May, 2011

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5/31 Lesson Learned, Close Call:

Here is this little reminder of the need to "escape the stump of the tree" during felling operations.

This occurred during the R-5 C-feller evaluations on the BDF with Mr. Dent. A great example of why we have escape routes and safety zones and the POSITIVE RESULT when they are used appropriately.

Please share this with all saw users.

file with 3 Pictures text below

This is the aftermath of a Stihl 066 being left at the stump of a falling operation. The tree was about a 40” dbh pine, it was being felled contour to the slope. When the tree was committed to the fall it hit an oak tree, which bent all the way to the ground and then slung this large limb back within two feet of the stump. The saw was left at the stump for a quick escape; the limb hit the saw right on the handle bar with enough force to bind it into the casing. Very good reminder of why we practice escaping the stump as quick as possible and to find a solid object to get behind.

5/31 Safety Advisory

Ash Pit Safety Advisory (with photo)

Date/Time: May 27, 2011 1200
Event: Firefighters sustain burn injuries from stepping in ash pits.
Purpose: Alert wildland fire community of the hazards associated with ash pits, how to recognize and mitigate this exposure, and how to provide an appropriate medical response to burn injuries.

Narrative: In April and May of 2011, three firefighters in the Southwest stepped onto, what appeared to be solid ground, but turned out to be ash pits. In each case, the firefighter sustained burn injuries despite proper use of PPE and quick extraction from the hole. In support of agency and regional Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), the burn victims were transported to a regional burn center for medical care. The resulting evacuations included a variety of medical transportation including medivac helicopter and/fixed wing aircraft from the incident to the burn center. In two cases, the individuals were located so remote that immediate evacuation included transport via mule train to an area where they were then transferred to medical aviation transportation to the burn center. In the first case, there was some initial delay in determination which burn center to transport the patient until confirmation could be made which burn center was best staffed to handle the patient. However, this was well communicated between the incident and flight medical personnel and the patients transferred in a timely and efficient manner.

IC Actions: Thanks to good planning on the part of the Incident Management Team (IMT), and having incident medics available for evaluation of the patients, immediate medical attention was provided in all three cases, and transport to burn centers was quick and efficient. After each incident, the IMT ensured to communicate this hazard into safety briefings to alert fireline personnel to what had happened, what to watch for, and what to do if someone is injured. The fireline medical personnel were invaluable in providing immediate triage and assist in the medical evacuation decision through communications with the burn center, IMT, and medivac personnel.

How to Detect Invisible Hot Ash Pits: “Ash Pit Hazards” can be found on the 6 Minutes for Safety web site (wildfirelessons: Ash Pit Hazards ). It lists environmental factors, including the presence of extensive root systems, deep duff or peat, landscapes that have once been cultivated or manipulated by heavy equipment, old dozer piles, sawmills, timber sale yards or decking areas, and rodent holes filled with combustible debris. In these cases, all were located in the same very dry riparian area with no sign of stump holes anywhere nearby. Indicators included white ash on the surface and possible translucent smoke that dissipates quickly above the ground with little if any indication of the hazard.

Role of PPE: All three firefighters were wearing standard issue green Nomex pants and all three
firefighter’s boots met NWCG PPE standards. In one injury, the burn occurred on the foot, through the leather boot. The other two injuries were located on the calf above the top of the leather boots. Past incidents show that firefighters wearing Kevlar pants had fallen into similar pits on other fires but had not sustained burns, suggesting that Kevlar pants may provide greater protection against these types of burn injuries.

Burn Injury SOP: Interagency firefighter burn injury protocols are outlined in the Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation (Red Book), Chapter 7, pages 7-21 and 7-22 (Red Book). Because a physician referral is necessary for admission to a burn center and delays in referrals to burn centers have occurred in the past, the burn injury SOPs call for a firefighter’s representative or medical personnel to facilitate the medical referral to a burn center and ensure timely care. When transporting the injured firefighter to a local medical facility, if the treating physician does not believe the victim should go to a burn center, it is the agency designee’s responsibility to coordinate with the attending physician to ensure that a firefighter whose injuries might meet any of the burn injury criteria listed in the firefighter burn injury protocol is immediately referred to the nearest burn center. In all three of these cases, the firefighters were treated and released from the burn center, and it was determined that immediate evacuation to the burn center was the most appropriate action to take in the best interest of the employee’s health and safety and not risk infection had they not been transported to a burn center.

The chance of full recovery from a burn injury is much higher if immediately transported to a burn center or the local physician attending the injured firefighter at a local medical facility provides a referral to a burn center in a timely manner. Local and assigned incident managers must know where the closest burn center is. In preparation for fire season, visit local medical clinics to discuss treatment and transfer of burn patients to minimize delays caused by staff unfamiliar with DOI and USDA burn injury protocols. Here is a list of possible burn care facilities: Burn Care Facilities.

Other Possible Influences: Underground ash pits not visible from the surface are created by the combustion of organic matter buried under a layer of mineral soil. Steam from the ash pits can significantly increased the severity of these burns. The presence of emergency medical personnel and medivac transportation, contributed to successful evacuation and treatment in all three cases. Morning safety briefings on these hazards did occur on these incidents, but firefighters still fell into them, mainly due to the fact that these pits were not easily recognizable.

It is also possible that one or more of the injured parties delayed notification of their injury to a supervisor until which time the burn became worse. This resulted in not only delaying their medical care but also resulted in alternative modes of transportation having to be considered since it was dark and aircraft could no longer be considered. It is critical that any burn injury be communicated immediately to the incident leadership and medical personnel, as not to waste precious time. Ash pits are not just a hazard in the Southwest Area and fire managers and firefighters across the country need to be aware of their dangers.

As the April 2011 Regional Forester’s Letter of Intent so clearly articulates, “It’s crucial that we not expose our incident responders to unnecessary risk and to always put them in the safest conditions possible. “ We encourage the continued and diligent use of the risk decision framework when making critical decisions and applaud your efforts in keeping our personnel healthy and safe.

For more information on this Safety Advisory, please contact Bequi Livingston, USFS R3 Fire Operations Health and Safety Specialist at blivingston@ nospam fs.fed.us.

5/31 Making the rounds

Preliminary Summary Report (Blue Sheet) 11-CA-FKU 005669 Greenwood Incident Model 34 fire engine

Attached is a Preliminary Summary Report (Blue Sheet) referencing radiant heat damage sustained to a CAL FIRE Model 34 fire engine during fire suppression operations. Please provide wide distribution of the document for the purposes of discussion and Tailgate Safety session.

Dave Teter
Battalion Chief

5/30 Making the rounds

Preliminary Summary Report (Blue Sheet) 11-CA-TGU 003628 Round Incident

Attached is a Preliminary Summary Report (Blue Sheet) referencing a vehicle accident in the CAL FIRE Tehama-Glenn Unit that resulted in the tragic loss of a CAL FIRE employee. Please provide wide distribution of the document for the purposes of discussion and Tailgate Safety session. Also, please keep the family and members of the Tehama-Glenn Unit in your thoughts during this very difficult time.

Dave Teter
Battalion Chief

Condolences. Ab.

5/30 Making the rounds:

Preliminary Summary Report (Blue Sheet) 10-CA-RRU 114198 Repair 3130 Vehicle Accident

Attached is a Preliminary Summary Report (Blue Sheet) referencing a vehicle accident involving a repair vehicle in the CAL FIRE Riverside Unit that resulted in minor injuries. Please provide wide distribution of the document via the normal chain-of-command process for the purposes of discussion and Tailgate Safety session.

Dave Teter
Battalion Chief - Department Safety Officer

5/29 Phil,

The best advice I can offer re: starting a new fire contracting crew is to (1) contact your Region Contract Officer and custom-build your business from ground up according to his/her specifications - in the long run, it'll save you a lot of wasted effort, time and money; and (2) contact the NWSA at info@nwsa.us (website at www.nwsa.us ) regarding training and qualifications requirements.

All contract resources interested in working for Feds are absolutely required to, at minimum, be qualified at NWCG 310-1 standards, meaning "red" cards, time-in-grade, etc. Only your Regional CO can make any required judgment calls regarding converting CalFire quals or local gov't rank/experience to NWCG, etc.

And my personal advice regarding your title? In order to be taken seriously by the Feds you'll come in contact with in your work and on incidents, forget about rank-titles such as "Chief"; just go with the appropriate NWCG position titles. For example, in my LG days, I was entitled to all sorts of seaweed to wrap around my hat; once I left LG and semi-retired to a private contract job, I was just another single-resource boss. Once "the competition" (agency FFs and overhead) had spent a few minutes visiting or working with us, I never once experienced any difficulty with them taking me seriously.

Best of luck with your new career, and your business venture.

Be Safe!


5/28 1991 Lead Plane accident

Here is a link to a USFS summary report that includes the June 21, 1991 lead plane accident in New Mexico. It is on pages 104 and 105.

US Forest Service Fatal Aviation Accident History (4,017K pdf File)

Tom Jones

5/28 1991 Lead Plane accident

Page 10

Fatalities 1910 to 1996 (pdf)

I know I have a more indepth report, however the computer it's stored on burned out the power supply and I can't do anything with it until next week.

Also: Page 19, it appears that nothing in particular was found during this investigation, but at least it narrates the series of events that took place .

Flightsafety.org: Flight Safety Digest apr99 (pdf)

Tom S

5/28 To all:

I failed to let folks know in my last couple of posts that in October 2006, the California State Fireman's Association (CSFA) passed a resolution, # 10-06 that amended Article III of their By-Laws to extend membership benefits to all federal & seasonal firefighters. As I understand it you are not required to be a firefighter in California or a resident of California.

Our Board had invited and met with CSFA representatives during our Dec. '05 conference about how to make such benefits accessible to our members. Unfortunately, it simply wasn't a sound fiscal idea for the FWFSA to pay for CSFA membership for all of our members.

That being said, the CSFA and its benefits are available to all of our members pursuant to the graciousness of their leadership and the amendment of their By-Laws. I would encourage you visit their website, www.csfa.net for further information.

Frankly, I'd love to be able to partner with the CSFA and at some point if our membership and revenue rise to the point that we can in fact pay for our member's membership with CSFA without impacting our priority of legislative/political advocacy, then I'm all for it.


5/28 To Anyone Who Can Answer:

I am starting up a Contract Crew in the Denver Metro Area. I was a firefighter with CDF through the 90's and moved to Colorado in 2000. I need some help on a couple of issue that have come up.

First, what title (if any) should I go by for identification purposes? I have been told that since we are a fire service organization that I should use Chief. Others have said Supervisor or Founder. I do not have certification for an actual "Chief" level but I do have the leadership and Admin qualifications. I have already told a friend of mine who is on the crew that no matter what title I have he would be my boss on the fireline (he is certified at Crew Boss) until I gained the certification for the same or higher level.

I ask because people now days are title conscious and fr some reason Founder or Supervisor is not sufficient for some.

Also, how do I verify someones certification if they are not providing a Red Card or their Red Card my be suspect? I obviously would not put them on my crew until I was provided with verified proof of certifications but I need to know if there is another avenue that I can take to independently verify a persons qualifications.

Thirdly, and last, could someone please assist me in equipment. I am looking for the best and highest quality equipment to outfit the hand and engine crews with. I need to know what the best/comfortable fireline packs are now as well as the best radios to use. I know of the BK Radios but is there a smaller/lighter radio out there now that is just as good if not better than BK? BK radios are a bit on the expensive side.

Oh, sorry, one last question. Does anyone know of a good but inexpensive web designer who may have experience with business or Fire Dept web sites? My site is a train wreck but I did it on my own with no assistance.

I truly appreciate any assistance anybody can give me.

Phil Roncarati: Founder
5/28 I'm tying up lose ends on several Always Remember pages and I have a major puzzle:

Does anyone know any details about Henry Kim who was a lead plane pilot who died on the Ziplock Fire NM in 1991?

... Prescott AZ Memorial outside the dispatch office is named for Henry Kim, a lead plane pilot, who was killed on the Ziplock fire on the Cibola NF outside of Grants, NM 6/21/91. The memorial is in Prescott because the building was named after him.

There is no no NTSB record I can find. On some very old incidents that's not surprising but I'd expect there to be one on a 1991 accident, not all that old.

AAP has his name and that he flew a Beech BE-58P Baron.

Thanks for any help...


5/28 ms:

Thanks for the "pick-me-up" although ironically the person I mentioned in my post who asked whether the FWFSA provided additional benefits like the NRA actually left me a voice message today saying he and his wife decided to terminate his FWFSA membership.

Wish I could be like most "advocates" of huge organizations that let this kind of stuff roll off their shoulders and don't bat an eye when they lose members. I take losses very personally despite the fact that our success is dependent on far more than just my efforts. In large organizations, losses are barely noticed. And while the loss of a $20.00 per month member won't break the FWFSA bank, it weighs very heavily on me. I have tried to subscribe to the reality that you can't please everyone.

I'm sure there are folks out there that hope the FWFSA will falter and fail in its efforts. However how can one fail if you keep working at something. I go back to my now famous billboard in Salt Lake City with a picture of Abe Lincoln and next to it the text "failed, failed, failed...persisted".

Any organization's strength is its members and their commitment to support the effort for the long haul. I admit that frustration rears its ugly head when a member of a year and a half quits while there are so many who have retired without seeing our goals and objectives achieved yet dutifully and proudly paid dues for years and years...some since our beginning in 1991.

Still others who have yet to reach retirement who have also graciously supported us for years and years and continue to do so.

That will be one of the major themes of our membership conference in December. For our younger members to recognize the effort and sacrifice of so many current & retired FWFSA members to get this organization off the ground and who made the commitment to ensure it's viability.

As I've said before, there are no guarantees or promises in politics...especially in this line of work OTHER THAN our commitment to working everyday towards achieving our member's goals. Maybe all this sounds sappy to some. Again, I couldn't be an advocate of an organization where I didn't know each member's name and where I didn't make myself available to anyone anytime.

FWFSA members are a special group of folks within a very special community. Hopefully when folks make the decision to join they recognize there is no overnight success and make a commitment to not only allow us to harness their voices but exercise their voices to create a more rewarding career for themselves and other federal wildland firefighters. There is no pixie dust to sprinkle on Congress to make everything better, no magic wand for me to orchestrate how Congress, the Administration and the Agencies address your issues. Just the promise to keep plugging away and not give up.

If I thought for a nano-second either I or the FWFSA as an organization was ineffective on the Hill, wasn't getting its message through to folks, I'd suggest to the Board and its members to fold up shop. But whether its an email from a staffer on the Hill, or a phone call from a congressman or the passage or introduction of a bill or a phone call from high level FAM folks at the FS and DOI who keep encouraging us to keep pounding away, there is still optimism that we will achieve the goals our members seek.

So anyway ms thanks again. By the way I received some great information with respect to Line Officers, particularly that outlined in FS Manual 1200 and have incorporated it into our draft.

I recently indicated here on TheySaid that I suspected the introduction of the bill would be fairly soon. Apparently the new staff person I am working with in the office of the Congressman considering introducing the bill wanted to share the draft with several other organizations.

I was a bit bewildered with the staff wanting to run the bill by:

International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
National Volunteer Council
International Code Council

but the group excluded NFFE and the International Association of Wildland Fire. I have submitted our draft to both of those organizations for their review & feedback. I think it important for as many folks as possible to understand the issues facing our federal wildland firefighters as well as understand how the agencies manage their fire programs and how our bill will work to create a more efficient and cost-effective federal wildfire response.

Of course the IAFF was on the list too. Hopefully since an IAFF State Association affiliate testified in favor of our Republican authored stand-alone PTP bill in 2005 and that the PSOB issue, if fixed through our legislation or other means would benefit all their members and that the buy-back of temp time provision was actually crafted by an IAFF/FWFSA member, they won't find too much to complain about.

5/27 Discovery Channel question about fatality rates:

There are a number of Historical Comparisons and Analyses here at the Lessons Learned Center: wildfirelessons.net

If you're looking for entrapment/fatalities Jim Cook's briefing paper from 2004 summarizes 1933-2003 and reports the averages over different years and lists policy and incidents that relate to those averages. Trends in wildland fire entrapment fatalities (217 K pdf)

MTDC/Mangan also has several summary reports using pie chart of fatalities by category and other good info.Also available at the Lessons Learned Center there are NWCG safety grams from 2000 to 2006 that summarize by year and one that summarizes from 1987-1996.

Wildlandfire.com has safety grams in the documents archives. We've been using these and other sources to compile the Always Remember database.

NWCG Safety Gram 2007: 07FinalSafetyGram 12-31-07 (pdf)
NWCG Safety Gram 2008: 08FinalSafetyGram 12-31-08 (pdf)
NWCG Safety Gram 2009: 2009SafetyGram (pdf)
NWCG Safety Gram 2010: 2010SafetyGram (pdf)

Now that I look, you can also find the most recent Safety Grams 1987-2010 here at the NWCG Risk Management site: safety gram archive


5/26 Casey, regarding your most recent post, I just want to say thank you. All FWFSA members are very proud of you and all your hard work.

Regarding your post earlier this week, how are things going with the response on your request to collect information on Line Officer work requirements and job description(s)? Every Line Officers official "position description" is available in AVUE. If you haven't already received them, I can go in and get them for you. Anything thing else you need? Let us know...

5/26 To FWFSA members and all interested folks;

Today I received a call from a member who inquired about additional benefits provided by the FWFSA to its members such as life insurance supplements, health benefits supplements etc. He referred to the National Rifle Association (NRA) as an organization that provides such benefits to their members. Suffice it to say if we had the membership the NRA has I'd guarantee you we'd be providing all sorts of benefits. But that is the point. Additional benefits cost money and in order to provide such to its members, any organization needs sufficient revenue.

The FWFSA currently does not provide such additional benefits to its members. The organization, created in 1991 has always been a political/legislative entity who goal & objectives is to effect positive change for its members on the issues they deem important, through the legislative process.

The organization is very modest in size. In fact the recurring theme we hear on Capitol Hill is that we appear larger than we actually are based upon the irrefutable data & information we provide Congress on any given issue and the impact we have made in recent years. We have strived to keep our membership dues reasonable and have not had an increase in 8 years.

Sure, we could look into such benefits if enough members and potential members asked but with our current size, we would have to increase dues to provide such benefits. Some would argue that we'd get more members if we offered such benefits. That may be true but the initial outlay in capital to have access to such benefits would represent a huge risk to our current revenues and significantly impact our political/legislative efforts at a very critical time.

The point is the vast majority of our members are federal employees who already have access to such benefits. The "additional" benefit we do offer is specific to the needs of our Nation's federal wildland firefighters... a discounted premium for PLI through FEDS.

We are honored to have many members who are seasonal firefighters. Some 13/13s others 18/8s. Sadly, the federal government, mores specifically the federal land management agencies who employ these folks who also happen to risk their lives protecting our Nation's natural resources and its citizens and their real & personal property from the ravages of wildfires, don't believe these employees should be entitled to such benefits. As a result, such remedies are included in our legislation.

When these members are in a lay off status, they are not obligated to remit dues. if we were to provide such "peripheral" benefits we would have to insist that dues be paid whether they were in a pay status or not. That can be much to ask of a GS-3 just starting out.

Perhaps the solution would be for all those federal wildland firefighters out there who are aware of our efforts on their behalf to step up and join the organization so that we can not only be more aggressive politically but could also start providing such additional benefits.

In any segment of society there will be those who refuse to "pay to play" or refuse to "pay the freight" and ride the coat tails of others and allow others to pay the dues but when the goals and objectives are achieved, will certainly not hesitate to take advantage of them. Such is life.

It should be a constant reminder to all of those who annotate code 21, prefix 11 on their time cards as to who eliminated the overtime pay cap for federal wildland firefighters. If there were not dues paying members of the FWFSA that would not have happened. Nor would the most comprehensive legislation ever crafted on behalf of federal wildland firefighters be introduced last session. Nor would the House of Representatives have passed the federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act in 2006.

The point is, this business takes money. We have had decent success on a shoestring budget. If we are to enter into the business of providing additional benefits to our members we either need our current members to become more proactive in recruiting new members so as to increase revenue or we simply increase dues and run the risk of alienating and losing more folks in these rough economic times.

We're always open to new ways of doing business but as long as we're trying to accomplish things for folks who are traditionally found at the bottom of the federal pay scale and are now being abused by the Administration and Congress through pay freezes as the easy targets for fixing our Nation's fiscal ills, I think we need to be cost effective.

If anyone has any thoughts or comments, please feel free to contact me at cjudd@fwfsa.org.


Casey Judd
Executive Director, Governmental Affairs
5/26 For Allison, from the Dude Fire entrapment and burnover:

The crewmembers ran down the dozer line at about 7 mph, consistent with Ted Putnam's experience and Brian Sharkey's "Fitness and Work Capacity". The rate of fire spread was between 11.1 and 12.7 mph South from Fuller Creek. Putnam determined a possible rate of spread of 18 mph at the deployment site based on time to run distances. Patricia Andrews calculated a predicted maximum spread rate of 5.2 mph with the crown model at only 40 mph maximum sustained windspeed. Her report also recognized that the fire flashed across the canyon at a greater rate than this. A 60 mph wind would put the predicted spread rate above 9 mph which is the top of the chart. TV 12 video shows an 11+ mph spread rate between the deployment site fire location at 1423 and the road into the subdivision at 1425. Rate of spread Southwest toward Brody Creek and the Control Road was about 11.1 mph. Rate of spread Southeast was about 9.2 mph and about 7.7 to 9.2 mph East to the road into the subdivision.

Rate of spread to the intersection of Walk Moore and the Control Road was about 8.3 mph. This appears to have given the crews some extra time to get onto the trucks and leave as the fire crossed the Control Road at Fuller and the subdivision road above the Control Road. Rate of spread was less up-canyon toward the Northeast. Spread rate to the Perryville work-site was about 4.34 mph. Spread rate further Northeast would be timed later by Gleason at less than 1 mph. That area did have faster spread rates later in the sequence of events. Spread rates varied widely even within small areas, so these are averages from point to point.

Old Sawyer

Thanks for the pertinent details. Ab. Always Remember: Dude Fire

5/26 Ab,

I don't know how this relates to Allison's question on mph of fire spread, but from Calif. Fire Siege of 2003 -- After Action Report, information therein suggests that the Cedar Fire, at the height of its burning (between 0200-0300) was 3 acres per second.

Also, I remember accounts of strike team's stories that when they were in SoCal chasing fires driven by Santa Ana winds, they couldn't catch the wind driven fire, even though they were doing 50-50+mph.

Have Ton

5/25 vfd cap'n

Thanks for your reply and info. I found similar language as well. However all I seem to find is language pertaining to contract dozer/operators. I was hoping to find something specific to agency owned and operated dozers. I believe the Fish and Wildlife have some, but unsure if any other agency does?

Thanks again,

5/25 Alison, here are a few sources. Together they should give you all you need

Fatalities 1910 to 1996 (pdf)

wlf Always Remember Home page

Fatalities 1990 to 1998

Ranger D.
5/25 Alison, follow the link below, they break it down by type of fire and wildland is there. As far as how fast can a fire travel, that all depends on slope, time of year relating to live and dead fuel moisture's, and wind. If all line up fire can travel faster than 14 mph. We have many programs that can model that. One is called BEHAVE + that is available on the web if you use your search engine to find it, there is also a learners guide that you can download and if you have a computer whiz they can learn the program very easily. Good luck.

t fielden

Fatality Safety 2007 - 2011

and another


5/25 Attached is a link to a pdf that may be of assistance.

Fatalities 1910 to 1996 (pdf)

I've seen fire move a lot faster than 14 mph!


5/25 Hi there,

I'm having a hard time finding statistics for fatalities in the U.S. (and/or around the world) in wildfires. There are plenty of stats on every kind of structure fire and even for firefighters in the wilderness, but none for wildfire deaths, in general. Do you have statistics on that, and, if not, do you know where I could find them?

And to follow up, how fast can a fire travel? I keep reading the same number "up to 14.29 mph" but I don't know whether or not to believe it. I know it depends on so many factors, but is there an average speed of a wildland fire?

We're in a time crunch editing a program for the Discovery Channel about wildland fire survival!

Thanks so much you for your time,


5/24 Hi AB and Jackass,

I enjoyed your report on the CDF (AKA CAL-Fire) adventures in fire apparatus follies, particularly in what you had to say about the Model 2000.

I remember the model 2000 on fires in the Butte Ranger Unit. Everyone who operated it could not stand the thing, but like the fire team they were they did what they had to do and worked with what they had.

I remember this vehicle distinctly while working in Butte County, and when it was assigned to CDF Station 36 at Jarbo Gap. I remember the pump failing on a fire multiple times, once when it went off-road up a hill it started deploying its 2-1/2" supply load after hitting a bump.

The thing was a piece of crap, but they had to try to get an operational life out of it. So they stuck it in Butte Ranger Unit at the Jarb Gap Amador Station, a station that was staffed during the winter with one engineer or captain.

But in the need to maintain truth in this matter, you are incorrect about how the vehicle rolled on that Christmas Day, and I'd like to clear that matter up.

On that Christmas Day back in the mid-1990s Station 36 engine 2177 (The Model 2000) and Butte County Fire Dept. Squad 37 were toned out for a Medical Aid, burns to the face from an exploding oven, on Hoffman Road in the Concow area of Butte County (Northern California). Engine 2177 responded with a single CDF Fire Captain on-board, Squad 37 followed a few minutes later. Engine 2177 (Model 2000) was a slow responding vehicle and had to travel up a sharp hill on Concow Road (commonly referred to as 'Killer Hill') then the road leveled out and rose again for a short distance to the top. A few minutes into the call we suddenly heard "Oroville (dispatch center) Engine 2177, Emergency Traffic! Emergency Traffic! The Engine has rolled off of Concow Road from Killer Hill! I'm OK! Have the Squad continue to the call! Start the Battalion Chief."

I was in Squad 37 when it happened, just a minute behind her on the road. We came up on the scene and saw Engine 2177 had rolled off the shoulder of the road and landed on an oak tree, sitting square and stable. The Fire Captain said she was alright and to continue to the call. I continued to the call and treated a man who suffered a flashburn to the face, but refused treatment and transport to the hospital. I returned to the scene of the accident with Engine 2177 to help recover the vehicle.

The facts that came out were the fire captain was traveling slowly up the hill (about 15 MPH) and was steering with her knee, while she was putting her rubber medical gloves on. She let the vehicle drift off the pavement and it hit a soft spot on the road, where she stopped the vehicle. The shoulder gave way and Engine 2177 did a slow-motion rollover, where it rolled once, cushioned by heavy Manzanita brush, where it landed on the trunk of an oak tree. When we got to the scene other members of Volunteer Company 37, along with a CDF Fire Captain who heard the call and lived locally, and Battalion Chief 2116. The fire captain of Engine 2177 was not injured, did not request medical transport or treatment, but did ask for a Union Representative right away. We spent two hours picking up all the hose and equipment, cleaning up the area and getting the engine hauled up onto the road.

In the end, the Fire Captain on Engine 2177 was found to be in error, and became a member of the 10% Club for several years. That club is where as disciplinary action for an avoidable accident the employee had 5% or 10% of their salary deducted to repair the damage done to the vehicle. There was no false blame made on the Fire Captain. I know because a few days after the incident I asked her, to her face, what happened, and that is what she told me. Her 'disciplinary action' was confirmed by another fire captain I knew. That Fire Captain was to blame for the rollover, and it could have happened to any of us in the same or other vehicle doing the same thing of drifting off the road and stopping on that soft shoulder. Shortly after that she transferred to another CDF Ranger Unit as a Handcrew Captain. We all wanted to give her the 'Firefighter of the Year' award for finding a way to get rid of that horrible engine.

Engine 2177 (Model 2000) was transported to Butte Ranger Unit HQ in Oroville, then loaded on a CDF Transport and moved to the Davis Facility, where it was parted out rather than be repaired, and finally sold for scrap on early 2000.

But that wasn't the end of the bad engine designs. A year or so later began the next 'great experiment', a wildland fire engine built on a Type 1 Spartan Cab and Chassis. The concept was an Interface Engine that could function as a Structural Fire engine and Wildland Fire engine. It was called the Model 19 and its designation was Engine 2180 and was staffed at the HQ station of Station 63 in Oroville. The thing had another hydrostatic pump that was difficult to manage, and a chassis that was so heavy that every time it went off-road (or off-pavement) it got stuck in the dirt and had to be pulled or towed out. Its knick-name was "Battestar Galactica" because it was so huge and awkward and a mess to handle on the road.

The Model 10s, Model 12s, the Model 2000, and 'Battlestar Galactica' all had the same common denominator: They were approved by a bunch of CDF fire chiefs who thought "Hey, this is a great idea! Lets do this! The crews would love this!". Shortly after the four 'Battlestar Galactica' Spartan Chassis Model 19s did their run, someone up-on-high had the epiphany of "Why don't we have the Engineers and Captains design what they want for Structural and Wildland fire engines so we don't make this mistake again?" Thus ended the Chiefs will design the fire engines problem.

All four of those engines had the same defect, people who had not ridden on fire engines in a decade or more got sucked into 'this is the newest, neatest thing since sliced bread, and you should buy it' syndrome. Thankfully, though at the cost to the taxpayer, this practice has ended.

5/24 Re Line

In the Forest Service, a line officer is the decision maker at each unit and staff or staff officers provide the information necessary for a decision. In the FS, that is the District Ranger, Forest Supervisor, Regional Forester, and FS Chief.

A classic example would be a wildlife biologist who leads a team to write environmental documentation and make recommendations, but the line officer would choose the final alternative and sign it. I recall working on at least one forest where all correspondence had to go out with a line signature.

As the scope of the agency has changed, more and more authority has been placed out at the staff level. An emphasis on "collaboration" also led to having line snaggled by staff with their own agendas or incompetency. In the bad

ld FS,

a line officer would make a decision and know a career might be on the line -- so there was follow through. And then there's the budget which is a decision maker in itself. I won't go there.

Still Out There as an AD

5/24 MP,

Below is language found in the Forest Service R2 regional heavy equipment contracts. Not sure if the same applies to agency dozers.

vfd cap'n


In addition to [basic safety equipment/PPE], dozers shall have:

1. Rollover Protective Structure (ROPS) meeting ISO 3471, ISO 8082, or SAE J 1040 is required on all machines. A manufacturer's nameplate certifying the operator enclosure or alternative documentation that the cab meets these provisions is required. Modification of factory ROPS/FOPS (Cutting/Welding) and any aftermarket ROPS/FOPS requires certification to ISO 3471, ISO 8082, or SAE J 1040.

2. Operator Protection. Shall meet all applicable Federal and State (the State where equipment is registered) logging safety standards (per OSHA, 29 CFR 1910.266) and must have operator protection, such as a Forestry cab package with wire mesh or safety glazing that provides equivalent protection. Stand-alone safety glass does not provide equivalent protection to wire mesh, however it may be used as part of the window glazing system. Polycarbonate windows are not "glass" and may be acceptable as a stand-alone window guard. Any machine cab meeting ISO 8084 or SAE 1084 fulfills this requirement. The protective canopy shall be constructed to protect the operator from injury due to falling trees, limbs, saplings or branches which might enter the compartment side areas and from snapping winch lines or other objects. The rear portion of the cab shall be fully enclosed with open mesh material with openings of such size as to reject the entrance of an object larger than 2 inches in diameter. The covering shall be affixed to the structural members so that ample clearance will be provided between the screen and the back of the operator and shall provide maximum rearward visibility. Open mesh shall be extended forward as far as possible from the rear corners of the cab sides to provide the maximum protection against obstacles, branches, etc., entering the cab area. Deflectors, which may be part of the cab, shall be installed in front of the operator area to deflect whipping saplings and branches. Deflectors shall be located so as not to impede visibility and access to the cab.

5/24 Dozers:

Does anyone know of any specific agency guidelines, policies, or requirements for dozer operations, specifically in relation to operating with open or enclosed cabs?



5/23 Texas Fires, 2011

Pics from the IA on the Edwards Fire which later merged with the Batch and became the Dicken's County Complex. Photos compliments of Ryan.

Nice! I added them to Fire 46 and  Handcrews 28 photo pages. Ab.

5/23 Family Day at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation & what is the correct definition of a Line Officer?

First & foremost a tremendous thanks once again to Vicki, Burk, Melissa and all the staff at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in Boise for providing families & friends of those lost in this business an opportunity to share their grief and feelings with so many others who care about them.

Unfortunately I was unable to stay for the entire weekend but thanks again also to the FWFSA members who attended, including those that are part of the Interagency Honor Guard. As always I encourage folks in this community to visit the Foundation, support it and most importantly, attend Family Day so the survivors of those lost know the compassion we all share for them.

Additionally, does anyone know if there is an "official" description of a Line Officer? Although we have made it clear in our current legislative draft that "Line Officers" under the current organizational structure manage the FIRE programs as well as the appropriated dollars that a make up the preparedness, suppression and fuels reduction budgets, we want to properly define what a Line Officer is.

Yes, I know many of you have "your own" unofficial definitions but please remember this needs to be placed in legislation for all to see. You can email me at cjudd@fwfsa.org.

Thanks for your help and thanks again to the Foundation and all who support it.

5/23 Mike Rushworth's page has been added to Always Remember. Mike was only 18 when he died in 1961, nearly 50 years ago.

If anyone has further documentation, reports, news articles, incident details or photos, please share them. The letter from Walt Disney to Mike's parents is touching. Thanks to the Dalton Hotshots for researching and honoring your brother. Thanks to the researchers at the Forest Service Heroes for your research as well. Ab.

5/22 Today was the dedication of the memorial honoring Dalton Hotshot Mike Rushworth's life and service.

In October of 1961, a Dalton Hotshot, Mike Rushworth was gravely injured on a fire in Sierra Madre. Mike died that December, having never recovered from his injuries.

Photo of Mike Rushworth's Memorial


Thanks, Scott, for the good research and good work you all did on this. Ab.

5/22 ms,

Well said.

My comment about "derailing" was meant specifically at some of the 'in your face' comments made about line officers and senior staff officers by yourself and some others recently.

It doesn't help to foster a learning organization by slamming people directly or indirectly, and actually alienates line officers who are actively supporting, or neutral in supporting the fire program behind the scenes.

There are lots of us actually getting positive things done and building partnerships "in the shadows".

Sent from my Droid
5/22 CDF Model 10, Model 12 and Vision 2000 engines:

There it is. I said it and I have all the documents, and they are mad on the 15th floor.

Maybe I'll get sent to bed without supper?



In 1973 I was called by the Operations Chief advising me to get a Model 4 engine at Napa ready for survey. We had a new "Pilot Model" fire engine being delivered as we spoke. As the new engine drove in the driveway I looked and couldn't believe my eyes. Here was driving in was an L-1600 4 X 4 International four door cab fire engine. Ahh! Crew cab at last! The last one's CDF had were the '37 REO's, '39 Jimmies and the 41 Ford COEs.
Finally we are going to put our valued firefighters in a place of safety!

We spent the next two days really going over this new rig. Of course like anything else we will need specific training. Right???
Well that never happened. The only thing we were told was that the IH V-8 304 engines lack of power would be made up by the torque conversion made possible by a four speed MT- 640 Allison automatic transmission. Being accustomed to the MT series Allisons our personnel had some questions.

  1. Why no retarder?
  2. Why is the Watrous CP-2 pump intake bushed down from 3" to 2"?
  3. Why is the discharge bushed down from 2 "to 1 "?
  4. What is that funny looking winch on the front bumper about and how do we operate it safely?
  5. Alley lights at last but they don't work.
  6. A remote controlled spot light on the radiator cowl in really neat. How does it work?
  7. Those questions along with why is a Watrous CP-2 pump that requires 72 hp to drive it being powered by a 45 HP Ford V-4 water cooled industrial engine?? GOOD QUESTION!

No one knew in our shop or in Davis either so I called Mike Balldoch the west coast Watrous representative. His response to my questions was, "What! Are you sure? I'll be there the day after tomorrow." He did arrive as promised. All he could tell me was, "Wow.! How did this happen?"
Oh, did I mention we were now a part of a Fire Engine "Color Evaluation?" This one was lime green.

I'm at a loss for words. The pump manufacturer has hired a professional photographer to take pictures of the rube goldberg pump lash up. In the meantime we are told to "Put it in service." We did. In Napa about of our responses are for structure fires and the first fire this engine responded to we found out about the limitations of the pump. It couldn't deliver more than 124 GPM from the booster tank. All of the plumbing was so severely restricted that we found 5/8 " supply to the booster reel. 1 " supply to the preconnected 1 " lines and there was no 2 ' outlets on the discharge side of the pump. For our fire protection and fire fighting needs this engine wouldn't work out at all.

I notified my Operations Chief and he did come down that afternoon. He asked us to talk to the Napa Fire Department to see if we could use their Pump Rating Test Pit. Permission was granted and we went down to the pit. The engine did have the three 3" X 8 ft Hard Suction lines. When coupling them to the engine I noted that the 3" male inlet was a bell reduced 3" down to 2" suction inlet pipe.

We had no Pump Test gauge inlets or Tach drive connections and also no relief valve. We primed the pump and started the suction side test. The water immediately reverse flowed back into the Test Pit chamber. So, fail step one.

Then we sent out for a foot valve from a local Well Drilling Supply store and connected that device in to the suction hose inlet ahead of the strainer. Now it held water so we could begin to time the period the water prime would hold before a loss. One thing after another had to be overcome. To be brief, when we completed the spurt portion of the test (that is where you can measure the maximum amount of water being discharged it was determined we had reached 142 GPM. NOT BAD for a 350 GPM Class A Booster Pump!

It was all downhill from there. The engine was reassigned to the Brooks FFS in Yolo County. Again, due to the crew cab it was welcomed but after about three weeks of repeated breakdowns or failures of components our shop found out fast this going to be a high maintenance engine. The engine in the bottom photo is that apparatus. It is a one of a kind (Budd wheels, Air brakes, Locking differential) and it was going on tour of the Ranger Unit. It was the infamous Model 10. This engine is associated with more CDF employee deaths and major injuries than any other single engine type in the fleet ever in our history.

For those who have friends or acquaintances ask them to relate some incidents they had with this apparatus.

I have the copies of the repair orders and pay documents. The production cost was $34,720. (that isn't even close because the Hydraulic Front Winch and the Remote Spot Light nor the emergency warning package was included in those figures.

The total costs to keep this engine in service for 14 years and one month were $104,000. of taxpayers money. The chassis was too light It blew the right front axle if you tried to back it up in four wheel drive. Under stress the rear differential would fail and blow out. This chassis had seventeen right front axles replaced and four rear differentials also. Once the correct RA-39 rear-end was installed the failures to that specific component stopped.

The department told us this was designed by "The finest engineers in state service." WHAT??? Who are they and where are they at?

I had some very close friends that worked at the Davis facility. We had lunch one day and I was told in no uncertain terms that they had almost nothing to do with this Pilot Model engine except to install the emergency lighting package, the Hydraulic front winch and the Alley lights. The entire design was done at the CDF Headquarters by the Fire Protection Section. Who is a qualified Engineer in that Section I asked. I was told to keep my mouth shut; or else.

Then we find out 20 more similar apparatus are being built in a Welding Shop in Southern California. BUT… due to new Federal DOT Regulations (those never mattered before; why now?) the next issue would have Vacuum hydraulic anti-lock brakes and California spoke wheels. The same pump set up would be maintained. The new Models would heave amore powerful V-8 392 and had 46 more horsepower. We needed torque, not horsepower.

The entire run of the Model 10 engines was over 40 units and the cost history is one that is tragic. The maintenance costs far exceeded the acquisition costs. The ration was 1 to 12 with 1 being the representative digit for the acquisition costs.

Names are not important now but I will tell you that the City of Beverly Hills FD had a department apparatus committee designed all purpose rig the called the BHRSS. That stood for Booster, Hose, Rescue, Salvage Squad. If this CDF engine were to have an acronym for what is was it would have been TURD. That would stand for Truck Undergoing Repairs Definitely.

The top photo is the successor to the Model 10. It is known as the model 12. Again, it appeared from unknown sources on the 15th floor of the Resources building no doubt drawn up on a napkin in the Cafeteria in the 13rth floor. Same apparatus but no four wheel drive. The same restricted pump plumbing and this time we got a chance to see another "New Component". The now famous "Hyro-static pump drive." The motto for our top level management when it relates to fire apparatus is "Buy, try and Modify." No matter how much it costs it WILL Work! For all of the 13 years of its projected life span. If it wasn't for some very adaptive and sharp field personnel at the FF, FAE and FC-A level this too would have been another disaster, First, because of the new Hydro-stat drive system three things were accomplished.

  1. 26% of the frontal cooling area was occluded.
  2. The drive system took 14% of the available engine horsepower to drive so now the increase in horsepower by a larger engine was negated. Bear in mind that only two Model 12's had a Hydro-stat drive.
  3. The Remote control spot light was missing. Now a additional red light in the center of the grill appeared. The alley lights were not present either. Walking around in the dark for 40 years had taught us nothing about crew safety. They had headlamps didn't they? Use them instead. The issues of storage space had not been addressed. The engines in this series had about of the compartment space needed to store the assigned Vehicle Compliment on the AE-101 Card.

Now take note, until this time the 101 Card required a daily driver check-off on the back of the card. That was to certify the presence of all of the Vehicle Compliment items. It now disappeared because there were two incidents where engines did not have compliment items due to Supply Center shortages which were budget induced. There was an attempt to initiate a Corrective Action and the employees involved had wrote up and filed an ME-14 noting this shortage and passed it through channels. Once that Card was introduced, the Corrective Action evaporated. We can't have that happening can we? Especially if some one is in the gun sights. Right??

The Model 12 did not have the employee death or injury history the Model 10 had but it did surpass it in numbers of engine burned over in firefighting activities. When they'd pass by me on a Transport going over to Davis I'd feel some relief. Another apparatus designed by incompetents who were blaming their Mobile Equipment staff for the short comings. I have to admire the Davis staff for their demeanor. Here they were getting beat up verbally by me and whole corps of dedicated firefighter CDF stalwarts and they just kept doing their job and trying to find enough crutches for us to keep these POS going for their "Life span." We bought them to last for 13 years right? No matter what it cost they will run for 13 years come hell or high water.

30 of Model 12's were produced. Again we saw astronomical repair history figures. They bought these engines cheap and to last fopr 13 years. Right? Well they WILL be repaired and they will run for 13 years. The Guru's from the Puzzle Palace have spoken. Genuflect, kiss their ring and get about doing your job. OK??

To me, money is money out of the taxpayers' pocket. When are they (the public) ever going to figure the shuck out?

The engine you see in the middle photo was designed by a Committee formed when CDF conducted a work shop in Ft. Bragg, Ca. in 2000. They called it the "Vision 2000" conference and hence the engine name. This is another example of apparatus being built with now formal plans or calculations of the fire body design. There were no weight distribution indicators nor was there any attempt to comply with what Cal Chief's had then adopted (and CDF and voted for ) full compliance with the National Fire Protection Association Pamphlet 1901. CDF has and a seat on the NFPA 1901 Advisory Committee since 1972. Rarely do they attend or participate. It is my observation that when they (Cal Fire does get active it is motivated by their attempts to change or eliminate certain provisions of that document. They were the motivators for the change to lower the ICS Type 2 engine pump capacity and crew staffing sizes to meet what Cal Fire wanted to do. Both attempts were successful. But the entire ICS system in the Ground Resources Section has been weakened by these efforts. We aren't partners with other fire service agencies. It looks like Cal Fire wants to be the one calling the shots. Currently our relationships with outside agencies has degraded to the point that once we were looked up to and now we are sneered at.

The Vision 2000 engine had a Hydro-state drive 500 GPM pump and a separate crew enclosure. It was constructed in a 27.500 GVW chassis and did actually weigh in with the full crew seated and fully loaded with equipment an liquids at 30,755 lbs. A bit overloaded but when one thinks they may be exempt, why worry?

The rig was so heavy it sat on the overload springs constantly. The fatigue factors with the spring steels was noticeable in daily driving. The wheels/tires package was inadequate for the load it carried. Again this showed daily in handling. I drove this truck for a 200 mile trip from Kelseyville to Fresno one evening. It was a part of a STE (Type 3) LNU was ending down to a fire there. This rig yawed constantly to the right. A driver had to be constantly aware to this. If there was a pavement separation in the track the right front wheel was travelling it would actually try on its own to make a turn. The handing characteristic was dangerous. I reported this when we arrived at out assignment. The following day it was taken to a very experienced front end aligner. I drove in to speak to the technician performing the work. He told me the whole chassis was too light for the job it was doing. Those facts were reported but this engine still was allowed to soldier on. 13 years, right? We had eight more to go. Their engine was involved in a right yaw induced pull to the right and went down over a bank injuring an FAE from Jarbo Gap and was then charged with incompetence and another Corrective Action was initiated. Local 2881 began an aggressive defense and introduced several documents to support the claims of a "Dangerous vehicle" as we contended. We did prevail but not until we discovered the Department agents were tampering with this wrecked chassis and replacing faulty components. This was being performed at Davis. I again went out to lunch with the Davis staff and was able to determine that again "orders from on High" had been issued. They were just doing what they were told to do and complying with an order. Again, some very commendable demeanor by that group of professionals. Kudos to them for taking it on the chin and not being the authors.

I could relate to you story after story about just how our top level pours our budget money through a sieve and never gives it a second thought. Wait until I tell you about the Model 19 fiasco and also the old three axle Medium (now light ) transport purchase errors that couldn't be fixed. STAY TUNED.


I see us as a mismanaged and used group of dedicated employees carrying a sick Jack Ass on our back to get the animal to a Vet. The only problem is, no Vet wants any part of the sick Jack Ass.

5/22 Ab,

According to the history I have: Dean Lundberg was the founding supe of Bitterroot Crew in 1963. John Maupin is listed as running the crew in 1971/1972.


Thanks, Tom. I corrected the page. Ab.

5/22 Got a note about John Maupin to add to the "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project page.

Ab's for your fire manager page: John Maupin retired Forest Fire Chief (Plumas) and Type I Incident Commander (Region 5) was on the Bitterroot IR/IHC crew. I am not 100% positive but I do believe that John started the crew. Debbie

Thanks, Debbie. Does anyone know who started the Bitterroot IR/IHC crew? Was it John? Ab.

5/22 Forest Service All Risk Activities


Thank you for your reply. I think you did a good job of outlining where the problem originates.

We are not trying to figure out how to land a rocket on Venus. We are not trying to obtain intel and details with COP on how to invade Bulgaria. We do not need dozens of SMEs with multiple opinions drafting multiple versions and interpretations of all risk activities. We do not need 50 official letters and multiple guides on this subject. We do not need Leaders Intent, we need Leader (<----singular) Direction.

Do not blame theysaid for its ability to communicate just because the agency is unable to step up with “one voice" on this subject. Instead of threatening derailment, thank the forum and its members for its ability to find and push for solutions (see 2008 accomplishments). As only a member with no formal or informal affiliation with this site, I can say without impeachment that one of theysaid’s founding principles was the agencies inability to promote internal communication, exchange ideas and to effectively disseminate information. If you are worried about derailment because of how the organization is lead, then I say reorganize. If derailment is possible because of legislator involvement, I say then put our mission to a vote. However to hope that 10,000 Firefighters sit on the sidelines watching our leaders fumble through this issue is no longer an option.

This is not that complex, sorry, but it is not. This is an up or down agency decision on 3 to 5 all risk activities that are then documented in one reference location and move on. I can live with the decision, just looking for someone to make it.

This is not about taking all risk responsibility or usurping local authority. It is about doing the right thing. Doing the right thing both in the world of fire service cooperation and in the real world of a head on collision with CPR in progress.

Thanks again for your thoughts and one day may we all agree that applying militaristic references and techniques to this topic and other aspects of our profession occur with limitations. This is not a military operation seeking a COP and answers about where are the weapons of mass destruction. This is about one leader with one decision to make and one manual to update.




5/22 Canadian fires from the hotlist:

Canada - Bigger, hotter, faster...

Canada - 1950 monster fire burned its way into history
5/22 making the rounds:

2011 DOI Administratively Determined (AD) Pay Plan (1,229 K pdf)


5/20 Hi Ab and All,

I was one of the union lobbyists for temp hiring reform and I'm a firefighter on my 9th season and I wanted to echo what Mark Davis and Mellie posted. We received strong interest and support for the proposal from both the Forest Service and from Congress but we need to keep the politicians focused and the best way to do that is to contact them. If you agree with the proposal and want to see it happen then click the link and tell congress. We perform a vital role in the forests and rangelands in many of their home states and it doesn't go unnoticed when you remind them how much it would help to provide incentive for quality temp employees to return and bring their expertise with them. Have a safe summer, be careful with the MRE shakes and please remember to "go" in the green.

-Morgan Thomsen, local 1753. Formerly ID-BOF. Now in ID-SCF
5/20 ms,

Well said. The fact is when the public sees an engine, buggie, sup. rig, or just a striped chief officer vehicle, they do not pay attention to the color of the vehicle, they see fire on the side and they know we are public servants and we can provide assistance, the day we stop providing assistance is the day our Forest Supervisor gets a call and our local Congressman/Senator gets a call and the voice on the other side of the line is the public demanding an explanation why we just stood there doing nothing while a loved one suffers. Who are they going to fault for that. I see a reprimand for the crew that did not act. We need support from above. Just saying.

t fielden

5/20 Re NFFE Forest Service Council Post:

The pdf download -- Temporary Employment Reform: Building a Path to Permanence -- available at the NFFE link www.nffe-fsc.org is well worth reading, as is their legislative proposal. They lay out through links

  • What you can do and
  • The "talking points" you can share with your congressional representatives and senators. You can even find out their contact info if you don't know who they are.

There's power in numbers. OUR NUMBERS!

In the case of wildland firefighters, the logical bigger-picture change, in my opinion, would also include a wildland firefighter series with clearly defined career advancement built in. Creation of a wildland firefighter series was suggested by the TriDat study following the Storm King fatalities in 1994 as one important way of changing firefighter culture. Series 462, 455 and "Biology series" 401 just doesn't cut it for the long term succession of a professional, knowledgeable wildland firefighting workforce.

This shift to wildland firefighter series was suggested by firefighters on the ground long before I became involved with wildland firefighters and has been repeatedly suggested. Just look back in the archives. Kent Swartzlander, a FWFSA founding member, Six Rivers NF FMO, Type 2 IC, and now retired, suggested creating a wildland firefighter series to congress on the floor of the House of Representatives back in 1999.

Thanks to Casey Judd for continuing to advance the FWFSA educational efforts with Congress! Don't know what we'd do without you, Casey!

Community, I didn't mean to hijack the NFFE thread. Please go to their website and let your voice be heard (on your own dime and time). We're all on the same page with this issue of building a path to permanence (except maybe for the very few that would like to remain seasonal only- Ab, feel free to send their replies to me...).

Some change takes time and some change is about timing. Cultures change in spite of the forces that might keep them as they were.The time is right. Firefighter Spring! I am contacting my congressional reps to support this step toward Building a Path to Permanence.


5/20 Conflicts / changing policy


I wish communicating and changing policy was as easy as posting on a forum. It's not. It's also easy to derail things if you don't have the COP that is being shared "behind the scenes".

While I agree the issues get wide viewing and exposure on "They Said", the vast majority of volunteer "staff work" and policy changes go on behind the scenes... both on the record and off the record.

There are folks working on these issues... both officially.... and as SMEs.... under a "common operating picture" (COP) and Leaders Intent.

Sent from my Droid

5/19 All Risk Conflicting Federal Direction

Its important to remember that this forum and one of our members brought this issue forward a few months ago. Those who edit the Redbook annually are reminded to avoid your shot-gun type style edits without doing your staff work.

Your lack of staff work has caused a Regional Forester to respond to your misguided and conflicting direction. Our region has told us we follow our manual, not the incorrect direction within the 2011 Redbook. Apparently the WO is also drafting new all-risk direction. Take your time WO. Let's get it right.

Thanks to this forum for allowing us to "begin" to correct a wrong. Every member's post on this subject last winter was read, they were outed, we were right.

We will respond to all-risk incidents within our Forest boundary if requested to do so. If a Forest visitor needs medical assistance and we're requested, we will respond. If a vehicle is on a fire, we will respond. If your house is on fire, we will respond. That's what we do, deal with it!

5/19 NFFE Forest Service Council Submits Legislative Proposal to Congress for Temporary Employment Reform

The week of May 9, 2011 a delegation of a dozen Council representatives met with scores of Congressional representatives to present a specific legislative proposal for a “path to permanence.” If enacted, it would:
  • Grant competitive standing to long-term temporary seasonal employees so they can compete for career jobs like any other federal employee.
  • Provide for conversion to career status of long-term temporary seasonal employees if their job is converted to a career-status position.

Go to Temp hire for more information, including a copy of the legislative proposal and how you can help move this thing forward.

5,000 of the 10-15,000 temps hired by the Forest Service each year are firefighters. We encourage anyone interested in getting a measure of justice for their brothers and sisters who give so much of themselves without health care, pension, any kind of job security, etc. to check this out and do what you can. We generated a lot of momentum last week, but if Congressional reps don't hear from their constituents momentum is lost all too rapidly.

Mark Davis, President
NFFE Forest Service Council

5/19 Assignments

Just to answer the question by a couple of people and yes all of my available personnel are available nationally in ROSS. Also to MJ what you have out for your forest is just sad also. Just one overhead person out this month isn't that good.

5/19 ME,

The Six Rivers from Northern Cal has a 20-person crew in NM right now, and a Dozer that has been in TX for 2 months.

Also, A Captain just got back from an assignment in TX as STAM and TFLD.

So, there ARE some NZ folks getting out....How are you statused in ROSS?


5/19 ME,

I am on a Norcal forest and we have 4 fire/fuels folks left on forest. We have had most of our folks out since early may. Is everyone available in ROSS?

Fuels guy

5/19 Random Fire and Emergency Preparedness Communications from the Ab account:

2011 Redbook conflict on Responding to Non-Wildfire Incidents and SCBA
FS letter on what direction to follow (55 K doc)

Work Capacity Testing (WCT) Implementation Guide Revision
FS letter about that (62 K doc)

CDC Emergency Preparedness and Response
Social Media: Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse

5/19 Assignments

Can anyone explain why there is such a lack of assignments being passed down to Northern Cal. Seems every other place in the nation is sending people out but nothing is going on here. Hell maybe its just our forest but it doesn't seem right. How are the rest of the forests in North Zone doing with assignments? Right now we don't have a single engine or overhead out.


5/18 Making the rounds:

SAFETY ADVISORY: Implementation of New SAFENET Field Card

Please see the attached information regarding the SAFENET Field Card and share widely. Copy and place the forms in areas where employee can find them. IMTs please put on bulletin boards.

The Risk Management Committee is working on revising the Safenet system. This is a move to make filing a Safenet easy for those who don't have computer access.

Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the new form and distribute widely.

SAFENET Field Card (pdf)
SAFENET Field Card Memo May 2011 (pdf)

Peter Tolosano
Regional Fire Operations Safety Officer, R5

5/18 There is a list of MOU Providers in each Region, so I would suggest that they contact the Regional office (Contracting) and check that list. Some are up on the websites as listed below.

Region 6 - Firefighting_Resources
Region 1 - Northern Rockies training providers

Deborah Miley
Executive Director
National Wildfire Suppression Association

5/18 The Type 1 Teams and Type 2 Teams and Area Command Teams pages are updated with all the information that is currently available online. If any team member has better info on IC/DPIC, please send it in so we can have the most updated info. Any broken links, please let me know.

There are permanent links to those pages on our Links Page under Federal.

Thanks, Ab.

5/18 Just a word of caution for anyone wanting to work with a contractor and looking for training. Most reputable contractors will provide the training required for those folks that work for them using a Recognized MOU Provider to do that.

The training provided to JW was NOT AN NWSA Certified Instructor. NWSA certifies its instructors at the same standards as the agencies. We certify by class and if they are a lead or unit, and a lead must be present at all training. We also adhere to the currency standards currently set by NWCG although we feel that it eliminates a lot of valuable folks from the training arena. We hold MOUs in Region 1, Region 6 and Region 3 currently and are exploring other regions although our training is currently accepted in most regions. NWSA, also at our own expense, sends independent monitors out to randomly review training being done by our certified instructors. When a provider has an MOU they must have a recognized training program and NWSA does and has had since they early 90’s. We are not the only MOU provider but that is a key question for anyone looking for training.

Deborah Miley
Executive Director
National Wildfire Suppression Association

5/18 Is there a list of approved training vendors operating with MOUs?

How is a newbie like me to know if my $200 + for training is well spent?


5/18 Training:

In my opinion if you're looking to get wildland fire training by anyone other than the feds, the first thing to ask the trainer, the college or university or any other kind of training group -- whether a good rural fire department or a good organization of private sector wildland firefighting companies -- is this:

Do you have a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the region?

There are NWCG standards and processes for training and for instructors. It's my understanding the MOU makes it more likely your training will be accepted in other regions as well as within your own. Region 4 (EGB/WGB: NV/ID/UT) does not require MOUs. R6 (PNW: WA/OR) and R2 (Rocky Mountain) do require MOUs of trainers. I don't know about R3 (AZ/NM/W TX) or Texas which has its own system.

Anyone -- Kent, Debbie, anyone from eastern regions -- want to chime in to advance our understanding on this? Please let's stick to facts only.


Map of Regions

5/18 Making the rounds:

Subject: Interagency Dispatch Optimization Pilot Project

I wanted to insure that all Region 5 employees are aware that an Interagency Dispatch Optimization Pilot Project (IDOPP) has been chartered nationally to evaluate and optimize dispatch operations in California and the Southwest Geographic area. These pilot projects will include federal, state, tribal, and local government stakeholders. Attached is a letter signed by the eight executives sponsoring this project in California, including Regional Forester, Randy Moore.

The goal of the IDOPP is to achieve an efficient, cohesive, and cost-effective interagency dispatch capability to meet the business needs of the agencies while fully supporting field-going personnel; and to develop a template for more rapid assessment of similar improvements over the remainder of the nationwide dispatch system. Talking points that describe the project in more detail follow. The safety of our employees and the public is paramount to all involved. Leaders from each of the agencies involved are committed to supporting this project.

Please take a look a the attached all employee letter and project talking points. I also invite you check out the information on the IDOPP website at for more detailed information. The California sub-team leader is Susie Stingley-Russell and she can be contacted for additional information (using the FS lookup).

The mission of the California Emergency Communication Centers is to perform a vital primary communication link providing for public and employee safety. The purpose of this effort is to optimize these operations into the future.

Jeanne Wade Evans, Deputy Regional Forester R5

Talking points document (77 K doc)
Letter (321 K pdf)

5/18 re: unethical and unsafe firefighter training


I have contacted the owner of Grizzly Mountain Wildland Fire Camp in Eagle, Idaho about the safety and ethical issues raised in JW's post on 5/16 and about the copyrighted material used without permission from the Colorado Firecamp website. I also forwarded the concerns to our Rocky Mountain Region training contacts, requesting the matter be sent on to Region 4.

Grizzly Mountain, aka. Silver Key Fire, continues to instruct National Wildfire Coordinating Group classes without having an MOU or formal agency agreement, as required by agency policy and a standard clause in wildland fire contracts:

"CONTRACTOR will ensure that all training received by employees meets the course content and instructor standards listed in PMS 907 (Course Coordinator Guide) and PMS 901-1 (Field Managers’ Course Guide). Instructors used by Contractors for fire training must be recognized through a Geographic Area Coordinating Group Memorandum of Understanding or other formal agency agreement."

It is unethical for Grizzly Mountain to teach S-130/190 Basic Firefighter and other classes, knowing full well that they fail to meet NWCG standards, particularly in the unprofessional manner as described by JW. They are not doing any favors for the prospective firefighters or the agencies/contractors who might hire them.

Kent Maxwell, training coordinator
Colorado Firecamp

5/18 WO letter clarifying the transportation of personnel on Type I helicopters, in support LE & I and wildland fire missions:

FS helicopter transport letter

5/18 Rock House Fire, west TX:

Hey folks, just leaving Midland TX this morning and came across this article about some of the perceptions local folks here had about the management of the Rock House Fire...a pretty interesting read!


Robb in R8

5/18 JW,

Kudos to you, you just passed the first test and congratulations on getting a job it is slim pickens these days. Take the fire school over again you will learn a lot more than you would have by just watching some videos and taking some tests. As far as the contractor goes, I do not recommend you post their name but I would recommend you call the Contracting Officer for the Dispatch Area you are in and inform them of their instruction methods (they sound very unconventional) and let them deal with them (ask around when you start someone will know). Good luck, be safe and pay attention to the 10 (Fire orders) and 18 (Watch out situations), remember the 10 must be followed and the 13 can be mitigated, the other 5 are in non compliance of the 10, it will be you job to figure out which 5.

t fielden

5/17 These are pictures of the blow up on 18 April 11 at the Pk complex in Palo Pinto county Texas.

Pic 9 was at the start of the run taken from the BRA Hdqtrs at Observation point.

Pic 4 was taken under the plume from the YMCA camp as it approached the houses on Gaines bend.


Logan Loftin

Thanks, I put them on Fire 45 photo page along with a photo of the Tire Fire that burned in NM about the same time. Ab.

5/16 Helicopter use for passenger transport (document, text below)

Date: May 11, 2011
Subject: Type 1 Helicopter Use for Crew or Passenger Transport Clarification
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Regional Fire Directors, Regional Aviation Officers

This letter updates direction in the July 29, 2009, "Type 1 Helicopter Use for Crew Transport" letter. Refer to the Type I (Heavy) Helicopter definition in Section C, Definitions of Call When Needed (CWN) or Exclusive Use Helicopter Contracts. Effective this letter, the following policy will be in effect.

No Forest Service (FS) personnel, including Helicopter Managers, will be transported in any contracted Type 1 helicopters. This restriction does not apply to:

  • FS Helicopter Inspector Pilots only in the performance of their pilot evaluation or carding duties.
  • Military (National Guard or Active Duty) Type 1/ heavy helicopters used to transport firefighters during fire incidents or in support of FS Law Enforcement and Investigations (LEI) operations.
  • Cooperator Type 1/ heavy helicopters used by LEI during law enforcement operations.

In 2009, the FS conducted an "Independent Risk Assessment for Personnel Transport in Type 1 Helicopters." The assessment identified 25 hazards and 35 mitigations to reduce risk exposure. More information discovered through investigation of recent Type 1 helicopter accidents raises new concerns over the level of risk we assume in transporting any agency personnel in Type 1 helicopters.

Fire and Aviation Management (FAM) has addressed approximately 22 of the 35 mitigations as of the date of this memo. We are working to complete the remaining mitigations.

Please contact Art Hinaman, Assistant Director Aviation, at awhinaman@ nospam fs.fed.us or (202) 205-1505 with any questions.

/s/ T.C. Harbour
Director, Fire and Aviation Management

5/16 This being my first year fighting fire I feel really fortunate to have been picked up by an agency engine crew. It took a lot of effort to even get an interview little lone be one of a very few people hired out of 800 + applications. Knowing the likely hood of getting hired was slim to none I took it upon myself to have a back up plan which included applying with a number of private contractors. Most of these companies would not even accept an application unless you had S-130/S-190 done and a pack test.

I found a local "fire camp" training center and paid the $175 to take the class. This training center happened to also be run by the owner of a contracting company. I showed up for my first day of training to no one at the site. He got there after I repeatedly called him and we started the class with just me as a participant because he had not filled the class and had forgotten to take it off the web site. My first day of "class" consisted of me watching video's in a room alone and him basically telling me what to write in my book. I feel fortunate that I had downloaded most of the course material prior to going to "training" and knew most of what he was "teaching".

The first day ended after 3 hours and I was sent home to watch the human factors video and to take the FEMA class on-line. The second day consisted of another 2 hours of video and "tests" followed by my "field day" which included me unrolling a 1 inch hose and rolling it back up, looking at a handful of tools and fittings and then swinging a pulaski 5 or six times. With this training the proprietor of this "training" program felt I was qualified to work on one of his engines and was properly trained in basic wildland fire fighting. For another $200 dollars I could take the FFT1 training ad be given a task book. He also suggested that I take wildland chainsaws and portable pumps class, each of which was another $100 to $200. For a total of about $600 I could be qualified to run one of his engines even though I had never stepped foot on a fire. All the trainings listed (except the FFT1) are standard for a first year firefighter at our field office, and no one would think of putting him in charge of a crew. As you may have guessed the agency that hired me is having me retake S-130/S-190.

The next issue that I ran into was that the contractors in this area were hiring 100 plus people to fill 4 engines. Sitting on call for 4 months hoping that you are one of those 20 people called to work sounds pretty crappy to me. The few companies that were big enough to put a guy to work full time with other forestry services besides wildfire suppression were mostly out of state and they were big enough to require training at the same time and place as the agencies.

The bottom line for me is that it scares me to think that this specific contractor was willing to put me in harms way just to get paid. That means he is willing to put everyone on his crew and whatever incident they are at in harms way. I know there are some good contracting crews, I have some pretty good friends that work for a couple out of state. Unfortunately there are companies engaging in practices like those described above that have no business or place on a fire in my opinion and they make the rest look really bad.


5/16 Firefighting Community,

There's a new forest fire research foundation (international) -- the Pau Costa Foundation -- that has the goal of "carrying out fire ecology research, creating knowledge, tools and techniques for operational wildfire management and conveying those through training and other means of knowledge transfer."

This organization's supervisory board includes well known fire people and educators from Catalonia Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Canada, Germany Sweden and the USA (Doug Campbell and Tim Murphy).

Their website is new and growing in information daily. Have a look: The Pau Costa Foundation (the English version, also with Catalonian and Spanish language options). Browse through the Vision, Mission and Scope of the project.

Pau Costa, was a fire analyst at GRAF (translated means "Forest Actions Support Group"), who tragically died with four other firefighters in the Horta de Sant Joan Fire on 24 July 24, 2009. Pau was a strong advocate for such a platform advocating international training and scientific exchange, based on his extensive experiences in fighting and managing fires.


5/16 Canada - Thousands flee as northern Alberta town burns

Hotlist thread

5/16 Fed only orders:

I have been out of town, but I think this thread started as "Why fed only?" , and became a pay comparison between fed and contractors. It is possible that some other reason exists. I remember the Needles fire in Washington several years ago. A well known contract crew had a bad apple who as a joke "pooped" in the shower (one floor with multiple stalls) His actions got him, his crew, AND THE OTHER CREW FROM THAT COMPANY demobbed. So sometimes you can be 'punished' by someone elses bad actions. There are a lot of good contract crews around, but until the person in Texas explains themselves we won't know why they aren't accepting them.


What's unfortunate is that the bad stuff makes an impression, gets remembered and comes to represent a whole group. True of whatever group member does the bad thing... fed, state. local, contractor, male, female, or whatever race. Ab.

5/15 Dear Just the facts & others;

I'd debated weighing in on the resource cost issues but am very happy with the information in "Just the Facts" post.

There are a number of dynamics that he/she alluded to that have unfortunately created this disparity in compensation over many years. Not the least of which is the failure of the federal land management agencies to 1) treat their firefighters as firefighters and 2) manage their fire programs like fire programs and recognize they field the largest firefighting force in the world.

"Just the facts" referenced apples & oranges as well as the fact that he/she works a 24 hr shift like most paid firefighters in the country. Federal firefighters are usually 8 hr, 40 hr a week employees. Once they go on assignments the Agencies haven't figured a way to properly compensate such 40 hr/wk employees for the time spent on an assignment.

Further, the Agencies have created this monster of inequity by failing to address the non-federal resource costs associated with a relatively small geographic area (CA). Since they have failed miserably to take care of their own federal wildland firefighters with respect to pay, benefits & working conditions, the agencies have lost many FFs in these areas forcing the agencies to increase their reliance on non-federal resources.

It is unfortunate, but a fact, that the resource costs of local government agencies in CA impact all taxpayers across the country and create problems for private contractors and cooperators from other local governments & states as the agencies are now trying to reduce such non-federal costs and are targeting all non-federal resource costs rather than the exorbitant ones.

That being said, there is no animosity about the local government resource costs from CA because they were negotiated properly and fairly. However as many of you have seen in the field, as a result of catering to the increased number of non-federal resources, a cottage industry has emerged in fire camps providing all sorts of amenities that quite frankly, federal wildland firefighters really could care less about. These additional amenities increase the costs of suppression to the taxpayer.

I think the bottom line is that until the federal wildland agencies start managing their fire programs as such, and recognize & treat their firefighters for who their are and what they do, we will continue to see these disparities on the fireground.

Fed Watcher II
5/15 Just a note of clarification on the contractors – Agency debate.

I just wanted to throw up some important details when talking about contractors, cooperators ect.

They are different types of “contractors” , those that are contracted through the agencies to assist with fire suppression efforts, and are ordered at the agency discretion, then there are “contracted resources” that are contracted by insurance companies to provide structure protection. NWSA does not at this time represent the later of the two. None of our resources receive any backfill, portal to portal, or any other types of benefits from the agencies. Again, we clearly understand the chain of command and that our place on that totem pole is to be used to supplement agency resources. I guess some of the frustration that you may see from the private sector is that when there is a fire in their local region and all Agency resources from that region have been utilized, that they skip over the contracted resources to bring in outside agency personnel. We understand the budget games of trying to supplement regional budgets with fire dollars, and the thought process for that. However, we are just asking to be included in the mix, and there have been numerous reports over the years that debate costs, however, most of them agree that given days of service and other factors there is an optimal mix of resources that can make fire suppression more cost effective. Most of these reports have been commissioned by the agencies themselves, and all have varying different answers on costs, and how to compare agency and contracted services. It might also be important to remember that there is a Professional Private Fire Service because the agencies encouraged that over the past 20 years, and continually tell us that they need us in the mix. And the picture of contractors just being “money hungry for profit companies” is just not true for the majority of the companies in the business, many of them are run by retired or ex agency personnel who love “fire” like most of you, and bottom line we all want to make enough money to feed our families, pay our bills and retire comfortably. The dreams are the same…..

Then you have Cooperators (which are not contractors) who are folks like fire departments, BIA crews ect. These agreements Cooperative Agreements set the terms for the payment they receive. You can find most of these agreements on the Regional Incident Business Management Working Team sites for the USFS.

It is not an us vs you, it is a we are here to help, we meet the same standards as you do, and we ask for the same respect that you would expect to receive. No more no less.

NWSA does watch the fire scene and like in Texas we understand the budget issues there, we did considerable research in determining why “Fed Only Resource” orders were being issued, which included calls to congressional folks, the Texas Governor Federal State Liaisons’ office and the list went on and on, and found out like most of you know that the majority of the fires are on state ground in Texas, that Texas has no contingency state fire budget and that they would have to pay for contracted services per the Prompt Payment Act within 30 days which they cannot afford to do, but they can hold the Agency bill for a longer period of time. We also understand the woes of the economy everywhere not just in Texas, and that since the Major Disaster FEMA Request was denied they would not have the money to hire anyone by agency.

I believe that in this continual fight about contractor vs agency we are missing the true mission that we each share, and that is the protect life, property and our environment. We are on the same side, just may have differing views on how to get there. And as always a respectful discussion works better than stone throwing any day.

I am more than happy to visit with anyone that has questions about the Professional Private Fire Services, and what we can bring to the table.

Deborah Miley
NWSA Executive Director
Ph: 1-877-676-6972
Email: info@nwsa.us
website: www.nwsa.us
5/15 Firefighting Costs

Thanks for everyone who added mature and professional input on the cost discussion. I enjoyed reading the info and different views and learned some things too. It's evident that there may never be a clear and final answer to the question, as even the studies don't appear to have all of the facts. It very well could be apple to oranges. Then, when you mix in the long-time cultural and financial beliefs (accurate or not) of the various agencies... well, you see my point.

I would however, like to clarify some common misunderstandings about resources from career fire departments in CO.

We are actually called State Cooperators, not contractors. We are not-for-profit providers. We charge an hourly rate for our engines that factors in insurance, wear-n-tear, damage, loose equipment wear/damage, vehicle depreciation etc. and the incident pays for the fuel. We don't charge for mileage. Our engines are in tiptop shape, and reliable. As career cooperators, we follow federal incident business management standards and mobilization guidelines. If injured on an assignment, we're covered under our agency's workman's comp insurance.

Our people meet NWCG qualification standards and make all effort to eliminate the occasional Battalion Chief, who thinks he should automatically be qual'ed as a STEN (just because of the brass on his collar).

We work 24 hr shifts, about 10 days/month. If I'm on an assignment during one of my normal shift days, I earn zero extra dollars. It's as if I was on-duty at my station. Backfill is hired to keep my fire station open while I'm gone. While on assignments, I'm paid overtime for hours on my CTR (up to 16) during my normal duty days off. These costs exist because the tax payers in my city shouldn't subsidize the cost of fighting interagency fires or deal with a closed fire station for 14-days.

More cooperators are realizing the fulfillment of responding to fire assignments, but most of the motivation has come from our state and federal partners. When PL levels reach 4 and 5, we're needed. When structures are at risk, we're needed. When CO has their typical shoulder season wildfires and there are no federal resources available, we're needed. Tell me a DIVS doesn't feel better knowing he's got a few Cooperators in his division who are highly skilled paramedics? or are trained in structure firefighting? It's a good system.

A handful of us are former federal or state seasonal firefighters in our early life but chose to go career due to other factors. Make no mistake, we still have a passion for fire (wildland and structure). We enjoy both worlds. We know and use ICS every day on our jobs and are exposed to and handle every kind of emergency that's non-law enforcement related. I agree with JSC that as a general rule, Federal resources train consistently and specialize in wildland firefighting and I'll add, are very good at it. That's one of the aspects I like when I go on assignments; working with these professionals, gaining a few nuggets of knowledge and getting the job done. Career firefighters also train consistently (all year around) and have measurable results. One major difference, is that we work together for 30 years. We can't be compared to hand crews because we're not. But, if the question is value for the dollar for engine crews (and sometimes Overhead), I respectfully disagree with JSC.

Based on what I've read here and previous knowledge, I'll agree that specifically career fire department cooperators are probably not less expensive than federal resources. That said, there are too many factors involved to come up with an apple to apple comparison. I'll keep researching this with financial people in both agencies and see if I can't come up with general tendencies. Like I said in my first thread, it would be good to know generally where we fall so as to make clear that recent decisions not to mobilize us based on cost is justified. I'm OK with not being mobilized based on other factors such as there being plenty of federal resources still available or agency bias. That's normal.

Thanks again all for the insightful comments.

Just the Facts

5/14 just wondering,

You're right, I didn't take the time to check out the rosters on IMTs. I just figured that when a regional director gives figures at a regional leadership team meeting when the issue is fire IMT succession planning, they should be near correct.

As for the earnings of the AD, I did see documentation of his earnings for the first year. Now I realize this is probably an exception, but it is reality of what can be earned. In fairness, he is good friends with the people in dispatch and historically is the first to go out and the last to come back at the end of the season, often before agency resources.

Like I said, these are just my experiences. I'm sure others have had different ones. I know before I stopped going on fires two years ago it was real hard to get agency Safety Officers when I ordered them. I went on a team assignment to Alaska and two of the three line safety officers that arrived with me were ADs. I ordered two while I was there and they were both ADs. I ordered more for the next fire I was on in Montana and three out of four were ADs and not that it is a major problem, they were all in their late 60s. As the team safety it puts an additional burden of making sure I don't put them in a situation that is more than they can handle. It takes time to learn their capacities.

Again these are my experiences and if you choose to not believe part or all of them then so be it. I don't feel like I have to justify to anyone what I know to be true.

Safety Angel
5/14 Safety Angel and JSC,

I must take issue for the inaccuracies in your posts. JSC wrote on 5/12 that two years ago a GAO study concluded that contract fire resources resources were not as cost effective when compared to Federal resources. Do you have the number of that study? I have looked for it but to no avail. Safety Angel posted on 5/13 that Geoffrey Donovan's 2005 and 2007 studies found that agency crews are cheaper than contract crews. If you read the the entire study, you will also read Mr. Donovan's statement that he realizes that his data does NOT reflect the true cost of Federal crews, because he wasn't able to gain access to much of the indirect cost information related to the Federal resources.

While I wasn't able to find the study JSC vaguely referenced, I have read the USDA OIG Audit Report 08001-2-At (March, 2010). This audit found that the Forest Service is currently incapable of making a direct cost comparison between contracted fire crews and Federal crews because the Forest Service does not capture the costs at a level of detail necessary to make the comparison. In addition, the OIG directed the Forest Service to come up with a complete cost accounting so such a comparison can be made, and rejected the use of the Donovan studies because of the lack of complete data regarding the true costs of Federal resources.

High quality contracted private sector resources are a very good value to the taxpayer. They are only paid when they work and when they are working, they are paid only the contracted rate. There are no hidden costs--everything has to be included in that hourly rate or the contractor will go out of business. There are no hazard pay charges, overtime charges, portal to portal charges, "administrative charges" or backfill costs associated with private sector contracted resources. In addition, contract crews are required to receive performance reviews for every assignment. These reviews are forwarded to the Contracting Officers and negative reviews can result in the immediate loss of the contract.

Unless you two have information the Forest Service chose not to reveal to the OIG, it seems that there isn't much of a basis for the ongoing assertion that Federal resources are more cost effective than private sector contract resources.


5/14 Rita and everybody else:

Yes the new website does allow folks to see what jobs are outreached, or I should say have been outreached AND are still being outreached. You need to pay attention to the dates on the left hand side of the outreach and especially the column titled "Ref. List Pull" There are a lot of outreaches listed that are expired and have already been filled. The other down side is that you can't actually get the outreach with job description, duty location info, etc. (unless there is something I am missing). It is a good start though.

R9 Captain

5/14 I'll be leaving Tuscaloosa shortly to drive up to Kentucky for some invisible earthquake mapping.


We were very much appreciated by the City of Tuscaloosa GIS folks. During the daily afternoon EOC staff meeting, the Mayor asked everyone what was the most rewarding moment of the past 16 days for them. A lot of responses were like, "It was an honor to be among such highly dedicated, knowledgeable, hard-working individuals; my life has been changed forever", or some such nonsense, and then everyone would sing Kumbaya . When it was Jeff Moltz's (GIS Manager) turn he simply said that he was, "most happy when the EOC staff finally realized the importance of geospatial technologies in managing this disaster." And on that note I couldn't think of a better time to get out of Dodge and let the great people of Tuscaloosa begin to rebuild their lives.

The attached video depicts one of the Pelham Fire Dept. damage assessment teams training each other in how to use the Geocove ARM360 ArcGIS Mobile program on a small rugged General Dynamics UMPC. When I first saw the Victoria Police officers do it in Australia I knew we did good. So what can I say except, "It was an honor to be among such highly dedicated, knowledgeable hard-working individuals; my life has been changed forever!"


(They picked out the soundtrack... there is a CA/FL version of it here: GeoCove Tuscaloosa Tornado 4 min)
5/14 Thank YOU

Hi again, I just wanted to thank you for your advice and input on the s-290 questions and concerns I had. I just registered on your site, and plan to visit it frequently. I'm planning on posting this question on theysaid when my registration goes through, but wanted to run it by you too, I'm looking to see if there are any winter Rx crews "near" Colorado in the off-season. Just looking to work on my qualifications/ experience but also be close enough to where I can drive back to spend time with the son and wife every once in a while.

Thanks again for being there for the wildland community.


You're welcome from us and the community. Ab.

5/14 Safety Angel ruined a good post and lost all credibility right at the end. Team rosters are readily available at FS web sites. So, someone says 50-60% of R-1 teams are ADs and that is taken as gospel when it takes all of two minutes to find out that is total BS!

So how much of the rest of the post is inaccurate? Because one person says they made 80 grand one year and more the next does not mean all ADs are making that kind of money. In fact unless I saw the W-2 I would be tempted to call BS on those figures too. I am an AD, heck, maybe for the sake of a good story or to impress someone I could say I made over a 100 grand, that does not make it true.

While reading the post I figured this person has got it together and has checked things out, but alas, in the end the facts reared their ugly head, turning me into a non believer. Now I have to wonder just how accurate is the rest of the information that was presented?

just wondering

Further clarification on team websites: Those two online Type 1 team rosters that support your point are from seasons 2009 and 2010.
Some Type 2 teams don't have websites, or their websites don't have team rosters, or their team rosters don't have agency (or AD) status listed, so we really don't know.
Type 1 Teams
Type 2 Teams
Teams don't have the funding to update their stats online until they go out on a fire, if then. Last year was slow, no updates. Some teams still don't have computer personnel/funding (?) to run a website. Anyone have newer info on the teams on our Teams pages? I have been working on the teams websites these last 2 weeks off and on. Ab.

5/14 AB,

This last week proved to be the start of redemption for the Modoc NF fire program. And next week will even further that. A regional review team made a surprise visit and was overwhelmed by the entire fire management during group interviews that re-affirmed the East Zone DFMO and Ranger have and continue to threaten, harass, bully and spread fear of reprisal for speaking out against them and their illegal administrative and personnel actions. These two have destroyed careers of both temps and perms along with a hotshot crew, cut morale to nothing, and to boot, they have an extremely low recruitment and retention percentage along with costing the agency over $25,000 in settlements. Employees are receiving emails of schedule interviews with a team of investigators for this coming week. It's time for us to move forward without being lead by a Ranger that has less than four years in the agency and a DFMO that has fewer quals then most captains. The Forest Supt. has experience in grants/agreements and aquatics not being a line officer. The RO has been very secretive and somewhat in denial that they have a Forest Supervisor that has condoned such actions of a line officer. The Forest Supervisor has been in denial until this week. Just wait until next week when she will be forced by the WO/RO to address her lack of awareness and those that promoted the abuse. It's Friday the 13th and appropriately so for the Forest Supt, Ranger and DFMO. The Forest Supervisor has scheduled an all fire meeting Monday A.M. in hopes of rolling out a plan to address this. Here’s our plan, be a true line officer and follow agency policy which prohibits threats, bullying, harassment, reprisal and above all an unsafe work environment.

Signed "Can't wait for the report"

5/13 Thanks for the specific info on AD rates and what people earn, Safety Angel.


5/13 New Job Search Tool for Forest Service -

The Forest Service has a new website that lists positions for all occupations that are currently being Outreached or recruited for Forest Service wide. It is similar to the Louts Notes Outreach site. This should make it easier to search for real openings in the Forest Service. Click on the "Job Title" for a real person's name and phone number for more information.

Here's the site: outreach

PS: AB- It's OK to post my name and contact info, as I am a Wildland Firefighter Recruiter for Forest Service entry level jobs in Region 5 (California) and would love to assist your readers.

Rita Yates
R-5 Civil Rights Staff
Fire Recruitment Liaison Specialist
Virtual Location: Eldorado National Forest
Voice: (530) 621-5288
Cell: (707) 334-1394
Fax: (530) 642-5135
e-mail: ryates@ nospam fs.fed.us (take out spaces and nospam)

Thanks, Rita. Ab.

5/13 Contracting and ADs:


The BLM employees that work on our forest get the same "Base 8 savings" that the FS does so your post confuses me?

I read Theysaid every day and learn a lot from the different views, but after seeing all of the posts about contractor and ADs I feel the need to share my experiences. Maybe they will have some facts that help others.

First there have been many studies that compare the costs so there are facts out there. Geoffrey Donovan did one in 2005 and another in 2007 that found that agency crews are cheaper than contract crews.

Here are my experiences:

  • 1998 In Michigan 3 out of 4 engines were contract. The order went to a reservation in Oklahoma, but the engines and the engine bosses were from Oregon. $1500 per day per engine..
  • 1998 In Texas 50 % of the engines were contract or co operators. $1500 per day per engine. I had a GS 3 temp. a GS 4 temp and I was a GS 5 perm.
  • 2000 On our district in N. Idaho. We had a type 2 contract crew along with three agency crews. The cost was $130,000 for ten days for the contract crew. More than the cost of two of our agency crews according to the finance person that brought it to our attention. The crew was from Oregon.
  • 2003 Cooney Ridge Fire. I was an OPS2 trainee and inherited over 850 people besides the other resources ( I was a GS 5 ). Our instructions were to demob out of area resources first. I was approached by an irate water tender owner that questioned why we were demobbing him and keeping all of the out of area ones. When we checked the 5 that we were keeping had contracts with addresses in the area. When we looked at the trucks they all had Oregon plates. There was also a type 6 engine that's contract was for an address actually on the fireline and it was from Oregon.
  • 2003 Cramer Fire. Three of the four crews were contract crews from Oregon. The quality of these crews came into play major, but that's another story.
    The Biscuit Fire. Before they even tallied up the final costs there was a report that came out that said the cost to date was over $150 million and that $91 million had went to contractors.
  • 2003 through 2006 we sponsored two contract crews ( Oregon ) on our forest. I don't know what we paid them, but they did well enough that the owner bought a house on the lake for his crews to standby at. Very expensive property.
  • 2006 While on a fire in Montana the OPS2 requested two agency crews. The Forest FMO who was also the IC overruled him and name requested the two contract crews that they were sponsoring leaving the employees on our forest sitting at home.
  • 2006 The IMT that I was on took over a fire from another team. They had contract sawyer teams. One team was getting $150 an hour the other was getting $175 an hour.
  • 2011 A forest that has said they won't be able to hire back any temps in 2012 because the budget is going to be so bad just awarded a contract to sponsor two contract crews for the next three years. The guarantee is $160,000 for two months during their fire season. This is just standby pay, if they fight fire they go to their hourly rate.

A while back Mellie said ADs aren't in it for the money. While that may be true, they do make a lot of money. A FMO retired from our forest a few years back and he showed me where he made $80,000 on top of his retirement the first year he retired. He told me the next year that he made even more. I was on a call a couple of weeks back where the a FAM director said that 50% to 60% of the positions on Northern Rockies IMTs are filled with ADs. I thought the rule was that an AD can't fill an order without an agency trainee.

I've also been told that the agency is looking at figuring staffing level differently in the future. In the past they only looked at FS personnel. Then it changed to FS and state cooperators. Now they are thinking about counting FS, state, cooperators, volunteer fire dept., and contractors.

Sounds like the death spiral for the agency in some regions.

Safety Angel

5/13 Date : 05/12/2011
Subject: SAFETY ADVISORY : Rhabdomyolysis Epidemiological Study Results and Recommendations

May 10, 2011

Rhabdomyolysis Epidemiological Study Results and Recommendations

In December of 2010, the NWCG Risk Management Committee (RMC) requested a study, called an EPI-AID, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since this type of study involves risk factors unique to a work environment, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) provided technical assistance.

The CDC and NIOSH completed their case study and below is a summary of their conclusions and recommendations.

Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscle fibers resulting in the release of muscle contents (myoglobin) into the bloodstream. These releases can cause multiple symptoms and if left undiagnosed, can lead to kidney and muscle damage, and in rare cases results can be fatal.

The CDC Study concludes that the 10 cases of rhabdomyolysis they studied among wildland firefighters occurred during or close to either physical training or actual fire response activities involving high levels of physical exertion, often carrying heavy packs. Despite carrying the prescribed water supplies, dehydration played a significant role in over half the cases. Lack of acclimatization, use of medications or dietary supplements such as creatine, as well as caffeine intake, and other health conditions such as upper respiratory tract infections and flu-like illnesses also were likely contributing factors.

The 10 firefighters varied in age, type of wildland firefighter unit, assignment geography, symptoms, and outcomes. In half of the cases symptoms started on the first day of training, a new crew assignment, or the first day after completion of a fire response. The time between symptom onset and reporting of symptoms to supervisors varied from 30 minutes to 2 days. The time between symptom onset and arrival to a medical facility varied from 1 hour to 6 days. Five firefighters experienced disability for at least 3 months following discharge, and three of these have permanent disability.

In some cases, firefighters’ personal ethic to “tough it out” led to delays in reporting symptoms to supervisors. Lack of knowledge about rhabdomyolysis contributed to delays in reporting and diagnosis of symptoms, which led to delays in medical treatment. In a third of the cases, there were delays in diagnosis or missed diagnosis of the condition by health care providers.

Based upon medical literature research and this study, the following are some key recommendations provided by CDC and NIOSH (the full case study report can be viewed on the RMC website at: www.nwcg.gov):
  1. Provide the wildland fire community and health care providers with educations materials as created by the CDC and NIOSH (attached).
  2. Instruct those with signs or symptoms of rhabdomyolysis (or those accompanying the ill patient) to remind their healthcare provider that they are at risk of this condition due to the nature of their work and to ask for a blood test that identifies Creatine Kinase (CK) level.
  3. Build flexibility into physical training programs for significant changes in weather. When ambient temperatures are much warmer than normal for the geographic area that firefighters are accustomed to working in, supervisors should increase the frequency of scheduled hydration breaks, and decrease weight of packs and gear carried in early part of training season.
  4. Consider redesigning physical training program schedules to maximize physical conditioning safely. This may include redesigning of training schedule to allow a gradual increase of physical exertion rather than having the period of maximal physical exertion fall on the first few days of training. Also, use longer duration, submaximal exercise routines instead of repetitive exhaustive exercise routines. (FireFit offers a well rounded wildland firefighter fitness program: www.nifc.gov/Firefit)
  5. Ensure new and returning firefighters are in good health and have completed off season conditioning prior to engaging in rapid strenuous training routines.

The RMC’s focus is on prevention and rapid medical response. We encourage these recommendations be implemented at the field level and the provided education materials are widely distributed and posted in common areas and provided to healthcare providers when firefighters seek medical care for heat/overexertion related medical conditions. Other longer term recommendations are being vetted through the RMC for consideration.

In addition to your agency-required illness and injury reporting system, please report any cases of rhabdomyolysis through the SAFENET system safenet.nifc.gov/  so that these events can be tracked and we can improve trend tracking and mitigations. The ISUITE Injury/Illness module should also be utilized during large incidents so that incident related injuries and illnesses can be better tracked.

If you have questions or comments, please contact your agencies RMC representative (contactus.php).

(Embedded image moved to file: pic09090.jpg)

Michelle G. Ryerson
RMC Chair

(See attached file: rhabdo2) (1050 K pdf)
(See attached file: rhabdo1) (1106 K pdf)

RMC=Risk Management Committee

5/13 Paynes Bay Fire, Manteo NC


Paynes Bay Fire Accident 24-Hour Report (192 K pdf)

Text below:

United States Department of the Interior
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Alligator River NWR


LOCATION: Paynes Bay Fire, Manteo NC
TIME OF OCCURRENCE: Approximately 1525 EST
ACTIVITY: Wildfire Suppression

On May 6, 2011, at approximately 1525, an incident involving a Fish and Wildlife Service dual tired pick-up truck, Marsh Master, and Marsh Master Trailer occurred. Significant damage to the truck was observed. No personnel injuries were reported.

At approximately 1525, 2 FWS firefighters (2-FF’s), traveled South on US-264 to retrieve a Marsh Master and bring it to the next operational assignment. The fire on the west side of the road was not a threat to road traffic; however, numerous spot fires between the road and canal had ignited multiple guard rail posts. The 2-FF’s notified the Engine Boss of the FWS engine about the guard rails. The 2-FF’s proceeded to their assignment of moving the Marsh Master. The FWS Engine Boss began extinguishing the guard rail posts and soon noticed a wind shift and change in fire behavior, at which time he relocated to a safe area to the north. At approximately 1605, the 2-FF’s were heading north on US-264 with the pick-up truck and Marsh Master when the FWS Engine Boss attempted to stop the 2-FF’s via radio communication with no success. When radio contact was made the 2-FF’s were too far down the road to stop.

Heavy smoke, narrow shoulders, and guard rails made it impossible to turn around with the equipment trailer. The 2-FF’s were in a situation where the safest decision was to continue traveling north.

The fire, responding to a wind shift and influences from the hot fire on the east side of the road, began leaning over the road. The 2-FF’s pushed through and the truck sustained damage when various materials, including but not limited to drip torches and torch fuel, caught fire. The Marsh Master sustained damage from debris. The 2-FF’s cleared the fire and the vehicle fires were extinguished once it was safe to stop.

No injuries were reported. There was extensive paint and plastic damage to the truck. The plexi glass window in the Marsh Master was damaged.

A review team has been established and will issue a 72-hour report followed by a final report. This is in accordance with the 2011 Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations Handbook.

PREPARED BY: Vince Carver, Regional Fire Ecologist and Kelley Van Druten, District 1 Wildland Urban Interface Coordinator

5/13 Hi:

I am sending two images for your logos page. Thanks!


I put them on Logos 19 and Logos 20 pages. Thanks. Ab.

5/12 Hey ab,

 I just wanted to thank you for all your help. Because of your website I was able to grab my Certs and join a hotshot crew here in AZ. Being from MI your website was and still is a very useful networking tool. Just got off a 14 day assignment from the Felix fire and Mayhill fire in S. New Mexico and I loved it. It wouldn't have been possible without this website. Thanks again.


5/12 Texas suppression costs,

It's hard to argue a point with such vague facts... Just, how about a link or post or something to that effect on how much your dept charges to send put a fully stracked type 3,4 or 6 module?? as far as hidden costs... Well there are none my friend the Feds pay what they pay... Health benefits would be paid regardless of weather you are on a fire or not... Mileage for equipment.. Well I'm sure there is a cost to your dept for that as well... As far as being 22% higher I would lime to see that information and what you are basing your numbers on... All Fed geographic areas are not the same by any means in pay scale.. And to pay backfill your essentially paying for two trucks when the fire receives only one and also I would assume you are paying some amount of overtime to the people staffing that engine... So throw the numbers out.. Let compare oranges to apples... I will post the number from my fiscal year report when I return from Texas at the end of the month..

Still waiting for the IA

Wildland Firefighter Foundation Fundraiser

The Stump People invite you to an evening of Fun, Food, Friends and Family
at Route 66 Classic Grill 18730 Soledad Cyn Rd. Santa Clarita
from 4 - 9 pm

Bring your hearty appetite!

Tell your server that you are supporting the WFF and we will receive 15%
of the evenings profits. All proceeds will go to the WFF.

We will also have a raffle for WFF, Disney Fire Dept.
and Smokey Bear Goodies! Raffle Tickets are $1.00 each


5/12 Just the Facts,

I believe it was two years ago that a GAO study concluded that contract fire resources were not cost effective when compared to Federal resources. Fireline production rates were a factor. Implying Fed resources are more expensive by wanting apparatus costs, benefits, etc is a misguided approach at trying to poke holes in ordering procedures. Everybody wants to get in the game but the fact is Federal wildland fire resources are the most experienced at wildland fire suppression and they come with thorough, measurable and consistent training in wildland fire safety. Fed resources train and work together consistently. While it's easy to try to put the dollars first, there are many other important factors to consider when trying to compare apples to oranges.


5/12 Resources to TX- costs:

I guess that means that the DOI is the overall winner of the cheapest resource competition. You see, unlike the USFS (and our municipal brethren), the DOI does not charge base pay to the incident. Nor do they charge for back-fill. So, for the first 8 hours per day/40 hours per week, the employee's pay is coming out of the "budget" for that agency. That's right; the agency actually budgeted for that position, and does not attempt to pay for an engine company, based on the hard work of a hotshot crew.
Pretty good deal, if you ask me. If for instance, a BLM range tech. only works 8 hours, but gets H pay.... The incident only pays 25% (H pay).... If they only work 8 hours and don't happen to be on an uncontrolled fire... The incident pays nothing. The GAO was supposed to change that shell game with the USFS, but apparently it didn't take.

So, BLM, FWS, BIA, etc. are cheaper than everyone, including all of the USFS folk that are "on board" with being a cheaper resource! Let us stop the whining! It's May 12 for crying out loud!

But I will say this for the benefit of the "contractors" out there.... Could have sworn that ALL of the helicopters, ALL  air attack aircraft, and ALL airtankers are "contracted".... Pretty interesting, no?

Be that as it may, If you all think that coordinators and resource unit leaders are on the ball with all of this..... Think again.


5/12 Resources to TX- costs:

Excellent point! When I look at my hourly salary rate and compare it to the rate that FS uses to plan for actual costs, the planning rate is 22% higher. That does not include the referenced equipment costs, training, etc. It includes only known costs (benefits). Now some of the Federal resources being used are seasonal and/or part time, which means they don't get the same benefits as the permanent full time person and would be cheaper.


5/12 Resources to TX- costs:

Like I said, I'm looking for some some informed input on the actual costs between these two types of resources. We as CO cooperators also get 12 hours and 38 per diem. We're not in CA, where career departments are paid portal to portal and stay in hotels.

The only difference between us and federal resources is the backfill and of course the hourly salary. But with that said, It would be good to hear how that compares to the true and complete costs of federal resources. I'm talking about indirect rates, benefits, apparatus costs, hazard pay (which we also aren't entitled to), and any other differential pay. There may well be more costs that are buried deep in the federal system that I'm not aware of.

This is probably not the forum to gain this type of information, as it's not likely that finance-savvy, billing folks are reading these threads. My intent was not to inflame anybody or any agency so, be nice Staged. Financial facts are what I'm looking for. When the final bills are totaled up and submitted for reimbursement, how do federal resources and cooperator resources from career departments compare? Lord knows there are lots of beliefs out there, but lets just look at the numbers.

Just the Facts

5/12 Good day,

I find it outstanding that there are fully qualified dozer crews outside of R5 (mine included) that are not being called up. We are being rained on at the moment, and our "leadership" refuses to let us go anywhere off forest, let alone out-of-state. I realize that NorthOps dozers are having the same problem... What do we need to do in order to shift the thinking of our "leaders"?


A very frustrated FedCatSkinner
5/12 From Midland:

Screen capture today of large TX fires google map:

Most fires are in mop up except for Schwartz and Iron Mountain.

Here's how the response system works with Regional Fire Coordinators and mobile response to IA:

The TFS website, go there to read it all

5/12 Unable to Fill:


Get your facts straight before posting and causing an uproar... gacc.nifc.gov/sacc/logistics

gacc.nifc.gov/wgbc (pdf)

I see two t-6 orders not filled... As far as contractor not acceptable, it also said that on our resource order.. (as I am here, staging might I add) but if you saw the side note, it also said AD or contractor fill must contact the coordination center... with fire season just starting and almost non-existent in most other regions, there are plenty of fed resources available one would think... and on a side note as far as local gov depts being cheaper than the Feds.. Get your heads out of the clouds... We are getting 12 hour days with 38 dollars for per diem... not 24 hours with backfill...

Those would be FACTS...

Staging and waiting for an IA

5/12 Hi All,

Again, today on the Southern area and the Western Great Basin GACCs' Unable to Fill (May 10, 11, 2011) lists are engine and dozer orders- "Fed only, Contractors Unacceptable". Texas large fires. What gives?


5/12 BIG boots:

To the Dad looking for boots.

You should go to the Supply Cache in Fort Collins. They have a great selection and the staff will custom fit you on the spot to make sure you get what you need. And no, I do not work for them or get a kickback, I have just had great luck with them in the past. www.firecache.com

Satisfied customer

5/12 BIG boots:


Try JAX in Fort Collins,


5/12 Resources to TX- costs:

There is definitely perception by requesting agencies, that resources from career departments are more expensive than federal due to the backfill. It's common knowledge, that this is why they have not been asked to respond to TX. It's also why a certain northern colorado forest recently wanted IA resources for an interface fire, but excluded career departments.

This isn't the first time, however, that this "cost saving" method has been used in TX. During the Texas Winter Fires of '08, my engine and I were requested only to be demobed the next day when they realized that they had ordered a career department.

According to our state's lead finance/reimbursement person, career departments are no more expensive than federal. The only difference is that the costs for career departments are upfront and visible whereas federal costs are buried within their financial abyss. This is an interesting claim that I would like to dig into more thoroughly. Not wanting to take sides, I would like to hear more about this from other well-informed people on the matter. If indeed career departments are more expensive (or possibly less), it would be good to know. I get the whole cost containment effort and don't blame requesting agencies for trying to control fire at a lower cost, providing that values at risk aren't jeopardized.

Just the Facts

5/11 BIG boots:

My son starts his first job on an engine crew for the Forest Service later this month and is having trouble finding boots for his extra large feet. Any ideas for stores with large inventories in the Denver, Cheyenne, Rapid City would be much appreciated. We could order online but would like to make sure he gets a good fit. Thanks.


5/11 re: Tweeting for resources


This is an example of what Pueblo Interagency Dispatch Center is doing on their Twitter account at http://twitter.com/#!/pidc

On May 8th they posted: "need FOBS, PSC2, DIVS, TFLD and SOF for Tunner incident if available call PIDC"

Apparently this doesn't fit the definition of the officially frowned-upon "fishing" for personnel who aren't ROSS-ed up. It may constitute solicitation for pimping of fire resources, which is the oldest profession in professional wildland firefighting.

vfd cap'n
5/11 re: poker face video

The funniest thing I have seen in a long time! Great job!

When my kids ask me why I work for the Forest Service, I tell them ....... its fun. Bottom line, federal wild land firefighters are not paid as much as other agency fire fighters .......... so we get to have fun. That makes up for smaller pay check. Life is too darn short to not have a good time. We can still be hard working, safe fire fighters ........... just let us have some fun when we can!


5/11 vfd cap'n--

What do you mean by "setting up Twitter feeds to work around the .....priority dispatch lists" ?

Can you enlighten us non-Twitter folks how that would work?

5/11 Ab,

Another thing I've been told works in favor of "fed. only" requests is that payment from the requesting agency can be delayed for about a year when using federal resources. Imagine that? Decision-making in wildland fire might possibly be subject to influence from budgetary shell games.

vfd cap'n
5/11 re: "Fed. only" request for TX

I also thought it was due to backfill costs. However, I noticed yesterday that there are now specifications that say
"Federal Only, Contractor Not Acceptable".


5/10 re: "Fed. only" request for TX


The story I heard was that concern for backfill costs for career fire departments is what prompted the "fed. only" requests for the Texas fires.

I also hear they're setting up Twitter feeds to work around the all the best-value, most-efficient, closest-resource, flavor-of-the-month priority dispatch lists.

vfd cap'n

ps, I needlessly packed my red bag for Texas, but someone must've red-flagged my volunteer backfill costs.

haw haw haw!

5/10 Bear-kills-kid settlement:

$1.9 Million that won't be used for payroll or other FS needs.

Lack of common sense and the need for Tort Reform. Stuff like this just makes living more expensive for the rest of us. They maybe should have sued the State Fish and Game as the FS does not have any authority over the animals.

Million Awarded Family of Boy Killed by Bear

And There I Was

5/10 "Fed only" requested for TX

For Firebob:

The requesting/hosting agency determines restrictions such as “Fed Only”. I don’t believe (I could be wrong) there are any fires on Fed property in Texas, so Texas is paying the bills, and they get to specify the resources ordered. There may be laws or other issues with contracting with out-of-state vendors.

Just theorizing.

Blue Zebra

5/10 "Fed only" requested for TX


You talk about best value, well the government fleet is the best value. Also there are private engines down there right now but they are local and not many from out of area.


5/10 R3 CO problem

Amen Firebob!

There are those of us that are wondering where the oversight is for all involved. For me, personally, it is great frustration with a CO (R3) that is unable to fulfill their duties in a timely manor! We, too, have guys unable to work, however with us it is due to the the R3 CO not getting their job done. I have spoken with one of the IMTs and was told that they would have work for us if we had a contract.... Well, the solicitation closed in VIPR 3 months ago and all we get from the R3 CO are excuses!!! I know that having a contract awarded does not guarantee work, however when the work is there, we deserve the contracts to be processed in a timely manor! As a contractor our livelihood is based on past performance reviews. Why can't we issue reviews for agency people?

Beginning to be ticked!

5/10 "Fed only" requested for TX

Hi All,

I'm wondering why all/most of the orders out of the Southwest and Southern regions for engines and water tenders are marked " Fed. Only, contractors are not acceptable" on the Unable to Fill lists. In the past, alot of the fires there have been assisted by the contract suppression companies but we are now looked-upon as the ugly step child. Last year, at a yearly conference, in Reno, both Shane LaValley and Niel Hitchcock said that this ( Fed.s Only) would not happen anymore, especially since the advent of "Best Value" contracts. What happened? Is this a move by the Feds. to eliminate the Contract community and keep it all "Green"?

This is not a benefit to the tax payer and is against Congressional Intent. Millions have been spent by the Contractors over the past few months to train-up crews, equip them and their vehicles, only to be shut-out. Is this an unofficial Blackballing? Who ultimately makes the decision to us the Contractors- does it come from the Teams, the Regions or the Washington office or all the above? Last week there were orders for Potable Water Tenders, "Fed. Only"- do the Feds even own/operate Potable Water trucks?

Additionally, the list for the Contract Type 2 I.A. crews is out- there are about 42 crews total on this list- what happens now to the many companies/ crews not awarded agreements. I suppose they are now going out of business, as I don't think there is any other way to sign them up in advance of the Season. Hundreds of people, trained equipped and ready, could be put to work now (as is the Presidential intent) but are sitting at home collecting unemployment (if they are lucky enough to still get some) or doing what they can, trying to fend-off the banks from taking their homes or cars.

The Regional contract officers need to help their contractors get to work, VIPR is in place - use it (it is guesstimated that the VIPR system has cost the Taxpayers over $100 Million to implement!). To not use the contract suppression companies is a dis-service to the Taxpayer. Where is the NWSA in all this- they don't seem to be helping their members get to work but they sure are good at taking our dues.

This is an appeal to The Powers That Be- put people to work now!
Ab, thanks for this Forum and all that you do for all the Wildland Fire community!


5/9 Making the rounds...

Living Memorial Re-Dedication May 11, 2011 1000 AM Northern California Service Center (12 K pdf)

A rededication on the 30th anniversary.

If anyone has photos of these 4 men, we can add them to the Always Remember page. Any other memories of them in good times would be a nice contribution. Ab.

5/9 Slow awards

Good afternoon all,

What can one do when a CO keeps promising that the contracts will be awarded "by the end of the week" for 7 weeks now? It extremely discouraging to know that we are loosing $$$ due to fires within the Region and we are all sitting on very expensive equipment that can not be used due to the fact the the CO does not have the awards done yet!!!!!

What can one do?


GOOD MORNING and have a GREAT FIRST DAY to those seasonals and their supes experiencing the first day of the season. Ab.


5/9 Dear Ab:
Would appreciate if you would see fit to post this on your website. Thanks very much in advance. Greatly appreciated.
Marty Alexander

Canada’s major wildland fire disasters of the past, 1825-1938  (2,251 K pdf)

Thanks Marty. Interesting. Ab.

5/8 Preparedness level:


Does anyone else wondering with all the current increase activity in the SW, SA, and now RM why the national PL level is still at 1? There are currently 4 T-1 and 4 T-2 teams committed nationally. As far as I know, most the the shot crews are committed, all of the airtankers that are on are committed, and I've seen plenty of orders for overhead, engines, fixed/rotor wing, and crews utf'ed in my GACC. If those in power at the NICC follow their own mobe guide, (as they are more than happy to quote you when it suits their purpose), shouldn't we be at PL 2 or 3?

From the National Mobilization Guide, Chapter 20:

Preparedness Level 2

Description: Several Geographic Areas are experiencing high to extreme fire danger. Wildland fire activity is increasing, and large fires are occurring in one (1) or more Geographic Areas. Minimal mobilization of resources from other Geographic Areas is occurring. There is moderate commitment of National Resources with the potential to mobilize additional resources from other Geographic Areas.

Preparedness Level 3

Description: Two (2) or more Geographic Areas are experiencing wildland or prescribed fire activities requiring a major commitment of National Resources. Additional resources are being ordered and mobilized through NICC. Type 1 and 2 IMTs are committed in two (2) or more. Geographic Areas and crew commitment nationally is at 50%.

Oh, I forgot, "do as I say, not as I do".



5/8 Station Fire Pics/ Social Media:

Contract County Guy, I wasn't talking about Big Tajunga Canyon. I know photos and video were (eventually) shared on that. This was earlier and could have been laid to rest faster if there hadn't been distrust over so many things.

How do we back off from that?


5/8 To: Looking for Answers

I received this from F&AM McClellan, CA in answer to my question as to why we couldn't get into VIPR...

I extended this solicitation to Monday the 9th of May due to issues with the VIPR system. If you continue to have problems please call Marilyn at 916-640-1024.

Paulette J. Gordon
Supervisory Incident Contracting Officer
R5 Fire & Aviation Management

Its Sunday afternoon and we haven't been able to get into it since last Thursday. We'll try again Monday.

Have Ton.....

5/8 Station Fire Pics/ Social Media:


The video clips and photos of extreme fire behavior in Big Tujunga Canyon on the Station Fire you referred to HAVE been shared. Look in the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center website and you will find them. They have also been shared with the OIG in their investigation and have been presented in the lawsuits against a number of agencies in their defense.

Contract County Guy

So the logical conclusion is that if those videos had not been taken it would have been more difficult to provide info in those particular lawsuits. Ab.

5/8 Happy Mothers Day to the moms out there.

Couldn't do it without you! We wouldn't be around without you!

the Abs and Mods

5/8 Electric Fire: Firefighter Safety Around Power Lines

In working on the Always Remember project I've found some LODDs that are due to firefighters coming in contact with downed power lines or stepping in an energized space caused by downed lines. The Southern Plains where we're having lots of fires this season have many power lines. So do all the western states.

I found this fine informative You Tube video this morning. I added it to the Always Remember page for Elias Jaquez to raise situational awareness of this kind of fireground risk. My condolences to his family.

YouTube: Electric Fire: Firefighter Safety Around Power Lines

A training video produced by the Salt River Project (SRP) to discuss the dangers of wildland firefighting near power lines.

Topics covered:

  • How the power grid works.
  • How far away? Lines within 5 miles, notify dispatch to call the utility rep, establish point of contact for cooperation in reducing risk.
  • Differences in risk between light and dark smoke indicating carbon content. Smoke and ash can cause electrical faults, darker smoke is worse.
  • Staging how close? Never in the electrical transmission corridor under or near lines.
  • Work distance? 1.5 times height of poles, LCES never too close.
  • Water and Retardant? Avoid use of retardant or solid stream water applications around or on power lines. Treat all downed power lines as energized.
  • Burning wooden pole at top or bottom? What to do...
  • Electrical hazard greatest from downed power line: Step potential and Touch potential and what to do to minimize risk of electrical shock.
  • Aid a fallen comrade?
  • Inside your truck? Directions for emergency exit only if absolutely necessary.
  • Good summary

Very informative 18 min video. Be safe out there.


5/7 Contract announcements question:

Does anyone know why that when I attempt to look up contacts on...vipr agreements agnum that it gives me an error that the contract number is not in the database? These contracts where added to the DPL this week. Perhaps the site has not been updated...

If so, how long does it take to be updated? I have never seen this kind of delay before.

Looking for answers

5/7 Re: Firefighter Photography, Videography

The meat and potatoes of Director Harbour's letter are summed up in two sentences:

"Forest Service (FS) policy allows firefighters or other employees to post information, photos, or videos about work-related activities on personal social media accounts or websites outside of work hours or otherwise not on government time".

"For these reasons, we discourage firefighters from taking photographs and videos during operations and posting information on personal social media accounts".

An attempt to articulate Foundational Doctrine and Leader's Intent?

How about the photos and videos that show the Agency as positive and professional?

Sent from my Droid

5/7 Golf Tournament Honoring Fallen Firefighter Thomas D. Marovich, Jr ("T.J.")

Attention all you duffers!

The Fremont, CA Fire Department will be hosting their 4th annual Golf Tournament on Monday, May 23 rd at the Sunol Valley Golf Course off Interstate 680 at the Andrade Road exit in Fremont. There will a diner afterward and a raffle for various items of value will be held.

A portion of funds received will go to the Thomas D. Marovich Jr. Firefighter Memorial Fund benefiting the excellent Fire Explorer Program at the Fremont Fire Department. Tom started his firefighting career with the Explorers.

Thomas Jr. was a firefighter for the U.S. Forest Service who died from a fall from a helicopter on July 21, 2009. He was 20 years old. Tom had been a certified rappeller. He had been one of many who had been battling the Backbone Fire in the Six Rivers National Forest near the town of Willow Creek, in Northern California.

* * * For information on attending, please contact Battalion Chief Rick Dickinson at 510-453-3816.

The Sunol Valley Golf Club's web address is sunolvalley.com.

For those who can not attend but would like to make a donation, send a check to the Thomas D. Marovich Firefighter Memorial Fund care of Fremont Bank, 39150 Fremont Blvd, Fremont, CA 94538. Donations are tax deductible and should you desire a receipt, contact me, Thomas D. Marovich Sr., at tmaro10497@ nospam aol.com. (take out the nospam and spaces)

Thank you.

s /Thomas D. Marovich, Sr.

5/6 Wildland firefighter legislation nearing re-introduction:

Hi to all:

We are in final discussions with offices in Washington to determine who will be introducing the bill.

The FWFSA has worked tremendously hard over the last 6 months to update and revise the most comprehensive legislation ever introduced on behalf of our Nation's federal wildland firefighters. Last year, HR 4488 was introduced midway through the congressional session. This gave us only a half a session to work the bill during a session in which the priority for most members of Congress seemed to be "self-preservation."

Additionally, concerns about some of the language were raised by private contract groups inferring that some it would lead to many private outfits going out of business and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) raised concerns over several provisions despite the facts that:

1) they don't represent ANY federal wildland firefighters employed by the federal land management agencies in ANY capacity and
2) several of the provisions would have in fact benefited their federal firefighter members employed by the Dept. of Defense, Coast Guard etc.

As a result the FWFSA has crafted what we believe to be a cleaner, less controversial bill which has sufficiently addressed some of those concerns. Additionally a new provision has been included since we learned of a potential serious flaw in the administration of the Public Safety Officer Benefit (PSOB) program administered by the Dept. of Justice.

I will readily admit that some are concerned, even among FWFSA members that the perceived "anti-federal employee" sentiment in Washington doesn't bode well for the bill.

Sadly both the Administration and some in Congress continue to believe that the most expedient and easy way to demonstrate to the American public that they are taking the federal budget debacle seriously is to place the burden of fixing our Nation's fiscal ills on the backs of federal employees... despite the fact that the reason we are in this fiscal mess in the first place is the result of actions taken by both parties over decades while in control of the Administration & Congress.

That being said, it is our responsibility to educate the uneducated on Capitol Hill that their knee-jerk, meat-cleaver approach to the budget issues, especially as it relates to our little corner of the world, i.e. the delivery to the American taxpayer of an efficient & cost-effective federal wildfire response, will have the opposite effect as that intended.

It is our responsibility to let these folks know that those federal employees who are asked to risk their lives to protect our Nation's natural resources, its citizens and their real & personal property from the ravages of wildfires are those generally found at the bottom of the federal pay scale. It is our responsibility to paint a very clear picture about how FIRE money is managed by the agencies and how the overall management of the FIRE programs is archaic and costing taxpayers far more than it needs to.

Since 2006 specifically, the FWFSA has had to delve into the budgetary minutia of the FIRE programs to counter the annual Agency testimony before Congress that all is well. Through our testimony and that of NFFE over the last 5 years or so, more and more in Congress are beginning to understand that in order to provide America's taxpayers with that efficient, cost-effective wildfire response, significant changes must be made.

That said, there is no doubt politics play a key role in progress towards that end. I'm not going to get into the details of partisan politics as it relates to getting the Agencies to make the needed changes, but it is one of the more frustrating hurdles we deal with every day. Fortunately, long-term, well established relationships on Capitol Hill allow us to get past that nonsense once in a while. Unfortunately it is also what takes things so damn long to get accomplished on the Hill.

The actions of the Administration and Congress with respect to pay freezes, proposed hiring freezes etc., are precisely why we have to remain aggressive in our efforts to seek change. If we roll over and succumb to the ignorance of elected officials, then we do ourselves and the entire federal wildland firefighting community a disservice.

In recent months, the "line in the sand" between labor organizations and those on the opposite side of the issue has become clearer and the actions of each side are doing nothing other than to cause the other side to dig their heels in deeper. Rather than screaming and yelling, I think our approach of education and providing facts as to the consequences of certain actions by Congress and the Administration will not only continue to pay dividends with respect to our credibility in Washington, but will ultimately lead to the accomplishment of our goals.

This is not an easy task. Many organizations with far more members and much greater revenue are having even less success than we are. What we don't have financially we make up for with greater persistence, tenacity and just plain hard work. Now is not the time to quit. We're in this for the long haul. Are you?


Casey Judd
Executive Director, Governmental Affairs
5/6 From the WGB News and Notes, for a Safety Alert generated by SW GACC re: US-MX border safety issues:

"5/6/11;1000; SWC: The Southwest Geographic Area has issued a Safety Alert for US - Mexico Border Fire Operations."

or see the Hotlist Safety Alert section...

5/6 The WLF Staff posted the bare bones Always Remember pages of the two S-2 fatalities (1978: James Lippitt and 1979: Gayle Eaton).

If anyone has news archives of those incidents or any other info about the pilots, please contact the admin at A/R.

Thanks for the info, Droid sender and for your ongoing research....


5/6 Pics: Fire behavior on the Station Fire:

KP, what you're describing has already been happening. I know a number of firefighters that had pics and short cellphone clips of the extreme fire behavior on the Station fire that did not come forward to share them. I think they would of helped.

Comes down to distrust. For me seems Ive had lots of that since 30mile and Cramer. Legacy of the legal attack on Ellreese especially.

It's hard to be gut level happy or satisfied in your dangerous job when there's distrust.

At least Harbour drew a line in the sand. Often things surprise and I feel gut punched.


5/6 Re: Firefighter Photography, Videography

Let's look at some of the "movies" and "pictures" that have been captured with cell phones (personal or otherwise) and cameras (personal or otherwise) over the last few years, that have been instrumental to training, and investigation. A few years ago, a dude on a fireline, pulled out his personal camera and shot a video of one of the first DC-10 drops... It was "cool" and a novelty, at that point. Little did he know that he had the best evidence of an aircraft accident. Or, let's go back to 1994 on Storm King mountain. And a set of photos that were taken that showed investigators a time-line (literally in feet and seconds) of the very last moments of that incident. Tom Harbour, I imagine, has walked the halls of the training center in Sacramento. The majority or those photos having been shot not by a "official' photographer, but by Forestry Technicians. Is this what we want to discourage, based on a Lady Gaga video shot on days off? Because the principles were wearing govt issue clothing? Really? Have we seen anything "on" the fireline of unprofessional behavior? I haven't. I haven't.

Clark Hammond mentioned what he thought was a dip-site manager $%#&* off. My sources tell me that the world is a big place, and not everyone is "on the clock" all the time. Whatever lake that was is not a secret, and maybe the folks that made the video did it to coincide with practice flights????. Youtube has scores of Lady Gaga videos shot by Marines, and Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Were they being unprofessional, or were they goofing around, whilst they had nothing else going on? Clark also mentioned that, "if this was one of my temps, they would be gone". Temps? Just the temps, Clark?

So, The Govt. as a whole (who was mere hours away from furlough) can seem to be unprofessional (not seem)... as we employees hang on the cusp. But a video is released (no different from any other video shot by Marines wearing Govt issued clothing and sitting in Govt aircraft and while ...etc.....being more than a year after it was released...) is seen as such. Nope. It's not the video that is unprofessional. It is the reaction to it.

Consequences? Well it is frankly SA and FLA and any other cool acronym you can think of. Because if we are going to expect the PIOs to do it..... It's not gonna get done. Maybe at Clark's helibase. But not on the fire. Heck... maybe the first time they ask if anyone has a picture of an accident, and someone steps forward, with the best evidence.... and suffers disciplinary action for taking pictures or video..... Well then, I guess we will never have a free exchange. So beit.


5/5 Re Teams


I have to agree with you. I will give you my take.

I have been on a couple of fires and worked with a team or two and sometimes they were from out of region and at other times we were all fish out of water or just dialed in. I will not judge.

My first time in the So. East on RX I thought we were killing everything (boy I felt dumb afterward) but low and behold, they know how to burn. Green was popping up every where two days later.

Teams are Teams (there is no I, although they tell me there is a me in team), I have worked with teams from all over the US, some are good and and some are going through changes. Being a fed change is constant and it goes smooth when positions are filled when they are mindful in back filling and are not so smooth when they have an agenda to fill. Just saying.

So in part if someone feels something the team does is a true safety concern go to line safety, SOF2, and file a safe-net or safe-come and refuse risk with the IRPG guidelines and propose a better way to do it. That's All.

t fielden

5/5 RE: Helitack video


I under stand the whole thing with the video and photos on the fire line. There is a time to play and a time to work. Is it up to our PR folks to get the fire information out to the public? I don’t have an issue with folks taken pictures but there is a time and place for taking them pics. As for the video that is posted on this site from the CWN crew recently, I look at the video and some of it looks like there is an individual that is assigned as a dip site manager that is #$%*&^* off rather than doing their job! I am a base manager and I can tell you this if this was one of my temps, they would be gone. I have seen these in the past and there is no place for this. We strive to be professionals and all aspects of the job we do. Helitack right now is in the spot light as the budget is going down, what do think the fire managers think when they see this kinda of crap on they said. Just my two cents.

Clark Hammond

5/5 re Red Team,

I tried not responding to the post but couldn’t … I worked with the Southern Area Red Team in 2002 on a large fire in the PNW… I can offer up nothing but admiration for their collective fire fighting skills, interagency cooperation and their attention to the delegation of authority to be fiscally responsible. Briefings were brief and the IC provided leadership each morning when he would speak to the priorities in safety… workforce management and Incident goals. He didn’t leave these important messages to be carried only by the Plans Section or buried in the IAP... He made it personal. At night, before putting the plan to bed he asked if the team, Agency Reps and others supported the plan.

I understand teams can go through dramatic changes in leadership over the years but I find it hard to believe a team with so much pride and depth of experience could fall as far as the allegations posted. I don’t know the poser or poster of the comments about the Red Team so I will leave my comments stand as is.

5/5 Firefighter Photography, Videography, and Use of Social Media

Flash in Florida,

You got it right. I am not saying I agree with the way they interpret policy, after all I have had HR tell me "this is the way something must be done", then the next day they say "no we do it this way" and lets not even touch the Red Book vs policy, just saying.

I agree if it is my camera and my digital chip, it's mine. Anymore though the folks can dump all their photos into a computer or I-phone or whatever the flavor of the day is they can keep them. So if they are doing a true FLA and not a head hunt, it is easy enough to dump the data and turn over the chip so we all can learn (get a receipt and fill out a reimbursement form, those chips are not free).

On the other hand if it is a Head Hunt (you will know) make sure your PLI is paid up and turn the film/chip over to you lawyer, if it is your camera and equipment, if it is fed equipment you are obliged to turn it over to the investigator, that's all.

t fielden

5/5 Ya know Tom Harbour has to have watched that video in private and BUSTED a GUT.

Hey, Tom, fill us in!


5/5 Photography on the fireline

I haven's posted for years, but I still read to keep plugged in. I do have a thought about the photo/ video issue:

Anyone who has seen the helitac crew dancing to Lady Gaga's Pokerface video on Youtube, has to agree that making the video had to be considered a distraction, and not show us in our most serious or "professional" light.

Let me qualify that I loved the video. It was very cool.

But I don't have to answer for the management and cost of that fire. Someone could see it and ask why these guys had so much time to record this video, and ask whether or not they were paying attention to their job. I am not wanting so single these guys out, but it was a popular video that many of you might have seen.

I notice that large agencies seem to react to individual situations with blanket policies, in other words someone might have been making a video instead of doing their job, and instead of correcting the employees in that one instance, we see a broad letter, or policy. Sometimes the problem is so widespread that this is the only solution. But I wouldn't throw away my camera yet.

Just make sure that if you are taking pics or videos that you are not neglecting your duties, or your safety. And follow the letter's suggestion and have those tailgate briefings.

Flash in Florida

Hotlist on that video

Video link... YouTube added a commercial. Haw Haw! People should do some more of those on their own dime and time. Priceless! Ab.

5/5 Firefighter Photography, Videography, and Use of Social Media

The USDA Photography Policy is Departmental Regulation 1480-001 and NOT 3300-001.

The policy relates to "official" photography that is approved/authorized to be representative of official USDA programs.

Mr. Harbour's quote is out of context. DR 1480-001 "provides standards and guidance for the acquisition, preparation, distribution, and storage of photographs about Departmental activities."

Also, in DR 4070-735-001 (Employee Responsibilities and Conduct), the words photo, picture, image, nor photography are found anywhere in the regulation.

So exactly where does it violate policy to take a photo?

5/5 Mr. Duprey

On 5/7/2011, Joseph Duprey, AKA (Killer), will leave his last assignment as an Air Tactical Group Supervisor as a U.S. Forest Service employee. He will leave the great State of Texas, and once home, killer will hang up his wings with the U.S.F.S. and like many others before him, start a new career with a different Wildland Firefighting agency.

I would like to personally thank you Killer, for the excellent example you have shown me throughout my career in Leadership, Integrity and your willingness to support me, and countless ton's of others, anytime you were ever asked with no questions, compensated or not.

You are the epitome of an Air Attack and Instructor with skills and far reaching talent in the Region Five Aviation Program that I personally do not think I will see again in my life time. The positive ripple effects of those you have mentored both on the ground and in the air, will resonate for decades.

While your reasons for leaving are valid, the loss felt by the Agency you are leaving will literally affect hundreds.

I wish you and your family the best, and tell Pop's I say hi.

Your Friend, (With Objectives)
Joel A Lane

5/5 1976 S-2 airtanker crash

I could find no NTSB records for an S-2 airtanker crash in 1976 also in their paper archives. I am now searching newspaper archives.

I did however find two others (1978 and 1979).

08/20/1978: N448DF, Grumman S-2A, Fatal (1) - Laytonville, CA. Flight purpose: Fire control. (James Lippitt)
09/10/1979: N405DF, Grumman S-2A, Fatal (1) - Ramona, CA. Flight purpose: Fire control. (Gayle Eaton).

The only place I find mention of the '76 crash is on the AAP Memorial page. It is not listed at nifc.gov Sarety Reports either.

Sent from my Droid

5/5 Photos on government time:

Taking photos was not in my job description. They didn't buy the camera, film and processing.

I remember the Haystack burnover on the Gila, (1987), they wanted everybody's film and promised they would process it for them. Nobody got anything back. I never gave them my film!

I have a right to document my life, I do it with a camera instead of pencil and paper.

5/5 RE: photos and cameras

So what are we to do with the dash cam (and backup cam) on a couple of our trucks? We installed them for both historical and liability issues. Liability issue stemmed from a couple years back we where on an incident drafting at a river when a local showed up with press in tow....The local was being, well let's just say a thorn in the side, until I pointed to and referred to our dash cam....

Also another thought... Where would we get the photos for the Wildland Firefighter Calendar???? hummmmmmmm. Personally I take several photos during the shift (if can be done safely) with the time/date and GPS enabled. It documents where and when. I also wear a wireless mic to the dash cam, so I can go back for information on briefings.

ready for the next fire...and I will bring my camera

5/5 Photos and such?

Sorry.....don't miss it.

Pitch Pocket

5/5 Firefighter Photography, Videography, and Use of Social Media

I am so glad I got to work in the FS when this cr*p didn't come up. Photo's were encouraged back in the "golden" days, not discouraged. My photo's adorned barracks, dispatch and field offices. I used them extensively in training slide shows ( way before PowerPoint). Oh well, so much for the photo page.

Oh, and I did not consider them fed property; maybe if they had bought the camera, film & developer they might have a case. I had lots of $$$ into those shots an only wish many had not gotten lost.


5/5 Firefighter Photography, Videography, and Use of Social Media

Technology has changed the situation. We can snap more and share more with one button push

I saw the video that fs patrol guy posted on youtube after he was sent (probly unintentional) into harms way on the station fire. He got burned over, no doubt. Then there were questions if he lit that part of the fire... gimme a break... or maybe tptb just had to consider that... His short cell phone video put that to rest. Then he had to take it off youtube -not surprising. Wished i'd saved a copy... scary... he was lucky he survived.

tapping fingers not on govt time or dime

5/5 Firefighter Photography, Videography, and Use of Social Media


I don't think he's trying to scare you. He is offering you the facts. However addressing this topic in your SOGs this year might be a good idea. When ever you read the words "Fire supervisors have the responsibility", it's time to take notice.

So Cal Captain Camera


Date: May 2, 2011
Subject: Firefighter Photography, Videography, and Use of Social Media
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Directors

Recently, we have heard from many in the field that firefighters’ use of personal cell phones and cameras to shoot photographs and videotape on the job has become a significant distraction, and thereby jeopardizes firefighter safety. We also are aware of field concerns that some information, photographs, and videotape that firefighters posted on personal social media accounts and websites reflect poorly on individuals, crews, the Agency, and the interagency wildland firefighting community.

Firefighters’ lives often depend on their ability to be keenly aware of their surroundings and intensely focused on the tasks they are performing. Activities that distract from firefighters’ situational awareness and precision in their work threaten the safety not only of those directly involved but also of all others around them. No structure or natural resource is worth the life of a firefighter, neither is a souvenir photograph or video. Fire supervisors have the responsibility and discretion for safe practices for their employees. Discussion about this topic during fire refresher or tailgate sessions may be beneficial. The firefighting community and its partners have a close bond; we are asking each person to use this close-knit relationship to be mindful of risks and safety for all involved.

Nothing is more important than properly applying doctrine while managing risk. Our goal is to become the preeminent wildland fire risk managers. We achieve that by making conscious and deliberate decisions about what risks are reasonable and necessary and what risks may jeopardize the safety or tarnish the professionalism we strive to meet. We cannot achieve that vision by shooting photos and videos without weighing the potential consequences of our actions.

Forest Service (FS) policy allows firefighters or other employees to post information, photos, or videos about work-related activities on personal social media accounts or websites outside of work hours or otherwise not on government time. However, firefighters should be mindful that posting work-related information or activities on their personal social media accounts or websites reflects on the professionalism of their crew, the FS, and the wildland firefighting community.

In addition to posing threats to safety, firefighters who shoot photographs and video with their personal cell phones and cameras while on the job may be violating the USDA Photography Policy (Departmental Regulation 3300-001), which states that “No photographic work will be undertaken that is not essential for official use or necessary in furthering the official business of the USDA.” All employees must be aware of the USDA Regulation on Employee Responsibilities and Conduct (Departmental Regulation 4070-735-001), and that violations of the regulation may result in disciplinary action.

In addition, photographs, videos, and other information taken by firefighters could cause complications in the event that the FS becomes involved in any litigation regarding a particular fire. Any information could be considered evidence in the lawsuits, and other litigants may have a right to seek that information from a personal computer or camera.

The FS is the largest U.S. wildland firefighting force. Our international, federal, state, and local partners expect FS firefighters to be leaders. With the ability to transmit information and images across the globe instantaneously, it has never been more important for firefighters to conduct themselves professionally. It is the responsibility of every firefighter to maintain the FS’s reputation as the most professional wildland firefighters in the world. For these reasons, we discourage firefighters from taking photographs and videos during operations and from posting information on personal social media accounts.

/s/ T.C. Harbour
Director, Fire and Aviation Management

5/5 rim

I have seen the letter but do not have it on me, but you are correct, if you take a picture on government time it does belong to the government (your on the clock), that being said some crews are required to show a lunch break on the fire line no matter if they take a break or not and all cameras are equiped with time function anymore. So if you are on that "lunch break" and you take your camera out and take some snap shots for mom I don't see how anyone can say that would belong to uncle sam. However if you capture a photo of a critical moment feel free to share it with the FLA team.

t fielden
5/4 regarding a letter from Tom Harbor

Hey Abs..

Just wondering if anybody can clarify or go into more detail about a Letter that just came out from Tom Harbour with a subject of " Firefighter photography, videography and use of social media " are they trying to scare us from taking pictures of fires and other work we do ?


I haven't seen it yet. Ab .

5/4 Does anyone know the details of the deaths of two S2 Airtanker pilots in 1976? They must have been CDF? No records in the NTSB database that I could find.

Bill Sears - S2
Larry Myers - S2

A bit of info on the Grumman S-2's history as airtankers. These must have been some of the first in use by CDF in the 1970s.

While I'm asking...

How about any more info on Ed Jinks, 39 yr old airtanker pilot  from Vail, Colorado?
Does anyone know... what Agency he was under contract with? details of whether he was dropping on a fire? which fire? was he from Vail or just working out of Vail?... anything? Tim or Old Sawyer, have any info on this fatality?

That was later in the same summer when airtanker pilot Don Goodman and the groundpounders Mormon Lake Hotshots died on the Battlement Creek Fire. The lessons learned on the Battlement Creek fire are shared in the Staff Ride. Great job on that!


5/4 One NB resident dies, two are injured

Condolences to the residents and their families. Be safe out there. Wind shifts can be deadly. Ab.

Nebraska - Controlled burn goes wrong, kills one resident and injures two
KHAS News 5 - Chris Wagner
May 2, 2011 at 7:10 PM CDT

Two men remain in critical condition, one woman dead after a controlled burn last week blazed out of control.

36 year old Anthony Meguire and 40 year old Robert Seybold are currently in Saint Elizabeth's Burn Center after a controlled burn near Trenton got out of control.

46 year old Theresa Schnoor died at the scene.

The State Fire Marshall says shifting winds are to blame for the accident.

One resident killed, two injured in fire
Friday, April 29, 2011
McCook Daily Gazette

TRENTON, Nebraska -- A controlled burn on a rural farm northwest of Trenton, Nebraska, went horribly wrong late Thursday afternoon, resulting in the death of one and severe burn injuries to two others.

Hitchcock County Sheriff D. Bryan Leggott reported this morning that Theresa L. Borges Schnoor, 46 years old, of Trenton died at the fire scene eight miles northwest of Trenton.

Two Trenton men, 40-year-old Robert A. Seybold and 36-year-old Anthony P. Meguire were critically burned while assisting with the prescribed burn, and were transported to Community Hospital of McCook by Trenton ambulance. They were then flown to the Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center Burn Center in Lincoln.

This morning, both Seybold and Meguire were listed in critical condition.

Leggott said his office and the Nebraska State Fire Marshal's office... (More at link)

fair use disclaimer

5/2 To whom it may concern,

I work for a company called Orion Multimedia and we are interested in doing an interview with Noah Wendland about his recent Mule Deer shed find in Colorado Springs. He mentioned in a recent article that he was a Wildland Firefighter so I was hoping you might have contact info on him.

Thanks you for your assistance.


Steve Dorsey

Does anyone know Firefighter Noah? He found some very unusual deer antlers in the Colorado Springs area. Ab.

5/2 I am working to be a helicopter pilot as a career. My goal is to do some form of fire fighting as a helicopter pilot. What are your requirements for pilots? I have 25 hours currently and slowly working to be a CFI to build hours. It would be great if there was a way for your company to train me and work for you under contract for so many years. I'm Jason, 30, 150lbs, above average student. Supervised solo at 21 hours. Helicopter pilot is my passion and what I was meant to do. Please contact my be email or phone 321-xxx-xxxx. Thanks


I'd be happy to put people in touch. Ab.

5/2 Dalton Hotshot, Mike Rushworth memorial dedication

In October of 1961, a Dalton Hotshot, Mike Rushworth was gravely injured on a fire in Sierra Madre. Mike died that December, having never recovered from his injuries. This year will the 50th anniversary.

On Sunday, May 22, 2011, at 10 a.m., the Dalton Hotshots will hold a memorial dedication honoring Mike Rushworth's life and service. All are invited to join us in this commemoration.

We are planning to BBQ for lunch so please RSVP if you plan on attending, and eating. Contact; 2B Kevin Moran 626-335-8600 kfmoran@ nospam fs.fed.us or myself.

Mike Rushworth Memorial Dedication

Sunday, May 22, 10 AM

Dalton Camp
1645 Big Dalton Cyn Rd.
Glendora, CA


Flyer (560 K pdf)

5/2 A letter from the Forest Service National Director of Fire and Aviation Management intended to all his Fire and Fuels employees. Nice letter Tom. I hope many mid-level managers are open to your ideas and this letter sparks similar ideas. The community will keep you posted on how things go.


Date: May 2, 2011
Route To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Directors
Subject: Support of Retention of Parents in Fire Management
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Directors

In the memo dated September 3, 2008, 5700/5100 Best Practices and Support of Parents in Fire Management, I addressed the best practices managers could use to support fire employees with families. Irregular hours, unscheduled extended shifts, and extended fire assignment periods challenge anyone pursuing a fire career while managing a family. With these pressures, some parents are leaving the fire workforce for jobs offering more time with families.

Upon review of a recent employee survey, it is apparent that these issues remain. I would like to bring to your attention the existing Agency programs that can help employees:
  • Job Sharing, Temporary Leave of Absence, Details.
  • Alternative Work Sites when tasks can be completed from home or somewhere closer to assist with commuting and loss of family time (FSM 6162.2 – Telecommute, FSH 6109.11 Alternative Work Sites).
  • Family Friendly Policies FSH 6109.11, Chapter 30 – Family & Medical Leave Act).
  • Management flexibilities regarding childcare facilities or children in the workplace (FSM 6444), development and support of a child friendly work place with safe places for children.
  • Flexible Spending Accounts Dependent Care.

Agencies spend thousands of dollars on employee training. Fire Management can afford opportunities for parents to find flexible and creative solutions so they can remain productive while fulfilling parental needs.

We encourage all managers, supervisors, and employees to maximize these options and continue to support parents as a key part of our fire workforce.

/s/ T.C. Harbour
Director, Fire and Aviation Management

cc: pdl wo spf fam leadership, Jan Everett

5/2 Brett died in June, 2009 when hit by a falling tree.

2nd Annual walk/run to honor fallen BLM firefighter Brett Stearns
By Joshua Gordon
May 2, 2011

When Brett Stearns died nearly two years ago, he left an imprint on his co-workers, family and friends, Mac Zimmerman said. Zimmerman, who worked with Stearns at the Bureau of Land Management’s Little Snake Field Office in Craig, said the best way to remember his late friend was to do something Stearns loved to do.

On May 14, Zimmerman, along with many of Stearns’ friends and family, will host the Second Annual Brett Stearns Memorial Walk/Run at Cedar Mountain.
The event will start at 11 a.m. sharp, regardless of weather, Zimmerman said. “It is just a group of friends and family enjoying a day together to remember a close friend,” he said. “Anyone and everyone is welcome to come out and enjoy the day with us.”

Stearns, who was a BLM engine captain, was clearing hazardous trees with other firefighters in June 2009 at Freeman Reservoir. The captain was killed when a tree came down on him.

Zimmerman said he grew up with Stearns and knew him well. “He was a great friend and a great firefighter,” he said. “We want to celebrate the memory of a great person.”

The trail that will be used during the memorial event, which has been renamed Stearns Memorial Trail, is about three miles long.

Stearns used to run the trail often, usually making two loops, Zimmerman said. To closely resemble Stearns’ runs, a six-mile walk/run will be an option during the event.
Zimmerman said the terrain is rocky, muddy and changes elevation often, so participants should be prepared.

“Last year, it snowed and we still went,” he said. “We don’t know how the weather or conditions will be, but we will go, no matter what.”

Last year, the event included T-shirt sales with proceeds going to a local scholarship fund. Because of BLM rules and regulations, Zimmerman said event organizers wouldn’t be able to do the fundraiser again this year.

However, Zimmerman said there would still be a potluck-style picnic after the walk/run.

“Anyone who wants to bring food or drinks is welcome,” he said. “We are asking for volunteers to help wherever possible. We just want to have a great day with friends and family.”

Zimmerman said participants will meet just before 11 a.m. in the parking lot on BLM Route 2190 off of Moffat County Road 7.

fair use disclaimer

5/2 ms

Don't get me wrong, we have been creative and have gotten approval to teach the upper level classes close to home or at our local college so our men and women can move up in the organization.

The Apprentice program takes care of our up-and-coming employees for the basics, but we also have a diverse group of employees that are outstanding that are cast aside. Of course if Apprentices screw up they are also left aside.

As a fire manager my training budget for my division is exceeded every year I do not deny my division the opportunity to move up. I also try and get the young folks on every RX burn I can, because I can send them to school every day but until they go and learn with fire they wont know what they are doing.

t fielden

5/2 Final 72 hr report

Bull Fire Helitack Entrapment. (9 K pdf)

72 Hour Expanded Report
Bull Fire Entrapment

To: USFS, Region 3, Regional Fire Safety Program Manager
Subject: Expanded (72 Hour) Report
Date: May 2, 2011


LOCATION: Nogales Ranger District, Coronado National Forest, Nogales, AZ
DATE OF OCCURRENCE: April 29, 2011
LOCAL AGENCY ADMINISTRATOR: Jim Upchurch, Forest Supervisor
MISSION: Wildland fire suppression operations
ACTIVITY: Helitack personnel staffing a remote helispot
PROPERTY DAMAGE: Firefighter gear bags and hand tools damaged by fire.

INCIDENT SUMMARY: The Bull fire was initially detected in Mexico on April 26, 2011. The fire eventually crossed the international border from Mexico into the United States, and onto the Coronado National Forest. During suppression efforts on April 29, two USDA Forest Service helitack personnel received non-life threatening burn injuries while staffing a remote helispot on the National Forest. Both firefighters were transported by helicopter to the hospital with first and second degree burns. The firefighter with second degree burns was subsequently moved to and evaluated at a burn center. Both firefighters were released from the hospital the evening of April 29.

Based on the nature of this incident, the Coronado National Forest will be utilizing the Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA) process to maximize the learning opportunities and to better manage future incidents.

cc: Corbin Newman, USFS Region 3 Regional Forester
Faye Krueger, USFS Region 3 Deputy Regional Forester

5/2 9/11

Congratulations and many thanks to our military for ridding us of an ugly tumor of a hideous cancer that has plagued us for years. You are the best of the best and are our hero's for sure. Now It's time to move on and let the healing really begin. I remember being on the Starr fire on 9/11, I remember the anger and sadness and helplessness we all felt that day. But I also felt that we as a Nation would persevere. May God continue to Bless America!

Red Team

On a similar note, beware of the R-8 Southern Red team, reportedly they are terrorizing our hard working firefighters again, as is their MO. Besides their un professionalism and nastiness to the troops, unsafe tactics, arrogance and typical pathetic and incompetent firefighting, they are apparently coercing firefighters into falsifying government documents, or blatantly falsifying them themselves. Mostly Crew Time Reports, Reportedly they have been red penning CTRs, stating that the crews should show a break every six hours even if they are burning out, mopping up, protecting structures or doing some sort of un relievable fireline duty.

They have also allegedly retroactively denied legitimate hours of work by stating that the hours worked should be the same as what they show in the incident action plan. Here's an example: You are finishing up a burnout or waiting for a briefing from the next shift, or are stuck in traffic, or you have camp duties to take care of. If you arrive in camp after the 2000 hour mark set on the IAP, you will not be paid for those hours worked, Or you are filling up your gas tank or securing supplies, equipment etc. while preparing for the next shift before the 0700 Briefing time, you will not be compensated for that time. If you argue... you are threatened to be sent home.

Here's the Deal.... Red team, If you attempt to coerce me into falsifying a government document, ask me to change one of my subordinate's documents, or change them yourselves, I will call my attorney and you will be sued for the amount of money that you have taken from our families and I will also blow the whistle on you for your illegal activities. I will also have your supervisors investigated for supporting this nonsense.... Mr. T. W. and gang... Enough is enough, Your team should be stood down pending a thorough investigation.

This is not only unethical but also highly illegal. It is also very hard on the morale of the ones who are assisting with this disaster, shame on you!

For those of you who are not familiar with this team, it is the one who used embarrass the agencies, by giving briefings in overalls, beat up cowboy hats, suspenders, and point at the operational map with a fishing pole. Your professionalism once again astounds me I don't care if you all were ordered to wear the same red cap.

My question to the group is if anyone else agrees with this or have had similar issues with this "team" and if so how did you deal with it??? Or did I simply have another nightmare again last night?

Sleep well!
"Be nice and you may get more work out of us"

5/2 SQF OC Program 2011 RT-130

Good Afternoon,

2011 SQF OC Program.
470 Personal, RT-130 Refresher / and Red carded.
3 Initial Attack crews.
14 Type 2 Crews.
2 1039 Temp Crews.
2 Camp Crews.
Biggest change you will notice is they all have same color shirts now.....

/S/ Anonymous

I put the photo on the Handcrews 28 photo page. Ab.

5/2 the most EEO complaints

I'm sure it's R-5, And from what i hear from hiring group, Qualification and IFPM standards were not the hiring factor. I invite all to file and request hire documentation. Hiring was again done by the good old boy way. Let's all just say there is a standard. But never followed.


5/1 What a fine operation by our military. As the facts come out, it did not go all as planned but they adapted and overcame.

It will be interesting to see if they got computers or anything else that illuminates relationships within Al-Qaeda and the larger network. The whole thing took 40 min. Wonder how much intel they were able to collect...

I learned about 9/11 here early in the morning, I think from Onelick on the east coast, well much nearer Washington than I am.

As a group we were shocked and cried and shared. The world as we knew it ended.

A lot of the young people celebrating outside the White House and in NY city tonight were 8 to 12 years old when the towers fell, the Pentagon was hit and the brave souls on flight 93 took it down. The events and the repeated news coverage was the stuff of very their and their parents' very real nightmares. I still hear the PASS alarms going off after the first tower fell and the bodies falling. Imagine the effect on the children.

The flash-mob celebration tonight is like them banishing the nightmare and/or vindicating those we lost. The hard lessons we learned from 9/11 and the changes made in our security and in our psyches can't be undone, but there is a feeling for me of re-balancing a terrible wrong.

Thanks to this community and for this community. You're a fine bunch of public servants. I'm proud to know you.

Again, thanks to our military and our leaders. I'm proud to be an American.


Hotlist thread

5/1 Osama bin Laden is dead.

Tune in to your news outlet for the President's announcement.


5/1 Bull Fire injuries:

Abs...any more info on the helitack crewmen who were injured on the Bull fire a few days ago?


I heard that one was treated and released from a Tucson hospital on the 29th and the other was flown to a Phoenix hospital. That one might have been released yesterday (4/29). It's the weekend so haven't sought or gotten more info, but sounds like they're going to be OK. Hope there's a FLA done on the incident. We can always use lessons learned. Someone please let us know if the second firefighter has been released. Ab.

5/1 Out of curiosity, does anyone know which region has the most EEO complaints when you account for number of FS employees in the region?

FS 007

EEO=Equal Employment Opportunity

5/1 ms

Don't get me wrong, we have been creative and have gotten approval to teach the upper level classes close to home or at our local college so our men and women can move up in the organization.

The Apprentice program takes care of our up-and-coming employees for the basics, but we also have a diverse group of employees that are outstanding that are cast aside, unless of course they screw up, that are left aside. That's all.

As a fire manager my training budget for my division is exceeded every year I do not deny my division the opportunity to move up. I also try and get the young folks on every RX burn I can, because I can send them to school every day but until they go and learn with fire they won't know what they are doing.

t fielden

5/1 Some good points FSR52011. Allow to me expand a little.

Fire Managers, District Rangers, and Forest Supervisors currently do not have fire budget deficit risk. For the past decade, this risk has been held by the Regional Forester, who has directed annually that R5 will have no firefighting reductions. Without the RF's relief, who knows what R5's fire organization would look like after Line and fire managers on 17 units with several sub-units all provided their version or interpretation of a, uhh, budgetary COP talk. As a fellow non-evil Fire Manager my "our" focus is to embrace the RF's decisions and focus on all the other risks within our business.

In these troubled times, budgetary awareness is important and a part of leading the organization. Ensuring we manage federal fire funds appropriately is important. Managing these funds include implementing our agency's decision to have IFPM and FS-FPM requirements. Over reaction of limiting travel and training because of a perceived budget risk -- that currently resides two organizational levels above a Ranger District -- and failing to implement the Forest Service Chief's IFPM and FS-FPM direction is unacceptable.

The current national financial situation is real, which is why we must be active and united as a community to mitigate the effects on FAM of tightening budgets. This is not a contradiction, it is a fact. Understanding the difference between denying development training to a Firefighter based solely on a budget risk that does not exist "locally" vs. as a community working together to ensure we promote the benefits of a strong wildland firefighting organization is important.

You said; "more appropriately directed at line officers and agency officials". OK, Good point. Hard to argue that. However, I do not think Randy Moore is the person who walks out to the engine bay to deliver the news to the Firefighter about not going to developmental fire training because of budget. Randy Moore did his part by taking on and managing the risk on the 4th floor. He has asked local managers to use good judgment, however ultimately he has taking the risk.

Line Officers, using Fire Managers as SMEs have over the past 8 years approved two programs that require additional training attendance and ICS development to promote and maintain successful organizational progression. With that decision and from this day forward, we must remember that the agency has committed themselves (and so must us all) to;

  • supporting the ADDITIONAL costs associated with training an organization to meet IFPM and FS-FPM requirements.
  • the additional travel costs associated with IFPM and FS-FPM requirements and
  • the additional field training assignment costs associated with IFPM and FS_FPM requirements.

The agency has determined the importance of these programs. The additional costs associated with implementing these programs are acceptable agency expenditures and must be considered an agency priority.

Thanks for your insights and post, FSR.


5/1 Well here I go again.

I wanted to spark some good conversation and it worked. Thanks Casey for all the good work, like you I will post my name from now on.

As a Fire manager I do not see gloom and doom, I see opportunity, opportunity to start bringing the landscape back into alignment with where we were before the settlement years. But maybe I just wear rose colored glasses when things get ugly.

Well be safe out there, things are getting ugly (I mean fire behavior wise). God Bless.

t felden

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