is a chance the retention bonus will continue?

-Green legs
1/4 OPM memo on pay freeze Making the rounds:

Freeze on Pay Adjustments for Federal Civilian Employees

Attached please find the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director’s Memorandum regarding the Freeze on Pay Adjustments for Federal Civilian Employees dated December 30, 2010. (923 K pdf file)

chcoc.gov

Timothy Curry
Deputy Associate Director
Partnership and Labor Relations

1/4 Rose parade appearance:

Ab, How often is a wildland fire agency depicted in the Rose Parade?

Info with the photos: The CDF Pipe and Drum band marched in the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day, performed at Disneyland and marched down Main Street, performed at Bandfest at Pasadena City College, and made a surprise appearance in Santa Monica.

Tom

Photos by Brenda M. Nice! Ab.

CAL FIRE Pipe and Drum 1 and CAL FIRE Pipe and Drum 2

1/4 It's been said that R5 may undergo early seasonal hiring this month and next. Is there any possibility of Southern California Forests such as the Angeles, San Bernardino, etc... pulling cert's during this time frame? any Information would be helpful.

CL

1/4 Making the rounds from Nov 15...:

FS Briefing Paper on Implementing Random Drug Testing (560 K doc file)

1/4 Thanks HR

Thank you very much for responding. Couple more questions: so there isnt really a point system? And whats up with the vets preference? It says that its either 5 or 10 points. Is that just to appease? Because you have some folks saying they have to hire a vet and some folks saying it is just points that may or may not bring said veteran above the other folks on the list.

jm

1/4 Answers (in italics) to the questions below from ASC-HRM. Thanks for the answers. Ab.
  • Does anybody in Region 5 know if an in-depth document explaining hiring procedures exists?
    No, R5 does not have an in-depth document since the hiring procedures are standard across the Forest Service.
     
  • When a merit list is up against a demo list which takes priority?
    Neither, A manager can make a selection from either list.
     
  • How many different kinds of lists are there?
    Competitive, Non-competitive and Priority lists.
     
  • If a person has a college degree how many "points" is that worth?
    A college degree is not worth any "points" in the automated staffing system the Forest Service uses. It can be used to qualify an applicant depending on the type of position they apply for unless there are other requirements such as IQCS, 90 days of wildland fire, etc. then the applicant would have to meet all the basic requirements of the position before education can be used for qualification purposes.
     
  • Where are these "points" counted anyway, and why cant we see how many points we have?
    You cannot see the points because they are not used in the automated staffing system the Forest Service uses.

ASC-HRM Staffing

1/4 Hiring procedures in R5:

Does anybody in Region 5 know if an in-depth document explaining hiring procedures exists?

  • When a merit list is up against a demo list which takes priority?
  • How many different kinds of lists are there?
  • If a person has a college degree how many "points" is that worth?
  • Where are these "points" counted anyway, and why cant we see how many points we have?

It seems like a knowledge is power trip to me. It really seems like anytime a person asks about hiring they get a spiel about "veterans preference" or lists that they may or may not be on. Its seems as though the folks up top could really hire anybody they want and not really have to justify any actions because nobody knows how the system really works anyway. I've tried to get an answer from human resources but that trail went really cold really fast. Any help would be appreciated.

thanks-

jm

1/2 3 fatal SEAT Crashes in 2004 for Mellie

Well, Jeff and I couldn't quite remember, so I did a little digging..... this came from the archives of Wildfire News: wildfirenews.com

This was the third fatal accident (This is the Valley Complex that they were talking about) involving a Dromader M-18 airtanker in the past three months.<snip>

The second accident occurred on May 22 when another SEAT collided with mountainous terrain, killing the pilot, near Borah Peak, Idaho, in adverse weather conditions. (this was the second one -- I don't have the pilot's name....and looks like I was wrong on it going to the FS -- must've been going to BLM). The plane was on a visual flight rules (VFR) cross-country flight from Dillon, Montana, to Boise, Idaho, where it was to begin service for the BLM."

So, I guess it did make three total crashes in 2004. Maybe the Air Tanker Boards would have the pilots name if you are trying to include it. Good luck with everything. I'll try and check in now and then!

fair use disclaimer

Cache Queen (ret)

Thanks Cache Queen. Don't be a stranger, but do have fun with your kids. Here's the June 22 crash brief from NTSB Ab.

1/1 NASA/Cal Fire Partnership

In answer to Irony on the They Said Page:

Yes the sensor in question is the same one in use since its first operational utilization on the Esperanza Fire in 2006. Yes it was used on ZACA and many other fires in 2007-2008 and 2009. It is the NASA AMU (Autonomous Modular Scanner), that has flown on the IKAHANA unmanned aircraft since 2005 for both environmental and fire use. Now it will be on a manned twin King Air, because the UAV thing is just not ready for prime time. As for sounding like this is something new, after working with NASA on this project the last few years I can say from experience that they really know how to make the star maker machinery work for them.

FC180

1/1 Texas Firestorms

Please pass on to those who might be coming to Texas for wildfire response or who are located in the southern plains. If the link doesn't work, look up Texas Firestorm on YouTube. Stay safe out there.

youtube.com

Whitley

Good info, thanks. Ab.

1/1

Good morning.
Happy New Year.
What a great wildland fire community!
Here's to 2011!
Carry on.

The Abs.

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