April, 2011

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4/30 ms,

Nothing personal, but the evil fire managers are not your enemy.

The information on budgets is REAL and folks living in reality are presenting the accurate facts and trying to represent their fire programs.. NOT "gloom and doom" as you state. In reality, the majority of your fire managers are just presenting/communicating the current "common operating picture" (COP).

Somehow your entire post seems to be directed at "fire managers", when it might be more appropriately directed at line officers and agency officials.

Additionally, in one statement you chastise fire managers for "telling an organization about pending doom and gloom", and then contradict yourself by talking about fighting "reductions for firefighting resources and saving your job from being abolished".

4/30 Forest Service Fire Managers have no choice but to train the firefighting workforce for the next level. Without the next level training comes no next level qualifications and the results of that is, no applicants. It's the agencies' IFPM system we are working under. They must either change those rules or stop dropping the "no training, no travel dollars" card. Since qualification requirements are assigned to each organizational position, having someone say you cannot attend next level training or build next level qualifications is equal to telling you that you cannot apply to next level job. By selectively picking who gets the next level training is a potential VIOLATION of the Merit Promotion procedures. NFFE must stay involved. NFFE must get more involved in IFPM discussions.

Fire Managers MUST stop fooling themselves and others by telling an organization about pending doom and gloom.

The President's 2012 budget asked for decreases in overall Forest Service spending with increases in Forest Service Firefighter preparedness. That budget is DOA in the halls of Congress, however it's a signal of support. Wildland Firefighters have strong supporters in both the House and Senate.

We (Wildland Firefighters) are a few months, if not weeks away from a large scale re-education campaign on wildland firefighting preparedness with our elected officials in advance of the FY2012 budget discussions and decisions. This campaign, must be professional and sustained. This campaigns focus is not PTP, not salary freezes, not retention pay. This campaign is about maintaining a budget that will stop a serious threat of reductions for federal firefighting resources and saving your job from being abolished. Get your keyboards ready!

I can tell you of one group of people who are counting on you. That group of people are the mid and upper level managers of federal wildland firefighting agencies. They can't do it with testimony alone. They need Wildland Firefighters to be actively involved in this debate. After 2008, these managers know better than anyone the energy we can bring to the table.

Firefighters from all agencies need to stay together.

Support FWFSA

4/30 Well ab I am about to commit career suicide (feel free to post my name).

Let's start with fed spending. The chiefs and others are planning to visit the forest for a visit with the "workers" to hear "what our concerns are", (read the morale report for the FS it is 203 or 206 can't remember) and they're leasing a jet to come here, while I am told not to send people to training unless absolutely necessary, so I guess that means if it is not required don't go (no upward mobility training). Well we have plenty of commercial jet ports within 1.5 hours and most chiefs can drive here in 34 hours. That's all.

Fire hire. I know many people who have applied and added their IQCS master records to their apps and had excellent references and were not selected (meet IFPM and FS-FPM) but passed over for less qualified employees, (some problem employees and those received a promotion). I have gone through fire hire in the past (I cannot say what happens there due to confidentiality reasons) but I know how the system works. Don't pee on everyone's head and tell them it's raining.

Texas it's a big state big enough for all of the region's feds. I have sent people there so I can say that the system worked. That being said, I had equipment and overhead available so my only guess is NICC is not shopping those positions in my GACC or my GACC is not shopping them to my ICC. My resources had a long assignment and made a difference (good job) the Texans appreciated it, so I thank you.

In conclusion I have been told to complain up, so let me set the record straight, this is not a complaint it is just the facts, that's all. I have also been told if you go on they said state your name, so I am.

t fielden
4/29 Firefighter injuries on Bull Fire in Arizona - Sonora

Informal reports are that two helitack crew members were injured in a burn over.

Here is the Coronado NF press release:


Two Individuals Suffer Non-life Threatening Injuries

TUCSON, AZ (April 29, 2011) – Two firefighters were injured today on the Bull Fire, burning approximately five miles west of Nogales, Arizona on the Nogales Ranger District, Coronado National Forest. The individuals have been transported to medical facilities with non-life threatening injuries.

The names of the individuals will not be released until their families are notified. The extents of the injuries are not known at this time.

The Bull Fire is approximately 3,750 acres in size, located on both sides of the border with the International Republic of Mexico. The majority of the fire is in Mexico. Approximately 250 to 300 acres are burning in Arizona. A number of resources are working on fire suppression efforts.


4/29 Jeff Bardwell, captain on the DC3 and Sherpa planes, has passed:

Announcement from the Regional Forester, R1.

We are sad to inform you that pilot Jeff Bardwell passed away. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in January.
Jeff flew fires for Bemedji Aviation in Minnesota prior to landing his dream job with the Forest Service in May 2007. Jeff was Captain on the
DC3 and Sherpa smokejumper planes. He flew many R1 folks to meetings and assignments in the King Air. He will be missed by many friends he has made in the
fire and forest service family.

Leslie, Jane, Paul, and Tom.

Condolences. Ab.

4/29 JNelson-

Living in NorCal I too have observed similar fire effects. One source for more information on fire effects on veg is FEIS, the link here. www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/tree/umbcal/introductory.phpl

I find that bay trees usually grow in more wet conditions, riparian areas, etc. I believe this in combination with the fact that bay trees exude a chemical that prevents other veg from growing in the vicinity, which results in less available fuel to burn may contribute to this observation.


4/29 blocked calls:

When I get calls from both my station anytime and R5 Fire Hire this last week they showed as "restricted". I hope that is not the case with your computer routing system because it is with my AT&T cell phone.

Best of luck!

Norcal Fyrgrl

4/29 Arrest made in thefts from Woodland-area Washington fire trucks

A Castle Rock man has been arrested on suspicion of stealing fuel cards and thousands of dollars worth of equipment from some Woodland-area fire trucks.

The Daily News of Longview reported Timothy Steven Moss, 30, was seen on surveillance cameras using one of the stolen gas cards to fill up a red Toyota truck at the Commercial Fueling Network station in Woodland. In all, $1,500 worth of fuel was stolen, along with $16,300 worth of firefighting and medical gear.

The victim was Cowlitz County Fire District 1, which had to remove three of its vehicles from service temporarily because they lacked adequate gear.

The burglary was reported April 11 at a volunteer fire station along Woodland Heights Road.

Arrest made in thefts of woodland area fire trucks/


4/29 Veg question

I have a question for our fire fighters. We are working on some drought and fire resistant shrubberies. One
that comes to mind is Bay Laurel. When I was on a shot crew it seemed the whole hill side would be slicked
off but for some reason it never really burned the Bay Laurel. I'm sure if the fire is intense enough the Bay
would burn. What have you all seen when you're out on the lines? Is my assessment correct?


4/29 CAL Fire in TX?

Why not CAL Fire in TX? Well, I suspect it may have something to do with Portal to Portal. Nobody but the California taxpayer can afford the expense

I find that hard to believe due to all of the local government folks that belong to FED Teams and go out of state all the time.  I can guarantee you that an overhead position or strike team from CAL FIRE is much cheaper.  And the misconception that they must be put in hotels plays a part also.  It may be time to get past all this and tap into a very large resource.

4/29 Re: Lookout hiring

If you seriously want a Federal job it would be best to have those applications in by late December or early January. First consideration dates often fall into that time period. As far as government phone numbers, I was picked up by the BLM this year (first season) and when I was called by my FOS and Engine Captain for interviews those first calls were from an "unavailable" phone number.

Good luck


4/28 Fulton Hotshots Sporting Clay Shoot


I returned from a fund raiser that Ron Bollier and the Fulton Hotshots put on… Burk has always traveled to this event; this year (the third year of this event), I went with Burk because Ron said it was in honor of the Mother of Wildland Firefighters... boy did he get a surprise!

I am going to ramble here for a bit while I try to express myself.

At 9:00 pm Friday night when we pulled into this big field there were campers, trailers, motor homes, and tents of all sizes, campfire burning, kids chasing dogs and playing, laughing, and lots of storytelling. I couldn't believe what I was seeing... it kind of felt like the good old days.

The next morning started off with a big breakfast. Ron introduced me to crowd (which I think he now regrets). Ron had tears in his eyes as he talked about the Foundation and his wife Lana talked, and tears came to her eyes. One of the crew members came up and gave me a big beautiful bouquet of flowers. I was so touched I started to cry. I sometimes tend to throw in a little humor to pull myself back together. I shared a story about Ron doing something in someone’s boots years ago in fire camp… it made everyone laugh…. Although that was not Ron, I really believe it was probably Kleinman or LaRue or someone like that.

There were over 300 firefighters from across the State of California who attended the Clay Shoot. Steaks were cooked; homemade foods served…. an auction was held and raffle of big prizes and little prizes. Money raised, and all done by volunteers.

That night as we sat around the campfire, I thought I would fall off my chair from laughing so hard. It restored me somehow. I could not believe how much I needed to laugh. I don’t think I've enjoyed myself that much in 15 years! The Tuesday before we left Boise, with the losses and injuries going on in Texas, the calls started coming in at 7:13 am and ended at 8:30 pm…74 calls in all that day... none from my grandkids. I share this out of humility that this community trusts us and has a constant source of help to go to. Oh and how tired I was….

When I awoke this morning, I was reflecting on the past weekend at the Clay Shoot. That event was not about me being honored… It was really about the wildland firefighters and how they care for one another... I thought how long it had been since I have been in a community of firefighters….. Sometimes my job has kind of isolated me from being with you all, from really being among people on the ground. I believe many of our leaders have experienced that same thing; not realizing how their jobs keep them isolated from the people they are hired to serve and lead.

I remembered on one of my first fire camps in the 80’s, Big John Russell was the IC. He set up a casino made out of card board boxes in one of the tents. I was blown away… he said to me "always remember if you're not having fun, go home." I also remember that first summer knowing that there were people who would give up their life trying to protect mine. No one ever said that to me I just knew it.

I see some post on this site, complaining about how stuff is going sideways, even with some of the leadership. Yes lots of things have changed, but there is one thing that has not changed and that is the heart and commitment of the firefighter on the ground and in the air. There is a bond that cannot be broken inside our firefighters. There is something so strong that words do not do it justice, it can only be felt. If any of you are trying to understand what that feeling is, try spending some time with wildland firefighters in their world.

Yesterday I met with Cheryl Molius and Karyn Wood who are office-chick leaders that have stayed connected to those they were hired to serve. They gave me a check from Neal Hitchcock’s retirement party. As I was opening the envelope they told me the story of Alice Forbes cutting off Neal’s ponytail. Then the auction started, and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation received a substantial check from Neal's hair. Neal you will be missed.

I share some of this good stuff to really reflect on why most of us do what we do.

Ron thanks for putting some magic back into my memory bank, and to Neil for your hair-raising event, and to ALL of you who help in so many ways.

A grateful mother,
Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Nice Vicki! Thanks. Love ya! Ab.

4/28 CA Aircraft deployments

making the rounds:

Cal Fire Aircraft deployments delayed

Previous message had the wrong dates for Hollister and Fresno. Here is the new deployment dates for aircraft. All fixed wing aircraft will be deployed 14 days later than last year, due to budget savings. See file attached.

Aviation Officer

4/28 anonymous,

Yes, the government buildings often have blocked or weird numbers. Typically it has to do with the facility the office is located in. USFS does not typically block numbers but local or state governments do (I know at our office all outgoing calls look like just the areacode). Hopefully that's not it and you were just avoiding telemarketers. Maybe call the HR number and verify?

4/27 lookout hiring:

I applied for the lookout position via AvueCentral back in February/ March time frame and have not received any calls yet.

I imagine all such hiring has already been finalized.

Does anyone know what sorts of things (other than preference points and previous experience as a lookout) might help me to land a position next year?

Also, all of my phone calls are funneled through my computer which automatically defaults blocked and restricted number calls to a "dump" disconnect. I noticed an unusual number of such calls in the past 3 weeks . . . USFS selecting officials wouldn't be using blocked/ restricted numbers, would they?

Thank you

please sign me as anonymous

4/27 Insuring FS employee safety in Post Mountain Area, Shasta Trinity NF, message from Sharon Heywood, forest supervisor:

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2011/safe/FS-Employee-Safety-in-Post-mt-area2_2011.doc (60 K doc)

(Google Earth map 1 & map 2 of geographical relationships between Hayfork, Post Mt community, Hwys, 3, 36, 101 and I-5: red boundaries = nearby lightning fires that burned in 2008. Not the map accompanying the letter.)

"part of wildland fire response area S-8 within T30N R12W, south of the 31N34 and 30N36 roads, west of Highway 3 and north of Highway 36 including that part of the NW corner of T29N R30W north of Highway 36 in the Post Mountain area"

4/27 Facilitated Learning Analysis on Off Highway Vehicle Use. ATVs and UTVs

This is a Facilitated Learning Analysis of a non-fatal injury accident during loading.

FLA Region 6, OHV Safety Concerns, April 2011.pdf  (174 K pdf)

4/27 From various sources:

Trend analysis of USDA/DOI wildland firefighter fatalities, 1990-2010:

Wildland ff fatalities trend analysis excerpt (292 K pdf)

Wildland firefighter fatalities 1990-2010, powerpoint presentation:

Wildland ff fatalities historic trends (822 K ppt)
4/27 So Cal Responder (post from 03/30),

Not only did the Forest Service take away "smart phones" from the engine stations, they also took them away from the majority of fire Chief Officers unless they were Forest FMOs or Deputy FFMOs.

Sure looks like a step BACKWARD as I no longer have real time access to weather (winds, raws, lightning data, etc), emergency alerts, or the ability to do simple work tasks from the field (approve times, etc).

Sent from my Droid
4/26 Why not CAL Fire in TX?

Well, I suspect it may have something to do with Portal to Portal. Nobody but the California taxpayer can afford the expense


4/26 Fedwatcher II,

The FMAG eligibility thresholds you "quote“ vary by state and regional area. The $1.5m you reference is the CA cumulative (aggregate) level, and not representative of most areas.

The FMAG program USED to be a valuable federal disaster assistance program for places like TX, AL, MS, etc... until the rules were changed from "disaster response" (Stafford Act) to being the primary source of funding for wildfire suppression for "some" state agencies.

4/26 GISgirl,

We miss you on the wildland side. Our loss of expertise. Glad you're still involved in EM.

4/25 Ah- I aspire to be a mitigation geek... and I'm well on my way these days.

Things to keep in mind regarding FMAG- this is not to reimburse for federal fires... the money is intended for state and locals that have been tapped beyond their capacity and who need help. I do not handle ordering of equipment but I have never heard anyone order unnecessary resources intentionally to game the system- I mean they still have to pay 25%. The government employees I work with and have worked with do their best to protect live, property, resources and try and provide for safety first as well as serve/protect the citizens. The federal land management agencies with responsibilities towards FRA (federal response areas?) are tapped to cover federal lands and FEMA is to help state/local- to try and prevent cross contamination of federal dollars I guess.

As for the SacBee article (man I miss that newspaper) I could only find this blog entry... sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest

I routinely deal with FEMA criteria in my life... I can state that many things are not known down the line through all levels as to how to comply with FEMA grants and what/how things are eligible. What is eligible in one program (EMPG, PDM, FMA, FMAG, IA, PA, SBA, etc) is not in another. As someone who has to use FEMA websites routinely- not always the easiest place to find things.

FSR52011- thanks for catching the numbers- not my state so I didn't realize the numbers were so high. I work on the pre-disaster mitigation side so I'm not as familiar with FMAG other then knowing what it generally is for and when some are declared. I defer to the others in the forum that may work closer with it ;-) Now if you want to start talking BCA (benefit-cost analysis) software I'm your gal :-P

Stay safe out there you all and if anyone knows Google APIs ping me cause I'm working on some fun mapping stuff these days,


4/25 Air Attacks called to duty in Texas

One of our R-5 Air Attacks in Abilene Tx. Ready for action! BC12

Haw Haw, I put it on Air 36. Ab.

4/25 The first issue of “Two More Chains”, The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center’s new publication for wildland firefighters, hits the streets today.

The electronic link to this Spring 2011 publication is attached below.

Two More Chains Spring 2011.pdf


4/25 Why not CAL Fire in TX?

Just wondering why CAL FIRE is not assisting in Texas. Have they been asked or offered assistance? If not why? Plenty of type 3 engines, dozers and hand crews would surely be a welcome site. Plus Type 1 Command Teams and hundreds of Overhead. Just wondering. Anybody have the answer.


4/25 GIS Girl spoke of FMAGS...in my opinion the next "Fleecing of America."

I'm fascinated at the rhetoric about needing to reduce federal government spending; people wanting a less intrusive federal government; a smaller government etc., except when their bucket is directly underneath the federal government spigot!

The Government is too large and spends too much money. Yet when the next natural disaster comes along the federal government can't seem to spend enough and can't seem to be big enough.

FMAGs are already abused. Agencies deliberately order unnecessary resources just to reach the threshold of spending (about $1.5 million) to be eligible to file for a grant. Grant writers for some agencies even respond during the initial response to a fire. It has become quite the lucrative gravy train.

These agencies can obtain reimbursement from the federal government for 75% of eligible costs even though no federal lands are involved and even though no federal resources are used to battle the emergency. It is the typical double-standard: We want the government to reduce spending...unless its coming to us.

I defer to the recent Sacramento Bee article about FMAG cost-overruns to the state of California between 2007-2009 totaling $80 million for ineligible reimbursements...and that's just one audit. Hey, that'd be more than enough to pay for portal to portal compensation...

4/24 In reference to the DC-10's based at the Southern California Logistics Center (Victorville):

CALFIRE has a "exclusive Use" contract with 10 Tanker Carrier for the next 3-5 years, Start dates are right around first part of July till the about the end of October. It can be brought on earlier and extended as needed. Contract is for only one of the two tankers. CALFIRE has made sure many federal Lead/Bravo's were trained up to lead the 10's. So as of now any agency that wants to pay for the 10's can order one or both of them up during their un-contracted time. But their must be a qualified Lead/Bravo attached to the order.

Hope that clears up the "mud".

4/24 Actually, TFS has more than 50 FMAGs approved this calendar year so far.

The reason the "numbers" dont match is that many fires were combined into complexes, while others are simply missing from the list. (note gaps in the "disaster number"). The summary is rarely accurate unless you verify line item by line item.


Sent from my Droid
4/23 To clarify-

Texas has has over 20 Federal Fire Management Declarations in the calendar year 2011 including 15 in April alone. This FEMA declaration type allows the federal government to assist with up to 75% of eligible costs for fighting the fire. disasters state.fema?id=48

Not all Federal programs are activated for every disaster. The determination of which programs are activated is based on the needs found during damage assessment and any subsequent information that may be discovered. While Texas has not had an Individual Assistance (IA) or Public Assistance (PA) or Small Business Administration (SBA) declaration they are getting federal money to help fight the fires. Just to be clear there are specific criteria that need to be met to get an IA, PA or SBA declaration. IA is the best known and some of the criteria include things like 100 UNINSURED primary residences being destroyed, PA is things like losses of public infrastructure, and SBA is 25 properties or a certain number of businesses. There are additional factors that can be included such as deaths, exceeding capabilities of the locals, and hitting a certain $ cost for the state.

Info on FMAG from some PIO talking points:

The Fire Management Assistance Grant Program (FMAGP) is authorized under Section 420 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Act, 42 U.S.C. 5187, as amended by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000.

Eligible costs include:
Costs for equipment and supplies (less insurance proceeds);
Costs for emergency work (evacuations and sheltering, police barricading and traffic control, arson investigation);
Costs for State emergency operations center (when used as a Unified Command Center);
Costs for the pre-positioning of Federal, out-of State, and international resources for up to 21 days;
Cost of personal comfort and safety items for firefighter health and safety;
Costs for field camps and meals in lieu of per diem;
Costs for mobilization and demobilization costs;
Costs for the temporary repair of damage cause by firefighting activities;
Costs for the mitigation, management, and control of declared fires burning on co-mingled Federal land, when such costs are not reimbursable by another Federal agency.

Cost Share
75 percent Federal cost share to be applied to all fire management assistance grants.

So while the state may not have been eligible for a declaration to help individual owners or businesses or public works departments just yet they have been getting federal funding to help fight the fires.

Mitigation nerd details are now invading my life,

GISgirl :-)

Shall we call you Mitigation Geek? Ab.

4/23 Fulton Hotshots Sporting Clay Shoot - report and help for TX FF Matt Clark:

I just got off the phone with Vicki. She is in Bakersfield at the clay shoot fundraiser put together by Ron Bollier and the Fulton Hotshots. There are more than 300 people at the event and she and Burk are really enjoying the community feel. Per Vicki "Ron throws one hell of a party!"

Vicki also spoke with the family of burned Texas firefighter, Matt Clark. The Foundation is helping the family while he undergoes treatment. His mom said she's from a town of 1,200 and "you'all have done more for us than anyone ever could." She is very grateful for the help the wildland community is extending to her son and her family.

Thanks to all of you for your fundraising efforts, for becoming members of the 52 Club, and for supporting this Foundation so we all can help.
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
2010 Combined Federal Campaign #12544

Thanks Vicki, Burk and Melissa. Ab.

4/22 Making the rounds:

Date: 04/22/2011 03:36 PM
Subject: OPM Denial of Special Salary Rate for Wildland Firefighters in California

We received notification yesterday from ASC, that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) did not approve the agency request to establish new title 5 special salary rates of pay for wildland firefighters in California. The denial references the December 22, 2010 legislation signed by President Obama that prohibits statutory pay adjustments for most Federal civilian employees and the President's attendant memorandum which stated that agencies should forgo similar increases to pay schedules and rates that are set by administrative discretion.

This decision does not affect the California firefighter 10 percent group retention incentive that was approved by the Department earlier this year and remains in effect through February 25, 2012.

Jeanne Wade Evans
Deputy Regional Forester
State & Private Forestry
Pacific Southwest Region

4/22 Heads up / Drug Cartels in the NF:

This may be a good reminder for those dealing with incidents in the National Forest areas, but not excusive. This war has definitely invaded our soil and those in the field need to be aware of it. I'm sure that there has been a bit of training and advisory memorandums floating around for awhile, but as the 2011 season get's under way.... thought I'd bring it up.

Signed: One who's tanker has had bullet holes found in the wings before!

Expert Sylvia Longmire: Mexican Drug Cartels Infesting US, Even Our National Parks


4/22 Heads up:

In September, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) even posted signs along Interstate 8 in Arizona, more than 100 miles north of the border, warning travelers the area was unsafe because of drug and  illegal-immigrant smugglers. The signs were posted along a 60-mile stretch of Interstate 8 between Casa Grande and Gila Bend, the major east-west corridor linking Tucson and Phoenix with San Diego.

Pinal County, Ariz., Sheriff Paul Babeu, whose jurisdiction includes the posted area, said Mexican drug gangs “literally do control parts of Arizona,” noting that gang members are armed with radios, optics and night-vision goggles “as good as anything law enforcement has.

Violent Mexican Drug Gang Expands into US

If it’s not safe for travelers, it’s not safe for firefighters. Worrisome with all of the fires down there every year.


4/22 PLI and more...

Hey, all fed firefighters,

FEDS has a new policy benefit. If you're a FEDS Professional Liability Insurance policy holder, you're eligible for a Federal Employee Benefit Analysis prepared by Risser Financial Services. Risser looks at your financial situation to explain, analyze and coordinate your federal benefits with your personal savings, investments and life insurance.

Here's the FEDS benefit information.


4/22 Beautiful but scary!

FT Davis Fire from McDonalds Observatory (first photo)
Texas wildfires


4/21 Ab,

Just received this from Data Transfer Solutions, LLC. They have been working with TFS and others on enhancing the GIS product on the wildfires.

TX dts wildfire

4/21 Texas LODDs

Hotlist Condolences Thread for Greg Simmons

Hotlist Condolences Thread for Elias Jaquez

4/20 TX fires:

It's unfortunate that the federal system is so slow to dispatch qualified firefighters to Texas, we need to come up with a more unified dispatch system for the US, us California and Oregon guys would love to go help out and put their fires out! Any ideas?


4/20 We have plenty of out of state resources 35 states in TX

This was posted in SoOps this morning; Current deployed resources to Texas:

  • 17 T/3 Engines,
  • 4 T/2 IA Crews ,
  • 6 Dozers,
  • 13 Overhead and
  • Approx 235 Total personnel

A number are from norcal. Those posting from the wet northwest might want to do a bit of research instead of relying on this Texan.

Our system is different. We do things more homegrown most of the time. We appreciate the help when the Southern Plains Wildfire Storms hit. In spite of the abundance of national conspiracy theories some might like to spout, what we're doing has nothing to do with national politics. We're just dealin' with the wildfire weather and fires we're dealt. "Gotta know when to hold, know when to fold em, know when to walk away, know when to run..."


4/20 Ab,

I believe we in R6 (Deschutes) sent a Dozer, transport and two operators, to Texas...believe it took them parts of 4 days...Hope they are safe and good to go...Texas is Rough and Dangerous, as my 64 days in '98 can attest to...In the East, six poisonous snakes, gators, mostly flat, dangerously, outlflankingly Fast fires near lots of houses in the middle of Texas, lots of different regional differences with associated Vegt. West Texas, terrible driving distances with alarming heat! I feel for Texas, their fires never seem to end. They need everything, wish all you Cal Forces could help. I'd love to go but knee is not ready for Prime Time. I remember a time as a dozerboss that we didn't have enough speed to even do any good...Take care Ron & Tina & good luck. Ron is the friggin' best combo firedozer operator dozer boss of all time (not in Cal.)...I fear for He & Tina, Texas is relentless, but they have a ton of knowledge to draw on...Heat & humidity in East Tex. almost put me down (and out)...did go down, along with three Vollies on a 5 acre! Went to hospital w/ IV's...a major pleading routine w/IC kept me there for the next two 21's...Egads. I miss the heat index of 120+ and 4 fires per day per dozer...Ah, youth. fleetingly, gone ...

4/20 Firebob 24,

I have spoken with people on the ground in Texas and dispatch centers in multiple regions, they all say the only contract engines in Texas are those hired by insurance companies and a few homeowners. At this time ALL orders are AGENCY ONLY. Also if Contract engines out of Region 6 where being dispatched down there... Well I would be one of the first :/

Also I have heard that until the President declares an emergency in Texas, that the numbers of firefighters and firefighting equipment down there will be somewhat limited...Remember Texas is BROKE and does not have a large fire budget. They are also one of the largest claimants for FEMA aid. Could also mention that the Texas Governor is not on the best liked list of the administration.

Waiting for fire :)

4/20 FireBob 24,

Don’t hold your breath over contract resources deploying to Texas. It’s a FEMA operation.

Watercooler talk is that even Fed resources will receive few orders other than some overhead. I know the R-8 Blue Team is in Texas, and that’s all I’ve heard.

Maybe I’m not seeing the whole picture here, but heavy FEMA involvement usually means there will be political interest from the highest levels in D.C. (Think BP oil spill recovery) Is it any wonder, then, that SoCal fire crews—the most expensive public fire suppression resources in the world—are deploying to Texas? California state finances are almost on a COD basis with vendors and employees. My tea leaves tell me that anything short of an historic fire season in R-5 will have California E plates (as well as those from other cash-strapped, politically connected states) roaming far and wide to, as we can say, “bring home the federal bacon.” Under this scenario, contractors—whether Oregon “cooperators” or not--are lower than whale excrement.

It’s a rich thought, though, visualizing high-and-tight, portal-to-portal union brothers in Type Three engines from SoCal working side-by-side volunteers doing running attack from their front bumper safari seats on an old Duce-and-a-Half dressed in tee-shirts and blue jeans.

Oh, Texas motels and shuttle bus companies do well under this scenario as well.

Heartfelt condolences to the families of those in Texas who have fallen or who have singed feathers. God Bless Vickie Minor and hew crew at Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

An Old Northern Rockies Fire Mule…

4/20 Message from Vicki at the WFF:

Elias Jaquez passed away at 0415 this morning with family and supporters around him.

The people that are part of the firefighting effort in Texas -- and also supporting their injured brothers/sisters -- are tired but strong, and so good to be vigilant at the hospital throughout the night for Elias and his family.

Thanks for helping on this community's behalf, WFF.


Donation Info and see post below for more info on how to help.

4/20 Saw this article on the hotlist Shift Brief this morning:

Seems like Texas Forest Service could face large bureaucratic hurdles when the fires monsoon season comes...

(Texas) Bill would streamline fire fights

Another article there that talks about Fort Worth that has withheld its firefighters without MOUs in place. Afraid of liabilities and unforeseen expenses.


4/20 Hi All,

I have been following the fire activity in Texas for the past several weeks- watching here, the News and the Internet. Are there any contract engines working in Texas? The rumor mill has it that there are several contract engine companies there from Region 6 but closer regions' contract engines are sitting at home, ready to go. A friend in North Ops says that in R6 contract engines are considered " Agency" while the other regions don't consider their contract engines as Agency- is this true? How come all the regions don't consider their Best Value engines as " Agency" resources?

Everybody in Texas; Stay Safe, Pay Attention and don't get in a jam! Thanks for the help,

Firebob 24

4/20 Scott Anderson Art Auction/Fundraiser

As many of you know, Scott has been re-diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and was hospitalized in Boise for ten weeks starting January 2011 for chemotherapy and other medical treatment. Scott will require another bone marrow transplant at the Seattle Cancer Center the end of April 2011. Many of the medical expenses in addition to transportation, and relocation expenses are not covered under his insurance.

Many folks have asked "What can I do to help?" So we brainstormed with Scott and talked him into the idea of putting together some kind of fundraiser. Scott wanted to participate in this effort and decided to use his artwork and other items he owned for a silent auction. So that is what we are doing. For those that live out of town and cannot attend, the flyer has the information on how to donate to the National Transplant Assistance Fund in Scott 's name. Those donations will go to the family to help with these types of medical expenses. Here is the link to NTAF: NTAFund.org  and enter Scott Anderson to the "find the patient" box on the home page. Please share this with friends.


Marie Bates

4/19 The firefighters are gathering.

The Cactus FD firefighters, the mayor, the Lubbock Honor Guard, friends and family, all to pay their respects to Elias Jaquez and his family as he passes on.

There are those to help the family and to accompany him home.

The doctors at the burn unit have said it won't be long now.

Anyone who would like to, please join us in a moment of silence.


4/19 I just had a phone call from Vicki at the WFF:

Some updates on help for families of the fallen and injured TX firefighters:

Firefighter critically burned on the Cactus area Panhandle fire:
According to his daughter, Elias Jaquez, the injured volunteer firefighter from Cactus TX, is still in critical condition in the burn unit in Lubbock. His wife is with him and will need to be for some time. His two youngest daughters are home (3 hours away) with relatives. His wife's meals and lodging have been provided for 2 weeks by Swift Meat Company, Elias' employer. Our WFF is going to help with the next 2 weeks. Financial worries can be overwhelming at such a time. Our thoughts and prayers are with Elias and his family, friends and co-workers.

You can help pass the boot in support of this firefighter's family by sending a tax-deductable donation to the WFF online and earmarking it in the comment box "for the firefighter injured on the Panhandle/Cactus fire". Or if you send in a check, add a note there. If anyone knows the name of that fire, please let us know. Thanks.

LODD of the firefighter from the Eastland Fire Department on the Eastland County fire. (Can anyone confirm that this was the East Sidywnicks Fire. It's important that the WFF have the fire name on which a firefighter is injured or killed for their bookkeeping records.):
There's a funeral for Greg Simmons tomorrow in Olden TX. If anyone has the details of that service, please let us know. The WFF has sent money to help that family on the behalf of our wildland firefighting community. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and Greg's friends and coworkers.

3 other firefighters injured on the Eastland County fire have been treated and released.

Matt Clark, the Eastland FD firefighter that tried to help Greg is recovering in the burn unit at the Parkland Hospital in Dallas. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Everyone Vicki has talked with in Texas is surprised that there is a WFFoundation supported by wildland firefighters' donations and fundraisers that provides help to wildland firefighters and their families when they are injured or die.

I am extremely grateful for this community.


4/19 R5 resources to TX, why only SOPS?

I also question North Ops Decision to hold resources. I am on the "Imaginery line" of North and South and we were asked to make sure we have at minimum 2 fully staffed engines ready to roll about 3 weeks ago. The only answer I have to this is that North Ops is again not doing the job they are required to be doing. Although I am not sure of this specifically I can tell you this, many times we are out on strike team assignments in North Zone and North Ops has consistently requested South Ops Engines to be pulled up when we have plenty of resources sitting doing nothing. I myself and growing tired of North Ops decisions and wish something would change. If anybody else has any insight to this matter please fill me in as I just do not get it!


4/19 rtn:

Also pertaining to appropriate footwear, check out "Boots on the Fireground: An Analysis of Interagency Wildland Firefighter Boot Standards" by Tim Lynch from Missoula Technology & Development Center. This comprehensive analysis provides some excellent documentation regarding the La Sportiva type of footwear as well as other footwear standards.


I added the link. Boots are also discussed on the hotlist. Ab.

4/19 IMWTK trivia:

I remember some things on a good day...working with retiree legend Steve Renaud (pronounced Reno) as his falling boss, he mentioned he thought he was 1st smokejumper in a commercial for chevy trucks.. I'd never seen it so it must be really old (so is Steve).. if true it would make good trivia fodder...another one: the 1st two-womaner fire (as jumpers) Kelly Esterbrook and ?; The story as I remember it: sitting in the bar @ Redmond after a long Dispatch afternoon & evening, those two were celebrating the momentous occasion @ the hotel bar, I guess Kelly would have to respond sorry for the name, the year was probably '87 or '88...the other part, tho personal, is that I almost got in a fight w/Tony Laughton...any way we are friends now! Hilarious...neither one of us are fighters, Tony is still jumping and I'm still dozerbossing at 62... that also is hilarious.


4/19 R5 resources to TX, why only SOPS?


Was wondering if anybody on the forum could provide a little insight as to why all the resources assigned to Texas fires from R5 are all from South Ops, 20 Type 3's actually as of today (4/18) and not one is from A North Ops Forest. Much of the northern half of the state has received near record breaking amounts of precipitation which is still falling. I'm not looking for the generic answers such as closest resource or staffed modules because that is clearly not the case as shown in the wild cad. Forests managed by South Ops which are no more than a hour away have multiple resources in Texas when forests just over the imaginary line sit idle. This also holds true to single resource assignments none are from North Ops, with air travel Texas is by no means to far. As for staffed modules since the introduction of all 26/0s there is plenty of people available. Just trying to put rhyme to reason if there is any.


4/18 rtn:

As far as I know, there is no official approval or disapproval of the Scarpa, Sportiva, or any other boot. The only official document (at least at the national level, individual regions or forests may be different) is what it says in the redbook which states: "Personnel assigned to wildland fires must wear a minimum of 8-inch high, lace type exterior leather work boots with Vibram-type, melt resistant soles. The 8-inch height requirement is measured from the bottom of the heel to the top of the boot." "All boots that meet the footwear standard as described above are authorized for firefighting."

There is no requirement to wear NFPA certified boots. If the USFS or DOI required NFPA certified boots, then they would be required, per OSHA, to provide those boots as they would be considered specialized PPE. It is my assumption that the cost of doing that is the primary reason that the federal wildland fire organizations have not required NFPA boots, and why there is so much confusion as to what is allowed or not on the fireline. Bottom line is that as long as the boots you wear meet the above standard, then you can wear them on the line, regardless of brand, build, model, or style. If your Sportivas or Scarpas meet that standard (some do and some don't, depending on the boot size) than you can use them, and that is not just my opinion, that has been fought and won many times over. If your region or forest is requiring a more specific boots style or brand, than I can almost guarantee that they are pushing the limits of what is considered "specialized PPE" by OSHA. If you ever want to know for sure, you can request a clarification from OSHA and you will get an official answer. I have a letter from OSHA pertaining the boot requirement that is a little but fuzzy to me and open to some interpretation. I am planning on writing a much more specific request in the future, but I am more than happy to post it to They Said or email a copy to anyone who is interested in reading it.

R9 Captain
4/18 Hello group,

There has been much controversy regarding the use of La Sportiva and Scarpa type footwear. Can anyone share with me the most recent official decision regarding the use of this footwear on the fireline. I would really like an official letter stating if it's okay or not. I'm not looking for opinions, I'm looking for an official memorandum. can anyone help?

4/18 Theysaid DC-10's

From my understanding, the DC-10's are Call-When-Needed (CWN) for both the state of California and the federal government. I don't believe they are strictly a state or federal resource. I don't think the state still has its exclusive use contract anymore for the DC-10's

4/18 oregonfirefighter,

While both DC-10's are indeed considered a Federal Resource, I know that 1 for sure is a CalFire contract aircraft until 2013.

4/18 Are the Two DC-10's a CALFIRE or Federal resource?

I just saw an article out of the Texas Governor's Office saying that they where calling in a Federal DC10 to assist them in firefighting.

governor.state.tx.us/ news/ press-release


4/18 Re Fire Shelter history:

George is the fire shelter? Teepee Fire Shelter 11/29/63 from Life Magazine


Thanks, B. I added links to it to the other historical pages. Ab.

4/18 Re Fire Shelter history:

Hi George,

Here's one link that details the History of the Development of the Fire Shelter sent in by Dick Mangan some years ago. As I recall there was discussion on the IMWTK (Inquiring Minds Want To Know) topic on fire shelter development. There are links to photos. Are those conical ones the kind you deployed?


4/17 I am trying to get in touch with Tom Andrate (sp?), I think he was last located at El Cahone? Historical research.
rbbrower@ nospam juno.com
4/17 IMT Succession Planning

It has taken quite a time to read through the verbiage, analysis, and alternative dealing with Incident Management Teams and succession planning..

There are two good things to say about the study": 1) Sue Husari is an excellent participant on this project and deserves many kudos for trying to bring some reality to a project that has a well-defined non-endstate. 2) The study is very pretty and there are no mis-spellings.

It is nice to see a survey system built into the project. A survey is a token effort to allow for input gathered with the goal of discarding it.

There is a pre-drawn conclusion built into this project. NIMO is the answer. One does not read very deep into the project to come to this conclusion. The NIMO concept was an ill-formed concept to begin with. It has become a pension program for future retirees, with the only difference being they are receiving income while garnishing more retirement income. They have been allowed to influence current policy under the guise of being NIMO.

The next step is CIMOs. California Incident Management Organizations. (Just kidding)

It is time to STOP NIMO now. There are 4 teams of 7 people at an approximate cost of $12 million coming from the Emergency Fire Account. (GS 13's and 12's at a Cost to Government of about $170,000 per year). Factor in the travel factor to come up with the balance of the costs. It is interesting to note that this program had a Sunset Clause at the time it was formed. The document states there is consideration for up to 20 NIMOs. The real questions are who will be expected to do the work and who would listen to them.

The overarching principle is to "put the fire out and go home safely". The principle of closest resources is essential to success. Relationships and partnerships with state and local governments are critical. Tribal relationships are.

There is no connection to the endstate of qualified Incident Management Teams and the current personnel process. One of the options is to "require participation on incident management teams as a condition of employment". This is an enchanting concept. Let's put into perspective. USDI required drug testing as part of being a primary firefighter. USDA- FS said it would be an un-due hardship to the agency to require drug testing. So, are there any wagers on UDSA requiring anything as a condition of employment?

The is one key component missing in all the rhetoric. There is not one mention of Liability -- professional or personal -- in all of this. This is the first priority in any type of program with implied Liability. The fact is, that there is no protection for federal fire employees moving into incident management positions - period. The track record is perfect. 100% of the Serious Accident Investigation since the Thirty Mile Fire have had a criminal investigation. Thirty Mile, Cramer, Experanza, Dutch Creek are to name a few. In fact, FS policy states that a serious accident investigation is the responsibility of Law Enforcement and is an automatic Criminal Investigation.


Drug testing is coming soon. Ab.




The FWFSA is humbled and proud to be celebrating our 20th anniversary this year. In the grand scheme of legislative timelines, this is a very short period of time. However so many have played an integral role in the creation and development of the FWFSA over the years.

We will be hosting a Membership Conference, tentatively scheduled for between December 1-3, 2011 not only to conduct Association business but to honor those who saw the foresight to create this organization and lead us to where we are today. The vast majority of those folks have long retired or recently retired so we will make a concerted effort to invite them to participate. It is incredibly important that our younger members recognize the effort so many have made to hand off to us an organization that has earned its credibility within the wildland firefighting community, Capitol Hill and the press.

Within the next week or so, active members will be receiving additional information on the Conference. We know many have grown weary of Reno so we are looking at alternative sites as well however our priority is to be cost-effective.

If you have left the FWFSA in the last year for whatever reason or have contemplated joining for some time, now is the time to recommit to sharing your voice with others in 29 states in order to get your issues before those at the highest levels of government who can effect positive change for all federal wildland firefighters.

During these tough economic times, even $.71 cents a day may seem too much to pay for an effort that cannot guarantee success. Each day we see on TV or read in the paper how divisive Congress is. Some may think that since we have worked for years and years on these issues without total, complete success on each issue, what's the point in participating.

The answer is easy. Quitting is not an option. Over the last 10 years the FWFSA's credibility has grown substantially. It has resulted in invitations to testify before Congressional committees; it resulted in the passage by the House of Representatives of classification legislation (sadly lost by the Senate); it resulted in the elimination of the OT pay cap so when you use transaction code 21 & prefix 11 you know who is responsible and last year it resulted in the most comprehensive piece of legislation ever introduced on behalf of our Nation's federal wildland firefighters.

All I might add on a shoe-string budget. I challenge anyone to join a nationwide organization for $10 a pay day that gets your issues before the power-brokers in Washington. Our dues have not increased in 7 years. We don't spend millions on political contributions like many larger organizations who also continue to have difficulty navigating Congress.

What we don't have in financial clout we make up for with passion, affection, respect and admiration for all of you and that is what drives us. Our persistence on Capitol Hill will pay off. There are many issues being worked "behind the scenes" while we also pursue legislative remedies. In fact recently one Senate staffer, when meeting with representatives from the GAO who are putting together their Station Fire report said he summoned his "inner Casey" to explain to the GAO that the Agency organizational structure is what needs to be changed.

Despite our credibility and some relative success, there are no guarantees in this business other than to keep fighting until you all finally realize the many benefits you have deserved for so long. We hope our active members who read TheySaid will consider planning to attend the conference. We hope those prior members who have left and those who have considered joining will also step up and lend their voice to our efforts. We all owe it to those who, in 1991, challenged themselves to make things better for all federal wildland firefighters.


Casey Judd
Executive Director, Governmental Affairs

4/17 Re Rh and fire behavior:

I-phone ff and others--

I wonder why the humidity level and disengagement of direct attack tactics are not found within the 10 standard ff. orders.

If the humidity level is a reliable predictor of fire behavior why is it not tied to tactical choice such as when the humidity reaches 10%, disengage from direct attack?

The equilibrium moisture content theory assumes that the fuel will change moisture content and eventually equalize with the humidity. There are time lags for this process to work. 1 hour, 10 hr. 100 hr. and 1,000 hr fuels are listed as the lag time.

It is well established that the sun heats the earth and the fuel upon it, the solid objects heated by radiation then heat the air in contact with the solid objects.
The air being heated by conduction, contact with the solid objects on the earth, then changes temperature. The humidity follows and trends downward as the air heats up. The Fire Weather Handbook #360 Page 21to Pg. 27 explains the processes.

The cause of humidity change is therefore the temperature of the earths change in temperature. Therefore logic would require one to view humidity as not a direct cause of fire behavior changes. Humidity is not a direct cause of fuel moisture change but a reaction to air temperature change.

Field observations of woody fuels drying and steaming in the sun and not in the shade should clue one to think that it is not the humidity doing the drying, its the sun heating and drying the wood. Would one expect the same level of spotting and fire behavior intensity over the sunlit and shaded environments ahead of a wildland fire?

I am always interested in other points of view but to make them believable one needs to cite where the information originates as well as be specific about uses of the information in tactical situations. In my opinion, fire behavior changes in ROS and Flame length are more connected to variations of fuel moisture on the land caused by solar radiation differences on aspects and time, ( Countryman 1966, The Fire Environment.)

Atmospheric conditions, air temperature and RH are useful in predicting fire danger. As the air temperature rises and humidity lowers the fire danger increases. There are still variations in ROS and FL on a wildland fire that are not explained by the level of fire danger.

Also Curious -about points of view and how they came to be.

4/17 Fire Shelter history:

Dear Ab:

I was on the El Cariso Hot Shots in the summers of 1963, 64, 65, and part of 66. I returned to school about a month before the Loop Fire. In the summer of 1964, on the Cozy Dell Fire, we deployed our fire shelters. I have the idea that this was one of the first instances of fire shelter deployment in a real fire situation, at least by the USFS, and I'm trying to find out all that I can about that event. Searching the web, Google returned I f this fragment of a statement: "We had fire shelters at del Rosa in 1964. They were conical shaped, like an inverted ... believe it was the Cozy Dell fire, I saw the El Cariso deploy ..." This was linked to the "They Said It" Archives for January 2003.

Scrolling down through the postings for January 2003, I haven't been able to locate that statement, and I'm keenly interested in knowing what more there is to it. I was startled to learn that someone observed us deploy our shelters, as we were working at night and were in what I recall was a pretty remote area. Is there any way to search the Archives by key word(s)?

Thanks very much.


Julian "George" Lee
El Carison 63, 64, 65, 66 (part)

4/17 I got a call from Vicki Minor at the WFF who is still in the process of getting TX firefighter families to contact the WFF.

She was very touched and choked up.

She said that she'd spoken with nurses at the various TX burn centers who were all so touched by the WFF (our WFF's) help. Safety nets matter, and much more so in a crisis. TX and OK fires are burning fast and furious in the Southern Plains, up to 600 miles apart. All of those who have been injured during this last week's firestorm are volunteer firefighters. They are not wealthy, far from it, but they are giving and support their communities and perhaps many are not so well insured.

Their nurses across the state (Lubbock, Dallas, Eastland) were dumbfounded that we, as a firefighting community, have the money (and willingness) to support these volunteer firefighter families in need and that we support all wildland firefighters regardless of whether they're volunteer, agency or private sector.

Vicki especially wanted to thank all that are doing fundraisers for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for their good work. By doing what you do, you FUNDRAISERS,, the WFF can do what it does to help our brothers and sisters and their families when the unthinkable happens. She says at times like this what she/the Foundation does makes the effort all worth it.

I'll add that anyone reading here that wants to add some bucks to the support effort, it's easy and tax deductable: Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Thanks, Vicki, Burk, Melissa! I admire you selfless people so very much!

Firefighters that are going to TX, please be very careful. If you are inexperienced with fast moving grass firestorms, go to the Texas Forest Service Website and watch some of the videos like "Attack from the Black".


TX google earth interactive screen capture for today. Link to the google earth tmz is on the TFS resources page. Click on the google earth map. Ab.

4/17 Rappel:

So, has it been decided who will rappel and who won't? Is there a list of rappel bases?

What are some of the final decisions for the program? Like, are they required to leave the
base in rappel configuration? Or can they set up at the fire if it's needed?

Just want to know what to expect.

4/17 Rh measurement, etc:

I have a couple comments about the current discussion.

RE Gary Whites article in Fire Management Today

The key phrase in this article is: " a properly calibrated kestrel". How do you know if your kestrel is properly calibrated? Have you ever tried to calibrate one? It is difficult, time consuming and messy. And how many of us have the lusury of sending ours back to the factory periodically? Not me.

I agree the Humidity is not the be all and end all of fire behavior prediction. But it is a component of the model. And for those of you that are not Rothermel fire behavior model fans, remember George Box said: "All models are wrong, some are useful", I believe the Rothermel fire model is very useful. Models have a key function, not giving us the "answer" but helping us understand. A good discussion of models and their usefulness can be found in this discussion of models and complex systems on this (yesterday) mornings NPR Weekend Edition Saturday:


The model allows us to make small changes and to understand what their effects are, and thus help us to understand this very complex business of wildland fire behavior.


4/17 ROSS

Little Joe -

Check with whomever in your agency administers ROSS to see if they have unique rules, but in general, ROSS will list all the quals you possess, although you can opt to hide any that you don't want to get assignments for - like if you're an ICT3 you may no longer wish to get called as a FFT2, so you can hide it but remain qualified. But whatever's on your card is there, and you're either unavailable, or available local, GACC, or national. Once available, you could conceivably be called for anything you're qualified for. Your agency or dispatch center may have unique rules, but that's how ROSS itself works.


4/16 Making the rounds... Rappel

Consolidated rappel training will be held in John Day, Oregon.

Date: April 4, 2011
Subject: 2011 Consolidated Helicopter Rappel Training
To: Regional Foresters, Regional Fire Directors, Regional Aviation Officers

On July 11, 2007, Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry, required the agency to “consolidate helicopter rappel training to one location in each Region” before the 2008 fire season. This requirement is one of several recommendations identified in the “Feasibility of Conducting a Competitive Sourcing Competition on Aviation Activities in the US Forest Service” study.

The National Rappel Program has standardized rappel procedures, equipment, and documentation protocols. Consolidated rappel training is critical to standardization, planning, operations, and the quality assurance process. In 2011, all re-activating rappel programs must attend consolidated rappel training in John Day, Oregon.

Expenses that exceed normal costs incurred for rappel training will be tracked with the intent that those costs will be paid for from cost savings at the WO. Expenses exceeding normal costs incurred can be:

  • Costs for mobilization and demobilization of aircraft and service trucks to and from training.
  • Per Diem or extended standby for helicopter contractors.
  • Per Diem for rappel trainers and trainees.

Each region re-activating a rappel program for 2011, shall provide Aaron Schoolcraft, WO Aviation Management Specialist, a detailed cost analysis two weeks prior to rappel training. Furthermore, regions must coordinate with Vince Welbaum, National Helicopter Operations Specialist, on all consolidated rappel training logistics.

For further assistance, please contact Art Hinaman, Assistant Director, Aviation, at snip or (202) 205-xxxx or Karyn Wood, Assistant Director, Operations, at snip or (208) 387-xxxx.

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

4/16 Emmerson TX Fire fighter dies in traffic accident
By Celinda Emison
Posted April 16, 2011 at 3:25 p.m.

8:15 p.m.: The death of a fire fighter killed while fighting a fire in Eastland County Friday was called a traffic fatality by the Department of Public Safety Saturday.

7:15 p.m.:The death of Greg Simmons, 51, took a dramatic turn Saturday, when the preliminary autopsy revealed his death was caused by an accidental blow to the upper torso, officials reported in a news release

The DPS will be the lead agency and and will investigate this death as a traffic fatality, DPS officials said.

"Unfortunately this investigation is going to take considerable time to accomplish," said Sgt. David Foster of the DPS. "Results will be released as soon as they become available."

4/16 ROSS help:

I am being told I can only be listed as available under one job title in ROSS. If I am willing to take an assignment as an ENGB, DOZB or STEN, does that get in the system, or not?


Little Joe

4/15 Firefighters entrapped and burned over in a fire near Eastland TX, one dies. Eastland is west of Dallas/Fort Worth on Rt 20 and Gorman is 15 mi south of Eastland:

Gregory M. Simmons (51) was fighting a fire near Eastland. He appears to have been overcome with smoke, fell into a ditch and was consumed by the fire.

Media Article on the hotlist: Firefighter dies, 50 homes burn in Texas blazes

There were three additional firefighters injured. I have reports on only 2 being hospitalized now. Perhaps one was already released.
One firefighter is in the Eastland Hospital and may be released tomorrow.
A second firefighter is in critical condition and was life flighted to Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

If anyone knows of a press release with details, where to send donations or condolences, please let us know.

Video footage of the fire driven by 50 mph winds.

Our thoughts and prayers for these firefighters, their families, friends and coworkers. The WFF is in touch with the families' liaison to lend support. Ab.

4/15 Rh discussion

Dear Klamathman

Regarding your comments about the humidity and its uses.

The following documents have made me question your assumptions. You may want to check these documents out.

Subject: Cause and result
Finding the cause of fire behavior variation requires a study of the following documents.

Document #1. Title.
Solar Radiation and Forest Fuel moisture
By, George M. Byram and George M. Jemison
Journal of Agricultural Research Wasington, D.C. Aubust 15, 1943

Document #2
The Concept of Fire Environment
By, C.M. Countryman, Research Forester
Fire Control Notes 27 (4) 1966

Writes interesting stuff about the interrelationships of components.

Just curious

4/15 There's an article from late yesterday or early today on the hotlist about P-3s being stood down.

Hotlist: Texas: Air power dips in wildfire fight

4/15 Rh, Fuel Temps and fire behavior / ignition


With reference to Rh changes, both iPhone f/f and klamathman make valid points. It is not necessarily the RH that changes fire behavior but what it does to time lag fuels. 1 hour fuels will react to changes in Rh, both up and down, much more readily that 10 hr, 100 hr or 1,000 hr fuels but the larger fuels will react over time. Looking at it a little deeper without going too deep, to get a fuel partial to the ignition point of approximately 450 F, it has to lose the moisture in the particle. >From high school physics, it takes a lot more energy evaporate water than it does to raise its temperature. The length of time to get rid of this moisture is dependent upon how much there is in the particle. Once the fuel moisture is sufficiently evaporated, the fuel particle heats to the ignition point and it begins to burn. Having said that though, there are watch out points depending upon the fuel model, though, that warrant attention. If the Rh remains at or below 20%, for me, it’s a heads up, and below 10%, fires are going to be very active and spotting very likely. An example of this is green grass. The fuel is there but it is not available because there is too much moisture to sustain combustion. Once it dies though and begins to dry out, it becomes available and the fuel moisture content changes continuously with changes in RH.

To me though, the winds are the things to really watch out for. If fuels are sufficiently dry to burn, both live and dead, wind will have an exponential impact on fire behavior. Pay attention to the weather and watch what the trends are. It is just one component of fire behavior, but a very important one.

This is a very simplistic explanation of fire behavior, but maybe it address the original question. In the mean time, be safe and keep your situational awareness about you and never forget LCES.


4/15 Rh and fire behavior / ignition

iPhone f/f said: If fuel temp is more closely related to ignition and flame length than Rh, why not work just a bit harder to pin down that to be a predictor?

Fuel moisture is monitored in most fire-prone areas. While fuel temperature rising makes some intuitive sense for fire starts (less energy needed to raise the fuel to its ignition point) other indicators such as ambient temperature, RHs, fuel moisture -- particularly in fine fuels -- and atmospheric instability have all proven themselves over the years to be good indicators for fire starts and the type of behavior likely after fires get going.

I recall watching a video where someone discussed fuel temperatures on fire behavior after ignition; seems like that might have been some of Doug Campbell's work? At any rate, being heads up about what's going on around you is an important tool. Taking a glove off and snapping up some of the fuel won't make it into any fancy models, but it can give someone with experience a fair amount of info.

Still Out There as an AD

4/15 MAFFs Support to Mexico:


2 MAFFs unit from Colorado Springs will be deployed to Laughlin AFB in Texas to support the large fires in Mexico. The deal was arranged between the Mexican Government, US State department, and the DOD. USFS resources will be used in support of the operation as well as a USFS MAFFs  qualified leadplane.


4/15 IMT Succession Planning

***National Wildfire Coordinating Group - Incident Management Organization
Succession Planning - Comment Period Closes, April 30, 2011***

A brief background: The federal wildland fire management community is currently facing a number of challenges with the current model for maintaining and developing interagency incident management teams. In March of 2010, the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) established a team
to develop alternatives for organizational configuration and management oversight for the management of national wildfire incidents. Alternatives / various models have been developed and the NWCG is currently seeking comment to the proposed models to be used in the development of a selected future Incident Management Organization. The comment period closes on April 30, 2011.

Comments are being collected via the feedback link located at: www.nwcg.gov/imosp/feedback.php

For more information, review the information on the NWCG Incident Management Organization Succession Planning website, located at: www.nwcg.gov/imosp/index.php.

Of note are the following information links:
www.nwcg.gov/imosp/docs/overarching-principles.pdf >>> Overarching Principles

www.nwcg.gov/imosp/docs/models-brief.pdf >>> Organizational Models (short version)

www.nwcg.gov/imosp/docs/models-expanded.pdf >>> Organizational Models (expanded version)

www.nwcg.gov/general/memos/nwcg-038-2010.phpl >>> Current Status on Incident Management Team (IMT) Succession Planning Project (8/13/10 memo.)

You may also be interested in viewing / listening to the recording of the webinar that was targeted for NPS employees. It is approximately 60-70 minutes long and is located at: www.nps.gov/fire/ under Photos, Publications and Media.

Questions? Contact your agency point of contact, their names, e-mail addresses and phone numbers are located at: www.nwcg.gov/imosp/contacts.php

Thank you! Your feedback counts!

Sue Husari
Fire Management Officer
Pacific West Region
National Park Service

4/15 Rh and fire behavior / ignition

If fuel temp is more closely related to ignition and flame length than Rh, why not work just a bit harder to pin down that to be a predictor?

I'm new at this, but trying to get a handle on it.

Sent from my iPhone.

ps, wouldn't it take a longer time frame for rh to change fuel moisture.

sign me iPhone f/f

4/15 Rh and fire behavior / ignition

Hey Curious guy-

Those are some real good questions. My opinion on your questions are;

1. What does changing humidity do to increasing or decreasing fire behavior? Specifically, humidity change of 10% changes the flame length how much?

Changing humidity directly affects fire behavior by affecting your fuel moisture. There are huge variations in in the effects of 10% change in RH depending on your fuel type (fuel model 12 vs. 3) and size class (1hr. vs. 10hr) of your fuels. In addition a change from 80% to 90% is not going to affect fire behavior and flame length as much as a change from 10% to 20% RH. I don't know of a rule of thumb that would allow you to generalize flame lengths based on RH% across the board due to how dynamic fuels are and how subtle changes like arrangement and size can effect fire behavior.

2. What causes of fire starts are hooked to various humidity readings? Is there a list of causes and the humidity ranges that point to a certain cause?

I don't know of a list per say, but in fire investigation class I heard that a lit cigarette cannot start a fire in a grass model unless the RH is less than 17%. My numbers are most likely off, but the message is still there. A cigarette is capable of putting out a certain level of heat. A fuel bed will only ignite if the fuel moisture is at a certain level which as explained above, is directly dependant on RH.


ps. if you ever see the RH drop from 11% to 1% don't stick around to measure the flame lengths.

4/15 Learning tool?

To Fork in the Trail,

You stated that "I no longer use a sling psychrometer or a Kestrel; but do use a new learning tool. Its called a  "Facilitated Learning Analysis" "

While, from a fire behavior standpoint, the importance of a precise measurement by either a Kestrel of a psychrometer is over-emphasized, the importance of the trends that these tools indicate is not. A series of measurements, either accurate or with a consistent error, is going to indicate what the weather trend is and what type of change in fire behavior to anticipate. I don't know that an FLA is going to help you be proactive in fire-line safety decisions related to fire behavior, where psychrometers and Kestrels can.


4/15 P-3 Airtankers stood down:

Morning Gang,

Just received this on my blackberry from the Southwest GACC

National fleet of heavy air tankers reduced from 19 to 11. All P-3 Orions have been removed indefinitely from the national fleet due to issues found during aircraft inspection on one of the P-3's last week. The remaining air tankers are all Neptune Aviation's P2Vs--9 based out of Missoula & 2 based out of Minden, NV.

AZ Trailblazer

4/14 Re Injured Cactus TX firefighter:

R-5 BDF,

The good news is, Mr. Jacquez is expected to survive.

Cactus firefighter has 3rd degree burns to 60 of his body


4/14 Re Injured Cactus TX firefighter:

Any updated information on Elias Jaquez? Our prayers are with his family

from R-5 BDF

4/13 Gary White’s article in Fire Management Today

Reading the Article "How accurate is your Kestrel" - in the most recent article of Fire Management Today: (Volume 71, No 1. 2011) - was very enlightening. Not for the fact that new technology is available, but moreso for the nuance that repeated use over time of the traditional fireline tool - the sling psychrometer, outside of the environmental conditions it was designed for - clearly illustrates to me how repeated human behavior can result in multiple, inconsistent interpretation that can produce serious "operator induced errors."

"Curious Guy" asks the question: "What causes of fire starts are hooked to various humidity readings? Is there a list of causes and the humidity ranges that point to a certain cause?" - This IS a good question. Unfortunately we don't often find out the answer to these types of questions unless something goes wrong, and subsequent prescribed fire reviews are initiated. Past reviews have indicated that miscalculations of critical fuel and weather conditions do attribute to unintended consequences. However, and unfortunately, something has to go wrong in order to extract these high cost lessons.

So my point is: I no longer use a sling psychrometer or a Kestrel; but do use a new learning tool. Its called a "Facilitated Learning Analysis" and the intent for using an FLA is simple: promote lessons learned and promote organizational change to those things we do learn.

In this same issue of FMT - there are some good points raised about risk management, FLAs, and even important cultural insights emerging practices such as "Just Culture."

It's funny, in retrospect, how Dr. Ted Putnam's requests (post the 1994 tragic fire season) to study how Human Factors and Human Behavior influence fireline 'sense-making" which were then "shot down" are in use today for aggressive risk management and operational fire doctrine. Does the Kestrel article sublimate a "turning tide" in fireline thinking; is the example of reliance of past traditional use compared to thinking in the age of technology and information sharing initiating a revival of human performance studies in fire management activities?

I don't know. But Gary White's article made me think a bit about new and recurrent fire management principles and their application to issues that cross generational and cultural ways of thinking. Thanks ABs - good information and definitely worth sharing!

-Fork in theTrail

4/13 Injured Cactus TX firefighter:

There was a burnover in the TX panhandle with one firefighter severely burned. Please send prayers for Firefighter Elias Jacquez and his family. Donations to cover medical expenses can be sent to any Happy State Bank location under his name. (Hotlist thread)


4/13 Ab, ( I was able to register as a hotlist member but cannot yet reply so this forum will have to do)

On the subject of

almost Furloughed: I'm so happy to be able to work again this week, just recently received my very own Certificate of Appreciation from President Obama...I'm so darn happy, I think I will have it framed... I know I sound cynical (yes, it's my nature) & I'm working harder on that... The ethics group sent out two hilarious E-mails that lessened the feeling that we are all Dilberts , I hope no one gets fired over it... I would not want that impending doom of a furlough threat, another BOHICA, to be repeated ever again, but this acronym, by implication, always repeats... As I contemplate my MCL tear, waiting to heal, deciding when to PackTest, we militia are all advised (because of miniscule budgeting) to go out on fires this Summer... Wonder if it will be another NW, wet year? (Hotlist thread on PPE)

On Texas Fires: Endured a long, long 64 day tour in East Texas, 1998... Saw several instances where vollies were very young gals (16-18) in shorts, yep no PPE sitting up front hosing, doing their running attack thing (vollies, bless 'em all), and at that time we were averaging 4 fires/day per dozer... Texas is amazing, so Don't Mess With It! (Hotlist thread on TX wildfires)

On Fed Optimism: It is so Foreign right now, we are expected to soldier on... and we will. I think the morale problem took a big hit... there will be a whole new slew of memos on what to do... cartoonists and comedians will have a field day... keep your friends close & family closer. I don't want to go out, but as Mellie says: "baby needs a new pair 'a shoes". (AD thread on theysaid)


4/12 Sling Psychrometers:

Bouncing around, I found sling psychrometers can get a bubble separating the mercury column. You need to check for this!


4/12 Gary White’s article in Fire Management Today,  I have questions about a couple of his statements in the article:

1. p. 33: "Because humidity has such a great effect on fire behavior, knowing the relative humidity and how it is changing over time is a critical piece of information for any wildland firefighter."

2. p. 35: So why is this of any great importance? For me, as a fire investigator, I can eliminate or include certain categories of fire causes within fairly specific RH ranges. That’s important, but it’s not life- threatening. For suppression and prescribed fire operations, however, accurate RH information can be critical. Inaccurate information can have potentially tragic consequences in terms of escaped fires, resource damage, or loss of life and property.

My questions

Item #1.
What does changing humidity do to increasing or decreasing fire behavior? Specifically, humidity change of 10% changes the flame length how much?

Item #2.
What causes of fire starts are hooked to various humidity readings? Is there a list of causes and the humidity ranges that point to a certain cause?


Curious guy

4/12 Re Humidity readings:

Very good article. The sling psychrometers are only good if you use them correctly. Otherwise you are introducing errors to the data. For your average firefighter taking the weather observations with the Kestral, or electronic hygrometer, is the best way to go.

Errors can still be introduced with the electronic hygrometers, but the errors will be less with a pocket electronic hygrometer. A common error with the electronic hygrometer is that they are often kept in a shirt/jacket pocket, then pulled out and turned on, all in under 3 seconds. It’ll take 10-30 seconds for the electronics to stabilize to the ambient conditions. Fire personnel taking weather observations with an electronic hygrometer should let it stabilize in the wind for 30 seconds prior to taking the reading. And they should also shade the electronic components from the sun, so the sun doesn’t add to the error. Other than that, the Kestral should give good data.

On the second page the author points out some common “operator errors” with the sling. Additional common errors are: twirling the sling psychrometer in the sunlight, and twirling the sling over dark terrain (asphalt, dirt road), and twirling the sling in a location that is protected from the wind.

The sling psychrometer should be twirled over representative plant/ground cover, shaded by your body, and in complete view of the on-coming wind.

In my classes I would talk about these issues. But fewer fire personnel are getting instruction these days from IMETs.

Thanks, that was a fun read. The author did a good job.


4/12 Re: Effect of Rh input on flame length in BEHAVE?

That's a good article about the accuracy of weather instruments.

A good way to get a feeling for the effects RH has on flame length and rate of spread is to take a look at the flame length and rate of spread graphs in GTR-153, "Standard Fire behavior Fuel Models: A Comprehensive Set for Use with Rothermel's Surface Spread Model".

All on one page you will see a picture of the fuel, a description of the fuel by fuel sizes, and a graph for flame length and one for rate of spread for a range of fuel moistures and wind speeds. The effects are fuel model dependent. The more fine fuel present the more sensitive flame length and rate of spread are to changes in fuel moisture and wind speed.

My conclusion is: given the break points in temperature and relative humidity used to determine fine dead fuel moisture in the moisture tables and the limitations of the fire spread model (by a factor of two), a few points difference in RH even at low readings is not something to lose any sleep over. Wind should be your major concern.

Don't fall into the trap of fighting fire with book learning. It must be tempered with a lot of on the ground experience.

Tom Jones

4/12 Effect of Rh input on flame length in BEHAVE?

Fire Management Today, Volume 71, No. 1 2011 has an article by Gary L White on accurate RH readings. In the article he tests the two main humidity instruments for accuracy and variations. He concludes that the Kestrel is more accurate than the sling psychrometer and that a variation can be important in prescribed burning.

My question is, how much variation in flame length and ROS can be contributed to a variation of humidity differences using BEHAVE?

Can someone who is fluent in BEHAVE run a couple of inputs of say 10% and 20% humidity and calculate the flame lengths for us readers? How about it J.B.?

Just curious

Thanks to JS for also sending this in... it's a article making the rounds.. JS added to his email, that it's a quick read. Ab.

4/12 Jesusita Fire Burnover Accident Investigation Report


The CALFIRE Report has been issued. Can you post?


socal FF

4/12 DOI Lessons Learned 11-01, Aircraft Rental Agreements


Please give the attached DOI Lessons Learned 11-01, Aircraft Rental Agreements (133 K pdf), wide distribution. This DOI Lessons Learned will be posted at a later date on the NBC-AM web site.

Thank you.

US Department of the Interior
National Business Center
Aviation Management Directorate

4/11 govt shutdown plans?

Does anyone have any idea who in fed fire was/is
Don't tell me no one
There must have been some that made
the list ~ at least
that thought they were ESSENTIAL,
if no one else.
God's chosen?

If we don't know the positions of the
are there any numbers?
50, 100, 1000?
5000? 8000? Shrouded in secrecy or of the mists of

Do the people with the lists
~that no doubt think they're
ESSENTIAL~~ realize that if this comes
it will make us very frustrated not to have
a plan?

Can we ask congress to make them share a plan with
us or tell us
if they have no plan?
Are they working on a shutdown policy or is it a
Hey union reps can you give them a
poke to clue us all

I agree that a simple response would be a
FLA on how to do a shutdown better
or do it at all.
Maybe they do not know the process of a

Sign me:

not one of the Gollums in the WO in charge of "My Precious"

ab, this is tongue in the cheek of low morale but still
please post it.

sent from my iPhone

4/11 Services for Ann Butler will be held

Tuesday, April 12th at 1030 at
the Chapel in Challenge, California

Anne was former Pike County and Pilot Peak lookout.

4/11 10th Annual Golf Tournament in remembrance of Ron Thomas, CAL FIRE Pilot

MAY 17th, 2011
Ron Thomas Memorial Golf Tournament
San Geronimo Valley Course, Marin County

More info here: www.tankerpilottourney.com/

4/11 Follow up to “No PPE” in Texas.

It’s not so much as the $$ to buy a little PPE for the brush fire volunteers as blind Gung Ho attitude, “screw you” cowboy culture, tradition and a woeful ignorance of anything resembling Risk Management and Situation Awareness--not to mention even an elemental knowledge of S-130/190. Gee, is there a reason we kill a handful of volunteers every year under conditions right out of the Common Denominators of Tragedy Fires? Year after year?

Hell, if these departments don’t have brush PPE, let me know who they are and we’ll round up a few extra nomex shirts and trousers. We might be able to even find about 15,000 second generation fire shelters and web gear and a couple thousand LPH radios. I suspect, though, that our back burning sheriff and his buddies had all the PPE they needed in their trunk.

Through the years, I’ve worked and trained with a variety of agencies ranging from small all-volunteer departments, state agencies to the Feds. With grants and support from state forestry agencies and the Fed, departments that can’t meet basic response and safety standards for wildland response do so as a choice. Even a few enterprising volunteers with nary a Benjamin can scrounge enough equipment to make a nice go of it. All it takes is commitment. And there is no shame in asking for help.

Twice in my career I’ve put an engine crew in harm’s way to save enthusiastic but clueless volunteer brush crews who were moments away from being overrun.

“Fight Fire Aggressively, but Provide for Safety First.”

If you don’t know how the play the game, either make the commitment to learn…or go home. Volunteer or career responder, there is no excuse for ignorance in the fire environment.

S.R. Sparky
4/10 No PPE worn by some on TX fires (from the hotlist):

Texas' largest wildfire continues to rage in Stonewall County, beyond
Reporter News
The aggressive wildfire that started in Stonewall County Wednesday, jumped the Brazos River and raged through several adjoining counties, is the most massive range fire in the state... officials estimated Friday afternoon almost 72,000 acres had burned.... More...

Followup comment from Firefox1:

Check out the entire article, particularly the pictures. PPE?

4/10 FLA on the Fed Fire government shutdown procedures

I support "What Tha" idea requesting an FLA on the shutdown procedures and decision points. A focus on the agencies'
communication processes throughout last week needs to occur.

Lead up on this Monday morning.


Practice what you Preach..........

4/10 The Passing of Fire Chief Thom Myall

Although I never worked for Thom, I was fortunate to benefit from his good work. Many reading this can write so much more about Thom, his life, his family and his legacy. What I can do is tell you what Thom meant to me. To me, Thom Myall will always be remembered as the Father of Centralized Fire Management.

Two fire leaders back in the early to mid-90’s (you know who you are) started talking about what a Centralized Fire Management program would look like on the Los Padres. That idea found itself on the agenda at a Chief Officers meeting, where Thom liked the idea for many reasons. The idea for reorganization began to take shape in the coming weeks and months. After many months of design, discussions, meetings, and feedback, Centralized Fire Management became a reality on the Los Padres and stayed in place until 2004, four years after Thom’s retirement. Thom and Lonnie lead this historic organizational change. Some said it was a work of art to watch Thom move his away around all the landmines from the Forest Leadership Team on this proposal. He had an outstanding ability to read people. He could read them like a book. No one could out flank Thom in his ability to staff out a project.

When Thom would come out for annual drills, someone would always make the mistake and refer to the new centralized fire organization as “stovepiped.” This made Thom growl and his reply was always the same. “A Stovepipe organization doesn’t have any arms that reach out to other staffs, all the hot air goes straight up, this is Centralized Fire Management where we WILL work closely with ALL Firefighters, ALL non-Fire Staff Officers and every Line Officer”. If Chief Myall heard about one of his Chief Officers not working well with other staffs or Line Officers, it was time for a talk.

Interesting to note, Thom’s journey to the Fire Chief position on the Los Padres took him through many non-fire positions.

Yes, the Father of Centralized Fire Management is a Registered Professional Forester and a former District Ranger.

As a matter of fact, instead of hiding from those credentials as Fire Chief, he was very proud of it. Thom was a qualified Type 1 Plans Section Chief and an Area Commander Plans.

I found it meaningful that the week Thom passed away was the same week FWFSA released its 2011 draft legislation. Thom must have enjoyed reading Section 7 of this draft. Thom’s in a better place now and my guess is that he has a spreadsheet opened up and is already working the numbers.

In the months and years to come, as many of us work towards the implementation of Section 7, Thom will be there, helping and watching over us. I know Thom would challenge all -- especially those opposed to Centralized Fire Management -- to continue to learn, discuss and understand the benefits of a centralized fire organization.

Thom was a superior manager and true to his beliefs. Most importantly, Thom taught us how to support Wildland Firefighters.

Chief, thanks for all you have done for us. Your spirit, energy, beliefs, and passion will continue.

Godspeed Chief.

Retired FS Fuels

4/10 Fed Fire Government shutdown procedures


If you could, I need some help. On Wednesday and Thursday, I tried to find out how the possible Federal government shutdown might affect our local ranger district — San Jacinto.

From the ranger district through the forest office in San Bernardino through regional office, no one would discuss it with me. I was referred to DC. When I called, 4 pm PST, no one answered. I left a sarcastic message about the need to help west coast papers as well as NYT and WP. I had checked the departmental website Thursday for information and found none.

On Friday, I had a message from FS DC office to call a USDA number. Before calling I found the attached information on the USDA site. I called anyways and was told the person was not talking calls, because there were too many. I had to send an email.

In the email, I also suggested that if field staff could handle these questions the workload in DC would be lighter. Eventually I got a response from a well placed "on background, attributable to “an agency official.” I was assured that firefighting was critical operation and would be "excepted" from the shutdown.

After posting this information, I was verbally assaulted and told to get the "straight story". From whom, I ask. No one in the district, the forest or the state was talking. This criticism came from a local firefighter's spouse. Eventually I spoke to someone who was totally fearful of saying anything to me.

There were instructed, I inferred, that only firefighters combating a fire were excepted. All others had to be furloughed. That's doesn't comport with the message I was given from Washington. I'm not defending Washington, I just want to know the truth, especially because we could encounter this situation in September, when fire season is upon us.

If no one will speak on the record, the only information that I have, and I wrote this official back and called them at their request, and was assured fire was critical and firefighters would not be furloughed. But if FS HQ officials were imposing a different order, the public should know what fire support would be available.

Can you help me with obtain some data (written or oral) that supports or refutes what was told to me, in writing Friday?


J P Crumrine
Idyllwild Town Crier

Hear, Hear. Thanks JP, and thanks for your contributions to Always Remember. Ab.

4/10 DVD on Kelly York Story needed:


Do you know where I can get the Kelly York Story, either by DVD or video, and if so how much it might cost?

Chuck from BC

Readers, I gave him the contact info for CAL FIRE, State Fire Training and the http://osfm.fire.ca.gov/ training/ pdf/ trainingstaff.pdf link.
Any other ideas if the video is available these days on the web? Any other suggestions? Ab.

4/10 Fed Fire Essential or Not and Government Shutdown:


Not sure who makes the final decision, but rest assured, NONE of us in the U.S.F.S. are deemed essential. We are Forestry Technicians and emergency services are not in our Mission Statement or P.D.s, and as far as "OUR" Leadership being accountable,  They must first know what it means.

"Accountability is a concept in ethics and governance with several meanings. It is often used synonymously with such concepts as responsibility, answerability, blameworthiness, liability, and other terms associated with the expectation of account-giving. As an aspect of governance, it has been central to discussions related to problems in the public sector"


Any documentation or directive? Ab.

4/9 WFF Fundraiser

Kudos to the Eldorado Shots and all involved with the fundraiser at the winery today. I'm sure they raised a ton of money and the event in my opinion was AWESOME! Good job Brad, Hump, and all of you, you put on a great event, and hopefully "filled the boot," for such a worthy cause. It was great to see so many folks away from work and old friends as well...

Good job!!!

Sean Cox, Helitack Captain Big Hill

Sounds like it was fun! Ab.

4/9 Chief Thomas E. Myall memorial service:

Memorial service for retired Los Padres Fire Chief Thomas E. Myall is scheduled for
Saturday, April 16, 1pm at
Christ the King Episcopal Church,
5073 Hollister Ave.
Santa Barbara, CA.

Memorial Donations: In Thom's name to The Santa Barbara Cancer Center or Christ the King Episcopal Church.
Arrangements by Welch-Ryce-Haider 965-5145.

Thanks for sending that Marian, our condolences to friends and family. Ab.

4/9 Fed Fire, what's Essential? Call for a FLA, not a bad idea...

It might be good for the fed fire agency leadership to figure out who is essential and who is likely to get furloughed if a government shutdown occurs in the future. I predict that we'll have at least two more times this year when we'll come up against a shutdown: once when there needs to be a decision about raising the debt ceiling and once for passing the 2012 budget. It's less stressful if the troops know up front what's likely so they can manage expectations and plan ahead.


4/9 who determines who is essential?

Does anyone know who in the Forest Service determines who is considered essential during a potential shutdown? What criteria are used, who makes the final decision and at what level. In our case, lower GS ranks were identified as essential while Supts and BC's were not. In my opinion everyone is essential. I'm writing my Congress and Senate reps and I want to give them some insight on how this all went down. I feel they and the public needs to know that all assets that would be needed in case of an emergency were not made available and that our leadership making the determination needs to be accountable.


4/9 Good morning, All,

We at wildlandfire.com would like to announce our new Always Remember website and invite you to come, browse and contribute. Always Remember is a work in progress and has been in the making for some years. Over the 14 years of wildlandfire.com's existence, we've collected lots of data and information. We've always wanted to create a website to preserve and present it in an organized, accessible and currently meaningful way. Last October we finally began creating and are now ready to share what we have accomplished so far.

We want to acknowledge the dedicated work of JB, and the help of RJM, Doug Campbell, and others including the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and individuals that have been moved by loss of friends, coworkers or employees. Thanks also to Marilynn Flynn for her great collaboration skills and artistry in creating the home page banner.

The Always Remember website is lessons learned from fire fatalities and fire related accidents on planet earth & linked with memorials honoring the fallen. Alternatively you could say it's memorials on planet earth honoring the fallen & linked to lessons learned and everything about the fallen involved in the tragic incident. Location on the earth is important. Often firefighters die far from home but not far from our hearts.

Each incident includes

  • who died,
  • a brief description of what happened,
  • where it happened (lat/lon),
  • what contributed to the accident including systemic organizational patterns and human factors if we know that,
  • what was learned, and what was changed, or is changing, or needs to change and how that affected policy and firefighting culture.

Each incident includes what we know of

  • lessons learned reports and documents;
  • a staff ride link if a staff ride exists;
  • links to news articles; you-tube videos of the memorial services and/or training video;
  • info gathered from everywhere on our wlf.com site and on the web (or linked to web information);
  • hotlist records of incidents as they unfolded in real time (if recent history) or discussion on theysaid;
  • hotlist / theysaid condolences (if recent history);
  • personal accounts from the past and a comments section for new submissions if none existed before;
  • personal photos of the people, the fire behavior, or the geographic area,
  • the memorial fundraising events for the WFF, including walk/music/t-shirts/quilts/etc,
  • the monument, and/or the memorial(s) to the person or incident with their lat/long; etc.


Please let us know your thoughts and join us in continuing the research.

Steve Myers (Original Ab) and Mellie Coriell (Ab)

4/9 Anne Butler has passed away

Just heard this morning that Anne Butler passed away. She was the Pike County and Pilot Peak lookout, if you remember, for 25 plus years.


John, please let us know of services and where condolences can be sent. Ab.

4/8 Bridge continuing resolution has been reached. The larger agreement for the budget is agreed on and the bridge is to allow time for it to be written and brought to the legislature by midweek.

Good enough, no shutdown.


Carry on. Ab.

4/8 No Furlough?

We may yet avoid shutdown. Chuck Todd on MSNBC just said the Repubs had dropped the Planned Parenthood rider and wanted one more billion in cuts. Said they were talking over where that might come from. Keep yer fingers crossed.

He said there may be an announcement within the hour.


4/8 Furlough

To our Federal Brothers and Sisters,

While I empathize with your pending situation with the shut down, all I can offer is continuing support and our un-waiving belief that what you do, both as individuals and collectively, matters. It makes a difference in the fabric of this nation. You make a difference to your state and local counterparts. However long you are out, you WILL BE MISSED! For those of you fed-up (pun intended) and call it quits to seek a more stable job environment (how can anything be more stable than the federal government you say?), be proud of what you’ve accomplished and what you stand for. The times we are in and the actions our political leaders take (or don’t take in this case) are not a reflection of how America views you and your job. From a local’s viewpoint, it IS a reflection of how politics can completely come off the track and implode.

Are you essential to this nation? You bet your sweet li’l arse you are. But we allow the wrong people to make that determination. So please hang tough, be vigilant. This WILL be resolved some how, some way, some day. Yes, there is occasional State vs. Feds vs. local bashing in these blogs, but you know what? WE are all firefighters, and don’t ever call yourself anything else! Stand together!

The new LCES today: Last Call for Essential Services! I’d give this a timely Ab “Haw, Haw” but I feel more like shedding tears over this.

Best of Luck to each of you!



I know what you mean. Ab.

4/8 To All;

Today is truly a day for all to vow to take a more active role in learning and understanding how Government works, and doesn't work; how it affects our lives, and more importantly how partisan politics from those elected to "serve us" are now on the verge of creating a huge disservice to those they rely on to get re-elected.

This is not the first Government shutdown in recent history. I was involved in one about 15 years ago. That said, I cannot grasp the sad fact that all federal government agencies do not have an active plan, inclusive of protocols and procedures, ready to implement when & if that next politically created shutdown occurs.

Let's face it folks. This has very little to do with government spending and everything to do with partisan politics. Our Nation's citizens, especially federal employees are consistently the easiest, and most expedient target, certainly didn't create this mess. It has taken years and years of both Republican & Democratic Administrations and Congress' to create this situation which should never ever occur in the most powerul Nation on earth.

Blame it on the 2 party political system. As long as there is not a viable, TRUE independent political force, not beholden to a specific base of campaign contributors, this crap will continue. If you are a Democrat, you should be ashamed of your party's leadership. The last session saw a Democratic Administration, Senate & House yet they did not do their job and pass a budget for 2011. That shouldn't be acceptable to ANY American, Democrat or Republican.

Enter the Republicans and the Tea Party'ers. Republican leaning citizens should be ashamed of their Party's leadership for playing partisan political games. We all know federal government spending needs to be dealt with. It should have been "dealt' with for years and years. But you don't amputate a finger because you have a hangnail. Your don't "cut" a flawless rough diamond with a sledgehammer. The meat cleaver approach, focused largely on the easy target: federal employees, allows these newly elected members of Congress to say "look, I'm fixing the government" without taking the time to understand how the federal government workforce operates.

During my trip to DC last week, I suggested to every office that it is the federal employees of each agency who traditionally are at the bottom of the federal pay scale that likely know far better where the waste is in their agency and how to make effective & efficient changes than Congress does.

All of you need to get more proactive. Members of Congress don't know much...except how to play games to get re-elected and stay in power. I have had the honor and pleasure of representing federal firefighters on the Hill for 17 years. With this shutdown looming, all of you need to recognize that your voice is more important than ever and that it is our duty & responsibility to educate these folks who allegedly work for us.

Tell them what you think. Each of you has to have the guts to tell the leadership of the party you lean towards that as a member of that party, you are ashamed by their actions and inactions and explain how their antics adversely affect not only you but the safety of all those you work with.

It is time to stop blaming the "other" party and start holding one's own party accountable. Stop being sucked into your own party's rhetoric.

Sorry to yak & yak. I am embarrassed and ashamed that the leadership of this country...on both sides of the aisle, continue to give lip service to the American public claiming how their party is doing what is right for the country while blasting the other party, yet neither is doing what they were elected to do.

Get involved. Get educated. get motivated. Make your voice heard...especially to those who you personally have supported.

Let's hope they can some how do in a few hours what they have been incapable of doing for the last few years...their job!

4/8 Furlough

Got to love this........

ALL FS EMPLOYEES: Forest Service Ethics Branch Newsletter SPECIAL EDITION


Good one, thanks. Ab.

4/8 Furlough


With the elbows and invective flying in D.C. it appears we desperately need a father figure who will sit our representative’s boy/girl, boy/girl and make them behave…or not come out of their rooms until a resolution is reached.

With much of the government furloughing in just a few hours, the O’meister goes on vacation. So much for leading…

To AH, there are plenty of people in America who care. Having worked with hell holes in Africa some call countries, perhaps  I’m a little more circumspect.

Sign me, “D.C.: Been there. Done that. And cynical.”

S.R. Sparky

4/8 Jake:

There are a couple ways to get your foot in the door, even though you live far from major National Forests/Parks that have extensive fire programs. I'm from NJ originally, and lived on the East Coast and yet managed to spend a couple years out West working for the Forest Service.

First, you've got to get your red-card. I don't know what your Fire Science degree entailed, but you need certain classes and to pass the physical test to get Red Carded. There are classes held all over the country. (I took my in Bloomington, IN, from the Indiana State DNR - great folks.)

One reader mentioned state agencies - certainly explore that avenue. The state DNRs usually put together Type 2 crews each summer that travel out west for assignments. Contact them for seasonal or temporary work. It may be that you have to get a job in a state park, doing something mundane like checking camping permits, etc. But it can certainly open some doors.

Being from Chicago, you're relatively close to a couple of states that have extensive DNR fire programs - WI, IN, MI, MN, IA. Lots of my fellow crew members got their start in DNRs in the Midwest.

Also look at close-by federal land management agencies. NPS, USFS, and Fish and Wildlife are all throughout the country - even in major cities. They may be different from what you think of as a park or forest, but getting jobs there can often springboard you to a job out West. You're lucky in the Illinois actually hosts a Hotshot crew - the Midewin Hotshots, in Wilmington, IL - which is only about 50 miles from Chicago.

Finally, at some point you may just need to move out west. Certainly, if you're going to be doing a lot of fire, you'll be spending lots of time out there. Spending a handful of months out west during fire season, then coming back "home" works well if you're in school or have other obligations. But it is difficult if you want to advance in a fire career.

Good luck,


4/8 I am confident that the USDA will treat me more like a cubicle dwelling bovine statistic recorder than a non essential Handcrew Captain.


4/8 An FLA of the Forest Service reaction to the Govt. shutdown is needed.

Issues to learn from:
What positions should be deemed essential?

What are the Agency responsibilities to HSPD, NIMS and the NRF?

The Forest Service is the Lead Agency for ESF 4 (firefighting) and 11(agriculture & natural resources) and supporting roles to almost all other National Emergencies...
Can the Forest Service Line Officers decide to withdraw from those obligations of Presidential Direction?

If there were a need to activate ESF 4 or ESF 11, what would be the capability of the F.S. to fulfill these roles?
Check out ROSS on Sat. and see what responders are available. A few Type III engines and NO ability to staff any IMTs or any of the ICS needed to coordinate response to a disaster.

The Forest Service has the ability to identify positions that are critical to public safety and keep them on duty.
(The F.S. decided to only staff a minimum level of wildfire initial attack resources with a disregard for all other Local Cooperative and National Emergency Support.)

So is that the expectation of the F.S. Lead in ESF 4 and ESF 11?... send a couple Type III fire engines?

The idea of being prepared for emergencies is being prepared!
Once responders are Furloughed, they can not be brought back until the budget is passed, even if there is a disaster.

So be prepared, or bow out of the lead roles!

What Tha,
4/8 Furlough MOU


www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2011/fed/110331_final-MOU.pdf (88 K pdf)


From Ab via a text reader: Here's the text:


Emergency Furlough of Employees Due to Absence of Agency Appropriations

This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is between USDA - Forest Service (Management) and the National Federation of Federal Employees, Forest Service Council (Union) hereafter referred to as the "Parties".

This MOU applies only to emergency furlough of bargaining unit employees due to the absence of Agency appropriations and the shutdown of Agency operations The Parties stipulate that the signators to this MOA have the authority to bind their respective party and agree to the following:

1. Local Line Officers shall coordinate with Union representatives in advance to ensure Union representatives have access to Union files and their computers to conduct Union representational functions.

2 Except in the case of unforeseen circumstances, employees subject to being "on call" during the furlough will be identified in advance and noted by the end of the first furlough day Employees will be called back only to complete work under functions that are excepted; for example: protection of life and property and orderly shutdown of the Agency The procedures of Article 18 of the Master Agreement will apply to employees who are "on call" during the furlough. Employees "called back" during a furlough will be pajd in accordance with Article 19 of the Master Agreement when Congress subsequently enacts appropriations for the Agency Employees who are not notified that they are "on call" during the furlough will not be accountable to respond.

3. All time lines in the Master Agreement, except individual vacancy announcements, will be extended equal to the number of days of the furlough unless otherwise required by law or government regulations. The Parties' intent is that individual vacancy announcements will not close during the furlough if possible.

4. Local Line Officers will develop procedures for notifying all employees of the end of the furlough. These procedures are subject to local negotiations. Upon notification of the end of the furlough. employees will be expected to return to work on their next regular duty day ; employees who are unable to return to work upon notification of the end of the furlough shall notify their immediate supervisor and may request leave in accordance with Article 20 of the Master Agreement. Employee leave requests approved prior to the start of the furlough for leave that extends beyond the end date of the furlough shall be automatically reinstated at the conclusion of the furlough for the remainder of the original leave period.

5 The Parties agree that furlough notices will include information regarding unemployment benefits specific to each state, including contact information. The Union will be given the opportunity to review the content of the furlough notices prior to release The FAQ will be developed with Union input and made available to employees prior to the furlough The HRM contact center and the Forest Service intranet and internet sites will be used to communicate Forest Service wide general furlough information The Union, at the appropriate level, will be provided a list of all excepted bargaining unit employees.

6. The rescheduling of arbitration hearings that are scheduled during a furlough will be handled in accordance with the Master Agreement, Article 10-8 i.

7. If the appropriation law does not specify or prohibit payment of retroactive pay for furloughed employees and if such payment does not result in subsequent layoffs or furlough, the agency will grant retroactive administrative leave equal to the time lost for those employees who suffer lost salary/wanes due to an emergency furlough caused by a lapse in appropriations he-intent of the Parties is to compensate employee without significantly compromising the ability of the Agency to deliver its mission Therefore, if the Agency believes it cannot comply with this provision, it shall notify the Union at the national level and the Parties shall negotiate on alternative provision.

8 Employees and their families who are in government furnished housing (GFH) at the time of a furlough will be permitted to stay in government housing. Employees who continue to occupy GFH units while on leave or furlough, with or without pay, will continue to be charged for housing It is the Parties intent that in lieu of colleting rental charges from employees during periods of furlough, the estimated rental obligations during projected furlough periods will be added to the rental obligation during periods of employment.

9. The Parties agree to continue negotiations on the following deferred topics and may amend this MOU accordingly:

a) Timing of pay for employees who work during the furlough

b) Processing time for allotments and benefit changes requested as a result of the furlough

c) Mitigating impacts on seasonal employees

Agreed to:
//Barbara Cooper
Acting Associate Deputy
USDA Forest Service

//Melissa Bauman
Chief Interim NFFE-FSC President
NFFE Forest Service Council

4/8 re Federal Furlough

Through these trying times we need to bond together. I am a federal wildland firefighter, with 15 years in. We will be shut down in less than 24 hrs. I can only hope things out of our hands will work out. I also hope that our Cal Fire brothers will have better representation than we do. You also work hard for your money. This is the first time in my career I feel like no one in the public gives a sh*t. To everyone on this post take care, and stand together. I believe in my work as a hotshot for 12 years.


4/7 Re: Shut-down contingency

Your Directors may have different priorities in your Region but the contingency in r2 includes holding onto our engines, 11 HS Crews, aircraft. People committed to fires will be let go when they are released from assignment. Minimal staffing in NIFC, all ECC are kind of good to go.

The other thing that is frustrating is that if you have travel planned for anytime after midnight Friday and a bill is not passed, you will have to foot the bill. If a fire breaks out and you are on furlough and you volunteer, you are screwed~!


4/7 Re: Shut-down contingency - fire - boots on the ground...

Not surprised that The DOI has announced their contingency plan for the shut down before the USDA. Thanks for posting! But as a FS firefighter (ur Forest Tech) curious what the heck will happen to us. Anyone in the loop in here on the Forest Service contingency?

I am on a day off and cannot access my lotus notes from home and scheduled to work saturday morning. Rather not make the 50 minute commute to find out I got the furlough.


Conejo BCS

FS is larger firefighting force than NPS to coordinate but NPS has all the monuments, national parks, etc. Essential? Who knows why NPS did it first... It's all a "sack of weasels" situation, in my opinion. Ab.

4/7 Re: Shut-down contingency - fire

Currently all Directors are gathering lists from FMOs and creating their own for who they deem essential. This is direction from the WO and lists will be submitted to the WO today.


4/7 Hey Ab -

I'm wondering if anyone out there has experience with the Oregon 550 GPS? IHCs, Modules, Engines... anyone using this GPS unit? Do you like it? What are the issues with it?



4/7 Re: Shut-down contingency - Interior Agencies


Hot off the wire. Firefighting is excepted for Interior agencies.

DOI Contingency Plan (226 K pdf)


Thanks, Ab.

4/7 Dear Jake;

Don’t overlook state land management agencies in your wildland firefighter job search. States may not pay as well, they can be a way to get your foot in door and get NWCG sanctioned training, qualifications, and practical experience. Most state agencies are currently (or may already have) selecting their crew members for the 2011 season, so don’t dally. Go to each state forestry websites to see which ones hire firefighters and follow through. And don’t confine yourself to the western states. Many Northeastern and Southeaster states hire entry-level forestry personnel as well. There are many, many job-seekers in your shoes, so my best advice to those frustrated by the trials of getting in the door: “BE PERSISTENT.” Good luck to you.

The Old Line Scout

4/7 Ab;

For all those with questions regarding the criteria for hiring ADs, I suggest they read the Interagency Incident Management Handbook, Chapter 10, section D, page 4 "Circumstances Required for Hiring". Neither NICC, NIFC, GACCs, nor local dispatch centers make policy, they simply follow the rules.

4/7 Shut-down, ADs, backfills-NIFC/NICC ??

NIFC and NICC have been strangely quiet in regards to informing the field on their established practices, policies and procedures for the 2011 fire season.

We have asked questions through this forum for any established procedures regarding the prioritization of orders (full time government, ADs , contractors, supplemental fire department personnel, etc).

Now we see questions asked about backfill policies, and beginning hotshot crew hires/ongoing AD hires during the impending shut-down.

I realize that the questions are often complex, and the OPM guidance documents (regarding the shut-down) are subject to interpretation.

However, the time for answers (regarding the shut-down) ends tomorrow (Friday) at midnight.

NIFC and NICC, where our collective agencies have their fire brain trusts located, have been, for the most part, silent.

What has been released has the air of "this might be the answer, but don't hold us to it".

Is it time for some FOIA requests to be sent? Is that really necessary in this age of easy information dissemination?

We are looking forward to some answers from NIFC and NICC, hopefully before 17:00 on Friday.



4/6 AB,

So after 3 months of harassment by the unqualified DFMO, District Ranger and Forest Supervisor, the Modoc Hotshots were handed their punishment. The following may not be suitable for the weak at heart; two letters, that's correct just two letters. No time off, last chance agreements, transfers or terminations. They stood down an IHC and embarrassed the forest and region all for two letters. Heck other modules are slapped with letters and are not stood down. It just goes to show again that the DFMO and ranger are unqualified and incompetent. I hope the crew and forest can move forward.


Sad news. I hope they can move forward as well. Ab.

4/6 Jake,

One option may still be the Great Northern Fire Crew in Missoula, Montana. They MAY still be hiring. I've attached a brochure with their info and contact information....


MT Jumper

I sent it to him. Ab.

4/6 Re: No backfill authorized:

Understand that the restriction on backfill was placed by the benefiting agency, in this case a local county government. It was put in place in an attempt (misguided, IMO) to reduce costs and based on prior bad experiences with having to pay what they felt were excessive backfill costs. I have since been assured that backfill will be covered for all resources after the state EFF kicked in, which was 0600 on Sunday morning. Interestingly, my agency sent an engine on Sunday, there was no such notation on the resource order. We got a call on Monday afternoon from the local dispatch center to advise us of the restriction. There was a quick and predictable uproar from all cooperators, and the Colorado State Forest Service quickly resolved the situation. Not to say it won’t happen again.....


4/6 Hey Ab,

My name is Jake, and landing a job as a Wildland Firefighter is my dream. Unfortunately I live near Chicago, and wildfire jobs are pretty much non-existent. I have been trying really hard in the past few months to get a summer job anywhere out west, but with limited resources and virtually no connections, I am having a very tough time, to say the least. As of now, I have been offered but one position as an on-call firefighter in Elko, NV, but since I dont live in the area and probably wouldnt be able to pay my way to live there as an on-call employee, it isn't looking too good. I have no idea how early or late it is in the hiring season, or if any other job offers will come my way- but I don't want to get my hopes up. SO, my question to you sir, is what would you suggest I do? I have my AAS in Fire Science from my community college, as well as my Illinois EMT-B. The way I see it, I either have to move out west so I am a more eligible candidate, or abandon the prospect of Wildland Firefighting ( for now : [ ) and go ahead with paramedic school and other municipal firefighting opportunities (which currently are pretty near non-existent as well). I have about a million and one other questions, but I respect your time so I tried to keep this to what I need most. Thank you very much for your time.


Readers? Ab.

4/6 Jeff and Shane Memorial Fun Run Fundraiser:

Good morning brothers and sisters. I see there's been a lot of good discussions lately with a lot up in the air and a fire season apparently getting well established.

To change gears for a moment, I wanted to announce that the folks on the Salmon-Challis National Forest have put together a really fun event in memory of Jeff Allen and Shane Heath: The first annual Jeff and Shane memorial fun run will be held on June 4th at the Indianola Memorial Site. It's a 5k and 10k walk/run. Entry fee is $23.50 with all proceeds going to the Wildland Firefighter foundation. There's a killer BBQ (free to racers, $5 for non) after the event along with a pint party in Salmon later that afternoon. There will food, drink, raffles and fun. We're expecting a huge turnout.

Register at: Jeff Allen and Shane Heath Memorial Run 2011

Jeff & Shane Fun Run Flyer (1210 K pdf)

Hope to see you there!

4/6 Hotshot Crews during gov't shutdown?

Wondering what the outlook for oncoming hotshot crews is during the shutdown? Are crews considered "essential"? And will all scheduled crew start dates remain or be postponed?


4/6 No backfill authorized:


Cooperators should read their resource order carefully before deploying. I heard of at least one engine de-mobbing from the Crystal Fire near Ft. Collins.

Apparently, "no backfill authorized" means no backfill authorized.

I wonder if this policy will carry over to not using severity funds to stage resources at empty stations (backfill) when federal engines have deployed to out-of-region incidents?

vfd cap'n

4/6 re Fed only:

Hi to all,

It seems that the Feds can tag a position as FED ONLY if it is a federal fire. When it comes to a fire where the responsibility is a local or state government, the advisor for the agency will eliminate the FED ONLY tag.

Most of the state agencies I have assisted have a strict ‘closest resource’ policy and unless the resource is ROSS-tered on the IMT, they will get someone closer.

I have been told to ‘stay home’ when my IMT got called out because the fed resource manager wanted to use the local, uncarded IT tech as a COMT rather than pay for a non-fed. After a major burn-over event caused by no communications to the fireline and along travel routes, my IMT began turning down assignments where the local resource advisor didn’t want to use IMT members who were not Fed employees.

I have seen interagency dispatch centers cause more problems for themselves by not adhering to their interagency agreements when looking for fills. It really gets to be annoying when it happens year after year because the IADC hosting agency changes personnel and goes to great length to get the dispatcher to know the local Forest requirements yet fails to bring the dispatchers up to speed with the interagency agreements.

I guess what I am saying is it all comes down to education. Educating the dispatchers, the resource managers, the IMTs and the ADs. It isn’t anyone persons fault nor is it a nationwide conspiracy. It’s a lack of education.

We may all be in this together but we aren’t necessarily all together on this.

Steve LCES

4/5 Firefighting personnel gov't shutdown?

So in the event of a government shutdown, are agency fire and fuels personnel considered essential during this time of year?

Utah Powderhound

4/5 re Fed only:

Where will this end?........I hear that the ADs are taking all the assignments. Not in my world. I am qualified and current as ASGS, HMGB. HLCO and HEB1. Can the GOV fill the orders FED ONLY?....not very often without spending big $$$$ to bring them from who knows where. How about getting back to the "closest resource concept"? If you are qualified in the position, why is there bias?

NZ SUPT. (ret)

4/4 S.R. Sparky, Wow, that was quick! 20 min, must be a record. Glad you survived.



4/4 Mellie,

Fire was near Midway, Utah just outside Wasatch Mountain State Park. I think the report you cite misnames the park.

There is an interesting article about the fire and fatalities on the LDS web site, as both who were killed were members of that church:

Members find strength amid forest fire tragedy

Hope this helps.

Utah takes its share and nearly took me. The very first wildland fire I ever fought in 1981 as a Type IV engine crewman was on the Uinta National Forest. Our engine had to be abandoned and was burned over. We bailed out over a ridge on foot and I live to tell the tale.

S.R. Sparky
4/4 Hey all,

1) Does anyone know the story of two firefighters that were burned over and lost their lives in 1990 on a fire in the Wasatch Mountains, Waist State Park in Utah?

Historical Wildland Firefighter Fatalities 1910 - 1996

from the fatality list, 1990, search on Waist

1990 Waist State Park, UT
2 fatalities
Winds increased in speed, fire seen spotting. Entrapment of state crew in Wasatch Mtn., one shelter deployed.
Dozer operator and deputy sheriff fatally burned. 8-26-90

From the USFA they're the only ones that died that year employed by "State Lands & Forestry", but there's no summary info on what happened nor on which is the sheriff and which the dozer operator. LLC doesn't have any info either.

Ralph M. Broadhead
Blake V. Wright

Thanks for any help.

2) If any of you have links to LODD or Memorial Sites lists for your states, please send them to Ab for the Always Remember project. We have Memorial links for CAL Fire, Tennessee, North Carolina, Wyoming and the USFA National Memorial.



4/3 Texas Forest Service:

Their meaning of "contained" and "controlled".

One sentence could be confusing to resources coming from out of their area. "If you've got it 50 percent surrounded, it’s contained." Maybe she meant it's 50% contained?



A fire can be active when it is contained. If you have containment of a fire it means you've corralled it with dozer lines, rock features that cannot burn, a body of water, etc. When it is 100 percent contained, it means you've got the fire surrounded, but it does not indicate that you have control of the fire. If you've got it 50 percent surrounded, it’s contained. After 100 percent containment is achieved, firefighters wait until they do the appropriate amount of "mop up" inside the containment lines and feel the fire cannot escape. At that point they will call the fire controlled.

4/3 Lessons Learned

FLA: Employee (Fire Lookout) Suffers Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (364 K pdf file)

4/2 Good day Ab.

Some of your readership maybe interested in the attached report.

Wildland Fire Suppression Related Fatalities in Canada, 1941-2010


Martin E. Alexander, PhD, RPF

Thanks, Marty. Ab.

4/2 IADP,

One word for your post, EXCELLENT!!! Thank you for your insight... IADP please continue to post, love it!!!

4/2 A lot of individuals have written at one time or another the subject of ADs.

IF a survey is taken asking HOW many ADs are out there that are actually RETIRED FEDERAL EMPLOYEES - yes there are quite a lot of them - they do bring fire knowledge to the fire. For many, many years they were Federal Employees doing fire BUT the one big difference is they did their duty of 20 plus years and retired. They are not private contractors, or someone hired off the street but RETIRED Federal Employees getting the same benefits as everyone who is working and waiting for the time they can retire.

I think GACCs use them IF no Federal Employee is available. They should use the ADs that are RETIRED and ADs are supposed to be self sufficient. IF NOT then they should not be allowed to go on a fire.

WHY doesn't everyone out there get off the subject of ADs as there isn't a fire out there where there isn't a former Fed that's retired and there are ADs . We do not take the place of someone that is a Federal employee that should be on the fire, but when GACCs can not find resources, they order ADs up. That happens frequently. WHEN ALL THE FEDERAL FIRE PEOPLE RETIRED MANY BECAME AN ADs and for some of YOU that might happen real soon.

A Retired Federal Person

4/2 Ab -

I'd like to make a comment on the Tree Cutting in the Snow: Bear Meadows Stop Work FLA. 

This is an excellent FLA.  It touches a subject that has concerned me for a long time... how does a low-ranked employee express a safety concern.  In this instance the safety issue was properly addressed and the employee's concern was vindicated. We need to encourage this attitude and work environment.

Reminds me of a similar situation a long, long, long time ago (back in the days when the fleet was green and gray).  My District Ranger wanted to get a head start on meeting his tree thinning target. It was decided the timber crew would go out on snowshoes to thin trees to get started on the target.  Well that lasted about 3 days.  In those 3 days we managed to cut the tips off all our snowshoes!  That bought the project to a screeching halt.  Visited the area the following summer and found all the trees we had cut were cut 4 feet off the ground!

It was good thing that we ran out of snowshoes as that was the only reason the project was stopped.

AK Old Timer
4/2 I have come to the conclusion that the majority of folks commenting on the UTF and or cancel issue has never worked in a dispatch center during an incident. So I thought I would make a list of reasons for a UTF or cancellation of an order in hopes to educate and squash this us against them feeling in some of the comments and stop the second guessing on why an order was UTF’d or cancelled. There are various reasons for a UTF or a cancellation and things are not always what they seem. Here are a few (there are many more): Just to reiterate, the UTF or cancellation comes from the local unit hosting the incident.
  • The unit does not want to pay the expense of bringing someone outside of the unit/GACC
  • The unit could have been trying to get someone locally or within the GACC only to find out they are not or no longer available
  • They are only wanting to use folks within their own unit/or GACC
  • They decided they don’t need the position any longer
  • Duplicate order (this happens often)
  • Maybe they found someone already on the fire that could fill the position. and decided to just cancel the order
  • Over order, the fire realized they didn’t need as many as originally thought
  • Orders were place, then a team came in and they no longer needed some individual resources previously ordered.
  • Maybe someone local became available to fill the position
  • Weather forecast calling for rain incident decides not to fill positions that are outstanding
  • They are wanting someone “name request” and that person isn’t available
  • Position was created only for someone on the Local Unit or GACC priority training list (maybe someone meeting IFPM requirements for their job)
  • Fire is winding down and so outstanding orders are cancelled
  • No one could meet the time and date needed
  • Resource is not meeting inclusion//exclusion needs
  • The needed time and date has expired
  • Order was previously UTF’d multiple times
  • Ordering unit has needs beyond the fire, possibly prescribed fire activity where only project dollars could be used (FS cannot use ADs on prescribed fires)
  • Incident needs someone self-sufficient, many ADs, cooperators and fire department personnel are not
  • Maybe the order was placed because an AD went around the system calling the fire and their “contacts” trying to create their own resource order, and someone found out about it, or the IC found out and squashed.
  • EDRC/EDSDs interpret the UTF process a bit differently so there are instances that instead of using Cancel they use UTF or visa versa.
  • And yes, they only want federal resources (for many reasons, but it is their choice)
  • Maybe, just maybe the unit has had bad experience with AD/Contractors and just don’t want the headache.

A few days back someone stated that the Forest Service has changed over the years and that the agency's employees need to accept the change, this is true the agency has changed, but it is also true that pendulum always swings back the other way, so the AD community also needs to accept the changes that come which may not include wide AD use, and maybe just maybe agencies are slowly getting back to their original roots where all agency personnel participate in wildland fire activity. Whether you want to believe that or not, its certainly more cost effective using someone who is already getting paid.


4/2 I just want to say Thank You to everyone I have worked with and have had the pleasure meeting during my 36 years in the fire service.

Someone asked "how do you put 36 years in one word"? THANKFUL!

The grass isn't always greener on the other side, so do what I did: water your own.

Remember to be safe, they're only bushes and they grow back, you don't.

Jody Smith, RETIRED

Thanks for what you've accomplished, Jody. Best wishes in retirement. If you have any more good historical family firefighting photos, please send them in. Ab.

4/1 Re: Wildland Firefighting „US-Style“ now also in Europe

Well, I guess lots of folks will have to go to ROSS now, and update their status from "National" to "World". Or maybe just "Europe".

Tool Pusher

4/1 Re: Wildland Firefighting „US-Style“ now also in Europe

Next they will have to have "US-STYLE" Hotshots to catch all the fires that their "US-STYLE" Jumpers can't catch, LOL.


bored in R-6

4/1 Silkbrother---

Thanks for the reference to the National Mobe Guide. Your quote is from an old copy, though very similar to the current National Mobe Guide. Your quote:

Unless specified "agency only", ADs and private contractors will be accepted for suppression and severity orders".

The current version:

"Unless specifically excluded, ADs and private contractors will be accepted for suppression and severity orders."

(makes me wonder if there is going to be a toggle within ROSS to specifically exclude ADs and contractors, such as a "full time federal employees only").

But this still does not answer my question as to PRIORITIZING that acceptance of ADs and private contractors, when compared to regular federal employees, federal Administratively Determined employees, regular state government employees, and fire department personnel statused as state employees in ROSS.

The National Mobe Guide acknowledges these fire department resources as Supplemental Fire Department Resources:

"Supplemental Fire Department Resources are overhead tied to a local fire department by general agreement that are mobilized primarily for response to incidents/wildland fires outside of their district or mutual aid zone. They are not a permanent part of the local fire organization and are not required to attend scheduled training, meetings, etc. of the department staff.

When mobilizing Supplemental Fire Department Resources outside of the fire district or mutual aid zone the following will apply:

Mobilization will follow established ordering procedures as identified in National, Geographic, and Local Mobilization Guides. Resources will be mobilized from the Host Dispatch Zone in which the department is located..."

My questions to NICC are similar to what I asked previously:

Are there additional policies, practices, and/or procedures within the dispatch system at NICC that prioritize the assignment of personnel based on employment affiliation (regular federal employee, federal AD employee, regular state government employee, and "supplemental fire department employee"), when that is not specified by the ordering agency? Are all those resources considered equally "acceptable" (provided they are equal in proximity to the incident)?

And what is the interpretation of the prioritization of employees when "Federal Only" is selected in ROSS? Are AD employees ranked on the same level as regular government employees as far as prioritization if that is not specified on the order?

Are there other selections within ROSS that otherwise prioritize available overhead resources, and if so, how are those prioritizations interpreted (for example, is "agency only" interpreted as excluding AD employees from the ordering agency?)?

I really do not have an issue with prioritizing full time federal employees for assignments on federal lands, and state employees for state lands, or any other prioritization design. I am just curious about the established procedures, and if there are established procedures not outlined in the National Mobilization Guide.

Thank you


P.S. The AD Training dollars come out of the Federal Fire Fund (fire dollars), not preparedness nor fuels reduction/prescribed fire funds.

4/1 AD Thread

Re: Texas and not accepting ADs:

I recently saw a resource order come through for Texas that read:

".... Contractors Not Acceptable. Federal Only. AD's acceptable. If you have a regular state agency employee who can fill this order, please contact TICC..."

Re: Forest Service in FY 2010 spent $6,257,451.40

That cost is for the thousands and yes I said thousands of AD firefighters out there. I have no clue what the numbers are, but there has to be 20-50 OC crews in California alone, and they are all ADs. A FFT2 is classified as an AD-C at $17.40 an hour. Multiply that by 80 hours and get $1,392. Each AD/OC crew has at least 25 folks on it so now your up to $34,800 per crew. If you have 10 crews on a forest its now $348,000. It adds up fast. So when you throw around 6 Million as a shock value, do the math first. If you look around Region 5 there is a number of current Chief Officers, and Superintendents that all have started their careers as an AD. Its a good program, and I would hate to see it go away.

Re: "Call-When-Needed" fire department employees.

Most of them are Forest Service Retirees, and someone found a loop hole, good for them. Good luck to the Agencies to
try to close that hole, because it is now the size of the Grand Canyon.

IMHO if you want to get involved, send your comments on how things should be in the future to the Incident Management Organization Succession Planning task group: www.nwcg.gov/ imosp/ index.php. I sent in my ideas, did you send yours?


4/1 Re: Wildland Firefighting „US-Style“ now also in Europe

Hey Christian,

So how does one apply for such a gig? Jumping in Europe would be a pretty cool job. They must be interested in some American knowledge right?

Heli No-rappeller

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