"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland Firefighter
Just a note to say I was flipping channels in a hotel in West Africa
last night and there was a show on about Wildland Fire,
dubbed in French (of course). Tanker 64 (you know it is old if they were still
flying) was dropping retardant and then pretty
soon, on comes Kenny Franz talking about spotting and Smokejumpers.
Surreal, is the only way I could describe it! Small world.
Sent from my iPad
Hope you're having a very interesting time!. Ab.
Why would anything change just because the employees are now under the Master
Agreement? Nothing changed in their duties. As
a matter of fact I would bet that the employees wouldn't even know this happened
if they hadn't been told, so they would know that
they are now in the BU.
- Article 1 - They are supervisors as defined on pg 8 # 18 of the
MA. It quotes the exclusion from the Statute (5 U.S.C. 7103
(a) (10). They will continue to do the it the same as they did before,
reward, evaluate performance, assign and direct work.
- Article 4 - They are still supervisors, as such they will
continue to deal with performance issues as they did before.
- Article 15 - They are supervisors so they will have the
supervisor elements in their rating. As the supervisor they will continue
to do the ratings for the employees on their module.
- Article 18 - Yes these rules on credit hours apply to all
employees, they always have. You can't be forced to earn credit hours.
No this doesn't change anything with their status under FLSA of exempt and
non exempt. They are still supervisors.
This must be my second correction that we've been looking for- This is not an
MOU. There were petitions filed with FLRA to decide
this. After discussions with management we all decided that it didn't make sense
to waste all of the time and money that it would take
for two agencies to make a decision on a win/ win issue. Then there is the fact
that this battle has been fought before as the 13 case
files that I found were evidence to. That is why this is a "Settlement
This is a great forum to get the word out to many, but if you have any specific
questions or you just want to talk, give me a call.
Ronald C. Angel
NFFE FSC R1 CVP
FLRA = Federal Labor Relations Authority (if interested, check flra.gov)
FLSA = Fair Labor Standards Act
While sitting back relaxing, listening to the folks i know handling all of
our lightning strikes, now incident numbers, i reflected
back in time when we were all complaining of routines without any fire to
practice on...never wish for dry lightning, or say we
are the asbestos forest, hole in the donut, etc. It always amazes me that we
(they) can keep the fires so small, so few are extended,
and that lookouts and dispatchers can keep up . I guess we are blessed with
incredibly talented fine young folks who can do this
every year...borrowing a phrase from car culture, firefighting here feels like a
Bugatti Veyron going from zero to sixty in under 3
seconds...An amazing group of firefighters in central oregon...
To Al in Fire Behavior, thanks for the lesson about the "dryline", i'd never
heard of that or a Heat Front...Really enjoyed the bantering
of Warthog & Misery Whip about the Coal Fire FLA and that related
discussion...it's what keeps me interested and coming back...
"The simple answer is none of this changes"
"is now in the BU and covered by the Master Agreement"
Here are some questions.
If these employees are now covered by the Master Agreement, how can items such
as performance elements, ratings, OT, pay,
travel, PAYCHECK approvals not
Article 1 - pg 7 and 8 - Definitions. Are these GS 8 and 9 employees still
supervisors or are they now employees as defined by
the Master Agreement? If
your answer is employees, can they still reward, evaluate performance and assign
and direct work?
Article 4 - pg 12, #13 first paragraph talks about private discussions with
employees about conduct, disapproval, unacceptable
performance. Are these GS-8
and 9's still permitted to to perform this work this type of work?
Article 15 - Performance management, does everything in this article
apply to these GS8 and 9's? Do these GS8 and 9's receive
"employee" performance elements
(3) or "supervisor/management" performance elements (5)? Who completes the
ratings for the lower grade employees assigned to the module?
Article 18 - Do all the requirements of this article apply to the GS8 and 9
Specifically this one: (d) Employees cannot be forced to earn
Does this MOU change exempt or non-exempt status for GS8 and 9's?
That's about it for now. Thanks for your insights.
Station Fire, Fallen Brothers, 2 lives lost, 8/29/09
Fire Captain Ted Hall, Superintendent 16
Fire Fighter Specialist Arnie Quinones, Foreman Crew 16-3
I left the Big Meadow fire for the Station fire that morning, excited the
team had ordered the "Klump-Pumps" for the high
country above Azusa. I heard about Arnie and Ted while listening to talk radio
enroute. Can't believe it's been 2 years now.
Can't forget the look in everyone's eyes at the base camp that nite.
Wearing my shirt the WFF had at the camp with pride today.
Always Remember !
Rick Calkins, Paso Robles, CA.
Thanks for reminding us, Rick. Ab.
Fire Hire dDeadline?
I was doing what I thought was last minute touch ups on my applications for
R5 fire hire and saw that the
closing date had changed to the 23rd or so of September from the 1st... Was
curious if the date actually
changed or is the shut off still the 1st?
The announcement of changing the deadline to the 1st of August was posted
on 8/10. Was there anything later?
Fire Hire as
described on 8/10.
Apprentice Fire Hire
was described on 8/18.
You might read through the whole month and call someone "in the know". Or
perhaps someone will clarify this here...
Re Settlement Agreement for fire positions
Thanks for a civil response where we can both gain through questions and
answers. You hit the nail right on the head with your statement that there needs
to be answers to questions about real world issues like performance elements,
ratings, OT, pay, travel, PAYCHECK approvals. For some reason this has been the
most confusing part of this agreement and it should be the easiest to explain to
people. I don't know why it hasn't been done yet.
The simple answer is none of this changes. If you did it before the agreement
you do it now exactly as you did before. The only change that happened because
of this agreement was that a group of employees that by law should have been in
the BU for years, is now in the BU and covered by the Master Agreement. There
were no other changes to the duties performed or the way they are performed. As
I told Tom Harbour this is one of those rare win/ win situations.
The definition of supervisor in the Statute ( Law ) has an exclusion in it that
allows firefighters and nurses to be both supervisors and in the BU if they
don't spend over 50% of their time actually doing the duties of a supervisor.
What's the downside? They can join the union if they want or not if they don't
want. I would think that with the attack on not only the fire organization, but
our agency as a whole we would work together in any way that we can to stop the
Ronald C. Angel
NFFE FSC R1 CVP
BU = Bargaining Unit
Re Settlement Agreement for fire positions
Response to Ron
First of all I agree with (curious) him that for some reason R5 is
having some difficultly implementing the agreement.
Response from Curious – Thanks for agreeing with me.
I do agree that something needs to come out from the W.O. confirming
Response from Curious – Thanks for agreeing with me again. I don’t need a WO
response to confirm this MOU has been signed. I
read the MOU signed by you and
Tom. I need something from the WO or RO and or NFFE to tell me how to implement
Implement it not in a courtroom or in the halls of ASC, but how to implement
it in the real world. Answer questions such; 1) which
elements do we use. 2) Who does the performance rating. 3) OT, pay, travel and
PAYCHECK approvals and
does this affect exempt/ non-exempt status, etc. And many more…
but in reality the settlement agreement went into effect the day it
was signed, July 19 -
Response from Curious - That’s not a correction. Never said it didn’t.
I heard that one R5 Forest Supervisor said she won't allow her GS 8 or
9s to be in the BU. I think an agreement
signed by Tom Harbour trumps her
Response from Curious – We agree yet again, she is acting inappropriately. We
must follow the agreement signed by the Forest
Service. I never suggested we
I know that the letter from the W.O. is slow in coming, but I also
know that the person from HRM that I negotiated
this with has spoken with HR
in R5 and they know how this is going to work.
Response from Curious – Thanks again for agreeing with me that more details
are urgently needed. However, confidence is not high
that when the letter comes
out it will be an all encompassing letter. I hope community can count on you for
follow up questions.
Repeating, I don’t need a letter from the WO announcing the
MOU. Just need them to Q and A implementation.
Curious: 1) ask the W.O.
- My reply: I know your FAM Director already has.
Curious: 2) lay low and hope everyone forgets about it.
- My reply: To late. It's already implemented and moving along.
Response from Curious – These were not questions they were commentary. Please
re-read this section of the post.
We looked at all of the PDs when we started this and BC/ AFMO PDs said
from 25% to 40%. If you look at case
law from the past investigations even
structure Chiefs have a hard time reaching 25% of their time actually doing
the duties. We agree to disagree. This is a mistake.
Response from Curious – We agree to disagree. I stand by my post, this is a
Ron thanks for your post. You mentioned you have a couple things to correct me
on. Was the second correction coming in your
next post? We seem to be agreeing
more than disagreeing.
40 days since the signing and no details. What I am hearing is the the Forest
Service and NFFE are not in agreement on how to
Reading Ron and Dan's R5 letter,
As part of our discussion, we recognized the need for better
communication on this matter, but also concurred that
any further guidance
would need to come from the Washington Office.
The Partnership Council came together to discuss and they could not come to
agreement on how to implement and are asking for
further guidance. They have the
MOU as well and R5 Management and NFFE seem to not be able to answer questions
agreeing to the answers.
Cal Fire Aircraft Response Guidelines:
In reference to Kim Zagaris, State Fire
and Rescue Chief and the Cal Fire Aircraft Response Guidelines on
incidents (after the aero union contract cancellation) the Chief should perhaps
recall that virtually every
aircraft in the CalFire fleet has a little metal
plate attached that states "Property of the US Forest Service" and
are on loan
to the State of California from the feds under the FEPP program and the state
can be required to
be returned them without cause on a 60 day notice should the
feds need them back for a higher priority,
hmmm say firefighting?
signed RPP (Retired Paper Pusher)
Ab please post my problem:
Please send thoughts and recommendations for dealing with this situation?
I am an AD (former government employee) with overhead qualifications for 8
years. All my evals have been very
positive, with mostly exceptional ratings. The manager at my dispatch has
changed and the new officer is anti-AD.
He's refused to initiate three taskbooks in new areas, even with the local IC
request. He denied any training this last
spring with the comment that he is not there to promote ADs in the ICS system.
Luckily, name requests are
honored and so I've had work !
What are some positive ways I can get taskbooks initiated from other sources?
Or am I forced to leave this area
to move to a less hostile dispatch center?
Thanks for any suggestions.
AP is reporting the Lateral West Fire is still smoking after 10-15 inches of
"Bearer said officials conducting a flyover Sunday spotted at least 30 areas
where smoke is still billowing. Bearer
said that the question now is whether the
rain soaked deep enough to extinguish the fire, which has been burning
4 feet to
5 feet deep in the peat since Aug. 4.
The fire was considered 35 percent contained Friday before the storm"
Soaks Great Dismal Swamp Fire, Arkansas
We just spent 14 days down there before Irene hit, not really looking forward to
Re Curious/Settlement Agreement for fire positions
As Reagan said, "here we go
again". I want to correct a couple of things in the post from Curious on 8/27
concerning the Settlement Agreement for fire positions. First of all I agree
with him that for some reason R5 is having some difficultly implementing the
agreement. None of the other regions are.
I do agree that something needs to come out from the W.O. confirming it, and
they have assured me that there is, but in reality the settlement agreement went
into effect the day it was signed, July 19. All of the other dates in the
agreement are for completion of administrative tasks. Proof of this is that
there have already been GS 9s, both Battalion Chiefs and AFMOs, from regions 1,
6 and 5 that have joined the union. They couldn't have done this if they weren't
in the BU.
I heard that one R5 Forest Supervisor said she won't allow her GS 8 or 9s to be
in the BU. I think an agreement signed by Tom Harbour trumps her wishes.
I know that the letter from the W.O. is slow in coming, but I also know that the
person from HRM that I negotiated this with has spoken with HR in R5 and they
know how this is going to work. I don't know where the confusion is.
Curious: 1) ask the W.O.
- My reply: I know your FAM Director already has.
Curious: 2) lay low and hope everyone forgets about it.
- My reply: To late. It's already implemented and moving along.
I know that there are some like Curious that can't understand this, but to
those that really want to learn go to FLRA . gov. Look under definitions in the
Statute where it lists specific tasks of a supervisor. The law has the
investigator look at how much employment time is actually spent performing these
duties, not what your PD says.
We looked at all of the PDs when we started this and BC/ AFMO PDs said from 25%
to 40%. If you look at case law from the past investigations even structure
Chiefs have a hard time reaching 25% of their time actually doing the duties.
Hope this helps.
Ronald C. Angel
NFFE FSC R1 CVP
BU = Bargaining Unit
Here's a great website to start making our voices known in DC.
Please check it out .
Settlement Agreement for GS 8/9 Fire Employees
In other words. The Region has
no clue how to implement the settlement agreement and will do one of two
- Ask the WO.
- Lay low and hope everyone forgets about it. Maybe both.
How can anyone think that a GS8 Engine or Crew Captain, or a GS9 Batt Chief
or Supt don't supervise the
preponderance of their time?
File Code: 1020
Date: August 26, 2011
Subject: Settlement Agreement for GS 8/9 Fire Employees
To: All Region 5 Employees
Region 5's Partnership Council met on August 10th and shared information
regarding the recent national settlement agreement related to making GS 8/9s in
fire bargaining unit employees. As part of our discussion, we recognized the
need for better communication on this matter, but also concurred that any
further guidance would need to come from the Washington Office. We expect this
guidance to be issued soon. Meanwhile, Region 5 Partnership Council members
wanted to ensure that the settlement agreement was shared widely.
Enclosed to this letter is a copy of the settlement agreement. Although this
settlement agreement doesn't directly affect all employees, we thought it best
to send it to all so we didn't miss anyone
/s/ Ronald G. Ketter
RONALD G. KETTER
Deputy Regional Forester
/s/ Dan Duefrene
Regional Vice President for Region 5
I wish to have this added concerning TJ:
Who among the fire service (Lassen or
anywhere else) that was on duty and at the site of TJ's accident were the first
on scene and what specifically did you do to try and save his life. I would like
a list of names and what each of you
did.. You needn't be graphic,
Also by name, who talked to the coroner.
Note that nothing will bring him home to me.
Finally as part of critique, what could have been done different or better,
Thomas D. Marovich, Sr.
Thinking of you Tom. We lost a good one when we lost
your son. Those personal stories count for a lot. I'm happy to pass
anonymous messages. Ab.
Well said, I don't think I could have stated it any better. When we always have
a preoccupation with failure that is utilizing retrospect before it even happens
allowing us to plug that whole in the Swiss cheese, so to speak. As long as we
use the FLA as intended and not pick and choose the parts we like and disregard
what we don't like we will just be sugar coating it. I will leave it at that.
I agree that the goal is the search for just culture, and that it
is permeating upwards rather than trickling down.
As long as people
with passion, and you are among them, reach for that, our organization will
Austin is being released today. We are in the process of upgrading
the rental car so he is comfortable on their trip back home.
We have been in close contact with his family.
Thank you to our 52 Club Members and donors for your support. Your support
makes it possible for us to help. Thank you.
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
52 Club. If you haven't signed up, please do so. We need our safety net. Ab.
Can anyone update us on how Austin the firefighter from South Dakota is doing?
He's doing well. Vicki (WFF)
was in SD helping out as she always does -- as our safety net. Perhaps Vicki or
Melissa has more info on his release from the hospital. Ab.
Urgent Fire Behavior & Weather Advisory:
I think some clarification is needed to frame the context of my email that has
circulated so widely.
My instructions were perfectly clear when I said to forward to your "all
everybody" lists. Some of your email lists are much more extensive than mine. My
intent was to get this to all the firefighters in the Black Hills and perhaps in
the Rocky Mtn Area. At least I started a widespread discussion that's not about
the USFS vs. CALFIRE.
To make this perfectly clear, this was NOT about the weather the day of Coal
Canyon fire fatality or relating to the 320 Road Entrapment Avoidance FLA.
Others are working/have worked on those issues. It is also NOT a scientific
technical paper but should be viewed along the lines of an operational briefing
directed to local firefighters. This is about the weather forecasted by my IMET
and observed by both of us along with several hundred firefighters on the line
at the Coal Canyon fire on Sunday 8/14/11. It also relates specifically to
southwestern South Dakota, but judging from my responses nationwide similar
things happen elsewhere. Raising awareness about local weather is a very good
thing for all of us.
I am a Fire Behavior Analyst. I am not a Meteorologist, I just work with them a
lot. My job is to paint a picture in the minds of the firefighters on the ground
about what the expected fire behavior will be. When we were preparing our
forecasts for the IAP Saturday night, my IMET told me about a thermal trough
that would be in the fire area. I'll admit it, I just was not getting what he
was talking about when he used proper meteorological terminology. So he started
to paint me a picture which he is very good at. He said do you know what a
dryline is? Sure, I've watched Stormchasers and asked if we are going to get
severe weather out east of the Black Hills. Then he said think of it as a "Heat
Front" instead of a cold front. Bingo! I now had a perfectly clear picture of
the fire weather he was forecasting and I'm thinking the firefighters can really
relate to this description. We can use it during briefing. Every firefighter and
their grandmother knows what will happen when a cold front is forecast. Now it's
my turn to relate the fire behavior to the troops. Now I don't remember the
exact wording I used, but it was somewhere along the lines of this: When the
winds kick over to the west/northwest the dryline is here, the fire will get up
and run like a scalded dog, don't be anywhere in front of it when it happens.
Now this assessment really is not using Rothermel's Surface Fire Spread Model
properly and I'm quite sure that the Fire Lab has not measured the speed of
canines exposed to a variety of thermally induced trauma. I did paint a picture
of what will happen to everybody at briefing. I could have started my briefing
with "I did some BehavePlus runs on the computer.....", but I would have lost my
effectiveness right away and they would have not been prepared for the day. That
could have lead to more unfortunate things happening on the fire.
One other thing I discovered: The current Watchout Situation #14 "Weather is
getting hotter and dryer" lost its context in the translation to the 18
Watchouts from the original 13 Watchout Situations. It used to be Watchout
Situation #4 "You feel the weather getting hotter and dryer". If you Feel It you
are experiencing a rapid change and that's what is dangerous. The weather
getting hotter and dryer from morning to afternoon, day to day or season to
season is easily predictable and expected. Probably something we should look
into, similar to returning the 10 Standard to their original format.
If I came off acting like a mother grizzly bear protecting her cubs, I
apologize. I was just........ well I think I've painted that picture with the
big, fat crayon I used to draw my nomogram. I'm a Fire Behavior Analyst, that's
what I do. Attached is the weather observations from a nearby RAWS station to
illustrate the rapid change. Note the wind direction/RH in the afternoon and the
dewpoints between 16:75-18:57.
Stay safe and make sure all your firefighters fully understand the implications
of what the weather/fire behavior can do.
(See attached file:
Red Canyon (65 K pdf))
Assistant Fire Management Officer
Northern Great Plains Fire Management
National Park Service
Thanks Al. Ab.
I am also a fan of Weick, Sutcliffe, Reason, Dekker, etc. I have participated on
past entrapment and fatality investigation teams, but not FLAs. I am very
familiar with the concept though.
I agree with some of what you said, but I don't agree that hindsight bias is our
greatest challenge to developing a learning culture, and probably not even one
of the top 3. According to Reason, a just culture must be established before a
learning culture will flourish, and we don't have anything remotely like a just
culture yet. PL 107-203, and a general lack of honesty from our senior managers
about the appalling state of the Forest Service Fire and Aviation program
prevent us from having a just culture.
I remember hearing Dr. Weick say several years ago that he felt the term High
Reliability Organizing better expressed the intent of HRO as opposed to High
Reliability Organization, the distinction being that HRO is not a goal that you
reach or a label that you get to wear. To paraphrase what Dr. Weick said, HRO is
best expressed as a never-ending introspective process to weed out and eliminate
latent failures within the system. We're not very good at that yet, either.
I think our senior managers want to wear the HRO label without doing the hard
work it takes to achieve a very high level of reliability. I hear them talk the
talk all the time, but I don't see them walking the walk. I think they have
latched on to FLAs as the flavor of the month in a bid for credibility.
I respect the people who put themselves out there to facilitate FLAs, but it
will take a hell of a lot more than good intentions to fix our fire
organization's many latent failures. I have said on this site before that what
we really need is a highly trained and skilled investigative arm of the Forest
Service similar to the NTSB system before we will learn all of the lessons we
should from our accidents and near misses. Until our FLAs have a management
component, they will still just be focusing on those at "the sharp end of the
spear," which helps somewhat but does not cure the larger problems like our
dysfunctional and frequently dishonest senior management caste.
I don't believe we have a community full of bigots and those opposed to a
diverse work environment, just the opposite.
Diversity brings strength; I firmly believe this, always have and always will.
- What I am opposed to is targeted hiring for target jobs, while excluding
the best applicant, fire or non-fire.
- What I am opposed to is secretive plans for hiring and the WO's move
away from the President's open government initiative.
- What I am opposed to is the Forest Service bringing in a NIMO team who
are paid for by suppression funds to go behind
closed doors and do the work, which will likely be perceived as "dirty
work" because of the lack of transparency.
- What I am opposed to is not having a full accounting of what is going on
back in DC during this so called "hiring pause" and
the 100 positions set aside for the 100 Hire Club.
Try calling a HR Specialist and ask them about the status of a job you
applied to. They have no answers other than it's back in
DC for determination for selection.
What I do agree with you about and share your concern is how we treat those
hired. White, black, brown, blue or purple, we must
all commit to welcome them as they are now part of the team. Employees have
methods to seek justice when discriminated against
during a hiring process. These same employees must rise above the discrimination
and support the new hire. If you were wronged
and if you fight, this will be where you can place your anger, in front of an
arbitrator or judge, not the employee who was hired.
This is a tough subject. However please don't label the community. Many in this
community have spent a good part of their lives
supporting a progressive agenda. An agenda of inclusiveness, understanding and
openness to multiple groups and lifestyles of all
Americans. An agenda supportive of union representation for workers, affordable
health care and opposition to corporate greed.
Two examples of posts found in our community that show our support for an
inclusive work environment:
Read 7/26 post
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."
Read 7/21 post
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
They have been dancing around this subject for the past 6 months. This memo
outlines the 100
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
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.
***URGENT CWCG Safety Alert*** California Radio Communication System Changes
Share widely with any resource that may engage in Wildland
Fire Suppression Activities in California.
Note mitigation to hold Tailgate Safety Session to discuss the communication
Chair CWCG Wildland Fire Safety Officers Committee
CAL FIRE Radio Communication Changes 2011 (36 K pdf)
CALEMA White Fire VFire Channels Operations Bulletin #28 2-18-11 (27 K pdf)
CWCG_Safety Alert 8222011 (253 K pdf)
Narrowbanding Safety Bulletin May 2011 (82 K pdf)
RE: 320 Road Entrapment Avoidance FLA
Having participated on FLA teams, buried
myself in Weick, Dekker and others, I believe the most difficult endeavor we, as
a learning organization face, is guarding against hindsight bias. In a reporting
culture, the goal is gaining the confidence of the players in the incident so
they feel free in sharing what happened. We cannot say "you should have seen
this, or done that" but search for the answer to "what did they see that led
them down the path they took?" Answering that question opens the door for
learning, both at the individual and corporate level.
FLAs are not and will not become another management methodology to put blame
"…at the sharp end of the spear." Most of our Risk Management and Fire
leadership senior managers understand and support the concepts of just culture,
realizing that everyone makes mistakes. Systemic problems may very well be an
outcome of the learning analysis and an avenue to correct the larger picture,
which may lead to identification of latent failures at the managerial levels.
But for this to occur, everyone must feel comfortable with a reporting culture.
"Generative or high reliability organizations encourage upward flow of
safety-related information. Bureaucratic or calculative organizations don't
necessarily shoot the messenger, but they do not welcome the feedback either. (J.Reason
- The Human Contribution)" FLAs rest with the former. We should support all at
any level attempting to make a reporting culture a safe culture.
While I somewhat agree with Recognition Primed Decision making, it is but a
component of the total picture. Each individual has to call on the slides
they've cataloged to reach an outcome. Focusing on ongoing operations is
challenging, and the fireline supervisor needs not only RPD, but the confidence
to locate and defer to centers of expertise; to build that tray of slides; to
learn from mistakes, i.e the errors we all make. You know, be willing to share
issues and respect the feed back that may be generated.
This is very important and I wanted to give it a wide audience....can it be
Thanks so much!
Subject: Urgent Fire Behavior & Weather Advisory
Please forward to your "all everybody" lists. Duplication is encouraged.
Share with all your fire personnel. I will be making a more formal version soon
but this is important enough to get out now. As in the aviation world if you see
something say something. Well, the Incident Meteorologist Darren Clabo and
myself as Fire Behavior Analyst saw something on the Coal Canyon fire so I'm
going to say something.
There is a very dangerous fire weather pattern that occurred twice during the
Coal Canyon fire. It is called a Dryline. While it is commonly
tracked in the southern plains (the NWS Amarillo, TX newsletter is called The
Dryline), it is not routinely tracked in the northern plains. I have discussed
this morning with the NWS Rapid City of the need to highlight in their fire
weather forecast discussion when this pattern sets up. We know that it can at
least effect the Edgemont area.
When it occurs, expect a rapid increase in temperature and corresponding rapid
decrease in relative humidity. While technically incorrect it is easiest for
firefighters to understand it's effects by calling it a "Heat Front". It can
happen with the speed of a cold front but without the easily recognized visual
indicators. There will be a dramatic increase in potential fire behavior when
this happens. Here are the signs to look for:
You feel the weather getting hotter and dryer, improved visibility, smoldering
fires picking up, and the key indicator is a westerly/northwesterly wind shift.
This weather condition can be forecast in advance by an Incident Meteorologist
or the National Weather Service, but it is unlikely to be recognized in time by
a firefighter on the ground without prior knowledge that this will occur.
Fine Fuel loading in the Black Hills is very high area wide from 3 consecutive
years of above normal grass growth. In the area from Newcastle to Edgemont this
grass is mostly cured and will contribute considerably to increased fire
behavior. Fuel conditions can be characterized as grassy meadows, open
closed/canopy Ponderosa pine with some jackpots of heavy dead down fuel
intermixed and a “brush-like” timber combination of short Ponderosa pine mixed
with Juniper/pine regeneration. This fuel combination which reacts more like a
brush model (chaparral) than a timber model is the most volatile fuel in the
area. In addition, the heavy dead downed/grassy fuels in the old burn scars can
be characterized as having the heat of a timber fire with the speed of a grass
fire. Spotting risk is extreme in the old dead down fuel. The trigger to
increased fire behavior on the Coal Canyon fire (torching, spotting problems)
was a RH 30% and unshaded fuels.
In summary, dangerous weather, fuel conditions and fire behavior has happened in
southwestern South Dakota. The speed of the change in weather can create a
situation where a fire burning under moderate conditions will transition to
extreme fire behavior with little warning. If you are on a fire in the Southern
Black Hills, you better have your game face on.
Assistant Fire Management Officer
Northern Great Plains Fire Management
National Park Service
making the rounds:
Subject: September Apprentice Fire Hire - Postponed Until
Based on the FY11 Regional Travel Ceiling, the Apprentice Fire Hire session
will be delayed until next fiscal year.
We are developing a proposed timeline that will complete the Apprentice
Hiring and 6-9 Fire Hire by November 10th, 2011.
We will provide you with the approved timeline and other updates as we get
them. However, for planning purposes we tentatively are looking at the
Apprentices SME work starting on October 10th and Recommendations on October
31st. Apprentice Selections will be combined with the Perm GS6-9 Selections.
Again, we will inform you as additional information is received. If you have
any questions, please contact Liz Wright at (619) 445-6235, Ext 3429.
Regional Fire Planner, Fire and Aviation Mgmt
Region 5, Forest Service
Congratulations to Vicki Minor!
A well deserved congratulations goes out to
Vicki Minor, winner of the Emergency Services division of the Idaho Health
Care Heroes. I can't think of a person more deserving of this honor than Vicki.
She is always there for the firefighters,
families, friends and co-workers during the best of times and the worst of
We love you Vicki!! You will always be our hero.
Hear Hear! Ab.
why wildfires are getting bigger:
Couple of thoughts about your question as to why wildfires are getting bigger:
The fire history that most people look at is the stuff of the last 50-75 years.
There are large fires in this state previous to that but not all are on the
state fire history layer and not all of them were mapped. If you read some of
Alan Taylor's and Carl Skinner's fire history reports there was alot of fire in
the state of California before we ever started to put them out, more fire in the
past than currently happens. The change that has happened is the severity of
some of the fires.
We have changed how we fight fire. When I started my career, large fires where
project fires and your red bag was a war bag and we flanked fires. We would
chase them up hills, side hill etc, but we stayed on the flank till we pinched
off the head. The indirect tactic that is used so much now was reserved for the
big bad fires that we could not get around any other way. We also used the night
to our advantage and worked night shift. Some places it was never done due to
safety, but many other places it was done successfully and we caught fires.
The urban/interface: many times when house are too close to a starting fire, we
drop back and put our resources on the houses instead of using those resources
to catch the fire.
An almost old timer
I am from Nor Cal so all I can tell you is I know R5-KNF has a
rappel ship and Merlin up in Oregon has one.
Since I am only in the CWN world I get the info, but my only concern is who is
the closest when we get a lightning
bust, which has not been an issue this year. I do know they have one in So Cal
and some scattered throughout
the Regions and the plan is to add more progressively each year. Go to the hot
list and ask under questions, I
know the total amount answer is out there. Good Luck.
Google Search---> Census Bureau 2010 Diversity =
Census Bureau 2010 Diversity
320 Road Entrapment Avoidance FLA:
Abs & All,
After reading the 320 Road Entrapment Avoidance FLA, I have to say I'm very
disappointed. I know two of the folks on the FLA team, they are good people with
a lot of fire experience, but I think they tried too hard to make it seem like a
"feel-good" experience for the participants at the expense of what actually
happened. Here is the link:
320 Road Entrapment Avoidance (pdf)
I know that Monday morning quarterbacking can be deceptive, but I can't help but
think that this burnover occurred on the same fire that resulted in a fatality
and burn injuries just one day before this event. I noticed factors such as the
crew boss was heads down dragging a drip torch just before the event instead of
heads up focusing on overall safety. From what was presented in the FLA, time of
day, fire whirls, spot fires, and heavy fuels in the bowl below the
saddle probably should have stimulated the crew boss to quit being a burner and
start focusing on the big picture. This is a failure no matter how you portray
I also wonder how much fire experience the crew boss and other participants had,
undoubtedly they made the best decisions they could given the "slides" in their
memory trays but it certainly appears that their collective experience failed
them on this occasion. This was a serious, dangerous event that could have
easily resulted in more injuries or fatalities, and that reality should not be
sugarcoated. I think the people conducting the FLA might have quit asking "why"
too soon so as to spare the participants more unpleasantness after their
traumatic experience, which it undoubtedly was.
I am concerned that FLAs are becoming just another way for Forest Service
senior managers to shirk their responsibilities and pin the blame on the people
at the "sharp end of the spear." The Forest Service is right for wanting to
learn from these events, but we need to learn all of the lessons, including
management failures all the way up to the Chief, if we are going to really
benefit from similar incidents. Near misses are more than just "learning
experiences" for firefighters, they are (nearly) free lessons that should
require senior managers to plug known holes in the "swiss cheese" of their
I feel it is way past time for the Forest Service to invest heavily in methods
that improve situational awareness for firefighters with less experience. There
are a number of ways to improve the ability of firefighters to predict when and
where dangerous fire behavior might occur, and to react accordingly.
Firefighters use Recognition Primed Decisionmaking to keep themselves safe; the
deeper and richer their knowledge of fire behavior, the less likely they are to
put themselves or others in dangerous situations. We don't do a very good job of
insuring that fire supervisors are RPD-proficient today, and this is a clear
Forest Service management failure.
I deeply apologize if I have offended any of the event participants or
incorrectly portrayed what occurred during this incident. But I still feel that
this is yet another organizational failure that should, but probably won't,
cause our most senior Forest Service managers to take a hard look at themselves.
What is the status of the helirappel programs, both Federal and
State? Are any of them actively operating this year?
Dedication of the California Wildland Firefighter Memorial, October 8, 2011
You are invited to an interagency formal dedication of the California Wildland
Firefighter Memorial, October 8, 2011, 10am.
The Memorial recognizes all FF’s who have died in the line of duty at wildland
fires. The Memorial was completed and the
dedication is being hosted by the California Wildland Firefighter Memorial
committee. A full explanation and the history of theMemorial is available at:
cwfm.info/. The Memorial is located near El Cariso about 8 miles west
of Lake Elsinore south
of SR 74 on the South Main Divide Truck Trail.
Additionally, the State Legislature has adopted SR 74 as the California Wildland
Firefighter Memorial Highway.
Please attend if possible. Please RSVP Dreena Brethorst at (951) 940-6917 if you
can attend. Thank you.
Unit & County Fire Chief John R. Hawkins
Riverside County Fire Department
What are the Federal Wildland Fire Agencies doing for this? We have been called
the largest Fire Department in the US, but we
are well behind the times when it comes to taking care of our own. Thank God for
Vicki Minor, and her mighty heroes behind
the scenes at the
Wildland Firefighter Foundation.
September 11th Remembrance Ceremony
While I think your stats are suspect, your overall premise is correct. The
non-Hispanic white population is getting smaller in proportion and the minority
population is getting larger. That reality is undeniable and creating your own
facts won't change it.
Ab's, I know you filter posts because you have filtered a few of mine. I wish
you would have held on to this one until Mr. Cracker could substantiate his take
My main complaint though is on how the word diversity has become a negative to
so many of the posters on They Said. It has become a dog whistle word that
incites an emotional reaction, arousing frustration and anger. It in effect,
prevents rational thought on the subject. Think about it.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not laying any support behind the Chiefs, USDA's or the
President's plan for diversity in the federal government just yet. I have seen
plans, court rulings, Consent Decrees, Executive Orders and laws come and go
with no real change. As a "Greenie" I have scars from all of these events and I
am justifiably a skeptic. However, I am not angry and I don't react negatively
to the notion of diversity.
Instead, I think about the people been who have been unjustly maligned for being
perceived as a diversity hire. I think about how any minority hire is falsely
perceived as not on merit and thus not qualified. I disturbs me to see many of
them still under heightened scrutiny and subtle hostility. I think with dismay
that even the notion of increasing diversity is a perceived a compromise on
quality. Why have we become so self defeating? How have these destructive
perceptions helped us become better firefighters?
I don't see how we get better without being open to new ideas and new points of
view. We do that by bringing in new blood. Wildland firefighters don't come
fully trained and ready to go. We train them and groom them and make them good
firefighters. I don't see a negative with that kind of diversity. There was a
time when we had bottle necks at many levels. But the days of engine captains as
OPS Chiefs are long gone. People are going to have to learn the jobs they are
going into and they would do a lot better if they were supported. It is a fact
of circumstance. We can't get trapped by trying to judge solely on merit because
judgment is subjective. Sure we can judge an overall sense of accomplishment and
qualification, but what you and I value at a particular time may be very
different. It is a judgment call.
Thanks h. You make good points. We're still waiting for link
documentation on Salty's post. Ab.
TFS Prelim 24-Hour Report Bowles Creek Bottom Fire:
Texas Forest Service 24-Hour Report Bowles Creek Bottom Fire
(22 K pdf)
Texas Forest Service Letterhead
Preliminary (24 Hour) Report
The following information is preliminary and subject to change
Location: Fire # 384 (Rusk County), Texas; Approx. 10 miles west of Henderson
Aka: Bowles Creek Bottom Fire
Date of Occurrence: Thursday, August 18th 2011
Time of Occurrence: Approx. 1650
Accident Team Leader: Brad Moore SOF2
Mission: Providing support for initial attack operations
Activity: Supporting/Constructing Fireline
Number of injuries: 0
Property Damage: Total loss of Type-6 engine
Narrative: While supporting fireline construction on a wildfire near
Henderson, Texas, a USFS Ford F-550 Brush Truck Unit, consisting of an Engine
Captain and two operators, were cut off from their safety zone due to the brush
unit becoming stuck in marshy soil conditions. Fuels consisted of heavy grass
and brush. The unit was near the rear of the fire when the truck became stuck. A
significant wind direction change and speed increase, produced by thunderstorm
activity, occurred at approximately 1630hrs which caused the fire to move toward
the vehicle. The Engine Captain determined the safest course of action was to
relocate their vehicle. He was unable to free the unit because it had become
bogged down while crew was working spots. A JD-450 dozer unit was in the
vicinity and tried to pull the unit to safety but was unable to free the
vehicle. The crew attempted to re-start the pump but the smoke was too thick and
the unit would not crank. The only alternative was to leave the unit and reach a
safety zone by foot. The three members of E-5187 were unharmed but the brush
truck is a total loss.
Cc: Frank Wofford, Frank Bruno, Garry Parton, investigative team members;
Mark Stanford, FRP Associate Director - Texas Forest Service
I was doing some web research on Dispatch and came across this.
Forest Service Dispatch Optimization Pilot Project Charter (1,311 K pdf)
Does anyone know what this is about? It's dated January this year but based
on something from 2008.
Photos from JS:
Clarks Butte fire in Vale Oregon: tankers 152 and 155
Thanks, nice. I put them on the
Airtankers 36 photo page. Ab.
I maybe missing something but since the death of
Kimberly Marinelli (Rick Marinelli's wife) in Dec of 2008 I have not
seen any more mention and was wondering why this is??? Is this a matter of not
remembering the loss of a firefighter
soon after they are gone ??? In my heart the saying is
GONE But N E V E R forgotten...
A Dear Family Friend
I'm glad you've written in remembering Kim. She was special. Sorry for her
Remembrances occur on this forum when people write in. Perhaps someone reading
this will have a story to share. Ab.
Diversity and Census:
Well, I could be wrong, but I believe diversity is an old, old wooden ship that
was used during the Civil War era.
In regards to hiring
A report by the U.S. Census Bureau projects
- a decrease in the ratio of Whites between 2010 and 2050, from 79.5% to
- At the same time, Non-Hispanic Whites are projected to no longer make up
the majority of the population by 2042, but will remain the largest single
race. In 2050 they will compose 46.3% of the population. Non-Hispanic whites
made up 85% of the population in 1960.
The report foresees
- the Hispanic or Latino population rising from 16% today to 30% by 2050,
- the African American percentage barely rising from 12.9% to 13.0%, and
- Asian Americans upping their 4.6% share to 7.8%.
The U.S. has 310 million people as of October 2010, and is projected to reach
400 million by 2039 and 439 million in 2050. It is further projected that 82% of
the increase in population from 2005 to 2050 will be due to immigrants and their
|White alone (of which 26.7 million are White Hispanic and Latino
Americans, see table below:
Excluding these, this category comprises 63.7% or 196.8 million)
Black or African American alone
Some other race alone
Two or more races
American Indian or Alaska Native alone
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander alone
According to the Census Bureau we're right on target with diversity.
Thanks For Listening.
Note: I put this in table form, although I received it from Salty as a
copy and paste. Please send a link to this report so viewers can check it out
themselves. Thanks. Ab.
Spot on! Keep after it even after the team is ordered and leave them with
nothing to do but organizing the mop up and
feeding! Use the local talent that has spent the time to learn the ground.
Usually they don’t so, get after it the first night
before they get set up and transition.
Proud to have served for you! You were one of the very best and know of what you
speak. You have walked the walk.
“Another CDF BC”
The Lateral West Fire in Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in
southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina is @ 6071 acres and 15%
contained, transitioning from Southern Area Type 1 Blue Team (IC Quesinberry) to
Southern Area Type 2 Team (IC Dueitt) today. Started by lightning on 8/4 and a
loooooooong term event - burning (both surface and ground fire) in organic peat
soils and partially within the fire scar of 2008 South One Fire. Major smoke
impacts to some major metropolitan areas. Needs a major infusion of water --
both from extensive high-volume water handling work by firefighters and
hopefully also from a tropical rain event.......
Some good pictures on a Flickr site that show some of the work in fighting this
different type of fire than many of us are used to, and a dandy shot of a fire
whorl. Can access the pix through the InciWeb site for the fire, or at:
As always, Abs, THANKS for Wildlandfire.com.
You're welcome. This community makes this what it is. Ab.
confusion over the new diversity mandate
Hi Ab and all,
Trying to wrap my brain around the diversity hiring mandate and what it means
and what is used as a model. I've
been obsessed with it for awhile because I'm not entirely sure what the fuss is
about and I'm wondering if I'm missing
something. If anyone is knowledgeable on this I would appreciate their input
because I'm posting as an amateur
researcher and I'm a firefighter and not an HR person.
So, one link at OPM:
This is OPM's analysis from 2010 that displays demographical analysis of the
Federal Workforce (dark green bars
FW) as compared to the Civilian Labor workforce (light green bars CLF). I've
heard that we are trying to hire at
levels commensurate with the CLF. Is this accurate? If we're trying to match the
CLF, we've actually exceeded
noticeably in some demographics, while Hispanics are a notable exception to this
rule along with whites being more
slightly underrepresented in the FW.
One obvious issue displayed at the top of the report is that the senior pay
level representation levels are slanted
towards white males heavily.... but it goes on to say that "senior" pay level
refers to individuals above Grade 15, step 10.
I realize the report is from 2010 so things might have changed a bit, I also
included a link to census data from 2010
2010 census data I haven't seen the OPM report
for 2011 or I would have posted it.
I guess I don't get what the crisis is about other than the GS superoopers
not being diverse enough. Are there other
instances of underrepresentation specific to the USDA? What is going on? Tidwell
won't tell me anything.
-confused GS 6
The answer to, "Why have wildfires gotten larger?" is simple. Through better and
more accurate mapping, of course!
haw haw. Ab.
To disappointed and disgusted
All I can say is I have faced a similar situation with a supervisor who had
an ax to grind because he took a job in a different region just for the upgrade.
He was a captain and I a lowly AFEO who knew far more about engine operations
than he, that didn't go over well, so I used my FEO, my Fuels Officer and DFMO
as references which is legal (see personal reference's section) because I did
not trust my direct supervisor to give me a good recommendation, and a good
performance evaluation, and I had worked directly for all of them at one time or
another while burning and they knew my work ethic. If there is no other
supervisor between you and your supervisor then check the button that says you
MUST NOT contact current supervisor; that should not be held against you because
we all have faced the same situation where a supervisor says my way or the
highway. Furthermore if they do contact your current supervisor and he gave a
bad reference they are obliged to get a second reference to identify a pattern.
On the other hand I have had supervisors give me glowing recommendations just to
get rid of a problem employee, I do not think that is the case with you but
since you are anonymous I do not know your work ethic. If you have the
outstanding record on paper scan it and upload into Avue or whatever your Dept.
uses and let your record speak for itself.
I need some advice so please post.
I am applying for jobs during this upcoming firehire and I was wondering if
anyone could explain the extent or limitations of a supervisory reference check.
My situation is that I have been in my current position for 4 months and my
direct supervisor, the AFMO, is grinding an axe against me. I have no
disciplinary measures against me and my previous performance evals have all been
fully or exceeds fully successful. I have only been working with the district
folks for a couple of months since I spent the better part of 2 months on the
BAER team working on a fire locally (on which I received superior incident
performance ratings from the Ops chief and one of my contractors). The AFMO and
I have agreed we don't like each other or how we operate so I'll be moving on of
my own volition. The problem is he has created issues and has deemed, at this
time, my teamwork and partnerships performance element is failing. He has
outlined some ways for me to improve it to a fully successful level. Without
going into the details, his documentation was so poorly done and his bias and
hostility towards me so blatant that other professionals have commented on it,
and while I am not facing any kind of disciplinary actions, my reputation is
being slandered. What are my options for keeping this hostile AFMO away from my
reference checks, and barring that, what can or can't this person say.
disappointed and disgusted
Why have wildfires gotten larger?
This is an interesting topic and the
standard answer is usually that suppression has gotten so effective that the
fuels are too dense and when a fire DOES get going it burns way hotter and is
harder to stop. But firefighters have better training and equipment now, plus
way better communications. Safety is emphasized more too. That's a good thing. I
know some old timers who can't believe that typically on a major fire (didn't
they used to be called campaign fires?) there is seldom a working night shift.
That is when a lot of fires used to get stopped by hand crews. I think this is
mostly true with USFS fires, I'm not sure about CalFire policy on night shifts.
I'm not sure if there even is an official policy on night shifts but I've been
told by a current firefighter (I haven't done it in a long time) that there is
seldom a night shift working on a major USFS fire in R-5. First I would like to
know if that is true and if it IS true then maybe it was for safety issues and
so be it. I'm not criticizing anybody nor am I criticizing the policy if in fact
it is official policy. Maybe it depends on things like fire conditions and
steepness of terrain. However, it COULD be a factor in fires getting larger now.
2011 FWFSA Membership Conference
2011 FWFSA Membership Conference
Well said Casey. I have corresponded with my
local federal Congressman before and I believe you have also spoken with them.
This is a highly dangerous job and budget cuts and pay freezes will just cost us
our most experienced employees, which does not
equal to a safer organization.
Thank you for your efforts and I will continue to lend support and correspond
with my Senators and Congressmen.
2011 FWFSA Membership Conference
I am pleased to announce that Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell has approved Fire
& Aviation Management Director Tom Harbour's acceptance to attend our 2011
Membership Conference in Reno December 1-3rd.
It is my hope (ever the optimist) that this finally represents an
acknowledgement by the Forest Service that the FWFSA is a viable component of
the federal wildland firefighting community and a recognition that the members
of the FWFSA, regardless of Agency, are the "cream of the crop" of each Agency's
firefighters and that the voices we harness and direct towards those who can
create positive change for our firefighters are worth listening too.
That said, with the anti-federal employee sentiment in DC; the Diversity
Directives from the Administration; the "Cultural transformation" (whatever that
really means) directives and the budget reduction directives from the
Administration we must all play an active role in educating Agency leadership
and our elected officials that, when it comes to the federal land management
agency fire programs and Agency leadership's stated goals of safety, the " one
size fits all" approach is a poor fit.
I think we all can agree that diversity is an admirable goal. However when an
Agency provides little incentive to anyone to join or stay in the federal system
in the 21st Century, diversity, for the sake of diversity, could have tragic
consequences. I believe the FWFSA and NFFE are on the same page when we say that
merit, experience & expertise absolutely must trump diversity for the sake of
diversity. Crew cohesion, in an occupation where split second decisions must be
made is of paramount importance. Fortunately everyone I have spoken to on
Capitol Hill agree.
When at FIREHIREs folks are told to reach down to level 3 candidates on the very
first day, it is clear that the pool of qualified candidates, regardless of
whether they are white, black, purple or green, is sorely lacking. Failing to
provide adequate incentives in this day and age is a crime. Long gone are the
days of attracting employees by offering them the opportunity to "work in the
trees and watch the sunsets."
We must all play an active role in educating our elected officials as to the
adverse impact pay freezes, hiring freezes and many of the proposed
"anti-federal employee" proposals in Congress will have on the fire programs and
will in fact have the opposite effect of that intended by leading to increased
reliance on expensive, non-federal resources and increased costs. We can't just
complain like so many do, we have to offer clear, sensible alternative to the
radical ideas floating around DC.
We have to actively stay ahead of the rhetoric in DC and constantly ensure our
marketing strategies for improving things for our firefighters plays into the
budget reduction hysteria in DC. It is possible to improve things for our
firefighters in the current atmosphere in Congress but it is going to take more
than just me to convince folks on the Hill that our objectives will help to
create a more efficient & effective federal wildfire response & save taxpayers
serious sums each year.
Remember, whether Democrat or Tea Partier, the priority on Capitol Hill is
re-election and control of the Administration, House & Senate. I have grown
weary of rhetoric from both sides of the aisle stating "we need to" or "we are"
listening to the American people...
Last I checked, federal employees were "American People" yet no one is listening
to those federal employees who are asked to risk their lives and who are found
at or near the bottom of the federal pay scale. The FWFSA ha made some
significant strides in establishing its credibility on the Hill in the past 5-6
years. However it is going to take a lot more voices to tackle the "meat
cleaver" & "slash & burn" mentalities of some in Congress.
It's your future. Help us make it more rewarding.
Executive Director, Governmental Affairs
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
Why have wildfires gotten larger?
In response to Viejo
The statement "Out of area fire teams for both agencies, CalFire and USFS often
demonstrate no sense of ownership, little or no empathy for local problems and
quite often no knowledge of local burning conditions." might indicate that Viejo
has either never been to a transition briefing or read a delegation of authority
to a Team, or wasn't paying attention. If the issues mentioned are not addressed
by the team, it indicates a weak line officer or agency administrator, perhaps
not an overbearing team.
I think on its face the premise is inaccurate. If you go back further than 1950
to when records began to be kept and look at fire size, and control for
population (population=ignitions), I think it would show fires have not gotten
bigger. There were some tremendously large fires in Southern California in the
early years of fire suppression. Just in my area there were the Green River,
Steward, and a few monsters that history has not recalled the name topping
Use the Fire Planning and Mapping Tools viewer and pick any decade prior to
1970, and look at the gigantic fires that occurred in California. I think you
might be surprised.
click on Viewer, go to the Fuels layers in the table of contents and scroll down
to get fire history back to 1900.
Subject: Cal Fire Aircraft Response Guidelines
California Emergency Management Agency
Fire and Rescue Division
TO: REGIONAL FIRE AND RESCUE MUTUAL AID COORDINATORS
Daryl Osby, Region I Coordinator
Sheldon Gilbert, Region II Coordinator
Doug Wenham, Region III Coordinator
Mark D’Ambrogi, Region IV Coordinator
Keith Larkin, Region V Coordinator
Dale Hutchinson, Region VI Coordinator
Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE
FROM Kim Zagaris, State Fire and Rescue Chief
DATE: August 19, 2011
SUBJECT: Cal Fire Aircraft Response Guidelines
PLEASE DELIVER TO REGIONAL FIRE AND RESCUE COORDINATOR
Please forward and distribute to the CAL EMA (OES) Fire and Rescue Regional
Coordinator and CAL EMA (OES) Fire and Rescue Operational Area Coordinators
within your region.
Please insure that the CAL EMA (OES) Fire and Rescue Operational Area
Coordinators forward and distribute to local Fire Agencies within their
In light of the recent Federal air tanker reduction CAL FIRE has developed the
attached guidelines for use of CAL FIRE aircraft within California and adjoining
States. Please give this memo wide distribution amongst as many of your state,
federal, and local partners as possible who might have an interest in this
Ken Pimlott, Director CAL FIRE
CAL FIRE Aircraft Response Guidelines (936 K pdf)
Why our Wildfires have gotten larger in the last 50 years
I too found the map of California wildfires interesting. Viejo did a pretty
thorough job of hitting the reasons and I do agree with nearly all of them.
While we have been busy putting out every fire the forest has become far too
over grown and the situation is totally out of control.
In my opinion, during the same time frame many areas have been added to the
wilderness system which has eliminated logging and actively fighting those fires
that occur. It is not just homes being built into the forests but new wilderness
areas being formed adjacent to already developed areas. A good example of this
is on the Angeles where the Magic Mtn. Wilderness was formed adjacent to areas
that have had homes in Sand Canyon for better than 45 years. Just look at the
map of dozer lines constructed in that area during the Station Fire. Another
example is right here on the Sierra. A group has been working on making a
wilderness in Signal Peak/Devils Gulch area. This is adjacent to areas, within
the forest, that have had homes since the 70’s. I’m sure if we looked around we
would have found more examples. This prohibits thinning the forest and
To avoid law suits the Forest Service is busy studying each and every possible
environmental concern while promoting, without regard to fire qualifications or
experience, employees into supervisory fire positions. Hmm – lets see – No
logging, no aggressive firefighting, always worrying about the environment
lobby, the spotted owl, yellow legged frog – it’s no wonder we keep having
larger and larger fires.
It would seem to me that we have but two choices. Either accept mega fires or
work to change how we are managing our wildland areas.
Kudos to Viejo
Abs...I'd like to start a thread on Why our Wildfires have gotten larger in the
last 50 years. I've written a few comments to kick off the discussion. viejo
Why have wildfires gotten larger in the last 50 years ?
The recent SacBee posting of this interactive map of wildfires in California shows a
trend of increasing larger wildfires.
interactive map of wildfires in California
This is a disturbing trend, since the amount of money spent on fire suppression
forces has also increased exponentially.
In the last 3 or 4 decades, communications have improved , we’ve developed
Firescope, and ICS. We have increased the number of Conservation Camps,
developed a CalFire Helitack program and the State of California has developed
its own airtanker program . We now have weather satellites, improved weather
prediction and fire modeling. Many of the Counties in California have
implemented County Fire Departments with mutual aid and the number of private
contractors is greater than ever.
One would think with all of these improvements acreage would be down, but its
The obvious answers postulated by some segments of the fire community are
climate change and increased fuel loading on forest lands. I agree with both
premises, but the improvements in the Fire Control Programs of all Agencies
should offset that.
I think the reasons for the larger fires are many, but most of them go unsaid.
The USFS and CalFire are responsible for the greater percentage of wildfires in
California, Contract Counties, BLM and NPS take care of most of the rest.
The USFS has a huge impact on how fires are fought in every jurisdiction.
They provide InterAgency training, they hire local forces on their fires, and
many local Fire Departments provide members to their Incident Management Teams.
In the last 30 years or so there has been a dramatic change in how the USFS
There has been a huge emphasis put on Safety. Since South Canyon in 1994, the
USFS has changed its tactics to provide more protection for the crewman on the
ground. More indirect firelines make for larger fires. If the lead Agency
regularly practices disengagement all other agencies will follow.
Many fire managers fear litigation. The 30 Mile Fire in July of 2001 and the
Cramer Fire in July of 2003 held fireline supervisors responsible for the deaths
of their firefighters. The USFS seemed to cut its employees loose…instead of
protecting them, it seemed to me they turned the prosecution of them to those
employees to the Office of the Inspector General. They now advise their fire
managers to provide their own liability insurance.
The Team Concept has flourished. Both USFS and CalFire embraced the Incident
Command Team concept. What has evolved is the home unit of the fire in both
Agencies have in many cases simply abdicated their responsibility once a team is
ordered. Once a team order is placed it seems the organization on the fire
ceases to grow, waiting for the team to set the strategy and place the orders.
Unit takes no responsibility for the Team’s actions. There is no effective way
to critique a Team’s tactics. USFS teams rotate every 2 weeks and the fires drag
on for months. How do you effectively criticize an organization like that ? Once
a Unit has turned a fire over to the Team, the Teams are likewise protected. Who
can criticize the supposed best in the organization ?
Out of area fire teams for both agencies, CalFire and USFS often demonstrate no
sense of ownership, little or no empathy for local problems and quite often no
knowledge of local burning conditions.
The USFS has changed. The Forest Service has changed from a Multiple Use Agency
to a land management agency that seems more bent on Sierra Club ideals. The old
motto of “Land of Many Uses” has been replaced by “Caring for the Land”. The
Agency now resembles the National Park Service more than the BLM.
Wilderness areas have increased. Dramatic inclusions to the Wilderness areas
have removed huge areas of wildland from vehicle access and The Forests have
imposed severe restrictions on how and why a fire should be fought. USFS fire
managers are reluctant to use bulldozers on any of their fires, even those fires
on private land under direct Forest Service Protection.
There is an agenda in the Forest Service to restore fire to the wildlands.
Wilderness plans are written to allow “natural” fires to burn, even if they are
damaging to the environment. We will never be able to recreate the National
Forest to the pre White man condition, yet we are trying to do that in a time of
climate change. The resulting wild fires are huge.
Increased urbanization. More homes and cabins are built in the wildland.
Creating urban interface where it never existed. More fire units are required to
protect these improvements.
Big fires make big budgets. On a smaller scale, big fires make big paychecks for
employees and contractors. Since the Spotted Owl and other endangered species
shut down the logging industry, most Forests have very few timber sales. We used
to fight fire to protect a revenue source, but that is gone. Forest now seem to
regard fires as a chance to clean up the Forest without preparing an
Environmental Impact Statement even though in many cases the fires create more
available fuel. CalFire is not immune from this issue. Fires that have fire
teams drag on longer than a similar fire in similar fuels without a team.
Premium overtime is huge reason for staying another day or through a weekend.
I’m sure I am not the only one who is frustrated with the current state of Fire
Protection in California. I’m not one of those who believes mega fires are
inevitable, but if we continue on the current course we will only see bigger
fires that happen more frequently. What can we do to change the trend ?
Obama orders new plan to diversify federal workers
By Suzanne Gamboa, Associated Press
Published: Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 - 2:06 pm
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama has signed an executive order directing the
federal government to design a new strategy for hiring, promoting and keeping
workers of diverse backgrounds.
The three-page order released Thursday directs the head of the Office of
Personnel Management, a deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget
and two other agencies to develop the strategy within 90 days. Agencies then
have 120 days to implement it.
An Office of Personnel Management report says that in fiscal year 2010, the
federal workforce was 66.2 percent white, 17.7 percent black, 8 percent
Hispanic, 5.6 percent Asian/ Pacific Islander, 1.8 percent Native American. It
was 56.1 percent male.
fair use disclaimer
Crew Carrier Safety Alert
(131 K pdf)
Date: August 24, 2011
SUBJECT: Crew Carrier Safety Alert
AREAS OF CONCERN:
- Seat belt use
- Seat belt retrofit
- Securing cargo
- Headlight lens inspection and cleaning
DISTRIBUTION: Region 5
DISCUSSION: There have been four crew carrier vehicles that have been involved
in serious accidents in the last 7 years; the Bitterroot National Forest crew
carrier accident (2004), the San Bernardino National Forest Helitak crew carrier
accident (2007), the Klamath National Forest (KNF) crew carrier accident (2009)
and the Angeles National Forest crew carrier accident (2011).
Although the circumstances leading to each accident were different, serious
injuries occurred and seat belts were not being worn in some cases. Seat belts
save lives and help reduce the severity of injury. Seat belts should be worn low
and snug along the hips. After the KNF accident, it was noted that many existing
crew carriers were equipped with a ratcheting style seat belt that tightens
during use and can be uncomfortable; this may reduce seat belt compliance. The
upcoming national standard crew carrier specifications include a
manually-adjustable seat belt that does not tighten during use and will assist
with seat belt use compliance. Some existing crew carriers may still be equipped
with ratcheting style seat belts which can be easily retrofitted with seat belts
that meet the upcoming National Standard Crew Carrier specifications. The
specifications are as follows: (download the flyer... link above;
more on securing cargo and headlight lenses...)
Human Performance Improvement
Just a quick thanks for posting the link to the
Cougar Fire Human Performance Improvement. That was the best explanation I
have come across addressing the issue of safety on the fireline. Especially
since WO is pushing so hard on transforming to some
obscure safety culture.
The troops who harp about line officers just don't understand the political
pressure they are under at all levels. 'glad I'm retired.
White House orders increase in diversity hiring
New document posted at Wildfirelessons.net
Title: Cougar Fire Human
Performance Improvement (from wildfirelessons.net)
Cougar Fire Safety Officer
Thanks for the copies of the FS Chief's "End of the Summer Message" to all
employees. I clarified the message
Hardhats and DEET,
In 1998 I spent almost 40 days in Alberta on two different hitches and we had
hardhat issues like you are describing which we figured to be from contact with
high octane bug stuff that we acquired up there. Nothing like the delamination
issues you are having but we did have a couple that turned extremely brittle and
eventually fractured when dropped on a hard surface. The two that became brittle
had been sprayed with the same stuff but in an aerosol form. They would have
provided absolutely no impact protection for the people wearing them and were
disposed of when we got home. Also had issues with tool paint, structural
failure of designer sunglasses and eyeglass frames (plastics would melt and
adhere to skin,) and damage to tent materials, line gear, non-cotton garments,
The stuff we were using was in excess of 90% DEET and was the only repellant
effective. By the time we made our second trip to N. Alberta the really
tenacious bugs had hatched out. Any risks from exposure to the bug stuff far
outweighed the misery of getting bit on any exposed flesh. I still have a few
bottles of the stuff we got up there but haven't been in a situation where I
needed to use it since then. I have never seen it available in the states, at
least not in the DEET concentrations that these products are.
Does anyone have the full text of the "end of summer" memo from the Chief they
could send me?
Executive Director, Governmental Affairs
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
End of Summer... maybe, maybe not...
Big Bar Complex (Megram, Onion, Fawn,
Dees- lightning - started August 23 in the Trinity wilderness and ran
until November 7, 1999. The Kirk Complex down near Big Sur began after the Big
Bar. I heard that by the time
the weather changing event occurred in Nov every team had been on one or the
other or both and most
resources were tapped out.
"End of Summer"? Huge lightning bust in Southern Oregon/Northern Oregon started
on August 30th and some of the fires were
active into November. Remember "Silver"?
Hard Hat Failure
Just trying to track down an issue we are having with our Bullard Hardhats. Want
to see if anyone else is having the same issues.
Out of twenty hard hats on my crew 8 are showing signs of hairline fractures
along the bill (we have full brims) and another 4 are
delaminating along the ridges. Our sister crew had the same issues and Bullard
had no clue what was causing it.
One theory I have is the use of bug repellent with DEET in it. Both crews spent
a 21 up there. It could also be faulty plastics being
used by Bullard themselves.
So please everyone have their folks double check their hats. Some of the cracks
do not appear till you flex the hard hat. If anyone
has any answers let me know
Brian Bush La Grande Hotshots
End of Summer Message
Yep it seems a little funny that in the middle of "Dirty August" as the grass
yellows and hardly any real fires, or tests have happened in Pac(k)-
Northwest--- yet our Big Cheese (respectfully) has declared an end of summer
message... Just a typo of thought perhaps - yeah, it is attention to detail that
we must shine on or ignore... I've done a tour @ Wallow in New Mexico/Arizona
but now stay home on type 3 teams waiting... I suppose he means well, but it is
so alarmingly funny as to... not be funny... if you know what I mean?
Regarding - Direction from the Chief of the FS:
"Make sure your Line Officers and Forest Fire Chiefs know that at this
time, reductions of any firefighting capability within R5 Forest Service is
a violation of Randy Moore's current direction. Violators of Randy Moore's
direction are subject to disciplinary action and will be reported to
Congressional Representatives. We suggest that Line Officers and Forest Fire
Chiefs be very careful with any premature planning to decrease a units
umm. the premature planning has already started..
I would like to see this direction and when it was given. Randy must have
changed his mind as for at least the past year, Los Padres line officers have
asked their fire management officers " if you had to reduce any firefighting
resources, which ones would you consider?" and other questions related to "right
sizing" the fire organization to meet the current budget. In discussions with my
ranger, these questions started with the regional forester. For the sake of rank
and file morale, I didn't share it with the troops.
Of course my response was to start at the Washington Office, move to the R.O.'s,
S.O.'s and eliminate the rake off of preparedness dollars to fund non-fire
employee salaries and related resource projects. Another suggestion, especially
on the LP, was to put fuels management back under fire management professionals
where the dollars will actually get to implementation where they are desperately
needed. Instead of it being the forests private bag of gold to cover unfunded
specialists. You would be amazed at the fuzzy math used to meet treatment
Hopefully some of these issues will be addressed since last week the Regional
Office did a Fire and Fuels Program Review of the Los Padres.
nuff said for now
Actually, some of us who have just endured the Safety Journey are wondering
about the Chief's statement of:
"The safety journey continues to expand and evolve and I know it is making a
difference in changing our workplace."
How does he know that it is making a difference? It just started, does he have
some data we aren't privy to?
In fire and aviation we are producing extremely good safety results when you
take into consideration the large numbers of people on the ground and in the air
fighting fires, the number of years (and lack thereof) of experience, the
terrain, the temperature extremes, the nature of dealing with - to a degree -
unpredictable wildland fires in wild lands throughout our country, the type and
age of the mechanized equipment which we use on a regular basis, the hours we
keep, the constant multi-tasking required for almost all jobs related to
wildland fire, etc.
When I listen to a non-fire line officer leading the Safety Journey session
explain how we are going to reduce and improve our safety record, I take a bit
of offense to this claim. We in fire and aviation have been making a difference,
improving our safety record, learning from our mistakes and actually living a
safety focused climate for decades. And although I would rather not see a single
death or even a single scraped arm, and although my heart felt heavy as I
watched the video footage of the engine memorial procession in Hot Springs for
Trampus, we will learn from that situation and be better for it. And in fact we
(in fire and aviation) were doing this long before the Safety Journey was ever a
thought in someone's mind.
I always wonder if certain people in high places allow others to review their
documents prior to sending them off, seems like more of them should.
It would help give a sense that the person in charge is actually aware of what
is going on at lower levels. I know from experience that the safest situations I
have ever been in - both in fire and aviation, were situations where the
supervisor had a close relationship and understanding of what was going on at
the other levels - and respected it.
Signed: Safer on a fire than on the 405 during rush hour
A message from the Chief of the Forest Service. All need to take note of this
statement. Hold your Chief, your local Line Officer and Forest Fire Chief to
While decreases in our budget are likely, we have positioned ourselves to
absorb them through attrition, without the need for large-scale workforce
Make sure your Line Officers and Forest Fire Chiefs know that at this time,
reductions of any firefighting capability within R5 Forest Service is a
violation of Randy Moore's current direction. Violators of Randy Moore's
direction are subject to disciplinary action and will be reported to
Congressional Representatives. We suggest that Line Officers and Forest Fire
Chiefs be very careful with any premature planning to decrease a units
firefighting organization. If you wish to test this community's resolve to
protect our fire organization, we are ready.
From: Chief of the Forest Service
Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 9:12 AM
To: ALL FS
Subject: CHIEF'S END OF SUMMER MESSAGE TO ALL EMPLOYEES
I wanted to check in with everyone as we move through the summer season. I
really want you to know how much I appreciate the great work you are doing. We
have the best mission in the country, and I know you are working every day to
fulfill that mission.
For my part, and with your help, I'm focusing on safety, restoring our natural
landscapes, fire, providing jobs in our local communities, and creating a fully
inclusive organization. We have a lot of work to do together.
The safety journey continues to expand and evolve and I know it is making a
difference in changing our workplace. We have an extremely good safety record
this year. However, I know how difficult it is to deal when any organization
loses an employee. And it is also difficult when our employees are recovering
from serious accidents. You have my promise that we will learn everything we can
from these accidents. Keep your awareness up and make sure that you and your
co-workers go home safely every single day. There is nothing more important than
You may be feeling anxiety stemming from uncertainty about the country's
financial future. While decreases in our budget are likely, we have positioned
ourselves to absorb them through attrition, without the need for large-scale
workforce reduction efforts. By maintaining a lean, flexible workforce, we will
continue to be able to provide the priority services the public expects us to
Thank you for your hard work. It's important. And I'm proud to be
Yes... We have been discussing the timing of the Chief's "end of summer" message
in our fire shop. It seems as if the main
question that surfaced repeatedly was why it wasn't sent out at the actual end
of the summer? Just asking...
It also continues to send a message of being out of touch with the realities of
the workforce. After all, how difficult is it to
wait until the summer fire season is over to send an end of summer message?
Not quite the end of summer
Did anyone else think it was incredibly lame that the Chief of the Forest
Service sent out an "end of summer" letter which
boasted about the Forest Service's "extremely good" safety record just 4 days
after one firefighter died and four other
firefighters were burned on a Forest Service fire? I tried to think of a
reasonable explanation but I just can't imagine one.
AB and all
Just an FYI for everyone.
The funeral for Trampus Haskvitz will be available on a live webcast provided by
the Rapid City Journal.
The service is at 2:00 PM
8/16 (1:00 Pacific time)
If you could provide this to folks on the website I would appreciate it.
I am the Battalion chief at the Hot Springs SDWFS field office where Tramp
He will be sorely missed by all and was a great kid with an extremely bright
Also Austin Whitney who was injured on the fire underwent surgery for skin
grafting this morning at the Western States Burn
Center in Greely Colorado this
morning and is doing well.
Thanks for everything.
South Dakota Department of Agriculture
Wildland Fire Suppression Division
The Coal Canyon Fire 72 hour Expanded Report is one of the most poorly written
documents of its times.
There is a Forest Service SAIT assigned.. This is the death of a State employee.
Should this not be an Interagency SAIT?
There is a still standing policy that the Forest Service Law Enforcement has the
lead on the Investigation. It was dated 6
months or so after the Andrew Palmer fatality on the Shasta Trinity NF in CA.
What is up with this? Who is the FS LE lead?
What is a Type 4 Incident organization? And what is a Type 3 Incident
Organization? There are qualifications for a Type 3
IC in the 5109.17. Where are
the quals for a Type 3 OPS, PSC etc?
What are the qualifications of the Team Leader for the USFS to lead a SAIT?
Last, and most importantly, does the Type 4 IC, District FMO, Forest FMO have
Professional Liability Insurance? (Line
Officers seem to be exempt from responsibility
for some reason, even though accountable on paper).
If anyone has spoken with the SAIT without legal representation, you are are on
your own. If you did not insist on the Kalkines
Warning prior to giving a
statement, you are on your own. Kalkines protects you against self-incrimination
protected under the
Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. The case history comes
with the 30 Mile, Cramer and Esperanza Fires.
Activate the FWFSA Short Team. aka, The Dream Team.
Wildfire within 5 miles of FWFSA HQ
OK, 5 miles as the crow flies but a wildfire has broken out a few miles south of
Pocatello Idaho and has already appeared to have
destroyed 3-6 homes. No
containment as I can tell but at least one tanker in the air and I'd assume BLM
is running the show.
The season is a bit late in arriving here with the wet Spring but as many of you
know, especially those who have traveled to Idaho
for fire assignments, we've
had some nasty fatal fires here. This is relatively small and hopefully it won't
get over the ridge that it is
working itself towards.
Anyway, to our Idaho BLM folks, thanks and stay safe.
Thanks, Casey. I put it on the
Fire 46 photo page. Ab.
||Passing of Aaron Pittario
It is with a heavy heart that I have
to tell you all that an employee from the Mendocino NF passed away over the
Aaron Pittario a firefighter on an engine in Upper Lake was found deceased in
his home in Southern CA. He was home
recuperating from a head injury he suffered while swimming. This is a difficult
time for all who knew him. Please be treat each
other with respect, patience and understanding as we go through the grieving
associated with Aaron's loss.
Also take a few moments to consider Aaron and his family; and to consider your
own families and lives. Remember to always
be safe in both your personal and professional lives.
||Well, it's fire season here :)
busiest response in Boise BLM district this season
Big Hill fire near
Bruneau approaching 40,000 acres
SD-Coal Canyon Fire Burnover that killed Trampus Haskvitz and injured 4 other
Serious Accident Investigation Team:
Expanded 72 Hour Report (18 K pdf)
Trampus Haskvitz and the injured firefighters:
An account has been opened for
donations to be made for Trampus at Wells Fargo, Account #: 2860071428.
Also, a big thank you to the Greeley Fire Department for their hands-on care of
the wildland firefighters currently in the
burn unit at Northern Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, Colorado.
The Wildland Firefighter Foundation
Note from Original Ab (Steve) that he updated the
links, including links to the Angeles and Shasta-Trinity National Forests.
Occasionally an ECC will change their notification number which breaks links
that people have bookmarked. The old sites will then look like no new info is
being posted. All fixed now. If you go to the GACC and click on Recent
Incidents, they should be up to date. Ab.
Scott go to Wildcad.net and find CA-ANF. Our dispatch changed to the new Cad.
Hope this helps
Thanks very much, ANF Capt. We're investigating for a more
permanent fix to our links. Ab.
Many visitors to the Angeles National Forest depend on the WCANF online incident
site, and we are wondering why it
has not been updated since August fifth.
Would you please let me know so that I can post the information on Facebook.
The URL to the site that we have is:
Thank you in advance for your anticipated response.
Scott, some firefighters have wondered that as well.
Wondering if you forgot about the Fish agency also in your letter?
I heard their budgets will be down also. And frankly, it kinda tickles me to
hear about the Senator from La. who is again blocking an Interior nomination
because of the mucketty muck game the interior is playing again w/oil and
drilling. For a reality check, the nation must remember that the Interior's
"firefighters" are not classified as such and are considered "park and refuge
employees, not a national resource for the "agency". So given that mentality,
know that budgets being cut for fire may seem like a big deal if the Agency
regards them as such, but back in this corner of the world it matters little.
Those forestry technicians are basically the blue collar labor pool/maintenance
workers for the parks and refuges. Management views their fire "skills" as
useful when it serves management's needs. And that is always briefly as
firefighters and constantly as maintenance workers. I personally know of an
email and statement of "refuge policy" limiting forestry technicians (and yes i
wish we were called what we are) to TWO details per year.... "because there is a
lot of work to do here!" ...which includes things like weeding the gardens,
cutting stumps, painting posts, cleaning the gutters, cleaning the bathrooms of
the rec areas, spraying herbicide, and a never ending lists of menial tasks that
always fall on the same group..... And that "we've done our share so let others
help out (per mgmt)" (which speaks volumes to the UTF list and when Ops is
asking if folks can extend and your home unit is always denying you).
Letters like yours are a pipedream of reality that we will never know. In our
hearts we know the truth of what we do and the pride we take in our jobs.. when
we can do it.
Living in the Cursed Lands of R8
Funeral services for Trampus Haskvitz have been set for Tuesday August 16 in Hot Springs.
The public is invited to a visitation from
6-9 p.m. on Monday, August 15
McColley's Chapel of the Hills,
Hot Springs, SD
The funeral service will be held
2 p.m. on Tuesday, August 16
Hot Springs, SD
Following the service, there will be a procession from the Mueller Center to the gravesite.
Additional procession details to be released later.
Good news. Update on firefighter's condition from a PIO:
9:50 a.m. update: As of Saturday morning, firefighter Austin
Whitney, 20, of Hot Springs is no longer listed in critical condition at
States Burn Center at Northern Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, Colo. He
remains stable in his improved condition.
Whitney was listed in critical but
stable condition Friday afternoon. He suffered burns to his arms, legs and
burns to his hands and neck.
Governor Dennis Daugaard requests that all flags in South Dakota be flown at
half-staff on Tuesday, August 16, 2011 8 a.m. to sunset in
honor of state forest firefighter Trampus Haskvitz.
R.I.P. Aero Union
Yesterday, all employees were given their walking papers.
Aero Union is officially closed.
Thanks, T, that is fitting. Our best to those pilots, mechanics, engineers
and management. I added the photo to the
Airtankers 36 photo page. Ab.
Budget and presenting ourselves:
Starting October 1, 2011 is the beginning of
the new fiscal year for the federal government. Nobody knows what the
Forest Service, BLM, BIA or NPS fire budget numbers will look like at this time.
However, we have many fire managers
speculating, raising red flags and threatening reductions. The fire budget is
balanced by funding for preparedness and
roughly 1/2 billion dollars of funding for wildland fire suppression activities.
The numbers are not as bad as currently being reported. Recently due to reduced
spending of preparedness funds because
of out of region commitment of firefighting resources, R5 fire is projecting to
balance the fire budget.
It is important to that everyone within our community follow the advice recently
from Casey Judd to make sure you
communicate with your federal elected officials on the importance of the work
Be professional, respectful and outline for them the work you do not only
protects communities and our national natural
resources. The work you do statistically maintains an effective initial attack
response limiting the number of large fire events.
"You either pay now for a strong effective initial attack, or you pay a lot more
later to manage an increased number of large
- This community has come through before in the past.
- This community is now stronger because of what we did during the
retention fight of 2005-2009.
- This community has the truth on our side.
Rest in Peace Sal. Godspeed.
Book review of
Fire at Peshtigo
This is a great book!
I feel that this could be the first Urban Interface Incident.
I highly recommend that you visit the Museum.
Please study the history.
I rate this book five Saws!
Thanks, Dan, I added it to the
book reviews page. If you let us know the location of the museum, I ca add
it to your post. Readers, if anyone has other books to recommend, please let me
know. Be sure you put the name of the book you're recommending in the email
subject line. Thanks, Ab.
I can't believe it has been six years since we lost Ernie
Johnson. His loss still echoes throughout the agency, the peninsula and with his
family and friends.
You never know when you will be facing loss. It was just a "normal" fire
assignment for an airspace coordinator. Ernie was young, enjoying an early
retirement. I found some pictures today of his first assignment as an Airspace
Coordinator in Missoula. There he was sitting in front of a computer and
aviation sectionals in quiet analysis of the airspace and temporary flight
restrictions. He didn't even know his picture was being taken.
What struck me about Ernie was that he was 100% no matter what he did. As an
pilot, he threw himself completely into airspace.
He was an inventor (the flying drip torch and the "R5 hose roller"). The
firefighting companies sent him blueprints for review when they were developing
He was an incredible Ops Chief and the most loved Incident Commander I have ever
seen. His team knew their mission - it was all about "supporting those on the
Period.... the firefighters came first whether it was the chow line or the
When it was time to enjoy life, party or tell a few stories... there was no one
finer. With a twinkle in his eye, he could spin a story or build a fire to sit
And then there was the car racing.... his garage was amazing. If Ernie didn't
have a tool, he simply made one.
I can't believe how big Ernie's grandchildren have grown in the past six years.
They share his passion for fishing. The boys even look like him. His family
copes and grieves.... for their loss is the hardest of all to bear.
So on this day in August, please take a moment to remember those you love, those
you like and those you work with. Pause and give someone an extra hug...
or a smile, or tell a tall tale. Be thankful that you work with some of the best
people in the world. Built on trust and honed by fire, there are no friendships
like what we have in the fire and aviation community. I will always be grateful
for the friendship I had with Ernie Johnson.
Julie J. Stewart.....
Julie, send in a few photos and we can add them to his
Passing of Sal Elizondo:
I worked with Sal in June of 1973 on the old Monterey. We stayed in the
redwood cabin on Plaskett Creek at PV and
drove to the trailhead and met Sal. His donkeys, dogs and us four rookies!! We
packed in several days at a time and
worked trail. Sal carried the old yellow bag two channel radio pack set. He was
maybe 40-42 then and tough as nails.
Always ready for a laugh. And quite the dancer at Jolon.
Passing of Sal Elizondo:
Attached is a short bio of Sal Elizondo; please post.
Sal died Saturday, Aug. 6th.
I first met Sal in 1972 and worked with him for 30+ years. He was one of the
last "Horseback Rangers" in California. Anyone
who visited Fire School at Fort Hunter Liggett surely met Sal, heard one of his
stories or jokes, or gained invaluable insight and
appreciation of the Ventana Wilderness.
Signed "Keeper of the Coyote's secrets".
Sal Elizondo long time employee and volunteer passed away Saturday, August
6th after a short battle with cancer.
Sal was born on October 6th 1927 in Santa Barbara into a family of 10 brothers
and sisters. He served in the Navy from 1946 to 1955 and was stationed for some
time in Hawaii at Pearl Harbor.
Sal started his career with the Forest Service on the Ojai Ranger District on
the Los Padres National Forest as a Laborer 3 in 1961. In February 1962 he
became a Fire Control Aid and stayed on the Ojai District until his promotion to
the Santa Barbara District as a TTO (Tank Truck Operator).
Sal reassigned to the Monterey Ranger District in 1970 as the Strawberry
backcountry patrolman, working out of the Big Sur Station. Sal then moved to the
Indians area of the Monterey Ranger District as the San Antonio backcountry
patrol in 1973. During this time, Sal’s primary mode of transportation was horse
and mule. He patrolled the area during the “Hippy days” when the Pine Ridge
Trail along with all the backcountry camps became a major hang out for the
hordes of “foot loose and free spirits”, especially Sykes Hot Springs and Barlow
Falts. Sal and his mules along with his Cocker Spaniels, Snoopy and Hombre,
became known to many hikers and backpackers as the “THE RANGER”. Stalwarts of
the local hiking community still remember Sal and his dogs.
Sal promoted to the Indian’s FPT (Fire Prevention Technician) in 1974 and
remained in that position until his retirement in June 1986. Sal quickly became
a fixture in the Indians area and was a friend to many of the regular forest
In his career, Sal worked on many of the major fires in California and many
other noteworthy projects on the Forest, namely the Black Cone Trail
After retirement, Sal was employed on Rancho Rio Escondido in the Indians area
as a care-taker and ranch hand. The Trust for Public Lands purchased the ranch
in 1991 and then gave it to the Los Padres National Forest. Sal stayed on as the
care-taker and as a National Forest Volunteer until his death. During this time
Sal was once again reunited with the Forest Service Pack Stock when in 1992 the
stock was moved from Big Sur to the ranch.
Sal is remembers for his love of the backcountry, horses and mules, his Cocker
Spaniels, and his quick and sharp wit. He was a tireless walker and always had a
new joke to tell. Sal enjoyed the simple life, living for the most part of his
life without electricity or modern conveniences; and he liked that. He two
indulgences, 49er football and right wing radio talk shows.
Sal is survived by six sisters and one brother. He was preceded in death by two
brothers and one sister.
Thanks. What a life he had. Ab.
Question regarding R5 Very Pistol injury...
Out of curiosity, I searched the R5 Safety site and found the attached item.
I didn't find the answer to the original question….
Region 5 (FY11 to date 081011) Injury Description (364 K doc)
just amazed at the amount and type listed!
R5 has had a very good and thorough safety person for the last 5 or 6
years that has exerted due diligence in acquiring the kind of stats you see
here. She once asked me and said:
How do you know if your safety program is working and that things are getting better unless you have good baseline data to begin with and
track these incidents by year? What are the highest frequency
accidents/injuries? We could work on those first.
This is the stuff of transparency and a learning and just
Kudos to Michelle Reugebrink, a visionary, a downright hard worker
and a great person! Funny as heck! What would this region do without her??? It's
my loss that our paths don't cross as much as they used to back in the day. If
you have a chance to say hi to her, give her a hug or a handshake and tell her
"Job Well Done!" She's a gift to this planet! Ab.
Please let us know about services for Trampus.
South Dakota injured firefighters
Here is an update from 12:10 today;
12:10 p.m. update Austin Whitney, a 20-year-old wildland firefighter injured in
a wildfire Thursday, is in critical, but stable
condition in Western States Burn Center at the Northern Colorado Medical Center
in Greeley, Colo.
Whitney suffered second and third-degree burns on his legs, arms and neck,
according to Joe Lowe, director of the South
Dakota Wildland Fire Suppression Division.
Whitney was flown to the burn center Thursday evening after a group of
firefighters was trapped in the Coal Canyon Fire about
nine miles northwest of Edgemont Thursday afternoon.
Hot Springs Firefighter Killed in Coal Canyon Fire
Fire Training Specialist
Wyoming State Forestry Division
(Informative 5 min
video briefing by Joe Lowe, Division Director for South Dakota Division of
Wildland Fire Suppression; and Dennis Jaeger, Deputy Forest Supervisor for
the Black Hills National Forest)
Ab copy and paste from the keloland link:
RAPID CITY, SD - A firefighter has died and four others were injured while
battling the Coal Canyon Fire Thursday afternoon.
Fire officials say it happened on U.S. Forest Service land nine miles north
South Dakota Wildland Fire Suppression Division Director Joe Lowe said the
men came in on a mid-slope road and the fire was
up the hill from them on
the initial attack. He says it was windy and an ember went up in the air and
started a fire downhill from the
men. The flames then grew to two large
fires and surrounded them by fire and blocked their exit. More at the
Fair Use Disclaimer
Anyone hear about a verey pistol malfunction or a flare malfunction recently in
Region-5 that caused an injury?
So Cal Ridges
Sad news: one LODD and several burned in South Dakota:
I just got a call that
2 engines were burned over in South Dakota. The PIO providing info to the person
who called me is from the Black Hills National Forest. I'm uncertain if that's
where the burnover occurred.
Four firefighters were burned, a South Dakota state firefighter was
critically burned and died. Four firefighters were burned, a South Dakota state
firefighter was critically burned and died. Two firefighters were life flighted
to a Rapid City Hospital. One was life flighted on to a burn center in Denver
Colorado. Two Forest Service Firefighters were treated and released. The
families of the injured and dead have been notified. The SD governor will be
making a statement very soon, and no doubt, the name of the fallen will be
Condolences to all. Thoughts and prayers for family, co-workers, friends and
all of those involved and performing the notifications.
Office of Gov. Dennis Daugaard
500 E. Capitol Ave.
Pierre, S.D. 57501
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011
CONTACT: Tony Venhuizen or Joe Kafka at 605-773-3212
Forest Firefighter Killed, Two Injured While Fighting Coal Canyon Fire
PIERRE, S.D. – One state forest firefighter was killed and two others were
injured late this afternoon while fighting the Coal Canyon Fire on U.S. Forest
Service land nine miles north of Edgemont.
The three firefighters, all from Hot Springs, were seasonal firefighting
employees of the South Dakota Wildland Fire Suppression Division.
Trampus Haskvitz, 23, died as a result of injuries he suffered when the Type 6
fire engine he was working on was burned over by the blaze.
Two other firefighters, Austin Whitney and Kevin Fees, were injured and
transported by Life Flight to Rapid City Regional Hospital. Whitney is being
transferred tonight to a certified burn center in Greeley, Colorado. Fees is in
stable condition at Rapid City Regional Hospital.
“This is very sad news,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “Linda and I are praying for
Trampus’ loved ones, and for the firefighters who were injured. Too many times
in recent weeks, South Dakotans have been reminded just how much we owe to the
firefighters, law enforcement, and others who risk their lives to protect us
“This is a tragic day for the South Dakota Wildland Fire Suppression Division,”
said Division Director Joe Lowe. “Trampus died a hero doing what he loved to do,
and he will be sorely missed by the Black Hills firefighting community.”
Sending out ADs has been a no-win for many dispatch offices for years. Having a
good "fill" rate can only go so far as compensation. Virtually everything for
ADs is hard copy due to data and system security issues. Add to that the yearly
work created because somebody, somewhere thinks we may have become illegal
aliens or criminals over the winter.
I've seen a collision coming between fire personal/budgets and ADs for years and
have tried to raise the issue whenever possible -- if we're less of a burden on
local personnel, we'll be more likely to continue to get work. It's a systemic
problem. Local b*tching will only alienate local fire personnel, especially if
they haven't been around long enough to see months-long resource shortages.
On some level, it makes sense that a forest would only want to deal with the
resources that give them a direct return on investment. Work on changing the big
Still Out There as an AD
The Serious Accident Investigation (SAI) into the death of Caleb Hamm is well
underway and expected to be completed "sometime in September", as always, as
soon as possible, which usually seems very slow...
The BLM News Release stated
today that "the cause of death for a 23-year old firefighter last month was
“hyperthermia,” or the uncontrolled overheating of the body."
Such investigations (SAIs) are always done in the instance of a
fatality or other serious accident, because wildland firefighters are driven to
determine if there are lessons to be learned to prevent future deaths. This is
one way we can honor our fallen... by learning whatever we can from them or
their passing... so that other similar potential deaths can be avoided. It's
horrible enough that we've lost our "fire family" friend. We do not want our
"fire family" friend to have died in vain.
Thought your readership might be interested in the attached paper entitled "What
Are the Safety Implications of Crown Fires?"
that was presented at the 11th International Wildland Fire Safety Summit held in
Missoula back in early April.
The full proceedings will soon be available. Contact the International
Association of Wildland Fire for details.
Marty Alexander, PhD, RPF
Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada
Alexander & Cruz (2011) wlf Safety Summit Paper
(696 K pdf)
Thanks Marty. Ab.
IMPORTANT - Fire Hire Info. All OCR's in AVUE will be closing on 9/1/2011
Employees - if you plan on applying for a fire position during the next round
of fire hire (GS-6 thru GS-9 positions) you will need to apply by September 1
an earlier part of the message trail:
Region 5 Fire Hire
On Monday 8/8/2011 we received notice from Policy that the OCR's in AVUE will
have to close on 9/1/2011. Originally we were told 9/30/2011. Since the referral
lists for the R5 Fire Hire were to be pulled on 9/18/2011, this is a problem.
You will have to get the word out to the field ASAP on the new closing date. All
of the vacancies in AVUE and USAjobs now show 9/1/2011 as the closing date.
Applicants will not be able to apply after the 9/1 closing date, but we can
still pull the referral lists from these OCR's after 9/1 for Fire Hire.
This does not affect the Apprentice hiring since the referral lists will be
pulled on 8/18/2011. (snipped some extraneous info. Ab.)
Supervisory Human Resource Specialist
National FIRE TEAM
"It's not the same agency" comments
I feel the need to respond to something
that the person that posted his reply to Modoc Apprentice on 8/ 5. He inferred
hadn't had good luck with the union and maybe that's true, but then he went on
to say that he hadn't received any useful advice
from NFFE and that none of us have any true understanding of the fire world.
That upset me a little.
I have over 30 years of fighting fires and my red card says OSC2 and SOF2. The
president of the local on the district that I sit
is a OSC2 and a SOF2 and was a jumper for ten years in Alaska. We're both GS 7s
and for a long time had higher quals than
the FMO, so we know a little about the fire world.
I don't want this to turn into one of those never ending war of words that I see
on Theysaid at times so this will be the last that I
say on this issue, but I do want to take the opportunity to make an offer. I am
the chairman of the national Fire Committee for
NFFE. We are always looking for new blood and knowledge. Join up, volunteer for
the committee, be heard nationally, or sit
back, whine and make derogatory/ false statements about the people that are at
least trying to fix things. This same offer goes to
all of the fire positions that we recently got into the bargaining unit. We're
always looking for good help.
Ronald C. Angel
Region 1 Council Vice President
This is a request to hear from any firefighters who have either been
denied AD (Administratively Determined pay grade) firefighting status by the US
Forest Service or who have been dropped as an AD by USFS.
This year, the Lolo National Forest dropped approximately 45 of their AD
firefighters from sponsorship. Their reason? Sponsoring ADs involves too much
administrative paperwork, so they are only going to sponsor ADs who are critical
to their local needs. As most of you know, ADs are critical to our national
firefighting capability. No IMT1s and few IMT2s could be fully staffed without
ADs. ADs also fill irreplaceable support positions on nearly every incident. No
local agency office (e.g. a National Forest) should have the ability to
unilaterally make decisions that adversely affect national firefighting
A group of former Lolo ADs are challenging this decision, but we could use your
help. Information about similar experiences on other National Forests would be
useful in this challenge and could help to ultimately produce a consistent
national policy recognizing the importance of AD firefighters. If this decision
is not reversed and a meaningful national policy is not developed, the Lolo's
actions are likely to spread throughout the country during these times of tight
budgets and personnel cutbacks. A significant loss of AD resources nationally
would be catastrophic to our firefighting capability.
If you have been denied AD status or have been dropped as an AD, we'd like to
hear your story.
Please email bsummerf(at) gmail.com
A very Happy 65th Birthday to our favorite firefighter,
A Perry, Oklahoma firefighter died Sunday following his collapse on a brush fire
in the heat on July 29, 2011.
Here's the USFA report on his passing:
the hotlist link where we've been following this: Kyle
Always Remember Kyle King
Fortuna CCC Crew 22:
This crew is a partnership between the Six Rivers National Forest Fire Organization and the California Conservation Corps. Fortuna Crew 22 went available on Wednesday August 3rd.
Thanks, Lead 51. Sure are some nice strong young faces in that bunch. I
can sense their excitement. I put the photo on the Handcrews
29 photo page. Ab.
Wildland Firefighter Foundation - Combined Federal Campaign:
Just wanted to share and remind folks that the Wildland Firefighter Foundation is a Combined Federal
Campaign charity eligible for donations through the CFC; our agency number is 12544.
As agencies begin to kick-off their giving campaigns, please remember the Foundation! We have folks
who join the 52 Club through their CFC campaign. All CFC donors who designate the WFF as their
organization of choice as long as their contribution is $52 or more, will be listed as a 52 Club member.
Just let us know that you are contributing through your CFC and that your donation is $52 or more. For
federal employees who join the CFC this is like getting a double bonus. You can be credited for
contributing to the CFC effort and become a member of WFF's 52 club at the same time!
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
First of all, thank you for having the backbone to
address this issue. Second, pay close attention to
what "Not the same agency" said, it is good advice, unfortunately
there is a similar situation on the Stanislaus. I have watched this kind of thing go on for over 30 years now and
can only attribute it to having non-fire managers (rangers) and too-heavy- a- hand by HR, not to
mention a very active good-ol-boy/girl network.
It seems that when it comes to fire quals, what is good
for grunts isn't good for the overhead.
There are many forests this would not be tolerated, ever
think of moving?
Something I've learned over the years is to find
quality-minded coworkers and keep in close touch with them, don't go it alone. Also, keep your SA up and learn all you can to
stay safe 'cause, bottom line, you are looking out for yourself.
||Yactak, Mellie and others
Those are all good points, unless you're the Forest Supt. or Ranger on the
Modoc. Remember they didn't know that they are required to know
something about fire. To clear any confusion here, it's not a matter of
being pack tested on my side (eastside) of the Modoc. It's a
matter of that not one chief officer is qualified as a division
group/supervisor, incident commander type 3, and to boot, a prescribed fire
burn boss type 2. The westside chiefs are qualified. Our
Ranger thinks this is ok and ok to have captains more qualified then the
chiefs. I'm glad the captains can at least provide that safety oversight
and run their program as these chiefs have no clue.
As stated in my email to Chief Tidwell, safety is job none and without
detailed type 3 ICs we would literally have STENs to look to for
oversight on emerging fires. Not to mention our recruitment is
embarrassing and we are one of 9 forests whose civil rights officers from the
WO decided to visit a couple of months ago. Do yourself a favor and avoid
this forest at all costs until they fire the Forest Supt and Ranger.
||Studebaker. Every day of the week and twice on Sunday's.
I would chose the Duty Officer qualified person. Lots of variables here. A
position should be filled with an individual that is current, meeting all
the prerequisites and qualifications. Ideally you would have the Type one IC
and or Forest FMO (Studebaker) as the mentor. Reasoning here is that if we
have rules, we should follow them. If one does not like the rules, get them
"Hope resides in the future, perspective and wisdom are found by
looking to the past"
||If folks are talking about the issue relating to the discrepancy between
requirements for Forest (or District) FMO and DIVS (redcarded Division Supe on a fire or duty officer
on a forest), this issue has been around and under discussion for some time.
I remember one discussion in the R5 BOD after the 2003 firestorm when Ray
was Chief. Question boiled down to this:
If both Studebaker (FMO and Type 1 IC, but no longer pack tested) and the
less-experienced Duty Officer on Studebaker's forest could potentially act as IC, which would
I don't know what the requirements are now for either position with IFPM
thrown in the mix, but I'd like to know.
I am a wildlife veterinarian in Africa. We are catching animals
in Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi. I want to start using infinity gps
mics out of the helicopter and on the ground crew vehicles. Do you
know someone who has worked with this stuff that can get me advice?
especially with the in the helicopter/plane side.
Your situation is not unique. Unfortunately this is happening on other Forests too. For example there is a DFMO on my Forest who has not passed a pack test in several years (needed to maintain currency for front line fire positions listed below). Yet he acts as a Duty Officer on a weekly scheduled rotation. There are standard qualifications
(IFPM) that are mandatory for a fire manager/firefighter. I have attached the requirements for a District Fire Management Officer
(DFMO or ZFMO) - FS-FPM. This was revised 7/15/2011. Here is the web address for information on requirements for fire positions.
Currency: Once hired, CURRENCY IS REQUIRED FOR DZFMO POSITIONS, however applicants do not need to be “Current” in their NWCG qualifications to be eligible for the position, but must attain “currency” within one year of hire. See Wildland Fire Qualifications System Guide (PMS 310-1) for definition of “currency” and how “currency” can be maintained. PMS 310-1 is the parent NWCG qualification document that defines “currency” and is supported by the FSH 5109.17.
Unsigned “playing it safe”
Requirements for DFMO
Thank you so much for being the voice for the Modoc. I just don’t get how they can put another un-qualified person onto the DIV job when that has been the issue
here (on theysaid a month ago). How can we safely work in these conditions? When will we actually get a Chief officer that is qualified instead of shuffling even more unqualified people into that position?
I know a bunch of us are afraid to say anything because the reprisal here is a big thing. We have seen what happens to fellow co-workers when they have brought up the issues that you have brought forward here on theysaid. I know I am afraid to bring up anything because it feels like we work under a mafia and if you question the line officers you might as well be looking for another job.
I do hope the Washington Office actually cares and does something about this. I know I'm not the only one sick and tired of the way we get treated here.
looking for a safe work environment
I applaud your efforts to get the word out about your situation. Whereas some
might call it whining or complaining, most of us who have been around for a
while in fire will not call it that, and instead we will support you. Recently a
similar situation (although not identical) and means of getting the word out was
attempted here in R6 and here are some things that we have learned (and continue
to learn) throughout the entire process.
- Network with other more experienced people in the agency as much as possible.
This site, Casey, etc. All incredible resources.
- STAY IN CONTACT with your congress-persons. Follow-up your letter with a phone
call ASAP. That highlights the fact that you and the situation are serious.
- Review and practice your letters and phone calls on someone else before you
send and make them to ensure professionalism in the delivery. "One time for a
- Document, document, document!
- Be aware of retribution and did I mention... DOCUMENT??! Retribution is alive
and well in the agency. Not openly expressed, but as you know there are other
- Be aware that when someone, even a line officer, makes a promise to you, it
may or may not be held to. In other words there might not be any accountability.
- Sadly, don't assume that a district, forest or regional Safety Officer will
support you. I wish I could say that you could rely on this person, but I can no
longer say this is true.
- Link everything you can to the topic of safety, shouldn't be hard to do and
sounds like you have already done it.
We have learned that accountability from line officers and others up to the
regional forester are frequently talked about, although seldom seen at our
level. However without an advocate you can basically assume you'll lose any
discussion you have with a higher up. And yes, I meant to use the word "lose."
It will be you against them. And people can deny that this happens, but you will
likely and unfortunately see first-hand that they are wrong.
I wish I could say that you can get help from the union, however we have not
experienced much support or understanding from the NFFE. Almost no useful advice
and none with any true understanding of the fire world.
Be strong, be proud of what you are fighting for, realize that you are at the
ground level building the calluses on your hands from the hard work and that
many (most) of the people you are talking to are very very far removed from it
(and some have never experienced it).
Remember what a retired FMO of mine recently told me (and he was one of the good
ones), the only time you are guaranteed to get immediate action is immediately
after there is an incident. Any other time it's directly proportional to your
It's not the same agency, but some of us are still striving for it!
||Greetings, the third update from the Western Region effort for the Cohesive
please share with folks… closing in on the Phase 2 products…
Thanks for the input and efforts to date…
WRSC-Update (213 K pdf)
||From around noontime
Boise District BLM
* Bigfoot, 2500+ acres - 6 miles east of Swan Falls
* Alky, 1300+ acres - 9 miles north of Glenns Ferry
* Jakes, 426 acres - 15 miles north of Emmett
* Jupiter, 600 acres - 36 miles southeast of Jordan Valley
* Sunk, 1 acre - 1 mile west of Swan Falls (***Controlled***)
* Rattles, 1 acre - 2 miles northeast of Mountain Home Reservoir
* Biggy, 1acre - 14 miles south of Bruneau (***Controlled***)
* Sugar, 1 acre - 14 miles south of Bruneau (***Controlled***)
* Spice, 1/4 acre - 14 miles south of Bruneau (***Controlled***)
* Elephant, 8 acres - 9 miles south of Marsing (***Controlled***)
Twin Falls District BLM
* Pole Creek, 1294 acres - 6 miles south of Three Creek Road
* Sailor Creek, 2500 acres - 9 miles west of Roseworth
* Nat Soo Pah, 8.7 acres - just north of Nat Soo Pah Hot Springs
Boise National Forest
24 small fires, all less than 1/2 acre in size, in the Emmett, Cascade, and
Lowman Ranger Districts. Fire crews are working on 14 of them. None of the fires
are threatening structures.
Payette National Forest
5 small fires, all less than 1/4 acre in size, scattered throughout the Payette
National Forest. No control issues.
||Chief Tom Tidwell,
I am an apprentice on the Modoc National Forest and writing you on behalf of
myself and other fire employees who are being exposed to an exceedingly unsafe
work environment. We were informed at a recent meeting that our respective
division chief would be out on a medical issue for a year. The ranger stated
that one of the current battalion chiefs will be detailing in over the next 2-3
months until a 1 year NTE could be filled. The division chief mentioned has not
been qualified for his position and the battalion chief the ranger is placing in
the detail is not even qualified for his current position. Not one chief officer
under this ranger is a qualified Incident Commander Type 3 (ICT3) or
Division/Group Supervisor (DIVS). In fact, we have not had a qualified ICT3 or
DIVS since fire season 2009.
While we are very concerned for the safety and welfare of the public and
ourselves in light of this grave management decision, we are not dazed at the
vagrant disregard that the forest supervisor and ranger have for fire fighter
and public safety. Chief Tidwell, you have stated tirelessly that safety is job
one. It’s job none under the current forest supervisor and ranger. Taking the
easy route of detailing a non-qualified employee into this position out of
convenience is much like engaging in fire suppression without taking the time to
establish LCES. It’s totally appalling. We employees deserve top notch
leadership and when it comes to operational oversight, the agency has no room to
This complete disrespect for the safety of all is more then we can bear. We
simply can not rely on ICT3 detailers and line officers' dismal excuses to cover
for the lack of operational oversight anymore. Line officers need to be held
accountable for their lack of providing a safe and reprisal free work
environment. As stated in Chapter 5 of the 2011 Red Book “Line officers with
fire management responsibilities will have knowledge and understanding of fire
program management”. Both the forest supervisor and ranger are hazardous and
oblivious. Chief Tidwell, it’s also about these line officers enabling an
unfriendly/unsafe workplace which is creating a forest that many are leaving.
Many fire employees are looking elsewhere at forests that will provide a safe
work environment. I wish all of us could speak without fear of reprisal but on
this forest, reprisal is much like Aglearn, it’s here to stay and not going
away. That is why I have to use an alias name.
Thank you for your time.
This will be sent to Theysaid, congressional reps, OSHA, OIG and others to
ensure this is not swept under the rug and dismal excuses are made by line to
cover up their issues.
August 5, 2011
Three years ago today, on August 5, 2008, we lost our very dear friends and
brothers in one of the worst aviation disasters in the history of Wildland
Firefighting. Please join with me in remembering those who perished that night
on helispot 44 of the Iron Complex...now known as Iron 44.
Iron Air Attack
Always Remember Iron 44
What you have done for Federal Firefighters and the entire Wildland Fire
Community is phenomenal! Your devotion to your values
and beliefs is obvious to all and you must have tremendous Family support to be
able to devote so much energy to the cause of your
constituency. I have always been very sad when folks who may not agree with your
position don’t recognize your devotion to what
you (and I nearly all the time) believe is right. Your unwavering efforts for
such minimal compensation gives great insight into your
character. As important as your are to this debate, please put yourself at the
top of your priority list. I am sure everyone hopes wishes
and prays your upcoming medical procedures produce the best results possible and
will give you all the time you need.
North Bay FC
Love this site.
Started with USFS in 1971 on the Sequoia NF, transferred in '73 to Stanislaus to
work on the Granite Fire burn, then to the Sierras
in '76 as assistant Hot Shot Foreman. 8 yrs later (at the same pay grade) I quit
in 1984 and with my degree in Forest and Park Tech.,
I started selling real estate and have still continued to sell to present.
Can’t seem to get fire out of my blood so here I lurk.
Glad you're here. Chime in any time you have a story or few words of
Too many to list, but here's what's happening around here:
Lightning caused fires spark around valley, one firefighter injured
FYI, Bigfoot fire is at 800 acres according to BLM reports.
Ab note: May be larger than 800 acres now. This post came in early afternoon.
||Hi to all:
Next week representatives from the FWFSA will be in California to meet with a
California member of Congress in the hope of finalizing the re-introduction of
legislation seeking significant pay & personnel policy reforms as well as
organizational structure reforms we believe will lead to a more efficient &
effective federal wildfire response. I have attached our latest draft for your
review. We have worked hard to address the few concerns raised from last
session's bill by the IAFF (despite the fact they don't represent any federal
wildland firefighters in any capacity) and the private contracting community who
felt our requirements to reduce non-federal resource suppression costs over a
specific period of time by specific, targeted amounts would have led to their
demise. In fact during my last trip to DC in March all offices commented on our
efforts to address the concerns. That being said, it is clear with the
anti-federal employee and "meat-cleaver/slash & burn" proposals to reduce the
federal deficit floating around Congress, we have to articulate meaningful ways
to pay for the costs associated with any improvements to pay & benefits such as
portal to portal pay.
Draft Legislation (141 K doc)
Not only is our bill aimed at addressing long standing issues facing our
Nation's federal wildland firefighters, but it is designed to create a more
efficient & effective federal wildfire response and save America's taxpayers
from continuing to waste hundreds of millions of dollars each season on
un-needed and significantly higher-priced non-federal resources.
The federal wildfire response was not designed to be a profit-driven program but
it in fact has turned into a financial feeding frenzy for some, much to the
detriment of our inherently less-expensive federal wildland firefighters and the
taxpayers of America. A similar situation comes to mind when we have gone to war
in Iraq and elsewhere. American service men & women continue to get paid like
crap while defense contractors get filthy rich.
I apologize for the "secretive" nature of not naming the individual we are
meeting with but as we've all experienced in the last few months, politics can
be a very nasty business to navigate through. I will say however that we do have
commitments from a bipartisan group of folks in Congress to be what are called
"original cosponsors" to the bill once it is introduced.
I will also be perfectly candid that we have solicited the support of NFFE and
other organizations for our legislation. If you are both an FWFSA member and a
NFFE member I would encourage you to contact NFFE's Forest Service Council to
urge them to support the bill. If you aren't sure how to contact them, I'm sure
they would be thrilled with me providing you with their contact info :)
As I've said before, I am very humbled and honored to have spent considerable
time over the last few years developing a close working relationship with NFFE
on a number of firefighter issues and given the great news that their bargaining
unit has expanded upwards, more of our members will be able to take advantage of
the services a Union offers under Title 5 of the USC.
Finally, to all FWFSA members, I had hoped to have registration packages out
this week for our membership conference in Reno in December. However a routing
error by UPS on an element of the package has delayed the date of our mailings
until next Tuesday or Wednesday.
We will post all the documents included in the package on our website inside the
member's area but we are doing a mass mailing to ensure all members get
packages. Additionally, the package includes postage-paid return envelopes for
the registration card which we will need sent in with registration payment.
For those "on the fence" with respect to joining the FWFSA or wondering if the
investment is worthwhile, joining now affords you the opportunity to attend the
conference and not only celebrate our past but also plan for our future. With
our increased growth to having members in 29 states now, issues may change over
time and it is imperative our members set the course for our organization.
Finally, in 2009 when I underwent quadruple bypass open heart surgery, I was on
Capitol Hill 5 weeks after major surgery. In hindsight probably a mistake but
the point is on August 29th I am undergoing rotator cuff surgery with an
expected recovery/rehab period that will take me right up to the membership
conference. I'm asking you all allow me a little extra time to respond to
emails, phone calls etc., during this time.
Good work. Ab.
||SAR Dog named after our boy, Caleb HAMM
Would it be possible to get in
touch or have AD Texas get in touch with us? I loved the named
rescue dog, Caleb, that was named after our Son! It was something small, but
touched our hearts
greatly. I don't how to leave a message on your site yet, but I will figure it
out. Caleb, had a beloved
Basset hound that is also mourning his loss! They say dogs don't know, but His
dog has been by his
side since she was 8 weeks old. I would also love a picture of this little
blessing of a dog from AD
Texas. If you could get him/her to contact me at my other email address I would
appreciate it. We will
be coming to Texas to see where our son lost his life later this fall and would
like to meet both AD and
Please do all you can to make this happen for us. I would appreciate it
Thank YOU AD and Ab!
P.S. Thanks to all other notes made in memory of our Son! It is a loss we will
recover from, but little things like this and the memories we have of our son
Dave, so sorry for your loss and ours. Take a look at this page as well.
Always Remember Caleb Hamm. I'll get in touch with AD Texas. Ab.
||Making the "rounds" ... Beware of Marijuana Growing Sites in the Woods
The links don't work...
Here's the text info below:
Beware of Marijuana Growing Sites in the Woods
Release Date: Jun 27, 2011 Wenatchee, WA
Contact(s): Public Affairs Officer - Roland Giller, (509) 664-9314, Robin
DeMario, (509) 664-9292
Snow has melted off most lower and mid-elevation roads making access to national
forest lands easier for recreationists and also illegal marijuana growers.
Marijuana operations pose significant threats to forest visitors, so it is very
important for all national forest users to be aware of their surroundings and
any suspicious activities that may be occurring.
If you encounter a drug operation, back out immediately! Leave the way you came
in, and make as little noise as possible. Never engage the growers as these are
extremely dangerous people. If you can identify a landmark or record a GPS
coordinate, that’s very helpful. The growers may be present and may or may not
know that you have found their operation. Get to a safe place and report the
encounter to any uniformed member of the Forest Service or to your local law
enforcement agency. Report as much detail about the location and incident as you
Forest visitors are urged to pay attention to their surroundings and also watch
for possible signs of marijuana growing activity including:
- The smell of marijuana, especially on hot days, is like a skunk.
- Hoses or drip lines located in unusual or unexpected places.
- A well-used trail where there shouldn’t be one.
- Voices coming from an unusual place.
- People standing along roads without vehicles present, or in areas where
loitering appears unusual.
- Grow sites are usually found in isolated locations, in rough steep
terrain (typically between 500 to 5,500 feet elevation.)
- Camps containing cooking and sleeping areas with food, fertilizer,
weapons, garbage, rat poison, and/or dead animals.
- Small propane bottles (so that the grower avoids detection of wood
- Individuals armed with rifles out of hunting season.
||Safest ratio of supervisors to footsoldiers is 1:5 in high reliability
organizations. (example- Military research has shown the safest ratio of
supervisors to soldiers is 1:5.). Our high-risk firefighting organization
follows this model. Ab.
Request for Variance to United States Department of Agriculture Target Ratio of 1:9, Fire and Aviation Management
File Codes: 1220-Position Management
Through: Name: Charles L. Myers, Title: Deputy Chief for Business Operations
From: Name: Ronald J. Banegas, Title: Acting Human Resources Director
cc: Tom Harbour/WO/USDAFS, Patricia Hirami/WO/USDAFS, Sue A Jacks/HCM/USDAFS, Diana E Ganley/HCM/USDAFS, Lisa Renken/HCM/USDAFS
Subject: Request for Variance to United States Department of Agriculture Target Ratio of 1:9, Fire and Aviation Management Categories: WO-ASC
Finalized Signatures: MARY WAGNER
Co-authors: MaryJane Bergener/HCM/USDAFS, Elizabeth K Caban/HCM/USDAFS, Cecilia Black/WO/USDAFS
(85 K pdf)
Variance Request.doc (56 K doc)
List of Positions.xls (34 K xls -excel spreadsheet)
||FIREFIGHTERS Beware “one-pot” methamphetamine cookers - HAZMAT
We've had some great exchange of ideas on the General Discussion thread of
"Should we manage fires for Resource Benefit?
I want to call everyone's attention to a newly published paper regarding the pretreatment of fuels in a buffer zone around some houses in the path of the Wallow Fire.
My compliments to Judy Palmer and the Fuels Staff on the Apache Sitgraves National Forest for a job well done.
This is the way its supposed to work.
Wallow Fuel Treatment Effectiveness (pdf)
||JC and Ab's,
Quick correction, the photo of the Corona and Cleveland engines posted on the web site is incorrect. The photo is of the last day of training at the first SUBE class that the BDF and Rancho Cucamonga Fire Protection District put on. Excellent class thanks to the excellent instruction and participation from Rancho Fire, and the BDF folks. Great example of cohesion and professionalism between a City Dept. and the Feds.
Thanks Again for the change,
The SUBE class video is posted on wildfire tube, nice job Crowder, sorry about your camera.
Fixed it on the photo and photo descriptions pages. Thanks a lot SUBE.
... or, after COP for 45 days - and you are declared unable to perform the duties you were hired for - they COULD put you on the OWCP roles for the required recoup and recovery time. Be very careful. Work with your doctors to make sure every issue is covered. If you cannot return to the position you were hired for "wildland firefighting" - then this opens up a new can of worms. Go with the system - make yourself whole first.
||Some posts yesterday from the Hotlist:
For those of you wondering why NWS fire weather forecasts sometimes
differ from GACC Wx, here's one explanation from WxGuy:
Apparently the moisture from the Gulf of Mexico that swept up into parts
of the SW and West TX drought area did not reach Oklahoma. According to 2
media reports in Shift
Briefing, Oklahoma is still burning pretty fiercely. Be safe out there.
Interesting summary post on Canadian airtankers and comments on the
contract termination of Aero Union ships by Skim da Lake:
||Re DD's post:
Congrats to Mark Jr.
A big "get on the mend" to Mark Sr.
||Corona FD training photo and engine crews photo.
Last day of training.
Also, FS Cleveland NF.
Thanks, I put them on the
photo page. Ab.
||Ab, a quick note to post if you would.
Dozer Operator John Saunders from Santa Barbara County retired last week! Went to a nice
gathering in Los Alamos for him, good time had by all.
Mark Linane Jr. is the new Lead Operator for SBC now, and wish him well on his new job.
Mark also said his dad had surgery to repair a torn retina in his eye recently, and is on the mend,
but having to lay low. Want to wish him a speedy recovery!