June, 2012

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6/30 Here is the Brian Williams interview with John Lauer. Great job all around.

www.msnbc.msn.com... Interview

6/30 A Major Development. The Fire Working Environment report and supporting letter from Randy Moore .

Many important items in the letter and report. Each of us will/must step up and take on what matters most.

To me, the following stuck out:
  • The willingness from Randy Moore to recommend a review of the organization to look at reorganization from a traditional to a centralize organization is Hugh.
  • The report references the current traditional organization as outdated organizational structure.
  • Randy Moore says in his letter; "My expectation is that you (the R5 Firefighter) stay engaged and involved to hold us accountable for our commitments to you.

OK, I think we can help with that last bullet.

vicis est iam


Letter and Report from From Randy Moore, Region 5 Regional Forester

6/30 Into Colorado's fire

While unique it is not unprecedented to use military aircraft to move wildland firefighters and their equipment. I have attached a photo of Operation Kangaroo from 1977. Several Type 3 engine strike teams were moved from the south to Siskiyou County Airport for the Northern California Fires. Each strike team took 3 C-130 aircraft to move, two engines per plane with the third having an engine and a chief officer vehicle. I believe it has only been used one other time.


Neat! Ab.

6/30 MAFFS Video



6/30 Hi to all:

It is a sad irony that Vicki Minor, the Executive Director of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation whose incredible efforts over the years, fueled largely by this community's generosity, have helped so many, may find herself helping those very close to her.

Vicki grew up in the Mink Creek area near Pocatello, just a couple miles from my home now, where the Charlotte Fire raced through on Thursday devouring 66 homes and 29 out buildings. It is still unclear whether anyone she knew, family or friends, suffered through the tragedy. However it being so close to home, literally and figuratively for Vicki, we hope your generosity will shine as this season promises to be an epic one.

As is often the case, many of our firefighters live near areas prone to wildfires and all too often we've had to check on loved ones of our members who are on the lines. If anyone finds themselves in a position where they need help checking on loved ones while they themselves are on assignment, please don't hesitate to contact the FWFSA, or the Foundation or perhaps even wildlandfire.com.

Stay safe,


In other words, folks, send "our safety net for wildland firefighters" -- the WFF -- a donation... Ab.

6/30 Take a moment and listen or read the Presidents weekly address. The President addresses the importance of all Americans to remember and support fire departments and (as he says) "our Forest Service".

Each of us have differing political views. Our country would not be as great as it is if not for the ability for each of us to disagree politically. What I find important is that this is not just a trip to a swing state and a disaster area. I can see a "little" depth and maybe passion in his words.

Although this visit and weekly address won't fix the things each of us find important, its good to finally see our President address his Federal Wildland Firefighters. It's been a long time coming. As one who personally has been critical of President Obama's silence or distance from Federal Wildland Firefighters, this is a step in the right direction.


Hotlist thread
President Obama: All Hands On Deck Approach to Fighting Colorado Wildfires

6/30 "J",
My point is; in the good old days, we had the resources to jump on it. Your comment seemed to indicate that your are in the know. and rumors are just that and no water or slurry drops were available. Either way you look at it, five people on any fire in that country is not enough. Anybody that's fought fire in that grass, knows you can't dig it, and it keeps flaming back to life once you snuff it. We were on a fire right next to it in 1989. The Little Bear Fire started off the side of a hill in trees like you see in the distance. It was hard for a Hotshot crew to hold this fire in the pictures I posted. We needed water & slurry; and we got it. If your saying resources were stretched thin; I agree with you.

The fuel break I'm pushing, I worked on in the late 70s. It's on Grindstone Ridge, south of Grindstone Lake & Ruidoso. It goes up the west side of town bordering the, Mescalero Indian land, and then forest land. If it's going to be used in the worst case scenario, you have to go in 2 miles and burn pockets of fuel that cause the spot fires 2 miles away. You can 't burn those until you have a break of some kind along town. So start with thinning ALL ladder fuel & debris at least 200ft. in. Enough so that you can walk through it, immediately after lighting it off. Farther in, you are trying to eliminate torching potential, and as you progress further in, you just treat the chimney canyons and such that lead to long range spotting.

The Little Bear came into town in the early morning hours, so yes, If we had any kind of break in place I would of felt safe burning back into it at Peebles and Enchanted Forest area that morning. I know the small group that held it from crossing at Peebles & Hwy.. 220 (frontal assault). The whole time there were about 80 Forest Service personnel clustered there watching them work! If we had a plan, they would of gathered everybody up, and made a assessment as to whether they have everything they need to take a stand, and make a "GO or NO GO" decision 12 hours before it gets there.

This fire came off the hill at night, pushed by hot downdrafts as the column cooled. (I assume) We are lucky it hit during the night, instead of the burning period the next day.

William Riggles - Ruidoso
6/30 Ms. Vorhees is an outspoken supporter of a volunteer fire dept. captain who refused to leave an area in front of the Little Bear fire when ordered to do so by the IC due to unsafe conditions. Perhaps to provide a more balanced film she should include research on the many people who where killed while fighting wildland fires, how they were caught in the fire, how the IC's who were in charge were punished, or not, and what safety concerns she has for FF safety. The volunteer dept. saved the house they were working on at the tim e. There were no people in any of the homes, as they had all evacd. They were only fighting to save structures.


6/29 "A"

The rumor continues to circulate concerning unused air resources on Little Bear, and you are evidently claiming to be in the know. So, for those of us not in the know perhaps you could enlighten us as to which specific air resources by type were available, where they were located, and their capabilities. Did the owners offer them up, or is this an after the fact deal? Were these air resources carded for use and were the pilots carded? Any other pertinent information would be appreciated.


Just so I am straight on this. When Little Bear blew up you would have been willing to be out front of that fire in the wind conditions that existed burning out in a fuel break? Just how wide is this fuel break?

6/29 Health care for seasonal firefighters:

To all:

I am very proud that as a result of the incredible effort by one of our newest members to the FWFSA, John Lauer, along with Rachel at change.org, Mark Davis and Bill Dougan of NFFE, Ross Rocketto and others, the issue of health care for seasonal wildland firefighters made the national news tonight. There was a barrage of press calls today and I'm glad they were able to track down John on assignment. Of course I can only hope that the FS won't "stick it to him" for appearing on camera talking about a political hot potato while in uniform...!!! I'm sure if he does get heat (no pun intended) NFFE will take care of things.

An effort was to be made to get copies of the petition, now well over 100,000 signatures, to the president during his visit.

No one person or organization can accomplish the wide range of reforms all of you deserve. I am extremely grateful that John allowed us to be part of this effort. Today I was also contacted by staff from Sen. Mark Udall's office who, incidentally has previously cosponsored our stand-alone portal to portal bills when he was a congressman, with regards to the health care issue and the classification issue.

We all know it is incredibly difficult to stay on the radar screen of elected officials once the awe-inspiring video on nightly news goes away. Thus it is imperative we take these opportunities and look at all avenues to accomplish these things.

Sadly, the Forest Service's comment was all too familiar.. "we will be happy to work with Congress should it look further into this issue." If I had a penny for every time a FS representative said that I'd be you-know-what.

Congratulations to John and his crew. Much still needs to be done but this is a clear example of what your voices can do. As always, persistence is the key.

Casey Judd
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association

Great to see him on the evening news with Brian Williams. Ab.

5/29 Anyone have any idea when ROSS will be back up again?


6/29 Information Request;

Hi all. I am completing research on a number of fires that have limited geographic data or incomplete reports. If anyone has information on any of these events, please feel free to call or email me at the numbers below.


Ron Marley
530-949-1210 (cell)

1. “Wagon Box” Fire, 1999, Utah/Nevada border in the north end of the state. I am looking for the specific coordinates corresponding to the three separate locations that resulted in the five burn injuries (Lat/long, UMT or we can compare maps over the phone and talk the positions out). I spent some time in the area two years ago while I was researching the “New York Peak” fire in the middle of the state, and I think I have the rough locations, but I cannot get it locked down.

2. “Dry Creek Complex” Fire, 2009, Idaho? Looking for a specific location as there is no data in the report.

3. “Little Goose” Fire, 2007, Wyoming. Does anyone know if “Stumpy Ridge Road” (the area of the entrapment) is open to the public or is this a private road? If it is a private road, a point of contact would be cool to have before I drive out there.

4. “Summit Entrapment”, 1996, Oregon. The fire was in the area of the Sunshine Guard Station, but the entrapment occurred on Big Boulder Road or Road 20. A specific location would help if anyone has it. Long time ago, but you never know.

5. The “Scorpio” Fire, 2006 in northern Utah. Looking for locations of the shelter deployment and the point where the second Helitack crew member took “cover” in the dry wash.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can provide information on these fires.

Ron Marley

Glad to see you writing in Ron. Thanks for the firefighter training and everything else you do. Ab.

6/29 I am currently working on a documentary on lightening-caused fires in wilderness areas that have been allowed to burn. I live in the area of the Little Bear Fire, so I am aware of that fire as well as the one in the Gila Wilderness area. Could you direct me toward other fires that have started the same way? I'm interested in those that have worked well as well as those that have gotten out of control. I'd also appreciate the opportunity to chat with someone with your organization.


Deborah Voorhees
Voorhees Films
6/29 rE: Congressman Steve Pearce & the Little Bear Fire


I remember one of the first rules of building a fuelbreak was "do not build one unless you can maintain it". You are correct in saying that the FS has lost focus, hence, funding is not appropriated where it should be. Their focus is myopic, and the dollars are directed to whatever their focus is (not sure they know)! I agree that the FS crews should be doing the job(s), but since they are not, perhaps Pearce figures someone else should.

In regard to the Little Bear fire, more nearby resources (particularly air), were available but not used!


6/29 Advanced Notice 2013 Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) Research Topics:

Good morning Ab,

Would you please share this JFSP information through your contacts.

This is the first time JFSP has shared the potential topics for the fall solicitation in advance.

Thanks for the help…


6/28 This will add to the topic "why are we still home and they flew trucks and all?"

Into Colorado's fire
Hot Shots fly equipment out of state for first time

After nine years of fighting fires as part of an elite group at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Jesse Hendricks is still experiencing ground-breaking “firsts.” He and 17 other members of the Vandenberg Hot Shots took flight Wednesday afternoon to the front lines of the Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs, which has forced more than 32,000 residents from their homes so far. This is the first time the only specialized wildland firefighting crew in the Defense Department has flown a military aircraft to an out-of-state fire with its three trucks and equipment safely packed into a C17 designed for large cargo transport... (More at the link)

Keep up the good work.

Interesting... Nice photos. Ab.

6/28 New photos of the Charlotte Fire near Inkom Idaho, taken this afternoon during IA by Casey Judd. He wrote:

Here are two pics of a fast moving wildfire near FWFSA HQ near Inkom, Idaho. So far no air support with the exception of a spotter plane. I think I saw one tanker...not sure. It is being called the Charlotte Fire. So far about 15 homes lost.


I put them on the Fire 46 photo page, on the wildlandfire.com index page and on the wallpaper page. Ab.

6/28 Preparedness

It's June 28th, if you're now planning and preparing to act now, you're about 30 days to late. As stated in Chapter 1 01-7 of the 2012 Redbook, "Fire Preparedness - preparedness is the result of activities that are planned and implemented PRIOR TO FIRE IGNITIONS"

Center managers, and GACC coordination, due yourself and us a huge favor and read all of chapter 1 of the Redbook, specifically pages 7,8,9 and 10.


6/28 Response to MS

Thie ruling does not guarentee benefits ro FS employees. The federal government as well as many state and city governments have waivers. Don't be too quick to celebrate until you know all the facts.

Christina S.

6/28 Ab, Thought this was a great summary. SB

Subject: NW Geographic Area Preparedness--June 27th


As of this morning the NW has 52 crews and over 500 overhead mobilized to incidents in the Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Great Basin and Northern Rockies. All our IHC’s and T2IA crews are committed. We have boosted smokejumpers, with aircraft, to Alaska and Montana, and all our rappel and helitack aircraft, save one, are providing large fire support. Because of this heavy commitment of resources, tonight the NW will be going to a Preparedness Level 2.

Remaining Fed resources in the NW includes one load of jumpers and Jump 9 at North Cascades. We have one exclusive-use T3 helitack aircraft at Vale. We have 42 Type 2 contract crews and all our IMTs available.

WA DNR has 4 T2 helos, 2 20-person crews, 33 inmate crews and 90 engines available. A 5th T2 helo comes on next week.

ODF is fully staffed with the exception of aircraft—their helicopters and airtankers should come on contract the middle of July.

We will have 3 more Fed helicopters coming on contract in July: At Prineville, a T3 Helo July 1, a T1 Helo July 3; at Wenatchee, a T3 helo July 15. It’s reasonable to assume that the T1 Helo will mobilize out-of-GACC when it comes on contract.

Northern California and West Basin are more or less in the same place as the NW. Between us we currently have 2 ½ loads of jumpers to support IA.

Given our current outlook, it’s my intent to continue to draw down in support of our neighbors. We’re trying hard to sell IMTs. Approaching 20 available T2 crews will signal a shift in this policy.

As we approach the July 4th holiday, here are some things for leadership to think about:

  • With everyone desiring a chance to send folks to fires, it’s critical that we coordinate with our neighbors to establish a workable drawdown for a sub-geographic area.
    With Fire School finishing up, it’d be helpful to re-assess our ability to configure and make available Agency T2 and T2IA crews. The sooner we can get these numbers to NWCC, the better we can plan.
  • Thinking about aircraft capability—established fire is drawing significant capability elsewhere. As we see the potential for significant IA, we should be able to get LAT support though it will likely come from some distance. Stay tuned. We should also think about CWN helitack capability where and when it might be needed.

The NW’s approach to fire season will be complicated by activity elsewhere. This isn’t the first time. The support we provide to other Geographic Areas will pay dividends in the future, so the better we can manage our capability, the better our returns. Let’s plan well and act safely. We have months to go yet.

Center Managers: please share with leadership.


Dan O’Brien
NWCC Center Manager

6/28 Chief Justice Roberts (Bush appointee) voted with Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer and Ginsberg.

Of interest to some in the Wildland Firefighter community are:
  • Wildland Firefighters and family members can no longer be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. As permanent federal employees (including Congress) we have always been protected from this. It's about time the rest of the country is protected, especially our Firefighters who work for private companies.
  • Siblings can stay on their parents plan until the age of 26.

Rest peacefully Senator Kennedy. Rest Peacefully tonight Sir, and thank you for your work for the poor and the uninsured, sometimes they are wildland firefighters.

"The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die."
- Senator Ted Kennedy


"In every part of this land that every American will have decent quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege."
- Senator Ted Kennedy


We live in a great country.........


6/28 Sierra Hotshot 35 year reunion...

This is the year that the Sierra Hotshots celebrate 35 years of being an established crew. We would like to put on a reunion for past crew members to present.. 1978- Now.

If you have a contact or contact information please share it with me. Our archives are pretty slim. Please contact me ASAP so we can plan accordingly.

Spread the word,

Brian "Reggie" Grossman
Sierra 15D


6/28 Breaking news

In a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act Individual Mandate, not through the Commerce Clause but through the Penalty aspect and the tax route.


6/27 Uninsured and Fighting Wildfires article by Ezra Klein:


Be safe out there everyone, even those of us with insurance don't have the best coverage, couldn't imagine not having it.

- Would Rather Not Work For No Benefits

Hotlist thread: Health Insurance, supporting seasonal wildland firefighters Ab.

6/27 Congressman Steve Pearce & Little Bear Fire:

Steve Pearce, wants to cut government personnel. and let private industry solve the fuel buildup on our national forests.

If Steve wants to protect our homes, he should be pushing to build a buffer on the W/U interface, where firefighters can take a stand against an oncoming wildfire. Build a fuel break that will double for a Safety Zone for ALL the equipment and personnel committed to stopping the fire and catching the spots.

We have been on a tinning binge in Ruidoso, since the Cree Fire in 2000. Lots of property in town is much better off now, than before 2000. The Forest Service has been building a fuel break around the Wildland / Urban Interface since, at least 1977. (I started with them in 1978)

The problem is we are not maintaining this buffer around town, so that we can use it in case of fire. What's needed is a plan to burn out ahead of any wildfire approaching from the west. To do that; each spring, we need to knock down new growth ladder fuel and organize just who will do what; if we need to take a stand. We need a crew that knows how to burnout, and will not be dispatched somewhere when we need them most.

I blame all our problems on lack of funds & focus to do the job right. The focus should not be whether we log the wilderness; but how we thin along the edge of our town. With all the work that's been done, I would not feel safe back burning into the wind and an oncoming fire. These fuel breaks need yearly maintenance, AND in the winter, the burning of the interior pockets of heavy fuel to prevent long range spotting.

This would be great winter time work for our fire personnel. if we only had the money to work them over the winter.
The Little Bear Fire should of been out on the second day @ half an acre, if only we had the resources we used to have in the old days. I think a lot of the problem is; until a Type I team takes over all the money comes out of district funds. We are trying to fight fire on the cheap. Trying to make ends meet, so to speak.

I don't see the money coming, in this age of austerity. I see it as election year rhetoric.

William Riggles - Ruidoso
6/27 Latest map of Utah Fires:

Here is a modified map of the active fires in Central Utah.

The Church Camp fire is going be a challenge due to location and lack of resources. If they can protect the cabins, it will result in being a beneficial fire due to the age of the fuel. I have toured through that area and saw the heavy fuel load for myself.


Thanks, Hunter. Not to make light, but as I understand it, the fires have not yet cooperated. Ab.

Utah -- East Basin -- fires on the Hotlist

6/27 Photo of Colorado's Waldo Canyon fire behavior:


Here is a small but good shot of the pyrocumulus cloud from the Waldo fire that happened to coincide with a slight frontal passage leading to some active fire behavior yesterday.


Thanks, dramatic vortex. Do you have a larger photo? Ab.

Waldo Canyon Fire and Rocky Mountain Fires -- on the Hotlist

6/27 Heads up yesterday on a fatality on the Wood Hollow Fire in UT. This is a non-firefighter fatality, sad.



I very much appreciate private messages about deaths until more details are known under conditions such as we are facing. Firefighters do not need to be alarmed. Ab.

Wood Hollow Fire and East Basin Fires -- on the Hotlist.

6/26 Re: Airborne Infectious Disease


I'm told there is a Standard Operating Procedure in place for airborne infectious disease, since the planning for pandemic flu.

I don't know what the current iteration of the plan is, but the Risk Managers and Safety Officers will know and should be able to show you the document. It would be good for all of us to know that even if it's simply CDC protocol. A person can have antibodies to TB or have antibodies to whooping cough but not be infectious. Are there active symptoms?

Best wishes for figuring it out. Uncertainty can make it a stressful situation...


6/26 Wildland Firefighter Leadership Survey - Be the Change You Wish to See

My friend Alexis who is a firefighter/doctoral candidate is conducting a survey to gauge what fire personnel value in high quality leaders. Everybody who has fought wildland fires has had at least one bad supervisor….and hopefully at least one great one. Do you remember what it was about that one great supervisor that made him/her great? This survey will give firefighters a voice; a chance to tell the national level what they want and think. Here is your chance to make a contribution that could make a difference. It should only take about 10 minutes to complete this survey. The results will be presented to the National Leadership Subcommittee and will have an influence on future trainings.

Follow the link to the survey. Thanks for your time.


She needs at least 300 responses and is currently sitting at 65.

Jeremy Sisneros
Fire Planner/ESR Coordinator
Utah State Office
Bureau of Land Management

She's probably seen this sweet website, but in case she hasn't ... Wildland Fire Leadership
Hey, readers, fill out her questionnaire. It's a worthy effort. Ab.

6/26 Reply to Airborne disease SOP,

Not sidestepping the need for an agency response protocol, but Is there a reason that concerned employees can't go get tested? I realize that it would be reasonable to hope the employer would take care of it, but with health insurance in place, it shouldn't be a very expensive proposition to make an appt with your GP and ask for the test.

I bring this up because a similar event happened at a previous place of employment regarding testing water for potability. The employee I am thinking of paid for the test that proved the water was fouled. He ended up getting reimbursed for the water test and also for his co-pay and medicine costs for a stomach "virus" that he had been fighting. He won his point that it was caused by the employer's water.

I think if I was possibly exposed, I would rather spend the money and know for sure that I am not carrying this to my family.

Then when I have peace of mind on this, I would still fight for the agency to address the problem, and speak to my union about getting reimbursed for the test.

Flash in Florida
6/26 Airborne Infectious Disease S.O.P.

I pose a question, to all firefighters, especially "Overhead" and Supervisors/Managers... How are we, as an Agency, Forest or District, to act; or better yet, what is the Standard Operating Procedure for a possible exposure to an Airborne Infectious Disease for a Station, Engine Module or District as a whole???

It has been brought to my attention, that there has been an employee, who has been possibly diagnosed with having a disease that is in fact, highly contagious through bacteria that can be spread through coughing, laughing, sneezing and basically, close interaction. It has also been brought to my attention, that there is not a 100% confirmation of said employee having the infectious disease, but that the hospital is treating the employee as having it (worst case scenario) and has this patient/employee, quarantined within the hospital.

It makes no sense to me, that at the District level, they are telling the employees to continue work as a normal day and not to worry about this matter, and that they feel there is no need, as of yet, to test the employees that had close, intimate contact with the "infected" employee at this time. But, haven't we, as a whole, always, through Aglearn, been taught and trained to always act according to the worst case scenario?? Haven't we as an Agency, always been taught to document, and, in a sense, expect the worst, and hope for the best??

I guess the Overhead has been in contact with CDC, and the CDC says that until there is a 100% diagnosis of the employee, that there really isn't a need to get the employees that have been in close contact with the "infected" employee tested, but at what point do we wait, before we do test the rest of the employees? Do we wait, till another employee drops out, possibly on a hike or somewhere remote, with signs and symptoms, or do we play it safe and take the pro-active route, and send the employees -who have a greater chance of contracting this disease- to get tested, before it's too late??

I have talked to numerous doctors and medical professionals, and they all say that the employees that were exposed to the "infected" employee, should in fact get tested, to be on the safe side. I am at a loss of words, and am getting bombarded by family members, who are also, just as nervous and as scared as I am, if not more. Any direction or advice would be greatly appreciated...


6/25 AVUE in R3

R3 is one of the test pilots places for the new erecruit program. Not sure if AVUE is going away all together or not. From what it sounds like other Regions may still be using AVUE. If you have questions, I would contact a BMO or an Admin Specialist in your area. The following is from a RLT meeting in R-3 regarding AVUE e-recruit and e-hire.

“It is my understanding erecruit is what will be used to outreach and manage job announcements and ehire is what is going to be used to manage job applications (I hope I have that right). Hopefully more information will be forth coming about these programs. Though we do not have the contract in place, they are existing programs that are available on line if you want to take a look at them just to get a basic idea what they are about. It was suggested on our conference call this morning that people should not expect much service from AVUE over the remainder of the year and should prepare to make the switch over.

Apparently the AVUE program and erecruit, and probably ehire, programs do not speak to each other at all. So please continue to encourage people to make sure they have separate copies of the information they have in AVUE just to be sure it does not get lost in the transition to a new program.

Also, there was a webinar just about two weeks ago on the Pathways program and they are offering some more in the near future. The webinars are about 1 hour and it would be good to encourage the staffs on your forests to participate. If I see a schedule for the webinars I will send it out. If anyone else see it before me, please send it out to everyone.”


6/25 "J"  and XMVU:


I am not sure we disagree, other than I do not have an agenda in defending Pearce. In fact, I wish he would present a more clear understanding of what the Forest Service has become and what it is doing (or not doing) here. My point on Pearce is only that he is the delegate from this area that people are expressing their concerns to. I absolutely agree with you about the Ruidoso area. Years ago it was identified as having one of the worst Wildland Urban Interface situations in the country. Having said that, my assertions were directed at the back side of the White Mountain Wilderness, and not the Ruidoso WUI.

XMVU.....I agree with you!

"A"  (gotta love the alphabet)   
6/24 Arizona fires:


After reading the transcript from the Little Bear dispatch, it appears that more could have been done to contain the fire during initial attack. After the helitack crew turned it over to support the fire logistically, additional resources could have been ordered to hit it harder during the first few days. The transcript doesn't really describe aggressive initial attack was used. Putting aside little fire history and heavy fuel loading, the direction from our fire director was to provide fast, aggressive initial attack. I'm not seeing alot of that this year in R3.


6/24 Congressman Pearce (R-NM) and his presentation


Rep Steve Pearce is a well known bought and paid for shill for the oil industry. The only interests he has at heart are his own and please do not confuse him with any facts because his are all predetermined. Any chance he has to throw a rock at the federal government he is going to do it, pure and simple. And, no, I am not an admirer of lying, pandering, politicians and Rep Pearce fits right in the middle of that definition.

As for your assertions I would say you must have some kind of agenda in quasi defending him. I have fought fire in and around Ruidoso for many a year and your assertions do not match up with what I know of the area. In fact I have been telling people for at least the last 10 years that this area was set up for exactly this kind of disaster. Ruidoso is the poster child for what not to do in terms of defensible space and fuels management in the urban interface. And it is not a matter of if, it is only a matter time for the next one to take out another part of this community. That is very unfortunate, and maybe this fire will turn out to be the catalyst for the people to finally step and take some responsibility. If they do not, mark my words, it will happen again.


6/24 Congressman Pearce (R-NM) and his presentation:


It is evident that you are anti Pearce! However, he does have his constituent's interests at the heart of this matter. He remembers the Peppin fire of not long ago, the homes lost to that fire, and the bald face lies the Forest Service told to him and the public. The Little Bear fire has become the most destructive in New Mexico's history with over 250 homes lost, a lake and a major water sheds, and damage that has not been fully assessed at one of the state's major ski areas. As far as climate change, suppression of fires for a hundred years, and everything else that comes from the worn out "natural fire" playbook....the Little Bear fire started in an area with minimal fire history. It was in an area that just does not have hardly any fires, natural or human. What few that ever occurred there were benign. Ergo, not much fire history, not much fire suppression. The heavy fuel build up was natural, and not a result of suppression! There is evidence in the area of "pre"historic fires, which burned so hot (as did this one) that nothing came back but scrub oak and other brush species. This will be the case of the Little Bear. Where local forest management dropped the ball was a lack in local fire knowledge, failing to recognize the ramifications of what would happen when the fire went "over the hill", and employing MIST on the fire instead of a more aggressive strategy on initial attack. In spite of what has been said, there were more resources nearby and available, helicopters with more performance capabilities, air tankers, etc. .

I do not know what Rep. Pearce's political agenda is, but do know his ire is being driven by the public who still remember the "monitor (let it burn), then burn it up management of the Peppin fire, and the lies the Forest Service told about it. People here are mad, mad, mad and Pearce is representing them.

With a sad bit of irony, a former FCO/FMO, and a true fireman, a native of generations here, spending his whole career here preventing this sort of thing....lost his home to this fire.


6/23 2011/2012 Pulaski Award:

The Wind River/Big Horn Basin BLM District accepted the Pulaski Award in 2011. Press releases were still going on over this past winter to share the accomplishment with all the cooperators who also received the award.


Congratulations to all. Ab.

6/23 Funding

Apparently all the talk on budgets must be misinformation because with no Strike Teams of engines out from
North Ops we must be flush with money. No P-code savings needed in R5. But really is there a reason why
we started the R5 hoarding so early this year.

Just Curious


6/23 Proposed AVUE Time Line (could be old but this is the latest I have)



6/23 Dear SA

As we have tried to articulate to Congress for years, there is more than enough money to take care of some of these issues...the problems lies in the management of FIRE funds appropriated by Congress i.e. who manages those funds and where some of those funds go to rather than FIRE.

Below is an excerpt (sorry I may have posted it before) from an email sent to me by a California congressman. it speaks for itself.

The more and more I have been digging into the FS, I have truly come to realize everything you have been preaching for the past couple years. FS does not have the proper people in their aviation and fire management programs. I have also been discovering that they are using tons of the money we appropriate for fire preparedness and protection is being used for the salary of people that have nothing to do with fighting fires. I mean, it just blows me away that FS has seen their budget for firefighting go from roughly $548 million in FY2002 to $1.6 billion in FY 2011, yet we have gone from over 40 air tankers to 11, and we constantly hear complaints from local, county, and state firefighters that FS just continues to try and shift more of the burden onto these local agencies.

Additionally in our latest legislation introduced in Congress, we crafted what we felt to be a reasonable method for paying for things such as health care benefits, hazard pay included as base pay for retirement purposes; hazard pay for RX burns; portal to portal compensation etc. It might shock many to know just how many Republicans have co-sponsored previous portal to portal legislation which had absolutely no offset or explanation as to how to pay for it. So whenever someone hears the Agency relate everything to tight budgets etc., let it go in one ear and out the other. The land management agencies, with all due respect, are well-versed in "smoke & mirrors" fiscal management as are most federal agencies. It takes folks on the ground to provide the data and information to organizations such as the FWFSA and NFFE, who in turn, provides it to Congress in the hope that they, in a position to effect positive change for all of you, will get off their rear ends and follow through.


6/23 2012 Pulaski Award:

Apparently there were multiple recipients in 2012:



Texas Forest Service:



6/23 update on health care:

When "Obama Care" went into effect I thought the FS would be required to offer health benefits to temps like any employer. I couldn't get any answers so i sent two e mails to the Whitehouse web asking the question and got no response. I guess they weren't sure.

Years ago management made a mistake and worked one of our temps for over a year with no breaks and he was contacted by I think he said OPM and offered the opportunity to get health insurance. The kicker was he would be responsible for the entire amount, the agency wouldn't pay anything. Lets see, I pay $450 a month and the agency pays $640 for mine so i don't think many GS 4 or 5 employees can afford it.

Before my 28 years with the FS I worked for the Idaho Dept. of Lands for ten years fighting fire. As temps we were held to a little over 1500 hours a season. Any temp that worked over 90 days got health insurance and retirement. If you worked over 90 days the season before it kicked in as soon as you got hired back. This was at no cost to me. I understand that over the years they started making the employee pay part of it, but it is still less than half of what I pay for the same carrier and they have some dental and optical that I don't with the federal plan. Kind of like the postal service.

I hope this petition is successful along with the NFFE Pathway to Permanence for the temps, but all that I'm hearing from management is because of the budget there probably won't be any temps next year. Maybe we should be working on cutting some of the very excessive management at the top so we could afford the workers. When one Forest Supervisor was asked last week at orientation about temps she said stated that she thought the work can be done with volunteers and contractors.

It continues to be an uphill battle, but one worth fighting.


6/22 Update on Health Care for Seasonal wildland firefighters:

I am pleased that the change.org petition initiated by John Lauer, the FWFSA's most recent applicant for membership has resulted in significant press coverage. However as those of you in the business know, this, like classification, is not a new issue. The FWFSA included such a provision in HR 4488 in Dec. 2009.

A conference call was conducted earlier this week with the FWFSA, national leadership of NFFE, Mr. Lauer, representatives from Change.org and others to discuss strategy. Press from John's home state of Colorado and even the LA Times and AP have picked up the story.

I readily admit I likely muddy the waters when I suggest that you can't provide health benefits to a seasonal segment of the workforce when that segment of the workforce doesn't technically exist...Technically they are Forestry Techs & Range Techs and folks in the political world and the press need to know that.

There is a cost factor to health benefits as there is for including hazard pay as base pay for retirement purposes and portal to portal compensation. There is no cost-factor, zip, nada for creating a wildland firefighter series according to the Congressional Budget office which scored H.R. 5697 in 2006. However we laid out a fair plan to pay for the costs of such reforms in HR 4488, the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement & Cost Containment Act.

In my woefully humble opinion, any effort/discussion to reform the many archaic pay & personnel policies encumbering our federal wildland firefighters must be addressed collectively because such reforms require a...wait for it...CULTURAL TRANSFORMATION by the land management agencies to start managing their fire program as a fire department and managing their firefighters as just that...firefighters. Providing their employees with the compensation & benefits they have deserved for far too long does not mean the FWFSA is advocating for a nationwide "R5-like" all risk Forest Service response. However that also doesn't mean there haven't been discussions in this community & Congress about taking FIRE away from the land management agencies.

I can't tell you how many members of the press this week have asked me about health benefits for seasonal federal wildland firefighters and I've said "unfortunately the employers of these brave men and women don't officially recognize them as firefighters" only to get the "huh???" from the media.

As you have before, this incredible community can make a difference. We will need to be ready to answer questions as to 1) would health insurance benefits for seasonal wildland firefighters be available to them during their "non-pay" (lay off) period and if so would the premiums for such coverage be different than when they were in a pay status? 2) what is the cost to the government to provide said insurance coverage to seasonal wildland firefighters? 3) What is the cost to the Gov't to provide said benefits to all federal seasonal employees? 4) would a seasonal federal wildland firefighter have to make a commitment to serve a certain number of consecutive seasons to be eligible for such benefits?

Lots of things to consider but as we are all aware, we have to take advantage of the press/media interests while the awe-inspiring pics of crown fires frequent the nightly news. I would encourage those who have not already done so to sign the petition at change.org and to exercise your voice. Chief Tidwell's memo about the employee survey and his pride in the workforce rings hollow if, despite facing increasing calls for reforming outdated policies he falls short of taking the lead in creating a 21st century fire program.

There is no more fundamental thing an employer can do for his/her employees than to recognize them for who they are and what they do and to work to take a leadership role in providing them with the benefits they deserve.

Casey Judd
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association

Thanks for your work, Casey! Ab.

6/22 Nice, is there a new NATIONAL Pulaski Award for Wildland Firefighting?

The Texas Forest Service got it: Congrats!


(I'd only heard about the Pulaski Award made to FS Chiefs in California.)
Does anyone know who got the National Pulaski Award last year?


6/22 Congressman Pearce (R-NM) and his presentation today in the House of Representatives:

What a blowhard! Congressman Pearce doesn't support this issue any more than its value to create a pariah out the government for limiting unfettered access to those who want to extract every penny of profit from the commons. Look at the Congressman's voting record at Votesmart.org, he won't show you his voting record at his website. (Although what he sponsors says is plenty.) He voted against funding the government every time except to extend tax cuts to the rich. He wasn't satisfied with just voting to freeze federal pay, he also voted to prohibit funding for step increases.

He does not support anything that will help federal agencies manage wildland areas. His only sponsored legislation, HR1202 To restart jobs in the timber industry by providing for the protection of the Mexican Spotted Owl in sanctuaries., is a farce in that it, in effect, limits management of federal lands by requiring approval of all logging and thinning projects except clear-cuts, and limits Mexican Spotted Owl preservation except in designated sanctuaries.

Did his floor speech make sense to anyone who is knowledgeable about the issue; who understands the science behind what is happening? Yes wildland areas have been mismanaged. How is Congressman Pearce supporting the agency's ability to reduce fuel loading? Logging and thinning for profit are a small part of the solution, not everything can be done for profit. Congress needs to fund wildland management agencies on par with the workload. What is his opinion on that? Does the Congressman acknowledge the role of climate change on the conditions of today's wildland? How does his support of defunding the EPA and lifting regulations on coal and many other carbon emitting and polluting industries help address climate change?

He is a foe of the government and any feigned support of firefighters needs to be taken with a large dose of salt. One needs to challenge his actual body of work instead of applauding him when climbs on his soapbox.



6/22 Re: A message from the Chief of the Forest Service

Too bad this memo from the "chief" includes a key inaccuracy for many of us permanent employees. And interestingly, it is one which he and his office were made aware. How many people enjoy coming to work for an agency where you are being reminded repeatedly that the "chief" does not recognize you?!

Again... It wasn't just term and temporary employees who were ignored in the survey, but also permanent employees. And this has been verified by Roy M. Roosevelt, the Acting Director of HRM for the Forest Service as well as Rhonda Flores who is acting for Roy. Apparently they don't communicate with the "chief." Also at least two senator's offices were aware of this, you might want to contact Senator Wyden's office.

As Mr. Roosevelt/Rhonda Flores stated:

"OPM decided to send the Web link directly to only 80 percent of permanent Forest Service employees who were on the payroll as of October 31, 2011."

Now, who do you think makes up the majority of these permanent employees that were left out of the survey? Let me tell you... It's those of us who spend much of the year doing the emergency work for which the agency receives credit.

I think that in your opinion it was a tactically good idea to not include us, because although it would have resulted in more accurate data, it might not have been what you wanted to hear.

Sadly, the "chief's" office as well as the office of Lenis Lago, and various other officials within the agency were notified of this situation soon after the survey was sent out, in fact, it was at the same time as the issue of designating the FS as the agency was brought up. And as it was explained to at least a couple of senators, NO RESPONSE was received.

My summary? I find it extremely difficult to believe you when you say what you said in the last paragraph of the following memo:

"My goal is to be an agency with effective, fair leaders who support a diverse workforce of employees and their families in an inclusive culture. I am proud of the work that we do as an agency, and I know you are too."

I'm thinking that a fair leader would have responded when first notified about this problem. A fair leader would demand a change immediately. A fair leader would admit that the data will be skewed and explain up front that it will not be used due to its lack of validity.

I'm thinking we won't see those results.

Anyone else out there surprised or concerned?

Not too proud.

6/22 A message from the Chief of the Forest Service on the survey.

TO: Forest Service Employees

The 2012 electronic Federal Viewpoint Survey has closed. For those of you who took the survey, thank you for taking the time to participate. If you are taking the survey in hard copy form, you have until June 27 to respond.

More than half of Forest Service employees eligible to take the survey did so. I am proud to say that the Forest Service response rate for the survey has been consistently higher than the USDA average. As of June 13’s not quite finalized numbers, our response rate was 50.6 percent, compared with the USDA average of 48.7 percent. This means that over 13,000 of our employees responded to the survey, which will give us good information on areas where we can focus our improvement efforts. I look forward to seeing the results.

I want to address two concerns that employees have had over this year’s survey. We were all concerned that employees had a hard time finding how to designate the Forest Service as the agency they work for on the survey. In the future, the Forest Service will be listed separately on the USDA drop-down menu to make it easier for employees to find their organization and participate in the survey.

Second, many term and temporary employees expressed concern over not being able to take the survey. USDA’s representative to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will strongly advocate with OPM that they include non-permanent and term employees, and ask them to work with us directly to find a solution that will include non-permanent and term employees from the Forest Service.

My goal is to be an agency with effective, fair leaders who support a diverse workforce of employees and their families in an inclusive culture. 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. I look forward to sharing with you the results of the survey and what we plan to do to continue to improve, for a workplace that makes us truly an employer of choice.
6/22 Ab,

So do you or anyone you know of a lawyer who will go up against the Forest Service? Its over a proposed 14 day without pay suspension. This supervisor dislikes the employee on a personal level, the employee recently won a national award from washington dc. This is absurd and they need help. They have contacted 2 lawyers who refused the case due to it being against the govt. I can provide the location to interested parties. They are a very good employee.

Please sign me anonymous

We have a good lawyer that won the employee's case relating to social media against the BLM in Boise a number of months ago, but geographically that may be too far from the case you describe, and that was the appeal of termination, not a suspension. WHOOO HOOOO! on that case!

Anyone know a good lawyer in CA or OR? (I'm presuming on location.) Ab.

6/22 Congressman Pearce (R-NM) and his presentation today in the House of Representatives

FYI - Re: USFS firefighting etc.


6/21 FERS mandatory retirement

To Anon

The OPM link is valid. FERS mandatory retirement uses the
CSRS rule. Scroll further down in the CSRS/FERS Handbook to
the Chapter 46 "B" section for FERS (Chapter 46A is CSRS).
You will find the information at 46B3.3-2 on page 54. I'm
tempted to make a crusty old comment about the big bold
letters in each corner of the cover page, but then I'd be
just a...



6/21 Retirement:

The post about FF/Leo retirement was informative, but the one link 'Curmedgeon' supplied was only for CSRS retirement,
not FERS, which most Feds are under now. Does anyone have the same info for FERS retirement?

anon (or forgot to sign the email...)

6/21 Mandatory retirement:

Most likely, behind the scenes, the individual responded to an outreach and applied for a reassignment to a position that was not classified as primary fire with mandatory retirement. Of course, if the hiring official/manager is familiar with the individual’s work and wants to hire them, the process can be smooth. If the position is the same grade or lower, it can be done noncompetitively, without an announcement in AVUE (or the new system come next fiscal year). This does not waive the requirement for a published outreach if this happens to be a BEU covered permanent position.

The concerned employee may call or email (better, ASC_HCM_Contact_Center@fs.fed.us) the Contact Center in Albuquerque with their question, and they will get advice. They could elect to contact the appropriate regional HRO if they wish, that can sometimes be helpful. But the best advice is for them to scour the outreach database, network as much as possible, and respond to outreaches for positions. He or she can speak to the POCs and let them know they are eligible for noncompetitive reassignment or change to lower grade if appropriate. Some managers like this, they can fill jobs faster that way. It is not a preference or a guarantee, some hoops need be jumped through.

Of course, with lean budgets and the like, permanent positions are not as available as they once were. I don’t not know the grade or qualifications of the individual, but I will post a simple example. Say a GS-07 wildland firefighter is up against mandatory retirement. They respond to an outreach for a permanent or term GS-05 technician position in another areas, say recreation or timber. If it goes well, and the manager of the outreached job wants to make a hire, they can submit a request to HR for the change to lower grade. Once HR does their thing, provided there are no problems with qualifications (should not be if the resume is decently written), HR can move the individual into the new position. In this scenario, the GS-07 is moving down to GS-05, so we would match the current rate of pay on the GS-05 scale up to step 10. GS-07 to GS-07, then this would not be necessary. This applies across agencies, so one could go from FS to BLM or vice versa under this scenario, it would just be a noncompetitive transfer instead.

The individual needs to weigh all options, it might be more advantageous for them to retire and seek a job in the private sector, or state/ local government instead.


6/21 Mandatory retirement:


I did a quick search of the OPM website and found this
document (from 1998) that addresses mandatory ff/leo/atc
retirement for covered positions. Dobro is correct as you
can continue to work beyond 57, assuming you have completed
20 years in a covered position and can find a new
non-covered position. What-about-Us is also correct about
exemptions, see page 25 in the attached CO46.pdf.



6/21 A Thank You

Thanks to you folks, we can hear the truth and not the hogwash we get from the agency..

Keep up the Great Work. People are listening. Eventually maybe the even the folks who can make changes, will understand..



You're welcome. Ab.

6/21 Mandatory Retirement?

You only have to retire if you are in a fire retirement covered position. So, say a Fire Staff Officer moves into a District Ranger job just prior to mandatory retirement, he/she can continue working after 57.


6/21 to What about me?

This isn't the first time that high profile fire managers have gotten a deal not available to the rank and file - there was a type 1 IC that got an extension rather than be forced out during fire season. Given the physical, mental, and family life stressors that come with this job, I do believe that there should be mandatory early retirement age, and people need to plan accordingly. However, if there is going to be the option of "getting around it", it should be an option available to all and not just high profile managers with connections. "Special deal" situations just erode the integrity and effectiveness of leadership.

What about us?
6/21 AVUE:

I'm pretty sure I read a memo that the last day to pull a cert. for hiring is early to mid July, that may be just for temps, I'll will try to find more info.


6/20 Mandatory Retirement?

I just heard an interesting rumor about a deputy fire director. Apparently they were supposed to retire under mandatory retirement but didn't. There fire director just moved them to another position so they wouldn't have to retire. I just received my notice that I'm up for mandatory retire in 6 months, but I don't want to retire since I have kids in college. I really can't afford to retire just yet and would like to work for at least a few more years.

I want to find out more about this. Does anyone know how I can do this? Is this really possible or is someone gaming the system?

What about me?

6/20 AVUE

Attached is guidance we received regarding the Avue transition for informational purposes in the Forum. I noticed someone was asking about that, hopefully this helps.

Dirt Weasel

Thanks, Dirt. Ab.

6/19 AVUE

Do you have any information on what is happening with Avue... When are they shutting it down?
What kind of platform is the FS going to use for hiring? Whats the word?


6/19 Thanks

Would you please post the attached letter to the editor of the Idaho Statesman? We tried to figure out to thank the hundreds of different people who showed up for the procession, but realize in trying to recognize individuals someone will certainly be left out. So we thought this would be the best way to encompass everyone, and having you post it will help catch everyone. Thanks

When Air Tanker 11 pilots Todd Tompkins and Ron Chambless lost their lives recently on the White Rock wildland fire in Utah, Boise was suddenly thrown into the national limelight. The pilots called Boise home and Tanker 11 flew out of Boise as needed.

Emergency services personnel and hundreds of residents of Boise and other locations turned out to give the pilots a lasting tribute on Thursday June 14 in a procession from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation’s office on Airport Way to the Linen Building on Grove Street.

There were simply too many emergency services people to thank, too many wildland firefighters to thank, and too many everyday citizens to thank on an individual basis. The best I can do is to post this letter in the Idaho Statesman and hope that everyone knows how much your participation was appreciated, not only by the families of these two brave men, but also by all of the other emergency services personnel, wildland firefighters and everyday citizens who know and appreciate the services of such fine men who die in the line of duty.

Thank you all.

Vicki Minor, Executive Director, Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Thanks to Vicki and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation crew. What would we do without your efforts on behalf of our community???
Our thanks to everyone who helped with the ceremony. Ab.

6/18 Tri-Sac,

Nice to know I'm not the only one who noticed that!

TJ  :)
6/18 Quite obvious Jennifer Jones hasn't a clue


Officials disagree on ability of nation's old, thin air tanker fleet

Only nine heavy air tankers remain in the U.S. Forest Service's fleet to battle a wildfire season expected to last through the fall, worrying critics who fear the lack of resources has left forests vulnerable. A decade ago, the fleet numbered 44.

Eight of the remaining planes, including three flying over the High Park fire in Larimer County, were built at least 50 years ago to serve as military planes patrolling the ocean. Despite the concerns, officials with the Forest Service believe they have adequate aerial resources, even as they scramble to bring newer planes on line by late summer.

"We are confident that we can mobilize the air support that we need when the threat arises," said Forest Service spokeswoman Jennifer Jones...


6/17 Re Grievance:

To: Out in the Cold and R9 Captain

I saw that Mark Davis and Casey have already responded to your comments, so what I say is probably not as powerful, but I am a Steward for the NFFE and try to take every situation I get seriously. Not knowing the specifics of your issues, it’s hard to say what the appropriate response would/should have been from your union rep. I will say that sometimes filing a grievance isn’t the end all be all. There are many other avenues to drive down before a grievance is ultimately chosen. I’ve had to contact a Congressperson before. I’ve relayed information to employees about the EEO process. I’ve recommended that an employee contacts his/her local law enforcement authorities. All kinds of things other than grievances. Just because you slap a grievance in the Forest Sup’s inbox, doesn’t really mean that’s going to solve the problem.

I understand your frustration, but remember, the only person who is a full-time union employee is the RVP/CVP. So, in your region only one person can devote all his time to doing union related duties. So, for the rest of us, this is a collateral duty. I’m not trying to make excuses, just trying to educate.

Anyway, I don’t want to get into a verbal altercation here. If you still need help, shoot me an email, I’m in the directory.

Brad Widhalm
NFFE/IAM Local 376 Steward

6/16 "Bureaucratic red tape has hampered firefighters trying to protect homes", biggest understatement of the decade.
Excellent Job Capt. VanWinkle, excellent job.


June 15, 2012
N.M. Captain: Crew Battling Fire Told to Stand Down

Firehouse.com News

Despite orders to stand down and stop trying to save homes, one crew battling the Little Bear Fire north of Ruidoso kept on doing its job, according to KOB-TV.

Capt. Craig VanWinkle of the Capitan Volunteer Fire Department told the news station that bureaucratic red tape has hampered firefighters trying to protect homes from the fire that has destroyed more than 200 so far.

Because of their efforts, they were able to save one man's home from the flames.

"We might have broken the policy, but we saved the man’s house," VanWinkle said.

He says that fire safety officers told his crew ... (more, including fire photos and video of Craig VanWinkle ...at link above)

fair use disclaimer

6/16 Two more views about what the Forest Service is doing with Cultural Transformation.


Michael T. Rains vision of Cultural Transformation

Michael T. Rains, Director of the Northern Research Station with the USDA Forest Service is no stranger to change. As a leader who has been with the Forest Service for 43 years, Rains has experienced many different kinds of change. Through those experiences he has learned how to inspire others to welcome fresh perspectives, and to grow and prosper in the midst of change.

In a recent interview, he discussed his ideas around Cultural Transformation and shared his vision of a roadmap to get there.

"To me, Cultural Transformation should more appropriately be called 'Cultural Adjustment of the Forest Service'," said Rains. He said the Forest Service is not in need of an overhaul, which the word transformation implies.

Reaching Cultural Adjustment is not a single or straight path. Rains said we must first understand the "logic sequence" of critical factors and how they are connected; then make systematic, sustainable adjustments over time. Fundamentally, Cultural Adjustment does not simply equate to changing hiring practices that improve the short-term diversity of the workforce.

"The Forest Service is one of the greatest organizations in the world, no doubt. But with the complexities associated with a changing America, including a more dominant role in urban natural resource stewardship, we do need to adjust how we look, behave and respond to contemporary issues of the 21st century, so we can better care for the land and serve people, where they live," said Rains.

The logic sequence in Cultural Adjustment involves factors of inclusiveness, unconscious bias, workforce diversity and agency hiring practices, according to Rains. It creates a road map or a 'hierarchical scale' that identifies what is important and what is meant by Cultural Adjustment.

The Corporation----ąThe Mission----ąCultural Transformation--ąInclusion--ąUnconscious Bias----ąWorkforce Diversity--ąHiring Practices.

In this hierarchical scale, inclusion and diversity are highlighted because they are the cornerstones in adjustments that will enable the Forest Service to better address contemporary conservation issues of the 21st century.

The scale shows that everything is connected and some of the connections are more dominant than others. It also demonstrates that inclusion is much more important to adjusting the agency's culture than Hiring Practices, according to Rains. A diverse workforce may not equate to an inclusive work environment but the Corporation will never achieve diversity in race, gender and culture without a belief system that welcomes all -- inclusion.

A critical feature in creating an inclusive work environment, and thus a sustainable diverse workforce, is unconscious bias. Rains refers to this as "hidden inclination to influence". According to Rains, not addressing the biases that get in our way of contemporary actions shall halt inclusion in its tracks.

Rains said that the three most important decisions to make are:

•Agreeing on the "Hierarchical Scale" which includes parts and pieces that go into Cultural Adjustment;

•Being patient and not disappointed when progress seems slow.

•Setting some reasonable tactics in place to create an inclusive work environment that will attract and sustain a diverse workforce.

"Cultural Adjustment is here to stay because it has always been with us," said Rains. "Adjusting our culture, the way we think, act and ensuring we have a proper skill set in our workforce, is essential if we are to remain progressive and the best."

Leslie Waldon’s vision of Cultural Transformation

As Deputy Chief of the National Forest System Leslie Weldon has a great understanding of what it means to nurture a work culture that creates opportunities for Cultural Transformation. Her job is to oversee projects and programs for 155 national forests and 20 grasslands across the country.

“The Forest Service has been going through constant changes and adaptations. We will continue to go through these changes,” said Weldon, an inspiring leader with more than 30 years of service in the agency.

“Our folks are people who are highly motivated and committed and want solutions. This gives me a lot of energy in being part of the Forest Service organization which has people aimed at being successful as we face challenges ahead,” she said.

Weldon is helping others to start talking about Cultural Transformation, have a common agency understanding of its importance and excel at achieving success with this goal.

She said that it is important to take a hard look at the agency’s mission through the lens of Cultural Transformation.

“Part of this has to do with ensuring that in 2012 and in 2032 we are doing our work in ways that are really aligning with how the bulk of citizens currently value and understand the role of natural landscapes and national forests in their own lives,” she said.

“We have evolved from a time frame in our early Forest Service history where the bulk of our communities that we served were rural,” said Weldon. “Today so many more of the people that we serve are in urban areas and live lives that are less connected to public lands and forests.”

Today’s Cultural Transformation efforts are a foundation to help connect people to the agency and to nurture and create conservation support long-term.

There is a need to gain these various experiences inside the Forest Service and to meet the future diverse needs, demands and desires of a wide variety of people through our nation’s forests and grasslands.

Another important part of Cultural Transformation is creating opportunities to evaluate the Forest Service’s way of doing business. Leaders can learn as much as they can by evaluating and examining how well the Forest Service truly understands the citizens they are serving and then adjusting the agency’s program and activities to reach the citizens and to grow.

An important piece of transformation is the opportunity to achieve an organization that is inclusive and high performing as a result of the agency’s efforts. Being inclusive means more than being multi-cultural and having a breadth of diversity within the Forest Service.

“We want and need to be truly inclusive of the people we work with and should know the role that unconscious bias can play in our personal and professional interactions,” said Weldon.

Unconscious bias is when people have and maintain certain preferences and are unaware that they have such biases. Becoming aware of unconscious biases will help individuals open their perspectives to think about what it means for the Forest Service to be an inclusive organization.

“We can change the “unconscious limitations” we all have and continue to open ourselves to the experiences, knowledge, creativity and perspective that every individual can bring,” said Weldon.

In the long-term, Cultural Transformation for the Forest Service is about embracing what we do well and developing ways to keep evolving and growing.

Everyone has a role in creating an inclusive and high performing organization by taking opportunities to learn and grow, treating each other with respect, being accountable for our own actions, and taking on the personal responsibility to do our best.
6/16 Moving the hotlist:

The problem with access to the Hotlist should be resolved or will resolve soon.

There was a problem with the redirect due to a server error. It's been corrected and wlfhotlist.com is propagating through the ethers. All of the big servers like google, att and earthlink have picked up the change and work now.

wlfhotlist.com should get you there. Welcome back all you folks having withdrawal symptoms!


6/15 Always Remember

One of the boys showed me this video on youtube "Domingo Ayala Hitting a Home Run". First of all it is funny as hell.
Second, it inspired me to do something because as Firefighters it is what we all say and do. "Go Home"

This is what you have to do to get it full circle. First watch the youtube video. www.youtube.com/

Classic right? The closing words at 2:33 of the video are "Now it's important when you hit home plate, to pay your respect. Cuz, after all it's God given".

While walking off the line the other day it hit me. I need a home plate door mat!! Check it out. Amazon. Waterhog-Home-Plate-Entry-Door-Mat

Now you know what I'm talking about after you "pop the chain". And, after the 14 day'er when you come home to hit home plate. It's important to pay your respect. After all, it's God given.

Stay safe out there!


6/15 NFFE NEWS BRIEF: JUNE 9-15, 2012

If you would like to help seasonal firefighters have the opportunity to receive a health benefit option, click on the www.change.org link, type in seasonal wildland firefighters on the homepage, and sign the petition.

AB, if this hasn’t made the rounds on Theysaid, could you please throw it up there? Thanks.

Brad Widhalm
NFFE/IAM Local 376 Steward


Subject: NFFE NEWS BRIEF: JUNE 9-15, 201

Want to Get the Latest Union News & Updates in Your Inbox? Get NFFE E-News!
Connect With Us: NFFE Website I Facebook I Twitter
(Do not forward from a government computer.)


As Wildfires Rage Out West, One Firefighter's Crusade for Health Benefits Becomes a Viral Sensation - 50,000 Signatures and Counting
June 15, 2012
It is said that one must never doubt that a small group of committed individuals can change the world. Too often however, the phrase rings as a hollow platitude. But this week one federal firefighter, fed up with his coworkers' lack of health care, threw conventional wisdom out the window, sparking a viral sensation in the process. On his own volition, NFFE-IAM member John Lauer started a petition on www.change.org asking friends, family, and coworkers to join his cause. After swiftly adding several hundred signatures, the petition then went viral across the web, gaining an additional 50,000 signatures in the next 24 hours. (Full Release l Sign the Petition)


House of Representatives Votes to Freeze Their Own Pay Through 2013
June 11, 2012
In a surprising move last week, the House of Representatives voted to freeze their own pay through 2013. The vote came after two years of non-stop efforts to freeze federal pay and cut benefits, culminating in a two-year pay freeze and a hefty increase in pension contributions for new hires. Just last week in fact, Congress attached a federal pay freeze extension to two separate pieces of legislation, the first dealing with student loan interest rates and the latter authorizing budget appropriations. Nonetheless, the self-imposed freeze will come as a welcome surprise to the millions of federal employees who are sick and tired of being singled out for sacrifice. (Full Article)


Federal Times, 6/15/12
Firefighter's petition for health benefits goes viral

6/15 Thanks for the emails about the hotlist.

Different people can't get on the new hotlist forum at different times.

You can try

This afternoon I couldn't get any of the urls to work. Mine worked great yesterday when others' didn't. Mine now is working again. 670 people were logged on.

At one point, Steve (Original Ab) couldn't get on and only half the mods could. Most have since gotten on the hotlist.

We have our web consultant working on it. Thanks for you patience.


6/14 To out in the cold...

I should be in Boise as I write this, as promised to Vicki to attend the memorial this evening but I woke up...how else is there to say this...puking my guts out. It is now 6:00pm Idaho time, roughly 10 hours later than normal on getting on the computer. So, enough of my woes.

I appreciate your comments but I want everyone to know that for those in the grades inclusive of NFFE's bargaining unit, I believe up to GS 9 in some cases, joining the FWFSA shouldn't be to offset one's frustrations with the Union, it should be to compliment their participation with the Union.

There is no doubt the current economic crisis in this country may cause folks to consider an "either/or" option for example whether to be a union member or an FWFSA member. The FWFSA certainly has not been immune to the loss of members because of economic realities. However the reality is this: the Union can accomplish things the FWFSA can't and the FWFSA can do some things the Union can't. If the two organizations work together I'm confident we could achieve a lot of good for the federal wildland firefighting community.

Folks also have to take into consideration the fact that while the FWFSA has the luxury of working exclusively on behalf of federal wildland firefighters, NFFE must represent a stunning array of occupations. It is just not practical for it to focus exclusively on firefighters. That said, it is certainly my hope that we start seeing more NFFE stewards who are firefighters so they can be well-versed in firefighter issues which often times are unique to their occupation.

I've been honored to know Mark Davis and wish I could work with him more often. Now that he is the Union's Forest Service Council President, he no longer takes the lead in legislative issues for the Union which is very disappointing to me. Candidly, if a member of the Union isn't happy with their local representation... run for office.

It is my hope that NFFE will consider working with the FWFSA on issues such as benefits for seasonals as well as classification and hazard pay on prescribed burns. It must be noted that the FWFSA has already had legislation introduced in Congress on both issues so while supporting a petition is great, after years of recognizing the Agencies will not make such reforms on their own, legislation might be the only way to go. A "team effort" between NFFE and the FWFSA will go much farther than individual efforts.

There is obviously still much ambiguity with the survey and I am hopeful to hear some info tomorrow. OK, back to bed...


Thanks, Casey. Rest up. Ab.

6/14 Whats the big deal with this survey thing...

I got a way to shut them up, just boycott the survey. I already know
quite a few FS employees who will not be doing this survey. I don't know
how many people work for the USFS but if they see that only a small
percentage participated they may eventually get a clue!

Sign me: Bigshow

6/14 Insurance for temps petition, EVS, etc


Thanks for your contributions on firefighters' behalf, including looking into the Survey problems. These issues are not of your making.

The conclusions that can be drawn from the survey this time will need to be very closely scrutinized to make sure surveyors clearly state that Forest Service Seasonals and Permanent PROFESSIONAL, CAREER Part Time, as well as a number of Permanent PROFESSIONAL, CAREER Full Time fire personnel were excluded. Not having their input also skews the CONCLUSIONS that could have been drawn, and potentially, the future direction of the Forest Service if Line acts on the suggestions and viewpoints. It certainly impacts FS firefighter morale, but clearly FS morale will look to be improved because they are excluded. Ab.

6/14 Insurance for temps petition, EVS, etc

A few items:

NFFE is encouraging all federal workers to sign a petition in support of extending health insurance benefits to seasonal wildland firefighters. See www.nffe.org/ht/display/ArticleDetails/i/57712. This is a strategic effort that came together this week, involving one firefighter who got involved on his own and us reaching out to him and change.org to work together. The timing is perfect – we’ve been working on benefits for temporary employees for years and had previously scheduled a meeting with OPM to discuss it this week. Journey of a thousand miles, but we keep putting on foot in front of the other.

I’ve discussed the Employee Viewpoint Survey with OPM already and will do so again. I didn’t speak with a big shot, but just one of the federal employees working in the office doing the survey. She said that seasonal employees got excluded in the survey design because there was no way to know when they were on the roles. It was not an intentional slight, but happened because not knowing this would skew the response rate data. Apparently this is an important piece in the survey business. I expressed concern that a substantial and critical percentage – some would say the backbone – of the Forest Service workforce was missing out on the opportunity to be heard. While it is too late to address the issue this year, the person I spoke with agreed that OPM should work with NFFE-FSC, agency, and Department leaders to include seasonal workers in the next survey.

Out in the Cold: no one from Region 6 contacted me about not getting a grievance filed. Maybe you meant the Local President? If you want to contact me off-line, I can look into it. It could be there wasn’t a violation, could be that the Local official wasn’t on the ball. I don’t have a stick to bang Local officials with (Locals are my boss, not the other way around), but I can talk to the Council Vice-Presidents and see what can be done to assist that Local. I’m in the book.

Mark Davis, President
NFFE Forest Service Council

6/14 To: Identity Crisis, Declining FS Morale, Seasonal doing hard time, etc.

Looks like the (employee groups with higher priority / status) in the October 2011 CPDF was used for the OPM contract request. The agency award ($$) was based on the contractor's bid for the work required to crunch the survey data from people on the list. The contractor will not accept people not on the list, as they won't get paid for the extra people (unless there is a modification, which costs big $$, and won't happen). "Maybe" the FEVS team will let you participate next time.

So what do you think?
* Strongly Agree
* Agree
* Neutral
* Disagree
* Strongly Disagree

Sorry, no place to actually comment.

(old curmudgeon DFMO ret.)
6/14 Re: Employee Survey...or lack thereof...

Good Morning XXX,

Thank you for your interest in the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.

Only full-time and part-time permanent (non political) employees on board with their agency as of October 2011 were included in the survey. The FEVS uses the October 2011 Central Personnel Data File (CPDF) as the basis for sending out surveys. In the October 2011 CPDF you are coded as a full time seasonal employee. Unfortunately, because you are coded as a seasonal employee we are unable to provide you with a survey at this time.

Thank you again for your interest in the FEVS,

The FEVS Team

I had originally received an email from the Chief on 4/11 stating that I should look for the survey to be sent to me in the following days. After a couple of weeks, I called the contact # and asked why I had not received it. I was told that it was because I am a Permanent Seasonal Employee... which I am not. I informed the lady (who was very polite) that I have been a Permanent Full Time 26-0 Employee for a number of years. She said she would look into it and see if it could be straightened out by the folks who do the "coding". I only received the email above with no further correspondence or contact numbers...

I understand that mistakes happen, however, if something of this minor nature can not (or will not?) be rectified easily, then this survey is most definitely flawed and portrays itself as a representative to latent agency failure...

The survey title..."Employees influencing Change"...


Sign me:

Identity Crisis

6/14 Cancelled: Skyping the Memorial Services for Todd Tompkins and Ronnie Chambless, the aircrew of Tanker 11

I got a message from Tom that his laptop has taken a dive and he can't get it to work.

Thus he won't be doing the live service. He sends his apologies.

Ah well, stuff happens!


Always Remember aerial firefighters: Todd and Ron - Tanker 11

6/14 Service for Anthony Polk, Engine Boss who died in the Engine accident in Arizona

Services will be held

  • at the Yuma Mortuary
  • tomorrow, Friday June 15, at 3:00pm.,
  • officiated by Father Monahan.

Quechan Tribal Rites will follow at the Quechan Big House.
In his honor a run will follow the services from Yuma Mortuary to the Quechan Big House. All runners are welcome to participate.
A fund for donations has been set up at AEA Federal Credit Union under Ramona Villa! Anthony Polk.

More info at Obituary Page and Guest Book

Hat tip to Dan for the info. Ab.

Always Remember firefighter: Anthony Polk

6/14 Don't forget the Memorial service for the Todd and Ron (Tanker 11) this evening. Ab.

Memorial to celebrate the lives of Todd Tompkins and Ron Chambless
Thursday June 14, 2012 at 7 PM
Linen Building 1402 W. Grove St, Boise ID
for map www.thelinenbuilding.com/

Scroll down to #todd-ron for more details.

6/14 Good luck Abs,

This is another demonstration of your individual dedication to all of us out here. As you grow we do too. Thank you for your hard work and help to all of us out in the nation.

6/14 The Wildlandfire.com website and the Hotlist Forums will be undergoing a major upgrade process along with moving to a new server.

To keep the Hotlist Forums up and running as efficiently as possible, the forums will be moved first to a new temporary website. Once the forums are functioning and stable, we'll work on migrating the rest of the website.

Updating and moving the hotlist forum may result in the forums being offline for up to 48 hours. The last trial run took around 12 hours to complete, so we're hoping to match or beat that time frame. The process began early this morning. As soon as the new site is running, we'll post the new site name and location here.

We understand the timing of this big change is poor to say the least. Our original plan was to have the new site up and running by April 1st, but it didn't work out. We apologize for the inconvenience, but we are looking forward to the new features and capabilities of the upgrade.

While we've tried to mitigate how the move will impact our audience and members, there is the potential for unforeseen consequences. We'll keep you up to date via this thread as we progress along. Please report any unusual or error type activity after the move on the Hotlist under Help Questions and answers.

The Abs.

6/14 R9 Captain,

Yes, this identical situation has happened to folks in R6. Rest assured (or very concerned) that you are not alone - because you are not.

Union officials (and I mean plural) told us that they would not file a grievance because it would not do any good. In the case of one line officer who was not enforcing the mandatory notification of PSEs of their start dates, it took going to a congress person before anything was done, and even then it was like pulling teeth. In another situation we were simply told that until there was a change in leadership our grievance, although a safety issue related to fire response capabilities, was not worth pursuing.

We tried contacting people within the union all the way up to the president of the union. We received no responses. It has become a standing joke among us. Word of it has spread to two adjacent forests and unfortunately the result has been that at least 17 people have stopped paying their dues - and by the way the form you need to submit to stop payments of union dues if you are paying them is the SF-1188.

Incidentally, when I brought it up here on wildlandfire there were some people who didn't exactly take kindly to my frustrations with the inaction of the NFFE. One person offered to help, however when I contacted the person it sort of fizzled out. I'm sure this union person, in fire, meant well.

And I don't take this lightly, it hurts to not have strong union backing. However at some point customer service comes in to play. How long should someone pay for this sort of customer service. I come from a background of almost 25 years of involvement as a union rep in education and I can't even begin to tell you how many times my union supervisor reminded us to respond immediately and to assist in developing a plan with our members. Because although we think we might not be able to help initially, as all of us in education and fire know, if you re-examine a problem from different angles, bring in additional minds, give it some time... you often come up with solutions. As we were always told, "Never say never."

So, I would like to be able to offer some words of encouragement. I'd love to tell you that you'll get a letter of support from the union president, etc. But experience has shown me differently. So I won't offer you any excuses (and I've been offered lots of them with regards to the union) or provide you with a magic solution.

One way to partially offset this disappointment might be to join the FWFSA... Sorry, shameless plug, but seriously, it's a partial solution, even though the FWFSA doesn't fight for all of the same things, there is some overlap.

Good luck.

Out in the Cold
6/14 Seasonal Employee,

At least you received a response from ASC, I never did. But then I only emailed them three times.

I think the appropriate response from them (FS-ASC) might have been to verify the error with OPM.

I wonder if we should design and submit our own survey? Submit it to the media as well as certain congressionals and senators...

My very weak morale has taken another very big hit. And I can see the same among the 16 people in our office (ALL FTP employees) who didn't receive it plus those of us who are PSEs that also didn't receive the survey.

One of the main issues I am bringing up with the Senatorial aides when I speak with them is the poor service being received from ASC. Believe it or not, that gets their attention more than anything.

I would encourage you to send your situation to Mary Gautreaux at Senator Wyden's office to let her know what has gone on with you.

mary_gautreaux @ wyden .senate .gov (get rid of spaces)

signed: Declining Morale in the FS
6/13 An update from ~"Seasonal Employee," serving hard, hard, hard Permanent Time~

A bummer that even though I spend more hours working as a permanent employee for the Forest Service than many part-time permanents, my voice, my perspective and those of other employees like me, are deemed not important by this kind of exclusion. Kudos to the Agency on "including a larger segment of our population," but excluding the important voices in one of the largest field of workers in the Agency. Awesome, great job USDA & OPM [yes, that is extreme sarcasm you are picking up]. I am so happy to work for an Agency that can't even keep employment files straight...

THE NOTE FROM FS-HRM regarding my concern over the employee survey:

"The Office of Personnel Management invited all permanent employees on a full-time or part-time work schedule to participate in the survey. For this year’s survey, permanent employees on a seasonal work schedule were not invited to participate. In the past, only a handful – fewer than 3000 – of our Forest Service employees were included in the survey. This year, we were able to influence the inclusion of a much larger segment of our population. We will continue to work with USDA and OPM to influence the inclusion of all of our permanent employees, regardless of work schedule for future surveys.

If your records currently reflect that you are a permanent employee on a seasonal work schedule, then you are not part of the current pool of employees that OPM invited to participate in the survey. If I read your email correctly, you believe there may be an error in your records. If so, it is likely that you were not invited to participate this year as a result of this error. Unfortunately, it is probably too late for us to review your records and make any necessary corrections and then have OPM invite you into the survey process at this point. However, I encourage you to continue to work through the process of getting your records corrected so that this does not happen again when the next survey is administered.

I can assure you that there is no intent on the part of the Forest Service to skew the results of the survey. We value and encourage the input of all of those employees who were invited to participate in this process. The criteria for inclusion was established by the Office of Personnel Management for all federal employee participation. This criteria was not established by USDA or the Forest Service.

I understand your frustration and hope that in the future, if given the opportunity to provide input, that you will take advantage of that opportunity. "

6/13 Response to Casey and All:

Let me start by saying that I am a federal firefighter's wife and appreciate the fact that the agency is underfunded and our firefighters underpaid.

I agree that we do need job creation on every level in our country. We do need more firefighters and law enforcement. However we need to be able to fully fund those resources by cutting wasteful spending instead of using scare tactics and making the public afraid that their homes are going to burn to the ground if we don't raise taxes to create more federal and state jobs.

Pure and simple, our government has made some extremely poor fiscal choices (both sides) that has caused this mess and I really appreciate those who are fighting to clean it up. Thanks Casey for all you do!


6/13 Tri-Sac (yactak),

I recognize the point you are trying to make, but we both know the federal government does employ thousands of wildland firefighters. Just because our government plays games with job titles doesn't minimize the benefits our society enjoys as a result of the extraordinary efforts of federal wildland firefighters. Like many other federal firefighters, I fight wildland fires and I am in a firefighter retirement position, which is at least one form of confirmation that federal firefighters do exist. I also feel it is unfortunate that agencies like the Forest Service love to boast about their firefighting capability while deliberately avoiding having to acknowledge what we really do or having to provide the benefits that would result from that acknowledgment.


Yes, it is taxpayers, at the federal, state, county, or city level, who have to foot the bill for teachers, policemen, and firefighters. You have a firm grasp of the obvious. Based on his recent statements, it is not apparent that Mitt Romney also understands that basic fact .

Misery Whip
6/13 Airtanker contracts awarded



6/13 Engines

Are there any strike teams of engines from North Ops out on assignments yet?

6/13 Tanker 11

NTSB preliminary briefing is online.

The link was added to the Always Remember page for Tanker 11.

6/13 Retirement:

Judy Okulitch, Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal’s Youth Fire Prevention and Intervention Program Coordinator, will be retiring on June 30, 2012, after 22 years of service to the citizens of the State of Oregon.

Attached is your invitation to join with us in honoring Judy as she takes on a “new direction” in her life. A celebration of her journey will be held from 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. on Friday, June 29, 2012 at the Office the State Fire Marshal in Salem, OR. For anyone wishing to make a presentation, please contact Krista Fischer at 503-934-8280 or email Krista.Fischer@ nospam state.or.us so we may include you in the program.

We understand many of you are located long distances away and are unable to attend. For those who can, we hope you plan to attend to wish Judy well as she sets off on new and exciting endeavors in her retirement.

For those of you wishing to send her greetings, best wishes, whether you can attend or not, please forward your notes, cards, emails, video greetings (made by phone or video camera), photos, stories or thoughts you would like to share, direct to me at: Krista.Fischer@ nospam state.or.us or mail them (address below) to my attention at the Office of State Fire Marshal by Monday, June 25, 2012, so we may include them in her celebration and memory book.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP to me at Krista.Fischer@ nospam state.or.us by June 25, 2012

Thank you.


6/13 To Christina S.

I surmise this thread could go in a completely different direction with discussions on politics, fiscal policies etc. I appreciate that we apparently agree on most things and maybe we're talking semantics here with regards to Gov. Romney's comments.

I absolutely agree that it is money from the taxpayers which is used to pay for said services, programs etc. However it is the Federal Government, inclusive of Congress and the Administration that has the authority to make the laws and regulations that 1) tell us how many of those tax dollars we must remit to it each year and 2) how those tax dollars are allocated. Of course Congress is tasked with authorizing & appropriating those dollars to federal agencies as well as to states and other entities through programs and grants.

However tax dollars are not the only source of revenue for the Federal Government. As you likely know one of the most contentious debates during this election year is not only what the government spends those tax dollars on but also how much. The debate includes the fact that stunning amounts of money are borrowed from countries all around the world.

It is a fact that many state & local government firefighters and law enforcement officers are on the payroll because of grants and programs administered by the federal government. A candidate for the highest office in the land should know that. It is a fact that these same programs and grants provide for the equipment used by these public safety officers. The debate over whether this expenditure by the federal government should continue or stop will no doubt rage through eternity.

Perhaps the Gov. was trying to suggest he is not in favor of continuing such payments but they do in fact exist. Candidly I likely misconstrued his statement thinking instead he was implying that the federal government doesn't employ and thus doesn't pay for federal firefighters, police officers etc.

While not trying to offer a partisan assessment of all this I find the double standards from both sides of the aisle during this election year to be nauseating. One the one hand you have Romney stating that he wants to create jobs then on the other hand he says he wants to cut the size of government which would mean ??? Cutting federal jobs. Thus federal employees would simply take the place in the unemployment line of the new hires in the private sector.

Not all states are created equal. Some suggest everything should be given to the states to deal with. So how does a less populated state (and thus with a lower tax base) like Idaho provide the same levels of education and services as a state with a significantly larger tax base?

How does a state like Idaho and its lower tax base compete to attract teachers, firefighters and police officers with states that have a significantly larger tax base without assistance from the federal government? It is the responsibility of the Federal Government not only to provide services to its taxpayers but to return some of that money to the states so that some of your tax dollars can be reinvested in your own state & community. How that is done equitably and intelligently is the million dollar question. Sadly it is issues like this that have divided this country and which have been exacerbated by the 2-party political system.

What I am most fascinated about are those that want the federal government out of their lives... to be less intrusive... until something goes wrong like a natural disaster in one's community and then the same folks who don't want the federal government in their lives, are the first in line to collect a government check and/or to complain and criticize about the federal government's response to said disaster not being fast enough or big enough. You can't have it both ways. Sorry AB and Christina I got off tangent. This political session has driven me absolutely batty.

6/13 Romney's Remarks

Ab- Just a thought........

Lets look at the context of Romney’s remarks.

It would appear that he was responding to Obama’s statement referring to hiring more police and firefighters at the local City and County level. I don’t think he was slighting Wildland Firefighters. I doubt that Obama had even considered Wildland firefighters at all.

It is an unfortunate fact that Wildland Firefighters are not on either candidates radar. Both share equal blame. Not just Romney.


3rd paragraph: In your opinion... not a "fact" about radar. Ab.

6/13 Re: Romney stated that " the federal government doesn't pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen."

In regards to Romney's comment on Fox, at least for "firefighters", it's sad but true, the Federal Government pays for Range Techs and Forest Techs. We are only considered Firefighters when we die on the job, and even then, it's not considered in the line of duty, it's viewed as a bad accident and someone or some manager is at fault.

God bless Vicki Minor and the entire Wildland Firefighting Foundation, and all those who support it, for reminding the Federal Government who we are, what we do and the sacrifices that are put forth year in and year out. Where would we be with out you?


6/13 I don't disagree with Casey in many cases but in this one I do.

Romney was just pointing out fact. While the Federal Government facilitates the hiring and paying of firefighters, it is the taxpayer who actually pays for them, not the government. In fact, our government does not pay for anything. All cost of running and paying for services provided at the federal and state level are paid by the taxpayer.

Sadly too many people in our country do not understand how things work and think our government is an unlimited resource for jobs and services.

Christina S.

<snipped rest of identifying info; if you really want Ab to include it, please let us know>

6/12 Union Rep wouldn't file grievance:

Has anybody else out there on a union forest had their steward tell them that the union won't file a grievance because it won't do any good? I tired to file one and my steward not only told me he wouldn't file it because it wouldn't do any good, but he called me at 7:30 at night at my home on my day off to tell me and that the next day was day 30, so if I wanted to do anything different I would have to do it then, but that he wouldn't be around because he was going on days off. I emailed the steward on the neighboring district and he has not replied to me.

Anybody else experience this or have any advice on where to take it now?

R9 Captain

6/12 More regarding the employee survey and Presidential Candidate makes a disrespectful, ignorant comment:

With regards to the post about the OPM Director and changes to the Federal Employee Survey, I will tell you that there is substantially more to this story than what is being reported.

At least one US Senator has spoken to OPM Director Berry about the exclusion of certain segments of the federal workforce from being able to participate in the survey. This follows Director Berry's receipt of several lengthy letters today from the wildland firefighting community. One letter asked for additional time for those on fire assignments to complete the survey. More to follow.

Sadly, on Fox & Friends this morning Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney stated that " the federal government doesn't pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen." The FWFSA has sent out a press release and has invited Mr. Romney to cut some line with some of you in New Mexico or Colorado or other appropriate locale. It might be a good thing for a presidential nominee to know what services the federal government provides to its citizens. Of course, maybe his reference to the federal government not paying for firefighters was a reference to the low pay all of you receive. Perhaps wishful thinking.

To those who have helped to enlighten others (Congress and Administration personnel) recently about the employee survey; the historic use of tax dollars to ask the same questions to get the same answers to problems and issues the Agencies will continue to ignore, it is my hope that the response received from those in Washington today will prove once again that persistence is the key.


Nice on the invitation! Ab.

6/12 Todd and Ron's Memorial Service

Just got a call from Vicki.

She and Eric Hipke made up the flyer for Todd and Ron's Memorial Service on Thursday. She said to let everyone know they didn't know how to spell hors d'œuvre (or appetizers?) so they settled for "Snacks and Bar". As always when I talk with her, we ended up laughing even though it's about a sad situation. Give me a Vicki Minor experience any day.

FLYER for the ceremony and apparatus processional...

Oh yeah, they also had trouble with the spelling of Larry Zajanc's name. Larry is Monica's dad and he will lead the memorial.


6/12 Resolution to Advertising Forest Service Positions

FS Correspondence on Advertising FS Positions (55 K doc)
Article 16 of the Master Agreement (9 K doc)
Settlement Agreement Article16 Grievance Final (116 K pdf)

6/12 Re Survey:

from Fedmanager.com:

OPM changes annual employee viewpoint survey to help agencies make budget decisions

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has changed its annual Employee Viewpoint Survey to better solicit feedback from federal employees, OPM Director John Berry said last week.

The survey will now go out to all federal workers, Berry said. Previously, only about a third of federal employees were permitted to participate in the survey.

"If a manager asks his employees how things are going, obviously, the answer is probably, 'Great!'" Berry said. "But the employee, given that opportunity to give an answer to an anonymous survey, might give a completely different answer. And that's the answer we want. We want the honest answer."

6/12 Drug Free Workplace Training - Due by this Friday, June 15


This could be critical for a lot of us in fire. Apparently it was supposed to go out to all FS employees, well... only about 1/3 of our permanent staff received it and obviously none of our folks on fires received it. And to complicate things (if that's even possible with this agency), as you can see below, "this training is not listed on your AgLearn required trainings; you have to search for it under Catalog Search." I thought that perhaps you could get the word out to people.

Keeping Tabs on the agency that doesn't always seem to be supporting us.


This is a reminder to all employees, including temporary employees, about this required training. Two things – this training is not listed on your AgLearn required trainings; you have to search for it under Catalog Search and unfortunately, it isn’t an intuitive training and you have to click on each of the modules before you can get to the Testing portion. You will need a 70% or better to pass and you will have to fill out the survey before your score will register. Supervisors need to take at least two of the trainings, possibly more if you have employees who have CDL’s.

Date: February 1, 2012
Subject: Clarification of Drug Free Workplace Training Memorandum Dated July 29, 2011
To: All Forest Service Employees

Training Must Be Completed By: June 15, 2012

This letter serves to clarify important information previously shared with all Forest Service employees regarding the mandatory Drug Free Workplace (DFWP) training letter dated July 29, 2011. DFWP training modules have been created and are now available in AgLearn. The appropriate training modules Forest Service employees must complete will vary based on Test Designated Positions (TDP) and designations. As communicated previously, the DFWP training is mandatory and is recurring on an annual basis. Forest Service employees are expected to complete the mandatory training by June 15, 2012. Please note that due to technical issues the training modules will not be pre-populated into the employee’s AgLearn accounts. Outlined below are the training modules and the respective employee groups required to complete the training:

Module  Employee Group
6170 FS National General Overview of the Drug Free Workplace Program

6170 FS National DFWP Department of Transportation (DOT) Testing

6170 FS National DFWP Executive Order (EO) 12564 Testing

6170 FS National DFWP Supervisory Responsibilities

6170 FS National DFWP Supervisory Responsibilities for Reasonable Suspicion & Post Accident Testing

All FS Employees--

Employees in DOT TDPs requiring a Commercial Drivers License (CDL)
Supervisors of Employees in CDL TDPs--

Employees in EO TDPs (Law Enforcement Officers and Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center employees)
Supervisors of Employees in EO TDPs--

All Supervisors of Employees in TDPs (DOT & EO)--

All Supervisors--

Each course module can be located in AgLearn via a Simple Catalog search. Type the course description as described above. Note that two versions of each module will be found in the catalog. The first is the standard version, while the second complies with requirements under the 508 compliance mandate for the Americans with Disabilities Act. AgLearn has modified the training script to allow employees to choose which set of modules to complete. This option will appear prior to employees beginning the course.

6/12 Centralized Fire / Alternative Federal Fire


The Alaska Fire Service is an interesting example of a fire centric organization that works within the parameters of multiple land management agencies and the military. It is not perfect, but it is a different system within Federal wildland fire management that deals with Rx fire and suppression. Check it out, http://fire.ak.blm.gov/afs/.

Jack Leg

6/12 Re: Centralized fire


If Fire and Aviation within the land management agencies stay within their respective agencies, FS, BLM, NPS, BIA... The model for centralized fire is there. As I posted earlier, and others have mentioned, Forests in R5 were centralized in the 90's. The model is there. It worked. We were still land management employees.

Lets talk the fuels shop.. Fuels and fire are married to each other. One of the best ways to "learn" fire suppression is to plan, manage and implement Rx burns. The expertise and safety mindfulness to conduct Rx burns and projects lies within the Fire shop. Many forests have removed fuels from the fire shops, a ludicrous idea. All about money to fund non fire positions. Does the fire shop need to work with the biologists during the planning and implementation phase of Rx burns or fuels projects?? Why of course! We know that.. but Fire needs to have the funding and lead.

Do I think that centralizing fire today within the land management agencies will accomplish the goal of a strong, safe, efficient Fire and Aviation branch? .. not only NO but HECK NO!! Times have changed.. The FS especially has proven to me time and time again that it cannot make decisions that keep Fire and Aviation funded and functioning at a professional, safe and efficient level.

What I see is this:
Lets take an E-41 on the LPF. The "new" logo / patch / letterhead would read: Engine 41, Federal Fire Administration, hosted by the Los Padres National Forest, USFS.

Now you can take that Federal Fire Administration and plug in any agency or department where you place Fire and Aviation such as Homeland Security, etc... So infrastructure with dispatching, stations, etc would still be there.. the big changes would be the realignment of the management flow chart to reflect the new leadership and funds distribution to the new organization.

Fuels can either be contracted to the newly aligned organization on a case by case basis or given completely to the new organization. In either case, working with the local land management agencies would still have to be the norm in the planning and implementation phase of Rx burns and projects.

The simple fact is that the Fire and Aviation organization would still have the labor force to complete projects for the hosting agencies, such as campground maintenance, trails, road brushing, etc... All on a "contract" basis.

6/11 Todd and Ron's Memorial Service

From Vicki Minor with a request to get this out far and wide.

Memorial to celebrate the lives of Todd Tompkins and Ron Chambless
Thursday June 14, 2012 at 7 PM
Linen Building 1402 W. Grove St, Boise ID
for map www.thelinenbuilding.com/

Larry Zajanc will lead the memorial.
Snacks and bar follow.

At 6 PM a procession of fire vehicles will be escorted by the Boise Police from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation 2049 Airport Way to the Linen Building. All are welcome. The procession coordinator is BLM Honor Guard member Dennis Strange (see flyer for contact info).

In lieu of flowers, the families request that people send a donation to the WFF in Todd's or Ron's name.

For details open and save the FLYER (828 K pdf). Please share with anyone who might be interested. (This info is also posted on their Always Remember page)

Thanks, Vicki.
Community, Thursday is coming soon. Please make your arrangements to attend. Ab.

6/11 OPM's policy on the employee survey:

Dear "still ashamed"

I'd suggest everyone seeking clarity (if that's even possible at this point) as to OPM's policy on the employee survey, fax your concerns to OPM Director Berry at 202-606-2573.

The number is valid. In fact it is the one I used to solicit...and receive, a meeting with a former Interim Director at OPM who didn't know the difference between a GS employee and a WG employee. I can't speak to the potential for reprisals or retribution but if you do take the time to go straight to the top, please do not use your government computer or fax machine.


6/11 OPM records

I’m glad to see that Fish01 went in and did the changes necessary to his life insurance policy. I know that some people don’t believe that someone wouldn’t change it when a marriage or divorce happens, but I have seen exactly this happen where an ex-wife got the benefits, not the current wife.

When I talk to the apprentices at the academy, I tell them that they should look over their beneficiary forms once a year to make sure that all the information is correct and current. I would strongly advise ALL Forest Service employees to do this also.

Thanks, Fish01, for bringing this to light!


6/11 OPM records

To: Seasonal Employee ( doing hard time).

I echo Fishtales importance of you keeping copies of you own employment records records. About 1/2 way thru my time, I got a look at my Records and it was a total mess. Took awhile to get the folder corrected. About a year from retirement, I took another look, an even then some of the previous stuff I thought had been purged was still in the folder. My Life Insurance was still dedicated to a girl friend of the 70's.!! Could have been a real issue if I had died, and my wife did not receive those benefits!


6/11 RE: FEV Survey

Although it is too late now, I think it is humorous how I have now received 9 emails from OPM, the USDA as well as my agency (USFS) reminding me to complete the survey...

However as a permanent employee with well over two decades of permanent employment I still am "not a permanent federal government employee" according to Kimya Lee (who you will talk to if you contact the help phone or email at OPM).

She did have a "good" point when she suggested that perhaps I was confusing a state government position with a federal position. Yeah, that's right, I must have been confused with who I work for.

And do you think she had an explanation for how it is that someone who is a full-time permanent federal employee didn't receive a survey? Could it be that there might be a glitch in a computer and human generated program??? Not according to her.

I have been in contact with a Senator's aide, but that has amounted to nothing productive. Nothing supportive. And frankly, a great deal of misunderstanding as to who we are and what we do.

I have sent emails to the "chief" which have resulted in no response. I have sent emails to various officials at the USDA which have also resulted in no responses. Hopefully there will be a change in our "leadership" soon. And hopefully some day someone will provide more than lip service when they say they are listening.

Now, with all of this being said, does anyone really expect us to take the Safety Journey seriously???

- Still ashamed and embarrassed
6/11 1970 Los Prietos Hot Shot crew

One of my retired USFS employee neighbors, Ray H was a member of that crew for several years. Give me a day or so and I’ll give him this message. He may be one of the sources of the information you are seeking.


6/11 Centralized Fire / Alternative Federal Fire

MS, yactac and others,

Could some of you come up with a flow chart of how a centralized or alternative fed fire agency could be used by the land management agencies to fulfill their mission which includes vegetation management? Fire is used as a "tool" for brush reduction, site preparation for reforestation, establishment and maintenance of certain grass species, etc. It's complicated.

As you know, in order to implement such Rx burning projects, the agencies must follow environmental laws and regulations in developing prescriptions for the use of fire, and must have the means to complete those projects.

I think it would serve advocates of a new "Fire Service" if they/we could present an outline or flow-chart of how Rx fire would be implemented from concept to execution, including specifics as to who would write the prescription, comply with NEPA documentation and budget/execute the project.

Has anyone thought through this process. If so, please share.

Once FS managers can see that centralized fire or a separate Fire Service is consistent with the FS mission, they may support it.


6/10 1970 Los Prietos Hot Shot crew

Does anyone have photos form the 1970 Los Prietos Hot Shot crew? I was on the crew that year and haven't been able to find a single piece of information nor any photos. Wally Acton was foreman that summer, and we had only a 16 person crew then. I found a crew photo from the 1967-1968 era, taken by Don Jon. Does anyone have contact with him? Would appreciate your help.

John Sangster
pcrcs@ nospam connectwireless.us
phone 208-507-1132

6/10 To: Seasonal Employee (serving hard permanent time)

I've been paroled (retired) from the FS for a few years now.
Since you have been in the lock-up for 10 years, you
shouldn't be surprised to find a "class system" inside the
FS and federal government.

The "parks & rec" line officers, as Yactak so eloquently states, tiers their priority ranking from the top in most everything they do. Starting with the PFT staff, then PFT program managers, then PFT "ologists" (gotta get that planning done), then PFT work leaders, then 18/8 - 13/13, finally ending with summer temp. seasonals. Who do you think gets funded first? Yep, same order - top down (even in the big picture: WO/RO/Forest/District). Who do you think gets cut (not hired for the summer) or held to their exact tours when the budget gets skinny? Yep, the folks at the bottom. That's just the way it is, unspoken or overtly.

Back to your issue. Now with this mindset, you are now a WO mucky-muck tasked with awarding a nationwide employee survey contract. You only have so much money (probably taken from another budget), so to keep the cost down you limit the scope of the contract to PFT employees.

You see, it has nothing to do with getting FS employee survey data that has any value, it's about money and someone getting their assignment done. It's as simple as that.

It's been several years now, but the "surveymonkey's" I completed back in the day were total BS. So don't think I am endorsing this waste of time, money, and rank/class employee discrimination. I'm not.

Finally, the best issue of your post highlights the disconnect between you, the FS, and OPM. It will become very, very important when you reach the end of your career to have all your records in order with both agencies. From your experience so far, can you trust them? Be sure to keep your own records. Every official document, SF-52, training, paycheck, etc., back up everything. Now file away all that administrative stuff and go out into the woods-brush-prairie and enjoy your career.

6/10 Reply to ~"Seasonal Employee," serving hard, hard, hard Permanent Time~

This is crazy what agency managers are doing with this and the disrespect they are showing this employee and others.
- R5 Focus Groups - Are you reading her post?
- Cultural Transformation Designers - Are you reading her post?

Yactac is right, we need to get away from a Line Officer dominated organization that is focused on re-engineering the Forest Service, instead of building a stronger Forest Service.

Anyone in DC or the RO notice how much smaller and smaller your non-fire budgets are getting. Anyone in DC or the RO notice what those budgets will look like next year? Fire Management - We are the Forest Service and the days of being treated like uneducated field technicians are coming to an end.

We are on the verge of something big happening. I can feel it, it's coming, and we will lead it!..

6/9 LODD

Anthony Polk, age 31 of Yuma, is the name of the firefighter who died when the engine rolled over yesterday on its way to the Montezuma Fire

Always Remember Anthony Polk

Our thoughts and prayers are with Anthony's family, coworkers and friends.
A second firefighter was injured more seriously than first thought and is back in the hospital. Good thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery for him.
Thanks to the WFF for helping with family and firefighter transport and lodging arrangements. Ab.

6/9 re: Employee Survey-



Try again!!!

Anyone coded as a "SEASONAL EMPLOYEE," in their OPM file as of October 2011 is not eligible to take the survey, per the survey facilitators.

[even if you are a permanent employee coded as a full time employee, working 26 pay periods out of the year]

I have been a permanent employee with the U.S. Forest Service (FIRE) for 10 years and in previous employee surveys have always been invited to participate.

When I didn't received any of the emails for this current employee survey, I made contact with the people who are facilitating the survey and expressed my concern over the fact I never received it and YES, I DID want to participate in the survey.

The first response I received from them was that I did not exist in the files as a federal employee, they couldn't find me under my maiden or married name in the OPM files.

[Funny considering I just received my certificate & 10 year lapel pin from the USDA USFS]

The second response I received from them was they finally found my OPM file and that as of OCTOBER 2011, I was listed as a "SEASONAL EMPLOYEE," therefore I was NOT ELIGIBLE to take the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. They went on to say that if this information was correct, I didn't have anything to worry about, that I simply wasn't eligible to take the survey...BUT if my OPM files were incorrect; they recommended I follow up and address that concern.

I responded to them citing that I have been a 26/0 Full time/Permanent employee for at least 5 years, 18/8 for sometime before that and 13/13 before that + seasonal time before that.

I still have not heard back from them regarding the survey (the last email I received was June 6th 2012).

It concerns me that between the Forest Service and OPM may not have files straight and they are basing this Employee Survey on "Permanent Full-time Employees," only and EMPLOYEES DEEMED " SEASONAL," ARE EXCLUDED FROM PARTICIPATING...[even if you are a permanent employee]!

I seriously feel that they do not want the real voice of Federal Employees expressed in this survey, the results will not reflect the voice of the workforce. I expressed to my contact for the survey that many other full time permanents I know and work with have NOT received the survey invitation and the survey results will not reflect what is really going on... it will have skewed results.

Holy heck, if I've been a permanent for as long as I have and they refuse to let me participate [even though all of my 52's and paperwork reflect my full time permanent status] what hope is there for anyone else?

I have a "Help Desk Ticket," open on the matter, to make sure the OPM files match my Forest Service employment file, but for some reason I get the feeling there will not be resolution in time for me to complete the survey.

It is "awesome," [insert sarcasm here] working for an Agency that after 10 years still doesn't get that I am a permanent employee working full time... Great job Forest Service, way to take care of your own! The "view point," you collect will not accurately reflect the genuine voice of Federal Employees.

If you are a permanent employee who has concerns over why you have not been invited to participate, there is a good chance that your OPM file doesn't accurately reflect your employment record with your Federal Agency and you too will need to "open a ticket," to make sure your OPM file isn't all dog-knotted up!

That's right...once again, you are going to have to serve more of your time on the computer as you momentarily gaze through the glass upon the people and land you used to serve.

Way to go Forest Service, OPM & the Federal Government, you are right... you're awesome to work for [insert sarcasm here]!

~"Seasonal Employee," serving hard, hard, hard Permanent Time~

Bold added by Ab: In the beginning of the post I substituted bold for all caps. (Also bolded the info in brackets.) Ab.

6/9 This also came in. Only extends the survey until next Tuesday and doesn't address the issues about inclusion of ALL PERMANENT POSITIONS. Ab.

Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey Deadline Extended to Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What you need to know

If you have received an email from Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regarding the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, you are encouraged to participate in this voluntary survey. This survey produces the rankings for the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government. Your feedback about the workplace is essential to understand how we are doing and where we need to focus efforts for improvement. Survey responses are voluntary and strictly confidential.

Towards the end of the survey, you will be asked: “Where do you work?”. Select NRE, and the survey will ask: “Within Natural Resources and Environment (NRE), where do you work?”. Select Forest Service (FS). If you have previously completed the survey and were unable to select Forest Service as your place of employment and would like to change your answer, here’s what you can do: Contact the 2012 OPM FEVS Help Center, either by telephone (1-855-676-3387) or by email ( EVAG@opm.gov ). Tell OPM you want them to clear your first survey responses and send you a new link to retake the survey, or that you want them to change your answer for you. They will need you to tell them the email address at which you received your survey invitation, to verify your identity as a survey recipient.

6/9 A door is about to open for the reorganization of fire management.

Yac, I can't agree with your comments more and Casey's analogy is so true. You're both absolutely correct.

We may need to take this a step at a time. It could be a long road to what "right" looks like. However, we may soon have an opening to get started down that road.

The anti-federal employee rhetoric we are hearing from a majority of elected officials in the House may not allow for significant organization realignments and creation of new departments. But we will get there.

Our biggest battle will come from within our ranks with those fire employees that are supportive and "comfortable" with the current traditional fire organization and not open to change. It's time to ask them to put that comfort level aside and ask themselves to identify the pros and cons of a significant reorganization to a centralized fire management organization.

What is becoming clear is that a door is about to open to look at a FAM reorganization, including how any reorganization can be supportive of cultural transformation efforts. We either stay on the porch, watching this debate occur behind closed doors, or we as a community bust through that door and push, push harder and not stop pushing on this issue until we see results. Just like in 2008.

The Father of Centralized Fire Management Thom Myall is no longer with us. But he is watching and knows we all will go forth and lead on this issue. Yac knows, but few others know that Thom was a Professional Forester and former District Ranger and of course Chief-1 Los Padres National Forest in the 1990’s. Yes, one of the leaders of Centralized Fire Management was a former Line Officer who realized in the later part of his career that the traditional Forest Service organization was no longer working for Fire Management. RQ our former FAM Director and great leader can be a valuable resource as we progress.

Suus tempore ducere AND Pro quod est ius

Centralize Fire Today, Tomorrow and Forever!
6/8 Good situational awareness on flight crews' CRM.
See 72 hour report.
CRM: cockpit resource management. Stresses risks, communication, sound decision making.
RTBase was good option. M

24 Hour Report (44 K pdf)

72 Hour Report
(61 K pdf)
6/8 24-hr AZ-TNF-Sunflower Fire (56 K doc)

Text below:

Date: June 7, 2012
Subject: Sunflower Fire - Falling Accident
To: Neil Bosworth, Forest Supervisor
From: Helen C. Graham, Acting Fire Staff Officer

Preliminary Accident Information Briefing (24 Hour)

Location: Tonto National Forest

Date of Occurrence: June 6, 2012
Time of Occurrence: Approximately 1400 hours
Activity: Wildfire – Type 4
Number and type of injuries: 1
Property loss: None


On June 6th, 2012, the crew assigned to the Sunflower fire was in the process of felling hazard trees along Forest Road 201 within the fire. At approximately 1400 hours a sawyer was struck in the hardhat and right arm by a tree he was attempting to fall.

An ambulance was immediately requested to the injured employee’s location and he was transported to a local medical facility for treatment. Supplemental treatment was sought to rule out head and neck injuries and the employee was released home late in the evening.

On June 7th a Facilitated Analysis Team was requested to review the incident, the team will be in briefed at 08:00 on June 9, 2012. A final report of the finding will be released through the Lessons Learned Center, after review by the Forest.

/s/ Helen C. Graham
6/8 CAL FIRE Firefighter/Paramedic/mother to star in reality show, premiers 6/8/12 on OWN 9PM tonight


6/8 Ab,

The air to ground frequency issue is becoming a big deal on this fire: Hotlist

The issue was the copters were all on a common channel, in the middle of the incident, there was a request to go to a CDF channel for A to G, units couldn't communicate with each other. Copters were not happy with it.

They had LA County Call SOPS and tell them to get a com plan straightened out and that this is extremely dangerous to have this going on in the middle of an incident.



This morning there was a rollover accident of a Ft Yuma Type 6 engine dispatched to the Montezuma fire. One person was killed and two were injured.

As always we did not post until we knew the family had been notified. They have been. Our condolences and prayers for the family of the fallen, and best wishes for speedy recovery for the injured.

A spokesperson for the Tohono O'odham tribe confirmed a firefighter has died. No name has been released.

Thanks to the two AZ firefighters -- members of our community -- who wrote in early, and one AZ resident that just wrote in to wildlandfire.com. I called to confirm the family had been contacted. It helps to know the WFF is assisting. Ab.

Here's one message from a thoughtful resident that came in less than half an hour ago:


A firefighter assigned to the Montezuma fire in Southern AZ has been killed in an accident.

I’m not a firefighter, but I’m a resident of AZ. I watch your site like a hawk due to AZ wildfires. I found you during last year’s Wallow fire.

Please convey my deepest sympathies to families of the person lost and my sincere gratitude to the wildland firefighters every day.


Kathy Sieloff

Firefighter assigned to Montezuma Fire dies in accident/


6/8 Airtankers / Centralized Fire:


Re: Air Tanker Issue

Well put. I am sick and tired of losing aerial firefighting friends while the Forest Service top management commissions study upon study trying to find the most current political posturing stance to be good lapdogs in DC.. The crew of Neptune's Tanker 11 were outstanding aerial firefighters.

I like your analogy of the current Forest Service business model to that of a city department of parks and recreation managing the city fire department. As you know my stance for the last decade has been that the Forest Service has no business trying to manage an emergency services branch (Fire and Aviation) in this day and age. The model put forth by Roosevelt and Pinchot was a great starting point and is rich with national history as it evolved but times do change...

So Cal John,

Regarding Centralized Fire in R5.. we were there.. LPF, BDF, MDF all had centralized fire organizations. The ANF and CNF were trying... Ray Q and many others put countless hours of blood, sweat and tears into building it.. for what? To be torn down my FS Line Officer mgt...

One important thing to remember .. even though each forest listed above was centralized to the Forest Chief 1 level.. the Forest Chief 1 still worked for the Forest Supervisor.. or as Casey so eloquently put it, Parks and Recreation.

I for one do not trust the FS to do anything different. They have proven this time and time again. Centralized fire was here. It needed to expand to include the regional fire directors and BOD working directly for the National Fire Director ... but then.. the National Fire Director would still work for Parks and Recreation if the Fire and Aviation arm of the FS was left there.

No... the only realistic solution based on history is to rip the Fire and Aviation Branch (Emergency Services) out of the Land Management Agencies and put it under an Emergency Services Organization...

Lets all have a safe fire "season",


6/7 Centralized Fire:

Region 5 is going to consider returning to centralized fire management again. It has been placed back on the table for consideration and discussion. This is our opportunity. We must be ready for a significant push to make this a reality.

So Cal John

6/7 Randy Moore's message.

The word is either a spell checker error or a malapropism, like Zeva the character on NCIS occasionally utters and others have through history. They're funny and often overlooked by proofreaders because they seems right, at first glance...

Wikipedia on Malapropisms

Famous Malapropisms

Randy didn't write the message. Let him off the hook. Let the writer off the hook too. We all have our foibles! Usually we work around them. I'd much rather laugh than continue with negatives!

(I'm prone to reversing numbers; not as delightful; thank goodness for computers!)

6/7 Air Tanker Issue

Just some additional information on the air tanker issue. The US Senate has taken action to provide the FS with waiver authority to award contracts a bit sooner than would be expected. The House still needs to take action but if it also provides such waivers, the president could then take the necessary steps and while not solving the crisis, provide a bit more expedience in the process.

Of course it begs the question why does it have to take yet another tragedy to get the attention of folks and get the action taken necessary to perhaps ensure we have a safe fleet of aircraft. If this process can be speeded up in light of yet another aviation tragedy, it could have been accomplished years ago. I can also acknowledge that the frustration with the FS with respect to their aviation plans in the US Senate has again renewed the contemplation by some in that body of taking FIRE away from the land management agencies.

Hopefully this crisis and the sad reality of yet another wildland firefighting tragedy and the additional scrutiny it brings, will finally give the Agency the notion that it must begin to manage its fire program as a fire department...the largest in the world. The 21st century complexities of wildfires demand nothing less.

Frequently, I ask members of the House and Senate and their staff if they would feel comfortable with the fire department of the largest city in their home state being managed by that City's Parks & Recreation Department as is the current "business model" of the Forest Service. The resounding answer is always something to the effect of no, hell no, are you nuts? etc.

I've had a considerable amount of communication with staff from both sides of the aisle from the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee this week. While perhaps it is a bit easier to establish and maintain such dialogue during the season and following such tragedies, the difficult part of this job is staying on their radar screen after the pics of awe-inspiring wildfire conflagrations are seen on the Nightly News. But that's where persistence will pay off. As more info becomes available we'll get it out.


6/7 Russia - 8 Russia firefighters killed in Siberia wildfire in Tuva


At least eight Russian firefighters have died during a wildfire in southern Siberia, forestry officials have said. The eight were part of a team of firefighting parachutists flown in to tackle the fire, the Russian forestry service told Interfax news agency. The blaze took hold in the remote Russian republic of Tuva, which borders Mongolia, and destroyed a total of 500 hectares (1.2m acres)...


Thanks to Leo Drapeau from Canada for the BBC news.

Very sad news! Ab.

6/6 Randy Moore's safety message.

I almost fell over laughing when I read Randy Moore's advice that R5 USFS employees should "continually perfume risk assessments" on the job. I know some shot crews smell pretty bad after a couple of weeks in the bush, does this mean they should call in bucket drops of Chanel Number 5 when they get too stinky?

Actually, all of this Safety Journey BS smells a lot like rotting fish, and no amount of perfume, or exhortations to be safe, can cover up weak senior leadership and bad management practices that make all of us less safe.

Misery Whip

6/6 Randy Moore's safety message.

Nor Cal Jim

Date: June 4, 2012
Subject: 2012 Regional Forester Safety Message
To: All Region 5 Employees

I am committed to ensuring our workplaces are free of recognized hazards. I request that prior to conducting any work project, all risks are reviewed and mitigated to the lowest acceptable level possible. This commitment can only be achieved through mindful participation of every employee. We must approach every task through a lens of situational curiosity, looking for the hazards that may interfere with the safe and successful completion of the task at hand.

My core value is in alignment with the Chief’s that every employee will return home from work safely each and every day. Leadership at all levels are to provide an environment for a culture that encourages employees to communicate unsafe conditions, policies, or acts that could lead to accidents without fear of reprisal. I continue to be encouraged by the creativity of our employees and hope you will continue to join me as we move forward on the Safety Journey. For further information on the Safety Journey visit the Employee Safety Engagement SharePoint Site at: http://fsprograms.fs.fed.us/sp-ese/default.aspx

We each have a responsibility to ensure that we are properly qualified, appropriately trained, and mentally, emotionally and physically prepared to safely undertake our work. I want you to commit to safe work practices, continually assess our changing environment, refuse to assume unacceptable risks, and continually perfume risk assessments before, during and after all work assignments. We in Region 5 have taken the lead in sharing and learning from Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA) and my expectation is that we continue to conduct and learn from FLA’s.

Our regional motto is “Safety Begins Here”. Join me in making sure that motto is not simply words, but the way we think and live every day. Thank you for your commitment to the safety of one another, your commitment to public service, and your professional stewardship of the land and working with our communities.

/s/ Randy Moore
Regional Forester
6/6 Tidwell's comment and AT crashes:

Did anyone else catch the quote credited to Mr Tidwell in the media, that Neptune Aviation has a "stellar record".
Is this guy that clueless? What planet does he reside on? This company has had 5 accidents in 7 years with 8 fatalities.
Eight, no one in their right mind would call that stellar.

  • Tanker 10 (may have been T11) gear up landing in Billings, MT
  • Tanker 09 jet blew up upon rotation Reno-Stead, NV (3 fatalities)
  • Tanker 42 CFIT Tooele, UT (3 fatalities)
  • Tanker 44 hydraulic failure then ran off the airport, Jeffco, CO
  • and now my friends in Tanker 11 (2 fatalities).

Stellar? Really?
Rest in peace, my friends, WE will not forget you.


6/6 Airtanker Fleet:

This came in today.......


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Jennifer Jones

U.S. Forest Service Shores Up Airtanker Fleet, With Help From States of Alaska and California, To Maintain Readiness For Wildfire Suppression

The U.S. Forest Service is taking actions to maintain its aerial firefighting capability after a series of events that have significantly reduced the number of airtankers available for wildfire suppression over the last year, including an accident last Sunday that tragically resulted in the deaths of two Neptune Aviation Services, Inc. pilots.

“The pilots of Tanker 11 lost their lives protecting public safety and natural resources,” said Tom Harbour, Director of Fire and Aviation Management for the U.S. Forest Service. “As the entire fire and aviation community grieves their loss, we must ensure that we maintain our capability to fulfill our responsibilities to be prepared to respond vigorously to wildfires threatening people, communities, infrastructure, and natural and cultural resources.”

The U.S. Forest Service currently has nine operational large airtankers on exclusive use contracts. The U.S. Forest Service has arranged for a total of four additional airtankers to become available immediately for wildfire suppression. Two are CV-580s, one of which is available through an agreement with the state of Alaska and one of which is available through an agreement with the Canadian Interagency Fire Centre. These airtankers will be available for wildfire suppression nationwide. The other two airtankers are CAL FIRE S-2Ts, which will be staffed and available in California through an agreement offered by the state and funded by the U.S. Forest Service.

“The loss of the two aerial firefighters has reverberated through the fire service community and our thoughts are certainly with their families and coworkers as they grieve,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, Director of CAL FIRE. “In the wake of this tragedy, we reached out to our federal partners to offer this agreement which staffs two CAL FIRE airtankers in California a month earlier than we would normally staff them based on the current wildfire threat.”

The U.S. Forest Service is also arranging for five heavy (Type 1) helicopters to become available for wildfire suppression nationwide earlier than scheduled. The U.S. Forest Service believes that the additions of the airtankers and heavy helicopters will enable the agency to respond effectively to current and predicted fire activity. If needed, the U.S. Forest Service can also mobilize eight military C-130s equipped with Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems (MAFFS) to serve as large airtankers as well as a DC-10 very large airtanker.

Airtankers play an important role in wildfire suppression, particularly during the early stages known as “initial attack,” by dropping retardant that reduces the intensity and rate of spread of wildfires, enabling firefighters on the ground to safely construct fireline.

6/6 Update from Congress on the Forest Service Aviation Plan

To all:
With the events of this past weekend, the FWFSA has been provided additional information from Congressional staff that the Forest Service is soon to announce (we've all heard that before though) its next generation tanker contracts which could result in between 18-28 more modern aircraft available in the long run.

In the short run, this season, it could increase the fleet by 2 or 3 more Bea 146 tankers this year and an additional 4 by the end of next season. It remains to be seen if part of their scheme will include C-130Js which, according to sources will cost about $75 million a piece.

Staff likely indicates the Agency will have to cut back in other areas of FIRE to pay for these aircraft. Ironically, that is precisely what the FWFSA has been proposing through its legislative efforts for years...reforms that could result in significant suppression cost savings and create a more effective & efficient federal wildfire response. As more information becomes available we'll let you know.

Casey Judd
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
6/5 To all,

I know the entire community is in a very solemn and reflective mood given the tragedy of this past weekend but often, times of adversity offer unique opportunities to educate some and get help from others on issues you all face.

That said I want all of you to know that some in Congress are taking significant interest in what can only be a lack of clarity from OPM and the USDA in regards to who and who isn't being given an opportunity to complete the employee survey, especially as it relates to seasonal firefighters who, alongside their permanent counter parts risk their lives.

Interestingly enough, those on Capitol Hill interested in this issue are also those who have requested the GAO provide a report to Congress on a viable aviation plan for the future. For those of you in R-6, especially in Oregon who are seasonal wildland firefighters with the Forest Service and who would like to complete the survey but have not been afforded an opportunity to do so, please feel free to contact me so that I can provide you with a staff contact who plans on devoting some significant time to getting some real answers. If those answers include not providing seasonal firefighters an opportunity to complete the survey, obviously additional time to find out why not.

While the season provides little time for those of you on the lines to make such contacts, please know that folks like Vicki, AB & wildlandfire.com and the FWFSA have your backs. We may have different ways of supporting this community and while I truly hope this doesn't sound self-serving, it is critically important during these times, especially for those of you away from your families in the middle of nowhere, to know that there are those in this community who have an over abundance of admiration, respect and affection for all of you and we are committed to ensuring you and your families are cared for and that you all get the respect you deserve so your careers can be more rewarding & prosperous one.


6/4 T-55 landing, here is the video from Fox news.

9:34am Jun 4
Here is the raw video from Fox news. Fantastic work by the crew.



Hotlist thread: The T-55 one gear up landing that morphed into discussion of vlats as well. Ab.

6/4 Re: Spring training achievement

Well done!

I like to shout out to all those in spring training, or those in the middle of such an effort. Got a lot a love for the fire fighter, good luck and be well. See you all on the Big one.

Later Fossilbird.

6/4 MSNBC video on the Tanker 11 crash: Brian Williams, Miguel Almaguer, Vicki Minor


6/4 Our deepest condolences to Neptune and its family of incredible aviators for the loss of Mr. Tompkins and Mr. Chambless yesterday. Our prayers and thoughts are of course with their family & friends as well as all of our wildland firefighters on the lines.

God Bless you All,

6/3 Air tanker crash leaves two dead in Iron County

www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news.../fire crash ...csp

Captain Todd Neal Tompkins, 48, and first officer Ronnie Edwin Chambless, 40, were flying a P-2V heavy air tanker that went down ...

6/3 Two photos of Tanker 11 on Airtankers 7 photo page -- entitled Neptune at Fox and T-11 -- both by Craig Happ.


Here's one on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/...in/photostream/

I spoke with Burk at the WFF earlier. One of the T-11 crew that died today is a very good friend of the WFF, volunteered a LOT. His car is parked there right now. Bummer that they died. Hits hard. Vicki just got back from Cali from going to the John Greeno Building dedication to honor John and to hang out with Lori and the kids. Thanks, Vicki... Thanks to Burk -- who's been holding down the fort at the WFF. Ab.

6/3 Survey Follow up:

One important point I failed to mention in my last post to those of you looking to make contact with Agency officials or your congressional representatives about the employee survey. In making the case about the uniqueness of firefighters, you should certainly make mention, especially as many western states are under siege of wildfires now, the fact that historically, seasonal firefighters make up about 40% of staffing each season. That fact alone demands that any survey of employees must include that segment of the workforce.

For those of you interested in the petition at change.org about securing benefits for seasonal employees, this fact should also be used to resonate the importance the roll seasonal firefighters play each season.


6/3 Two killed in air tanker crash


More on the Hotlist thread: http://wildlandfire.com/hotlist/showthread.php?p=111661

6/3 A report that an airtanker fighting the White Rock Fire went down:

Air tanker fighting White Rock Fire crashes in Hamblin Valley

http://fox13now.com/,,,air tanker fighting white rock fire crashes/

I believe this was Tanker 11.


Sad news. Ab.

6/2 Re; Federal Employee View Point Survey

To "Ashamed of my Employer":

Part of my on-going concerns about such recurring surveys from the perspective of representing federal wildland firefighters and their issues is that the Agencies tend to lump a wide and diverse number of unique occupations into one pile and are under the belief that a "one size fits all" approach is the proper course of action. It is naive for the Secretary of Ag or the Chief of the Forest Service or the Director of OPM to not take the time to address "cultural transformation" (whatever the heck that really means) as it affects each unique occupation.

Case in point, why in the heck is the Agency making the survey available during the fire season? How do they expect permanents or anyone else on a fire assignment to have the time to complete a survey on line? Because they don't consider its firefighters and their issues unique which is why so many firefighters AND some in Congress believe its time to take FIRE away from the land management agencies.

Many of the issues facing our Nation's federal wildland firefighters are not the same issues that other USDA occupations face. Sure there are general occupational issues that face most of the workforce of any given bureaucracy, however most USDA employees are not risking their lives on a routine basis.

What perhaps irritates me the most about such surveys is that the Forest Service has been keenly aware of specific issues facing its firefighters for over two decades yet has made absolutely no effort to reform such archaic pay & personnel policies. Both OPM & the Office of the Secretary of the USDA have been made aware of such issues and again, no effort has been made to resolve these outstanding issues. The lack of interest in these issues makes me question the point of such surveys.

To "Ashamed of my Employer" and to all federal wildland firefighters wanting to provide their input into the survey it is critically important to illustrate the uniqueness of the impact current policies have on firefighters as compared to other USDA employees. The MyUSDA article states that this year's survey is "intended to reach all federal employees" including "part time." I would submit that means seasonals, temps maybe even AD's if they truly want to get an accurate representational accounting of the concerns of those in their employ. If you were told as a seasonal you wouldn't get a chance to participate, I'd contact the person who told you that and remind them that according to Sec. Vilsack's office and OPM the survey is intended for all federal employees. Perhaps even share their name with the Secretary's office and OPM and let them know this is the information you're getting.

Sadly, the FS F&A Director doesn't get much say in all of this.

You've been here before folks. Just a couple of years ago, the morale at the FS was so dismal it resulted in congressional hearings. Since that time, Congress, the USDA and the FS have been educated repeatedly on how to solve issues like recruitment & retention. Yet here we are again, wasting more tax dollars on Dialogos for yet another survey that is going to provide the same results as in the past.

The issues for firefighters have been around so long, nothing has changed. It is pointless to conduct another survey if the agencies are unwilling to effect positive change. It is a waste of taxpayer money, a waste of employee's time and a futile effort by those who claim to want to make changes, yet have the authority to do so and yet fail miserably at it.

When I spoke with Sec. Vilsack in Salinas California a year and a half ago, he seemed confused by such a simple issue of proper classification for firefighters since CBO had scored it as no cost to the Gov't etc. He seemed like a "deer in the headlights" with respect to the issues I discussed with him. even the interim Director for OPM a few years ago didn't know that the agency's firefighters were GS employees rather than WG employees.

If you've contacted a congressional staffer and they've simply given you the number to the USDA, you've got to contact them back and demand they contact the USDA to determine if the survey is being made available to all employees or just permanent. You might also want to remind them that the agencies have already conducted such surveys in the past and have done nothing with the replies. You can remind them that congressional hearings were held a few years ago with respect to FS morale and no action on firefighter issues has been taken despite the fact the agency & congress has been aware of the issues and their solutions for over two decades. Further, someone has got to get a factual answer to the recent issue of EPP info defaulting to male or white male with respect to diversity.

You've got until June 11th. You've got to differentiate yourselves from the rest of the USDA workforce. We have recently written to Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) Chair of the House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce who voiced a concern about the survey as well as Committee members who participated in the congressional hearings on morale a few years ago. We have also written OPM Director John Berry and USDA Sec. Vilsack to illustrate the history of inaction by all on USDA firefighter issues and more importantly the simple solutions to these issues.

As AB stated, make sure you keep copies of all documents you send. And finally when you hear folks complaining about "special interests" and their influence in politics take pride in the fact that as federal wildland firefighters, you are a special interest group. Candidly, every American is a special interest and should think of themselves as such whether you're a parent, student, employee whatever. All of you have the rights to advocate your beliefs before Congress. To me you all are a very special interest group and it eats at me to no end the failure on the part of the land management agencies to take simple steps and actions to make your careers more rewarding & prosperous. So we plug along. Remember, all the politicians like to refer to Abe Lincoln. Me too. He failed, failed, failed then...persistence. Pass it on!

Casey Judd
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
6/2 Re: WFF


The family weekend for the WFF coincided with the Shawn and Tom Memorial Firefighter Run held at the Lava Beds National Park on the Modoc which benefits the foundation. Participation was good with support from the fire community as well as the non-fire community. A good amount of money was raised for the WFF. Unfortunately many people wait for an event like the run or a tragedy before making a donation to the WFF.

I know it has been a tough year economically for many but this is an important organization that is there for our firefighters and families in the toughest times. We need to provide ongoing support and donate on a regular basis, not just when there is a tragedy. Just as our firefighters need the proper tools and training before a fire, the foundation needs funding for their initial response as well.

I encourage all of you to send what you can today......no donation is too small. You can send donations to:

Wildland Firefighter Foundation
2049 Airport Way
Boise, ID 83705

Christina Stanley

6/2 Retirement

Ab and friends,
Just wanted to give one last shout of recognition to Pete Coy.
Pete retired at the end of yesterday as the Supt for Mill Creek Hotshots.

Although I expect to see him again here and there, he will be missed by his friends and the Crew.

Playing With Fire

6/1 Survey

It's actually encouraging that folks out there really believe in the importance of the Federal Employee Survey. This shows we have good, conscientious people in the agencies. My inner cynic told me not to bother. I can't bear to see the results interpolated and skewed into the conclusions that the persons who ordered the survey are hoping to see. Right now the subtext from the Administration seems to be that morale is low because too many spoiled white males have bad attitudes, right? Maybe the authority to hire permanent employees has been taken away from Forests and given to the Regional Offices simply because it's more efficient, right? I'm sure that's it. Or, pick your conclusions from the survey out of a hat and find a fortune teller at the nearest carnival to interpret those results. Recently our Regional Forester came to visit our Forest and actually sat in a room and talked to us. That's the kind of survey I can get behind. Maybe the chief should try that approach.


6/1 Survey

Hey Ab,

Just so you know, I have contacted Mary Jo and Ed numerous times - and have never received a response, and I learned recently that others have met with the same "luck." However the other names are new, so I'll give them a try.

Thanks for continuing the fight!


6/1 Re: who employs the incident management team?

Thank you. This helps a lot. :)


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