"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
March, 2012

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3/31 Heat illness, symptoms, etc from MTDC

Just out:

Heat Illness Basics for Wildland Firefighters (2,711 K pdf)

3/31 The House passes the Paul Ryan budget which freezes Federal Wildland Firefighter pay until 2015. If signed into law this would freeze Federal Wildland Firefighter pay for a total of 5 years. The Senate and the President reportedly do not support freezing the pay of Federal Wildland Firefighters and other Federal employees until 2015.

The vote was 228-191. Zero Democrats voted for the budget.

www.fedsmith.com/article/3361...-cuts-pay.phpl

Those who supported freezing Federal Wildland Firefighter pay can be found here.

www.opencongress.org/roll_cal...lican&vote=Aye

ms
3/30 Very interesting comment on the

Long Team, Short Team Type 3 on the hotlist thread

Ab.

3/30 Yactak and all:

Yet another element of our meeting at Issa's office was the admission by the District Director that his boss, as a member of the House Republican Leadership Team has a duty & responsibility to "tow the party line" on votes that the congressman personally may not agree with. I got the impression that Issa isn't inherently opposed to the federal workforce at all... it is simply a manifestation of the atmosphere in DC. In fact we had a frank discussion about politics throughout the meeting.

However - as you and Pen Pal state so eloquently - while often you get a canned response to a letter or email or phone call, persistence is the key. If you are inclined to do so, establish a relationship with a staff person in your Representative or Senator's District Office. Stay on their radar screen. It worked tremendously well in 2008 and it can work again.

The message does need to be consistent though. The fact remains, you don't have to belong to an organization or association that throws a lot of money out to politicians. That being said, the greater the membership, the greater the voice nationally. You do need to be passionate and persistent and try to craft your position to appeal to the vast majority of anyone's constituent base... taxpayers.

Making your careers a more rewarding and prosperous one is not only the right thing to do but it is achievable. But if you are in this for a week and you don't see all of the problems fixed, then advocacy probably isn't your thing. While this is a long term commitment by all of us, I do get upset when we see many long term members retire having not seen the achievement of many of our goals. Yet overwhelmingly their commentary is they want the younger folks to pick up with torch and carry on.

Casey
3/30 RE: Federal Workforce downsize and pay freeze:

House vote split along party lines...

www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/2012/03/house-passes-measure-extend-pay-freeze/41613/

May be time to send the message to DC and your local elected representatives to stop playing partisan politics...

yactak
3/30 HR 3813

Best way to fix HR 3813 is to volunteer and get involved to get rid of the congressional representatives who support it.

Signed,

You Cannot Reason with a Crazy Person(s)
3/29 Long team, short team & Type 3:

Does anyone know why a Short Team was originally ordered for the CO fire instead of a long team? Does this
signal a change in policy or is this what CO thought it needed or was encouraged to take???

Hotlist thread

3/29 The power of the letter is something we all have.

And we should use it... I have been.

In R6 the past few years I began to notice some inconsistencies with how money was being spent as well as what it was being spent on. I began by asking the "chief" about what I was seeing, thinking that might result in a response of some sort.. However I never received a response. So I decided to try contacting people at the top of the ladder in the region, again, no response.

So with the advice and assistance of Casey and others more prolific than myself I took the next step and began writing to my congressman and senators about what I was seeing. I explained that I had, in the past, loved my agency with whom I had been for almost two decades, but that I could not morally and ethically support what I was seeing being done and condoned by supervisors and line officers.

Lo and behold I was surprised to receive two calls from aides of both my congressman and my senator. They had me give statements and I provided non-sensitive and non-private proof of what I was witnessing. In fact everything I was reporting was information readily and easily available to the public. These interviews led to more interviews with people who were even more powerful. I also explained that I was afraid of retribution and this caught the attention of even more people.

I guess my point here is that letters (and letters, and letters and phone calls and phone calls...) can work. I was told repeatedly that the more contacts that are received in short periods of time on specific subjects with clearly defined and documented situations carry a great deal of weight. In other words, they are powerful and WE have the potential to be powerful too.

Not giving up. In fact I'm just getting going. After all, the agency won't step up for us and do the right thing. Hell, they won't even respond to my inquiries!

Pen Pal with a purpose
3/29 Yactak,

I believe, like you, I as well as many others who post on TheySaid do so out of hoping we can provide information on current issues that affect the wildland firefighting community. Perhaps if the land management agencies didn't create so many issues to discuss on TheySaid, we, like others, wouldn't have to be concerned about copyright infringement etc.

Candidly, while I don't know the laws governing copyright stuff, I don't think you owe anyone an apology. I felt awful that my recent post about the Wyden request for a GAO study did not also acknowledge that the Forest Service is once again spending tax dollars to re-do their study on the mix of aircraft to use so I too had to "update" the information I posted with best intents.

I am at the San Diego airport after meeting at Rep. Issa's office. As is so common, the Congressman was not there but we did meet with his District Director who assured us he has much greater access, and the ear of the Congressman than those we communicate with even on the Oversight Committee. Without divulging too much at the present time, I think we identified some "areas of interest" that the Congressman will be interested in discussing. The idea is not to establish just a business relationship but a personal one as well whether we agree with all of a politician's actions or not. Let's face it, Issa wields a lot of power.

The Director has invited the FWFSA to come in and meet again but it would be prudent to ID FWFSA members in the newly re-drawn 49th district and have them attend. While he stated that the Congressman naturally wants to address issues affecting his constituency (and the fires in Rancho Santa Fe from last year were clearly on his mind) I reminded the Director that as Chair of the Oversight Committee, the actions of his Boss impact everyone across the country.

I am optimistic we established our credibility with the Director even before we arrived as well as a foundation for an opportunity to get the Congressman and the Oversight Committee to address our issues. The District Director could not offer any dispute of the commentary we provided him in advance of our meeting with respect to budget issues, solutions to the issues, etc.

So, I'd love to hear from you if you are in Issa's district. Not only if you are an FWFSA member but if you are with Cal Fire and work with and respect the issues our federal wildland firefighters face or whether you are a DoD firefighter Camp Pendleton, Vandenburg AFB etc.

Let's face it, the recent committee action on HR 3813 affects all federal firefighters so it is in our collective effort to band together and educate those that need educating. However we need to be armed with more than just a letter of complaint, we need to offer solutions that both protect our firefighters and also provide the most "bang for the buck" for all taxpayers.

Respectfully,

Casey
3/28 making the rounds...

From: FS-Chief of the Forest Service
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2012 10:12 AM
To: ALL FS
Subject: Final Planning Rule Offers Great Opportunity for Forest Service to Move Forward with Work on the Ground

I’m proud to announce the release of the final planning rule for National Forest System land management planning. As you know, we have been working since the late 1990s to update the planning rule, and this final rule offers a great opportunity to move forward and implement a rule that strengthens public involvement, makes planning more efficient and builds on years of Agency forest planning experience. I want to thank each of you who have participated in this rulemaking process. Your participation and expertise have been critical to the success of the rulemaking effort.

There are very few differences between the final rule and the preferred alternative that was released in late January as part of the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the new planning rule. A few clarifications were made in the final planning rule to better represent the intent of the preferred alternative, but these clarifications do not substantively change the rule. I encourage everyone to visit the Planning Rule website at www.fs.usda.gov/planningrule to review the final rule.

Now that the rule is final, we are moving forward with the critical work of updating land management plans at the local level. This spring and summer the eight early adopter forests—Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests; Chugach National Forest; Cibola National Forest; El Yunque National Forest; and Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests—will begin implementation of the new rule, and more forests and grasslands will begin their revisions next fiscal year. We are developing interim and proposed planning rule directives to be issued this summer, and there will also be a new federal advisory committee to advise the Chief of the Forest Service and Secretary of Agriculture on implementation of the new rule.

Again, I am grateful for all of your efforts to make this rule such a success, and I look forward to working with all of you to implement this rule on the ground.

Sincerely,

Tom Tidwell

3/28 To all,

Thanks for staff contacts.. sometimes. I was informed by one of my staff contacts that the recent posts on wlf.com about the study did not mention that the study has been requested of the GAO by Sen. Wyden of Oregon because the Agency is adept at pushing back on Congress' demand for answers on certain issues like this, and they have the time and expertise to do so that often Congressional staff cannot compete with. It is clear, and humbling that members of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee that we have worked very hard with over the past 6 years, are starting to "get it." However they also acknowledge that the Agency has learned to "wait out" congressional scrutiny. That will be part of the discussion in Issa's office tomorrow.

I am hoping to get clarification as to where the funding is coming from for the study. So, this is not a study sought by the Forest Service, it has been requested by Sen. Wyden. Below is an article explaining the request.

Casey
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With wildfire season approaching, Wyden demands outside review of Forest Service aerial tanker fleet
oregonlive.com

WASHINGTON -- Angered by the Forest Service's indifference and alarmed by the potential for catastrophic wildfires this year, Sen. Ron Wyden formally asked Tuesday for an outside review of the government's plan for modernizing its aging fleet of aircraft for fighting fires. The Oregon Democrat said he decided to ask for the General Accountability Office study after being convinced the Forest Service and Interior Department were not moving fast enough to develop a plan for replacing the fleet. The aerial tankers, which are crucial in fighting big fires, average 50 years old. The government contracts with two private operators for the planes. "I'm trying to convey a sense of urgency," Wyden said Tuesday in an interview. "This summer I'm concerned about a perfect storm. We haven't had the snow. We've got ... a fleet that's practically aviation dinosaurs and diminished number" of planes. The state of the fleet is well known and has been in decline for years. The number of tankers available for service, for example, has declined from 44 in 2002 to 14 as of...

More...

Fair Use Disclaimer

3/28 Air Tankers

Hey cool another study on Air Tankers, this should go nowhere fast. There are about 100 of them sitting in Arizona: it's called the A-10 and they are sitting there loaded with mothballs awaiting some sort of rebirth. We all know the red tape is thick but all it would take is a few Senators and or Congress folks to make a phone call and give us about a dozen to Prototype. Excellent mobility, ability to fly low and slow, purpose built "fighter" and excess property. Just a thought, but hey just one phone call instead of a one year survey.

Signed

new era

3/28 Re: Renting FS buildings...

?????????

About renting the S.O. thats been a question for years and no one ever wants to answer it. Another money issue is why are some forests paying over $10,000.00 dollars for an annual for its engines while others are well under $5,000.00? Also why are the districts fighting to get new desks and cabinets while the S.O. never has that problem? Why are the positions that get cut everytime we have a budget crisis always the seasonals and lowest GS grades? Why are our overhead costs so high?

We could go on and on but unless you're a GS fantastic in upper management these questions will never get answered. Start writing your representatives and flooding them with calls and maybe one day they will do their jobs.

ME

3/28 CAL FIRE inmate firefighter injured in tree-felling incident

www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=108664

Our best wishes for a full and speedy recovery. Ab.

3/28 re: another air study

Senators urge outside review of tanker shortage
pe.com

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators Tuesday called for a government review of the nation’s depleted fleet of firefighting aircraft and the remedies needed in the face of increasingly severe fire seasons. Retardant-dropping air tankers are seen as...

More...

Sent in by TJ...

3/28 Oregon/Washington Staffing...

Heard last week R6 will be 3-400 less seasonals in suppression this year, also 5 day staffing on lots of resources.

Firehog

3/27 Dear Ab and others,

The Wildland Firefighters Life Challenge Program is very sorry to hear about Liza DeNitto, our deepest condolences to her co-workers, family and friends. She was a wonderful person. The taking of one's life is difficult to understand. The WFF Life Challenges Program was started to help those firefighters and their families who are suicide survivors -- it's an underground network of support for firefighters, friends and families. The taking of one's own life is a difficult topic and, most don't like to discuss, but it affects many of us and the WFF LCP is here to help the survivors and the families affected by their loss.

Rest in Peace Liza....

3/27 Liza DeNitto defense:

In my previous post responding to SM7, I signed my name and my crew. My comments were not intended to be an official statement or represent the views of my forest or my crew. They were my comments and my comments alone. It was never my intention to accuse the forest or district of any overt wrong doing. My only purpose was to respond to the false allegations that were made in defense of my friend and co-worker, Liza DeNitto. Liza was not removed from the Forest Service due to these allegations, but from other circumstances that arose later.

BRIAN K

I removed your last name and the name of your crew from your original post... Thanks for being a person with integrity, Brian. Ab.

3/27 Why does the government rent Supervisors Offices and other facilities?

Could someone who has a better understanding explain to me why the government rents Supervisors Offices and other facilities? We are currently making a huge push to save money, but spend Millions of dollars renting facilities. I’m all for stimulating the economy, but I’d rather give our community new jobs rather than padding one individuals pocket book. Perhaps it is time for us to reconsider our policies and align them with our ever changing objectives. We can’t continue to cut our Forests budgets without reconsidering where we are spending a vast majority of our money. We definitely can’t afford it if we continue to fork out money to repair these facilities which we have no ownership in. I’m not a business major, but from my point of view it seems that we are struggling with a poor business model.

Sincerely

????

3/27 Jury in Portland finds General Electric engine responsible for helicopter crash that killed 9 firefighters. #Iron44

From our reporter in Oregon...

oregonlive.com

A Portland jury today awarded more than $70 million to a pilot who was injured and to the family of a pilot who was killed in a 2008 helicopter crash. Immediately after jurors left the courtroom, the family of the surviving pilot and the widow of the dead pilot broke into tears. The verdict, their attorney said, served as vindication because jurors unanimously said the crash wasn't the pilots' fault.

More...

Always Remember our Iron 44 Fallen

3/27 yactak/ air study
perhaps they (FS would fund a study on why they are funding so many studys? Then, with those results they would fund yet another study as to why they funded the prior study.

Oh my head hurts!
3/27 CO-JEX-Lower North Fork
Local media steam is saying now 6000 acres, 1000 homes evacuated.
3/27 To Casey and my fellow FWFSA members going to meet with Issa,

I hope you have a productive meeting. I have complete trust in you, all of you. The anti-federal employee bashing we are seeing today by a certain group is unprecedented in our lifetime. The venom coming from some, including Issa is abhorrent. To allow Issa cover because of an administration change gives me an even worse impression of this person.

At least Issa and other elephants could have the duty, respect and integrity and lead by example and say:

  • “I don’t care who the President is, I want to cut Wildland Firefighter positions.”
  • “I think the pay raises that President Bush gave you for 8 years were too high.”
  • “Your retirement signed into law by President Ronald Reagan is too good.”
  • “And I am working to bust your unions and ability to form management and labor partnerships”.

I could live with that. If we agree to disagree, so be it. However, this man doesn’t even have the spine to stand for his beliefs. Maybe you can direct him to this website: www.fireleadership.gov/

As mentioned earlier, we vote for many reasons. One of those reasons could be to vote for someone who supports you and your hard work. November 6, 2012.

Thanks for your leadership Casey. Keep fighting!

I would like to find one instance where one of these Senators spoke with a similar disdain and scorn for federal employees under the eight years of the Bush (43) presidency.

So Cal Ridges

3/26 Goin', blowin' fires in Colorado. Check the hotlist. Ab.
3/26 Best person for the job...

While sitting through the mandatory "Safety Journey" sessions and again while sitting through seemingly endless emails related to hiring, ethnic diversity, "doing the right thing" (according to Reaves, who incidentally implies that we aren't doing the right thing now and seems to skip over a little topic called "best person for the job")... I have been asking myself why no one from the "leadership" department ever talks about the three-phased Firefighter Safety Awareness Study. (thanks for bringing up the Firefighter Safety Awareness Study into the limelight lemsm)

Quite a few of us put a great deal of time (& heart) into that project, quite a few of us lost people or know people who did. And all of us have had our lives impacted by what happened there. For someone like Reaves to ignore it is akin to a slap in the face. And I only take that sort of treatment from people that have my respect (and he doesn't have it).

New ideas get pushed on us, however we aren't stupid. If you read the three phases of the study (and I highly recommend that everyone read them at least once a year) you'll see that there really isn't anything he brings up that hasn't been and isn't being developed in the study and more importantly, we have already integrated these concepts into our work lives... years ago Mr. Reaves.

I am trying to be strong, but this agency and most of its leaders embarrass me. No wonder morale continues to drop.

Signed: Trying to stay strong despite insensitive and clueless national leadership

3/26 Doug Erskine passing (past NPS Fire Director at NIFC)

Doug Erskine 1939-2012 Doug died peacefully March 21, 2012 at St Luke's Hospital in Boise, Idaho. He served in Alaska as the Fire Director for the National Park Service. His final transfer was to Boise in 1989, where he was the NPS Fire Director at the National Interagency Fire Center for 10 years.

Read more here:
www.legacy.com/obituaries/idahostatesman/obituary

Ralph

Condolences. Ab.

3/26 Here’s today’s progress report from our chief (Ab note: FS Chief)

Strengthening Service Through Administrative Solutions

You may have seen or heard information recently about a Department of Agriculture project called: Strengthening Service through Administrative Solutions. It is an effort to find better, more efficient ways to deliver administrative services across USDA in light of continued pressure on the Federal budget. As employees we rely on such services to do our jobs, so I’m sure you have questions about possible changes that may result from this project. I want to share what I know about it at this early stage.

USDA has established cross-departmental agency teams that are examining seven key administrative areas: Human Resources, Civil Rights, Information Technology, Finance and Budget, Security, Procurement, and Property. Forest Service executives are on these teams and are in fact leading some of them. The teams have evaluated hundreds of administrative functions and processes to identify opportunities for improvement and innovation. Examples of issues they have considered include:

  • Agencies using similar software and hardware but buying from different sources. By purchasing in a more uniform
    manner the Department may save time and money.
  • Some USDA agencies spend $17 to process fingerprinting for new hires, while others are spending $35.
  • USDA has a fleet of 45,000 vehicles; can money be saved by trading in cars less frequently?

USDA employees may provide feedback to help shape this process and get up-to-date information at the website USDA Connect. In addition, they may share ideas or send questions to the following mailbox: administrativesolutions@usda.gov. I hope you will take a few moments to participate in these opportunities to learn more or get involved. I look forward to working closely with our sister USDA agencies to build upon each others’ strengths and improve our overall efficiency. Together we can make better use of scarce resources and preserve our common mission of serving the American people in these tough economic times.

3/26 Hi to all,

While I have not yet totally recuperated from my delightful week in DC, I wanted to address SoCal Ridges post about Rep. Issa and our upcoming meeting at his district office.

The best course of action for our Nation's federal wildland firefighters to take is to recognize Issa's actions and that of many from both sides of the aisle for what they are; pure election year partisan political posturing. You need to ask yourself what has changed since this same Congressman, so hell bent on attacking the federal workforce now, joined even more Democrats than fellow Republicans and cosponsored the FWFSA's stand-alone portal to portal bill ( a bill with no offsets i.e. no specific plan for paying for it) just a few years ago? Answer, a Democratic President & Administration.

Despite clearly knowing that their approval rating by the Public is at an all time low, members of Congress, particularly the Republicans, have gone to new lengths in ignorance and partisan political posturing since 2008.

Before some think I am a "card carrying liberal" or simply bashing Republicans, consider the fact that I was born and raised into a Republican household. My Father was a Republican legislator in a very Democratic state but also consistently secured the endorsements of all the State's labor unions including the AFL-CIO and the teamsters. Something unheard of these days. In fact I managed his last two successful campaigns. My comments and observations are based on 18 years of "working the Hill" and having some modicum of success in securing the support of those on both sides of the aisle by cutting through the partisan posturing. Both Republicans and Democrats have authored legislation for our federal wildland firefighters over the last decade although I will admit that perhaps ironically, it has been Republicans that have, for reasons I can't readily explain, who have carried our political water since 2000.

The fact is this: The attacks on the federal workforce are not a result of actual ill-will towards that workforce. Rather, it has become fashionable during these tough economic times for the party not running the Executive Branch to blame the federal government for everything, despite the fact that said party is the majority in the Legislative Branch that actually has the duty and responsibility to make/change laws. It has become priority # 1 to offer "Doom & Gloom" scenarios about our Nation's current budget crisis; to offer ignorant, naive meat cleaver/slash & burn budget cut proposals to simply undermine the Administration in an effort to "re-take" the Administration. These tactics are nothing new in Politics. They have gone on for decades but for reasons up for debate, the acrimony since the election of President Obama has reached new heights.

The goal is to blame the Administration/Obama for all our Nation's fiscal ills. Let's be candid, Democrats would and have done the same when they held a position of majority in one or both Houses of Congress but not the Administration. It is simply the "thing to do" in a two-party political system.

The easiest target to go after in appearing to want to create a more cost-effective & efficient federal government is the federal workforce. They do not have the same collective bargaining rights as others in local and state government occupations so they are an easy target/scapegoat. Since members of Congress have greater access to the media and thus a greater ability to influence the non-federal workforce, it is easy for many of them to offer uneducated partisan rhetoric and, in the case of Republicans with control in the House of Representatives, introduce and take action on legislation that "purports" to create a more effective and efficient federal government when in reality, many of these proposals would actually increase costs to the taxpayers.

While I don't have a crystal ball, I do not foresee HR 3813 even being brought up in the Senate. Of course it is an election year and politicians will take actions not based on an educated perspective, but based on party position and the need to be re-elected or retain or take over the majority in the Legislative and Executive Branches of government. That being said, I think it safe to say that the President has also bent to the uneducated assumption that cutting government by going after the rights, pay & benefits of the federal workforce will win favor among those ignorant in the role the federal workforce plays in this country.

Ok, so what do we do? We all know that most, if not all federal agencies are rife with fiscal waste & mismanagement. The federal land management agencies are certainly no exception, especially when it comes to the management of their fire programs. So, if politicians on both sides of the aisle are truly interested in creating a more effective & efficient government rather than just spewing partisan political rhetoric, we should call them on it by not only identifying waste & fiscal mismanagement but offering solutions and offering to "help" congress fix such problems.

That said, who has far greater insight than anyone in Congress or the Administration into where that waste and fiscal mismanagement is in any given agency than those at or near the bottom of the federal pay scale like our federal wildland firefighters? Who has far greater insight than anyone in Congress or the Administration into how to reduce, if not eliminate that waste & mismanagement than those at or near the bottom of the pay scale who see and are affected by the waste & mismanagement each day?

That is precisely what the FWFSA has done for the past 6-7 years. We have not only identified the waste and mismanagement within the fire programs but also offered proposals that would create a more efficient and cost-effective federal wildfire response. As a result of the data and information provided by those of you in the field which in turn the FWFSA has submitted to Congress through oral & written congressional testimony; countless letters and emails; press interviews etc., we have established our credibility with those on both sides of the aisle as it relates to issues and solutions.

Our position on many issues with the agency fire programs has been validated by those on both sides of the asile; GAO's from both Republican & Democratic Administrations and the FS OIG. We use that established credibility by being persistent with those who prefer partisan posturing to educate them that in many instances, such as with the delivery of an effective and efficient federal wildfire response, continued attacks on the workforce will result in a continuation of losses of inherently less expensive federal wildland firefighters and as a result increase the costs of such programs and services to the taxpayers of this country.

The hurdle is actually getting that commentary heard by those in a position to either spew the rhetoric or make positive changes in the way the government conducts business. As an example, had I not gone face to face with Sen. Feinstein in December of 2007 in San Diego and instead had to fight through countless staff which often acts like concentric rings inoculating their bosses from even good proposals and ideas, I don't believe the retention bonus would have happened in R5. I am not suggesting I or the FWFSA single-handedly secured that funding but rather explaining the difficulty getting heard and thus the need for persistence.

We have established a good rapport with Issa's DC staff and committee staff. But we need to continue to pound away and have candid conversations to get our voices heard and to get hearings on issues as long as he continues to use his position as Oversight Committee Chair to do nothing but offer partisan rhetoric. Framing our issues into a manner that is good for taxpayers deflates the argument by those refusing to be educated on the Hill about the important role of the federal workforce that draconian cuts to the budget and attacks on the federal workforce will solve our Nation's fiscal ills.

Perhaps that is why I took such a strong position on the recent office pool by Senate staff. As recently as last week they reiterated that the purpose of the office pool was to educate eastern members of the committee on the mismanagement of the Forest Service fire program. Indeed, much of the commentary by many of the western members of that committee have come to mirror what the FWFSA has been articulating to them since 2006 and the days of Mark Rey.

However as I reiterated to them last week, the best way to educate their eastern members and all in Congress is to get the FWFSA back to the witness table at agency preparedness hearings. The same is true for Issa's committee. His responsibility is Federal Government oversight however that element itself, or the lack thereof, is what has led to much of the Agency waste and fiscal mismanagement. If he is truly interested in creating a more effective and efficient government, than he needs to take the lead in providing proper oversight of the monies Congress already appropriates to these agencies.

Arbitrary cuts to the federal budget will not curtail agency waste and mismanagement. It will simply allow federal money managers to inoculate their wasteful fiscal practices from such cuts and thus adversely affect those at or near the bottom of the federal pay scale and those citizens who rely on such federal programs and services.

The breadth of double-standards being offered by Republicans this session is overwhelming both in Congress and many state legislatures whether it is the attack on women's rights or the federal workforce. If we can remain candid & persistent and educate those exhibiting stunning ignorance of the federal workforce or simply towing a party line that their proposals will have an adverse impact on all of their constituents i.e. taxpayers, we will make progress. Again I apologize for the length of this. No one is more disappointed in the behavior of those in Washington than I. If we hadn't experienced success working with both sides of the aisle over the years, I don't think it would be fair to offer my opinions. However all some of these boobs need is a not so gentle reminder that many of us from their own parties are growing weary of their crap and ensure they know we see through the partisan BS; that it could very well have an impact in their re-election efforts; that we aren't going away and a reminder of what and who they supported just a short few years ago.

Thanks for your patience.
Casey Judd
President
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
3/25 They've lost the locker room...

I would like to use the analogy that's used in sports.

"The coach has lost the locker room."

"The Line Officers have lost the locker room."

Let's look at the comparison:

"______ has lost the team," one source said. "They dont want to play (work) hard for him/her anymore"

"They think he's a good guy/gal. But he/she doesn't have the respect of the team (work place) anymore."

"It’s always telling when a head coach (line officer) has seemingly run out of answers, and that appears to be the case in ________. One source says the team (employees) "has no idea what to do" , they (line officers) reach for things that don't exist and then try sell it to the players (employees).

" ...and according to numerous sources close to the team (work force), the reeling club is as dysfunctional in the locker room as it is on the playing field."

"..the players don't even listen to the coach (line officer) anymore, They go out and play but it's obvious they have no game plan or cohesion."

"..it seems that the coach (line officer) doesn't want to listen to the players, the coach (line officer) believes that he/she is right and that the team is wrong."


And on, and on, and on...

"The Line Officers have lost the locker room."

Except that coaches are held accountable.

Continue with the hard work and loyalty that each and everyone of you always successfully do.

3/25 stay strong:

Whatever goes down from the agency's "social engineering platform", you all stay strong in your beliefs and work ethics. Don't allow this programmed gibberish destroy your morale and the camaraderie that you have built with others. Mr. Reaves and others in DC are clueless as to what you all really do and what you have accomplished. They are dependent upon statistics and reports that filter into their cubicles in DC and, more than likely, are flawed. They will continue to "forced-feed" the administration's agenda on you in ways that blindside you. Stay strong, Hang tough!!

Seen It Before....

3/24 stereotyping

When a leader of the agency we work for stereotypes us all as not open minded or not accepting of other cultures is an egregious mistake. For him to make statements like that is synonymous to someone saying women are not good at wildland firefighting or African Americans are not good working or living in the back county. Statements such as these and Mr. Reaves statements are not only factually incorrect, they are inappropriate.

Don't stereotype me, and my fellow fire and non-fire coworkers. Mr. Reaves is playing culture wars. Mr. Reaves is trying to divide us. Mr. Reaves has committed to going down the path of race and gender baiting. Mr. Reaves is wrong when he says:

step back from holding this agency in the past and to be more open minded of folks and their different cultures and what they can contribute to this agency.

Are you freaking kidding me?

His bias as a line officer might be to view firefighters as "not like me" or "other" or "not so smart as me or the academics at Dialogos" or "a pain in the A$$ because they don't immediately follow my orders".

What I'd like to know is if Deputy Chief of Research and Development Jim Reaves and the people at Dialogos if they have really tried to understand that we've been working on with changing our culture since 1994 and the Phase III of the Firefighter Safety Awareness Study. www.wildlandfire.com/links.php#aware

  • Leadership
  • Just Culture (our wariness with the FS bureaucracy became VERY evident with their legal choices to fail to support firefighters on Cramer and 30mile, leading to a culture of self-protection and fewer lessons learned)

My guess is that Jim Reaves accepts his own biases or stereotypes he knows of as OK, while not understanding or caring to understand how deeply rooted in safety our biases are to hire and promote experienced, highly productive and proficient people.

California has so many blended, multicultural, multiracial extended families and coworkers, it's hard to think of even myself or my family as only one race, unless it's the human race. We work beside and place our life in the hands of leaders from all cultures, genders and sexual orientations. We do this without pause and with respect for the position they hold. Mr. Reaves, we don't go to work and hope to avoid minorities or the opposite gender. We don't arrive at work spewing hate and seeking isolation consciously or unconsciously.

Many of my friends and co-workers have committed to a life of progressive values that seek inclusiveness not only on the job, but in all American life. Martin Luther King was not only the civil rights leader for African Americans, he was my civil rights leader and the leader for millions of Americans including Forest Service employees. I was a young boy being held by my crying mom as the news of his assassination was announced. A person never forgets those moments, we learn from them and they become part of our fiber. Cesar Chavez was not only a labor leader for Hispanics, he was a leader for all of us. Hillary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt are two of the most admired women ever. Most admired by women and men.

I shall not be preached to by someone who stereotypes all Forest Service employees as closed minded characters and not open to other cultures and genders. His statements lead me to believe he does not have an unconscious bias, but more likely a conscious bias toward Forest Service employees. I find this unacceptable of someone in a leadership position in the Forest Service. Mr. Reaves should clarify his statements or he should do the right thing and resign immediately.

lemsm

3/24 EPP thing

I Don't think that EPP defaults gender, only ethnicity.

================================================
Deputy Chief Reaves letter

I am just astonished at this barrage of comments from Forest Service leadership that is trying to frame us close mined people. Do you actually think today that a large population of employees are not willing to work with other cultures, do you think we're sexist? I am sick of hearing about what they think we are like. You write as if we are disconnected from society, living in a log cabin reciting Jim Crow laws.

To the Forest Service - I am not a bigot. I am not a racist. I am not a sexist. I am not close minded. STOP your daily barrage of emails from officials telling us how we need to change.

Stop this nonsense now or elected officials and media outlets will be flooded with responses from thousand of firefighters and thousands of other Forest Service employees who have heard enough about what you think we should be like. We shall unleash a movement, a campaign, a surge that will resemble nothing that you have ever experienced, even louder than 2008.

You Have Been Warned!
3/24 Los Padres Fire review?

Has anyone seen the results of the recent Los Padres Fire review? I heard it's out. If you have and you can share that would be informative for all forum members.

Dusty

3/24 Re Hiring Practices...

A good and a fair decision that can benefit ALL employees. Especially those who are qualified and have displayed the ability to be ready for the next level x2. Lets hope it's used appropriately so we can reduce the number of hiring EEO and grievance complaints R5 is currently experiencing throughout the region. Yes, disguising unfair hiring practices by calling it cultural transformation is bad business and illegal and will never work.

Line Officers need to understand that it's a new world and applicants have improved abilities to gather information, learn about options, gain a better understanding of what unfair hiring looks like and how to initiate an EEO or grievance. Selecting someone who is not the most highly skilled or rated applicant can come back to haunt you.

So Cal Ridges (an unbiased progressive thinker)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Date: March 19, 2012
Subject: Advertising Multi-Grades
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors

In recent years, Region 5 policy has been to advertise vacant positions as multi-grade whenever possible. This letter serves as a reminder that this policy is still in effect, and it is also in accordance with our Merit Promotion Plan, Section 23.22c, which states that vacancies should be announced using multi-grade vacancy announcements. Following this policy affords us every opportunity to attract and retain a skilled and diverse workforce representative of the culturally diverse public we serve.

Effective immediately, each supervisor and manager should evaluate every planned advertisement action before it is undertaken, and if possible, advertise at no less than the next lower grade level of the targeted grade. Continuing this policy will provide fair and open competition to all applicants, retain talented employees by providing career growth opportunities, and will support inclusion and diversity.

Please note that your SF-52 request for personnel action to recruit and fill a vacant position must be documented classification-wise with confirmed position descriptions for the grade levels to be advertised.

Please contact your Human Resources Service Team representative if you need assistance in determining the career ladder pattern for the vacant position to be advertised. If you have questions regarding this letter, please contact Richard Rodieck, Chief, Recruitment and Placement, 707-562-8659.

/s/ Joseph C. Millar (for)
RANDY MOORE
Regional Forester

cc: Richard Rodieck

3/24 WILDFIRES: Tanker shortage could strain resources, interagency cooperation

www.pe.com/local...wildfires-tanker-shortage-could-strain-resources-interagency-cooperation.ece

WASHINGTON — Mounting concerns over the nation’s beleaguered aerial firefighting fleet are exposing tensions between state and federal agencies tasked to work together to counter the nation’s worsening fire seasons. The U.S. Forest Service’s fleet of air tankers, vital to battling blazes along Inland Southern California’s rugged mountainsides, has shrunk from 44 to 11 in recent years

More at link...

brought to our attention by Tom J.

3/23 Temporary Employment Hiring Process...

R5 finally gives up, Admits Another Failure! It's good to know the things we do sometimes lead to change. All Wildland Firefighters in all regions and all agencies need to band together. Together we are a tremendous force. Join FWFSA.

395 Fire

PS - I am Consciously Unbiased.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Date: March 23, 2012
Subject: Temporary Employment Hiring Process
To: Forest Supervisors and Directors

During the past several weeks the Regional Forester Team has been reviewing pending selections for all temporary appointments. This process has enabled a better understanding of our outreach and recruitment methods to improve the skill set and diversity of our temporary workforce. We are aware that this has caused delays and additional impact on filling critical temporary positions.

Therefore, to facilitate temporary seasonal selections taking place, effective immediately, Forest Supervisors/Deputies and Directors/Deputies have the authority to review and approve all temporary appointment selections. With this authority comes the responsibility that each forest and director staff must have a recruitment plan in place to address specific outreach efforts, including targeted outreach of under-represented groups to ensure a diverse candidate pool.

The Albuquerque Service Center (ASC), has been notified of this decision and has forwarded the following information for processing purposes:

Approval authority at the Forest Supervisor level includes the Deputy Forest Supervisor. Therefore, the approval for any pending selections must come in the form of an email. This email can come directly from the Forest Supervisor’s Office or in a trail of emails originating in the Forest Supervisor’s Office. The ASC staff has been alerted to the fact that if any staff members receive an SF-52 that has been approved by the Forest Supervisor, it is okay to process the action without any further documentation. If an ASC staff member does not receive prior approval from the Forest Supervisor’s Office, ASC will alert the applicable forest regarding the need to receive approval from either the Forest Supervisor or the Deputy Forest Supervisor.

Questions regarding the processing of pending selections for temporary appointments should be directed to the applicable staff member, ASC, Temporary Employment. Questions regarding Outreach efforts should be directed to Ricky Balolong, (707) 562-8752. General staffing questions should be directed to Richard Rodieck, (707) 562-8659.

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

3/23 Unconscious Bias:

Another good article on human factors (including unconscious biases and mental shortcuts we take)

What Was He Thinking? Beyond Bias to Decision Making and Judgment (4,854 K doc file)

Link is on the Documents Worth Reading page or Site Map for wildlandfire.com.
Written by by Mike Johns, Assistant U.S. Attorney, who was a fed wildland firefighter. He wrote it in 2007 for a Serious Accident Investigations course, BLM National Training Center, Phoenix, AZ. Some good research.

Human beings are confronted by so much sensory information all the time that we have many ways we simplify and organize it without conscious knowledge. We just do it. Stereotyping, biases, heuristics (shortcuts), most of the time they let us function fairly well and efficiently. Sometimes they become a limitation. I don't think Jim Reeves was excusing, so much as pointing out unconscious biases are a human factor, and maybe we should look at our biases if we can (and we all do have them) to see when they limit our thinking or our culture.

Ted Putnam advocated (probably still advocates) Mindfulness Training for firefighters that may also improve situational awareness. One advantage of that kind of reflective exercise ... watching thoughts come and go in your mind -- often while gently returning your focus to your breath -- is that you begin to get glimpses of where your mind does go, what takes up your thinking moments, what issues are recurring, what assumptions you have, what may have made you anxious or churned up, among other things. It can give you insight into your personal biases and ways of thinking, stemming from human genetics, your own personal genetics and experiences you've had that have been formative in your life. It can make you a better observer of yourself and your crew on the fireground in a critical moment, and give you insight into your interactions with others.

Mellie

3/23 South Dakota Family puts on fundraiser...

Ab, Check this out...

Trampus Haskvitz Golf Tournament, June 2, 2012 (338 K pdf)

This family is only 7 months out from the loss of their son and they are already paying it forward to those who will be coming our way, be it injured or fallen, this summer or beyond.

What I love about this wildland community is that the money that is raised for the Foundation goes out to all firefighters who are injured or killed -- volunteers, federal, state, contractors, structure, or firefighters from other countries -- fighting wildfires on US soil. What touches me is that most of you who are raising money will probably never know or see the firefighter or families you are touching.

I can tell you this, their lives are different because of what you do and give.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Events like this are such a fine way to celebrate a loved-one's life with friends. Readers, I hope you'll chip in. HEH HEH HEH! I added it to the Hotlist Calendar. Ab.

3/23 D. Douglas Dent's passing

It is with a heavy heart I send this email. I was informed last night that D. Douglas Dent, my friend, mentor, and colleague, passed away last night of a massive stroke, Doug had a minor stroke on Tuesday and was hospitalized, the bleeding could not be controlled causing the massive stroke last night.

Doug was employed in Region 5 during 1987 by Rusty Witwer to help us develop our chainsaw program. Doug continued to be committed to us 'til this day, Doug was scheduled for a certification next month on the San Bernardino. Our current chainsaw program, procedures and policy were all developed with Doug's help. Doug often told me how much it meant to him have the opportunity to pass on his knowledge to the Forest Service employees. Doug did not need to provide the training he gave us for money, he did it because he felt obligated to. He felt he was giving back the talent god gave him. Doug was committed to our safety. I saw it time and time again as he would stand under a tree with our employees holding onto their belt to make sure they would not get away from him by escaping the wrong direction. I witnessed many times when Doug would wrestle someone to a safety zone, my fondest memory of this was a course on the San Bernardino when he pinned a man twice his weight and size behind a tree (the safety zone) until it was safe to leave that refuge. (I have a video of this.)

I was blessed with the opportunity to work with Doug all over the region Hawaii, and other Regions since 1994. Doug passing is a huge loss to the saw programs all over the nation, not just within the Forest Service. Doug's contributions should be remembered, respected and appreciated by ALL. He will be greatly missed.

Goodbye my Friend, Mentor and colleague; you will be missed by me greatly.

I will send more information as I get it from his son Jesse in regard to services and mailing information.

Please pass this on.

James Tomaselli, Del Rosa Hotshots Superintendent

Doug Dent 1
Doug Dent 2
Doug Dent 3

Sad loss. Ab.

3/23 Ab,

Thanks for your 3/21 posting. I know first hand how it is for families when there has been a tragedy, families don’t know if their loved one is a victim, and the home district doesn’t know either. Mom and Dad didn’t tell me this but my brother told me last year that after the Loop Fire when nobody knew which crew or crews were involved in the tragedy, a law enforcement officer came by my house and told my parents I was killed in the fire. Dad called the district office and no one there knew if we were involved or not. When Dad told them a cop was by with the tragic news, they figured Dalton was the trapped crew. Meanwhile, we and a couple of other crews were off line and held incommunicado at fire camp. We didn’t have access to land lines so we couldn’t contact our families. If this important backdoor communication network wildlandfire.com has grown into can prevent another instance like this, it is especially worth your effort and the effort of all
contributors.

Years ago I took a career path I regretted and left fire management. Wildlandfire.com helps me as a retired person, reconnect with the people and life I care about and dearly miss.

Thanks again,

Smokey307

Many were in that situation at Storm King as well. Thanks go to all for keeping the group informed. Ab.

3/23 Unconscious bias

Hi MS,

Not that I'm particularly fond of the idea that there "might be" an Unconscious Bias in the Forest Service but I do remember when I was in college taking an Implicit Association Tests which measured my response times to race/sex/gender/etc. It's interesting and useful information. Googled it and I got this:

www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/crcl/vol40_2/lee.pdf (171 K pdf)

-John D.

Good find. Ab.

3/22 Excited but worried –

My opinion from a wife’s point of view – if your wife isn’t behind you in this decision, it will make for one miserable marriage.

My husband was already a firefighter when I met him, but I had no clue as to what he did or how long he would be gone while on assignments. The first assignment of the season (no matter how long they have been doing it) was always the hardest. You were just coming off of spending a lot of time together, especially if they had use or lose. But after that first time, I found myself getting into a rhythm while he was gone. I have always been an independent person, so maybe that helped out the situation. I was able to do what I needed to do, eat whenever I wanted to…… in other words, I made it me time. Once the kids came along we would have quite the adventures while Dad was gone – trips to visit relatives, going to the zoo and beach, etc.

The best part about him being gone was his homecoming. Each time I found out that he was headed home my stomach would get butterflies. It was like being a teenager again and when he finally did make it home it was always like a mini honeymoon, each and every time for the 17 years that we were together.

I guess that the absences are what your spouse makes of them. If they are constantly worried while you are gone, they will be totally miserable and you will know it every day, even if they don’t say anything. I have talked to a lot of other wives and you either learn to accept it and go with the flow or it will never work.

Lori
3/22

checking your EPP page:

Mellie,

In answer to your question, I do know one female whose EPP did not default to male, but it did default to white and she is not. It wouldn’t hurt to check your EPP page. I think the gender numbers are OK. Most employees I know didn’t mark a box, because it is not mandatory or they were unaware of it.

They either say

  • it’s none of your business or
  • they are of mixed ethnic background and have nothing to check or
  • they claim that their culture is American and no box for that or
  • US Citizen of mixed ethnic origin and there is no box for that either.

Either way if the default thing is true and it looks like it is, then the percentages have got to be way.. way off. And as someone else has already said, since the stats are based on bogus percentages, then their “diversity” targets are way, way off.

Seems like the damage has already been done so someone needs to come up with a solution! (You might start by changing the default response from white and white male to “unknown”) EPP data manipulator or NFC Default person or person's supervisor person!

Q. Does anyone know anyone who would or could make that change in the default?

unsigned

3/22 The passing of Liza and helping friends/spouses:

How sad this is. I did not know Liza, but looking at her pictures and reading about the kind of person she was, reminds me of someone… My wife. There is a gene in her family tree that involves depression. When I met her she was happy, funny, full of life and a joy to be around. But, after the birth of our first child, she changed. She had a bit of post-partum. It took a few months, but she came out of it. However, she was not the same. Then, our second child entered the world and she had no signs of post-partum. Through the years; her fulltime job, my life as a firefighter, and her being a working mother finally took its toll. Luckily she was at the doctor when she said that she didn’t want to live anymore. At that point, everything in our lives changed.

That was 2 years ago. At first, she was misdiagnosed. The professionals had her as a depressed mother and took her out of work for 3 months. When she went back to work, the medication didn’t seem to be helping. She seemed worse than before. At no point did her doc call me and ask what I saw from her. So, I called him and asked if he had ever considered her as bi-polar? He said that the things she told him about how she was feeling didn’t fit a bi-polar. So, she went misdiagnosed for a year. Finally, I urged her to go back, and I went with her. This time it was a different doctor. He said that he thought undeniably that she was bi-polar. That was October 2011. To date we have made a lot of life changes. She no longer works because the stress of work and parenthood was too much for her. But, that creates a new issue…Money. But, money can’t buy happiness, The old saying goes.

I could go on and on. But, I guess what I’d like to say to everyone reading this is, this disease is no joke. Take it seriously! My wife has no addictions, and that is a huge relief. If you know someone that has bi-polar, you will need to do some reading on the disease and familiarize yourself with what the bi-polar needs from a partner/friend/family member. The day to day normal operations that you were used to, are a thing of the past. And the one thing that is a must, is that the bi-polar absolutely has to take their meds!!!!!!

RIP Liza,

Quick Connect

3/22 Anyone have any thoughts on this letter?

This doozy of a sentence caught my eye - “Folks don’t really think about having a bias; it’s unconscious."

Translation - Did the Deputy Chief of the Forest Service just call me a bigot and sexist and it's ok because I didnt know I was one. Unconscious bias, really? WOW!

This is starting to become very awkward. Forest Service - Please don’t send out anymore emails on this, it’s beginning to look a little disturbing.

ms

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
3/7/2012

Cultural Transformation is key to future success of agency

Deputy Chief of Research and Development Jim Reaves is one of several leaders who have been instrumental in implementing Cultural Transformation within the Forest Service. Having worked for the agency for over 30 years, Reaves has become well immersed in the agency’s culture and believes moving forward with Cultural Transformation is key to the Forest Service’s future success.

“I am proud to work for the Forest Service. The Forest Service brings a long heritage of adding value to the citizens of this country, as well as to conservation. The early history of the Forest Service brought forth some very dedicated and forward thinking folks that helped make the Forest Service what it is today, and those folks should be commended for that foresight, innovativeness, the tenacity, if you will, of caring for the land and serving the people,” Reaves said.

Many early Forest Service employees worked mostly in wilderness areas and lived in various small towns, and a culture developed within the agency that reflected this.

“With that brought a certain kind of culture, a very adventurous culture, the love of the outdoors, the love of our nation’s resources and protecting those and the love of our country back when we were doing timber cutting,” Reaves said. “Having said that we’ve moved to another century and things have changed. We’ve made some monumental changes both on the social side as well as conservation. As we have in the conservation culture, we’re now faced with changing our culture on the human side of the equation.”

Cultural Transformation is not only about increasing diversity in areas such as gender and ethnicity, but also about changing our thought processes and creating an atmosphere of inclusiveness throughout the agency, which in turn will help the agency become more successful.

“If you feel comfortable in a place you will be willing to go that extra mile to help that organization put its best foot forward and provide value to our nation’s citizens,” Reaves said. “If we’re going to be the best organization that folks want to work for, we’re going to have to really address Cultural Transformation because it’s not going away.”

As the lead on the National Leadership Council Core Team on Diversity and Inclusiveness, Reaves is heavily involved in organizing Dialogos-facilitated diagnostic sessions around the country, such as the recent safety engagement sessions. These sessions focus on inclusiveness and making sure participants feel comfortable. Reaves is also one of several leaders spearheading the agency’s Unconscious Bias discussions.

“Folks don’t really think about having a bias; it’s unconscious. I have them, everybody has them. It’s not something you do maliciously. In the workforce it drives your behavior. It plays roles in who we hire, how we treat people, how we do our work, who we associate with,” Reaves said.

Becoming aware of these unconscious biases will help make us aware of how they affect decisions we make in the workplace and help us to continue moving forward with a more inclusive, diverse agency.

“There are some conservation-loving, adventurous and smart people who made the Forest Service what it is today, and I would like to think that folks could step back from holding this agency in the past and to be more open minded of folks and their different cultures and what they can contribute to this agency. I think if we don’t do that we’re going to lose some really passionate people in the agency and attract the brightest talent regardless of what culture they are from,” Reaves said. “Lastly, it’s not a win/lose scenario and I think some folks are looking at it that way. In my mind, if we approach this as caring for land and serving the people in its true meaning, we’re going to have to realize that in order to more effectively deliver our programs to our diverse public it’s going to require us to think a little bit differently.”

Deputy Chief of Research and Development Jim Reaves

3/22 checking your EPP page:

ANON, one thought about your question below;
Question: Why would someone have it default to White Male? Why not just…. “unknown”

I don't really have an answer for your question why the agency would do that, however the word incompetent comes to mind.

============================

Forest Service Firefighter Hiring Processes and Practices - A freaking joke!

============================

For those meeting soon with Darrell Issa,

Can you please consider asking him the following questions:

1) Why do you support freezing Federal Wildland Firefighter pay for another 3 years until January 2015?
2) Do you support a 10% reduction in Federal Wildland Firefighters, like your fellow party members have recently proposed?
3) Why do you support your party's recent budget proposal that wants an increase in retirement contributions (reducing even more take home pay) for Federal Wildland Firefighters?

So Cal Ridges - member of Firefighters Against Issa!
reference:
www.iaff.org/12News/020812HR3813.php
www.iaff.org/12News/Media/LetterOpposingHR3613.pdf

3/21 From Ab -- Colorado Fire Danger and THANKS to the WLF.com Community:

There was a burnover of a local Colorado fire engine crew with quite serious burns on Sunday, March 18. Thanks to Musher Cubby for the immediate, appropriate report on the Hotlist. It allowed me to get the Wildland Firefighter Foundation alerted and Vicki has been in touch with the families offering our wildland firefighter community's support of lodging and transportation.

Sometimes I'm amazed that NIFC (BLM) has not been inclined to supply us with a contact person for these kinds of incidents in spite of my requests two years ago. Apparently NIFC didn't hear about the burnover until Vicki called them on Monday. (I don't know this from Vicki but from an email circulating from NICC through the NPS and FWS with a link to the media report posted on the Hotlist... We get lots of circulating info behind the scenes...) The info on the burnover was on the Hotlist on Sunday. A burnover in Colorado at this time of year should be a heads-up about the early fire danger around the nation.

Sometimes I wish you all could experience my job here as editor and wildland firefighter advocate and go-fur for many different people behind the scenes. I am so proud of our very professional wildland firefighters whether fed, state, local, private, volunteer, especially the boots on the ground and their firefighter leaders. I am proud of the emergency responders and fire community supporters from the other parts of the country than CA and want to say THANKS for your participation in the Hotlist and Theysaid networks.

  • Thanks for providing information to new firefighters and taking time to answer their questions on wlf.com, you experienced FF.
  • Thanks for training and developing crew cohesiveness and community support, you trainers. We get requests for photo use from around the nation.
  • Thanks for focusing on safe practices and educating yourselves and others, everyone.

New people still write in private messages saying how glad they are that they found this community and that they have learned so much from your collective answers. Thank you.

I also appreciate those of you that contact Ab with a heads-up on injuries and fatalities. It allows us at wlf.com to be vigilant to stem premature info release on the hotlist. It lets us contact the WFF -- or encourage you to if you want to and haven't done so already. It also allows us to reassure families that have heard rumors that "No, it is not your loved one's crew" or "No, it is not someone from that state." As most of you know, rumors abound after an incident. They are stressful on fire families and run rampant at times.

I need to remind myself that the federal government bureaucracy -- usually not-so-much including the Forest Service FAM -- can often be very SLOW when it comes to providing info in a fluid situation where info can alleviate firefighter stress. This isn't an indictment, just a reality. Similarly, the fed govt cannot help firefighter families with lodging and transportation immediately after a tragedy, so we have the WFF!

I have to say though, the gov can be especially slow if they avoid the resources of the unofficial firefighter network. Oh well, maybe someday there will be a leader at NIFC as smart as USFS R5 Chief Ray Quintanar back in 2000 who included us, provided introductions to liaisons, educated and encouraged communication and networking on the internet. He also worked closely with the boots on the ground... Visionary... and too soon retired.

Oh yeah, take a look at the fire photo in this media article on Fire in Colorado... Hotlist Reminds me of one picture from the socal firestorm in 2003.

Be safe.

Ab.

3/21 checking your EPP page: Making the rounds

Not sure, Are my emails reaching you thru the link on, They Said?

Taking a look at the EPP defaulting to “White male” thing, (if really true) seems like there would be concern all the way from the temporary employee on up.

A tremendous amount of time, energy, bad feelings and money has been spent trying to “diversify” our work force, but if there is no real count of who we have, if that information is based on erroneous, possibly manufactured statistics, then all of that effort is for… naught. I have to admit it is an ingenious way to skew the numbers, if that is the case, but for what sort of outcome?... Overdiversification?

I tend to wonder if there would be an outcry if it defaulted to something else?

Professionally yours….

NSTARDIJPOD = (no such thing as reverse discrimination its just plain ol' discrimination)

3/21 checking your EPP page: The gender/race thing...

I know several people who are a small part Black or Hispanic that always leave it blank. They consider themselves mixed and say "so what" to checking a race category. I know several more that are part Native American. Most of these folks have been opting out of the racial tagging system. Maybe they should reconsider?

Are the records of race/ethnicity sealed or can someone look it up or FOIA it? (Is there something like the HIPPA law in medicine?)

It would benefit the FS and other fed agencies to check the box and say what they are, if there are no personal unintended consequences.

Does anyone know?

If you leave gender blank do they assume you're male?

Mellie, formerly known as Mel

3/21 Excited Yet Worried-

You are not alone! The issues you face are real and important. It is obvious that you love and care for your wife very much. That is good! In my opinion, it is impossible to be TRULY successful in this profession without the support of your family. We all make choices which impact our loved ones. This profession is a HUGE impact. Be ready for things to change. Be intentional about dealing with it.

I have recently left an Interagency Hotshot Crew after 11 seasons. I do not regret one second I spent as a hotshot and I have nothing but the utmost respect for the community which stands as a shinning of example of effective fire management. Many of my hotshot years however, never allowed more than a few days with my family for months on end. I often spent more time with my saw partner than I did my wife during the summer. I learned as much from observing marriages and relationship dissolve because of the job as I did from seeing successes. The suggestions below are a starting point, just like your first season in fire. As your career advances, so will your understanding of how this profession affects your marriage.

Here are a few suggestions:
  • Pick up 2 copies of Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement. Read it with your wife.
  • Start an honest and open conversation about your expectations, needs and wants for your career.
  • Three words: HOBBIES, HOBBIES, HOBBIES! Find something outside of work that allows you to shift your mental focus away from the fire line.
  • Use your time-off wisely. Be intentional about how you spend your admin. days. Have fun, blow off steam, stay in shape and do it with your wife.
  • Just as you physically prepare for the fire season, emotionally and mentally prepare for the fire season also. These 3 things are highly related. The better physical shape you are in, the better you will be able to deal with the stressors of the job.
  • Encourage your wife to seek other other "fire spouses", who are dealing with the same thing.
  • Give more than you receive, never take her for granted, flowers go a LOOOOONG way!
  • For the off season--find a very remote, very warm, very sunny beach, somewhere near the equator. Make sure that you, your wife and cold beer are there. Do nothing for about 3 weeks. Fill up your passports together.

All the best,

azfirebum

3/21 Excited but worried,

This little tidbit was told to me by a very wise crew superintendent when I went on a hotshot crew after 16 years in a marriage:

If your relationship was a shaky one before you went on the crew, being away all the time on fire assignments isn’t going to help. However, if you have a strong marriage based on trust, you have nothing to worry about.

Fire Geek
3/21 Making the Rounds
Information worth sharing. checking your EPP page:

Subject: FW: Confirmation of your Employee Personal Page Change Request.

Chiefs, Captains, Superintendents, et al:

One of the many things we learned during our journey in the Fire Work Environment Planning Committee was that many folks did not know that the agency keeps track of our diversity numbers via the National Finance Center/Pay check. When our employee personal page went electronic, unless you went in and said what your ethnicity was, it has (and probably remains) blank. When NFC processes your pay check, if their system finds the ethnicity part as bank, it defaults to “White”.

So one way we can help get true numbers is for each of you to get into your Employee Personal Page and follow the instructions listed on the email below. Your attention to this simple matter will help get true numbers put in place.

IF you have questions, please call.

Thanks!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From: EPPESS@usda.gov [mailto:EPPESS@usda.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, March ... (snip)
To: (snip)
Subject: Confirmation of your Employee Personal Page Change Request.
Thank you for using the Employee Personal Page. You entered the following Self-Service change request.
(snip)

If you need to make changes to this request, click "Self-Service" at the top of the Ethnicity and Race Identification (ERI), Gender, and Disability page. Do not enter a new change request. Entering multiple requests will cause duplicates and will prevent your request from processing successfully.

If your Self-Service request is free from errors and duplication, it will be:

Effective on 2/26/2012, the first day of pay period 05.
Processed in the Pay Period 05 processing cycle that begins on 3/5/2012).

This Self-Service request should be reflected on your Employee Personal Page (EPP) within two business days. Please return to your EPP and verify this change. If you do not see this change request reflected on your EPP after two business days, contact your Personnel/Human Resources Office to determine the status of this request.

Your Personnel/Human Resources contact is:

ASC-HCM Contact Center

Phone 1-877-372-7248
E-mail: ASC_HCM_Contact_Center@fs.fed.us

Please note: This e-mail was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. Please do not reply to this message.En1.

3/21 Your gender and ethnicity:

You most likely won’t think this is true, because I still have trouble believing it, but we did get the information from a very trusted source.

Apparently if an employee does not chose to fill out their Ethnicity and gender survey on their Employee Personal Page then it defaults to “male” on the ERI portion and then to “White Male” in paycheck at the NFC! I spoke to about ten federal employees since then and only one had filled theirs out (most said they thought it was voluntary)

Only issue is that apparently this his is how the Agency tracks our Ethnicity, gender and disability numbers!

This means, that at the very least, the numbers are most likely way off for the 2010 Annual Federal Equal opportunity Recruitment program report. And might confuse the increased efforts to “Diversify” our federal workforce.

Ever wonder why when you look at your workforce it seems way diverse, even though all the statistics show that it isn’t? Well this may be the answer.

Question: Why would someone have it default to White Male? Why not just…. “unknown

Can anyone else confirm this? Any thoughts?

ANON

True, read the next post. Ab.

3/21 Fire and Wife:

Hi all,

I have to ask for any of yawls advice on a potentially touchy subject. I am REALLY excited as I just got an offer from the USFS to work on a fire crew. I have worked seasonally before as a Recreation Specialist and this will be my FIRST year as a full-time member on a fire crew. PROBLEM, my wife seems to think that this may hurt our relationship as I will no doubt be gone for significant periods of time this summer. I have told her time and time again that it is just for (1) season as I am figuring out if fire is for me or not, but she insists that she is worried about the potential negative effects of me being gone. What are some of your opinions/advice from those who have gone through similar stuff. We are both still fairly young---late 20s---but we are approaching our 10 year mark together so we are pretty much joined at the hip. Fire is something I have been wanting to do for a REALLY long time as I have a long family history of wildland firefighting, but nonetheless, I dont want my soulmate to suffer. Any advice and/or opinions are welcome.

Thanks,

Excited Yet Worried

3/21 The passing of Liza:

Thanks Brian and TH,

Since we learned of her passing I have been mostly bummed by what has been posted. I only got to work with her for half a season. That was in 2006ish. I have kept her as a friend ever since. I randomly bumped into her in Santa Fe this past summer. It was great to see her again. She spoke of the horrible attack and I was devastated. To find out the tragic news of her passing was equally crushing. It's been hard to read some of the things people have been saying. On one hand some things need to be brought to the surface and if this can help some people then that's great. But, hopefully we can just let her rest now.

I still make the noise she made upon sneezing, SHAMONAE!! Always good for a laugh.

Great words and pics Brian. You're a great friend.

GW

3/21 The passing of Liza:

Dear Ab,

I was saddened and disappointed to see the note from SM7 regarding Liza and the accusations that were made, particularly when she is not here to defend her reputation. I knew Liza and worked with her for many years. I have just spent the last few days going through her storage unit, sorting through items to send to her family, things to shred and others to donate. Liza kept meticulous records of her many years in fire with the forest service, including the many difficulties she encountered late in her career. It is unfortunate that the small minds on the district chose to believe the malicious rumors rather than seek out the facts and truth. A few members of her crew, threatened by a successful and intelligent woman, started those rumors in an effort to have her removed. In amongst her records are doctor's reports, an investigation completed by the district, drug tests and letters, all stating that the charges were unsubstantiated and untrue, yet there are those that believe this falsehood and continue to spread it.

Liza was Bi-polar, but with medication and therapy was well adjusted and successful in all her endeavors. I enjoyed working with her and it was a joy to be around her. Like everyone else, she had her bad days, but we all do. As a Firefighter, Medic and Helitack Manager, I had complete and total faith in her skills and abilities.

The ensuing Witch Hunt that continued into the next season devastated Liza, and created additional issues in her life including severe depression. However those on her forest decided to ignore the truth and continued to persecute her. The additional stress brought on by the unfounded accusations made her lose faith in her program, the district and forest. And if that was not enough, Liza was brutally attacked and beaten to the point of death and barely survived. She left fire with the hope of starting over as a nurse and our community lost a great firefighter and medic.

TH's comments are spot on. "The real truth is that Liza was a special human being with special needs and none of us were there when she needed us. I will have to live with this reality myself, and it saddens me to the extent I cannot communicate."

Brian K

Liza1
Liza2
Liza3
Liza4
Liza5

Thanks for that, Brian and TH. Ab.

3/21 Pete Coy is retiring!

Hemet, CA Party

Retirement flyer (700 K pdf)

Best wishes in retirement. Ab.

3/21 AB,

Became aware of this today and may be of interest to those in the prescribed fire business. A two day meeting with one being a field trip, beginning March 28 and is being held in Chico, CA. Check out website for more specific information.

Cafban
3/20 Sad news: Kynan Stanners has died.

Sent in by Josh N.

CAL FIRE Firefighter (Fresno County) Dies while snowboarding at China Peak
cbs47.tv

The snowboarder who died at China Peak Mountain Resort on Sunday afternoon, in what's been described by employees as a tragic accident, has been identified as Kynan Stanners, 30.

Employees say Stanners, who had worked as a firefighter for CALFIRE for the past seven years, was alone when he went head first into about five feet of snow in an area known as "The Face." He had been going to resort for several years, was a season pass holder, and considered an expert snowboarder, resort employees said.

"Actually skied or snowboarded here for many years. And in particular, that general area many times yesterday and in the past," said Rich Bailey, Mountain Manager.

Employees say Stanners somehow got separated from a friend, fell head-first into the snow at around 2pm Sunday, and likely suffocated to death. Two expert skiers noticed the bottom of his snowboard, got him out of the snow and started to perform CPR, they added. Crews brought him down the mountain. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him, but it was too late, they said. More...

Fair Use Disclaimer

3/20 Sue Husari's Retirement Party

May 12, Camino, CA

Flyer

Sounds like fun! One very sharp gal! Has it been that long??? Ab.

3/20 Re: Liza

Dear Ab,

I was so very sad to read the obituary of Liza and discover what became of her after she and I parted. I have attached a picture of her. She was one of the most kind women I have ever known and I was lucky to know her.

I would also like to share my sadness after reading the comments from SM7. Funny how things change with time, and now there is a perspective of being totally "above board" in trying to get Liza help. The reality is a little different, I am afraid.

The comment, "A while back a few of us appealed to authorities within the US Forest Service" sounds wonderful but in reality that "appeal to authorities" was submitted as an anonymous tip to a forest service hot line.

The resulting witch hunt and unprofessional treatment from her direct supervisors and co workers resulted in taking her to the breaking point in a career that she loved more than life itself.

I lived with her during this time and was privy to all of her medications and it is true that she was on a large number of medications all while under the care of a medical professional. Sometimes her actions were erratic and could have been interpreted as possible abuse of medications, but as someone who lived with her I can assure you all that this was not the case. Sadly, this "open secret among people she worked with" was really just whispering of certain clicks in your community and nobody had the integrity to ask her about it directly. She was painfully aware of this whispering and it weighed heavily on her. Shame on not only the Forest Supervisor but all involved, including myself.

The real truth is that Liza was a special human being with special needs and none of us were there when she needed us. I will have to live with this reality myself, and it saddens me to the extent I cannot communicate.

TH

TH, another message I got this morning in relation to another loss had the admonition "Love one other." Sometimes it's very hard to know how to express the love we do have through action or advocacy, a hug or... listening or... inaction. Sometimes whatever we can do is not right or not enough or the timing is off. Best thoughts for all of you. She must have been a special person. She left firefighting and chose to go into another "helping" profession -- Nursing. I am sorry for our loss of her. Ab.

3/20 Hi all,

So sad to hear of the passing of our friend Liza. A few of the posters asked for a photo of Liza.

I'm attaching a photo of Liza with a group of her Boulder Emergency Squad team at a holiday parade.

Godspeed, Liza, we miss you.

Andy Amalfitano
Chief, B.E.S., Boulder CO
3/20 Reference: Tidwell's letter on the upcoming fire season (3/11)

CAL FIRE Letter to Tidwell

It's quite obvious the Forest Service needs to revisit Webster's definition of "agreement".
Yactac, you are right on with the FS managing anything to do with emergency service.

Tri-Sak

CAL FIRE letter to Tidwell

3/20 Australian Convicted of Starting Deadly Wildfire

ABC News

It was part of the worst wildfire disaster in Australia's history: hundreds of fires across Victoria state that killed 173 people and destroyed more than 2000 homes in February 2009. Sokaluk, 42, did not react as the verdict was read.

More...

3/20 We are all Liza.

Born in '46
Started drinkin' in '56
Travels to a far off place 65-67 increased the habit
Seams like life became a can of beer
To the USFS in 76
And it was party hardy until 87
By the grace of God, support of the agency and friends
It's now 25 years of sobriety.
Every day now is a good day no matter what life hands out
I have friends and family not as lucky as me
And see their days and life just wasting away
So sad it is, something I cannot change
For I can only change me

Another Grateful Alcoholic

3/19 Sad news. Ed Hutton has passed away.

Ab,
Wanted to pass this on...had not seen it posted on TheySaid.
Thank You...

I'm R5VetFF

As some of you may know, Ed Hutton worked with us here at CWICC (Central Washington Interagency Communication Center). On 3/16/12 at 9:15 pm, he suffered a heart attack and passed away.

Rosary services will be Tuesday 3/20/12 at 7pm in Tonasket at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church.
His funeral services will be the following day, Wednesday 3/21/12, at 10am also at Holy Rosary
Catholic Church in Tonasket.
Burial will be at the Ellisforde Indian Cemetery with a dinner to follow at the Catholic Parish Hall.

3/19 Ab,

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation has been in contact with the families of the firefighters involved in yesterday's burnover in Colorado...They are at North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley, Colo. This is a verified burn unit which is also the same burn unit that treated a survivor of the Coal Canyon Fire in South Dakota last year.

Many Thanks to all of you who donate. It is because of you that we are able to funnel money and other services to help our firefighters.

I want to tell you a little story:
We send out our 52 Club renewal letter every spring as usual.
This year we had a wife send in -- not the normal renewal -- but instead, a Life Time Membership for her husband.
It was for Mark Cooper. Mark had been a 52 Club member before....
He told his wife he really wanted to become a Life Time Member.
So she sent in a Life Time Membership for him.
Mark Cooper was from Sacramento.... he passed away Sept 5th, 2011.
Mark, it looks like you are still taking care of your fellow firefighters.

Thanks All for your support.

Vicki Minor
Executive Director
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Thanks, Vicki. www.wffoundation.org/ Ab.

3/19 Northnight,

We have you beat! We put in our vets for quals on Jan 27 and still haven’t heard a word from the RO. My question to them is – Why are vets having to get approval from the RO? Diversity doesn’t matter in their case, they will be hired if they meet the quals whether they are diverse or not.

The system is totally broken – I just hope that we can get our temps hired by Memorial Day (even though we want them at the beginning of May!)

No Name
3/19 Sad news: Mark Hentze, Redmond Smokejumper, has died.

Making the rounds from from John Allen:

It’s with great sadness that I share with you that Mark Hentze, Redmond Smokejumper, died in a river accident in Colombia, South America. Mark and his river companion were camping along the Rio Santo Domingo River in a remote area of Colombia when a high water event at 10:00 pm local time took place. Mark’s companion notified local authorities who in turn notified Mark’s family. A search was conducted by local authorities confirming that Mark did not survive.

Mark was born in November of 1974 and starting working for the Forest Service in 1998. Mark Hentze was a valued member of the Smokejumper community and will be missed by a tight group of friends, co-workers and family. Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts.

More background information on Mark and his love of kayaking adventures and experiences in Colombia can be found on his website at:

www.colombiawhitewater.com/mark-hentze.phpl

3/19 Engine crew burnover with injuries in Colorado yesterday in case you don't read the Hotlist:
www.wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?t=25291

Good thoughts and prayers for recovery.

Ab.

3/18 hiring thread...

Northern Sky,

In regards to the hiring of your temps... As I have said before.. Today's Forest Service has no business trying to manage or
lead a Fire & Aviation (Emergency Services) program in this day and age....

Good luck...

yactak

3/18 According to my ASC Case Manager, my recommendations for my temporary Firefighters are still at the R5 Regional Office for selection. It has now been over 30 days. The Case Manager said she has no clue what R5 is doing and why it takes so long to get a hiring recommendation approved.

My recommendations are based on a fair evaluation of all applicants. Also I am not going rogue with my hiring. My recommendations have been reviewed by six management officials and my recommendations are the same as my:
  • Battalion Chief
  • Division Chief
  • District Ranger
  • Forest Fire Chief
  • Forest Civil Rights Officer and
  • FOREST SUPERVISOR!

Seven management officials all have the same recommendation, however still my temps sit in the Regional Office awaiting approval from, someone. Are you kidding me?

What happens if one of my selections takes another job? My next firefighter will show up when, some time in August?

All applicants and module leaders should ask an elected federal official what is going on with Forest Service hiring practices? This is
absurd.

Northern Sky

3/17 Clarification:

The meeting Casey has with Rep Issa is March 29 end of this month, not Dec 29. I just talked with him and he's in some airport. He apologizes and says his brain cells are fried.

Hope all are having a great day!

Ab.

3/16 Apologies & Promises abound on Capitol Hill:

Hi to all:

Well there has been no shortage of apologies from both sides of the aisle this week while I've been in DC for the dysfunction and divisiveness so prevalent over the last 2+ years.

However there has also been some interesting "promises" made by both sides of the aisle to recommit to many of our issues.....after the elections.

Overall there seems to be an increased awareness of the issues facing our firefighters but to try and pin down the priorities of either party is impossible. Another factor we will face is that with the end of this congressional session, a significant number of House members will not be running for re-election for reasons ranging from retirement to redistricting that pits many of them against other members of congress from their own parties. This is certainly the case throughout California.

We are still pressing members of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee to include the FWFSA in any fire preparedness hearings this year. The idea behind this trip was to stay on the radar screen of many on the Hill as you all gear up for the season. As posted previously, we will be meeting with Rep. Darrell Issa's office on March 29th and will bring to the meeting some very frank and candid commentary.

Respectfully,

Casey Judd
FWFSA
3/15 Ab, Please post.
Skee

Air to Ground Frequency change CA USFS: NWCG Safety Alert - Frequencies (2,176 K pdf)

3/15 Re: We are all Liza.

Just a suggestion, perhaps the posts about Lessons we could Learn and Liza could be put together in order and stored somewhere available for those involved in similar situations to be able to reference? Might be helpful both for those addicted and those wishing to help them.

W0DSV

3/15 Re: We are all Liza.

SM7 & Grateful Alcoholic

Thank you for stepping up and speaking the truth about addiction in our agency. I am also survivor of this terrible disease, but not because those closest to me at work were there to help me. I hit bottom and sought help for myself, twice. I'm one of the lucky (blessed) ones. I relapsed after almost 8 years the first time... after I got sober again I heard a co-worker say they liked me better when I was drinking (I really was a lot of fun to party with, but I have a terrible habit of drinking and driving)..... sorry to disappoint but that road ends in death for me. I'm grateful everyday to be free from the grips of that disease where it seemed I had no choice but to pick up the bottle again and again. This time it's been 7 years again, my life is flourishing with good things these days because I don't drink!
It broke my heart to read the story of Liza (I did not know her) because I know what it is like to live in hell in your own head; you don't want to leave life, your loved ones, but it hurts so damn much you just want the pain to stop, and you can't think of any other way. Oh my gosh, that is horrible dark place to be. Through the unwavering love and support of a very special man, I made it through, but just barely, and I have so much to be grateful for today.

Please if you see a friend or co-worker struggling with addiction or otherwise, reach out, tell them they are worth it and point them in the right direction. You could be saving a life.

Grateful Everyday on SRF

3/15 Re: We are all Liza.

SM7,

I am very sorry to hear of one of our fellow firefighters lose one of the hardest battles we will ever face, "Addiction". We can handle a lot, give us 36 hour shifts, hot line, mop up, burn outs, jumping & rappelling fires, driving large engines & crew buggies down smoky, dusty, narrow forest roads, battling fires and disasters in all regions of the 50 united states, That's easy!!!

Men and women in high risk/stress jobs face danger on a daily basis, we suffer injuries that require us to take medications, we self medicate with alcohol or drugs, we tough it out and use gallows humor when that next pill or drink is just to far away.

I would like to say we work in an environment when our boss or bosses boss would tell us when we need to get our act together and help us get the treatment we need, 20 years ago that may have happened, now most people are to concerned with how they look or what others would think, rather than to reach out to a fellow in need. Now they hand you an EAP card and say "maybe they can help".

This is a very taboo subject among us so I am glad you brought this to light, it is sad that one of us has had to die in the grips of this illness, and that what it is an illness. I am not going to slam leadership, some don't see addiction as a disease just an excuse, or others suffer themselves and can't stand to look in the mirror, and some just dont know what to do, due to a lack of education.

I know what this feels like because I have lived through that hell of addiction, everyone around me knew that I was a hopeless alcoholic, but I did my job and did it well, (so I thought) so nothing was said, at least to my face, I was never offered that EAP card but had someone handed it to me I don't think that it would have mattered, but since it wasn't offered I will never know.

Luckily I have a family that cares about me and were there for me through the my darkest days and a supervisor who is very familiar with addiction and the hell a person puts themselves and their families through, unfortunately my boss is one of very few in the forest service who actually cares about their employees and will stick by them.

I used to have other supervisors with the same set of values that I model my style of leadership after, which seems to be lacking in the organization, but who can blame someone when they have a family to feed and fear for their job if they stand up and do the right thing, but I digress, sorry.

Some of us do have an addiction and it is a disease which when in the grips of our disease are the last one to see it or admit it and until we hit rock bottom unfortunately some don't make it back once they hit bottom and that bottom is death. Some of us do make it out and with any luck we gain our sanity back. Some on their own and some with help.

I hit Rock Bottom and sought help and I have regained my sanity, there is a path of destruction in my wake, mostly self destruction caused by no one but myself, I don't blame upper management for my mistakes and if they feel that they need to cast me aside so be it, I have made my amends and when I wake up in the morning I can look in the mirror. I have come to learn there is no cure for my disease but it can be managed so I can at least have my sanity.

Bottom line is that addiction is a sickness of the min, and when in the throws of the disease, the irrational seems rational and the last one to see how sick they are is the person with the addiction. With the help of family and friends they may be able to find enough clarity to get some help, some can do it on their own for those that can't we do have EAP, if your a family member go to their work and get a some cards and leave them laying around the house, if your a coworker or supervisor leave them around the office, the life it saves could be a good friend, wife, brother, husband, sister, etc.......

God speed Liza...

A Grateful Alcoholic

3/14 Hi Ab,

I posted this once before but I'm not sure if it was the most recent report I posted last. Here is a link to the 2010 OPM numbers regarding representation of minorities in the federal workforce (FW) in comparison to the civilian labor force (CLF). www.opm.gov/About_OPM/Reports/FEORP/2010/feorp2010.pdf

If anyone wants a quick graph showing overall numbers, it's on page 9. I also copied and pasted the definition of "underrepresentation" and I intentionally made a couple parts of it bold to point out what I felt might be an important driving force behind a lot of the current controversy around diversity.

"Underrepresentation, as defined in 5 CFR, section 720.202, means a situation in which the number of women or members of a minority group within a category of civil service employment constitutes a lower percentage of the total number of employees within the employment category than the percentage of women or the minority group constitutes within the civilian labor force of the United States."

Page 3 discusses senior pay levels (those above GS 15) feel free to note the representation levels below and above the GS 15 positions in the comparison.

If I could find the 2011 report, I would post it.

So, here are my own personal, and quite likely biased, opinions in this discussion:

1) The highest GS level jobs are the ones that need to be examined most for EEO issues

2) I don't feel it is fair under our own U.S. civil rights code to exclude Caucasian males from being classified as underrepresented

3) Certain federal departments by simple designation of responsibility will offer jobs in areas that have a much greater population base of a given ethnic group. As an example, compare the ethnic distributions in the Department of Interior and The Government Printing Office and think about where most of those jobs are located. I don't think that is so much a reflection on a hiring bias as it is a reflection of where people happen to live.

Anyway, I posted this because I really don't think we're doing this right as an agency and I think it's a very valid discussion, whether anyone agrees with me or not.

M

3/14 Ab,

This is a epic hiring fail in my book! This is sifting through the R5 civil rights officers and making it to the ground supervisors.

Hot Potatoes

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Outreach Example used in our email letter to the Forest Supervisors/Directors

From: Balolong, Ricky -FS
Sent: Monday, March 12, 2012 12:47 PM
To: FS-pdl r5 ro cr; FS-pdl r5 fcros
Subject: FW: Outreach Example used in our email letter to the Forest Supervisors/Directors

Good Day All,

RE: New requirements for justification statement. As you may have seen on previous emails, there are some questions that need to be answered and concerns that need to be addressed. We are working on a setting up a telecom. In the meantime, see statement example below. Most of the info was already being provided per previous requirement. An example statement with regard to item 1c: How have those results affected hiring decisions and opportunities for diversity, is a highlighted in yellow…

More to come, so please be flexible…

Ricky Balolong
Director, Civil Rights
Pacific Southwest Region (R5)
U.S. Forest Service

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From: Rodieck, Richard -FS
Sent: Friday, March 09, 2012 10:56 AM
To: Balolong, Ricky -FS; Lawson, Lois -FS
Cc: Deep, Stephen -FS; Ilusorio, Arlene -FS; Smith, Melissa -FS; Erdman, Yvette -FS; Koroknay, Karen E -FS; Reed, Renee -FS; Morgan, Helen H -FS; Stewart, Gary V -FS; Wingert, Milton H -FS
Subject: Outreach Example used in our email letter to the Forest Supervisors/Directors

Ricky,

In our email to the Forest Supervisor/Director requesting their justification statement for the RF review and approval process (after a tentative selection has been made) Arlene sends in this email the following information:

“The Chief has implemented an exception process from this Hiring Pause. To submit an exception justification regarding your special circumstances, provide a short narrative (less than 100 words) to (Staffing Team Supervisor) at (email) as soon as possible.

Please directly address the following:

1.Specific outreach efforts conducted, including targeted outreach of under-represented groups to ensure a diverse candidate pool;
   a. What Outreach was conducted?
   b. What were the results of the Outreach?
   c. How have those results affected hiring decisions and opportunities for diversity?
2. The justification as to the critical nature of the position in meeting mission goals;
3. Availability of current and future funding for the position; please specify if funding is appropriated or other.”

Until now, we have been using the following example. However, this example refers to the Outreach efforts and our criteria prior to this refinement by Ron Ketter as stated above. We would now like to include in this example a fictitious explanation covering the three separate criteria (a-c) listed above. Can you or your staff initiate this draft? I will massage it if needed and we can use as an example so that the example covers everything Ron is requiring.

The following is the example we are currently using. If you could integrate the three Outreach criteria into this example, that would be great.

“Below is an example of an exception justification which incorporates the three line items addressed above:

Position: Rangeland Management Specialist - GS-0454-05/07/09
Targeted recruitment approach included Merit Promotion, Multiple grades (5/7/9), Forest Service, USDA-wide, Government-wide and Demonstration Project/Outside Government. Internal and external targeted outreach strategy included communication with USDA FS National Outreach Coordinators and Special Emphasis Program Managers; Multicultural Workforce Strategic Initiative Program; HRM national recruitment coordinators; the USDA Office of HRM Recruitment, Diversity, Wellness and Worklife, Mediation, Disability and Veterans Employment Division's recruitment coordinators; Regional FCRO and Recruiters; all Forest Service employees; and universities with range management curriculum. 31 applicants responded to the outreach with a diversity rate of 40 percent. Based on the numbers/diversity of the applicant pool, the position was forwarded for recruit/fill without need to re-outreach. This position is critical to fostering grazing permittee relationships and responding to ongoing litigation. The position is fully funded and included in FY2012 NFRG and is on an approved organization chart.

Negative responses are not required. HR will then present your justification to the Regional Forester Team. If they concur, then it will be submitted to the Chief's Office for decision.

The justification must be approved by the RF team before it can be added to the ELT database. You will be notified when your position is input for referral to the ELT.

Arlene C. Ilusorio”

Ricky, thanks for your cooperation on this. We want to make sure that everyone knows that these justifications involving Outreach is a joint effort between HR and CR. This is a good example.

Thanks,

Richard Rodieck
Chief, Recruitment and Placement,
Human Resources Service Team
Pacific Southwest Region
1323 Club Drive, Vallejo, CA 94592

3/14 Ab,

Recently the fire community was impacted by the death of a woman who took her own life. Sadly, to some of us this came as no surprise. For a number of years it was an open secret among people she worked with that she suffered from a prescription medication addiction proceeding from a hip surgery some years ago. A while back a few of us appealed to authorities within the US Forest Service to get her enrolled in a rehab program, but to no avail. Instead we had to watch her unravel under the strain. The truth is that those in a position to help her the most failed her in her time of need.

We treat addiction in this society as something to be ashamed of, but the truth is that any of us could fall prey to it at any time and it is a sickness that eats us from inside out, tearing our world apart. I liked Liza. She was bright and funny and since it had been a couple of years since I had seen her I was hopeful that things had turned around for her and that she had found happiness. Maybe if our leadership worked for the long-term heath of our employees (including addressing addiction in a helpful rather than pejorative fashion) it wouldn't have ended this way for this wonderful, sensitive woman. We need a program to help firefighters get the help they need given that the lifestyle can exacerbate and foster issues such as depression and addiction. We need to be able to get assistance for our friends and our coworkers without the fear of them loosing their jobs. Shame on the Forest Supervisor who could have helped her but didn't.

We are all Liza.

Signed,
SM7

3/14 Obama Directs Agencies to Submit Diversity and Inclusion Plans

Please post if you see value. Direction is coming from the top…

www.fedmanager.com/9-general-news/634-obama-directs-agencies-to-submit-diversity-and-inclusion-plans

jm

3/13 Filling Jobs

So if our forest doesn't fill a vacant job is that considered a cut? Our forest just decided to not fill our FMO position on our district. They are going to combine our district with another district because we do have a small fire load. But the problem I have is that our FMO retired and the remaining one is retiring next month and they don't plan on filling either one, not smart in my book. The AFMO is going to be running everything, and not that he can't, but really he shouldn't be expected to. I don't blame management on our forest, its not fun making those decisions but I do want to hear from our Regional Office on where all the money went.

ME
3/13 I originally posted this last week just trying to wrap my head around the way Government does the budget for our agencies.

Forest Service and BLM Budgets Question:

Can somebody give me a good explanation as to how the federal budgets work for different forests and agencies?

I've been told through the years that the current budget is based upon the previous years budget, and the deficit or surplus? If that is the case is it true that Forests are penalized for saving and for not spending all their federal money, by getting their budgets reduced the following year? Is the same with all federal agencies? If so is anything being done at the washingtonlevel to change this pattern of "spend it or lose it kind of budgeting?" I've seen a lot of irrational things the last few years, of districts not being able to fill vacancies due to budget constraints, but every year they have extra money to spend on non critical things like office furniture and new fleet vehicles.

Can someone tell me too how emergency severity money plays into future budgets?

I am a temp employee in a region that has been very busy the last few years, and does not have the money to fund its crews, but instead brings crews in from out of region on severity charge codes. It seems irrational to me, but I'm just a lowly tech..

Thanks

A-Temp-with-a-Question

3/13 Region 2 Budget

You might want to talk to your Regional Forester (RF) about the cap he placed on your budget.

R5's RF has some balls and found the money to keep people on. We are already in fire season in some parts of R2 and we are putting engines on blocks, seasonal hiring in cut 10%-30%, positions will not be filled, tours are being cut, and people are being asked to do collateral duty.

Yes, the R2 had some budget cuts, but the RF is the one putting additional caps in place. Sure, he may get a good performance appraisal, but look at the risk his is putting on the work force.

SPEAK UP!

3/13 re: Re-org on the LP

MS,

The bus that hit them is long gone, and if there is one lesson we should all take note of, it is this. The F.S. is being run as an Alzheimer clinic and Management at the WO, RO and SO are the patients.

Tri-Sak

3/13 from an Australian contributor:

Must be the name Paul Gleeson

Lets not dwell on the spelling...

OB

http://www.ulladullatimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/medal-a-real-honour-for-paul/2456209.aspx

Medal a real honour for Paul
STORY AND PHOTO: KATRINA CONDIE
15 Feb, 2012 10:09 AM

IT took more that a week for Cunjurong Point volunteer fire fighter Paul Gleeson to fully comprehend that he had been awarded one of the nation’s highest honours.Mr Gleeson said the announcement on Australia Day that he was one of six Rural Fire Service personnel to receive the Australian Fire Services Medal “came out of the blue”. “It took a while before I realized it really was a big deal,” he said.

A volunteer for 25 years, Mr Gleeson will be presented with his medal by Governor General Quentin Bryce in the coming months.
He joined the Cunjurong Point Rural Fire Brigade after moving to the district from Shellharbour in 1986 and is currently the Shoalhaven Group Four Captain, leading five brigades from Bewong to Lake Conjola.

Mr Gleeson has participated as leader or participant in many out of area strike teams and task forces and is a major contributor to the strategic development and planning of training. He assists in the organisation of the Shoalhaven Local Emergency Management Centre’s annual interagency training exercise.
It is in training that Mr Gleeson has left his biggest mark, teaching firefighters and also high school students taking part in the cadets program with the RFS. “It’s a real privilege to work with the kids,” Mr Gleeson said. “They’re so keen, they want to give everything a go.”

Having been involved in every major fire in the Shoalhaven in the past 20 years as well as many out of the district, including the Snowy Mountains, Canberra, Gloucester, Wellington and Victoria, Mr Gleeson said it’s the 2001/2002 fires that nearly wiped out his village as well as nearby Bendalong and Manyana that hold the most vivid memories. more at the link...

3/13 Reply to the 3/11 inquiry about ex-CDF engine

The description is typical of late 1940 / early 1950 era engines of CDF.

What is unusual is two pumps; many had a 250 gpm front mount crankshaft driven pump. Other had a midship 250 gpm Berkley pump driven by its own motor. The fact that this engine had both, but only the front pump had drafting capability makes me think it was modified at some point or was a pilot model.

Jim could contact the CDF Museum in San Bernardino. They have a very active apparatus restoration program. CDFMuseum@yahoo.com

CDF BC ret

Another couple of replies on the Hotlist Thread. Last one suggests it could be a Van Pelt. Ab.

3/12 re: Re-org on the LP

JC,

They wont cut Battalion Chiefs. You might see a shuffle of some positions, but they wont reduce them. The WO, RO and SO are still feeling the effects of that bus that hit them over the Air Tanker Base battle. They don't want to go through that again.

Keep us posted.

ms

3/12 My prayers go out to the friends and family of Chief Kenny Allison.

Kenny was a well respected firefighter and leader not only in the fire organization but in life over all. I had the honors to work side by side with Kenny as a trainee on several occasions and till this day his mentoring sticks with me.

Our condolences from the San Bernardino National Forest.

RG

3/12 re: Re-org on the LP

Let's see. Take the Ojai and Santa Barbara ranger districts -- two of the more active fire districts in the United States -- and reduce line authority and leave the presence of operational authority in question. Preventing one project fire would more than pay for those two positions for years to come!

JW

3/12 “Kenny Ellyson”

It is with deep regrets to inform everyone that Kenny Ellyson Santa Clara Mojave River Ranger District Battalion Chief 32 passed away March 7,2012 at his home in Quartz Hill with family and many close friends by his side. Chief Ellyson served on the Angeles National Forest for 23 years. His previous positions included Firefighter, Hot Shot Squad Leader, Hot Shot Captain and Engine Captain. He is survived by his wife Kerri and two sons, Austin & Aidan. Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers.

Kenny was loved by many and taken all too soon. He will be greatly missed.

Memorial Service.
March 14th, 2012 1100 hrs.
1011 East Avenue I, Lancaster CA 93535 Desert Vineyard Christian School

Graveside Service
Family Members and Close Friends Only
March 15th, 2012 1100 hrs. -Eternal Valley Memorial Park, 23287 North Sierra Hwy, Newhall, CA 91321.
www.kememorialfund.com/index.phpl

photo of Kenny

flyer containing the info and photo (200 K doc) to email to let folks know.

Condolences, good thoughts and prayers. We'll miss him. Very touching website. Ab.

3/11 MS,

With the Re-org on the LP there is talk of combining the Santa Barbara and Ojai districts to reduce "Ranger" Positions. When asked about "Fire" ... The response we received was BC positions may also be cut. Mind you this was a "guess" at best. We were told we would find out in a few months when the new Org. Chart came out. We will be watching.

JC
3/11 A letter from the Chief of the Forest Service on the upcoming fire season.

Signed,

395 Border Fires
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Date: February 29, 2012
Subject: Chief's Letter of Intent - 2012 Fire Season (CORRECTED)
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director and Deputy Chiefs

We are focused on a successful year of managing fire. We must manage fire on the landscape, including the risks, with a broad perspective and consideration for all lands, people, and resources.

Success is defined as safely achieving objectives with the least firefighter exposure necessary, while enhancing stakeholder support for our management.

Principles we embrace for success:
Safety is who we are and how we do our work.
Everyone, every day, returns home safely.
Every fire meets reasonable objectives, and receives a safe, effective, and efficient response.
Relationships are in place, and are enhanced before, during and after every fire.
We assess, analyze, communicate, and share risk before, during, and after incidents.

We do not accept unnecessary risk.
We create a respectful work environment for everyone involved in fire operations.
We learn from every experience and use that knowledge to improve.

We have outstanding employees working in wildland fire management. I am encouraged and excited by the improvements we are making. Those improvements are exactly what we need to be doing to provide value to the people we serve. Thank you for your commitment and service toward making 2012 a successful fire season.

/s/ Thomas L. Tidwell
THOMAS L. TIDWELL
Chief

3/11 Wildland Fire Truck Identification

Sir,

Spent many years with the California State Park Service, the National Park Service and the US Forest Service. In that time I fought a lot of wildland fire and came to know many of the various fire trucks used in that work.

The sketch of the truck in the attachment is alleged to have been owned by the California State Division of Forestry (CDF) and then the California State Park Service. No photos of the truck survive. The sketch is by a Ranger who used the truck for many years. He describes the truck as follows:

1. The Platform is probably a 1946 4x2 Ford.

2. The front bumper mount pump (Make, Model, Type and GPM output is unknown) was driven from the truck engine crankshaft pulley. The pump had a suction inlet and was hard plumbed to the truck’s water tank. The head gate had no discharge ports.

3. The pump behind the truck (known in CDF parlance as an Auxiliary Pump) was powered by its own Continental engine. The Make. Model, Type and GPM output of the pump is not known. The pump did not have a suction inlet, its water out puts relying on the trucks water tank.

CDF equipment specialists, some of them going back a number of years, cannot identify this truck. Is it familiar to you?

Thanks for any help you can give me.

Aloha,
Jim Davis, retired California State Park service Chief Ranger

Sketch of possible CDF Turlock Lake STS fire truck

Readers, anyone know this vehicle? Jim, I heard you folks in Hawaii got 43 inches of rain from one storm. Is that true? Quack... Ab.

3/11 R5 Budget

Region 5 Forest Service released its 2012 budget this week. Each Forest received less funds for fire management, however Randy Moore approved increased suppression funds to make up the deficit. Randy Moore ordered no reductions in firefighting strength for R5 for 2012. If Forest Supervisors reduced firefighter positions anywhere in R5 or even threat to reduce positions, report this in our forum. Working together we will get that decision changed.

ms

3/10 New CPR Method

This is well watching and easy to remember and who wouldn't want to save a life?
This is a new CPR technique which is much simpler.

Please watch and forward to your friends and family. You never know, a life may be saved utilizing this new procedure.

http://medicine.arizona.edu/spotlight/learn-sarver-heart-centers-continuous-chest-compression-cpr

Flyron

3/10 Into the Firestorm 2006

So in 2006, Discovery aired a 4 part mini-series following around a shot crew. Well it aired and got into trouble for breaking rules I guess. It seems to be very hard to get your hands on these videos. Could you please point me in the right direction?

JK

3/10 Just curious with all the talk about “Federally mandated diversity” that has been going on since I started with the agency, how much talk/emphasis is placed or at least looked at with an area's demographics compared to diversity?

NorCal FEO
3/9 Model 34 Wet Side & Poly Tank

I have had the opportunity to see both the Placer 14 & 34 “wet side” versions in various stages of repair or rebuild would be a better description. One post could be interpreted as inferring the problem is inherent to wet side design. The problem the placer units have is the tank is essentially welded directly to the frame rails which doesn’t allow adequate flex to match the chassis frame, tank and body. If you have the opportunity to look at a repaired version you will see that there are a series of materials and mounts between the tank and frame rails to accommodate the flexing forces. A properly mounted wet side tank such as the West Mark 14’s (and many others) is virtually bullet proof.

As for the latest batches of Poly 34’s, it is yet to be proven how they will hold up. A significant body mount modification has been applied to delivered units. The system holding the poly tank in place has had some problems and hasn’t had much of a test in 2010 or 11. Poly tanks have some wonderful qualities but they are more suited for apparatus that isn’t subjected to extreme flexing and side pressures that are common with 4x4 wildland apparatus. Time will tell.

North Bay FC
3/8 Ab,

I sent the info from the e-mail you sent me about the outreach postings to a CR person to look into whether that one site was the only official site to post outreaches on. It isn't. As long as it is a public site "or the Forest Service internet as it's referred to here, that is all required under the master agreement, the CR folks tell me. Here is the reply I received from them.

I have reviewed the outreach information that you reference in your message. The Six Rivers fire vacancies are posted on the Regional Vacancy website at: www.fs.fed.us/r5/fire/trackingdb/ , a Forest Service Internet site, and meets the terms under the Master Agreement. Article 16…2 (c), states, “All permanent positions to be filled shall be listed on the Forest Service Internet a minimum of 21 days prior to pulling a referral list.”

So, the person that's talking about posting the outreaches isn't fully informed. There is more to it than they realize. Also, AVUE, and most Forests tell people all the time to put in for positions whether they are vacant or not, due to instant vacancies and backfill created by the FireHire process. So, if someone really wnats a job, they should put in anyway in case it comes up open at the locations they want, and not worry about Outreach notices, which are mainly for tracking purposes it seems. I'm sure that these CR folks are trying their best to get the folks to apply, nit hiding jobs from people....

Thanks,

-MJ

3/8 Re: Apprentice in California and General Questions

Hopeful,

This may be a bit long, but I will try to address everything in a semi intelligent manner.

Think of the division of Temp and Perm as a dam. For the last decade the flood gates have been wide open allowing almost any temp to flow over into the perm side of the dam with much ease. Since 2010 the flood gates have been closing up each year due to the economy, IFPM, budgets, etc. This year the gates were mostly closed. Without the rapid movement that was happening inside the agency due to lack of outside hiring influence and rapid upward movement that was allowed pre-IFPM, positions on org charts have clogged up. This is what has lead to the Region ending the retention incentive. The lack of positions open trickles down from the top to the apprentice position rather quickly. The government tends to go through these natural flows throughout our history. The economy will pick up, outside hiring will once again influence our agency and the gates will open once again, but for now the number of apprentice positions available is a lot smaller than what it was even two years ago. There are other agencies in the sea as well. The DOI also has four agencies that hire apprentices.

If you are currently 30, you have until you are 37 to make it onto the perm side of the dam. I try to give the best advice I can. Most places do not like to hire apprentices that they do not know as temps or who do not have a strong recommendation from someone inside the Region. Personally, I like to see stability in my apprentice. Bouncing from crew to crew all over the state brings questions to my head. Have they just not found the right place? Is it because they are a problem? Will they be happy here or just bounce off? There are many others. Being in one area for four plus years to me is a plus. It allows you to get to know your duties as a firefighter better, allows you to become familiar with the local fuel type where you are working (creates a better understanding of fire behavior and it is okay if it is not my fuel type, it becomes valuable later), and shows that you are committed. Personally, I like to see my people with crew experience (Type 2 I.A. or better), because it tells me that you should have a solid footing of the basic things that we do no matter what module you are on. It also helps make you the best candidate for the job.

Personally, I try to hire the best person for the job every time I have an opening. The Forest Services policies and agenda may interfere with that from time to time. The Agency's past and current hiring policies have a history of missing the mark for Federally mandated diversity, but it is kind of hard to hit the mark when you have no idea where the mark is and what your diversity is supposed to look like. Regional and Washington leadership has proven so inept at figuring this out in the USDA’s eyes that they have removed some aspects of Human Capital Management from the agency as a whole and dictated other policies down for the things we were allowed to keep. Is this the answer to the billion dollar question? In my opinion no and I think a lot of others would agree. In the cases in life where your boss thought you were doing something wrong and took it away from you and did it themselves. Did the situation improve? Let's say no for the sake of argument and you probably already said that as well. Now say your boss gets in trouble and has that very same thing that you did taken away from them by their boss and now that boss does it. Did that situation improve for your boss? Did the situation improve for you? I would venture to bet that almost everyone that has worked for the federal government is shaking their head no and saying it got ten times worse for them. Our hiring issues need to be a bottom up fix to clean up the mess of mis-management. A top down fix is just going to make it worse and lead to problems of a different type. You see it especially in Region 5 with the Consent Decree followed by the Hispanic Settlement followed by another and another and another. Until the political types in the upper end of the GS and ES pay scale realize that they have no true hand in fixing it besides listening to the ground and our recommendations and implementing them. Then actually fighting litigation and grievances that have no merit. This cycle will never stop. The Fire Work Environment stuff going on in Region 5 may be the start of this, but that still remains to be seen. Targeting a specific group of people for hiring and excluding another is and unfair labor practice. I will remind that hiring a diverse work force is just that: hiring all groups that are represented in the area you are hiring in. It does not mean that white males are not getting a fair shake. Now that comes with the disclaimer that I do not have a window into the RLT, WO, USDA to see what is actually going on there and what exactly they are up too.

Hopefully, this answers your questions and I am sure that others may have different views and arguments and I invite them to share them with you. So that you can make a educated decision. I am just one person offering my take on things. As with everything in fire there are 1001 ways to skin a ridge.

Best of luck,
Northnight

P.S. I know it took me a long time to get there and if you have any questions Ab can pass my email off to you. Also, my line between North and South is a lot farther north than Santa B. It is more like San Fran-Sac-Sonora. The poor Stanislaus is always caught in the middle.

3/8 CAL FIRE Model 34 issues

For clarification, E2761 is a model 14 built by Placer, one of the very last ones built. It had the build up repaired, along with the three other Placer built engines in AEU, which are a model 15, model 34, and a model 35. The issue of the wet side tank build up is in the body mounts, the HME's poly tank failure on the newer model 34's is a different issue.

MiscFireGuy

3/7 Ho Ab,

I got it. Any tenuous questions about the veracity of your writings (based on my information) should be referred to” ncfma.org”

That is the Northern California Fire Mechanic’s Association. Their membership has for the most part personally witnessed some of the repairs to catastrophic failures to the Cal Fire Model 34 and 35 fire bodies. This isn’t a “who built it issue” This is a design defect in a plan submitted by the state for apparatus builder to bid on building in conformance with those plans and specifications. During a meeting many years ago all of the major builders were invited to the Cal Fire Davis Equipment Facility to view the first of the Model 34 engines. All were asked to bid on building many like it. Few did. Many submitted high priced “Courtesy Bids.” One told me later, “I wouldn’t have our company name on any built the bad!”

I expect more inquiries. All will probably originate for last Monday’s huddle in Sacramento on the 25th floor.

Normbc9

Thanks Normbc9. Ab.

3/7 I sent a note a while ago on our case of Rhabdo (Rhabdomyolysis).

The FLA we conducted day-lighted the need for a document such as this to help reduce the time it takes for small town medical facilities to diagnose, and therefore successfully treat, compartment syndrome and Rhabdo.

Thought I would share it.

Jennifer R

Ab note: Here's a bit more background from Jennifer's email that accompanied the paper. Many thanks, Jennifer.

While designed for Work Capacity Tests in particular, the document has application for PT, prescribed burns, wildfires or all-risk situations. It is designed to remind doctors that we are prone to many other medical conditions beyond cardiac episodes. It includes a tickler list for dehydration, heat illnesses, muscle compartment syndrome, and Rhabdo. Please circulate widely with the hope that we can assist with earlier detection, and more successful treatment of relatively overlooked diagnoses.

Potential Pack Test Issues

3/7 Apprentice in California and General Questions

Hello all,

I love reading this blog and would love receiving any advice. I have a couple "career" path questions. First off my background is pretty simple: 2 Seasons with USFS on a Rec./Trail Crew, 2 seasons on an Engine (Type 4) in complex urban/wild interface zone, and I hold a Master of Science in Natural Resource and Land Mgmt. First question: what are my chances of getting into the California Wildland Firefighter Apprentice Program----next season of course-- and would only want to work in Northern California -- Santa Barbara is as far south as I am willing to go. Second question: any advise as far as career progression would be welcome. Should I just keep plugging away season after season on the same district and on the same crew? Or is it more beneficial to try and apply to different districts and on different fire crews? My ultimate goal would be to get one of those highly coveted "permanent" positions--
hopefully within the next 5 years as I am pushing 30.

Thanks a ton,

Signed,

Hopeful USFS Permanent Employee

P.S. With a lot of talk recently concerning hiring issue---i.e. diversity push--- it seems to me that the USFS is trying to PUSH OUT people like myself. That is, people who work hard, want to come back season after season, have a College degree in the field, and want to make a career out this. Why does it seem that the USFS does not want me and others like me? Or am I just paranoid from all the scary doomsday talk?

3/7 RE the CAL FIRE Model 34 engines

Ab,

This photo taken of a Cal Fire Model 34 engine may help. Engine 2761 is a Rosenbauer built up Model 34 that has the fire body off to allow the replacement of the body mounts that were failing and not sufficient to keep the fire body in a secure position on the engine chassis. This unit is assigned to the Amador-El Dorado Unit. The fire body and tank mount systems on all of those Model 34’s not repaired after being placed in service was a common problem.

2761 stripped for repair

Normbc9

3/7 Cal Fire Model 34 fire body issues

From the Ab account:

RE Cal Fire Model 34 fire body issues:

While there is no manufacturer name displayed, this is the rear of an HME produced Model 34 that was also sent in for the correction to the fire body mounts as well as correcting the Poly tank mounts at the same time. This one was at HiTec in Oakdale, CA.

link from before: Tank mounts being installed

3/7 Hotlist Shift briefing news post on Aerial firefighting resources. Chief Tidwell appeared before a Senate panel yesterday...

Firescribe

3/6 re Liza's passing

Devastating to hear. Godspeed Liza to a place you can find the peace you sought in life.

I remember you as someone special.

IHCfirebum

3/6 RE the CAL FIRE Model 34 engines

It should be pointed out that the problems with the tanks on the Model 34 Engines are limited to the first batch (2004) of engines made by Placer Fire Equipment (now defunct) due to their wet-side (steel water tank) construction. All subsequent Model 34 manufacturers (HME, Rosenbauer, Ahrens-Fox) were slightly different configuration due to the use of Poly tanks. As far as I know, no leaks have occurred in any of these engines.

By the way I have an early Model 34 with the steel tank, and after the modification/repair of the tank, it is one of the best engines I have driven in my 30+ years. It has served us well.

FC180
3/6 re Liza's passing

I am so sorry for the loss of the wildland community. With god Speed may Liza travel.

Fossilbird

3/6 re Liza's passing

Ab and All,
I can't tell you how saddened I am to read of Liza's death.
Brian, I respect you posting this, very difficult to do.
No, I did not know her, but anytime one of us takes their own life, it is a loss to us all.

Something for all to consider...

The off season can be a very difficult time for some temporary hires. We ask these folks to commit and be available 24/7 throughout the fire season and then with very little notice we cut them loose come fall. For many "the crew" is/was their family and without that support some are lost. Fortunately (knock on wood) I never had to deal with a suicide, however there were many (too many) off season DUIs, vehicle crashes, relationship problems, etc, etc, etc. These were not problem employees, never an issue at work, but for some the loss of the "crew" had left them adrift. I appealed many times to personnel throughout the years to make "help" available to our temps should they ask. No luck, out of sight out of mind.

Supervisors, if you haven't touched bases with some of your temps since they left this fall, Do It!

Most are just fine during the off season but I know for a fact that you will make someone's day (and more) with a telephone call and a " how are you doing" "what's up" chat. They were there for you during the season (yes, even the boneheads) be there for them.

earth pig

(Ab, don't feel you have to post this, just sad for Liza, her family and friends. Hope this doesn't sound like I am taking a shot at Brian or her crew mates, I am not, not my intent.)

The number of suicides per year in the FS have increased in recent years. We all need to work a bit harder at really listening to friends who may need help and offering support. Trying to stay in touch during the off-season is a worthy goal. We should also know where to direct friends and co-workers for help if their need is beyond our capabilities. Ab.

3/6 Forest Service and BLM Budgets Question:

Can somebody give me a good explanation as to how the federal budgets work for different forests and agencies?

I've been told through the years that the current budget is based upon the previous years budget, and the deficit or surplus? If that is the case is it true that Forests are penalized for saving and for not spending all their federal money, by getting their budgets reduced the following year? Is the same with all federal agencies? If so is anything being done at the washington level to change this pattern of "spend it or lose it kind of budgeting?" I've seen a lot of irrational things the last few years, of districts not being able to fill vacancies due to budget constraints, but every year they have extra money to spend on non critical things like office furniture and new fleet vehicles.

Can someone tell me too how emergency severity money plays into future budgets?

I am a temp employee in a region that has been very busy the last few years, and does not have the money to fund its crews, but instead brings crews in from out of region on severity charge codes. It seems irrational to me, but I'm just a lowly tech..

Thanks

A-Temp-with-a-Question

3/6 Sad news, Liza Elizabeth DeNitto Smith has passed:

Ab,

Please post on your website the attached Obituary. Liza was a member of our crew for several seasons.
Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Brian Kliesen
Santa Fe Helitack
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Obituary
Liza Elizabeth DeNitto Smith
24 March, 1975 – 28 February, 2012

Liza DeNitto Smith, 37, professional wildland firefighter, phlebotomist, chef, fitness fanatic and friend to all animals took her own life this last week in Sarasota, Florida. While a Fire Fighter for the US Forest Service Liza was a resident of Santa Fe, Los Alamos, and Albuquerque. Liza worked on many firefighting crews and fought fire throughout the United States.

Liza was a wonderful woman, full of life and energy. She was a joy to be around and an excellent firefighter. She had a loud infectious laugh, a room-brightening smile, and was wicked intelligent. She spent several seasons with Santa Fe Helitack in Los Alamos and later with Sandia Helitack in Albuquerque. Her last fire season was a rough one. In 2010 she was attacked and brutally beaten to the point of death, but was brought back to life and given another chance. The incident required multiple surgeries, and it left her with post traumatic stress and bouts of depression. Liza was more than up to the challenge of handling these psychological set-backs. Due to this near death experience, which changed her life forever, she left fire-fighting altogether to take up a new career in nursing.

Shortly before Liza’s death her mother passed away after a hard battle with cancer. It scared Liza to think one day she might go the same way. We can only imagine what she felt and thought in her last few days. She decided to go out on her own terms. She will be missed.

Liza was a badass. She was a fire fighter, a helitack crewmember and manager. She could do twenty pull-ups. She could run a seven-minute mile. All at 37. She saved people and homes, loved the outdoors and animals, and was a true American hero.

Liza’s Ashes will be interred next to her mother and grandmother at Christ Church Cemetery, Irvington, Virginia, 10 March 2012. In lieu of flowers, if you wish to honor her, please make a memoriam in her name to your local animal shelter. Please celebrate her life for her.

How sad. If anyone has a photo of Liza, please send it in. Good thoughts and prayers for her family, friends and fellow firefighters. Such loss diminishes us all. Ab.

3/6 RE: outreach posting

I, personally didn't post the Outreach, as I'm in Fire, I'm not in CR, but our FCRO did.

-MJ
3/5 MJ,

Page 47
www.nffe-fsc.org/Documents/MasterAgreementFinal.pdf

See Joint PowerPoint for MA Training - slide 77
www.nffe-fsc.org/ma.php

As outlined in the PowerPoint which was created by management and NFFE, this is the agreed to website for the required 21 day outreaches prior to pulling a referral list. Did you post your outreaches at this website 21 days prior to February 21?
https://hrm.gdcii.com/outreach/Default.aspx


So Cal Ridges
3/5 Cal Fire cuts operation explanation:

Hi Ab,

The cuts are as follows:

Dozer staffing for 5 dozers, ( per dozer)
Staffing for either two or three Air Bases.

It should be noted that the Dozer/Transports and Aircraft numbers will not be decreased.

There are other cuts too, but this was hopefully going to help out financially to get through this coming Fire Season.
Reading what the Drought report says causes me to wonder. This may be a busy fire year.

Normbc9

Thanks, Ab.

3/5 Re: Wow's post

I guess you didnt see my post of 02/14, with a link to the Six Rivers N.F. outreach for the Fire Hire round, the outreach had been out 2 weeks then..4 weeks now....I don't know what you are referring to when you say there are no outreaches out....

-MJ

3/4 Region-5 Fire Hire Team has pulled referral lists for the April GS 6-9 fire hire. This now is a violation of the 21 day outreach posting requirements between NFFE and the Forest Service. The Forests are not to be blamed if an unfair labor practice is filed or when grievances come in from employees who were not selected in April because R5 set the date to pull referral lists and did not allow the required time for Forests to properly post the outreaches.

Management seems so busy trying to increase "the numbers" they have no time to follow agreed to processes. They seem overly focused on cultural transformation and what the percentages look like, with minimal focus on their own rules.

Wow
3/4 Howdy Ab-

I am a long time lurker on your site, and haven't felt compelled to write in until I read the post from overpaid and underworked bureaucrat. I couldn't agree more with all three of his points. It is nice to know that there are other folks in the fire business that have a bigger picture view of how we manage public lands and the people that protect/manage them. Amen

Junior Goat

3/4 TX Bastrop Fire of 2011

Interesting "anatomy of a fire" and account of "horizontal roll vortices".
Excellent piece of writing - Excellent graphics - Firescribe

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Unstoppable: anatomy of Texas' most destructive wildfire
Austin American-Statesman
By Dave Harmon

BASTROP - In 2009, Karen Ridenour wrote the official report on the worst wildfire in Central Texas history. Less than three years later, she has the grim task of doing it again. Ridenour, who studies fires as a geographic information....

from page 2...

As the fire grew, smoke and heat and energy billowed into the sky and created horizontal roll vortices: slowly turning cylinders that roiled above the fire. Ridenour said they are a sign of "very extreme fire behavior." ...

More... at the link.

Hotlist thread: will be moved from Shift Briefing to General Discussion if people want to contribute there or here. Ab.

3/3 Hey Ab,

For people that may not be familiar with Black Friday, perhaps it should be re-explained to people on here.

Supportin' the folks on the line
3/3 Making the CAL FIRE rounds: Team Decisions

From: McMurry, Andy
Sent: Friday, March 02, 2012 12:22 PM
To: Unit Chiefs
Subject: Team Decisions
Importance: High

Chiefs,

I realize that some of you have already put something out to your troops. In order to keep the rumors at bay, I wanted to put out a short email that summarizes Chief Pimlott’s decisions that were announced at the Team IC’s meeting on Tuesday. The Chief will be providing more information on the details that lead to the decision in his monthly Chief’s message this month.

Our teams will now be called “Incident Management Teams”. (Upon policy change, no later than June 2012)
Our teams will be reduced from 10 to 6. (March 1st, 2013)
The 6 remaining teams will have statewide responsibilities when on call. (March 1st, 2013)
Team deployments will be scalable to fit the incident need. (Immediate)
CAL FIRE Units and personnel will actively participate in the development/ membership of Type 3 All Hazard Teams. (Immediate)
In addition to actively participating in Type 3 All Hazard Teams, Units need to continue to work with their federal and local government partners in preparing to support their own incidents for the first 24 to 48 hours before any team arrives. (Immediate)

Many, many details will need to be worked out in the coming year that will solidify the 6 team membership and operational procedures to assure a smooth transition. As details are worked out they will be communicated through the chain of command for dissemination to the troops. I encourage you all to be patient as we work through this process and to funnel questions to your respective Region or Program operations personnel for consideration as things move along.

Thanks,

Andy McMurry
Deputy Director
Chief of Fire Protection
CAL FIRE
Sacramento HQ

3/3 Very important jargon skipped on jargon archive.

"Vitamin I" - Affectionate name given to Ibuprofen pills by Los Padres Crews. ex "Time for a hearty breakfast and some vitamin I"

ED

Nice one. I added it to the Funny Fire Terms page. Ab.

3/3 I have some conspiracy ideas of what might be going on with radio.

Right now there is a lot going on with what is called the D-Block radio spectrum for Public safety http://urgentcomm.com/policy_and_law/news/congress-passes-dblock-legislation-20120217/.
What it will be is a separate cell phone service Nationwide that will be only for Public Safety in the 700 MHz band that television had to get off.

There had been problems with getting private companies to bid and take on the project, but it looks like Congress forced the issue, we are talking Billions of Dollars. There has been heavy lobbying at the highest levels in GOV to get this through; with some of that being this system will replace radio. I have been looking for the minutes of a Conference call where the Chief mentioned something to this effect. It’s an easy sell, reliable communications for Public Safety, especially when the Desk Jockeys are so in love with their Smart Phones.

The FS had been asked what it would take to extend this into the Forests and the costs were too high and coverage areas would shrink. You need to have the radio sites connected together for high speed data and AC power, or really big solar power backed up by diesel or propane generator. For this reason urban areas will benefit more.

The FS CIO is also going through another Re-organization. Personally, the way things are going, I would like to take Radio away from the CIO and put them with Fire.

And There I Was

3/3 [Mr. Abercrombie: You may feel this is totally off the mark, and maybe it is. For what it's worth this is what I have been thinking and talking about with people in the agencies at the FFT1 to CRWB or equivalent level, so I suppose it's a view from the bottom. I hope there is something of meaning in it to somebody, I definitely felt I had to share these thoughts...]

This is a little bit of a rant, but it isn't meant as an assault or a personal attack. I believe ideas can be talked about without personal attacks or taking offense. If I am wrong in this rant, I'm happy to admit it. I have strong feelings and passions, as many do. But I haven't really seen these opinions shared on this site, and I know there are at least a few out there who feel like I do. Note: These thoughts are in regards to the federal system, not the state firefighting agencies.

1. Policy implementation, or, what the heck do GS-13s do?: I have worked on districts that operate exactly according to the letter of policy, and yet are indistinguishable from a fire management standpoint from where they were in the 1960s. IA is king, the only fires we don't fight are deep in the Wilderness. I appreciate the complexity and heartache associated with WFU/AMR/WFRB, but if we aren't going to actually implement the spirit of changes in policy over the last 40 years, then what exactly do the upper echelons do; districts could seemingly be managed from the GS-7 level. If all we are ever going to do is fight fires, then, by all means, don't cut the seasonal positions when budgets are tight -- they are the ones fighting the fires!

2. Collar bugles: With the benefit of decades of research in ecology, we understand a little bit better how interconnected the environment is. Fire isn't a separate piece than can be managed separately -- it is an integral part of the system. We've tried over years to get away from our IA addiction, and manage fires as parts of the environment, only to be set back by total incoherence in the message of the agency and complete confusion in management. So what are we? Has the USFS given up on ecology and gone fully to collar bugles, red engines, and 100% suppression? Or are we ever going to actually try to implement the policy changes and do some work FOR the wildlands? Perhaps we should split, and spin off a fire service that focuses on suppression. We seem to be putting our energy into suppression questions again, even as the ecology becomes more clear and the need for real action grows ever greater.

3. Diversity: Every seasonal can tell you why, in part, every diversity push fails: It is next to impossible to apply to USFS jobs. You have to be deep in the system with lots of contacts to have any clue what jobs are actually out there. The way AVUE works, all jobs are listed using exactly the same words "Forestry Technician" and listed "nationwide". Even if someone besides the typical white young male (already aware of the USFS and knowledgeable of a particular job) tries to apply, they have no hope of ever getting through. Some other ideas: actually advertise, and use language the public understands (i.e. stop calling ranger stations "work centers"-- WTF is a "work center"?). If we become visible and the public is aware of us, diversity might follow.

But diversity really is important as a goal. A diverse workforce is a more creative and driven one. Just because the strategies to reach diversity have been imperfect or disastrous doesn't mean the goal is wrong, or illusory. In fact, I think it is a necessary goal. Changing the way we manage fire means changing the system by which we bring up new managers. The system we use now creates great firefighters that know how to put out fires extremely effectively. Unfortunately, the personnel development changes I have seen in the last few years (quals needed for fuels jobs, the rise of the apprentice program) have shown me that agency leaders don't understand or don't agree with this idea. The path upwards in fire is so tailored to traditional fire suppression, and so hostile to creative thinkers, scientists, or motivated and educated people, that the workforce can't fundamentally change. I know many dedicated and thoughtful people who give up on fire because they have no place it in.

To sum up, from my perspective: We have a system that disincentivizes creativity or dissent, that is opaque to outsiders, and that is becoming more paramilitaristic. I believe these trends will make scientific and responsible land/fire management impossible for the USFS.

Sign me
Just another overpaid, underworked federal bureaucrat

Thanks for the comments and perspective, firefighter. Ab.

3/2 Hiring at its best:

Whether we are looking at a GS-3 forestry tech. or a GS-13 district ranger position to be filled, we are already feeling the consequences of the RO/WO hiring for us based on "diversity". The most North Eastern forest in R5 is a recent example of this robust practice. They just received a district ranger that has roughly 3-5 years with the agency as a "liaison" to the national transportation department. So, as you ponder how a "liaison" is remotely qualified to oversee two districts, don't think for a moment that the RO/WO is not willing to hire your employees for you. And Tom Tidwell is trying to figure out why morale is at an all time low or why there are so many grievances. One might guess hiring less than qualified leadership might have something to do with it. I hope before this gets completely out of hand, another "Black Friday" occurs.

Sign me,

One in a million
3/2 To: Ab

Meeting notes from the Forest Service Partnership, lots going on at the National Level.

See attached document. It may help others on answer to their questions they have posted on “They Said It”.

JD

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2012/federal/fspc-notes-jan24-26-12docx.pdf

3/2 COMT

Your recommendation to Skunk Ape for the Relm (Bendix-King) antenna adapter LAA0801 is probably not a good choice. The original post said that the need was to connect to the Larsen PHW-150 antenna. This is a suspended wire whip antenna typically used in remote areas. The antenna whip end is attached to a small nylon cord; the cord is thrown over a tree limb to pull the antenna up for added elevation. The LAA0801 (either version) provides a maximum of 6" or 12".

Consider Allcom Products p/n 58AB5-UM3.5-48. This is a 48" cable. Change last two digits of the part number for longer or shorter length (e.g., 58AB5-UM3.5-72 would be for 72").

CA COML/COMC
3/2 Cohesive Strategy Workshop invite packet:

Ab,

Please share this opportunity with your contacts.

Attached are the final docs for inviting folks to the Cohesive Strategy workshop in Reno. They are:
the official invite (to be pasted into the body of an e-mail to people);
your final workshop flier;
the agenda; and
the WFLC letter of support for the Cohesive Strategy.

This is a great opportunity to both learn about the Cohesive Strategy progress and how the work with the Collaborative Forest Restoration project fits nicely with Cohesive Strategy…txs.

Joe Stutler
County Forester
Bend, OR 97702

3/2 Ab,

I've read the recent posts concerning the CIO decision to purchase a whole lot of SPOT transmitters, and agree that it is a huge waste of money. Our forest has been testing the SPOT receivers the past couple years, and the service is very erratic, and while the transmitters do work as advertised occasionally, they can't be relied on to send the updates in a timely manner. Often the person in the field would send their "all is well" check-in, and it wouldn't be received for 8-10 hours later back at the office, even if the sender was on the top of a mountain with a clear view of the entire sky. On one occasion, when there was an actual problem, luckily only a flat tire, the "I'm not OK, I have a problem" signal was used, (not the "dial 911" button) it was received fairly quickly, (within 2 hours), but the coordinates it provided were nearly 20 miles from the actual location of the person. That person's supervisor, by knowing where their employee was working that day, was able to contact dispatch and send help to the actual location, but without that supervisor being aware that the transmission was wrong, we would have been looking in the wrong place, off by many miles. We were already out looking, because we had received a partial, garbled radio transmission that something was wrong, with a road number, then nothing else. (The employee's radio battery died, and with no spares, they used the SPOT as a backup plan) The SPOT system does use the Globalstar network of satelites, and as we have found out that is not the most reliable satellite network for phones. I believe that while the SPOT system is OK as a backup, and somewhat better than no communications at all, it should not be relied upon to provide timely check-ins to ensure employee safety in the field.

I believe that ensuring every vehicle has a properly programmed mobile radio (with more transmitting power than a handheld), every employee that will be away from the vehicle has a handheld, spare batteries, and that the person using the radio knows how to change groups, access neighboring repeaters from the ones they are used to using, has emergency access to non-standard frequencies such as EMS and Law enforcement channels, and CIO maintaining the regular repeater system would be a much better expenditure of funds than purchasing even a small number of SPOT transmitters. The SPOT transmitters can be a fun toy to play around with, but that is all they are, a toy.

Does anyone know if the SPOTs have already been purchased? Perhaps its not too late to collect all these comments from the field and stop CIO from doing something costly and stupid. But in my dealings with CIO, they don't want to hear it, they are going to do whatever they want regardless of field input anyway.

Ab, sign me " a concerned taxpayer"

And keep up the good work, without Theysaid, we'd be mushrooms, kept in the dark and fed sh__.
3/2 SPOT vs radio:

Is there something else going on like a larger shift that will require abandoning radios? So they have to come up with some alternative?

I don't know enough, but there must be a reason beyond what meets the eye.

LA, sounding like a conspiracy theory person...

3/2 Re King antenna adapter and personal satellite trackers waste of FS Radio Budget $$:

You can find the King antenna adapter by doing a search for LAA0801 (6”) or LAA0801A (12”) www.relm.com/Products/Allportables/APCOP25/myscroller/DPHX.asp (listed under accessories). You can call RELM/King direct and ask for GOV sales to get GSA price. When you string that antenna up, position it between 2 trees, just raising it against a single tree will let some of your radio signal get sucked up by the tree it is near.

I also consider the purchase of the personal satellite trackers a waste of FS Radio Budget money. Proper check in/out procedures that are followed and testing your radio before leaving the compound would be more beneficial. Hand on Radio training is also another way to help field users, but the CIO has been neglecting this for years. The FS CIO also has a problem with Leadership at all levels making these decisions in that they have not come up through the ranks and don’t have real field experience to draw from.

Looking at reviews of the satellite trackers does not paint a good picture, a very low wattage transmitter (to extend battery life) sending out a Satellite frequency requires good antenna positioning with a “CLEAR” view to the South (in USA). Also check into Globalstar Satellite problems when researching this product as that is the service they use to communicate (at least the ones I’ve looked into). These devices are designed for public consumption by a company for profit and I personally would not depend on it for my safety.

COMT

3/2 Tornadoes:

Be safe you guys/gals, families out there in tornado land.
66 tornado warnings most concentrated over 6 states OH, IN, KY, TN, Mississippi, AL.
Heard from a friend that Henryville Indiana is gone. Critical injuries in Chattanooga TN, towns north of Louisville KY like Henryville. Tornado bearing down on Cincinnati. Even Richmond IN is in the warning category.

Worst time for tornadoes is 1500 hours due to the sun heating the earth and air.

Ab.

3/2 Hi Ab,

This might be interesting for some of the folks who follow politics and federal employee issues. The NTEU (National Treasury Employees Union) which is one of the fed employees unions has a website of its own: www.federalemployeefacts.com/

The website offers rebuttals to some various anti-federal employee rhetoric espoused by various politicians and some more detailed info available via links to the facts for each one.

DISCLAIMER: also clearly posted on the website: view on your own time on your own computer!

M

3/2 The NIOSH Report is out on the death of Volunteer Firefighter Greg Simmons in TX last April.

Excellent Report in my opinion. Ab.

Hotlist

Always Remember Greg Simmons

3/1 Making the rounds in the FS:

From: FS-Chief of the Forest Service
Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2012 08:37
To: ALL FS
Subject: FOREST SERVICE LOSS

I am sorry to share the news that one of our employees, Donna Rann, and her husband Randy, died in the recent spate of tornadoes in the Midwest. Donna was an employee at the SO in Harrisburg, Illinois on the Shawnee NF. This is an awful and unexpected tragedy. There is extensive damage on the ground and our folks in the Region are assessing the damage and beginning clean up operations. Thank you for keeping our colleagues in Region 9 in your thoughts, as they work through the aftermath of this terrible event.

Chief

Condolences. Ab.

3/1 National Firefighter Corp, one of our sponsors, is doing a fundraiser for the WFF. Their commercial exposure is pretty wide. Check it out. Thanks for supporting our WFF. Ab.

Info on the National Firefighter fundraiser on the Hotlist

3/1 RE: Antenna Adapter

You will not be able to find a standard cable adapter you referenced for connecting a B-K portable radio antenna port to the Larsen PHW-150 antenna. Something similar is NFES #005350 cable adapter found in the Radio Support Caches from NIFC, which is custom made, but is only 12" in length and has the incorrect connector on one end.

CA COML/COMC

Will put you two in touch if he wants. Thanks. Ab.

3/1 I just caught wind of a potential waste of Taxpayer Money by the Forest Service and had to speak up.

The Forest Service has been looking into different Technologies and how they can be applied in the field to improve communication and safety (very good thing).

Emergency Communications for Remote Ops (829 K pdf)
Evaluation of the Spot Satellite Messenger (1,935 K pdf)

The initial cost then recurring subscription fees of these services are real expensive.

The problem I see is the FS CIO is going to spend over $1M for the devices and one year of service, then it's up to the user (District, Lab, Unit) to pay for monthly service/maintenance. At this time they are having funding issues trying to keep personnel and the basics running.

Instead of doing a mass purchase and issue of the devices, allow the individual units (that can use them) to purchase them using a CIO job code. I don't really see a need for them as most of the radio coverage problems I've encountered are the user not using the correct repeater access tone. The radio dead spots that exist are also probably satellite dead spots as most are down in canyons. I think the biggest selling point is the ability to upload your travels to Google Maps.

Just blowing my little whistle

Letter to FS Doug Nash Concurrence 01232021.doc (62 K doc)
SEND Project 0203212 v1pptx.pdf (138 K pdf)
Field Communications - Tech Review.pdf (1,240 K pdf)

If the links in the post above (Emergency Commo for Remote Ops and Eval of Spot Satellite Manager) get broken, please let me know so I can link to the copies we have here. Ab.

3/1 For those that know our Mo'Hick...

Mellie,

Yep.. we were lucky again here where I'm at. This time it was both north and south of my area. North end started in Kansas and went north of us about 30 miles, Lamar area then east passing north of Springfield into the Lebanon and Rolla area. The south end started about 25 miles south in McDonald county area then east into Branson... Had some 50 to 60 mile winds with tree and powerlines, but nothing major for us this time. Hurt a lot of people though and it's not over.

H

3/1 The article about the death of the Cottonwood firefighter yesterday has been updated. Some of you might recognize his name or his face. It's a small fire world. He worked for the USFS as a wildland firefighter prior to 2003.

The coroner's office identified the firefighter as Capt. Mark Ratledge, 35, of Cottonwood. He was training officer of the Cottonwood FPD.

His photo and more info are here at Redding.com

Condolences. Ab.

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