"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
Home of the Wildland Firefighter
||Here is the Brian Williams interview with John Lauer. Great job all
||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outdated organizational structure.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
||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
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.
||Hi to all:
It is a sad irony that Vicki Minor, the Executive Director of the
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
In other words, folks, send "our safety net for wildland
firefighters" -- the WFF -- a donation... Ab.
||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.
President Obama: All Hands On Deck Approach to Fighting Colorado Wildfires
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
||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.
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?
||Health care for seasonal firefighters:
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
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
Great to see him on the evening news with Brian Williams. Ab.
||Anyone have any idea when ROSS will be back up again?
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.
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.
Glad to see you writing in Ron. Thanks for the firefighter training
and everything else you do. Ab.
||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.
||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!
||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…
||This will add to the topic "why are we still home and they flew trucks and
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.
||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
page and on the wallpaper page. Ab.
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.
||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
||Ab, Thought this was a great summary. SB
Subject: NW Geographic Area
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
- 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.
NWCC Center Manager
||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.........
||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
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.
||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
Health Insurance, supporting seasonal wildland firefighters Ab.
||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
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
William Riggles - Ruidoso
||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.
-- East Basin -- fires on the Hotlist
||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
||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.
Hollow Fire and East Basin Fires -- on the Hotlist.
||Re: Airborne Infectious Disease
I'm told there is a Standard Operating Procedure in place for airborne
infectious disease, since the planning for
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
Best wishes for figuring it out. Uncertainty can make it a stressful
||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.
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.
||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
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
||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
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
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...
||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
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
||"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)
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.
||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.
||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
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.
||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.
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.
||Proposed AVUE Time Line (could be old but this is the latest I have)
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
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.
||2012 Pulaski Award:
Apparently there were multiple recipients in 2012:
Texas Forest Service:
||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
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.
||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
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.
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
Thanks for your work, Casey! Ab.
||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?
||Congressman Pearce (R-NM) and his presentation today in the House of
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
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.
||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
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
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.
||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
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
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.
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.)
||Congressman Pearce (R-NM) and his presentation today in the House of
FYI - Re: USFS firefighting etc.
||FERS mandatory retirement
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
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
anon (or forgot to sign the email...)
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
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
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.
||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.
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.
||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?
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.
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
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
What about me?
received regarding the Avue transition for informational purposes in the
I noticed someone was asking about that, hopefully this helps.
Thanks, Dirt. Ab.
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?
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
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
Foundation crew. What would we do without your efforts on behalf of our
Our thanks to everyone who helped with the ceremony. Ab.
Nice to know I'm not the only one who noticed that!
||Quite obvious Jennifer Jones hasn't a clue
Officials disagree on ability of nation's old, thin air tanker
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...
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
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.
NFFE/IAM Local 376 Steward
||"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
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
"We might have broken the policy, but we saved the man’s house,"
He says that fire safety officers told his crew ... (more,
including fire photos and video of Craig VanWinkle ...at link above)
fair use disclaimer
||Two more views about what the Forest Service is doing with Cultural
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
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
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
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.
||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
wlfhotlist.com should get you there. Welcome back all you folks having
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
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.
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
Stay safe out there!
||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
AB, if this hasn’t made the rounds on Theysaid, could you please throw it up
NFFE/IAM Local 376 Steward
Subject: NFFE NEWS BRIEF: JUNE 9-15, 201
NFFE NEWS BRIEF: JUNE 9-15, 2012
Want to Get the Latest Union News & Updates in Your Inbox?
Get NFFE E-News!
Connect With Us:
NFFE Website I
(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
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.
NFFE IN THE NEWS:
Federal Times, 6/15/12
Firefighter's petition for health benefits goes viral
||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
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.
||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
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
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.
||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
||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.
||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
||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
* Strongly Disagree
Sorry, no place to actually comment.
(old curmudgeon DFMO ret.)
||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
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
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
The survey title..."Employees influencing Change"...
||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
||Service for Anthony Polk, Engine Boss who died in the Engine accident
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:
||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
for more details.
||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.
||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
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
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
Out in the Cold
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
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
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
signed: Declining Morale in the FS
||An update from ~"Seasonal Employee," serving hard, hard, hard Permanent
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
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
||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!
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
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 .
||Airtanker contracts awarded
Are there any strike teams of engines from North Ops out on assignments yet?
NTSB preliminary briefing is online.
The link was added to the Always Remember page for
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
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
If you plan to attend, please RSVP to me at Krista.Fischer@ nospam
state.or.us by June 25, 2012
||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
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
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
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.
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.
||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
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?
||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.
<snipped rest of identifying info; if you really want Ab to include
it, please let us know>
||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
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?
||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
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.
||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.
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.
||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)
OPM changes annual employee viewpoint survey to help agencies make budget
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
||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
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
|| Employee Group
|6170 FS National General Overview of the Drug Free Workplace
6170 FS National DFWP Department of Transportation
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
Supervisors of Employees in EO TDPs--
All Supervisors of Employees in TDPs (DOT & EO)--
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.
||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
||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
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
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
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"
||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
Always Remember page)
Community, Thursday is coming soon. Please make your arrangements to attend.
||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.
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!
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!
||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
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
||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.
||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
||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.
pcrcs@ nospam connectwireless.us
||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.
||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
We are on the verge of something big happening. I can feel it, it's coming,
and we will lead it!..
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
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
Thanks to the WFF for helping with family and firefighter transport and
lodging arrangements. Ab.
||re: Employee Survey-
DO YOU THINK AS A "PERMANENT EMPLOYEE," YOU ARE ENTITLED TO TAKE THE
'FEDERAL EMPLOYEE VIEW POINT SURVEY?'
Anyone coded as a "SEASONAL EMPLOYEE," in their OPM file as of
October 2011 is not eligible to take the survey, per the survey
[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
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
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.
ARE YOU A PERMANENT EMPLOYEE?
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.
||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,
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
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.
||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
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!
||Good situational awareness on flight crews' CRM.
See 72 hour report.
CRM: cockpit resource management. Stresses risks, communication, sound
RTBase was good option. M
Hour Report (44 K pdf)
72 Hour Report (61 K pdf)
24-hr AZ-TNF-Sunflower Fire (56 K doc)
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)
THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS PRELIMINARY AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE
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
||CAL FIRE Firefighter/Paramedic/mother
to star in reality show, premiers 6/8/12 on OWN 9PM tonight
The air to ground frequency issue is becoming a big deal on this
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
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
Here's one message from a thoughtful resident that came in less than half an
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
Please convey my deepest sympathies to families of the person lost and
my sincere gratitude to the wildland firefighters every day.
Firefighter assigned to Montezuma Fire dies in accident/
||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
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
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",
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
||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
They're funny and often overlooked by
proofreaders because they seems right,
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
||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
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.
||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.
||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.
||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
||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
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).
Rest in peace, my friends, WE will not forget you.
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.
||Update from Congress on the Forest Service Aviation Plan
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.
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
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
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.
||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.
The T-55 one gear up landing that morphed into discussion of vlats as
||Re: Spring training achievement
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.
||MSNBC video on the Tanker 11 crash: Brian Williams, Miguel Almaguer,
||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
God Bless you All,
||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 ...
||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:
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.
||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.
||Two killed in air tanker crash
More on the Hotlist thread:
||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.
||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
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!
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
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
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
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.
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!
||Re: who employs the incident management team?
Thank you. This helps a