"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland Firefighter
||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
- We will be changing our names to Incident Management Teams in order
be more uniform with NIMS and other organized teams throughout the
- There is a committee working on steps to allow for a smaller CAL
IMT to be dispatched to incidents, made up of existing members from a
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
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
at this point, it will not be a matter of simply cutting four existing
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
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
will remain flexible with all of these decisions through the transition. We
to do the same.
As we receive additional information, Joe, Mike or I will pass it on.
West Division Operations
Incident Commander, Team 4
||Re Retention Pay
I was asked to post this pdf file as info to add to
It came from 2005 when California FS Forests and Districts
had massive vacancies.
A Full Time Workforce (170 K pdf)
Food for discussion.... Ab.
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
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.
||Re WFF donation:
ok I made my 2012 pledge early and bought a lotto
ticket (finger crossed)
||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
||Hickman & ksengb,
You guys OK with the tornadoes in your area?
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.
||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.
||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.
||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
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
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
Thanks and hope to see you there, come have a fun filled afternoon with us.
(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!
||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
||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
||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.
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.
||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
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
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.
||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)
||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
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.......
||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
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
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
"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!
||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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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…….
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
With Respect and Fraternity: Nauseas in NOR-CAL
||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
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
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
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
Thanks Vicki & Burk,
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
||Protective cover for Honda pump and hose reel on rig:
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
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.
Nor Cal FWFSA
Golf Scramble (320 K pdf)
I added the info to the
Hotlist Calendar, scroll to the bottom to view it. Ab.
||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!
||Protective cover for Honda pump and hose reel on rig:
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?
||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
||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
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.
||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.
||Fire in just north of Napa, CA.
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!
||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
||re marble cone backfire:
The crew leadership did an outstanding job.
The crew were well trained, well organized, and typical of hotshot crew then
Tactics and strategies seem to be different these days. But one can always
count on a shot crew today as we did then.
||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.
||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.
||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
Good to hear from the SW. Be safe! Ab.
||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
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 ....
||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.
||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.
||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:
||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.
||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/
||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......
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
Slobovia according to wikipedia... 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
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.
||I've been reading the posts on photo and video copyright.
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
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.
||Re: Marble Cone Fire: Largest Backfire?
Joe Stutler &
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
||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
||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
(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:
- Made an incorrect statement as to a material fact which he or she
knew or should have known to be incorrect; or
- Failed to provide information which he or she knew or should have
known to be material; or
- 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;
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
I hope this helps. WC Advocate
||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…
Thanks for chiming in, old friend and mentor. Those gals in your
family still keeping you in line??? HAW HAW! Ab.
||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 :
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.
PS - does the size record still stand? I have heard that the backfire on the
Mendanhall Fire was larger.
||Senate letter Re FS Aviation Plan
During this current congressional session, it is rare to see anything but
partisan political posturing occurring. However I
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.
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
||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.
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.
/s/ Ronald G. Ketter (for)
cc: pdl r5 fcros, pdl r5 ro cr, Ricky Balolong
||CA Firefighter endorsement changes again
Making the rounds...
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!
Assembly Bill No. 82
DMV Letter to Chiefs
||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.
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.
||Big Hill Helitack H-516 50th anniversary
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
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 :
Thanks for your time and have a safe Fire season.
||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.
||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.
||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
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
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.
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
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
- 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
- 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
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.
||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
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
Additional reasons to invest in PLI is
- up to half of your premium is reimbursable by the Agency and
- 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.
||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.
||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.
||Great information shared on the Webinar!
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!
||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:
See you there!
||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
||Overpayment of death benefit:
It was sad to read the account of
overpayment of benefits. I suggest the daughter's congressional
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"
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
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
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
"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.
||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.
||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
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.
||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
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,
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
Q&A session 9AM tomorrow if you're on the west coast or noon if in
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%.
||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.
||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.
||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
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.
Thanks for the bit of history, Captain Joe. I can feel it,
see it and smell it. Ab.
|| Re: Is the Fire Service ready for "Social
"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
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
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
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
||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.
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
hotlist thread on this || Is the Fire Service ready for "Social
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
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.
||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...
||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.
||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
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.
||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
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.
||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
Can anyone provide some information on this?
Michael Di Cristina, Colorado State Forest Service
||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!
||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:
I signed up. FEDS is much better than the other company. I paid and will
get reimbursed by the FS.
Lion on fire
||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
- 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.
||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.
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.
||Deaths due to dehydration/hyperthermia? or Rhabdo?
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.
||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.
||Re Photos / Social Media:
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.
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?
Wonder if there is any correlation with firefighters that have had problems
||As Fires Loom, Aging Airtankers cause concern:
BB & JB
||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.
||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. 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.
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.
||Take notice R5:
To "frustrated" and "diversity", spot on. Its also
been proven in a court of law that you "CANNOT DISCRIMINATE TO SOLVE
R-5 really needs to "focus" on the following article.
STATE SUPREME COURT
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
||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).
||Here's a newsworthy FS announcement and a NIOSH report on the Hotlist:
National - US Forest Service Announces Strategy To Replace Large Airtankers For
National - NIOSH recommends clear SOPs for roadway emergencies
This in response to the death of
Chance Zobel who was battling a median
||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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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!
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
||Bears in Camp?
One answer to the question about how to deal with bears in camp...
Haw haw haw. Ab.
||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
||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?
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
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
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
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!
||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
||Thanks for sending in the photos! Ab.
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?
||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
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
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
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
BLM Fire Training Unit, NIFC
Readers, feel free to pick this up and
share with your firefighters. Ab.
||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
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,
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
Just some food for thought.
Has anyone used a sensor band like this and the cellphone Ap system?
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
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.
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.
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
Any help would be great…
||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
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.
||Which standard is required for Wildland firefighter boots NFPA 1977 or
ASTM F2413-05 ?
Replies here on the hotlist:
||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!!!!!
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
I am interested in basic and advanced training and experience in anther
I would love to hear how I can fit in your courses or if you have any
suggestion or advice.
||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
No one is leading the change more to cut your pay, cut your health care
benefits and take away your retirement than
Anyone from NFFE know where I can find the outreaches for the upcoming R5
Fire Hire Event?
So Cal Ridges
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.
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
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
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
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
When contacting your governmental officials please share/ask:
- 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.
- 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
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
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
||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.
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
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
firstname.lastname@example.org or 208-775-4577 to let
me know if you are interested.
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
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
||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
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
||Safe Air Travel
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 &
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.
||**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.
(194 K doc)
||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
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
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.
||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.
||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
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!
||Making the rounds since 1542 hrs yesterday afternoon:
** URGENT ** R5
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
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
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
ROBIN L. IRVINE
Supervisory HR Specialist
Fiscal Year 2012 Final Program Direction (66 K doc)
||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
||Re the question about why hire an outside firm for a safety survey:
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
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.