"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
March, 2011

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3/31 Wildland Firefighting „US-Style“ now also in Europe

During summer 2012 five new smokejumper-teams will go operational as a first step to build up a European smokejumper force. Several more teams are planned to ensure an efficient net in the rural and structurally weak areas of Europe. It is planned to recruit voluntary firefighters in the European countries to ensure they know the basics of the trade.

The new task force is financed by the european civil protection. In 2011 it is planned to invest about 2,4 million euros by the european union and additional money from the participating countries.

The main reasons to start this project are the seasonal wildland fires in southern europe and the successes of the US smoke jumpers. In addition a new german scientific study recommends also to use smoke jumpers to fill the critical gaps in the sparsely populated areas of germany and europe.

The german airborne firefighting association DLB is actually recruiting the new firefighters. It is planned to hire 80 to 100 recruits in Germany, about 600 totally in europe.

The training is going to start in 2011. It includes specialized courses in wildland firefighting and parachuting in several european countries.

Christian

Welcome to "they said it", Christian. Thanks for that news. Please let us know as the program develops. Ab.

3/31 Hard Hats: Tech Tips from MTDC

Here's the link:

MTDC hardhat tech tip (992 K pdf file)

3/31 To: Snake River Sparky:

I haven't forgotten your post. Just real busy. As most know, I am long-winded when it comes to such issues you raised so I'll put something together and simply ask AB to make a link to it so folks not interested in the issue won't have to waste time scrolling through my dissertation.

Thanks,

Casey
3/31 Liona;

The decision whether or not to assign ADs is not made by NICC, rather the agency administrator responsible for the incident. Refer to Chapter 20, page 17 of the National Mobilization Guide: "Unless specified "agency only", ADs and private contractors will be accepted for suppression and severity orders".

NICC doesn't make the call; this is done at the local level. I hope this clarifies what the actual process is.

Regards,

-Silkbrother-
3/30 NICC, what are the AD Dispatch "policies"?

There seems to be a perception among dispatchers that there is a new policy at NICC in Boise, regarding filling Overhead Resource Orders for the 2011 fire season.

The common line I hear is, "If the Resource Order cannot be filled within a Regional GACC, and the Order proceeds to NICC, then NICC will "shop" the order to every other GACC and try to fill it with a "government" employee, before they fill it with an AD.

This sounds OK on the surface, until a state agency placing the order (read: NOT tapping into the Federal Fire Fund) gets a Resource Order filled from a Resource in Hawaii or Alaska, when an AD is available 150 miles away (or closer) in the next region...the added costs are obvious.

A perceived exception to the above scenario is when Incident Management Teams are ordered. Then, the Team's "Order" can automatically list an AD to be ordered, even when a qualified government employee may be available.

This seems contradictory in some ways...

Another "not-so-obvious" contradiction is caused by the definition of a "government employee", and the costs there are also questionable. Many retired federal fire employees available for fire assignments are not ADs, but are "Call-When-Needed" fire department employees. They do not go to work at the fire department, and, in fact, may not even live within the same state as the fire department. And yet, they are deemed a "state employee" in ROSS, as they are dispatched through a cooperative agreement with a state forestry agency (or, occasionally, a federal agency with a coop agreement with their host fire department).

The costs of a "Call-When-Needed" fire department employee can easily exceed $50 per hour, and include true "time and a half" overtime, and may add on travel from a distant location outside the state. Compare that cost to an AD employee, and the cost savings of an AD employee are obvious. Are these government employees? Do they hold a 40 hour per week job when not on fire assignments? Would the fire chief know them if they saw them?

Why would these "Call-When-Needed" fire department personnel, who most often cost more than an AD employee, get dispatch preference over a federally hired Administratively Determined (call-when-needed) employee? That is the current perception by dispatchers as we start this fire season. I am hopeful that this perception is incorrect.

Our old friends at NICC occasionally help us out here and offer a clear picture of the current fire season's latest policies and procedures, and how those procedures came to be developed for the current season.

Kim? Chuck? Care to help us all out so we know the current line of thinking at NICC?

Thanks,

LIONA

3/30 ADs doing it for "supplemental income"?

Interesting, but I don't think so...

The ADs I've met and talked with through the years were not in it for the money, but to serve and continue to enjoy working for a greater good. Most are retirees.
The AD Native American crews fall into a different category. They need the money: New shoes for baby.

But Supplemental Income for most ADs?
I don't think so. In 1999 for the 2 weeks I worked, I got paid a whopping $7 plus change an hour and was fine with that. I would have done it for expenses. Heh, heh, heh.

On the other hand, seems ADs provide a "surge force" like contractors, and those ADs that work should be fairly compensated for what they do.

IMWTK (Inquiring Minds Want To Know):

  • When did the AD program begin? Was it the expandable work force conscripted off the streets and out of logging camps?
  • When did defined positions for AD hires begin and when did the system morph into the AD system of today?
  • Has the mission/vision for the AD force changed through the years?
  • What's the upside of AD hires? Expandable? Unique and hard to find skill sets? Retirees with lots of experience? Great attitude about continuing to contribute?
  • What would be the downside, say of AD trainers? AD Command and General Staff on IMTs? Are retirees in the loop on current Fed fire and safety policy and tactics? How long before they fall out of the loop?
  • What is the alternative to AD if a retiree wants to work and help out beyond retirement? Contracting? Signing up with a local FD for dispatch in the US? Working abroad in countries that are learning and structuring their own ICS?

Hummmm... Just wonderin'.

Mellie

3/30 Recently our engine station was given a smart phone because it was a lower monthly cost to have a smart phone, and within it, the ability to connect to the Internet, than having a cell and an air card. At the fire station, it's our only access to the Internet, email system, aglearn, and all the other HR functions we are required to accomplish since the migration to AB is with an Internet service from a wireless company.

I heard that R-5 is now taking away smart phones. Has anyone heard anything about this?

So Cal Responder
3/30 For those trying to get to the far north of R5 where few large N-S western roads exist:

FYI

Photos of the landslide on Hwy 101 north of Garberville CA. Not great shots of mud, but it gives you an idea of what is going on.

kymkemp.com/

3/30 Engine 56 rollover

Hoping you can help me. I saw the video of the E-56 incident at FDIC last week. Very well done I might add. I am a field staff instructor for the Illinois Fire Service Institute and teach the Fire Service Vehicle Operator course (EVOC) Can you tell me how I might obtain a copy of this video? The instructor who showed it only said his buddy had just sent it to him. This video along with discussion would make a nice addition to our program. I did find the PDF about the incident.

Thank you,

Chuck Sheahen

3/30 Hi Ab,

I just wanted to remind everyone that tomorrow is the last day to bid on the beautiful quilt I am auctioning for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. All proceeds will go to the Foundation. You can view the quilt and place a bid at wffquilt.com.

Thank you,

-Cara and Rob Scott

3/30 AD Topic.

It has been interesting following the AD discussion. Let me offer a perspective as a fed fire retiree who has worked as an AD and is now working full time for a state fire management organization. The five DOI agencies and the USFS will see flat or declining preparedness budgets for the foreseeable future. The federal government is fiscally bankrupt. Nearly all of the states with fire programs are operating under deficits. Many state fire organizations are asking employees to accept reduced benefit packages, salary reductions and furloughs. The alternative is a reduction in force.

Fire occurrence, season severity, fire behavior and fire complexity are not dependant on our government's self inflicted fiscal problems. In a perfect world, every agency would have a MEL organization, jet airtankers, Type 3 engines, portal to portal, etc.

The reality is that everyone, in every agency will need to get better at working together and doing the best we can with what we have. That will probably include the increased use of ADs, VFDs, contractors and EFF. If you have a problem with that, it would be productive to work on "getting over it".

The good news is that there is a bright young group of interagency employees that have the capacity to meet the challenges of today. I suggest that it may be productive to consider the use of those with a great wealth of experience to help those younger employees to be successful. One of my favorite sayings is "Good judgment is the result of experience. Most experience is the result of bad judgment". Why not capitalize on this wealth of experience?

Airtac

3/30 Furlough answers.

Looks like R6 has taken the contracting thing to the limit. There is a solicitation for bid on FedBizOps for contract RX burning for the Forest Service.

www.fbo.gov

"...Prescribed burn services may include contingency availability and operational duties such as fire line construction and/or maintenance, fuel modification zone construction, fuels pullback, brushing/ lopping/ scattering/ pruning, ignition, holding/ suppression, mop-up and patrol. ...." (bold was added by me)

"Project areas are located on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, in the State of Oregon. Specific project locations can be found on the La Grande Ranger District (La Grandee, OR), Whitman Ranger District (Baker City, OR), Wallowa Valley Ranger District (Joseph, OR), and Eagle Cap Ranger District (Joseph, OR). City Locations are for reference only."

Inherently governmental? The closing date is the 31st of this month.

- Wrench

3/30 AD Topic:

I've been reading the posts about ADs and they are a great resource that do have a place. As someone put it they are the ones who want to work long hours and sleep in a tent. My observations in the last ten years is we (current IMTs) have really struggled with trainees to fill our pipeline. One huuge problem is cost containment and the push back we get from Agency administrators who won't approve more slots to the teams automatically at the time of the call. Many taskbooks in non operations have key tasks that must be performed on day 1, not day four. ROSS has, in many ways, helped streamline the ordering process but unfortunately it has a business rule that after72 hours it automatically UTFs any unfilled order. This causes a re-order or reconsideration. What I can't wait for is including supplies into I-suite and seeing that flounder as we can't get any one for most of our unit managers as far as new trainees to fill the pipeline. I know on our teams this year were all short on logs trainees. There are truths out there and one is an engine cant go far far or fast with no wheels.

Bushman 82

3/30 Are the team meetings at Mather or McCellan this year?

Apes

3/30 AD Topic:

I like a variety of good folks on my fires, so for a successful fire assignment I'd side with yactak on welcoming the talent of the AD group, retired or not. The trainee issue is a tough one. I relish teaching my young minions my style, especially dozerbossing and felling boss. Quick story: In '99 Nevada captured me as their dozerboss, along with Sacramento 'shots, traveling the state together. Sac' supplied me with 4 or 5 trainees on a 20,000 ac. type 3 fire burning into Utah. Besides the IC, we were the only overhead, as it quickly went type 1. A great assignment, as I signed off all trainees as dozerbosses! Now, several of those are Shot supes & foremen...I'd love to train more dozerbosses locally, but it is hard to set it up. When I ask young folks if they are interested, I get blank stares...A dozerboss trainee is rare for me, ahead of the fire. At 60+, my old legs are going to need the help, fires are going to need the talent, whomever they are...

Respectfully...
benner

3/29 Just a few additional points about the AD Topic.

Although I’ve never worked as an AD, I’ve worked with quite a few in overhead assignments. All I worked with were well qualified and pleasant to work with. I concur with “Another former AD” in the fact that the agencies can’t get people out of the office any more, hence the reason for needing additional outside resource. Heck, why would they want to go out and sleep in a tent, work long hours, and be away from home when all they have to do is turn down the assignment and all the training that goes with it. I concur that some sort of fire support should be in every ones job description.

As to the trainees, I like to get them out with me as much as possible if it is an incident that looks like it will go for a period of time. Finding people to come out sometimes turns out to be a personal effort on the phone to find people that aren’t already committed to an assignment and are able to come out. After finding a person, it is usually a mutually beneficial deal for both of us.

As to the UTF situation, my thoughts are that the incident is requesting that the position be filled because there is a need. It seems pretty strange that someone not on the fire can UTF the request if there are individuals available regardless of agency or affiliation. If resources are not available, kick it up and someone someplace will have a body that can fill the request. Filling resource orders in a timely fashion should be the goal all the while using a standard order in which to pick from. If you cannot fill it with a local resource, then go up the chain utilizing whatever priority order has been chosen, but to kill it because you only want “Agency” personnel doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially to the people on the incident that need a body to fill a need. Just my 2¢.

CAFBAN
3/29 Lots of good posts regarding the "AD Topic" with various points of view.

One thing I'd like to point out though, is the mention of "mentoring trainees". I know back when I was an AD for a few years, we tried to get the fire to approve bringing along a "trainee". The vast majority of the time, these requests were turned down. I whole heartedly agree with the viewpoint that ADs should - as often as possible - bring along an agency trainee. And, most of the ADs I knew supported this and did try to get trainees approved. However, whether it was the fire or the agency itself, it is extremely hard to get approval to bring a trainee. If they want to decrease the use of ADs, then I agree we need to get more agency people trained up. This is the federal governments responsibility to allow a trainee to accompany the "mentor". The AD can't do anything about it if a trainee is not approved, so don't blame the AD for not having a trainee on their assignment. I know so many ADs that worked their whole career in fire and have an amazing amount of knowledge and experience that needs to be passed on to the next generation if fire folks. I hope the agencies will give serious thought to letting ADs bring trainees this upcoming fire season - it's in the agency's best interest for the long term.

I really do hope the federal government gets back into the habit of making sure their agency people are trained up and qualified to help out in fire in whatever capacity they can. I can remember back in the 60's and 70's that was part of your job description no matter if you were in fire, resources, etc. You were to help out when there was a fire on your forest/district. Remember the old FSR crews? I can remember everyone wanting to fill a spot when an FSR crew was ordered - now you can't hardly find people who want to leave their normal job to fill out a crew.

Well, I enjoy reading the various posts - it's kind of fun to see all the different viewpoints and attitudes regarding retirees and ADs. I wonder if the feeling is the same for those who retire, then go back to work during the fire season as a "rehired annuitant". Should they just stay retired instead of trying to add some extra income to their pension? (Sorry, can't help add fuel to the fire.)

Another former AD
3/29 Women Fighting Fire:

Making the rounds. from Bequi Livingston, Regional Fire Operations Health and Safety Specialist

~~~~~ I add my thanks to the Women in FIRE. A terrific sisterhood!~~~~~ Mellie

WOMEN'S  HISTORY  MONTH

Thank you for your dedication to firefighting!

In celebration of Women's History Month this March, the U.S. Fire Administration is recognizing the contributions of all women, past and present, to the American Fire Service. Every day, highly trained women are engaged in firefighting, fire prevention, and emergency medical services (EMS), making significant life safety contributions to local departments and state and national fire service organizations as proven leaders and forward thinking managers. These women are role models, helping to protect our communities while encouraging girls and women to think larger and bolder.
The American fire service is a better service provider today in part because of the many women who have heard this special calling to serve their communities.

Ten Facts about American Women in the Fire Service

  • 10,800 women are career (paid) firefighters, making up 3.6% of the career firefighter population. (1)
  • Women comprise approximately 4% of the volunteer fire service, an estimated 32,000 members. (5)
  • 61,000 women are career emergency medical technicians and paramedics, representing 34% of the EMS work force. (1)
  •  The first known female firefighter was Molly Williams, an African American slave who served with the Oceanus Engine Company No. 11 in New York City beginning in 1815. (2)
  • Anne Crawford Allen Holst was the first female fire chief when she became chief of the Cedar Hill (RI) Fire Department in 1931. (2)
  • In 1942, the first all-woman forest firefighting crew was assembled in California. (2)
  • Sandra Forcier became the first career female firefighter (excluding forest firefighting) in 1973, working in Winston-Salem, NC as a combination police officer and firefighter. (2)
  • Toni McIntosh of the Pittsburgh (PA) Bureau of Fire was the first African-American woman to become a career firefighter in 1976. (2)
  • Deanne Shulman was the first woman to work for the U.S. Forest Service as a smokejumper in 1981. (3)
  • FDNY's Brenda Berkman was the first firefighter (male or female) to be selected as a White House Fellow in 1996. (4)
  • Ms. Berkman is also a graduate of the National Fire Academy's (NFA) Executive Fire Officer Program. (5)
  • Through 2010, 97 women have graduated from the NFA's Executive Fire Officer Program (5)

Sources:
(1) U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (PDF, 87 Kb),
(2) International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services,
(3) WFS Quarterly (Winter 2002),
(4) Taking the Heat: The First Women Firefighters of New York City,
(5) U.S. Fire Administration

Resources on Women in Firefighting

Workforce Resources

Becoming a Firefighter

History

3/29 I'd like to give my two cents of opinion on the AD topic.

I work in the Midwest and the use of ADs is quire low for national and local assignments. I used to work in the West where ADs are used extensively. I've been assigned to project sized fires and in my opinion most of the fire crews and camp crews were ADs. Primarily Native American. As well. My reasoning for this is there was not enough resources available, thus the ADs come into play. I feel they play a vital role in fire management and there have been quite a few hotshot superintendents and Fmo's that started as ADs mused included.

CARL CRAWFORD
ZONE FUELS PLANNER

3/29 The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is developing a cookbook as a fund raising effort.

We want to extend the invitation to all of the wildland firefighting family out there to submit recipes that they are willing to share in the book. If you have a recipe that you would be willing to share for inclusion in this cookbook please submit it in one of two ways.

Please do not send them to the Foundation office. The deadline for us to get recipes is May 15, 2011. Any recipes submitted after that, or those over the number allowed in the cookbook, will be held for possible inclusion in a second collection at a later date

You may also add up to 4 lines (about 375 characters) of notes that you would like to share. Things like “This recipe has been in the family for 100 years” or “A good after the fire breakfast” or “Dont double this recipe as it doesn't come out right”.

If you want it listed please make sure you put your name and any department or Agency affiliation on EACH recipe i.e. CalFire, NPS retired, Storm King survivor, Grayback Forestry, Neptune Aviation, etc.

Please limit your submissions to a maximum of three recipes.

Some hints for inputting recipes are:

  • List ingredients in order of use and make sure all ingredients are accounted for in the directions.
  • Abbreviate measurements list using standard abbreviations, i.e., c - cup, T - Tablespoon, pkg. - package, env. – envelope.
  • Include all container sizes, e.g., 2 (8-oz.) cans.
  • Check for consistency of names, ingredients, etc, e.g., don't use “1 c. butter” on some recipes and “2 sticks butter” on others.
  • Write directions in paragraph form, not in steps.
  • Use ingredient names in the directions, e.g., use “Combine flour and sugar” rather than statements such as “Combine the first two ingredients.”
  • Include temperatures and all cooking, chilling, baking, or freezing times. Also indicate if the recipe has already been modified for high altitude.

Mike Warren
President Board of Directors
WFF

3/29 Re: AD topic

 

Thank you “a grumpy taxpayer” for stating the situation so clearly. The reserve analogy was great.

 

However, you are going to be grumpier when I tell you that the Forest Service in FY 2010 spent $6, 257,451.40 (yes that is 6 million) in AD training alone.  This doesn't even include travel/perdiem. The DOI stated they were about the same in AD training dollars, so that makes just over 12 million plus in FY 2010 for training Administratively Determined hires, all the while agency personnel had their training budgets cut and many could not go to training. 

 

I believe the AD program to be a much abused program.  There is not enough oversight, regulations or accountability on how the program is run or used. Individual AD's have the option of saying no they can't, don't, or won't go. There is absolutely nothing that says they have to be available for us, no matter how much we spend to get them or keep them qualified, they don't have to meet our needs. The program in its current state is meeting the AD's needs, not necessarily agencies needs, and that needs to be reversed.

 

The bottom line is the AD program is not here for the ADs, the ADs are here for the program.

 

To address yactac and my job.  You are correct, I don't like the way the agency utilizes ADs.  I believe they have allowed for fiscal abuse and misuse of the program, but I do love my job and I believe in what I do and believe the AD program can and will change into a more fiscally responsible program, but I appreciate your concern and suggestion.

Anon

3/29 Re: AD topic

yactak speaks with wisdom once again. As a fire retiree, I agree that ADs should only be used when attached to an agency trainee. There is a wealth of knowledge to pass on to the bright young fire managers of today. For example, there are retirees who have several hundred and in some cases, a few thousand prescribed burns under their belt that a new employee will never experience. I also believe that fire departments are an under utilized source for positions that are often UTF'ed locally and filled at at higher cost with resources from afar.

airtac

3/29 Re: AD topic

Would like to comment on a couple of points that Grumpy made, especially #1. You are right, to a point. The agency has hired people to do a specific job. Those in fire, fight fire. Those in Rec manage Recreation, etc. The agency has hired those in the militia to do jobs other than fire. If you accept the premise that all other functions are less important than fire, the I could agree with you. However, having been on the other side, fire is not the ONLY priority. Increasingly, the agencies are under court orders and congressional mandates and deadlines that are externally controlled. In these cases, the employees must work the jobs they are hired for and not available for fire duty. This, in my opinion, is where the AD program comes in.

Any retiree that plans on AD work to make ends meet has failed to plan much earlier in life!

As for your #3, I agree. Remember, our citizen soldiers are in all walks of life, until called upon. They then go into their respective MOS. To me, the AD program is the exact same. In my case, I do my retired thing until called as an AD. I then make the decision as to accept the assignment. If I take it, I do a very specific job that I was trained to do while employed full time. At the end of the incident, I go home. To me, this is a cost effective way for the agency to supplement their workforce for a specific event, and accomplish the mission and targets given to them by Congress.

RetFSFireCop

3/28 Re: AD topic

In many ways the AD issue makes sense in several different arenas.
1.) The agency is already paying for the said persons base 8 hours, whether they are sitting at the office or out on a fire. Granted the money is coming out of different accounts, but its still coming out of the big account-TAX PAYER DOLLARS. So financially it makes sense, why should the government hire someone else to do the job while they have someone, somewhere already on the clock who can do the assignment. Essentially your paying two people to do one job.

2.) the agency has an invested interest in permanent employees, they need people to stay current and to have training assignments and gain experience. What incentive would there be to work for an agency if you knew that you were going to be passed over for an assignment because there was an AD that was closer.

3.)In my book, the AD program is a reserve program, just like the military reserve is suppose to be. If we don't need them they stay at home, but if we do, we call them up and we have ready trained reinforcements.

4.) if you have problems with 2 or 3, revert to #1, ultimately its saving money in my book, and with already 1/3 of my income disappearing to taxes, if it saves tax dollars then so be it. I realize there are exceptions to its being cheaper, and people will make the argument that transportation costs and what not, but when you figure it all in, I say its still cheaper, especially if an AD gets hurt, or anything ab-normal happens.

signed
a grumpy tax-payer

3/28 Re: AD topic

As far as I know ADs would be considered Fed Only. They are sponsored by a Forest and they meet the requirement of being cheaper.( no overtime pay ) The point of ordering Fed Only resources is to save money. It could behow its interpreted when the order is placed. I have seen many orders placed as Fed Only and had ADs show up. The point is to not have the resource filled by a state or local government person.

J M

3/28 Re: AD topic

Anon
High Five !!
Great post, Like you said AD isnt there to supplement your retirement ! would be great to hear more from you on here Anon

hoops

3/28 Re: AD topic

Right on! About time someone addressed the " AD entitlement" situation. My personal pet peeve is the guy who has been retired for years in a specialized job and continues to AD and NEVER takes on a Trainee, seems to me if the position is in critically short supply and an AD is necessary (because of a lack of qualified agency personnel) then a Trainee should be mandatory.

If you love and respect the firefighting career, then do the right thing and TRAIN your replacement, keep the knowledge flowing.

I am truly sorry if your Fed retirement is not enough to live on, you were well aware of the retirement age approaching, and frankly, you should have planned better. If money is a huge problem, get a job somewhere, learn a new skill.....
Enjoy retirement.

Kibble free (and semiretired)

3/28 Re: AD topic

No program in the Forest Service looks the same as when it started.. Whether one likes it or not, change and evolution occur. Sometimes by design and sometimes not.

I do not believe anyone in their right mind thinks that the AD program is a retiree "right" or guarantee to supplement retirement. That being said, retiree's often add experience and knowledge to the arena. Just because one retires, does not mean that a hole is drilled in their head and the last 30 or more years dumped out. There is no doubt in my mind that the ideal would be to have all agency employee's in all the positions on fires, but we all know that that is just not possible due to a multitude of reasons, from other duties to just not enough qualified agency personnel, to positions not filled, to bosses not supporting the teams and other regions, etc, etc, etc...

I do not believe that there should be a qualified AD out there without a trainee though. Here again, this is an agency failure to capitalize on the experience and knowledge qualified ADs bring to the table.

Another huge issue is qualifications and currency of the AD (as well as agency) personnel. Think about it, if folks are only utilized at the 'big game" when everything else is stripped, how does one stay current? Do we really want to bring these folks "out of the box" only for the big games and expect excellent performance? I believe that if the agencies are going to continue to utilize ADs (which they surely will do to the factors above and more) the ADs should be in the regular rotation for their positions to keep current and qualified as well as scrutinized for viability...

And  in reference to Anon's closing paragraph, perhaps if one is not happy with the way their agency utilizes ADs, contractors and other fire departments, they should look for another job...

yactak
3/28 Re: AD topic

Some National Forests and BLM Districts actually recruit ADs. Perhaps 'recruit' is not the proper term but they encourage their fire personnel to establish AD agreements well in advance of the fire season. I realize this does not infer any form of obligation to hire. However, it seems difficult to justify a request as UTF when in reality the intent may have merely been to cancel the order as opposed to not hiring an AD.

CA COML/COMC
3/28 Casey,

I would be interested to get your read on Harold Shaitberger's (International President of the IAFF) address to the Fire Department Instructors Conference to Indianapolis on Thursday. He took a very strong stand and, in summary, vowed to bury anyone who stood on their way. With the changing political scene, economic uncertainty and public discontent, is it a time for demonstrations of raw power or clever conciliation?

Snake River Sparky
3/27 To Stan and all those who attended his event:

I am so sorry I was unable to get there. After a full week in Washington DC with 10-12 meetings a day, I didn't get home to Idaho until 2:00am Saturday morning and was just wiped out. I had really hoped to attend, especially to see so many FWFSA folks who I've had the honor of working for but never meeting in person.

To the poster from Vandenburg...if you are John C., I miss ya. True to form as was many years ago, we FEDs continue to be "first on and last off" the Hill. If you aren't John, please let him know I met with Aaron in Capps' office to get a handle on who the Republicans are who have traditionally held up the cancer presumptive bill. Maybe since we work with both sides of the aisle just a wee bit better than the IAFF, maybe we can educate some folks. The bill is too much of a no-brainer" to have languished for so long.

To our federal wildland firefighters, every staff person I met with, whether Republican or Democrat, Senate or House all gave me a sense of greater awareness and interest on our current legislative draft since we have taken the time to address concerns from last year's bill from private contractor groups and the IAFF, even though they don't represent any federal wildland firefighters employed by the 5 federal land management agencies in any capacity.

I want to reiterate that our provision to allow folks to buy back their Temp time after 1-1-89 was drafted by an IAFF and FWFSA member. Furthermore, our PSOB provision will benefit every firefighter & police officer in the Nation.

Hopefully Stan and so many other retirees from the FWFSA will accept our invitation to join active members at our membership conference later this year, either in Reno or Vegas. We want to ensure our younger members clearly understand who was behind the creation of the FWFSA, their efforts and sacrifices.

More about my DC trip will be on the FWFSA web site soon as well as strategy ideas. I expect a decision on who will be taking the lead on the bill shortly. Ironically on the Senate side, Democrats interested in doing a Senate version have suggested we find a Republican lead. Seems most Natural Resource bills over the last year have been introduced by Democrats so it makes them appear they are partisan. they want a republican bill they can get aboard to appear bipartisan. Gotta love politics.

Casey Judd
FWFSA
3/27 Re: Anon's post

One of the best post's I have read on theysaid in a while Thank you!

stilldodgingbullets

3/27 To: Confused ff and former AD

First off, I'd like to explain that the Casual Hire (AD) program was not designed as it is currently being utilized. It was initially designed so agencies could hire “local” individuals and resources to assist during “local” incidents (just like how former AD stated he was utilized this past summer..Locally), but this program has blossomed into the monster it currently is by AD's like yourselves feeling you are “entitled” to being hired. The Federal agencies DO NOT HAVE TO HIRE YOU, therefore being hired is a privilege not a right, and if you don't like the way it is being run, then it's simple, don't' sign up.

The AD program is not a retirement supplemental program, if you needed a supplemental income, you should not have retired. It is not a program designed as your soul source of income, if you want a steady paycheck then apply for a seasonal position somewhere. It also wasn't designed for you to “drum” up your own business, and then complain about it because it was filled by someone else, or got UTF'd. The AD program is not your “employer”.

The Southern Areas Mobilization Guide is very clear where it states: The Southern Area Multi-Agency Coordinating Group, in concert with various Agency Unions and Affiliates, has established priorities for resource mobilization.

The priorities are as follows:

1) Resources represented by the National Wildland Fire Coordinating Group (U. S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U. S. Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Defense, and Southern States).
2) Administratively Determined (AD) hires.
3) Contractors.

Basically that means that agency personnel will be utilized first, then they can go to AD's (if they want to). Many places want to utilize resources within their own GACC, and if an order cannot be filled within, then they have the option to place up or cancel/UTF. It's their choice. Cost could be a factor, maybe they were trying to get a GACC person to fill so they can meet their IFPM requirements (which could also be why the FED only was indicated), or it could be they just didn't need the position any more. There are many reasons for the UTF or “FED ONLY” requirement.

Also as a FYI the “FED ONY” button has been in ROSS since it was started 7+ years ago. Individual units and GACCs are just finally utilizing it the way it was designed for. If they only want an agency person (for whatever reason) it is their choice.

Former AD states he knew 20 qualified AD's who didn't go out, well I know hundreds of qualified agency personnel who didn't go out. I also know many qualified agency folks who didn't get a chance to go out, because ADs went instead.

Yea ADs hear a lot, but the facts are, you are not guaranteed to work during the summer for the federal agencies, and with the way the last few fire seasons turned out, I'd suggest getting a regular steady job doing something and not be so dependent on the federal government and the wildland fire seasons.

Anon

3/27 Congratulations to Stan and Allison Stewart. Today we had a golf tournament and BBQ along with some stories, great food, and beverages and over 200 of Stan's fellow and past workers. We toasted and roasted a man who put 37 years of his life into the LP hotshots. He is a cancer survivor as well and we wish him and his family the best in his retirement. Good Job

Vandenberg Firegihters Local F-116
3/26 To "Confused ff"

That type of thing went on everywhere with many GACC's last year - I'm surprised it just started at TICC.

I know of over 20 highly qualified ADs that sat at home all summer without getting out even one time, because only "Agency" people (Federal employees) were being allowed to go on out-of-area assignments. And, yes, I heard a lot of positions came back UTF and no, they did not fill it with an AD of which there were many available. I really don't understand this concept at all. Fires need these positions to be filled and if no "Agency" people are available, then why not fill with an AD? The fire doesn't care who you work for, only that you are qualified to fill the position. ADs have been used for years - I have been going out as an AD for over 10 years and have traveled all over the country to fire assignments. I've always received great performance evals and have often been "name requested" at places I've worked before. Last summer, I was name requested several times but the requests were turned down because I'm not "Agency". In fact, for the first time since becoming an AD, I only went out on one assignment, and that was local! I sat at home - "available" in ROSS - while positions I was qualified for, went back to the ordering office UTF. Why?? The fire needs this position filled - why UTF an order just because the only people available are AD? It makes absolutely no sense to me.

Well, personally, after what happened last season and the fact that apparently things are just going to get worse for ADs, I've decided it's time to look for a different line of work. I've gone back college over the winter and will be working this summer as an IT Intern.

For those who have made the decision to give it another try this season for AD work - good luck to you. I hope you have a backup plan for paying the bills! (By the way, I understand there will be no change in AD rates for 2011.)

Wishing all a safe fire season,

.....former AD
3/26 (RE:Confused FF)

Let me get this straight, you got to go on an assignment and because you didn't go back a second time your complaining about discrimination? "The FEDS have an identity crisis"! C'Mon, do you really want to go there? Is that really the wording that you want to use? You obviously weren't discriminated against.......... because you got to go! Theres alot of "FEDS" that didnt get to go! But we weren't discriminated against. Sometimes theres just not enough room at the table for all the Hogs to feed. How do you think that makes the "FEDS" feel when "Cooperators" are dispatched to a fire on Federal land miles from any civilization?..... there we sit! It pisses us off! Why? because its our job! Like anyone else we like to do what we are trained to do! But we don't say we were discriminated against. However we will whine about it for sure!

Just be thankful your getting out! Theres lots of us "FEDS" re-opening task books with one task left to complete because we didnt get enough rolls to complete them within the time limit! UUUGGGHHH!

Sign me, "Easy Does It"
3/26 FEDWATCHER II:

I am a municipal FF. I support better pay and benfits for federal wildland fire fighters. I do NOT get PTP pay nor does any department in my state. The departments in my state do NOT get administrative "fees".

I am not advocating AGAINST federal PTP pay. I did not even mention PTP. I am concerned that the possibility of eliminating fire department backfill pay in this proposed legislation is detrimental to the national response effort. Backfill pay to cover those gone on an assignment makes it possible for fire departments to respond and still maintain their required staffing levels set by our city councils.

Additionally, I would be happy to assist in any legislation if I was asked to help.

AZfirefighter

3/26 The Feds Identity Crisis - Cooperators are being discriminated against, and on a STATE incident even!!

So... a few weeks ago, I got a call from dispatch to go to the West Texas I.A. The trip went well and I returned home with a couple glowing personnel performance reviews. A few days later, I put myself available again in hopes of getting another assignment.

Early this week I get another call from my Interagency Dispatch asking if I was available to go. Yep. I was somewhat surprised and saddened to get a call back a few minutes later... It was dispatch again. They were sorry, but the order was to be filled by "FEDS ONLY". I am what is known as a COOPERATOR" in Colorado.

Later that afternoon, I was on the phone catching up with some of my Texas contacts and shared the story. I was told " Hold, on, here talk to this guy, he is the person who actually placed that order". This individual said he didn't care who I got my regular paycheck from, if I was red carded to do the job and would do a good job, then I ought to be able to fill it. I double checked that I was shown as available in ROSS, and sent him copies of my red card, etc. He called back to inform me that it was the TICC who was putting the "FED ONLY" requirement on these orders. Nothing he could do about it. OK.

A few days pass, and today I get a phone call from the guy who replaced me down in Texas a couple weeks ago. He wanted to know what I was doing and why I wasn't coming back down. I explained that I was available in ROSS, but hadn't received a call. This was for a totally separate ICS position then I had been offered and then shot down for a few days earlier. Long story short... teh end result is the same. The TICC was sending out all orders as FED ONLY. Really??? For a position I had filled less then 14 days earlier, had not 1, but 2 glowing performance reviews for?

I had never seen this "FED ONLY" requirement prior to the Gulf Oil Spill incident last year. Is this a identity crisis or what? It is NOT in line with their preached by not followed "Highest and Best Value". As a cooperator, we do NOT charge for backfill, admin fees, etc. I believe the state of Colorado does add 13% for their admin fees, but my agency adds NONE!. So.. the AD rate for my position is $18.25 per hour, even with the 13% the rate is only $20.62. I will put that rate against ANY federal employee they get to fill the position.

Our local USFS Interagency Dispatch Center did away with ADs back in the early 2000's. They said they preferred we find cooperators to use as home units instead because of the paperwork and liability savings. The training classes that I have taken are NWCG classes, most often taught by USFS employees at USFS training facilities. The taskbooks are NWCG, again most of the signatures in the taskbooks are from USFS employees. If the training is FED, and the experience is FED, and the performance reviews are very good, and the price MEETS or IS LESS THAN FEDS, what is the problem with cooperators?

I watched at least three resource orders go UTF this week, while I was shown available in ROSS, that I am fully red card qualified for...

(confused ff)

3/25 AZ Firefighter:

Why don't YOU offer an alternative as to how to pay for portal to portal compensation for federal wildland firefighters. It's easy to criticize an idea (an idea by the way the FS is already looking at) but much harder to offer a proposal that will pass congressional muster.

Thus I'm sure all federal wildland firefighters, and certainly the FWFSA look forward to your proposal for covering the costs of PTP.

With open ears,

FEDWATCHER II
3/25
Stewart Fire fatality report.

I have searched for the report and can't find anything on it.

Can anyone help?
I was an engine Capt. At the time and assigned on the fire.
A USFS Ranger from AZ was killed by a burnover.
I would appreciate any help to find a report.  The year was 1959 
And we were on the fire through Christmas day.

Doug Campbell

3/24 Re: Wildland firefighter legislative draft:

Again, regarding this Wildland fire fighter legislation, I caution the the following suggestion:

During the 3-year pilot program, the Secretaries may offset funds expended by the FLAME Act for the purposes of this section by:
  • Directing Agency personnel to amend cooperative agreements between the federal land management agencies and cooperating agencies i.e. State, local government by offering reimbursement rates for all non-federal resource costs at a level identical to that paid for commensurate federal resources.
  • Reducing or eliminating “Admin Fees” and backfill costs and any and all other peripheral, additional costs traditionally paid by the federal government to cooperating, contracting agencies.

I must continue to caution the detriment this might have. I still feel there will be a dramatic loss of fire department participation if you eliminate specifically the backfill pay.

Are there other municipal fire personnel who do not agree that their departments would be less or unwilling to respond without backfill coverage?

I fully support the wildland fire fighters, but this single suggestion seems detrimental to the national response efforts.

AZfirefighter

3/21 The Eldorado Hotshots are hosting the Day at The Winery Fundraiser to benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation on April 9th in Camino, CA. Ticket prices go up after March 26th, get them soon don't miss out on the discount.

More info:

Website: eldoradohotshots.org

Print this pdf file and put it on a bulletin board where you work! Fundraiser Flyer
 

3/21 Passing of Chief Thom Myall:

Retired Los Padres Fire Chief Thom Myall, 69, passed away peacefully last Sunday night in his home. He had been battling cancer for some time. Thom was the champion and first Chief of the centralized Los Padres National Forest fire organization. Under his leadership fire money went to the ground, firefighters were empowered and the forest fire organization blossomed. Union grievances dropped 90%, training was equitable and standardization was met across the forest.

Thom was one of the last old time Forest FMOs ā€“ former District Ranger on the Sierra National Forest and qualified at the Type I and Area Command levels. Thom spent many years as a team member at both levels and was selected by the R5 Board of Directors as the R5 FMO of the Year in 1997.

Thom was also very active in the community acting as a webmaster for several organizations and was recognized as a Goleta Community Volunteer of the Year. The family plans to have a memorial but no date has been set yet. Condolences can be sent to Thomā€™s wife Barbara and the family at:

6227 Marlborough Drive
Goleta, California 93117-1637

Thom was always the calm voice of reason, he will be missed.

3/20 I am searching for some info on the possible GOV Furloughs and on the lack of short term severity funding in R3(USFS), SW Region (BLM),or SWA (BIA), as well as if this applies to anywhere else in the country.

1) Are they really going to lay off (sorry furlough) GOV firefighters? I know the request went out to identify “Essential Personnel,” however, please read below as I feel there is a shortfall in leadership and am not that confidant in the rational of some our Regional management staff.

2) If GOV firefighters are actually furloughed…If a fire occurs if they do not respond when told to come back in, can they be charged with insubordination or failure to following instructions?

3) How can an Agency not be set up for short term severity (no monies have been put into account) in the Region when all the predicted info and current fire behavior is showing a out of the ordinary year?

I would like to quite a BIA Regional FMO at this time, “the last two years have been lax which has allowed us to get into a lull, this predicted fire season is nothing but a normal fire season in the SW.”…. Really?

Due to this type of mentality from our political and Agency management, how are we to trust our leadership? I have been questioning my job of late…”Selfless Sacrifice, Duty, Integrity, Ethics.” Do any of these words mean anything to our ignorant (look up the definition if that word offends) current political y appointed “leaders” and Agency management? I think not!

Ta

3/18 Dear SOCALFS:

All congressional members who surround the LP are keenly aware of the shenanigans on the LP in recent years and some of the questionable FIRE decisions made by Forest leadership.

Recently NFFE has taken the lead to address firefighter concerns about the Forest Supervisors unilateral and arbitrary decision to take over temp hiring...apparently for the good of diversity and to the demise of quality crew cohesion. We've been asked to address the matter politically.

With the current memo from Peggy, it may be prudent for those members of Congress who represent areas near the LP along with the state's 2 Senators to start asking some questions. The issues will be raised in Washington next week.

Casey Judd
FWFSA
3/17 Concur with Catalyst's post regarding the heroic efforts to control the situation in Japan.

The benchmark for risk and heroism in the face of nuclear disaster was set by technicians and responders, including helicopter crews making external drops, during the Chernobyl disaster. Such history can only have increased the current responders' awareness of the hazards which they have been facing. May the ongoing efforts at Fukushima -1 prove successful and not incur the sacrifices demanded by Chernobyl.

Holdover

3/17 Late afternoon email from the FS of the LP

Forest Leadership Team Members -- Please share the following information with your employees. I think it especially important to ensure the information gets shared with fire staff, given all the recent work that has gone in to reviewing and evaluating applications for temporary positions. Thank. ph

Each year R5 Forests are required to submit a mid-year review to the Regional Forester that documents our spending to-date and indicates whether we'll be able to complete our funded Targets and meet our other program/work commitments. The Regional Forester placed specific emphasis this year on remaining within budget in our Fire program (WFPR & WFHF), and required each Forest to provide a summary of the budget implications on our WFPR allocation. While the Forest has always been required to operate within our funding allocations, historically, there has been more flexibility in our Fire budget.

Currently, if the Los Padres were to staff at 100 percent of the most efficient operating level (MEL), we would need approximately $1.5 million more than we are allocated and/or authorized to spend in FY2011. In light of this shortfall, we are developing a series of staffing scenarios that reflect our WFPR allocation and/or our authority. These scenarios may include some of the following: reduce the level of staffing; reduce or eliminate planned overtime; delay purchases of certain supplies and equipment; delay filling vacant permanent positions; and, reduce or delay the hiring of temporary fire positions. The purpose of these discussions is in the spirit of "no surprises" with the Regional Forester and Regional Fire and Aviation Management. We will either tighten our belts, be relieved of some firefighter production capacity (FFPC), or we'll be comfortable with elevated budget risk. Whatever the decision, we will be in it together.

We expect to hear quickly from the RO on how we are expected to operate, given our WFPR budget situation. I do not anticipate we will fill many temporary positions until we're on the same page with the Region. I recognize there has been a significant amount of work done by you and your staffs to review applications. and possible delay in hiring for these positions may create frustration. However, in the end, our Forest fire resources are part of Regional shared resources, and whatever path we take will be lock step with the Region. I appreciate your understanding as we navigate through these challenges.

As soon as we receive guidance and further clarification from the Regional Forester, we will take all appropriate steps to position ourselves with the resources and staffing required to meet our objectives during the upcoming fire season.

Peggy Hernandez
Forest Supervisor
Los Padres National Forest

SOCALFS

3/17 Hiring Question:

Ab,

I have some questions pertaining to a post and it's replies in the "You Want to be a Wildland Firefighter" Section of the site. On 2/21/04 Jason posted "Good Morning All,

"Your application for the position of Forestry Technician (hotshot/handcrew),GS-0462-04 at Nationwide has been evaluated. You were found to be eligible for the position and your name was referred to the selecting official. If interviews are conducted or additional information is needed, the selecting official or someone from the Human Resources office will contact you."

Ok so I got an email with this inside today. I like what it says, but now my question is how can I increase my chances of getting an interview? Should I mail my resume out to stations I'm interested in? Go in person? What should I say or ask? I really want to get hired this season, I've been checking for jobs since like end of November and I've applied to BLM, NPS, and USFS. I just feel this is the career for me and I need to get started on it to show what I can bring to the table. Thanks guys, I'd really appreciate the help."

Now I have received a similar email

"Your application for the position of Forestry Aid (Fire), GS-0462-03 at has been evaluated. You were found to be eligible for the position and your name was referred to the selecting official. Qualifications of selected candidate(s) will be verified by Human Resources prior to job offer. If interviews are conducted or additional information is needed, the selecting official or someone from the Human Resources office will contact you."

However I was unable to find a reply to Jason's question that really answered my questions. I'd really like to improve my chances of getting hired, but don't know the first thing. Should I just wait until they contact me or should I attempt to contact them to show interest and bring attention to my application? Is there a way for me to contact the selecting official? My application is for several locations in Humboldt County, CA. If I should contact the selecting official should I get a hold of someone from each of those locations or is the selecting official someone who is higher up and shouldn't be contacted? If I should contact him/her is there anything specific I should ask or say? General tips on this subject are welcome as well.

Thanks for your time,
Brandon

3/17 Question about helitack crew:

njg said:

I was wondering about the Las Vegas Helitack Crew. The good and bad.

Great place to work....the way the fire season works makes this a GREAT place to be centrally based out of.

I was there in '99 or 2000 and saw lots of local IA on Mt Charleston... even more in Panaca and Caliente..... good fun, light fuel fire for the most part. I also saw at least 4 out of region assignments as well

One of the issues i faced in Vegas was the constant severe temperature change from inside AC to outside and back and fourth.... Fun town too....


MG

3/17 Hiring question:

Hi all,

I have worked in fire for a long time, but am now applying for a position under a "Demo" announcement due to having received a masters degree, but not having the appropriate time in grade. I have always been under the impression that the position has to be hired off the merit list unless there is not an applicable candidate. I have had one person tell me that they can hire off of either list as long as there are no veterans etc. I am just curious what the actual rules are in regard to this and if I have any sort of chance of getting a job this way. I can't find anything about it on the OPM website. Anybody out there know about this?

Thanks for any info!
S.

3/17 AB,

Is it possible to get R5 F&AM Assistant Directors Ralph Domanski retirement notice posted to the website as he has many friends and former coworkers who may just want to send a brief note or say good luck.He worked his way through the system to Assistant Director for one of the busiest GACCs in the nation. If someone would like to send an email to read at his party you can give them my email address.

~~~
Come join the celebration of Ralph Domanski's retirement. (see attachment 156 K pdf file) Help us to give him a warm & well deserved send off as he and his wife move on to the next phase in their new-found freedom.
~~~

Thanks for what you do!

V

You bet! Here's to Ralph! I'll pass on your email address, too. Ab.

3/17 Wildland firefighter legislative draft:

Hi to all:

Attached is the FWFSA's latest draft of legislation (158 K doc file) that would address many pay & personnel policies adversely affecting our Nation's federal wildland firefighters as well as other pertinent issues. The draft has been posted on our web site for some time for review and comment so I felt it appropriate to place it here as well.

Our intent is to inform folks as to what we are trying to accomplish. Even well into 2011 there are many, many federal wildland firefighters who have not heard of the FWFSA, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation or TheySaid. Those of you in the community are the catalyst for expanded awareness for those wildland firefighters who don't know there are organizations out there working on their behalf.

While we invite comment on the draft, I hope AB will encourage comments be directed to the FWFSA and not create a long thread here on TheySaid or the Hotlist. Candidly, while comments are fine, this bill will be introduced on behalf of our dues paying members. This membership with the FWFSA represents a fraction of the federal wildland firefighting community.

We know many continue to "sit on the fence" to see if we are successful. We know that still others are content to sit on the sidelines, not contribute to the cause, yet will readily accept the benefits of passage of this legislation. That's simply the nature of the beast.

I raise this point because over the last few years we have received criticism from some for not including a certain segment of the wildland firefighting community in what we do; or appearing to pursue things for our members at the expense of someone else. As I've said before, advocating before Congress and getting issues before those that can effect positive change takes a considerable amount of time, effort & money. Our dues paying members, some having supported us for nearly 20 years, deserve our loyalty.

That being said, this legislation will benefit all federal wildland firefighters and many others who support emergency incidents. It also contains provisions that will benefit other federal firefighters such as those employed by the Dept. of Defense.

This coming week I will once again be in Washington to secure additional support for the bill; get additional feedback from congressional staff and fine tune who will be introducing the bill this session.

Unfortunately, all federal employees have a huge target on their backs. Through pay & hiring freezes, some in congress, demonstrating a significant amount of ignorance by utilizing the "meat cleaver" approach to addressing the federal government's budget, want to place the entire burden of fixing this Country's fiscal woes on the backs of federal employees.

It is our responsibility to educate these folks as to how these draconian actions will have the adverse affect of that intended, especially in the delivery of an effective & efficient federal wildfire response. Because of these actions & proposals, some will scoff that such a bill can be passed. Read the bill. Congress itself has provided the land management agencies with another pot of money to waste i.e., I mean tap into, the FLAME Fund. There is ample money in the fund to pay for PTP.

Please direct comments or questions to the FWFSA at fwfsa.org .

Casey Judd
FWFSA

I'll direct folks that want to comment to the FWFSA website. Ab.

3/16 Hi all,

I am watching CNN tonight (Wednesday), and have to say... I never thought I'd see helicopters dropping water (plus other things) on a nuclear power plant, which is exactly what is happening in Japan. After all this chaos in Japan, this scene is the one that really floors me as something I wouldn't have imagined.

Wanted to check and see if anyone knows the company doing the drops, or who all might be involved. My guess is that is would have to be a company with wildfire experience. An amazing risk these folks and this company are taking. I am not prone to throwing the hero word around, but these people (and those at the plants trying to fix it) fit my definition.

Godspeed to all; the world watches.

Be safe be well,

Catalyst

update: Just read that the aircraft and pilots are Japanese military, who are also helping at the plant: Helicopters Douse Quake Damaged Nuclear Plant with Water

3/15 Re Inquiry about the Las Vegas Helitack Crew.

njg-

Knowing the supervisor of the crew, I can say that they are a great group. The leader is fair and even handed. We have had the privilege of hosting them on our Unit and found them to be low maintenance, eager to assist with projects and always polite, experienced, and highly qualified for their job.

They stay very busy in Vegas and summer temps can be quite high. If temps don't bother you (and you ARE in fire!?!?) then this shouldn't be too much of an issue.

Kim

3/15 old lpf,

You will find a lot of counterfeit patches on ebay from the area. We have had all of ours show up a time or two from the same person. They snag the logos off the internet and then reproduce them.

kb
3/15 Safecoms

Here is another great example of how we are moving in the direction of a HRO. Becoming a reporting culture is one of the Pillars of a HRO, and a Just Culture.

Student of HRO

3/15 Question:

A ojai Hotshot patch from the Philippines (Their spelling, not mine) real or counterfeit??

old lpf

Counterfeit. The position of the O on the patch is not correct, spacing between the words is not correct and the "trees" and lower "veg" are not in correct proportions, squatty bird, too. HAW HAW. Ab.

3/15 A taxpayer and a voter:

“…..What we ALL need to remember is the people of Wisconsin voted these people in to make votes for them, based on the past views and stands of said politicians……”

“…..What is very sad is that those representatives that left the State, where given 3 weeks to come and testify about their views and they choose to run…..”

***'m not sure I have ever seen two statements written by one person, with such contradiction***

“…It is very simple, The MAJORITY of voters in Wisconsin have elected these people to represent them, the voters and that is what they are doing. In the words of our President, when asked about pushing through a bill he favored , " We won"….”

***Elected what “people”??? Because the “people” you denigrated in the next paragraph you wrote, as being “childish for not getting their way”, were ALSO VOTED IN BY A MAJORITY. Correct? You are absolutely correct in that they have a job. Part of that job is to stand up for people, by (in your words) “running”, and making it impossible to HAVE a voting session until reason prevailed. Remember when a another President proclaimed “victory” in 2003?

“…..As a percentage of their gross wages, they are being asked for very little, especially in comparison to the majority of the rest of us Americans…..”

***I'm going to get off the firefighter track here, because this is not about firefighters. Let's just say for sake of argument, that you went college for four years…. Got a credential….Were required to complete a number of units of continuing education each year….. Decided (and in many places, it's not really your decision) that you needed to go ahead and get a Master's degree. So, a school teacher, that is right there next to a PhD ( believe it, or not, but many of these teachers that get summers off actually have advanced degrees)….. Yet, so, for the simple fact that they are employed by a “Government”, they need to be happy to tighten their belts??? They are not being asked to tighten their belts…. Not even close, my friend. Yet while this was going on in Wisconsin, at the same time as we receive this advise from you, the American public is more worried about whether the 2011 “football” season is going to happen, than whether or not the government will be employed this coming Friday at 0900 hrs.

So, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but really think about what you are saying. Because, there are many people that can, and will, leave at a moments notice, if you, or the people that “we” elected, jack them too hard with this attitude. That whole idea that simply because “you are a taxpayer, I work for ‘you'”… is flawed”. I, though simply a Forestry Technician and not a firefighter, work for a collective. That liberal Democrat tree hugger has just as much “say” as you or the Koch Brothers, do. That people get fed up with the BS, has far reaching effects, in not only services rendered, but also unanticipated costs.

Sometime, if you have a minute, simply sit down and put your head back. Close your eyes, and really think about what the consequences could be if the horrible govt. (ALL GOVT.) were to actually shut down. What if, for instance we all, collectively on one day (a true 24 hour period) decided to “tighten our belts” and voluntarily took a 24 hour (unpaid) furlough day? No… Not, I'll take Tuesday off, and you take Thursday off... No critical need…. I'm talking “belt tightening”. Every person that works for ANY govt. agency takes next Monday, March 20th off…. No FD. No PD. No EMS. No public works. No TSA, at the airports, which means, no airports. Aunt Jenny dies, and she rots because not only can she not be buried without an autopsy (done by an overpaid govt. worker), but the electricity that powers the freezer, is shut off. Gotta tighten belts! No food safety or health inspectors… The list goes on and on… “Majority” rules, right?

Whether you want to admit it or not, you need your govt. to be socialistic. You want you government to be socialistic. By definition that is what a government does. Do you want to haggle with a free enterprise capitalistic fire “company” when the curtains ignite in your kitchen? Do you really want elementary school teachers “capitalizing”? ***

A Taxpayer and realist

3/14 Ab, was looking over the safenet link pages and found this 2010 review interesting:

Safenet Review 2010 (pdf)

What is a safenet? What happens when one is filed, etc. Presentation of bar graphs of safenets by year and by agencies by year and by other categories.

Contributing Factors - 2010
One of the important components of a safety related reporting system is the identification of contributing factors. The SAFENET system allows the submitter to choose from six different elements that may be present, including communications, human factors, equipment, fire behavior, environmental, and other. As in most years human factors and communications are the leading categories for 2010. Many submissions cite more than one contributing factor.

If you have a minute, read it.

Strider

3/14 "Interagency Emergency Helicopter Extraction Source List".

Emergency Extraction (2,791K pdf file)

"The intent of this source list is to provide Incident Management Teams, Geographic Area Coordination Centers, and Forests access to the availability of helicopter resources on a state, geographical and national basis to conduct human extractions (hoist/short-haul) for emergency evacuations".

This is a direct quote from page 1 within the "EHEL" source list.

As far as I can tell the original message announcing this link was from the LLC. Ab.

3/14 To A taxpayer and a voter,

Congratulations, I'm a taxpayer and voter too. You omitted one very important point in your slanted description of recent political events in Wisconsin. Before the Democratic legislators left the the state, they agreed to accept a large increase in public employees' contributions to health and retirement to help balance the state budget, but the Wisconsin governor and Republican majority insisted that stripping their collective bargaining rights had to be a part of the budget bill. After too many days in the glare of the national spotlight, the Republicans' "principled position" began to take on the smell of bad fish. So, the Republican majority suddenly reversed their former "principled position" and decided it was OK to strip the collective bargaining demand from the budget bill and vote on the collective bargaining provision alone. The all-Republican vote was predictable, and the governor signed it into law before the ink was dry. They busted the union, and it had nothing to do with the budget.

In relation to what is happening in Wisconsin and other states, the budget is being used as a red herring to cover union busting efforts. The real issue is, if Republican majorities in Wisconsin and other states are successful in eliminating collective bargaining and union rights for public and private workers, the Republican party will eliminate one of their strongest election foes and weaken the Democratic party for years to come.

Misery Whip
3/13 I was wondering about the Las Vegas Helitack Crew. The good and bad.

njg

for starters, if you haven't seen 'em:
BLM Website
FWS Website

3/13 Wisconsin Firefighters Practice Collective, Er, Um, "Bargaining"

opednews.com

Awesome: Wisconsin Firefighters Shut Down Bank That Funded Walker

Everybody knows the GOP's biggest weakness is money, so why not hit 'em in the sweet spot? That's what many amazing Wisconsin firefighters did yesterday when they collectively began withdrawing their funds from Madison's M&I Bank -- whose executives and board members were among the highest donors to Governor Scott Walker's campaign....

More at the link...

LIONA

3/13 A Taxpayer and a Voter

I don't know who you are and frankly it doesn't matter. What is important is for us to remember a few key things that you are leaving out! Very important things that you may have forgotten!

  1. The Government that we elected to serve us brought this deficit upon us by electing to reinforce the monetary infrastructure with billions in printed money!
    Which by the way was in no way created by Firefighters, Police officers or Bus Drivers. After it was deposited the goons from big money took the money and split. No one mentions that!
  2. The state of Wisconsin sat at that proverbial table and re-negotiated the contracts and shook hands and stamped documents with the Union. Its called a negotiation and not because the employer is being held hostage either, although that's what some would have us believe! I would tend to agree that some Unions tend to exaggerate the need for some contract items and its plainly obvious that those days are over.
  3. Every taxpayer that votes is looking to get the most bang for their buck. With that said i think the State of Wisconsin may have bitten off more than they could chew! I admire the Govs. tenacity to get down to business but i think he is going about it in the wrong way. Do you really think anyone will want to come to work for the taxpayers of your State? How will they be treated? Will they be able to afford to by a decent house? Or live in the neighborhood that you do? Or send their children to your children's school? No because they won't be able to afford to! Public servants are being villainized because they cost money plain and simple. Well folks you get what you pay for and what you vote for! When it comes to my safety i want the best that money can buy, because when the buildings come down its those highly overpaid people that are rollin to save your ass!
  4. What is the Gov. of the State of Wisconsin paid? what is the LT. Gov. paid? How much does it cost to run his cabinet? I assure you that they will protect their wages and after they have saved you a bunch of money they will give themselves raises.

In ending let us not forget the "highly overpaid public servants" who at this very hour are headed into harms way to search for survivors in Japan. Those who will no doubt find little sleep or comfort at the task ahead. Those "highly overpriced public servants" will be in places that you can't pay other people to be, that's why they ask for a little compensation in return. If anyone is deserving of our respect and loyalty it is our public servants, think about that the next time you hear a fire engine drive down your street at 3 in the morning or the next time you see a police officer raiding a meth lab on your block or when those wildland firefighters save your neighborhood!

And as far as tightening the belt goes, it's fine as long as it isnt around my neck!

Signed, Can't take it no more

3/12 Anonymous for obvious reasons-
Hunh? What you are saying.... == ???? with no offense meant...

ms-
Diversity is our strength.

misery whip-
Thanks for the list. I have much to learn.

Madison

City of Madison News Release

3/12 Just finished the fundraiser marathon (1622hrs)

I just got off the phone with Matthew Radtke, one of the American River Hotshots who just ran their "Just Finish" Marathon to raise money for the Foundation. Matt finished around 6 hours and Shawn in just over 4 hours. Thank you so much to these 2 for their endurance, compassion, and determination! They raised right around $600 for their efforts. We sure appreciate you and your efforts for the wildland community and the Foundation. Way to go guys!! Enjoy that cool bath and that cold beer!

Melissa Brandt
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Nice, thanks runners. Ab.

3/12 Post of the Year = Misery Whip.

We are a diverse group. Diverse in our beliefs, our values, our political views, our agencies, our income, our race and our gender. However with all our diversity, one thing is true: Firefighters support Firefighters.

This diversity helps keep us strong.

Fight On Wisconsin, Fight On!

ms
3/12 Misery Whip,

I would hardly label the mentioned companies as Ultraconservative. In fact one in particular, I, personally would label as fairly liberal. What we ALL need to remember is the people of Wisconsin voted these people in to make votes for them, based on the past views and stands of said politicians. The Governor, for one stated during his campaign that he would make the removal of collective bargaining as a priority. What is very sad is that those representatives that left the State, where given 3 weeks to come and testify about their views and they choose to run. This sets a terrible precedent. To me it is a very childish maneuver. One rather like " I know I am not going to get my way so I will run and hide" . It is very simple, The MAJORITY of voters in Wisconsin have elected these people to represent them, the voters and that is what they are doing. In the words of our President, when asked about pushing through a bill he favored , " We won".

Well..... Our country is BROKE!!! In fact the interest payment on our National Debt is going to surpass the Defense Budget in 2012! We ALL need to tighten our belts. Having a person pay more into THEIR OWN medical insurance and RETIREMENT should hardly be a felony!!! As a percentage of their gross wages, they are being asked for very little, especially in comparison to the majority of the rest of us Americans.

A taxpayer and a voter

3/12 To firefighter in Wisconsin:

I do not want to stir up anything with this comment but as you likely know TheySaid is visited by many from all over the Country & all over the world.

As with any political issue, there is a happy medium somewhere in the middle between the left and the right although no one on either side seems truly interested in crossing that line to meet the other side halfway.

I respect your position and I think most of us know the firefighters & police are exempt from the recent actions by the Wisconsin Legislature.

The "move your money" is an interesting action. You also likely know since you addressed "the west" in your post that many federal firefighters, employed by the Dept. of Defense, the Coast Guard and other federal agencies work in the west and in fact across the country and are members of the IAFF. What has, or will the firefighters in Wisconsin do to help their Brothers & Sisters in the IAFF's 16th district to secure the same collective bargaining rights many IAFF members across the country take for granted? You are likely aware the IAFF has sponsored legislation for over a decade to secure such rights for firefighters in states that do not yet have it. Sadly, the IAFF's efforts towards that end don't seem to have been extended to their federal firefighter dues paying members.

Recently, IAFF President Harold Schaitberger was in Wisconsin stirring up the troops. Bravo. When was the last time he demonstrated such passion on behalf of his organization's federal firefighters?

The debate over the role of unions in the 21st century could go on and on. There is no shortage of those on both sides of the argument. However if you are going to promote the actions of Wisconsin firefighters on behalf of their State's teachers, and if the IAFF is going to scream and yell in Madison for such rights for teachers, I would like to think that if I'm a federal firefighter working for the Air Force and a member of an IAFF local, the IAFF would show that same tenacity for the same rights for me. They haven't and likely won't.

So while both sides of the argument jockey for public opinion, I hope all of the Wisconsin firefighters look at the totality of the effort of the IAFF on collective bargaining rights for ALL their dues paying members. Until federal firefighters have the right, in fact all federal employees have the right to negotiate over pay & benefits, the yelling and screaming by the IAFF and their non-federal rank & file seems somewhat hollow to me.

Anonymous for obvious reasons
3/12 Wisconsin Firefighters and Union Members,

I am not a union member but I am a firefighter, and I fully support the right of unions to collectively bargain. I don't have a bank account with M & I but I will do what I can to support union workers. I don't have to do business with companies that support union busting, and that is what I plan to do as a statement of solidarity with the working men and women of Wisconsin.

If ultraconservative billionaires want to contribute thousands of dollars to support political hacks so they can bust America's unions, that is their prerogative. Every American has a choice too. I choose to not do business with or buy products from companies like Koch Brothers Industries, Walmart, Miller/Coors, AT & T, Johnsonville Brats, Sargento Cheese, and others as long as they support union busting in this country. I encourage others to do the same.

Get informed. Wisconsin is just one of several states where union busting bills are being considered today. Hit these people where it hurts; in their wallets.

Misery Whip
3/12 Ab,

We had to do something to help support our working men and women. None of us are rich, not even close. If they do this to teachers but do not tax big business, they will do it to all of the rest of us to. Please support us. We come WEST to support you when you need us to fight fire. We need you!

Madison in Wisconsin, proud to be a firefighter

WI Firefighters Spark "Move Your Money" Moment

On the day that the bill passed the Wisconsin Assembly effectively ending 50 years of collective bargaining in Wisconsin and eviscerating the ability of public unions to raise money through dues, a new front opened in the battle for the future of Wisconsin families.

Bagpipes blaring, hundreds of firefighters walked across the street from the Wisconsin Capitol building, stood outside the Marshall and Ilsley Bank (M&I Bank) and played a few tunes -- loudly. Later, a group of firefighter and consumers stopped back in at the bank to make a few transactions. One by one they closed their accounts and withdrew their life savings, totaling approximately $190,000. After the last customer left, the bank quickly closed its doors, just in case the spontaneous "Move Your Money" moment caught fire.

fair use disclaimer

3/11 Ab,

I wanted to tell TheySaid about some of the amazing people in our community.

We would like to say a big thank you to the GODFATHER of all runners, that crazy endorphin addict willing to endure physical and mental challenges to fundraise for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation – KENNETH PERRY . This guy sparked something that has continued to burn well past his last run for the Foundation. Ken, I posted on Facebook, I'll say it again, time to dust off the mountain bike and go riding with Killer while you run through the California desert…you name the date, I'll be there.

Ken's inspiration has folks across the country signed up to run marathons and start runs of their own, all to bring attention to the wildland community and support their fellow firefighters. Here are some of those efforts…

March 12 (tomorrow!), two American River Hotshots will be running in the “Way Too Cool” Marathon – (renamed the “Just Finish” Marathon by these two hotshots!) – They have been collecting pledges for the past month (not too late to pledge! Follow this link marathons firefighter pledges foundationl). I read a comment this morning attached to a pledge from a family member saying how proud they are, it brought a tear to my eye. I talked with one of the runners last Friday and he told me the training was going well - he also didn't want to know how many pledges had been collected…too much pressure. I'll be on the phone with him when he's finished and enjoying his “after” beer.

April 18 - Shanna Burke, Daniel Holmes' cousin, is running in the Boston Marathon. We're taking $52 pledges (2 bucks per mile) for Shanna's efforts. Please visit her blog to read all about Danny at Run for peace run for love run for. Shanna has shared some very beautiful things about her cousin - you feel pride in every word.

April 23 & 24 – The Dalton Hotshots are participating in the Ragnar Relay Series Southern California, a 200.9 mile relay race from Ventura to Dana Point . Donations can be made to the Foundation's website, please include a comment that your donation is for the Relay. These Hotshots have run this 200+ mile race for two years in a row to support the Foundation! Donations accepted here Donation

May 7 – The 3rd Annual Mike Schweitzer Memorial Run (5K and 10K) to take place in Etna, California , more information is available at this link Schweitzer Challenge 2011  (pdf) this run is a great mixture of road and trail running.

May 21 - Lava Beds Fire Management will present a run/walk to remember the lives of Captain Shawn Price and Firefighter Thomas Marovich Jr in Tulelake, CA . You can download the registration form here: Firefighter Memorial Run Registration (pdf).

June 4 – The folks on the Salmon-Challis National Forest are sponsoring their first annual Jeff Allen and Shane Heath Memorial Run (you can go to this link to register jeff allen and shane heath memorial run 2011 ).

We have MANY other fundraisers posted at our website wffoundation.org;

- Silver State Hotshots Vertical Drop Competition (Mar 18)
- Del Rosa Hotshots' Golf Scramble (Mar 19)
- Eldorado Hotshot's Day at the Winery (April 9)
- Fulton Hotshots Sporting Clay Shoot (Apr 22 & 23)
- Boise National Forest Golf Scramble (June 4)
- Quilt Silent Auction (Bid Now - This is a beautiful quilt!)

I hope I haven't forgotten anyone. We also have had a number of regional teams hold silent auctions, raffles, and other fundraisers at their agency meetings. You don't know how much we appreciate your efforts and all that you do.

Thank you from all of us here at the Foundation. We could not help the families and firefighters without your support. From our heart to yours, stay safe everyone.

Melissa Brandt
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
www.wffoundation.org

3/11 Weak trees that may be a hazard:

Recognizing Tree Hazards & Tree Hazard Checklist treecare/ hazards

R6er

3/11 Crescent City CA has had 7-8 foot waves. Ab.
3/11 Latest news map on the 8.9 Sendai Earthquake:

earthquakes/ latest news map.phpl

Resource page on the UN-SPIDER Knowledge Portal for the response efforts to the Japanese earthquake:

un-spider.org/ japan-pacific

Fire Geek

3/11 Tsunami Warning for the west coast.

First waves are beginning to reach norcal --Humboldt County-- coast. Evacs, school closures, business closures, etc in Eureka and low-lying surrounding areas.

7:40-1:40 but waves can continue up to 12 hr. The first waves may not be the worst.

Ab.

3/10 Fellow Firefighters:

Just to keep up with what could matter during my last (maybe next year's) fire season, I thought I'd reread all of Feb. thru March posts again to see if I'd missed anything important.

The Modoc IHC thing was puzzling, but the two subjects that I have the most experience with were :  The Contractor/Private vs. Feds stir-up and secondly, the Dispatcher Dustup.

  • As a dozerboss, and felling boss I can attest that my contractors are generally wonderful, maximum workmonsters who at the end of the day want to do A+ work and be called again, over and over. My fallers and dozer dudes are always the most fun, together we are pros! That is the what of that subject. Some of the who that I firmly agree with on this, fall to Misery Whip and Stringtown; by the way String, don't know 'ya, but sure would follow you and Whip anywhere and do most anything, reasonably safe. You are amazing. Can't see Privatization at all.
     
  • Dispatch, I know from Sharon trying alot of us FF's out @ Redmond Air Center's Dispatch to cross train us.. She said, "it'll be a good thing." It was... rewarding, eyeopening and a good thing for all. When my dozerlegs fail, perhaps I could go do that, as I need to rest someday. At 61, for some reason I still want to do it...String, you said a lot of why we do it, and how Professionally we all do it, in one of your posts. All of us, Feds, Staters, Contractors, Dispatchers, and Rural/Municipal Firefighters like what we do and thanks to Casey want a little pay now & then...

So Stringtown, in your spare time can you take on all these messes and lead us...Oh, I guess 'ya did. I think retirement is near...

Thanks Ab.

signed,
Benner

Dennis (Ben) Benhower, a FOBS, FELB & DOZB
Camp Sherman, OR

You're welcome. Happy soon-to-be-retirement Ben. Don't be a stranger. Ab.

3/10 Ab,

If I'm walking through a burned area with trees or a not burned area with trees, how do I recognize if any of them are hazard trees?

Greenie

3/10 For anyone going to wildfires in Region 3 and further east in TX:

Fuels info from AZ, Making the rounds:

Due to the early February freeze, many of the oaks are showing signs of widespread frost damage. I am not sure to what extent all of the other districts are experiencing damage from the freeze but I am guess you all are experiencing much the same. Since just recently the extent of the damage is starting to make itself very evident, I would take the time to get this out and insure everyone is aware of what is going on here on the district and likely much of the forest before they find themselves on a fire here.

Drew Leiendecker
Prescribed Fire and Fuels Specialist
Coronado National Forest
Sierra Vista Ranger District/
Ft. Huachuca Military Installation

YouTubes from TX Forest Service and TX ArgiLife Extension Service

The Texas Forest Service and Texas AgriLife Extension Service are part of a team of state agencies teaming with the National Weather Service to help forewarn people about the danger of wildfires this season.

  • TX wildfires through March and April.
    Texas AgriLife Extension Service
    Fuels are dry on the land. "All we need are that spark and the wind."
    Texas wildfire predictions for March-April 2011
    www.youtube.com (1 min 49 sec)
     
  • Texas wildfire b-roll March 2011
    Texas AgriLife Extension Service
    (you can hear the wind; first 3 minutes are of fighting the fire from an engine: need LCES)
    www.youtube.com (7 min)

News article:
Texas crop, weather for March 8
2011-03-09
High risk of wildfire predicted to continue through April
By: Robert Burns

COLLEGE STATION — Crops, pastures and rangeland continued to be stressed by drought in most of Texas.

Adding insult to injury, the high risk of wildfire would last through April for most of the state, according Texas Forest Service and Texas AgriLife Extension Service personnel. The problem remains lack of moisture, combined with a heavy fuel load of dry grasses and high winds.

On Feb. 22 these conditions contributed to the outbreak of 20 major wildfires from Amarillo to Ozona and Midland east to Matador, an area with a “footprint of about 45,000 square miles,” said Mark Stanford, Forest Service operations chief.

Stanford said the winds spread the fires at 4 to 5 miles per hour, creating the equivalent of a football-field size area burning every minute. At least 80 homes burned and hundreds of families evacuated.

Stanford and other forecasters feared that, without rain, the same conditions that fueled the Feb. 22 fires will continue to raise the risk of wildfires big and small. (rest at the link)

The rest of the article breaks the prediction or conditions down by the 12 TX AgriLife Extension Service districts. (It's a big state.)

Drought Monitor Map
NOAA Fire Detection hotspot viewer

Ab.

3/9 Informational Summary Report (Green Sheet) 10-CA-TCU-010654 Inmate Firefighter Burn Injury (70 K pdf)

For discussion and Tailgate Safety sessions...

3/8 Chalk Fire APA and Policy:

Letterman

Your points are well taken. The APA process for the Chalk Fire APA are right on target.

1) The Driver and Acting Captain were in compliance with letters of direction that were in place at the time of the BDF E-56 accident. It was pointed out to the APA team. It was not incorporated into the final APA.

2) Attempts to revise the APA or address the policy in place at the time appear to have been ignored.

3) The APA team leader was a Line Officer. There are no qualification standards to lead an APA, or an official accident investigation, except to be a Line Officer. Did the Line Officer even understand what an APA was? Provide the documentation of training and experience in this.

4) Look at the APA team composition. What was the knowledge base of the team members? And how did they get selected? What was the position of the most qualified Fire Operations SME.

5) The APA appears to have been an Investigation, disguised by an APA.

6) The Chalk Fire APA team leader is now the Forest Supervisor on the BDF. This is just a statement of fact.

7) Why was an APA selected to address the accident? A formal accident investigation was the most appropriate method to determine the facts.

Last, it is time to address Serious Accident Investigation Teams that are not led by a Line Officer or Senior Official, consisting of team members who have zero investigative background or training. The world of investigations has changed. It is time for permanent full time investigators to become the standard of wildland fire accident investigations. Could anyone imagine an aircraft accident investigation being led by a person with no background supported by a team of experts who have no background in investigation.

Irony

3/8 Dear Fun in the Sun:

I'll ask that question while in DC the week of March 20th. I will be meeting with Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) who has introduced the "Cuts Act." One of the provisions is to consolidate the fire programs of the USDA & DOI.

There has been idle chit-chat for years in Washington and in the field about the creation of a stand-alone federal wildfire agency. I think most people's concerns would be the unintended creation of another FEMA and end up with non-fire folks managing the thing.

So, I'll ask the Congressman what color scheme he envisions!

Casey Judd
FWFSA
3/8 OPS refresher:

Comrades,

I have been tasked with teaching during the yearly OPS refresher this year. I am teaching the Wildland Urban Interface Operating Principals block. I would like to present something fresh. I have had no luck finding anything that is current and relevant. If anyone has a lead on a PPT or video I would appreciate the help.

Thanks,
R5

3/7 fun question for today

If federal fire was to centralize into "the U.S. Fire Service" or something of that nature. What color would the engines be? Red, White with a red stripe, Forest Green, BLM yellow, Red, White and Blue, all of the above?

sign me,
fun in the sun.

3/7 Policy inconsistencies:

NWRG,

I believe you misinterpreted the intent of my pointing out key phrases. It was to highlight certain terms in order to show the conflict with the next paragraph. However, to avoid an argument of what I said/meant, I'd like to spur the conversation a little deeper.

If an ember lands on a building, you emphatically stated you don't just stand there and watch it burn because the following statement applies: and the extinguishing of spot fires near or on the structure when safe and practical.

My question to you then is: At what point does the ember begin to propagate and make the following statement apply? Firefighters will not take direct suppression action on structure, vehicle, dumpster, trash, or landfill fires.

In the essence of time, I'm sure most folks would immediately respond that the fireline handbook says when 1/4 or more of the roof is involved AND the suppression of said "ember" (that is now 1/4 of the roof), is tactically advantageous.

So if I'm a captain and I have my crew laying hose and performing direct attack through someone's back yard and someone yells "SPOT!!" Only the "spot" is on the roof of a house. The house is 2000 sq. ft. and my best guess is that about 500 sq. ft. are involved. It is blowing embers across the line so we attack the roof. Are we doing what's right? Are we doing the right thing? Are we operating under the principles of doctrine? Absolutely!!! ...to all 3 questions

BUT: Are we operating under policy? Well now that's a new ball of wax. I guess we are, as long as no one gets hurt, but heaven forbid if someone stubs their toe on the sidewalk because the fact that there was policy (not principle) that stated we were not to do what we did, THAT will be the cause of the injury. THAT will be the reason why I now have to defend myself. Even if I'm vindicated 2 years later. The last 2 years will have been the most trying, stressful, nerve wracking 2 years of my life. Every time the phone rings, I can rest assured that it is NOT an agency defense team coming to my rescue; because I was out of policy... I am on my own.

We all need to familiarize ourselves with the "new" risk management principles being taught across the nation by NIMO teams. There is a document titled " Foundation and Key Aspects of the Protocol for Implementing Risk Management". I don't believe I've seen it here, someone can correct me, but I'll find a link or scan a copy and meet you back here and we can take this conversation to a whole new level in risk versus gain, principle versus policy decisions.

DS

3/6 Policy inconsistencies:

In 24 hours, we had two individuals agree, too much “written stuff.” Mission Accomplished! Mission confusion continues and now what happens when something goes wrong?

Joat, thanks for acknowledging that documents conflict. Simply, that was my intent. Together, let's us take the conversation to the next level, which is what happens with all this conflicting direction after the negative event occurs.

First, we should acknowledge this statement. You said,

these conflicting documents almost support the Doctrine principle in a round-a-bout way

– I really need to take in this statement in for a while, in the hope I find some merit with it. Right now, I am having trouble finding it. Conflicting direction in any profession is a distraction. Distractions lead to unproductive activities and accidents. It does not matter if you work on an assembly line or hold a drip torch, manage an insurance firm, or perform as an Incident Commander. Conflicting direction, leads one to be hesitant, lack confidence, be unproductive and be prone to an accident.

If your integrity is solid, then your justifications will be too

– I agree. We apply this daily. However, take your quote and apply it to what happens in a negative situation. Add in some conflicting direction, and see what comes out……….

Read the Chalk Fire APA (925 K pdf). This was an engine rollover in 2008. SIX times within that APA is a reference to a letter, “direction”, signed May 22, 2006 by the R-5 Regional Forester. This letter provided direction on engine staffing requirements of individuals. The letter was one of the foundational documents the APA team used to build “conclusions” and “recommendations.” Within two of those SIX references, the APA team wrote:

The Driver and Acting Captain were not in compliance with the qualification requirements unique to the following: May 22, 2006 letter.

Both Driver and Acting Captain were not adhering to the Regional letter of direction set forth in May 22, 2006.

The problem was the May 22, 2006 letter of direction was superseded about 60 days later, more than two years before the accident, by another letter on engine staffing requirements.

Both the Driver and the Acting Captain were in compliance with the new letter of direction. Now we have an APA written by an APA team that was officially sanctioned by the region, with incorrect statements about these young men. Fortunately, this was an APA and not an investigation. However, Joatmon, this is where you are correct; although it is not fun being told, “You were not in compliance,” or “you did not adhere to,” their integrity would have won out in the end. Keep in mind, however, that the path to redemption is not a fun path at times.

I heard the APA team members did go back and correct the APA. Once again, a WLF.com forum follower caught the error and exposed it a few days after the APA was released. I know these APA members did not walk around with this letter waiting for an accident to occur. What troubles me is someone at a higher level probably handed this invalid letter to the APA team as a reference.

The moral of the story is that as an agency we are obviously struggling with rules and regulation implementation, doctrine implementation and getting to a point where our policy and direction is clear and concise. Have you ever seen an emergency service organization with this much mission conflict going on? Organizational change needed?

We need less policy writers and interpreters and more visionaries. Speaking of vision, as Leo said:

“I never questioned the integrity of an umpire. Their eyesight, yes.” – Leo Durocher.

Letterman

3/6 Policy inconsistencies:

DS, Letterman

There aren't too many things written that have absolute meaning that everyone would agree on. So I guess I don't agree with the the notion that there is a huge contradiction among directives that DS posted or that we can develop unquestionable written directives based on a crystal clear intent.
Let's look at those directives again starting with the third:

"Firefighters will not take direct suppression action on structure, vehicle, dumpster, trash, or landfill fires."

Well why not?

"Structure, vehicle, and landfill fire suppression is not a functional responsibility of wildland fire resources. These fires have the
potential to emit high levels of toxic gases." (and blow-up, etc)

OK there are the answers: First; functional responsibility, Second; SAFETY. (and NWCG wildland fire training does not include those types of firefighting training)

Those answers would probably be enough to satisfy everybody, until one of us asked the question, " So, there I am protecting the structure using 'standard wildland fire suppression tactics and control methods' and a burning ember lands on the roof and starts to burn. Do I let it burn because we don't take direct structure suppression actions?"

Hell no! So somebody in management heard us and added a point of clarification; "and the extinguishing of spot fires near or on the structure when safe and practical."

DS wants us to notice the words, "on the structure". I think we must focus on the words, "when safe and practical". Isn't that our overall crystal clear intent; Everybody goes home safely?

Bottom line: There is so much written stuff out there that we can find lots of apparent conflicts. If you think there is some conflict in wording that could get you in trouble, discuss it with your supervisor. If you're still worried about being set up, or that you won't make a decision that is safe and practical, apply the fundamental concept of "Safety First" and stay in bed.

Respectfully

NWRG

3/5 Policy inconsistencies:

Letterman,

I would definitely say that the conflicting verbiage in our documents are a prime example of poor oversight and an overall lack of understanding at the highest levels in relation to the arena of Wildland Fire suppression that the USFS currently resides in. That being said, would you take a moment to consider that the specific conflicting policy you are referring to actually does not back you into a corner but more realistically gives you the latitude to be justified while making the best decision you can? The poor oversight and understanding of what the realities are have now given you the ability to engage or defend based on what you feel to be most appropriate.... and you can reference either policy to back yourself up....

If your integrity is solid, then your justifications will be too.... and these conflicting documents almost support the Doctrine principle in a round-a-bout way... :)

Just a thought,

Joatmon

3/5 Nice job KNF IHC. I am glad it worked out for you.

ms
3/5 Glad to see a lot of interest in the 2011 Red Book.

At first when I posted on 2/4 there was no response I thought maybe I was just overreacting. The only question I still have is to the insurance folks, "how would this all stand up in court'?

26 days left but still care.

Be safe always, they're only bushes and they grow back.

JS

3/5 Gabe Pomona's Memorial Service:

Thank You everyone who came to Gabe's Memorial. Summer and the family were greatly pleased and honored with your presence.

Kathleen and Jody Smith

3/5 Klamath IHC Vindicated

Just short of two years later, three Klamath Hot Shots were vindicated of any wrongdoing in the accident that happened in the summer of 2009.

TwoMas

3/4 Policy inconsistencies:

DS, exactly, you're exactly right. The Forest Service is backing themselves and Firefighters into a corner. Direction is coming from every direction now regarding all-risk incidents and issues, mostly conflicting with curve-balls.

More policy direction is due out any day which is probably in response to the chatter in our forum from last month.

More contradictory direction is not what we need. What we need is a fire organization that is free to establish policy and procedures without fear of Line Officer retaliation. Policy that is rooted with crystal clear intent, within the law and without creating more questions, and second guessing. We can no longer work with what is going on. One chapter of the Redbook says one thing, another chapter says something different, and then we have the 5100 manual saying something totally different.

It's hilarious that they reference the doctrine in every policy definition and explanation, but fail to apply the doctrine in every policy definition and explanation.

Fight the all risk fire and/or provide medical assistance up to level of training for incidents within the forest boundary, do not usurp local authority, assist as trained and needed, do it safely, go home, AAR, get ready for the next one.
One sentence, done.

We don't need a freaking library of reference material on this.

DS, I applaud your post.

Letterman

3/4 Policy inconsistencies:

Contradict much??
Redbook CHPT 5:

Using principles requires judgment in application, while adherence to rules does not. In combination, principles and rules guide our fundamental wildland fire suppression practices and behaviors, and are mutually understood at every level of command

Structure Protection Definition
Actions taken in advance of a fire reaching structures or other improvements are intended to safely prevent the fire from damaging or destroying these values at risk. For the Forest Service, structure protection involves the use of standard wildland fire suppression tactics and control methods; including the use of standard equipment, fire control lines, and the extinguishing of spot fires near or on the structure when safe and practical.

Notice the words "on the structure"

and further on in CHPT 5:

The Forest Service shall not:
• Take direct suppression actions on structures other than those that tactically reduce the threat of fire spread to them.

So it's OK if it is tactically advantageous.

Now from CHPT 11 of the very same book that quotes doctrine and states direction will be clear and mutually understood by all levels of command...

Structure, Vehicle, Dumpster, Trash, and Landfill Fires
Firefighters will not take direct suppression action on structure, vehicle, dumpster, trash, or landfill fires. Structure, vehicle, and landfill fire suppression is not a functional responsibility of wildland fire resources. These fires have the potential to emit high levels of toxic gases. {DUH!!! So don't put them out, you might reduce the amount of said toxic gasses!!} This policy will be reflected in suppression response plans.

Are we all in mutual understanding now? Am I to use principles when I decide which chapter to use, or rules which directly contradict each other?

DS

3/4 RE: Predicting Texas wildfires

As I am always excited to look at the NBT (Next Big Thing), I eagerly reviewed the article. However, I was unable to extract how this is any different than what is currently done in both CA GACCs and I suspect many others. Am I wrong? Perhaps just a novice journalist being exposed to the wonders of wildland fire command and control? I seem to recall a team of SoCal fire leaders going to the Southeast last year to observe how they prepare and respond to the annual siege, but I haven't seen any findings on that expedition.

exjefe
3/4 Interesting article on predicting TX wildfires is referenced on the
HOTLIST this morning.

Other media reports of fires across the US in that "Morning Brief" section as well.

Ab.

3/4 Walnut,

Not just jumpers, but most firefighters (fire specialists, helicopter managers, overhead, village and shot crews) in Alaska get Fresh Food Boxes after a few days into a fire. As stated earlier there are few roads for a contractor to set up food catering, so it is necessary. With that said, yes, it is very expensive, yes time is taken away from fighting the fire to cook your own meal, and yes they are sometimes used in areas where a caterer should be used (road system).

JTD

3/4 If you get a chance send a card or call the Molhoek family, they just recently lost their youngest child, Joey. His Dad, Joe has been fighting fire since 1977 on the El Cariso IHC. His Mom, Kay has served the Forest Service and the Park Service for nearly as long. Besides being very dedicated public servants they are by far two of the very best parents I have ever had the honor of knowing, so this will take some time and much prayer and support from the fire community. PO: 64 Hawaii Volcanoes National Park HI 96718

Kenneth M. Jordan
Sierra IHC Supt.
3/4 MT Jumper

Walnut,

The prior responses to your post showed significantly more insight, fairness, and maturity than yours, especially if yours was indeed a cheap swipe at the Alaska Smokejumpers. As a Forest Service Smokejumper, I can attest that our food boxes are far from as nutritionally sustainable, or tasty, as a good meal in fire camp. Like Alaska's, our food boxes contain plenty of SPAM, oatmeal packets, discarded MRE leftovers, and maybe a candy bar or two. If you're lucky, the food survives the jump and hasn't soaked your sleeping bag in water, SPAM and tuna juice and smeared chocolate (now sleep in bear country in said sleeping bag for 14 days). Next, you jam a few things and race to the fire, eating your SPAM raw if you don't have time to heat it, and your oatmeal seasoned with campfire ash and dirt. If you had researched the topic, you'd also probably realize that we can buy, package, strap, rig, load, transport by aircraft, deploy, and retrieve Smokejumper food for significantly less than the cost of MREs.

Occasionally we also provide aerially delivered FRESH FOOD (different than above) to fire crews, for a similar cost to MREs. These include steaks, fresh fruit, milk, salad, and even utensils and coolers. Occasionally Smokejumpers share in this bounty, but the majority of fresh food drops are for other types of firefighters. Smokejumpers primarily labor at, rather than benefit from these deliveries, and the invoice you were referring to may very well have been going to just such a re-supply.

I agree with other posters that in these challenging times, we should all stick together and support the firefighting brother and sister-hood, not bash it. How silly to complain about expenses for food; like that's breaking the firefighting budgets. In addition to inflammatory, your post was inaccurate. Check your facts next time, and order a fresh food drop... I guarantee it will taste better than MREs for the same price, and food delivered by para-cargo is way cooler than tearing open an MRE!

MT Jumper
3/4 Just wanted to thank "no name" for the correct information concerning policy within the Forest Service and who the responsible mismanagement elitist was . I sure hope I'm digging line, laying hose or in their case, sitting behind a big desk making cruel decisions when I go, so as my family won't have to solicit funds for food like Gabe's wife Summer had to for the participants at his Memorial.

I've got a really bad taste in my mouth, gotta go. Sleep well

Sick at Heart

3/4 WFF fundraiser and art piece:

Hi All,

I am auctioning an amazing 84” x 84” quilt to benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Bids will be accepted through March 31st and all proceeds from the auction will go to the Foundation. The quilt was made by my Aunt, Becky Price, and includes fire and fire module t-shirts that were kindly donated by several TheySaid readers. You can see pictures of the quilt and place a bid on it at wffquilt.com. Along with the photos there is also a FLYER that you can print out and post.

Thank you!

Cara Scott, Eldorado NF

Beautiful and meaningful. Ab.

3/3 AB

With the recent discussion of burns, I saw this interesting video about the treatment of second degree burns. I'm certainly not medically qualified, but what I saw was very interesting. If this procedure comes to be the SOP for second degree burns, that would be a very good thing. video the skin gun (3.5 min video)

CAFBAN

Wow! Thank you for that National Geographic YouTube video. Ab.

3/3 GA Peach,

That Florida FF that got second degree burns to his face... his hose stream hit a hot patch, and it blew steam back into his face.

Sign me:

Be careful out there.

3/2 Walnut,

What are they eating? Food, my friend. I looked at the link and can't figure out from it, what this contract is referring to. Having been there, you don't get out of your bag and stand in line for a catered meal. You either cook a can of beans for breakfast... maybe an instant oatmeal, and maybe, if you are lucky, after 3 days, when you get fresh food, a cheese sandwich.... and again for evening supper. This goes on for days and weeks, with no showers, no pubs down the road, and no Pizza Hut. Not sure what your point was, but AK jumpers do eat MRE's, and a lot of them. Think about that next time you are standing in line for a meal at fire camp... a meal that has been "contracted" to provide you with all of the calories, and nutrients that a white coat scientist determined.... Then think of trying to prepare that for yourself over a campfire each day. Think about instead of a bag lunch provided to you before you left fire camp, you had to have a tin of smoked oysters and a pouch of freeze dried coffee, because that was all that was left after 5 days.

Not getting down on you. But this is another example of an opinion expressed with very little (specific) knowledge to back it up. Smokejumpers are firefighters. That's it. They don't think they are so special that they get special food. It's food.

KP

3/2 maprocker - great post!

As an IA dispatcher who has worked many assignments to Alaska, I've come to realize that people in the lower 48 don't comprehend the difference in work environments and the logistics involved in feeding crews (jumpers, handcrews, etc) in Alaska. Your post was straight and to the point, very well written.

R6 dispatcher
3/2 As someone who, for some time, had AK Jumper issues on my plate (pun intended) here a few things to consider:
  1. “An army marches on its stomach”.
  2. No one in Alaska; jumpers, legs, overhead, are expected to subsist solely on MREs.
  3. As noted below, all fire personnel are provided fresh food boxes every few days to supplement MREs
  4. Jumpers often move from fire to fire in the space of a few days, and therefore often miss the fresh food boxes.
  5. Fresh food boxes are expensive, and expensive to deliver. Once delivered, their contents cannot re-enter the supply chain. If the ham that has been in the permafrost freezer isn't eaten by demobe time, it is either thrown away or hopefully left to someone in the nearest village/town. Conversely, the sardines, etc. in the jumpers goodie boxes can, and are, recycled and used later.
  6. The system wasn't developed to treat jumpers to a “better” deal than others, but rather to address the realities of fire operations/support in Ak.

maprocker

3/2 Sick at Heart

There must be many things going on "behind the scenes" with the newly appointed Forest Supervisor of the San Bernardino National Forest for you to write and post this. It may be presumptuous to say that there are limitation on attendance, official duty and other administrivia.

LODD (Line of Duty Death) has been clearly defined within the Federal Agencies. Any death that occurs outside of official on duty time is not considered a LODD. This became a debacle within the Forest Service with the death of a LEO who was killed after official duty while attending an event while representing the Forest Service.

Consider this the first volley of the views of the new BDF Forest Supervisor. It happened several times in her prior position on the ANF. The Forest Fire Prevention Officer death and the Paul Gleason Memorial dedication are two events which caused consternation. There are several other events as well, but not worth bringing to the discussion.

There is a serious omission here. Line officer have the discretion to determine "when it is in the interest of the agency" to attend and support events which contribute to the overall morale, and recovery from significant events such as the sudden death of an employee.

Memorials (or whatever the proper term is now) are a part of the healing process. It is critical to the agency to support these activities as it is in the interest of the agency.

To Gabe and his Family (which includes the Forest Service), the Fire Service has its heart felt emotions and support for you.

And to the "management" (who ever that is) consider to do what is right verses to do what is the right thing.

No Name
3/2 Walnut,

Since there are seldom fire camps as we are used to here in America (tongue in cheek), the jumpers in AK and others are often given fresh food boxes to cook themselves in the bush. I can only imagine that the steak those fellows eat up there cooked on a camp fire by themselves, is a world cheaper than the end product that comes from the caterers trailer down here. Perhaps your post was meant as a jab at the jumpers, maybe it was an item where you thought we could save costs? Regardless, AK fire duty is not a cake walk, I feel that those folks are constantly faced with short tours, budget cuts, and lack of amenities we take for granted here in the lower 48. Let us support our fellow fire folk, not bring them down with undeserved scrutiny.

007

3/2 Walnut,

It's been a few years since I was in a fire camp, so maybe I'm behind the times. Are they serving MREs only in fire camp now? I know I had a steak or two back in the late '80s, and salad and dessert too. There were days jumping fires I would have traded the canned tuna for a fire camp meal. Of course the mess in Galena beat everything else.

They must have passed the MREs for All rule more recently.

Sunil R
3/1 What BLM Jumpers are eating:

Out on the federal contracting side... interesting, and tasty.

What ever happened to MREs for all?

fedconnect.net

Yours,
Walnut

3rd line down? Ab.

3/1 Ab I heard the end of a report on CNN or MSNBC as part of some fire report that a VFD firefighter from Mims ? was burned
in that Florida fire near I-95. Does anyone know more?

GA Peach

Just found this. Ab.
www.msnbc.msn.com

Firefighter injured battling central Florida wildfires
Blaze burns 16,000 acres; state of emergency declared in Brevard County

SCOTTSMOOR, Fla. — A firefighter was injured Tuesday while battling fast-moving wildfires engulfing some 16,000 acres along Florida's central Atlantic coast.

Stiff winds were spreading the flames and smoke in a mostly rural stretch of Brevard County, located about 50 miles east of Orlando, and extending into Volusia County to the north. The blaze is 25 percent contained, authorities said.

The injured firefighter was among 120 state and local firefighters working to contain the blaze, using 4 aircraft and 10 heavy dozers among other equipment. He was flown by helicopter to a trauma hospital. The exact natures of his injuries was unclear but NBC's Kerry Sanders said the water from his hose hit a very hot patch and the steam blew back into his face. He was identified as Matt Wescott, 22, a volunteer with the Mims Volunteer Fire Department.

fair use disclaimer

3/1 Gabe Pomona, Big Bear Hotshot, who passed away recently in an accident on his way home from work, was an amazing person, awesome family man and a great firefighter, he worked on three different Hotshot crews, and was a viable part of saving millions of dollars of public and private lands, he was greatly loved by his subordinates, his friends and family as well as his immediate supervisors, His nick name was "Ten Bears", because he had the heart of Ten Bears, He made a difference and will be greatly missed by many of us.

What saddens me nearly as much as his passing is the resistance so far by many in upper management to support his memorial service monetarily. What.. he wasn't killed in the line of duty? What.. the new policy says so?

So what.

Until now I hung on to the dream that Forest Service was family, I thought management cared about its people, that's what they tell us all of the time, well fella's, here was your big hotline assignment, and you blew it. Sleep well. As for the rest of you who believe that we are still a family...I will see you at this great man's memorial on Friday.

PS: 51 Club, Where are you with this?

Sick at Heart

Repost from several days ago. If we each send in $20, we can help. I'm sending in mine. Pass the boot! Ab.

Summer Pomona, Gabe's wife has requested assistance from the San Bernardino Family Support Group to solicit donations to cover the reception food expenses. If you wish to donate please make checks payable to the Gabe Pomona Memorial Fund and send your donations to:

First Mountain Bank in Big Bear
40865 Big Bear Blvd.
P.O. Box 6868
Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Phone 909 866-5861

First Mountain Bank in Running Springs
2625 Whispering Pines Dr.
P.O. Box 90
Running Springs, CA 92382

First Mountain Bank in Lucerne Valley
32946 D Highway 18
P.O. Box 2100
Lucerne Valley, CA 92356

If you would like to donate Stater Bros. Markets gift cards please contact Family Support Group representative Julie DeAnda at Julie_deanda@yahoo.com or 909-557-8470.

3/1 wrench,

Oh well. Sounds like all the states (and commonwealths) had ample opportunity to comply. And, if agencies don't provide an acceptable ID.... Oh well. AND, if it turns out that this is actually a big issue.... Is it a "dispatching" issue, or an issue with "operations"? BTW, a passport still works.... Interestingly, though... I have been refused boarding due to a TSA goon not recognizing a federal govt. ID.... Nobody has ever faked a DL.... Maybe a high school ASB ID next time?? So.... Oh well, all you can do is play this HSD game.

KP

3/1 It looks like Real ID is back again. It goes into effect on 5/11/2011. You must have the new ID to get onto a commercial flight.

Dispatch nightmare? ncsl.org/

wrench
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