February, 2012

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2/29 Making the CAL FIRE rounds:

Sent: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 4:36 PM
Subject: CAL FIRE ICT Announcement


Yesterday Chief Pimlott announced to the Unit Chiefs and CAL FIRE Team ICs that CAL FIRE will be making some adjustments to its ICTs. Specifically he said:

  • We will be changing our names to Incident Management Teams in order to be more uniform with NIMS and other organized teams throughout the nation.
  • There is a committee working on steps to allow for a smaller CAL FIRE IMT to be dispatched to incidents, made up of existing members from a CAL FIRE IMT. This would allow us to send a "short team" or "long team" as dictated by the incident, not a roster.
  • We will be moving to statewide teams, not regional teams. His goal is for this to occur in 2013. The committee will also be working out the details on how this will work. Their instructions are to make a plan to ensure that we can transition these IMTs to an incident as quickly as possible, anywhere in the state, using this statewide team.
  • As we will be going to statewide teams, we will reduce the number ofteams to 6, keeping the same one week rotation. While we don't have details at this point, it will not be a matter of simply cutting four existing teams.

Finally, you and I, as well as the rest of the department take great pride in our work on Team 4. There will be some stressful decisions made in the coming months and everyone recognizes this. This was not an easy decision to make, and the Chief thought long and hard about this decision. He and his staff stated that they will remain flexible with all of these decisions through the transition. We will need to do the same.

As we receive additional information, Joe, Mike or I will pass it on.

Thank you,

Eric Hoffmann
West Division Operations
Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit
Incident Commander, Team 4

2/29 Re Retention Pay

I was asked to post this pdf file as info to add to the discussion.

It came from 2005 when California FS Forests and Districts had massive vacancies.

A Full Time Workforce (170 K pdf)

Food for discussion.... Ab.

2/29 Northnight,

I would love nothing more than to take a group of our folks to DC. That being said, it is extremely expensive and I have to look at the effectiveness of doing that versus encouraging our members to let the FWFSA help in setting up district meetings.

A meeting with a member of congress in their district office allows more firefighters from that district, and thus voting constituents, to participate. Since I average 45-50 meetings in a week in DC, any given FWFSA member who went along would find themselves in offices where the member of Congress is not their representative and thus may not be all that focused on what our firefighters have to say.

How do I get away with it you ask? As I've said before, it has taken years to develop some of these relationships and let's face it, there is an understanding in such offices that when a President of a nationwide organization, or its Business Manager or whatever they are called, makes an appointment, there is an understanding that they are coming in to the office representing constituents who are federal wildland firefighters. Often times I have to make appointments with folks who have no federal lands in their districts and thus no federal wildland firefighters and have little understanding of what a wildland firefighter is or that the federal land management agency fire programs are managed in a way that adversely impacts all of their constituents... taxpayers. Many of these folks happen to be on committees that have jurisdiction over many of the issues facing our firefighters, and, in this session of Congress, many are those who believe it politically expedient to attack the federal workforce and have no understanding that their proposals would actually cost taxpayers even more than it does now in providing a federal service or program.

So in my opinion, district meetings are the way to go, although I would really like to take folks back to DC with me. I am hoping that we will get an invitation to appear before the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee for their annual Agency Wildfire Preparedness hearing since we've had the honor of appearing before. That would be the time & place for members to go back. So if you or anyone is interested in that, please contact me as well as if you are interested setting up a district meeting.

FWFSA members in Alaska, Oregon, New Mexico and Idaho should contact their Senators, Murkowski, Wyden, Bingaman and Risch respectively to demand that the FWFSA be invited to testify at such a hearing to ensure the perspective of the firefighters on the ground is heard once again.

Speaking of district meetings, the Rep. Issa meeting has now been pushed back to March 29th at 10:00am so any FWFSA member interested in attending who I have not already contacted, please let me know as seating will be limited.

On an unrelated note, I have heard from Sen. Feinstein's office that while she understood the Forest Service' reasoning that it could not continue to justify the retention bonuses, she was not happy and felt the Agency was just asking for the problem to start again.


2/29 Re WFF donation:

ok I made my 2012 pledge early and bought a lotto ticket (finger crossed)


2/29 Doing fine here, thanks for asking. It was about 50 miles from my area. Several of us have assisted either with our local VFDs or with a state IMT that's working the incident, but doing fine.

2/29 Hickman & ksengb,

You guys OK with the tornadoes in your area?


2/29 Antenna adapter:

Hey all,

I'm looking for a part number and/or source for an adapter to connect a Larsen PHW-150 whip antenna to the power port on a BK handheld.

I'm hoping that's a commercially available part, as our comm tech is out of commission for the foreseeable future.


Skunk Ape

2/29 Cottonwood Firefighter Killed

Condolences to all



Thanks, DG, also here: Hotlist: Shift Briefing Very sad. Feel free to leave condolences on that thread or send them in and I will post them there. Ab.

2/29 Ab request for donations to the WFF:

Right now the WFF is hurting for funds, as are many non-profits. If anyone in our community has any spare change or gets an income tax return, now or sometime this spring would be a good time to kick in a donation. I am. I think I'll also go buy one lottery ticket. We need to make sure our WFF safety net is able to withstand anything that might come along. Ab.

2/29 Eldorado IHC Fundraiser

It’s that time of year again where we ask for everyone’s help to come support our fundraiser and have a good time. Last year’s event around 330 people attended and we sent a check to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation for $7,500. It turned out to be a fun family event with lots of things to eat, drink and win in raffles. It was a success thanks to everyone spreading the word and helping us gather things for the raffle and silent auction. There were a few obstacles last year that we worked around and have planned for this year. We are planning on most everything being the same: raffle, food, drinks, kids entertainment, live music and a good time. Last year was the first and things can only get better this year!

This year we have made an addition to our fundraising efforts, we have added CASA. This stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. This will locally help children who are abused or severely neglected get advocacy during their social services and family court dealings.

We felt we could help out the fire community and share the profits with kids that need us.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is close to our hearts, they have helped us directly several times and we know the need for their services. We also see the need to help the children, they get put through things that no one should ever have to. Someone needs to speak for them and that is what CASA’s do.

We will split the profits 50-50 and our goal for this event is to raise $10,000 for $5,000 each. If you have questions please call myself or the base. If you have items for raffle or silent auction please call. I hope everyone can pass this along and attend. I attached a flyer, one correction is the times, we will start at 11, and go until the beverages are gone.

Please RSVP and buy tickets in advance, this helps us a ton with planning for food.

Go to eldoradohotshots.org for more info and to buy tickets. For more info on CASA look at www.casaeldorado.org and www.wffoundation.org for the foundation.

Thanks and hope to see you there, come have a fun filled afternoon with us.

Aaron Humphrey
Eldorado Hotshots
(530) 644-3588 office
(530) 306-2356 cell

Thanks, Aaron and Eldorado Shots. Good luck, have fun, and I hope you can make some big bucks!

2/29 A different view point on diversity issues.


Is Anaheim Fire Department too white?
Orange County Register

ANAHEIM – The city's Fire Department is envisioning a staff of firefighters more reflective of the cultures and ethnicities found in the city. That means recruiting more women, Latinos, Asian Americans and Arab Americans, among others, to mirror Anaheim's changing demographics, fire Chief Randy Bruegman said. Anaheim's fire force overall is 73 percent white, 18 percent Latino and 6 percent Asian, while the city's population is 52 percent Latino, 30 percent white and 14 percent Asian. Among sworn firefighters, 75 ... (More at link)

2/29 First, thank you for keeping this forum alive and also for respecting the privacy of posters. I would like to support the comments made by Exfed (a retiree proud to have been a wildland firefighter). One of the key factors in my retirement was that the FS has become a “Social Engineering Organization” that was more concerned with “diversity” than with the professionalism and capability of their workforce. At the time of my retirement, I was fairly high up in the ICS as well as a resource professional. Proper management, targets and expectations of the American Public are no longer important.

In my early career, I was involved in a leadership training class that talked about the agency (FS) being the most efficient agency in the Federal Govt. Two of the main reasons for this was focus on mission and decentralization. I think it would be worth reviewing the text books that discussed this. Remember the value of history.

In my early to mid-career, fire was every employees responsibility. Boy has that changed! As I recall, fire support (of some kind) was in everyone’s position description. Try to insert that now into a PD.

My advice to all employees is don’t be afraid to responsibly express your views. Best of luck and be safe!

Please Sign me: Retired-Fed Firefighter and Proud Resource Management Professional.
2/28 I-phone and Memo,

Yep, completely disconnected from the field. All my new hires are stuck in the qualification stage. I cannot even tentatively offer new hires a job until the R.O. approves. My advice: do not submit someone for qualifications as a selectee or alternate that you are not going to hire. Already bad enough that ALBQ needs two months to process a 52 and send out e-forms on a good day. With the RLT sitting on a crop of hires for going on three weeks now, the math is starting to get pretty close to our May start date here.

It is so wonderful that they heard what was being said in their fire work environment sessions. Most of what I heard was give us hiring authority back for Perms so we can hire the right person or thing for the job. Instead we lose hiring rights for temps. We are not the only region, though. Currently only Region 1 and 3 have released hiring authority for rehires. New hires are shut down nation-wide. The only way for us to reach a hiring system that is a true EEO hiring is remove names and any type of identifying information from the hiring process. You will be known as applicant 112 please notify your references of this.

Someone in a Regional Office 150 miles from the nearest National Forest in the highest locality pay in the nation has no clue what diversity is or what it is supposed to be. Though they read a book about it once. Personally, I think we are part of some GS fantastic study to see how far you can push an organization and group of people until it completely collapses and fails.

Mr. Millar,

Your predecessor had problems distinguishing what was in his best interest from what was right. I would hope you do not have the same issue. That you would fight this fight. It’s not like Randy can fire you. We cannot even reprimand and discipline our employees Forest Service wide. So not a whole lot to worry about. By the time the adverse action catches up, you will be retired. The system is broke because of poor leadership and a need to protect personal careers. It is time for you to stand up, protect and make stronger the organization that Q built. Show us you can do that and we will follow you all the way. Actions speak louder than words.


Keep up the good fight. F the small minded, small picture critics. An act of Congress is only two more chains away. If we don’t keep digging, we will never make it there. My thought would be to solicit some people to come to DC with you. I know the budget is small and the Association cannot afford to do that, but I would be willing to pay my way to bend a few ears after having a Lobbying 101 class from you. I’m sure there are several others.


2/28 Paper shuffling employees:

I am trying to figure out who you're talking about when you say the FS has too many paper shuffling employees or less qualified employees. I'm thinking through everyone I know who works for the FS and I can't think of one I would describe that way. Well, I can think of one. He was fired some months ago...

I have written many a letter in my life, held parties for letter writing, made phone calls to DC and locally; in days past I encouraged my students to call their congressional reps, worked to elect people who represent my values.

I think I'll go the voting-out route with respect to the House and Senate, all due respect to Casey's willingness to educate.

Ab, feel free to forward my email to Exfed and anyone else that wants to be political pen pals. We could carry on this conversation behind the scenes. I have an elephantine list of people in Washington DC to share with him that I would write if I thought it would do any good, but primarily I'm working to get people to exercise their right and responsibility to vote in elections coming up.


2/28 I share Nauseas deep concern for the contempt that many law makers have for government workers these days. However, before we talk about “getting rid” of lawmakers who do not share our views we should look at why many lawmakers have this contempt. I believe it is because the federal workforce has been and is being used as a laboratory for social engineering. There are many unnecessary “paper shuffling ” jobs, and jobs filled with less than qualified people in federal service. Many of these jobs were created for political reasons. Rather than spending a lot of energy and creating stress fighting the lawmakers, I would suggest that we spend that energy educating them as Casey is doing. The Forest Service has, since its creation, been one of the most respected and valued agencies in federal service. It has only been since social engineering became the norm that the agency began to lose its way. We all have an opportunity to educate the lawmakers about the value that wildland firefighters have provided in effectively protecting America’s natural resources, and that it is wildland firefighters, trained in many disciplines, who respond when there are disasters of every kind in this country and abroad.

Tell the lawmakers to focus on rebuilding the FS into the agency that it was originally created to be, and then work to get rid of the sycophant administrators who are steering the ship while it is sinking. Write to those in congress and tell them what you do to protect the national forests. Tell them about what wildland firefighters have done and are doing in often dangerous conditions to protect and serve this country. Tell them that the FS once was the premier wildland firefighting agency in the world but through political and mindless administration it has dropped near the bottom of agencies that people would want to work for. Tell them that you want the FS to be an agency of government that is seen, not as just another politically-correct agency, but an agency of men and women willing to answer the alarm in the most effective and efficient manner possible. Tell them that you are willing to stand up and fight to protect this country. Ask them if they are willing to do the same. Ask them to take wildland fire control out of the hands of line officers.

Exfed (a retiree proud to have been a wildland firefighter)

2/28 Memo to: Washington Office, Forest Service FAM.

You continuously claim in your letters and testimony before Congress that R5 California is a 12 month, year round firefighting organization. You say that R5 must be ready to mobilize anytime of year and at any moment, to any disaster. No problem. Just do us a favor, get these Lines Officers, Civil Rights Officers and Admin types out of our way and allow us to hire temporary Firefighters working with our ASC Case Managers. R5 now even has ASC confused.

R5 Line, Civil Rights and Admin need to get out of the way, or go do the freaking hiring themselves.

If you do not act now, you're about to see an implosion, massive amounts of EEO complaints from applicants and a mess on your hands. We have 17 National Forests, hiring 17 different ways with everyone at every level afraid that if they dont hire "correctly" heads will roll.

End of Memo.......
2/28 Nauseas in NOR-CAL Said:

I am simply dumbfounded that in the midst of such turbulent change, the only thing we are talking about is the biggest backfire that occurred 30 years ago.

Casey Judd said:

It is the Agency Line Officers who, in my humble little opinion, have no business managing the fire program or its appropriated dollars.

I cannot agree more with these two statements. We are not far away from the beginning of a significant movement similar in scale as what we did in 2007-2008.

However, I cannot emphasize enough that the facts are clear and simple. Some elected officials hate federal employees and as much as we would like to separate into more of a centralized organizational structure, we will never get away from being federal employees. Some elected officials want 5 years of frozen wages. Some elected officials want to eliminate current pension benefits signed into law by Ronald Reagan. Some elected officials would shutdown this government without blinking an eye. Some elected officials would rather argue about birth control and how to destroy a presidency than reach out and work together. Note to some elected officials - It's 2012 not 1912.

The first step is November 6, 2012. Get rid of the people that hate you. It's that simple. Start now and work, volunteer to get rid of elected officials who hate federal employees. Then and only then will the message be sent and we can stop talking about what's the largest backfire in history and force the debate on how we are organized, respond, paid and supported.

It's simple. We need less Darryl Issa's. etc.

We need more elected officials who think like this:

"I have pledged myself and my colleagues in the cabinet to a continuous encouragement of initiative, responsibility and energy in serving the public interest. Let every public servant know, whether his post is high or low, that a man's rank and reputation in this Administration will be determined by the size of the job he does, and not by the size of his staff, his office or his budget. Let it be clear that this Administration recognizes the value of dissent and daring -- that we greet healthy controversy as the hallmark of healthy change. Let the public service be a proud and lively career. And let every man and woman who works in any area of our national government, in any branch, at any level, be able to say with pride and with honor in future years: 'I served the United States Government in that hour of our nation's need.'"

"Government service must be attractive enough to lure our most talented people. It must be challenging enough to call forth our greatest efforts. It must be interesting enough to retain their services. It must be satisfying enough to inspire single-minded loyalty and dedication. It must be important enough to each individual to call forth reserves of energy and enthusiasm. "During my fourteen years in Congress I have had an opportunity to observe and to admire the high quality of our Career Civil Service. In meeting the grave problems confronting us at home and abroad it is my intention that the Career Civil Service be a full partner. Together we can lead our Nation to new peaks of achievement."

"You, the Federal employee, provide the mind and muscle for carrying out national and international policies, commitments, and programs. You have done exceedingly well, but the days ahead will be more demanding -- and, I hope, richer in the personal satisfactions of high achievement. "Increased productivity can come from an increased sense of purpose. I urge you to seek a fuller understanding of your job in relationship to our total national endeavor. Our country counts on you to meet the special challenge with a special effort." John F. Kennedy

Thank you for voting this November!

Centralize Fire Management - Today, Tomorrow and Forever!

2/27 Model 34 Engines, a Budget drain and Safety issue:

A wildland fire community member emailed me with photos of a number of Engines -- Model 34 -- that have developed cracks in the water tank. Ab asked questions (in bold) about the problem, the fix and the lessons to be learned. His replies are in indented blockquote.

Currently the CAL FIRE Model 34 Engines' tanks are failing. The effects?

When the tank cracks appear the engine begins a slow loss of water externally. It gets to a point that when they reach the fire it may be entirely out of water to suppress the fire.

Why does this happen and how can it be fixed?

The basic problem is that he construction and design are not suitable for this type of Fire Apparatus off-road stress and flex of the materials selected and specified by the State of California.

Photos of the problem and the fix:

The crack on the current Model 34s can be fixed, but how do we eliminate this problem and COST in the future?

The continued exclusion of the major US Fire Apparatus manufacturers using the “Bidder Requirements” as set by the State are unacceptable to that group. None will do more than offer a “Courtesy Bid.” HME is NOT a major manufacturer. They acquired the name “Ahrens-Fox” by a purchase of the name rights. Ahrens-Fox was a long-tenured, well-respected name in the US Fire Apparatus industry. HME is an acronym for Hendrickson Mechanical Equipment which is a lone-tenured US manufacturer of steel products. Their first entry into fire apparatus was as a chassis and cab manufacturer in the 1970’s. Later as they acquired other smaller groups in this industry, they embarked into the field of full size fire apparatus.

Maybe you could briefly fill in the few major points?

First, the use of the Allison automatic transmissions in the late 1950’2 was not a “New idea” on the part of CDF. But rather the General Services purchasers had learned that by using that transmission accompanied by the optional “Retarder” would allow the use of smaller engines, smaller, brakes and smaller power plants which, in the long run, would reduce the state’s costs to maintain a fleet. In 1957 the state bought 100 Medium Duty truck chassis for service with various state agencies (primarily the Division of Highways) and then it went from there.

An example, CDF went from Ford F-800 “Super Duty” chassis with a 340 Cubic Inch Y block, Ford V-8 engine to a F-600 Ford chassis powered by a Ford Y block, 292 Cubic Inch V-8 engine and smaller brake and also a 2,200 lb. less Gross Vehicle Weight rating. The same was true for the GMC, FWD, Dodge, International, Diamond T and Sterling chassis units.

In simple terms, the fire fleet went backwards into smaller brakes, lower weight ratings and smaller power plants. At the same time, the fleet service requirements increased considerably. But those financial numbers are now buried in budget numbers rather than purchase prices, as we see in some reports released to the taxpayers. In essence, we paid less to get less, to spend a lot more, but the figures were never available for viewing.

The entire state owned, Cal Fire operated fleet is 3,300+ vehicles. Right now the very qualified Mobile Equipment Maintenance staff number about 100 state-funded positions which includes the Managers. The actual on-the-ground Technicians who perform those repairs are fewer than 75. That equates to one Technician caring for 44 pieces of apparatus. The Fire Fleet management organizations of many of the larger fire service agencies is about one Technician to fifteen pieces of apparatus. This entire sector of the Cal Fire operation never sees a break, and after reviewing the Ordering Records for the previous major incidents, Cal Fire has participated in the Heavy Equipment Mechanic HEM-I) is the least filled. The mechanical work has to be jobbed out to shops with hourly rates frequently in excess of $135.00/hr. The Mobile Equipment Management “repairs” budget has never been adequate. It is exceeded every year. This isn’t a Cal Fire problem, this is a huge problem caused by a bureaucratic nightmare this state has mandated on all of its Departments.

2/27 Seasonal Hiring:

Is any one else pissed of @ the direction surrounding seasonal hiring this year? All in the name of diversity!!!! I spent the day researching civil rights act / eeo laws. It is plain English! The FS is in clear violation by arbitrarily selecting candidates based on a first and last name. 2 have 4 years in before you can be "rehire eligible"?!

Sent from my iPhone

2/27 DM,

This "conversation" with elected officials goes on every day. Please understand it is not these members of Congress that are doing the cutting. It is the Agency Line Officers who, in my humble little opinion, have no business managing the fire program or its appropriated dollars.

What we end up doing is having to educate these members of Congress not only as to the actions of the Line Officers but how those actions/decisions affect not only our firefighters and their safety, but the safety of the public and ultimately all taxpayers.

I can guarantee you lots of folks on Capitol Hill share your concerns. The hard thing is to actually get them to do something to effect positive change in a political atmosphere where the priority is power and opposing everything the other party does.

2/27 Casey

Maybe at your dinner with the Idaho elected officials you can ask them why they are cutting fire jobs and adding jobs to the Supervisors Offices on almost every forest. The forest north of us is reorganizing by not filling in behind the District FMOs and going from five to two positions. Not the smartest thing to do especially from a team aspect, but its going on all over Region 6. Maybe they can give us some insight on why they are cutting the least costly people and adding more expensive ones to the higher ranks.

Just a Thought

2/27 Monterey Helishots


I agree with you. The Monterey Helishots were a fine, hardworking crew. Don Lopez and Gerry Barney would have nothing less. I used to fill in on a regular basis with the crew on trips to Arizona, New Mexico and such exotic places as the Angeles. “No water, work”!! as Don would say…….


2/27 Casey Judd

I wasn't trying to tarnish or insinuate in any way that you and the great people at the FWFSA we're not in touch with the issues plaguing the Federal workforce. I, as many others do sincerely appreciate your vigilance and willingness to take the fight to the steps of D.C.!

I am simply dumbfounded that in the midst of such turbulent change, the only thing we are talking about is the biggest backfire that occurred 30 years ago (not that it isn't noteworthy either)! It's just odd that no one is spinning this web. I think it is pretty evident that people are on auto pilot when it comes to this conversation. I find that troubling! I hope it's not a sign that we as a group of individuals are willing to sit back and allow our elected officials to do whatever they want with no checks and balances. However with that said i believe that this forum is and will continue to be a place for likeminded individuals to brainstorm and get in touch with each other and try to come together on some commonalities such as the future of our employment or lack thereof. I just hope we don't sit on our laurels and allow them to nickel and dime us out of Federal Firefighters because people can't afford to make a living protecting Americas National interests!

With Respect and Fraternity: Nauseas in NOR-CAL
2/26 The FWFSA & the Wildland Firefighter Foundation to "politic" together

I am delighted and honored that both Vicki Minor, Executive Director of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and Son, Burk, the Foundation's Director of Public Relations, have accepted the FWFSA's invitation to dine with us at the annual Lincoln-Reagan Day event in Pocatello, Idaho March 9th.

Nowhere else in the Nation I believe, can you get an assemblage of elected officials including the Governor, both Senators and both Congressmen along with a host of other constitutional officers in one small room for such a nominal fee.

However this year the FWFSA is buying a "table" which will include either one of the Senators or one of the Congressmen who will dine with us (and at the end probably wish they hadn't) as we will have their ear to bend. In fact the VIP reception in which we will all attend has all of these folks together and it has been provided incredibly easy access to these folks as compared to having to try and schedule time with them in DC.

I am personally hoping to have rookie Congressman Raul Labrador from Western Idaho at our table as he is a member of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee which has jurisdiction over most of our wildland firefighter issues.

Yes this is a Republican event. Idaho is a very Red state. It doesn't matter. If it was the other party we'd do the same thing. I recently mentioned a meeting to be scheduled with Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) in his district office in Vista, CA. It was originally planned for March 13th, then moved to the 20th and now I'm not quite sure. More information should be forthcoming this week. As a result of the change I will be using the week of March 13th to head to DC to stay on the radar screen of a number of folks not only with respect to our firefighters' issues, but the issue of the continued attacks on the federal workforce as a whole.

Unfortunately those FWFSA members from Eastern Idaho I have contacted so far have scheduling conflicts for the March 9th event, so if there are FWFSA members from Western Idaho who would like to attend and be brave enough to make the 3+ hour drive to Pocatello, We've got two seats still available for our table and would be honored to have you join us. We will also cover your stay for the night in Pocatello. Please contact me ASAP at cjudd@fwfsa.org.

Thanks Vicki & Burk,

Casey Judd
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
2/25 Protective cover for Honda pump and hose reel on rig:

FS Prevention,

Find the nearest canvas shop, boat shop, awning manufacturer, car interior shop, etc. Should be a simple job to make up a cover for your unit. We used to go to our local awning shop to get covers for our hose reels and quick hoselay boxes. You get to pick the colors also. (The boat shop could put you on to who makes boat covers.)


2/24 Golf Scramble


There is still room for a few more teams and some single players at the FWFSA Golf Scramble, April 20th in Anderson CA. This will be a great opportunity to support the FWFSA and enjoy some golf with the wildland fire community. See attached flyer for details and sign up information.


FWFSA Golf Scramble (320 K pdf)

I added the info to the Hotlist Calendar, scroll to the bottom to view it. Ab.

2/24 Marble and the Cone Fires:


The Marble and the Cone would have been crew action fires if the Monterey Helishots had been on the home district, rather than already assigned to the Santa Lucia RD. Hehe!


2/24 Protective cover for Honda pump and hose reel on rig:

Hello everyone,

I have put together a 90+ gallon tank with a Honda pump and hose reel for my prevention rig. The supplier from whom I purchased it doesn't offer a protective cover for it. Does anyone out there have a source for purchasing one?


FS Prevention

2/24 I’m jumping in on the Marble-Cone thread.

The Groundpig was there. In fact, the Groundpig was on the initial attack when there were two reported lightning fires, one on Marble Peak, and one on Cone Peak which eventually became the Marble Cone. We had successfully attacked several lightning fires that day with containment. By the time the Marble and Cone fires were detected and reported, they had spilled into local drainages. The Marble fire may have been attacked sooner, but the Big Sur engine blew the rear differential returning from a fire and was out of service. Next closest engine was PV and Arryo Seco. Oops. The rest my friend is.. history.


2/23 Needing some community help re: Stanza Fire Report

We got a request from a firefighter for a hard copy of the Engine 11 investigation, one with photos.
They had checked Always Remember Stanza Engine 11.
The person is looking for photos that might be used in a training that's being put together, a drive school.

If anyone has something like that or knows where support materials could be found, I'll pass along your contact info.


2/23 Tree Felling Video


I am trying to track down a video that I saw a few years ago. They had setup up a demonstration showing the results of not looking up while felling a tree. I think they may have used a light pole or something similar, and a weighted, padded stand in for a limb falling for the demonstration. It showed well the consequences of not looking up, as the guy looking up escaped every time, and the guy relying on his swamper got hit every time. I would like to use this video for training purposes.

Thanks in advance...

Simlim Here it is: /videos/fs_simlimb_25_megs.wmv ... Ab.

2/23 Fire in just north of Napa, CA.


2/23 Casey,

Sorry for the delay. I was waiting for my other payroll issues to resolve before I messed with anything. It seems they FINALLY got it fixed this last pay period. I sent in my app and I am eagerly awaiting the email from you so I can get payments set up :)

Thanks for all you do!
2/22 Long-time state forester Lody Smith dies at age 75:


Lowell V. “Lody” Smith, who served as Nevada state forester under four governors, died Tuesday.
He was 75.

U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei issued this statement:

“Lody Smith was a long-time public servant and close friend of the Amodei family. He dedicated his life to stewardship of the West and the protection and management of land for the entire state of Nevada. A true conservationist, he will be dearly missed by his family, his friends and his state.”

Smith spent 35 years with the Nevada Division of Forestry. He... (More at link...)


2/22 re marble cone backfire:

The crew leadership did an outstanding job. The crew were well trained, well organized, and typical of hotshot crew then and now.

Tactics and strategies seem to be different these days. But one can always count on a shot crew today as we did then.


2/22 To "Snow Flea" & "Nauseous in NOR CAL'

Snow Flea...still waiting for an app. from you.

NOR CAL This likely won't be my most eloquent post ever on TheySaid but I was disappointed in your post suggesting that no one is talking about the attack on the federal workforce. It is what I and the FWFSA do, albeit focused on our wildland firefighters. I think you would be shocked at the volume of correspondence that goes out of this office each week; the volume of phone calls; the time away from family to travel to DC and other political events to get the attention of some of these boobs in DC.

Talking about it on TheySaid really doesn't accomplish too much. Writing your representative is a start but expect a canned response with the comment "Thank you for sharing your views. I will keep them in mind yada, yada, yada."

My point is that changing the mentality of some in DC at this stage of a congressional session in an election year is tough. It took us nearly 6 years of persistent work and establishing a relationship and our credibility with a member of Congress ( from 1994 to 2000) to get him to lead the way to eliminating the overtime pay cap for federal wildland firefighters and an additional 4 years working with him to get a portal to portal bill. It took years for what we had to say and demonstrate to Senators on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee for it to show up in their remarks, comments and questions during hearings. It took us years to get the US House of Representatives to understand our issues and pass a federal wildland firefighter classification bill and introduce the most comprehensive legislation ever introduced on behalf of these firefighters.

So while there may not be a lot of talk about these things on TheySaid, that does not mean there aren't those doing their damndest to educate those morons who think it politically fashionable to attack the federal workforce. You don't need to complain, you need to educate.

Thank you for writing your representative but be persistent. And don't just complain. Offer solutions like the FWFSA does that will have a positive result for their constituents... taxpayers. But also be prepared to fight like hell for a long time. While it may seem futile, I guarantee you progress is being made. As I've said numerous times, I would not have dedicated the last 9 years of my life to the FWFSA and its members and their issues and continue to absorb the stress and frustration that goes with it if I didn't see that progress.


Casey Judd
2/22 50 year Reunion for the Star, Rogue River, and Winema IR and Interagency Hotshot Crews -

Save the Date April 7, 2012

Read the details...



I added the date to the hotlist calendar: www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/index.php and scroll down. Ab.

2/22 Arizona Wildfire Academy:

Ab, hope all is well with you, a late Happy New Year. Please review and post if you think it's appropriate.

Truck Raffle Flyer

Thanks, Tony

Good to hear from the SW. Be safe! Ab.

2/22 Marble Cone Thread

The discussion of the Marble Cone fire in 1977 brought back one particular memory for me... We (a So Cal Hotshot Crew) were spiked out on a helispot one night.. Paper bags, hot cans and resupply had been flown in for the spike. Three hotshot crews were at the helispot which was somewhere off of the Coast Ridge Road. After a hasty meal, saw sharpening and quick wallow fire building session, my saw partner and I, as well as the rest of the crew, bedded down for the night in our dirt wallows..

The next morning as we were crawling out of the paper fartsacks.. I told my partner, " I had the weirdest dream last night!.. Dreamt the other crew (I will leave them nameless but their southern cal name roughly translates to "big bamboo" and they have a busted duck on their logo) was up dancing around in their skivvies and paper bags whooping and hollering with a huge fire going! Like natives around a campfire at a ritual!" My saw partner laughs and says, You weren't dreaming, bro! He pointed to the other end of the helispot and there were melted saws and burned line gear... seems the other crews wallow fire had spotted into one of their saw or fusee packs and proceeded to burn and melt a few chainsaws and some line gear.. LOL....

Lots of memories of the Marble Cone, but that one of those kids dancing around at 2 am on the helispot trying to put out chainsaw, fusee and gas pack fires is the best! Luckily no one got burned!

Keep the good memories ....


2/22 Arnie, Bush & FF pic:


That picture was taken at the Cedar Fire in San Diego in '03, the black bands on the badges were for Firefighter Steve Rucker from the Novato Fire Protection District. Somewhere in my stuff, that has been moved several times in recent years, I have a pic from nearly the same angle, but it may include the Cleveland's engine that was parked there as well. I'm still unpacking from my most recent move, but would be happy to send a copy to you if and when I find it. Otherwise I thought if folks knew the fire it was taken on it might help them find you a copy sooner than I would be able to.

Good Luck

2/22 Re. Arnie, Bush & FF,

The following link doesn't have the same photo, but appears to be the event, given the attendees and their dress.
The info may provide better searching.



2/21 Story about dealing with bears!

To whoever posted the story about the bears in '87 thanks for the laugh! I needed it after a too many meetings.

Almost an old timer

The story about how to deal with bears: Hotlist

2/21 Arnie, Bush & FF pic:


I am still looking for a particular pic of GW Bush and a calfire engine for a recruitment class. Folks have sent me some, but not the pic I need. I have attached a fuzzy version of the pic I am looking for, blown up from a tiny one. If anyone has it in a clearer format, I really need it.




2/21 Re: Marble Cone Fire: Largest Backfire

If remember correctly (it was a few years ago) I was on the Mendocino HS, our crew along with Redding HS, Stanislaus HS , and Lassen HS, I'm sure every Shot crew was there , I do remember leap frogging crews from Sun down to sun up. Each crew had taken a very large section of line (we did haul lots of drip torches, burn fuel, any thing that would burn) We walked our asses off…..That year was the year of Big Burnouts, We also had a large backfire on the Hog Fire on the Klamath NF…... That is when we used to "Fight fire with fire" , Long Shifts, The Crew Bus, all of those things we don't see any more ( Good or Bad )……

Captain Joe: you are right "specially skilled and talented people come together to lead and direct complex firing operations such as these" , Couldn't have said it better myself …….. Like you, I was just a 2nd year Hot Shot ( Boy did we see some Fire Behavior) ….

Thanks for the walk down memory lane (Damn, my feet hurt thinking about it ) ….

Broke down Hot Shot/
2/21 Why is no one talking about this?

I read the other day that Congress and the Obama administration intend on making Federal workers contribute a full 2% to our retirement over the next 3 years instead of the .8% we currently contribute. It ranted about how this will save the U.S. taxpayers Billions. It comes as no surprise but i am frustrated none the less!

I got to thinking; If Congress wants to save Money, why don't they start by looking in their own backyard. Serve a term and get benefits for life? Maybe if they started paying something for their retirement we could really save the budget! What burns me down about this whole thing is that they persecute Federal Employees like the woes of the Economy is our fault! It was easy to see it coming, first the Counties and the States targeted their Employees now the Feds are in the crosshairs. I know its not the first time (or the last) however, i am still discouraged!

Lets sum it up

No cost of living increase (sucks to be you if you work in California, i do!), retention bonus gone (we knew that was coming for R-5), pay more for your benefits, now pay more for your retirement and now freeze step increases! I think this is a way for the powers that be to shrink the Gov't workforce. I know its sounds clandestine but if they make it hard enough to make it working for the Gov't, enough people will leave and then they can say they reduced the workforce and thus shrank big Gov't! They get re-elected and you get gone!

I want Congress to take a pay cut, a serious one at that! I think they should pay into their retirement and health insurance the same way that i do and that you do! They should start in Congress as GS 8's and to get a step increase they have to meet the expectations of their Performance Appraisal. No more free rides. I have to earn it so why shouldn't they. Maybe then we can do some house cleaning and get some people that will make personal sacrifices to run the Gov't the way that we all make sacrifices to Fight Fires, wash the Statue of Liberty, protect the Parks and procure the National Archives! I am tired of the blue collar worker paving the way for the Ones at the top! Its 16th century B.S. and i for one am taking a stand!

I am in the process of writing my representatives and asking them to make the same sacrifices as those whom they represent. How can they truly represent something if they don't take the sacrament? Its a simple question that we should all be asking. It's time to be heard and not take no for an answer. I think it pitiful that Obama and Congress want to fix the National Debt on the backs of GS 1-8's. This only hurts the little guy! How can a person making $32,500 per year, living pay check to paycheck afford a 15% pay cut? They will argue it's not a pay cut you're just contributing more of the wages you keep to your benefits. Well Sir or Ma'am i can't hardly make it now on what i am making and now you want me to pay more and you want to pay less. I think i will call my Landlord (i can't afford homeownership in California as a GS 7) and ask him to take a 15% cut in rent, then i will call my babysitter and ask to pay her 15% less and oh ya the gas station, i will ask them to give me a 15% discount at the gas pump as well...... Hardly!

Point is; i will meet them halfway, but i am not paying more so they can spend the savings in Lower Slobovia breeding an army of fainting goats! That's B.S. and you all know it and that is exactly what will happen, its that kind of thinking that got us here in the first place. I have hundreds of hours of sick time saved up, maybe its time i put it to good use because this stuff makes me nauseous.

How much money did we save the Tax-payers if all of our workers go do something else! Not a damn red cent! Like Earl Pitts says; Wake up America, Wake up They Said!!!

Signed: Nauseous in NOR CAL

Lower Slobovia according to wikipedia... Ab.

2/20 Ab,

Information on the Pike IHC 50th reunion in Monument, Colorado.



WHEN: April 28th, 2012 at 1300
WHERE: Monument Fire Center
3751 Mt. Herman Rd., Monument, CO.
FEE: $25 per adult
$5 for BBQ for kids 10yrs. +
Kids under 10 free
Fee includes:
Catered BBQ and basic drinks
Plus Commemorative coin and video for alumni!
ALSO: We’ll have horseshoes, sandpit playground for kids / volleyball too, a small ceremony led by former Supt.s, woodland celebrities available for photos, a group photo session, and more. BYOB
We will look into setting aside a block of rooms at the local hotel. Please indicate on the following page if you are interested.
* Please send any old pics to Alissa ASAP for inclusion in the video.
Send to aroeder@ nospam fs.fed.us

Flyer (297 K pdf)

I added it to the Hotlist calendar scroll to bottom.
Not much time left to sign up. Deadline to register is February 27; event is April 28. Get 'er done. Ab.

2/19 I've been reading the posts on photo and video copyright.

I'm sometimes a PIO and it's my job to take photos on an incident in addition to other things. I take photos for my employer with their camera. My employer owns the copyright, not me now or later.

Someone should look closely into copyright law though. Seems to me an employer could ban photography on the job while in pay status. But, I don't know if they can claim even part of the copyright if you're on a non-paid lunch break (not on the clock) and take a picture with your own camera or cell phone or helmet cam.


2/18 Re: Marble Cone Fire: Largest Backfire?

Joe Stutler &
Retired BC

Joe S, you rightfully point out the key factor of successful firing operations is the ground holding crews, especially with large firing operations. You also are right, that there were numerous firing operations during the course of the Marble Cone. The event that I described occurred near the end of the suppression effort, and while it actively used fire on fire influence, was more a burnout than a true backfire. It served to finally secure the 106 mile perimeter. Burning continued within the perimeter until fall rains. As far as the acreage, I recall Dick Gillett saying it went over 35,000 acres.

More important than size, is the combination of incident timing, and the oddball way that specially skilled and talented people come together to lead and direct complex firing operations such as these. I was a young kid at the time, and the early experience of working with rare individuals has made all the difference.


Captain Joe
2/17 re; letter about Forest Service aviation program:

Based on the signatures on the letter, it's good to see at least one political party is listening and wants to talk about solutions. Special thanks to Feinstein and Boxer for all your support over the past decade.

November 6, 2012

2/17 In response to "Overpayment of Death Benefits":

Here is some information from the 20CFR regarding overpayments and reasons to use when requesting a waiver of the overpayment. There should have been some appeal or reconsideration information attached to the decision letter. I know it is long, so feel free to edit if needed.

10.432 How can an individual present evidence to OWCP in response to a preliminary notice of an overpayment? The individual may present this evidence to OWCP in writing or at a pre-recoupment hearing. The evidence must be presented or the hearing requested within 30 days of the date of the written notice of overpayment. Failure to request the hearing within this 30-day time period shall constitute a waiver of that right.

10.433 Under what circumstances can OWCP waive recovery of an overpayment?

(a) OWCP may consider waiving an overpayment only if the individual to whom it was made was not at fault in accepting or creating the overpayment. Each recipient of compensation benefits is responsible for taking all reasonable measures to ensure that payments he or she receives from OWCP are proper. The recipient must show good faith and exercise a high degree of care in regard to receipt of their benefits. Such care includes reporting events which may affect entitlement to or the amount of benefits, including reviewing their accounts and related statements (including electronic statements and records from their financial institutions involving EFT payments). A recipient who has done any of the following will be found to be at fault with respect to creating an overpayment:

  1. Made an incorrect statement as to a material fact which he or she knew or should have known to be incorrect; or
  2. Failed to provide information which he or she knew or should have known to be material; or
  3. Accepted a payment which the recipient knew or should have known to be incorrect. (This provision applies only to the overpaid individual.)
         (b) Whether or not OWCP determines that an individual was at fault with respect to the creation of an overpayment depends on the circumstances surrounding the overpayment. The degree of care expected may vary with the complexity of those circumstances and the individual's capacity to realize that he or she is being overpaid.

10.434 If OWCP finds that the recipient of an overpayment was not at fault, what criteria are used to decide whether to waive recovery of it? If OWCP finds that the recipient of an overpayment was not at fault, repayment will still be required unless:

(a) Adjustment or recovery of the overpayment would defeat the purpose of the FECA (see 10.436), or
(b) Adjustment or recovery of the overpayment would be against equity and good conscience (see 10.437).

10.435 Is an individual responsible for an overpayment that resulted from an error made by OWCP or another Government agency?

(a) The fact that OWCP may have erred in making the overpayment, or that the overpayment may have resulted from an error by another Government agency, does not by itself relieve the individual who received the overpayment from liability for repayment if the individual also was at fault in accepting the overpayment.
(b) However, OWCP may find that the individual was not at fault if failure to report an event affecting compensation benefits, or acceptance of an incorrect payment, occurred because:
    (1) The individual relied on misinformation given in writing by OWCP (or by another Government agency which he or she had reason to believe was connected with the administration of benefits) as to the interpretation of a pertinent provision of the FECA or its regulations; or

10.436 Under what circumstances would recovery of an overpayment defeat the purpose of the FECA? Recovery of an overpayment will defeat the purpose of the FECA if such recovery would cause hardship to a currently or formerly entitled beneficiary because:

(a) The beneficiary from whom OWCP seeks recovery needs substantially all of his or her current income (including compensation benefits) to meet current ordinary and necessary living expenses; and
(b) The beneficiary's assets do not exceed a specified amount as determined by OWCP from data furnished by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A higher amount is specified for a beneficiary with one or more dependents.

I hope this helps. WC Advocate

2/17 Re largest backfire? - Marble Cone discussion:

In looking @ the 2/15 post regarding the backfire/burnout on the Marble Cone, two things come to mind; first there were 3 and sometimes 4 zones on the Marble Cone fire and numerous burnouts that were close to or exceeded the 6,000 acre project mentioned that were conducted in the course of 30 days in 1977, some successful and some not. I had the honor of being a Helicopter Boss guiding helicopters to support these burnouts and keep within the containment line.

In 1985 on the Wheeler fire, I was the heli-torch burn boss with 3 torches, in one day we burned from the north end of Casitas Lake, around the west side of Matilija Canyon, north along the fuel breaks (Portrero Seco) to Highway 33, south to Rose Valley along the Highway and burned out over 42,000 acres in one operational period which completed the containment on the south, west and eastern flanks of the fire. The burning was the fun portion, all the hard work of the ground resources constructing the containment lines and years of work on the fuel break were the major efforts, so give 95% credit to those folks for the success of the operations. Thanks…

Joe Stutler
County Forester
Bend, OR

Thanks for chiming in, old friend and mentor. Those gals in your family still keeping you in line??? HAW HAW! Ab.

2/17 Re largest backfire? - Marble Cone discussion:

Thank you, Capt. Joe...that is precisely the type of info I was seeking.
With your permission, I will incorporate your narrative into my story of the Marble Cone Fire.
I do have a few follow-up questions; could you contact me direct : jbsupport108@msn.com ?
I have the same impression of Doyle and Dick. I worked with Doyle in HUU and was his understudy/successor as S-290 Region I coordinator.
retired BC

PS - does the size record still stand? I have heard that the backfire on the Mendanhall Fire was larger.

2/17 Senate letter Re FS Aviation Plan

During this current congressional session, it is rare to see anything but partisan political posturing occurring. However I received the attached letter from a number of sources including Senate staff which depicts a clear understanding of one of the many issues we have raised before Congress over the past 6 years.

Some of the commentary in this letter is identical to testimony from the FWFSA in recent years and again illustrates that even in a divisive Congress, persistence is worth its price. Of course as usual, the biggest hurdle is to move on from the tough questions and sharply critical letters from Congress and get them to actually make substantive changes in order to achieve a more effective and efficient federal wildfire response not only for our firefighters but for taxpayers as well.

Casey Judd
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
2/17 Some Fire Apprentice positions and other positions outside of fire are going to be offered to military personnel
at bases around California. Here's the first round.

Sierra Sam

Date: February 15, 2012
Subject: Travis Air Force Base Job Fair
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors

The Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5) Forest Service is participating in the Travis Air Force Base (TAFB) Job Fair on February 17, 2012. This effort is focused on attracting qualified candidates for employment in Region 5 and increasing visibility of the career opportunities with the Forest Service. Region 5 will offer a wide range of Fire and non-Fire positions, within the region and extend tentative placement offers to veterans who possess the qualifications and meet the requirements for the respective position.

Region 5 Human Resources, Civil Rights, and Fire Recruitment Team personnel will be present at the job fair. They will interview, assess, and discuss positions with potential candidates to identify matches based on the candidate’s qualifications and interests. We will also be working with subject matter experts throughout the Region to ensure appropriate selections or referrals are made. Ricky Balolong, Civil Rights Director, will serve as the Regional Selecting Official for the job fair and Sharon Allen-Brick is leading the Fire Recruitment Team.

The Travis Air Force Base Job Fair is one of many initiatives being implemented in Region 5 to outreach, recruit, and provide employment opportunities for veterans in appreciation for the sacrifices they have made in service to our country. I encourage and appreciate your continued support of these efforts.

Should you have questions, please contact Sharon Allen-Brick at (971) 219-8623 or Ricky Balolong at (707) 562-8752.

Thank you.

/s/ Ronald G. Ketter (for)
Regional Forester

cc: pdl r5 fcros, pdl r5 ro cr, Ricky Balolong
2/16 CA Firefighter endorsement changes again

Making the rounds...

Hello Chiefs.

First I would like to thank Shawna and the BDF folks that discovered this change in law.

I just got off the phone with the DMV. We are no longer required to have the Firefighter endorsement for our class A or B operators. We simply revert to what we were doing before the law changed at the end of 2010. For our engine operators they are required to have a Class B with the proper endorsement, that is it. I wanted to get this word out to you in case you have employees going to DMV seeking the FF endorsement. We can discuss this on the Tuesday morning call if you have any questions.

Have a great three day weekend!

Peter <snip>

Assembly Bill No. 82

DMV Letter to Chiefs

2/16 Funny Fire Terms & Nicknames:

Weenie Hose---3/4" hose. Misfire7

Dropping the kids off at the pool---time to go poo. Misfire7

Black Booger Contest----After big fire day, see who has the biggest and nastiest booger. Misfire7

BLM----Bad Land Managers. Misfire7

Thought you might want to add a few more to your list


Thanks, added them to the funny Wildland Fire Terms and names we call each other. Ab.

2/16 The Barbershop Bailout

The Senate barbershop in DC used by some in Congress had a $300,000 operating deficit last year which prompted the Senate to give it some extra cash to sustain its operations. One former senator blames the shop's federal employees for its financial problems. (more at link)

Wow, even the Hair Stylists make more than Federal Firefighters. Well now I know where Congress's priorities are.


2/16 Big Hill Helitack H-516 50th anniversary

Hi folks,

Just wanted to fire this out to the community. In the summer of 1962, the Big Hill Helitack Module was established on the Eldorado National Forest. In honor of this occasion we will be celebrating 50 years of protecting lives, property and our public lands by hosting a fundraiser, which will include a 52-mile hike that will take us through the very cities and lands we have protected in our first 50 years. The hike will start in Pollock Pines, CA on May 19th and end in El Dorado Hills, CA on May 20th. As a part of our celebration, we will be collecting funds via Fill-the-Boot drive, as well as donations to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation as the Crew hikes through the various communities. Donation sites will be set up in conjunction with a static display to raise public awareness of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation as well as the history of Big Hill Helitack throughout the years.

A banquet fundraiser for the evening of May 20th at Diamond Springs-El Dorado Firefighters Hall is scheduled for an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner. All the proceeds go to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

A Big Hill Crew Alumni Reunion will be held at Big Hill Lookout Station on May 20th from 1000 – 1300. Snacks and Coffee will be available.

If there are folks out there who can provide any pictures or stories while you were a part of the Big Hill Helitack Module, it would be helpful and very much appreciated. At this time we are still developing a facebook page for the Big Hill Helitack 50th Anniversary Fundraiser for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. More information will be forthcoming. If you have any questions please feel free to contact Rob Allan at : bigallan516@aol.com

Thanks for your time and have a safe Fire season.

2/16 Thanks, Just some Fed

I stand corrected, public domain is the key word and one I have always confused with government. Technically photos taken on company time (Gov that is) are to be cataloged in the fed photo library data base. They become public domain once this takes place. The government therefore really does not own per say the photos, but they become public domain property. When available all the information is recorded as to where ,when, who, camera, film and all that stuff. The photographer is to be credited whenever the photo is used.

2/16 I asked the question on the Webinar about how FEDS coverage differs from the competitor's coverage.

Tony's reply on the formal arrangements -- costs, coverage, ability to have payments taken out of your paycheck, lack of clawback, etc -- were helpful, but best was his comment about most important difference being FEDS commitment and know how.

Part of this Webinar that I found interesting was the legal history of Thirty Mile and Cramer and Esperanza and where we are today.


2/16 Thanks to FEDS for the webinar. Very informative.

I need lessons on how to submit a question. Tony concluded the first part of the presentation and I was looking for the box that dropped down somewhere that said "Submit Questions HERE now".

I guess I'm still just a Knuckle Dragon.

Knuckles: We'll come up with a bit more on how to do that. I did a couple of screen captures to illustrate the menu.
HAW HAW HAW, when there were no questions right away Tony or his assistant said something like "WOW, we've never had that happen before, no questions..."
HAW HAW bet I wasn't the only one scrambling to figure it out, and I even clicked around before the Webinar started. I wanted to make sure I got my question in before they cut us all off. HAW HAW HAW.
Lots of information and fun, too, especially after the fact. One thing that clearly emerged is that Tony has passion for federal wildland firefighters who are trying to do their job -- their calling, their service -- that get caught up in and targeted by the legal system, the costs, the anxiety and basically through no fault of their own.

Oh look the message just came out with the FEDS presentation link to YouTube. Ab.

2/16 Casey;

Well said. They are indeed a limited number of attorneys with the knowledge necessary to address the issues regarding federal employees and federal labor laws. From my experience, most of them practice in the 202 (DC area), and require up to a $10,000 dollar retainer just to take your case. Membership in the FWFSA and enrolling in FEDS is a nice 1-2 punch and is money well spent if you ever find yourself in need of legal representation.

2/16 Ab note:

Questions from FF Webinar on 2-16-12; list sent to Ab by Cathy who moderated the questions:

  • Would you cover the cramer and thritymile in more depth. How the investigations went
  • So I thought it was interesting that you said we can make good, sound decisions and still be held liable or accountable. Would you expand your thoughts on why that is. Why is that reasonable?
  • Are Temporary Seasonal Employees eligible for the 50% reimbursement
  • For those people that you are talking about being defended on the different fires, how much on average did those people with PLI pay out of pocket vs. those without PLI?

  • So, I am a Prevention Technician, GS9. I am an ICT4 and often the first on the scene and I deal with the public regularly, many public contacts. I am also a Public Information Officer 2 as well as a helicopter manager and I often work at Air Tanker Bases, I'm assuming I would be a strong candidate for PLI, even though I am not strictly on the fire line? Is a Fire Prevention Technician covered as one of the reimbursement positions?
  • How does PLI differ from union coverage?
  • I am a firefighter as well as an FPO (forest protection officer) meaning I write federal violation notices. Do I need the LE PLI as well?
  • In regards to the guy starting his career. He will be an ICT5 soon (hopefully) thereby able to lead a squad and IC a small fire, and thereby liable.
    Thanks! I got a group of 11 together to listen to this, so these questions are coming from several people! Good job folks!

Tony's presentation and answers to the questions will be available on YouTube soon. As the one firefighter said, Good Job folks! and thanks to Tony and Brenda and Cathy. Ab.

2/16 If one visits the FWFSA web site, you will notice a conspicuous absence of "adverting." There is one exception however...FEDS.

The FWFSA has endorsed FEDS for several years and graciously FEDS offers FWFSA members a discount on their premium. However cost should not the only or primary factor to consider when researching PLI. Perhaps the most important factor I would pass along to those considering PLI is that while FEDS represents a number of federal employee occupations, Tony Vergnetti's intimate knowledge of wildland firefighter issues; his work with those involved on the Thirty Mile, Cramer, Esperanza, Station and other fires sets him apart in the business of providing PLI for federal wildland firefighters.

Whether you, as a federal wildland firefighter become the focus of an investigation surrounding your actions on a fire incident or whether you have an adverse action tossed in your face etc., PLI & FEDS provides significant peace of mind to you.

Let's face it, attorneys willing to represent a federal employee against an action taken by a federal agency are few and far between. There are even less that are competent enough to deal with and withstand convoluted federal laws/regulations.

Additional reasons to invest in PLI is
  1. up to half of your premium is reimbursable by the Agency and
  2. especially for Forest Service firefighters, despite the best efforts of the FWFSA, NFFE and FEDS and the increased understanding in Congress of the "unintended consequences" associated with current law which places an undue burden on FS firefighters with respect to liability, the law, and thus the threat remains.

I can't tell you how many folks contact FEDS after they need their help. While I know Mr. Vergnetti will do his best to chat with folks who haven't yet joined and find themselves with a problem, the fact of the matter is you've got to "pay to play."

Providing such protection isn't free. Just like advocating before Congress on wildland firefighter issues isn't free. Recognizing the economic realities we are in, it is important to understand that participation with FEDS, of the FWFSA or NFFE is an investment in one's future, not a waste of money. Those of you planning to make a career in the federal system and move up the chain will assume greater and greater responsibility... and liability. Having someone in your corner who has the experience working with federal wildland firefighters is invaluable.

Just my 1 1/2 cents worth.


2/16 Federal Manager Sued?


Apparently there has been a precedent set for federal employee's to sue their supervisor if they violated their first amendment rights. I wonder if this would apply to the person fired for posting to They Said? If so, I wouldn't want to be that persons supervisor.



2/16 Sad to hear to hear about the overpayment bills.

I had a overpayment case with my salary. Short story, over a span of about 6 years I was over paid due to my salary being set incorrectly as I jumped regions and pay scales. My overpayment bill was over $35,000.

With the help of a supervisor, I submitted a waiver to have the bill waived. The waiver was approved and I didn't have to pay back the bill. Thinking back... here is main points of my waiver.

  • I didn't "intend" to get overpaid
  • Due to the HR folks being experts at setting pay scales - I didn't question them about my pay. I assumed it was correct. ex - HR folks don't come and tell me how to build a trench
  • it was an HR mistake, not my mistake
  • Due to the large amount of bill, it would have caused a tremendous hardship on family, if we were to pay it back. ex - bill is larger than annual income, career seasonal employee, etc

I think there is a similarity, your daughter didn't set up the payment amount, she didn't intend to "rip off the government", it was a HR mistake, not your daughters mistake.

I would imagine there is an appeal process for OWCP and SS. Hopefully this helps, you can get my info from AB and I could get you a copy of my waiver letter.

Also, once I was assigned a "case worker", things where easier. The individual was sympathetic and wanted to help.

It will be a long battle, stay positive and know you can win.


2/16 Great information shared on the Webinar!


2/16 Ab;

I would STRONGLY advise anyone who is a federal employee to purchase the professional liability insurance offered by FEDS. I know the individual who was dismissed for posting to They Said, and $270 is money well spent if you ever have to defend yourself as a result of an adverse action (the going rate for an attorney in this area is $250 an hour). It's also rare to find legal counsel that specializes in federal labor law, so buy, buy, buy!

2/16 Coming up within the hour today:

Don't forget the PLI Webinar for federal wildland firefighters at 0900 Pacific time and Noon Eastern.

Here's the flyer to open to click the registration button:
Announcement of FEDS Free Webinar for Wildland Firefighters (32 K doc) with link to registration.


Here's the website where you can access registration: FEDS website.

See you there!


2/15 red card restrictions and individuals with prosthetic devices:


Just wanted to pass along a word of thanks to those who provided some guidance as to where to begin my search concerning red card restrictions and individuals with prosthetic devices. I'm sure that with the injuries incurred by some of our finest men and women in the most recent wars, we will be seeing more Veteran candidates amongst our ranks with similar injuries.

Michael DiCristina, Colorado State Forest Service

2/15 Overpayment of death benefit:

It was sad to read the account of overpayment of benefits. I suggest the daughter's congressional representative be contacted and request consideration of a "private bill" relieving her of the payback. It is a long shot but could be well worth the effort.

John Shilling aka "dirfunguy"

2/15 Ab,

I follow They Said on a daily basis and and find it depressing in 2012 that the federal land management agencies are using race and sex to determine who to hire.

As Mark Davis, President, NFFE Forest Service Council, posts.

The bottom line is for those who haven’t reached the 24-month milestone, whether or not they get rehired is up to the hiring official. As stated in Q&A developed by HRM, “The rehire policy for other than long term temporaries remains at the discretion of the Regions Stations and Area, with firm expectations for robust outreach, recruitment and maximizing opportunities to hire a diverse workforce.” See www.nffe-fsc.org/committees/legislative/temp_hire.php (click on “2/1/11 update”). As these Q&A documents state, there is no requirement from Washington or Albuquerque (Washington West) to compete these positions. This guidance is consistent with statutory requirements at 5 USC 2301(b)(1): "Recruitment should be from qualified individuals from appropriate sources in an endeavor to achieve a work force from all segments of society, and selection and advancement should be determined solely on the basis of relative ability, knowledge, and skills, after fair and open competition which assures that all receive equal opportunity."

Frustrated posts,

"I'm all about a diverse work force. I truly believe women in fire is paramount. I couldn't care less what color your skin is, or where your last name says you are from."

You cannot support a "diverse work force" while the power to hire based on political correctness exists. With holes in policy, you can fly a VLAT through whims of politician's that dictate who gets hired. Always color and gender are listed, because they are visible assets. A true "diverse" workforce would include different thinking, measured by a lengthy in-depth interview. I once interviewed a candidate with "White Power" and SS lightning bolts tattooed on him. He would have made a fine "diverse" employee. However, I didn't feel he would fit into barracks living. (I made sure he was unqualified for hire.)

I do give a tinkers damn as to how new entry level employees are hired as well as how those employees are treated throughout their careers, especially when they earn the right to promote. The best qualified individuals regardless of superficial attributes should be given the opportunity to serve the public that pays their salary, anything less is criminal.


2/15 I have a redcard out of idaho and I'm currently living in california.

Where would I take my refresher course and pack test here in california, so I can start applying for jobs?

Thank you for your time, look forward to your response.


2/15 Over payment of death benefit:

I don’t know if this is affecting the fire community or not but suspect it is.

My daughter collects benefits from OWCP and SSA due to the death of her mother at work. This past week I received a letter from OWCP that there should have been an offset of what she received from SSA to what she received from OWCP. In other words, she was receiving too much money each month. The letter went on to state that OWCP would be sending another letter stating how much had been overpaid and demanding to be repaid that amount. This goes back 15 years for my daughter and could easily be in the thousands. My wife called OWCP to question them on this and see if we understood it correctly. Amazingly we got through to the claims examiner. She told us we were correct in our understanding, she also said that it was totally the fault of OWCP and SSA for not following their own protocols or this would have been caught long before. The poor woman seemed to be miserable over being the bearer of this news. It isn’t just happening to us.

My questions are:

1. Is it happening to those collecting death benefits from those killed on fires?
2. Does anyone know of any attempts to stop this?

It seems to me (politically challenged retired firefighter that I am) that this mistake on the part of the Govt. shouldn’t be shoved back on those who collected these benefits trusting the Govt. to take care of them. I can only imagine the stress and consternation that some families are going to go through trying to repay monies that they used to try to continue on after the loss of a loved one who died while performing their jobs.

I have heard of at least one of our firefighters in this situation. Ab.

2/15 Professional Liability Insurance:

Don't forget to register for the FEDS PLI Webinar for federal Wildland Firefighters:
Tomorrow -Thursday at NOON Eastern Time or 9AM Pacific Time

Announcement of FEDS Free Webinar for Wildland Firefighters (32 K doc) with link to registration.

or access the registration from their website FEDS website.

Registration is easy and you remain anonymous. Registrants call in, listen to a 15 min presentation by Tony at FEDS that covers the basics. Then he answers questions you type in. You remain anonymous. You get the info you need. I posted some basics and discussion on this started yesterday here to skip down. Thanks to the LEO for sharing.

I have also gotten a question from a community member about how hard is the process of switching for firefighters or others that are already enrolled in PLI with Wright and Co. I asked Brenda. Turns out it's easy.

Wright policy holders renew 4/1! It's very easy to switch. Instead of renewing with Wright, they just call us or go on-line just like any new member would. We just need the original year they purchased coverage. If they are in the middle of a claim, they should speak with us before switching. We do offer payroll deduction, and with payroll deduction, you are automatically renewed each year. Wright doesn't have that option, so there are no additional steps for Wright members. We can explain this in the Q&A session 9AM tomorrow if you're on the west coast or noon if in the east.

Apparently FEDS has better coverage at lower cost and more experience with federal wildland firefighters than Wright. Read the info on the website. Ask questions at the Webinar.
FWFSA endorses FEDS.
Here's the link to the 30 min taped LEO webinar if you're interested in "studying up" or curious about the webinar process.
You can call FEDS any time with questions. 866-955-3337 (FEDS) Tony or someone will answer them.

Just do it! Study up. PLI, very good value for the money and for many federal managers, you will be reimbursed 50%.


2/15 Ab, quick question,

Would FEDS have been able to help beforehand or after that guy got dismissed?


Yes, but unfortunately he wasn't enrolled. Sign up for the FEDS Webinar. Ask your questions. Ab.

2/15 Response under Hiring Pause issue:

9301 (2/8 post),

First, let me wish you the best of luck. You sound like a great employee and someone the Forest Service is lucky to have working for them and considering a career with them. Here’s what NFFE has done and where it looks like R4 is at right now.

I need to start by debunking a myth: the Chief’s “Interim Direction for Rehire of Long-Term Temporary Seasonal Employees” has nothing to do with the exercise of management discretion as to whether or not to use rehire authority to bring back employees with less than 24 months of service time. Management has always had this discretionary authority and they continue to have it for this group of employees. In fact, without the interim direction, all temporary employees, even those with decades of service, could have found their jobs at risk. This did actually happen on some units last season. And the year before we almost lost hundreds of employees for reasons unrelated to the current diversity push.

The bottom line is for those who haven’t reached the 24-month milestone, whether or not they get rehired is up to the hiring official. As stated in Q&A developed by HRM, “The rehire policy for other than long term temporaries remains at the discretion of the Regions Stations and Area, with firm expectations for robust outreach, recruitment and maximizing opportunities to hire a diverse workforce.” See www.nffe-fsc.org/committees/legislative/temp_hire.php (click on “2/1/11 update”). As these Q&A documents state, there is no requirement from Washington or Albuquerque (Washington West) to compete these positions. This guidance is consistent with statutory requirements at 5 USC 2301(b)(1):

"Recruitment should be from qualified individuals from appropriate sources in an endeavor to achieve a work force from all segments of society, and selection and advancement should be determined solely on the basis of relative ability, knowledge, and skills, after fair and open competition which assures that all receive equal opportunity."

I have spoken with Region 4 union officials and as I understand it, Region 4 does plan to rehire some, but not all, temporary employees with less than 24 months of service. Front line supervisors will make recommendations through their chain of command. The ultimate decision will be up to the Regional Forester or Deputy Regional Forester. Former 1039s should apply because these rehire decisions may not occur until after vacancy announcements close. NFFE has expressed concerns that many affected employees may not receive notice; they will have to compete for their jobs this year before applications are due. We have been assured that those with rehire eligibility will be considered even if they miss the deadline because of late notice. These plans may still be in flux. Region 4 union officials will continue to monitor the situation and engage their management counterparts on behalf of returning employees.

There’s a lot more I could say about the whole situation – but I don’t have time to write a book that nobody would read anyway. Here’s the bottom line for me: as a representative of employees, I don’t give a tinker’s damn how entry level vacant positions are filled. But once you’re hired, you are Forest Service: my brothers and sisters. And that includes temporary employees who are temporary in name only – who come back year after year. Over the years, too many temporary employees have been discarded like broken tools – because it’s easy to do when the pressure is on. This happens because this work and these employees are mischaracterized as temporary. A “temporary” employee may have done the same work for years or even decades, but on paper new “vacant” positions are filled anew each year. It is the regulatory fiction that these jobs are temporary that puts employees in this position. Until we succeed in fundamental reform on this core issue, temporary jobs will always be at risk, for one reason or another.

The only way to avoid problems like this and the next one that comes along is for employees who perform regular and recurring seasonal work to have career status, with all the benefits (including job security) that this entails. NFFE will continue to work toward this goal. However, this will require legislation, and with the current anti-federal employee attitude in Congress passage of pro-federal employee legislation will be difficult to achieve, to put it mildly. (Would it be too political for this blog for me to say: if you are a temporary employee and helped vote these bums in, by your action or your inaction, then you helped cut your own throat? Before the mid-term election, NFFE had solid commitments from representatives who are no longer in power to move on this legislation. There, I said it. So sue me.) Meanwhile, we have also been working for benefits for temporary employees that can be achieved administratively, without Congress. We are advocating with OPM about getting health insurance and pension benefits for temporary employees. In addition, we worked to provide long-term temporary seasonal employees (those with 24 or more months of service) with a measure of job security. This is not a perfect solution, and I know it hurts to be on the wrong side of this line in the sand, but for such a small victory in the larger struggle let me tell you it was hard won.

If anybody out there wants to join up and help us in this and many other worthwhile struggles, you can find out how at www.nffe-fsc.org/join.php. I can put you to work.

Mark Davis, President
NFFE Forest Service Council

Thanks much Mark for your persistent advocacy for wildland firefighters. Readers, if you have an interest, please step up and help the union with its work. Ab.

2/15 Re largest backfire? - Marble Cone discussion:

Reply to Ret'd BC
Was the 1977 Marble Cone Fire: Largest Backfire?

I was assigned to helicopter operations at Rana Creek Helibase, attached to a squadron of National Guard Huey's supporting the dozer line construction from Chews Ridge to the Big Sur Coast. Ground crews had been trying to fire out Hennickson's Ridge for about a week, but spent most of their time chasing slopovers. Squirrelly and adverse winds are part of the Los Padres National Forest fire environment.

Doyle Metheny, Firing Boss, and Dick Gillett, Division Supervisor, worked with the IC team for days, finally convinced them to approve lighting a counter-fire from a Type 3 helicopter with a 25mm flare pistol.

Our Huey, Marbleguard 49, had just delivered diesel fuel to the dozers on the line, when we decided that a "recon of conditions" was necessary, so we flew the northern and eastern perimeter back to Chew's Ridge. Cruising overhead, we saw that the Type 3 helicopter with the flare pistol was not producing sufficient heat and was not successfully igniting the heavy brush.

As we circled an LZ at the Cahoon Ranch along Carmel Valley Road, Metheney waved us to land. We put in, and I looked out to see Doyle followed by a line of firefighters hauling cases of Burnol burst canisters (napalm grenades). Doyle asked if the Vietnam vet flyboys were comfortable with this cargo. Over the intercom they determined that it was classified as "ordnance", which is an approved load. We knew that live napalm grenades with explosive detonators attached was a stretch of the regulatory rubber band, but we were determined.

Doyle jumped in back of the Huey, and I sat next to him, carefully unscrewing the Burnol canister lids, and arming them with a time fuse and blasting cap. There was a forty acre wedge of chamise at the top that Doyle wanted to fire out first, the start of a progressive counter-fire. We armed and tossed about ten grenades onto the target brush patch before landing, and then riding his jeep on the dozer firing line to the top of Chews Ridge. Here was a strike team of four wheel drive engines and it seemed like a hundred firefighters with every firing device known to man firing the line with salvos of Burnol canisters, multiple drip torches and fusees, and 25mm flare pistols. The complex ignition of the canisters dropped from the Huey created a convergence and plume domination that put the ground firing crews into high gear firing in effect. We witnessed a 180 degree turn around of an adverse wind of 13 mph, to 12 mph favorable wind as a result of the counter-fire influence. That's 25 mph.

Doyle then signaled Pilot Chip Washington and myself to get back to the helicopter and continue the counter-firing, giving the ground ignition crews favorable winds for rapid burn out and safety.

We ended up firing the entire east line from Chews Ridge Lookout to Arroyo Seco using a coordinated ground-aerial ignition, firing about 6,000 acres in about six hours that day.

We didn't yet have the helitorch, which came on the scene in 1979. Dick Gillett told me at the time that it was the biggest backfire ever set in California, and that the convection plume reached 32,000 feet on the second day.

Dick Gillett and Doyle Metheny are two of the best wildland firefighters I ever knew, having worked with both on some rather gnarly fires.

They had natural leadership ability, and the intestinal fortitude to fight the good fight with those that are not comfortable with calculated risk.

Captain Joe

Thanks for the bit of history, Captain Joe. I can feel it, see it and smell it. Ab.

2/15 Re: Is the Fire Service ready for "Social Media"?:

"keenly aware of their surroundings and intensely focused on the tasks they are performing. Activities that distract from firefighters’ situational awareness and precision in their work threaten the safety not only of those directly involved but also of all others around them."

They make it sound like we're tourist at Disneyland snapping photos all day. Not going to lose SA by taking a photo or two. Paragraph two, very weak argument.

File Code: 5100/1600/6170
Date: May 2, 2011
Subject: Firefighter Photography, Videography, and Use of Social Media
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Directors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cc: pdl wo spf fam regional fire directors, pdl wo spf fam leadership, pdl wo lot

2/14 Re: photos/Social Media

I don't have it in front of me, but the government does not "own" photos taken on gov time. They do share rights to the photo, though. A photographer can do what they like with photos taken on duty (with some reasonable restriction, such as on-going investigation), but the government does have free use as well, essentially making the photos public domain. This of course assumes one can prove the photo was taken on the government's time.

A similar situation applies for development of equipment by a government employee on official time (Pulaski, McLeod etc. In this case, one can get government assistance to patent and promote the item, but the government gets free use of the patent as does the employee.

Just some Fed

2/14 From the hotlist thread on this || Is the Fire Service ready for "Social Media"?:

Not sure if the Fire Service is ready for social media. Didn't someone just recently get terminated for posting on They Said while serving the Fire Service? It certainly is another tool for gaining access to information. But what happens when it is politically incorrect?

Years ago back on the Havilah fire of 1988 on the Sequoia near Breckenridge I accidentally videotaped a lead plane crash with, at the time, a new Soni digital camera at the time being state of the art. Working as a radio operator and while taking a break took the camera out to take some footage of an air tanker drop along with the lead plane. When looking through the view finder I saw what I thought was a bird flying down. Didn't think much of it until went back to the ABRO job and heard the radio traffic about the plane crash. Realized that I accidentally videotaped the crash. The tape was loaned to the FAA investigation team and eventually went to a NASA Ames lab that determined the plane went into a high speed stall and the pilot would of needed 400 or more feet to pull out but crashed to earth, leading to the death of the pilot. I asked for the property which was the video tape back and a forest service lawyer gave me a hard time saying the images on the tape were the Forest Service since it was taken in pay status on a break. They were concerned about what I was going to do with the tape. I told them I wanted to view the crash on a big screen tv instead of the tiny view finder of the camera. They had concerns about the family of the deceased pilot. The tape was returned several months later and I watched it once and put it away. Still have the original tape in a box somewhere. Wanted the tape back on principle as the FAA investigation got lucky. With digital enhancement it was strange to see it flip end over end. Some interesting other stories for another time but the point being what if I would of chosen to sell it to CNN news hound for a buck. Profit for gain with regard to a family... wheres the ethics in that? Lucky I made an ethical choice for the sake of the accident investigation but can see why this board has their policy about reporting certain accidents due to liability and legal issues.

I know sometimes you can get more accurate information from this board about what is going on at an incident than anywhere else. That is why on some fires if I am in a position to post it I do. It can help other responders. Let us hope the Fire Services don't make it a blanket policy that you can't post while in pay status. Post something and get fired? You can bet at some point some bureaucrat will make a decision some won't like cause that is what they do. The good thing is the flavor of post would just become anonymous and you won't stop it.

Two sides to all stories or events and this board as an example of social media provides a great service to the fire service, firefighters, and their families in spite of some moderators restricting the style of posting or a boss not letting an employee have their freedom of speech. The beauty of this country is we can agree to disagree. Fire Service gets social media whether you like it or no. Let it bee......


Thanks for your perspective and information, firebeeman. The pilot who died was Chuck Watkins who worked for South Ops. He was very well-liked by many who still work in fire. There's a memorial to him on the Sequoia NF, created some years ago by Scot Vail and others and recently cleaned up and cared for by the Jim and Cheryl Bauer and Breckenridge Hotshots. Thanks to them. They honor us all by honoring Chuck.

The person who got fired did not even post on theysaid, just sent Ab a heads-up email, also wanting confirmation or dis-confirmation. It's in a legal process. At some point we might make this all public. It was not a FS firing, but another federal agency. Unfortunately, the action of one supervisor and his boss taints their agency, in my professional opinion. The world has changed. Ab.

2/14 RE: NorCalSkiSlope's post on 02/11 about no outreaches being out yet for per FireHire round coming up.

I don't know what YOUR Forest is doing, but each R5 forest is supposed to post these for each Forest. Here is the SRF Outreach, been out for weeks...


2/14 re: red card with prosthetic leg


There is not clear direction for non-federal firefighters, but the federal wildland firefighter medical standards state that "AMPUTATIONS OF AN EXTREMITY OR DIGITS will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis" among possible reasons for disqualification:

The applicant/incumbent must have a musculoskeletal system that is sufficient for the individual to safely and efficiently carry out the functional requirements of the job. This may be demonstrated by:

  • A physical exam of the upper and lower extremities, neck, and back that is within the range of normal variation for strength, flexibility, range of motion, and joint stability; and
  • No evidence by physical examination and medical history of musculoskeletal conditions likely to present a safety risk or to worsen as a result of carrying out the essential functions of the job (see page 2).

Note: For individuals who require the use of a prosthetic device, the examinee will have to provide for agency review documentation from his/her surgeon or physician that the individual (and, if applicable, his/her prosthetic device) is considered to be fully cleared for the essential functions of the job.

I hope this helps.

vfd cap'n

2/14 re Photos/Social Media:

I'll take a risk on broken camera...

Does anyone have the official written BLM, NPS, FS Direction about taking photos on cameras or phones on the fireline? How about on our OWN CAMERA or CELL PHONE, on our OWN TIME?

We're paid for breaks, theyre not our own time. We are not paid for lunch breaks, which we are required to take. We are not portal-to-portal. If I take a picture on my lunch break, what then? What about taking a photo on MY lunch break that does not coincide with the half-hour lunch break we have to record even if I dont take it?

Most digital cameras and some phones record whats called EXIF data on date and time and camera type and exposure and so on. This information gets sent along with all original photos you send home or post. I use a program to strip the Exif author info before sending or posting any of MY photos taken on MY own dime and time


its free & easy to use. You open quickfix and open another window that has your photo files. You highlight & drag the photos to the quickfix window and drop them. Quickfix saves one copy without the personal info & saves the original in your photo files. I send or post the one without hidden info. it has only length-width dimensions and file size.

Keeping my family up on where I am and that I'm safe is a priority for me. I lost one wife. I don't plan to lose this one. A photo says a thousand words that I am ok and they matter to me.


2/14 re: red card with prosthetic leg

What one needs to do to take a Pac Test is fill out the medical questionnaire that will determine if they will need a doctor's release to participate. The three levels, Arduous, Moderate, and Light Walk will determine what level of work they will be able to perform. Pac Test can be part of the S-130 / S-190 basic 32 class now days I believe.

NWCG.com might be a good place to start, 5109-17 or 410-1. Your state laws might be different then federal law.

Personally if its in their heart to be a firefighter than there is most likely a place for them. They just need to find what place they fit into to make the TEAM.

Most of all work with them.


2/14 red card with prosthetic leg


I am teaching a S-130, S-190 class and had an individual approach me last night with the question, " Are there any restrictions to obtaining a red card if one wears a prosthetic device?" In this case it was due to a leg amputation below the knee. I told this person I was not sure but I would find out.

Can anyone provide some information on this?

thanks ....

Michael Di Cristina, Colorado State Forest Service

2/14 re Photos/Social Media:

Photos on Government Time are government property no matter what camera it's taken on. If you are using a personal camera during government time you're doing it at your own risk, they won't fix it if it breaks!


2/13 FEDS Professional Liability Insurance Webinar:


I participated in the FEDS webinar for LEOs and learned a lot. Different emphasis for us than wildland firefighters, but since both jobs involve risky situations, there are ovelaps. Tony is very clear. You can hear how the questions/answers work 15 or 16 mins into it. No names.

It's online here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAe0Wc2uC0I

I signed up. FEDS is much better than the other company. I paid and will get reimbursed by the FS.

Lion on fire

2/13 FEDS PLI Webinar for Wildland Firefighters

I called Brenda at FEDS to find out the process of registration, how the Webinar for Federal Wildland Firefighters is conducted and asked about participant anonymity.

Here's what I found out:

  • Federal employees register by clicking the Register Now! link in the FEDS doc below, but your name, email contact, forest (national park, BLM District), etc remain confidential.
  • Presentation: Tony Vergnetti, lawyer and founder of FEDS (an excellent wildland firefighter advocate and friend to our wlf community) will present for about 15 minutes on PLI exposure, what a PLI policy provides wildland firefighters, how it protects you against professional exposure and which employees are eligible for some level of agency reimbursement.
  • Q&A with anonymity: While Tony is doing his presentation or immediately following it, federal firefighters can type in questions. These will be received by a moderator who then transmits only the question to Tony who answers it. If 3 or 4 people have the same question, Tony will be told that 3 or 4 people have asked the question. If there's a second question Tony will be told that the same person has asked a second question. No names or duty stations.
  • If you would like to share your name and where you work, you must preface your question with "this is so-and-so" on "such-and-such a national forest, national park or BLM district or office". That identity information is not necessary nor even suggested, however.

Any of you who participated in our wlf.com structured chats years ago know the benefit of the basic info and the Q&As. The process is revealing and educational. Get the info, have your questions answered, and have peace of mind if you are confronted by legal circumstances beyond your control and expertise. Go to the Webinar, ask any questions, decide if this FEDS PLI is worth it for you.

If I were in your shoes or boots, I certainly would have it.


2/13 FEDS PLI Webinar for Wildland Firefighters

Message from Ab:

Firefighters, if you do not Professional Liability Insurance, please consider getting it. Recently it's become very clear to me that lawyers hired after the fact are EXPENSIVE and the legal process of appealing an unfair firing is cumbersome and that this can happen unexpectedly. Financially, firefighters accused of anything by a disgruntled, micromanaging, control-freak supervisor do not have the financial resources to fight back. In essence you're guilty until you can prove yourself innocent and are often ruined financially by the process alone.

FEDS Professional Liability Insurance gives you that capability to consult legal experts and to have experts defend you without additional cost, not only in fire mishaps, but also if some supervisor fires you unfairly.

You may think this doesn't happen very often. You might be surprised.

Please, if you have time or can make time this Thursday at NOON Eastern Time or 9AM Pacific Time, please attend the FEDS Professional Liability Insurance Webinar for federal wildland firefighters. It's 15 minutes plus Q& A. Here's the info:

Announcement of FEDS Free Webinar for Wildland Firefighters (32 K doc)

Registration is required. so HOP ON IT AND REGISTER. I'm going to sit in on the 15 minutes to see what info is shared and what questions are asked and answered. It will be like one of our old-timey wlf.com chat sessions focusing on a topic with an expert available to answer questions. Only the technology has changed. I expect it to be very informative.



2/13 Deaths due to dehydration/hyperthermia? or Rhabdo?

Hello Rick,

As I noted your title and read the attached weblink to the article, I have to wonder if this is a continued case of undocumented rhabdo in a country where the medical testing is less stringent then the US for medical conditions. The article seems to paint down that path as dehydration and hyperthermia are certainly contributing factors in the the medical patient that may have rhabdo as demonstrated by this folks.

I have attached both the wikiepedia definition of rhabdo as well as an article from Sports Illustrated. As fire season slowly comes upon us for the 2012 season, I would hope that wildland fire personnel get educated on this as it can be life threatening.

I hope this helps.



Bill Arsenault
Wildland Firefighter/Paramedic

2/13 Re Photos / Social Media:


In response to Dusty Rhodes's question about pictures being property of the BLM:

The way I've had it explained to me is that anybody working for the BLM (or FS, or FWS, etc.) is a federal government employee and as a federal government employee we are paid by American taxpayers. Thus, anything we produce as government employees (such as photos taken on government time) that isn't classified information can be requested by John Q. Taxpayer since they are technically our employers. So I don't think photos would actually be property of the BLM but they can be requested, seen, and used by an America without asking permission. If I"m wrong on any of this, somebody please correct me.


2/12 Re Photos / Social Media:

Hey everyone,

Was just at a recent all employees meeting for the BLM and was told that any picture taken during work hours was by default, the property of the BLM. It didn't matter if it was your camera, digital or cell phone, or what the picture was of. Could be sage brush, sunset, mountains etc.... I've never heard of this before and was wondering what other forum members thought. Is this legal?? What's driving this?? I understand if it is a government camera taking "official pictures" or if it is something sensitive, but if it isn't? Doesn't everyone out there have at least one fire picture?? I'm not looking to post anything, just would appreciate others thoughts and opinions on this.


Dusty Rhodes

2/12 Hi folks,

Anyone out there know if it is too late to submit apps to CALFIRE in order to get on the Captains' list for the year? Did the list get pulled last month?



2/12 Firefighter Hydration


Wonder if there is any correlation with firefighters that have had problems here.



2/12 As Fires Loom, Aging Airtankers cause concern:



2/11 Region-5 continues to violate Forest Service and NFFE negotiated requirements to post at the link below for 21 days all bargaining unit positions prior to requesting a referral list. Either that or not one Forest is planning to show up for R-5 fire hire in April.

Check for yourself? Do you see your Forest's positions posted?


NFFE Leadership read this forum almost as much as our Line Officers, Fire Management Officers and Regional Fire Managers. I wonder what NFFE's strategy is here.

2/11 Following up on the most recent posting regarding the Buffalo firefighters...Here's a link to a Wikipedia page
detailing a similar case in New Haven CT:


This happened not long ago and is also an interesting read.


Ricci v. DeStefano, 129 S. Ct. 2658, 2671, 174 L. Ed. 2d 490 (2009) is a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States arising from a lawsuit brought against the city of New Haven, Connecticut by twenty city firefighters alleging that the city discriminated against them with regard to promotions.[1] The firefighters, nineteen of whom are white and one of whom is Hispanic, had all passed the test for promotions to management. City of New Haven officials invalidated the test results because none of the black firefighters who passed the exam had scored high enough to be considered for the positions. They stated that they feared a lawsuit over the test's adverse impact on a protected minority. The complainants claimed they were denied the promotions because of their race—a form of racial discrimination.[2][3]

The Supreme Court heard the case on April 22, 2009, and issued its decision on June 29, 2009. The Court held 5-4 that New Haven's decision to ignore the test results violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. More at wikipedia link...

Ab added the text below M's post.

2/10 Take notice R5:

To "frustrated" and "diversity", spot on. Its also been proven in a court of law that you "CANNOT DISCRIMINATE TO SOLVE DISCRIMINATION".

R-5 really needs to "focus" on the following article.


White firefighters are awarded $2.7 million in bias case
12 get average of $230,430 as city voided promotions

Updated: February 9, 2012, 12:29 PM

Twelve white Buffalo firefighters will get an average of $230,430 each in back pay, pension benefits and damages -- a total of almost $2.77 million -- for emotional distress because the City of Buffalo illegally passed them over for promotions, a state judge has ruled.

The 12 men sued the city in 2007, contending that the city illegally allowed two promotional lists to expire because minority firefighters had fared poorly on civil service exams.

The case was affected by a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said city officials cannot void the results of civil service exams simply because they are afraid of being sued.

The ruling on damages came 15 months after State Supreme Court Justice John A. Michalek ruled that the city illegally failed to promote based on its 2005 and 2006 tests for racial reasons.

A trial on damages was held late last year, and Michalek ruled Tuesday on the compensation for the 12 firefighters who lost promotions.

"This never should have happened. These are solid, hardworking firefighters. The city should have given them the promotions they earned and not put them through five years of litigation," said attorney Andrew P. Fleming, who represented the firefighters with co-counsel Christen Archer Pierrot.

The administrations of Mayor Byron W. Brown and his predecessor, Anthony M. Masiello, are both to blame for what happened, Fleming said.

"The original decision not to promote these men was made at the tail end of the Masiello administration, and it carried on into the Brown administration," Fleming said. "Mayor Brown had the opportunity to make it right but chose to


Fair Use Disclaimer

2/10 Region 6 and 4 Temps

Anyone who doesn't get their job back and feels they where discriminated against should start here.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).


2/10 Here's a newsworthy FS announcement and a NIOSH report on the Hotlist:

National - US Forest Service Announces Strategy To Replace Large Airtankers For Wildfire Efforts

National - NIOSH recommends clear SOPs for roadway emergencies ;
This in response to the death of Chance Zobel who was battling a median highway fire.

2/10 Dear Mr Frustrated and the rest of the fire community.

I echo Mr Frustrated's sentiments. Equal Employment opportunities are non-existent anymore from what it seems. We do one thing to protect a certain race, sex, religion or other groups of diversity and completely go against the practices set in place in order to protect ALL individuals. I understand that we should take a serious look at diversity hiring because it is good for our culture and ability to relate to the general public, but I cannot force them to apply to the jobs nor should I. Its not equal opportunity employment if we are not all viewed on an equal playing field. Personally I think we shouldn't have to put down our race and sex on applications, either way we still find ways around it (judging people based off of their last names or first name). Perhaps I'll name my first born son "Sue" (good ol mr cash) so he'll be tough as nails and have a GREAT chance at a job! Perhaps I'll change my last name so that it has numbers incorporated within it. If you ask me, that’s pretty diverse! Who does that? Don't be surprised to see an application 20 years down the road with the name Sue K. 49er. (My kid might hate me in his youth but he will thank me once he gets out of school and gets a great job on the west coast.)

Perhaps its my warped sense of humor (or reality) that leads me to believe that equal opportunity is now transformed itself into a "Legal Discrimination". I personally believe it was right for the time in which this law was put into place but has reached its expiration date within recent years. If you want to hire diversity candidates perhaps we should make better recruiting efforts towards those groups. Then and only then will we be able to hire the BEST candidate based off of qualifications rather than reaching to obtain a set diversity quota.

speaking of diversity, when are we going to have white heritage month? Wait for it ……………….. . . . . "apparently" the (Hines ketchup of races) will never be equal because of the sins of their great great great grand parents or the lack of melanin in their pigmentation. We preach equality but practice something that seems to fall into a grey area. If we don't solve this problem then I'm positive that someday in the future there will be a case tying up our judicial system and wasting more tax payer dollars on trying to solve a problem that is easily foreseeable.

For clarification purposes, I wish the best for everyone applying or reapplying for a job regardless of race, sex, religion or the garments you choose to wear; but most of all I wish the best for the agency and have great hope for the direction we as an agency are choosing.

5 minute major for goalie interference
2/10 Diversity

How is all this diversity hiring even legal? Last time I checked you couldn't ask candidates what their race or ethnic background is. You can't even ask if they are male or female. Because that would be discriminatory.

I have heard a quote through the grapevine that a fairly high up HR person said recently, "Maybe 10% of perm fire hiring this spring will be white males."
I'm all about a diverse work force. I truly believe women in fire is paramount. I couldn't care less what color your skin is, or where you last name says you are from.

But it has come down to hiring someone with a "ethnic" last name. Or picking a Julie instead of a Steve. Even though the Steve or the American last name is much more qualified.

I know this has happened in R-5 for years. I myself accepted a perm GS-5 in California years ago, only to have the engine captain call me two weeks later and say he had to retract the offer. I was told since my last name wasn't hispanic that I was out of luck. And, a hispanic told me this, and he was as dumbfounded and as pissed as I was.

On a basic level, there is no way any of this is legal. I feel for all the people fighting for their jobs. I feel for all the people in my position that will have to train all these new "diverse" people. I feel for all the people that will have compromised safety because of this.

Keep your stick on the ice, we're all in this together.


2/9 Hiring pause

R4 and Disbelief.

Hang in there, we in R5 are finding similar situations that you are reporting. Let's all keep a close eye on this as we go forward and if rehire eligible Firefighters begin to not get offers to return, report this information in our forum.

This is what's going on in our world. They are promising big changes. Reminds me of December 2007 when similar discussions were ordered by Pena. It took a revolt 5 months later before any changes happened.



File Code: 5100
Date: February 8, 2012
Subject: Fire Work Environment Update
To: All Region 5 Employees

I want to take a moment to update you on the progress of the Fire Work Environment Group lead by Willie Thompson, Deputy Director FAM. The last of 11 focus groups representing each of the functional areas of our fire organization were finished on February 1, 2012. The chairs and representatives of each of these committees are to be commended for gathering employees to participate in the focus groups on fairly short notice.

During the focus group sessions in Sacramento, the Fire Work Environment Group heard a wide breadth of responses from a total of 221 employees. They heard from employees just beginning their careers, many mid-level career employees, and those with twenty plus years in federal service. There was also a tremendous response of feedback from the Fire Work Environment online survey. Your comments were pragmatic, sincere, and thoughtful and reflected the enthusiasm and professionalism of our fire organization.

Over the next few weeks, the group will be pouring over the myriad of responses to the 7 survey questions and categorizing them by topic. There were consistent “themes” identified throughout each focus group. In addition to their analysis, we will also be provided a Summary Report of themes that emerged from your feedback. For those of you that participated in the focus groups, you will be contacted in a couple of weeks by your chair to go over suggestions in helping us identify proposed actions. Your comments will help us incorporate changes within our fire organization that will benefit fire personnel in the future.

Robin Heard, Deputy Assistant for Administration, who sat in on several of the sessions, is impressed with the fire employees she met and heard from in Region 5 and would like to thank everyone for their participation. We appreciate your thoughtful responses helping to bring about positive changes to the Fire Work Environment.

I would like to personally thank the Fire Work Environment Group - Willie Thompson, Sharon AllenBrick, Shawna Legarza, Jeanne Pincha-Tulley, Kerri Gilliland, Jimmy Harris, Robert Garcia, Rick Cowell, Roger Caballero, Elizabeth Barrerra, Daniel Diaz, Lois Lawson, and Stanton Florea for all their hard work.

Our goal is to provide updates to you throughout this process. The Fire Work Environment Group will present a final draft Plan of Action to me on Friday, March 16, 2012.

/s/ Randy Moore
Regional Forester

2/9 Hiring pause


You're not the only one in this boat, today R6 paused all temp hiring. All people that are not considered Long Term Seasonals will not be rehired at this time. Even if they left their previous forest with a good performance evaluation and were told they would be rehired. Right now they might not have a job this season. This is being done for the sake of diversity only, not necessarily for quality or skill of employees.

This is a slap in the face to everyone that's worked for the US forest service or will work for them. If you are a seasonal that has less than the stated 24 months of service and have a fully successful performance appraisal or better, you need to fight for your jobs. Call your forests, get a hold of your union reps, ask why you're not being rehired! Fight for your rehire eligibility! We are going to lose the future of the forest service by cutting folks that have skills and desire simply because they don't fit someone's plan!

Sign me,


2/9 Fire History:

Dear Readers:

My Mother's Cousin passed away on 2/2/12. Hal E. Anderson was 82. When I started Fighting fire in 1979, we were just getting up to speed on fire Behavior. Hal worked at the Missoula Fire Sciences lab with the Fire Behavior group and made a huge contribution to our understanding and faith in fire behavior. Just think, a generation ago we didn't have these tools. It makes me reflect on how we fought fires long ago and how far we have come. We are safer today because of this group of men and women that blazed the trail for us. Let's always remember the basics and apply today's new science to ensure our fire fighters safety.


Bushman 82

2/9 Bears in Camp?

One answer to the question about how to deal with bears in camp...


Haw haw haw. Ab.

2/9 Australia's Black Saturday Feb 2009 revisited


Hopefully available in the US.

Very powerful - I had goose bumps in the first 60 seconds.


(sufferings floods on the eastern seaboard, while the west is having the fires...)

2/9 Number of seasonal firefighters?


I am working on a recruitment presentation for local high school and college students. Does anyone know roughly how many seasonal firefighters that the Federal Government hires each year? Or how many the Forest Service or any of the DOI agencies hire?


2/8 Hiring pause

Region 4:

It has come to my attention that short-term seasonal employees may not have the opportunity to continue to build their careers because region 4 wants to make all “under 24 month seasonals” re-compete for their positions even though we have worked hard to stay in those positions and have stellar performance appraisals. I write this to discuss Region 4's Interim Direction of Seasonal Employee hiring, and approach to “Short-Term” (under 24 months) seasonal employees. My intentions are to build a case for short-term seasonal employee rehire eligibility and to enlist the region in engaging in conversations with immediate supervisors of short-term seasonal employees. I am doing this for myself and for all the seasonal employees in my position who are now fighting not for a job but for their careers and quality of life. At a time when the Department of Agriculture's Office of the Inspector General has determined that the Forest Service has not taken the necessary steps to ensure that it has sufficient qualified staff to meet future wildland fire management responsibilities, the Intermountain Region seems to be prioritizing the diversity check box on performance appraisals of hiring officials over encouraging new employees to build a career. Disclosure requirements are to remain completely anonymous and decisions based on race or ethnicity are not to be taken into account and if they are used, it is not only illegal but also immoral.

I perceive a deep disconnect between Region 4's hiring direction and the Department of Agriculture's Cultural Transformation Initiative. On the NFFE (Forest Service Council) website it says,

“The direction changes nothing for employees with less than 24 months of service. They still have rehire eligibility. The decision to rehire them or compete the position they filled in previous seasons is at the discretion of the hiring official, just as has been the case in the past.”

If this is true, there is a disturbing disconnect with Region 4 hiring between the hiring official's decision to make the process competitive and the spirit of Cultural Transformation: crew supervisors are unable to rehire respected and valued employees based on job performance alone.

If the Region is not rehiring employees who were fully successful and want to build a career with the Agency, then what example are they setting? In the July 20, 2011 letter to all Forest Service Employees addressing Cultural Transformation Harris D. Sherman, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment, states

"A key part of inclusiveness is providing a workplace environment where employees are respected and valued for their contributions and can expect recognition and career advancement based on job performance alone.”

The region is doing the exact opposite of this direction. It would be a shame for region 4 to fail to hear a message that is so critical to the very foundations of the organization and the fundamentals of the American people. It makes me wonder why this is happening, and why seasonal employees who are fully successful and may be diverse in more ways than a protected class can capture, cannot be rehired despite their good work and FULLY SUCCESSFUL performance appraisals. If it is happening because of diversity, then does diversity trump performance? Never, in any of my private, public, or non-profit sector experience, would a well performing employee not be able to return to a previously held position due to diversity requirements ESPECIALLY when those requirements must remain confidential and when each person brings diversity. It makes me wonder what kind of example our government is setting for future generations. It makes me question core values I was raised to respect: hard work, quality work, and always exceeding expectations.

Martin Luther King once said,

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

I have proved the content of my character. The short-term seasonals in Region 4 have proved the content of their character. Our supervisors want to hire us back, and we would like to return. We would like to build our careers in this agency. And so, I too have a dream. I have a dream that one day, I will not be judged on my sex, race, and ethnicity, but by the hard work that I do to prove myself and the performance appraisal I have to show for it and by the recommendation of my immediate supervisors who work with me day in and day out. If the decision for short-term seasonal employees is to compete again for every duty station in Region 4, then I feel the system has failed all of us. The system has told us, do not work hard, do not do a good job, do not get a good performance appraisal because it does not matter. Your hard work, your good job means nothing to us. It shows all of us who are valued and respected employees, that Region 4 does not support our dedication and accomplishments. They do not care what kind of job we do. They do not care to recognize quality. If they are not judging us on the job that we perform, then what are we being judged on? If that answer is diversity, then our government is going back in time. If the answer is diversity then we are being judged on our sex, race, and ethnicity, when these very attributes are supposed to remain completely confidential. If the answer is diversity and we are being judged on these personal attributes then what is happening is illegal.

In conclusion, we need support in this situation. I feel that the system to support a professional, dedicated and diverse workforce is being challenged. We need to band together and stand up for what is right. I will continue to fight for my job and the jobs of other high performing, hard working seasonal employees. We are the qualified staff required to meet the future wildland fire management responsibilities. We want to continue building our careers and we believe we still have rehire eligibility under 5 CFR 316 and the Forest Service Handbook 6109.12, Chapter 20. The time to make a difference is now. Our hard work shall pay off!



2/8 Wildland Firefighting and Bear Conflicts / Bears in Camp?


I am seeking information and/or policy on dealing with bear activity during wildland firefighting, i.e., camps, encounters. Do you have any information on how firefighting camps may have been set up to avoid negative bear encounters, and if so, what methods were used? For example, are electric fences utilized to protect personal belongings and food? Are bear-resistant containers or canisters used to store foodstuffs, and if so, how do these accommodate large camps for longer periods of time?

Any information would be very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

from the North

2/8 Thanks for sending in the photos! Ab.
2/8 Hi,

I'm writing something for a recruitment training class, and am looking for the old photo of Pres. Bush with a CalFire
Engine (with 2 emblems) and FS pickups in the pic. I need it fast, so hopefully someone can point me to a link?



2/8 Mellie RE: Armband Temp monitors-

Here is a product from Body Media that is bluetooth enabled with free apps that looks like the device you were describing. A bit pricey, but how much is heat injury prevention really worth in the long run.

I haven't used the product myself, but it might be something to consider if an individual is prone to heat injuries.

Us non-R5 guys are good for something after all, aren't we? (tongue in cheek)

2/7 Ab,

Please see the following post from the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program’s Facebook page. We are trying to reach as many students of fire as we can through as many avenues as we can. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Fire season is just around the corner for some and our crews are beginning to return. We need your help in raising awareness about the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program as well as our Facebook page and blog. The program needs you to be the force behind the movement. We know it can be done; we've seen how social media can ignite passion. Let's see what we can do! Ready, set, go! IGNITE the spark for leadership!

Pam McDonald (NWCG Leadership Committee, Logistics Coordinator and social media contributor)
BLM Fire Training Unit, NIFC

Readers, feel free to pick this up and share with your firefighters. Ab.

2/7 Last week I was speaking with a hotshot about hyperthermia and that perhaps crews might consider posting a "lookout" for hyperthermia just as they do a lookout for the fire when fire behavior might change. Then I talked with some sports moms.

Technology is moving ahead. Here are some interesting developments:

Body sensor networks used to monitor heat stress

But it may not need to be a multi-sensor approach or an expensive approach. I heard from several mom acquaintances whose teens do motorcross competition and football that there is now a cell phone Ap can be combined with wearing an armband that lets you know through your cell phone if a person's core body temp is rising beyond what is safe. I'm awaiting that product info, but they said the band their kids wear is less than $25 and the warning message comes through a cell phone. Here's one product I googled, CorTemp Data Recorder but this isn't it. The moms said they got the message from one kid each through their phones. I need to try to contact them to get the product name and Ap.

People in a high stress working environment often do not know when their core temperatures are rising. If everyone on a crew is physically working hard in a hot environment, potentially with headache or discomfort and rising core temps themselves, others may not recognize a crewmate in trouble, especially if they have no slide in their slide tray about hyperthermia.

Just some food for thought.

Has anyone used a sensor band like this and the cellphone Ap system?


2/6 buyout/fftr waiver:

Has there been any official word out about a waiver for firefighters taking the buyout? I've heard through the grapevine there will be no waiver this time for those wanting to maintain their fire quals after going with the buyout.

So far there has been no info at all come through my office about whether this is even going through. I'm the only fftr in my office, and the others are still waiting to hear if this is a done deal at all.


2/6 AB,

Here is some help for RS, he posted 2/5

Also this is a great website loaded with info about KSAs or ECQs



I think those are copyrighted so I won't post them, but thanks. Website looks good. Ab.

2/5 HI AB

I am looking for help on KSAs and resume, there was one person in the past but looks like they closed up shop. Is there any company that you know specializes in Wildland Fire applications?

Any help would be great…


2/4 Dear SoCal Ridges:

Thanks for the kind comments. The bottom line is Issa is a leader among anti-federal employee proposals simply as a result of the fact the President of the United States belongs to the opposite political party and thus if an opportunity exists to cast the Administration in a poor light publicly, or go after its political appointees of federal agencies etc., it becomes the duty of the opposing party, in this case Republicans, to do so.

Issa cosponsored our PTP legislation in 2006 in part because the author was a Republican and because we educated him on the issues and subsequently asked him to do so while I was at another Republican's fundraiser in San Diego, former Congressman Duncan Hunter Sr. Ironically the FWFSA was able to secure more Democratic cosponsors on that bill than Republicans but nonetheless a very bipartisan, diverse group of folks.

In fact before my time with the FWFSA, in the mid to late '90's while pushing federal firefighter pay while affiliated with the IAFF, a group of us from California secured the likes (for those of you old enough to remember the two) of both Bob "B-1" Dornan and Ron Dellums, both of the California congressional delegation and each representing the far right and the far left of the political spectrum, on the same federal employee/federal firefighter pay reform legislation.

My point is Issa's current position is based upon the "tow the company line" philosophy: in this case do what you can to tear apart the opposite party. If the roles were reversed as history has shown us, a Democratic Chair of a House Committee (obviously meaning the Democrats controlled the House) would likely do the same thing towards a Republican Administration.

As a result, you have to work with both sides of the aisle; you make it clear you are not interested in the partisan political posturing and you create marketing strategies for your issues that transcend partisanship i.e. strategies that make your solutions to issues beneficial to their constituents i.e. taxpayers.

Issa, in my opinion, as with so many "rookie" Republican members of Congress, has been sucked into this mentality. As a result, you have two immovable objects pushing against each other, resulting in...not a damn thing and ignorance runs supreme.

Fortunately there are some on both sides of the aisle unwilling to play the game so we try to enlist their help in "educating" those playing the game. We therefore want to try and have some of our Republican supporters put some pressure on folks like Issa. Additionally, we want to use Democratic supporters to put pressure on the Administration and some other Democrats in Congress to acknowledge that problems still exist with the fire programs, even under the Democratic Administration and to pursue changes to the status quo.

Our effort will be to put the responsibility squarely back on Issa since his Oversight Committee has responsibility for exactly that... oversight, of which there is very little, despite the rhetoric from both sides of the aisle. As I suggested candidly to his committee staff, "even murderers have the right to face their accusers" so if Issa and others truly believe the federal workforce is to blame for our Nation's fiscal ills and that it should shoulder the burden of fixing all of our fiscal problems, then allow that workforce, especially those that risk their lives and are at or near the bottom of the federal pay scale, an opportunity to have their voices heard since they likely have far greater insight into their own Agency's fiscal waste & mismanagement and the solutions thereto than Issa or anyone in Congress. If Issa balks, then it clearly demonstrates he isn't interested in fixing problems and his and other's motives are purely based on opposing the "other side" and basic political posturing.

As with any politician, education is the key and if a strategy can be created that demonstrates it is in their voting constituent's best interests to make changes, they'll feel the pressure. And while our issues are certainly bipartisan, everyone needs to know that when it is necessary, I have and will play partisan politics. If we can get some of the Congressman's Republican constituents who happen to be federal wildland firefighters to the meeting and echo a sentiment that even they are fed up with the obstructionist tactics of their own party, then so be it. If we can convey and convince Issa and other Western Republicans that, according to our Republican members that the tactics of the Republican leadership, (McConnell, Boehner, Cantor) all from East of the Mississippi, are having a negative impact in the West and in fact may have a negative impact on Western Republicans in November, then so be it. The strategy would be identical if the party roles were reversed.

Is this top secret FWFSA strategy I'm divulging? Nope, just political common sense... if that exists at all anymore in DC.

2/4 Which standard is required for Wildland firefighter boots NFPA 1977 or ASTM F2413-05 ?

Capt 3724

Replies here on the hotlist: BOOTS Thread

2/4 Thoughts on FS Union:

From the Trinity Mountains to the Hills of Portero the Forestry Tech/Wildland Fire Fighter is smiling knowing he/she put in a good days work. As I was driving to work listening to a little Wade Black I thought about being black balled is not a good thing unless it's because the crew buggy goes by that and has the shield on the back door. Anyhow folks on any Forest that is not UNION need to get off the fence and get a UNION. In my minds eye it is in the best interest of all if it is the union who is bringing up the issue which a tissue won't cure, not the FIREFIGHTER who may not bring up the issue due to the 8-Ball effect which is alive and well. The UNION costs nothing if the employee decides not to pay, but dues paying and non-dues paying employees are represented by the Union if they desire.

Hell, I have fought fires for close to 20 seasons and it seems to me in my experience that out of the two employees I have had to terminate, one on a Union Forest and one on a Non-Union Forest and my experience was the Union Forest Employee stayed terminated despite having Vets Preference and the Non-Union Forest employee came back. Both in my view earned the right to be terminated and were not remorseful or accountable for their actions.

The argument that Non-Union Forests have to follow what Union Forests do is true in some instances, but not in many, kinda like being self-regulating. Why is it the LEOs don't work directly for the District Rangers? Answer that question and I think you will find why checks and balances are a good thing for the Greater Good.

Just my thoughts-

Go Union-Go Green Machine-Go!!!!!

2/4 Firefighting:


My name is Natan, I am a Ranger in the National Parks Authority in Israel and a American citizen with a U.S. social security number.
I'm looking to raise my level of knowledge and experience in Firefighting in Wildland Fires.
I am interested in basic and advanced training and experience in anther places.
I would love to hear how I can fit in your courses or if you have any suggestion or advice.

Thank you,

2/4 FWFSA and Darrell Issa

I support my association sitting down with Darrell Issa. I trust Casey Judd more than anyone else in my professional life, period! One comment; If anyone out there thinks Darrell Issa supports federal employees, you need your freaking head examined.

No one is leading the change more to cut your pay, cut your health care benefits and take away your retirement than Darrel Issa.




Anyone from NFFE know where I can find the outreaches for the upcoming R5 Fire Hire Event?

So Cal Ridges

2/4 Book Review: On the Fireline by Matthew Desmond

On the subject of why wildland firefighters love their work, this is the most useless book I have read. To be a four season hotshot, on a crew in Northern Arizona, and believe that interviewing this crew qualifies you to draw valid conclusions about the thousands of wildland firefighters in the United States is somewhat the height of arrogance.

I am 80 years old, fought my first wildland fire when I was sixteen, retired after thirty five years, and continued to do fire reviews for fourteen years after retirement. Most of my life has been involved with wildland firefighters, and still is. During all that time I have asked myself why I loved this job so much, without ever getting an answer, and this book sure didn't answer it.

If it had been called something like a study of fourteen hotshots in Arizona I might have been able to give it a fair review. As it is, I can only give it zero chainsaws.

W. G. Todd

I added your review to the Books Review page. Ab.

2/3 Hey AB

Just thought I would send this email out. I know if CSTI is shut down, the cost of keeping Hazmat current is going to get very expensive. The email part is very long so not sure how you can get the word out to try to save CSTI. There is a link at the bottom though. Have a safe day. 70 degrees and sunny in Northeast California today.

Ab moved this up from the bottom: For more information on the Closure of CSTI visit our website at www.savecsti.com.

Reduction, Relocation, and Dismantling of CSTI -- California Specialized Training Institute

The California Specialized Training Institute (CSTI), in its current form, will cease operations on 12/31/12. Most of the staff positions will be eliminated. The rest will be moved to Sacramento. CSTI will conduct limited emergency management training in Sacramento. CSTI will no longer provide training in hazardous materials response and criminal justice.

Governor’s 2012-13 Proposed Budget Reduction

The Governor’s 2012-13 proposed budget calls for a $1.5 million reduction of CSTI’s operating budget ($200,000 General Fund and $1.3 million federal fund). This decrease includes:

  • Laying off over 2/3rds of the CSTI staff (total of 19 Instructors/Support Staff) leaving 9 positions.
  • Closing the CSTI training facilities at Camp San Luis Obispo, including the Hazmat Field Training Facility, Criminal Justice Firing Range, Criminal Justice Simulation Facility and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) simulation room.

Effect on Local Government

Hazmat training will take place at three Joint Powers Authority (JPA) training facilities located in Sacramento, Del Valle and Riverside. No CSTI sponsored hazmat or criminal justice training will take place at any other location.

This proposal, and the draft plans put forth by CalEMA, make no provision for operating the CSTI Hazmat Outreach program. If CSTI staff will no longer provide training then the Instructor Certification program will be eliminated. If there is no staff to administer the Outreach program the users won’t be able to use this program. The CSTI printshop is scheduled to close which will eliminate printed materials being available to Outreach Instructors. If this proposal goes through there will be no staff to operate the program or to maintain curricula. If this program is lost then the training costs to local jurisdictions will increase as they won’t be able to provide training in-house.

CSTI presently conducts about 70% of its Emergency Management, Criminal Justice and Haz Mat training at locations throughout the State. The locations and dates are selected through consultations with local jurisdictions. If all Haz Mat training will take place at three designated locations, jurisdictions outside those designated areas will face increased travel expenses as Haz Mat training will no longer be provided at locations requested by local jurisdictions. With the reduction of staff, by 2/3, there is no guarantee emergency management training needs will be met. In addition the criminal justice office safety and terrorism program will no longer be offered.

This proposal won’t allow CSTI to develop customized or unique curricula to suit local needs. A large part of CSTI training has historically been created at the request of individual agencies or jurisdictions to meet their unique requirements. Under this proposal there won’t be sufficient staff or resources to create or teach these types of classes.

The only way the dismantling of CSTI can be stopped is by you contacting the Governor, your State Representative, State Representatives serving on the review of the CalEMA budget (see below), and Department of Finance (see below).

When contacting your governmental officials please share/ask:

  1. The value of the training you have received at CSTI, why CSTI is important to the Emergency Management, Criminal Justice, and Hazardous Materials Training community.
  2. Why does CalEMA currently support a $3.3 million dollar contract with State Military Department and Dept. of Energy contractor ORISE, $3.0 million dollars, to provide emergency management/training while CSTI is being dismantled? CSTI currently provides the same services these contractors are providing.

Mail, write, or fax the Governor’s Office and ask him to restore the proposed cuts in the budget and let CSTI continue to provide important specialized training to support local government, private, non-profit, and tribal entities.

Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841 Fax: (916) 558-3160

Contact Legislature committees who will review the CalEMA budget proposal.


Senate Standing Committee on Governmental Organization
Staff Director: Arthur Terzakis
Consultant: Paul Donahue
Assistant: Brenda K. Heiser
Phone: (916) 651-1530
Room: 1020 N Street, Room 584

Standing Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review
Assistants: Glenda Higgins and Mary Teabo
Phone: (916) 651-4103 Room: 5019


Assembly Committee on Budget
State Capitol, Room 6026
Sacramento, California 95814
916.319.2099 phone 916.319.2199 fax

Committee on Governmental Organization
1020 N Street, Room 156
Sacramento, California 95814
916.319.2531 phone 916.319.3979 fax

Department of Finance:

Ana J. Matosantos
Director, (916) 445-4141
Department of Finance
915 L Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
2/3 DM, you said:

"I'm sorry but the "Gift" Robin talks about in her message is quite laughable to me. Regional hiring the gift that keeps on giving"

I think you are taking her quote out of context. I read it as intended for her HR employees who have to do all of work behind the scenes with printing out the applications, creating the lists, etc. For them the extra time is the Gift.


2/3 Hiring

So one question I have about our hiring of Apprentices so late this year. With the region doing the temp hiring right now how many vets are going to take temp jobs then turn around and get hired as apprentices? It's going to take us until the middle of summer to finally get everyone in place because we all know how fast ASC really does its job. Are our Regional Bigheads really that clueless on the time we need to get people in place? I'm sorry but the "Gift" Robin talks about in her message is quite laughable to me. Regional hiring the gift that keeps on giving.

2/3 Congressional meeting:

Last November I posted a request to hear from those interested in attending a meeting in Congressman Darrell Issa's (R-CA) District Office in Vista CA.

I apologize for it taking so long to get this accomplished but we are looking at the morning of March 13th. Since space is limited, the priority must go to FWFSA members from the Cleveland NF and DOI lands in and a round the San Diego area. I have already emailed those who contacted me previously about their interest and individual letters to our members in the area will be going out as soon as the Congressman's office confirms a time.

Political affiliation is not an issue so it doesn't matter if you are a Republican or Democrat. That does not mean I won't be playing some hardball partisan politics. This is a critical meeting in that Rep. Issa is Chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee which would have overall jurisdiction on our federal wildland firefighter issues as traditionally, other committees of jurisdiction such as Agriculture & Natural Resources have deferred their jurisdiction on our legislation to Oversight. Additionally, Rep. Issa previously cosponsored PTP legislation at our request.

Previous Republican Chairs of this committee and the Resources Committee, when those committees were called a different name, authored previous portal to portal legislation, held hearings on PTP and led to the House' passage of a federal wildland firefighter classification bill in 2006 so those runing the shows in these committees are very important.

Please contact me as promptly as possible at cjudd@fwfsa.org or 208-775-4577 to let me know if you are interested.

Casey Judd
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
2/3 Fire Hire:

Making the rounds:

From: Biehl, Gary -FS
Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2012 4:38 PM
Subject: Fire Hire

We will be having a Spring Fire Hire combined with Apprentice Hire. Details attached. Make sure your employees get notified and get their applications updated in AVUE. The Fire Vacancy website is the best place to apply to AVUE from, it has all positions vacant or not by Forest covered in the hiring process with a link directly to AVUE for the appropriate announcement at www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/trackingdb/.

2/3 I am trying to find the best place to purchase wildland fire photos from Texas summer 2011.

That was my son's first season fighting fires and would like to give him photos for his 21st birthday this May. His father has 28 years, and one of our biggest regrets are not having photos.

Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

Sent from my Kindle Fire

Anyone have any good FREE photos that can be reproduced for this purpose? Ab.

2/2 Fire Hire:

19 days until application submissions close. Still not one Forest in R5 has outreached even one of the dozens of
bargaining unit firefighter jobs that close on 2/21.


Central Cali Kid

2/2 Safe Air Travel


Safety Alert

2/2 HR 3835

Yesterday the House of Representatives voted in favor of HR 3835 which extends the federal employee pay freeze. As I mentioned, much of the action associated with this bill is a result of political posturing in that the bill, inclusive of the extension of the pay freeze for folks like yourself, also included the continuation of the pay freeze for members of the House & Senate.

The fact that members of the House & Senate are equating their pay to those such as yourselves and thus "demonstrating" to the American public that they have the courage and are willing to share the pain is nauseating. Because the two issues were packaged together, those that voted against the bill, say to stop the attack on the federal workforce, will now have ads attacking them suggesting they voted against the extension of the pay freeze for themselves because they are fat cats wanting more dough when in fact it was the federal workforce as a whole they wanted to protect.

The idea of placing the extension of a congressional pay freeze on the same bill as the extension of a pay freeze for rank & file federal employees is again a procedural piece of BS that should not go unchallenged.

It shouldn't surprise too many that the bill was authored by a first term Republican from Wisconsin (Sean Duffy), home state to Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R) who also believes our Nation's fiscal ills should be placed on the backs of the federal workforce. Fortunately, although not much gets done in the Senate, they likely will not have the votes to get this nonsense passed into law.

2/2 **Online Survey Extended** Fire Work Environment Group

Please get this out to all those firefighters who left the agency between December 2008 and now, as their input would be very important.

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2012/safe/2012-fire-work-environment-focus-groups.doc (194 K doc)

2/2 Re: response to high paid employees getting ff retirement...

I had to wait to respond to the original question which is addressed in the comment two posts below.

SK makes some good points, especially about opportunities to move up. However when it comes to FF retirement, the world is not fair.

Here’s an example, and it relates to the natural resource duties performed in one’s career.

If a person were to ask how well new employees (those hired in late 60s and 70s) were informed on FF retirement – I am sure the overwhelming response would be “not very well.”

I am not a retirement specialist but I do know that in order to get ff retirement, it requires only one season - (90) days of primary firefighting as a basic requirement. A well informed employee would then have been told that you would move into a secondary ff retirement position – as long as there was not a break in service from “primary” firefighter management/duties. A good example is a former primary firefighter that moves into a “covered” secondary ff retirement position – Dispatch is a good example. Or a resource management position that is primarily fire management related. The point here is that many people get ff retirement with very limited line experience.

Now is this fair? Here’s a couple of thoughts –

I can account for several people who work in Fire Management now, fought fire on the line for MANY seasons, and are now in high level – and very MEANINGFUL fire management positions – and they WILL NOT get firefighter retirement. Why?

These employees at one time either took on an occupational series job that did not get classified for secondary firefighter retirement. Even though some of these folks have 35-40 years of service working for the agency, like jobs as foresters, – they got caught in the “missing link” syndrome. In other words, taking on jobs not covered by firefighter retirement (even with much of their career work actively engaged in fire management – including maintaining red card qualifications, going on fires every year and supporting fire programs in many facets. Is this fair? Not in my opinion – these are the employees that have to get attorneys to fight for their FF retirement, but only if they even have the energy to take on OPM and the Agency's complex, convoluted, retirement rules.

Another example is an employee who fought fire as a primary for almost a decade – got seriously injured, and later returned to work in a non-covered position. Were they advised, NO. But they carried on, and even went back in direct Fire Management positions at places like Regional FM offices, the WO FAM office, and at NIFC. Did it stop them from doing fire, AND natural resource management related work – NO.

These employees are dedicated, moved up in grade on their own merits, remain actively engaged and even fulfill high leadership and advisory roles in Safety, Fire Operations, Aviation and Risk Management - and continue working not just for the pay – but because they are committed to keeping the younger workforce safe, and on positive career tracks.

So – the questions above is a difficult one to interpret. Sometimes it’s not who you know but what you weren’t versed in with regards to ff retirement. Remember, these people began their careers in the late 60’s and 70’s, and because of poor counseling – or no counseling – still continue to work directly for fire management – but WILL NOT get ff retirement.

When the agencies went to diversity hiring in later years, and the culture did change to promote women in fire management careers – many of them were counseled well in how the retirement system worked. A good thing. For its intent – diversity hiring did its job and ensured new employees knew the rules. And even though the agency has done a good job at placing women and minorities into career paths – it just wasn’t the same for other classes of employees in reference to the quality of retirement counseling they received.

So what’s the issue? It is no secret that there are highly experienced white male employees who remain committed and dedicated to their careers, who continue fire management duties, and who will never see FF retirement.

Today, there is the perception, real or not, of the “90 day wonders” who put in their time as primary (even if they didn’t go on a fire!) and not only are pulling down high salaries today – but will also get FF retirement. Fair or not – it’s reality. So what have the agencies learned? In their efforts to recruit a diverse workforce, there are counselors who explain these benefits very well. And still there are hires that do their 90 days, (one season of primary firefighting) – know they’ll never want to do it again (too arduous, too dirty, whatever….) but they know the rules. They often are mentored and accommodated into secondary covered ff retirement positions.

Finally, let’s not forget that the FS is a natural resource management agency. Look at the most current letter of direction for 2012. Read through it – accelerated ecosystem restoration, FIRE management, and Coop forestry are priorities. Fire is as natural a force on the health of forests as are climate, disturbance, and human effects. Hard to separate fire from natural resource management.

Anyway – just some insights. All is not fair in the complex world of OPM and current society’s value systems. The important thing is do the job well, do it right – the systems are changing (again). And with “Cultural Transformation and Inclusion” as one of the five big priority ticket items in current direction – my advice to employees is know the retirement rules if you plan a career with the agency, and are lucky to have the opportunity to establish a career. If you have FF retirement questions – Ask. Before you find out decades later what could have been.

Yes – a candid answer to a ubiquitous question.


2/1 Question: Should a Forest Service natural resource specialist in Washington D.C. making $89,033 to $136,771 per year
get firefighter retirement?

My vote is YES!

  • They earned it!
  • They have walked in our boots, and have the experience and training to speak knowledgeably about our world to those in DC who don't.
  • There are opportunities out there for folks in our ranks to move up. Maybe someday that could be me applying for that job.


2/1 To Mark Davis,

Last week I started thinking about our posts that we exchanged back on 10/28 and 11/1, regarding my lack of
confidence that the Forest Service was posting for outreach 21 days in advance all bargaining unit positions at
this website. https://hrm.gdcii.com/outreach/Default.aspx

I felt like I was not living up to my commitment to offer you some examples.


Then this email came out today (posted below) and the examples fell right into our hands. This email announces the "surprise" decision of an R5 spring fire hire for GS6-9 with all applications due by, hummmm 2/21/12. This email has taken everyone by surprise including Civil Rights Officers (who do the outreaches and post them), Fire Chiefs, District Rangers and Forest Supervisors.

Mark, by my count, 17 National Forests and one management unit have until midnight tonight, 4 hours and 45 minutes, to get the outreaches loaded up at the national outreach database. Unbelievable! If this wasn't so serious, it would be laughable.

The purpose of this post is to make sure that if anyone doubted that Forest Service Human Resource Management, outreach, recruitment and AVUE application processes are the most inept in federal service, this egregious error today must have you convinced now.

Don’t worry, “they” will read wlf.com tomorrow and correct another mistake by extending the closing date so Forests can do outreach and recruitment. Unbelievable! If they don't, NFFE will remind them. We look like such fools when we see national and regional management make decisions on the fly, not thinking things out, before zinging out the afternoon email.

Centralized Fire Management (with our own HR) today!
2/1 Making the rounds since 1542 hrs yesterday afternoon:

** URGENT ** R5 Apprentice Information

I have just been informed by Gary Biehl and Liz Wright that R5 is planning a spring centralized fire hire GS-6 thru GS-9. The good news is they are wanting to make Apprentice selections at that time, so after the second announcement closes, we will have plenty of time to do qualifications, etc. So, the selection of R5 Apprentices in Sacramento, starting 2/20 is now cancelled until 4/9 to 4/20.

The dates are as follows:

2/21/2012 Last day for applicants to apply to GS-6 thru GS-9, HR will start generating referral lists on Wednesday, 2/22/2012
3/19/2012 HR gives copies of applications and spreadsheet of applicants to Fire
3/26 to 4/6 - SME for Apprentice and GS-6 thru GS-9
4/9 to 4/20 - Recommendations and selections made - HR processing selection packages

This will give HR enough time for the R5 Apprentice vacancies to close. ASC-HRM needs to have a discussion with R5 HR Service Team to discuss VRA hires and what information ASC-HRM needs to get from the units to process any Excepted Service Appointments and determine the timeline in receiving this information. I am hopeful to work this out so all Excepted Service Appointments are in the system so the Units will know how many of their positions are being filled this way.

I am thankful for the reprieve and not having R5 Apprentices in the middle of R3 and R4. This is an unexpected gift from R5!

I am looking at Monday or Tuesday of next week setting up a call to discuss Excepted Service Appointments, and who you would like me to invite from R5 Service Team. If this doesn't work for you, please let me know. THANKS

Supervisory HR Specialist

2/1 FYI:

Forest Service: Fiscal Year 2012 Final Program Direction (66 K doc)

2/1 for SF, Historic MT Wildfires:

There's a database of federal fire occurrences from 1980 to present (2010, they haven't done 2011 yet) located here:

Online arcIMS viewer (sort of like google maps)

Data in shapefiles for use in arcmap


2/1 Re the question about why hire an outside firm for a safety survey:

I don't know which "regular employees" got the email about the safety survey, but who gets it influences what the replies and findings are, of course. You would hope that part time permanent firefighters would be included, but maybe this survey is targets safety of the non-fire work force.

One reason outside organizations/ universities/ etc are in the mix -- beside expertise in survey creation and analysis -- is that they are not subject to FOIA, so respondents' identities can be kept confidential.


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