January, 2012

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1/31 Should a Forest Service natural resource specialist in Washington D.C. making $89,033 to $136,771 per year get firefighter retirement?



1/31 Amen – well said.

We cannot simply be angry with all Republicans. The whole system is a mess and far too partisan. The Democrats have more than their share of responsibility for what is, and what has been going on. What I find disgusting is the way both sides pick on superficial things to blame their inadequate and stupid way of handling the problems this nation now faces.

I’m saddened when I realize if every member of either party were to be booted out - who ever takes their place probably has no clue on how to fix the enormous problems this great nation faces. I wonder if we have lost our way.

We need to realize we are one nation and not be angry with either party as a whole. How did we get in the mess we are in? How do we get out of it? A perfect example here in California (to me) is Gov. Brown pushing for high speed rail, cutting CalFire, while at the same time taking $150 in the guise of fire prevention.

I may not be the brightest bulb on the string – but geeeeze.

1/31 To Nov. 6, 2012;

Thanks so much for your post. Sadly, as evidenced by some of the provisions of this bill and others introduced or proposed in Congress, they result more out of partisan political posturing than based upon good sound governmental business practices.

That truly frustrates me personally as I have grown up to share many of my Father's political philosophies. He was a Republican State Legislator in a VERY Democratic state and led his district's ticket year after year while also consistently securing the endorsement of the state's labor unions and AFL-CIO... something not common in today's political environment of "us versus them." In fact yesterday I showed my son some of the newspaper clippings from Oct. 1968 with even the Teamsters endorsing my Father.

I have been on the phone, computer and fax machine most of today in anticipation of this vote and ironically many Republican offices agree with my assessment of political posturing. Another irony is that the Congressional staff we work with also are enduring the same pay freeze. So permit me a little political commentary:

Perhaps if politicians, and those who vote for them would recognize that most of the solutions necessary to fix many of our national problems can be found "to the Right of the Left and to the Left of the Right" we'd make some progress. How ironic that much of the same voting public who complains about gridlock in DC actually perpetuate that gridlock by voting along partisan ideological lines.

Republicans support compromise... as long as it means Democrats doing things the Republican way. Democrats also support compromise... as long as it means Republicans doing things the democratic way. When you have two immovable objects exerting the same force against each other what happens? Absolutely nothing.

There are so many checks and balances in place politically that while such a premium is placed on being the party of the Administration and the majority in the House or Senate, we've seen even super majorities (White House, Senate & House) not even be able to pass a budget.

I think if more voters understood how things actually work in DC; all the procedural elements that waste so much time as well as the rules that allow Congress to suspend their own rules to procedurally accomplish something, maybe there would be a greater movement towards electing folks interested in solving problems rather than being re-elected. Of course after all, it is about power.

Simply because the majority of one party elects a Senator, or a member of the House or the President, it does not mean they should ignore the fact that even within that congressional district, or State or Nation there aren't those that have alternative viewpoints to solving problems. The Republican ideas are not always the right ones and neither are the Democratic ones.

I say all this to illustrate why the FWFSA has worked so incredibly hard over the last decade & longer to educate those on both sides of the aisle. Wildland firefighter issues are not Republican or Democrat and at the same time, long gone are the days we can go to DC and say "we're firefighters...we want this or that."

We have had to craft strategies that sell those issues to both sides of the aisle and that naturally has led to a strategy that takes your issues and makes them issues for all Americans and taxpayers. The federal workforce, by and large, is not the problem although for some politicians, it is an easy, almost "captive" target. No one in Congress has better insight into the waste and fiscal mismanagement in any federal agency than those federal employees, like our firefighters, found at or near the bottom of the federal pay scale. Further, no one in Congress has greater insight than these employees in ideas as to how to solve such waste and fiscal mismanagement.

It is not enough to simply complain, like many labor groups do. You must take the time to develop strategies that will resonate with both sides of the aisle rather than perpetuate the idiotic fight which seems to indicate Labor & Democrats must always fight Management & Republicans. Some may suggest "well you have all the answers, why do issues still exist for federal wildland firefighters?" We have had some successes. We've had both Republican and Democratic authors on our legislation. We've even had some of those in Congress now riding the bandwagon on anti federal employee sentiment as cosponsors on our legislation. We've had more Democratic co-sponsors on Republican authored legislation than Republican co-sponsors.

Unfortunately the "system" in Washington and the overwhelming importance placed on power, majorities re-election etc., often paralyzes those in DC that can actually think for themselves. That is why it is absolutely critical that although the FWFSA can harness our members' voices and target those who can effect positive change, it will take your activism as well to speak up.

I truly hope you will take a moment of time to contact your representative's office tomorrow re: HR 3835 and tell them as a federal employee you've paid enough of a price. Tell them you are at or near the bottom of the federal pay scale but are asked to risk your life each season to protect our Nation's Natural resources and their constituents from the ravages of wildfires. Explain to them that further freezes and anti-federal employee proposals will lead to additional losses of inherently less expensive federal wildland firefighters and thus cost taxpayers even more with respect to the delivery of an efficient & cost-effective federal wildfire response. Tell them you know how to reduce or eliminate waste & fiscal mismanagement within the federal land management agency fire programs and to make those programs more effective & efficient and only need someone, anyone, in Congress to take a moment to listen.

I apologize for the rant. This is my 18th year working the Hill (and I get pooped once in a while) and it is by far the most disgusting, vile, divisive "do-nothing" collection of elected officials I have ever dealt with. That being said...we don't quit, we persist.

Sorry to vent.


Ab's emphasis above for a good message to your congressional representatives. I'm contacting mine!

1/31 The third annual Hotshot softball tournament:

March 31st - April 1st
Paso Robles at Barney Schwartz Park.

Contact Tim Murphy at tmurphy001@ nospam yahoo.com

1/31 Good morning,

I want to express my thanks on behalf of all the Firefighters out there that again have been supported by the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and Duracell Battery. In rural America, small volunteer Fire Depts do all they can with little or no funding. Again a large box of AA and AAA batteries show up on my doorstep from the Duracell company (Proctor & Gamble) and the NVFC "Power those who Protect Us" campaign.

Please support those that support us in our everyday struggle to help protect our neighbors.


1/31 The House, lead by the current majority will be voting Wednesday to freeze federal pay for a third year, up to Jan 2014.

If this vote occurs, the roll call results will be posted in our forum. Although this bill will likely pass the House, the Senate will not have 60 votes, maybe not even 50 votes to move the bill forward.

I urge all to learn about who your Representative is in the House. Determine if it's time for a change.

Make sure your House Representative and the two Senators from your state support Wildland Firefighter pay. Register now for this coming November's election.



November 6, 2012

1/30 Hi All.

I finished the Always Remember page for the 2002 van rollover that killed 5 young Grayback firefighters. So much has disappeared from the web in the last 9.5 years. This June will be the 10 year anniversary.

I'm not sure many people realize how young many of our fallen firefighters are.

Thanks to the WFF for the photos of the fallen.

Does anyone know who the pilot was in this incident?
I would like to add his name: www.wlfalwaysremember.org/incident-lists/476-pilot-unknown.phpl

On another note: Thanks M for the info on the union and contact info you provided.


1/30 Hi Ab,

I saw the last few inquiries about making a forest into a bargaining unit forest and "how to file a grievance without wrecking my career". I would suggest people talk to Ron Angel: rangel@ nospam fs.fed.us. Specifically over getting bargaining unit status. He's the fire committee guy for the union. The website www.nffe-fsc.org/committees/fire/ links to contacts for fire and www.nffe-fsc.org/ links to the root page that has other contacts. For the grievance procedure, talk to Nancy Soriano, her cell is listed on the website but it's 907-617-2337. She's a really down-to-earth cool lady. I've worked with her before and she's fire friendly and you can ask straight questions with her. I know in some instances the union can file a grievance on behalf of the union in general if people are worried about being identified.

Finally, going back to the process of creating a bargaining unit, another contact is Steve Flory: he's a business rep for the FS council and would have more specifics as well: 208-667-1346.

Outside of the union, if there is a safety issue or an issue of gross mismanagement (unfortunately, our definitions might be a bit different) there is the OSC (Office of Special Consul). That has a process and deals entirely with internal government cases.

I would post a longer answer but I'm a lot newer to it than Ron and Nancy and I don't want to spitball anything. It might take a few calls, these folks are usually pretty busy and some of them have a full time government job on top of their union title.


1/30 Historic MT Wildfires:

I am looking for a map that shows 10-25 years worth of wildfires in Montana. Hopefully it would show forest fire patterns for future fires. Any ideas?



1/30 COLA/Locality Pay:

Moab Terry et all:
Just to clarify, it is best if we are all on the same page using the correct vocabulary.

COLA is only for Hawaii and Alaska - and is fading out. Locality Pay is what you may get beyond "Rest of United States". It is not based on the cost of living in your area but on the average salary of your area. For example, Aspen, Colorado. Average pay for the average worker (waiter, ski patrol, snow shoveler, carpenter, bus driver) is $15/hour, close to average America. Now, the cost to buy a house ($1,000,000+) or to get a hamburger or go to the store for a gallon of milk is much much more in Aspen than average America. That is because people that visit (people making $250,000+ per year) are on vacation and can afford it. So, no locality pay for Aspen. No COLA for any worker in the L-48. Is it fair, no. But those are the facts. More facts are, congress has routinely approved since 2001 beyond what the Pentagon has asked for in raises for the military. Beyond what they asked for!


1/30 Pryo and retired bc re the Marble Cone fire

Don’t have much to provide a good answer, but the Marble Cone fire was initial attacked with a boatload of Siskiyou Smokejumpers out of Cave Junction, Oregon. There are some classic tales from that initial effort. A lot of old T-10's were lifted into the sky as the blowup sucked any of the chutes that were hung up in trees way into the stratosphere. Perhaps some older CJ jumper or Siskiyou Fire Staff may have a clue on the sought after information….. Just a thought.


1/30 Firefighter safety nets, in reference to the post below:

"Just need some support" and other wildland firefighters,

I know of numerous cases where NFFE (a union) has helped employees resolve disagreements with management in a negotiated grievance process. Documentation is often key in a (s)he-said / (s)he-said . Witnesses help. If more than one hears the interaction, document that. Names/dates/times/issues. Record the history. Establishing a pattern is a large part of what it's about.

I know of numerous cases where FWFSA (a fed wildland FF association) has helped firefighters, often via Casey's expertise and FWFSA's ability to go a different route than NFFE. Their intent is to support wildland firefighters and to reach understanding and agreement with management if possible.

In my opinion all federal wildland firefighters should have FEDS -- Professional Liability Insurance. Firefighters should know their agency "rules" and "regulations". I can no longer say it's mostly common sense. Hire someone who can advise you and "watch your back" or "back you up in a court of law" regardless of who comes after you. After signing up, you can call FEDS for a quick consult or engage them for the longer haul when needed.

Pay a little now or pay a lot later if the cow pie hits the fan. For many of you the cow pie will never hit the fan; alternatively, bad things can happen unexpectedly to good people. Ab.

1/30 Grievance and the Union

Ab, for obvious reasons I (actually 3 of us) wish to remain anonymous.

First of all, in regards to filing a grievance and the potential implications for retaliation... We had several issues in our fire shop which we decided to bring to the attention of the union and file a grievance, unfortunately we felt as if, no... wait, we were TOLD by our local union rep that even though he believed us and knew of our situation (and had known about it for quite some time) unless we had some documented proof, and not just our saying so, we were essentially wasting our time, supervisors could just deny it. We brought up some serious safety concerns both past, present and future and again, because nothing had happened we were told that it would go no where. When we explained about retaliation fears and retaliation situations which had already occurred, we were told that it could be defended as a "mistake" and that we would not gain by bringing it up.

The result is that one person is leaving the union and two others that were considering joining have decided not to. Other people have let us know that because of our situation - which they are also aware of - they have decided to not become paying union members. Oh, and by the way, the situation still haunts us and we all feel as if we have little or no support. We even reached out to other union personnel in other forests and regions but recently we learned that those people are no longer able to offer us advice.

As someone put it, our work situation was demoralizing on several different levels, however the reaction from the union was even more so.

We would love to support the union and had always planned on doing so, and we realize that the union doesn't always have solutions for every situation, however sometimes a union rep might be the only person who can offer a voice of support. Instead we have unanswered emails and phone calls to union reps and tough work situations which, who knows? Perhaps they could have been resolved with a bit of intervention.

Just need some support

1/30 Hey Ab,

I'm a permanent seasonal FS employee but apparently I don't fall into the category "all employees." Apparently this was sent out earlier this year and I would bet good money that others haven't received it in their FS inboxes either. And I'm guessing that few if any temporary employees have received it either.

This is our opportunity to let someone know, from the working, ground level people what we think about paying an outside consulting firm and university to, as some would put it "reinvent the wheel." Tell me if I'm wrong, but I think that the more input we provide, the better.

Think about what you gained and learned from the training.

Sign me: Please don't rewrite the 10&18!
(apologies if this has already been posted and I missed it - I'm afraid to look at TheySaid as much any more for fear of losing my job! - joking - sort of)

Mailroom, Please forward to all employees.

Greetings and Happy New Year!

We have been delighted with results of the first round of the Forest Service Safety Survey. After participating in the Safety Engagement Sessions scheduled through summer of 2011, employees across our Regions, Stations, Areas, Labs, Washington Office and all other locations took the few minutes needed to complete the survey. We are particularly pleased with the number of employees who added comments at the end of the Survey. These comments serve as critical feedback to inform all of us as we continue to pursue our Safety Journey. We will be sending a brief interim report on the first round soon.

The Chief has asked all of us to complete the Safety Survey as quickly as possible.

If you responded to the First Round of the Survey before your Safety Engagement Session, please complete the survey again in this second round. This will allow us to evaluate the safety engagement session design.

If you have not previously completed the Safety Survey, please do so now. It is important that all of us complete this survey. We especially encourage you to post comments at the end. There is a space provided for just that.

You can access the survey at the following link:

The Forest Service has contracted the University of Georgia to manage the Safety Survey. All information you provide will be kept in strictest confidence. Your individual identity and responses will not be released to anyone, inside or outside the Forest Service. Data will be used only to develop summaries for reporting back to you and Forest Service Leadership. Thank you!

(If you encounter any problems in taking the survey, you may email lanev@ nospam warnell.uga.edu.

1/30 Ab,

Could you post? www.cnn.com/2012/01/29/us/florida-fatal-crashes/index.phpl

Very tragic and it was due to smoke from a wildfire crossing the highway. Just a little added extra to think about as an IC and Burn boss.



Thanks Northnight. News on this was posted yesterday on theysaid and the hotlist, but no doubt there are lessons to learn and other considerations. Ab.

1/30 Hi Ab,

I live in a Forest Service trailer park on the Los Padres National Forest. One of my fellow neighbors has just moved out. He tried to give the home away for free to another Forest Service employee. He informed the Ranger, and the Ranger asked an OGC lawyer if he would be allowed to do this. The lawyer said on speaker phone in front of the tenant and Ranger, no because somewhere down the line he might accept a " monetary gift" from the employee. This is the most ridiculous reasoning I've ever heard. Since when do we make accusations and decisions based on what someone may or may not do? I'd really like to know what law or policy this lawyer is referencing when making this decision.

The OGC lawyer also made comment that "these people" need to learn that we just want them out. The Forest Service is getting out of the housing business. This is contrary to Management's smoke and mirrors reasoning it gives to its employees. Just a heads up out there to folks living in Forest Service Trailer Parks and Government Housing. The National Housing Policy is coming out soon. Rumor has it that it will look like The Los Padres Housing Policy. The whole crux of the argument for what makes this policy unfair is that in order to sell the home, the property owner must first return the pad to its original state. So you have to move the home, sell it, and then move it back. Classic Line Officer Policy and Procedure. Apparently this OGC lawyer is unfamiliar with the Fifth Amendment and Taking of Private Property.

The sad thing is the Los Padres Housing Policy has made it to the Washington Office level. Nowhere along the line has The Forest Service informed any of its employees who live in government housing of its intentions to make a change to policy. A change that will not only affect them, but their families, and their economic situation. People have been buying and selling their homes not knowing they are about to be blind sided by this change. Nice disclosure eh?

Any hoosie, we on the local level do not intend to go down without giving Goliath a fight.


1/29 NFFE website:


1/29 Hi Ab,

I was looking through the photos section and found a picture of the Schoolhouse Fire on page 11 under equipment. The description page commentator didn’t know if it was 1965 or 1966. I checked my records for the Schoolhouse Fire and confirmed it was in early July, 1966. I was a rookie on the Dalton crew with only two weeks on the job. The Schoolhouse Fire was my first large fire and I was on the fire for two days. I remember night shift, some squirrely winds at a saddle, and backfiring with one gallon cans of napalm with a pull fuse.



Thanks, Bob, I added your info to the Photo Description page. Ab.

1/29 Marble Cone ('77) backfire question:

retired bc;

Don't know the final size - and I'm not sure anyone does - but we did a pretty big firing show on the Tramp/Fork Fire (part of the Southern Nevada Complex) in '05, on the NE edge of Lake Mead.

The firing edge was at least 19 miles, just on the second night; don't have any idea how deep the backfire ran in order to meet the main fire (how many actual acres the firing added).

I believe Tramp/Fork was still under Mike Whalen's T2 ICT at the time (we spiked; again, not sure when Whalen rotated out); I'll see what I can find on it.


1/29 www.foxnews.com/us/2012/01/29/at-least-dead-in-crashes-on-florida-highway-amid-heavy-smoke/

1/29 What will happen to coverage on acres that the FS formerly defended since the fs and cal fire have changed the balancing of acres back to greenbook staffing? What happens to our checkerboard forests in norcali?

Does anyone have that document to share?


More discussion Here: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=24559 from this morning... Ab.

1/29 Ditto to a NFFE official on the same question for filing a grievance. Several people have asked me who should know the procedure and how do they go about researching it. The person asking feels that filing a grievance or the threat of him filing a grievance potentially can cause
  • retaliation or
  • not being viewed as a team player,

perhaps someone from NFFE can address how one files a grievance so as not to "wreck my career".

Ab. (I'm just the messenger.)

1/29 Can a NFFE official tell me where I can find on the Internet the process that needs to occur to make a National Forest a bargaining unit?

1/29 SCBA program shutdown on the LPF???

Anyone hear about the Los Padres formally shutting down a portion of its SCBA program due to old PPE and out of compliance equipment?


1/28 Hi everyone,

I was noticing some posts regarding the perception of the union and the power the union has. So I wanted to at least provide some possible clarification on the subject.

To start with I copied and pasted the definition of a labor union from freedictionary.com:

"An organization of wage earners formed for the purpose of serving the members' interests with respect to wages and working conditions."

The first key word is "organization". Where I'm at we have 3 stewards for the forest, where I was at before we had 1 steward for the forest (myself) and the local as a whole had 3-4 on average covering 2 forests and hundreds of members (in the federal government you don't have to pay dues to be a member).

To be a steward, you have to be paying dues and you have to attend training, which is usually pretty easy to get into. I'm in fire, technically I'm allowed 25% of my official time for the purpose of representing members but it's not realistic that I could actually take that much time away from my job as a firefighter to represent someone, so I end up doing a lot of footwork on my own time. For me, this is fine. I'm happy when people contact me needing help because I feel it's a worthy thing to do. As a steward, you pretty much have to believe in what you're doing because otherwise you'd just get depressed. That said, I don't actually spend a lot of time in the grievance process itself, mostly I just get questions. People I know contact me asking about something they heard and whether or not I know anything more about it or not and if the union is getting involved. A lot of the time people want to know if they have a grievance at all and I get the dubious job of saying they don't - which makes me the messenger with the bullseye on me. Some of the time people do have a viable grievance but don't want to pursue it. Sometimes people just want to know that they're right. I understand the reasoning, because there is retaliation and we've all seen it.

Most of the stewards I interact with do not have a lengthy fire background and are from other departments with much different duties and much different P.D.s. Many of them are closer to the S.O. and receive information a lot faster than I do as a lead forestry tech but require some perspective as to how some new directive will affect those on the lowest rungs of the ladder. I think this is one reason that it helps to have fire people get involved.

Going back to the definition though, the union is an organization of wage earners. So to really have an effective labor union wage earners need to organize. There's a lot of people that are union members by default but it would be hard to say that there's much organization. If you're hired in a bargaining unit, *poof* you're in the "union" on a piece of paper. The amount of organization itself is what determines the effectiveness. How many people want to be stewards? How many people want to run for officer positions? Go to training? That's the true barometer for where a union is really at. This dynamic creates the unfortunate chicken-or-egg infighting; "the union doesn't have any power so I'm not going to be active" or "no one steps up to organize and that's why we have no power". It really doesn't matter which angle you want to take, the results are still the same.

NFFE provides an established framework to organize within, you really don't even need a specific union to get together and be active; it's just a circuit board waiting for human electricity to power it when it comes to the local level.

The rest of the definition says "......formed for the purpose of serving the members' interests with respect to wages and working conditions". If our local amount of representation consists of 3-4 people available for the purpose of serving our members' interests, how much quality service is each member going to receive? As I said earlier, I invest a lot of my own time into representing, personally, I'm not doing "nothing" as some people have stated. I'm doing a lot but I've only got so many hours in the day and I have to learn a bunch as I go.

So, back to the union not having power... Let's say I have a brand new pickup sitting out in the yard, a big fat diesel with all the bells and whistles and there's no gas in the tank and no one driving it. Is the truck not powerful or is it not being fueled and driven?

Another thing I've heard is that: "the rules in the CFR and FSH and so on and so forth trump the union anyway, what's the point?". One thing I know from reading even a scrap of the rules is that many of these handbooks and guides are written with subjective and contradictory language. I also know that these handbooks and guides can be re-written and so can a contract. There's a process to it and it's probably mind-numbingly boring to most people but that doesn't mean people can't get involved in it. People ask "what are the rules?" way more than they ask, "how do I change them?".

Finally, there's the "P" word....Politics. Wanna know where all of this stuff comes from? Hiring/firing authorities? Policy changes? Mandates? Where's the first stop? It's in politicians, it's not FS or USDA management. Managers don't spend a lot of time bothering to go out and come up with a policy change on their own. For better or worse, they're people and people don't usually want to make things more difficult for no reason (despite appearances). Voters, lobbyists, judges whatever got to politicians and say "do this". Politicians go to the bosses's bosses's boss and say "do this" and "this" eventually trickles down to your work and you get told "do this". If you're lucky you might be at least allowed to determine how.

So if politicians are at point A and you're at point Z squared what's the easiest way to get point A? Back up through the whole hierarchy? As an employee you must follow chain of command; as a citizen though you don't have that constraint as long as you don't violate the Hatch Act....Which is relatively hard to do as long as you don't push politics at work. It's been said time and time again but vote, follow the bills and if one really matters to you, try writing a good old-fashioned letter by hand. A handwritten letter says: "I didn't just copy and paste or type an email, I wrote this and I mailed it". If you have kids, have them write, it's their future, too. No reason they can't.

Anyway, I'm painfully aware of how much power I have as a steward. No one likes to say "I'm here to help" and truly really want to help and then have to say "guess what? I can't." If I wasn't able to shelve that feeling of defeat... a lot, I wouldn't be a steward and I wouldn't spend hours of my time knowing I might just end up disappointing a coworker and making management angry at me.

People want to feel empowered, anyone anywhere wants that and what keeps me moving is the one person I manage to help and especially the one person who wants to help because on the bright side when there's only one of us I just became 100% more powerful with two.

- lead forestry tech (fire)

Thanks for doing what you do. Ab.

1/28 Terminations etc:

First to Snow Flea. Please email me at cjudd@fwfsa.org or call at 208-775-4577 so I can update the database, learn who you are and send you the Forest Service Dashboard "cheat sheet." A number of members drop off the rolls each year without the courtesy of letting me know, whether its because of the economy or whether its because I suck and am not accomplishing things in as timely a manner as they (and I) would like, so I appreciate the heads up.

To all: The FWFSA does not handle personnel actions within its normal course of business. That being said, a number of us have substantial experience in labor-management relations so, if a FWFSA member finds themselves facing an adverse action and contacts me, I will do my best, given my time constraints, to offer advice. I will also, if time permits, respond to those who contact me who are not FWFSA members. However it is important to emphasize that my time and loyalty is to our dues paying members. As cliche as it may sound, advocacy and advice are not free.

As a result, I will offer an ear to the individual off the Cleveland and the individual referenced about being terminated for posting on TheySaid as I believe it critically important that our firefighters know and understand their rights whether a Union presence exists in their workplace or not.

The caveat to that is we cannot and will not step on the toes of the National Federation of Federal Employees with respect to their contractual rights to represent most federal wildland firefighters. Whenever I am contacted by an individual dealing with a personnel action, I make it very clear we will share the information with NFFE. The unique aspect of the relationship between NFFE and the FWFSA is that the Union can accomplish things within their rights under Title 5, USC. The FWFSA is not encumbered by Title 5 and thus can often assist employees facing discipline in peripheral ways. Yes I know that sounds awfully vague.

Just some candid, common sense advice. Many folks from all five federal land management agencies who are less than enthralled by the increased voices of their firefighters over the years, read TheySaid. A former Chief of the Forest Service described the FWFSA as a "Pariah." There are those who will take action in a heartbeat to intimidate the voices of their firefighters. Don't give them the opportunity to do so. Don't post to TheySaid on Government time or on a Government computer. Doing so just gives some overzealous line officer a reason to go on a power trip.

During the retention/recruitment debate in 2007/2008 many folks posted on TheySaid. However, many also did the smart thing and provided data and documentation to the FWFSA which then in turn sent it to some in Congress under the FWFSA's organizational cover with no reference of the original source. I have often had to secure the commitment of those in Congress to protect certain sources... the most recent being dealing with the Station Fire ordeal. That is why some in Congress have come to rely on our information/data before they rely on what an agency says. They know the information came from the experts in the field doing the job.

There are smart ways to offer your opinion, insight, expertise while there are other ways to invite scrutiny and trouble. The FWFSA is not in existence to create and maintain an adversarial relationship with any of the agencies. Unfortunately, when the agencies ignore the voices of their employees, the efforts of the FWFSA are obviously taken by some to be an aggressive attack on the agencies.

We all know times are economically tough and unfortunately investing in one's future and career as well as protecting one's job just isn't free. Most of those that advocate on this community's behalf, whether it the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, the FWFSA, wildlandfire.com aren't getting Rich. Folks at FEDS probably make a better living than I but their experience and expertise in protecting and representing our federal wildland firefighters is invaluable...especially since in most cases 50% of PLI premiums are reimbursable by the employing agency.

So, while the desire and motivation to post on TheySaid may be insatiable at times, think about your environment before you act and don't compromise your job and the care and support of your families.


From Ab: FEDS : Professional Liability Insurance for Federal Firefighters

1/28 I just thought about right now we could use one of these to bring us back to center. Enjoy.....

Signed, So Cal Ridges

Cook/Tom: If you were to pick the most important character trait for an effective leader, what would that be?

Gleason: That's a hard one to answer. (Pause) But if there has to be one, it would be mindfulness. That ability to take in your surroundings and sort out the important stuff, to be aware, to be vigilant. Then take all that information, put it together, and see if it makes sense to you. Another part of that mindfulness concept is the ability to relate to all types of people and see what they can contribute.

Late Paul Gleason, Hotshot

1/27 retired bc,

Here's an interactive map of historical fires that I use in researching Always Remember incidents. Shows the final perimeter of Marble-Cone -- if you click the radio button 1970-1979 you'll see it. That large red area on the coast S of Carmel. Click anywhere on it for the balloon with name, year and final size. Zoom in for a closer look. Doesn't have origins. 173,333 acres.I usually do a screen save and photo shop it if I need a perimeter map for reference.

If you look at 1990-1999 up near Willow Creek you'll see the Big Bar Complex 1999. The map divides it into the Onion and Megram. That was about 141,000 total. 76 days from lightning bust s on Aug 23 until the rains of winter. A lot of the acreage was burnout up near Youngs Peak, Dees Peak, Devil's Backbone to the NE, and down to the WSW at Lone Pine Ridge N and Tish Tang and down toward Hawkins Bar on hwy 299. You can see where they were planning more if the rains hadn't come on Nov 8. Probably not quite 50,000 acres though. Kirk burned down by Big Sur during the same time. Seemed bigger than the map shows, might have just been bigger talk. <grin>

The Biscuit (CA and extending into Southern OR) in 2002 was half a million acres. A lot of that was burnout.

You can cruise around on those maps by decade to identify the really big fires. The ones since 2002 you can find here:
Historical Incident ICS 209 Reports. I use those for research too.


1/27 Dear Ab,

I am hoping someone can fill in some questions I have on the 1977 Marble-Cone Fire.
( I found some info online, plus I was the Log Chief for CDF at Rana Camp.)
Readers answering can contact me direct or post here: jbsupport108@ nospam msn.com

1. A map of final perimeter, including the two origins.

2. Was the massive backfire on the north (Carmel Valley) end the largest (50K acres) backfire ever, or are there others larger?

Thanks, retired bc

1/27 Ab;

I just spoke with someone who knows this individual. Without naming names (given that there may be further legal action), they have been a staunch advocate for firefighters and their needs for many years. They truly gave a damn. I am truly at a loss for words. Having said that, I've worked in that office on a fire assignment. If given a choice between working there and hell, I would gladly take hell. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to work there full-time!

Hang in there pal.

Just my 2 cents
1/27 Knowing absolutely nothing except for a one-line statement here, I will not claim to know whether the firing for posting here was appropriate, or to defend or oppose it. However, as a general rule, from what I've read and been told, employers do have the right to restrict what you post on a site such as this, within limits.

They can restrict employees' rights to use social media on agency computers, or on paid time, and could discipline an employee for violating that rule. They can restrict what information can be released by an employee, including information related to an ongoing incident. Releasing incident information outside official channels has been a concern in other areas, such as personal facebook or twitter postings about how an incident is progressing without appropriate authorizations (there's a whole bureacracy on incidents to ensure the right info is released at the right time), so I'm sure a site such as this could be impacted as well.

An employer can prohibit employees from discussing matters of internal operations that do not have a clear public interest, and can prohibit political advocacy on-duty or on agency computers. Much of what is on TheySaid could fall well within those restrictions. An employer can NOT restrict your right to discuss matters of general public interest, even if they don't want the information released. Based on prior cases I've seen, an issue of being under-staffed on a district, lack of air tankers, or other failures to provide needed services would fall within the "public interest" to know. Matters of whether a certain segment of members do or don't get a bonus, whether a certain employee was justly or unjustly terminated, whether a certain district's supervisors are idiots, or other matters, would NOT be within the public interest, no matter how much we may wish the public knew.

If there is an HR attorney on here, please feel free to clarify or correct what I've said, but I have read some on this, and this is how I understand it. IF there is a policy prohibiting such release of information, or use of on-duty time or agency equipment to post to social media, one had best abide by that, no matter how much we may want our opinions to be shared, or be the first to post the cool pics from Division Bravo. I certainly support the discussion on here, and value the insight gained here greatly. But be sure to abide by all relevant guidelines and regulations you work under, or any of us could suffer the same consequences.



2012 Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (80 K doc file)

From the Risk Management folks at NIFC

1/27 Ab.

Interesting. I have a supervisor who would do something like that. I've been doing some research and found this interesting bit of information. Take the test and post your supervisors score:


Scary stuff. Sounds like the <snip> might have a few of these nut jobs too!

Trilobe 92
1/27 Ab;

If an employee was dismissed for posting to They Said, what kind of message does that send to the wildland fire community? Holy hand grenade of Antioch! I've never seen anything posted here that would suggest that anyone wasn't sharing information that could be accessed thru Twitter, Facebook, WildCad, ROSS, Radio Reference.com, or any number of sources available to us who pay attention or are willing to "drill down" and get the information. I mean, the foundation of They Said is built on keeping the wildland fire community informed and updated, right? Doesn't the Constitution of the United States guarantee the right to freedom of speech? And the mod's screen and/or verify everything that gets posted or it doesn't get posted!

Maybe we can start a fund for this person-if all of us will be or can scrutinized by management, whether it be federal, state, or local, and potentially lose our jobs because of it, it could spell the end of They Said and the fire forums as we know it.

Just my 2 cents
1/27 Re: They Said member dismissed.

Unless it was information that compromised the efficacy of the agency, there's no way they could be fired. Of course, if their supervisor was a paranoid control freak, they might do all they could to remove the individual in the most malicious and painful way possible. Having researched many MSPB Board Opinion and Order cases, I would suggest that this person file an appeal (if it hasn't been 30 days after the fact) with MSPB. If the individual has a solid work history (good evaluations, awards, etc.), with no extenuating circumstances, the MSPB judge could rule in their favor and order that the agency make the person "whole" again, which would include compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, back pay with interest, and restoration to their former position and pay grade.

I would also advise them to hire legal counsel. The attorney can interview witnesses, request emails, and get depositions from the proposing official, the deciding official, and the HR official that signed off on the personnel action. Potentially other individuals can be deposed to disprove allegations made against federal employees or to support an appeal brought to the board. In addition, critical evidence in support of the appeal can be gained through tradition discovery techniques at the MSPB, such as the use of interrogatories, production of documents requests, and requests for admission during the discovery period. (supervisors tend to squirm a bit when the are put under oath and a court recorder is present).

Hope this helps!

Creaky Knees
1/27 How could someone be fired for posting on they said? This is odd to me and I would think that this will be easily won in a fight should it truly need to go there? Are there any details?

Sent via DroidX2 on Verizon Wireless™
1/27 Theysaid family member fired:

You're kidding, right? What kind of a$$h0le supervisor would do that?


1/27 Announcement:

One of the They Said family was dismissed for posting to this website.


1/27 Combining fed fire agencies:

I have always apposed Federal fire agencies being combined..... Until now! I think the way things are going it only makes sense, it's fiscally responsible. From a management stand point it makes the most sense.

Here's an analogy!
Why cant the Timber shop be run by the FMO? It's the same type of thinking right? But its okay for a non-fire person to run our shop because while they were going to college they spent 2 seasons on an engine. Absurd!

I know there are people out there that bleed for their agency! Congratulations! Now let's get down to business! Let's solve some problems by uniting our efforts, get on the same team and reduce our operating costs and provide a service to America that we can all be proud of again. On my Forest there are 5 positions for Chiefs. 3 Forest Chiefs 1-3 and 2 district Chiefs -- all that to supervise 10 engines and a Hotshot crew! Is that fiscally responsible? Is that sustainable? A large company only has 1 CEO, why are we the exception! Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins!

Lets take it a step further!
On the zone where i work there are three government agencies covering ground over an area of 600 square miles! Combined we all have approximately 25 engines and 3 crews. Conversely however, there are something like 12 Chief officers combined. With an average wage of lets say 50,000 per year, that's $600,000 dollars per year just in wages which is just an approximation! What for? This could be done by 1 person with talent and vision, trust me there are County/City Fire Chiefs that do this same job everyday with more resources, over a same size area. But this is just an approximation!

Now let's say we combined and went under one name (insert here), 1 Fire Chief for that 600 square miles, 1 Deputy Chief and 4 battalion Chiefs and leave the balance of suppression resources. Now all of the sudden we have narrowed down the chain of command, made it easier for information to flow up and down the chain and are saving untold amounts of money, not just on wages but wasted time and energy.

We would still have the same purpose, mission and goals, we would just do it with more efficiency! Hmm weird. Now if you put that same type of model across the nation, Bam! We just saved some serious Money! Now we really are Heroes right? Doubtful, but at least no one would be blaming us!

I know its allot more complex than that but its an idea. There are a good number of people on this forum who are a hell of allot more savvy than i am with his stuff, with the experience knowledge and know how to lead this sort of thing! What are your thoughts? Don't get wrapped up in the patches and the color of trucks! At the end of the day we are all teammates and brothers and sisters!

Just a thought!


1/27 Retention bonus isn't the answer:

I am currently a Forest Service Employee that is reaping the benefits of the Region 5 retention plan. I realize that cinderellas' carriage is about to turn back into the pumpkin but when we signed on we all knew that this bonus had an expiration date. As much as I enjoyed the luxury of a few extra dollars in my bank account, I'm ALMOST ready to let it go (Special thanks to CDF that made this all happen for us and to all of those EX FS employees that abandoned ship and paved the way for the rest of us.) I never felt that retention bonuses were the answer in the first place. Personally I don't feel like I need to be rewarded to have one of the best jobs in the United States, but I should get bonuses based off of our qualifications on our red cards. As a Type 2 fire fighter you should probably get the base GS pay for that position. Now if that Type 2 fire fighter obtains his C-Falling qualification, then I feel that employee has every right to get better pay for retaining that qualification. The same applies for ICT 5, FFT 1, TFLD, STLD etc.

Not to beat a dead horse, but I personally find it asinine that C fallers don't get hazard pay every time they step under a C tree. The hazards are there, they aren't going away and it's just as dangerous as flying in a helicopter (at least you can get out of the helicopter and walk away with H pay for the day). Let me say this again so Randy Moore and everyone else up the food chain can hear. "LET THE RETENTION BONUS PASS AND START PAYING PEOPLE TO MAINTAIN THEIR QUALIFICATIONS". I can't say that I obtain my qualifications because I want the added responsibility, stress and liability that follows, but I would be much more eager to get as many qualifications as I possibly could to help boost my bi weekly pay check.

I have a ton of reasons why this would work out better in the long run for both the agency and the employee but it is too much for this email. At the very least, it would promote employees to strive for higher qualifications instead of sitting idle, and give us the depth that we need to manage our dwindling recourses on complex fires. The Agency would be getting what it is paying for and then some. Perhaps we would no longer be struggling to find qualified applicants for in the future if this was put into policy? This would also put more responsibility into the employee to obtain and maintain qualifications and a solid pay check.

I'm struggling with the rest of you; we all are.

Wolf Pack

1/27 A Warning To Those Transferring To The USFS:

I recently transferred from another agency to the USFS and I learned the hard way that if you have a TSP Loan, those payments are routinely dropped by ASC. In my case I had no way to know this because I had no access to my Employee Personal Page. This has gone on for 5 months and would have gone on longer had TSP not sent me a letter stating I was overdue on my loan. When I talked to someone at TSP they stated that this happens all the time. Even the two people I talked to at ASC admitted that. It doesn't help me a bit. I'm still the one left holding the bag with a large bill due by the end of March. Angry? Oh yeah. And, incredibly frustrated. All of this because someone, somewhere dropped the ball and I had no way to know until it was too late. I have no idea where I am going to get the money and it appears I have no recourse. If someone knows differently I would certainly appreciate the input.

Miraculously when I called and once again tried to gain access to my EPP and I told them what had happened my case was passed up the chain and resolved within 24 hours.

Casey, now that I have access to view my statements I realize that my FWFSA dues didn’t transfer either. I apologize and I will get back with you guys as soon as I get this other issue resolved.

Snow Flea
1/27 This bill (HR 3630) in the House of Representatives which was voted on in Dec 2011 would have extended the federal pay freeze until 2014.

The following House members voted in favor of HR 3630.

Do any of these Representatives, represent you? Do they represent the middle class? Fortunately Senate leadership killed the bill. If these Representatives are not supportive of you as Federal Wildland Firefighters, then don't support them on Nov 6, 2012.

However it is good to read that some are still fighting for you and your families.

1/26 Thanks:

I'd like to thank everyone who donated to my senior project scholarship fund at the wildland firefighter fundraiser for the aviation statue. With all the donations I made $850 and hopefully my next fundraiser will raise a big amount. All donations go to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation to a scholarship program to help the kids who have lost a mom or dad in an aviation accident. Again thank you all so much.

Montana Greeno

1/26 Retention Bonus


You ever hear the phrase walks likes a duck, talks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck. So what reads like and sounds like whining is actually just that, whining. We work for a lot of people that are in fire. Last I checked the approved organizational chart for the National Forest I work on, everybody up the ladder is in fire. All of them have a reference to fire in their job titles. Assistant Fire Management Officer, Fire Management Officer, Fire Staff Officer, and the list continues, if you want to get real sporty you can add District or Forest in front of these titles and it further defines how involved in fire they are. I think the list ends at Director Fire and Aviation. Even the local District Ranger introduced himself and mentioned he had fire experience, and he apparently is an Agency fire manager, or rep, I get confused. I can already read the rebuttal, so I will just add it for you, “Just because they have fire in their job titles doesn’t mean they know anything about fire.” Did I get it right? I am not making any comments one way or another on their performance; just pointing out the fact the agency does have some type of alignment inside the fire organization. Anyway I agree with Dirt Weasel, losing 35 percent of your funding, that has a real impact and something we should be trying to fix. Temporary employees not returning, Senior Firefighters and Squad Leaders working less pay periods. Dirt Weasel's losing qualified firefighters he or she depends on during those hot (add your favorite month here) days when he/she needs leadership and experience for fire suppression activities, due to funding. You’re losing a bonus. Bet most of the people Dirt Weasel losing would give up their retention bonuses for their summer jobs back. Oh wait they don’t get retention bonuses. Maybe they should try arbitration, but I bet ya some of them will just be trying the unemployment line.

Four AFT

1/26 Retention Bonus

So... i was thinking back to when I watched Nat. Lampoon's Christmas Vacation over the holidays. This whole thing reminds me of Clark Griswald not getting the xmas bonus that he has come to rely on.

So... where is good old cousin Eddy when you need him. (Im sure everyone remembers what he did, right...) A courageous soul to confront the bad guy and force him to look all the victims in the eye and see results of their actions...

All with a cold one in his fist.


1/26 Retention Bonus

I have recently read several of the WLF They Said postings as they apply to bonuses and retention pay. It was recently brought to my attention that all Forest Service WO CIO/ISO Zone Managers (GS-13 or GM-13?) were given yearly bonuses of $x,xxx each. This, at a time when federal salaries have been frozen for 2-3 years, seems a little adverse to the rank and file.

I realize that this is within the authority of upper CIO/ISO management and perhaps is just the way things are.

I would appreciate your assessment of this before posting, i.e., is it a fair comparison or professional in that it hinges on disclosing personal information(?)


Assessment?????? I put in xx's. You got me???? You need to make that judgment. Ab.

1/26 Retention Bonus


If you cut this I won't be surprised.

I am a member of FWFSA and a region 4 firefighter from the Interior side. I live in Moab Utah and used the calculator that E used and it said Moab is 9% below the national average cost of living. So I can tell you that that link is bogus, because we are much higher than that. We do get a COLA and I'm glad for it. I have no problem with a retention bonus, and am glad my fellow R5 firefighter got it while it lasted. We are firefighters for more than 3 month a year and should be classified as firefighters. I believe we are the best at what we do and should be proud of it. If you are a 13/13 or 26/0 forestry or range tech and work on a helicopter/engine/hotshot crew or smokejumper you are a firefighter. We must keep fighting for our future, be heard and be proud.



1/26 Retention Bonus

Since our nation's economy took a dive it wasn't long before my wife had to close shop and my dear mother-in-law needed to move in with us; now I've been pulling the financial boat for three long years. Fact is we're losing our home, my work schedule for the winter has changed that has me driving five days a week at the cost of one hundred dollars a week as opposed to eighty dollars a week on a 4/10 work schedule and I work Sundays for the extra bump of Sunday differential pay that now is reduced to eight hours because we went to a 5/8 schedule. Now the Retention Pay is taken away.

I am not a man who needs to live the life of Reilly; in fact I've raised two sons on a GS salary and lived modestly within my regular annual salary range. What discourages me, regardless of the findings from the recent census taken on the morale level in the FS, that a group of people at some level above us do not care about the negative impact caused by removing the Retention Pay has on our families. I understand why it was issued in the first place and it appeared to work; however, times have hit America harder since then. Just imagine what two-hundred dollars a pay period would mean to a family that relies on a single income in my situation or someone else's situation that is still raising children at home, etc.

I simplified my situation to spare the reader and I can ALMOST be sure that the reader of this letter may understand, not necessarily appreciate, my not so unique sets of circumstances on how two-hundred dollars a pay period removed from my finances hits me below the belt. And yes, I am blessed to have a career.

Not whining, just the facts.

1/26 Retention Bonus:

I'd like to add onto what Dan said.

According to a cost of living calculator (www.bestplaces.net/col/) my out of the way region 4 forest has a cost of living 11% higher than Los Angeles, 16% higher than San Diego and 26% higher than Lake Tahoe (Am I missing other high cost of living California cities?). However we do not get any cost of living increase what so ever, nor did we get a retention bonus. We also have similar avenues for employees to leave to get higher pay in the private sector. The nearest Kmart is 2 hours away and the nearest walmart is 4 hours away. There is no discount shopping, nor are there any fresh fruits and vegetables. Should we get a COLA increase of any kind? Maybe, maybe not. Do we constantly rattle the cages complaining about it? No.

Maybe you guys in region 5 should consider yourselves lucky to be 26/0 with a lower cost of living than many 13/13's have to deal with outside of your region.... the problem isn't one region's retention bonuses.

"Bonus - something given or paid over and above what is due." - Dictionary.com

Why don't we focus on what the nation considers we are worth instead of what one region is getting over and above what is due to them. Perhaps we should look at some sort of public outreaching beyond just sending letters to congress. Remember public employees are considered the problem not the solution, regardless of what we actually do. For around three months or so we are the hero's of many people in the western states, but once the snow flies and the rain falls we look like just another tax burden on them. We might not make tons of money but at least we have jobs.... for now...


1/26 Retention Bonus

AB, please feel free to condense this into a link. Kinda long.

As odd as it may sound, I have struggled for several days, in fact several sleepless nights, trying to craft a thoughtful post regarding this issue. First and foremost, I am humbled by the kind commentary offered by many about the FWFSA.

The organization is non-profit which means no one is getting rich here at the FWFSA. As I've said before, I likely make less than every member of the FWFSA and receive no retirement and no benefits. Candidly, that is the way it should be. Our efforts are based solely on the admiration, respect and affection we have for our Nation's federal wildland firefighters and the belief that it is a worthy cause and effort to try and effect positive change for them so that they can have rewarding and prosperous careers as federal wildland firefighters.

Unfortunately, more often than not, at least over the last decade, we've seen little in the way of support and effort by the Agency's themselves in effecting such change. As some have mentioned, there has been movement, albeit painfully and ineffectively slow. As a result, it has become necessary to pursue legislative remedies. Sadly, many of the issues facing our firefighters could be fixed "administratively" by the Agency.

This has not occurred because, in my opinion, the Agencies, primarily the Forest Service, continue to manage their fire programs with fundamentally flawed principles and policies not conducive to providing our taxpayers with the most effective & efficient federal wildfire response. In other words, the FS continues to refuse to acknowledge that it fields the largest "fire department" in the world and as such continues to refuse to manage it as such. Those of you living in or around large municipalities across the country wouldn't expect your City or County Fire Department to be managed by that City or County's Parks & Recreation Dept., but that is precisely the business model employed by our federal land management agencies. It simply does not fit in trying to deal with the complexities of wildfires in the 21st century.

The FWFSA never pursued "retention bonuses" pre se for Forest Service firefighters in California. Rather it took the issue of retention and recruitment directly to Capitol Hill with, as Letterman said, the help of a considerable number of voices from the field who provided not only opinions but hard data as it related to staffing levels. Further, a number of those who left the federal sector for Cal-Fire & other non-federal agencies offered their assessments.

The effort was naturally focused on Sen. Feinstein. * Click HERE for the rest of Casey's post.

Casey Judd
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
1/26 Re recent posts:
Educate Yourself.

Sadly things have gotten worse both in our Country and in the work force. But its still the best Country and firefighting is still the best job.

Any one thinking Retention Pay was going to last forever needs to read the purpose behind it. People were crying we were losing folks to other Agencies for better pay and benefits and we were. But look what happened: they changed hiring practices and started using X118 to qualify people instead of truly qualified, and crammed people into positions that were not qualified yet. Everyone was complaining about how unqualified they were, but they got their numbers up. Careful what you ask for. Fact is You all deserve more money but not temporarily.

I was surprised they gave Retention Pay the second year. D.O.I. did not receive Retention Pay and they fight fire right next to the FS.
Remember Strength in Numbers. Yes D.O.I. does not favor a firefighter classification but I don’t think the FS does either.
Read D.O.D. firefighter and forestry/range tech job classifications.

In MY OPINION unions have little to no power in the Federal work place (air traffic controller's union ) other than representation on the lower level. Don't think the union has represented a federal employee in court. All Government employees have the same rights per CFR's, Civil Rights and use of the Merit Systems Protection Board. Unions can not over ride these laws.
Documentation is everything and tell the truth, one lie will discredit your case. Facts, just the Facts. Lawyer up or call Lesa.

I know all of you have computers and use them because you're reading this and posting on "They Said". Well, use the darn thing to "Educate Yourself" and share the knowledge.

Remember strength in numbers, share knowledge and work together; that’s what you do on the fire line. Working together got you two years of Retention Pay didn't it?

Maybe Ab can start a tab for "legal rights information"

FEDFIRE aka United States Fire Department


Good idea on the legal rights information thread. Ab.

1/26 Retention Bonus going away:

Alright, I’ll take the bait.
I, like many others outside Region 5 are embarrassed to see the “outrage” of employees feeling entitled to bonuses. I understand that other people outside of FS make same/or more salary than you. That happens in many, if not most professions. What I don’t understand is, why don’t you work for the other agencies?.......... Obviously you were able to justify staying before retention bonuses, what has changed?

Perspective: I’m losing 35% of my Firefighting workforce this year due to budget cuts.
Read that again, and let it sink in. 35%!!!! I’m telling hardworking firefighters that have multiple years of experience that they won’t have a job at my district this coming fire season due to budget downfalls. I think we all agree that firefighters deserve to be paid as professionals. I don’t agree that kicking and screaming like children is way to get to that level.

Dirt Weasel

1/26 Activism for Change:

One comment on your very good post. FWFSA was significantly involved with retention and on point with many other positive things that happened before and after Black Tuesday, April 1, 2008. I know, I am a member. However, it was Wildland Firefighters everywhere and our forum (no, I am not financially associated with this forum) that came together and made sure the truth came out. Thousands of correspondences, hundreds of phone calls and non-stop pushing the issue, day after day, sustained throughout fire season into the fall of 2008. By this time Senators knew the agency was lying and provided funding. The agency agreed to look at all aspects of the issue. Some ideas were adopted, others were dropped. If the economy had remained strong, we might have been able to get more from these efforts.

The wave was created from the energy pulled together from the events leading up to and on April 1, 2008. Back in December 2007, some Firefighters were called to Sac to discuss the issue, groups were formed (sound familiar) and the results were delivered simultaneously with testimony in DC and on video conference by Ed and Pena on April 1, 2008. The testimony we heard and the presentation we received on that date was how much more we get paid than our CALFIRE Brothers and Sisters. Also we received a bunch of bad data that was not supported by reality. After we picked our chins up off the floor, it was "game on". The Wildland Firefighter community came together like never before, CALFIRE and local government firefighters fought this battle with us. I still have my wristband.

The rest is history, Dan. However, it's history that we can recreate if needed.

Finally, I would like to re-post this website Dan offered. As many of you heard, focus groups have been formed and people are being requested to Sac to provide input. For those not invited and if you have something to say, and I think you do, go to this site and say it.


Keep fighting people. The next hurdle is to avoid 3 more years of a federal pay freeze. I think you all know what you need to do on November 6, 2012 to avoid a total of 5 years of frozen wages. Take time over the next 9 months to ask your local House Congressional Representatives and US Senators if they support 3 more years of frozen federal pay for Wildland Firefighters , or not. Then go vote, get your family members to vote, have parties that present your issues, tweet and facebook your thoughts to friends! Influence the outcome! Persistence will pay off!

Signed, Letterman

Patience-Involvement-Activism! - Casey Judd, 10/7/2011
1/26 Four AFT,

I can see how many of these posts may appear to be "Whining" regarding the loss of our retention bonus. I dont agree with your statements. These are issues that are very disturbing to Forestry Technicians. I feel a lot of this is due to frustration of being employed by an agency that is horribly mis-managed. If you are in Rec, Timber, Res, Wilderness, etc.. You work for someone that is familiar with your field. WE DONT WORK FOR PEOPLE THAT ARE "FIRE".

We're not trying to bust the Govt. The 10% was something that we deserved for our duties. Its kind of ironic you brought up the Lincecum deal. Last year he forced the Giants into a term called ARBITRATION..

Ill tell you why,,,,, he didnt feel like he was getting paid a just amount for his performance!!!! Fortunately for him, in arbitration a group of people look at OTHER players that have SIMILIAR statistics!!! Then establish a SALARY that is equal to the OTHER players that do the SAME thing!!! Hmmmmmmm. Sounds like a FAIR system.

I hope people in my occupation continue to post their concerns here. Whether it be sending Moore email or letters. If nobody steps up and voices our concerns its a GUARANTEE nothing will be done!


1/25 Does anyone know why the DC 10s (910, 911) left so fast? Think they'll be back?

AT watcher

1/25 I heard there was a letter that came out from CAL FIRE that announced there were some old engines going to Crestline, Running Springs, and Big Bear. Facilities are unknown.

I think it has something to do with the FS abandoning the balancing of acres and returning to greenbook staffing at different areas. The FS said it didn't want to renew the balancing of acres agreement 2 years ago. Is that where we are now? How will that work?

What about all the checkerboard on the Shasta, Modoc, Lassen and Klamath? What is the plan?


1/25 Retention Pay:

I’m sick and tired of getting treated like this myself; I also plan on sending Randy Moore all of those items listed by VL in his or her earlier post. Wait, I can’t………… why you ask, because I have never received or even had the opportunity at retention pay. I’m assuming or maybe even just guessing that the vast majority of Federally Employed Firefighters (????) or Forestry Technicians (0462), or General Resource Managers (0401), or Miscellaneous Administration and Program Series (0301) managers or whatever you want to call us or refer to ourselves as have never gotten retention pay. I must clarify under Equal Employment Opportunities; I did have an opportunity to apply for the positions offering retention pay. I didn’t apply, and I didn’t get the job. Although the more I read about Cultural Transformation and the further I journey down the road of safety, I am not sure what Equal Employment Opportunities actually are or where the safety road will lead. I do know this, personally it doesn’t bother me that you received a retention bonus, what bothers me is that people are whining about losing them, yet you still have a job. Last I checked, the unemployment rate nationally is over 8 percent, in California it’s over 11. Is a 10 percent plus or minus hit financially a big deal, heck yeah, does everyone want more money, duh. Wait there is the one kid on the commercial with the cheerios, and throwing the fire hydrant, he apparently doesn’t want more money. Do I wish that we could increase the hourly or salary rates for firefighters that risk their lives annually for an agency that can’t seem to make up their minds, full suppression no appropriate response, full suppression, no appropriate response, yep I sure do. Will flooding Casey’s inbox or Randy Moore’s snail mail with letters concerning loss of retention pay do that, nope. If the private sector offers you more money and more incentives go for it. Reviewing the unemployment rates, and reading about budget woes, I don’t think CalFire is going to have enough room for all of ya. Maybe Kern or LA County is doing better, checking the website CalFire temp applications are due the 31st of January. Visit there career home page for full time employment opportunities. What’s nice is even when there is no 21 or 14 codes on the time sheet, the base 80 helps pay the bills. Does it pay all of them every month, yeah right, but I have a job and for that I am thankful every day!

You want something appalling, here’s something to complain about. Tim Lincecum just signed a two year extension with the San Francisco Giants for 40.5 million dollars. For the sake of the math lets round it to $40 mil. Let’s say he has a healthy year, and pitches in 50 games, and he throws 100 pitches per game. So during the season he will throw approximately 5000 pitches, divide that by half his annual salary or $20 million and he makes $4000 dollars a pitch. That’s appalling.

Four AFT

1/25 Greenchappy, and VL,

Did you read your yearly retention bonus letter that stated it could end?

Have you looked at the federal pay freeze, and what can and cannot be done under it?

Have you researched the criteria that the agency has to meet in order to continue a retention bonus, or even start one?

Did you know that FWFSA was responsible for this retention bonus happening in the first place? (Had to go "congressional" on them the guy said)

Have you looked at the cost of living criteria, it’s not a guarantee or entitlement.

Locality Pay –

Assuming you are on a southern CA forest that gets one of these, feel fortunate.

Think its tough there, try living in some of the many places that are much more expensive then down south and are on the Rest of US scale.

How about say Mammoth or Bishop?

Take a look at housing prices there, the limited amount of housing compared to the huge LA area. Look also at the cost of groceries. (1 way over priced Von’s store- and they do not care)

Try driving 3 hours to the nearest Wal-Mart, or true discount anything store.

You are very lucky to be getting one currently.

You ARE a Forestry Technician stuck with it's associated pay. Be active with the FWFSA for changes to these facts.

Have you submit answers to the Fire Work Environment in order to be heard (Once again for some of us)?


Are you a NFFE member, if so did you contact them about all this – before AND after?

One important thing to note is that R5 did make us all 26/0 employees recently. And before it’s said - No, unemployment does not pay more when you factor in matching TSP contributions, etc…. The country is way broke and does not need us on it.

Have you read the paper entitled “Evolving Incident Management” 10/17/2011? I t covers a lot of the issues you are talking about.

The paper indicates that a lot of what you want requires legislative change.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm , I think I have heard that from a guy named Casey a time or two.

There, you now know what needs to be done by you, for you, and some of what has been done already.

1/25 Retention Pay


I'm with you! I'm sick of getting treated like this! I don't know what we can do either except the only thing I can think of is to flood Randy Moore's email with letters? Or send them by snail mail? Or even just send a ribbon or something? I don't know, I'm just thinking of other things I've heard other organizations try. Something needs to be done. Something simple that won't take up people's time but will get the RO's attention. This is a giant pile of you know what.


1/25 ST, although I agree with the State of the Union Address tonight, we have something in common and something we can agree on: FWFSA IS THE ANSWER!!!

Greenchappy, I can feel your frustration. The agency is moving slowly toward reclassification. Too slow for me, but they are moving. Pay - I know it must be a big shot in the stomach to have 10% taken away. I know many are going to look even harder to try and get out. We need to watch the numbers shown at the website and monitor and report negative trends.


We must keep an eye on the 2012 ballot box.

  • Elect those who not only share are values and beliefs, but elect those who don’t see federal employees as the scum of the earth and who don't go on talk shows saying federal employees are paid way too much and we are way too lazy.
  • Elect those who support us, not target us.
  • Elect those who have in the past and will in the future continue to be supportive of Wildland Firefighter pay.
  • Elect those who do not want to freeze federal pay for another 3 years (that one is hard imagine) like the current majority in the House of Representatives.

It's your choice. As much as some Federal Wildland Firefighters would like to separate themselves from other federal employees and other federal agencies, it would be smart to remember we are all in the same boat. We will sail together or we will sink together.

Why would you vote for someone who doesn’t like you?

Finally, what’s going on the Wildland Firefighter who was fired on the Cleveland? Was someone able to get in contact with him?


1/24 While I may not agree with the state of the union address tonight, I just thought I would throw this out there,

If you are not supporting the FWFSA in these hard times WE will get to a place called "No Where".

I am just as frustrated as everyone else. I actually rescinded my fees for about a year a while ago cause I really needed those dollars. I now am paying dues again to support the cause. With the recent posts here about yadda yaddda yaddda, I urge you to support the FWFSA mission!! We may see more adverse actions in the future but I believe if we persist we will see some change!!

*gets off soap box*

Casey and the bunch are fighting the good fight on our behalf.

Thanks Casey and everyone else at the FWFSA for what you do.

Happy to be employed

1/24 Retention Pay

Wow cant believe that in this day and age, that we cant seem to figure out how to fairly pay our employees whom are doing such a great job while "firefighting" in the US. It is bad enough to be paid such a low salary already (compared to the private industry). Now the so called "Retention Pay" is being taken away from us. For three years we get no cost of living increase, we now get no Retention??.......Whats next???

Are we going to lose outr locality pay?? This is ridiculous! I am a FIREFIGHTER, Not a Forestry Technician.... this is the 21st century last I checked, and we need to get out of the 70's!!! Why dont they cut costs in the Upper Management also? Maybe take away their agency vehicles that they drive home every night, so they can see what it is like to have to pay for gasoline to get to work like EVERYONE else.

We are the workforce that works our butt's off to make these people look good! FOR WHAT? I am tired of it, and after many years in this organization I am finally speaking up! Something needs to be done. I dont have the answers, but this needs to be addressed!!


1/24 Another deadline:

10 Day Extension of the Region 5 Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program - Closes February 1, 2012

Bulletin with the info

1/23 RY:

Perhaps there needs to be more specificity considered in both the question and the answer. On the surface, his answer was weak, but your expectation might be anything up to an almost-interview quality answer where the engine boss hits all the buttons, while the other assumes that “I am safe” does in fact imply that he takes into account the safety of his crew in all his actions. If I have doubts, I have no problem asking a few more direct questions about experience, job philosophy, etc.

Tool Pusher

1/23 Saying "I am safe" --is that good enough to lead other firefighters?

I've learned when dealing with folks and their competence I merely ask them "why do you think you should be qualified." Many respond "I am safe." It's good response when you're talking to Firefighter I and II, but for Single Resource it falls short. As a single resource boss you have other peoples' safety to consider.

In one case I asked this person who was an engine boss "what makes you an engine boss?" His response was "I am safe," I wondered for a time about his response and in the end concluded this person had no business being a engine boss. Luckily, he's the "red team's" problem now. My thoughts on it is, how can you make safe decisions when you're strictly looking from your vantage point and then thinking: I am safe so everyone else is as safe. That's implying safety for all on the crew comes because I am safe. Is this a fair assumption? Being safe for oneself does not mean to me that a firefighter can look out for others' safety.

I must add it's not that one person's fault entirely who says he's safe and that makes him qualified for the position. It's also the responsibility of that person who signed him off and to the one who signed the evaluator off. Yes, it's an institutional failure.

Looking forward to any and all replies.


1/23 I am disheartened at the fact that they took our Retention Allowance away. My house is currently in foreclosure due to the fact that I could barely keep food on the table with my current wages and now I can expect about $325 dollars less a month. I love my job and I am very dedicated to becoming the best Firefighter that I can be, but this doesn't change the fact that I am raising a family of four and am barely able to provide for them. I have been with the Forest Service for 13 years and I thought that I had settled into a pretty good career that I could count on to be able to provide for my family. After reading the letter about us losing our Retention Allowance I am seriously thinking about other job opportunities with other agencies and possibly a whole new direction in professions. I had applied out to other agencies, when I had found out about the retention allowance I decided to stick it out with the Forest Service. In hind sight I don't know if sticking it out was the best idea. I feel that we will lose a lot more valuable and experienced Fire Fighters once again.


Barely Hanging On
1/23 Seeking photos of Jerry McGowan for retirement powerpoint:

A request for photos of the retiring Jerry McGowan to add to the powerpoint. Looking for any unique photos of Jerry that we can roast, blackmail or just have a good laugh with. If you can send them to me at dripptorch@ nospam yahoo.com by this Friday 01/28, I know short notice, it would be appreciated. I don't have many images from him on incidents.

Please don't send too large of a photo.

Thanks for the help,


If anyone has large ones, I'd be willing to quickly photoshop them smaller and send them on to dripptorch. Ab.

1/23 From Milehighbar to Royale Blue on the hotlist on retention allowance not being extended:

Royale, between 2003-2009 many left us because California has many opportunities for Firefighters. State, County and local governments pay considerable better and you get 2/3's of the month off. Back then we lost some of our best talent to other departments. Firefighters with 15-20+ years of experience were leaving. In the Forest Service although we have many that bleed green, that can only pay so many bills as you build a family. In California, the Forest Service is not the employer of choice for many (not all) Firefighters, mainly because of a large amount of Firefighter job opportunities.

With the retention pay, the severe downturn in the economy and slowing of hiring by other fire departments, many have flocked to us. This has significantly improved our vacant positions. At the link, click on a National Forest and you will see very few vacancies when compared to those filled.

Will they begin to leave as the economy improves? That will be something for Regional Forester Randy Moore will be required to monitor. We will help him in that endeavor.

Although it’s going to be tough to see retention pay stop, by definition it could no longer be supported based on the current minimal amount of vacancies. With the tightening of the federal budget, replacing this pay with another pay differential won’t happen anytime soon. We still have a majority in the House of Representatives that wants to freeze pay for another 3 years for a total of 5 and or increase retirement contributions by 5%. That would of course create some serious consequences.

Wildland firefighters (and other federal employees) have contributed to belt tightening efforts with no pay raise in 2011, no pay raise in 2012 and now our Firefighters will be getting a 10% reduction in pay next month.

I’d like to hear from some GS 5-8 Firefighters what you’re thinking about this pay reduction? Are you looking to move on to other opportunities? Leaving the Forest Service?


1/22 Retention gone...

Wow, that's about all I can say about losing the Retention pay. Losing this is literally going to ruin me financially, better go sign up for food stamps again because that's where I was before it started.

This also makes me think of the long term cost of cutting the retention pay, budgets will look better at first but give it 6 months and there will be a mass loss of firefighters to other agencies that pay well. This in turn will lead to unstaffed engines/crews/helicopters which will lead to the USFS fighting fires with co-op agreements and other agency resources (more expensive) it seems to me like a Vegas Style craps game on true "savings".

On a positive note, Thank You to all involved in trying to save the retention, I know it is a very hard battle to fight and I truly appreciate your efforts.

Sign me,

Norcal Fyrgrl

1/22 Jerry McGowan is retiring thread:

Best wishes Jerry, and no, I don't have any chew!!!


1/22 Hiring question


When you apply for a job they use the application on file at the time the announcement closes for the SME work. If you have to update your application do it at least 24 hours before the announcement closes. Some people have had issues when trying to update an application at the last minute and have not had the application even show up. Good luck!

Almost an old timer

1/21 Electromagnetic Fields, Radios and Cancer

Tool Pusher,

I suspect that if you were to try your handheld in a number of different positions that you will also find that your "Standard" handheld antenna will also light up your head lamp! The LED in a headlamp takes only a very small amount of induced current to cause it to glow and this would easily be induced from a close proximity transmitting device, particularly in the 2-7 Watt range. It is not significant that the Head Lamp is switched off at the time other than you wouldn't notice the effect if it were on! You are dealing with Radio Frequency power that doesn't care that much about switches, etc.

There is a wealth of authoritative information on the Web regarding RF emissions and its potential effects on the human body. Much of this is around the use of Cellphones but the issues are similar. I guess the challenge for us all is that whilst the consensus of credible reports state that there is no evidence of any risk (with respect to HH radio and Cellph devices) they are also quite careful to state that there are no guarantees that there are no risks involved!

It seems that it is a very complex thing to measure and test as there are so many variables and the subject matter is relatively new hence a lack of good long term data. I would think that the issues around a Cellphone might be more significant. Whilst they are much lower power than a Handheld, you most often press the transmitting device to your ear and conversations (and continuous transmission) may extend over long periods at one time. This compares to the HH where the device only transmits for the period you are talking and this is usually only a few of seconds at a time. To date the balance of (credible) international reports have identified no links between cancer and cellphone users.

As always, take prudent steps to reduce any risk. Keep the antenna away from your body, maybe use a Speaker/Mike, keep radio on lowest transmit power that will give reliable performance. Read and consider a range of material on the subject, be wary of emotive stories that are not supported by international research and good science.

Kiwi Firefighter

1/21 For those of you that haven't heard, loooooong time (gazillion years) Stanislaus NF employee and current FMO Jerry McGowan (CIIMT 1 IC) is retiring from the Forest Service at the end of the month. He's not done with fire, he hit that magical age of 57.

Here's his flyer. This might be too late for some of you to respond, but I figured I would post it on "They Said" since I haven't seen it here. If you can join us to roast, hear 1 (uhhh 10) more fishing stories and possibly a few Jerry Mac colloquialisms.

No moniker needed.

Good guy. Best wishes in retirement, Jerry! Ab.

1/20 Electromagnetic Fields, Radios and Cancer


I will attest to the potential for problems with close in radio use. I used to use the high gain antenna (the 12-15" whip) with my BK, until one night on shift I touched the antenna to my hard hat (a plastic Bullard). When I pressed the transmit button, my headlamp lit up, despite being turned off at the time. I repeated this "experiment" for my co-workers, and then switched back to the original antenna as soon as possible. I don't know if that is indicative of any actual problem, but personally, I didn't like the idea.

Tool Pusher

1/20 Retention Allowance not extended

The Regional Forester's letter is direct and to the point. But what of the future? If the 10% retention pay incentive reduced attrition rate from 13% to 5%, one would conclude the program is working. Now that the program will not be extended, will attrition rate increase? While the current economic situation may cloud the issue, best bet would be that the attrition rate will increase as the economy improves.


1/20 Retention Allowance not extended

It's official. I wish we had better news for our GS 5-8's. We need to appreciate the work of FWFSA, Senator Feinstein and many others who heard us, and listened to us back in 2007-2008. Everything went into high gear April 1, 2008, Black Tuesday: we wore wristbands, we fought like we have never have before. We all came together, all regions, and all 5 federal firefighting agencies. Our cooperators stepped up, side-by-side with us and especially CAL FIRE who was instrumental in sharing their concerns with our staffing levels.

We all thank our forum, our wlf.com for allowing us to move the discussion forward. We brought an agency to its knees as our firefighting modules were severely understaffed. We should be proud of the work we did.

Thanks all for your great work, your emails, your phone calls. If needed, we can/WILL do it again. Although we have seen improvement, this is not over until we see a reorganization. We all will stand up for our Firefighters! We will do our part to make sure we remain strong and most important that very important people listen and hear from us.

Never Forget Black Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - The day they lied from coast to coast!

1/20 Retention Allowance not extended

Making the rounds...

Fire Employees:

Please take the time to read this as it affects your pay if you are GS-5 thru GS-8.

The incentive you have been receiving STOPS February 25.

The attachment has the rationale for the decision to not request another extension.

and others that are similar... The 2 attached documents are linked immediately below. Ab.

1/20 Retention Allowance not extended

Don't know if you've been sent these yet or not. Received them by email today.

FS letter regarding retention incentive (1,500 K doc)
FS retention (55 K doc)

Thanks for all you do.


1/20 Retention Allowance not extended

To all,,

Word is coming out from the R-5 regional office that it will discontinue the retention bonuses in February. A letter from the Regional Forester is forthcoming and will include #s they say illustrate that the Region is no longer in a situation which necessitated the bonuses. Additionally the original $25 million has been spent, much of it on providing full time positions to seasonals.

That is all the information I have at this time. I would suspect more will be available shortly.

Casey Judd

1/20 Electromagnetic Fields, Radios and Cancer

Ab, I was surfing the web the other day and it made me think with hearing about yet another FF death from brain cancer (Steve Gunzel – FS ret.) there may be a higher than normal occurrence of brain tumors and cancers in wildland firefighters? Seems like there have been quite a few deaths reported here on theysaid attributed to brain cancer over the years.


Most hand-held radios have been exempt from governmental standards and testing because their power output is too low to produce significant whole body heating whereas one or two watt hand held radios may produce significant EMFs within the user’s neck and head.

Hand held radios have an output of 3 to 7 watts, National Ham Radio operator’s guidelines recommended keeping one foot to three feet of distance from the hand held antenna (one foot for each watt of power) and to keep the antenna pointed away from the body and keep the transmissions “short” if the antenna is near the body.

Guidelines developed by the League's Bio-Effects Committee:

When using a hand-held transceiver, use the lowest power possible and keep the antenna as far from your head as possible. Within the scientific community, there is disagreement about the safety of ""handy talkies."" Most hand-helds have been exempt from the ANSI standard because their power output is too low to produce significant whole-body heating. However, there is growing evidence that even one- or two-watt hand-held radios may produce significant EMFs within the user's head, with possible health effects that are not yet fully understood.


1/20 Hiring question

Hey ab,

I have a Firehire question for the group: If you update your application to an announcement # after the close date but before the scheduled SME review period, will the SMEs use the updated app. or the app. that was submitted at the close date?

signed Curious

1/20 Freedom to Do Your Job - FEDS Professional Liability Insurance


If you do not have it, you should get Professional Liability Insurance.

If you have PLI but not with FEDS, you should switch. They're the BEST for the money and peace of mind.


1/19 Hiring Answer:

USAJobs Link FAM:

Includes an informative fire-specific video; in the middle and at the end it discusses Open Continuous announcements and briefly the process.


1/19 Emergency Medical Services (EMS)


Thanks for posting this. Paramedic Bill hit some excellent points, and I wanted to expound on information that he passed on. Some states have CEU reciprocity. This meaning that if a course offered in one state has a CECBEMS number attached, or the states have independent reciprocity agreements, your home state may accept CEU courses taught in other states. A call to either state EMS office will clarify the process.

Online CEU's are becoming affordable options, and are tailored for each state's independent criteria. I call online training "gap fillers". They definitely don't replace the hands on, face-to-face, student-instructor relationship.

I want to offer that within Nevada, there is a 24 hour EMT Refresher being offered in early February at Truckee Meadows Community College. Sign up now. If there isn't enough interest, the course will be cancelled. Note: Out of state should check with your state EMS office to verify CEU's will be accepted. The course coordinator verified hours will count towards NREMT recertification. Questions about admittance requirements should be directed to the TMCC EMS Department.

Link to portal for Truckee Meadows Community College course

Link to TMCC EMS Department contact info: www.tmcc.edu/ems/

If you have any questions, post to They Said. I check regularly.
Chris Graves
MEDL GBIMT #3 Whalen

P.S. Love you Bill.

Ab Note: If you use the portal, Select EMS for Course Subject, hit the Search button at the bottom right and go from there to find the list of EMS classes and the class number. As I read it, it's EMS 109 for the EMS Refresher Chris is talking about. Click the green > to the left to get the schedule, room and instructor.

1/19 Tri-Sak,
RE: Focus and inclusion of ACCOUNTABILITY

Hear, Hear! Well said.

But why in heavens name would the powers that be want to include accountability?..... maybe Moore, Vilsak, Tidwell and the "National Leadership Council" should take a look at the grass roots leadership movements within the agencies,, i.e., www.fireleadership.gov/index.phpl instead of spending more of my tax dollars on their high priced "consulting" buddies to find out what is already known?

Nice response Tri-Sak.. I hope that "they" are listening!
1/19 Hiring


The short answer is apply to a forest that is hiring apprentices in Region 5, or apply out of Region or to a different agency to get a permanent job. Region 5 does not, will not fly Senior Firefighter Jobs. They are reserved for apprentices. Once out of Region you can come back by competing for higher level jobs like AFEO or Squad Boss, or with the right paper work trail, a willing DR you could do a duty station transfer, but you still need to be in a permanent job in the same job description and the same GS level with all the IQCS quals even then duty stations transfers between regions at the GS 5 level are highly unlikely.


1/19 Hiring

They Said,

I would like to get my GS-04 Hotshot Temporary, a GS-05 Permanent job. He has applied for the apprenticeship, but would like to get him hired on our forest that isn't hiring any this year. We work in Region 5. Is there a way in, or around? Any lessons learned out there? Looking for a safe place to anchor.


1/19 R4 temps have to compete for their jobs in 2012...what?!

Anyone else hearing that Region 4 temporary employees have to re-apply for their jobs this year? Local modules losing their hiring authority? What's going on? Could this mean we start from scratch and have to retrain everyone each year? Gonna make achieving that "Esprit-de-corps" and high performance team building a little slower, to say the least. Does anyone else see a safety issue coming? What about the specialized training modules like jumpers, shots, rappellers, engines go through that rely on their returnees to know the ropes and keep things running smoothly.

...at the end of my rope with the FS

1/19 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) changes

Hello everyone,

This year marks the beginning of a significant amount of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) changes for anyone currently holding a certification or state license of an EMT. These changes are not just based on a state's ideae or the NREMT certification. These changes are nation-wide.

Over the last few weeks I have received a number of phone calls and emails regarding license or NREMT certification renewal as many people whom I have taught or met this last fire season expire on their NREMT March 31, 2012. Many individuals in wildland fire have a difficult time meeting the hours needed for both state and NREMT certification and licensure. As a Wildland Firefighter/Paramedic and an EMS educator to Federal employees, I feel any good educator has not only a responsibility to educate but also help folks maintain their perspective level of care to provide support to their fellow firefighters.

To this I have described a layout of hours and material that might help you maintain your certification or license.

NREMT is a certification card only. It does not provide a scope of practice or medical oversight. However, many people still maintain this certification, which is a good idea. It is only good for two years and REQUIRES 72 hours to maintain it. A 24 hour refresher plus 48 hours of additional information/continuing education for a total of 72.

If you are city, county, or state licensed as an EMT, check with that licensing agency perspective rules on renewal material that includes the new material for your licensure level. Also keep in mind costs. Attempt to talk with local emergency responders in getting into a refresher or transition course with them versus taking it from a for-profit institution. That way you could save money, educate them about wildland fire/ems situations, as well networking for a potential career field should you desire.

Below I have listed some additional training/continuing education hour ideas that you may not have thought.

  • 2011 Wildland Fire Refresher video segments: Incident within an Incident-Deer Park review, Beyond Your Limits-Overexertion, and Hazardous Materials
  • Yearly Haz-Mat material
  • Defensive Driving class
  • Incident Command Classes
  • First Aid review classes
  • Practical application time: back-boarding, splinting, CPR, or other related scenario based training
  • Case studies from the Lessons Learned Center of injured Firefighters and having crew discussions about them
  • Case reviews of Facilitated Learning Analysis as it relates to an injured firefighter (Deer Park 2010, Dutch Creek, etc.)
  • Six minutes for Safety discussions of medical related topics that you read or were a part of in a discussion (dehydration, burn injuries, lightning strikes, etc.)
  • IRPG review of medical sections bi-weekly throughout the fire season
  • Magazine articles (WILDFIRE Magazine: Flight Plan; Journal of Emergency Medical Services {JEMS}: Rhabdo; EMS World: Lightning Injuries and Burns)
  • Review the Incident Emergency Medical Subcommitte website for lessons learned articles (www.nwcg.gov/branches/pre/rmc/iems/index.phpl) as well as important updates on policies and procedures. Jan Peterson is also a great contact to have on your list for ideas and help in program development.
  • College medically-related lectures that you watch while at the gym that are shown on the cable channels (I do this alot while running on a treadmill)

Create yourself an Excel spreadsheet and start listing from the time you first acquired you certification or license to present day any material you may have participated in, read, sat through, or performed; you might be surprised by how many hours you may have.

If you have any questions or would like further information, please feel free to call or email me.

Thank you.

Bill Arsenault
Wildland Firefighter/Paramedic

1/19 Accountability

Anybody remember an old ad for a particular chewing gum years ago? "Nine out of ten dentists surveyed said....." How many dentists do you think they really surveyed? 10? 20? How about hundreds until the independent consulting company, who by the way, was paid by the gum company, found the answer they were looking for.

Mr. Visack, Mr. Tidwell and Mr. Moore, wouldn't it be easier just to come out and tell us what you would like this agency to be?

"Open and candid"? How about stop wasting ours and the tax's payer's time, money and energy on another consulting agency or focus groups in hope of finding the answer you're looking for?

How about ACCOUNTABILITY? It's free and can be used anytime day or night. Holding us and you, as employees and management accountable is the answer you should be looking for. If you want high performance, then hire it, if you want value, retain it, if you want safety, pay for it and if you are seeking the best possible candidates to "be as efficient and effective as possible in providing the best service to the American people," then hold them accountable. If not, then fire it.

We need leadership at the top, not another consulting company telling us what's wrong with us. We already know what's wrong and I believe you do as well.


1/19 site down


from my handheld in OR

1/19 I support the internet black-out of the Hotlist and other websites to protest legislation that will limit
free speech of the www, and I vote!

1/19 No activity yesterday due to the "blackout". The Abs.

For the last 24 hours we have been "dark" as have many other websites. If you visited or logged on to the hotlist, this is what you saw.

As a show of support in protesting the proposed SOPA and PIPA legislation, the WLF Hotlist Forums are blacked-out. We encourage our audience to contact their representatives today and let them know the current proposals are NOT the correct answer.

This is the first time in over 14 years we will be offline for more than a few minutes. We take this issue very seriously. Here is a link to one Washington Post article explaining the bills. Google can provide many thousands more.

If you do not know what is at stake and the unintended consequences of passage of these two bills, please review the legislation and the points relating to it.

Wikipedia has a very nice explanation of the SOPA/PIPA issue:


1/17 More interviews coming our way... noname

Date:January 12, 2012
Route To: (All Employees)
Subject: Diversity & Inclusiveness
To: All Employees

Over the last year or so, the National Leadership Council (NLC) has embarked on a very important effort to create a future of diversity and inclusion in the agency. We have had substantive dialogue, shared some deep feelings, and have discovered that, as a Leadership Council, we need to dig deeper to crystallize and express what we are trying to do.

As we have been discovering in the Safety Journey, we believe it is necessary to conduct a transformational process that engages many people in diagnosing the changes that are needed, and taking shared responsibility to shift practices on the ground.

In the coming months, the NLC will conduct group sessions and individual interviews in conjunction the Dialogos. Dialogos is a consulting company that specializes in this arena and also hosted our Safety Journey diagnostic efforts. The intent of the sessions and interviews is to gather input from employees and leadership and get their perspective on diversity and inclusiveness. I believe such information will provide us with better information so that we can more effectively address employee concerns and develop a workable path forward.

I ask those employees who have the chance to participate in this very important effort to be open and honest in your responses. The information gathered from these sessions and interviews will be kept confidential and no names will be attributed to any comments made. Prior to these sessions and interviews, Regions, Stations, Areas and the Washington Office will be provided more detail on how these efforts will be carried out.

Each of us has a role in creating an inclusive and high performing organization, by small acts of support of others, taking opportunities to learn, and doing the best that you can do.

Thank you for participating in this effort.

/s/ Mary Wagner (for)
1/17 From the Boss...


Dear USDA Employees,

Today, the President announced his plan to ask Congress for the fast track authority to propose reorganization or consolidation of certain functions in agencies of government. As we are doing here at USDA with our Administrative Services Project, the goal is to be as efficient and effective as possible in providing the best service to the American people. He suggested a good place to start this discussion would be in the area of job and business development.

As the President has said repeatedly, federal employees provide enormous service to the American people, day-in and day-out. But there is not a federal agency that can’t be better or smarter in accomplishing its mission. That's why this consolidation authority is so critical. Many of the structures in place right now are outmoded and outdated. That is why the President wants the Congress to restore this important executive authority.

The President's proposal to restore this authority requires Congressional approval and that will not happen overnight. Any proposal for consolidation with will occur only after close and thoughtful consultation with the Cabinet, Congress, outside stakeholders, and federal employees.

As this process moves forward, we will continue to provide you with updates.

Yesterday, in a meeting with the President, he conveyed that he could not be prouder of the hard work being done here by our employees. I share that sentiment, and thank you for the hard work and dedication that you put forward each day for the American people.

Thank you,

Tom Vilsack

1/17 Passing of Bob Coldern,

I just wanted to pass along a request from Bob's family. Bob retired from Long Beach FD, however was a member of USFS before his time with LBFD. On Sunday, his family contacted one of our stations here in RRU looking for some people they wanted to contact. The firefighters they spoke with contacted me yesterday.

He passed away the other day and the family is looking for some people that Bob used to work with in the USFS/BDF. They contacted us to see if they were employed or retired from CDF also, as well as if we know how to get anyway to contact there people.

They are looking for a "Mckenna" and a "Dan Wills" who Bob had talked about over the years.

If anyone worked with Bob at BDF (30 plus years ago), his services are this Friday in LB and they can email Ab for a phone number. Hopefully we can find a "Mckenna" and a "Dan Wills".



Condolences. Ab.

1/17 Fire Work Environment Focus Group

Let me guess. It shall be called FWEFG (fweefig)! Hooray, another group to figure out what's wrong.

35 years ago, the outfit hired and developed real leaders. They hired the best qualified individuals, strong backs and strong minds, and it didn't matter what tree they fell out of at birth. The ones that didn't cut it were released. They preached safety, safety, and more safety. They went out there and busted their rear ends in all areas of the fire environment. It's a simple formula that's turned into a social engineering nightmare! What in the heck are they looking for? Just go out, hire the right people for the job, train them, and put the fire out in a safe and timely manner. Case closed.

Off soapbox too...


1/17 Good Morning Ab!

Thanks for the site, I’ve been checking it often for several years now.

On the hotlist thread “Use of Stickers and Inspection of Hardhats” ( www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=13146), there was discussion about hardhats with metal chinstrap parts not meeting ANSI requirements.

I am purchasing a new Bullard hardhat, and Bullard’s website lists both NFPA and ANSI compliance certificates. Here is the link:

Main downloads page: www.bullard.com/V3/resources/downloads/fire_and_rescue_helmets_dwnlds.php

Certificates of conformance links:

FH911C NFPA 1977-2005: http://apps.bullard.com/files/FH_WILDFIREF911C_CERTIFICATE_AM_EN_LOW_0000.pdf

FH911C ANSI Z89-2011: http://apps.bullard.com/files/FH_FH911C_CERTIFICATE_AM_EN_LOW_0000.pdf

FH911H NFPA 1977-2005: http://apps.bullard.com/files/FH_WILDFIREF911H_CERTIFICATE_AM_EN_LOW_0000.pdf

FH911H ANSI Z89-2011: http://apps.bullard.com/files/FH_FH911H_CERTIFICATE_AM_EN_LOW_0000.pdf

Thought I’d pass this on in case it may be of use to any of the folks out there.

Have a great day!


1/17 In case you hadn't seen this yet.

Aero Union is appealing the cancellation of their air tanker contract


1/17 Re: Jimmy D and his Moccasins…

I looked at the link….whew are those pricy and really ugly!!! I've sworn by Wesco Lace to Toe's for 20 years. They break in easy, are a sturdy comfortable standup (rebuildable) boot. I've been fortunate enough several times to find my size on the factory seconds website and got them at a huge discount for nothing more than a scuff in the leather, or a cockeyed eyelet!!

Give it a click, maybe you'll find your size too. Even if you don't Jobmasters are $404 and worth every penny!


Wesco Girl

1/17 Hey AB,

Time to get new boots, after 15 years in Nicks. I want to try something different. Has anybody tried Russell Moccasin boots. Russell suggested this one with the Vibram sole:

Russell boots


Jimmy D

1/17 OOFG,

Now that you're off the box, let me on.

  • One foot in, one out (what happened?)
  • Trenches on every piece of line without any rolling material
  • Line "supervisors" that never get dust on their hush puppies
  • Experience has become over-rated
  • What happened to "Night Ops"?
  • Scouting?
  • Why are most control lines wider than "wide enough"? Maybe because the books conflict with each other.
  • Ridges and flanks, I know we control most fires here, but why is every ridge scraped clean with few true "safety zones"?
  • The answer isn't air power, air power and more air. We need to revisit the meaning of coordinated attack.
  • When I was a boot, grabbing a hand tool off the rig and cutting line was expected, what happened?
  • Water management, they act like they are hooked up to a hydrant.

Sorry for the shotgun blast but we all know that there is not an app for putting out wildland fires, every year we have to return to the fundamentals. Those that have gone before us taught us well how to do the job: keep training and always return to the fundamentals. And then next year bitch a little, whine a little, point fingers a little, maybe even cry a little, than return to the fundamentals.

Sent from my iPad

1/16 Blue Sheet on an AT drop on a firefighter at a vegetation fire on Apple Tree Lane on RUU.


1/16 Hi All.

I've been working on Always Remember, last week with some old friends Mike and Becky who remembered a young guy Ron Whitmire who had died in an engine rollover in 1980 on the Willamette NF in OR. It was satisfying to work as a team with them and John Miller from the FS Heroes Memorial to get the information and the Lessons Learned on the pages in memory of Ron.

Always Remember 1980 09/04 OR Ronald Whitmire

Over the past three days I've been entering data on the fatalities -- other than fed -- that are represented on the USFA Memorial Database and I came across one from 2001 that gave me a feeling of déjà vu all over again, young guy, mountain road, no brakes, excessive speed on his "Tanker" (tender or engine) and rollover and he died. And..."the rear brakes were out of adjustment."

Always Remember 2001 11/09 WV Clifford White, Jr

So let me ask, do all firefighters now bleed off the brakes? Is this common knowledge with a heads up to new drivers be they fed firefighters or from a small local fire department? I haven't posted 2002-2010 non-fed Always Remember, but am I going to find more of these?

Sharing info -- might be a life saver. In memory of Ron... and Cliff...


1/16 Hopefully someone in Washington will catch wind of the disaster that's going on in the F.S. and combine all FIRE portions of the agencies F.S, BLM, NPS, FWS, BIA into one. With this combination, talk about savings to the tax payer, run by Fire Managers, morale would skyrocket, retention losses would slow.

Why do they always miss us? www.federaltimes.com/article/20120113/AGENCY04/201130307/1055/AGENCY

Dreaming Woodchuck

1/16 The last entry to They Said on the 15th, the comment on the organization structure was RIGHT ON! I have a suggestion! Based on, a 30+ year career in Fire Mgmt, in two regions, five Natl. Forests, six R-Ds, and details in two ROs -- through all the chairs from Engine Grunt, to FCOs & AFMO -- creating by mandate a DIVERSE organization as a primary requirement in a Fire Management organization is a misguided suggestion, to say the least. What are we tryin to build here?

I wholly agree with a qualified, skilled, trained, competent, experienced and talented fire organization, as demonstrated in actual training and demonstrated performance. I think anything else, is to put people in a dangerous situation! For what? Diversity?

Another thing, while I am on this soap box, INDIRECT ATTACK on a going fire, or initial attack, or any fire for that matter, is dangerous business! I have been trained, ONE FOOT IN THE BURN, is the safest plan! All indirect attack just makes for more acreage, and is not the safest method in the long run.

I will now step off the soap box.

Old, old, fire guy

1/15 Fire Work Environment Focus Groups

* "A number of concerns have been raised by our Fire personnel",
This is the where the "Open and Candid" should have started. What
concerns, and by who?

* " Creating a diverse, inclusive and high performance
organization", what about qualified, skilled, trained, competent,
experienced and talented?

* "I believe and consider Fire Management to be high
performance" Then this just leaves diverse and inclusive, right?

* "Each group will consist of 20 people", So 20 X 10 = 200 not
including the HR, Union Rep's and Civil Rights folks. What about
travel caps? I thought we were broke.

* "These sessions will provide an opportunity for employees to
engage in open and candid discussions" Really? with a purpose to
implement "Business practices" with an "End state so we feel
valued, productive, safe and have an opportunity for
personnel growth"? But I thought the first paragraph stated
"Concerns about our work environment"

Just a final "Note to self" R-5, next time you write something like this up, NEVER include "Open and candid discussions" in the same paragraph with "Recorded by a stenographer", I know, we are just dirt throwing, water hauling Wildland Fire Fighters, but we are way smarter then that.


1/14 Poison Oak,

I have always suggested doing this when helping out people with their apps. Once a forest has received their referral list, and you have applied to that forest and qualified, your name will be on that list and it won't hurt you to go into your app and change locations to other areas. You will not be disqualified. Just make sure that the referral lists are in the hands of the folks doing the hiring before you switch.

It seems like the forests of No Calif do their hiring earlier than So Calif. We are in Central Calif and our forest is looking to do our temp fire hire mid Feb which means the lists will be requested early Feb. I hope this helps out. Good luck!


Thanks, Lori! Ab.

1/14 Here is a question for those who have done the avue hiring for a while...

Once my application has been pulled for a certain location, can I go back and take that location off my list of 9, and apply for another location? Or will this disqualify me further down the line in the hiring process at the earlier selected location?

Thanks for any info, temp hiring is always stressful, and the process is long, complicated, and never explained fully!

Poison Oak

Thanks Ab for all that you do to keep our community educated and informed!

Maybe someone can answer your question. Ab.

1/13 recorded by a stenographer? Are the transcripts subject to FOIA?
San Jac-son
File Code: 5100
Date: January 11, 2012
Subject: Fire Work Environment Focus Groups
To: All Region 5 Employees

In 2011, a number of concerns were raised with regard to the work environment of our fire personnel. In response to what we were hearing, we created the Fire Work Environment Group with a goal of ensuring an inclusive work environment for all fire employees in the Region.

The Department of Agriculture is undergoing a process to transform the culture of USDA by creating a diverse, inclusive, and high-performance organization. I believe the goals of this effort in Region 5 are consistent with this transformation and I certainly consider fire management to be a high performance organization.

I have appointed Willie Thompson, Deputy Director of FAM, as the lead for this group. This group includes a cross section of fire employees, union representation, and advisors from both Civil Rights and Human Resources.

The Fire Work Environment Group is obtaining your input through Focus Group sessions and through a website to help identify challenges within the Fire Work Environment. Eleven (11) Focus Groups were formed to represent all functional areas of our fire organization and line officers. Each Focus Group will consist of 20 people. These sessions will be conducted beginning later this month.

Focus Group members will be contacted via letter through their respective Chair of each group. For those not contacted by means of letter, feedback can be given online using a website set up by the Fire Work Environment Group. The website, http://FGRegion5.wctllc.com/questions.jsp will be made available concurrently with the focus group timeframes. The opportunity to leave feedback is also available for recently retired (within 3 years) Forest Service fire personnel.

Focus Groups to be held at the Wildland Fire Training and Conference Center in Sacramento:

Focus Group Chair Date
Forest Aviation Officers
Daniel Diaz January 24, 2012
0900 - 1100
Hotshots Rick Cowell January 24, 2012
1400 - 1600
Engine Captains
Jimmy Harris January 25, 2012
0900 – 1100
Division Chiefs
Battalion Chiefs
Jeanne Pincha-Tulley January 25, 2012
1400 - 1600
National Apprenticeship Academy-
Roger Caballero January 25, 2012
1830 - 2030
Board of Directors
Assistant Directors
Willie Thompson January 26, 2012
0800 - 1000
Line Officer Team Willie Thompson January 26, 2012
1300 - 1500
California Fuels Committee Shawna Legarza January 31, 2012
0800 - 1000
Elizabeth Barrera
Sharon AllenBrick
January 31, 2012
1300 - 1500
Fire Prevention and Information Stanton Florea February 1, 2012
0900 - 1100

These facilitated sessions will provide an opportunity for employees to engage in open and candid discussions regarding Fire Work Environment issues. The purpose of soliciting this feedback is to design and implement business practices that will result in a more inclusive work environment. The end state we are striving for is that all employees feel valued, productive, safe, and have an opportunity for personal and professional growth. To ensure that all feedback is received, these sessions will be recorded by a stenographer.

I look forward to the report from Deputy Director Thompson and her group which will provide recommendations for actions that can be taken based on your feedback. These results will also be shared with Robin Heard from USDA who has been assisting us in this process.

Lastly, I would personally like to thank each of you in advance for your participation. If you have any questions regarding the Fire Work Environment Group and its mission, please contact Willie Thompson at wrthompson@ nospam fs.fed.us. For logistical and scheduling questions about the focus groups in Sacramento and other ways to provide feedback, please contact Stanton Florea at sflorea@ nospam fs.fed.us.

/s/ Randy Moore
Regional Forester

cc: Sharon D AllenBrick
Jeanne Pincha-Tulley
Shawna Legarza
Kerri M Gilliland
Jim Harris
Robert J Garcia
Rick Cowell
Roger Caballero
Elizabeth Barrera
Daniel R Diaz
Lois Lawson
Stephen Deep
Stanton Florea
Willie R Thompson

1/13 Havilah fire


Tell Mellie -In regards to the Havilah Fire it was on the Havilah Bodfish Rd South of Breckenridge Road Jack Lee's SQF Team was on it. Chuck Watkins died in the crash of the lead plane (about a ½ mile in front of me and an LPF engine crew). Gary Cardoza was in the dozer that rolled and got pretty banged up. I think the fire was over a thousand acres and can’t remember the year. There is a plaque overlooking the fire near where Chuck died, placed in his memory by the Greenhorn RD. I don’t know what condition it is in or if anyone still knows where it is.


Anyone know if the plaque's still there?

1/13 Hey Casey....

I may attempt a (serious, stay tuned) run for the office of President of the United Stares in 2016. Want to help?

While the pool itself may have been a harmless waste of time for those who should be doing more constructive things, I do take a bit of offense to the concept. How about a pool to bet which Senator or Congressman will take the next bullet to the head? Somehow, I don't think they're laughing right now!

All said and done, I realize the 2011 fire season brought its own unique challenges and issues, however, betting on the next acreage burned or the next LODD is entirely out of line. If they have THAT much free time, give them Nomex coveralls and hand tools. I'm sure there is work available suited to fit their inflated paychecks and egos.

Tom Janney
1/13 Offrice Pool

Thicker Skin:

Your entitled to your own opinion!

I think what is frustrating, is that there are more fruitful, respectful and honorable ways for them to bring these issues into the public spotlight. I don't like that this is such a joke to them that they are betting hats on the outcome of people's well beings, the public or the folks that serve!

I can honestly admit that neither I, nor any of my colleagues have ever thought of having an office pool to see how many Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee members would step down. Maybe its time!

Casey Judd is right on target! If it is broken, lets fix it and not sit on our laurels complaining about it, especially if you hold an elected office that is capable of making such changes in direction. While i agree that i don't think their intention was to hurt anyone, it did!

THANK YOU to Lynnette Hamm for having the courage to stand up for us! Your example is one we can all follow!

Signed: Should have Known Better!

1/13 thicker -

I suspect you may not have read the Grist.Org article as one of the tie breakers was betting on the number of airtanker crashes, which I do believe qualifies as deaths as nobody has walked away from one in a decade or two.

You might also want to read the link to today's Boise paper as well, it is a front page story. Caleb's Hamm's father was quoted in the article “It’s really a bad joke to us.” having lost his son on a wildfire last summer....



1/13 Wow, we sure are a sensitive bunch these days. I wasn't angered at all about the office pool. Assuming the rumors about
the pool including fatality numbers are false I really see no harm in it. Sounds like a great way to get these numbers out to
people who might otherwise not care.

-thicker skin

1/13 socal IA:

Brush fire off Panorama (Hwy 18) near Crestline CA, burning since 2330 last night when a car crashed and started the fire. With Santa Ana winds, firefighters are hitting this hard. It's burning in the Same area as the Panorama Fire of 1980 that burned 23,000 acres and destroyed 280 homes. Luckily no fatalities then, but clearly a reminder of the danger to life as well as resources and property. Be safe. Ab.

Hotlist thread: CA-BDF-18 IA and Questions: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/forumdisplay.php?f=18

1/12 Sorry, one more word on all this office pool stuff:

One of my many character flaws is my passion and the fact that I am very sensitive to the issues facing our federal wildland firefighters. I have been "working the Hill" for nearly 18 years and have learned a thing or two. Some may feel that the issue of the office pool is a "non-issue" and that because of the efforts by Mr. Gladics to work with the FWFSA, and I'm sure NFFE to understand the issues and get them before his bosses (in recent years both Sen.s Domenici of New Mexico and now Sen. Murkowski of Alaska) nothing should be made of it.

Sure, addressing the issue could have led to an alienation by Mr Gladics towards the FWFSA. However, the rapport I believe I have established with him transcends this "pool" issue. As the saying goes, "politics makes strange bedfellows." What will carry us through this issue is that everything the FWFSA has taken to Mr. Gladics, the committee as a whole and Congress as a whole is on point. It has been validated by those on both sides of the political aisle, the GAOs of both Republican & Democratic Administrations as well as the Forest Service OIG.

Furthermore lets face it, the federal workforce is unfairly under attack in Congress. If it takes responding to the office pool to get some press, get some face time, some committee time and get some of the issues facing our firefighters understood and fixed, than so be it.

1/12 2nd Annual Shawn and Tom Firefighter Memorial Run

This coming Saturday marks 1 year since Shawn Price, former engine Captain of the Lava Beds National Monument, lost his battle with cancer. Shortly after we lost Shawn, we began collaborating on a way to memorialize Shawn, as well as Thomas Marovich Jr., our beloved friend and apprentice from the Big Valley Ranger District-MDF, who died during a tragic rappel accident in July of 2009. The result of this collaboration was the first annual Shawn and Tom Firefighter Memorial 5k/10k Run which was a huge success with the help of several great individuals. The race was held at the Lava Beds National Monument on May 21 with 118 registrants, and approx. 90 actual runners and walkers. Proceeds from the event were given to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in Shawn and Tom's memory.

We are excited to announce that we are underway planning our 2nd annual 5k/10k event, and again all proceeds will benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. This year's race will occur Saturday, May 19, 2012, and will be held at or near Lava Beds National Monument.

We are currently soliciting volunteers for the planning committee (looking for 8-10 people) and folks to help out race day.

We are also looking for sponsors for the event - by sponsoring the event you or your organization, crew, or company can have your name and/or logo printed on the race t-shirt, banner, and other display items. A draft of the sponsorship form will be circulated soon. If you are interested in assisting the Committee and/or on race day or becoming a sponsor, please feel free to contact Erin Stanley at estanley@ nospam fs.fed.us . Also, please pass this note along to anyone you think may be interested in assisting the Committee or helping out on race day or becoming a sponsor.

If you have any feedback on ways to improve on last year's event, please share that as well.

We will soon begin posting periodic updates on the Shawn and Tom Firefighter Memorial Run Facebook page, so please visit us on Facebook and "like" us.


Thanks Erin. Ab.

1/12 Casey gets traction in the media


WashingtonDC - Congressional wildfire 'office pool' angers firefighters

Washington Post

Tens of thousands of firefighters employed by the federal government battled flames last year that scorched more than 8 million acres and caused millions of dollars in damage. And what were the Capitol Hill staffers responsible for their ...


1/12 Follow up to "office pool" gate:

I spoke with the Republican Staff Director for the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee this morning as well as Mr. O'Keefe of the Washington Post.

The Staff Director assured me that the "office pool" would no longer take place and it was born out of Mr. Gladics' frustration with the Forest Service and the management of its fire program. I reiterated that no one is more frustrated than the Agency's own firefighters and perhaps it a better use of time in the Senate to work with us to effect positive change for our firefighters and taxpayers to which the Director agreed.

He indicated they will work to ensure the FWFSA is a viable participant in any upcoming hearings on Agency fire preparedness. Obviously more to follow.

Casey Judd
1/11 To all:

While not wanting to make a mountain out of a molehill, I wanted folks to know I received a call from the Republican Staff Director of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources committee today in response to our letter to Senator Murkowski about the "office pool" I faxed this morning (yesterday). Also received the following from Sen. Wyden's (Oregon) staff:

Thanks Casey. I completely understand your dismay. Thank you for sharing the letter and for the suggestion about testifying. Agreed as to the obvious better way to educate folks.

Although I missed the call, I will be contacting the Director tomorrow (today). He has also indicated we will hear from the Senator. Our ultimate goal is to ensure the firefighter's voice is heard. While I've had the honor & pleasure of appearing before the Committee in recent years as well as providing written testimony, perhaps an appearance by the FWFSA on the heels of this "incident" will cause some on the committee to actually follow up on some of their own commentary as it relates to the land management agency fire programs which mirrors the FWFSA's concerns, and they will actually take some action.


1/11 Abs, While perusing your site I punched on Texas Fire Acronyms, with Texas not being underlined…what gives? Does Texas
have their own list? I realize your not supposed to "Mess with Texas, " but just can't help myself. When poorer, younger and dumber, I spent 64 days dozerbossing there ('98)…Seems they have endless fire seasons these days so humor at their expense would be in bad taste.


No humor. One list. I took the "Texas" off Fire Acronyms. In the height of the Texas fires I was getting questions daily asking what this or that collection of capital letters meant. I added Texas to the Fire Acronyms so lots of people who were asking would know to go there to look. Ab.

1/10 Some serious hiring going on in R-4 Forest Service, excellent opportunities.


Too bad R-5 Forest Service has shut down GS 6-9 hiring for 2012. Anyone know why?

So Cal Ridges

1/10 from Letterman

Date: January 9, 2012
Route To: (5100), (6130), (6150)
Subject: New GS-0301 National Standard Position Descriptions for Key Fire and Aviation Management Positions
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Directors

In 2011, Fire and Aviation Management (FAM) and Human Resource Management (HRM) convened a series of meetings with subject matter experts from the field to develop national standard position descriptions (NSPD) for seven FAM positions at the GS-12 and GS-13 target grade levels.

As mentioned in Chief Tidwell’s memo dated July 8, 2011, Occupational Series for Fire Management Positions, these NSPDs are the first of many FAM managerial positions that are to be transitioned to the GS-0301 Administrative/Managerial occupational series. In October 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the following GS- 0301 NSPDs for special retirement coverage under Title 5, U.S.C. sections 8336(c) and 8412(d):

FS2112/FS2113, Forest FMO-High Complexity (GS-0301-12/13)
FS2114/FS2110, Forest FMO-High Complexity (GS-0301-11/12)
FS2115/FS2111, Forest FMO-Moderate Complexity (GS-0301-11/12)
FS2108/FS2109, Forest (Deputy) AFMO-High Complexity (GS-0301-11/12)
FS2116/FS2117, GACC Center Manager (GS-0301-12/13)
FS2106/FS2107, GACC Deputy Center Manager (GS-0301-11/12)
FS2118/FS2105, Smokejumper Base Manager (GS-0301-11/12) *

*The Smokejumper Base Manager GS-0301-11/12 NSPDs (FS2118/FS2105) are on hold pending resolution of the medical requirements. Notification will be sent to the field when the NSPDs are ready for implementation.

Filling Vacancies:

Open Continuous Recruitment (OCR) announcements will be advertised beginning in January 2012 using the above-listed GS-0301 NSPDs. Previous position descriptions in the GS-0462 or GS-0401 occupational series for the above-listed positions are obsolete and will be abolished. In the meantime, details and non-competitive temporary promotions (NTE 120 days) can be used pending advertisement of the permanent GS-0301 positions.

When the OCRs for the above positions are advertised, requests for referral lists may be submitted; however, the referral lists cannot be generated from the OCRs until they have been opened for 10 calendar days (per the Merit Promotion Plan). Hiring units may request referral lists at the lower grade level (with non-competitive promotion to the target grade level) or at the target grade level only. As a reminder, all applicants must meet the basic qualification requirement of 90 days of primary/rigorous firefighting (or equivalent experience outside federal employment) for these positions.

Reassigning GS-0462 or GS-0401 Incumbents to the GS-0301 NSPDs:

Employees now in the GS-0462 or GS-0401 series occupying one of the above-listed seven positions will be required to be reassigned into the applicable GS-0301 NSPD position. This will be accomplished through a non-competitive reassignment and employees will not be required to submit resumes. Non-competitive promotions are not authorized through this process.

The National Fire Employment Team will complete the reassignment actions on a Region by Region basis for all affected incumbents after verification by the appropriate Line Officer and Regional Fire Director. HRM will provide a report of all FAM employees at the GS-0401 or GS-0462-11, 12, or 13 grade levels in the positions listed above, to assist with the determination. If the incumbent is in a career ladder and has not yet met the target grade, he/she may be reassigned to the same grade in the GS-0301 series with non-competitive promotion potential to the target grade level as usual when all qualification requirements are met. Processing the reassignments will begin in January 2012.

For information on the GS-0301 project, please visit the below website: http://fsweb.wo.fs.fed.us/fire/fam/301/index.php (FS internal web).

If you have any questions, please contact Tom Harbour at tharbour@ nospace fs.fed.us , or Roy Roosevelt at rroosevelt@ nospace fs.fed.us.

/s/ James E. Hubbard
Deputy Chief, S&PF
/s/ J. Lenise Lago
Deputy Chief, Business Operations

cc: pdl wo ops asc hrm fire employment team all, pdl wo ops asc hrm hros, pdl wo lot, pdl wo spf fam regional fire directors, Wm C Waterbury, Jill McCurdy, Evans Kuo, Erin Newman, Diana Ganley, Cynthia Counts, Cathy Grossman, Florence Pruitt, Ernest Garcia, Mark Davis, Lisa Renken

1/10 The NJ State Forestry Services is currently looking to fill the vacant Chief, Bureau of Forest Management position. The Bureau Chief will report directly to the State Forester, providing leadership to the NJ Forest Service concerning the planning, coordination and implementation of programs vital to the health of New Jersey’s forests. Attached is the Civil Service Commission job announcement
(72 K pdf).


1/9 While you're at it, you might want to ask those elected officials what's the plan for federal wildland firefighting capability if the January 2013 automatic budget cuts go into effect?

Like to hear that answer.

1/9 RS,

Thanks for your post. For those of you in Oregon (Sen. Wyden) , Colorado (Sen. Udal) , Idaho (Sen. Risch) , the FWFSA has staff contacts that you may feel free to contact directly. Although our staff contacts may not be the actual Energy & Natural Resources Committee staff for those Senators, they are intimately aware of the issues presented by the FWFSA. If you would like their contact info, please email me at cjudd@fwfsa.org . Additional press releases will also be going out this week.

Further, I would encourage everyone, especially those in New Mexico, to fax committee chairman Bingaman (202-224-2852) with your thoughts on this issue and to suggest that a better way to educate eastern committee members and their staff on agency fire program issues is to once again invite the FWFSA to appear before the committee during its annual agency wildfire preparedness hearings.

Also for those brave enough, Mr. Gladics' email address is: frank_gladics@energy.senate.gov .

Please note there is an "underscore" between frank and gladics you may not be able to see.

Casey Judd
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
1/9 You can express your displeasure on Mr Frank Gladics' firefighter fatality and acres burned office pool directly to the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Members by using this link to their comment page. I would suggest Full Committee on the pull down address bar. http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.Home

I do not believe that list includes the sub-committee's, (see menu on left), for Public Lands and Forests, Energy and National Parks which have the direct oversight of the Forest Service and DOI Bureaus, so you would have to send those Senators messages separately, well worth the time however.

Also a copy of the Grist.Org story has been forwarded to Mr. Ed O'Keefe, Federal Page Editor for the Washington Post. His link is http://projects.washingtonpost.com/staff/email/ed+o'keefe/ if you want to send a comment.


1/9 Seeking "Mom Almost Forgets Baby" video for training

Hey Ab,

Is been a while since I have posted (lingering plenty), but I need the community's assistance in tracking down a video for a training I am working on.

I saw the video the first time at the WFAP in 2002- it was a quick clip for a wildfire in the West Hills of California in which a lady was being evacuated when she realizes she forgot her baby inside the house as she was about to get into her car. The video was probably from the mid-90's, very chaotic setting, hard to tell if it was media footage or home video. If anyone knows where to find this video (it must be on youtube somewhere...) and could send it my way or post it on the board for everyone it would be much appreciated.

Thank Ab!


1/9 Does anyone know what is going on with Refresher Training for 2012. What is the direction and what is going to be emphasized and highlighted? Where is the information to be coming from this year?

Thank you.


1/7 Re the Senate staff office pool:

To say I was disheartened to read that of all people, Frank Gladics of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee and who works for Sen. Murkowski of Alaska was behind this, is an understatement.

The FWFSA has worked tirelessly with Frank (ironically a former wildland firefighter) for 6 or 7 years to establish our credibility with that committee. He has a very rough, gruff exterior that seemed impenetrable for years but I felt that we were making progress. In fact he has relied on our information over that of the Agency and even wrote a very "on-point" paper entitled An Examination of the Forest Service, its Challenges, budgets and Performance Trends several years ago.

His response to our inquiry about this will be interesting.

Casey Judd
1/7 Ab,

The Northern California Chapter of the FWFSA is hosting a golf scramble, April 20th in Anderson, CA. This is open to anyone who may want to pick up a set of clubs and support the FWFSA, or just come enjoy some golf with the wildland fire community. See the attached flyer for details and contact information.



FWFSA Golf Scramble (320 K pdf)

1/6 Wallow Fire Fuel Treatment Effectiveness on Fort Apache Indian Reservation

Jim Erickson shared this excellent report as an example of an immediate success from the perspective of resilient landscapes and the Wallow Fire last year…great write up, easy read and I ask that you please share with your mailing lists.. thanks…

Joe Stutler
County Forester
Bend, OR

1/6 We got one question behind the scenes about the outreach announcements website being down:

We heard that there was an R5 Outreach database security breach this morning and that the site was blocked as they thoroughly cleaned the site. Unknown when that would be complete. Ab.

Part of a message making the rounds:

HR, CR and admin employees who are trying to post outreach notices, will be the most impacted group of people. They will get error message if they try to access this database. Please pass this message along to those employees so they will know why they are getting an error message.


Jayne Handley
Director, Information Management
US Forest Service

1/6 From Hickman:

U.S. Fire Administration Announces 2011 On-Duty Firefighter Fatalities
January 3, 2012 (press release)

EMMITSBURG, MD — The United States Fire Administration (USFA) announced today there were 81 on-duty firefighter fatalities in the United States as a result of incidents that occurred in 2011. This represents an almost seven percent decrease from the 87 fatalities reported for 2010. The 81 fatalities occurred in 33 states, one U.S. territory, and one overseas U.S. military facility. Texas experienced the highest number of fatalities (seven). North Carolina experienced six firefighter deaths and was the only other state with five or more firefighter fatalities.

“In 2004 at the initial Life Safety Summit, a number of fire service leaders did not believe we would complete a calendar year with less than 100 firefighter on-duty deaths,” U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell said. "We broke through that perceived barrier in 2009, 2010, and now in 2011! We salute and congratulate our fire service family and pledge to continue working closely with the entire fire service community and its partners to maintain and even accelerate this downward trend in on-duty firefighter deaths.”

Heart attacks were responsible for the deaths of 48 firefighters (59%) in 2011, nearly the same proportion of firefighter deaths from heart attack or stroke (60%) in 2010. Ten on-duty firefighters died in association with wildland fires, the lowest number of annual firefighter deaths associated with wildland fires since 1996. Fifty-four percent of all firefighter fatalities occurred while performing emergency duties. Only three firefighters were killed in vehicle collisions.

2011 firefighter fatality statistics are provisional and may change as the USFA contacts State Fire Marshals to verify the names of firefighters reported to have died on duty during 2011. The final number of firefighter fatalities will be reported in USFA's annual firefighter fatality report, expected to be available by July 2012.


1/6 New document(s) submitted to WildFireLessons.Net in the past 24 hours:

Title: SQF Chainsaw Incident FLA
To view this document, click here:
http://wildfirelessons.net/documents/SQF_Chainsaw_FLA.pdf (1,000 K pdf)

Title: Wallow Fire Fuel Treatment Effectiveness on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation
To view this document, click here:
http://wildfirelessons.net/documents/Wallow_FTA_FTE.pdf (2,770 K pdf)
1/6 Here's a table you could send the congressional staffers. It's easy to joke or wager on numbers.
Send them a link to Always Remember and tell them to sort by Cause on Aircraft Accidents and to read some of the HUMAN stories...

Simply spreadsheet numbers, here's a very recent summary:

Forest Service Aviation Accident History: 1961-2011

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2012/safe/fs-aviation-accident-fatality-history-1961-2011.pdf (48 K pdf)

On a serious note, I'm glad to see there were no aviation fatalities this year.


1/6 Article:
Congressional Staffers Office Pool: Predict Acres Burned & Airtanker Crashes
Grist.org by Sarah Laskow

Wildfires too hot? Jump in the senate office pool

It’s the job of congressional staffers working on energy and natural resources issues to know facts... (annual wildfire stats)

But some of them have a more urgent and perverse interest in this particular statistic: they’re participants in a macabre annual office pool in which they try to predict how many acres of U.S. land will burn in wildfires.

1/5 Ab Note:

Every single email that was not spam ended up in my spam filter today, I don't believe it! even emails from my partner and the mods! I'm trying to solve this on the Ab account. For the next few days, please put a recognizable FIRE or THEYSAID Subject on your message, so I can find it easily in spam! I'll be looking several times daily, I guess.

...mumbling a few obs$cen*t*es... Ab.

1/5 Hi Ab,

The Joint Fire Science Program has launched a revamped website at www.firescience.gov

What I would like your readers to focus on is the Extreme Fire Behavior Synthesis for Managers publication.

This is the state-of-the-knowledge on fire behavior and I hope every firefighter downloads a copy.

We will be sending a copy to each hotshot crew and units in all the agencies.

I believe we will have a method of requesting a personal copy as well through our blog: On Fire. If that doesn’t work people can request one by emailing me direct.

I have included other important information from Wilson and Gleason (taken from your website thank you) along with historical reports from Inaja and Loop which certainly influenced my life.

All month long we will add more information and I hope our work meets with approval.

Another fire behavior volume will come out probably in the summer or fall with even more information.

I hope this spurs an acceleration of fire behavior education and training. I very much appreciate your work and forum and wish you all the best…


1/5 The current Forest Service Fire announcements that open are listed at:

http://fsweb.asc.fs.fed.us/HRM/employment/Open_Continuous_Recruitments.php (internal FS web)

(That website is only for internal Forest Service personnel. I will see if Fire & Aviation will post this spreadsheet on their website so that any applicant can find this information. Stay tuned.)

New ones will be added weekly as they are opened.

Please make sure that if the position is in IFPM, that you attached your IQCS record. HR cannot accept Red Cards to verify your qualifications for IFPM.

USDA Forest Service
ASC-Human Resource Management

1/5 DEMO

Just in case someone was looking for the OCR for District or Zone FMOs, they didn't develop those announcement numbers and they are issuing them individually when the jobs open. I called ASC and they said that they didn't receive enough requests for those positions last year so this year they are doing them individually. Truthfully, it doesn't make much sense to me but it's an ASC thing.


1/5 AB
Another great firefighter has crossed over -- Dave Jandts FMO Tanana Zone Alaska Fire Service (retired)

David Russell Jandt (1959-2011)

David Russell Jandt, 52, passed away at his home in Enterprise, Ore., on Christmas Eve 2011.

He was born Sept. 10, 1959, in Bozeman, Mont., to Russell L. Jandt and Helen A. Smith Jandt.

He graduated in 1977 from Bozeman Senior High School where he played football and baseball (Bozeman Bucks). He earned his bachelor's degree in forestry in 1985 from the University of Montana, where he also pitched for and managed the U of M baseball club. While in college he worked summers firefighting on the Bitterroot Interagency Hotshots.

He arrived in Fairbanks on New Year's Eve 1986, and liked it so well he spent the next 23 years there. He worked for the Bureau of Land Management, Alaska Fire Service in wildland fire positions until his retirement in 2010, a few months after his diagnosis with brain cancer. While at the Fire Service, he supervised the Midnight Sun Hotshot crew and later the Hotshot Program, retiring as a fire management officer for the Tanana Zone. He was also an incident commander of an Alaska Type 2 Fire Management Team.

He met his wife, Randi Anderson, in Fairbanks, and they married Feb. 14, 1991. They lived an active outdoor life and enjoyed dog mushing, skiing, hiking, horseback riding, volleyball, winter camping and traveling abroad for backpack trips. He continued to play baseball in Fairbanks in the adult recreational league and even pitched against the Alaska Goldpanners and Colorado Silver Bullets, a women's baseball team, during demonstration games at the Midnight Sun Baseball Game in Fairbanks.

His favorite holiday was winter solstice and he enjoyed setting up fireworks for his friends on this occasion. He moved to Enterprise in northeast Oregon in 2010 with his wife and enjoyed spectacular views of the Wallowa Mountains and Zumwalt prairie, riding, hiking, and the company of wonderful new friends and neighbors during his abbreviated retirement.

He was predeceased by his mother, Helen.

David is survived by his wife, Randi Jandt; father, Russell Jandt; siblings, Ramona Smalec (Terry), Lynda Jandt (George Livingston), and Dennis Jandt (Cindy); in-laws, Pat and Jay Anderson, JoDee Anderson (Fernando Seco), and Tony Anderson; nine nieces and nephews, and scores of friends in the firefighting community and around the world.

No service is planned at this time.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Wallowa Valley Health Care Foundation by sending a simple note indicating your donation is in David's memory for the new Residential Care Facility to: WVHCF, P.O. Box 53, Enterprise, OR 97828.
Published in Daily News-Miner on January 1, 2012 Print

Bill Hutto

1/5 Six firefighters were burned over and died in Chile


1/5 Pretty cool video that captures both ground and air working together.

Tri Sax

www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Aey2xbWetg&list=UUxminZH7LcfI1Bx2Sg32qWw&index=1&feature=plcp (607)

Nice. Ab.

1/4 Some interesting articles in

Hotlist Shift Briefing and

International News


1/3 Neptune gets 2012 Contract for BAe 146 Tanker:


New Neptune jet wins interim contract to fight fires.

Read more: http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/update-new-neptune-jet-wins-interim-contract-to-fight-fires/


1/1 Ranger was shot and killed at Mt Ranier:


Be safe out there. Condolences to all. Ab.

1/1 Larry Craggs and Ron Hienbockle Retirements:

My best to both Larry and Ron, both long time Plumas and great folks. Think Ron signed off my crew boss stuff a Kazillion years ago. Retirement's Great guys and I hope you enjoy yours..........

Jim Ott

1/1 Happy New Year, All!

May the next one be better than the last!

I can't help but think of and wish well to

  • those we've lost and their families and crews who feel their loss most acutely.
  • communities who have lost friends or neighbors, homes, trees, crops, their familiar way of life.
  • firefighters who are retiring and moving into a new phase of their lives and taking with them their much-appreciated wisdom. Hopefully they have mentored more than one crew of young blood to carry on behind them.
  • firefighters and their families who are struggling with lack of medical insurance and cost-of-living bills larger than their paychecks.
  • firefighting businesses that have closed down large branches of their operations or gone out of business in the changing financial reality.

But look around you. Your family, your crew, your co-workers... A war we're done with and troops coming home. We're adaptable and resilient.

Count your blessings. Express your appreciation to those around you. Take a moment to reflect on all the good things in your life. Consider lessons learned, not as negatives but as learning necessary for change. Celebrate and focus on the positive. Set achievable goals.

The only thing that's constant is change. We are that change.

I appreciate you all: the work you do, the inspiration you foster. Thanks! and thanks for helping in Texas... in Minnesota... in Florida... in South Dakota, Nevada, Rockies, wherever you were called to help.


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