June, 2011

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6/30 Re Pulaski Moniker

Hey Ab,

Can nicknames be like jersey numbers so when we loose a long time voice, like Pulaski, the name just gets retired to some sort of "Leaders we will miss" list?

Let's hang his jersey in the rafters rather than give it a newbie.

Flash in Florida

Of course, Pulaski could still keep tabs on us younger punks and chip in now and then with a more "mature" (ie: old timer's) perspective......

HAW HAW HAW, another good option.

6/30 Don't have a good e-mail for Jim Gobel, Pulaski, so if you would pass this to him or just post...

Congrats to you old timer....

Guess it's safe to call ya that? Glad to hear you made it to the golden age of...."Well what do I do next?" Seems like it was  just a while back when we were exchanging information and Powerpoints on the 130/190 training classes and visiting on WildlandFire.com. It's been almost a year ago, that you said you would be following me into retirement, but I didn't think it would happen. I like so many others wish you the best in the future and if you're like the rest of us, we know you'll still be hang'n around They Said...

Best of Luck and we'll be see'n ya Pulaski!

aka: Hilbille

Another original. Glad you guys are weighing in. Ab.

6/30 Original IRPG:

The Groundpig felt a strong disturbance and had to surface.

I agree with Tony Duprey regarding the start of the IRPG. Mark Linane and Jim Cook initiated the original concept of a small, compact pocket size reference book for firefighters. Too many rules to remember, so why not write them down and have a nice reference book in your pocket. Back then it was maybe 20 pages? I still have my first edition IRPG, ( Just can’t remember where it is). I still hear the debates and discussions in Sacramento and San Diego at the Hotshot Workshops!! I also still remember the first ”Look Up, Look Down, Look Around” beta deliveries. Another fine Cook/Linane product. Kind of like Lennon/McCartney.


6/30 Re: Tribute to Tommy Lane

I was on the Tripod Complex, Div Romeo where it blew out.

Maps & Photos

William Riggles

6/30 Abs,

Well, I've been meaning to send this in for a while now and always manage to forget or put it off, so since this is my last day, I suppose its better late than never.

I realize I haven't posted to they said or the forums much at all the last couple years but that doesn't mean I haven't been following, just too much going on in my own small world I guess. At some point one of you said to me that other Hotlisters have wanted to use the Pulaski moniker but you steered them to a different name since I was so active on TheySaid with Pulaski. Obviously there is no need for this anymore, so please don’t hold it on my account.

Sometimes it only seems like a couple years ago I went to my first fire, a little lightning strike fire named the Cone fire on the LP in 1977. Of course, that fire did not end up little. Or the ensuing years "livin' the life" stomping around the western US on fires in the early 80's. ….But, after 23 years here with the state of WI and a total of 33 on the fireline, its time to call it quits. I've lasted longer than some. The vast majority of people who were eligible to retire have done so since the first of the year which is scary to me as we are loosing all our line experienced folks with no good opportunity for mentoring the younger folks. YIKES - should be a new watch out situation.

Not surprisingly, OUTSTANDING job on the "Always Remember" web page. Way to go!!

I cannot think of anything that has benefitted the entire wildland fire community more than what YOU have done with wildlandfire.com. I cant reiterate that enough - WELL DONE!

SO, I will wander off into the sunset now, but I will still be watching.


aka Jim Gobel

Best wishes and don't be a stranger, you certainly were one of the original TheySaiders. Hopefully you'll help us find more info for the Always Remember LODDs.
I think we might have to raffle off the Pulaski moniker with the proceeds going to the WFF!
HAW HAW HAW! We could then call you: "The Firefighter Formerly Known As Pulaski" Ab.
6/30 Hey  Tony,

All I have to say is let's see the original notebook of Linane or the people who wrote it that he took credit (stole) from. As Ab said the ideas are a dime a dozen and it takes persistence to get anything into useful and publishable form. The time for an IRPG had come. Who pulled that off?

Thanks Mary.

Keeping 'em honest...

If anyone has historical factual info, I'm happy to post it but let's not turn this into a pi**ing match. I'd be curious to see what the original one looked like and how it's changed. Ab.


Hey Mary Blair!!

Glad to see you are still out there listening!

Regarding the original IRPG.. I also have an original 1994 copy.. but what I wanted to write in about is its TRUE origin. The original idea was Chief Mark Linane's (Superintendent Los Padres Hotshots). Mark mentored two 13/13 crewpersons thru building the original IRPG, or true fireline notebook. Mark had these two crewpersons submit their idea (and draft) as an employee suggestion to Forest Management. Being as the Los Padres Hotshots were not necessarily the "apple of management's eye" on the Los Padres at the time (I was there), the employee suggestion was not adopted.. simply disregarded by management.

Well, as you and Ab both aptly stated, everyone decided to take credit for the idea. While the LP hotshots continued to work on the product, Mr. Becker took (stole) the idea and work already done by the hotshots and used his position in management to have his version accepted..

The bottom line though is that we have a great product, with much input from many but the true roots of the IRPG are at the Hotshot level.. thanks to Chief Mark Linane. The IRPG continues to be a living, up to date guide due to another hotshot great, Jim Cook, former superintendent of the Arrowhead Hotshots and current chief training guru for the Forest Service in Boise.

and the two crewpersons?? One is now Division Chief in charge of Operations of a large local Fire Department and the other is a Chief 2 on a national forest.

So now you know the "rest of the story"...

Ever keeping the pot stirred,
Tony Duprey
Retired Foreman/Captain - Los Prietos/Padres Hotshots
6/29 Just wanted to say thank you!

I’ve been surfing all over the internet looking for updates for the Copper Creek and Stanley Butte fires Arizona, and stumbled upon your Wildlandfire website.

First off I want to say thank you for all you do. You are all heroes in my eyes and in my family’s eyes. It takes a special person to do what you do. I’ve been reading a bit on your thread “They Said It” and I agree – after the smoke clears we all forget about you. I already knew you were special people, but now having been affected directly by the Wallow – family were evacuated from Nutrioso, Springerville and Eagar – and now I’m looking directly at the Copper Creek fire – (I live near that one), it has been brought way too close home to me. I will be forever and eternally grateful to you and your firefighting family.

If I ever have the honor of meeting one of you in person I would not hesitate to thank you; shake your hand; cook you a steak; buy you a beer; whatever you desire. It seems the words ‘thank you’ cannot really convey the depth of gratitude I feel. I know the efforts of you and your fellow firefighters are what saved the towns from the Wallow and the other fires I know nothing about.

God bless you and all of your families, and you will be forever in my thoughts.

On a little side note – My family and I were all together having breakfast at my dad’s home in Nutrioso this past Sunday, we were asked where the nearest store was by a passing stranger. We told him where he could find a store, and he went along his way. We realized only later that he was probably there to help with the fire. We now regret we did not ask who he was and if there was anything we could do for him – offer him breakfast, or at least shake his hand. I would welcome that opportunity again, and next time I will not miss it.

Eternally grateful,

Kathy Sieloff

6/29 Sad News: Kevin Konz has passed on. Memorial this afternoon!

A very good man, a good hand  -- great attitude, safe, tough and hard working, a loyal and solid firefighter for BLM. He also worked for the Boise District for a couple seasons.

Kevin was a career seasonal, lead firefighter for our fuels crew in Cedarville, Ca. Kevin Konz Memorial Flyer (great picture of Kevin) (150 K pdf)

from the flyer:


WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 2011 AT 4:00 P.M. AT



Donations can be made to:

Plumas Bank
Phone : 530-233-1999
510 North Main Street
Alturas, Ca 96101

Sad news, indeed. Ab.

6/29 IRPG - original creator

The original IRPG was done by Bob Becker while he was on the Los Padres. Most of the work was done on his time, at his home on his personal computer as I recall. I worked with him near the end of the original with the section on Dealing with the Press.

As Bob submitted it for review and employee suggestion, its "written by" changed as each level seemed to claim it as their own starting with Mike Doughery (south zone training), then the regional training officer (Lorie Bennett). The region adopted it, then national.

Do hope Bob responds to this request and the progression of this tool and its roots are captured for future reference.

Mary Blair, retired

I agree, Mary. The people with the original idea that actually DO it deserve recognition. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Making them real, working through the original bumps and taking them to the next level of a real product, now that's pretty amazing. Ab.

6/29 Tribute to Tommy Lane


Sitting here thinking of my time with Tommy Lane, my thoughts turn to the temporal nature of our business. Temporal in that we go to fires, spend an hour, day or a few weeks in that “other” world. Then we go home, waiting for the next assignment. Single events. Transitory. Seasonal. Cycle of life. Re-runs of your favorite sitcom. Momentary episodes, full of memories, stitched together with anticipation of the “next one”. Of course, some get public notoriety and a place in our collective consciousness for various reasons; Marble-Cone, Esperanza, Cedar. Aside from those “memorable” incidents, our experiences, efforts and contributions often go un-noticed by the general populace. We firefighters though, remember, like homing pigeons, our mutually shared experiences with endearment as well as pride… hah! In spite of how horrible the food was. For what ever reason; the pain, successes, tragedies, and difficulties, all burn into our gray matter, only to be recalled when we meet another firefighter who “was there”. Funny how the “hood” of firefighter camaraderie relives, vividly (those fishermen stories), what the public has all too soon forgotten once the smoke has cleared. It seems obvious to me that we are a privileged group, continually building up an arsenal of war stories, experiences… and friendships.

Tommy was a gifted fireman. He embraced his role as a fireline supervisor with commitment and dedication. He cared deeply for the firefighters under his charge and made sure they went home safe. One memory, which is still vivid to me, occurred several years ago. CIIMT2 was assigned to the Tripod Complex in north-eastern Washington. It was a PIA fire where politics, line officers, and doing the right thing collide. IMTs are collateral damage. It was zoned with two IMTs and a AC. Firefighter exposure was mounting as the weeks added up. The team before us had used several tanker trucks of drip-mix attempting to coax a black-line. They didn’t succeed. What we inherited became a game of connect the dots. A mine field of half-burned dead and dying spruce, prime for re-burn. Tommy’s branch had the worst of it. He had spent a week trying to button it up. The day’s shift-briefing forecast announced a significant change in the weather…“hotter and dryer with increased fire activity”. Tommy later told me during his debrief, that “it just didn’t feel right” as he walked to the line. Swirls of dust and ash were dancing like imps by mid-morning. Branches were crackling with each step. Smokes re-appearing where crews had worked for days. By noon, as conditions worsened, it became obvious to Tommy that a decision had to be made. He ordered all divisions to pull back to their safety zones… immediately. Within the hour the eastern flank of the Tripod looked like Mt. St Helens. Of course the blow-up got everyone’s attention. On the other hand the “re-positioning” of 500 firefighters didn’t. It mattered not; the firefighters were safe. Thank you Tommy.


6/29 Humor:


Keep up the humor. "We" need more of it. This board is way to serious, dude!!

Humor and Leadership
November 4th, 2007 No Comments
Check out this perspective on leadership from the former four-star General and US President, Dwight David Eisenhower:

“A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done”

Read more quotes here........... Humor and Leadership


6/29 Dear Mr. Carson:

Yes, my post was certainly tongue-in-cheek.

I couldn't agree more with you about the "art" side of the business. Have a read of the essay entitled "Old Cowboys, Cows, and Fire Behavior Forecasting: Supplementing Models With Local Knowledge" that I asked my good friend Tim Greer to write as a sidebar to my article on " Are We Abusing Our Use of Models and Modeling in Wildland Fire and Fuel Management?".

We have certainly not spent enough time with respect to research and training on the "human element" of fire behavior forecasting in comparison to the "science".

But when we can't laugh at ourselves then we are in serious trouble.

Marty Alexander
1979 S-590 Course Graduate
& 1996 Co-founder of Canadian Wildland Fire Behavior Specialist Course
6/28 Regarding the comment by Marty Alexander, PhD, RPF, Sherwood Park, Alberta:

“A couple of colleagues here in Alberta have forwarded the recent New York Times article on "Fighting Wildfires WithComputers and Intuition". Very interesting. However, I personally prefer more scientific methods than "fire whispering" as outlined in the attachment.”

Dr Alexander, I’m going to give you the benefit f the doubt and assume above was tongue-in-cheek.

If not, I want to assure you that if you don’t pay attention to your instincts, and don’t have well-connected slides in both your cognitive and subconscious slide trays, you will not last long in this business.

Particularly of “what wrong looks like.” That’s where the “fire whispering” comes in.

I think that is what the story, in its own half-assed media-like way, was trying to get at.

But I did not want to assume that you are overly-enamored of the scientific way in this fire business, where every fire that escapes IA becomes a living, breathing entity, each with its own personality and quirks.

That’s where “The Art” comes in.

Best regards, and take care.

Hugh Carson
6/28 What exactly do the NIMO teams do?

new groundpounder

6/28 re: NIMO teams in R3 [southwest]

Dear Dave,

The NIMO team (Gage) of which you speak of with just such overt disrespect (after talking to "A" command staff member on "one" of those teams) has not been slacking, or glory seeking. I remember having several radio conversations with this particular NIMO OSC on a fire in Texas, as fire was burning into town, and the ground forces were folding. That was on my first tour in Texas, before my second tour in Texas, but before my first tour in Alaska, and before my first tour in AZ, of which a few gigs of were on the Monument fire.... Point is, whether you know it or not, they've been out a while. ....You? You been out a while? on the upside, if you will, the team that was managing the Monument is on it's way home. I just hope the "Command Staffer" you got your info from, wasn't from that team.

Sorry Ab..... But I'm getting a little tired of people whining about what they don't know.

BTW, Dave. The Coronado is STILL home to the Horseshoe II and Monument.

End of transmission.

You're making the assumption dave is not part of the NIMO team and has some kind of beef? I'll forward on any message you want to send. Ab.

6/28 Hello

I have been trying to find more information, the present Red card information. I would like to look into start this back up. I was a Volunteer for several years in VA. I have been hearing a lot about all the Wild fires and would like to Help make a difference.

Thank You

Samuel.Coggin@ nospam iluka.com

Contributors, you can contact him directly. Take out the spaces and nospam. Ab.

6/27 re: NIMO teams in R3 [southwest]

Dear ib,

There is a NIMO team assigned to the Coronado National Forest, which until just recently was home to both the Horseshoe Two and Monument fires. A few days ago I asked a command staff member on one of those teams how the NIMO was interacting with their team and they didn't know.


6/27 re: NIMO teams in R3 [southwest]


There is currently a NIMO team assigned to the SWA (R3). NIMO (Gage) is assigned to the Coronado NF for planning and fire support.


You probably just didn't see that. There is no reason the SW would NOT use a NIMO team.


6/27 Details on Tommy Lane's memorial service:

I just spoken with Tommy's daughter, Amy. She asked that I post the information about his services here...

His memorial is scheduled for this
Friday, July 1, 2011 at 1300 hours at
Sierra Bible Church on
Tuolumne Road in
Sonora, CA,

with a reception following at the Sheriff's Posse grounds on Rawhide Road in Jamestown, CA.

Amy wanted to be sure everyone knows they are welcome.

I am on assignment as I know many of Tommy's friends are right now. Amy said, if anyone would understand that,
Tommy would. Godspeed my friend.

Wendy Flannery
Stanislaus NF ECC

Thanks for passing the message Wendy and our best to Amy and the rest of the family. Ab.

6/27 COMT,

Been out since the 24th of what? Me too. I've been home six days (two at a time, and no more than two at a time) in 4 months. That's correct...... My agency can extend. Guess which agency that is?... Doesn't have an "F" or an "S" in it. Doesn't mean I particularly wanted to not be home.... But my agency doesn't have an "F" or an "S" in it, so gotta cover the agency with the "F" and the "S" in it..  The really pathetic part, is that now.... NOW.... it takes a letter to "D"irect "F"orests and "R"egions to make employees available..... IT IS THE 27th OF JUNE, for crying out loud!!!!....

However, I really enjoy the fact that they have to mention that we are not in PL4 or 5.... You change the criteria of PLs, this is what you get. You place a TIII team on a 6,000 acre fire that has gone nuclear a few miles east of Phoenix on JUNE 27, to not get too many teams "committed" so that we can maintain a National PL-3... and then harp on GACCs etc. for not making people available???? This letter (and I've seen a few of them) has NEVER come out at PL-3....... EVER!!!!  This truly is astonishing!

End transmission.
6/27 Some nice historic black and white photos and description from Al Golub, retired Sacbee photojournalist, who accompanied the Stanislaus HS to the Acorn Fire in 1987.

Greg Overacker was supe.


6/27 Dear Ab:

A couple of colleagues here in Alberta have forwarded the recent New York Times article on "Fighting Wildfires With Computers and Intuition". Very interesting.

However, I personally prefer more scientific methods than "fire whispering" as outlined in the attachment.


Marty Alexander, PhD, RPF
Sherwood Park, Alberta

Fire Behavior Forecasting Aids (219 K pdf)

Haw, Haw, Haw! Ab.

6/27 Making the rounds:

From: Deputy Chief Chuck Myers [mailto:Deputy_Chief_Chuck_Myers%FSNOTES@mci.fs.fed.us]
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2011 2:52 PM
Subject: 6130; Notice of Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA);


Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) (64 K pdf)

6/27 Making the rounds:

From: HRM News [mailto:HRM_News%FSNOTES@mci.fs.fed.us]
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2011 12:49 PM
Subject: Reminder: HRM is hosting 3 eMeetings to discuss changes to USAJobs- Discontinuation of Employer Services

6/27 Almost the "Let My People Go" message, (789 K doc) been out since the 24th. Just thought I'd pass it on to help get needed resources out of the office.

6/27 NIMO Teams:

I have heard no mention of NIMO teams in Region 3. I thought these huge, long term, multi jurisdictional fires were just the situation the NIMO concept was designed for.

Is there a reason NIMO is not utilized in R-3 ?


6/27 Re Tommy Lane:

As a new DIV on CA IMT 2, Tommy Lane took me under his wing and taught me much about the dynamics of a type I Team. He was a great mentor.

I will always remember him.


6/27 New 301 Firefighter:

Dear AB

As a honorably retired FS law enforcement officer and firefighter I Just wanted to drop you people a quick email to let you know you are not alone you are part of a long hard fight that has been going on for years. I have read your blog and see some of the same problems we had 30 years ago. Sometimes you think your on a new trail and then you find yourself on a well beaten trail.

For years we have been fighting the same old problems with FS management. As the years go by you will see the FS has always been slow to act on anything and just about everything. I worked in region 5 for many years and saw the birth of unions the NFFE started on the SBNF like a wild fire it spread to the ANF and the LPNF without the unions you would have NOTHING. No voice and a return to the "If you don't like it quit".

Retired LEO

6/26 The Passing of Tommy Lane

Couldn't have said it better Quietis Contendo. The memories of him on Team 2 are everlasting.

Prayers for him and his family.

Keeper of the Coyote's secrets.

6/26 I've heard the 301 series IS the wildland firefighter series.

Why don't they clear this up?

Boyz in the woodz.

6/26 Re Question about union representation:

Sawgal, let’s take these a one at a time:

Sawgal said; "a list of those Forests in California considered "union" forests and those not union forests?"

At this link starting on page 147 is a listing of units that have formed a bargaining unit. If a unit is not listed, they have not formed a bargaining unit. Master Agreement Final (pdf)

Sawgal said: "The reason I ask is there is increasing rumors that the "union" is negotiating with the Forest Service to use the 301 series. I've spoken to friends on the Los Padres which I think is a union forest and they too have heard the rumors but have not been asked by the union for any input."

What you heard is not a rumor. Reportedly the Union at the WO level is negotiating the 301 or will be shortly. I have recently read the Forest Service has committed to a Wildland Firefighter series. This was part of Randy Moore's retention package that he sent to the WO a few years ago. The retention package was developed as a result of considerable pressure from wlf.com forum members coming together and FWFSA fighting for us. The boiling point hit April 1, 2008, "The day they lied from coast to coast.” Check the wlf archives starting in Dec 2007 and up to April 2008, and beyond. I must say I do appreciate Randy Moore's commitment over the years. We didn’t get p to p (yet), and we didn’t get approved the permanent special salary pay (yet), but I think Randy and R5 FAM tried and they have made progress with other items. To sum up your question, I think the 301 series is a temporary fix until the firefighter series is approved. I estimate this to take about another 12 months. The good thing about the 301 series is that it is not a single grade interval series like 0462. A GS9 can go to a GS11 301 series without worrying about doing a year at the GS10 as is required with a 0462 series.

More important than 301 is that every union official you bump into let them know they need to get involved VERY INVOLVED and STAY INVOLVED with the National IFPM - FS-FPM Team. The union needs to be at EVERY meeting this group has, since they seem to make changes at every meeting. The Union also needs to make sure they are asking bargaining unit employees and managers for insights about these two programs. I would like to see NFFE do another mass survey using out internal email system on this subject.

Sawgal said; "I'm a member of the FWFSA"

Thank you for your support to FWFSA. I am a proud member too.

Sawgal said: “Has the union discussed their 301 efforts with the FWFSA? I think it would be a disaster for all of us if the two organizations that are supposed to be working for us gave the impression they were on different pages of such an important issue. I don't want to be forced into an agreement I had no input in.

I hear what you're saying. Again, we need to put a lot of pressure on management and the union to ensure they ask those on the ground how IFPM and FS-FPM is working and if a change is made how that will affect the ground. The 301 series is the least of my concerns.

Since wlf.com started the hotlist, I hoped that the Fire Director and Union officials would open a Q and A hotlist thread to address questions like these.

Tom and other Forest Service leadership would be surprised at the positive benefits of such a move.

I call that a challenge! How about it, Tom, Mark, Dan?


6/25 Some new Always Remember pages. Thanks to those contributing bits and pieces like dates and names and some sort of documentation. If anyone has photos or any additional info, please send 'em in.

1931 08/14 CA Vernon Creson

1986 08/05 CO Black Canyon of the Gunnison
1977 07/24 CA Thomas Grady

1981 07/15 CA Gilbert Lopez

1978 07/26 CA Orleans Tanker

Also, Steve Rucker's wife responded to the page created for him:

2003 10/29 CA Steven Rucker

She sent links to several Refresher videos on the Cedar fire that I added to the page, including one very informative description of winds that occur in the San Diego River Drainage. The Inaja burnover 1956 occurred only 2 miles from Cedar 2003...

Finally, I've created a page for the Big Burn or Big Blowup of 1910. If I missed anything special, please let me know.


6/24 Re Modoc Crew:

Enough with the ranting and raving about the Modoc Hotshots... Its obvious that there were some issues from the Line officers on down. Seriously what kind of Division Chief/Line officer or even Supt. would let a crew get in this disarray? (ones with no leadership skills and shouldnt be employed by the Forest Service) jeez you guys have turned this into a pissing contest on who's right and who's wrong on this issue. The leadership wasn't there and thats why the Modoc National Forest is in this mess.

By Ranting on this site you are drawing more attention to the Modoc National Forest and by doing that your making your whole forest look bad. No wonder why I always hear about retention issues on the MDF. I would suggest that Snakebit, P, and Gregory Frank Yonder trade out emails behind the scenes and hash this out.


6/24 Godspeed to our beloved Tommy

Regardless of whatever happens or what anyone does or says, California Type 1 Incident Management Team 2 will always be my team and Tommy will always be my teammate. Always……..

Quietis contendo
6/24 Re Modoc IHC:

Gregory Frank Yonder:

First, let me start by stating that I didn't place the entire blame squarely on the DIV or BC. If you go back and read my post, you'll see that I wrote "I am not blaming the BC or DV, but they certainly did nothing to help the situation. If anything, there has been a great divide created amongst the troops on that side of the Forest."

With that said, I happen to have inside knowledge of some of the events that took place last year that led up to the investigation and disbanding. I do not work on the Forest nor have I ever worked on that crew, but am well acquainted with past crew members and past overhead. The BC that was directly reassigned to the IHC sup position had no control of that crew last year. Yep, I do agree that the captains could have stepped up to deal with issues as they arose. No argument there. I do happen to know that one of the captains was discouraged from confronting some of the issues by the acting sup. This is first hand information.

There were some assignments when the sup could not be located. Attempts to contact him via radio went unanswered for hours sometimes. When he was finally located, he sometimes admitted to sitting by a creek or pond and feeding fish along with other similar activities that were not conducive with being engaged with his crew and their suppression activities. This is what I meant by gathering all the facts before you rant. I'm guessing that a lot of folks aren't aware of the activities above I described.

That list you wrote out in your first post - many of those things were addressed within the unit, but not made public. I don't feel that those things necessarily need to be posted on theysaid or any other public forum. Sometimes, certain things need to remain within the investigation and not let out. If there is something that can be a teaching tool, then use it wisely.

What is truly sad to me is to see the work that a past superintendent - Greg Keller - put into building that crew, was disassembled by many players, and a couple of those players just happen to be the DIV and BC in question.

As far as the crew being disbanded before, I am not aware that ever happened. I know there had been issues with an individual - past overhead - that had led to a suspension. I believe that the issue of the explosives you alluded to in your first post was the factor that had led to a suspension. Aside from that, I am not aware of the crew ever being disbanded before the current event. I am also aware of another of the captains that is habitually late and apparently has reported for duty intoxicated on many occasions. This has happened under the supervision of the current sup and doesn't appear to have been dealt with.

What is also sad is the fact that under the "leadership" of the current DIV, discontinuity has run rampant amongst the east side of the MDF. Change is needed at many levels there.

That's all.


6/24 SoCal

Your right on the money with your comment!

One thing that can't and shouldn't be stopped however is the drawing of attention to the Modoc Forest's woes. This crap goes much deeper than the Hot Shots! Its almost unbelievable how completely upside down the Forest is! It could be a prestigious place to work but, that's not likely to happen anytime soon under this regime.

There are some really outstanding individuals that try to make a difference but, that's where the problem lies! Very few in leadership positions are willing to let someone that is different in thought or background try to change what the Modoc leadership has worked so hard to build into an Empire of greatness! Give me a break! Look at the last year, the proof is in the pudding for lack of a better term.
  • Botched investigations
  • Lack of Leadership at all levels
  • Illegal hiring practices
  • Unjust removals of personnel
  • A total lack of on Forest Training and Development
  • Individuals being sent home from Fire assignments
  • A lack of standardization
  • etc. etc.

Its ugly i know. Trust me, this is what those of us (myself included) get to look forward to everyday when we put our boots on and go to work. This is why everyone that has the ability to jump off this ship called the Modoc is doing just that. Those that can't, we'll swim like hell!

Oh and think about it! Greg Frank Yonder (GFY)... I get it!

Signed: Someone who knows

6/24 God bless Tommy Lane, there are not many that are as good a man as Tommy, those who knew him had great respect for him.

6/24 On behalf of all of our members nationwide, our deepest sympathies and prayers to Tommy Lane's friends & family. Just nine months ago I had the incredible pleasure of visiting with Tom at a fundraiser and meeting so many of his friends & family. We are honored to have had his support as a member of the FWFSA.

Our thoughts & prayers to all who knew & loved him.

6/24 Detail?

Hey AB, hope all is well.

Just have a simple question (are any of them simple?) Can a Temporary Forest Service employee take a Detail if HE/She is qualified?

Can't find anything in OPM or Google. 

You all have become the only source of info for us anymore, so I thought I'd ask.


6/24 Sad News

For those that haven't heard, long time Stanislaus NF firefighter, dozer operator, IMT member Tommy Lane battle with cancer ended yesterday. For those of you that have been around him this last year know he was in remarkable spirits even when things were really bad. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

Rest in peace my friend,
An ol' fireline pal

Please let the community know about services. Condolences. Ab.

6/24 too old?


Don't let anyone including yourself say you are too old, at least not yet. And if you have EMT skills, that's a bonus. There's plenty of people that didn't start in fire until their 30's, as long as you are fit, you should be ok. Look in the archives for the Hotshot work out, but probably not much of a chance for a fed job til next spring.

And to POSH question:

Seeing as there's been plenty of actual lawsuits regarding sexual harassment, R5 is probably thinking CYA. Don't have any exact numbers, but there are plenty of R5 crews in SW right now.


6/24 The region is pretty serious about POSH. Members of my crew (not hotshots) were pulled off their fires in R-3 and brought home to attend their scheduled class. I'm not sure of the incident that caused us to have to attend another round of POSH but it ticks me off that we all have to attend because of someone's mistake. Give the training to the offenders, the rest of us get the message from 2-4 classes and AgLearn we have done.

On the evaluation I put, "the best POSH class I've ever had. I am certain I will never need another one for the rest of my career."

Glad it's over with.

6/23 Apprentice drug testing


I for one agree with your post! There is no language in the national apprenticeship standards to support this delay in an apprentices wage progression. In fact, you may as well take the apprentice part out of the equation. Its OPM rules that define how an employee is to wage progress, and it depends on the hiring authority management uses to hire the apprentice into. In R-5, its the 462 series, others choose to utilize 499 SCEP authority. There are no special apprenticeship program requirement needed to attain a GS-05. Once again its a case of our own making it harder than it needs to be, and sadly this kind of thing transcends the apprentice program!

Unfortunately, the topic of apprentice drug screening and/or the regionally imposed commercial license requirement has been a "spotfire" for far too long. It's also unfortunate, at least in this instance, that the will of a few closed minded individuals can cary so much influence. Enough influence to create a "culture" of this kind of behavior--some folks in the business call it leadership, others do not see it that way at all. Ive been helping out at the academies for several years now and perhaps one way to help fix some of these matters would be to hire a regional coordinator. All regions except for california have a regional coordinator to help manage human resource/civil rights matters in their region?

All the above of course are my observations & my opinion alone! By the way Ab's, thanks a bunch for your continuing efforts to provide a forum that allows us to talk about the good things and, shed light on the not so good things in this business of ours. Some of us older apprentices still remember how impossible it was to be heard before "theysaid" was born.

Thanks to all of you who air out the good, bad, and ugly, for everyone to hear! (especially those FWFSA members........just sayin :)!!

Tripping over ourselves!

6/23 I have a special request....do any of you have stories about Tom Craven, Devin Weaver, Karen Fitzpatrick, or Jessica Johnson?

A commemoration of the 10th year anniversary of Thirty Mile will be held in Winthrop WA. The Wildland Firefighter Foundation has been asked to participate; I'll be speaking and we'll be meeting family members and co-workers. This is one thing I know for sure... it is pure nuggets of gold for the family of our fallen to hear any stories about their loved one. Especially the humorous stories. I didn't know these kids, but many of you did.

Any story, no matter how small, can mean a lot to these families. You don't even have to sign your name.

Please email me as soon as you can. Thanks for your willingness to participate in this healing time.

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
6/23 POSH

Does any one out their know if there is any truth to the rumor that Region Five Forests are holding IHC crews on forest so that they can complete their POSH (prevention of sexual harassment) training? Who made the call? If so this is an abomination, pathetic, unrealistic, incompetent and bordering on lunacy. If I was a land owner, a tax payer, a concerned firefighter or their family, or a member of the crew. I would secure an attorney. Region 3 needs all of the expertise that is available to suppress their fires, prevent structures and resources from burning, and maximize the suppression effort. In addition, without utilizing all of the IHC crews, fires get bigger, more firefighters are exposed to the hazardous fireline. Why do you think the tenth standard fire order clearly states "fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first"?

I am aware that this class can be taken on Ag-learn, I also know that a great amount of money is paid to the vendor, do we really need this during fire season, aren't we past this? Don't you think that a lawsuit from a victim of a fire knowing that a national resourse is being mis used would be a bit more than a rare if non existent harassment suit?

GRR5 (get real region five)

PS: If this is just a bad rumor, sorry I over reacted.

6/23 IRPG author(s)?

To bh

The IRPG is an NWCG product and it has many authors. I believe that it originates with the Operations and Workforce Development Committee.



6/23 Apprentice drug testing

The real issue with the drug testing of the apprentices to get their GS-5 is that is it holding up their promotion to the GS-5, sometimes for months. That can end up being a lot of money in lost pay. There is no legitimate reason for them to be drug testing them, it is just something that came down from the top of the region. Apprentices who have lost pay due to this should be talking to their union rep, that is the only thing that will stop this unfair practice. There is absolutely nothing in the apprenticeship standards about drug testing and in the past it was not part of the vacancy announcement. I see that it has now been added, but I have no idea how this can be legal. It seems to be a practice reserved only for R5 apprentices.

I don’t have an issue with moving all of fire into a random drug testing pool, I think that is smart. I do think it is wrong to single out apprentices and hold up their career ladder promotions while waiting months to get a drug test ordered.

-No Name

6/23 to bh re IRPG-

the original IRPG was the brainchild of Bob Becker from the Los Padres R5, it then went national 1998 and Boise/Jim Cook, not sure who does it now. I have a copy of the original LPF version 1994 if you would like to see it.


6/23 age and chances of getting a job in wildland firefighting?


i wasn't sure how to post this to your discussions page so i figured i'd email you.  i'm 30 years old and will be 31 this summer.  i just completed my basic structural firefighting academy and as i look for jobs i have become aware that the age limit for most paid departments is 34-36.  i'm pretty close to that age.  i have been looking at wild land fire jobs as well b/c it caught my interest with the media attention of all the wild land fires in arizone, texas, and california.  i also looked at the physical requirements and i realized i need a few months to improve my level of fitness for those kinds of jobs.  of course with being closer to 31, it got me wondering if i may be too old for entry level wild land ff jobs.  so when i found your page, i figured i would ask about that. do you know what are the age limits for entry level wild land firefighting jobs?   some people might wonder why at my age am i just now deciding on a firefighting career, and since i'm not retired military no one can understand.  i guess you could say it took me a long time to get my head screwed on straight about a real career and after working as a private service EMT for many years in different places, i looked long and hard at firefighting and decided that is what i really wanted to do.
so thanks for your help with answering this question.

-M. C.

6/23 Services for our two fallen Florida Firefighters:

Josh Burch's service
Friday, 6/24/11, 10 a.m.
Christ Central Ministries Church in Lake City.

Burial will follow at Gateway Forest Lawn Cemetery, also in Lake City.


Brett Fulton's service
Saturday, 6/25/11, 10 a.m.
Christ Central Ministries Church in Lake City

Forestry Division Director Jim Karels is accepting letters of condolence on behalf of the families. They can be sent to 3125 Conner Blvd., Tallahassee, Fla. 32399.

6/23 re: Bugz mesh goggles


I assume someone in the Forest Service has ruled that Bugz mesh goggles aren't allowed because they can't pass the ANSI Z87.1 eye protection impact standards, and thus don't meet the OSHA regulations. There is an exception that allows the employer to consider the effectiveness of protection separate from the consensus standard.

My suggestion would be to contact MTDC to check if the Bugz are "at least as effective as protective eye and face protection devices that are constructed in accordance with [ANSI Z87.1 standards.]" www.osha.gov: STANDARDS

vfd cap'n
6/23 Chelan County Battalion Chief Garet Rasmussen

Dear AB,

I haven't seen this on theysaid or anywhere else on your site…perhaps I overlooked it? I would like to share it somewhere appropriate.

It is such a powerful article and though the pictures are heart breaking…they are so moving. A reminder to honor our families…as they support our passion for our work that fuels our lives. Firefighters Honor Their Fallen Brother

Thank you,

Thanks for sharing that. Ab.

6/23 GS-5 drug testing

Thanks everyone for your replies. I have no problem with drug testing and he is going down for the test. We plan to have him go to a fire engine during fire season 2012, where he will get his commercial permit and 80 hours of commercial driving which is still a requirement for R5 Apprentices only.

His planned conversion month is November 2012. At that time he will go from a GS5 Apprentice to a GS5 Senior Firefighter. Nothing in his training plan or within Forest Service HR policies that I found requires him to be in the drug pool to simply get a GS5.

My question is simple. Under what authority is HR ordering my employee to take a drug test? Current policy requires a drug test for commercial drivers only, for which he is not.


6/22 Hey Crewnet,
looks like no one's answered your question yet, alot going on lately, so I'll give it a shot.

Since your apprentice is in R5, they are required to have a Class B CDL, hence the drug test. If he does not have that, I don't think he should be allowed to convert. It's my understanding in R5, 80 hours of Engine, Crew Buggy, or Heli-Tender drive time is one the requirements of the apprenticeship. Drug testing is pretty standard for employment most places these days, and I've heard rumblings of it becoming fire-wide in the near future.


6/22 Apprentice drug testing


I believe that in Region 5 apprentices are required to obtain a CDL before completion of the apprenticeship. This might explain why the firefighter in question is being thrown into the drug pool. I would suggest your apprentice look at the terms of their commitment.

rtn rn

6/22 Im trying to fine who wrote the IRPG, incident response pocket guide, and any info on him.


6/22 Apprentice drug testing

in response to crewnet

Why don't you just have your employee take the drug test? I'm pretty sure all Apprentices have to take one prior to hire anyway (at least I did). I cant speak for you or your crew but I for one, would rather everyone be submitted to random testing seasonal, or perm as I dont want to trust my life to a druggie.

Sign me

a drug free work place

6/22 NFFE and FWFSA

Hi to all:

I was very grateful to receive an email today from Mark Davis, recently elected President of NFFE's Forest Service council. As I've mentioned here on TheySaid over the past couple of years, with Mark's rise up the chain on the Council, he has made a concerted effort to become more aware of firefighter issues and has spent a considerable amount of time on the liability issue.

He reiterated that the "plan" NFFE is working on with the Forest Service is explicit that it is an interim plan as well as the commitment to a dedicated wildland firefighter series as a long-time goal.

He went on to say that it was important to have something that could be implemented quickly because of folks stuck in 462-12 positions and the need to fill other management positions. OPM regs do not allow for 462-12's and the only other option was the 401. As many know the FS IG has stated the 401 is not a good fit for fire folks. Geez, we've known that for a long, long, time.

In any event yes it is imperative that the two organizations strive to work together on issues facing our firefighters. Each plays an important role in the representation of firefighters. As many know, NFFE is afforded certain rights & responsibilities under Title 5, U.S.C. One of these is the right to bargain collectively for those who are members of the bargaining unit and enter into contracts with the Agency.

Sadly, federal employees still do not enjoy the right to bargain over wages & benefits and with the current debate over non-federal employee union's rights to do so, it is not likely that such a benefit will befall federal employees any time soon.

Because of the rights & responsibilities afforded NFFE, they can do certain things to benefit our firefighters. The FWFSA is not encumbered by Title 5 so we can do other things. Frequently NFFE will ask us to address an issue in a political way that they may not have the ability to accomplish in short order. We can be perhaps a bit more aggressive on some issues like getting a member of congress to contact a RO or a Forest Supervisor and ask what the heck was behind a decision to want to take the La Brea Fire out to the Zaca Fire line which would have cost millions of dollars, destroyed watershed, private property and increased risks to firefighters and the public... oops, I digress, but you get the picture.

NFFE also represents a number of other occupations while the FWFSA has the luxury of focusing exclusively on federal wildland firefighter issues. It has been absolutely critical that NFFE's Forest Service Council become more familiar with firefighter issues. Much of their increased efforts can be attributed to Mark & Regional VP Dan Duefrene in R5.

Since only a handful of union stewards on forests across the country are actually wildland firefighters, it is incredibly important that our firefighters ensure the union reps are keenly aware of the issues that face firefighters.

The FWFSA will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure a strong, cooperative relationship continues between it and NFFE. It is vital to all wildland firefighters.

Casey Judd
Executive Director, Governmental Affairs
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association

6/22 Florida DOF Serious Incident Preliminary (24 Hour) Report

Attached is the 24-Hour Report for the FL DOF serious incident (42 K pdf) which occurred. Please see that it receives wide distribution within your agency. When available, other investigation documents, specifically the72-Hour Report and the final Factual Report, will be posted on the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center database for incident reports and lessons learned analyses.

NWCG Risk Management

6/22 Ab & Fellow Hot Shot Sawyers and Swampers,

It has come to my attention that the USFS has discontinued the use of BUGZ brand safety goggles on the fireline for Federal Resources. My reaction initially was mild, and took my $3.95 plastic safety glasses that offer much reduced safety protection for Powersaw Operators with no grumbling, and have been using them the last 5 weeks without negative review of them. However after considering the loss of the use of such PPE that clearly are THE BEST available eye protection on the market today (and in the last 15 years of my career), I have thought about the subject and how to best deal with the issue of bringing BUGGZ brand safety goggles back into use, as they are clearly the safest, and preferred PPE for eye protection, a fact that is shared by every IHC sawyer i have ever had the pleasure of working with in my 9 years with the agency.

I will be circulating a letter of petition to our Regional Safety Officer, NIFC, that I would like to be signed by as many current and former Sawyers in Region 5 supporting the return of use for BUGGZ brand safety goggles back onto the Fireline to increase safety to IHC and Hand Crew Sawyers Region and Nationwide and thereby keeping up the standard of allowing and supplying our frontline Hot Shots with the best possible equipment & PPE available on the market today.


6/21 Apprentice drug testing

I work for the Forest Service in California. Can someone tell me why my Apprentice on my handcrew needs to take a drug test to get his GS5?. He's not done with the program, he just has his time-in-grade for a GS5 and my admin person told me he needs to take a drug test and be placed in the drug pool.

I thought that currently the only drug testing requirement the Forest Service has is for those with a commercial drivers license or permit. He has neither.

Is there a union person in the regional office I can talk to about this? Or can you forward this on to someone who can help answer this question.

I am not opposed to drug testing, just opposed to the delay and wondering if this is a violation of Forest Service policy.


6/21 Union vs non-Union Forests:

Hi AB:

If there is someone out there who knows, could you provide a list of those Forests in California considered "union" forests and those not union forests? For instance I understand the Cleveland NF is not a union forest which I guess means there is no union presence or a contract?

The reason I ask is there is increasing rumors that the "union" is negotiating with the Forest Service to use the 301 series. I've spoken to friends on the Los Padres which I think is a union forest and they too have heard the rumors but have not been asked by the union for any input. I know that several years ago I watched C-SPAN and watched Congress pass the Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act that had been sponsored by the FWFSA. I'm a member of the FWFSA and support a new, real wildland firefighter series.

Has the union discussed their 301 efforts with the FWFSA? I think it would be a disaster for all of us if the two organizations that are supposed to be working for us gave the impression they were on different pages of such an important issue. I don't want to be forced into an agreement I had no input in.

I just sent an email to Mr. Judd but I thought I'd post something here which I don't do very often.

Thank you for any information.


6/21 Modoc IHC: @ Snake bitten

You suggesting that the blame should rest on a Battalion or Divisions head is absurd in my mind. Didn't the Modoc IHC get stood down here a few years back due to events such as theses? Was it the Battalions or Divisions actions that caused the crew to be stood down AGAIN? It was definitely their decision; but that wasn't the problem. The problem was the crew and its leadership. If you can't come to terms with that, well I feel sorry for your warped sense of reality. I've never seen a IHC get stood down because of the actions of a Division or Battalion. It just sounds to me that you are trying to deflect attention away from the real issue and place the majority of the blame on somebody that had very little to do with the problem. When you work with people long enough, you begin to establish a relationship with them. Considering them buddies isn't far fetched. . . . But do you really think they put him in that position because of it? Really? That's like tying your dog to a tree outside of a cougars den. Did he meet the minimum qualifications for the job? Who else on the forest has those quals? Would they be willing to leave their kids and family? Can we fill it last minute if fire hire? Can we do a last minute detail? Was it too late for fire hire? Should we just stand down the crew because we don't have anyone to fill the position? OK, you're qualified, but not the most experienced, but you can't take over the position because we're friends!

It probably would have been better to have one of the Captains fill the void of crew boss for that season. But I don't think that would have changed the outcome of the crew. Good ol boy clubs fail because they don't hold each other accountable and that's exactly what it was. The Captains on the crew had ample opportunity to step up and put an end to everything that was happening at any time. But they didn't, which leads me to believe that the Modoc IHC would still have the same outcome. The Modoc IHC needs strong leadership, not strong personalities. Unfortunately, they were lacking one more than the other.

My C*rp is fairly dialed and my facts are facts. If you would like to discuss any of the other issues that i presented in my previous post, I'd be more than happy to debate with you in an open forum. I don't want the rest of the fire community to only see a small portion of the story that has been presented by previous crew members and/or leadership. There is a lot more to this story than what was previously posted. Reading them reminds me of when i was younger and my sibling would run and tell Mommy or Daddy before I had a chance to tell my side of the story and defend my actions. The fact that only a VERY small chunk of the story was posted on an open forum followed by names and numbers of people that could be contacted was very juvenile in its approach (same goes for trying to post the names of the Division, Crew boss and other crew members). I feel bad for all of the people that took those stories for face value and made the decision to call and complain about something they weren't even fully informed on. Considering the fact that the issue at hand were under investigation, very little if any information would have been relayed to the callers. It's not a tell-a-thon, it's a real problem. Just because people call and complain about the circumstance isn't going to change the fact that they have a real life problem on their hands.

Furthermore it bothers me that a former crew member was attacked because he confessed to seeing similar events take place during his/her tenure. I believe that someone previously posted that everyone reading that post should "take what they said with a grain of salt." I'm glad (Faith in God) posted what he did. I'm not saying that it's right or wrong, but it was HIS experience with similar situations that had taken place in the past. It only proved that there were continuing problems that weren't being dealt with and the problem didn't resolve itself with a change of leadership. The issue was a deep rooted problem that began at the lower ranks and spread like a cancer to a majority of the crew members. The Captains and squad bosses lacked the ability to hold their personnel accountable for their actions when they stepped out of line. The crew boss lacked the understanding and leadership qualities to up-right a sinking ship. I guess it's hard to save a sinking ship when your crew members are constantly blowing holes in the bottom of the boat. An old Hotshot Sups told me "fighting fire is easy, its dealing with the crew members that is difficult". I didn't understand it at the time, but I now know what he means. I guess that is the moral of this story.

Any other Superintendent aside from Paul Gleason himself would have struggled in that environment. So if you want to discuss this issue, lets actually DISCUSS the REAL underlying issueS! Even if the Modoc IHC was converted to a Type 2 IA crew, it still would have been disbanded! So let's discuss what the crew members did or didn't do!?!? Let's start with a crew member calling another crew member a F@*g*t and how he liked to s**k D* among other things while in a grocery story in Southern California, while a Man and his two small children were standing next to them. And no, this wasn't a friendly conversation. And no, this person was never written up for it or reprimanded for it by the leadership following the appropriate chain of good ol boy command. Let's start off with that tasty bit if information. Or would you like to deflect the issue and blame the division and battalion for that one as well? I'm sorry for being condescending, but that type of stuff is ridiculous!

Signed: Gregory Frank Yonder.

Thanks for the *s. Please let's remember that kids read here too for projects and inspiration, more so during the school year. Ab.

6/21 A NIMO Team is handling the incident within the incident. Ab.
6/21 The United States Fire Administration (USFA) has received notice of the following firefighter fatalities:

Name: Brett Fulton
Rank: Forest Ranger
Age: 52
Gender: Male
Status: Career
Years of Service: 12
Date of Incident: 06/20/2011
Time of Incident: Pending
Date of Death: 06/20/2011

Name: Josh Burch
Rank: Forest Ranger
Age: 31
Gender: Male
Status: Career
Years of Service: 10+
Date of Incident: 06/20/2011
Time of Incident: Pending
Date of Death: 06/20/2011

Fire Department: Suwannee Forestry Center, Florida Division of Forestry
Address: 137 SE Forestry Circle, Lake City, FL 32025
Fire Department Chief: Sam Leneave, Manager
Fire Department Website: Suwannee.phpl

Incident Description: Forest Rangers Fulton and Burch were killed when their position was overrun by flames while conducting tractor plow operations on the Blue Ribbon Fire in Hamilton County, Florida.

Two other firefighters – Robert Marvin and Stephen Carpenter – were injured while attempting to assist their fellow firefighters. Both were treated for smoke-related injuries and released from the hospital.

Investigation into the fatal incident continues by the Florida Division of Forestry and the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement.
Incident Location: Vicinity of County Road 6, Hamilton County, FL

Funeral Arrangements: Pending
Memorial Fund Contact and Address: Pending

Tribute is being paid to Forest Ranger Brett Fulton and Forest Ranger Josh Burch at www.usfa.dhs.gov
6/21 After reading snakebite's post (6/20), I decided to go back and read P's post (6/16).

P, great post, very well written. I will be using portions of your post with my module. I might even have them read the whole post and as a group we can talk things through.

I hope this situation is looked at as one big lessons learned to firefighting modules everywhere.

Thanks P and a big time thanks wlf.com for giving us an interactive forum where we can learn, challenge each other to improve ourselves and become better informed about the dynamics of our profession.

To be honest, we would all be less informed, less successful and our wallets would be a little lighter if not for wlf.com and the work of wlf.com forum members.


Stand Together, Stand Strong!
6/21 Rescue 3D:

Hey Ab,

We just had a special treat. The World Conference on Disaster Management coordinators somehow managed to obtain the IMAX Theater for the Toronto premier showing of RESCUE 3D solely for the conference delegates and some Canadian Navy personnel. It had a Canadian Navy destroyer, Chinook helicopters, pirates, lost hiker, C-17 transport planes, firefighters, search and rescue teams and a whole lot of death and destruction in Haiti. rescue-film.com/

The producer, Stephen Low, was on hand to answer questions and one of the conference speakers is negotiating with him to donate all the raw footage that was cut from the final edit for training purposes. It is, without a doubt, the best 3D movie I have ever seen and does a great job of describing why emergency services personnel respond to disasters. It makes you want to stand up, scream and run out to save someone's life at the end. You won't be disappointed. If you only have time to see one  movie in a theater this year, this is the one (this is not a paid endorsement)!

Fire Geek

I'll be sure and see it. Thanks. Ab.

6/21 Sad news. Thanks to those that provided information behind the scenes. Check the hotlist for updates and condolences thread. Ab.
6/20 2 Firefighters Killed Battling Wildfire

The Division of Forestry confirmed late Monday night that two firefighters were killed fighting the Blue Ribbon wildfire in Hamilton County near the Florida-Georgia border.

WJXT-TV's sources said the two men were overrun by flames while driving tractors while cutting fire lines to prevent the fire from spreading.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the two courageous men who sacrificed their lives for the safety of others," said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. "We can rebuild the structures and restore the land, but the lives of these two heroes can never be replaced."

Video: 2 Florida Firefighters Killed In Wildfire

The names of the Division of Forestry firefighters will be released once family members are notified.

Two other firefighters were injured in the same wildfire. One was treated for smoke and heat-related injuries and released from a Lake City hospital. Another firefighter was treated for smoke-related injuries and released from Shands Hospital in Gainesville.

The Blue Ribbon Fire started on June 16. Forestry said the fire had had previously been declared contained, but recent extreme fire weather caused the fire to flare up again Monday.

Florida's dry weather since the beginning of May has caused extreme fire activity. Since May 1, the Division of Forestry has battled more than 1,500 wildfires that have burned nearly 200,000 acres across the state, making it one of the busiest wildfire years in recent history.

Story posted 2011.06.21 at 12:24 AM EDT

fair use disclaimer

6/20 Re: Modoc IHC

Hey P....

Yeah, while no one is perfect, neither are the battalion chief and division chief in question. If they were such good "leaders", then they should have been able to pull that crew together. As far as some of the "list" you mentioned, well some of those things - if not most of them - were addressed within the unit. My suggestion to you is before you stand up for someone - i.e. the BC or DV, or slam the young crew, get your facts straight. There were some leadership issues before the "transition" last year, but decisions were made without thinking through the process first. Ultimately, when a decision of that magnitude is made, you had better have your cr*p in a pile before making that decision. When you put a person in charge of a Hotshot Crew that has zero hotshot experience, that person had better be a top-notch leader. In this case, the person that was thrust in the sup role had no IHC experience and is a marginal leader at best.

I am not blaming the BC or DV, but they certainly did nothing to help the situation. If anything, there has been a great divide created amongst the troops on that side of the Forest.

I guess we'll see what transpires from the OIG/WO interviews that took place a few weeks ago. Until then, do some homework before you rant!


6/20 If you haven't checked the Hotlist lately, we have fires burning in Florida, in Texas, in Arizona and New Mexico and we had four fires off  Hwy 299 near Junction City, just east of Weaverville, some caused by downed powerlines.

Be safe. Ab.

6/20 Thanks, Hutch.

To those who have contacted me: Thanks for bring our attention to other Always Remember incidents.

I posted two other pages for Always Remember:

A 1978 Orleans Engine rollover SRF that killed 3 and injured 2. I remember this one from my area.

Gilbert Lopez, 1981, ANF engine burnover on the Elizabeth Fire. If Gilbert's son chances to read this, please contact us via always remember/operations. It would be great to have a photo and any other remembrances of him and his life.

Be safe on the line and on the highways, firefighters.


6/19 Mellie,

Thank you very much for putting together the Always Remember page about TJ. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think about him and his infectious smile. I will always remember sitting in the passenger seat of the Helitender with Tom driving on our way to an IA on the Plumas with Jack Ingram playing on the radio in the background. I asked him if he liked country music. He gave me his HUGE smile and said “hell yes”. So we turned it up.

Captain 64 – See you on the big one.

- Hutch

6/19 Hi,

I am to work on fire crews this summer as a water tender but cannot find wildland nomex shirt and pants in my size w/o custom order that will take 12 weeks. I ordered, but can you provide me with any resources to obtain nomex in my size used or new so I can begin working in July?


Tom R, South Lake Tahoe, Ca.

6/19 Holy Cow! The Hotlist is going off!

Wanted to let everyone know that I got the Always Remember page for Tom Marovich posted on Always Remember. There were and are many lessons coming from Tom's tragic death. There are still some reports, articles and letters that are missing that add to the recent history of the rappel program.

I don't know what is the current status of standardization of the rappel program (or of the contracting of helicopters of specific sorts across regions) or if any regional programs have been stood up. It was interesting to pull the info together from theysaid archives. If I got any of it wrong, those of you that know the rappelling world, please correct me.

My best to Tom Marovich's parents, extended family and friends. If you have anything you'd like to add, please send it to the abercrombie@wlf header button or make the initial contact through always remember/operations and someone will get it posted.

Captain 64, my best to you. You gave us all a real gift with your daily writing.


6/18 Dear "warning"

In 2008 the staffing information (along with a great deal of other data from many forests) provided by so many of you and passed along to Congress by the FWFSA resulted in significant congressional action.

I guarantee you folks on Capitol Hill are watching. They have been "prepped" by the FWFSA to watch very closely how things go especially after 2 relatively slow seasons. They also have already heard the familiar refrain from the FWFSA which seems to be an annual occurrence after each season... "we told you so." Actually I've explained to many staff, members of the House & Senate that we have grown tired of having to use that refrain every year since about 2006.

We have also expressed our discontent with their interest in an un yet unveiled costly aviation plan while nickel & diming the "boots on the ground" with a pay freeze. An aviation plan is only as good as the folks on the ground and if Congress, the Administration & the Agencies continue to ignore those folks on the ground, then a revamped aviation plan is worthless.

All that said, as we progress into the season, if there are ANY anomalies with staffing, funding etc., PLEASE let the FWFSA know. Many in Congress have acknowledged that they consider our data & information far more reliable than that coming from the Agency, so it is important that we provide factual information.

Sadly, as is often the case, it may take a catastrophic year to get action. That just seems to be the nature of the beast. That's when the politicians come out of the woodwork many offering up some really nutty ideas.

Thanks to all of you out in the field. Stay safe and please remember when you're out there, someone's got your back and is working on your behalf.

6/18 Hello Ab,

Does anyone know what happened to the Willow Helibase rappel accident report links? Every link I try all say that they are no longer any good. (Wildfirelessons.net and also the NTSB)

While the accident was truly tragic, it's an incredible training tool to use to hopefully raise safety awareness at all levels, and I used to pull it up off this site but now the info seems to have been removed.

Does anyone have any information on what happened to it or would anyone still have it electronically?

Thank you in advance.


There was/is a court case pending.
This is the text of the NTSB Probable Cause and Full Narrative of the Incident.
As you said, NTSB links we had are broken the pages have been removed for the final report at wildfirelessons.net or the SAI Action Plan. The NTSB went to a new system and you can use the lookup to query the accident number
WPR09TA356. I may have saved those report and SAI documents someplace. I'll look for them tomorrow. If anyone has them, please send 'em in. Ab.

6/18 fire fighting and chief officer staffing levels

Significant and extremely serious budget discussions have begun in R5 regarding future fire fighting and chief officer staffing levels. The focus is Fiscal Year 2012 and staffing reduction options are being examined.

We cannot go backwards, we must maintain our strength. To prove this point, here we are with no significant fires in California and R5 is at or close to drawdown for crews in SOPS and NOPS as we support our neighboring region. Some units are at drawdown for engines as well.

This is the fire organization Harbour envisioned, one that is strong and mobile with the ability to move to locations anywhere in the country with significant fire risk and activity. Reducing our organizational strength increases risks to natural resources, federal infrastructure and communities.

This community is going to need to step up, once again. We all know our community and the Federal Wildland Fire Service Association (FWFSA) has the proven clout to be heard.

Although we can walk and chew gum at the same time, nothing is more important than saving wildland firefighter jobs. This must be our legislative focus for the foreseeable future.

Maintaining communications with your elected leaders on your off time has proved fruitful in past years.

  • You fought retention and won.
  • Your individual communications with them has helped them learn about the national significance of wildland firefighters to our country.

At this time we must continue to maintain this communication channel. However more importantly, we must all be ready to implement a coordinated and sustained educational response. Over the next 16 weeks, we need to prepare. Recommended canned memos or letters need to be drafted, email addresses and phone numbers need to again be pulled together with an organized roll out here in our forum.

I have noticed in the hotlist many more parents have joined us. It’s great to read them talk about their sons or daughters. We need these parents and more to join us in our efforts to maintain a high level of education and awareness regarding the significant national all-risk role Wildland Firefighters provide for this nation.

Significant organizational decisions will be coming soon. The threat is serious and it gets closer every day.

Stay together people, do your part to help us maintain our strength. A Firefighter Spring can be summed up with five words; Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. Your Job!


“Warning: Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”

6/18 Casey

It is disheartening to read the recent posts from those who have left the federal system early and who referred to my earlier post about the fact that far too many are retiring early because they are simply fed up.

I appreciate that response. You write about the bureaucrat’s ability to wear us down. You are right. That has been their strength all along. When the FWFSA was born, (I was an early member.) I always was willing to put my $$ where my mouth was. I thoughtit was a no-brainer. I thought all of us would contribute and join the fight. (I will try to make the Dec in RNO meeting for show). I live close.

In the early years I tried to recruit fellow FF, but they only wanted to complain but not GIVE or Join the battle. I was shocked. I was disappointed. When the Male Class Complaint was filed to protest the R5 BS I GAVE big $$$ time to the cause to show my commitment to just civil rights.

I know that when the FWFSA 1st came into being, we scared the cra*p out out the establishment. They thought they were had. It was a no brainer...all we had to do was step up as a singular voice. But the sheep of our Technician employee pool and the seasonal (1039 hr) employee pool did NOT step up and we became a paper tiger.

Do not take my rant as a grip against the FWFSA; on the contrary, my gripe is against the current and past Firefighter employees who did not get involved and current employees who are not getting involved. Current FF need to write, and join the FWFSA, to make their future better. Make your elected Leaders know that you, as a Fed wild land FF do more than just cut line. Fed FF makes up All Risk management Teams. They do a lot more than plant trees. Make your case!! Dam* it!!!

OK ab you can delete…but anybody who does not support FWFSA is a lamb and you are in the slaughter house in the land of politics. You only have yourself to blame.

I am long retired, and my $$ goes to FED retirement issues. I still put my $$$ where my mouth is. Anybody who reads this needs to consider the same, and if you have a few $$ left over send the to the WFF>

Fish 01

Or send your $$ to the FWFSA. No doubt donations are welcomed. If you are a fed employee, join FWFSA!!!

And when the Wildland Firefighter Series is rolled out in the next 4 months or year, know it will have been FWFSA's efforts and YOUR voices from the FWFSA and our"Fire Underground" that kept that dream alive and looming, just as we do with fostering and clarifying need for excellent burn treatment, professional liability insurance, fly-by-night training operations in R4, etc and giving voice to many sides of many issues that are not PC and/or threaten the fed agencies' status quo.

Carry on! and thank you Casey and FWFSA! And thanks to the fire bureaucrats and line bureaucrats that pay attention and act on possibilities when they arise. We know you're not completely free to act as fast as we desire. Ab.

6/18 Re: Backcountry Lightning Risk Management

Thank you for posting this. I am a strike survivor, and I'm still a Hotshot. Before the (Noon Fire) incident we reviewed everything we had on lightning. We just weren't prepared to handle it when it happened.

Know your medical plan, and have equipment to treat more than one patient. Have a plan in place before you go!


Glad you all survived that June 25, 2004 AZ strike! Lucky! Seventh Anniversary is coming up, "bust a coldie" in celebration. Ab.

6/17 Narrow Banding Radios - Workarounds:

Will you please post the attached Word Doc where every one can see it.

Thank You

Narrow Banding Workarounds (26 K doc)

6/17 Good video from the Lessons Learned Center describing the history of the Standard Fire Orders by Jennifer Ziegler.



6/17 Kelly Andersson's early FS webpage on the 1957 by a task force (waybackmachine) commissioned by the USDA-Forest Service Chief Richard E. McArdle.
  • One of the issues better knowledge of Fire Behavior
  • Another issue was retention of skilled and knowledgeable firefighters...

They reviewed 16 tragedy fires that occurred from 1937 to 1956... (Eventually all will be reported on Always Remember)

The last one they reviewed was the Nov 25, 1956, Inaja Fire in San Diego Canyon on the Cleveland National Forest. Always Remember the 11 lives lost...

Forest Service Firefighters
Albert W. Anderson, 45 years, Night Sector Boss (FS employee, SHF)
Carlton Ray Lingo, 19 years, Night Crew Boss (FS employee,CNF)
Forrest B. Maxwell, 30 years (FS employee, SHF)

Firefighters from Viejas Honor Camp and their CDF Supervisor:
LeRoy Wehrung, 41 years (CDF employee, Correctional Officer from Viejas Honor Camp)
Miles Daniels, 33 years
William D. Fallin, 22 years
George A. Garcia, 41 years
Virgil L Hamilton, 26 years
Joseph P. O’Hara, 45 years
Lonnie L. Shepherd, 26 years
Joe Tibbitts, 34 year

Ted Putnam asks if anyone can follow the 10  Firefighting Orders and 18 Watchouts. There's a link to Ted's thoughtful paper on the Inaja page.


6/17 Re Boxes are transported!


Thanks for all the calls we received wanting to help transport the boxes. I'm dumbfounded at the response of people in this community who reach out to help when we have a need, whether it's transporting a family, boxes, or used Cuban cigars (LOL). People always say to me "how do you do this work?" And when you really understand the heart that is in wildland firefighters and fire people, my answer is "how could you not." The boxes are en route and again, thanks for the many calls we received.

Vicki Minor
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
Compassion spreads like wildfire

Good news! Ab.

6/17 Wildland Firefighter 52 Club

I just got done looking at the WFF's 52 Club page and wanted to give big kudos to the Ventura County Professional Firefighters who signed up 140 to join the 52 Club. As a survivor, it does my heart good to see that the fire community still cares about the families of those we have lost and are ready to help support those families who will need the help of the Foundation in the future.

I know the past couple of seasons have been slow (or should I say very slow) for most wildland firefighters which has made it financially difficult to be able to support the Foundation. This year, however, has started out with a bang and doesn't look like it will be slowing down anytime soon. Lots of OT is being made, so this is the perfect time to show our support for the wildland fire community!


6/17 Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program (WFAP) Vacancy Announcement is Open

The California Region of the Forest Service (R-5) Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program (WFAP) Vacancy Announcement opened today - June 17. It will remain open through August 1, 2011. Due to budget uncertainties, most Forests don't know how many positions, if any, WFAP positions will be filled. We are encouraging interested applicants to apply to the Forests where they would accept a job offer - even if no vacant Apprenticeship positions are currently available. Applicants may select up to 9 locations/Forests.

Apply through the AVUE Digital Services on-line application system – avuedigitalservices.com 
Announcement # 11-R5-WFAP-345DP

Rita Yates
R-5 Civil Rights Staff
Fire Recruitment Liaison Specialist

6/17 Fish,

As far as I know R-5 still requires the CDL standards of tank air etc.. I know I had to do all of them to operate my truck and also had to have my ENOP task book signed off before I was considered a "operational" driver... And also complete 80 hrs of driver training to convert from my apprenticeship many moons ago

6/17 Original Fire Orders:

Abs --

Important reminder / refresher in today's IMSR (Daily Sit Report) from NIFC. The original rollout of the Standard Fire Orders was on June 17, 1957. They are worded in the vernacular of the day -- not politically correct today. It is worth comparing the original version below and today's revised version.

Origin of the 10 and 18’s – June 17th, 1957

Summary: The original ten Standard Firefighting Orders were developed in 1957 by a task force commissioned by the USDA-Forest Service Chief Richard E. McArdle. The task force reviewed the records of 16 tragedy fires that occurred from 1937 to 1956. The Standard Firefighting Orders were based in part on the successful "General Orders" used by the United States Armed Forces. The Standard Firefighting Orders are organized in a deliberate and sequential way to be implemented systematically and applied to all fire situations.

Shortly after the Standard Firefighting Orders were incorporated into firefighter training, the 18 Situations That Shout Watch Out were developed. (Began as 13 Watch Outs) These 18 situations are more specific and cautionary than the Standard Fire Orders and described situations that expand the 10 points of the Fire Orders with the intent that if firefighters follow the Standard Firefighting Orders and are alerted to the 18 Watch Out Situations, much of the risk of firefighting can be reduced. Below is the original recommendation and fire orders from the report:

Standard Firefighting Orders. Recommendation:
Adopt for service-wide use the attached "Standard Firefighting Orders."
These orders are to be committed to memory by all personnel with fire
control responsibilities.


  1. FIRE WEATHER. Keep informed of fire weather conditions and predictions.
  2. INSTRUCTIONS. Know exactly what my instructions areand follow them at all times.
  3. RIGHT THINGS FIRST. Identify the key points of my assignment and take action in order of priority.
  4. ESCAPE PLAN. Have an escape plan in mind and direct subordinates in event of a blow-up.
  5. SCOUTING. Thoroughly scout the fire areas for which I am responsible.
  6. COMMUNICATION. Establish and maintain regular communication with adjoining forces, subordinates, and superior officers.
  7. ALERTNESS. Quickly recognize changed conditions and immediately revise plans to handle.
  8. LOOKOUT. Post a lookout for every possibly dangerous situation.
  9. DISCIPLINE. Establish and maintain control of all men under my supervision and at all times know where they are and what they are doing.
  10. SUPERVISION. Be sure men I commit to any fire job have clear instructions and adequate overhead.

Our S.O. and District offices and Work Centers here on my southeastern forest resemble ghost towns lately -- fires here on the Forest; and personnel (primary and many militia) assigned off-forest in R3 and throughout R8 -- on Teams and as freelance overhead, engine crews, helicopter personnel, etc.

Godspeed to all; keep your wits about you -- and Abs, thanks always for this forum.


6/16 It is disheartening to read the recent posts from those who have left the federal system early and who referred to my earlier post about the fact that far too many are retiring early because they are simply fed up.

It is disheartening because working to make your job more rewarding so you will stay until the maximum age is precisely why the FWFSA exists. The slow pace of change is palpable to many. Obviously so palpable to some that they have terminated their FWFSA membership under the perception that we simply aren't making progress fast enough,

Without trying to sound like I'm making excuses, the fact remains; the slow pace of change to improve the working environment for our Nation's federal wildland firefighters is a direct result of the failure of the federal land management agencies (let's face it, primarily the Forest Service) to be willing partners with the FWFSA & NFFE to change archaic pay & personnel policies and change their organizational structures to provide America's taxpayers with a more efficient & cost-effective federal wildfire response.

Had any recent Forest Service Chief, starting with Bosworth, then Kimbell & now Tidwell given a damn about their firefighters, they wouldn't summarily ignore the FWFSA and consider us adversaries. In fact, if it is true that the Chief is aware of what's on TheySaid, I challenge him to a face to face dialogue on the issues facing his agencies firefighters. Video tape the conversation and make it available to every firefighter.

If they'd given a damn they would have acknowledged the decades-old issues; embraced their Agency's own findings from as far back as 1985 about the virtues and benefits of classification as wildland firefighters, portal to portal pay, hazard pay as base pay for retirement purposes, hazard pay on prescribed burns and benefits for temps/seasonal, and worked with us to implement the necessary changes.

Had there been an inkling of interest and effort by the Forest Service over the last 25 years, we wouldn't be forced to have to go the legislative route which is tedious, stressful, and difficult. It is precisely those descriptions of the legislative process that have allowed the Agencies to ignore their responsibilities to their firefighters.

Just watching this week's Senate hearing with respect to the oft promised aviation program; the fact that the Agency has not complied with reporting requirements of the FLAME Act, etc., gives credence to the fact that the Agency is using its knowledge of the slow pace of Congress as a mechanism to not do what is right.

I presume the Agency's idea is to force us to undertake the legislative process. That, coupled with Congress' misguided assumption that the Agencies, now aware of their problems and solutions are willing to work to fix them without legislative intervention, will simply cause us so much grief that we'll give up. FAT CHANCE!

I would hope that anyone else fed up with the system join the effort with us to effect change through whatever means is necessary. Congress IS listening. It IS understanding. The next obvious hurdle is to get them to realize that the Agencies will not change on their own and said changes will require legislative mandates.

As we've said before, if the Agency isn't willing to do what is right & necessary for their most important resource, its employees, then give us the ball and get the hell out of the way.

Casey Judd
Executive Director, Governmental Affairs
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
6/16 Backcountry Lightning Risk Management

Here is an article on Backcountry Lightning Risk Management that was written for people who spend time in remote areas of the great outdoors. This article is full of excellent information that pertains to us as wildland firefighters and our ventures during those summer lightning busts.

The same can be said for our law enforcement personnel who are out in the same areas during their patrols or doing drug enforcement.

Please take time to review and discuss with your crews as we start into our traditional lightning season.

Ken H

Backcountry Lightning Risk Management (676 K pdf)
by John Gookin

fair use disclaimer

6/16 ?? CDL

So, does the USFS requirement to obtain a full State certified Tank, CDL & Airbrake cert. to operate a Model 60 or 26K weight series not be the standard anymore? HMMM... us old guys had to go thru the whole process to meet full CDL requirements.

Glad I did the full process & test....cause it made post employment ( fed) opportunities that much greater.

If you can add a PAX endorsement ...do it!


6/16 Request:

Hey All,

Got a call from Vicki with a request from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

We need someone to pick up 9 WFF boxes in Prescott, AZ and get them to Show Low, about 4 hours away, by vehicle -- or any other way. The boxes will arrive in Prescott between 3-5 PM tomorrow afternoon and it would be ideal to get them to Burk in Show Low tomorrow night or early Saturday, if needs be. The WFF will pay for gas and overnight if you get into Show Low late tomorrow.

Anyone looking for a little road trip? Call Vicki 208-863-9090 for details.

Wish I could go!


Would be fun and worthwhile. Ab.

6/16 Modoc IHC

I've held back from throwing my two cents into this fire up until now. Unfortunately, I am not fully educated on the historical events that have taken place on the Modoc IHC over the past 4 years, but I know a majority about the underlying story as to why it is that the MODOC IHC has been disbanded.

I will start off by saying that it is sad and unfortunate that good crew members were caught in the middle of this mess. There were a lot of good people that suffered because of the actions of a few bad apples. I hope those quality people will be able to find good jobs on better crews for this up and coming fire season.

2nd: I find it funny that none of the REAL problems were addressed during the discussion. The crew members that decided to post on this forum left out a lot of critical information that led up to their ultimate demise. Its easy to point the finger at over head in order to direct the attention away from THEIR actions. Yes, the crew boss wasn't the most experienced and, yes, he was put in that position to help mentor a group of troubled youth; but it is hard to mentor a bunch of individuals that refuse to listen or are unwilling to learn. It's also difficult to have respect for a new supervisor when the previous one is held in such high regard. Sometimes we need to remember that every day is full of challenges and we need to do our best to function as a team for the greater good and put our petty differences aside. NO ONE IS PERFECT! We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Its our diversity in skills that make us strong, not the backbone of a few key individuals. If the crew would have embraced this mentality, the crew would have benefited from the variety of specialized skills that each one of us possess. A squad boss once told me; "The strength of the wolf is in the pack, the strength of the pack is in the wolf!"

3rd: No one addressed the following:

  • No one addressed the fact that certain overhead had a habit of coming into work intoxicated on a regular basis.
  • No one addressed the stolen explosives that were found by CHP in personal vehicles.
  • No one addressed the sexual harassment that took place on the crew.
  • No one addressed the dysfunction of the overhead and their inability to work with one another.
  • No on addressed the fact that certain overhead openly created division amongst the crew in order to have crew members choose sides.
  • No one addressed the lack of respect crew members treated each other with.
  • No one said anything about all of the verbal threats that were said openly during crew meetings.
  • No one spoke about the dysfunctional overhead that plotted against crew members on the various ways they could get people to quit.
  • No one said anything about how the leadership would pick on key individuals relentlessly.
  • No one mentioned the times when they would have a key individual hike the only saw to the top of the mountain after experiencing an injury in an attempt to get that person to quit. Not only that, but the potential of injuring that individual even further. Then how would they feed their family? ? ?
  • No one mentioned the seasonal employees that openly refused to sharpen their tools when directed to by their superiors, among many other things that were asked by them.

These are just a few of the glaring issues that have been intentionally overlooked.

Yes! It bothers me that the crew has been disbanded; But for good reason. If I were sitting in the Forest Sups' chair, I'd be considering all of the potential lawsuits that could potentially come out of this situation. I'd think of the welfare of the crew members and the reputation of the MDF and the Forest Service. I'd think of the safety of my employees! I would try and do the right thing. I've learned that sometimes the right thing isn't right for everyone. You can never make everyone happy, but you do have the choice to either turn a blind eye to it, or do something about it.

Furthermore, with all of the POSH, No Fear, Diversity and Ethics training we are required to take and our policy of zero tolerance, I'm surprised that some individuals still have jobs. Zero tolerance doesn't have any meaning if we don't uphold that standard. They should count themselves as lucky to still have a great job as a member of the Forest Service and stop ruffling feathers. It is what it is; what happened, happened! Not everyone has to like it, but we all have to live with it. Your actions are yours alone. Unfortunately, others are highly affected by them. I just wish our leadership would have stepped up to the plate when the opportunities had presented themselves instead of instigating them. If so, we would have never been in this mess. (If you're not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.) It's not the Forest Sup, Division or Battalions' fault as to why the Modoc IHC failed. They are just the ones that hold us accountable. Stop deflecting the attention away from the real issues and start looking at ourselves. We ultimately allowed all of this to happen! WE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I hope this helps to clarify why certain things happened. I'm sorry to all of the former Modoc IHC members. Our actions and/or inaction caused great shame to you all! I can't change the past, but we can all learn from it if we choose to.


6/16 Casey's last sentence 6/15 post:

"federal firefighters enjoy early retirement provisions already and, in my opinion, too many are taking advantage of the program because they are fed up."

Similar to Fish01 and for the reason Casey mentioned, I left at 54.


6/16 Does anyone know the fed policy (FS) for hiring related to a current situation we are experiencing on our district?

Our FMO and his wife (biologist) are both on the hiring team of 3 for a permanent fire/fuels position. When I was in R5, it was made very clear that this was forbidden. Was this only a R5 thing? Anyone had experience with this that could give up some advice and what to do about it? It's a sticky situation and we don't have anyone to talk to safely.

6 years till retirement in R3!
6/16 Re: Casey and Fish01,

Ditto for me. At the "prime" age of 52.5 after 30 fire seasons, I too had enough and put the F(B)S to stern.

6/15 Re Casey's last sentence 6/15 post:

Yep. You hit it on the head of the nail...that's why I left at the ripe age of 52. I had enough, and have not regretted a minute of my decision. But to be fair, I could afford that decision. Many cannot.


6/15 Re Casey's post:

I am getting ready to start my 75th day on fire in Arizona and New Mexico after two days off. Curious what Casey had to say in radio interviews on what is going on down here. Who initiated the interviews, topics covered, etc.


Just Wondering

6/15 This post is in response to Casey's last post on 6/15.

I totally agree with the whole firehire problem especially in region 5. I'm over this region who can't follow their own policies. I knew something was up this round. It goes on in other rounds as well just something different. I have been trying to lateral over for four years due to hardship and have not even gotten one response. I have seen lower grades get jobs when I am trying to get the same position. I hear excuse after excuse and when I call the Region 5 firehire its always lip service. They point fingers at everybody else instead of saying there is a problem with the system and fix it. I have heard it all. I contact people in Region 5 and they never respond as well. I called Albuquerque and they told me my application is good and there shouldn't be any hang-ups whatsoever. Region 5 has blamed AVUE and they said my application is good too.

I have seen posts on here to wait it out and so on and so forth. That maybe your supervisor didn't give a good recommendation etc. I have been getting outstanding on all recent performance evaluations. Will we have to have an audit in Region 5 before anything improves here? The good old boy club still happens here.

Well you know what I am leaving the Forest Service. I am over all the politics on what goes on instead of picking up good solid quality people who perform with excellence. I see people who get in trouble and then they get promotions. I have seen it happen at least four times in my career. I'm glad to say that I am leaving and I am not looking back. We will see more people fleeing as other jobs are opening up? The agency doesn't care and it starts from the top leadership of which there is none. No wonder why we rank so low in morale.

Thanks Casey for all the hard work you do and keep it up!

Leaving and done with the Forest Circus

6/15 Narrow Banding Radios


Please post the attachment.

Thank You

Narrowbanding Safety Bulletin 05-11 (pdf)

6/15 re: shutdown of excess federal websites


Does anybody know if the un-official "official" wildland websites will be affected? Some of the most useful websites created by the Forest Service and other agencies are .NET or .ORG web domains: www.wildfirelessons.net, www.wildcad.net, and www.inciweb.org. If they are switched to .GOV domains, will the content be as user friendly, relevant or timely?
Does NAFRI need their own .GOV domain or will they be rolled into www.nifc.gov or www.fs.fed.us? Should the Fireline Leadership initiative be placed under the www.nwcg.gov domain?

My vote for most useless excess website is Avue. It seems a waste to make Forest Service applicants apply outside of www.USAJobs.gov  - especially given the talk that diversity trumps actual qualification for the Agency and potential wildland apprentices can't apply on-line anyway.

vfd cap'n
6/15 Hi to all:

Tried to stay off for a while. Several radio interviews regarding the AZ fires and a few days away with the family.

The FWFSA has been afforded the opportunity to provide the truth to questions and issues raised at some of the recent Senate Energy & Natural Resource hearings. I joke with both Republican & Democratic staff all the time that these hearings are a waste of their time...and they agree!

I also often reiterate to the staff that if their boss' want the truth, just let us know. My staff contact in Sen. Risch's office is a wildland firefighter so maybe things are starting to get through. Climate on the other hand...geez. A factor which can be mitigated to a large degree by good policy.

Speaking of policy, the recent Tidwell memo about diversity is somewhat disappointing to me although, coming from an Agency head, not all that unexpected.

We have worked very hard to make the point to Congress that while diversity is well and good, in an occupation where lives are on the line and crew members must rely on each other and safety is the primary goal, experience & expertise trump diversity any time.

Besides, what kind of diversity does the Agency expect to get when it continues to refuse to implement policy changes that will improve recruitment & retention and on the first day of fire hire folks are told to reach down to level 3 candidates...

Sorry to say but it will take a nasty season to wake people up form their ignorant slumber. I am hopeful NFFE will join us publicly in making it clear that experience & expertise trumps diversity on the fire ground. The fire program is already diverse. What is needed are polices to keep these great people where they are.

Additionally, with respect to "early outs" for FIRE...that is going to be a personal choice for employees but as you all know, federal firefighters enjoy early retirement provisions already and, in my opinion, too many are taking advantage of the program because they are fed up.

Casey Judd
Executive Director, Governmental Affairs
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
6/14 This came in from Forest Service HR Department today. Sign of things to come?


Intended Audience: All FS
June 14, 2011
Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA)

As Secretary Vilsack indicated in his May 25, 2011, email to all US Department of Agriculture (USDA) employees, USDA’s fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget contains significant reductions. USDA anticipates continued budgetary constraints in FY 2012. To assist the Forest Service and the other USDA mission areas in addressing the current and upcoming budget shortfalls, the Secretary has authorized a Department-wide Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA), also known as "early out," for employees who meet minimum age and length of service criteria.

We are currently working with our union partners to complete our bargaining obligations which will include drafting the memorandum authorizing the VERA for Forest Service employees and anticipate it will be released in the near future.

VERA criteria expands the normal retirement eligibility to allow employees to voluntarily retire, with an immediate annuity, if they are at least age 50 with at least 20 years creditable Federal service, or any age with at least 25 years creditable Federal service. The early out authority will be offered to all employees, regardless of grade, occupational series, and location except those positions for which the USDA has direct-hire authority. The positions excepted from the VERA authority are:

Nurse, GS-610
Civil Engineer, GS-810
Information Technology Specialist (Security), GS-2210, grade 9 and above

The current Forest Service authority does not include the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP), also know as "buyout."

The Forest Service website will be updated to provide additional information and questions and answers regarding our current VERA authority.

Our Point of Contact (POC) is Don Thompson, snip

6/14 From GA Peach on the Hotlist earlier today:

Thousands of federal websites to be shut down
by Sean Riley


The Obama administration wants to take down half of the roughly 2,000 major federal websites in the coming year — with 500 of those shutting down in the next few months, officials said Monday.

Agencies also are barred from creating new sites for 90 days while a task force begins updating federal website policy.

Two-thousand sites "is clearly ridiculous," said the Office of Management and Budget's deputy director, Jeffrey Zients, in a conference call with reporters. "It's no wonder the American people are unsure of where to obtain information from the federal government."

HOTLIST discussion

6/14 Ab,

USFS Chief Tom Tidwell and DOI Deputy Assistant Secretary Kim Thorson testified in the Senate Energy And Natural Resources Committee earlier today. Nothing ground breaking that I noticed but still a good listen if your into it.

To me it is entertaining, albeit frustrating, to see the politics at play in these hearings. Senator Franken highlighted the role of climate change as a contributing factor of large fires while emphasizing the cost of the fires as a tangible result of climate  change. Senator Risch, on the other hand, made a point of touting his forestry degree and Pulaski skills yet blamed the catastrophic fires now occurring on land management policies of 2009 and 2010 and not climate change. Neither side discussed the long history of aggressively suppressing all fires as a contributor to the mega fire phenomenon.

Other topics included succession planning and the allocation of funds. They received boiler plate answers but it still good to hear the Senators at least show some awareness.

Chief Tidwell received several questions on the large air tanker review but provided few answers except that he is awaiting reports from the military (A-10’s?), the Rand Corporation and current contractors. He will provide a full report to the committee by the end of the summer. Who wants to bet the Rand Corp get a large portion of the bid when this is all said and done?

There is a link to the webcast video and transcripts. energy.senate.gov: webcast video and transcripts. The meeting actually starts about 18 minutes into the video.


6/13 Fish01,

Yep, I agree with everything you said and I was up on the situation and actually part of it in the mid-80's in R5. And I also wholeheartedly agree with you insofar as where money could be better utilized (FWFSA). In fact, because of a situation where the NFFE took no action (and should have) I realized (and so did several others here on our unit) that my money could be spent better going to the FWFSA (and before everyone starts to explain the difference between the union and the association, don't! I realize the differences). However for my purposes, and with my limited resources, I choose to put my hard-earned money in the hands of the FWFSA. I will soon be retracting my payments to the NFFE and switching that amount to the FWFSA. I do think that it will be the most effective way to "write letters" and respond as a powerful group.

Thanks for the reminder.

STILL Tired of it all in R6
6/13 Re: Hiring Approvals for Permanent Employees


As stated - Region 5 will continue to hire in the GS-462. I will post as soon as soon as I have all the opening and closing dates and Avue Vacancy Announcement Number.

Rita Yates
R-5 Civil Rights Staff
Fire Recruitment Liaison Specialist

6/13 Re: Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program


Region 6 and the BLM have always used the SCEP hiring authority. R5 will be using the 0462 series like they have been for years.


6/13 Re: Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program


For many regions other than R5, using the 0499 series is not going backwards, because most of them never stopped using the 0499 series.

R5 is not going back to the 0499 series. We are staying with the 0462.


6/12 Re: Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program


Great... for the 4th time since the intro of the WFAP program, we are going backwards to the SCEP and the 0499 series... both of which didn't work over the last 15 years.



6/12 Re: Hiring Approvals for Permanent Employees

A Female & Tired R6,

You are chiming in on a long battle waged since the 80'S. There was a group of employees who filed a complaint under : "The Male Class Complaint" who waged a mighty battle against what you are rallying against. You can look up the particulars but the gist of the complaint was the complete disregard of law by the FS & Dept of Ag. We almost won but were discharged in a court proceeding because we were not timely in the required timeline to file the complaint. In the ruling I think the judges were sympathetic, but we failed to meet regs& law in their opinion.

OK, having said that, I think if ALL of the current fire employees could better spend their time an $$$$$$ supporting the FWFSA, making you a cohesive single cell organism voicing your desire to be seen as professional FF entity and not some piece of a massive agriculture bureaucracy.

If you can, as individuals, challenge every form of hiring discrimination, do it. As the 4 wars we are in wind down more vets will apply for our FF positions and they have earned any extra credit as a hiring bonus. An those credits were EARNED, not awarded by some bureaucratic ruling about diversity. During the Male Class complaint" the vet status was disregarded by the bureaucrat's, to meet diversity goals. A clear violation of congressional law.

Again IMHO use ( join) the FWFSA as your voice to gain recognition. Right now you are target of the Dept of AG. They need to look good and the FS with all the lower graded targets are easy politic prey.


6/10 Re: Hiring Approvals for Permanent Employees

If there's another 30-mile type incident, it will come out. It's not the "fault" of the minority that's hired and promoted. It's the fault of the "system" that bends over backwards to retain people that should not be promoted and placed in leadership roles whatever their race, ethnicity, gender or military status.

A female, sent from my pink bb

6/10 Re: Hiring Approvals for Permanent Employees

Both "Sent from my droid" and 13 have extremely valid points.

And I'm quite sure that more people will come up with more points that are equally as valid from a safety and experience point of view. However, and this is a biggee, saying these things are meaningless unless we all join together and form a group which presents this information to Congress. The chief and the agency do not always do what is most fair, most representative, most
safe or even what the Supreme Court has dictated until there is an incident (accident) or situation (large letter writing effort to congress people) which, sadly creates attention and embarrassment.

I know for a fact that the chief knows what is written here on They Said, So even discussion here is "heard."

On our unit we have been asked (recently) to do some illegal activities in order to recruit and it was brushed under the rug because the power of "diversity" rules over all. There does not appear to be an advocacy group which is taking this issue to task, so it will run unabated for as long as it desires.

Or until we do something collectively. Something right, safe and best for the conditions which we know best.

Be safe & keep up the fight - this is going to be a long battle.

Tired of it all in R6
6/10 Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program

The Pacific Northwest has opened the vacancy announcement for the 2011 Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program. The Forest Service and BLM have combined their efforts offering approximately 16 positions at 8 locations in the states of  Oregon and Washington. These positions will be filled through the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) which is a “hard copy” application that can be mailed, Emailed or faxed in. Applications must be received by August 15, 2011.

This is not in Avue! To see more about the duty locations and application process keep monitoring the www.WFAP.net  web site.

Rita Yates
R-5 Civil Rights Staff
Fire Recruitment Liaison Specialist
Virtual Location: Eldorado National Forest

6/10 Hiring Approvals for Permanent Employees

The US Supreme Court made it pretty clear... diversity quotas or goals... are UNCONSTITUTIONAL .. even if you call them "aspirations".

Placing one group over the other is wrong and illegal.

It is called MERIT PROMOTION hiring for a reason, and has actual LAWS and regulations that are supposed to be followed and NOT usurped.

WTF is he thinking?

signed: Sent from my Droid

6/9 Hiring Approvals for Permanent Employees

Nice find Joe Boy,

I find it interesting that no where in this document are the words "Qualified, Competent, Knowledgeable, Proficient, Talented or Trained". It is also stated that our "Actions are not meeting our aspirations", or in other words Mr Tidwell, "Hiring the best Qualified is not our aspiration". By the way, the antonyms for the words not found in this doc are, Incapable, Unable, Unproficient, Unqualified, Unskilled and Untalented. We have enough "Un's" already in this organization.


6/9 With all of the fire activity taking place and other discussion folks are following I hadn't seen this document show up yet.

Hiring Approvals for Permanent FS Employees (171 K doc file)

Joe Boy

text below:

Date: May 23, 2011
Subject: Hiring Approvals for Permanent Employees
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director and Deputy Chiefs

We have focused a great deal of energy on our diversity goals and objectives over the last several years. Representing the public we serve is key to effective engagement and our ability to provide critical services throughout all of our programs. Our aspiration is to create a diverse culture within our workforce, to enrich the breadth of perspectives, insights and experiences of our organization. Our national demographics are rapidly changing and the latest census results will show even more change. Progress is evident and I am appreciative of all the activities underway at each of the units. However a review of our hiring results indicate additional focus, engagement and action at the senior line officer level is required. Our actions are not meeting our aspirations.

I fully expect, with your help, to develop a suite of actions to achieve our diversity goals. The first change I am requiring, effective immediately, is that you establish a collective, corporate hiring process to ensure review and approval of all selections for permanent positions at the Region, Station, Area, and Deputy Chief levels. This should include all term appointments, wage grade positions, and all student conversions. Your process should incorporate the 80-day hiring model in accordance with U.S. Department of Agriculture direction. There is no change to the current process for GS-14 and above positions.

This change in delegation of authority, along with enhanced recruitment and outreach efforts, increased accountability, and hiring reforms under way, will help us meet our aspiration. Your Human Resource Management and Civil Rights staffs are available to assist with the development of your processes. They have a wealth of information which displays the profiles of your units to provide additional insight. Questions can be directed to Jacqueline Myers at 505-563-7815 or jmyers01@fs.fed.us.

/s/ Thomas L. Tidwell
Chief, FS

6/8 Fire Photos and fire reporting:

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests' photostream 90 photos of the AZ-ASF-Wallow Fire

Hotlist thread of the AZ-ASF-Wallow Fire (Southwest)

Main Hotlist page

6/7 A young Texas volunteer firefighter was injured on 5/24/11 on the YT Ranch Fire near Andrews, TX. Good thoughts and prayers for his full recovery. Ab.

Kermit Volunteer Firefighter On The Road To Recovery
From KOSA News, Odessa

The YT Ranch Fire in Kermit is out this morning, but area residents continue to support a volunteer firefighter who suffered severe facial burns on Tuesday.

Hunter Hardaway is in the Lubbock burn unit recovering with his family. He was airlifted to Lubbock after getting injured while fighting the fire in Andrews.

His uncle says that with the support of family and the community hunter will be ok. “Hunter is a remarkable guy. He will do anything for anybody. He’s just that type of person,” Hunter’s uncle, Michael Barron said.

Hardaway is listed as “stable” and is expected to recover following surgery yesterday morning. Word is that a brisket dinner and raffle may be organized in Kermit to help pay for Hunter’s medical expenses.


Kermit Firefighter with Facial Burns Undergoes Surgery
By Beau Berman at KOSA News, Odessa

Kermit firefighter Hunter Hardaway is in the Lubbock Burn Unit tonight recovering with his family after skin graft surgery Thursday morning. He was injured Tuesday night while fighting the YT Ranch fire, that consumed thousands of acres, but not before Hardaway and his fellow firefighters laid it all on the line for the community.

Recent grass fires have ruined west Texas homes and taken the lives of two fire fighters so far this year. This week it was a fire that altered the life of a young firefighter forever. But in Kermit, it’s safe to say his sacrifice didn’t go unnoticed.

The YT Ranch fire is out, but memories of Tuesday’s smoke and flames aren’t far from the minds of Kermit residents. Nor is the fire itself, which injured volunteer fireman, Hunter Hardaway, forcing an air evacuation to the Lubbock Burn Unit.

“I couldn’t believe that one of your own, that’s kin to you, is injured like that”, says Hunter’s Uncle, Michael Barron.

The rest of Hunter’s family is with him now in Lubbock as he recovers. Barron is Hunter’s uncle, who found out that Hunter had received serious burns to his face. Today he underwent surgery.

“Hunter is a remarkable guy. He will do anything for anybody. He’s just that type of person”, says Barron.

The fire was generally contained to the YT Ranch but at one point it did push up to the edges and came dangerously close to the roadway and were it not for the hardworking efforts of firefighters and the sacrifice of Hunter Hardaway, it could have gone all the way down the road to Kermit, which is just 10 miles away.

“I appreciate so much that he joined the fire department and that he’s given it his all and I can’t tell you now badly I feel that he was injured”, says Winkler County Judge Bonnie Leck.

Judge Leck commends both the Kermit and Wink Volunteer Fire Departments.

While Hunter may never look exactly the same, friends say he’ll always be Hunter, and that’s what is important.

“He’s a strong young man and I know the community’s prayers are all with him and his family”, says Judge Leck.

Uncle Barron believes Hunter will be OK in the long run, with the support of his family and the community that cares about him so much. “I think he’ll be fine. He’s got a long way to go but he’s got a wife, that loves him and he’s got a baby that loves him and that’s what we all work for”.

6/7 From: "U.S. Fire Administration"
Date: Jun 7, 2011 12:02 PM
Subject: STIHL Recalls Yard Power Products Due to Burn and Fire Hazards

STIHL Recalls Yard Power Products Due to Burn and Fire Hazards
Thu, 26 May 2011 07:33:00 -0500

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announces a recall of gas powered STIHL trimmers, brushcutters, KombiMotors, hedge trimmers, edgers, clearing saws, pole pruners, and backpack blowers that utilize a toolless fuel cap. The level of ethanol and other fuel additives can distort the toolless fuel cap, allowing fuel to spill, posing a fire and burn hazard.

6/7 AP video on AZ fire

Hotlist thread on AZ Wallow fire and others

6/7 HI,

I am a GIS Professional who has taken GIS Incident Management class S-341, and now I am considered a GIS trainee for Wildfires, but it has been over a year and I still haven’t had the opportunity to go out and work a fire. Really I just want to know how I can increase my chances of making that happen?

Dawn (GISP) (Ab snipped last name)
GIS Specialist II
6/7 Heya-

Some time ago I had come across a write up about a couple of Crews that had a regular rivalry, it had gone on for some years.  I can't for the life of me find it now.  Not a clue where it was, and I wish that I'd book marked it.  I know that one of them is now disbanded.  It was a great little history about the two, and the way that they'd moved from fire to fire to fire a few years back.  I want to say that one was Mill Creek, but I'm unsure of that.  It seems like one of the fires in question was the Fountain fire.  For some reason, too, Hat Cree and Lassen sticks in my head, it seemed like they were both up that way.

Anyhow, I wonder if you've run across anything like that, or might have a resource on such sorts of things.

The reason I'm interested is that I work in forestry and have done some work out in CA with Mendocino and Shasta/Trinity and a couple of other areas and became rather intrigued by the entire history of it.  What I can't tell you is whether they were IHC or CalFire.  I'm almost certain they were IHC Forest Service.

Anyhow, just wondering if you had anything. Thanks in advance-


Hotlist discussion thread on Drug Free Workplace Program
6/6 RE: LincPass Expiration

Bushman 82

We were told by out State Office that the USFS was tasked with producing the LINCPASS for the BLM. All of us here in UT had to go to the USFS office to get printed and then when they were ready to pick them up. These rules might be different state to state and or by agency. But you may want to check this out before blowing them off. I also just received a notice that my card was expiring and it came from the USFS/USDA mailbox.

6/5 Drug Free Workplace Program

Link to letter:

forest service drug free letter.doc (50 K doc)

Text below:

Date: June 1, 2011
Subject: Drug Free Workplace Program
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director and Deputy Chiefs

In order to ensure a safe, drug-free workplace as mandated by Executive Order (EO) 12564, Department of Transportation regulations, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Drug Free Workplace Program (DFWP), the Forest Service Executive Leadership Team has agreed to a strategy which establishes a phased approach for bringing the agency into compliance with the USDA DFWP. To this end, the Forest Service has reviewed all EO 12564 test-designated positions to ensure all required positions were included in agency testing programs.

During our initial review, we discovered all Job Corps employees, Top Secret Clearance personnel, and wildland firefighters (fire protection personnel) had not been included in the drug testing pool. Our first priority was to add all Job Corp employees to the random drug testing pool, as required by Appendix A of Departmental Regulation (DR) 4430-792-2. We have completed this task. The two remaining phases for implementation are:

Phase 1: Positions requiring a Top Secret Clearance: There are 171 positions in this category. These employees are test designated due to the critical decisions they make and the degree of public trust required as outlined in Appendix A of DR 4430-792-2. Each of these employees has received their notification letters and will be placed into the random drug testing pool after the mandatory 30 day waiting period.

Phase 2: All Approved Primary Wildland Firefighter Positions: There are approximately 6,500 employees in this category. Fire and Aviation Management (FAM) proposed drug testing of wildland firefighters in April 2008. Department of Interior has been drug testing their firefighters for the past 17 years under EO 12564. Both FAM and Human Resource Management (HRM) believe Forest Service employees engaged in similar firefighting activities should be subject to the same requirements. Meetings have been on-going between FAM, HRM, and union representatives. Proposals have been sent forward to USDA for approval. Union negotiations on impact and implementation will occur once USDA has granted approval.

Implementation of both phases will include: 1) notification of affected employees, 2) updating position data in position descriptions and the National Finance Center database, 3) providing training to employees and supervisors of Testing Designated Positions employees, and 4) implementing random and applicant testing for the designated positions.

Under EO 12564, the DFWP Plan, DR 4430-792-2, and Article 43 of the National Federation of Federal Employees Master Agreement, employees and supervisors are required to receive training regarding the DFWP. To meet these requirements, the HRM Drug Testing staff, along with union input, has developed five computer-based training modules which are now in AgLearn to use agency-wide. A communication plan will be developed and distributed to provide guidance to supervisors/managers and employees regarding their requirement to complete this mandatory training.

Another long term goal we are working towards is to identify other positions for possible inclusion in the random drug testing program. These positions may include: militia/red-carded employees, snow vehicle operators, all-terrain vehicle operators, and chainsaw operators (to include cross cut sawyers and tree-fallers).

I encourage you to become more familiar with the requirements under the USDA DFWP. You can find more detailed information concerning this program at: Drug Testing Program. (famweb Internal FS link.) If you have questions concerning the DFWP, please contact any of the Drug Testing Specialist listed on their website.

/s/ Charles L. Myers
Deputy Chief for Business Operations

cc: Randal E Wheeler

6/4 RE: LincPass Expiration


I fell off my chair laughing! I have a DOI "Smart Card" and recently was contacted by USDA Forest Service to come pick up my new Link pass. The phone tag was hot and heavy as I tried to explain to the USDA FS that I had not worked for that department since 1993. I think we could save some bucks if we just unfunded DHS.

Bushman 82

6/4 CA-OES Assistant Chief Powell Passes -

Memorial services celebrating Chief Powell’s life will be held on Saturday, June 11, 2011, 1100 hours at:

Rolling Hills Christian Church,
800 White Rock Road,
El Dorado Hills, California 95762-5524

For the rest of the arrangements, please see the Hotlist thread.

6/3 RE: LincPass Expiration

Stumpie -

I had a good laugh at the LincPass email myself. I sent my fingerprints in over 2 years ago and that is the last I have heard. The other folks who sent their fingerprints in at the same time got their LincPass probably 12-18 months late (after two 4-5 hour round trip drive). And no, none of us have ever used this card yet.

R9 Captain

6/3 RE: LincPass Expiration

At least you all got a gov ID card; I work for a DOI agency and in 2009 we submitted paperwork, got photographed and digitally fingerprinted...we are still waiting for our cards. My last email said we should be getting them "soon," and that was last fall.

Cheers and be safe.


6/3 RE: LincPass Expiration

AB --

Sometimes ya just gotta laff ---- if only to keep from cryin' --

USFS employees received notice today about LinkPass, the still-evolving and relatively useless USFS version of a secure consistent federal employee identification card. The email notice informs employees that their LinkPass has an expiration date, which is two years prior to the date printed on the card. This notice encourages employees not to treat the email as spam -- even though the sender and subject line look very suspicious and spam-like.

My LinkPass expires in a couple of months -- my rough guesstimate is that between fingerprints, background checks, processing, travelling to remote locations to present verification of identification and to get picture taken, then returning sometime later to pick up completed card, etc, etc, etc, that this little ol' piece of plastic, which I have never used or been asked to display, has cost the taxpayers well over $ 2000.

Chucklin' and shakin' my head --


.... on a serious note, AB's -- thank you for all that you two do, through TheySaid and Wildlandfire.com, to keep us all aware and informed ....


Date: 06/03/2011
Subject: LincPass Certificate Expires After 3 Years


HRM News Update [banner Albuquerque Service Center, Human Resources Management)]

Intended Audience: All FS
June 03, 2011

LincPass Certificate Expires After 3 Years

The Main Point

Your LincPass card includes an electronic certificate which contains your credentials. The certificate expires after three years. If the certificate is not renewed your LincPass card will no longer work.

Some Forest Service employees are receiving email messages from hspd12admin(at)identitymsp.com with the subject line, “TIME TO UPDATE LINCPASS CERTIFICATE – EXPIRING." Employees are getting this message because it is time to renew their LincPass certificate. When you get this email do not delete it. You will need the information to guide you in the next steps you should take. You can determine your certificate expiration date by subtracting 2 years from the date displayed on your card.

For important details, please refer to the HRM Newsletter, found at LincPass. (internal FS web)

More Information

You can use your LincPass card in place of your eAuthentication username and password, as well as to log on to your computer. For more information about using LincPass visit How To Use Your LincPass For Users. (pdf file) (internal FS web)

If you have questions, please contact the POC identified for your specific Region: fsweb.asc.fs.fed.us...pdf or call the Albuquerque Service Center at 1-877-372-7248, press 2 for HRM, press 2 for Human Resources Inquiries Not Associated with Initial Employment, and press 7 for LincPass.

Do not respond to this mass email message. For any questions, please call the ASC-HRM Contact Center at: 1-877-372-7248, Press 2

6/3 Dear Ab:

Regarding Alison's (Discovery Channel) query regarding fatalities, I see that a good many regulars have provided her with appropriate links.

At the recent IAWF Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Missoula I presented a similar summary on the Canadian situation for the period 1941-2010 which will be included in the conference proceedings.

For a more global summary of fatality statistics and incidents, I might suggest that Alison and others have a look at the chapter I co-authored with Bob Mutch and Kathy Davis entitled "Wildland Fires: Dangers and Survival" that was published in the Wilderness Medicine book in 2007. For more information, see the attached. (133 K pdf) A sixth edition of the book will appear later this year.

Regarding the issue of fire rates of spread. Grass fires spreading at 14 mph have certainly been documented in Australia and fires in conifer forests at about half that rate. These fire behavior facts and associated details are covered in the above mentioned book chapter.


Marty Alexander, PhD, RPF
Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada
6/2 Hey ab, a coworker asked me about available UTF lists. I know this has been discussed before, but I thought since I  was putting together a links list for him, then I might as well copy it to you for those interested. If anyone has a link for the areas I couldn't find, please post it. Thanks!


(below are small pdf downloads of less than 100 K apiece)



Eastern Great Basin


Rocky Mountain



gacc.nifc.gov/wgbc (pdf)


gacc.nifc.gov/eacc (pdf)

gacc.nifc.gov/rmcc (pdf)

gacc.nifc.gov/sacc (pdf)


6/1 Oh yes! We finished Mann Gulch 1949 Always Remember, as well.

I've been interested in the Mann Gulch fire for as long as I can remember. Clever, innately intelligent move on Wag Dodge's part to burn out a safety zone... Norman Maclean's book on Mann Gulch is a fine one. His interest in the incident was shared by many.

My link with Missoula and the fire:
My husband's uncle and Norman Maclean's brother Paul -- the subject of Norman's novella and later movie A River Runs Through It -- were very best friends in Missoula MT during their school years there. The two families (professionals) were friends too. Both young men -- so promising -- tragically died young quite a while before Mann Gulch: The young Maclean is depicted a certain way in the movie A River Runs Through It. Except to say he died in 1938, I won't comment on that. My husband's uncle died in a Model T Ford accident before Paul on a trip home to Missoula from Stanford University in California. Roads and cars were not what they are today. It was a long road trip. Tragic for my husband's family.

None of that relevant to the fire exactly, but part of the conversations about "the old days"  -- that flowed among our family's older (now dead) generation.

  • "I walked 10 miles to school when I was a kid, one way!"
  • "we studied by kerosene lamps even into high school",
  • fishing, deer and moose hunting, and getting lost, "I was the leader"
  • postponing university a year or more because a hailstorm destroyed the entire wheat crop that was to be used for tuition
  • wildland firefighting or firefighting support by every able-bodied person in Montana when needed,
  • summer jobs with the Forest Service

Interesting times. Fascinating stories.

If anyone has any more info to add on any of the Always Remember pages, please let our Always Remember Admin (Operations) know. To protect against spam there's a Contact link in the header bar for messages.


6/1 I finished Henry Kim's page 1991 except for approximate location.

We finished the Romero page 1971.
I still need to get a picture of the memorial on the Inyo if possible.

Joe Stutler says, "The 3 gentlemen who died on the Romero Fire in 1971, their pictures should be on the wall of the INF conference room along with a small memorial."

The Sundance page 1967 is done.

There are some others we've been fine tuning, but things are coming along. Thanks for all the help.


6/1 Many thanks for the info on Henry Kim, lead plane pilot. Thanks Kelly for the old article. I still wonder why NTSB did not do an investigation.

I'm trying to finish up Kim's Always Remember page. Will let you know as soon as it's complete.

Another Request:

Does anyone have a photo of the Inyo NF Memorial (June Lake at Oh!Ridge Campground) to the 3 Inyo NF firefighters that died on the Romero Fire in 1971? The fire was on LPF and Santa Barbara County lands. The link that was on this page no longer works: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/memorials.php  Rino or anyone from the Inyo, you lurking?

Many of the memorial sites that were online just last year are gone. Our folks are retiring and are gone. Some of this history needs to be preserved. It's fascinating.

Thanks for what you all do! and Always Remember!


6/1 Does anyone know if Fritz Cahill still does the Fritz Report for the LPF? It would be interesting to hear what he thinks
this season could be like.

I was browsing and found this one from 2002: www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2003_n_before/fritzrept02.php


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