"THEY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
July, 2012

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7/31 CA-VNC-FF near miss with Train on River Incident

Hotlist

Very glad he's OK. Quick thinking. Ab.

7/31 ID-FHA-Ridgetop Burn Injury

Hotlist

Best wishes for early and complete recovery. Ab.

7/31 AB,

With regards to my last post, the analysis from LANDFIRE between the C-130J and CL-415 that was posted on TheySaid was not the full analysis but rather the briefing paper. According to Dan Crittenden the complete analysis apparently did take into consideration the 2011 Retardant Avoidance Plan. Further, in an email to me earlier he stated:

"The report review the current "line building/indirect attack" metric for land base ATs. Then developed a new set of metrics more appropriate for Amphibious ATs (direct attack/non-line building). Response time and distance to IA (pre positioning), reload intervals, fuel types, and time on station.

The guiding principle was to define the fire fight environment w/i each flight circle and then see if the Amphibious ATs could be effective. We look at 30 years history of IAs by flight circle and tied those to fuel models, to determine which starts could be handle by ground forces, likely require some air support (light, med helicopters) and those likely to require ATs. The idea was to get anyway from one size fits all.

We then collated the IAs by flight circles to see if there is a dominate/more likely fuel type IAs occur in. Pretty interesting most of the likely to require ATs where in fast moving GS4 and GR4. This collating puts a shadow on the Chiefs comment that most of the IAs require longterm retardant" and "The Class A foam is injected into the water stream during the operational run it is not mixed in the tanks. The pilots have the option to inject the foam on or leave it out."

All that said, I apologize for not providing more accurate information in my last post.

Casey

7/31 Scoopers vs Tankers/ C-130J & CL-415s

The FWFSA has been solicited for comments by several Senate offices in regards to S 3441, the Wildfire Suppression Aircraft Transfer Act of 2012 and with regards to the scooper/tanker issue. For those of you in Air Ops or anyone who likely possesses far greater understanding, experience & expertise than I in this subject, please feel free to offer your insight at cjudd@fwfsa.org.

One issue that these studies and articles fail to address is the impact of the 2011 Fire Retardant Avoidance Plan may have. As most know the plan resulted in 12,000 maps identifying avoidance areas on 98 national forests. certainly in some places this will have an impact on the type of air resources used.

Casey Judd
FWFSA
7/31 Sir Ab,

Makes me think of Abalonie "Big Red Abalone ah-ceviche or grilled over mesquite".

Ah back to the task at hand I have been looking for where they post the current outreach notices for details and have not been able to click on the right link if there is one.

Can you point me in the right direction? My folks and myself are entertaining the idea of detailing to broaden our knowledge and better see the Big Picture and to remain completive in this outfit.

Thanks! Hooyah!!!!

Haw Haw, I often get grilled one way or another... Ab.

7/30 ID-FHA-Ridgetop Burn Injury -- Thanks to those who gave us the heads up and did not auto-post on the hotlist. Ab.

15 K pdf report: Text below

24 HOUR REPORT / BURN INJURY ON RIDGETOP FIRE

To: Joe Kraayenbrink, Idaho Falls District Manager
Dean Fox, Fort Hall Agency Superintendent
Subject: 24 Hour Report (Radiant Heat Burn Injury on Ridgetop fire, Ft. Hall, Idaho)

The Following information is preliminary and is subject to change

LOCATION: Ridgetop Fire, Fort Hall Indian Reservation.
DATE OF OCCURRENCE: July 28, 2012
TIME OF OCCURRENCE: Approximately 1830 Hours
ACTIVITY: Wildland Fire Suppression
NUMBER OF INJURIES: 1
NUMBER OF FATALITIES: 0
PROPERTY DAMAGE:

Narrative: On July 28, 2012 at approximately 1830 hours, a BLM firefighter received radiant heat burn injuies while working on the Ridgetop fire.
The fire fighter was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, and subsequently referred to the regional burn center in Salt Lake City with serious but non-life threatening injuries.

An accident investigation team has been mobilized. The 72-Hour Expanded report will be completed and posted through the NWCG Safety Alert System.

/s/ Rick Belger, Fire Management Officer, Idaho Falls District

cc:
BLM-Idaho Safety Manager
National Office Fire and Aviation Safety Manager
Idaho State Fire Management Officer

Hotlist Thread

7/30 Airtanker Study Released

Fire study pits scoopers vs. tankers

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Forest Service should drop its long-held focus on using repurposed air tankers to put out wildfires and bring a new fleet of water-scooping aircraft into service to counter the nation’s skyrocketing firefighting costs, a new study found...

More at the link above...

Hotlist discussion thread if you want to chime in...

7/30 New legislation on the Air Tanker program.

www.mccain.senate.gov Press Office
7/30 RAND Airtanker study released--CL 215/415s recommended

Little surprise to most folks, that RAND recommended the only North American airtanker designed to drop liquid on fires (besides Airtractor SEATs, which were excluded from the study since they are less than 1000 gallons).

This recommendation was expected since the USFS had previously said they wanted aircraft designed for the job, not retrofitted aircraft (they just don't want to pay the price for the rental of the 32 million dollar planes, so the USFS called this study "flawed") http://wildfiretoday.com

And for those skeptics like me, here is an analysis by the USFS, Nature Conservancy, and the USGS, comparing load and returns from C130's, CL-415's, historic fire occurrence areas, and scooper sites in relation to those fires in the WESTERN USA: www.landfire.gov/ -download file LF Aircraft C130J & CL415 Analysis (pdf )

LIONA

7/30 Re Heather...

I had the honor of meeting Heather and another young woman named Natasha the Spring before Heather's tragic death. I had come out to visit with my son who happened to be working here in Cedarville with both of these bright young women. Ironically, I met them at a Tupperware party and it was Heather who introduced me to my first Margarita at the ripe old age of 50. She told me I had not lived until I drank one of those. By my 2nd drink I was bold enough to ask her some questions about how she ended up here in Cedarville, CA working for the Forest Service. She had told me about her life growing up in NY, her education and travels. She talked a great deal about the outdoors and the environment and what it all meant to her. And then she hit me with a question about "how did a kid from Massachusetts get out here?" I certainly had no answer for that as I was puzzled by that concept also. It was during this conversation that Heather really spoke with a passion for the job she, as well as many others, do each and every day. She told me it was in her "soul" to do this job and she wouldn't want to do anything else.

Heather's passion was infectious as I noticed everyone was listening to her and one could see just how her face glowed as she talked about fire lines, brother/sister hood on the crew, respect for the job those around do to keep each other safe. I knew I had met a very remarkable young woman. By the time I left Cedarville for home I learned Natasha would be leaving to go back to college in New Mexico and that Heather had been accepted into a Hot Shot crew. The last time I saw her we hugged and I wished her good luck. I will never forget one sentence she said to me that has made an impact on my life. When we talked about life's expectations, husband, marriage, babies she said, "no one knows what life will bring you from from day to day, but I know right now that when it is my time to leave this world, I hope I made it a better place for others."

The day I received the news from my son about the tragic accident that took Heather and two crew members I knew I had to do something to honor her. I had heard that a recent Forest Firefighter from MA had died from a heat attack while out on a fire far from home. I contacted the local forest service in Foxboro and the ball just rolled from there. We were able to secure donations and funding to incorporate a Memorial at the State Forest Fire Barn in Foxboro. During the dedication ceremony I was asked to speak why I was so passionate about this project and I told them the very little time I had spent with Heather but about the big impact she made on my life. That memorial is not just for Heather and the other gentleman who passed away but for all to see who enter our State forest in Foxboro as a reminder of the passion and dedication, not to mention dangerous working conditions, all of these men and women endure because I believe, they as did, Heather wanted to leave this world a better place for others.

To Heather's family, I think of that bright eyed, spunky young woman every July and everytime since that I have had a margarita. Here's to you Heather for touching so very many lives. I am sure you are an angel watching from about!

ModocHotShotMom

7/29 A tribute to Heather, Steve, John, Engine 11 and those who responded to the accident:

I did not know Heather well but had enjoyed talking with her prior to the 2002 fire season. Smart young woman, engaging personality, hard worker, nice... I also knew many folks on the IMT that managed the Stanza Fire and I knew groundpounding firefighters from the "Ukonom area" who had worked so hard to hook the fire during IA. They put in a herculean effort and were devastated and haunted when the fire escaped early containment and then the engine accident occurred, killing Heather, Steve and John and seriously injuring two more young firefighters... The communities of Happy Camp and Orleans also felt the deep-down hurt.

Later that winter of 2003, I was invited to sit in on a hotshot report on that fire and learned how several members of each IHC fighting the Stanza fire provided two volunteer members each to go down the 1200 or so feet to the engine to retrieve the three bodies... "We recover our own. We don't leave the job to strangers." That more or less was the reasoning.  Duty Respect Integrity, Lead by Example. 

I had heard there were lots of considerations, since the CHP/or Sheriff's department was lead on the accident, given that it was a vehicle rollover. Technically they also were in charge of arranging for retrieval of our loved ones.

Hotshots, I still say thank God for you fellas doing the work on all of our behalf! The way down to the engine in the triple-digit heat was treacherous, the way up with a load increased by the added weight of sadness, even more so. It's a comfort to me and many that you did The Service. Thank You!

I also appreciate the great effort to contain that Stanza Fire in such rough terrain and your success in doing so. Job well done!

If you can believe it, in 2002 not much was known by the agency or any of us as to what the procedure was for dealing with fatalities or helping survivors cope. We all have some idea of the SOPs now, partly because theysaidit stimulated people to ask questions and got people to share best practices and determine answers. And the Wildland Firefighter Foundation helps a great deal.

I spoke with Heather's dad in early 2003. He was a structure firefighter back East and he was upset that it took so long for the report of her death to get to Heather's family members. In his firefighting world, next of kin contact info is held by all engines and the station; and many from the station know coworkers' family members. Information travels quickly. Initially, I was surprised too. But the length of time became more understandable when we began to try to figure it out.

In our fire world, the contact info is held by the forest, park or other land management agency where the "resource" or crew is based. Crew members often fight fires far from home base and often live or go to school someplace else entirely in the off season. Permission to contact next-of-kin has to go through the agency. Finding the information and obtaining permission in 2002 was not fast... And such info is only as accurate or up-to-date as the record made by the firefighter prior to dispatch or before, so there's lots of chance for confusion and slow-down.

In addition, since the Highway Patrol/or Sheriff's office was in charge, there was another level of "official" verification of death that they said had to occur before family could be notified. Whatever the process, it never seems timely enough.

Wildland firefighters fight fire in the wildlands. When they die, it's often far from duty station and home in rugged and remote wild country. Many who have fought fire with them, watched their backs, and played with them during down time are affected by their deaths.

My best thoughts and prayers are with all of you who remember : Heather's mom, Jeremy, Rob, Cara,Tony, John, Howard, Jim, Dan, Mike, Bob, Carla, the Meadows, and the list goes on... I love the thoughts of Marilyn Townsend of Happy Camp shared at the memorial service in Happy Camp, CA.

Mellie

(Firefighters please keep your contact records updated.)

7/29 Driving:

As a flatlander, I have always been very impressed with mountain driving. I recall as a young fire fighter looking out the side of a school bus at the shear, bottom less, drop off just out side my window, by moon light, to later as a supervisor thinking those guys aren’t really going to try and drive those crew buggies up here and them watching them skillfully do it. I have been so tired on a night shift that I fell a sleep standing up and remember the only thing I could do to stay awake, to drive into camp at the end of shift, was to sing every song I could think of. (Luckily, I was by myself and did not inflict my vocal skills on anyone else.) I remember riding in a van and another passenger noticed our young driver was nodding off behind the wheel. We were close enough to our destination for him to insist (over protests) to make him stay in camp until he was rested.

Don’t think I’m being self righteous here, obviously I’ve pushed myself way past where I should have safely been. Thankfully, it was not my time to put a wheel off the road in the wrong spot. Please watch out driving on fires at night. When most of the fire fighters are the same age as my kids, it really hurts when something bad happens.

Bill

7/28 10th anniversary of Stanza fatalities

 I ask everyone to take a moment to remember the 3 who died 10 years ago today: Heather, Steve and John. Their deaths affected so many, offered many lessons learned and they are still missed every day. Remember their wonderful lives, their sacrifice and most importantly, remember to stay safe out there. Our beautiful Heather would want it that way.

Here is the last photo of Heather, Steve & John, taken as they geared up for their last shift.

Heather's Mom

7/28 July 28, 2012 marks the 10th year since we lost three fine
firefighters, friends and family members.

Please take a moment today to remember them and why they are no longer with us on the earth.

We spend months training and honing our understand of fire behavior,human nature and risk management. Yet we sometimes treat driving as just another thing we do on the job, relegating its risk below that of fire or aircraft.

History has shown driving is one of the most dangerous things we do. Thus, it demands the same respect we give to the job. Whether responding to an incident, during shift or on the way home.

Steve, Heather, John.. 10 years has done little to ease my pain of your loss. I think about you every time I take the wheel of a truck. I try an honor you by teaching those I work with the dangers of driving. I challenge others to do the same.

We miss you.

-Rob

What a fine crew. Ab.
Always Remember Heather, Steve and John

7/27 Hard to believe the smoke in Medford, OR is from forest fires in Siberia.

I have been asked by a few people living in the Rogue Valley where all of the smoke is coming from. I looked on line for a local fire report and found this from the National Weather Service. Unbelievable!

Lasagna...

Smoke Blows into region from Russian forest fires

July 27, 2012 4:10 PM

The smoke obscuring the hills surrounding the Rogue Valley today is likely caused by massive fires burning in Russia, weather officials said.

The smoke is traveling across the Pacific Ocean and pushing into the Rogue Valley, according to Marc Spilde, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "The winds are carrying the smoke all the way across the Pacific," Spilde said.

The Global Times is reporting that thousands of acres in eastern Russia are burning, sending up massive plumes of smoke that are blowing eastward.

Spilde said the fires have been burning for some time and the smoke has been hovering over the Pacific for several days. When the wind blows in from the west, this smoke seeps into the Rogue Valley.

more at the link above...

fair use disclaimer

Lasagna, thanks for the answer to the mystery... Ab.

7/24 Waldo Canyon Fire

Anonymous:

Thank you for your detailed description of events at Waldo Canyon. Our Contractor Engine Captain was extremely complementary about your efforts and success. We intend to incorporate your methodology into our 2013 training program.

We would extend to you that this maximum effort firefight has to be listed as the most outstanding example of record.. Of wildland urban firefighting... and it was accomplished under the leadership of professional wildland task force leaders and wildland fire captains.

The leadership and crews involved at "Waldo Canyon" deserve a presidential citation for their valor and professionalism.

TK

7/23 Sad news:

Deadly Crash in North Medford, OR
kdrv.com

MEDFORD, Ore. -- One person is dead and several others injured near the Rogue Valley Mall on Crater Lake Highway.

Police received a call about a car crash a little after 4 a.m. Monday morning. Officers say a pickup truck driving westbound on Highway 62 was going through the intersection.

A van with 7 passengers was driving northbound on Riverside Avenue. The pickup truck failed to stop at a red light and both vehicles collided at the intersection. The van flipped over and took out the light fixture.

There were three people who were ejected from the vehicle, two are in surgery at Providence Hospital, and one is deceased. Officers are still looking for the driver of the pickup truck who is a woman. (The woman is now in custody.)

More...

Fair Use Disclaimer

One passenger died and several are in critical condition. I am told the van is owned by Pacific Coast, a company that has firefighting crews, although this crew appears to have been working under a reforestation type contract with ODF. Often crews also work on fire assignments. Our thoughts and prayers for families, friends and co-workers. Ab.

7/23 Waldo Canyon Fire

Just an observation about the Tahoe NF strike team:

I was on Waldo as a TFLD. I arrived the day the fire burned into town. I sat in OPS fir several hours awaiting an assignment. While there, i saw the ST engine leadership come in to OPS and get a good briefing by Ops. It was clear what their mission was going to be.

Later, I was in Mountain Shadows, but not as their supervision of course. I eventually had two of these engines assist me on a cul de sac with fire right in several yards and already taking one home. We lost just the one home, but saved several. They operated very safely, were very aware if LCES and did a tremendous job.

AZFIREFIGHTER

Small fire world. Thanks for the feedback. Ab.

7/23 Waldo Canyon Fire:

Still Out There as an AD

Having been on one of the other strike teams in Mountain Shadows alongside the Tahoe ST, I feel I can illuminate you on a few of the issues you've brought up. This was not a group of homes in a brush field on the Berdu, this was a subdivision of 1700 homes. Yes there was fire below, there was fire above, there was fire to the side, in short there was fire everywhere. But the fuel type was homes, there were no light flashy fuels to carry the fire, there was no continuous fuel at all. By the time we got in the main carrier of the fire was firebrands and radiant heat from home to home. The streets were wide, the utilities were underground, the possibility of being cut off was low. Even with the radiant heat put out by the homes as they burned, in the street it was not unbearable. Parks were abundant. Once we reconned the area, we knew that most roads were viable escape routes and in some cases were even potential escape routes or had one very close by.

Three strike teams went into Mountain Shadows, that's fifteen engines to cover 1700 homes, admittedly with the help of a few local government engines, at least one hotshot crew and LEOs patrolling for spots. Modules working alone was expected and necessary. Each strike team took several blocks, each engine took a street, we did what we could and then moved on. Five engines working on one house would have been exceedingly inefficient. When necessary multiple engines or entire strike teams tied in and made some very impressive stops, but this was after we had done what we could for individual homes and were now working on entire blocks in flames.

As I've said, each engine was working individual houses. The entire crew was working the house, within 200 feet of one another. That is why radios were not picked up. Communications on the modules were done by voice, module leaders called the STENs when needed, but that was mostly to relay intelligence and face to face was used most often at that level. There was radio traffic, just not on the intramodule level, as it wasn't needed and 15 people calling to say they were about to cut a deck off a house would have jammed up the one frequency we had.

You mention a "deliberate, tactical engagement" being thrown out. The deliberate plan was to keep the fire west of Centennial. We did. We could have burned off Centennial I guess, but that would have been frowned upon. Instead the tactical evolution went like this: Decision is made to hold the fire at Centennial, strike teams head up Centennial and spread out to the west to find the extent of the flaming front, engines report in where they have found the fire and attack what homes they think they can save while waiting for the intel to be collated, strike teams reconvene on Centennial and areas of responsibility are decided, engines head east of Centennial to control spots, at this point the wind has died down and the fire is now and urban conflagration west of Centennial, the engines are sent west of Centennial to save what we can with the focus being between Centennial and Flying W Ranch Rd. At no point was the plan thrown away, it was amended and the individual modules followed their bias for action and did what they could, but we are not automatons. Standing by the letter of the original plan would have meant sacrificing every home from Centennial to the Forest boundary when a good deal could and were saved.

Taking things at face value is the same as assuming, and we all know what that does. If you wish to ask probing questions, look higher. Why did the engines, STENs and Group Supervisor need to raid a gas station for maps? Why were three strike teams of federal type 3s the main structure protection force in an area that was under mandatory evacuation two days earlier on the priority fire in the nation? Why was no route into Mountain Shadows left open for fire traffic during the evacuation?

Anonymous

Thanks for the interesting and educational details. Ab.

7/23 Waldo Canyon Fire media article:

Its a 'Newspaper story' not a deposition: Let's assume that they had all their tactical safety stuff dialed: Let them have their moment of note.

Good to see something some good news from a fire situation that was really bad overall.

RC

7/23 Waldo Canyon Fire media article:

Ok, I know the media love to pick up good quotes from firefighters swapping stories. And I want to give the Tahoe strike team on the Waldo Canyon Fire the benefit of the doubt that they received a good in-briefing and were following LCES and whatever other combination of initials and 10 rules you want to throw into the mix. But if I take that Colorado Springs Gazette news story at face value, I have some concerns. When I see details about radios that are barely touched and each engine working "alone", I wonder what kind of communications were taking place between the engines, command, and the surrounding resources. What risks were run when a deliberate, tactical engagement gets tossed and replaced by just jumping in and going? That's how you get engines cut off and burned over. Maybe the most alarming was the observation of possible fire below them while contending with extreme fire behavior: that's not just an exciting element in a story -- that's a potential life and death situation. I'm just glad those guys got out of the with nothing more than some good stories to swap over a pitcher of beer.

Still Out There as an AD

7/22 Aurora CO Firefighters and Police Officers:

Our community/forum wishes to express our pride and support to Aurora Firefighters and Aurora Police Officers for your professionalism and rapid response to the tragedy in your town. We must also acknowledge the hard work and dedication of emergency responders from multiple agencies at the City, County, State and Federal level.

We are proud you all chose to protect and to serve.

May the families of those who lost loved ones know that you're not alone. A nation is with you. May you find a level of peace and comfort in the days to come.

ms

7/22 Tahoe NF Strike Team

James and 4660C,

Job well done. Very proud of you.

Groundpig.

7/22 2 Dead, 1 Injured After Vehicle Collides With Rig Battling Shamrock Grass Fire in Oklahoma

www.newson6...grass-fire

CREEK COUNTY, Oklahoma -

Two people are dead and a firefighter has been injured in an accident on Oklahoma State Highway 16 near Shamrock, Okla.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said a vehicle collided with an Olive fire truck Sunday afternoon. The Olive Fire Department is one of the many agencies battling a grass fire that has been burning for three days.

Hotlist

That Shamrock grass fire does not seem to be reported on the National or Southern Area Sit Reports. It's 35,000 acres, according to Modis. Anyone know the unit identifier? Ab.

7/22 Good article about the Tahoe NF Strike Team on the Waldo Canyon Fire that impinged on and burned homes in Colorado Springs; photos too:

WALDO CANYON FIRE: Firefighters defended streets they'd never known
gazette.com

James Prince and the 25 members of his Tahoe National Forest strike team rolled into Colorado Springs on June 26, just before 65-mph winds shot fire across the landscape. The team’s five engines staged at 30th Street and Garden of the Gods Road before they drove into the inferno that had fallen on Mountain Shadows. They doused...

More: www.gazette.com/...tahoe.phpl

7/22 Remembering TJ Marovich...

Yes, yesterday was three years since TJ was taken. Still hard. Many of his friends and fellow fighters came by to visit. We love to hear what you are up to and how your lives are progressing. We love to hear about you remembering TJ.

We want you to stay safe. We want you to know we are thinking of you.

Aunt Marlene

7/21 Remembering TJ Marovich...

3 years ago today the Forest Service lost Thomas Marovich in a Rappel accident on the Backbone fire in Northern California. My thoughts go to his family. I know the Chester Fly Crew, along with his home station on the Modoc NF, and many others have TJ in their thoughts today and every day.

I wish peace to his family.

Fire Mom

7/21 I thought mops came with Bambi buckets? (OK, I'm outa here....

Still Out There as an AD

Haw Haw! Ab.

7/21 re "mop tacs"

They're called "mop shots".

Fire Geek

Naw, tongue in cheek, Hotshots are called Mop Shots when they complain about having to do mop-up duty... Along the same lines, I thought maybe Mop Tacs... Haw Haw. Ab.

7/21 Reference this HRM post yesterday: For those seeking info on eRecruit, especially for FS employees: From: HRM News

Real time monitoring for a diverse applicant pool? Maybe the first step for the Forest Service is to focus on figuring out how to fill a job efficiently.

To Forest Service Management; What does a diverse applicant pool look like? If you can't define this question, we can't help you. Your EEO compliant numbers are increasing, your payoffs and settlements are going to mount. This is not the 1980's. We will not sit back and take it again. Wildland Firefighters are more knowledgeable now. They are more connected, informed and they will fight back when they are discriminated against.

The President and other elected officials support Wildland Firefighters. They will not allow for you to continuously discriminate against this workforce.

Sierra Sam

7/21 RE Helitack crew motto:

Our helitack motto was always, "Smooth is fast."

That kept us alive and we were never above the drudgery.

Dan

7/20 Old Memorial - El Cariso - REQUEST

Hey Guys,
I received this email from Stephanie Regis (California Wildland Firefighters Memorial at http://cwfm.info/ ).

If anyone recognizes the guy in the old photo, please let Stephanie (and me) know who it is.I will try to get it posted on my El Cariso web site (...elcarisohotshots1966) over the weekend. Thanks.

David

email from Stephanie:

Hi,

We're trying to finalize some items concerning the old memorial at El Cariso. Could you post the attached pic on your website and see if anyone recognizes the person in front of the fountain?

thanks,
steph

--
Stephanie Regis
rregis@ nospam roadrunner.com

ElCarisoMem19609(3).jpg

7/20 Helitack crew motto

From the best of my knowledge the motto went something like this "we stop them, you mop them."

Hope this helps!

Oh yeah i don't want to be mentioned, just a ground pounder.

Tongue in cheek: When they had to mop up, were they secretly called moptacs? Ab.

7/20 Helitack crew motto

Hi All,

I heard from an old theysaid friend who is trying to remember a motto Helitack crews had. Something about their initial attack and leaving the drudgery to the rest of the crews....

I vaguely remember that, does know what I am talking about?

Thanks for any help. Ab.

7/20 For those seeking info on eRecruit, especially for FS employees:\From: HRM News
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2012 15:40
To: ALL FS
Subject: Coming Soon: New HRM Staffing Software
Intended Audience: All FS Employees
July 19, 2012

Coming Soon: New HRM Staffing Software

What you need to know

The Forest Service will be the first USDA agency to transition to eRecruit, the new staffing software, that is projected to go live August 31, 2012. Highlights of eRecruit, which will replace Avue, include:

- Applicants must have a USAJOBS profile. No need to create a new profile if you already have a USAJOBS profile.

- Applicants will be able to stay on the USAJOBS screen to track the status of their applications.

- Managers will have improved access to the workflow process, candidate pools, vacancy status, etc.

- Mobile technology can alert managers of pending actions.

- Real-time reporting will help monitor the volume and diversity of the applicant pool.

What you need to do

For more information, please visit the eRecruit webpage at: http://fsweb.asc.fs.fed.us.../eRecruit/ (internal FS web).

You can submit questions about eRecruit to: erecruit@fs.fed.us.

7/19 Firefighter Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) Frequently Asked Questions

2012/federal/FF_FEHB_FAQ.pdf  (50 K pdf)

Thanks for the FAQ on health benefits. Ab

7/19 eRecruit info (one page...)
FS_CM_SAUATPhase1ABriefing_vFINAL_20120628.pdf

eRecruit Field Readiness
Forest Service
United States Department of Agriculture

Field Readiness Activity: User Acceptance Testing (UAT)

Purpose

The purpose of UAT is to validate eRecruit’s ability to meet the Forest Service’s (FS’s) functional requirements. Successful conclusion of UAT will result in system acceptance with sign-off and approval of the Staff Acquisition System functionality of eRecruit...
More at the link on Approach, Participants, and Timeline...

e Recruit  (46 K pdf)

Thanks for the info on eRecruit. Ab.

7/19 Ab note: from the 24 hour Report CA-SHF-Flat Engine Incident that occurred last weekend:

A type 3 Engine crew was engaged in containing a slop over on the Flat Incident on the Shasta-Trinity, when conditions suddenly changed and the crew withdrew to the engine to depart the area.  No injuries were sustained by crew members.  The engine received minor damage.  A facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA) team is on scene reviewing this incident.

No doubt we'll hear more when the FLA comes out. Ab.

7/19 Implementation of FEHBP eligibility of wildland firefighters

From: Davis, Mark W -FS
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2012 2:58 PM
To: FS
Subject: Implementation of FEHBP eligibility of wildland firefighters

Local Presidents,

Because the rule is effective immediately, I wanted to share the best information we have at this time on the implementation of FEHBP eligibility of wildland firefighters. This information is to the best of our understanding, but you should be aware that specifics are subject to change as the administration and agencies work through implementation details. However, with this caveat in place, we wanted to share as much information as we have, even if it is not final or definitive.

The official rule as published in the Federal Register this morning is attached (54 K pdf). Paragraph (h) of the new rule reads, in relevant part, “an employee who is in a position identified by OPM that provides emergency response services for wildland fire protection is eligible to be enrolled in a health benefits plan.” In addition, the Forest Service has distributed FAQs on FEHBP eligibility; it is posted at http://fsweb.asc.fs.fed.us(internal Forest Service web) Based upon our discussions with OPM, here’s our understanding of some of the details:

  • The intent of paragraph (h) is to include firefighters and those who provide on-site support to firefighting, regardless of if they do so from a position of record that identifies them as a primary firefighter or if they do so as a member of the “fire militia,” i.e., from a position of record that does not identify them as a primary firefighter.
  • The list of positions of record in the current Forest Service FAQs (e.g., 462 Forestry Technicians, 455 Range Technicians) is not exclusive but illustrative. Eligibility determinations should be made by reference to duties actually performed when mobilized. In this regard, qualifications to serve on wildland fire incidents are controlling. Employees qualified to do so in the system of records maintained for this purpose, the Incident Qualifications and Certification System (see /iqcs.nwcg.gov/main/about.phpl), are eligible.
  • Eligible employees will have 60 days from July 17, 2012 to enroll. Upon enrollment within this window, they may choose from among the following effective dates:

o July 17, 2012
o Immediately upon submission of their application
o The first day of the next pay period following submission of their application

Any employee who feels they might quality and wishes to be covered should submit an application. Because this is a new rule that was effective immediately, I suspect there will be kinks such as varying interpretations and problems with cross-walking IQCS data to HRM records. If an employee who feels they are eligible applies and their application is rejected, we certainly would like to hear about it so we can better understand the criteria that are being used and work to correct any errors. If this happens to you, please contact a Local union official as soon as possible. If you have difficulty contacting a Local official, contact your Council Vice President. Go to www.nffe-fsc.org/ and click on the “Local Contacts” or “Council Contacts” button on the left side of the page to find out who to contact. We’ll be putting together a survey tool accessible from our website to allow us to collect reports of problems in a centralized database as well. I hope to have this designed and up and running by early next week.

OPM is working on additional guidance that we hope will be forthcoming soon.

Mark Davis, President
NFFE Forest Service Council
920-992-6208

Thanks, Mark. Ab.

7/19 Dear Ab,

There are a couple of folks who ought to be mentioned on the Fire Manager History website as coming from the Dalton IHC.

The first is Ed Collins. He and I worked together on Dalton in 1968 and he was on Dalton in 1969 and 1970. We were also classmates at Northern Arizona University and graduated in 1971. Ed was our class valedictorian. He is currently District Ranger on the Lakeside District of the Apache-Sitgreaves NF.

I, Bob Withrow, served on Dalton in 1966 and 1968. I was the first Situation Coordinator at the National Interagency Fire Center, 1974-1975. I was also the first Chief of Wildfire Management for the Territory of Guam, 1978-1980.

Ed and I both worked for Chuck Hartley and Paul Gleason when we were on Dalton. I was with them on the Loop Fire in 1966.

Thanks,

Thanks, Bob. I'll add that info to the "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project Ab.
7/19 R-5 Grunt,

I asked the same question from our Forest Administrative Officer in regards to what will be used for Fall Fire Hire, here is her response,

"It would be from eRecruit as it goes into effect starting Sept. 1. Please be aware that applicants will have to create a new profile in eRecruit and nothing from Avue with move over to the new system. As soon as more information is available, it will forwarded to all employees or you can see t he latest info on the ASC HRM website under eRecruit."

This person is usually in the know but we all know how quickly things can change. What if eRecruit is not ready by Sept. 1st, then what?

DirtMiner...

7/18 eRecruit and Avue for this fall's fire hire

I was just wondering if anyone has any insight as to what is going on with our next round of hiring in Region 5. Typically for the fall fire hire applications need to be submitted by the end of September to be considered for the fall hiring process. My question is since Avue is out starting September 30th are we going to be submitting our applications on Avue one last time for fall fire hire or will we be utilizing eRecruit? If eRecruit is the case does anyone have any leads or information links that clarifies the process of how to apply using eRecruit?

Thanks for the insight,

R-5 Grunt

7/17

Subject: Temporary Firefighters are Now Eligible to Participate in the Federal Employee Health

Intended Audience: All Forest Service Employees
July 17, 2012

Temporary Firefighters are Now Eligible to Participate in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program

The Forest Service Human Resources Management (HRM) staff is working closely with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to implement the new regulation that allows our temporary firefighters the opportunity to enroll in the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) Program. This is a top priority for our agency and HRM is ready to start enrolling employees who are eligible and choose to enroll. We have posted information on the HRM Benefit’s website at: http://fsweb.asc.fs.fed.us or if employees would like to speak directly with an HR Specialist, please call 1-877-372-7248, press 2, press 2 again, and then press 4 to request to speak with the Benefits staff.

Also, OPM has a website dedicated to the FEHB program available at: www.opm.gov/insure/health

To read OPM’s announcement on this new change, please visit:
Rule Change Allows Federal Firefighters Access to Health Insurance

7/17 Interim Rule change for Federal Health Benefits Program Coverage for Certain Firefighters:

Folks inclined to comment can take note of the comment period and offer any thoughts they may have to Michael W. Kaszynski, Senior Policy Analyst, Planning and Policy Analysis, U.S. OPM.

Casey

Firefighter Coverage.pdf

Contact info for Kaszynski is in the document. Ab.

7/17 Update on insurance coverage, temporary employment reform:

Getting the health insurance issue on the radar screen of President Obama and him committing to make federal coverage available to temporary seasonal wildland firefighters was a huge victory – no doubt about it. And it took a team. Cigars go to Rachel at change.org, Casey at FWFSA, Cory and Bill Dougan at NFFE National, and of course John Lauer and the Tatanka Hotshots and their family and friends.

So what will this mean? There’s a lot of rumor and speculation out there. While we are not privy to the details of the rule change to provide coverage, we believe it will involve a rules change at 5 CFR 890.102(c). This is based on our understanding of the statutory and regulatory constraints that limit what President Obama has the authority to do. In fact, as recently as a few weeks ago OPM’s position was that health insurance eligibility for temporary employees with the government paying its share of premium was not possible because of language at 5 USC 8906a. We argued in a brief sent to the OPM and the White House that this could be done under the authority at 5 USC 8913(b), because 5 USC 8906a does not apply to temporary seasonal employees or to wildland firefighters. I assume this is where the rules change will happen.

To be clear, we also argued that all competitive service temporary seasonal employees expected to work more than 90 days in the year should be included. We feel this is the right thing to do. In addition, restricting coverage to only firefighters will be challenging – because of the classification issue the agency doesn’t even know (at the level of centralized personnel records) who its primary firefighters are. Identifying militia firefighters would be even more difficult. And exactly where should they draw the line? Should only those who work in the smoke and ashes get access, or should support personnel be included? To do the latter undermines the argument that it is the extremely hazardous nature of the work that makes this group of temporary seasonal employees, but not other field-going employees, deserving of coverage. We don’t know at this point in which direction they will decide to go.

While this is a great accomplishment, much more work remains. The administration has the authority to provide health coverage while a temporary employee is employed, but I don’t see how they could do so after temporary employees are terminated and therefore not employees. Thus, my reading of the authorities involved indicates that a rules change is possible to make temporary seasonal employees eligible to participate like other employees during the season, but they would be faced with Cobra premiums during the off-season. To continue coverage under Cobra, employees in terminated status would have to pay the government and employee share of the premium. Rates are available at www.opm.gov/insure/health/rates/index.asp .

Using basic coverage under the APWU plan (a cheaper one than Blue Cross), premiums would be as follows:

Individual, when employed: $ 89.23
Family, when employed: $200.72
Individual, when terminated: $356.92
Family, when terminated: $802.90

Clearly we aren’t all the way home yet. The fundamental barrier to a comprehensive solution is the false categorization of employees performing regularly recurring seasonal work as temporary instead of permanent seasonal. The comprehensive solution would be to convert these employees to permanent seasonal status. This is why putting the authority in place to convert temporary seasonal employees to permanent seasonal status is so important. We are working to introduce a bill that would provide the authority to convert temporary seasonal workers to permanent seasonal status, in which status they would remain employees in non-duty status and could therefore participate year-round. A number of other benefits (pension, requirement to place those injured on the job into permanent positions, etc.) would also accrue. Our bill and supporting documentation are posted at www.nffe-fsc.org/...legislative/temp_hire.php .

Mark Davis, President
NFFE Forest Service Council
920-992-6208

Thanks for your good work, Mark. Ab.

7/16 Dinosaur, (New Android user)...

Try Raindar and the IRPG. Raindar is free and the IRPG is $1.99...The NOAA app is pretty cool as are the Weather channel and G-mail...Go to personal info on Paycheck 8 and switch your government email to your Yahoo or Gmail account. When you times are approved or travel is done it will notify you every time...

Welcome to the light and good to see you out of the cave...LOL..

DozerBuddy

7/15 2012 F350 fire issues:

Thanks for the heads up Carol.

We received 3 of these new Patrol rigs this year.

When we read the thread we immediately inspected one of the patrols, and yes the paint was bubbling and there was a scorch mark on the box.

This was a good save, as all his Saw gas, fusees, etc. were in that compartment.

We are calling our patrol on assignment in Colorado and informing him now.

We will no longer be using this compartment until we get the exhaust pipes modified. (Monday morning)

Thanks again,

Mad River BC

7/15 Sweet Things:

I support health care and hazard pay for all frontline firefighters. It's amazing the difference in pay many of us get for doing the same jobs. And whatever can be done to help some of our less fortunate brothers and sisters cope, I’m for it.

Meanwhile, if you happen to travelling to and fro between Bozeman and Butte Montana while on assignments, I highly recommend that you take a little coffee break in Whitehall. Swing on by Sweet Things Espresso (it's just off the exit and across the street from the Town Pump gas station, in a little log cabin) and I guarantee that Jody will fix you up something that will help you keep your eyes on the road and that her charm and cheerfulness will make an otherwise ordinary day much more pleasant. Stay safe and have a great summer!

Tim from Craigmont ID

Not posting the photo, Tim; cute, but she might get mad. Ab.

7/14 Abs –

Just traded in my tin can and string for an android-powered Smartphone. Looking for advice and tips from TheySaiders on best android apps to put on it that will help me on assignment.

Thanks.

DINOSAURUS

7/14 2012 Ford F350 fire issues

We had the same problem in 1999 with a 99 Ford super duty Ford when a Douglas utility bed was mounted. It melted a plastic funnel into a big glob in the right rear low box. Luckily no fire and nothing flammable. We had the exhaust pipe extended but we still don’t carry anything flammable in those boxes. Since then we have made sure all exhaust pipes are extended when the beds get mounted.

Jim

7/13 Kevin Brown,

It was a Knapheide Utility Box.

Dirt Weasel
7/13 In response to FireCapWife:

All people have been asking for is opportunity to be buy into the plans that are already offered to Federal employees. This doesn't mean that every single employee will opt in for health insurance. I know permanent employees who choose not to purchase health insurance even though it's available to them. My SO was a permanent GS-6 for a long time and had 18-8 or 13-13 appointments and chose to continue the health insurance when he was laid off in the winter and back pay on the premiums was taken out of his paycheck when he came back on in May. This was hard on us financially come spring time, but it was our choice. There's nothing too complicated about how this will work, it is already being done by permanent employees who are essentially seasonal. I read that this would cost around $17 million to implement, we'll easily spend that much money on just one fire. Take a look at today's Sit Report, we've probably spent 4 times that much on just the fires listed today. We can't chip in a little bit extra to make health insurance available to hard working firefighters? I don't know about everyone else, but my family sure makes a lot of personal sacrifices for the commitment required by a “Forestry Technician” position in fire. So yeah, I think we can afford a little bit extra for these people to get health insurance if they want. As Casey has been so eloquently saying for years, these changes can easily be paid for if mismanagement of funds was addressed and we would likely see a return on this investment in retaining quality employees.

Benefits for health plans are negotiated by OPM, and the BCBS FEHB plan in particular is much better than those offered by regular BCBS plans. One major component is that no one can be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions- this has been a right for Federal employees and their families for years. I've looked into other private insurance plans and for the price, nothing even comes close to what you pay for some of the agency sponsored plans offered to Federal employees. My dad worked for the FS as well, so I have been covered under a FEHB plan for almost my entire life and from what I have gathered from various providers and other people with private insurance over the years, Federal employee plans are far superior to anything you would ever get with private insurance from the same exact companies. My son has a genetic blood disorder and he would be denied health care coverage just about any where else. If it wasn't for our great health insurance we get through his dad's employment we would no doubt be deeply in debt or would have declared bankruptcy from overwhelming medical bills, as so many other Americans have. It was a financial hardship for us to pay for insurance at the GS 5/6 level, but it was nothing compared to hardships we would have faced without it.

stringtown
7/13 Dear Firecapwife:

The issue of providing access to federal health care benefit plans to seasonal federal wildland firefighters is not a partisan/political issue in regards to whatever someone thinks the President's "will" is. It is a fundamental benefit of federal employees that has been denied these brave men & women who risk their lives just as their permanent-career co-workers do for decades.

The issues that have encumbered our Nation's federal wildland firefighters for so long transcend the partisan rhetoric about "Presidential wills" etc. As you note, the Republican controlled House repealed the Affordable Health Care Act. This was the 34th time the House has wasted the "People's time" in taking this "symbolic" action knowing full well that the Senate would not pass such a proposal. Thus when you say "the majority of our elected representatives also oppose this mandate" please clarify that such a comment is specific to the majority in the US House of Representatives. The majority of our elected representatives in the US Senate will not repeal the law. Also keep in mind I was born and raised a Republican!

The partisan nonsense should be left out of this discussion out of respect for our federal wildland firefighters who are on the lines as we speak, risking their lives to protect our Nation's natural resources and its citizens (such as yourself) and their real & personal property from the ravages of wildfires.

I would ask that you and others pay particular attention to SA's post as it relates to the fiscal mismanagement of the land management agency fire programs. Perhaps it is time that the public become aware of just how much money is wasted by the land management agencies in their management of their fire programs. Congress appropriates funds for fire preparedness or pre-suppression (WFPR) which pays for equipment and staffing when those firefighters are not assigned to fires. It also appropriates money for wildfire suppression (WFSU). These funds not only pay federal wildland firefighters but they also are used to pay for the ever-increasing number of higher-priced non-federal resources and the very lucrative cooperative agreements between federal land management agencies and non-federal fire agencies.
Congress also appropriates money for hazardous fuels reduction. This should be self-explanatory.

However, it is important for you and the Public to know that those authorized by the Agencies such as the Forest Service to allocate & utilize those appropriated fire dollars as well as develop and implement fire policy have little to no wildfire experience and little to no experience or expertise in managing a fire department. The fact is, the Forest Service fields the largest fire department in the world. However the analogy I often use is that its business model is tantamount to the fire departments of the largest cities in the US being managed by that city's Parks & Recreation Dept. It's sheer lunacy and not cost-effective or efficient. It may have been appropriate 30-40 years ago but not with the complexities of today's 21st century wildfires.

The public should be keenly aware that those responsible for allocating said fire funding often spend a considerable amount of that fire money on non-fire costs/projects as SA alluded to. As a result often the public is at greater risk in that the level of preparedness resources is not what it should be. To fill in the gaps, the agencies have come to over-rely on many higher-priced non-federal resources costing you, the taxpayer, more than is necessary.

Further, the lack of benefits mean a lack of incentives for quality candidates to be recruited into these fire positions and the inability to retain many of these firefighters once you, the taxpayer, has made a significant investment into their training. Sure, even if they go to another non-federal fire agency they'll still show up on wildfires, but they will now cost you 3-5 times what it cost you when they were a federal employee. How can you/we not afford to change the status quo?

By providing incentives such as access to federal health care plans as well as those included in HR 6092 introduced this week, we can improve recruitment & retention and thus strengthen the inherently less expensive federal side of the house so to speak so that the agencies can start to reduce (not eliminate) their over-reliance on higher-priced non-federal resources. This in turn will create a more effective and efficient federal wildfire response and ultimately save you, the taxpayer significant sums of money.

Bottom line, there is ample funding within that already appropriated by Congress to these agencies to provide these brave men & women with reforms to the archaic pay & personnel policies that have encumbered them for so long. The issue is ensuring those tax dollars are managed properly and utilized as intended by Congress and the American taxpayer.

Respectfully,
Casey Judd
President
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
208-775-4577
7/13 Tri-Sac:

I understand better than most what it is like to be without insurance. I have a chronic health condition and have been under constant treatment for over 35 years including multiple emergency room visits, hospitalizations and expensive medications both with and without health insurance. I have lived with what many fear and managed to work through it without the interference of government agencies and mandates and was never once denied the treatment I required because I didn't have insurance.
One of your statements, "The President had made it clear that it is the will of the people that healthcare be provided for all" couldn't be farther from the truth. The majority of The People oppose this mandate. The majority of our elected representatives also oppose this mandate as indicated by the repeal vote in the House this week.

If our government was so concerned about healthcare for all as you stated, why all the waivers excempting federal, state and local agencies from the mandate. There are also thousands of unions, large corporations and religious groups excempt from this mandate putting more burden on those who are forced into a system we The People did not choose.

Old Timer is right on mark about the cost of this program. How will it be funded? Just because those effected are employed by the goverment shouldn't give them any more rights and benefits than those employed in the private sector who typically don't receive the same benefits as the full time employee.

I am greatful that my husband is full time and greatful for the benefits of such employment. However there was a time when he too was a temporary and didn't have the benefits. At that time he and his first wife had four small children at home and managed to make it work.

This biggest problem I see is not the lack of benefits but the lack of personal responsibilty. How many of these part-time employees have even attempted to get health insurance on their own? I bet the percentage is extremely low. We have two temporary firefighters in our family, both in their early 20s who have flat out said that even if the insurance is offered they won't take it because nothing is going to happen to them. How many others share the same view? I know many full-time younger worker in both the Firefighter community and the private sector who don't take the benefits offered to them for the same reason.

Before we implement yet another expensive program that we simply can't afford, maybe there needs to be some committment from those who will be affected. Personally, if I knew the majority would sign up for the program, maybe I would be more supportive. I would be willing to bet if it was put out there and the temps and seasonals had to committ to the program (sign up with payroll deduction in place) before the program was available a small percentage would sign up. By doing this we would al least have some hard numbers to work with and not just another feel good policy or program.

Firecapwife

7/13 Health care / OWCP / and YOUR personal responsibilities:

Much like the gentleman who has been dealing with OWCP, I too have been dealing with them – since 1980.

My best advice is FOIA request your complete file. I found chart notes with assessed impairments that had never been shared with me – although they were with the medical providers and the OWCP claims agent.

My accident was no doubt serious, with my life changed forever. Everything was taken care of after the accident, but once upon returning to work (after a lengthy recovery); it was truly amazing to see how much information I had a right to see under FECA was withheld. Had I not thoroughly reviewed the file, the injuries would be hurting even more than they do now. Also, be very careful in what ASC tells you. I recently had some pertinent (to me) conflicting information offered by both parties.

Bottom line – keep all your records, but may seem minutiae now, can be massive 20 years later. If in doubt take the tie, FOIA request your files and thoroughly review each page. If you were examined and assessed for a PPI – there will be notes – but they may never tell you unless you look. Also the schedule awards are pretty succinct for loss of body parts or use of them; except for spinal injury. Your back is virtually worthless, no matter how bad the injury.

Just a “watch out situation.”

Final point – if you are seriously injured to the point the body does not function as it used to, stay on top of this. Get assessments but from YOUR practitioner. OWCP doctors are notorious for downplaying any changes in bodily function, capacities, and disability. After 33 years of dealing with them – my best advice is keep the dialog open, and for you newbies – if you get hurt to the nature your body work capacity becomes limited – MAKE SURE YOU report the accident. OWCP is there for a reason – and it still is the best health insurance for wild land firefighters injured on the job. If you think you’ll just “tough it out” – you are only fooling yourself. I am not talking common injuries or accidents that put you out of the game for a week of two, and I certainly am not advocating filing a claim for minute injuries – but it’s your body, your life, and your family that will be affected most if you don’t stay on top of things. Here’s a link to FECA /OWCP www.dol.gov/owcp/ including what your body parts are worth.

P.S. – OWCP changes their primary case managers at least every 6 months; if it’s a long-term issue, just keep in mind that as this rotation occurs, and over a period of time – you’ll get a new case worker often unfamiliar with your situation – and they all have to review your file to make their decisions. Cumbersome but good to know.

Now with all respect to OWCP – they have improved – in my experience with processing claims over the years / but the agency is still a morass.

Good luck – stay safe.

Signed (old, injured but still working)

Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Ab.

7/12 RE: Seasonal Employee Health Care

AK Old Timer,

You are correct that the devil is in the details. The questions you ask will be answered.

Let's be clear though.. ALL or our employees, as federal employees, (including our FIREFIGHTERS) DESERVE the right to have access to the Federal Health Benefit Program.

The President has made it clear that the will of the people is affordable health care for all.. why should the Land Management Agencies be different?

Another question that will come up is other federal agency non firefighter seasonal employee's ability to access the Federal Health Benefit Program.

As for the cost to government and employee... it is just a little more complicated than a 70%-30% split... follow the link to OPM's Federal Health Benefit Handbook.

www.opm.gov/insure/health...

Tri-Sac

"Hope resides in the future, perspective and wisdom are found by looking to the past"
Visit www.fireleadership.gov/

7/12 RE: Seasonal Employee Health Care

AK Old Timer

After reading your post I'm pretty worked up but I'll try to maintain and respond. As I see it you have two issues in your post,

  • because of the budget the agency can't afford it and
  • they are covered by OWCP.

Lets take the budget first because that's the easy one.

At the regional FMO meeting they said the suppression budget this year is $980 million and I've heard elsewhere it's up to 1.6 billion. How much does that leave if you subtract the 10 million cost you put out? How about if all of the money was spent on fire instead of the deputy forest supervisors' wages or non fuels NEPA wages or other non fire/ fuels costs? I've been dealing with budgets every since 1995 and management has always used it to justify cuts to the field.

Now lets get to OWCP and how they cover the workers.

I've been dealing with it nonstop since 1998 on my own multiple injuries, as well as helping others because of my expertise. First, about 50% of what you hear from Albuquerque is wrong. Ironically, I just had an appointment today with a doctor that OWCP brought in from Olympia WA to Spokane to check me out for a hearing loss claim I turned in. Imagine that after 28 years of running a chainsaw for the FS I have a hearing loss. He found that yes I have a 70 to 80% loss and it is from working around noise, but he told them to rate me at 0% impairment which means no settlement. According to him it doesn't affect any other functions of normal living. He did say that I borderline could use a hearing aid, but off the record he told me I'd never wear it anyway.

I've had three back injuries and two surgeries. They told me nothing can be done to fix this last one. It not only took me out of fire fighting, but I am unable to take a running step or walk over 1/4 mile. Since federal OWCP doesn't recognize back injuries for any settlement I've been trying since 2006 to get a settlement for the loss of use of my left leg. They've been telling me that at the most I'll get 4% which works out to about $7500 for my leg.

I've been researching for a firefighter that got run over by dozer in Texas and lost his eye. OWCP rated him out at 25% or 40 weeks of pay, but yet I've found three different locations in the FECA laws that say he should have received 160 weeks. Still not enough! State industrial would have paid more.

I've got dozens of examples from a brain injury and the agency wants to force her out... to where, due to injuries, the employee was put into a job without firefighter retirement which added ten years to their time until retirement.

Please don't say they are covered by Workers' Comp like it's a good thing. I'm 60 years old and Workers Comp is the most adversarial system I've ever experienced. In my opinion this should be the next battle we take on.

SA

7/12 Got this as a cc from Kevin to Carol, Looks like there has been at least one other problem with the F-450. Ab.

Carol, this unfortunately is not a new problem. We received a new F-450 in 2002 with service body. On the truck’s maiden voyage cross country it arrived and we noted the same thing. Tail pipe too short and routed directly under the right rear box. Ours contained fuel, 2 cycle oil, etc. Fortunately all that occurred was melting several bottles of 2 cycle oil to the bottom of the bin. We then had the exhaust pipe extended several inches and quickly moved our flammables to the left side of the vehicle. Hearing this ten years later worries me but does not surprise me. The truck leaves the line with no bed attached (which is added later) and the bed installer appears to be oblivious to the problem. Just curious, was this a Knapheide bed?

Kevin Brown
Gallatin Rappel Crew

7/12 2012 Ford F350

Subject: 2012 F350's w/Utility Bed SHARE FAR AND WIDE
Importance: High

This morning we had a fire crew in a new 2012 Ford F350 traveling to a fire in Utah. While in route the utility box caught on fire. The vehicle was towed to the nearest Ford dealership in Ogden, Utah. The service department said the cause was from the exhaust pipe too close to the box and not extended out enough. The compartment above the tail pipe contained chock blocks, chains and fusees.

As it turned out there was nothing but body damage but needless to say this could have been a lot worse. We received several F350’s with utility beds on this year’s order and from what we can tell they are all the same way.

It appears that the fix would be to have the tail pipe extended and dropped down an inch or so. Also the crews need to remove any flammables from the compartment above the tail pipe.

GO OUT AND CHECK YOUR NEW FORD F350’S WITH UTILITY.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Allen Nunn in our automotive shop or any of the rest of us in fleet.

Thanks, Carol

Carol Winter
Forest Fleet Manager
Okanogan Wenatchee NF
Mt Baker Snoqualmie NF

PHOTO

7/12 Re: Seasonal Employee Health Insurance Benefits

I fully support providing Federal Employee Health Benefits to our seasonal employees. Federal health insurance for seasonal employees will be very beneficial for a member of my family.

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade but this proposal deserves a much closer examination.

First of all, premiums are set at one rate for all. There’s no lower rate for the lower GS’s and higher rates for the upper GS’s. Everyone in each individual plan pays the same rate. I’m concerned that the lower grades (GS 3, 4, 5, etc) will find it a burden to purchase health insurance. The cost is even a bigger hurdle for seasonals who want to have family coverage.

For example, using the low cost Basic Blue Cross/Blue Shield Plan the employee will pay $56.25/PP for the self only option and $131.73/PP for self and family coverage. With the more generous Standard BC/BS Plan the employee will pay $85.58/PP for the self only option and $198.48/PP for self and family coverage. Without a lot of O/T that’s a big chunk out of the paycheck.

How many seasonal employees will say that they’re very healthy so they don’t need health insurance? After all, if they’re injured at work they have Workman’s Comp and if they’re injured in an automobile accident they will have their vehicle insurance to cover any medical expenses.

A bigger concern is the impact on the Federal Agencies budgets. The employee only pays about 30% of the total cost of the Federal Employee Health Benefit program. The Government pays the remaining 70%, which by law must be paid out of the appropriation which pays the majority of the employee’s salary. So Fire Funds must be used to pay the Government’s share of the health benefit cost for wildland fire-fighting, seasonal employees. In this era of limited budgets this could have a big impact on the overall firefighting program.

Using the BC/BS Plans the Government’s share in the Basic Plan is $168.77/PP ($2,194.01/season for a seasonal employee) for the self-only option and $395.73/PP ($5144.49/season) for the self and family option. With the Standard Plan, the Government’s share is $185.75/PP ($2414.75/season) for the self-only option and $414.35/PP ($5386.55/season) for the self and family option. If 5,000 seasonal employees sign up for the self-only Basic Plan, the total cost to the Government would be over $10,000,000! And that’s probably the low estimate of the cost to the government.

Anyone besides Casey have any idea where this money is going to come from?

How does this proposal affect other resource areas? Will the seasonal timber, wildlife, recreation, fisheries, etc. employees be offered this same benefit? To me it would be discriminatory if they did not have the same options. Since most of the budgets for the other resources have been shrinking over the past few years. This additional cost for providing health benefits would have a major impact on other resource programs.

What happens when the seasonal employees are not on the payroll? Does the insurance just stop? Or, can the employee pay out of pocket (100% or their regular portion?) to continue the insurance like a COBRA continuation? Does the Government continue to pay their share for an employee (who may not return) during the off period?

I’d like to implement health insurance for seasonal employees but there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. What concerns me the most is the fact that this is an election year. A lot of promises are going to be made by politicians up for election. But, once the election is over, these promises are soon forgotten.

AK Old Timer
7/10 Obama directs that wildland firefighters be offered health insurance

Let's be thankful.

Yes, many agree, health care for temporary Firefighter is a long time coming, politics is not pretty, election year politics is even worse. However let's be thankful, stay positive and appreciative of this huge development. Time to move on to supporting HR 6092 and joining FWFSA. The best 10 bucks I spend every two weeks.

Thank you President Obama.

ms

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

7/10 Obama directs that wildland firefighters be offered health insurance

Ab-

What a shame this didn’t occur years ago. For a change, common sense seems to have prevailed.

Kudos to those that made it happen.

RM

There's still lots more to do for it to become real, but it's a good first step. Our thanks to all who took action and to those who have done so for years! Ab.

7/9 To All,

Today the president announced that he is directing the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to provide access to federal health care benefits for seasonal federal wildland firefighters. Details of the directive still need to be obtained.

obama-directs-that-wildland-firefighters-get-health-insurance
This news is on top of other encouraging news that Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado today introduced a near identical version of the FWFSA's HR 4488 (originally introduced in Dec. 2009) which is now HR 6092 the Wildland Firefighters Health Protection Act (attached). The bill includes provisions to address the classification issue; portal to portal pay; hazard pay included as base pay for retirement purposes; hazard pay for RX burns and of course the health care coverage which may be moot at this point.

I sincerely hope this community understands the effort and commitment of so many to ensure all of you in the federal sector get the pay & benefits you deserve. Not to dampen the feeling of accomplishment these announcements bring, there is still an incredible amount of work to be done and the sense of accomplishment must be met with the reality that often it takes devastating fire seasons to get the attention of those who can effect positive change and let's not forget the role of election year politics at play.

It is simply my sincerest hope that those of you away from your families and on the fire lines know that someone's got your back.

Attachment: HR 6092 Wildland Firefighters Health Protection Act (54 K pdf)

Casey Judd
President
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
208-775-4577

7/9 Obama directs that wildland firefighters be offered health insurance

http://blogs.federaltimes.com/federal-times-blog/

a friend in Denver alerted me to this, from the Denver Post.

jimbo

7/9 Obama directs that wildland firefighters be offered health insurance

Ab,

Too good to be true?!

...president-obama-makes-fed....phpl

Kibby

7/9 Obama directs that wildland firefighters be offered health insurance

I found this article posted by Sherrie Kvamme, our healing angel at the WFF. This is great news! Let’s hope that nothing holds it up.

www.denverpost.com/ci_21045438

Lori

7/9 Obama directs that wildland firefighters be offered health insurance

Ab,

This is from the Denver Post, "Obama directs that wildland firefighters be offered health insurance."
www.denverpost.com/ci_21045438

vfd cap'n

7/9 Obama directs that wildland firefighters be offered health insurance

Hopefully this proves to be true. If so, great work by Tatanka IHC and scores of others.

wildland-firefighters-win-federal-health-benefits-16750830

Charles Palmer, Ed. D.
Associate Professor
Health and Human Performance Dept.
Phyllis J. Washington College of Education and Human Sciences
University of Montana

7/9 Obama directs that wildland firefighters be offered health insurance

From: Davis, Mark W -FS
Sent: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 5:00 PM
Subject: Obama directs that wildland firefighters be offered health insurance

Local Presidents,

This happened quicker than I expected. This from the Denver Post: Obama directs that wildland firefighters be offered health insurance.

See www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/.

Your union – and many fine employees (more kudos to John Lauer) – and other partners in our ad hoc coalition – at work.

Our work is not done. The President faces statutory constraints that prevent a comprehensive solution. But this is a significant step in the right direction – and for tonight – just this one night – I for one am going to celebrate!

Mark Davis, President
NFFE Forest Service Council
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
From: Davis, Mark W -FS
Subject: Status of temporary employment reform - or where's the President been?

Local Presidents,

I’ve been taking some time to devote my full attention and energy to getting health insurance for temporary seasonal employees and to work for the more fundamental reform that will require Congressional action. The odds of stimulating positive change of this magnitude out of Washington are always long, but I’ve never seen them this good before. I’m sorry I’ve been “missing in action” from the perspective of some, but there’s a brief window of opportunity open now and my intent is to give it the best shot I have.

For those who may not have seen it, here’s recent national press on the issue.

NBC Nightly News: www.msnbc.msn.com/...Wp4I

AP: www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php

NFFE National and I have devoted a lot of time over the last few weeks on a two-pronged approach. First, we have reached out to OPM and the White House to advocate for health coverage to be provided administratively, to the extent they have the authority to do so. We specifically recommended that this be done by modifying the eligibility rules at 5 CFR 890.102(c)(2). Second, we are working hard to get our legislative proposal, which lays the foundation for more comprehensive reform, introduced within the next week or two. Fundamental reform will require Congressional action. Our latest brief on this aspect is attached, fyi.

With the public’s eye on this issue, there is great momentum for positive change. This opportunity was made possible by two things: (1) John Lauer stepped up and (2) he was part of a union with the knowledge and contacts to use the momentum he generated. And by the willingness and ability of Secretary-Treasurer Melissa Baumann to take over the reins while I’m “on detail.” That’s what it takes – all of us working together in solidarity. I’m proud to be a part of this effort. I’ll keep you informed of significant events as I am able to do so.

Be well. Be safe. I’ll be back.

Mark Davis, President
NFFE Forest Service Council
920-992-6208

7/9 Oregon Crew Carrier accident, but all seem to be OK.

Following is a news release that Oregon State Police just sent to media a few minutes ago. ODF Public Affairs is handling media calls about the crew, the fire they were headed to, and other forestry-related matters. We are referring questions about the accident, status of the victims and other law enforcement-related matters to Lt. Gregg Hastings, OSP, pager 503-323-3195.

UPDATE: SERIOUS INJURY TRAFFIC CRASH - HIGHWAY 126E NEAR PRINEVILLE (PHOTOS)
Posted: July 10th, 2012 9:38 AM
Photo/sound file: www.flashalertnewswire.net/images/1.jpg
Photo/sound file: www.flashalertnewswire.net/images/2.jpg

Oregon State Police (OSP) is continuing the investigation into an early Tuesday morning serious injury crash involving a van transporting ten contract wildland firefighters and a commercial truck on Highway 126E west of Prineville. Nine of the 10 people transported to area hospitals have been treated and released.

On July 10, 2012 at approximately 2:15 a.m. a 2000 Chevrolet van containing ten people was enroute to the John Day area responding to assist firefighting efforts at a wildland fire. The van driven by JEREMY A. MIESNER, age 35, from Salem, was eastbound on Highway 126E near milepost 12 negotiating a curve when MIESNER fell asleep. The van drifted into the westbound lane and crashed into the left front side of a Freightliner truck driven by SCOTT RAMAGE, age 48, from Washington.

The van sustained major left side damage and all ten occupants were transported to three different hospitals. The truck's driver and 39-year old male sleeping passenger were not injured.

Subsequent to the initial investigation, MIESNER was cited by OSP for Failure to Drive Within a Lane. Trooper Todd Burke is the lead investigator.

OSP was assisted at the scene by several agencies including Crook County Sheriff's Office, Prineville Police Department, Crook County Fire & Rescue, LifeFlight, Air Link, and ambulances from the city of Redmond and Jefferson County.

Transported by ambulance to Pioneer Memorial Hospital in Prineville where they were treated and released for minor injuries:

* Driver
* age 29, from Sheridan
* age 22, from Salem
* age 38, from Independence

Transported by air ambulance and ground ambulance to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend:

* age 37, from Salem, treated and released for minor injuries
* age 40, from Salem, treated and released for minor injuries
* age 39, city of residence unknown, is in critical condition

Transported by ground ambulance to St. Charles Medical Center in Redmond where they were treated and released for minor injuries:

* (female), age 36, from Woodburn
* age 20, from Salem
* age 33, from Salem

According to the Oregon Department of Forestry, the fire crew works for Lava River Forestry out of Salem. They were enroute to assist firefighting efforts at the Briley Mountain Fire. Questions for Department of Forestry should be directed to Rod Nichols at (503) 945-7425.

Photographs - Oregon State Police

7/9 Draw down and sitting on resources

Who Knows & Shrek,

I'm on a Type 1 IHC crew sitting right next door to a Forest that had a fire with structures threatened and we didn't even go. I'm scratchin my head too! Mutual aid and they probably had enough State crews to handle, and didn't request FS crews, immediate need, etc, etc.

I've been at this for a while now and I've only seen this the last maybe eight years? It's the same thing every year. I know, I don't want to preach to the choir here but, you gotta let go and just enjoy the time you can spend with your family. I know I do!

We like doing our jobs, that's why we are here. I have friends and family asking me why aren't you in Colorado? I tell them somebody needs to hold down the fort while all of our other resources are gone. Are we being held on Forest? I dunno??

Either way, If you're willing to search for the puzzle pieces to find out why, I say do it. I enjoy my days off, spending time with my family and friends.

Just my side,

Anchor N Flank

7/9 Lassen on Draw Down?

Ab's.

Over the past several weeks I have made some observations and have a question that maybe readers on They Said might be able to answer.

Is the Lassen N.F. on a draw down? It seems over the last four weeks they have not sent many engines to off-forest fires. You would think that the Lassen being next door to the Mendocino, they would have sent an engine or two. I know that they did send 3 engines to the fires out of region a couple weeks ago. I think the Draw down is 5 engines for the forest and they are showing 11 on it right now. It seems that every forest and even local Government strike teams are being sent. Did North Ops forget about them? If someone else can shed some light on the thinking process of North Ops and how the decide to send orders to the dispatch centers I would appreciate it a lot.

P.S.
It looks like South Ops has Engines heading to North Ops also.

Thanks
Who Knows

7/9 SoCal Sitting on resources?

Greetings,

I have been hearing that there has been some NICC/North Ops games going on in regards to resource orders . Its my understanding listening to the NMAC call and daily conference calls while out of region 5 that NICC is filling the majority of engine and crew orders from North Ops (region 5) due to the fact that many of the South Op's equipment and crews spent time in Texas last year, North Ops felt left out of the mix and complained to NICC. I have seen engine strike teams orders go to the Klamath and the Lassen for fires and severity in Southern Arizona over sending South Ops resources.

Just wondering if anyone can shed light on this or has insight.

Shrek

7/9 Washington lightning bust:

Enjoying the 8th of July! The attached photos are from Spokane Weather Service two nights ago showing the storm cells moving across our forest and through our valley, and a post from Facebook. From my house it looked like 5 cells firing across the ridges.... I have never seen anything like it...except in movies! This lightning show went on for 3 hours night before last... Amazing. Fierce. Humbling. Photos sent in by Firefox1.

Thanks, I added them to the Fire 46 photo page. Ab.

7/9 I updated the Type 1 and Type 2 Incident Management Teams pages. If you need them, you can find them on the Links page under Federal.

Ab.

7/9 Here's a nice article on Bequi Livingston in the Washington Post:

Ensuring the safety of those who fight forest fires

Great work Bequi! We appreciate you!

Ab.

7/9 Re: Pocket Cards

Can’t answer “Still Out There’s” questions about how the Pocket Cards get updated, but here’s a working link. Very similar to the broken link in the IMSR, but no end “slash” or period:

fam.nwcg.gov/fam-web/pocketcards...

And Abs, I can’t say it enuff – THANKS for wildlandfire.com.

STUMPIE

We appreciate it too. Never a dull moment! Thanks to SteveM (Original Ab) my partner, the Mods, and thanks to all contributors across the USA! Ab.

7/9 Pocket Cards:

I have not heard or seen much about pocket cards in recent years. The cards, developed as a result of one of the tragedy fires, gives critical local thresholds for temps, fuels, humidity, etc. Now today's situation report focuses on the cards in the safety message -- but gives a dead web link. I had thought the card system was excellent. (A couple of times I took the info from the cards and compared it to RAWS and current fire behavior and found the information to be extremely accurate.) What is happening with this system? Have the cards been updated to reflect major fires from the last few years? What's the current link?

Still Out there as an AD

7/8 In the news: a computer malware virus.

To make sure your computer is clean:
Visit the federal FBI -backed website, DNS-OK which will tell you whether your computer is infected with DNSChanger malware.
If green, you're good to go.
If red, you're infected. Follow the directions on this site, run by the DNS Changer Working Group.

We're all fine here. It's likely you are too.
Ab.

7/8 We're getting lots of questions.

Chris passed away on July 2, 0600 hrs as the result of a traffic accident -- Hwy 138 and 110th W -- on his way back to work on the fire mop-up. His loss is a blow to many of us.

Chris' family is awesome. Prayers and condolences for Chris' wife Courtney, his mom and dad, Kathy and Danny, brother Chad, and grandmother, Katherine.

A memorial website has been set up for Chris at www.ccmemorialfund.com

Ab.

7/7 Chris:

With god speed, take care Brother.

CR

7/7 Los Padres National Forest Firefighter Christopher Paul Carroll was taken from us on July 2nd 2012.

Chris Carroll was the Engine 74 Assistant Fire Engine Operator at Los Alamos Station on the Mt. Pinos Ranger District located at Interstate 5 and Smokey Bear Road. This Angeles National Forest Fire Station houses both ANF Engine 336 and LPF Engine 74.

The family welcomes all wishing to attend services which will be held
1000 hrs on Thursday July 12, 2012 at:

Palmdale Stake Center
2120 East Avenue R
Palmdale CA 93351


Uniformed FS personnel should wear long sleeve dress uniforms with a solid tie and dark green pants (nomex okay)

Chris dedicated his life to emergency services for 15 years starting as an LA County Explorer at the age of 14. He was an ANF explorer at post 99, and then worked for AMR Ambulance before starting a career with the Forest Service. With the FS, Chris worked on Sequoia Engine 45 in Havilah, Breckenridge Hotshots, Kernville Helitack and responded to his final call to the Hill fire with LPF Engine 74.

Cards, flowers, or donations can be sent to the
Chuchupate District office at
34580 Lockwood Valley Rd,
Frazier Park CA 93225
attn John Abell

The ANF has been tremendous in their efforts to assist the immediate as well as the extended firefighting family and has also graciously set up a collection point at the
Acton office,
33708 Crown Valley Rd,
Acton CA 93510
attn Tracy McGuff

Condolences. This is sad, Chris and his family were tremendous contributors to the wildland firefighting community. Great loss. Ab.

7/6 Good day Ab.

I'm looking for some help from your readership.

As part of the JFSP crown fire synthesis project (www.fs.fed.us/wwetac/projects/alexander.phpl) I'm involved in, the project team is attempting to collate examples of YouTube videos portraying crown fire behavior in different forest types from various parts of North America (e.g., PJ in the Great Basin, pine barrens of NJ, jack pine in the Lake States, pine plantations in the SE, high elevation spruce-fir in the West).

There was, for example, the excellent footage associated with mountain pine beetle fuels on the 2011 Salt Fire that came out last year.

I'd imagine everyone has their own favourite clip. Appreciate if you would be willing to share your INTEL.

Thanks very much in advance. Greatly appreciated.

Marty Alexander
University of Alberta, Canada
7/6 I just got back from a 14 day run to Colorado. Hadn't been there since 2002. The people of Colorado are about the most generous, helpful, and friendly people you are ever likely to run into. The drive into base camp every night took us past cheering crowds and good vibes. They made us feel like their own sons and daughters who were coming home to a family feast.

Thank you Colorado. It's always a privilege and an honor to help out on your fires.

-Fireguy57- from Northern Calif.

7/6 Legislation Update:

To all:

Some of our Nation's federal wildland firefighters currently on the fire lines across the country were still in diapers and some not yet born 18 years ago when the South Canyon Fire tragedy took the lives of 14 wildland firefighters. It is my hope that as new federal wildland firefighters come into the federal system, they are reminded of the dangerous nature of this business and ultimate price so many have given in pursuing their passion as wildland firefighters.

It is with that great sense of admiration, respect, affection and gratitude that as we reflect on the losses of those on Storm King as well as all the others who gave their lives, we let you know that plans are being made to re-introduce the most comprehensive legislation ever introduced on behalf of our Nations' federal wildland firefighters.

As you may recall, the FWFSA crafted HR 4488, the National Wildfire Infrastructure Improvement & Cost Containment Act which was introduced in Dec. 2009. The bill contained a variety of provisions including health benefits for seasonal wildland firefighters; portal to portal compensation; hazard pay on RX burns; hazard pay as base pay for retirement calculations and others.

As a direct result of the recent petition drive on change.org calling for health care coverage for seasonal federal wildland firefighters initiated by John Lauer of Colorado, Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado plans to re-introduce a near identical version of HR 4488 next week. Several conference calls between the Congresswoman's staff, NFFE, the FWFSA and others have discussed the tactics & strategies which will compliment efforts led by NFFE to work an administrative solution (rules change) for the health care issue directly with the White House and OPM. It is our hope that both legislative and administrative efforts will compliment each other to produce an end result that has been a long time coming.

Getting action on such a comprehensive bill with only 4 months to go in this already "do-nothing" session of Congress will be a tough challenge. It will require the help from all of our federal wildland firefighters in communicating with their elected representatives to support such an effort. Once the bill is introduced we will provide those interested in participating in the effort clear and concise talking-points.

More information will be provided as it becomes available. Stay safe.

Casey Judd
President
Federal Wildland Fire Service Association
208-775-4577

7/6 Anniversary of Storm King...

Good day all,

A day to remember Kathi, Tami, Scott, Levi, Robert, Doug,Terri, Bonnie, Rob, Jon, Don, Roger, James and Richard,
Storm King/ South Canyon...

Arlo

7/6 Friday July 6, 2012 is the 18th year since the South Canyon Fire / Storm King Mountain tragedy occurred.

Please stop and remember our fellow co-workers and friends that lost their lives in the Line of Duty.

FF's Kathi Beck, Tami Bickett, Scott Blecha, Levi Brinkley, Robert Browning, Doug Dunbar, Terri Hagen, Bonnie Holtby, Rob Johnson, Jon Kelso, Don Mackey, Roger Roth, James Thrash and Richard Tyler were killed in the Line of Duty.

Always Remember: South Canyon /Storm King

7/4 Message from Ab:

Many of us celebrate 4th of July in different ways. Wildland firefighters are often on the fireline unless they're holding down the fort at home and even then they may be at the station, not at "home" home.

Those who are off duty may be taking in a local 4th of July fair or having a family picnic or meal, or in normal years, watching a fireworks display in the evening with friends and family.

When I think about the birth of our nation, I am in awe of the founders and in awe of the people who persist in our country's evolution.

Here's a big Thank You to all who actively participate in our ongoing Great Democracy Experiment. For me, the thrill in trying to solve problems remains!

One of my favorite all-time posts came from Shari Downhill in 2008. She was teaching her daughter how to remember the Preamble of the Constitution for a school assignment and in doing so, taught her the meaning of it.

Here's the "Learning Sentence" and a link to the Hotlist post from several years ago.

We Understand Justice and Truth and will Deliver it With our Lives

W – We the People of the United States of America
U – in order to form a more perfect Union,
J – establish Justice
T – insure domestic Tranquility
D – provide for the common Defense
W – promote the general Welfare
L – secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity…
…do Ordain and establish the Constitution of the United States of America.


Happy 4th of July!
Happy Independence Day!

7/4


~\***/~~\***/~~\***/~~\***/~~\***/~~\***/~~\***/~~\***/~~\***/~~\***/~~\***/~

*-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy Independence Day-**-Happy 4th!-*

~/***\~~/***\~~/***\~~/***\~~/***\~~/***\~~/***\~~/***\~~/***\~~/***\~~/***/~

from the Abs and Hotlist Mods
! CELEBRATE  OUR  NATION'S  236 th BIRTHDAY !
Thanks for your service and participation.

7/3 Re Little Bear

William

Air Attack platforms, Type I Heavy Lift Helicopters and Air Tankers were available in Silver City and Albuquerque (carded and on contract), when and after the Little Bear started.

"A"

7/3 Pet peeves:

When I meet someone new and they ask what I do for a living I hate when... I have to tell them...

1. I do not work for The Forestry Service, I work for the US Forest Service, and no, that is not the same as CalFire.

2. I am not a park or forest ranger, I'm a firefighter even though officially I'm a Forestry Technician unless One of us dies then I can be called a firefighter.

3. I do not jump out of planes!

But a huge thanks to Ab, Steve, Casey, Burke, and Vicki for all that you do for us!

5000

7/3 Media Reporting of Fire Size: acres vs sq miles

Oliver,

Gotta smile at that peeve! Folks definitely can relate to miles better than acres; they get reminders every day as they drive. Seems like unless you're a rural real estate agent, a farmer, or in the forestry/timber business, acres are not well understood. I even have trouble getting firefighters to call in fire sizes accurately.

I think chainsaw "blades" should be a bigger peeve :)

NWRG

7/3 Media Reporting of Fire Size: acres vs sq miles

A few years ago, media grabbed hold of the idea of giving square miles and then relating that to a particular place (like a city) so people could better grasp the size. I guess acres don't make as much sense to people who have never farmed or managed land; we leave just as many people puzzled when giving fire spread in "chains" per hour.

Still Out There as an AD

7/3 Media Reporting of Fire Size: acres vs sq miles / Pet Peeves

Everyone of us have our own pet peeves. My recently discovered peeve and a stressor is with the media reporting fire size as square miles instead of acres. Simple math but I wonder why the change? Can people relate to square miles better than acres? Are PIOs reporting acres or sq. miles?

As with many things...What I perceive as a change is normal business for others. Any thoughts?

Oliver

7/3 Names of the Fallen:

Lt. Col. Paul K. Mikeal,
Maj. Joseph M. McCormick,
Maj. Ryan S. David and
Senior Master Sgt. Robert S. Cannon

Our condolences. Ab.

7/3 Hi everybody,

The military is going to release the names of the remaining fallen and provide information on the condition of the two in the hospital
at 2 PM North Carolina time or at 11:00 Pacific time, in a little over an hour...
I believe CNN is televising this.

What we know...

Lost are:
Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal, age 42, of Mooresville, NC; Lt. Colonel in the N.C. Air National Guard & pilot
Master Sgt. Robert Cannon, of Charlotte, NC
two more, names as yet unknown...

Injured are:
Josh Marlowe, age 28, of Shelby, NC, condition upgraded from critical to serious
one other, name as yet unknown.

Also, I don't know if it's on wlf.com yet, but there were two incidents that occurred within the White Draw Fire Incident:

  • The first was the MAFFS crash, the investigation of which is under the lead of DOD.
  • The second is a possible investigation relating to the Lead Plane's experience at the same time. The lead did not crash entirely, but this statement was sent to me or Ab or... or I found it somewhere...

    "A BLM ASM platform was also engaged as a lead with the C130 when the accident occurred. The ASM (Aerial Supervision Module)/Lead experienced a severe downdraft while approaching the intended retardant drop zone with the C130 in trail. This is being investigated by the USFS as a separate Incident With Potential."

There is also a meeting at NIFC this afternoon, from 1330-1530 Mountain time. Those of you who can make it, please let us know what happens.

NIFC will be hosting two dignitaries on the campus tomorrow, July 3, from 1330-1530. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be here for a short briefing to gain perspective on the current and expected wildland fire situation. NIFC Security will be putting up a couple of barriers on the main floor of the Jack Wilson Building from 1-3 pm Tuesday. These barriers are not meant to impede official NIFC business, but to keep news media visitors in the appropriate part of the building. The Secret Service has asked that non-essential foot traffic in the Jack Wilson be limited during the 1:00-3:30 pm time period.

Thanks to the WFF for making the arrangements to get immediate help to the families of the fallen. If it wasn't for donations of this community to the WFF we would never be able to touch the lives of the military in this way. All of the fallen have children in their homes.

If anyone has a few bucks to kick in to help keep our community's safety net going, please do so. DONATE to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. Click "Giving".

Mellie

Hotlist Thread - MAFFS accident

7/2 Call for Footage of The Waldo Canyon Fire

Incident: Waldo Canyon Fire Wildfire
Released: 2 hrs. ago

Do you have video clips or cellphone footage of the Waldo Canyon Fire Incident? Commander, Rich Harvey, asks anyone with footage of the Waldo Canyon Fire to contact the team. Our videographer is especially looking for footage from June 26, when the fire grew rapidly. Call 719-328-4334. Or drop a CD or DVD off with Security at the Incident Command Post entrance at Holmes Middle School, 2455 Mesa Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80904. Or e-mail a link or clip to cineshine@aol.com .
7/2 MAFFS crash:

StatesmanJournal.com

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The crash of a North Carolina-based Air National Guard cargo plane that was fighting wildfires in South Dakota has left at least one crew member dead.

The family of Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal of Mooresville confirmed they were notified early Monday that he had died in the C-130 crash on Sunday. The 42-year-old married father of two was a veteran of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lt. Col. Rose Dunlap of the 145th Airlift Wing in Charlotte says six crew members were aboard, but that she could not yet provide any information about their condition... (more at the link...)

Fair Use Disclaimer

Our condolences to his family, friends and co-workers. Ab.

7/1 A MAFFS went down on the Rocky Mountain Area - SD-BKF-White Draw fire, we believe the accident occurred just after 1830 hours Mountain time.

It is unknown how many on board survived or died. Info will be forthcoming. several were life-flighted.

Hotlist thread 

Thanks to those who gave us the heads up. We held the "news" until 2200 hours Pacific time to make sure the military could inform families. There were many media news releases early on. As always, we do not want families whose firefighters are involved in accidents to read it first here. Families of our injured and fallen deserve the respect of a human presence. Our thoughts and prayers for good outcomes. Ab.

7/1
A lot of support for Firefighters in these two news releases.

Date: June 29, 2012
Contact: DOI Communications (202) 208-6416
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

Federal Wildland Fire-Fighting Agencies Further Strengthen
Preparedness, Prevention in Advance of July 4th Holiday

WASHINGTON, DC – To further address the severity of current wildland fire activity across the western states, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack have directed federal land managers to take additional measures to help reduce the risks of new wildfires, ensure the highest possible level of coordination among federal land management agencies, and continue to prioritize safety for firefighters and communities.
 
“As we continue our aggressive response to wildfires across the West, we must continue to do all we can to support our firefighters, first responders, and their families,” said Salazar. “Protecting human life and ensuring public safety is and will remain our top priority, and these measures will help us minimize the risks of new wildfires on America’s public lands. As we move into the 4th of July holiday under difficult wildfire conditions, let’s use this opportunity to thank the men and women fighting to keep our citizens safe, and remember to take easy steps to prevent and prepare for wildfires by visiting www.nifc.gov.”
 
Building on existing federal and state policies designed to decrease the likelihood of accidental fires, the joint memorandum directs federal land managers to prohibit the personal use of fireworks on lands managed by the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming until July 8, 2012. These local managers will also enforce additional fire restrictions or public land closures as appropriate for the 4th of July holiday and heighten law enforcement and fire prevention patrols in critical areas to ensure that all applicable restrictions are enforced. Many states, such as Colorado and Wyoming, have also put in place new restrictions on the use of fires and fireworks during this time.
 
"As our country celebrates its independence, the aggressive wildland fire fight continues," Vilsack said. "I want to thank the thousands of brave men and women on the front lines who are battling these fires under extremely difficult conditions, and protecting homes, communities, and cultural and economic resources. We ask our citizens to be extra cautious while following open flame guidelines and to review the fire prevention guidance at www.nifc.gov."
 
Additional measures include prohibiting new prescribed fires in geographic areas where Preparedness Level is at 4 or 5 – which currently includes the Rocky Mountain Area, Eastern Great Basin Area, and Southwest Area (GACCS) – and requiring regional or state level approval to initiate any new prescribed fire in all other geographic areas. Each Preparedness Level has specific management directions. As the Preparedness Levels rise, more federal and state employees become available for fire mobilization if needed.
 
Agencies and bureaus are asked to review their procedures to ensure that the safety of firefighters and the public continue to be the highest priority at every level of the decision-making process during fire suppression. These measures will remain in effect until the National Multi-Agency Coordinating group determines a national Preparedness Level 3 or below. On June 27th, NMAC raised the preparedness level to 4, on a scale of 1-5.
 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior, in partnerships with states and local agencies, have developed a cohesive strategy to respond to the increase in wildfires in recent years by focusing on:

  • Restoring and maintaining resilient landscapes. Through forest and rangeland restoration activities such as mechanical thinning and controlled burns, officials can make forests and rangelands healthier and less susceptible to catastrophic fire.
  • Creating fire-adapted communities. The Forest Service, the Department of the Interior and their partners are working with communities to reduce fire hazards around houses to make them more resistant to wildfire threats.
  • Responding to Wildfires. This element considers the full spectrum of fire management activities and recognizes the differences in missions among local, state, tribal and Federal agencies.

On average, the USDA Forest Service and the Department of the Interior bureaus respond to about 16,500 wildfires per year that occur on land under their jurisdiction and assist state and local agencies in responding to a significant number of the approximately 60,000 wildfires per year that occur on land under their jurisdiction. Federal firefighters, aircraft, and ground equipment are strategically assigned to parts of the country as the fire season shifts across the nation. Firefighting experts will continuously monitor conditions and move these assets as necessary to be best positioned and increase initial response capabilities.
 
Federal land managers are also helping communities prepare for wildfire. Federal partnerships with state, tribal and local agencies strengthen preparedness programs Firewise and Ready Set Go! that help families and communities prepare for and survive wildfire. You can also visit FEMA's Ready.gov to learn more about steps you and your family can take now to be prepared for an emergency.
 
The full text of the joint memorandum is below:
 
Memorandum
 
To: Chief, U.S. Forest Service
Director, Bureau of Land Management
Director, Bureau of Indian Affairs
Director, National Park Service
Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Commissioner, Bureau of Reclamation
 
From: Secretary of the Interior
Ken Salazar
 
Secretary of Agriculture
Thomas J. Vilsack
 
As we continue our aggressive response to wildfires in the West, the President has made clear that we must do all we can to protect human life and ensure the safety of communities that are affected.
 
To fulfill this commitment, the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, the Department of the Interior, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are deploying incident command teams, crews, engines, helicopters, tankers, and other resources through the National Interagency Fire Center to support local, state, and tribal partners in our coordinated response to wildfires.
 
As we maintain an aggressive posture in our response to wildfires, it is important to recognize the dangers that this year’s wildfire season poses. Periods of critical fire weather have already produced extreme, erratic fire behavior on several fires. Insect infestation, diseased trees, dense vegetation, and dry conditions in the western United States are expected to continue to exacerbate the weather conditions and create challenges for our firefighters through the summer. Recognizing the severity of current fire activity, resource commitments, and predicted conditions, the National Multi-Agency Coordinating group (NMAC) at the National Interagency Fire Center has raised our national Preparedness Level from Preparedness Level 3 (PL3) to Preparedness Level 4 (PL4).
 
Given the challenges that this wildfire season poses, we believe that additional measures are warranted to reduce the risks of new wildfires, ensure the highest possible level of coordination among Federal land management agencies, and enhance safety for firefighters and communities. We therefore are implementing the following measures, which will remain in effect until NMAC determines that we may assume national PL3 or below:
 
Review procedures and take any additional appropriate measures to ensure that the safety of firefighters and the public continue to be the highest priority at every level of the decision-making process during fire suppression.

  • Do not initiate new prescribed fires in geographic areas at PL 4 or PL 5. In all other geographic areas, to initiate a new prescribed fire the implementing Agency or Bureau must receive approval by their respective leadership at the Regional or State level.

In light of the current wildfire situation, we must further heighten our vigilance around the Fourth of July holiday. The following measures will remain in place until July 8, 2012:

  • Local managers must ensure that personal use of fireworks will not be allowed on public lands managed by the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. Any exception to the prohibition on personal use of fireworks must receive approval from the agency’s leadership at the state or bureau level. Commercial, professional, and municipal fireworks displays may proceed with approval of the local manager after consultation and coordination with appropriate local authorities. On public lands managed by the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture in all other states, any use of fireworks must comply with any applicable policy of the land management unit, state, tribe, or local government.
  • Local managers are to coordinate with other interagency partners to determine whether any additional fire restrictions or closures are appropriate for the Fourth of July holiday.
  • Local managers are to heighten law enforcement and fire prevention patrols in critical areas of concern to ensure that all applicable restrictions are enforced.

No directive in this memorandum limits your authority to adopt and enforce more restrictive measures if you find that they are warranted or if they have been or may be established by state, local, or tribal authorities where the public land unit is located.
 
Finally, as we confront this challenging wildfire season, it is important that we do all we can to support our firefighters, first responders, and their families. The thousands of men and women who are responding to wildfires are working under difficult and dangerous conditions to protect communities and resources for our Nation. We must honor their service, continue to provide them the resources they need, and guard their safety.

7/1 Little Bear

William,

Did not mean to insinuate I was seconding guessing what you were advocating. Trouble is, funding for any government agency, no matter how worthwhile the project, lives or dies at the whim of congress and the administration, well and also the agency. So the best laid plans of mice and men you know. I too remember working on fuel breaks in the 70's and 80's and guess what, that was the last time they were worked on. I think we all realize the folks normally holding the brown end of the stick are the folks closest to the "ground". Being very familiar with the Ruidoso area, I feel the private land owners are not holding up their end of the bargain, "generally" speaking. Without a doubt there are folks trying to do the right thing. That said, I think you would agree, a ride around the residential areas of Ruidoso where it abuts the Forest and the reservation, a person generally finds the private land is in very poor shape to survive a WUI fire event. So is that the land owners' responsibility or the federal government?

I think a person could start throwing rocks if the folks on the fire at the time ordered resources and those resources were not delivered by the dispatch system, or if management did not allow orders to be filled. However, if their orders were filled, then to my way of thinking the problem is not with the dispatch system. I mean, how are they supposed to supply something that was never requested. After all, isn't the IC in charge of the fire? Once the fire was up and rolling I doubt all the helicopters and air tankers in the west would have been able to hold it whether they had been ordered or not.

My point on the air resources is I saw one of these so called "resources" and since I spent a career working with helicopters I know exactly how much that ship particular ship could have hauled to the elevation of the fire.

I have a hard time with the after-the-fact critiques of folks like Rep Pearce etc. You know, hindsight is always 20/20 and Monday morning quarterbacks always make the right call. As an agency we need to perform a good in-depth AAR and learn from this event, even if it turns into a brutal exercise. Need to remember there were some things that were done correctly.

A final point, what would everyone be saying if those volunteer firemen had the worst thing happen and a bunch of them did not make it. You think the feds would be catching hell for letting/allowing/not stopping them from being there? I guarantee you that would be the case.

"J"

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