July, 2011

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7/31 If your 1039 runs out and you are still on workers comp, you will not be laid off and they will, in some cases, cut you a new 1039 and you will work until you are cleared to return to work or you will be laid off as soon as you are cleared.



7/31 Good general discussion threads on the hotlist:

AeroUnion Aitrankers Terminated by the FS

Should we manage fires for Resource Benefit

CalFire cancels VLAT contract

FS Cultural Transformation Letter from Under Secretary Harris Sherman

California - Governor signs bill imposing $150 firefighting fee

Please add any condolences to the thread for Dino Classay's family and friends or send them to me and I'll add them.
Incident within an incident
Condolences thread (add any comments or stories here)

Carry on.


7/31 Hey Ab,

Don't know if anyone has responded to Sandy Foster's post of 7/20 regarding S-378 - Air Attack Management, but there should be a class at McLellan/NCTC next spring. Usually the last week of April and first week of May. I don't know the status of this academy yet, but there should be something out in September regarding California fire training. As you might know, this is a CalFire academy, but well worth the time and money. Feel free to pass on my contact information.


I can't find that e-mail. Perhaps Sandy will get back in touch. Ab.

7/31 If anyone would like to reply to this, the commenting period is over tomorrow:

Greetings; This is our last week of soliciting comments for the Western Cohesive Strategy. For those that have commented already, a big thank you. Many of the comments have been substantive and we’ll use those as we formulate our draft Regional Goals, Objective, Actions and Alternatives. For those that have not taken the opportunity, please consider utilizing the website listed below for your comments. If you’ve already done so and have additional thoughts/comments, we welcome any additional information…we are working on a communications strategy/plan to keep people in the feedback loop as we move from Phase 2 to Phase 3. I’ve copied my previous message with the important information…txs. Joe

My name is Joe Stutler and I have the privilege of working on the Western Regional Strategy Committee, charged with developing Goals, Objectives, Actions and Alternative for the National Cohesive Wildland Strategy. I’ve attached a short document which summarizes our efforts. First we are asking you to utilize our Western Website to provide comments, ideas, suggestions, issues and actions. The web site is located at: http://sites.nemac.org/westcohesivefire/comment-form/  Additionally if you chose to learn more about the National Cohesive Strategy you may go to an additional web site at: www.forestsandrangelands.gov/ .
which has the history and many foundational documents to provide even more context to our efforts. I ask each of you to please assist us with our efforts; if wildland fire is important to you, not only are we asking for your help with the questions, we’re also asking you to share this information with people you know that are also willing to share information and assist us with this effort. Thank you…

Joe Stutler

Deschutes County Forester

7/30 OWCP?

I've just been injured at work, The injury is semi-serious and is going to take about 6-8 months of physical therapy and light duty status essentually. I know that since this happened at work OWCP will cover my medical expenses, what I am not sure about, and my Admin people are looking into right now is if I will be covered for wage compensation after my 1039 runs or I am terminated for the season. I've been told that I am in a 45 day period of continuation of pay from the date of my accident, but there seems to be confusion that after I am laid off if OWCP pay would kick in. Hopefully there is a salty Admin person out here somewhere that can give me a little insight.



7/30 Photos and stories of Steve Uptigrove needed for memorial booklet:

Dear Abs

I was wondering if you would share this with the firefighter community.

August 20th is the second anniversary of my brother's passing. I am putting together a book for my parents of Steve, not one of his memorials, but one of his life. Shortly after his accident there were several wonderful articles from fellow firefighters telling stories of Steve, on They Said. What I am asking for is if anyone has any pictures of Steve on the fire line or in fire camp that they would share with me. If they are not digital they can mail them to me and I promise to return them promptly. Also if anyone has more stories to share I would like those too. I would like to make this book a story of his life in the forest service, a part of him that we know so little about.

Fire fighters are a rare breed. It is not what you do, it is who you are.

You can e-mail stories or picture to me at Linda@ nospam dukewarner.com , or mail them to me at 19675 Poplar Street, Bend, OR 97702 .

Thank you in advance for helping me make this a great tribute.

On the first anniversary, the China Hat Heli Base was dedicated to Steve. It is now called the Steve Uptegrove Memorial Heli Base.
Thank you John . .

from Steve's brother

That's a nice memorial. Ab.

7/30 Check the hotlist. Dry lightning is hammering parts of CA. Ab.
7/30 Two individuals selected to guide Cultural Transformation in the Forest Service and oversee the 100 Hire Club.

Cultural Transformation : Two new leaders appointed to guide agency program
To help meet USDA and Forest Service Cultural Transformation objectives, Chief Tidwell has appointed Carlos Rodriguez Franco as Executive Lead and Rob Harper as Executive Co-Lead for agency implementation of the effort. "My passion is to work with Forest Service leadership to develop an environment of inclusiveness based on a diverse and highly motivated workforce that will make us the workforce of choice," Franco said. Harper added, "We have a great opportunity to make the Forest Service an even better work place as we work with agency leaders at all levels to focus our energy and resources to make a real difference as soon as possible."


Dear USDA Employees,

As you know, Congress is debating how it plans to meet its obligations and raise the debt ceiling so that the country can pay its bills. The President expects that Congress will do its job, enact an increase of the debt ceiling that he can sign into law, and end this impasse.

I am sending this note to remind you that you should plan to come to work next week, as scheduled, at your normal place and time.

The patience, diligence, and professionalism that you all have shown through this challenging time in our Nation's history is something the American people can be proud of you and I am proud of as well.

As Secretary Vilsack has written you before, USDA employees are the Department's most important resource, and we will continue to communicate with you about how we will manage any challenges to remain a premier service provider for the American people.

Thank you for your service,

Krysta Harden
Chief of Staff, USDA
7/30 Funeral: Dino Classay

Updated: Fort Apache Hotshot Deon Dino Classay Dies

7/29 Fort Apache Hotshot Fatality Question:

Any more word on the Fort Apache Fatality. We talked with some of this crew on the Wallow and they were a very nice group of individuals. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them.


7/29 Please read the attached Montana and Dakotas Safety and Fire Alert.

Montana  & Dakotas Safety and Fire Alert (pdf)

text below:

The recent hot temperatures coupled with this spring’s moisture have resulted in an abundance of tall vegetation which is rapidly curing. We are especially concerned about the accidental start of fires due to vegetation accumulating in vehicle skid plates and catalytic converters. Driving on two-tracks or roads with vegetation around them or in the middle of the tracks can and does cause fires!! Your safety is of most importance. Please take the time to do the following:

  1. When possible, avoid taking vehicles off roads or on roads with tall vegetation in the middle. If you must drive off road or on vegetated roads, you’ll need to clean out the undercarriage/skid plate often.
  2. Avoid parking over dry grass and other vegetation. Each day, prior to going to the field, vehicle undercarriages and skid plates must be inspected and cleaned of vegetation. When parking in the field, inspect undercarriages.
  3. All field-going vehicles should carry a fire extinguisher, shovel, water, and radio/cell phone communications.

If a fire starts, you need to use good judgment on whether the fire is small and you can easily put it out with a shovel or water or fire extinguisher. Know when to back off and do not attempt to put out a vehicle fire if it starts to burn. If you are able (cell phone or portable radio), contact fire dispatch and your supervisor. You need to leave the area and find a safe location away from the vehicle if it catches on fire, such as a barren dirt area or a cleared road or rocky area until other resources arrive. Remember to take plenty of drinking water and snacks in case you get stranded for a while.

Offices or group should discuss this issue at upcoming tailgate sessions, staff meetings, or all employee meetings. The following link leads to a helpful powerpoint put together by the HiLine Safety Committee: Motor Vehicle (INTERNAL BLM WEB) (Scroll down and click on Vehicle Converter powerpoint under Vehicle Safety Tips – how to prevent vehicle undercarriage fires).


This vehicle ignited due to vegetation on the undercarriage. The passengers did not have time to get their personal items out of the vehicle, but, thankfully, there were no injuries (July 2011).

7/29 Ecological Restoration Video Podcasts and Leadership Intent

A Letter from the Regional Forester

All Region 5 Employees:

The Region, as you know, is engaging in a 15-20 year effort to restore our forests and grasslands which face in this century, serious threats to their overall sustainability from climate change, unnatural large scale disturbances, non-native invasive species, and our expanding human population. We appreciate all of your work to date in assisting the Region in making inroads to this large and complex effort!

To mitigate or reduce these impacts, our science indicates that we need to pick up the pace and scale of the work we do in order to make a real difference on the land we manage. This will require, in the face of declining budgets we all are feeling, that we identify and leverage our relationships using an "all lands" approach with individuals who can help us get the work done, i.e. our local, state, federal, and tribal partners.

A large portion of our success depends on us continuing to move forward despite varied challenges; adapting and learning together; and then the ability to communicate our Regional vision to the folks we interact with in the daily course of our work; co-worker, citizens, as well as are partners. Your assistance in ensuring the Region’s success in this endeavor cannot be overemphasized—we simply cannot succeed without you. In an effort to ensure you have the correct tools, we asked the RO Public Affairs & Communications staff to develop a series of communication products that are both compelling and tell the Region’s story and vision.

Below you will find links to a new video podcast which will launch our Ecological Restoration video podcast series, "RESTORE." This most recent video podcast tells the story of the Region's vision of Ecological Restoration through 10 of its employees. I have also attached a link to the Region's Leadership Intent document. These tools are part of a series of products that have already been rolled out to Forest Leadership and will continue to be rolled out.

Please take the time to review these communication products and let us know what you think. Your comments are welcome and may be directed to Sherry Reckler, sreckler@ nospam fs.fed.us and Trudy Tucker at ttucker@ nospam fs.fed.us on the PAC staff.

Randy Moore, Regional Forester, Pacific Southwest Region

7/29 This story was sent to you by OLD LPF

Air tankers with a Apple on the side?

Apple has more cash than the U.S. Treasury

Apple is sitting on a pile of money that's bigger than the Treasury's dwindling balance.

By David Sarno, Los Angeles Times

July 30 2011

Apple Inc. may not have more money than God. But it's got more cash than Uncle Sam.

The complete article can be viewed at:
apple cash
7/29 Aero Union Airtanker Contract Canceled

Saw this on the web. How many more have to be grounded before this becomes a big enough crises to get action?
I know I'm dreaming, but I'd like to see Congress pry some of those A-10's mothballed in Tucson from DoD and retrofit them for airtanker duty. Keep costs down by keeping them government owned operated and maintained. This for profit firefighting is a waste of money, like dropping retardant in the wind.

U.S. Forest Service terminates contract with airtanker provider

By Jordan Steffen
The Denver Post

Posted: 07/29/2011 07:03:17 PM MDT
Updated: 07/29/2011 07:03:26 PM MDT

The U.S. Forest Service terminated a contract with Aero Union today, after the company failed to meet inspection requirements on the six airtankers it was providing during wild fire season.

The company, based in Sacramento, Calif., had an exclusive-use contract with the Forest Service, which used the tankers to fight forest fires across the country, including Colorado, according to the Forest Service.

The Forest Service signed with Aero Union in 2008. How many times the tankers were used in Colorado during the five-year contract, was not immediately available.

In April 2011, Aero Union told the Forest Service that the Federal Aviation Administration determined that the company was not in compliance with its mandated structural inspection program.

"Our main priority is protecting and saving lives, and we can't in good conscience maintain an aviation contract where we feel lives may be put at risk due to inadequate safety practices," Tom Harbour, director of the Forest Service's Fire and Aviation Management program, said in a statement.

The Forest Service said that it has enough aircraft support to finish this year's fire season.

A backup supply of private and military aircraft will be re-located to stations across the country during the next few days.

A new contract will be out in the next six months.

Hotlist discussion started this morning... Ab.

7/29 Needles Lookout Tower gone...

From CS:

Sequoia Lookout Tower Destroyed by Fire

The historic Needles Lookout Tower, constructed in the Sequoia National Forest in 1937, has been destroyed by fire.

The Needles Tower sat on a granite pinnacle at an elevation of 8,245 about 2.5 miles off the Western Divide Highway, State Route 190.

It’s unknown what caused the fire but it was not related to the Lion wildfire. (more at link)

Hotlist on Needles lookout discussion.

7/29 Making the rounds...

Subject: Survey: " MAYDAY" vs. "EMERGENCY TRAFFIC" use

On behalf of the FIRESCOPE Safety Specialist Group, we are conducting a survey to determine what type of verbiage is utilized on critical incidents when a Firefighter Emergency occurs or a hazardous condition is imminent. In your responses

  • please summarize which of the above terms is currently in your policy and
  • the department you work for.
  • If you use the two terms in conjunction and on different circumstances, please also explain.
  • If you have an adjoining department or jurisdiction that would also like to participate please feel free to forward to them as well.

Thank you for your time in assisting with this pertinent information, we on FIRESCOPE are trying to determine what the future might hold for the use of these terms.

Please send all responses to anthony.stornetta@ nospam sbcfire.com (take out the nospam and spaces)

Thank you,

Anthony Stornetta
Fire Captain Santa Barbara County Fire Department
FIRESCOPE Safety Specialist Group Chair

7/29 From Wildfire96 on the hotlist:


7/29 1045 WBC
The Forest Service terminated the heavy air tanker contract with Aero Union effective today. This takes the P3's T-17, T-21, T-22, T-23, T-27 and T-00 out of service.


Ab addition of the link: news and notes

7/28 Ab, please give wide distribution.

campaign.r20 (no longer live)

Here's hoping the perpetrators are caught and punished severely.


This story of vandalism of 1999 fallen wildland firefighter Matthew Black's grave also came in from Vicki Minor at the WFF while I was out of town. She additionally included more on Matt.


7/28 All,

Randy Moore has ordered R5 Line Officers to stay with the standard module configurations for the rest of FY 2011. No cuts in 2011. All of us including Feinstein and Boxer will do what we need to do to make sure the same holds true for 2012.

Don't let nervous and jittery types tell you that everything is doom and gloom. They are seeking attention, so forgive them for they know not what they do.


File Code: 6520
Date: July 27, 2011
Subject: FY 2011 Budget - Financial Plans
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors

In this week’s meetings with Forest Supervisors and Directors one of the areas we discussed was the budget. As a result I need to clearly state my intent on the budget:

§ There will be no deficits in any appropriated fund, except Fire Preparedness. Incurring a deficit to meet a target does not provide an authorization to incur a deficit. Please provide statements of what the consequences of these actions will be to the Budget Staff for presentation to the Regional Forester Team. If you have already submitted your response you do not need to resubmit a response.

§ In the Fire Preparedness program the Region has realized savings as a result of responding to fires outside of Region 5. I expect Line Officers to stay involved in supporting management efficiencies, such as holding to the standard model configuration and continued attention to managing travel costs. The Regional Forester Team is working closely with the Chief and WO Fire and Aviation Staff on our current situation.

§ Deficits incurred in FY 2011 appropriated funds will result in FY 2012 budget allocations reduced by a like amount. This would be in addition to reduced FY 2012 budgets that are expected in appropriated funds.

Please provide your responses to John De La Torre by August 1.

/s/ Daniel J. Jirón (for)
Regional Forester

cc: pdl r5 budget contacts

7/28 Rob,

I got through most of Heather, John and Steve's 2002 Always Remember page today. Still have to find a few theysaid entries for links and there are some media articles and a memorial a handcrew built in 2008 or so...

In their memories... on the 9th anniversary of their deaths...

And thanks to the hotshots that brought them home and the Kentucky crew that stayed with the living.

And the hotshots that went on to hook the fire safely...

The photos, the teams, the crews working the fire, those at home on the Lassen, those that knew and worked with them, all were and are touched and changed by their deaths.

If anyone has more info to add, send it in please.

Always Remember Stanza Engine 11

John Wendt if you're reading from Africa or wherever you're currently helping people to set up ICS, love you, m'dear.


Stanley and others.

I also added the last photos and finished Smitty Smith's, Gary Cockrell and Lisa Netsch's 1995 page.

Thanks Al for those images of the Cactus Garden and Plaque for Smitty.

Always Remember Lead 56 and Tanker 19


7/28 Bill,

I sent you some info that came to me from a knowledgeable person. Good Luck...


7/28 Here are some of my photos from the Wallow Fire AZ I happen to be a TFDD on this one. Have a good day.


Thanks, Bill. I put them on Fire 46 photo page. Ab.

7/28 Fuels class schedules needed.

I am looking for some fuels classes. Specifically, how do determine fuel types using the new fuel models, fuel bed analysis, fuel loading, composition, etc. I would prefer online or self study types of courses, since the the new travel cap and budgets severely limit the amount of training we can attend. Course eligible for upper level college credits would be nice, but not a requirement.

Any help out there would be appreciated.

R9 Engine Captain

7/28 Please take time this day to remember the crew of LNF Engine 11.

Nine years ago this morning Steve, Heather and John were taken from us in a vehicle accident on the Stanza Fire.

With the rash of vehicle accidents recently, I feel it's important to remember the past and learn for the future. Driving is one of the most dangerous things firefighters do. Stay alert, take your time and know your limits.

Heathers namesake, my wee girl Elizabeth Heather insisted since she could talk that I drive to fast. "Slow down daddy, slow down!" I've explained to her many times that I'm traveling at the federally mandated speed limit. Currently she has switched her tactic to the following: "Be careful daddy, we don't want to get dead.", "Copy Elizabeth, be careful." At four years old, I wonder if she understands the weight of those words. At 18 and up, we all should. We miss you Steven, Heather and John.


Another great loss. Thanks for remembering, Rob. I'm told their Always Remember page is in the works. Ab.

7/27 100 Hire Club

It's time for the Chief of the Forest Service and Randy Moore to send out an all employee email and explain what is going on. USDA has been asked to provide clarification to employees as well. Elected officials will be contacted. Regardless if these are fire or non-fire jobs, employees must receive clarification with what is going on. We are entitled to know which positions are targeted for preferential selection.

Veterans groups are concerned this action is violating elements of the 2008 and 2010 GI Bill.

Forest and Regional job vacancies are being sent to DC for selection and now we hear Fire Managers are being used to organize to facilitate the hiring process.


Caring for the Land and.........
7/27 From: Davis, Mark
Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 4:13 PM
To: FS-pdl wo ops hrm fsc locals
Cc: FS-pdl wo ops hrm fsc executive board
Subject: Many supervisory firefighters now eligible for union representation and membership

Local Presidents,

Please forward to employees in Fire. All supervisory firefighter positions at grade GS-9 or below, with the exception of any Fire Management Officer (FMO) positions, in organized units are now in the bargaining unit. See the attached Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for details. This means employees in these positions are now covered by the Master Agreement and union representation under it. It does not mean that these Fire supervisors are automatically union members, but it does mean they now have the honor of being able to join the union that fights so hard for them every day. If you are a leader in Fire and want to get involved to make your organization a better one, there is no more effective way to do so than by joining up and getting involved using the avenues that are now available to you. The Council has a Fire Committee that works on national issues, and we could use your leadership and knowledge. The door is now wide open for leaders in Fire to make a difference.

To find out more about NFFE, including how you can join, contact your Local President (see NFFE Local Contact Report pdf) or Regional Council Vice-President (see NFFE About). You can also join directly over the internet at NFFE Join.

We all owe Brother Ron Angel, Council Vice-President for Region 1 and Fire Committee Chair, for leading this effort that has culminated with these deserving men and women in fire having more rights and more opportunities to engage in making their workplace better. He was ably assisted in this effort by Secretary-Treasurer Melissa Baumann. Please join me in thanking Ron and Melissa and in welcoming these new members of our bargaining unit.

In solidarity,

Mark Davis, President
NFFE Forest Service Council

Attachment: 110719 MOU Fire BU Status.pdf

7/27 I have often stressed the need for Professional Liability Insurance and we think FEDS is not only the best, but also the best for the money. Here's a message from FEDS. The webinar is free. Great opportunity to find out what they offer. Ab.


You are invited to participate in FEDS Free Webinar on
Professional Liability Insurance
August 25, 2011
3:00 PM EDT

  • Learn what it means for a federal employee to have professional liability exposure - and which employees are most at risk.
  • Understand what a professional liability insurance policy provides and how it protects against professional exposure as well as financial exposure.
  • Find out which employees are eligible for agency reimbursement up to half the cost of the policy and why.


Course Content

The potential liabilities that exist and the reasons for which federal employees purchase professional liability insurance are vastly different. This course is designed to explain what "professional liability exposure" means to all federal employees and what a professional liability insurance policy that is specifically designed for federal employees provides.

Course Instruction

This course will be taught by Anthony F. Vergnetti, President and Founder of Federal Employee Defense Services (FEDS). Prior to founding FEDS, Mr. Vergnetti was a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm Shaw, Bransford, Veilleux & Roth, P.C. where he specialized in federal personnel and employment law, representing federal employees in disciplinary action cases, employment discrimination complaints, whistleblower and prohibited personnel practice cases, Inspector General (IG) and Internal Affairs investigations, security clearance issues (including federal contractors), and other federal employment matters in various forums, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Department of Hearings and Appeals (DOHA), as well as the federal district and appellate courts. Mr. Vergnetti has also provided legal representation to small federal agencies on a multitude of federal personnel law matters.

What is a Webinar?

A Webinar combines visual content displayed via the web with audio delivered through the telephone. To participate, the attendee site will need a computer with web access and a phone line. The visual material (PowerPoint presentation) will be supplied by FEDS at the time of the webinar. The audio portion will be provided by the presenter via phone line.

For more information about your professional liability exposure today,
call 866.955.FEDS or visit us at www.fedsprotection.com .


Pot Mt Fire Idaho 1934

crew pic

anamerican family history.com

On They Said someone was looking for info about the Pot Mountain Fire in 1934

Google --> Pot Mountain fire, Idaho 1934


Has several possibilities but nothing specific if she wants to look...

No Name

7/27 Pot Mountain:

Linda Dau Gray,

Pot Mountain is located on the old Kelly Creek Ranger District, on the Clearwater National Forest, Idaho, which is currently part of the North Fork Ranger District, Clearwater National Forest. Someone more adept in Forest Service history may correct me, but I believe that in 1934, this would have been administratively on the Lolo National Forest, headquartered in Montana. While working on the Kelly Creek Ranger District in the 1970s, I had access to historical maps, fire records, and old hand-drawn atlases which indicated locations of fires by name, size, and year. Individual fire reports dating back to the 1930s would be hard to come by, although some files may indeed have been preserved. I have seen original hand-written lookout logs dating back to the 1930s, which contained detailed references to specific fires within the lookouts seen area. I would guess that these documents, if available, currently reside in the Clearwater NF achieves.

A recommended book about the Kelly Creek and Bungalow Ranger Districts during the 1930s & 1940s, is “Smokechaser” by Warren Yahr, available from Amazon.com -- Also, here’s the website for contacts on the North Fork Ranger District, CNF, via Grangeville Dispatch that may be of help: North Fork Ranger District, Clearwater Nat’l Forest

Good luck with your research,

Mark A. Smith
Kooskia, Idaho

7/27 100 Hire Club

I would like to thank Mark and Melissa for your letter to the Chief.

It is being reported that a NIMO Team has been mobilized to DC to work on hiring the 100 positions. Slow season I guess.

So Cal Canyon Racer
7/27 100 Hire Club

2011 flashback "1982" hiring standards "Quotas"a.k.a.Merits. It doesn't matter what your Qualifications are as long as long as you fall into the two chosen categories. So you might as well just tear up your red cards, it's all out the door now and now too the operation managers and base mangers who have the last word. How long are you willing to play this game because it all comes "up" to you when hiring "quotas "over" qualifications" not the P. C. groups. I hope it doesn't come down to twelve good people and a judge because you went for the quota over qualification and safety. So just pull up your panties and get to work now.


7/27 Question on Pot Mountain fire


Do you have any information or know where I could look to find the circumstances, etc., of a fire on Pot Mountain near Pierce, Idaho in 1934? Would appreciate anything you can tell me.

My Dad fought that fire.

Thank you,

Linda Dau Gray

7/26 A good post, written by the Forest Service Operations Risk Management Specialist.



Thanks for the good wishes and for sharing Larry's good email below. Our risk management folks are the best. Ab.


Today marks the 3-year anniversary of Chief Dan Packer's death on the Panther Fire, July 26, 2008. Like all such anniversary dates, it is cause for some somber reflection about how badly things can go wrong in our profession. We can never afford to let up on our efforts to prevent such outcomes. However, on this date there is also good reason for some positive thought: the loss of Chief Packer on this date 3 years ago was the last ground firefighting fatality experienced by the Forest Service. That means we have just experienced three years in a row with no ground firefighting fatalities! I think that is remarkable and a real tribute not only to folks who work in the safety and risk management arenas, but to our entire work force. A lot of difficult and meaningful work has gone into creating this kind of safety, and a lot will always remain to be done. 

Three years in a row without a ground firefighting fatality in the Forest Service is a big deal. Outside the last 3 years, there was only one year since 1999 when we did not experience a ground firefighting fatality in the Forest Service (2005). There is no period since 1990 when we had even two years in a row with no ground firefighting fatalities, until the last 3 years. It appears that our entrapment numbers have declined significantly as well, to the point where we should probably ask the question "are we really getting better?" Look at a couple of different years in one geographic area, say the Southwest. In 1996 by this date, about 328,000 acres had burned in the Southwest geographic area and about 3 Million acres had burned nationwide. Two different, very significant shelter deployments had also occurred in the Southwest, totaling 69 shelters deployed (Dome and Hochderffer). By July 26, 1996, there had been a total of 92 firefighters entrapped on incidents nationwide, and by year-end the total of entrapped firefighters reached 200. In 2011, by this date the Southwest has seen over 1.94 Million acres burned and nationally almost 6 Million acres have burned. This year to date there have been two separate entrapments in the Southwest, for a total of 4 firefighters involved. 

Regardless of whether we are improving the practice of our profession or not, we must always remember our fallen and constantly re-dedicate ourselves to the intent that everyone comes home. We continue to experience plenty of accidents and near misses. Our partner agencies have experienced entrapments and fatalities this year. Please take some time to review the Panther investigation report as well as other published accident analyses and think deeply on how we can continue to prevent this type of outcome.

Panther Fire Accident Investigation Report (pdf download)

Larry Sutton
Fire Operations Risk Management Specialist
U.S. Forest Service - National Interagency Fire Center

7/26 Hiring Pause:

Making the rounds... Sent in by Concerned

Chief Tidwell,

The NFFE Forest Service Council (NFFE-FSC) has received a number of comments and concerns from employees about the “hiring pause” and the 100 associated diversity hires as outlined in your July 19, 2011 email. We share many of their concerns.

To summarize, we have been informed that this initiative is about hiring individuals from groups that are under-represented in the agency, such as racial minorities and disabled individuals. It is unclear whether women, also under-represented in the Forest Service workforce, will be targeted in this effort. Also, it is unclear whether these targeted hires will fill critical mission needs or if all available vacant positions, regardless of their critical need, may be used to achieve diversity goals for which these 100 positions have been allocated.

NFFE-FSC strongly supports the Secretary's goal of cultural transformation. Bias and discrimination have no place in our proud agency. However, we have serious reservations about this quick fix, which focuses solely on generating immediate increases in hiring statistics. Statistics can measure the symptom, but they cannot get at the root causes. It is these causes that we must identify and address in a thoughtful way. We believe an "ends justifies the means" focus on symptoms rather than causes is counterproductive to the ultimate goal of a genuine and lasting cultural transformation. We believe the agency must change course to achieve this goal.

Cultural transformation requires a more comprehensive approach that promotes inclusiveness rather than division. A comprehensive strategy is needed to address outreach, selection, and retention. NFFE-FSC is encouraged by recent opportunities to address unconscious bias using local hiring panels with regional level oversight of the merit selection process. We have suggested and will continue to advocate for policies such as the Positive Work Environment program and use of Reprisal Panels to quickly address hostile work environments that negatively impact retention rates. We also support an effective workforce succession program that provides mentoring for new employees. This would not only increase retention but also improve job satisfaction for all employees who care deeply that their knowledge is passed to the next generation of workers. Policies such as these will address the root causes behind the statistics. They will ensure that individuals are selected and retained based on merit, not on factors that do not affect their ability to perform. They will bring greater accountability to those whose actions and inactions negatively affect retention rates. They will bring about a more fair and just workplace in which all employees may thrive.

NFFE-FSC will continue to reach out to you and the Department on these issues. Meanwhile, we must discharge our representational responsibilities. Accordingly, we underscore the agency’s obligations under Master Agreement Article 16 to advertise bargaining unit positions prior to filling and to consider internal candidates concurrently with external candidates. Also, we note that current agency employees have rights pursuant to Section 2000e-16 of Title 42 and to Section 2302(b) of Title 5 of the US Code. We respectfully request that you communicate how you will comply with these contractual and statutory obligations in the context of the plan laid out in your July 19 email and subsequent related documents.

We sincerely hope that the current agency approach will not impede progress toward the worthy goals of cultural transformation. We share the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr., that “children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” However, we also subscribe to Dr. King’s warning, that “in the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.

I will do all I can to help keep us on track. To employees who have expressed their frustration with the current situation, I will ask for their patience and understanding as we seek to transform the Forest Service. We face many difficult challenges and there are bound to be bumps in the road as we feel our way forward. We need to keep things in perspective. What we face today pales in comparison to what Dr. King and his brothers and sisters faced in 1963. To those who may feel themselves pushed in the direction of “bitterness and hatred,” I will urge them to read and reflect on the words of a true genius and great American hero (mlkonline.net/ speeches.phpl) and to reflect on the challenges faced by those working for civil rights in our great nation. In comparison, what we face here is a very small bump indeed. Together, we will get past it.

In closing, I want to unequivocally state that NFFE-FSC will warmly welcome all new hires to the Forest Service and represent them to the best of our abilities.

/s/ Mark Davis
Mark Davis, President NFFE Forest Service Council
/s/ Melissa Baumann
Melissa Baumann, Secretary-Treasurer NFFE Forest Service Council

7/26 Making the rounds:

A significant development that has been in the works seems to be coming soon. More official details need to come out, but it looks like organizational bargaining status changes are coming. 

Forest Supervisors and FMOs. I wanted to give you all a heads up on a change in status for some of our employees who are now eligible for union representation. As I get more information, I will pass that information on to all of you. I have not received any email or letters from the WO, but I did get confirmation from the WO on a phone. Thanks.

Joe Millar
Director - Fire & Aviation Management
US Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region

Fire Committee Chair Ron Angel and Washington Office (WO) Director for Fire and Aviation Management (FAM) Tom Harbour have signed an agreement to bring all GS-9s and below in the fire organization. With the exception of GS-9 Fire Management Officers (FMOs), these positions will now be in the bargaining unit. As of today, any employee in one of these positions that is interested in joining the union may submit an 1187 to their local union to start payroll deductions. (Click on the JOIN NOW! link to the right.) This is a national agreement. If there are any problems please contact Ron immediately.

7/26 Rappel update.

Date: July 13, 2011
Subject: National Rappel Program Update for July 2011
To: Regional Foresters 

The National Consolidated Rappel Training recently concluded in the Pacific Northwest Region (PNW) in John Day, Oregon, with 254 veteran and rookie rappellers successfully completing the training and 38 contract pilots completing rappel evaluation flights. The trainees included PNW, Northern, Intermountain and Pacific Southwest region personnel. The PNW region hosted a complex and dynamic training session which was very successful and set the standard for future rappel training.

The National Rappel Quality Assurance Team (NRQAT) reviewed the PNW component of the National Rappel Program in 2010 and in 2011 and conducted the same review of the Northern, Intermountain, and Pacific Southwest regions and bases. The NRQAT also attended the National Consolidated Rappel Training in June 2011. Based on the NRQAT’s recommendations, the Northern, Intermountain and Pacific Southwest bases were approved for re-activation on June 28, 2011, by Tom Harbour, Director of Fire and Aviation Management. The PNW region was fully approved on April 1, 2011, based on the 2010 Quality Assurance review and actual operations.

The bases that are now approved for national rappel operations are below:

  • Northern Region – Gallatin
  • Intermountain – Boise, Payette 1 & 2 and Salmon 1 & 2
  • Pacific Southwest – Scott Valley (Klamath N.F.) and Trimmer (Sierra N.F.)
  • Pacific Northwest – Frazier (Umatilla N.F.), John Day (Malheur N.F.), Prineville (Ochoco N.F.), Siskiyou, Sled Springs (Wallowa-Whitman N.F.) and Wenatchee.

These helicopter rappel crews are fully functional for initial attack, extended attack, and large fire support. Proficiency rappels may be necessary away from the home unit and if assigned to a fire personnel and aircraft time shall be charged to the fire P-Code. Appendix N of the Interagency Helicopter Rappel Guide recommends that proficiency rappels be conducted “away from the helibase to prevent distractions to the helibase operations and rappel modules.”

The National Rappel Specialist position is filled by detailer Brandon Culley (541-620-xxxx). This position will be advertised and filled by the end of calendar year 2011. Brandon should be the point of contact for all rappel operational questions and issues through August 2011. Rappel Quality Assurance Operations reviews coordinated with the regions will be conducted with each of the 14 bases or helicopters during this season. These reviews will focus on maintenance of the rappel standards and procedures in the 2011 Interagency Helicopter Rappel Guide.

An After Action Review with the four regions will be conducted following the 2011 season and will review operational and program objectives, quality assurance processes, SAFECOMs, lessons learned, and rappel operations.

In 2012, National Consolidated Rappel Training will be held at several locations by a National Rappel Training Cadre. Each of the training sessions will consist of an inter-regional mix of national rappel bases. Planning for these training sessions is now underway.

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

7/26 Deon Classay named as LODD Fort Apache Hotshot:

Authorities Probing Firefighter Death in Arizona 

43 year old Deon Classay, a member of the Ft. Apache IHC since 1990 leaves behind a wife, two children, and two grandchildren. This name was released today to media outlets by BIA officials.

Thoughts and prayers go out to Deon's family, the Ft. Apache IHC, and the entire wildland firefighting community.


I appreciate that the federal agencies are sensitive to different cultures and practices. Thanks to those in charge and to the WFF for their contacts and expertise. Sorry for the loss of Deon. Ab.

7/26 Tuesday July 26, 2011

Today marks the third anniversary of the Panther Fire burn over on the Happy Camp district of the Klamath National Forest. Fire Chief Daniel Packer, 49 , of Bonney Lake, Washington died on July 26th, 2008 as a result of that burn over.

Please take a moment to remember Chief Packer.

Always Remember Daniel Packer 

Tom Bagwell
Panther Air Attack
7/25 I've been thinking of Andy Palmer today, his family, his friends, his crewmates. Andy, three years gone...


7/25 There was a cabin fire in central Pennsylvania early Friday morning. One of the people who died was a firefighting Forester. I fought fire with him. It's a small forest district and everyone was hit hard, not to mention the family.

Police Confirm 4 Dead in Cabin Fire

Please keep everyone in thoughts and prayers.


Condolences. Ab.

7/24 For Sacmedic:

Actually, Marin has about twice as many SRA acres as Orange County, but somehow receives about $100K less than Orange, per the Gray Book. All the other Contract Counties are much larger.


7/24 Fort Apache Hotshot fatality:


FROM: Lynn Polacca, BIA, Fort Apache Agency Deputy Superintendent

TO: Lyle Carlile, BIA, National Interagency Fire Center, Fire Director


LOCATION: Diamond Fire, Whiteriver, AZ
TIME OF OCCURRENCE: Approximately 0600 hours (Arizona Time)
TEAM LEADER (POSITION): Incident Commander, Type 4
ACTIVITY: Wildland Fire Suppression


The lightning caused Diamond Fire was reported to Show Low Dispatch on Saturday, July 23rd, 2011 at approximately 1200 hours Arizona time. The location of the fire was confirmed by a helicopter to be north of the Black River on Fort Apache, approximately 2.5 miles northeast of Ten of Diamonds Ranch.

The Fort Apache Helitack and Fort Apache Hotshots were dispatched as Initial Attack resources and were flown to a helispot located on a ridge top on Patty Butte near the fire start. Terrain in the area is steep and rocky with a dense woodlands fuel type. Following completion of a handline around the approximately 35 acre fire all resources hiked back up to the helispot (spike camp). As resources returned to helispot, the Incident Commander determined that one firefighter was not accounted for and initiated a search to locate the missing firefighter. The firefighter was in possession of a handheld radio and attempts to contact him throughout the evening were not successful. After several sweeps of the area, law enforcement from local, county and state agencies were requested to assist with the search efforts. Search efforts continued throughout the night until the missing firefighter was found deceased at 6:18 am.

A Critical Incident Stress Management and a Serious Accident Investigation Team have been ordered.

SUBMITTED BY: Lynn Polacca, BIA, Fort Apache Agency, Deputy Superintendent

Condolences. Ab.

7/24 CA-Lion Fire

Inciweb says they have changed their containment estimate to 22,000 acres


7/24 FS Cultural Transformation Letter from Under Secretary Harris Sherman

From several contributors, thanks; comment of one person below:

regarding the confusion about hiring...it's all about diversity.

From: Chief Tom Tidwell
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 11:21 AM
Subject: FS Cultural Transformation Letter from Under Secretary Harris Sherman
TO: All Forest Service Employees
FROM: Harris D. Sherman
Under Secretary, Natural Resources and Environment

SUBJECT: Cultural Transformation

As we pass the halfway mark for 2011, I want to take the time to thank each of you for your dedication to the important work you do. Your service is critically important to both the health of our natural resources, and the vitality of the people and communities who visit our lands or depend on your work.

In the spirit of Caring for the Land and Serving People, I also want to take the opportunity to talk to you about Cultural Transformation. As most of you know, Secretary Vilsack's Initiative on Cultural Transformation focuses on ensuring that every USDA employee works in an environment that is supportive, inclusive, and high-performing, and where all employees and customers are treated with dignity and respect, and provide the opportunity for success.

The Forest Service is implementing an action plan for Cultural Transformation. The overarching values of diversity and inclusiveness are imbedded throughout this plan. We strive to create a culture where diversity and inclusiveness are understood, valued, discussed, and leveraged to advance the Agency's mission.

A key part of inclusiveness is providing a workplace environment where employees are respected and valued for their contributions and can expect recognition and career advancement based on job performance alone. Equally important, there is no place for discrimination within our Agency. We have a zero tolerance policy for any act of discrimination, and we respect the right of any employee to raise their concerns without facing coercion, restraint, or retaliation.

The Cultural Transformation Initiative is a Departmental and an Agency journey, but it is also a personal journey for each of us. The responsibility for creating such an environment rests with every member of the Forest Service family. Each of us must ask ourselves: As I do my work, am I also contributing to an inclusive, respectful, empowered work environment? Am I respecting and valuing all colleagues and members of the public, regardless of their race, sex, age, color, national origin, disability, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, political affiliation, or background? Each of us can and must help to create the stronger, better, and more inclusive and empowering environment that we want to see.
I am committed to this cultural transformation journey, and to achieving these outcomes. I trust that I can count on all of you to demonstrate this same dedication to making the Forest Service and USDA an inclusive, high-performing organization. Thank you for your commitment.

FS_Cultural_Transformation.pdf (74 K pdf)

7/24 Sacmedic,

You are correct, Marin was purposely left out only for the fact that the So Cal Contract Counties had been meeting on their own for sometime regarding training issues, no other reason.

Yellow Angel
7/24 Anonymous,

I am clear on the CICCS requirements as I am a qualified FEMP as well as MEDL. I was just not sure if, as the OP stated, all the “contract” counties were actually playing by the book. Sometimes Marin is left out of the “contract” county listing as their percentage of the state money for being a “contract” county is considerably less than the others. That was all…


7/23 Forest Service 100 Hire Club

Additional information on the "Forest Service 100 Hire Club" is hard to come by. It is not clear what the intent is of this new initiative. It appears that one National Forest is confused about what the Washington Office is doing and wrote a letter to the Regional Office asking for clarification.

"We are unclear about the details of how the 100 positions to be recruited by the national team will be filled. It is our assumption in this reply that the national team will assist with national outreach and recruitment. If there are further commitments related to identifying positions for this process we would appreciate further dialog. We are also unclear about the process used."


7/23 This may help Sacmedic. CICCS

Also a google search will find you additional information on CICCS.


7/23 Yellow Angel,

You left out Marin County as a California “contract” county. They are one, but may not have agreed to what the SoCal contract counties are doing. 

Do you have any insight on this?


7/22 Regarding Fireline EMT quals,

Besides the CICCS requirements, the Contract Counties of CA (Kern, L.A., Orange, Santa Barbara and Ventura) have agreed to require their FEMTs to also have S-290, S-270 and a recognized GPS/Navigation course.

Yellow Angel
7/22 Here's a FS FAQ pdf on the Occupational series (Firefighter):

FS Fire Management IFPM Documents: faqs-occupational-series (pdf)

Links to other information can be found here: IFPM Documents

For those sending me documents, I am working remotely on my laptop and am not able to access all email accounts often. (Thanks for the message on the link error.) I do monitor the Ab account. I do not have the usual phone or any phone without a trip to the summit. Email (or hotlist PM) Ab if you need to talk.

I do have a pair of nesting bald eagles and no smoke!


7/21 Re Hiring Pause:

What the Chief is outlining is disgraceful. Whether this is for fire or non-fire positions, it is going backwards 50 years. I will fight this, I will educate someone tonight about his memo. 

They have been dancing around this subject for the past 6 months. This memo outlines the 100 Hire Club. 

When I was a kid, I remember my mom telling me stories about Doctor Martin Luther King. She loved him dearly and she always told me to remember the importance of his messages. As a country we have come so far, and many of us work hard to build and embrace a diverse work environment. 
But we can't embrace violations of merit promotion, we can't embrace quotas. 

This will not be allowed to continue. I ask for your help with backing down our Chief and have him explain in detail how the 100 Hire Club works. 


7/21 Re Hiring Pause:

Our message as it relates to federal wildland fire management is that you either pay us now by maintaining our strong firefighter capability that we built over the past decade. Or you will pay a lot more later with  increased large fire events. 

Less Wildland Firefighters = Less Program of Work completed on the local level. 

Less Wildland Firefighters = More Large Fire Events. 

Some related comments from the Hotlist.......

  • The public is supposed to believe that reducing engine staffing 25% won't make any difference in fire suppression. The fact is that reducing staffing from 4 to 3 creates a 44% net loss in productivity.
  • Production and safety are the key reasons FS R5 Engines went to a 5 person staffing.

All personnel working on the new R-5 MEL Crews both Type II IA and IHCs, each of you must be heard from.

All personnel working on the new R-5 MEL Engines, each of you must be heard.

Keep active, educate elected officials as to the importance of effective initial attack. We are not asking for more, we are not asking for extra, we are asking to maintain our strength.


7/21 Hello all -

The attached Non-Serious Accident Report pertains to an incident that happened on the Pains Bay Fire (NC) earlier this year. It serves as an excellent reminder to maintain good communications, think ahead, and expect the unexpected. It may also serve well as a 6 Minutes for Safety discussion.

(See attached file: PBF - Nonserious Incident (Truck & Marsh Master) Report) (34 K doc file)

Ted Mason
USFWS, National Fire Safety Specialist

7/21 Re Hiring Pause:

He he he...take the day off. You are TOO funny! But thanks for the sentiment.

Ever the optimist, I continue to hope that someday a Chief of the Forest Service...any Chief of the Forest Service, will recognize his/her responsibility not only to the Administration but his/her employees and the taxpayers.

I am thrilled to say that the FWFSA and NFFE are clearly on the same page with respect to the Agency's focus on "diversity" hiring as it relates to the management of an effective & efficient wildfire program. Add to that every member of CongreNorth Fork Ranger District, Clearwater Nat’l Forest Forest concurs that crew cohesion i.e. hiring someone with experience & expertise trumps hiring for the sole purpose of diversity. This job isn't about making widgets. Its about making life & death decisions in split seconds. Crew cohesion relies on the understanding of each crew member as to what the other is going to do.

As a firefighter for 25 years, moving up the ranks, the epitome of crew cohesion was the luxury of NOT having to yak and yak and yak on any given incident because each of the crew members knew what to expect from the other and they knew their jobs. It is absolutely critical in this business. For crying out loud, hasn't the Chief looked at the make up of his firefighters? I can't think of a more diverse group of folks.

I am disappointed that once again, a Chief of the Forest Service is raising a concern about the costs of hiring inherently less expensive federal wildland firefighters (granted his comments were addressing agency-wide hiring, not just firefighters) yet failing to recognize that the alternative, given the continued losses we see of firefighters through leaving the federal system for better pay & benefits and early retirement because they are simply fed up, is to spend even more on non-federal resources. Am I the only one that doesn't make sense to?

A "fresh approach" to recruitment & outreach should have nothing to do with gender or race and EVERYTHING to do with merit, experience and expertise, especially in the fire business. And, as I will continue to say until I die, ANY recruitment & outreach has to include incentives for qualified folks not only to enter the federal system but stay in it as well.

Yet the Agency will continue to spend tax dollars to rely on some local government FFs making $200,000-300,000 annually by taking federal wildfire assignments yet balk at hiring their own less expensive firefighters. I remain baffled.

Finally, the Chief states that the ELT has committed to improve workforce diversity throughout the agency "by hiring 100 highly qualified individuals into the Forest Service in the next 30 days." That's great Chief. But if some of these are in FIRE, given the issues your firefighters have made the agency aware of for the past 25 years; given the serious demoralization of the workforce etc., what are you going to do to retain these employees?

We all are aware of some in Fire Management Positions that have no business being in those positions. We all are aware of the "promotions" the Agency made in 2008 to appease Congress that led to folks taking positions they themselves knew they were not ready for.

Now, Fire managers are faced with Line Officers making hiring decisions. Why does the Agency insist on those that are not experts in any given occupation, be given the authority to hire for that occupation?

The employees of the FS fire program are highly diverse. Why, after all these years of failing to implement policies that bring in and retain the brightest, and years after legal action on this very issue, is the Agency back forcing such nonsense down the throat of its employees?

What is the impetus for this resurrection of diversity hiring? Diversity is the least of the Agency's worries if those that attend Fire Hires are forced to reach down to level 3 candidates on the very first day. That should tell the Agency that despite the economic climate, it isn't doing what is necessary to attract qualified candidates and little to retain them.

It is the responsibility of all of you in the fire program to let your thoughts be known to the Chief and elected officials. Sadly, politicians will only get involved when a disaster occurs as a result of someone hired into or promoted into a position based upon the "D" word. That isn't a question of "if" but rather of "when."

Get involved. Speak up.


7/21 Casey:

Happy Birthday! Take the day off! 

Thanks for the excellent work you do in DC and across the country on behalf of Federal Wildland Firefighters.


Happy Birthday, Casey! What would wildland firefighters do without you??? Ab.

7/21 Captain 64,

Yes, I know your name and I know your lovely face but I prefer to call you Captain 64 -- one of many super heroes who came into our lives to help us through such a difficult time. 

Today marks two year's since TJ's accident. Can't believe it is two years. We are missing him. 

I wanted to wish you well, say thank you once again, and remind you that what you did for us was so lovely and special. Also -- remembering and laughing at out meeting outside the Capital in Sacramento -- still one of the best chance encounters of my life! I'm so happy we were able to share a few laughs together on that day!

You stay safe, Captain 64!

Thank you for all you did for TJ and for the family -- simply lovely. 

Aunt Marlene

Aunt Marlene, give our best wishes to your extended family. 
Captain 64, I don't have your email address on my laptop... I'm thinking of you too. Ab.

7/21 Hiring Pause:



From: Tom Tidwell/WO/USDAFS
Date: 07/19/2011 01:14 PM
To: pdl wo chief nlc and exec assistants@FSNOTES
Subject: Hiring Pause

We don't want to face a situation where the final budget levels are approved midway through the fiscal year that cause us to take unplanned and drastic action to achieve required savings. We need to act prudently pending final budget action.
Because of this uncertainty, effective Tuesday, July 19, we will pause agency hiring activity until more clarity is available. This pause will allow us to get a sense of what our FY2012 funding will be, compare it to our workforce needs, complete a workforce projection for FY2012, and make informed decisions.

This pause will also allow us to take a fresh look at our approach to recruitment and outreach for the skill sets and diversity we need to serve the public and our mission in the 21st Century.

While we take this pause, we know there will be need for exceptions, such as fire and law enforcement positions. NLC members should forward requests to the Deputy Chief for Business Operations for consideration by the ELT.

The NLC has been advised that the ELT has committed to improve workforce diversity throughout our agency by hiring 100 highly qualified individuals into the Forest Service in the next 30 days. These will be exceptions to the pause, and will provide a great pool of candidates for some of the positions you will need filled during this period.

Seasonal hiring necessary to complete FY2011 planned work may continue, with an understanding that seasonal, temporary hires may need to be terminated on September 30.

This is a strong step. So far, we have avoided the hiring freeze other agencies have adopted. We are in a difficult moment in this nation's history, and must take prudent action to control our spending, while delivering our highest priority work. Within 30 days, we should have a clearer understanding of what to expect from our 2012 budget.

I appreciate your continuing leadership to make the Forest Service an agency that is accountable to taxpayers, accomplishes our mission, and is an employer of choice.


7/20 Dear Ab…

Though this was the day before T.J. was lost, I just wanted to note that I am thinking of T.J. today… remembering and honoring his family and friends.

When I think back to the moment I heard of the accident, I relive the impact of knowing that our lives would never be the same….in such a heartbreaking contrast to how simple our lives seemed just the day before.

Today I am humbled by T.J's legacy of service, enduring spirit, and how his passing continues to impact our lives. Through a random act of kindness at T.J's funeral, my Brother was reunited with our family after disappearing with out a trace 4 years earlier. Ultimately, this simple gesture saved my brother's life. This past Spring, my brother randomly stopped by our Father's house, and found him alone, having a stroke…..and… yes, ultimately saved his life.

There are no coincidences…. they are opportunities. Pay attention. Be present. Follow your instincts. Honor your loved ones.

We are eternally grateful to the person that stepped up and brought us this second chance, again.

R5VetFF on WildlandFire.com

Always Remember TJ Marovich

7/20 Morning Ab 

I was wondering if you would post a picture to the Helicopter photo page. This is the Shasta Trinity Fly Crew H-506 Bell 210, on a lighting fire.

Thanks, K

Thanks K, Very nice one. I put it on the Helicopters 29 photo page. Ab.

7/20 Looking for S-378 Air Tactical Group Supervisor Training either 2011 Fall/Winter or Spring 2012. 

I’ve looked a lot of different places (NWCG, PNWCG, etc.) but to no success. I live in Region 6 (Oregon). If anyone knows of course in the Pacific Northwest or even as far away as Colorado please shoot me an email. Thanks!!

Sandy Foster

If anyone knows, I'll send contact info.... Ab.

7/20 Abs,

I'm a RAMP here in Medford and we called in 2 Cal Fire S2T's from Redding for a DFPA fire in Oregon on July 5, 2011.

The Medford ATB is a collocate with ODF who has a Butler DC7 from Redmond but it wasn't on station until July 15. So Lonnie Allison ATBM called around and found the two S2T's able and willing in Redding. It took about 2.5 hours of high level phone calls and we had CDF in the air and dropping on an Oregon fire. The pilots were great and we got a thank you email from DFPA the next day that said the S2T's held a line that saved 50 acres of a 9 year-old reprod plantation. I have a few pictures here that I thought spoke very well of interagency cooperation.


Thanks T, I put them on the Airtankers 36 photo page. Ab.

7/20 Stanley,

I worked with Michael Smith ("Smitty") when he was the AFMO on the Cannell Meadow Ranger District of the Sequoia NF in 1982 and 1983. I was working with Blackrock Crew 6, at the time, a 10 person fly crew attached to the Kernville Helitack. This crew later developed into the Kern Valley Hotshots.

Smitty lived in a Govt. mobile home right next to the helibase on Lake Isabella and would hold BBQ's for the crews at his place regularly. He was a stand up guy and I too remember how shocked and saddened I was when I heard about the crash that took his life. It may not be much of a consolation but I would hope that he'd appreciate that a once lowly GS-5 still remembers his generosity 30 years later.

Joe Hill
7/20 If anyone has a photo of Smitty and/or and details of his life, We'd be happy to make him and Always Remember page.


7/20 Hello all,

Do any of the readers have an explanation as to why rappelling from light helicopters was suspended because of a tragic accident in a medium?

-curious mostly dispassionate observer
7/19 I normally don't forget this, but I did this year - and it was in my calendar...

On the 21st of June 1995 USFS lead plane pilot Michael Ray Smith died in a mid-air accident while flying lead plane out of Ramona, CA. He was a mentor and friend of mine as well as for many other people. He had been a Smokejumper, an LEO, and an AFMO prior to becoming a lead plane pilot. He was also a role model for many of us in the agency.

I still remember exactly what I was doing and where I was when I heard about it. I think of him often and know others do as well.

Nice article with photos on the Gallatin Rappel crew training in Taos, NM.



7/18 Turtle strike- Honey Prairie:

At Fire Curmudgeon:

As Charlie Caldwell use to say, "You ain't gonna believe this bull s#*!" There were 4 former Redding Hotshot working at the Waycross Helibase that have first hand knowledge of the incident.

Yes, a turtle struck a safety officer on the leg while he was sitting in his vehicle with the window open on the fire line. The Fire Hawk ship was doing bucket drops on the Westside of the fire. The turtle came out of the bucket, banked off the open windowsill of the vehicle, hitting the safety officer in the thigh. Surprise, surprise, surprise..... Needless to say the safety office got a good bruise. The turtle (green) was released back into the swamp unharmed.

We also had snakes in the bucket on the same division, but nothing ever came of that. Well, maybe some pissed off snakes in the middle of a fire!

Moral of story: watch what comes out of them buckets and don't be in the drop zone. There are hazards......


7/17 Turtle strike- Honey Prairie:

The Fire Curmudgeon:

That is the exact same story I have heard about the turtle. I heard it from a Helicopter Manager that was at the helibase during that “incident”. He did add that after striking the leg of said Safety Officer the turtle walked away…

Somebody must know more…???

- Also holding a BS flag

7/17 72 Hour Expanded Report on ANF Crew

Here is the 72 hr. report on the Accident on the Angeles last week. One crewmember still remains in the hospital and is getting better daily.

7/17 Casey on Congressional Party Reform

Dear "Vote in 2012" & Still out there as AD"

I just re-read this before sending it to AB and the finger dangled perilously close to the "delete" button. I am sure it will result in some "what the heck is he thinking" comments but if you really think about what I'm saying here, there are some merits to my madness. Remember, I've been working the Hill and dealing with Congress for 17 years. I was born & raised into a political household as my father was the Republican House Minority Floor leader in a VERY Democratically controlled state. So I think I've gotten a handle on things.

If I understood Sawgirl's comments, the reference to a fiscally conservative Republican stems from the fact that from 1994 to 2003, the clear inference many associated with the International Association of Fire Fighters ( of which the FWFSA was affiliated until 2003) drew from its leadership was Democrats = good for labor, Republicans= bad for labor. That theme still exists today.

In fact during my first trip to DC in 1994 my last 2 meetings were scheduled with Republicans from Northern California. I had already had about 45 meetings that week (compared to the 2-3 meetings most firefighters attending the IAFF legislative Conference had) and was pooped and darn near didn't go to these meetings. However these two congressmen did more for the FWFSA between 2000-2006 then anyone in Congress.

I vividly remember securing FIREPAC contributions for these 2 congressmen from the IAFF. Probably the most painful PAC checks the IAFF ever wrote! I recall one of the congressman absolutely giddy because of the AFL-CIO logo on the PAC check. The checks were only for $500 each but the accomplishment of getting the IAFF to contribute to these two campaigns was nothing short of astonishing if I do say so myself.

That being said, it also took 6 long years of education, providing these offices with a great deal of documentation and building our credibility on the Hill before we had success, the first (in 2000) of which was the elimination of the overtime pay cap for wildland firefighters. Again, a friendly reminder to those who are not FWFSA members but annotate code 21 & prefix 11 on their time cards that the extra pay was a result of the FWFSA.

The FWFSA has a very small PAC so we simply have to work longer & harder than many organizations who try to "buy" influence & support in Congress. In fact that "work" has led to not just professional relationships on the Hill but personal ones as well.

So I don't think the "fiscally conservative" ID was meant to initiate a political debate. Look at the current fact that the Democratic Administration has burdened our federal workforce with a pay freeze but it is also the Republican House leadership that wants to expand that freeze, as well as propose hiring freezes. It simply seems that federal employees are an easy target for politicians to carry the weight of fixing our Nation's fiscal ills despite the fact that the ills have been created over decades through policies of both parties.

It will take your effort & mine to illustrate to these delightful folks in Congress floating all these mind-numbing ideas, that a meat cleaver approach and a one-size-fits all approach and the ridiculous idea that the deficit, created over decades can & should be fixed overnight, is simply partisan political rhetoric at its best!

With respect to wildland firefighters, we all need to educate our elected officials that wildland firefighters tend to be at or near the bottom of the federal pay scale...AND risk their lives. We all need to educate Congress that continuing pay freezes and implementing a hiring freeze to a program already beset by recruitment & retention problems will actually increase costs to the taxpayers. We also need to educate Congress that more likely than not, those on the lower end of the federal pay scale, regardless of agency, likely have a better handle on where the fiscal waste is and a better idea of how to solve such problems.

Now if you really want a political debate, ask me about the creation of a true, viable independent party that can compete with the current 2-party system which simply perpetuates the gridlock. Read more!

Interesting perspective. Thanks Casey. Ab.

7/17 Turtle Strike?

It's clearly time to redirect this forum away from such frivolous topics as firefighter classification, WC, hiring authority, and apprentice drug screening and focus on the truly IMPORTANT wildland fire issues...

Did a turtle really fall/jump out of a helo-bucket, drop through an open vehicle window, and hit a safety officer in the leg on the Honey-Prairie Fire?

Bulls**t Flag In Hand...
The Fire Curmudgeon

7/17 Retired but not dead

You make some very valid points! I think those of us that are Forestry Technicians should outwardly embrace our title. Instead of printing our crew shirts (ones that we have to buy) that say firefighter or hotshot crew or whatever! They should just simply say Forestry Technician! Then we can never be confused with firefighters. Boy wouldn't that be a statement! Nothing on the back that says "fire" or anything that would resemble an ordinary fire oriented crew member or engine persons shirt advertising our skill or ability. I know my supervisors eyes would be strained trying to figure out what a Forestry Technician was! Or what that job even entailed.

However, if one gives pause to think about what a USDA/Forestry, DOI/Range Tech, AKA (Firefighter) really does? A lot more than just fire! The W.O. is fearful to change our title because of what it is that we really do! Lets see here, uh..... uhm... picking up the slack because no one can get anything done without the fire shop labor force! Not to say that every USDA/ DOI office is like that, but most of them need to be honest. If it wasn't for the Perm. and Temp. labor force of the fire shop, a lot less work would get completed and the books would be overflowing with incomplete work! Then they wouldn't be funded and now the picture becomes clear doesn't it. No ticky! No lunch!

Recognize what we are, the risk we take and our devotion to duty, respect and integrity. The majority of firefighters out there are not going to stop doing their part to keep the forest and range programs running, that's just how we roll! That's what we do! We help where needed, we get in where we fit in and get things done. That's not going to stop because they finally start calling us firefighters!

There are some very interesting trades and professions that have their own Classifications and are called what they do, Why not us?

4819 Bowling equipment repairing
5313 Elevator mechanic
0680 Dental Officer

The list goes on as many of you know. I find it interesting, as do all of you, that we can't be titled for the work that we do!


Why not us?

7/17 Comparing a fiscally conservative person in 2003 to some of these fiscally conservative people in 2011 is like saying the words compassion and uncompassionate are synonymous.

I choose to support and vote for those who support middle class families and Firefighters, not Bankers and CEOs .

Still an AD said: putting the money where the job will get done. This is a key change that's finally taking hold politically.

Well you're right AD. Big business and their "fiscally conservative" friends have in fact been "putting the money" where the job will get done. However unfortunately for many Americans that place is Southeast Asia .


VOTE in 2012!
7/16 Classifications/Quite a feat

Strangely enough, being fiscally conservative does not mean you're against better pay and benefits -- it means putting the money where the job will get done. 

This is a key change that's finally taking hold politically.

Still Out There as an AD

7/16 CAL FIRE Department Safety Alert

Information Summary Report (Green Sheet) referencing near miss incident from the Riverside Unit.

The following is an Informational Summary Report of a near miss incident that occurred in the Riverside Unit. The incident resulted in power lines falling narrowly missing an engine and where two CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department Type I Fire Engines sustained damage from radiant heat during the suppression of a debris fire that threatened structures.

CA RRU Street Green Sheet (210 K pdf)

7/15 Caleb Hamm Memorial Service photos: 

Firefighter Caleb Hamms Funeral 


At the end of the service.. they called for a sea of blue... for people in their uniforms to go outside... I saw all these wildland firefighters line up and head outside... instead of a Sea of Blue... they got a -- Sea of Honor -- of Wildland Firefighters..... It made this old wildland woman proud to see them in the crew t-shirts with arms held high to salute one of their own...

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Thanks for sharing, Vicki. Ab.

7/15 Firefighter Classification Facts revealed;

Dear Readers,

Hopefully I won't come off as negative or a naysayer, but it is very important that everyone is aware of the facts regarding wildland firefighter classification. I applaud the Union's efforts but some comments give me serious concern and puzzlement.

Mr. Davis states that "since 2008" the Union has advocated to deal with plans to transition to the 401. He also states that it will "take years" and "OPM's approval" for a real wildland firefighter series. I also applaud Chief Tidwell's position on a real series but question his summation that much hard work follows.

Folks, the hard work has already been done.

3 people need to be identified who have led this classification fight long before 2008. Mr. Kent Swartzlander, former president of the FWFSA; Mr. Kenny Harrell, former 5th Dist. VP for the California Professional Firefighters and his successor and current FWFSA advocate Casey Judd.

Their efforts to address classification & portal to portal pay started in the '90s. During the FWFSA's association with the IAFF these 3 did everything humanly possible to get the IAFF to address the issues. It never happened. A meeting was brokered by yet another Republican for Mr. Judd to meet with interim OPM Director Dan Blair in March of 2002 on PTP and classification.

In 2003 when the FWFSA disaffiliated from the IAFF, the real work started. Stunningly the FWFSA was able to get a stand alone portal to portal bill introduced by a fiscally conservative Republican. Imagine, a bill with a price tag, providing more money to "labor" people introduced and supported by fiscally conservative Republicans. Quite a fete.

Now the facts:

In the summer of 2005, former Congressman Jon Porter (R-NV), Chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, conducted a field hearing on the portal to portal bill outside of Las Vegas at Red Rock. During the course of that hearing, the Chairman derided the OPM representative, Nancy Kichak about the classification of these "heroes & firefighters" as "technicians." Rep. Porter came away from the hearings with a commitment from OPM to initiate work on a separate wildland firefighter series.

Mr. Judd testified for the FWFSA while ironically, even after disaffiliating from the IAFF in 2003, Mr. Ryan Beamon, then South Dist. VP for the Professional Fire Fighters of Nevada, the IAFF State affiliate, also testified in support of the portal to portal bill sponsored by the FWFSA.

In December of 2005, just months after the hearing, staff from Rep. Porter's Committee shared with the FWFSA a memo from OPM which stated " Thank you for contacting the OPM to follow-up with the letter Director Springer sent to Chairman Porter informing him that OPM would be doing further study into the classification of wildland firefighters." The Office of Personnel Management's staff has made this action our priority item for the Second Quarter of 2006." 

However in the Summer of 2006, apparently Chairman Porter became frustrated with the slow pace of OPM and his staff asked the FWFSA for permission to legislatively mandate the requirement that OPM create a series. The FWFSA concurred.

The first order of business was a request from Rep. Porter to the Congressional Budget Office for a scoring, or cost-estimate of the bill. The CBO concluded there was no impact to the federal budget and minimal costs to the taxpayer. BOOM: 25% of that "hard work" done.

The bill was introduced as HR 5697, the Federal Wildland Firefighter Classification Act." As 2006 progressed the FWFSA was informed that the bill would be placed on the consent calendar of the House of Representatives. The consent calendar are bills that are deemed to be non-controversial. The plan was to take it to the floor and pass it on the last day of the session, 12-6-2006.

Just weeks before that day, we all were shocked to lose the entire crew of E-57 off the San Bernardino NF. Our morale was shot.

Yet on December 6, 2006 I, along with many FWFSA members tuned into C-SPAN as Casey kept us updated as to when the bill would be read and discussed. The following facts are based on a phone conversation I had with Mr. Judd that same afternoon after the bill was passed to thank him and the FWFSA for their efforts.

The bill was on the floor ready for a vote when it was pulled from the floor by the staff of the Governmental Reform Committee. Almost simultaneously Mr. Judd got a call from the staff indicating a problem. It seemed that several months earlier, OPM had offered amendments to the bill. However when OPM was informed the bill was going to the floor they apparently noticed it did not contain the amendments they had offered months earlier.

The House committee staff had simply forgotten to pass along OPM's amendments to the FWFSA for their consideration and review. In the matter of about an hour after a number of phone calls and discussions between Mr. Judd and congressional staff, it was concluded that the OPM amendments actually enhanced the bill's language for firefighters. Boom: 50% of the hard work done.

Mr. Judd gave approval for the bill, as amended to go to the floor. We then got to see both Republicans & Democrats speak on the floor of Congress extolling the virtues of us and the bill. The bill was passed by unanimous consent. Boom: 90% of the hard work done.

During this time Mr. Judd was working with staff from the Senate Homeland Security Committee which would receive the passed bill from the House and shepherd it to the Senate floor for similar action. Somewhere along the way, on 12-7-2006, the bill, and apparently others got lost and did not get to the Senate floor in time to be voted on before the Senate concluded the session.

As disheartening as that was, the hard work had been done. A bill passed by Congress WITH OPM amendments. So, I suggest we're at 90% of that hard work, all done by one little organization.

The remaining 10% is for NFFE to offer a bit more robust support of the FWFSA's efforts on the issues we face and for those in the Agency (you know who you are) who say you're for a series but suggest it'll take a long time to accomplish and get after OPM to do this. The Forest Service does not work for OPM!

Those are the facts so I just have one question. Did NFFE collaborate with the FWFSA on this 301 thing or was the FWFSA also in the dark like most of us until now? We need both organizations to work together for us.

7/15 fire·fight·er also fire fighter (frftr)
A member of a fire department who fights fires.
firefighting adj. & n.

....isn't it amazing that there is no definition for "forestry technician" in ANY dictionary, other than the one in WO?

Wonderfully created euphemisms, purposefully designed and created for the sole purpose of defrauding workman's comp, insurance, and labor rates. Granted, this nation is in a world of hurt, but C'mon kids, call it what it really is.

I call 911 because my property is burning, the last person I want to see is a "forestry technician" showing up to lecture me on pine beetles. I want a REAL FIREFIGHTER who knows what they're doing! Not dissing the rest in the crowd, but you know what I mean. 

A firefighter FIGHTS fires. 

A forestry technician monitors pine beetles, new and old growth, makes maps (unless there's an official Forestry Cartographer), plans the cleanup at the campground, decides the optimum spots to plant new trees, studies past growth patterns for a particular forest, watershed retention, flooding issues, etc.

A firefighter FIGHTS FIRES.

A forestry technician could very well be the mechanic changing the brakes on the apparatus, after all, he/she is performing a technical service in relation to forestry. As would be the contract persons who service the Xerox in the Region office. After all, where would we be without all this paperwork...and it is all forestry related. How about the clerk at McDonalds, who feeds us and give us all an occasional "Thank You" for what we do? They're keeping the troops on the road and nourished. They are a part of the support infrastructure, they should be forestry technicians as well.


Only a very select few deserve this title. Be you Federal, State, County, City, Township, or Volunteer...we do what we do, because we want to and not everyone can do it. Firefighting is one of the very few professions where one goes to work, not knowing if they'll come home after their shift. Our families kiss us goodbye in the morning, knowing full well that they may never see us again. They live with that fact. We, as a Nation, honor our fighting men and women in the military - overseas and elsewhere - with honor and respect. Yet the warriors here on the home front are relegated to crap. Firefighters are loosing pay scale, definition, and in some instances, volunteer FFs have lost their jobs because they responded to an alarm - rather than keep stocking groceries at the supermarket. I guess canned corn is more important than someone's civic commitment and sense of duty.

In closing, firefighters will always be just that...FIREFIGHTERS. They put their lives on the line and never question why - they just do. To call they something less is wrong, disrespectful, and flat un-American. Next time you get paid, look at that $100 bill you get. Ben Franklin was a Firefighter. Thank him that you have a job and are getting paid to do it...he was a volunteer, in a new Country called the United States of America. 

Yes, Firefighting is indeed a technical profession, but it will never be what WO envisions it to be.

Retired but not dead!
7/15 RE: reclassification

My guess is that the only reason DOI hasn't come up against this YET is that they haven't been audited by OPM. This could shake out in a good way. Thanks to NFFE and Casey/FWFSA.


7/15 RE: reclassification

Sad to see the way the Forest Service is trying to boost morale the same old way. Do you really think the Dept. of Ag would change a series (forestry technician) with out the support from the Dept. of Interior. That would cause a big problem with interagency co-op stations.

If it costs money, it probably won't happen. You folks deserve a lot more respect than that. It would be nice to be called on paper what you are, FIREFIGHTERS. Be SAFE and enjoy what you have, they can't take that away from you.

Retired BDF - United States Fire Department

P.S. to R-5 and WO, give them what they deserve, a professional Grade and Series or give it up for FED FIRE.

7/15 RE: reclassification?

C'mon folks...i'll believe it when i see it. Notice that the Interior isnt in this? You would take good note to read the language in the Chiefs letter which says "may ..." in many spots. this is the loophole that will snag many naive hopeful candidates/employees.

IFPM stated that positions in various levels of 'high, moderate, or low' have "recommended" grade levels ... the IFPM and the Region were pretty tough on "ensuring that folks met the IFPM standard" when it came to the quals, but forgot about you when it came to the grade level. Remember the IFPM said "recommended". "IFPM wasn't meant to change grade levels and that is managements discretion to do so... because the grade is recommended ... not required"... but they were really glad to get that NWCG qual filled at their home unit.... meanwhile, we hear "i dont believe in position creeping" but in the past had promoted people in their same jobs ... from 9s to an 11 ... from 11s to 12s and one from a 12 to a 13 ... non-fire folks ... hypocrisy reigns supreme and judgment from the benevolent dictator that some of you may have as a supervisor will end your hopes of being anything more ... this letter is recommended reading ... not mandatory! you may read it if you want, you dont HAVE to read it.
Hope your letter is the beginning of the end my FS friends.


continental divide

7/14 WC Reform Act

Safety Angel and WC Advocate -

The new worker's compensation act is the Federal Workers' Compensation Modernization and Improvement Act (HR 2465). Think WC Advocate just mis-typed the numbers....

Hope this helps in your research.


7/14 WC Advocate

I see from your 7/12 post that you do workers' comp for the agency.  I've been dealing with WC non stop since 1998 due to multiple injuries to myself plus helping numerous others with their claims along the way. I've had three surgeries with no lost time to the agency. I've been able to come back to full duty, although with some restrictions from the last two, until an aggravation to one of them put me out of the fire game for good April of 2009. Still I'm working at a light duty job by choice rather than go on disability. 

Because of my experiences with DOL I was excited when I heard a few years back that HRM was going to have agency advocates to help employees. Up until then I had no help from anyone in the agency, went through it all myself often loaded on pain pills, and learned the hard way. So far on this ongoing case I've had seven advocates from HRM, five that didn't know much, one that was adversarial, and now I have a good old boy that wants to help, but he may not be able to undo what the last one did. I'll share the details if AB chooses to get us in contact. 

I'm really interested in what you said about changing the process as I have been working with NFFE to get things changed. As you know it's a huge undertaking. Some can be fixed by the agency, some has to be done by DOL and some can only be fixed by legislation. I tried to look up HR2546 but I must be doing something wrong as the two I found didn't address OWCP. I hope it's nothing to do with what Sen. Collins is trying to do because that won't be good for employees. 

Anyway I would sure like to work with you to help bring this sorely needed change around if possible. Hopefully AB can get us in contact with each other.


7/14 Plan to reclassify fire program management positions from NFFE:

Local Presidents,

Please forward to your BUEs -- especially firefighters. Plans are for most Fire Program Management positions to be reclassified in the GS-0301 series. This is good news for firefighters whose career path was blocked by use of the GS-0401 series and who had hit the GS-0462 glass ceiling (which was due to be lowered after an OPM audit). Plans had been to bring the GS-0401 back, until the summit in Albuquerque this past March. It is important to note this does not affect long-term plans to work for dedicated wildland firefighting series; however, that will take years and OPM approval even under the best of circumstances -- and anyone who's been following the news from Washington knows these are far from the best of circumstances. In the meanwhile, timely action to deal with the current classification problems was urgently needed.

NFFE-FSC was fully engaged in this effort. The plan is consistent with recommendations for which we have consistently advocated since 2008 (see 6/10/08 posting at June Archive) to deal with problems with the old plan to transition of all fire management positions to the GS-0401 series. I've attached the Chief's letter and attachment along with our letter of concurrence. Please see these attachments for detailed information.

In solidarity,

Mark Davis, President
NFFE Forest Service Council 

FS_FPM_Letter_110714.doc  (Tom Tidwell/ Tom Harbour --Subject:Occupational Series for Fire Management Positions)
FS_FPM_Letter_110714_Enclosure.pdf  (FS Information Sheet)
FSC_110713_FPM_Reclassification.doc  (Mark's NFFE letter to firefighters)

Bet Joe M is glad none of this leaked to theysaid...  Ab.

7/14 We'd like to welcome and introduce a new advertiser, Christina Stanley, an insurance agent with Futurity First Insurance Associates. Christina lives and works in Northern California, but can assist wildland firefighters with their life insurance questions or needs nation wide.

Christina says,

"I am a firefighter wife as well as an insurance agent. I understand the benefits and shortfalls of agency provided/offered insurance. I understand how to eliminate those shortfalls to insure that you have adequate protection in place both on and off duty. Protection that you control, not the agency for which you work."

Christina's ads can be found on the Classified Ads page and is also a sponsor for the Hotlist Forums.

7/14 Update from the WFF:

I talked with Vicki and she remarked on how much she enjoyed the Hotshots and other crews visiting.

The invitation at the WFF is to stop by and stay as long as you need or want to. It's your "home" away from home.

Amidst the tears, there's way more laughter, stories, and visiting. One non-fire visitor remarked on how young our fallen firefighters are. Their faces adorn the walls at the WFF. They're young and beautiful/handsome and were just starting out... like our fallen in the military.

The page for the two Florida fallen tractor plow forest ranger firefighters is posted on Always Remember as the Blue Ribbon Tractor Plow Incident.

Everyone, have a safe day. Express your appreciation to those around you.

Thoughts and prayers for all for Caleb Hamm's Service today, especially for his mom and dad and brother.


7/14 Backing Accident

Abs -

This green sheet is apparently making the rounds in USFS fleet manager circles. A reminder that accidents happen suddenly - anywhere, anytime, any circumstance - and often when they are least expected.


Backing Accident Green Sheet 72 hr Report

Thanks, STUMPIE. Best wishes for recovery.
I put the green sheet for that on the hotlist thread. Ab.

7/13 Re: Caleb Hamm


Someone please be sure his family knows about the Public Safety Officers' Benefit Program. It is currently a little more than $300,000. It is good information for all local, state and federal firefighters, law enforcement officers, and first responders to be sure their families know about. It is not only for fatalities, but severely disabled workers. Here is a link for more information. PSOB Death

WC Advocate

Thanks, WC Advocate. I just talked with Vicki at the WFF, and as always, that's in the works, even though it takes quite a while to clear the way. There may be other questions you could answer, though. I sent an email. Ab.

7/13 Additional info:

Donations can be made to the Caleb Hamm Memorial Fund at any Mountain West Bank (locations include
Idaho, Montana, and eastern Washington).


7/13 Caleb Hamm Services and parking map:


Information regarding services for Caleb Hamm, 24, a Boise resident and member of the Bonneville Hotshots, who lost his life in the line of duty on a fire in Texas last week is as follows:

Wednesday, July 13:
Viewing, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.; Boise Funeral Home Aclesa Chapel, 8209 W. Fairview.

Thursday, July 14:

08:00: All fire staff and personnel wishing to join in the police-escorted processional of federal, state and local fire equipment and vehicles are asked to gather in the Winco Foods parking lot on the corner of Fairview and Milwaukee St. (across Fairview from the Boise Funeral Home).

09:00: Processional travels to the Doubletree Hotel (Riverside) 2900 W. Chinden Blvd.

11:00: Funeral Service, Convention Center on the east side of the hotel.

At the conclusion of the service, Caleb will be returned unescorted to the funeral home and a private interment will follow later.


Please see attached map.
Parking is available on the west side of the hotel; across North Garden St.; and in the Idaho Marine parking area on the corner of Main and Garden.
Parking outside the convention center entrance will be open only to family, fire engines and other fire vehicles.
(Additional overflow parking may be available north of the river at a lot on Main St. Please watch for signs.)

(See attached file: Parking map.jpg)

Brook Chadwick
Fuels Program Manager
BLM, West Desert District

Thanks to those sending in the info, including the liaison for the Bonneville IHC and Caleb. If anyone has a chance to share photos, they'd be appreciated. Best wishes to all during this incredibly difficult time. Ab.

7/13 Small Caleb Tribute... & Workers Comp comments

Way to go AD, really nice tribute to Caleb Hamm.

I fell for the trap WC Adv. unintentionally laid, I reacted and didn't need to, so I apologize to WC, who said the magic words Mom & spouse of...a wildland firefighter. Thank you so much for what you do for all of us. My file of OWCP claims is still waiting for someone like you who cares...It took over a year & a half after accident to pay all the creditors...I would rather have done the process on my own insurance, but the nice people at GEHA said no, they are responsible...I paid dearly as my incompetent case agent , oops strike that, wonderful agent struggled to get Pac. Medical paid...(Very Bad Taste came to me). As a dozerboss I've played hurt...My normal job, as a TSI layout tech demands hiking all day long, even in Winter, so when I twisted my knee I decided that bill was not on the job, and GEHA gladly paid for all.

Thanks again to WFF, Casey & FWFSA, and all other firefighter advocates...


7/12 Small Caleb Tribute...

Unfortunately my health and other gov work has kept me home in Texas and not out on assignments this past couple of years. I have been lurking in the background of They Said and the forums, though, as it's always a fascinating read.

To try and get my fix for the unpredictable I normally get at fires, I joined a local Search and Rescue Team and yesterday found out that I was going to be allowed to train a new dog for search. The year old pup was rescued a week ago from the local high kill shelter and is a shepherd mix with a black coat with grey underlay which reminded me of smoke at night... Naturally I wanted to find a nice fire related name from him. For some reason, although I had never had the fortune to meet him, I could not get the name of the recent LODD in Texas -- Caleb Hamm -- out of my head so I looked it up...

Caleb: faithful, loyal, bold, heart, and dog

I got a chill in my spine and a little watery in the eyes as I realized that the big firefighter in the sky had made the choice for me and picked a name that's just about darn perfect for a search and rescue dog.

Although we must sadly say goodbye to our brother Caleb Hamm, there is 60 pounds of bouncing, enthusiastic, and workloving Caleb the trainee SAR dog in Texas doing his best to carry on the dedication and spirit of the firefighter he was named after.

AD Texas

Let us know how Caleb the SAR dog is doing from time to time. Ab.

7/12 Dear Ab,

I am always amazed at how quickly folks on this website jump to the negative side of things. The question I asked in my prior post was one I thought others might be thinking. Not all readers on this site are federal wildland firefighters so I assumed some would ask why they weren't covered under workers' comp. By asking the question, I thought it would be a good forum to explain what the WFF provides. I was not insinuating that there was anything unethical about the fundraiser. I have myself directed injured firefighters to the WFF for things our agency could not leagally provide, such as childcare and family travel expenses.

I am the mother and spouse of former wildland firefighters. I also do workers' comp for the agency and on incidents and have looked into the sooty faces of injured firefighters as I drove them to the hospital for treatment. I have been with this agency for 20 years and know how hard the workers' comp process is. But we are working every day to improve the process from the agency side. Some of the problems I see are that the workers comp laws have not changed in 40 years. There is now interest in congress to look at some changes. A recent bill, HR2546, has been introduced, but only addresses the tip of the iceberg for changes that need to be addressed. As I'm sure Casey can attest, change does not happen quickly. But at least somebody is looking at it. We are also working with the national office to make some changes in the processes at the Department of Labor.

One thing that can help the process work better is for injured workers and supervisors to do their part in getting completed paperwork in timely. I know I hear from a lot of employees, supervisors and managers that they should not have to do the paperwork, but let's face it, you do paperwork for everything. You can't buy a house or car, get a student loan or even apply for a job without a mountain of paperwork. It's a fact of life. If we authorize medical treatment, the bills still won't be paid if the claim is not filed. And yes, the Department of Labor may ask for more information, but it is just to ensure they have what they need to legally adjudicate the claim. It is not just to make your life miserable. Everyone in our agency who files a workers' comp claim with the Department of Labor is assigned a case manager. Communicate with your case manager to make things go more smoothly. It is your injury, your money, your life and your responsibility.

As I said before, I did not intend to imply anything negative about the WFF or the reason behind the fundraiser.

And Casey, I admire what you do to promote change where change is needed. I hope to have more time when I retire to do some of that also.

WC Advocate
7/12 Readers,

Our Jobs Page has a large number of organizations looking for firefighters, heavy equipment operators, redcarded EMTs, and students. There are a wide variety of "Help Wanted" requests for this time of year. There are also some in the Jobs Wanted category.

Check 'em out. Contact info is on that page.


7/12 National Cohesive Wildland Strategy - western regional information/feedback request

My name is Joe Stutler and I have the privilege of working on the Western Regional Strategy Committee, charged with developing Goals, Objectives, Actions and Alternative for the National Cohesive Wildland Strategy. I’ve attached a short document which summarizes our efforts. First we are asking you to utilize our Western Website to provide comments, ideas, suggestions, issues and actions. The web site is located at: Western Regional Strategy Cohesive Fire Comment Form

Additionally if you chose to learn more about the National Cohesive Strategy you may go to an additional web site at: www.forestsandrangelands.gov/  which has the history and many foundational documents to provide even more context to our efforts.

I ask each of you to please assist us with our efforts; if wildland fire is important to you, not only are we asking for your help with the questions, we’re also asking you to share this information with people you know that are also willing to share information and assist us with this effort.

Thank you…
Joe Stutler

Western Regional Strategy Committee Update 7/5/2011

Thanks Joe. Ab.

7/12 72 hour expanded report on the 337 Fatality Fire in TX

Texas Forest Service & BLM: 72 Hour Expanded Report (48 K pdf)

Always Remember page for Caleb Hamm.

My thoughts and prayers for his crew. Ab.

7/12 Dear Ab:

I was surprised to learn recently that Carl Wilson's original 1977 paper on fatal and near-fatal fires, the common denominators is not available for downloading off the internet anywhere.

So in this respect, please see the attached.


Marty Alexander, PhD, RPF
Sherwood Park Alberta

My bold. Thanks for that, Marty. Someone was looking for that just recently. Perhaps they'll see this post. I added it to the Documents Worth Reading Archive and to the Site Map. Ab.

7/12 Ab,

When I read the post I just assumed that WC Advocate was a brand new viewer here and hasn't ever been involved with the wildland fire community. Then I decided that it was probably someone who wanted to get a discussion started over this ongoing issue (and frankly I'd call it a crisis).

However, if this really is someone who is not aware of what goes on when someone is injured, suffering or going through serious care of some sort then perhaps he/she can be directed to some previous situations we have all been involved with through TheySaid. I'm sure you can direct this person to posts from the past faster than I could.

Couldn't believe what I read...

I believe WC Advocate is an advocate of change from other posts he/she's done through the years, but they should reply if they want to. Ab.


The Workman's Comp advocate's post was such a slap in the face, so I reread it twice, then read Casey's professional comments, then Been There Done That's post. The differences are huge. I'm really, really glad I could have Kathy's pot on top where it should be. She expressed everything so well, and we should all model that way to live. So, as I'm learning to appreciate, slow down, stop & think, don't say the first thing that comes to your brain; rethink...then respond. When driven by emotion I know I can say stupid things ( and have many, many times)...WC obviously didn't think, or they are extremely ignorant. Thank you so much Kathy C.

The paycheck we receive is a bonus, the real reason we do this sometimes thankless job, is that we care for so much for our place in the world and the people we work with and touch. That is why I will treasure what Kathy Carroll has said. The only thing I'll miss about work, Fire & it's black, snotty noses as I peer into retiring, are the great folks that sacrifice so much to do this. I will not miss being injured on the job, being carried off a mountaintop, then getting bills that no one will help pay... the look of disgust from physical therapists, doctor's bill collectors when they see the awful, phone numbers for OWCP... I must reread Kathy's message now...


7/11 Dear WC Advocate,

Shock, Anger, Disgust, these are a few of the emotions that ran through my thoughts today after I read your post. Abs, Casey and Been there done that, have just about covered it. But as one of the people who organized this event and have volunteered for many others, I would just like to let you know that I will always be there as a volunteer and friend to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and for the men and women who risk their lives for us! When you look into the faces of the children of these brave men and women, it touches you to your very soul, when you see the exhausted, soot stained faces of our firefighters it rips your heart out, when you know the state of our economy, how can one even question.. giving to someone in need... should it be a firefighter, cancer patient or tornado victim... I truly believe in paying it forward! May God send his blessings to Vicky, the WFF and to our firefighters, those we have lost and those we have and hold close to our hearts!

Kathy Carroll
7/11 Dear WC Advocate:

I have to agree with "been there done that." The federal Workers' Comp program is stunningly difficult to navigate. There are a number of labor attorneys and WC attorney's who even refuse to get involved in federal cases.

As a former firefighter union president, I dealt with my share of cases and the bureaucratic nature of the program literally left firefighters contemplating suicide and, as the wheels of the program turn incredibly slow, bills pile up. Creditors more often than not could care less about an individual's health situation.. they want their money.

It can be weeks, and in many cases months before the cases & claims are properly managed leading to serious financial hardship. If I had a "wish list' for what I think all of the federal labor unions should put at the top of their agenda is federal OWCP reform.

Let's face it, in recent years it has become imperative that those donating money for ANY cause need to be clear as to how their funds are expended. There have been too many situations where some idiots defraud the good nature of many and throw the entire benevolent process into chaos. Suffice it to say, anything going to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is safe & sound. Their efforts are above reproach and they have made a significant impact in this community.

As "been there" stated, "someone has to stand up and do the right thing as the agency sure doesn't anymore as they are more concerned about the 'corporate bottom line' than really caring for their employees."

I'm sure there are many that share that sentiment while others may think them a bit harsh. However with the recent embarrassing fiasco with the Honor Guard and Tommy Lane's memorial as well as the fact that the liability issue for Forest Service wildland firefighters has not been aggressively addressed by the Agency, "Been there's" statement has some legitimacy.

Here on TheySaid recently has been a post of comments from Ag Secretary Vilsack and Forest Service Chief Tidwell praising their firefighters. Actions are what our firefighters need, not empty words. A lack of actions has caused such words to ring hollow to many.

So to those that take time out of their lives to help out others such as those raising funds or those at the WFF, we thank you for all you do.

Casey Judd
7/11 Hello,

I'm Lily Liang. I am doing research for the Ryalside Institute and one of our goals is to cut carbon dioxide emissions from large wildfires. Would you be willing to answer a few questions about forest firefighting to help us with our project?

Thank you,
Lily Liang

I'm happy to forward any replies. Ab.

7/11 WC advocate

You are partially correct in that agency covers medical, Continuation of pay etc. But the agency does not cover things like travel and lodging for family members, etc. My experience is that the whole process is very cumbersome and slow to get in place. The fund raiser can immediately help the employee, their family and the WFF. The foundation does fantastic things for injured wildland firefighters and frequently shows a lot more compassion for them than does the modern agency which preaches family, and practices the exact opposite. Someone has to stand up and the right thing as the agency sure doesn't anymore, as they are more concerned about the "corporate bottom line" than really caring for their employees at least in SoCal. I know that there are some here that will flame me over this and have at it. I spent over 35 years with the agency from the late 60s until the 2000s, and was a District Fire Management Officer, Today I am embarrassed to say where I previously worked because of the pathetic Management (I use Management vs Leadership as the latter is woefully lacking) on the SoCal forests.

To the folks that turned out and raised funds GREAT JOB, and keep up the good work as it does demonstrate that some people do care.

Been there done that

7/10 Drink Water, other Considerations - Safety Alert:

Everyone, please let's not forget the fact that proper nutrition and a correct electrolyte balance is critical for proper hydration. Having had to rush one of our crewmembers to the ER while on assignment in Florida several weeks ago, the reality of water intoxication became a very real emergency, not just another report that hit my inbox.

We had discussed all these factors, we reviewed the T & D Publication on heat related injuries including Hyponatremia and Rhabdomyolysis. While at the ER I insisted on the doctors run blood work as per the NWCG safety bulletin on Rhabdo. The diagnosis provided was Acute Hyponatremia. The ER doc gave the injured crewmember two days light duty then a release to full duty after that. Obviously the ER doc did not fully understand our scope of work and the environmental conditions we were experiencing. Consequently the decision was made to return the crewmember back to the home unit for an adequate recovery.

In discussions with this crewmember and his squad, he had consumed almost 3 gallons of water throughout the shift. What he lacked was keeping up on his food intake, and drinking Gatorade frequently. We were working a 20 acre fire that started the previous day, when this crewmember collapsed at the end of shift, right as we returned to the buggies.

With that being said, I cringe every time I hear someone preaching drink water, drink water, drink water. There needs to be so much more associated with this statement.

T & D Publication

Hyponatremia Specific Publication

Lone Peak IHC Supt.

Thanks, Kris. Ab.

7/10 Beaufort Scale

Wondering where Mr. Beaufort would list Porta Potties blowing over on his scale? Hopefully not under the "fresh" category.

-Windy at the Las Conchas helibase


7/10 Drink water:

I recommend this article from the Tufts Journal -- Drink (Water) and Be Happy. tuftsjournal.tufts.edu  If anyone needs another reason to drink plenty of water! Especially crews who are not used to the heat and heading to the SW on fire assignments.

Stay Safe!


7/10 WC => Workers' Comp


Regarding the Fill the Stump and Car Wash fundraiser for the injured Valyermo Firefighters: Though I applaud any instance of assisting our firefighters in need, I was just wondering what the money raised will be used for, since their medical expenses and salary are covered under Workers' Comp?


WC Advocate

Hi Advocate. #1. Most seasonal and permanent part-time fed firefighter families rely on OT and HP to get through the year, especially those living in the high-rent-district called SoCal. Having "salary" and medical expenses covered at some time in the future doesn't cut it, especially if a family's trying to get through paying the current bills and WC hasn't kicked in yet. #2. In some injury cases it can take some time to determine what's what.

I don't know how one can hurry up a bureaucracy. Helping out helps out. Ab.

7/9 From: Chief of the Forest Service
Sent: Friday, July 08, 2011 11:48 AM
Subject: Mid-year Safety Message

Recently, we lost two Florida State firefighters and yesterday we lost a BLM firefighter. We have two Forest Service firefighters who are still in the hospital recovering from serious injuries. Our thoughts and prayers go out to these firefighters and their friends and families. We have lost folks to other tragedies as well, and those experiences are stressful and difficult. We need to learn from these experiences.

We are ALL dealing with increasing demands to provide services to the public and care for the land. I appreciate the work you are doing. I know you are focusing constantly on safety. I want you to take a pause now, meet with each other and do a safety check up. With everything we are dealing with, fatigue sets in for everyone.

Thank you again for everything you do. I care about you and your safety. I appreciate your work and your service. And I want you all to be ok.

7/9 The 10 year anniversary of the Thirty Mile Fire is tomorrow.

Always Remember our friends on Thirty Mile

Tom Craven
Devin Weaver
Jessica Johnson
Karen FitzPatrick

Of the four, I only knew Tom personally as a young guy when he went to College of the Redwoods south of Eureka CA in the late 1990s. He was a very nice, charismatic, inclusive person, star football player and intelligent. Great loss. 

In 2008 I briefly met one of his much younger brothers and his crew when they came to our place to work a fire that later was included in the Iron Complex. That same day I met and talked with Thom Taylor, crew boss of a bunch of inner city kids that were earning money doing hard labor as firefighters and apparently loving it. A fine person.

Fire tragedies affect all of us who know the victims, their families, friends and co-workers. Years later I feel Tom's presence in a palatable way. I hear the cheers from the CR crowd as he made yet another touchdown as the fog rolled in over Humboldt Bay. Years later I think of his family as I walk to the base of our mountain where the buggies were parked in 2008 in the afternoon sun, as the crew "kids" sharpened their tools, played hackey sack and talked after mopping up on the the hooked corner of the fire that touched our land.

I didn't know Devin, Jessica or Karen. My loss. I know there are folks reading here that knew and loved them. May we always remember, and as much as possible, the good things, the smiles, successes, laughter, camaraderie. 


7/9 Hi Ab,

Here is a link to the photos taken at the Car Wash Fundraiser for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and the Valyermo Hot Shots. Please share on They said.

Facebook Page

We washed over 200 cars, and raised a ton of money for the injured guyes at Valyermo. So many came out to help, and we had a constant stream of people. It was amazing!

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Lee Anne Frazier
Canyon Country, CA

Nice! Ab.

7/9 24-hour Report TX-TFS-CR 337 Fire PaloPinto County hotshot fatality

24-hour Report (pdf)


[Texas Forest Service banner]

24 Hour Preliminary Report

To: Designated Agency Safety and Health Official (DASHO)

Subject: Preliminary (24 Hour) Report


LOCATION: CR 337 Fire, Palo Pinto County, Texas


TIME OF OCCURRENCE: Approximately 1550


ACTIVITY: Bonneville IHC, Wildland Fire Fighting




NARRATIVE: On July 7, 2011 at approximately 1550 hours, crewmembers from the Bonneville IHC were performing cold trailing operations after completing hand fireline construction in Division A of the CR 337 Fire. This location is approximately 5 miles northwest of Mineral Wells, in Palo Pinto County, Texas. Weather conditions were very hot, with afternoon temperatures exceeding 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Without exhibiting any noticeable signs of distress, crewmember Caleb Hamm lost consciousness and stopped breathing. Initial efforts to restore breathing were unsuccessful.

Emergency medical response was activated at approximately 1555 and at approximately 1700 Caleb arrived at Palo Pinto General Hospital in Mineral Wells. Caleb was pronounced dead by the attending physician shortly after.

A national serious accident investigation team, with interagency representation, has been assembled and will arrive in Mineral Wells on the evening of July 8, 2011.

7/9 24 hour notification CA-ANF-Crew Carrier Rollover

24 Hour Report (pdf)


[FS/Angeles National Forest Header]

File Code: 6730
Date: July 5, 2011
Route To: (Jeanne Wade), (Ron Ketter), (Daniel Jiron)
Subject: 24 Hour Notification
To: Regional Forester


Location: Mt. Emma Road between Fort Tejon and Cheseboro Roads, Angeles National Forest, Region 5.
Date and Time of Occurrence: July 4, 2011 at 2133 Hours
Team Leader: Eli Ilano
Mission: Returning to quarters after recon for possible lightning strikes
Activity: Driving
Number injures: 2 hospitalized
Number of fatalities: None
Property damage 1- Hot Shot Crew Carrier, moderate to major damage

Narrative: A hot shot crew carrier was returning to quarters after completing a recon for possible lightning strikes, left the roadway (Mt. Emma Road), and rolled down an embankment, coming to rest on the driver’s side. All nine crew members were transported to four local hospitals for evaluation and treatment. Seven crew members were released by 0500 on July 5, 2011 and two were admitted for further evaluation and treatment at USC Medical Center.

The cause of this accident is being investigated by a Forest Service Regional Accident Investigation Team.

Acting Forest Supervisor

cc: William Metz, Wilburn M Blount, Sherry Reckler, Antonio Cofresi, Michelle Reugebrink, Peter Tolosano, Eli Ilano, Ronald L Ashdale, James Hall, Joe Millar

7/9 Blue Ribbon Fire Investigation Report of the tractor plows that were burned over in Florida.

It's out -- 44 pages.

Blue Ribbon Fire Investigation Report (3,201 K pdf)

Findings include:

  • Suwannee Forestry Center recognizes the benefit of multi tractor/plow operations during complex incidents.
  • Excessive smoke caused by the fire hindered visibility of crewmen operating tractors on the ground and the pilot monitoring the fire conditions from a fixed-wing aircraft.
  • Difficult terrain and limited visibility due to smoke hindered the ability of firefighters to escape dangerous conditions.
  • Traffic and interference on radio communication channels caused some confusion during the incident, though significant effort was made to resolve this issue.
  • Fire shelters were not used by the two firefighters who were killed.

Recommendations for preventing similar occurrences in the future include:

  • Evaluate strategy and tactics used as fire danger increases.
  • Provide refresher training to firefighters on principles of LCES (lookouts, communications, escape routes and safety zones) and situational awareness.
  • Review radio frequencies and ensure proper channel and procedures are known and understood.
  • Evaluate benefits of Asset Tracker System and consider installation on all equipment.
  • Evaluate work/rest ratio to ensure proper rest of fire personnel.
  • Evaluate how fire shelters should be carried and stored on equipment.
  • Pursue avenues for increased availability of aviation resources.


GA Peach

7/9 Ab, 

Here are the California Incident Command System requirements for FEMT as a place to start for Casey S. They are taken from the recommendations that FIRESCOPE has made. He might want to check the FIRESCOPE website for further information.


Fire Line EMT (FEMT)


Fire Line EMT (S-223)*
Introduction to ICS (I-100)
Basic ICS (I-200)
NIMS an Introduction (IS-700a)
National Response Plan (IS-800b)
Basic Wildland Fire Orientation (S-110)
Annual Fire Line Refresher Training (RT-130)


+ Qualified as a Firefighter I NWCG FFT1


Qualified as a SFM FFT2 with completion of (G-131)

+ Current certification as a Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
+ Successful position performance as a Fire Line Emergency Medical Technician (FEMT)**




Emergency Medical Technician Paramedic (EMTP)


Fireline Leadership (L-380)

* Once a Fireline Emergency Technician class is approved through FIRESCOPE it will be a required class for FEMT or FEMP.

Thanks, S. Ab.

7/8 Our sincerest condolences

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation Life Challenges Program gives their sincerest condolences to Steve Dickerson's family, his friends and the employees on the Willamette NF. We are sorry to hear about your loss. When our firefighter friends take their own lives, it leaves a deep impact sufficient enough to overwhelm the usually effective coping skills of the individuals left behind, and the groups they were so closely associated with. The outcome of such an event is sudden, powerful and outside the range of ordinary human experiences. Please take care of each other now and always.


Wildland Firefighter Foundation Life Challenges Program

Thanks for the work you do. Ab.

7/8 Post Traumatic Stress in light of recent fatalities:

Dear Ab and so many others,

Anyone who knows me (especially at the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, NWCG IEMS, and many others) and how much I care about wildland firefighters would know I would be amiss if I didn't say something to the recent deaths of both Steve Dickerson of the Willamette and Caleb Hamm, the Utah Firefighter killed in Texas.

I am not going to speculate on any of it because I was not there. However what I am going to provide is something that I hope will help all affected by this in wildland fire. We are a small family and anyone who has been in this profession knows if you make it more then two seasons someone is going to sooner or later remember you or recognize your name through conversations with others.

In April of 2011, I was asked to present at the International Wildland Fire Safety Summit in Missoula, MT. The topic: Post-Traumatic Stress. I am not some social worker, psychologist, or mental health counselor. I am Bill Arsenault. A guy who has been involved with EMS, Structural and Wildland Fire, and who is also a US Army Combat Veteran who deployed to Iraq as a Combat Paramedic. While at the Summit, I handed out to roughly some 30-40 people a small tri-fold brochure regarding PTS. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I tell you some of the things above not for my own well-being, but for yours and those you lead, those you mentor, those you work with, and those who you share quality time with driving to and fro with on a fire, who you sit around a campfire trying to stay warm with while on a spike camp with to those who you hunt each season with.

Shortly after my return from Iraq those demons (as mentioned by Warthog) came on subtlety at first then raged like a wildfire. To the point I was ready to go back into combat as it was the only place I knew how to survive mentally even though it was what was killing me inside. So much to the point that I too thought of taking my own life when things were crashing. My saving grace that summer of 2006 was going back to wildland fire. The many people I met who became my friends and the many people who re-newed our friendships with saved me. And the many people I took care of (all of you) is what saved me. Taking care of those I worked with was like taking care of the guys who I served in country with. Not whining, drunk, overdosed drug addicts who call 911 because their teeth hurt or because they got their foot stuck in a toilet bowl trying to flush their drugs because their parents just showed up.

As to the death of a wildland firefighter who died as a result of a possible heat-related emergency, it truly breaks my heart. I was asked this year to speak on the NWCG Wildland Fire Refresher Video specifically on heat related emergencies. I have heard many have seen this video, but also many have not as they watch last years video, or don't use the video. PLEASE, PLEASE take the time to review it. Alot of work by alot of true wildland fire professionals went into this. Many times this preventable.

Folks, a part of our wildland fire hearts (often which are huge to begin with) has been broken by these recent tragedies. Please take the time to re-assess yourself, those you supervise, those you work with, and your own personal families. Tell them you love them no matter if you think they need to hear it or not.

To the personal and immediate families as well as the fire families of these two wildland fire professionals, I am truly sorry for your loss and I, like so many others, wish there was something I could say or do that would have prevented this loss of life or would help ease your suffering.

Ab, I have attached my small, but simple Post Traumatic Stress Brochure (nothing fancy I can assure you all of that). Please everyone, print it off and take the time to review it as well as come up a local resources help list. When it comes crunch time is not the time to rely on workers comp or a 1-800 number for help. 


Bill Arsenault, Wildland Firefighter/Paramedic

Post Traumatic Stress Brochure

Thanks, Bill. Ab.

7/8 AB - 

This might be some what of a dumb question but I have just moved into the Charleston SC area and I have been searching for months as to what is required to become a Fireline EMT. If I could find out exactly what certs, training, and who to contact to begin the process. I have contacted my local District Ranger and he has been helping me a little through the process but we are both stuck in this. Any advice would be appreciated much! Thanks.

-Casey S

7/8 Morgan,

This was posted originally on May 23 or thereabouts on the FS web. I found this posted on theysaid from Joe Boy on June 9, 2011.

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

GA Peach

Thanks to others who sent in the same info. Ab.

7/8 The rumors are true... R1 is doing the same thing.


7/8 Hi Ab,

Hearing some word that in R4 the regional forester is taking on final authority for hiring selections (for perms?) due to a recently identified lack of diversity. Sounds like it was mandated by the secretary of the DOA. This is news to me as of yesterday but I may have missed a memo or something. Anyone else hear this?

Morgan Thomsen, union rep, R4
7/8 Caleb Hamm, Bonneville Hotshot dies:

Ab- here's the official release - you might already have, but it's out on the news sites in Utah

FS District Ranger


Bureau of Land Management Office of Fire and Aviation
National Interagency Fire Center

For Release: July 8, 2011 For more information, contact:

In Texas, Kris Eriksen, 208-869-7685
In Utah, Mitch Snow, 801-539-4020
In Idaho, Don Smurthwaite, 208-387-5458

BLM Fire

Firefighter Dies While Working on Texas Blaze

A 24-year old Idaho man died Thursday afternoon while working on the 337 Fire near Mineral Wells, Texas.

Caleb Hamm was a member of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Bonneville Interagency Hotshot crew, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. He collapsed while working on the fi reline and was being medically evacuated to a nearby hospital when he died.

An autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of death, but indications are the extreme heat in Texas was a primary factor. An accident investigation team has been organized and will begin its work on July 9.

“Our entire organization deeply mourns the death of one of our own, Caleb Hamm,” said Robert V. Abbey, BLM’s national director. “His passing gives us pause to consider what truly matters in life. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family, friends and members of his crew.”

Hamm had served as a seasonal firefighter for six years. This was his first as a member of a hotshot crew. He was a 2010 graduate of the University of Idaho and resided in the Boise, Idaho, area.


Our condolences to his father, family and friends. Ab.

7/7 Speaking of Apprentice hiring, have you heard how many Apprentices your Forest is going to hire?

It will be interesting to see the numbers R5 Forests come up with. Line Officers and certain FAM personnel are running around like the house is on fire and the world is going to end lately with the about the FY 2012 budget. 

Are we going to see tighter budgets? You bet we are. But more dangerous than the final budget figures is all the rumor and speculation from people who don't even understand how fire management receives its funding. What is a fact is that 1/2 of a billion dollars will always be available every year, at least in our lifetime, to annually fund suppression costs.

Preparedness funds are going to be reduced, and we will figure out how to balance and maintain our preparedness strength if we keep a level head, steady hand and be creative. That is unless we get overtaken by the Town Criers.

The Western States have very supportive US Senators and other elected officials. We are all going to need to make it a point to get to know them, again, very soon.

7/7 Pack Rat,

I have a 1994 (I believe, could be earlier) would be interesting to compare and see the changes if any, both are probably the same if not slightly edited from the original "Sup" came up with.

7/7 Original IRPG:

In cleaning out my desk on my way to a new job I came across a yellow paper covered "Initial Response Pocket Guide". R5 Fire & Aviation Management July 1995 Regional Edition. It's 18 pages long, and kind of wrinkled and curved like it once fit in the pocket of my old school Nomex. I'm guessing it's got to be close to a first edition?

Sign me,

Pack Rat

Could be. Ab.

7/7 Hi Ab…

Been following this on the web…quite a different story from the hotlist!

From msnbc.msn…

About 25 acres burning in Carbon Canyon.

CARBON CANYON -- Firefighters believed they had a fire on the side of Carbon Canyon Road under control, but the flames have apparently gained a second wind.

Carbon Canyon Fire


7/7 Steve Dickerson's passing


The Willamette NF lost a fine young man this past weekend. Steve Dickerson, 32, squad leader on C-501, instructor, friend, lost his battle with the demons he carried within, and took his own life on the mountain he hunted and frequented throughout his life. I send this with heavy heart, and ask all my brothers and sisters to pay attention to one another. We all carry those demons, and although most of us keep them in check, you can never know when they'll surface and overwhelm your psyche.

As fire season intensifies, keep communication channels open; watch reactions to stress; tell you fftrs you care.


7/7 Region 5 Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program Vacancy extension to August 18

Good News! I just got this information:

Please let everyone know that the current Announcement 11-R5-WFAP-345DP was originally scheduled to close early due to some conflicts between AVUE and USAJOBS. They have extended the August 1st deadline to close all announcements, so we can now extend this announcement to close when Fire Management originally wanted it to close - which is AUGUST 18, 2011 .

Please distribute this information to all potential applicants. Hopefully with so many of our fire folks off on assignments, this will give an additional 18 days for them to apply. We believe this will allow an even greater number of qualified applicants in the pool for selections.

Rita Yates
Wildland Firefighter Recruitment Liaison Specialist
Region 5, Regional Office, Civil Rights Staff

7/6 Car Wash / Fill the Stump Fundraiser for the Injured Valyermo Hotshot Crew

Saturday, July 9 @ 9:00am - 1:00pm
Location :

Halfway House Cafe
15564 Sierra Hwy
Santa Clarita, California

These Firefighters were injured in a Crew Buggy rollover on July 4, some are still in the hospital and will be out of work for a while. These young men need our love and support! We also need volunteers… Hope to see you out there!!!


I'll put those that want to volunteer in touch. Ab.

7/6 USDA has released a new directive USDA Directive DR 4020-250-002. Looks like the department of ag is trying to up the supervisor : employee ratio.

"USDA’s targeted supervisor-to-employee ratio is a minimum of one supervisor for nine (1:9) employees. When the span of control is lower than nine employees for a supervisor, the Staff Office Director or Agency Head must document the reason for the variation."



7/6 Dear Marty Alexander,

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

Yeah, you got it. Appreciate your reply recognizing the “art” involved.

My belief is that the two – art and science - can result in a High Reliability Organization. Properly integrated, we could do wonders. We're still a ways away in both respects.

Keep up the good work. The fire community appreciates you!! Best regards, and take care.

Hugh Carson

7/6 Today is the 17th anniversary of the deaths of 14 firefighters on the South Canyon.

Always Remember our fallen at South Canyon, 1994

7/5 An accident investigation team comprised of one Forest Supervisor, one Deputy Forest Supervisor and one Forest Health and Safety Officer are assigned to the roll over accident of the crew carrier on the Angeles.


7/5 Message from the Secretary: Remembering our Fire Fighters

Dear USDA Employees,

We just enjoyed the Fourth of July holiday, and I hope most of you had the opportunity to spend time with family and friends. But some who work for USDA with the Forest Service had a very different holiday, fighting fires in the Southwest and Southeast.

Last week, I spent time in Arizona and New Mexico getting a first-hand report on these intense fires. I came away again impressed by the dedication and commitment of Forest Service personnel who put their lives on the line protecting the lives and property of others. I left my visit inspired by their selfless spirit, and I think all of us at USDA can take a measure of pride in their effort.

As you watch on television or read in the paper or online about these fires, please remember the sacrifices that our Forest Service personnel have made. They deserve our thanks.

Secretary Tom Vilsack


7/5 Ab,

Hey, Just had a quick question. I just transferred to a Fire Department in Yolo county and they are strictly LRA. Yet we run quite a good amount of veg fires, some in areas that could be major incidents if started. How would I name a fire? There are 3 parts: state-unit identifier-fire name or location -- CA-Yolo-Incident name? Let me know.


hotlist thread

7/5 Hotlist thread on FS ANF Crew 4 Buggy rollover in Palmdale CA

HOTLIST Thread on Rollover

7/4 Good morning AB.

We would like to add Our new SQF Engine 24 logo to the logo patches page.

Thank you!

J. O.

Thanks J. Added it to the Logos 20 photo page. Ab.

7/4 Attached is a patch photo for Kings County Fire Dept. Located in Central California.

Captain D. Aaron Parreira

Kings County Fire Station 12

Thanks, Aaron. Added it to the Logos 20 photo page. Ab.

7/4 Ab,

Here are a few photos from the Trilogy Fire on the CNF last month. Wasnt the best fire for pix, but I figured I would send them anyways.

Feel free to use as you see fit. Just please give proper photo credit if you use any.


Jeff Hall
Cal Fire VIP Photographer

There are some nice helicopter and other photos. Thanks, Jeff. I put them on Helicopters 29, Handcrews 28, and Engines 28 photo pages. Ab.

7/4 Tribute: Tommy Lane laid to rest

On July the first, the day Tommy Lane was laid to rest, I was working at the Alamogordo Tanker Base loading retardant planes. I was about to fill more tankers and I was thinking about not being able to attend Tommy's funeral. As the pilots came out to board the planes I asked each one of them to make the first drop of the day for Tommy. Without hesitation they all said it would be an honor. As each tanker took off the sun shined off of each wing tip. I could see Tommy smiling. So, on the first drops of the day on the Donaldson Fire, the tankers all lined up to approach the drop zone which was in a steep canyon bottom. They released their loads, all perfect drops! As they pulled out of their drops the sun shined again on their wing tips. There was Tommy Smiling again!

Thank you to Air Attack Dusty Voss, Air Tanker 21, Tanker 44, and Tanker 45 (all great men and pilots) for honoring a great fire fighter.

Rest in Peace Tommy and God Bless You!

Your friend and colleague, Bob Wright
Retired sup of the Sacramento Hotshots, New Mexico

Thanks, Bob. Ab.

7/4 Good Morning Ab,

Thought you may get a smile out of our IAP today. We don't see color too often on them, but today it's use was awesome.  During briefing we had a representative of the local Indian Nation give us a very appreciative speech in his native tongue. He later translated and spoke on how grateful his people were for us all leaving those that we love at home to come help his people out in their time of need. There where a few tears in the group.

I am attempting to attach a photo of the IAP from my phone.
Sent from my iPhone

** IAP Cover **

Very nice! Ab.



*-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy 4th!-*


from the Abs
Thanks for your service.

7/3 Fire Weather:

Interesting thread on the hotlist regarding the "Four Corners High"; Santa Ana Winds, and other names for Foehn winds, whether from the north or east; Sundowner Winds; the Elsinore Effect and Monsoon.


7/2 Thank You From The Lane Family

On behalf of the family of Tommy Lane I want to thank everyone who participated in giving Tommy such a fitting send off. Besides the crews from the STF , I would like to thanks my brothers and sisters from the Sonora City FD for the ladder with the American Flag and Cal Fire’s Standard Station for the Engine. Most of all I want to thank my brothers from Modesto, Tracy, and Livermore Pleasanton FD for providing the Honor Guard. I cannot begin to express what it meant to the family that you all took time out of your lives to see that Tom’s only wish was granted.

Tommy was present with Team 2 on some of our Nation’s worst disasters. Besides all of the fires, with the exception of the two southern Type1 teams Team 2 has managed the aftermath of more hurricanes than any other team including Katrina and Rita. Tom was there. When the Space shuttle crashed Tom was there, Floods in Ca. Tom was there. Not to mention Tommy spent so much time in Texas with his dozer that he qualified as a resident. The bottom line is Tommy’s work has had a significant impact on our nation.

As I was carrying Tommy from the church yesterday and saw the kids form the shot crews lined up I had the sad thought that it was a shame that the honor guard they saw was not from their own agency. How telling is it that a non fire agency administrator has the power to deny a families only wish, especially when this person and their family has given so to the USFS. For my brothers and sisters on the FS Honor Guard thank you so much for trying to make it. Tommy knows you would have been there if you could have.

Perhaps Tommy’s daughter Amy said it best yesterday, “Dad was so proud of being a fire fighter and the fact that his brothers from other agencies that did not even know Tom made the effort to be there for him made it all the more special for us.”

Aloha Brother I miss you!

Dennis K Burns
Livermore Pleasanton Fire Dept.

7/2 Hi Ab,

Here's a rather spectacular video from the Monument Fire in southern Arizona I found on youtube. Fire whirls oh my!


7/1 Howdy all,

Fed Ex stopped by today. That's not unusual but what they dropped off today was...

Fed Ex stopped at the station today and delivered a box full of AA & AAA batteries.

They are from the Duracell and the National Volunteer Fire Councils "Power to those that Protect Us" program. In all my days I've seen programs come and go without too much in the "results" category. But this time I'm impressed! Not only did Fed Ex deliver to us, the driver said he stopped by several other local Volunteer stations and dropped off a box.

So now it's time for me to step up on that Box and say THANK YOU Duracell and NVFC for your support to numerous VFDs in our area and all over the nation.


7/1 Pulaski, the man, the myth, the Legend:

Pulaski & Abs,

Looks like pulaski has pulled the plug...good for him.

As we retire your name (or call you FFKAP (the firefighter formerly known as Pulaski) we think of very old things with real patina, not to be covered up, painted over, sanded and glossed over... Don't know 'ya but know many like you.. and me deciding when to go. Liked, loved your letter to the Abs & Mods. I have many similar experiences & could share... Started out in '75 at Potlatch, Idaho... old St.Joe squirting leave trees, camping out all Summer (no fires), Burns, OR in '78 (lots of Lightning, 4 fires in one night)... Now as a dozerboss, sorry "Heavy Equipment boss" & felling boss, I'm ready to pull the plug too.. December 31st? One more fire season... or do an AD tour? I don't know. Love the free time and think I'll go...

33 years at Sisters...loved it, will miss it...So many of us are leaving. I guess they will have to learn OJT/dozers like I did... I wish I could teach all I know.. we shall see.

Camp Sherman, OR

7/1 GP,

Loved your reference to Lennon/McCartney. Reminds me of our early Tailboard sessions in implementing “Look up, Look Down, Look Around” and another L/McC song: “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?”

Yours in musical safety,

7/1 Re Pulaski Moniker


I'm with Flash & Pyro on retiring Pulaski's moniker...It is real American, apple pie,& Mom...just the right thing to do. 'been to the Wallow and back..."

Camp Sherman, OR

7/1 Making the rounds. Our condolences. Ab.

Bob Tonioli's passing - Farewell:

As many of you know, Bob Tonioli, our Regional Fire Operations Specialist, passed away on Monday morning, June 27th. He became ill on his way home from a wonderful vacation with his family, a long-awaited cruise to Scotland, Norway, Russia and many other stops. Bob was 60 years old.

Bob had a career in fire and land management that spanned 36 years and he will be sorely missed by those of us who were fortunate to have worked with him. Bob had many friends and colleagues who had developed close relationships through the years, and many people have been asking how they could pay their respects to Bob and his family.

I had a chance to visit with Bob's family this week and I have some information to share regarding his funeral. Please forward this message to those who may be interested, I know I'm missing a lot of people with this message. They encouraged us to please feel welcome at the services, there is room for all.

There will be a viewing on Tuesday, July 5th at the Linquist Mortuary at 3333 W 5600 S in Roy, Utah.

The funeral will be held at 11:00 am on Wednesday July 6th at the LDS church at 5080 S 3100 W in Roy, Utah. Uniforms are encouraged, and for those who prefer street clothes, business or church attire is appropriate.

Bob will be buried in Tooele, Utah, which is 64 miles south of Roy. There will be a procession beginning at approximately 2:45 headed out to Tooele. We are planning to join the procession with some of our fire engines, and would encourage others to join us if they are able. Beth Lund, our Deputy Director for Fire & Aviation, will be coordinating the details for the procession. Please direct questions to her, she can be reached at 801-625-5513, or via email at elund@ nospam fs.fed.us (take out the nospam and spaces)

The family will be having a private gathering after the services and before the procession. During that time we plan for friends and co-workers to meet for lunch in Roy at the Recreation Center to share stories about Bob. (We'll have directions, maps and details at the church services) The Fire Management staff in Ogden will plan to provide food and drink.

You can help us put together a memory book for his family. They have asked us to collect war stories or comments/messages from his friends, and of course, any photographs you have would be very welcome too. Julie Campbell from our staff will be collecting photos and stories or messages. you can reach Julie at 801-625-5718 or send stuff in to her email account at jacampbell@ nospam fs.fed.us (take out the nospam and spaces) We could use any stories, messages or photos ASAP to give us time to put something together - and THANKS

I hope we will see many of you there, I know that would mean a lot to his family.

Sue Stewart
Director, Fire and Aviation Management
Intermountain Region, R4

7/1 Re Pulaski Moniker

I'm with Flash: I vote we retire his number... er, moniker.


7/1 Re NIMO Teams:

New Groundpounder,

Welcome to the wonderful world of wildland firefighting! A summary of what NIMO teams do can be found on the NIFC website:


In short, as I understand it, there are four NIMO teams and each one is comprised of seven full time staff. They are full time positions. They have multiple capacities. They can fill out with needed positions and make themselves a larger functional team, like a Type I or II team on a large fire. They might work to handle initial attack on smaller multiple fires, such as in Texas. They can come in as a coaching capacity for instance when a single state is handling fires and help assist a state area command team. I hope that my state will use them in this capacity at some point, because it would be logistically more feasible than rolling in a large national team. So, in short, they are full time teams that can be molded into a lot of different functions. At least, that is the way I see it, please chime in somebody if I am wrong.

Stay safe,
Information Diva

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