April, 2012

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4/30 Roddy Baumann has passed:

I am sad to see that Roddy has passed on. I can still see his big smile and hear is "hello Bill". We had met on some fire, probably in the northwest, but it wasn't till we both worked for FWS that I got to know him personally. A good fireman who cared deeply for firefighters and their safety.

You pulled a long shift mate, time to go home and rest....


4/30 Re: Diversity Hiring

AK Oldtimer

EXCELLENT! I appreciate your words of wisdom and find your ideas to be right on in many ways.

I am forwarding it to some people.

Thank you.

Signed: If only they would listen

4/30 Disfigured runners tell of wildfire horror during ultramarathon event in Australia

PERTH, Australia -- Two women who were shockingly disfigured in a wildfire during an ultramarathon event in remote northwest Australia relived their horrific ordeal Monday, explaining that organizers placed more emphasis on the dangers of dehydration and crocodiles than the approaching fires. Kate Sanderson and Turia Pitt suffered burns to 60 to 80 percent of their bodies when a wildfire swept through Western Australia's Kimberley region while they were running in the 2011 Kimberley Ultramarathon last September. The pair told a parliamentary inquiry in Perth that the event was understaffed and help took a long time to arrive.

Pitt, 24, who suffered burns to 64 percent of her body, had to address the inquiry in a black pressure suit, similar to a ski mask, which covered her entire face -- apart from holes for her eyes, ears and nose.

The ultramarathon, organized by Hong Kong company Racing The Planet, was being staged over 62 miles (100km) of outback country between Kununurra, Gibb River Road and El Questro Wilderness Park.

more at link above...

Fair Use Disclaimer

When doing anything like this, including hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, be aware of fires in the area.


4/29 I fear that Forest Service leadership has an unconscious bias towards me.

One word for this little quote: WOW!
"Successfully addressing unconscious bias will enable all of us to seek and value individuals of different races, ages, cultures, and abilities"

Enable all of us to seek and value individuals? You have to be kidding me?


Cultural Transformation: Forest Service addresses unconscious bias in the workplace

Addressing unconscious bias, or "hidden bias," in the agency’s recruitment, hiring, retention, and outreach activities will help minimize barriers and improve our ability to become an effective, diverse, and inclusive organization. A recent two-hour training session sponsored by the Executive Leadership Team helped 300 participants understand the impacts of cultural transformation and unconscious bias in the workplace. Successfully addressing unconscious bias will enable all of us to seek and value individuals of different races, ages, cultures, and abilities who have unique experiences, creativity and perspectives, allowing us to achieve our mission on behalf of all citizens.
4/28 Re: Diversity Hiring

I just took a stroll through the TheySaid archives and just about every month I was able to find discussions on Forest Service (FS) hiring practices and the FS attempt to meet diversity goals. This topic has been written about and discussed (and certainly cussed!) ever since Wildland fire was established.

It’s time to step back a few chains and review some of the history of FS diversity hiring. In 1971 the Bernadi lawsuit (now known as the Consent Decree) was filed in Federal Court. In 1979 settlement terms were reached between the FS and Ms Bernadi and the terms were approved by the Federal Court Judge in 1981. Soon after the lawsuit was filed in 1971 the FS began a robust effort to “have a workforce which reflected/matched the ethnic diversity of the United States”. After having a class action lawsuit filed by female employees, the FS was terrified that other ethnic groups (Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, etc) would file similar class action lawsuits. Beginning in the early 1970’s the FS devised and implemented multiple plans, programs, and actions designed recruit, hire, and maintain a workforce which mirrored the nation’s ethnic and racial diversity.

Well, it’s now 2012, 41 YEARS after the initial CD lawsuit was filed, and the Forest Service has still not been able implement or meet their gender, race, diversity objectives!

Think about it – probably over 90% of the current Forest Service employees have been hired since 1971 and the Forest Service has still not been able implement or meet their gender, race, and ethnic diversity objectives!

Think about it some more – thousands of Forest Service employees have been hired since 1971, have had a 30+ year careers and subsequently retired and the Forest Service has still not been able implement or meet their gender, race and ethnic diversity objectives!

Think about it again– the Forest Service was formed 107 years ago and for 41 of those years has not been able implement or meet their gender, race, and ethnic diversity objectives!

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same things over and over and expecting different results”. That is exactly what the FS has done.
Well, how, and is it possible, for the FS to meet the various diversity objectives? In my opinion it’s going to be very difficult hill to climb for many reasons. First of all, from several earlier TheySaid posters, the FS doesn’t have the foggiest idea of what the gender, race and ethnic statistics are for the current workforce. This data is self-reported by the employees and it appears many have elected not to report this info to ASC. And, since this information is considered “sensitive”, the employees (or their supervisors) cannot be required to check the appropriate blocks in the ASC data base. Somehow changes to laws or regulations must be made to require reporting.

Until the size of the true disparity is known, it will be impossible to arrive at any solutions.

Once the FS learns the true racial, gender and ethnic profiles of the Agency they need to take a hard look of what these numbers are compared against. I believe that using National statistics gives a very misleading target to obtain for the FS. Just looking at the tables, charts, and maps at the 2010 Census website demonstrates that the races and ethnic groups are not equitability distributed throughout the country. Just compare the numbers and percentages for ethnicity and races for Alabama, New Mexico and Utah. The statistical differences between the states and individual counties within the states, creates a disparity the FS will never be able to reach or overcome.

To compensate for these dissimilarities I suggest the FS use data for the individual states or, more appropriately, the individual counties in which FS offices and land are situated. Maybe this will help create an Agency which reflected/matched the ethnic diversity of the area in which the FS has a presence.
Next, and probably the most difficult, is changing the culture of the FS. We’ve all chuckled when we read that the FS was in the bottom 10% of Workforce Rankings of Federal Agencies. But, do many of you know the FS was in the top 10% not too many years ago? Hard to believe isn’t it. I believe the attempts to obtain diversity in the FS has caused much if not all of this downfall. The use of discrimination, favoritism, and quotas in hiring and promoting has made the FS a less than desirable place to work.

The FS needs to become an “Employer of Choice” for all races, genders, and ethnicity…not just for the white males who are standing outside the Ranger Station looking in the windows. With the proper work environment of true leadership with honesty, fairness, respect and for ALL employees it can be accomplished. Think of the “Field of Dreams”, if you build it (a compassionate organization) they will come. Quality organizations will naturally attract quality potential employees.

As far as the white males are concerned, the FS needs to devise a program where they can be considered equally amongst all candidates for a position. For the safety of everyone, quality must be the prime consideration for filling wild-land fire positions. The FS has invested thousands if not millions of dollars in training the white male firefighters. Also, consider the thousands of hours of wild-land firefighting experience they can contribute to the organization. These folks are a national resource the FS needs to have on their payroll.

Remember, Safety is and always has been Job #1.

The biggest mistake the FS made was to hire and promote quantity over quality. And they have had to live with this mistake and the disastrous results for over 40 years. I’m glad I can look back far enough to the “good ‘ol days” when the FS was a fun and exciting place to work!

AK Old Timer

4/28 HALLELUJAH!!!!!

The end of AVUE is coming soon!!! Lets do this RIGHT Forest Service! To be honest, if we were required to use a 1972 typewriter and mail the application on one of those Wells Fargo stagecoaches, that would be better than AVUE. Anything would be better than AVUE.



Date: April 27, 2012
Subject: New Human Resources Management Staffing Software
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Directors

We are very excited to announce the new staffing software which we will refer to by the brand name eRecruit. This is part of a Department-wide initiative to implement a common Human Resources Staff Acquisition Solution platform for all USDA Agencies and offices. This software provides end-to-end Staffing and Entrance on Duty capability offered through the National Technical Information Service, (NTIS) which will be implemented as part of the “ONE USDA” initiative.

What this means is:

  • Applicants are able to enter and stay in the Office of Personnel Management USAJOBs screen and track the overall status of their application, creating a better first experience.
  • Improved transparency to the workflow process, candidate pools, vacancy status, etc. without directly having to interact with Human Resources.
  • Mobile technology can be used to alert the Manager of pending actions, reducing overall wait time and risk of employment complications.
  • Real time reporting capabilities are available to better monitor the volume and diversity of the applicant pool within the timeline of the job posting.

Phase 1 Implementation for eRecruit is well underway:

  • Solution design, stakeholder engagement, and communication activities are ongoing.
  • A targeted date of August 31, 2012, has been identified as the “Go-Live” date.
    • The Agency contract with Avue will end on September 30, 2012.
    • To minimize operational disruptions, we are working with the agency leadership and field representatives to design a transition strategy.
    • Implementation of the new NTIS solution must occur before the end of Fiscal Year 2012 to coincide with the end of the Avue contract.

IMPORTANT: One item of key importance is Avue data. Please be advised it is not permissible to use documents created in the current Avue system for upload purposes into our future system. We cannot create reference libraries with this material, so please DO NOT download, print or otherwise collect documents created in Avue for this purpose. You may, however, collect documents that are available in a public record (such as a USAJOBs posting) or any reference created outside of the Avue system for purposes of creating the new reference libraries. Be sure to carefully note the source of all such documents in the event this is called into question in the future. If you have any questions concerning these instructions, please feel free to contact Janet Ford at jford@fs.fed.us.

You may print copies or otherwise save documents that relate to your own personal position description, vacancy announcement, etc., but not for purposes of creating libraries for the new system.

Again, the Forest Service is very excited to lead this journey. We are the first agency to implement eRecruit and all eyes are on us! We have many activities and key milestones between now and our implementation go-live. Given our aggressive timeline, it is imperative that we have your support throughout. Additional communications will be forthcoming, keeping you informed about project activities, including system testing and end user training. We recognize that our future workforce is the lifeline of the organization, so improving the way we recruit and hire will help us all succeed. Your support is critical to our collective success as an agency.

/s/ J. Lenise Lago
Deputy Chief for Business Operations

cc: pdl wo ops asc hrm hros

4/28 Roddy Baumann has passed:

I was very sorry to hear about Roddy Baumann passing away. I got to know Roddy when we both worked on the Malheur NF in the 90's. He was a big, intelligent man with a hearty laugh and a kind soul, and I greatly enjoyed our many conversations together. Roddy was an old Cave Junction smokejumper (CJ 70); there was a nice photo of him, with a big smile on his face as usual, in the January 2012 Smokejumper Magazine from the 2011 Gobi (CJ) reunion. My deepest condolences to his brother Steve (Pup; CJ 73) and to Roddy's wife and kids.

Tim Lynch

4/27 The Akaka Amendment & Politics from Casey Judd:

Dear AB & All,

I have debated with myself ( a scary thing to witness) for the past few days about sending this post in as I recognize it may draw the ire of some I respect a great deal. However its premise is 18 years of working "the Hill" and learning a thing or two in the process. And again, I find myself apologizing for the length of this.

I think few can relate to Mark Davis' frustration with Washington DC as I. I feel fortunate in the sense that the FWFSA has the luxury of working on behalf of one specific group of employees while NFFE has the daunting task of representing a variety of diverse occupations. No envy there.

Like Mark, I have encouraged our members to become more vocal and active in addressing their concerns with their elected officials. I have also encouraged them to understand that in order to change things, we must educate Congress. In order to educate Congress, we ourselves must be educated on what it is we want to say and how we say it.

The Akaka Amendment:

Although it has been a few years since I had the opportunity to sit down with Sen. Akaka, over decades, since my youth, our families have known each other well. In fact the Senator's late Brother, the Reverend Abraham Akaka officiated at my Father's funeral in Hawaii.

More of this long post from Casey Judd.
4/26 Roddy Baumann has passed:

We lost Roddy Baumann Tuesday morning. He passed away in his sleep from a heart attack. Please keep his wife, kids, grandkids and many friends in your thoughts and prayers.

Memorial service will be on May 5th in Vancouver, WA. at 1100.

Roddy worked on the Deschutes for a while back in the 80’s and was an FBAN on Northwest Oregon IMT.

from several people across PNW agencies and in the East... Good thoughts and prayers for the family and friends. Ab.

4/26 Is this the number of resources from each state that went to TX in 2011?



4/26 PNW Team meetings in Bend, starting on 4/30.
Remember to sign up for FEDS Professional Liability Insurance. Protect yourselves.
Reminder: there's a Webinar on May 4. Registration at the link above.
4/26 Ab- Haven't posted in a while but wanted to share some info. on USFWS NM firefighter/dispatcher Natalie Robison- she was travelling home to OK last week and had a back wreck- she has suffered a broken C7 vertebra, back injuries, besides the concussion!

Friends- Know that she is recovering w/ her family in OK- and her cell phone made it thru the accident. Please call and say hello! Hard rain and hydro-planing was the cause.

AB- have anyone email me for further info- and cards may be sent c/o J. Robison 17413 East 1000 Road, Reydon, OK 73660

Recovery for the broken neck is 6-12 wks in a brace- so she will be taking it easy and you won't see hersmiling face at the tanker base or dispatch office for a little while!

signed, TX Lobo, Liz Miller

Good news, considering the situation. Friends, give her a call or send her a card and let her know you appreciate her. Speedy recovery! Ab.

4/25 Developed by Jeff Buscher, Forest Service NorCal Team 2

California Wildland Injury/Fatality Map


This map was created to offer historical trends in geography, topography, fuels and conditions. It is intended to assist in safety, training and planning. Each incident is linked to its Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center report.

Red pins are fatalities
Yellow pins are injury
Green pins are near miss
Blue pins memorials
Purple pins important offices

"It is important that we all learn from the past and the mistakes that have occurred. We should all become students of history. The 10 standard Fire Orders and other checklists were borne out of firefighter tragedies like the Rattlesnake fire that occurred in 1953. It would be a tragedy, and a dishonor to those that perished, not to follow the Orders, and other checklists, designed to reduce risks to firefighters". Chief Bill Holmes, CAL FIRE

Nice one, Jeff! Ab.

4/25 Thank you to Hutch (Tom Hutchison) and his staff:

Sitting here reading the posts from Hutch and wanted to send out a big thank you to him and his staff. I went through his program at AVC with never having any experience of firefighting. Just a love for the outdoors. Mr. Gloss came to me one day and handed me a paper application and told me I had potential to make it as a wildland firefighter. I filled it out, not knowing what was ahead for me. I ended up accepting a position on the Mendo and that was 8 years ago. I am currently a Squad Leader and yes I am Hispanic. It was rough moving away from family and living 45 min from the nearest market, but something that I would never take back.

Thank you guys for all you do.


4/25 Re Akaka amendment:


I am sorry to report that the Akaka amendment to the Postal Reform bill failed. As explained in my 4/19 post, this amendment would have stripped out provisions eroding benefits for federal workers injured on the job and, in the case of employees beyond retirement age who were permanently disabled in service to their country, removed these benefits entirely. Go to www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/112-2012/s73 to see how your Senators voted. It is not too late to contact their office and let them know about your outrage. The 4/24 vote was our best chance to derail this attack, as Postal Reform is a “must pass” bill. However, even after Senate passage, it must still be reconciled with the House version. The odds against us are long, as the House is more anti-fed than the Senate, but that doesn’t mean we should stop fighting.

It is easy to blame Congress. But the unpleasant truth is Congressional representatives hold their positions because we, and our friends and neighbors, vote them into office. They denigrate public service and vote against federal employees, but the vast majority of us just sit back and let it happen. Oh, some of us may whine a little, but very few of us work together in a serious way to oppose these egregious attacks. Working men and women have the rights they enjoy today only because our ancestors stood together and formed unions and fought together in solidarity to earn those rights. Some gave their lives. These days, too many of us take these rights for granted. None of them are written in stone. We retain only those rights which we have the collective strength to hold onto. Yes, it is easy to blame Congress. But Congressional representatives are just acting rationally, in their own self-interest. Big money put them in office and pays attention and holds them accountable; we do not. The unpleasant truth: we get the government we deserve. As Pogo famously said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

What are you going to do about it?

Mark Davis, President
NFFE Forest Service Council

4/25 passing of Chief Jeff Davis in CO

I am writing with deep sorrow to let you know the passing of Chief Jeff Davis of Platte Canyon Fire Protection District in Bailey CO. Chief Davis fought a long hard battle with brain cancer and passed away April 18th 2012. Chief Davis was a well known and progressive leader in both the structural world and wildland community. Chief Davis not only built a well respected wildland program at Platte Canyon but also worked as part of the Jefferson County Type 3 team. Chief Davis started his career as a seasonal firefighter with the Forest Service. He joined Platte Canyon as a volunteer in 1989 and became the first paid Chief in 1999. He will be missed both as a leader of the community but also as a husband and father. Everyone who around him feels a great privilege to have known him.

Services will be held
April 28th 2012
at Platte Canyon Community Church
in Bailey, CO.
Any further information you can email me at danrosspcfd@gmail.com.

Lt. Dan Ross

Condolences. Ab.

4/25 Re Thanks to Hutch, Re the Akaka amendment fails, Re FEDS Professional Liability Insurance

1) Hutch, thanks from me too,

Glad you, Schmidt, McCombs and Kerr are still out there teaching the young folks. What great and diverse experience you have among you!

2) Regarding the Akaka amendment to the Postal Reform Bill

It did not pass. This is sad news for Krs and others who suffer from injuries due to fire-related accidents, burnovers, etc. and for our troops that could be injured in the future. The benefits to the permanently disabled are meager as it is. Vote was nays by the Independent Lieberman all Republicans (except Dean Heller of NV who voted yea), and also with 5 Democrats who voted nay (Bennett and Udall of CO; Carper of DE; Landrieu of LA; McCaskell of MO). Shame on them!

3) Don't forget to Register for the FEDS WEBINAR happening on Friday May 4! Get your 6 covered!


4/24 Hutch,

Thanks for all your good work. We miss you around here. Keep up the great work!

4/24 Ab,

Ab on the bottom you ask the question if our students are willing to go to remote places. That answer is a VERY Strong yes. In fact we counsel then to do just that. We have had people go to Ruth, Lee Vining, Bridgeport and presently have some at Salyer, Havalia and Lone Pine. Most of those that moved on did so because they got a better job offer, though not all.

The current thinking at our college is go anywhere and do anything you are asked to get the job, comfortable of not.


Thanks. Ab.

4/24 Attached is the logo for the Oak Grove Hotshot crew. The crew was formed on the Angeles N.F. in 1950, making it the first Hotshot crew on the forest. The crew was disbanded in 1978.

Please put our logo on your logo page. Thx.

We will be holding our Crew reunion May 23, 2012. For more information go to:

May 1st is the due date for memorabilia.
May 15th. is the last day for registration.

Steve Arney
Former Superintendent

Thanks, Steve. Here it is and I added it to the Logos 20 photo page.

This reunion is in its final planning stages and there's lots of good photos, stories and info if you scroll down:

Here's a bookmark to their Auction info. (This jumps you down their page to that info.) Auction will occur at the reunion.
There's a list of missing crewmembers. This is from last October, but if anyone knows where these folks are, please let the organizers know.
And here's the most recent reunion update with all the nuts and bolts info on registration, location, lodging suggestions, times, etc.

I'm also adding your reunion to the Hotlist Calendar (scroll down), along with the memorabilia and registration due-dates.


4/24 Hello,

My name is Christian. I'm doing a report on wildland fires and need a reliable statistic that explains the danger of wildland fires.

Is there a way to find out how many people or acres are destroyed each year by these natural disasters?

Thank you for reading this, and have a nice day.

Best regards,

4/24 Hi All,

Don't forget to register and pencil in the FEDS Webinar on Professional Liability Insurance for federal wildland firefighters. Your peace of mind is important, not to mention the help you'll need if you find yourself in an incident of unexpected proportions over which you had no control.

  • Friday May 4th
  • at 9am Pacific time, which is Noon East Coast time.
  • Tony Vergnetti - founder of FEDS will be available live to explain what FEDS offers and answer your questions.
  • The last webinar was very informative.

Skip down to 4/18 for more info

Register for the WEBINAR and mark your calendar. Invite coworkers to listen with you and ask any questions.

FEDS website to read up on the Professional Liability Insurance and Expertise it offers.


4/24 To all those commenting about fire hire and wanting to get hired:

I have a couple of thoughts for all those commenting about fire hire. Before you complain you did not get hired, take a very critical look at your application. If you cannot be critical get someone else to do it, someone with good to excellent writing skills. You want someone willing and able to drip red ink all over that application and that someone does not have to be in fire. Get someone outside of fire, they will ask you questions that you never thought to put in an application. You have to have an IQCS print out or some other form from your agency (if not fed) showing your fire qual's, no proof, the selecting officials will not see your application. If you did not put something you did on an application, you do not get credit for it, end of the discussion. That is the way of the federal application system. Written communication skills are important, use your application to show them off! Use the KSAs to your advantage, don't just check the bubble answer the question explaining how you did whatever was asked (ie supervised 5 people). If the AVUE system will not provide a block to write in, attach them to your application in a word document. KSAs are a great way to add and expand on stuff that you may have not put in your application. Don't just show your fire time only, recommending officials will then start to wonder what you where doing with time not accounted for. Who knows in that off time when you did plumbing, marking timber or some job may have taught you a skill that a recommending official needs on there district.

I was told many years ago by a DFMO that when you put in for a job you had better be willing to take it. You did not put in for a job just to see if you got it or how your application rated. So for all of those applying for jobs, talk to the wife, kids, dog, and whoever else needs to approve your moving before you check the box to that duty location. There is a lot of work to get an OK to hire someone, it is truly depressing to hear sorry, I can't move for whatever the reason.

Next fire hire is in the fall, don' wait till the last minute to work on your application.

Almost an old timer
4/24 Mellie, good evening,

I just read your comments on they said in reference to the diversity issues with the FS and their struggle to attract and retain diversity employees. You mentioned college programs to help that. I can speak first hand on that. I am still at Antelope Valley College here in Lancaster CA teaching in the Fire Technology program. I am fortunate to have with me here Bruce Schmidt, Dick McCombs and David Kerr. We have a comprehensive Wildland program in conjunction with our Municipal associates and Fire Fighter one Academy. Our wildland program offers an Associates Degree in Wildland Fire Technology, Certificate program in Wildland Fire and a 6 week Summer Wildland Firefighter Academy. We also provide a Type II hand crew for experience as well as numerous volunteer projects working on trails, fuels projects and OHV projects. Our students receive a serious dose of what the field is like to work in. We presently have graduates working in most all of the western states, for State BLM, FS, NPS, Local Fire Districts and Private Contractors.

Our Student diversity is running about 10% African American, 45% Hispanic, 2% Asian Pacific Islander and about 38% Non Hispanic White, Of these numbers about 12% are female. We will actively work with any unit that is seeking applicants and encourage the use of Student Temp and SCEP programs to hire well qualified and well trained students. We will not recommend for employment any student who does not meet the standards of performance and decorum that we expect of our students.

I would love to hear from those people that are looking to fill positions with skilled people of diversity and Yes we also have numerous Vets.

My phone number is (661) 722-6300 ext 6712
Address: Tom Hutchison
Antelope Valley College
3041 West Ave. K
Lancaster, Ca. 93536

I hope that the world is treating you well, Mellie.


Hutch, are those students willing to move to remote areas where there are not many folks that look like them? Mad River RD on the Six Rivers NF or even to Redding, for example. This is one big issue with women and young minority, entry level firefighters. They're not willing to stray far from home and if they do, they leave as soon as possible. Ab.

4/24 More frightening than interesting.

The CO Dept. of Public Safety is a bureaucracy unto itself, one not many fire protection entities in CO look forward to having to deal with. Now they're proposing ripping all of wildland fire management at the state level, including prescribed fire, out of Forestry (where prescribed fire should have close ties) and putting it under the oversight of an arm of government that will stifle it and hinder interaction and coordination of land management decisions and policy with Forestry. Yeah, great idea. And treat it the same as Emergency Management and structural fire response - which it is not.

This appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to one incident, a move that will have deleterious impacts for years to come. I could have bought moving the State Forest Service from under CO State University (which has always been odd) to under the CO Dept. of Natural Resources. But Public Safety? Help us all....


4/23 Now here's an interesting and somewhat frightening idea...

Colorado - Wildfires, controlled burns under command of Colorado public safety department under plan offered by governor


4/23 Re: Hiring - website showing open FS positions for R5?

Green legs,

It’s because the web location you reference is not the official site for outreach of fire jobs. The location as directed by the Deputy Chief for Business Operations for the Forest Service is here:


The website you reference is managed by fire personnel, it does not contain all open vacancies on a consistent basis and it does not meet the intent of a central service-wide location and the Deputy Chief has not authorized this website as an official location. Hopefully R5 did not depend on another website for meeting Master Agreement requirements.

I would suggest you contact your NFFE Representative and ask why the 2010 Master Agreement related to outreaches and the follow up letter of direction from the Deputy Chief are not being followed. Also ask them to be a proactive partner and not a reactive organization.

For those of you that think Lotus notes is gone, think again. Lotus notes is still required for all outreaches agency-wide and used for all official agency letter correspondence, including this one below.

Templin Old 99 Fire


Date: January 12, 2011
Subject: Listing Permanent Bargaining Unit Positions on the Forest Service Internet
To: Regional Foresters, Station Directors, Area Director, IITF Director, Deputy Chiefs and WO Directors

This letter serves to notify all managers and supervisors of changed processes as a result of the new Master Agreement with National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) and is effective immediately. Early notice of this change is critical due to the potential for delays in staffing positions. In the newly negotiated 2010 NFFE Master Agreement, Article 16, Promotions and Details, Section 2C, Filling Vacancies, states: all permanent positions to be filled shall be listed on the Forest Service Internet a minimum of 21 days prior to the pulling of a referral list.

NOTE: These 21 days are not linked to the length of time that the vacancy is announced on USAJobs. The listing may be done concurrently with outreach for the job opening, including while the job is still occupied. This process is not a barrier to compliance with the 80 day hiring model.

In accordance with Article 16, listings for vacancies to be filled through an open continuous recruitment (OCR) announcement will include the following information: title, series, grade, location(s), earliest date referral list will be pulled, internal and/or external vacancy announcement numbers, and point of contact information.

Listings for vacancies to be filled through an individual announcement will include the following information: title, series, grade, location(s), earliest date referral list will be pulled, point of contact information, and when available, and the internal and/or external vacancy announcement numbers. At a minimum, the announcement numbers will be listed for 10 days.

Although we will continue to refine the system for posting vacancies, our initial system will be through the existing Outreach Database in LotusNotes. A manager or designee will enter the required information listed above. Note that for individual announcements, it will be necessary to update this system with the specific vacancy announcement when the announcement number is available. The Outreach Database that is located in LotusNotes has been modified to comply with the Article 16 requirements for bargaining unit positions. Once a permanent bargaining unit position has been completed and saved in the Outreach Database it will post to the internet within 24 hours. The information on the Outreach Notice can be found on https://hrm.gdcii.com/outreach/Default.aspx. An Outreach How-To guide has been created and it can be found at http://fsweb.asc.fs.fed.us/HRM/hcms/Outreach/Outreach_quick_reference_v2.doc (internal Forest Service web).

If you need assistance with LotusNotes in general please contact CHD at 1-866-945-1354. If you need assistance with the Outreach Database, please open an HRM case.

You may open an HRM Case using one of the following methods:

Open a case through HR Help (for detailed instructions, click here (internal FS web))
Send an email to the Albuquerque Service Center - Human Resources Management (ASC-HRM) Contact Center
Call the ASC-HRM Contact Center at (877) 372-7248 (Select Option 2 and follow the prompts)

It is very important that direction regarding posting of vacancies and negotiated timelines be followed to comply with the Master Agreement. It is mandatory to follow this process for filling permanent bargaining unit positions. Questions regarding this new process can be directed to your Human Resources Officer. Please disseminate this information to all your managers and supervisors.

/s/ Barbara L. Cooper (for)
Deputy Chief for Business Operations

cc: pdl wo ops asc hrm lmr
pdl wo ops asc hrm hros
pdl wo ops asc hrm exec team
Ron Thatcher
Cathy Neuman
Karen Stanton

4/23 Hotlist on Shift Briefing

One of Neptune's ATs made an emergency landing in Missoula.

Slurry bomber lands safely after declaring emergency en route to Missoula


4/23 Hiring -

Couple of questions / things to think about... and I'm limiting it:

Can we figure out the issues relating to hiring and advancement in career in light of the changing fed plans/requirements? Seems we should understand the "parameters of the playing field" better than we do...

Hotshot made a point in his post on the hotlist about looking for a way to address diversity in an early, systemic and sustainable fashion. "Feeder program" in high school or in junior college. Do we have that? Some... ? California ROP, programs at local fire stations for high schoolers. (also on the Links Page under Education)

I know EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) law is complicated enough to be widely misunderstood.

As I understand it, a selecting official may NOT select an individual for a position based solely on race or gender. Those can only be used as a "tie breaker" among EQUALLY qualified applicants.

What about entry level positions? How does anyone decide if applicants are equally qualified? Is it equally qualified for the minimum GS level or will a higher GS level trump the entry level?

There are also new educational requirements to progress in a fire career in the FS. Do people who are thinking of a fire career understand that a college degree will be required to progress past a certain level? This is what all the 401 Series in the FS was about... (and 2- and 4-year college programs ) DOI already had the academic requirement as I understand it.

Does the Academy help people sort out the requirements and options? Is there any actual campout experience, or manual labor, or smoke tolerance, or pee-in-the-woods, or poison oak or live-and-work-in-a-large-group experience, or be removed from city thrills and diversions or from extended family experience required prior to academy? Seems there could be a commitment of fairly big training bucks to someone who might have found out pretty easily this rough, manual labor, physically demanding "extreme sport (plus high risk)" life wasn't for them.

Vets "get" the group living and hard work and removal from family and friends experience. My guess is that female vets in entry level fire probably have a better chance of sticking with it than other females without vet experience.


4/23 Hiring:

Been following the "hiring" posts. The following is a Testimony given before the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on Civil Service. Was it given yesterday, or almost 20 years ago? This is filed in the wildlandfire.com archives and dates from 1998.

Representative Wally Herger (R-CA)

Testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform and Over site Subcommittee on Civil Service
I appreciate this opportunity to address the Committee on the important matter of racial and gender preferences in federal agency hiring and promotion decisions. Mr. Chairman, I have several documents that I would request unanimous consent to be included in the record which are numbered and have been made available to the members of the committee.

Mr Chairman, I represent an area which includes all, or parts of eight national forests and I have had dozens of US Forest Service employees contact me to express their disgust with the forest Service's discriminatory and unfair hiring and promoting practices.

They tell me about how careers have been derailed, morale has been devastated, personnel costs have skyrocketed, and public resources and even public safety have been put at risk due to the imposition of bizarre hiring and promotion decisions. According to Webster's Dictionary the word "discriminate" is defined as to make a difference in treatment or favor on basis other than individual merit.

Mr. Chairman, I will use my time today to exhibit how the US Forest Service has continually and blatantly engaged in discriminatory hiring and promotion practices and has outright failed to hire on the basis of merit for many positions.

Example 1: One Forest Service job announcement declared that, and I quote "Only Unqualified Applicants May Apply", unquote. This was an attempt by the Forest Service to avoid hiring or promoting qualified employees in order to fill the jobs with minority. . . but unqualified employees. If this is not discrimination, I don't know what is.

Example 2: Notes from a Forest Service Civil Rights Action Group meeting state, quote, "there are many factors involved in the selection process and the objective is to select a qualified person, not necessarily the most qualified," unquote. Again, the Forest Service is directing their supervisors to not hire the most qualified individual. . .that's discrimination.

Example 3: A memo from a Forest Service Assistant Director for Affirmative Action states, quote "The only legal requirement f e to meet entry level qualification requirements. Greater tenure may produce candidates who are over qualified but that is irrelevant to the issue at hand, which is getting on with and agency affirmative action program", unquote.

I cannot imagine too many private sector business' that would last very long if they deliberately passed over the most qualified person for the job. This is discrimination.

Example 4: A "White Paper" produced by the Plumas National Forest, which is located in my Congressional District, spells out in grim detail the consequence of quota hiring plans. Quote, "In a growing number of instances, we are not filling positions when there are no women applicants. In the past three months, we have either re-advertised, left vacant, or filled with unqualified temporaries eleven permanent positions because we could not find female applicants. If the position is in fire prevention or forest fuels management, the job simply doesn't get done and we face the consequence of additional person-caused fires". Continuing with the quote, "When the roster was completed, the majority of applicants were male and the top of the roster was blocked by male veterans. The Plumas attempted to fill five fire positions from the roster, but could only reach two women. Both women declined our offers. No offers were made to men. All fire positions are presently vacant or filled by unqualified temporary employees", end quote.

Now, with this example, not only are federal workers being discriminated against by the Forest Service, but civilian citizens are being put at risk. Innocent people could have died or had their homes destroyed because the Forest Service refused to fill critical fire fighting positions due to their ridiculous quota requirements.

When criticized for its quota policies, the Forest Service often blames a court order to diversify their workforce. However, a 1994 letter from the Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Administration states, quote "The (consent) decree required that one selection factor in all cases was to be whether the applicant contributed to the Agency's diversity. . .It also limited the use of this factor either as tie-breaker when all other qualifications were equal, or as one of several factors", unquote. The letter goes on to say that only, quote "One of those expectations is that competitive promotions will be based on merit factors. If someone competes for a position and is the best person qualified for the job, he or she will be selected", unquote.

Regrettably, that was not the case.

Clearly, the consent decree did not mandate the abandonment of all common sense. But, the Forest Service has gone well beyond the requirements of both the court and common sense. Indeed, a memo from one Forest Supervisor warned his employees against aggressively pursuing diversity goals and admitted that doing so was a violation of the law.

Quoting from the document, "free and open discussion have occurred regarding such things as creating or filling a position with an affirmative action candidate or not filling the position at all, or providing significant career enhancing opportunities/education to affirmative action candidates that are not available to other candidates. These types of discussions are violation of the laws and regulations mentioned and should not occur, and the penalties for this type of conduct are severe", unquote.

Mr. Chairman, the Forest Service is admitting that what they are doing is in violation of the law. Furthermore, this is still happening now. In February of this year, under strong criticism because of its quota policies, the Forest Service issued a Merit Promotion plan. The plan stipulates that promotions "shall be based solely on job-related criteria". But a few paragraphs following that statement, the document explains that, quote "Selection procedures will provide for managements right to select or not select from among a group of best qualified candidates", unquote. How can it be a merit plan if it specifically permits the Forest Service to avoid selecting from the pool of best qualified candidates even in an attempt to solve their acknowledged problems with discrimination, the Forest Service once again establishes unfair hiring and promotion practices. The Forest Service quota policies are inequitable to both the public and our federal employees. They are divisive, morally indefensible, and blatantly unfair.

We cannot combat past discrimination by engaging in yet more discrimination. I commend the committee for addressing this crucial issue.

Note: Now a days some may consider Herger as part of the "enemy party", but let me reassure you he is still in our court! Especially, when it comes to discrimination.


Here's another announcement relating to a FS Conference and Herger from 1998. In the "Early Days of wlf.com, his used to be linked on the Documents Worth Reading page. Ab.

4/23 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

4/22 Hello everyone,

I have received a significant number of emails and phone calls recently, following almost three months of traveling around Region 4 teaching emergency medical classes (EMR and EMT courses/refresher), regarding the "Limited Recognition Request" form and if it is beneficial for all crew types to complete one or have one completed for their perspective resource type even if they are not assigned to a medical unit on a large fire setting.

While I cannot speak on behalf of the government, my short answer and personal opinion is "YES". In all my travels from line Paramedic to engines and everything in between, I have found it gives many states we all travel to peace of mind that we are not trying to circumvent the state's system in regards to Emergency Medical Providers. Additionally, the 2012 Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations Chapter 7 page 15 requires "must" follow state laws.

As an example, last year on the Salmon-Challis NF during the Indian Creek Fire, two hotshot crews came into the medical unit and provided Chris Graves, the MEDL and myself, a list of its crewmembers who were licensed medical providers as well a completed LRR. While we recognized that they were not assigned to the medical unit and would not be put on the IAP as a medical resource, it surely helped as well provided the state a notice of all who were there that could potentially provide medical care.

The first important piece of that is that the individual must be licensed perspective to their home state. The National Registry Card is not a license to practice medicine. It simply solidifies a person has completed a course and test that meets the USDOT/NHTSA guidelines for EMS training.

Secondarily, most states require Emergency Medical Providers to have medical oversight of some type. I suggest you check with your state EMS bureau/office as to what's required for your agency type.

And finally, most states also have MOUs, declarations, statues, rules, policies, and laws as it pertains to out of state medical providers coming into a different state while providing care. I have gone to 13 states as a Line Paramedic and have yet to find one that that won't try to make it work. If they don't have a law or statue, many EMS bureaus will help you come up with a plan including finding a local EMS medical director who would be willing to sponsor a temp license. An example was the Honey Prairie Fire in Georgia last year. They don't have laws about this and had never really thought about it. However, the Southern Blue Team medical unit leaders Shanna Ellis and Mike Evers were able to secure a letter from a local emergency room doctor who provided us temporary coverage at our home provider levels.

So in the end:

In your crew packet (IHC, Helitack, Engines, or Handcrew), I would suggest as the crew supervisor and crew medical coordinator/lead, each of you have a copy of all medical providers' licenses/certs on your crew for those individuals with medical training beyond the basic first aid/CPR. Please remember many states do not recognize OEC (ski patrol), Wilderness First Responder, or WEMT as a license. While that training and experience is certainly helpful, we need to be a part of the solution in accomplishing a collective unit of providers that states recognize.

Have a completed LRR for your crew (a few extra copies always help) in your possession as you roll to the incident that potentially is beyond your home base. If going to an IMT fire, I would again suggest providing that to the medical unit as well as a list of equipment you have access to beyond the basic first aid kit or ten-man kit, ie; backboard, rope kit, litter, AED.


The Incident Emergency Medical Subcommittee within Risk Management has worked diligently to help make this process much smoother for us all. I would suggest if you need for further guidance you look at their website, contact a committee member, and read their documents on-line. Jan Peterson is the chair and has done a great job with her group in trying to make this possible for all of us. The website also contains the Emergency Helicopter Extraction List, another document I suggest you print and carry in your kits.

I have attached the "LIMITED RECOGNITION REQUEST" to this email and you can also find at it: www.nwcg.gov/teams/shwt/iemtg/resources/request_recognition.pdf

Thank you.

Bill Arsenault
Wildland Firefighter/Paramedic

Limited Recognition Request

4/22 re hiring:

A few things........

squash ("Trying to squash the rumors"), you kind of sound like a Civil Rights Officer. Do I know you? Welcome to WLF.com. Although I agree with you about the confidentiality related to any hiring panel or process, it should be noted that all applicants can request to see their strengths and weaknesses, the leveling criteria used, where they leveled and request a copy of all supervisory reference checks. I strongly encourage all applicants from any fire hire or other hiring process to call ASC at 1-877-372-7248 #2 and ask for this information. They will most likely scan it and email it to you. ALL applicants should do this, even those who received an offer. What better way to learn about how to do a better application next time and improvements needed with your abilities.

Following the AVUE process - Are you serious? With the new AVUE, somewhere ABOVE 20% of applicants are not showing up on the referral list, not because anything they did wrong, it’s because the program and HR processes are a mess. How can it not be a mess with each region having different rules ever since “THE PAUSE” back in August? AVUE is to the Forest Service, as adventures to Las Vegas are to the GSA. This is one reason why applicants need to request all work that was performed on your application.

IQCS - Applicants are probably getting disqualified because a required training class or classes did not show up on the master record. This is no fault to the applicant who cannot do their own profile update. The Forest Service is inappropriately disqualifying applicants because someone doesn’t have the time to update the applicants' IQCS profile. It should be up to the Forest Service to prove the applicant is missing an ICS qualification or training class, not up to the applicant. The applicant doesn’t have access to IQCS, however HR can get it, a special group of SMEs can get involved and or Regional Office Fire Hire support can assist. However what we do know is that we must not fault the applicant for a lack of IQCS profile updating.

Squash is correct to recommend volunteering to be an SME. It will help you learn hiring processes and its strengths and weaknesses. More importantly it will help you be a better applicant in the future. Doing this and requesting all work completed on your application will significantly help you.

Vets - In my lifetime, I have never seen this level of Vet hiring. I respect the law. I also respect our Vets for doing something few of us would volunteer for. Welcome Home!

To all the recently hired Veterans, welcome to your new career. As Ray Q said, we are not offering jobs, we are offering a career as a Wildland Firefighter.

Vets2 - With the current trends, I do not see to many non-vets (maybe none) getting into the Apprentice program, especially in Region-5 for the next couple years. Everyone needs to look at all options and locations to get in. Apply to those hard-to-fill stations and districts at the GS 6 or 6/7 level as a DEMO. Do whatever you can to get in, and if this is what you really want, continue to work hard, build trust from your supervisor and don’t ever give up.

Federal Employees - We are getting hammered by a certain party in Washington. Follow Mellie’s and NFFEs advice and voice your support for the Akaka Amendment. While you're at it, register to vote for the coming election. Vote for people that support the hard work you do. Issa doesn't like you!

Good to see the Chief support the Apprentice Academy as “THE” required program for all entry level Firefighters. This is no change for R5 as we've been supporting this WO program for years. Too bad in his letter he left an “out” for the Regions to allow exemptions. You can guarantee regions will be running to RFs asking not to send employees to the academy. Also the Chief’s letter failed to address academy attendance for all those who enter the Forest Service into non-apprentice positions such as GS6 AFEOs, squad leaders, Dozer Operators and Prevention using the DEMO authority. Typical WO letter that does not provide complete clarity. However this is a start. WFAP is a national program. It does not belong to R5, although we have been supporting it since its existence. WFAP belongs to all Federal Wildfire Agencies and we need to support the good work they do and all work together to make the program better.

Biting my tongue - No chance that all leveling criteria are the same from region to region. You and all others who did not get a job offer need to call ASC at the phone number listed above and ask for the work the SMEs completed on your application, the criteria used for leveling, the level your application was rated at and all your reference checks. While you're at it, ask them for the outreach documentation. Have them show you where this position was outreached for 21 days prior to pulling referral lists.

FEDS (Professional Liability Insurance for federal wildland firefighters) - Get it and join the webinar on May 4th!

Drug Testing Starts Oct 1, 2012 - Bout Dam Time!

Roadrunner on GovTrip Travel Costs - Our travel reservation process is a mess! GSA 2.0.

The Line Officer - As we head towards more safety journeys, another round of surveys and more finger pointing about how much bias we have within us, it’s comforting to know that Line Officers, not Fire Managers, are running this show. We need a centralized management organization for fire management.

“Having complete control over your own mind will allow you to manage any situation at hand. If you can maintain a positive approach, you can achieve anything”.
"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."
- Steve Jobs

395 Wildfire


4/22 Re: Hiring

My response to "Trying to squash the rumors" will give me a chance to elaborate on what I meant by games like Ab asked.

I agree with some of what was said, there are plenty of processes in place that can be challenged if a person has proof of wrong doing. Some have done this in the past and won, but if all you do is post on " Theysaid " then not much is going to change. I'm as guilty as others of doing this as I didn't challenge the FF retirement and twice lost my job to it. I now know of others that have and won.

You're also correct when you say that if someone told you which level you rated out as, they could get in trouble. For some reason members of an evaluation panel are sworn to secrecy. I would think the agency would want transparency to avoid any questions. I would disagree that no one should know their level. Everyone that applies should be told their level so they can find out what they need to work on or get to improve their chances the next time.

I've seen it many times where applicants from lower levels have been given jobs over others that rated higher. I've been on many panels and have actually quit a couple where it was too blatant. All it takes is a letter of justification by managers. My first example in my original post is a prime case. The evaluation panel picked the two applicants that were STL qualified for the positions. The forest came in and said this person gets one of the two positions. The FMO said no, she just barely made the cert.. The forest pushed back and she got her appointment.

In my second example where she got the AFMO job later on, when they couldn't reach her due to some pushback from ASC, they canceled the cert.. They did this twice and reached her on the third cert. I was at a training two years later where OSC used an identical case to show what a Prohibited Personnel Practce is! In that case two HR employees were suspended for 45 days for suggesting to the district they do business this way.

Other examples are: A region decided to use the centralized fire hiring like R5. They decided to also take part in the apprenticeship program since this was the first year it went national and there was a big push to support it. During their process they bypassed a GS 4 that had two years on a hotshot crew to pick up two diversity candidates at the GS 3 level that had a year with the agency. Only when the union interceded on process did they find an opening for this GS4.

An employee rated out as, by far, the top pick by the panel even after a supervisor that was on the panel degraded her and brought up her union membership as a reason she couldn't do the job (you can't do that, it's against the law). When she filed an unfair labor practice the agency decided not to fill the job and gave it to another agency since they were an interagency organization. She didn't get the job, but she did get some compensation.

Here's a R5 example, the Consent Decree was a pretty cut and dry process right? Then why have I met three employees from R5 over the years that got their appointments by filing reverse discrimination lawsuits over the process?

We had a SFEO GS 7 opening. They hired an employee, from R5 with under five years with the agency that was a Engine boss trainee, over local applicants with over ten years experience that were Engine boss qualified. They were from the forest so there would have been a big TOS savings which was over $100,000 and she resigned two years later.

I could go on and on with examples of games, but these are my experiences. Obviously Trying has had different experiences and I respect that. The bottom line is, a certain amount of the process is and will always be subjective. We can't do anything about that other than force them to follow the merit system rules. If you suspect the process wasn't followed, then try to get proof ( which is very hard to do) and challenge it. In our region we've got agreement that a union rep. can sit in on the panels to watch the process. If you're a SME, but can't get on panels then join the union and maybe they can get you in the door.


4/22 Hiya Ab,

I was curious about some of the statements made by "Trying to squash the rumors" in their post. Mainly, I was wondering what they meant by "no one should know their level"...Is that a reference to tier grouping or is it a reference to basically qualified vs. quality candidate distinction? I was asking because I read in the Forest Service Handbook 6109.12_23 under the merit promotion section that employees can request information regarding what group they were in among some other things. I'll just paste it from the FSH web directory because it's a big document but it can be found pretty easily online. Here's what it says:

4. Employee Rights. Employees may request the following information from their servicing human resources office:
a. About the Merit Promotion Plan.
(1) Explanation of any part of the plan.
(2) Details of governing regulation(s).
(3) The qualifications required for a position.
(4) Details of the evaluation techniques.
b. About a specific vacancy:
(1) If the employee was considered.
(2) If the employee was basically qualified.
(3) If the employee was in the quality candidate grouping.
(4) Who was selected.
(5) Feedback obtained from the supervisor of the position being filled on how an applicant may improve chances for selection on future vacancies.
(6) Documentation used to evaluate the employee.
(7) Other information required by collective bargaining agreements.
(8) Number of applications received.
(9) Number of candidates referred.

I wanted to write this because I don't think it's entirely so much a non-selection that gets people upset as much as not understanding why. One thing I'm not clear on is who is allowed to request this information, I know firsthand (I actually watched this process occur with my own eyes) of a perm who was able to get their request furnished and got tier information directly from HR over their non-selection so I don't know if the HR person was misinformed or what but I seen it.

I do think there's a bit of a fine line when it comes to defining something as a "good ol boy" system especially if it was meant in the unequivocal sense. Wishing to promote someone because of a relative working knowledge to an area and operations on a module from experience on the module is sometimes just a smart choice. I think it could be just as easy to throw rocks at people promoting from within just because you didn't happen to have time in on a module or crew. I've been upset in the past when I'd put in for a job on a crew and didn't get it because they wanted to promote from within but I'm not sure that makes it wrong. It certainly has worked in the private sector for some very successful companies and it creates an incentive for performance on the crew. Any "fairness" in procedure is defined by whomever writes the policy but can be pretty subjective.

Here's another cut and paste from the 6109.12 not more than a page or two above the first one I pasted:

"The selecting official is entitled to make or not make the selection from any of the candidates on the Referral Lists based on judgment of how well the candidate will perform in the particular position being filled, or to select from other appropriate sources, such as reinstatement, transfer, people with targeted disabilities, or Veteran’s Recruitment Appointment (VRA) eligibles, after following the order of consideration detailed in Appendix F, Order Of Consideration When Filling A Vacancy."

Notice it simply says "based on judgment", without even an interview process (which is encouraged by the way in 23.25b item 5) it is kind of tempting to toss a rock or two because it's such open wording.

Anyway, I had kind of a knee-jerk reaction to the post and I feel the same way when I see the emails coming out about "unconscious bias" or "cultural transformation", I feel like there is a certain fairly specific estimation of character and intellect attached to it. I do agree wholeheartedly that Avue is the source of very much consternation and for many people it is a hard bellyflop into an epic pool of outsourced bureaucracy. I don't think that makes the applicant their own enemy though, the program is terrible.

So anyway anyway, end rant. I must respectfully disagree with some of the post but I appreciate the poster taking the time to write it and boldly going where a lot of people might not appreciate it. Complaining (even a suggestively large amount of it) will not amount to much without involvement.


4/22 Hiring - website showing open FS positions for R5?

Is there a new link to the current open positions for region 5? There was a map on the forest service website where
you could select each forest and it would say which positions are open for each station. Since the new website on the
forest service website, I can't find that map. Thanks for the help.

-green legs
Sent from my iPhone

4/21 "Court Settlement Montana Fires 2000"

Interesting that the attorney making statements in this article (Quentin Rhoades), criticizing fire personnel for "breaking
the rules," once advocated and defended breaking the most fundamental rules in wildland firefighting - the 10 Standard
Fire Orders - and bending the "18 situations that shout Watch Out" - immediately after the South Canyon Fire in 1994.


How things change when one exchanges his Pulaski for a law degree. "South Canyon Survivor?" Well, he came home,
unlike 14 of his comrades. Cheap opportunist? IN my opinion, absolutely. It makes my blood boil knowing he's using
the South Canyon Fire to pump up his street cred, especially in light of his history. Not knowing the details of this case,
I'll just say that from what has hit the press, and what we know of Mr. Rhoades, it smells funny.


4/21 Re: Hiring

I have been on here and questioned some of the hiring practices, voiced my opinion, and read others views on the Apprentice hiring and other positions and sometimes my point is misunderstood, but I am sure I'm not alone in my frustration. However, that being said...I wanted to share my outlook today.... I've worked hard to get in, and as I sat this last week waiting for a phone call I knew would not come, I thought about one important lesson I've learned over the last decade in the Forest Service... Keep movin, and keep one foot in front of the other... Keep pushing and get up the damn hill! This doesn't just apply to the fireline we've all been on, but life in general. While I have been discouraged, as I'm sure many of us have.. There is only one thing I can do, and that is go back to this season and get on the damn truck and try again... A LOT of us have been kicked in the gut ( or at least it feels that way sometimes) but we've gotta keep moving or were in the wrong job to begin with. It's time to get ready for this season and stop worrying about what could've been... Good Luck to everyone in their future applications, and everyone have a safe season!

R5 Hosemonkey

4/21 Re: Hiring

Good afternoon AB And All.

I’ve been reading all the notes on the hiring that has taken place over the last few fire hires..

I’ve been biting my tongue. But have had as much as I can. It’s very upsetting to all. When you see this happen over and over..

The agency Does not hire based on Qualification. Good old buddy system still in full affect . I am a Strong supporter in fixing it..

But when folks at the RO . Tell me that “Hiring was broke before I was hired and it will be broke after I leave”. There’s no hope,

I am Also one of those people that have been overlooked many times. I was applying for a asst Captain a few years ago, Crew boss Qualified, SMS hired a person with Radio operator only on red card.

I say file… Freedom information act. Then also so file EEO complaint. Get a judge to make a decision, Cause we All know that this agency does NOT.

Find out what the documentation is on all the applied, Get a investigation appointed , Get a Lawyer Lesa Donnelly.

and push the issues. The issues need to be push past the RO. Because that’s where its broke .It needs to go to the WO And to the USDA.

Sorry to vent But I Do feel for all.


4/21 Re: Hiring

AB and all others with hiring concerns,

It is easy for those that have applied for jobs and were not hired to throw rocks and other accusations. I'm sure I would engage in such activities too. Applicants only know a fraction of what really occurs. Here's the deal. If you heard that you were a level 1, 2 or 3, the person that told you that should be handed time on the beach PERIOD. Employees and supervisors are just undermining the system. No one should know their level. Levels can be challenged and occasionally are by recommending and selecting officials. That process is scrutinized, and in some cases, the leveling can go the other way and more often than not, they remain the same, which shows that the good ol boy system is being shut down.

The leveling process has greatly improved but it's still human, hence the opportunity to challenge the level. You cannot jump levels, again you cannot jump levels to grab someone you want too. The only way to get around someone is through a process that involves forest supts and the selecting officials. And that doesn't always work either. There are many checkpoints along the way to ensure equality for applicants. Applicants are their own worst enemy's if they fail to follow the steps in AVUE, provide false information or have bad references. Recommending officials are there giving every applicant a fair shake and selecting officials have reversed many recommendations based on various issues, all in the eye of giving every applicant a shot. What amazes me and others is the constant complaining about the system, but the complainers want nothing to do with SME work which would give them a firsthand opportunity to see how this works. Heck, maybe they would see why SMEs should adhere to the confidentially terms of fire hire and therefore not undermine the program.

I encourage those that are on the fence or complaining to take the leadership road and go to the next round of fire hire as a SME. I bet your chief would welcome your interest with arms wide open. I also encourage that you visit with your forest recommending official if you have questions. as they can explain the process without going into who applied and levels.

Sign me,

Trying to squash the rumors

4/20 Court Settlement Montana Fires 2000

Here is a court settlement from the 2000 Montana Fires. Sounds like a precedent is set. Might mean we start fighting fires instead of backing off and lighting off big chunks of land. Just an opinion. Check out the lawyer name, South Canyon survivor.

4/20 Re: Hiring

Biting My Tongue,

I'm sorry you're learning about hiring the hard way. As someone who's lost his job twice to the FF retirement system and was replaced by lesser qualified people, I know your frustration. First, the hiring system in R5 is under the same rules as the rest of the FS. The only thing that is different is the games that they play to get around the rules. The other regions that have centralized fire hiring copied the R5 system when they started.

I assume by level 1 and level 2 you mean Quality vs Qualified. Yes they can hire from either list. And although being a disabled vet I support veteran preference, it's not fair that veterans automatically make the quality list even if they have no experience. I know that's the case up to the GS 6 level.

There are many things that don't make sense with the system, ie we were hiring for a Fuels crew that 90% of their work was chainsaw work. When we ran the jobs, ASC told us that we couldn't require any saw skills or experience in the announcement. We had 90 days after hire to train them. How does that work for a production saw crew?

I don't have the manual number right off hand, but you can Google Merit System Hiring and get to the rules. If you can prove they didn't follow the rules, it's a Prohibited Personnel Practice.


I don't understand what those games you refer to might be. Care to elaborate? Ab.

4/20 Most recent FS Travel and Conference Spending Memo:

www.wildlandfire.com/docs/2012/federal/2012-travel-conf-spending-memo.pdf (35 K pdf)

4/20 Congress coming after federal workers' compensation:

The vote was delayed yesterday and now will be held next Tuesday, April 24, 2012.
Check at the NFFE website:
go to www.nffe.org/ht/display/ArticleDetails/i/57056

Please call your Senators if you haven't already. Get your family members and friends to call.

Easy directions are a couple of posts down. Here's the brief version:

Call the Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 (two times, one for each senator)
Ask to be connected to your Senator's office
vote YES on the Akaka Amendment 2034 to the Postal Reform Bill


4/20 Steve,

Turns out we do have that story and photos, described here:


Thanks to Gary Starkovich and Pete Martin.

We're creating and in transition to a new website and those were several of the first vintage photos we entered with geotags, text, etc. That's why they're not in our engines photo section.

Also got a message from Shannan at nationalfirefighter.com, one of our website sponsors. She has photos from the museum on Facebook. Looks beautiful!

Thanks for the note, Gary. You and Pete Martin and other contributors from R6 Mt Hood NF, Bear Springs RD area certainly did nice work! Ab.


I took some pictures a couple years ago of the Chevy fire truck referenced in today’s They Said post. It’s a 1935. I found an original picture and information about the truck on wildlandfire.com. The pictures of the renovated truck live on our facebook page. Please feel free to share it!



4/20 Vintage and Antique FS Fire Trucks


Your picture of tankers doesn't go back far enough! In Bend, Oregon, at the High Desert Museum, sits (I think) a 1936 Chevrolet trunk completely restored to active duty function. Some of the features are:

  • behind the cab is an open air seat for three people,
  • the curved camp kitchen (borrowed from the pack strings),
  • hoses for both spraying the fire as well as the hose and strainer to suck water from a creek or
    water source.

The engine runs like a Swiss watch as does the siren. The old lady doesn't get out anymore but just sits inside the museum.

Steve Coady

Take a pic and send it in. Ab.

4/19 Wildland Fire Apprentice Program (WFAP)

Letter from Tom Tidwell, chief of the FS regarding the Wildland Fire Apprentice Program (WFAP), April 16, 2012 (30 K pdf)

Briefing on the Wildland Fire Apprentice Program (WFAP) April 2012 (67 K pdf)


4/19 Thanks, Mellie, I did it.

Easy/ only a few minutes.


4/19 WFSU (wildland fire suppression) travel has now been removed from the travel ceiling per WO memo dated
April 16, 2012. Good.

Per memo signed by Chief Tidwell:

"We have been negotiating with USDA and OMB, and have been successful in eliminating wildfire suppression (WFSU) from our ceiling. We will continue to monitor travel spending in this area as we do in all areas, but I want you to know that in no uncertain terms that we will continue to fight fires to protect human life and property, our employees and communities. Safety and mission will not be sacrificed in order to reduce travel costs. We will not jeopardize the protection of people, resources, and property while we gauge travel-related fire suppression costs."


4/19 Urgent - TODAY - Congress coming after federal workers' compensation

Thanks, Mark!

Here's what I just did on my own time and dime:

Called the CAPITOL SWITCHBOARD: (202) 224-3121 (two times, one for each senator)

Told my Senators to vote YES on the Akaka Amendment 2034 to the Postal Reform Bill

My Senators from California are
Barbara Boxer
Diane Feinstein

  • Barbara Boxer's service has options before you reach a person. Option 1 to submit "comment on an issue" is a fine alternative if you want to simply leave a message telling her to vote YES on the Akaka Amendment 2034 to the Postal Reform Bill. Those votes are tallied every 20 minutes and count the same as telling her person. I left my name and home town, but zip code would probably work.
  • Diane Feinstein's service went directly to a person. I told him and he thanked me and asked for my zip code.

If you are not from CA and do not know your senators names, look in the DIRECTORY and enter your state.

Once you have their names, call the Capitol switchboard (202) 224-3121.

This is easy and our responsibility. Let's flood ALL our Senators with calls. (Do not use your govt computer or phone. Do it on your own dime and time, lunch break or some other break works.)

I know injured and disabled firefighters who barely make it on what they currently receive. What's with this backwards thinking!!!!??? Stomp on people that can't defend themselves? Not on my watch!


4/19 Urgent - Congress coming after federal workers' compensation

The Senate plans to vote on a bill with provisions that would substantially reduce benefits for federal workers injured on the job. In a last minute schedule change, this vote is expected to occur TODAY, Thursday, April 19. For more information of this draconian attack, go to www.nffe.org/ht/display/ArticleDetails/i/57056 .

I for one am getting pretty damn tired of public servants being treated as heroes in the brief moments when those few citizens experience that warm glow of gratitude – to be followed by politicians who pick out the few bad apples and extrapolate from them to paint all federal employees as lazy, no-good bums who are on the gravy train. These provisions are especially egregious in that they would seriously harm employees disabled in service to their country. I’ve also attached a news article on the issue.

See www.nffe.org/ht/d/sp/i/31270/pid/31270 for info on your right as an American citizen to contact your elected representatives to express your concerns about issues and how you can exercise them. You may not do so on duty time or using government phones or email; however, if you are off duty (on break, lunch, or any non-duty time) you are within your rights to contact them during the work day. What with the propaganda about federal employees, I don’t think anybody else is going to stand up for us these days.

Mark Davis, President
NFFE Forest Service Council

Plan to cut benefits for injured federal workers stirs concern
By Jim Morris, March 14, 2012

Fair Use Disclaimer

4/18 Hiring Process:

I think the hiring process is just the way they want it ! confusing......does the fog of war ring a bell ? i am a hotshot veteran of a
north zone and south zone crew with 6 yrs total Capt time and smokejumper as well as patrol time and i got beat out of 2 capt
positions with TFLD STLD Crew, CRWB C Certifier C crosscut bucker instructor, and DIVS taskbook almost completed !
Does the FOG OF WAR ring a bell......how are we supposed to ensure fairness if we dont know the rules !


Sent from my iPad

4/18 Just thought you all might find this interesting.........with all the hiring issues going on an all.

I applied for a ZONE AFMO position GS-0401-9 after the position closed about two weeks later, I received an email it said... I was ” one of the best qualified candidates “ and my name was being forwarded to the selecting official. so of course i now get to wait....and wait...... couple weeks went by, (and yes I called the state office in CO and they told me | they were still working on the list) then received another email an said????? yep you all guessed it...... I was not selected .......imagine that.....

so now............ funny thing the same exact position is flying (right now)........only now its flying as a GS-401-7/9 ; ya amazing.......well good thing we got IQCS and the good ol boy system was supposed to go away.............

the best part is I never received a call for an interview nor was my supervisor contacted for a reference. it was 3 weeks from when I was told I wasn't selected till they re-flew the job!!!!!

ya an maybe there was somebody selected....... then they just turned the position down........ come on people it could have happened that way..........

just another pulaski in da dirt

Just to clarify, I did see the docs and they are as stated; maybe they had someone they wanted to hire and he/she turned them down or the hiring rules changed in this non-FS agency, too. Ab.

4/18 SA,

Thank you for responding to my post.

So with hiring process that takes place in R-5, knowing that our fire hire process is different than how other regions hire, someone on a level 2 cert can be considered for a position over a candidate that is on a level 1 cert? As far as getting proof if any violations are taking place, who can I contact to where I can get the process information?

Biting my tongue

4/18 Hiring Practices, response to Biting My tongue 4/18

Every time i hear someone ask about the hiring practices it amazes me. You ask what authority management has in hiring. I thought everyone knew the answer to this question, but i guess not, so here goes. At the present time all hiring is being approved by the regional foresters to accommodate diversity hiring, but even in normal times when it is done at the forest level or district level management can hire anyone that makes the cert.. ie if there are 100 people that put in for a job and make the cert. they can hire number 100 over number 1. It's their right. That doesn't make it right.

I'll give you a couple examples from our district. We had a 20 person district fire crew and the crew leader job was run. We has two employees put in for it that were strike team leader qualified, one with fifteen years as a temp. They hired the last person on the cert., she was a squad boss trainee with five years in.
It doesn't end there. Some years later the DAFMO job came open. There were two people that put in for this GS 9 job that were GS 11 and willing to downgrade. One was a OSC2 on a IMT. Again they hired this same lady as a 8/9 to make her eligible.

Bottom line, they can hire whoever they want unless you have proof they violated process. Then you can contact the Office of Special Counsel.


4/18 From the Hotlist:

This firefighter who suffered a stroke was a young man. So sorry. Mellie


A Natrona County firefighter who suffered a stroke while on duty last week has died. Adam Longo passed away this morning, while undergoing treatment at Wyoming Medical Center. Last Thursday, firefighters battled a grass fire off Salt Creek Highway. While driving a squad truck back to the fire station, Long suffered a stroke, and underwent surgery ...



Billings Gazette also has an article

Officials: Casper firefighter suffered stroke

The Natrona County firefighter hospitalized during a grass fire Thursday afternoon suffered a massive stroke, county Fire Investigator Dave Baker said Friday. Firefighter Adam Longo was driving a squad truck to the fire station to pick up a brush truck when he suffered the stroke, Baker said in a media release. Other firefighters in the truck were able to get control of the vehicle and bring it to a safe stop, he said.

Always Remember Adam Longo

4/18 Good afternoon All,

FEDS (Professional Liability Insurance for federal wildland firefighters and former federal fire employees) is planning to have

  • a Wildland Firefighter webinar (call in and listen; after a brief presentation, type in your anonymous questions)
  • on Friday May 4th
  • at 9am Pacific time, which is Noon East Coast time.
  • Tony Vergnetti - founder of FEDS will be available live to explain what FEDS offers and answer your questions.
  • The last webinar was very informative.

Incident management teams are meeting next week in Sacramento CA and probably across the nation. People on teams need PLI, in my opinion. Unfortunately, innocent people can be blamed for whatever might go wrong on a fire assignment. Please tell your friends and team members.

Since the last webinar, it has become even more evident to me that most firefighters could use a good lawyer, thoroughly knowledgeable in Federal law, in their hip pocket. FEDS deals with more than legal exposures on the fireline. FEDS - Federal Wildland Firefighters "About your exposures" (including the last bullet point) and PLI is a much less expensive ($270 annual fee) and less emotionally expensive way to deal with an unfair supervisor than finding and hiring someone excellent who can successfully defend you when the unexpected occurs.

For info on FEDS for federal wildland firefighters, please read HERE. They offer more bang for the buck in terms of coverage and expertise than Wright and Company does, in my opinion. (Read to satisfy yourself.) If you want to sign up now, this is the FEDS intro page. Ab.

4/18 The HRM & Fire conference call was interesting. The drug testing ball is rolling pretty fast now for all
Primary Fire positions in the FS.

excerpt below from the powerpoint.

"USDA has stated October 1, 2012 is the ‘goal’ completion date for implementation. ASC-HRM will begin placing employees with WFF duties into the random drug testing pool through a phased approach, by (RSA) Region Station and Areas"

I'm glad they are finally getting on board with DOI.


4/18 From behind the scenes...

Thanks a lot Abercrombie! Please pass on my thanks to the Great "Old Fire Guy"!

Bummed about the apprenticeship, but that's life!

Any word on the Fire and Aviation Outreach I would really appreciate a heads up on TheySaid or an email my way!

Once Again....THANK YOU MUCH!

Just Trying to Find My Way

I appreciate the messages and advice that flows behind the scenes as well. Ab.

4/18 Does any one know how much authority does a Forest or even a District have to bypass a qualified candidate that is ranked on a level one list and intent to go with a candidate on a level two? What procedures should one take or should individuals contact HR direct for answers.

Biting my tongue
4/18 From the hotlist: Apprenticeship Academy Questions, 2012:

Heard through the grape vine from several reliable sources:

If you applied to the apprenticeship program and you are not a vet, you will not be getting an offer this year. All apprenticeship jobs are going to vets.


4/17 CA T1/C1 tm reunion survey


Need help to spread the word please. A group is surveying interest from past and present CA Type 1 (ICS) and Class1 (LFO) team members about participating in a all-teams reunion to be held in Reno, May 19-23, 2013. We already have a large number of rooms blocked a the Atlantis Casino and Resort. Our web site with the survey and more info is at: www.allcaimt.com Our small initial feelers are showing an overwhelming positive response.

Thanks for the assist.

CAIMT Steering Committee

You're welcome. Ab.

4/17 CO-JEX-Lower North Fork Rx

Colorado Wildfire

Review (12 MB pdf download, 152 pages)

4/17 Fire Apparatus Pump Testing

A simple flow tester can be built using information from the NWCG Water Handling Equipment Guide (PMS 447-1). Page 195 is attached for reference. (28 K pdf )The San Dimas Technology and Development Center can be contacted for further info, including orifice sizes for specific pump applications.


4/17 A Taxpayer and Budget

Be aware that GovTrip will not work with package deals where rooms are bundled with air fare. I found a package airfare/room for several nights that was less than the per diem for the room over the same time period. It was denied because they couldn't show for sure what part had what cost. I said that the airfare was free this way, but still no go. This was back before travel caps even existed on forests.


4/17 A Taxpayer and Budget

The same thing happened to me with regard to a flight. I went on the GovTrip website and saw that the price for my flight through Southwest was about $800. I went to the Southwest website and saw the same flight for about $200, so I booked it. When I got back and did my voucher, it was rejected. I called to see what was up and they told me the same thing. I had to send a note to the Washington Office Budget & Finance, and ask for a reprieve on the $600 dollar difference. They let it slide, but told me that the next time I did this, they would make me pay the difference.

There is a way to get around this. If you find a cheaper flight on your own, call GovTrip and they will walk you through the steps to secure the cheaper fare. I don’t fly much, but next time I will get GovTrip approval before I book.

Quick Connect

4/17 SG,

There is a great little book titled "Long-Range Planning for Developed Sites in the Pacific Northwest: The Context of Hazard Tree Management." I'm not sure if you can still buy hard copies, but I found this PDF online. It has great descriptions of tree defects, signs of disease, etc and a lot of good info for fallers.

www.fs.fed.us/r6/nr/fid/pubsweb/hazardtreemanual.pdf (4.6 MB pdf download, 132 pages)

Misery Whip
4/17 Fire Apparatus Pump Testing

Chapter 14 in the Red book states we are to check the fire apparatus pumps annually to see how many GPM they are producing and see if its within the manufactures specified range. I have a Akron Flow Test Kit but all the bore nozzles seem to large to get a reading from a 50ft section of 1 in hose. I’m also unable to connect the desired suction hose size to achieve the desired pressures. There has got to be a simpler way to check the GPM on a pump for a type 6 engine.


4/17 Budget:

I work for the BLM. We are in a place where we are in budget cuts but what are the agencies really doing to save money? We can freeze wages etc. but when an employee tries to save money, they get in trouble. The system is broken.

I had a house hunting trip last year. I found a flight for $35. I was told that i couldnt take that flight because the airline wasn't contracted through Govtrip. Instead they spent $1200. Recently I saved money by booking a hotel room for half of the price at what the Government rate was. I was told I needed to book through Govtrip at which it would cost the maximum price of the government rate is. I had been gone for more than thirty days so with the BLM they only give you 55% of the per diem rate which means that I would have to come up with the other 45% out of pocket. Now the government is going to take money from me.

Whats really going on here? I found out on the Govtrip website that the 55% expired in September of last year. I was told by our finance person that I needed to take the 55%. When I ask about it, I'm being told to suck it up.

Just a little history for my trip: I stayed in barracks the whole time with meals provided. I only paid for a room on the way to my destination and on the way back. Any thoughts out there? Why is an employee the government is charging me but they can waste and abuse the system with the money that is spent frivolously through Govtrip.

When I try to save money I get my hand slapped because I didn't go through the contractor?


4/16 SG:

"Typical tree problems" for fallers on the fireline is a subject that is often related to species, stand characteristics, diseases, and age. For example, trees that grow well in duffy soils or on nurse logs commonly have shallow root or elevated root systems making them more likely to burn or lose their mechanical strength when the underlying organic material is burned away. Overstocked stands may have individual trees with limited root development which are more susceptible to knock- down by falling trees. Several tree diseases spread through root contact, such as yellow laminated root rot, where "green" trees may have many of their large roots and lower stem rotted. Not only are they susceptible to knock-down, but the rotted core might be a surprise to the faller.

Yet for other trees, their age may mean they are hosts to long-lived diseases that have rotted away their base, stem, or tops. It would be worthwhile to check out forest diseases (rots) on the web and become familiar with their physical indicators. Knowing where the tree is rotted may also help you locate points where fire has entered the tree; information that could save a life!

Good luck on your search.


4/16 SG

Try to get in contact with Robert Van Pelt at the U. of Washington. He has many good books and I’m sure he could point you in the right direction. Trees are his passion, he’s a nice guy and I bet he would be glad to help.

4/16 Tree Falling, Tree species presentation / information

Hey All,

I'm looking for a presentation on tree species. It might be on a website out there? I just need the link. If it isn't on the web it should be!

I have a great book on species throughout the United States, but it doesn't really speak to the fallers. You know shallow roots, typically known for..., etc.

Thank you in advance.

Anchor N Flank,


4/16 FS Letter on Morale Survey:

I guess I'm a little confused, and it must be me because one thing we know for sure, the chief wouldn't send out something as important as information related to a morale survey and not have it gone thoroughly over by people in the WO PAO shop, or one of his assistants before it's sent out right?

So when I read "This April, all permanent employees who were on board as of October 31, 2012, will be able to participate in the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey." I was a little confused. Does this mean that this month we will receive the survey but only those permanent employees who WILL be on board as of October 31, 2012 (a little over 6 months from now) can participate? Maybe it's just me, can someone please help me out? I've got a total of 11 permanent (FTE & PSE) employees who may or may not get to participate. Since we come on early and tours end early and seeing how our budget is shaping up, they more than likely won't be able to participate, however predicting whether or not they will still be on a week after their tours are over in the fall will be a crap shoot.

Why does everything have to be so complicated?

Also, is there some reason that temporary employees can't take the survey? We have some on our district that have a couple of decades of time in, who contribute more than most permanents and who know the structure of how things work at the ground level better than their supervisors. Apparently their morale is not as important?? What would the Safety Journey say (WWSJS?) about not including everyone that is part of a unit? Does this promote a lack of cohesiveness? And if it does, might the result contribute to poorer communication and therefore a less safe unit?

Something to think about, or am I over thinking it? And more importantly will YOU be on board the last day of October of this year???

Sign me: Dazed and Confused

4/15 Cemak Memorial:

Bob Cermak passed away at home on April 4, 2012. He was 84. A memorial service for Bob "Celebration of a Good Life" will be held.

The announcement goes on to say:

Bob enjoyed and exemplary career with the US Forest Service, retiring in 1982. During his years ub the Forest Service, he worked in 4 different regions across the US. He was an author, active advocate of forest resources and practices, passionate about trees and loved living.

If you were friends or family with Bob, I'd be happy to pass on the contact information. Ab.

4/15 Just trying to find my way,

Sending a reply via email...



Note to "Just trying to find my way."

When the hierarchy decides it is time for you in the pits to know, you will get access. In the mean time just “suck It up!” They’ll lie to you when they decide it is time! Truth is now foreign word in their vocabulary.


4/14 Anyone know how Region 5 Fire Hire is going?

4/14 More surveys......

The National Leadership Council and I have been working hard to make the Forest Service a better place to work and be an employer of choice. The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, provided by the Office of Personnel Management, is one of the important measures we use to gauge our success. This is the survey that produces the rankings for the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government. We use the survey results to track our scores over time and identify areas where we need improvement. While our scores have improved since 2009, we continue to rank below average on many of the measures.

This April, all permanent employees who were on board as of October 31, 2012, will be able to participate in the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. If you are a permanent employee, whether full-time or part-time, you will be able to share your opinions and concerns about the Forest Service workplace and the policies and practices of leadership.

I really want to hear from you through this survey. It is not just that I want us to improve in such areas as effective leadership, systems and technology, performance-based rewards and advancement, family-friendly culture and benefits, support for diversity, and work-life balance. More than that, I want the Forest Service to be an agency with effective, fair leaders who support a diverse workforce of employees and their families in an inclusive culture. We can only know how we are doing and where we need to focus our efforts to improve if you respond to the survey. The more employees who respond, the more reliable the results. Survey responses are voluntary and strictly confidential.

I am proud of the work that we do as an agency, and I know you are too. The dedication our employees show for their jobs reflects the importance of our mission. I want your work experience to be as fulfilling as our mission.

You should receive an email with a link to your personal survey from the Office of Personnel Management after May 2. You will have 6 weeks to complete the survey, and it will take only 20 to 30 minutes of your time to complete. You can find the OPM Director’s announcement about the 2012 survey at www.chcoc.gov/transmittals/TransmittalDetails.aspx?TransmittalID=4573.
You can find information on the Forest Service’s 2011 rankings at http://bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/rankings/detail/AG11.

Again, thanks so much for the work you do, and please help us by completing the survey promptly.
4/13 Intended Audience: All FS Employees
April 11, 2012

The Forest Service is preparing to request authority to offer Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay (VSIP) for up to 1,000
Forest Service employees. The authority to offer VSIP comes from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Once we have obtained OPM approval we will work with our Union partners to develop a VSIP implementation plan
and determine a window of opportunity for employees to request VSIP.

All employee requests for VSIP will be reviewed for eligibility. Payment for an eligible VSIP is limited to not more than
$25,000 per employee and is based on salary, age and length of service at the time of voluntary separation.

Some occupations are excluded from VSIP, and some employees under special retirement coverage are not eligible.
Other exclusions include:

  • Employees serving on temporary and term appointments
  • Reemployed annuitants
  • Employees who received a recruitment or relocation bonus within the last 24 months
  • Employees who received a retention bonus within the last 12 months
  • Employees who received a student loan repayment within the last 36 months
  • Employees who previously received a VSIP from the Federal Government

For additional information on Federal VSIP, see www.opm.gov/employ/html/vsi.php

4/13 Doug Dent service tomorrow:

This note ties into the note posted here on March 23 concerning the passing of D. Douglas Dent wherein the post's author shared his fond reminiscences of the man and went on to say he would pass along information concerning services.

Having however seen no follow up post, it seems good to share the following from http://www.ddouglasdent.com :

"On March 22, 2012, Doug passed away at the age of 66. We will honor his professional legacy by continuing to service the safety of all
cutters by providing his films and books.

"Services will be held Saturday, April 14 at 11:00 AM
"Powell Butte Church
"13720 SW Highway 126
"Powell Butte, OR 97753"

With regards,

Michael Watson

Thank you. Ab.

4/13 Greetings All!

The R5 Fire and Aviation job posting seems to have disappeared, the former link just goes straight to the new R5 website. I have done some poking around on there but have been unable to locate it. Found the new Twitter feed though...really...whose paying these people and why, they couldn't be more out of touch with us ground pounders or the agency. I'm laid off now, so hoping maybe a perm has access to it or received an email about the restructure. This link really helps us more seasoned temps when applying for demos, since we seem to be too experienced for the apprenticeship!

I read the Bob Cermak transcripts...wow! Wish I could have known this man, he knew how to lead folks and get things done. Management could and should take some time to read these transcripts as well. Looking forward to reading more I found on a berkeley site, and to reading his book Fire In the Forests.

I wish I was born earlier in the days when your work ethic and your ability to get things done got you a job, a performance results based organization!

Thanks to everyone out there that makes our community great! And thanks especially to Ab for facilitating our communication and open discussions.

I have another question while I'm here as well...

If I took a DOI Fire job out of state, a 4/5 career seasonal, how difficult would it be for me to come back to the Forest Service in R5 in the near future? Never had these programs explained to me, kinda just learned by doing? I know there is something called the ICTAP, but thats about all I know.

Or if I'm going to take a spot out of state, should I stay within the FS to make this transition back to California easier.

And I have a B.S. Forestry degree, if I take a non-fire position within the FS, is it relatively easy to transfer over to fire? I would like to do the apprenticeship, so that I have the opportunity to work in modules I have never worked on before, but unfortunately, reality dictates that I just need a job!

Thanks again, for helping me with all my questions!

Just Trying to Find My...A... Way
4/12 AA

Hmmm due to Budget cuts R6 is going back to single engine platforms for AA duties/ while in R5 they are going turbine? meanwhile the Fleet of tanker are going jet? is this rumor true....


Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron

4/12 Thanks to all who attended Dave Bailey Fire Captain Los Angeles County Fire funeral yesterday April 11.

Dave was working down as a Crew Supervisor at Fire Camp 14 a CDC Inmate Camp located in San Francisco Cyn. within ANF.

During the morning hike Dave went down and efforts by fellow Camp 14 personnel and a rapid trip via Helicopter to Henry Mayo Hospital in Santa Clarita failed to save Captain Bailey.

Angeles National Forest Fire Chief Hall led numerous Forest Service units to the Church Services and Graveyard Services. Numerous City, County and CalFire Departments throughout California were present. Over 700 Firefighters and Friends attended the services. The Fire Units stretched over two miles long with every intersection blocked by Sheriffs and a LAC Engine or Truck Company standing at attention as the procession passed.

Dave was just 50 years of age and great physical shape. LAC Fire personnel take an annual physical so at this time it is mystery as to the cause.

Dave has been married for many years to Lisa they do have children…

Lisa and All Los Angeles County Firefighters thank all of you for your support in this time of LOSS.

JP Harris BC Retired LAC
4/12 Below is the link to Bob Cermak's interview that was part of the US Forest Service Region 5 Oral History



Thanks, Ab.

4/12 Bob Cermak's passing

I just deleted the info on Bob the other day, but he died I believe from brain cancer. He was a District Ranger on La Porte RD many years ago, long time Plumas employee. He talked to our district a few times about the old days and the neck aches he had from pruning pines with pole saws by hand for days on end. Fairly sure he wrote a book about the agency. Some of the older (if you can find any alive) La Porte folks could tell you about him. LeeAnn Taylor (Info Officer) at the Plumas probably has info on him. Think he was part of the CCCs.


Thanks, Ab.

4/12 Marty Barrows has passed:

Saw the obituary for Marty Barrows, former FMO of the San Jacinto Ranger District of the San Bernardino NF, in today's paper. He died in Hemet, Ca on March 31 at 74. RIP


4/12 Ab,

This is just a reminder of our Day at The Winery Event to benefit the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and CASA Kids of El Dorado.

May 5th - Cinco de Mayo - at Crystal Basin Cellars and the Bumgarner Winery, Camino CA

BBQ, Wine, Beer, Live Music, Kids Activities, Tons of Raffle Items, Silent Auction

Please buy your tickets early, $20, kids under 12 eat free.

You can follow the event on facebook and @ www.eldoradohotshots.org

Flyer at the eldoradoshots website.

4/12 Making the rounds:

Good morning,

Eastern Area has posted the first Fuels and Fire Behavior Advisory of 2012. It can be found at the link below. I will send out updates as changes occur.


Jeremy Sullens
Wildfire Analyst
National Interagency Fire Center – Predictive Services, Boise ID

4/12 Hi Ab,

I was just forwarded the information of the posting on “they said” on 4/4 of this year. I am amazed at how information travels and wanted to get an opportunity to set the record straight.

First of all, I am the individual who was in San Francisco at a paramedic refresher. I was also at the R6 Captains meeting and nowhere during the meeting was it stated that the USFS would be sponsoring full scale paramedic training.

In regards to my refresher training, several important facts need to be known. First, there were refreshers in Oregon and Washington, but none of them fit my schedule in the off season. While searching to go to the 48 hour class the only one I could find that did fit my schedule ended up in R5 San Francisco. While unfortunate as it may seem, and that this education looks to be a boondoggle; in reality I stayed with family, paid for my own ticket and did not ask for per diem from the USFS.

As a newer employee of the USFS, it is my hope that I will be able to stay current with my skills as a paramedic so I can better the care and safety of my brother and sister firefighters (should they need my services) while on the fire line. I had no intention, nor would I ever take advantage of my employer.


Thanks for clarifying. Ab.

4/12 Hello Ab,

I don't know if you had heard that Bob Cermak passed away last Friday. Someone from USFS could give more details, and add the details of his interesting career. He influenced many people in a multitude of ways, and I was glad for a brief chance to work with him when we began our local fire safe council, but I couldn't give a good account. I thought you'd want to know.

Kathryn - Lost Creek

Thanks Kathryn, condolences. Does anyone have more info on Bob's passing and his life? Ab.

4/11 Making the rounds...

Sent by the "chief" today to all FS employees. I want to make sure that everyone sees it and responds, keeping in
mind what many of us are going through these days.

And speaking of the results of the most recent survey. If anyone looks at the results, as well as the results of previous years, it is clear that we as an agency are in a downwards trend. Especially in comparison to other land management agencies. Recently my district ranger gave our unit a cock-and-bull story about how "only a few people participated in the survey" and "there are really thousands of federal organizations and when you look at our placing we really aren't so bad," and the best one... Often times you only hear about the complaints!!! (as if they don't matter), listening to this made me sick and disturbed that this so-called leader was spouting a company line and not dealing with the reality of the situation. But then I am not surprised, an out-of-touch line officer is no longer a foreign concept. So I was also not surprised when I learned that two other friends of mine within the agency had almost identical stories from their line officers.

Don't drink the cool-aid folks. Keep in mind that we are an extremely strong force within the agency. We have strength in numbers.

In short, much can be learned by looking at the statistics on how we are doing over more than just two surveys, also how we compare to similar tasked agencies. I know, I know the Safety Journey is going to solve many of our problems, especially for those of us with careers and lives in fire because we never practice safety or situational awareness...

If I sound bitter, well... you're right. I am seeing people hurt directly and indirectly every day with the way our agency is being handled and the way in which it is being treated.

Keeping up the fight when my letters and phone calls -

Pen Pal


From: FS-Chief of the Forest Service
Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 4:04 PM
Subject: 2012 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey – Employees Influencing Change

The National Leadership Council and I have been working hard to make the Forest Service a better place to work and be an employer of choice. The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, provided by the Office of Personnel Management, is one of the important measures we use to gauge our success. This is the survey that produces the rankings for the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government. We use the survey results to track our scores over time and identify areas where we need improvement. While our scores have improved since 2009, we continue to rank below average on many of the measures.

This April, all permanent employees who were on board as of October 31, 2012, will be able to participate in the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. If you are a permanent employee, whether full-time or part-time, you will be able to share your opinions and concerns about the Forest Service workplace and the policies and practices of leadership.

I really want to hear from you through this survey. It is not just that I want us to improve in such areas as effective leadership, systems and technology, performance-based rewards and advancement, family-friendly culture and benefits, support for diversity, and work-life balance. More than that, I want the Forest Service to be an agency with effective, fair leaders who support a diverse workforce of employees and their families in an inclusive culture. We can only know how we are doing and where we need to focus our efforts to improve if you respond to the survey. The more employees who respond, the more reliable the results. Survey responses are voluntary and strictly confidential.

I am proud of the work that we do as an agency, and I know you are too. The dedication our employees show for their jobs reflects the importance of our mission. I want your work experience to be as fulfilling as our mission.

You should receive an email with a link to your personal survey from the Office of Personnel Management after May 2. You will have 6 weeks to complete the survey, and it will take only 20 to 30 minutes of your time to complete. You can find the OPM Director’s announcement about the 2012 survey at www.chcoc.gov/transmittals/TransmittalDetails.aspx?TransmittalID=4573.

You can find information on the Forest Service’s 2011 rankings at http://bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/rankings/detail/AG11.
Again, thanks so much for the work you do, and please help us by completing the survey promptly.

4/11 What "anonymous" is reporting is not rare, it's common and happens far too often.

If you do not get a job or suspect wrong doing, request documentation from ASC. You are allowed to see copies of your reference checks and the SME work completed on you. If you file a grievance, you are entitled to see the entire hiring package. I urge everyone to report unfair hiring situations immediately. Do not allow these issues to be sweep under the rug.

AVUE and the current hiring process is a disaster and no one wants to fix it. It is simply the most confusing hiring process in federal government.

I encourage you to report your situation to the email account offered by anonymous. Ask ASC for documentation.

The Forest Service can fix this by simply having a formal process that assures every applicant that a selecting and recommending official are considering your application. A live person needs to be available to answer hiring questions, not ASC, but someone who can assure applicants they are being considered.

I can only imagine what our Veterans are thinking as they try and figure out our hiring process.

4/11 Known Avue problem not being addressed

I have an employee that has applied for GS-6 AFEO positions on the forest, and at this time is a fully qualified module lead at the GS-5 level. We know that over the last couple weeks there have been interest calls made to all candidates that made “the list”. I had never received a call, nor have his past supervisors received calls for him. The SMEs from the forest are back and said that there should be tentative job offers being made within the next week or so. So a fully qualified module leader applying for a GS-6 not getting reference calls seems a little fishy. We talked to the civil rights officer on the forest and he was able to check “the list” and look him up personally, and he showed up as qualified and “on the list”. Another supervisor had given us a name to contact in Albuquerque and she was a “Human Resource Specialist (HRM national staffing team for fire)”

During some emails back and forth with this individual, it came apparent that he WAS on the list and fully qualified for the position and NOW his application would be printed and put into the pile for consideration. We asked more questions back and forth and this is the most current and final answer we got back from the person, this is copied exactly from the email……

I am sorry I don’t have all the answers for you, I do know that since AVUE changed their program the first of the year, we have seen names of applicants that applied timely who did not show up on our original search when we (HRM) generated the referral lists. I believe the “filter” search function in AVUE has been problematic for HRM, that is why I have been open to looking at individual cases to ensure all applicants get in the pile for review.

HRM has been working with AVUE, reporting all the problems, and they are not providing us specific information why certain applicants do not show up on our lists, but when we go in and look for them specifically, they are there. We know AVUE is not business as usual, and HRM can only respond when applicants inform us they may not be on the list.

That’s about the best explanation I can provide at this time. ( HRM NAME )

After enough digging and asking questions within 2 hours a reference call was made to at least myself for this employee. Even after the SMEs are finished and home, they are “catching up on some stragglers” still.

….. This is very concerning problem for ALL employees that there is a known problem with the hiring process and AVUE that is not being addressed. How many people out there have missed a job opportunity because of this “filter” search? How many people were/are qualified for a position and had been told they made the list, but accidently got “filtered” out when it comes time to print apps? Why has this “filter” issue not been made public so ALL EMPLOYEES applying for a job can get a fair shake down? How much has this affected people's careers, and ability to promote properly?

If you have an employee that has applied for a job, or have applied for a job yourself, CONTACT HRM-National Staffing Team for Fire ASAP to get your fair chance at the job that has been applied for. If you suspect your or your employees application didn’t make “the list” or have been affected in this way, we’d like to hear your story. Feel free to send an email to ( makeachange201254@yahoo.com ). This is an issue that we would like to get the ball rolling to have addressed.


4/10 Justin Fraijo has passed on:

A memorial was held for firefighter Justin L. Fraijo on Saturday April 7 in Colton, Oregon. Justin was an Engine Boss for the Molalla Unit of the Oregon Department of Forestry and was a Volunteer Firefighter for Colton Fire District. Justin recently completed officer training with Colton Fire and was expected to be promoted to Lieutenant in May. Justin drowned on March 31st in a fishing accident at Harriet Lake on the Clackamas River above Ripplebrook. Justin was 21 years old.

Justin was a great person. His contributions to the Wildland and Structural fire service will be missed. I wish I had more words at hand to describe this special young firefighter. I wouldn’t be wrong to use the words Duty, Respect and Integrity…. Justin added value to these words through his actions and relationships with others. In his community he was someone that helped others. Driving people on his own time to Doctor appointments. Delivering food baskets. Taking the time to stop and talk to people to see how they were doing. These few words can’t describe how special this young firefighter was to ODF and Colton Fire. Justin worked in my Unit and we will miss him.

Please remember the Fraijo family in your thoughts and prayers.

Ken Cushman, Molalla Unit Forester

Ken, condolences to all of you for his loss. Ab.

4/9 Hi Ab,

Would you please post this on They Said? If anybody is in the area, please stop by and say hello! Come show your support for Montana and her Senior Project and help out the kids of fallen wildland firefighters!

April 14th 2012, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
In front of Wal-Mart
Sonora Wal-Mart on Sanguinetti Rd

Flyer (124 K pdf)


Lori Greeno
Pinecrest, CA 95364

4/8 From Krs, good to hear from you, Man... Ab.

Hello All-

It is once again time to shamelessly promote myself.

Wondering who I am? I'm the Plumas Sawyer who was whacked by the tree out in Kentucky Halloween, 2001. It broke my back, put me in 3 different hospitals over 6 months, and has me riding a wheelchair for the rest of my life. (Details & accident investigation here: http://krstofer.org/poplar/ ) I'm also the guy who makes the Charger / Adapter, Toy Hose Roller & Clamp, and the 1.5" and 1" foam nozzles available in the Supply Cache Catalog.

I'm also the guy who travels around in the spring with a hour and a half (ish) powerpoint detailing my life before, during and after the accident. It's a Safety Thing, but not delivered in a "reads the slide to you" manner. It's pictures, and there's a little story that goes along with each one.

Overall the reviews have been fairly good, with many crews / forests 'voting with their calendar' by asking me back. Like Who? Off the top of my head, Descanso RD on the Cleveland, Laguna, Entiat, Flagstaff, Mormon Lake, Plumas, Redding, Lassen and Tahoe IHCs, Ron Marley's Fire Science class at Shasta College... You get the picture.

Well, it's that time again. I now have hard dates for midterms & finals to make scheduling a bit easier, plus a bit of new materiel involving a two week stay in the Legacy Emmanuel Burn Unit in Portland. Yup, Burns and Skin Grafts. What Happened? Invite me out and about 2/3rds of the way through the show... I have the story... And Pictures.

My 'Speaking Tour' page is here: http://www.krstofer.org/speaking.php where you can find the 2007 powerpoint I took to Lassen- Gives you a clue of what you will see, and other details about travel and whatnot.

So. heykrs(AT)gmail.com will find me almost immediately.
Krstofer Evans

http://krstofer.org & http://crew13.com

4/7 I know we have budget problems, but that was quick. I noticed this title on a recent outreach.

Forst Fuels Officer, Prescribed Fired and Fuels Specialist


Some really good posts lately from Judd, Safety Angel, John Stewart Mill quote person, Billy, TEMP, Just Sayin and Neil.

Thanks for all your good work, keep fighting, keep speaking your mind. We must begin to make sure those in congress understand what is going to happen come fiscal year 2013.

I think that the USDA Secretary is getting out in front of some significant issues that are around the corner. Furloughs and unfunded positions just to name a couple.


4/7 Funeral Services for David L. Bailey

Wednesday April 11, 2012 at 11:00 am

Grace Baptist Church
22833 Copper Hill
Santa Clarita, CA 91350
(661) 296-8737

Procession to Eternal Valley following church service:

Eternal Valley Memorial Park Mortuary
Attn: Steven Mahrle
23287 N. Sierra Hwy
Newhall, CA 91321
Off: 661-259-0808
Fax: 661-259-3217

David’s Celebration of Life immediately following
the cemetery service:

Home: David & Lisa Bailey
Acton, CA 93510

http://fire.lacounty.gov/ for information on the procession

Out of Town Guests:
La Quinta Inn & Suites Santa Clarita
25201 The Old Road
Stevenson Ranch, CA 91381
Rooms are to be reserved under: David Bailey Funeral
Cost: $75.00 per night

For those trying to book flights you may contact the following
Travel program and give them the reference # and they will help
to get you the best possible rates for airfare/car rental:

Bereavement Travel Program
Funeral Home/Cemetery: Eternal Valley
Reference #:2241
Name of Deceased: David Bailey

Will someone please make sure homes that are empty have someone staying at them to avoid theft during services. Thanks. Ab.

4/7 Reply to Why does the FS rent S.O. and other facilities? posted on 3/27

I've been wanting to answer this since the question was asked and I got some info Thursday, that got me motivated to do it. In our region the cost of leasing buildings for 2012 is 9 million dollars and they expect it go to 11 million by 2015. The lease for the R.O. is 2 million a year alone! Many of the buildings we lease are GSA.

For years our district leased from GSA for around $150,000 a year. This was for one floor in a three floor building. GSA wanted to sell the building so we checked into working a deal just to find out that the FS can't own a building unless they get permission from Congress. It took us a year, but we got permission, bought the building, sold it for well under the market value and used the proceeds plus money from the sale of some parcels of land to build a new building. Of course we did a lousy job of administering the building of the new office and there are many problems with it.

Even more wasteful than the leasing of buildings are the many things we use the "government rate" on. I went to D.C. to a meeting. My cost for the flight on government rate was $1785 round trip. I took my wife with me and it cost her $400 round trip. I went to a training in Reno some years back and my government rate was $254 each way. Again I took my wife and her cost was $131 round trip which included the cost of our room for three nights.

Another time I went to the spring IMT meeting and there were around 300 of us that attended. We all signed in under the government rate which was $50 a night at the time. I didn't think anything about until on the way to dinner that night I noticed on the sign out front "Rooms $35 a night ".

How much are we paying the people that negotiate these rates? There are many ways we could save money that don't include cutting the training for firefighters. What happened to Fire Succession Planning? If you have ideas, pass them on to people that can speak up about them and together maybe we can get them to listen.

Safety Angel

4/7 Can you help me get in touch with old crewmates? I was an engine crewman at Texas Canyon RS in the ANF in '79.
Tony Doty was on the Hotshot crew.


Chris Anderson

Tony is and has been in AK for a number of years. He's deputy IC on the AK IMT http://alaska.imtcenter.net/main/index.aspx. Maybe someone reading has his contact info or you could write to the web person and ask for his email addy... Ab.

4/7 They Said, Veteran's Preference

Hi Ab,

A few comments on the Veteran's Preference issue.

The Veteran's preference law was passed shortly after the Civil War. Low income soldiers were on the front lines while the silver spoon sons were in college. After the war, the soldiers were at a severe economic disadvantage to the men who had spent the war in universities or gaining experience in the job market. The comments sent in are right to a degree, the issue is about experience, and that is in fact the reasoning behind the preference. Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines have given an incredible sacrifice to their country and that sacrifice kept them from serving on a crew or from attaining pertinent education or experience that would place them on an equal standing with the people they are competing with. Most of them are not asking for special treatment, they are asking for a fair standing. Without some sort of equalizer they are at a perpetual disadvantage to the men and women who did not make the same sacrifice.

What I frequently hear is that the veteran has not made the same sacrifice and commitment and therefore should not get preference for a position that they meet the minimum qualifications and experience for. To call a spade a spade, that is a blatant claim that the value of experience or education that is gained outside of the service is of equal value to serving in our armed forces. I am sure that most vets would argue that the experience they gained in the service is equal or greater to the "education" that is gained in a university classroom. If you have been there, Afghanistan is a long way from frat parties, homecoming games, and multiple choice tests or even from the fire line for that matter. It is not a judgment on the value of a university education or the commitment and sacrifice that is made working through the ranks on a crew or engine. It is simply a recognition of greatest level of sacrifice and commitment that a man can make, That a man lay down his life for another. Firefighters understand this, it is what we do, it is simply a level of scale. We are never hesitant to stand up and point out the fact that we make sacrifice and risk our lives for others, to deny recognition and to refuse to help others who have also made that sacrifice or greater, is an epic loss of perspective. It is precisely because people refuse to recognize this on their own that this was legislated by congress. The fire service is a life of placing the safety, needs, and wants of others ahead of our own. It is often at the loss of financial gain, recognition, fame, and family. We would all do well to remember that we knew it before we started this job, and we do our job in spite of it.

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. --John Stewart Mill--

4/7 Budgets, GSA & You

As if getting our issues heard and resolved wasn't hard enough, the GSA has now made it even more difficult as many politicians and many in the public will infer that all federal employees and federal agencies are the same and demand greater actions against the head of the budget beating beast applying a "one size fits all" to the federal workforce.

Fortunately, we've been articulating the fiscal waste & mismanagement of some of the federal land management agency fire programs long before it became fashionable to bash the entire federal workforce and have ensured that we clearly differentiate those risking their lives while at or near the bottom of the federal pay scale compared to the money managers who seem to forget they are responsible for expending the taxpayer's dollars in an efficient and effective manner.

While Secretary Vilsack must look at the "big picture" with respect to USDA funding, our goal must remain one that places an emphasis not on how much or how little Congress appropriates for preparedness, suppression and hazardous fuels reduction, but how those dollars, once appropriated, are spent and whether those expenditures are in the best interests of the taxpayers.

Sadly, while many in Congress keep asking the leadership of the Forest Service if it has enough money to do the job, the answer will always be yes because as a political appointee, that is what you are expected to say as the Chief of the Forest Service. It would be a breath of fresh air if a Chief appeared at a budget hearing and said "if you want us to do this or that, it will cost "X" dollars. The drawback to that approach is that the Agency has demonstrated such a poor ability to be efficient and cost effective with the money it does get for FIRE, asking for more would 1) compromise a Chief's political appointment and 2) be met with skepticism since most in Congress now agree the fiscal management of the fire programs is poor at best.

So the job of "marketing" what we do and how we can do it more effectively and efficiently in light of the GSA mess, falls to us. Despite the fact that many of you have already been to fires in Colorado and are in the midst of training for the season, now is the best, and most crucial time to make a clear distinction between the "perception" of the federal workforce and the realities of what you do for our Nation's taxpayers.

The FWFSA cannot do it alone. If I were a SoCal federal wildland firefighter, regardless of agency, etc., I would be firing off correspondence to Issa's office making that distinction as well as the Democratic "Ranking Member" Elijah Cummings (D-MD) (we can provide contact information if necessary).

It is also important to communicate with members of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. We can provide you with staff contact info and general information can be obtained at www.thomas.gov. Those of you in New Mexico (Chairman Bingaman D-NM) and Alaska (Sen. Murkowski. Ranking member R-AK) are crucial.

Please feel free to contact us any time for additional information.

Casey Judd
4/6 FS Budget:

With no congressional commitment to change the current funding situation, the future is not going to be good. Our next fight
cannot be anything but a laser focus on funding. Or else....................


- Casey Judd, 10/7/2011 said - Patience-Involvement-Activism! -


Dear USDA Employees,

I want to keep you advised on budget issues as they unfold. In February the President released his 2013 fiscal year budget. The President’s budget included a slight increase for USDA’s discretionary budget that funds our organization and some of our programs. The President’s budget, while more than our budget this year, would still be $3 billion less than our budget for the 2010 fiscal year. Bottom line – under the President’s budget things would be tight and we would have to continue on our path of belt tightening. Our efforts under the Blueprint for Stronger Service would continue and allow us to manage the change brought about by tight budgets.

The House of Representatives, prior to their spring recess, approved their budget resolution that begins to set their priorities for the 2013 fiscal year budget. Overall the House took three actions that impact USDA.

First, their budget resolution provided for government wide discretionary spending of $1.028 trillion which is $19 billion below the level previously agreed to with the Senate during the debt ceiling negotiations of last year.

Second, the budget resolution essentially holds defense spending constant, which means that non-defense discretionary spending will bear the brunt of the cuts. OMB estimates that non-defense spending would be cut by $1 trillion over 10 years which would translate into an average cut of 5.4% in the 2013 fiscal year and a 19% cut in 2014 fiscal year levels.

Third, the House budget resolution seeks to avoid the automatic spending cuts required by the budget control act passed as a result of the debt ceiling negotiations. Again, the House held defense steady and shifted the burden of the cuts to non-defense spending. The budget resolution directs the Agriculture committee to reduce the deficit by $8.2 billion in two years, $19.7 over five years, and $33.2 billion over ten years. The Agriculture committee has yet to decide how to reach these levels.

The bottom line is that he House budget resolution hits USDA and its programs in a very hard way. The Senate has yet to indicate the specifics of the budget for next year, although there are indications we will know more by the end of this month.

As I have said on many occasions the budget challenges we face are unprecedented. It is part of the reason why we must build an improved USDA through cultural transformation and our work to improve administrative services as part of the Blueprint for Stronger Service. I am proud of our efforts to date in keeping down travel, supplies, and conference expenses. While the work to find administrative efficiencies and office consolidations required difficult decisions, they allow us to hopefully keep ahead of the process and allow us some freedom to decide how best to deal with cuts. I encourage all of us to aggressively proceed with the Blueprint for Stronger Service effort. It will make the department more efficient and over time more effective. I will continue to keep you advised as the budget discussions unfold.

Thank you for your continued service to USDA and the people we serve.

Tom Vilsack

4/6 CO-JEX-Lower North Fork Rx Escape:


I am someone who is pretty familiar with wildland fire operations in Jefferson County, CO. I was not part of the wildland fire response to this incident. It seems that information relating the to escape and the entrapment of residents is slowly being made public. Maybe it's too early to have this kind of discussion, but it's fresh in my mind right now so I'm going to bring up a few issues.

First, I commend Chief McGlaughlin for speaking publicly about what happened that afternoon. He is fresh into his position in a new fire district, which has had more than its fair share of "leadership issues" over the past few years. He appears to be facing the challenges head on.

The area of the fire was under a Red Flag Warning last Monday; but as most firefighters know, not all RFWs are created equal. This was an extremely critical fire day, as identified by the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center. Some folks in Jefferson County have been looking into the history of these kind of days: spring or fall dry seasons, extremely critical fuel moisture, and very strong southwest winds. These conditions have created almost all of the large fires along the Front Range within the past 20 or 30 years. These folks have presented their preliminary findings to various wildland fire groups in the county, and made some recommendations (NOT official guidelines or rules). Rapid fire suppression is the key... if these fires are not "caught" within the first hour two, the only option is to look towards evacuations and structure protection where possible. Most of the folks involved in the initial response should have understood the situation... however, I am wondering the extent to which Chief McGlaughlin was or was not aware of this research.

The Denver Post article makes it pretty clear that the CSFS burn boss, who became the initial IC when the escape was declared (following standard CSFS procedures) was too focused upon suppression. It's not too hard to imagine the "human factors" that would contribute to that. Was he thinking about the "bigger picture" and the LIKELIHOOD that this fire was headed for a blowup?? The fact that the initial sizeup report indicated the fire had "low spread potential" suggests that he either did not understand the situation or was too focused on "catching it" to consider that.

I believe that the fire technically started in North Fork's fire district, but it was very close to both the Elk Creek and Intercanyon districts. Was there confusion/disagreement about who would take control of the fire? Radio traffic suggests there were early discussions about "Type 3 overhead." Perhaps the first responders recognized the potential consequences of the escape, the complexity and the need for a type 3 IC and command structure... but that leadership was not in place in those early hours

The Denver Post article makes it pretty clear: the escape occurred at about 1240, but evacuations were not ordered until about 1700, when the blowup was already starting. Apparently this was the point where the Elk Creek and North Fork commanders pointedly took control. But there was a clear "window of opportunity" to order and begin evacuations, which was missed...and it seems pretty likely that three residents would still be alive if steps had been taken earlier. Chief McGlaughlin has said as much. I bring this up not to point blame, but to point out that there are critical lessons to be learned from this incident. Some things need fixin' locally, and I'm sure there are plenty of other agencies who conduct Rx fire, or have Rx fires in their districts conducted by other agencies, who need to take heed. Agencies who conduct Rx fire will not like to hear it... but in my opinion, there need to be clear protocols for when a fire district or other fire agency takes over an escaped Rx fire. On extreme fire days such as this one, these protocols need to be less focused on protecting the agency who lit the fire, and more focused on protecting citizens.


4/6 My take on Vets Preference (from a vet)

As someone who served overseas and a VFW, I need to bring some things to light for everyone on this thread. Here it goes..... As a VFW who has done basically every grunt job in Wildland Fire I have noticed a reaction to vets preference that is wrong but made out of respect and good hardheartedness. Folks are uncomfortable saying much disparaging about a veteran getting a job that they are not qualified for because as a whole.. our community is very respecting of our Veterans and we tend to not want to 'go there' out of respect for what they have done.

However... I have never gotten a job in this agency by using Vets preference due to either not submitting it correctly or just not needing to use it because I followed the same channels as all the rest of you ie; engine , hotshots , rappellers, jumpers...... I often tell folks, ' If there are two candidates that are qualified for an entry level fire job we should give it to the vet. We need to understand that though there is no less pride in it, the majority of our VFW's are not Green Berets and should not be given jobs in the more experience required positions that we have open. Of course Vets should be given a hand on getting a job to begin their fire career when they get out. OF COURSE!!!! But it is very irrational to expect to be given a job that regardless of what OPM says, we all know requires a lot of in the field knowledge that can only be learned by years of taking ones lumps and working up the ranks.

So in summation..... from a VFW to all of you, don't feel bad about feeling that a VFW should go through the same learning process as the rest of you while trying to climb the ranks. Just look at things from an open perspective. BEST GUY/GAL FOR THE JOB!!! Simple. Nobody had to give me an unfair advantage and it has been difficult like it is for every non Vet but like we all know.... If you keep your head on straight and just keep moving your feet and throwing that brush you can get what you want in this agency without having someone hand it to you. The hardest workers I have ever worked with were on the HOTSHOTS. Look at it this way: Even the Military doesn't let someone just get a job in the 160th Airborne ( Delta Force) just because they fulfilled their contract the first time. It wouldn't make sense for them and it shouldn't make sense to us either. Thank you Abs-

With much hope for the future- TEMP

4/6 Just wondering if someone can give me some info on the hiring side of things.

I applied on Avue (as I do every year for seasonal fire with the forest service)
My cert gets pulled, sometimes I get an interest call sometimes not, when I do, I call back and say YES I am interested.
Then you wait, and wait and wait, then I get an email saying not selected, can someone tell me what the deciding factor is?
And another time I called and said Yes, then weeks later got a Not selected email, and then they pulled certs again the next day!

Thanks for your input
4/6 Hiring Issues


I have been reading the threads on TheySaid concerning the spring hiring for fire season 2012 for federal agencies. It breaks my heart in a sense to listen to these kids, and some young men dealing with convoluted hiring practices, specifically quotas. It is nothing new. I remember so many times as a team IC Hotshot Supervisors would come to me to authorize a CTR for more than 16 hours, or even 12 hours because of nonsense federal pay issues, only a fraction of what these folks go through only to be denied opportunities because of some other administrative goal. To hear folks denied after 13 years still say they love the outfit and get treated in this manner is troubling for me and should be eye opening for the rectal weevils who run the system.

I joined the fire service with CDF in 1972 ready to learn and grow. It went well until late 70's when the term quota and parity started to float around. We watched hiring lists get changed to allow anyone to be reached to meet arbitrary hiring goals, we watched talented fire fighters leave for other occupations as less qualified were hired, and finally we got phone calls late in the season to please come to work because so many of the folks selected left during the season. We have watched good supervisors drug through the mud after they have used due diligence in corrective action and still be sued for discrimination simply because the person terminated was from a "targeted" group. What did that supervisor do to cause this person to act this way? It was the beginning of creating a society that was not held accountable for their actions. My point in this is not much has changed and apparently we have learned nothing.

My final point and I will try to be careful. I have watched this attempt to reach parity, and to fill quotas for 38 years I guess, and we are still trying to reach those lofty goals today for "targeted" groups. My observations is this. After 38 years of focused recruitment one would think that we would have a bunch of "targeted" members within our ranks, happily working in the system. Well, apparently we don't and there are reasons why. Probably because people like to gravitate to their comfort zone and perhaps sleeping on dozer lines, eating out of a paper bags, and paramilitary structure is not their thing. Maybe it is finally time to have those line up for work who want to, and the selection process should include questions to determine actual interest in the occupation. Trying to place people in an occupation simply because they make up lets say 22% of the population so 22% of our employees at this level should be representative of that group is nuts, and we will be pushing the proverbial rock up the hill only to have it roll down again and again, never learning a thing. The fire doesn't care. Going to change soon? Probably not.


Innkeeper Now

4/6 Let's put the veteran thing in perspective.

The US Government has made a commitment to our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen that serve in combat area of operations. This commitment includes health care through the VA, education through the GI Bill, and preference in hiring for most government agencies. This commitment was made by the American people by proxy through your representatives in congress.

This is a good commitment. It provides those that lay their life on the line for the political agenda of the United States a safeguard in their transition back to civilian life. This is a special commitment because it allows young men and women to take up arms, go into harms way, get inured (mentally and physically) and return to a grateful nation. This commitment says we will will take care of you, we will retrain you, we will make an attempt to live up to a standard that we know falls well short of what 95% of the rest of us have done for our country.

We can complain that it is not fair, they are unqualified, I've been doing this forever and I deserve the job, or I want to hire someone else but I can't get around the veteran. But the will of the American people, the people we work for, completely disagree with that. Public service goes far deeper than any individual that works for one of the many agencies within the Federal Government.

I've heard the qualifications and the safety card thrown around. That safety card is in the hands of every fireline supervisor. We will always have rookies, we will always have folks of varying abilities, and it is up to you to train, develop, and deploy the skills of your crew appropriately.

My perception is that there seems to be a sense of entitlement coming from our firefighters and I do feel for those that "have put in the time." Unfortunately there is not the same commitment from the American people to you and there never will be. This is not a secret, never has been. When you started most of us were aware of veteran status, diversity hiring, and the hiring goals of federal public service agencies. The only entitlement is that which is written in law.

The risks of fighting forest fires falls well short of combat, if it doesn't you are doing it wrong. Your service to your country should be commended, but does our profession deserve the same benefits as those that regularly make the ultimate sacrifice? How do we look someone in they eye and say "I deserve mine" while they have had multiple deployments to combat zones getting shot at, blown up, and watching their friends die while we were up in the mountains somewhere throwing dirt at fires?

Life will not always seem fair, there are many casualties of war.

Just Saying

Thanks for the clear reminder. Ab.

4/6 Apprenticeship

R5 Hosemonkey,

I can see your point, you put in ten seasons and have a collage education. You are one of the lucky ones, I was told when I first started off in the Forest Service if I wanted to go to collage in the off season to took for another job because they needed me on in the early spring and to work late into the fall, I had a family to feed so my choice was an easy one, I wanted to put food on the table. I worked for about 8 seasons with the feds, working my way up to ENGB (t) and CRWB (t), HECM, Rappeller, Initial Attack IC, I had all the classes and then some that the Apprenticeship program offered, and yet could not get a permanent position.

I guess this is where our stories may differ, so in 1996 when appointments were few and far between I asked my DFMO why I couldn't get an apprenticeship job and after she finished laughing uncontrollably she said, that was not going to happen. I did not have to ask why and say that's not fair, I just said, thanks I appreciate your honesty and candor. I applied for a several jobs out of region and I had permanent seasonal appointment outside of the region the following spring although I did go from a GS 45 to a GS 4 I was in. Yes I still had a family and yes it was difficult and no I could not afford to or did I want to move out of my current city of residence.

So with all due respect I do know where you are coming from and the difficulties of getting and appointment, which were much tougher in the late 80's up until about 2002 with the increase of MEL, so I am unsure of why you could not get an apprenticeship appointment in the past 10 years.

As for your question about Veterans, "I would like to know why their veteran status makes them more qualified and experienced for apprentice jobs?" Well the only qualification for a GS 3 position is to have some work experience, which they have. Why should we hire them, besides the legal obligation, well they volunteered to enter the Armed Forces and did whatever they had to do to defend the right for us to enjoy our freedom, to enjoy a martini by the pool, a day on the beach with our wife and children or that winter vacation on the Florida Coast.

(btw, I am still friends with that DFMO that helped me out with that tidbit of career advice that helped me move on)


4/5 Hiring SJ or Apprentice:

My guess is that some people qualify higher because of education.


4/5 Apprenticeship:

I mean no disrespect at all towards our veterans, I respect them all greatly for their service. That being said however, I would like to know why their veteran status makes them more qualified and experienced for apprentice jobs? Did my decision to become an EMT/Firefighter "forestry technician" and serve summer after summer after summer helping protect citizens here at home make me less worthy of a permanent position to which I am more qualified and more importantly more experienced for? Now I'm faced with my tenth season in, with a new child on the way closing in on that damn 37 age limit... Between diversity, budget, and now veterans, where is my fair shot at a position. I suddenly feel very disadvantaged because I was not born a different race or decide to go to the military instead of joining the forest service as a seasonal in college.. I have no idea why the hell I've wasted my time working year after year, training and getting qualified, for an agency I've loved and worked for most my adult life that hands jobs to inexperienced people who just want any job they can get.. I never thought that the time I put in would not count for something. I apologize for the rant but I'm at a loss now, where do I take all my experience, certs, and qualifications after 10 years? Maybe I should join the military... I'm sure they will hand me a job with all my years as a wildland firefighter..

R5 Hosemonkey

4/5 Centralized Fire - Not:

Regarding Eye in the Sky and Mike L. comments on Smokejumpers potentially hiring women with 3 months or less experience. If you read Mike L. s’ letter it sounded like possibly R-5 had been detailing female jumper from R-6 for a couple of years, thus avoiding hiring females. Now it’s got to the point that HR has said you will! Or at least that’s the read I got out of it. But I could be wrong so don’t bother blasting me if I am.

As for the Centralized Fire Organization, well that may be good for some areas like R-5 (South Zone) were you have a 12 month season, but I doubt it would be good for other areas that have a season of 4 months or less, pretty much the northern half of the US. I believe it would be the end of the FS, and beginning of total contracted IA resources in those areas, and there goes the ability to meet fuels targets in under burning, TSI, and a variety of other jobs our IA resources do while waiting for the fire bell.

Do you really think that a Centralized Organization would not have “quota’s”, (by the way I’ve been told we don’t have quotas, we have goals), and rules. Really?

Reality Check please

Don't worry about being blasted, you won't be. Ab.

4/5 SJ:

"Comment: I'm hearing that one of their applicants has only three months of fire experience. And that the other applicants are not much more experienced than that. ???!!!! The Smokejumpers???
Response: WOW, I haven't heard this. Can anyone back up this statement?"

I heard from my sister's boyfriend's cousin's friend of a friend that indeed that's true. At least two applicants have less than one season under their belts. Word on the street is that an upper-up at the region contacted the base manager and threatened to do what they could to shut down the base if all the women who applied weren't hired and didn't make it through rookie training. Apparently there is an e-mail circulating which states this. Additionally, s-212 will be a part of training this year because some of those hired don't have saw cards. I thought jumpers were the best of the best?

Eye In The Sky

Eye, your tongue must be firmly in cheek! Mine too. HAW HAW Ab.

4/5 Re the SCBA info, sent behind the scene:

Thank you that is perfect

Really thank you so much


4/5 Night-flying helicopters

There is an interesting article on the night flying helicopter issue, written from a pilot's perspective. It is located in an online trade issue called verticalmag. www.verticalmag.com . Click on "The Burning Issue" tab to read the article.


4/5 AD Rates

I see that there is a question about what is going on with AD rates on They Said. Attached is a document that I received regarding Forest Service AD rates if you want to post it anywhere.

AD Pay Rates


4/5 from Shift Briefing on the Hotlist

Colorado Wildfire a deadly cascade of missteps and fire
CBS News

DENVER - The Colorado State Forest Service conducted a 50-acre prescribed burn on March 22, part of a normal plan to consume fuel in the rugged, pine-filled foothills southwest of Denver. It wasn't far from site of the monstrous
Hayman Fire 10 years ...


4/5 AD Rates?

Ab -

Does anyone out there know what is going on with the 2012 - 2013 AD rates - the old rates expired 3/31/12 - has the FS and DOI made any decisions on the new rates??

Thanks Ab for all the hard work you do for everyone in the fire world


4/5 Apprentices?

MJC, some information for you.

Q: If apprentices have not been selected yet for 2012, R-5, how is it that they say on WFAP that the academy was held during March 2012?

A: The 2012 academy was filled with Apprentices that were hired in late 2010 and unable to the 2011 basic sessions due to lack of required experience hours to attend.

Q: Would just like to know if they have or have not been selected?

A: R5 is hiring between 60-80 Apprentices. From February to March, I would guess that around 20-30 (maybe more) of these 60-80 Apprentices were hired at veteran hiring events at military bases throughout California. None of these hires attended the March Basic Academy due to lack of experience requirements to attend a basis academy (see 2010 apprentice standards), they will attend in 2013. The remainder of the available apprentice positions will be hired April 9 to April 20 from those that applied to the apprentice announcement that closed Feb 1. Although I cannot say with complete confidence, I will say that most if not all of the apprentice positions to be filled April 9-20 will be filled by veterans.

I hope that helps clarify some things.

Mike L said;

Comment: ...and falsely thinking that we will shame them into doing the right thing.

Response: For the most part I see your point. However we as a community have proved we can shame them into doing the right thing.

Comment: I'm hearing that one of their applicants has only three months of fire experience. And that the other applicants are not much more experienced than that. ???!!!! The Smokejumpers???

Response: WOW, I haven't heard this. Can anyone back up this statement?

Mike L makes some excellent points. We should all read them again. I know we all have it in us to pull together the energy to make a loud and clear statement. The exception to the qualifications, experience, skills, work ethic, and attitude requirements is with our veterans for temp and apprentice positions. This is law.

I hope that all the MJCs, MEs, Mike's in our forum are ready for a fight, ready to email and call Congress, ready to contact the press, ready to be open minded about much overdue changes needed in the Forest Service. We need Centralized Fire Management, we all need FWFSA, and we to get need everyone on the same page, working as one.

- Casey Judd, 10/7/2011 said - Patience-Involvement-Activism! -


4/4 SCBA training?


If you are in R6, we learned at our annual captain's meeting that the region is now paying for Paramedics training and refreshers. There are actually people going out of state to California (San Francisco) to get their refresher training! Apparently they don't offer these refreshers in the pacific northwest. Think about how much THAT per diem is costing someone! And to think we can't even get all of our fire training paid for (and that's training that is actually in our PDs!!). So I'm guessing that if you are in R6 it might pay to ask David Summers if he'd be willing to take some money away from the necessary training and have it pay for SCBA. Can't hurt to ask. Or, if you are in R5, let them know that it's being done in R6 and see where that gets you. If you are interested in where the guy I talked to is out of, just have Ab get a hold of me, I don't know him directly, but I know someone who does. Can't hurt to check it out. Good luck!

Wishing I could get all of my training

4/4 SCBA training?

How would I get the R% training requirements and Forest Service regs for SCBA?


I assume that's R5 training requirements. Ab.

4/4 Apprenticeships

If apprentices have not been selected yet for 2012, R-5, how is it that they say on WFAP that the academy was held during March 2012? I am curious as I have applied and figured selections have already been made.

Would just like to know if they have or have not been selected?


4/4 Apprenticeships


You said in your statement that no one has lost a job due to apprentice hiring.

How would you know since apprentices haven't been hired? Also if you knew how many apprentices you were hiring how would someone lose a job? Are you over hiring on temps then someone will be removed if an apprentice is hired? Don't your engines and crews have standard configurations on how many apprentices and temps you will have and if you don't fill all your positions then you can fill some with detailers or temp hires? You didn't leave any positions open-those are positions that are required to be filled by apprentices.


4/4 Diversity


You made some good points friend. At this point in the whole 'Diversity Push' , we need to stop asking questions to leadership about the validity of their actions. It only serves to empower them by making them think that we really are clueless. What I mean by that is..... often times as subordinates we tend to ask questions about these things instead of making statements because even we, the workers, are so used to this increasingly bureaucratic community that we think we will get somewhere by asking ' tough questions' and falsely thinking that we will shame them into doing the right thing. At this point in the game we need to, (and I mean this with all sincerity and respect towards the small amount of folks up top that still try to fight the good fight instead of worrying about their next performance appraisal), realize that they have no shame.

It is time to find another way. Word from down in Region 5 is that after a couple years of pulling females from R-6 to fill a perm slot with the Smokejumpers in Redding CA., instead of picking up any one of their over-qualified temp employees,....... the region has taken over their hiring. This is not an official stance but is made clear by their selection process. They are hiring females with little to no fire experience at all. I'm hearing that one of their applicants has only three months of fire experience. And that the other applicants are not much more experienced than that. ???!!!! The Smokejumpers??? I naively assumed that though this push is affecting us all.... that at least the Smokejumpers were still able to hire experienced folks due to being sometimes only with a couple folks in the wilderness. Seems like a major breach in safety. I have been on a rappel ship and know that with us that would be pretty tough and cant imagine what it would be like for them. For me at least....

This brought it to light a lil bit more. I mean..... its almost like they are flaunting the fact that they can and will do ANYTHING , including risking folks' safety to get what they want. It would be very easy for HR to just put a small letter on 'They Said' explaining the Avue gender/race app visibility questions and any other hiring/preference/list questions. Why don't they just show some transparency and at least let the returning workers have a clear idea as to what their chances are and what 'rights' they really have as far as getting their jobs back????? Because they need us to all be confused and uninformed on the process so that they can carry out their agenda without bothersome 'rules'. I am glad that things aren't quite as bad here in region 1 but I fear it's on its way.

So to Ben and all others on 'they said', we have to demand answers. We all have a duty to, at the very least, expect honesty from our 'leaders'. No matter what... if you believe that the best applicant for a job is not necessarily the best person for the job.... you are wrong. Life is not fair. We have a duty to make it fair whenever it is possible regardless of gender / ethnicity, but we cannot get sucked into their perverse thinking that, ethically and morally, it should be any more complicated in AMERICA than looking at an app and through interviews, experience, and references, ....selecting the best person for the job.

And always, remember.... the folks up top? well, they were around when women and various ethnicities were getting the short end of the stick and played a role in the negative backlash. But now instead of finding a grass roots solution to this 'problem'... they take the short way out and and try and fix it in the course of a few seasons by stabbing the folks that put the line around the fire in the back.

"no good decision was ever made from a swivel chair"- General George S. Patton.

thank you AB for all you do. -

Mike L.

4/3 LAC's Captain David Bailey has passed away.

LA fire captain dies while leading training

I went to High School with Dave and remember him well.

My thoughts and prayers to his family, extended family and friends.



4/3 Hiring

MJ -

You are correct that we don't get to see their race on the Avue referral list. However, we do still see their names. Can we make a 100% certain connection between names and a person's diversity "group"? No, not 100%, but if there are only 2 names on the list and one is John Smith and the other is Isabella Gonzalez, there is a pretty good chance that one of those names will fill a diversity quota better than the other. Yes, I know this is a fairly extreme example, but you get my point. Besides, why should CR see their diversity info when they are doing the selections? I do not remember seeing anything relating to diversity in the OPM qualification standards or in the IFPM or FSFPM minimum qualifications.

My point is that there should be absolutely no preference given to a person based on race, sex, nationality, skin color or any other diversity factor. The only things we should be looking at is qualifications, experience, skills, work ethic, and attitude. Period. I don't care if you are a hispanic female with a disability and 10 point vet's preference. If you can't do the job better than everyone else on the list, than you shouldn't get the job. If you want the job, you should earn it, not have it handed to you because of something you have no control over. Yes, I realize that vet's preference is a "controllable" factor, but I do not think that it should override better qualifications. If all other things are equal, than yes, give the job to the vet. I don't have a problem with that.

I am not trying to start an argument over the hiring issue. I am just overly frustrated with the direction the FS is going. This is just another reason we continue to be at the bottom of the employee satisfaction surveys. To devote as much time as it takes to go through the new hiring process (and each region is different of course, wouldn't want to have any continuity of practice would we) only to have some one sitting in the RO, that probably has no solid idea about what it takes to do the jobs we are hiring for, just randomly pick someone on the "qualified" list to meet some non-existent quota so we can show we are meeting our undefined level of diversity and inclusiveness is not how we are going to move towards the #1 federal employer. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, how come it seems that only the FS has these types of issues. I have been employed for the USFS, NPS and several state and local agencies and I don't remember of the other agencies having a Women's Consent Decree, Hispanic Settlement, or pushing diversity over qualifications. But I have seen it over and over again in the FS. I love my job and the lifestyle it affords me, but it keeps getting harder and harder to stay with an agency that could be the very best at what we do, but continues to alienate and frustrate the employees that could (and would) help them make it that way.

And with that, I will step off my soapbox and get back to job I love.


4/3 Vehicle Replacement

Does anyone know what is going with the FS in regards to vehicle replacement? I've heard of word making the rounds that the agency is considering holding vehicles over for an extra year as a cost saving measure. Not good news when your apparatus is already a worn out holdover. I don't trust our vehicles, but am still expected to respond to fires in them (and ask/require others to do the same). There's been no straightforward answer, and the problem appears to be at the regional level. Is anyone else having similar issues? Does anyone have any guidance or suggestions?


4/3 Hiring:


Who are SMEs? Who are CR folks? And which one of those two makes the final decision?
How is it that it's already early April, on the brink of fire season and permanent job offers haven't been made and seasonals haven't been hired? I can't imagine the mess this is going to make of modules staffing.

Also, regarding apprentice hiring, are you saying that some temp positions will be filled with apprentices rather than the temp getting his/her job back?

Can anyone provide a quick and dirty breakdown of the hiring practices of R5 this year?
With all the apparent back room shady hiring practices it's hard to keep track of what's truth or fiction.

-R5 Hobo

4/3 Hiring:


Referral lists don't have race listed. And on the Apps that SMEs see, only names, experience blocks, education, and references, are there. At selection week, only CR folks can see diversity info.

And to the person wondering about 2012 apprentice hiring, selections are next week in R5 along with the GS 6-9 selections. Most temps in R5 have not been hired yet, though some have been notified of job offers.

I know on My Forest , we knew that we were only going to hire maybe 6-7 apprentices this round on the entire Forest, and left openings for them. We have that many folks not returning for their own reasons, no one has lost a job to a new apprentice hire yet.

Good luck to all next week during selections,


4/3 Travel Cap and GSA poor judgment!


This is one of the many justification's the majority of US citizen's jump on the "government employees are a giant waist of tax payers money" bandwagon. This is one of the many reasons why I can't send firefighters to training to further their career. This kind of thing will continue, and we will all be affected with things like travel cap, no raises and soon to come retirement benefit reforms. Like increasing "high three", increasing contributions and removing the "supplement". I hate to be so negative but as long as this kind of thing keeps happening, and it will (whether the people responsible are punished or not) we are all going to pay.


4/2 Hiring:

Hey Ab,

Just wanted to know if anyone out there had any updates on the 2012 Apprenticeship Hiring?

How are forests going to deal with losing the experienced seasonal employees they have hired two weeks before season to apprenticeship positions on different districts/forests?

Or are the experienced employees going to be passed by again for hiring because of diversity and vets?

Vets deserve the jobs, because of their sacrifices, but experienced and over-qualified employees deserve jobs as well!

It's sad when you start to look away from your lifelong dream of a firefighting career because a maintenance job for a municipality pays the same if not better, has better benefits, and you can't afford to make $22,000 as a seasonal for yet another year to try and wait for those permanent positions!

Sorry for the rant...must be a case of the Monday Morning Unemployed Blues!


Side Workin to Survive!

4/2 To all fellow FF’s does anyone have info or phone# of the Duraguard shirt company?



Ab will pass the info on.

4/2 best applicant/diversity/initiative/getting hired

h -

Please inform of all of us of your understanding of the causes of under representation in the FS, if that is what you are implying. I don't believe Tom was saying that hiring minorities is compromising a standard. My take on his comment is that hiring people because they are a minority is compromising a standard. A standard that says we should hire the best person for the job. And why does the FS culture make it difficult for minorities to stay, but not for the other folks? That is an explanation I would like to hear. And Why do we need to blame ourselves for lack of diversity? Before you answer that one, please let us all know what definition of diversity you are using to make that statement. No one sent an outreach to my school. No one sat with me at a computer and told me how to use the avue system. Nobody hired me on the spot at some mall. Yet, somehow, from a small town in the middle of a mid-western state, that at that time had absolutely no wildland fire fighter jobs, I was able to figure what I wanted to do and then figured out a how to go about filling out an application, and got myself into the system. You know how this guy got hired:? Initiative, I took the initiative to learn about what I wanted to do and how to go about getting a job. We don't NEED more diversity, we need more people with the initiative and work ethic to get where they want to go.

In my close to 15 years with the agency, I have seem time and time again, less qualified and less deserving people get the job because they fill a quota. Did they qualify for the job? Yes, but that doesn't take a whole lot when you look at OPM guidelines for qualifying for most positions. Were they the most qualified or the best person for the job? Not according to the hiring panel that took the time away from their normal job to try and make an informed hiring decision.

I will agree with you on your remarks about the education system. I was brought up through that system and I was able to fill out an application and get my self in on the bottom rung and work my way up. So maybe the question you should be asking is why was I able to fill out an application and get on the referral list, but all the under represented minorities that we aren't hiring aren't not showing up on the referral lists? I was able to figure it out, why can't they?

I still think avue needs to take all personally identifiable information (name, race, address, etc) off the referral list, give each applicant a number and develop a system where we can send out our reference checks and supervisory checks out electronically so we don't base our hiring on whether they are female or male, white or other, and just make our decision based solely on experience, qualifications and abilities. I have no idea how to make this work in our system, but who ever figures it out, this could be your million dollar idea.


4/1 Aircraft:


*The VLATs were/are too big.
- Not really. Just as any other tool, it's only effective as how it's utilized. Yes, the VLAT is worthless in steep and confined canyons. The VLAT will never rival a SEAT, however, give it a decent space...think Alaska tundra, a ridgeline or the flatlands of the upper Midwest or South and you have a good resource. I think that point was proved in Texas last season. The bigger the aircraft, the more room it needs to maneuver. No difference than trying to get a ladder truck into a cul-de-sac vs. a rescue squad.

*Helicopters have some of the same age and structure problems as the ATs
- Here again, we see the problems of the fixed wing contractors. There was a time when D-M would release airframes for public or government use. In our post 9/11 scenario, those assets are frozen. What we have is what we have. It's going to take an act of Congress or more before airframes start flowing from the bone yard again. Take Erickson for example, they have the license from Sikorsky to build zero timed, brand new S-64 Skycranes. It's too bad other entities can't do the same with fixed wing. I know Marsh has done some fantastic things with the S-2, but there again...there is only so much they can do under the circumstances.

*SEATs are small and have their own risk issues.
- No more than any other issue involving fixed wing aircraft used in this capacity. Wear & tear on the airframe, structural damage, meeting or exceeding the allotted hours of the airframe. There are strict requirements involving each type of aircraft used in aerial firefighting, each has it's own limitations and guidelines. SEATs represent a wonderful IA tool and should be used as such.

- As hot as the USFS is on the C-130J, I'm surprised that they didn't bid on the MAFFS2 units at the Aero Union auction in February. The auction included several completed units, plus, all the engineering data and proprietary information for these. What's the worth of a C-130J without having the complete kit to make it work? It would make sense to have the entire package and control over same, in order to make a feasible benchmark for the future. You are correct in your observation that the AFRES want's nothing to do with this. With lines changing hourly in the Middle East - they can not realistically guarantee aircraft or crew as the USFS wants.

*Regarding the tanker fiasco of 1987-88
- Just goes to show how screwed up things can get when you least expect it. I'm not at liberty to discuss very much on this issue, but I can say this - Had the USFS knew exactly who was working for them, this never would have happened. On paper, it looks great, but in reality, this BS put a lot of long time, good contractors out of business. These were contractors who developed the firefighting fleet and made the improvements - some of which we see today. The founding fathers of aerial firefighting, now out of business because a few individuals and their shady deals. Don't blame the contractor, blame the broker.

*There isn't a FS plan, that's why another study.
- Good God, how many more do we need? This has been debated, talked, studied and beaten to death since the initial Project Bluebook back in 2001. At my count, that's 11 years wasted on BS politics and endless bureaucracy with nothing actually accomplished. We know what works and what doesn't, we know where the line in the sand is drawn. With all this information, why then has the USFS not lifted a finger to remedy the situation in the last 11 years? Using "the budget" is always a believable scapegoat. While it may be true now, that has not always been the case.

*Anybody have an update on the Neptune prototype?
- Yes, the Bae-146..Tanker 40, is on contract this year. Wishing and praying for the best of everything to Neptune Aviation and all involved, both on the ground and in the air. R&D is still a contractor obligation, nobody else is doing it. I have talked to several investors about new, ground up, purpose built designs. The major blocking point is the limited market for such aircraft. Canadair, Beriev, Embraer and Antonov all have stepped up and made the concession for purpose built aircraft. Getting an American industry (besides Air Tractor) to step up is like pulling hen's teeth.

Until another agency takes the reigns of Nationwide aerial resources, this is what we have to work with. I lobby for change, I invest my own money for that change. I talk to several members of Senate and Congress, and I don't do it just for the aerial aspect of the business, I do it for you guys & gals on the ground too. We're a family like no other. I'd like to think I'm at least doing something proactive and positive to find resolutions to all of the issues that face us all today.


4/1 aerial suppression: How I see it...
  • The VLATs were/are too big,
  • Helicopters have some of the same age and structure problems as the ATs,
  • SEATs are small and have their own risk issues.
  • The FS may have hoped the MAFFS would step in with some of their military budget. That's not happening.
    Military budgets are cut too. They don't want to take that on. Nothing is going to happen by the FS until
    congress funds it. There's no $$ now in the FS budget for that kind of RandD.

Last time congress stepped in with $$ years ago, a lot of people wheeling and dealing in large aircraft went to jail... Might make some nervous.

There isn't a FS plan, that's why another study. Congress may not believe the FS when it says it would take $$ for RnD and production. Maybe they will when an independent research group tells them.

It's all about fed budget. You can't squeeze water out of a stone.

Anybody have an update on the Neptune prototype? The industry will be where solutions come from.


4/1 firefighting aviation


Diversity is a healthy thing. The problem is, as you stated, it's difficult for minorities to hang with the FS culture. Why is that... do tell. And where did I state that only non-minorities are retained? I'm not going to be baited into a race war of words.

Excuse me if you think I'm clueless about the problems facing the USFS, and pardon me for being just as clueless about diversity. You have clearly missed the point. After spending 36 years in this business, I believe I have a pretty clear sight as to the inner workings, problems and all, with the issues at hand. One of the biggest problems is people claiming "let's conduct a study" and find a solution. Money is spent, time is wasted and for what? Only to clarify the things we already know. In my opinion, it's nothing more than people trying to justify their job.

Case in point, of all the airtanker studies conducted since 2001, the only thing accomplished has been the grounding of more aircraft with nothing done about fleet replenishment. The USFS and the IAB lay down their guidelines of what they want - yet won't spend a dime on actually getting any hardware. That part is still laid on the contractors, at their expense. The entire aviation program needs to be run by an outside governing body, comprised of aviation knowledgeable people who actually have a clue as to the capabilities of the aircraft, both fixed wing and helos. I'm not saying there aren't any FS people that know what they're doing, but the majority of these folks fly a desk. Not the same thing.


4/1 Diversity


What makes your rant any different than the yadda yadda yadda speeches you're complaining about? What do you want "them" to do? You don't say. The only thing you reveal is your lack of understanding about the causes of the under-representation in the Forest Service and your ignorance of what diversity means to the agency. It is offensive for you to imply hiring minorities equates to lowering standards and the mere act of hiring a minority is a compromising a standard. While we may agree that the education system fails minorities in many communities, it is the same education system that most everyone else uses. You say the education is to blame, yet non-minorities use the same system. Why is it we are able to hire, train and retain them? The agency hires a lot of minorities, but the Forest Service culture makes it difficult for them to stay. We need to also look at ourselves when we point out the reasons we lack diversity, and yes, we do need to blame ourselves.


4/1 More studies, Firefighting Aviation, etc:

The time is quickly approaching to make some serious field decisions. Now I know that some actions may not be popular, as they go against the grain of who we are and what we stand for, but all this political posturing, yadda-yadda-yadda speeches, talks, and endless supply of studies that lead to nothing but more studies need to stop....and STOP NOW.

Fire Season 2012 is upon us - we don't have time to play games. Want to make this political? Great, don't expect my vote. You complain about no money to spend? How about if we sit and "let it burn" until you relinquish a majority of your over inflated paycheck & benefit package - to have us show up to your fire with the proper equipment in a timely manner. Oh ya, we don't have our minority quota either. Don't blame us, blame the educational system in the US. Schools aren't exactly turning out model students anymore. Why should an agency be forced to accept for employment, someone who barely has a grasp on the fundamental things in life? ....and I am supposed to trust this person with my life? Get a grip. I've had the honor of working with hundreds of firefighters in my life, I never noticed their ethnic background or heritage. They were firefighters, brothers and sisters in arms. The minute you bring minority equations and quotas into the mix, this is where you start the problems. If they can't make the grade, I don't want them around me - and I could care less about what their skin color is. Our job requires the best of the best. Until the American educational system can start producing better graduates, this is what we're stuck with. Thanks again DC.

Better yet Mr. Politician, get out of Washington, put on some boots and Nomex and see what REAL firefighters do for a living! You may even earn some respect - something I don't give away. Of course, I know you won't. You don't have the intestinal fortitude for the job, so you leave the ugly work to us - GOD FORBID you should get your hands dirty.

...and I'm not even upset yet. Don't get me started DC. Fix the problem or get the hell out of the way and let those who actually know what they're doing take the lead.

Proudly signed,
Tom Janney

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