January, 2013

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1/31 Hiring Freeze?

Just heard from my (seasonal) home unit (NPS northeast) that they are in a hiring freeze for all positions (seasonal and permanent, fire and non-fire). All stemming from the sequestration/ automatic cuts slated for March. Just wondering if folks in other areas/ agencies are hearing similar things...

Seems like this could cause a real problem, especially if the fire season starts early.

Thanks for the great site and forums!

left wondering

1/30 Diversity Hiring

-Hey AB just felt compelled to write.

Hiring- So a visitor arrives in my office. This individual would like a fire job this Summer. This person enters my office, is dressed appropriately and hands me a very nice folder of certificates and a resume that is professionally put together. We make small talk and we dive right in to a short autobiography. They have done everything they were told. This individual went to a 5 month Fire Academy and graduated at the top of their class, then continued his/her education until completing an Associates of Science degree in Fire Science. Has worked multiple fire seasons already and understands that it will be a climb and that they will need to put their time in. Does not have rehire eligibilities on their past Forest since it has been over 3 years since last worked on a Hotshot Crew. The hiatus was to focus on school and to help family. This person has also presented me weekly physical fitness assessments and is easily surpassing the Hotshot Physical Standards and is Hiking Diamond Mtn. Hotshots' crew hike “MO” in 45 minutes with a full fire pack. Last but not least, I went ahead and called his references that I personally know. Nothing but above average to superior reference checks. This person is the ideal crew member.

I cannot hire them. I was told that they are not diverse enough. I must hire a diverse prospect that has applied and is interested in firefighting. Key word is interested. I am, in a nutshell, asked to hire based on the color of their skin. I cannot hire the right person for the job, I have to hire the proper color for the job.

Everything I have ever said to mentor people to get a job and to help them along with their career now is all a lie.

This is the same case for the Apprenticeship Program. Future fire line leaders. Push them along because of race, not because they are right for the job.

If you just so happen to be what the Forest Service deems as “diverse” and walk into my office and have done everything that the person described above has done… that makes you the right person for the job. If you are a “diverse” person who applied and did not show up in my office, does not physically train, has just ok references and cannot diligently put together a resume or articulate their words well (which is a MUST in our profession) then you are not the right person for the job.

Am I crazy or our we setting up for future tragedy fires? I’ll tell you right now, if I am told to employ sub-par employees and they do sub-par work I will not be a contributing factor to the future demise of the Forest Service. My signature will not be put on PTBs of sub-par employees.

Tom Tidwell, Tom Harbour and Randy Moore you all need to take a step back and really look at what you are doing and listen to boots on the ground. We are headed in a direction where the agency is going to start losing good, strong, intelligent fire fighters and overhead no matter what color their skin is.

I don’t think anything I said here is out of line… maybe more of a hard truth.

Signed GT

1/30 New Red Book

From a new hotlist thread:

Has anybody gone through the 2013 Red Book? after looking up some info for teaching some classes I found huge discrepancy's with such issues as structure protection and all risk, It seems as each chapter has a different definition of what you can or can't do.

My favorite is where it states in structure protection that judgment to be made by FF's and their training Chpt 11-20 and 8 under all-risk, and as we all know this hugely different depending on agency and region. The all-risk stuff has my head spinning chpt. 8-16/17 and I highly recommend that everyone reads it in its entirety. I will be adding another note after I go through and compile the info that has the conflicting information.


To comment on Firehog's thread: Hotlist

1/30 Life Insurance:

MJ and Guns-n-hoses:

I've had WAEPA Life Insurance since 2001 their rates are great and I get a little dividend check from them from time to time. Thankfully, as I have not had to use them yet, I don't have much more to say on the matter. One nice feature is that you don't have to wait for an Open Season to change your coverage.

Just my thoughts,
Snow Flea

1/29 Milepost 66 Ropes FLA:

The National Park Service does have JHA's for rope use as federal employees (including firefighters) in the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, SEKI and other parks with steep inaccessible terrain do low and high angle rescue on a regular basis. It sounds as though the unit has gone through the JHA process and was utilizing approved and appropriate training from federal and non-federal sources.

I have been through multiple rope rescue classes and full face protection is not a required piece of PPE and in fact, I've never seen it used. Most rope rescue team members wear a helmet resembling a cap style wildland helmet or a skull cap style helmet similar to a bicycle helmet.

I don't know why the presence of rope would set off anybody on a readiness review. Rope is a handy tool, good for tying hose in place on steep hoselays, acting as a handline to provide needed stability for additional safety on a nasty piece of line just like a hand rail on a staircase, for tying your cooler in a treetop in bear country and can be a life saver by stabilizing a rescue situation (tying off and throwing a rope to a person trapped in a precarious position) while waiting for a SAR team to make the rescue. A water rescue rope bag is another useful tool with appropriate training that absolutely can mean the difference between a rescue now or a body recovery later.

I think some people are using their imagination (along with a deceptive illustration in the report showing a very steep, near vertical slope with a climber). This was initiated as a low angle operation, using a rope to allow firefighters to enter an area they felt was not safe to enter on foot and work on without a safety line. I am sure there are hundreds if not thousands of USFS firefighters who have climbed a steep hoselay with one hand on the hose or a rope to get past a particularly nasty spot. I know hotshot crews have used rope to anchor the litter carrying an injured crew member while moving down the line. I don't think this started off much differently than those kinds of operations.

There is no hard and fast definition of low angle but it is generally considered an angle where the rope is providing stability, but not support (your weight is on your feet, not the rope). It is considered an angle less than 30-45 degrees (depending on source). A common risk in low angle work is gradually transitioning through the grey "medium angle" area and into a high angle situation without recognizing that fact and taking the proper additional measures (training, braking system, harness, second rope as a safety belay line etc). As the terrain gets steeper, you make that transition from using the rope to keep from sliding down the hill, to one where the rope is supporting most or all of your weight.

Rappelling is not a low angle technique. It sounds as though this operation did make that common error and crossed from low to high angle without the participants recognizing it or possibly ignoring it for expediency.

Just because your unit doesn't utilize a program does not make its use elsewhere a criminal act. I am quite sure MTDC did not in fact decide low angle work was unsafe, but more likely were never asked the question. Low angle rope work is safe and appropriate when used properly and I am sure many USFS firefighters have conducted low angle operations without even knowing it.

While I don't know if this situation was safe as planned, or an appropriate risk vs gain (I have far less information than those on the scene during and afterwards) it does sound like the participants made an effort to do things the right way, even if somewhat outside the box. Despite some of the comments, this clearly was not some spur of the moment Hey y'all watch this operation. Even though I doubt I would have made the same decision an FLA seems like exactly the right tool for investigation.

Just an engine guy

1/29 wildfirelessons.net: Milepost 66 FLA (pdf)

After hearing about the Milepost 66 incident in multiple meetings and then spending some time reading related comments on They Said, rereading the FLA, then reading it again, I have to say that I’m more confused and concerned than ever. And I am most definitely not alone. Quite a few issues continue to be raised by many of us in the fire community and many questions are now being asked.

The primary question that seems to surface repeatedly is: Where is the JHA which allowed rappelling on a wildfire with approved gear by federal wildland firefighters?

The next most frequent question brought up is whether or not using the Lessons Learned FLA process for an operation, which is clearly not allowed and goes against policy, really a good use of the analysis? Would this be akin to asking how a bank robbery might be done better and safer after the robbers were caught?

As someone who has worked with IC3 trainees for many years (decades) I was surprised to read the statement that said,

“The IC had concerns that more bucket drops would only increase the exposure to the pilots and fail to meet suppression objectives on the eastern edge of the fire. Many efforts had also been made to reach the bench by handcrews during the previous four operational periods but the steepness of the slope made accessibility to the hot areas on the eastern edge too dangerous.”

So are we to understand that the IC then made the conscious and collaborative decision to transfer this increased risk of exposure and increased risk of injury to the ground personnel? Even if the decision to use an unapproved procedure was considered, did that alleviate all safety hazards? Was this well thought out and was it proposed in this manner to the ground personnel? Three thoughts come to mind when I think of fire in steep terrain (in reverse order):

3) How to control what is loosened and coming down as a result of the fire (trees and rocks),
2) How to control the uphill spread of the fire; and most importantly
1) Is the risk vs. the reward worth it? (in other words, is it safe for firefighters?). So is it worth using an unapproved and unsafe (at least on a national level) procedure to put out a fire?

In almost all cases what I look for in a quality IC3 trainee, crewboss, squad boss and anyone else in a supervisory role, is whether or not they are able to place the safety of the lives on the fire as a top priority. In this case I’m not getting this feeling.

As a co-worker said, I would love to see the program plan and presentation that convinced a Line Officer to say, “OK, even though this has not been approved as a safe activity, there is no approved training program or gear, there is no established protocol, no JHA, no approval from MTDC and I can’t guarantee that personnel will be safe because we don’t have adequate PPE (full-face helmets for starters), I still feel confident and informed enough to go ahead and assume responsibility, sign off on it and give it the go ahead.”

Good Lord! My Line Officer is making me justify all of our training needs and he insists that we justify (in writing) every penny of our budget!!
The FLA states that the CRGNSA had a “rope belay program” that they developed. And it states that the FMO said, “There’s got to be a better way of doing business” regarding the steep terrain and accessing it during wildland firefighting operations. Well, we actually have a pretty well established and solid way of doing business in the federal agencies when it comes to operations such as these. It begins by following policy and developing a program through testing, peer review, more testing, more peer review, and even more testing (MTDC) before it is allowed to be used. I don’t know this for sure, but I am guessing that the primary reason ground-based rappelling hasn’t been approved and put into our bag of tricks is because MTDC decided, based on research, that it can’t be done safely. That should be a huge red flag to not pursue this activity.

Correct me if I am wrong, but don’t most forests use local sheriff and fire departments for tasks like SAR that involve rappelling? On our forest we aren’t allowed to take part in these activities. For a while we had a popular climbing area on our forest where there were regular rescues and we started to find ourselves getting involved since we arrived first, so our forest stepped up and established a protocol for dealing with the situation properly. And there was mention of the hiring of a former fire chief with experience with high and low angle rope work. However the program had apparently been ongoing since 1989! They omitted when he was hired, they just said “later.” He appears to have very little federal experience, but was he brought on as an expert in federal procedures? Or SAR procedures?

Could someone explain to me what the low-angle ropes program for use on fires is? Is this a Region 6 only program? Is there a formal federal certification program, task book and JHA for the training? Is there approved equipment and equipment management procedures and its use on fire?

Myself along with a few others who are heavily vested in the helicopter rappel program have never heard of a formal USFS rappel program outside of its use with helicopters. We are proud of our federal helicopter rappel program and we are especially proud of the many years of trials, testing, development through MTDC and ongoing safety analysis that was required before it was allowed. And we have well developed and closely scrutinized JHAs for what we do because that’s the correct procedure to follow, and we all know it. It wasn’t clear if the person with a single season of rappel experience felt he had the ability to combine his experience with SAR rappelling with rappelling on a fire, but that’s apparently what occurred.

No one on our forest is aware of our agency having addressed rappelling on a fire as it was performed by this unit. There is clearly too much risk for the potential gains.

According to the FLA this was a state fire, were there any state, private or contract employees rappelling? If so, this is another policy statement we would love to see. I’m sure this was all figured out ahead of time, but some of us would love to know how the state of Oregon feels about all this on their fire. I can tell you that the state of Wyoming wouldn’t feel quite so good about it.

Another topic that wasn’t discussed was how and when the stress debriefing was conducted. It is our understanding that this is to be offered and performed prior to “going home” on serious accidents. Was this simply omitted from the FLA or was it not considered necessary? If it wasn’t considered necessary, how was this determined? We realize it’s not the same as an AAR. And it sounds as if the resulting injuries made this a pretty serious situation and even though we firefighters may not outwardly exhibit stress from accidents, it’s there. My experience as an untrained observer is that the critical incident stress debriefing system is a pretty good system and there are available people trained to handle it.

I’m guessing that this unit does not conduct annual readiness reviews, or if it does no one from the regional office is involved. The reason I bring this up is because my engine was dinged last year for not having a complete saw pack for one of our 3 fire saws (the only incomplete one of three!), there is no way in hell that a bunch of rappel gear could have gone unnoticed by the team that inspected and reviewed us. So I guess what I’m saying is that they either didn’t have it on board, or they did and it was approved, or they didn’t get inspected, which was it? Could we have the same group inspect us next year?!

In our region (actually on our forest and district) this sort of program would have to be approved, assuming it had gone through all the national steps first (which it hasn’t), by a safety team all the way up to the regional office (and probably national office too). Are people aware of how much scrutiny the helicopter rappel program has to go through on a regular basis, not to mention what it went through just to get up and running again? And this is just for the rappel techniques, you can take the helicopter out of the picture and it’s still the result of years of research. What I’m getting at is how this made its way through the USFS safety officer maze? Did they even know about it?

I would urge people to go to the internet link for the helicopter rappel operations guide and start turning pages.

Finally, it is no secret that the two subject matter experts (SMEs) have relations with the unit. One is a good friend of the FMO and the other used to work on the unit. Many people have mentioned that this seems to be a conflict of interests. Well, if you read the FLA Implementation Guide, Part 3 is titled: Initiating the FLA: Before the Team Arrives,

A. Priority Agency Administrator Actions (this is probably the point where a critical incident stress debriefing would be performed by qualified personnel), and then Section B. Forming the FLA Team:

I can’t explain it any more clearly than it is written so I’ll quote:

The Agency Administrator should form the FLA team in consultation with their safety advisors. Depending on the complexity of the situation, the Agency Administrator could form a team as small as two people—or a much larger team composed of subject matter experts, technical specialists and trained human performance specialists.
Each member of the FLA team must meet the following minimum team member attributes:
A basic understanding of Just Culture.
A basic understanding of the FLA process (team leaders and facilitators should be formally trained in the process or have experience under a trainer).
A solid reputation for dealing with confidential matters.
Not be from the local unit or have any strong social ties with anyone directly involved in the event.

We can only assume that the two had formal training and experience with the process, but the final point of not being from the local unit or having any strong ties seems to be on shaky ground. Why? Or are we completely off-base with this point?

Again, what was it that made the line officer decide to forego this guideline?

The Lessons Learned FLA process is an incredible tool - when used properly. I found myself lost in the guide and I think it should be part of a standard reading regime for fire personnel. I can safely say that I am not alone in feeling as if this was not the best use for the process.

Two months ago I sat through my second Safety Journey session. One of the most common statements coming from the mouths of the (mostly fire crew) participants was that the Safety Journey “was simply duplicating what we already do in fire, a contractor was making a lot of money for selling us something we are already exercising in a successful manner each fire season.” Well, this entire situation smells fishy and makes me think that we still aren’t doing things properly. I know I try to maintain accountability with the fire personnel I supervise, and after raising three boys I’ve learned that the best way to do this is to lead by example.

Interagency Helicopter Rappel Guide (1,650 K pdf, 80 pages) or look at parts: NIFC: Aviation
FLA Guide, revised 1/2013 (1,517 K pdf, 52 pages) posted at wildfirelessons.net
A table that is useful for choosing the type of lessons learned methodology: Comparison Table of Methodologies -- From AAR to the SAI Process

1/29 Life Insurance:

I am also looking into WAEPA and have been looking hard at this option. The prices are great, coverages appear better in some cases and I recall a discussion at a retirement training of this company.

MJ, my research looks positive. Have you found anything on your own?


1/29 From the WFF so we can appreciate firefighter and community donations. Thanks Amanda! Thanks fundraisers! Ab.

I wanted to share with you all the note we got along with a $500 check from Winter Holiday Council. Another group of Colorado citizens thankful for everything the crews did to fight the fire there last summer:

Donation made to WFF in name of Colorado's High Park Fire firefighters

"We are again pleased to give your organization proceed s from the sales of the High Park Fire memorial ornament. Our volunteer organization , Winter Holiday Council, sells pewter Christmas ornaments to make funds for the city of Loveland Christmas decorations. This year we designated a portion of the "Santa and His Buddy" ornament sales to go to those involved in helping victims of the High Park Fire. We hope this check will be helpful in your efforts. Sincerely, Mary Hall. Treasurer."

Thanks to North Zone Fire Management (northzonefire.com):

The $4600 you raised during your poker tournament for the Foundation is impressive, and appreciated beyond measure. Thank you! It is gifts such as this that will allow us to help the family of a fallen wildland firefighter with plane tickets, hotel stays, car rentals, and cash grants to help them during their time of profound grief. When a wildland firefighter is injured, we will be there to ensure they are treated at a verified facility and that support is brought to their bedside. If you can send us pictures of the poker tournament, we'd love to see them and post them. We cannot thank you enough for what y'all do to help keep the mission of this Foundation intact.


Amanda, thanks for sharing the donation success stories and thanks to those organizing fundraisers. Folks, send in your 52 Club donations! Ab.

1/29 Good thoughts and prayers for Karen Shubin's memorial this morning. A Wildland Firefighter statue  will be awarded to her family, imbued with the love and caring of our extended wildland firefighting community.  It will be wonderful if her 4 children and husband can get to Family Day Fire Camp in May. Lots of healing going on there. Ab.
1/29 3rd Annual Eldorado Hotshot Fundraiser

All proceeds are donated to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and CASA Kids of El Dorado (Court Appointed Special Advocates). This helps firefighters and their families after a line of duty death or serious injury. More locally CASA helps children who are abused and neglected get advocacy during their social services and family court dealings.

Saturday April 27th 11-5PM
El Dorado County Fairgrounds, Placerville
We would like to thank Crystal Basin Cellars for their hospitality for the last two years
Live Music, Beer, Local Wine, Silent Auction and Raffle, tons of Kid Activities

$20.00 In advance
$25.00 At the Door
Kids under 10 are free

You can buy tickets via paypal online HERE

For more information please visit eldoradohotshots.org

I added the fundraiser to the hotlist events calendar. If anyone wants a flyer to post at their station or elsewhere, contact one of the people involved or me and I'll send you one as an attachment. As always, very nice flyer. Thanks hotshots. Ab.

1/28 Wildland Firefighter Foundation Life Challenge Program

Today (01-28-13) marks the 5th anniversary of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation Life Challenge Program. The WFF LCP is a grassroots program which focuses on suicide awareness and prevention. The program offers a website full of informational resources for firefighters who may be battling life challenges.

The WFF LCP would like to thank those individuals who provided information for the website, lifechallengeprogram, WFF life time members, and the 52 club members. Your contributions have helped make a difference.

As individuals, we must understand that we each face unique challenges; and so do our fellow firefighters, family and friends. We must understand that being a leader is knowing and understanding oneself and the challenges one may encounter. This means knowing when you are battling with challenges, knowing when you are falling down, knowing when you are rising high and knowing when to celebrate who you are.

In the long run, challenges will come and go. How you respond to these challenges is self-leadership. Self-leadership means taking good care of yourself, both mentally and physically.

God speed to those who have left us, for they will forever live in our hearts and minds.

Keep On Keeping On

1/28 Rappelling to put out duffers; FLA confusion


The person or people involved in the wildfirelessons.net: Milepost 66 FLA (pdf), are they former Smoke Jumpers or Heli Rappers? Where did they get all their gear? Do you know what's required to rappel both in terms of certified gear and training? Someone want to send in that list? Somebody must have some cojones to suggest that a FLA is even the way to go on this? On my forest if there's an injury Law Enforcement is the first resource to be called in. Wonder what the LEO or LEOs thought of this incident and they must have known a FLA was not the kind of investigation to pursue.


Ab Note: Useful for choosing the type of analysis: Comparison Table of Methodologies -- From AAR to the SAI Process

1/28 Huge Cal Fire news

Please get this out on the website.  It will set off its own little firestorm of comments when combined with the $150 fee being charged by Cal Fire.

Cal Fire kept $3.6 million from state's treasury, records show


Discussion on the Hotlist Thread. Ab

1/27 Good Sunday to all,

In the continuing tradition of supporting those who provide wildland fire suppression as well as those who provide medical care to wildland firefighters and potentially the civilian while on-duty, I have attached a few links to articles that support the crew, the EMT or Paramedic, the supervisor, and others who feel the need to be prepared to care for others.

JEMS magazine has done a very brief review of hyponatremia. This is one that I have certainly seen (few of them last summer). It has the potential of mimicking a Heat Related Illiness so, read up.

JEMS january 2013- Not Acting Right (hyponatremia)

EMS Case Cause Confusion

EMS World has written a great article on Burns. If you remember I posted one last month as well except from JEMS. And with that, we are into the 2013 fire season with Aussies already having firefighters who received 2nd-3rd degree burns and one firefighter sadly succumbing to her injuries.

EMS World january 2013- Thermal Burn Care: A Review of Best Practices (Burns)

Thermal Burn Care- A Review of Best Practices

Finally, I usually dont share articles from a very operational-specific type publication as most of the time its mainly abstracts, related to the other supporting postion I perform, or is non-fire related article, but one of my favorite which certainly holds a special place in my heart is: Journal of Special Operations Medicine (makes me miss my old job... ALOT!)

I have attached the link from it. I believe this one will help those who are high-risk (SMJ & IHC crews) as well as those who are in Risk Management, Medical, Safety, and others understand a little more about this critical situation.

Exertional rhabdomyolysis: attrition through exercise, a case series and review of the literature.

Journal of Special Operations Medicine (requires special login privileges)

Again, for all those who are a medical provider of some type, read them, discuss with your medical director or training officer for credit for these articles and make sure you at least log the reading for you own educational knowledge. For others, please feel free to share as you see fit.

Stay classy!

Bill Arsenault
Wildland Firefighter/Paramedic
Wildland Fire EMS Development Specialist
"Risk Management is Self-Preservation and, It Starts With You."

1/27 Fire policy


I really enjoy the informative posts by viejo, Al, Misery Whip and Stringtown. Misery Whip does present what I consider a great idea to lessen the fuel load by fall burning. Unfortunately, this would never come to pass due to present day environmental concerns and policies. The fuel loading is a problem that has no easy solution.

Old Guy

1/27 Fire policy


I generally like and agree with many of your posts on this website. But I vehemently disagree with some of the things you said in your last post, and here's why.

To begin with, using the "straw man" rhetorical device on viejo and others who disagree with your opinions is unworthy of someone who possesses your cognitive and writing skills. I doubt that viejo actually "lends little credit to the entire field of ecology" as you stated. My reading of viejo's posts show that he probably understands and appreciates "the entire field of ecology" much more than you give him credit for. Mischaracterizing someone else's position during a debate to support your position and undermine their position hurts your credibility, not theirs.

You also said "thinking we can, or should suppress all fires is naive and merely a short term solution to long term problem." Again, see "straw man" reference above. I don't recall anyone in this discussion saying that we should "suppress all fires." I think all of us agree that there are times and places where natural fire, and even intentionally ignited fires, should be allowed to burn unchecked. Just not in the middle of the western fire season and drought situations where predictably disastrous fires may result.

You also said " The old timers have a hard time letting go of this mindset because it is what they were taught." Are you sure about that? To an "old timer" like myself, that also sounds like a straw man argument. Calling people "naive" and showing your disdain for the opinions of others just because they didn't grow up with I phones and Google and have an ecology degree doesn't endear you to anyone. If you are lucky enough to live long enough to one day join the ranks of the "old timers," you might be pleasantly surprised to find that learning does not stop at the age of 40 and that older people are frequently smarter and more adaptive than you seem to give them credit for.

If we were living in the 18th century, I would probably agree with your statement "fires of all sizes and intensity are good with the exception of perhaps some of the most high intensity fires... which are not really as devastating as we think they are in the big scheme of things."

But we're not living in the 18th century, are we? And I don't believe we should allow an 18th century wildland fire management strategy in today's world any more than we should let grizzly bears, wolves, and mountain lions roam through our neighborhoods because they are "natural." That strategy would be predictably dangerous to humans and would not be supported by our society. In other words, in today's world, sociological imperatives sometimes have to trump ecological imperatives; that is really what we are talking about.

I thought your choice of the Oakland/Berkley Hills Fire was interesting because I would say that fire undercuts your argument more than it supports it. If you're saying that we should just give up trying to suppress fires because some of them will eventually burn lots of homes and kill people, you're going to have a hard time persuading anyone to endorse that strategy.

Another statement of yours that I'd like to address is "I'm also not a big fan of sending firefighters out into remote areas to accomplish missions, in unwinnable situations, in places they shouldn't have been in the first place. Thirty Mile, Cramer, Iron 44 and Dutch Creek are just a few examples that really get my blood boiling."

I don't want to get down in the weeds discussing the particulars of each of those fires, because there were certainly problems with the way those fires were managed. But I do strongly support sending firefighters to remote locations to suppress fires during the peak of the western fire season, and here's why. Suppressing fires while they are small costs less and limits firefighter exposure to the hazards of fires. The Angora Fire was a good example of what can happen when a large fire confronts a large community during severe burning conditions. Human nature being what it is, it is unreasonable and unrealistic to expect that firefighters will ever just back off and let fires run their course through subdivisions and communities when such situations arise. So, given our current choices, the most reasonable alternative, which Gifford Pinchot and his contemporaries decided on after the disastrous 1910 fires, is to develop a robust firefighting capacity and attack remote fires before they can become well-established and eventually expose more firefighters to more hazards for a greater length of time.
One of my favorite old documents that provides insight into the thought processes of the old-timers is titled "The Conflagration Hazard: Western Possibilities of Sweeping Fires Like Those of Minnesota and Canada" (link below). If you can see past the quaint period language, there is a lot of wisdom packed in this little analysis.

wildfirelessons.net: Conflagration Hazard (pdf)

If it was up to me, I would take as many helitorches and terra torches and drip torches and PSD machines as I could find and light up every ridge on every national forest in the western US in late September or early October, and let them burn until the fall rains (or snow) begins. And repeat that every year until the forests again become a real mosaic, and megafires become a thing of the past. That is a let-burn policy I could endorse.

Hope I'm not being too harsh, Stringtown. I just call 'em like I see 'em.

Misery Whip

1/26 Sad News: The Passing of CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Karen Shubin

Sent: Friday, January 25, 2013 3:56 PM
To: CALFIRE Unit Chiefs; CALFIRE Program and Staff Chiefs; CALFIRE E-Team
Subject: Passing of CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Karen Shubin

Chiefs and Program Managers,
Please forward as you see appropriate.
It is with great sadness that I must deliver news of the passing Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit, Battalion Chief Karen Shubin.  Karen passed on January 23, 2013, in her Napa home, surrounded by her family, after a courageous two-year battle with cancer. Karen spent her career in both LNU and MEU and her final assignment was B-1412, in the West Division of LNU. The family has asked for privacy during this time. <Ab snip on the location to send cards.>

A public visitation will occur on Monday, January 28, 2013, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM.  This visitation will be held at Tulocay Cemetery in Napa, located at 411 Coombsville Road.  The service will take place on Tuesday, January 29, 2013, at 10:00 AM at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, located at 1917 3rd Street in Napa.  Immediately following the service, a procession will take place from Napa to Valley Memorial Park in Novato for burial.  Presentation of flags and the "Last Call" will take place at the gravesite.

Class A uniforms have been requested by the family for all uniformed personnel.  Those individuals who do not have a Class A uniform are requested to be in long sleeve work uniform with black tie.  Agencies who wish to attend the service are requested to RSVP no later than 9:00 AM on Monday, January 28.  The church where the memorial service will take place is in a residential neighborhood, which places limits on parking availability.  We are requesting the CAL FIRE Units as well as local government agencies and volunteer departments limit their participation to one vehicle each.  Parking for agency vehicles will on 3rd Street with access off of Jefferson Street.    Additional personnel and vehicles such as sedans and pickups are welcome to attend and may park in the surrounding residential neighborhoods.  More detailed information will become available over the weekend.

Please email your RSVP to the following address:  karenshubinmemorial@ nospam gmail.com.  Include the agency name, vehicle number and type, and number of people on board.  If any additional personnel will be in attendance, please identify if they will be arriving in an agency vehicle along with how many people will attend.  If you have any additional questions, please post them to the email address, as this will be monitored and answered in  a timely manner.

Doug Wenham
Assistant Region Chief
Northern Region Headquarters

A snail-mail address for sending cards and condolences will be posted soon.
For those who would like to help defray the family's medical and other costs, please send donations to
The Shubin Family Trust, Rabobank, 700 Trancas St., Napa, CA 94558.

Karen's death is truly a loss. I did not have the good fortune to know Karen nor be mentored by her, but I've heard from a number of contributors what a remarkable person, firefighter, mentor, and friend she was. Our best to her husband Dave, their 4 children, her mom and other extended family. She was and is dearly loved and appreciated by the wildland firefighting community. Ab.

1/26 Fire policy


Been a busy human but had some time to share my thoughts.
Thanks, Al

re: Humans, Mother nature, Zombie forests, and fire policy.

As human we may think we are in control and have land management or resource agencies that dictate a policy towards how we steward or treat the land. We think we are in control and at times it seems that way but are we really in control? Recent fires in Australia have been so destructive and burned so hot that soils have been damaged. Even a new color on maps for temperatures. Sure at some point balance will be restored.

From my direct observations over this past year (2012), some of the forests of the West are in poor health. Spent some time on the Medicine Bow in Wyoming while on a fire tour and 50 to 70 percent of the trees are dead. That is just in a part Wyoming. First comes the beetle, then the fungus, and result is a bunch of dead lodgepole. This is one of the major unreported stories not in the media. Makes me wonder why?

Anybody in the wildland fire community care to share your observations? You have Zombie forests in many parts of Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado that are dead that I observed. I took pictures and flew over if you want me to post. I am coining a new term to refer to forests that are dead but no yet realized due to lack of awareness. There is a lot of Zombie forest in the West. Would make some sense to harvest it as a biomass for ethanol but no that would compete with the fracking for gas going on all over Wyoming, so let it stand. Who benefits? One of these summers we will have the worst fire season ever in the West as these Zombie forests burn. Those firefighters employed may benefit from the overtime if the teams allow overtime due to cost cutting measures.

I would be even willing to predict that the Alaska style of fire fighting or wilderness style of protecting structures and steering the fire around will be the only way that will work because we will see nature so out of control that the response will be to triage and watch, saving what structures you can because of limited choice. When this goes, resources will be spread so thin Fire Managers won't have much of a choice. Will it happen? Who knows? Whether is is a dry lighting bust or other source of ignition does not matter. By the way, did anybody catch last summer that some aircraft were grounded due to meteorite activity in Colorado? Check out what NASA has to say about comets this year and also what they don't say. You say that is extremist thinking. There are some extreme Zombie forests standing in the west and who would have thought this fungus among would do so much damage.

Soils throughout the planet need remineralization. Fire is one way to help remineralize. Interesting book out there by Atlee Hammaker(sp?) called, The Survival of Civilization; in which he explains how periodically the powers of nature work to restore that balance. Fire, glaciation, wind, and volcanism are some of the ways nature regenerates the soils. Humans could be employed by crushing certain rocks or mining soils like azomite and sprinkling it on the ground around trees.

Of course with current budgets and limited thinking paradigms, how far will that go? Oh no money for that as it goes into the military industrial complex for the war machine or to pay the bankers their due on the exponential interest formulas. Might make more sense to put the military to use in other ways, but as a civilization we make choices. I recently took care of the trees on a property with azomite and you might want to try it for yourself; you will be amazed at the growth.

As the fiscal cliff was a non-event we get the debt ceiling next which will probably bring austerity conditions to your neighborhood coming this spring. Budget slashing time cometh with the debt limit. Got to live within our means as we are 16 trillion in hock. What does that mean for fire services? Or for that matter other services? Anybody heard what kind of budget thinning may be done? Might want to ask the Greeks.

Where I am I going with this? It will balance over time (pun intended). As humans we may not like how it plays out, but it is what it is. 2013 could be the mother of all fire seasons as potential does exist in the form of Zombie forests that at some point will go up in smoke or we could get some extreme volcanism that rains minerals or even rain down on the west.

Wikipedia on Azomite Ab.

1/26 Fire policy

Stringtown stated,

In the early 20th Century the idea of fire suppression was met with great resistance from people all across the US, because it went against everything we knew about fire.

Stringtown, you and I must read different history books. Some of the earliest laws and regulations in California were written by the Alcaldes in Los Angeles Pueblo against the uncontrolled use of fire by the Indians. In many of the Gold Rush towns, open burning was regulated since shingle roofs and rail fences are susceptible to fire. In fact, the USFS adopted the 10 AM policy after the disastrous fires that swept Idaho in 1910.

Uncontained fires in the timberland have been a problem since white men first settled on this continent. The Great Miramachi fire in New Brunswick in 1825, The Pestigo Fire in Wisconsin in 1871, were precursors to the 1910 Idaho conflagration and they all had a common denominator. Fire was allowed to establish itself and when the weather turned bad, it became uncontrollable.

wikipedia on the Miramichi_Fire

wikipedia on the Peshtigo_Fire

For a long time, fire in the WUI was thought of as a problem unique to California, but history shows us that as the population moved, so did the fire problem. Events of the last 20 years have shown the problem has spread to the Intermountain West and Southern Rockies. Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Montana and Idaho have all suffered huge damaging wildfires with thousands of homes lost.

The ecologists ignore the human factor. In Aboriginal times there was no sense of ownership of land or private property. If the Indians burned a piece of ground too hot they would simply move to another place. We don't have that luxury in this society.

I find it amusing that on one hand the Park Service tells us the Reading was natural, and therefore good while just across the jurisdictional Boundary the USFS tells us the same fire was harmful to the habitat of several mammals and the Spotted Owl.

Another argument I find amusing is that we must allow fire to burn unchecked because our fire suppression efforts were so successful. Organized fire suppression was not effective until long after the 1910 policy change, yet to the ecologists in less than 100 years of fire suppression, we allowed our entire National Park and Forest system to become loaded with an unmanageable amount of fuel. They said this while they stopped loggers from removing fuel from the landscape.

The USFS changed its policy from 10 O'clock suppression to one of managed fire in the mid 1980's. The promise was that the Agency would manage fire with "light hand on the land... Fires would be managed for maximum resource benefit." Hogwash !!! We simply do not have the ability to manage wildfires during periods of drought or extreme fire weather.

Since the USFS has adopted that policy, hundreds of thousands of acres of timber have burned. Wilderness fires have escaped and burned thousands of homes. Billions of dollars have been spent on suppression costs. Fire Management costs increase every year and the effectiveness of the suppression effort declines. Modified suppression efforts such as Wilderness Fire Policy and Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics have had direct link to larger and longer lasting fires.

Its time to rethink the policy.


1/25 Life Insurance:

Anybody switched from the USFS standard FEGLI life insurance to the WAEPA company Life insurance?

Their premiums are way lower for the same coverages, and it looks almost too good to be true.

Just wondering if it's worth the switch,


1/24 klamathman, et al-

viejo and I have had this discussion more than once...I usually feel like a broken record falling on deaf ears. viejo lends little credit to the entire field of ecology and tends to discount scientific studies of the sort (I have yet to convince him that the Yellowstone fires were in any way beneficial). He maintains that low intensity fires which we deem are "good" are the only ones that we should allow to burn. Air pollution from wildland fire is the least of our worries in terms of overall air pollution, and fires are a normal part of the atmospheric cycle in terms of Earth systems. I've pointed out many times that fires of all sizes and intensity are good with the exception of perhaps some of the most high intensity fires... which are not really as devastating as we think they are in the big scheme of things. When we look at fire history over hundreds or thousands of years, as opposed to recent decades, we see that the fires that are happening are not abnormal at all.

I am often alone in this debate supporting the idea that all fire is good ecologically and we need to get away from the mentality that we can control what fire does, and when. The Reading fire was allowed to burn- it was not from lack of resources, but the NPS non-interventionist approach to let all fires burn naturally and I fully support the let burn policy. The truth is: thinking we can, or should suppress all fires is naive and merely a short term solution to long term problem. While having a different fire management policy from agency to agency is often inefficient and cumbersome, from an ecological perspective it creates landscape mosaics- which is good. The landscape has not always been the vast timber land that we see now; we changed a good portion of it during the 19th Century and many of the sites where Europeans settled were actually areas that were cleared with fire by the Natives. Timber was needed to promote western expansion so we favored land management practices that created more forests and less open grass and shrub land. The timber that we need to "protect" was not naturally there in first place, and there is currently no shortage of timber either.

I will somewhat agree with Misery Whip's point that Federal agencies lack the funding and support to perform the job the public expects of them. However, I believe the public perception of fire suppression as the norm needs to change. The idea of suppression being the only way of keeping the public safe creates societal complacency. The common denominator in all fatalities are human factors. If you want to start addressing human factors then we need to change the public view of what fire's role is, and what we can realistically do. The largest and most damaging fires that we see are not the ones we have allowed to burn- but the ones that escape our control because the reality is that we only have control of fires under a very narrow window of conditions.

A perfect example of this is the Oakland/Berkeley Hills fire. That fire grew to be a mere 1,520 acres- but it destroyed 3,354 structures, cost $1.5 Billion in damage and 25 people lost their lives. This included 23 civilians, a firefighter, and a police officer. The people who died on that fire were all trapped on the narrow roads when they had to quickly evacuate. What was originally the Tunnel fire escaped when crews literally watched one single ember from torching tree, float across control lines and rapidly spread in the local Diablo winds. The issue was not lack of resources or that is was not suppressed fast enough, or even human error- it happened because nature is in control, not us.

Whether a fire burns because of fuel and weather conditions, or because it is allowed to burn doesn't change the fact that we are simply not prepared as a society to deal with the natural disaster of fires. In the Angora fire APA numerous statements from firefighters on the ground were that they continued to try and hold contingency lines because they knew that the nearby housing development would be burned over in short order. Despite the fact that the fire was clearly escaping their control, they continually tried to stick with their original plan because they feared what would happen to those people. If we are to begin to address human factors then stop giving the public the false assurance that we can, and will, put all fires out.

Rising suppression costs are probably attributed to numerous factors. The main one being; as population growth and expansion into the wildland increase we spend more and more money trying to protect various "values at risk." People move out into previously undeveloped areas with little to no preparation for wildland fires because they expect fires will simply be put out. Being reactive in an emergency instead of being responsible and proactive is expensive. I will also agree with Misery Whip that we should be taking a more holistic approach with community preparedness and education, more prescribed burning, more fire resources and fuels treatments around populated areas- but we should remain hands-off in other areas. We spend billions of dollars to suppress fires, then spend millions more to perform environmental assessments and do prescribed burning to replace a necessary part of the ecosystem that we have removed. That just doesn't make any sense. We need to learn to let some areas be. I'm also not a big fan of sending firefighters out into remote areas to accomplish missions, in unwinnable situations, in places they shouldn't have been in the first place. Thirty Mile, Cramer, Iron 44 and Dutch Creek are just a few examples that really get my blood boiling.

In the early 20th Century the idea of fire suppression was met with great resistance from people all across the US, because it went against everything we knew about fire. For thousands of years indigenous people have lived very symbiotically with fire and never sought to eliminate it because they knew those efforts were futile, and respected it for the force of nature that it is. Fire suppression is counterintuitive to thousands of years of human experience and cultural knowledge. klamathman is right, we are moving towards a new culture of fire, or rather, returning towards the one we had prior to the 20th Century. The old timers have a hard time letting go of this mindset because it is what they were taught and it worked for them- but it only works for a short period of time and it is not a sustainable long term practice.

I actually wrote a term paper a couple of years ago on the politics of wildland fire as a social problem. Gifford Pinchot referred to fires as the “Dragon Devastation.” Though the original political and economic reasons for fire suppression faded long ago, we continue to hang on to the idea that fire is the Dragon Devastation. Fire is not the problem. The problem is that we have decided that fire is just inconvenient for us in the modern world, not an integral part of our world which we must learn to live with.


1/24 fire on the landscape:

Klamathman, Veijo, and Misery Whip

All three of you make some very valid points on the way we are using fire in this day and age. The way things are being done today don’t really seem to be working out to the benefit of the ecosystems, the landowners, or the tax payers. I have seen many examples of burnouts or wildfires that take the forest back to step one. Granted, this has been going on since millennium, but it is still difficult to watch 300 year old trees succumb to fire, be it intentional or just a naturally occurring event.

I have long held the thought that prescribed burning will never catch up with the fuels buildup and we will never get ahead of the curve with respect to getting done what is needed. I have always thought that fuels need to be addressed on a landscape basis and the only way to do that, as Veijo suggests, is burn just ahead of a known wet weather event in the fall with a helicopter and aerial ignition devises over large landscapes beginning initially at higher elevations. This might not happen on an annual basis, but at least it would be a start. Fall burning would be preferable since the weather event and winter precip would put the fires out and fuel consumption would be greater (lower costs per acre). Spring burning poses too many risks of hold over fires As one makes progress in fuels reduction, the burns could move down the mountains and begin a few days earlier and expand the burn period accordingly.

Unless we change something, and soon, fires will continue to cost more, burn more acres, and do more damage. Doing business the way we are today has not proven to be the path to a solution in my humble opinion.


1/24 WFF Fundraiser: FAM "Fill the Torch" Raffle at hockey match between the Boise State Broncos and Idaho Vandals TOMORROW

The Payette NF - Fire & Aviation Management (w/ assistance from Burk Minor and the Idaho Hockey Association) is sponsoring a Fundraiser Raffle and a "Fill the Torch" event at this weekends hockey match up between the Boise State Broncos and Idaho Vandals.

The "Black & Blue Rivalry" game will be
Where: Manchester Ice and Event Centre in McCall, ID
When: Friday, January 25th and Saturday, January 26th with both games beginning at 19:30 (7:30pm).

The raffle is valued at $300 and you can purchase 1-ticket for $5 or 5-tickets for $20. We are raffling a "Hockey Weekend Getaway in McCall" which consists of:
1 - Jr. Steelheads Jersey,
2 - Tickets (open dates) to a

  • Jr. Steelheads game in McCall,
  • Dinner for Two @ Chapala's Mexican Restaurant, and a
  • night of lodging at The Hunt Lodge - Holiday Inn here in McCall.

Contact: Randy Skelton 208-634-6784 for more information."

Thank you! I'll update the Calendar as well, but we just got the flyer. It's tomorrow!

Amanda DeShazo
Executive Assistant
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

I added it to the hotlist calendar. Ab.

1/24 fire on the landscape:

Klamathman... thank you for your well stated response.

You made the statement that "smoke in the air especially toward the end of summer and into fall is how this country has been for hundreds of years". I agree. When Jedediah Smith first came in into the Sacramento Valley in 1828 he reported smoky conditions from wildfires.

I'm sure you can recall when every town in Northern California had a teepee burner to burn mill waste. Just because its an accepted practice doesn't make it right or desirable.

I call to your attention a recent article which states that black carbon is the second leading cause of man made air pollution.

Carbon impact of carbon dioxide soot

Now you may argue that forest fire smoke is not man made, but the smoke from a fire that is not put out in a timely manner, or the smoke from a huge backfire is arguably man made.

The second point I'd like to make about air pollution is that forest fire smoke IS air pollution. Anyone who lived through the lingering smoke of the 1987 Siege in Northern California and some of the same conditions in from the fires in later years will tell you of the damage it did to their respiratory tract. I refer you to the study on Forest Carbon and Emissions from 2008 .

The forest carbon and emissions model

When I conducted Prescribed Burns, smoke management was included in the Environmental Impact planning. I'm not sure it's a consideration or given much weight when planning a backfire or burnout.

I argue that pollution is pollution. If the current management practices contribute to damage to the environment then they should be re evaluated.

Fire an be successfully reintroduced into the Northern California wildlands with much less risk than the current 'managed fire' method.

Misery Whip mentioned burning on the shoulders of the peak fire season. I suggest the best scenario is planned ignitions in the late fall, probably using an Aerial Ignition Device from a helicopter. This would be similar to the old Cattle and Sheep men's practice who fired the high country as they drove the stock out in the fall. The fuels are usually cured and will burn well in the short daylight hours and spread is minimal at night. If the weather turns bad, those fires can be contained with much less cost and effort than the current practice of summer long fire camps.

Another advantage to planned ignitions is that all environmental concerns will be addressed. That is certainly not the case in today's world of managed fire.


1/24 fire on the landscape:

Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy
National Goals; Collective Solutions

For your reading interest. You can read the Draft Action Plan and Comment if you haven't already done so.

"The Western Regional Strategy Committee (WRSC) is providing this third and final opportunity for stakeholders to review and comment on the Draft Action Plan for the Western Cohesive Strategy.

The comment period is open from NOW until FEBRUARY 1 at 5:00 PM MST."

Joe Stutler, hope you're doing well in retirement and loving it!


1/23 fire on the landscape:


I have come to realize that you and I have very different views of fire management and its effects. I believe that fire on the landscape, especially in the mountains of northern California is an integral part of the ecosystem. It is a force that has occurred for years before we were here and will be here long after we are gone. I would like to address some of your comments.

"The point here is not that I may have overstated the burned area in the corridor; the point is that under current Federal Land Management policies huge areas of California timberlands have burned repeatedly and will burn again if we don't change policy and procedure."

Policy and procedure will not stop large portions of timberlands from burning. It is also my opinion that part of the reason that these fires are so big and burn so hot is because of several decades of successful fire suppression that has virtually eliminated one of the strongest and most important parts of the ecosystem. Seems to me that by continuing with the idea that we must suppress all fires is the exact mindset that got us in the current situation.

"If you look at the map you'll see that most of the burn scars in Northern California are on Federally Protected land. These fires are costing us millions of dollars, burning a valuable resource, damaging our watersheds and polluting the air we breathe."

Most of the forested landscape in northern California is federal land so it would only be sensible to see that most of the land burned would be federal. I don't think that burning of a valuable resource is a bad thing especially if future decisions are made based on some assumptions listed by John Barbour on 1/20. I think that it is a common human trait to look at things in relation to our timelines (100 years) and make conclusions that a forest that is burned is devastated, when in fact, fire and its effects on the landscapes needs to be looked at in terms of several hundreds of years. I also don't adhere to your belief that because fire has burned through a watershed that it is therefore "damaged". A reduction in fuels, nutrient cycling, increase in wildlife habitat, and maintenance of oak woodlands are just some of the benefits. Lastly smoke in the air during the fire months especially towards the end of the summer and into the fall is how this country has been for hundreds of years. You could read historic newspaper articles and find proof of this.

Perhaps one of the things that we can agree on is the negative effects of fire management teams that often resort to trying to get some solid black line in. Its this activity of large scale burnouts in the peak of fire season that often results in high intensity fire, increases the size of the fire dramatically, puts out more smoke, and costs more money. I do agree that we should re-evaluate the how and the why of suppression and management. Some fires, in some locations, during certain times of the year have very beneficial effects and should be monitored and or checked and allowed to do what they do best, burn.


1/22 "A big THANK YOU to Vance Hazelton and and Mike Mansson (Superior NF, Minnesota) for putting on a successful Hockey game (USFWS vs. USFS) and WFF Fundraiser this past weekend! Can't WAIT to see the pictures. Sounds like it was an icy blast! Thank you Thank you!"
Amanda DeShazo
Executive Assistant
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
1/22 AEDs

Thinking Outside the Box,

Thanks for the wealth of info, greatly appreciate it. I ultimately agree with your end statement, I hope the AEDs do end up on more agency vehicles and locations. We've been working with them at our station and at the WCTs for a few years now as well. I have some concerns with them being out in mass, but hopefully folks will do the proper maintenance and checks on them that all expensive equipment deserve.

There's a lot of interesting policy in the content you linked. Obviously the primary objective with agency / R-5 policy is still the care and treatment of our employees. I don't see a time or place anywhere in the near future where this agency could handle EMS solo and not require our cooperators, especially since we don't staff 24/7 like most fire departments do. I still strongly feel (and you're correct, no official word from the BOD yet) that if there is a move to push these onto all of our engines, that it presents an unofficial policy change in what services we provide to the public, whether we know and admit to it or not.

Realistically, how much additional responsibility can our employees take on and not be recognized for. What is the next level of medical training, or the next piece of equipment that our employees will have to be trained on and maintain proficiency, ultimately making our job increasingly more challenging, that the agency will not recognize our increasing complexity and not compensate us for accordingly? I'm not looking to get into a pay discussion, but in most private sector and almost all paid fire departments, adding EMS qualifications of a personal liability often results in additional pay or benefit.

"There should be no pre-planned response to public emergency medical situations"? I ultimately don't think that the public would agree with or want to hear that statement when they see our engines with firefighters, red lights and sirens, and stickers on compartment doors with EMS logos and possibly soon "AED Inside"? I'm fairly certain they would not appreciate our non pre-planned response when we show up on scene and begin to treat their loved ones. When there is a medical emergency, those in distress expect emergency responders to be qualified, trained, and generally speaking, know what they are doing. I would never dare tell someone that I'm just here to fill the gap until County Fire shows up and I don't really have a plan, but I'll do the best I can within my level of training.

Based on that statement, I can't understand why we are dispatched to accidents and medicals at all then. My interpretation of it is we only have a duty to act if we unintentionally happen across an accident. And also, does that policy conflict with the required duty to respond that states place on on-duty EMT's? Why would we as an agency turn away from providing the best overall service we can to visitors of the forest service system?

Also of notice to me is that the agency shall bear the cost for training and recertification's up to the emergency medical technician level. I sure wasn't aware of that, nor has the agency ever offered to pay my bi-annual recertification costs. I'll see what we can make happen. But again, where's the budget for this. Paychecks are barely covered as is.

I also find it interesting that FSM 6725 provides for the direction and training of Emergency Medical Technicians, yet seems to only reference and refer to the requirements to be a First Responder. Again, lacks overall direction and vision. It strikes me as, yes we want EMTs, but we don't want to accept any of the required responsibility for them. This agency, whether or not we admit it, treats the public as part of an obligation we have to serving our constituents. Policy should reflect that.

Thanks again for the links, all very informative!

Centrifugal Pump

1/21 Automated External Defibrillators - AEDs

The AED issue arose last year when it was introduced into the 2012 Red Book

XXX It is recommended that an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED is on-site during all WCTs. (Work Capacity Tests)

• XXX FS- an AED is required on-site during all WCTs.

The USFS WO made it required equipment at all WCTs. The Forests were scrambling as usual to comply with this requirement. AEDs have been around for years, it took an unfortunate incident in the NPS (2010 Parks - New River Gorge National River) for the USFS to pull its head out of its you know what to require this.

As we all know each and everyone of us gets complacent. And the WCT is just another hoop for most of us just like agLearn, but people actually die during this test. USFS Ranger stations, and work centers are for the most part in rural communities. Have AEDs in places like that just make sense to protect our employees, and community.

The USFS has supported employees since 2002:

www.fs.fed.us: Directives/ Forest Service Manual / 6700/ 6720.doc# Toc26763131


Unit managers shall identify and provide for needed levels of emergency medical services. These services may be provided through local medical care providers or through trained Forest Service personnel.

The cost of training Forest Service personnel, up to basic emergency medical technician qualification, will be borne by the Government. This includes the cost of State or national registry emergency medical technician certification and recertification.

Employees functioning in positions formally designated as emergency medical technician (EMT) positions must have current State or national registry certification. Employees providing EMT services in connection with Forest Service or cooperating agency operations may perform these duties at locations outside of their certifying State.

Region 5 took it one step further in 2007:

www.fs.fed.us: Directives/ Field Forest Service Manual R5-6700 20 2007 (doc)


6725.01 - Authority

1. FSM 6725 EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES, provides for the direction and training of Emergency Medical Technicians.

2. FSM 6725 (R5 Supplement 6700-96-1), provides direction for training and certification as Emergency First Responder with the primary focus of the certification being the emergency medical treatment of agency personnel

6725.02 - Objectives

1. To provide clear direction for the training and certification standard of Medical First Responders within Region Five.

2. To facilitate consistency within the region and among the cooperating Agencies.

3. To provide a means of certification which is both economical and appropriate.

6725.03 - Policy

Emergency Medical Services. The following employees should be trained and maintain certification as Emergency Medical First Responders:

a. All employees maintaining Incident Qualifications Cards for positions as Single Resource Boss as defined in FSH 5109.17, Wildland Fire Qualifications Handbook.

b. All employees who supervise hand, engine, or helicopter crews on fires.

c. In the instances where a trained employee must render emergency medical care to another employee or the public, the responsible agency (i.e.: state and county or municipal fire department) will be notified. Upon arrival at scene the responsible agency will assume patient treatment and care.

6725.04 - Responsibility

1. Managers and Supervisors – fire managers and supervisors will ensure that Medical First Responders under their supervision will receive proper training for certification, that their skills and education are maintained, and that necessary equipment for basic patient care are properly maintained and readily available.

6725.1 - Guidelines

6725.11 - Liability

1. To avoid liability issues to all Medical First Responders who will render carepursuant to the scope of training, local protocols, and available equipment.

6725.12 - Training

1. The Department of Transportation (DOT) Medical First Responder course is theapproved standard curriculum for the training of Medical First Responder in Region Five. The DOT’s National Standard Curriculum consisted of a minimum of forty hours of instruction. (Exhibit 01).

In addition a Basic Life Support CPR course is required, and may be incorporated as part of the First Responder Curriculum.

Interagency Policy still hasn't changed our response:

nifc.gov:  Redbook 2013 Chapter11 (pdf)

Public Emergency Medical Response

Public emergency medical response is not a functional responsibility of wildland fire resources, and should not be part of a preplanned response that requires these duties. When wildland firefighters encounter emergency medical response situations, their efforts should be limited to immediate care (e.g. first aid, first responder) actions that they are trained and qualified to perform.

I have not heard if there is an official stance from the BOD to have them on every engine, but boy it makes sense to me. If is is true I hope the BOD doesn't stop there, but adds one in each chief officer, patrol, and IHC vehicle.

Thinking Outside the Box
Sent from my iPad

Thanks, Ab.

1/21 firewhirl on Polo Fire

Dear Ab:
I'm hoping the Wildland Firefighter readership might be able to help me out.
I'm trying to track down a copy of the black and white print of the attached photo of the firewhirl associated with the Polo Fire on March 7, 1964 near Santa Barbara.
I'm looking to include the photo is a book chapter on wildland fire behavior.
Thanks in advance for any help.
Marty Alexander, Alberta, Canada
Martin E. Alexander, PhD, RPF
180-50434 Range Road 232, Leduc County, Alberta, Canada T4X 0L1
E-mail: mea2@ nospam telus.net Home phone: 780-417-0244 Skype: marty.alexander89

"Further major advances in combating wildfire are unlikely to be achieved simply by continued application of traditional methods. What is required is a more fundamental approach which can be applied at the design stage ... Such an approach requires a detailed understanding of fire behavior." -- D. Drysdale (2011, p. 1) - An Introduction to Fire Dynamics (3rd Edition)

rr.ualberta.ca Contact Martin E Alexander

NOTE: I will be presenting at the International Association of Wildland Fire's 4th Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference in Raleigh, NC - Feb. 18-22, 2013 (2013 Fuels Conference/)

1/21 Automated External Defibrillators - AEDs

Centrifugal Pump

AED training and usage should be a co-course with your CPR certification. I believe at one point you had the choice of straight CPR training or CPR-AED training. Considering the many places that have AEDs now, it's good to have both. Depending on class size, it shouldn't add more than another hour or two to a recert class. That said, having used them quite a few times, they're pretty fool proof. Some of the better units actually talk you thru the procedures and instruct you as go.


1/21 fire on the landscape:

One who knows...Did you forget to mention the Lost Fire which burned about 20,000 acres near the Hat Creek Work Center in the mid 1980's ...or the 2 or 3 fires in the Cassel area under CDF DPA ?

I looked at the FRAPA Fire Perimeter map and sure enough there are some pockets that have not burned in recent years, but we're still in drought.
frap.cdf.ca.gov: Statewide Fire Map (pdf)

The point here is not that I may have overstated the burned area in the corridor; the point is that under current Federal Land Management policies huge areas of California timberlands have burned repeatedly and will burn again if we don't change policy and procedure.

If you look at the map you'll see that most of the burn scars in Northern California are on Federally Protected land. These fires are costing us millions of dollars, burning a valuable resource, damaging our watersheds and polluting the air we breathe.

We've spent more money for suppression but he fires keep getting bigger, lasting longer and are more expensive. We should re evaluate the how and why of our suppression and management effort.


1/20 Automated External Defibrillators - AEDs

Good evening Abs,

Coming soon to Region 5...

Just spoke with my forest safety officer this week, and according to him the region has decided that "most" of the engines in R-5 and primary administration sites (district & supervisors offices) will be required to have AEDs, and employees will need to be trained in their use accordingly. Forest safety is to purchase the admin site units, while FAM is to buy the AEDs for the engines. In fact, ours are en route.

Can anyone else confirm they have heard this? Has the region really mandated that engines now carry AEDs, and what is the intention of having these on-board? To treat our employees or the general public?

Now I know AEDs are not an entirely new thing for us. They have been appearing in various locations for a few years now. In fact I've heard a few stories of saves our employees have made due to having the defibrillators around...

But it seems to me that with the regions decision, they are taking a huge step towards stating that our Wildland Firefighters (not forestry technicians in my book) should provide higher quality medical care to the public and our own. And I agree. But are they admitting that we are a public emergency response agency that should go on EMS calls? If so, aren't we putting the cart before the horse? There's no F.S. medical director yet that I know of, and there's no mention of providing medical treatment in any of our position descriptions on USAjobs. What's the liability our employees could face for rendering care with these units incorrectly. The agency doesn't officially have any policy not support any of our EMTs even though it's the only qualified medical position we put on redcards and send to incidents across the country (How many of us have seen agency line-EMTs on a fire with a 10-man first aid kit?) We can barely fund the medical supplies we are required to carry on-board as it is, and at nearly $1500 a unit, where is the funding for enough of these on "most" every engine in R-5 going to come from? The reality on my forest is there's a huge disconnect between those that make the decisions that affect the EMS program, and those of us that have to actually implement it.

Don't get me wrong, I think the AEDs are a good move. They are an easy to use piece of equipment that have positive results when used early and correctly, and can save lives. I would love to have one on my truck. But adding it to our current EMS protocols, if you're willing to call it that, is part of a big picture problem the agency has excelled at ignoring or giving half-hearted results towards for years. We need leadership and vision from the top about our medical program, and preferably from FIRE folks who've been on the front lines and understand the challenges our engines and crews face with regards to this. The good things currently about our EMS program are happening because our firefighters, engines and crews have taken the initiative to train and outfit themselves, not because the region has told us to do so.

If providing EMS care is going to become agency policy, there's no going about it 50%. Do it properly; get a medical director in place and establish proper protocols for all levels of medical qualifications; fund, train and equip your employees; provide EMS working groups with FIRE employees who know what they are talking about; and provide compensation to your folks according to the level of additional qualifications and liabilities they take on.

Just my thoughts. Join the FWFSA!

- Centrifugal Pump

1/20 fire on the landscape:; Lassen N.P. fires

I`m with viejo & misery whip (despite the slight exaggeration on size of burns). Lassen N.P. has priors. Back in the early 2000`s they had a fire being managed on the east side of the Park come out of the park in a significant manner, burning into the adjoining LNF and State protected lands. The Park FMO was interviewed by the Record Searchlight. In the article he was quoted as saying , “I wish we had a way to predict when these kind of thing might happen.” Ouch!
Common sense and past experience should dictate total suppression on all fires in most of the West under the following one or more conditions:

peak fire season months
drought conditions
high LALs or other multiple fire activity happening or likely
wind events happening or predicted

One more thing; fire managers need to look at the total picture for the general area, not just in his or her jurisdiction.
Shasta County is the leading No. Cal county for serious WUI fires and Lassen County is no slouch. Any one remember the Fountain Fire, or the Devils Corral Fire?

John Barbour
CDF BC (ret.)

1/20 IMT reunion:

Ab ,

Can we please get this posted on They said? California IMT reunion 2013 in Reno, all current and former team members are welcome and encouraged to attend.
See you all in Reno.

May 19-21, 2013
Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, 3800 S. Virginia, Reno NV

Registration Form and fees due by April 25th
Room registrations due by April 15


California IMT Reunion (200 K pdf)
California IMT Reunion Registration (123 K pdf)

1/19 fire on the landscape:


Just to clarify a point for you, the Lassen NF has not burned up all the timber from Burney to Lassen National Park. Sugarloaf took about 9,000 and Reading another 10,000 but there is lots of land left (and some classic Lassen lava rock piles) that are being actively managed to reduce large fire costs.

One who knows

1/19 Hi Ab,

Please convey my thanks to Tom C and Aaron W for sending the higher resolution copies of the Joe Ely photos. I am so glad to see that my grandfather's colleagues are remembering him and the pioneering work that he did with the airtankers. I miss him very much and know that all of you who knew him do too. Living in the redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains, I'm deeply grateful for all the work that you folks have done over the years. We don't say it often enough how much your bravery and dedication are appreciated, especially by those of us who live in rural forests.

Claire Warren, granddaughter of Joseph Bolles Ely Jr.

He was a great one! Ab.

1/19 Hotlist post on sporting ammunition and how it behaves on fire. 26 min YouTube link there. Ab.
1/19 Working fire support:

Kevin L.

We need to know where you are from ???? Then think about driving a water tender , any kind !!! Class two is all that is needed + a tank test, very eazzzzy !!!

Have a nice day !


1/18 I posted the Fulton Hotshots Sporting Clay Shoot fundraiser for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation on the Special Events Calendar.

Hotlist link: Calendar is looking good.

Thanks for the info, Ron.


1/17 2013 IRPG-Back at Me...

Yep, there is a 2013 IRPG forthcoming. May materialize March-ish.. Good go. We needed this.


1/17 policy regarding wildland fire; fire on the landscape:


I meant fully funding all of it; detection, prevention, suppression, fuels treatments, prescribed fire, agency owned purpose built air tankers, agency owned helicopters, etc. We should be prescribed burning like crazy in the shoulder seasons like we used to do, instead of nuking major expanses of forests during midsummer heat waves.

Misery Whip

1/17 policy regarding wildland fire: fire on the landscape:

Klamathman...you are right I am old, but I realize what I don't know.

I do know that in the last 20 years fires are burning more acres, more houses and cost more money to control than at any time in history. I know that in Northern California we have essentially burned bigger portion of the old growth timber from Hwy 299 to Hwy 199 in Oregon. I know that on the Lassen NF they have burned all of the timber from Burney to Lassen National Park. That sure does not sound like a "Light Hand on the Land".

The costs of wildland fire management have skyrocketed and the losses have increased manyfold while the number of fire starts is constant. Climate change may have increased the difficulty of control, but Agency policy probably has more to do with rising costs.

I know that the time to burn a timber stand for resource benefits is not during the peak fire season and not during a drought when the timber is already stressed.

I know that fire in a timber stand without followup logging or a cleanup burn only results in increased fuel loading and fire hazard . This was demonstrated this year on the Chips fire on the Plumas when fire crews were hampered by the snags left from the Storrie Fire in 2000. Fire Crews on the Backbone Fire in 2009 near Hoopa had the same problem with snags and fuel buildups from prior fires.

I know that when I conducted a prescribed burn it was done under the restrictions imposed by an Environmental Report . The attempts at fuel modification under the guise of emergency action is not an acceptable practice

What I don't know; what I cannot understand is why anyone would not want a comprehensive and honest review of wild land fire policy.


1/17 Rappelling to put out duffers; FLA confusion


Regarding Roadrunner's question:

I would offer that sometimes we look at the weather, and upcoming fuels and see a small fire just punking along, but chose to go after it hard, not because of what it is, but because of what it might become.

Not a lot of rappelling in Florida, but we make similar choices when dealing with small spots in swampy areas, that eventually might come out and threaten structures.

That may be why they would rappel to extinguish a "duffer".


Flash in Florida

1/17 policy regarding wildland fire: fire on the landscape:

Misery Whip,

Thanks for the post. Your last paragraph grabbed my attention when you talked about “Preventing” the disaster. Although, I believe, you were referring to more suppression resources I would like to add on; How about preventing the fires in the first place????? When are we going to open our eyes and look at treating the problem rather than just treating the symptom? In this age of dwindling budgets and increasing suppression costs, it seems just plain stupid not to look at that aspect of the problem. Isn’t it time we, as fire agencies, pulled our heads out and more aggressively included that in our staffing and planning projections instead of having it be the first thing cut in the fire program? I believe the tax payers deserve it and will soon insist on it.


1/16 policy regarding wildland fire: fire on the landscape:


I think your 1/13 post was well stated and accurate. There are times and places when unintended ignitions can be "managed for resource benefits," but nuking huge portions of our nation's forests during the middle of the western fire season doesn't "benefit" anything. Except maybe the contractors who get paid bazillions of dollars to do erosion control afterward.

The Forest Service's recent love affair with limited suppression has more to do with a lack of political will than sound management practices. Suppressing fires takes a lot of money, and a much bigger permanent workforce than Congress is willing to fund, so now we call our inability to control large fires a "strategy" and blame it all on fuels buildup, urban interface, and climate change.

Before anyone accuses me of being a climate change denier, I want to clearly state that I believe climate change is real, is happening right now, and is having severe effects on our planetary ecosystems. I just don't think that anyone has proven that it is a significant contributor to our current inability to suppress forest fires. I'd say that the fact that we have about 1/3 of the number of skilled fire crews available today than we had in the 70s and 80s is a much more plausible reason for the proliferation of "megafires" than climate change, fuels buildup, and urban interface all put together.

It is probably inevitable that this summer, or next summer, or even ten or twenty years from now, we will have large fires scattered all over the landscape and a multi-day August windstorm on the scale of the one that spread the 1910 fires is going to cause, well, another 1910-type fire season. Only this time, there will be a lot more homes, and people, in the way, and many people will die, many billions of dollars of damage will be caused, entire forests will be erased, and Congress will come looking for the perpetrators afterward.

It would take strong, principled, determined, and intelligent leadership within the federal land management agencies to prevent such an outcome. If our agency leaders united to paint this bleak scenario for Congress and made an impassioned plea for the resources needed to prevent it from happening, it might be possible to prevent one of the worst catastrophes that will ever befall this nation. Unfortunately, I'd say the chances of that happening are slim to none.

Misery Whip

1/16 Sporting Clay Shoot

benefitting the Wildland Firefighter Foundation
Sponsored by Fulton Hotshots

April 19th and 20th, 2013
5 Dogs Shooting Range, Inc.
Bakersfield, Ca

Sporting Clay Shoot 2013 FLYER (40 K pdf)
SIGNUP for Sporting Clay Shoot 2013 (41 K pdf)

1/16 FLA confusion

So I am very confused about this FLA and I see a lot of problems with it. As some of you already know, I was and am on a unit where we attempted to begin rappelling on fires, however we were stopped cold by our FMO (but not our line officer at the time) for several reasons, all safety related. Unfortunately, some individuals on our unit went ahead without permission and against policy and ultimately got caught. Not a lot of public information at the time and it had serious ramifications for three permanent careers, including the line officer.

Unless something has changed recently with MTDC and they have decided to spend time and money on figuring out how it can be done safely by wildland fire crews, and then from that lengthy and necessary process a JHA has been developed, there is still no JHA for this specific activity. Because it can’t be done safely.

We had some out-of-touch people (no longer in fire) on the unit say that they used to do it when they fought fire, but folks, the times have changed. Can you say SAFETY JOURNEY? And that’s what so confusing about how a line officer and fire staff could possibly allow this to happen. (Our district ranger is really wanting to talk to the line officer on this unit.)

Part of the reason is because it just can’t be done safely on a fire without a full face helmet (which we didn’t have) and while carrying all of our line gear. Also we didn’t have a true training program. Yeah, we did some practicing, but we didn’t do it on a regular basis and we didn’t keep any records of our training (what little we did), we didn’t keep any records of our gear, how it was purchased, used or retired. We had heat resistant ropes, but ultimately, ropes and fire don’t mix. Not to even mention the fact that we didn’t have permission to purchase any of this equipment, because it wasn’t an approved activity. Some of the delivered punishment on our unit had to do with unauthorized spending. And there was no way we would have ever been approved for a budget necessary to keep the program safe and ongoing.

Didn’t the helicopter rappel program across the country just get unified with its operations in the last year or so? We were told that our rappel program would have to maintain similar record keeping and training systems, and that they would have to be approved first. How was this unit doing all of this? Did the line officer oversee this? Is our unit the only place where our sometimes annoying but super-anal safety officer would have stepped in and done something? What about the regional safety officer for the NW region? I guess I’m wondering how this activity can be determined to be unsafe by one body of our agency but okay to do by another part.

We made calls to MTDC and the person we talked to said the same and more about rappelling on fires not being safe. Ultimately we had to be reminded that what we were attempting to accomplish was not even close to the risk we would be taking. And we all know that’s our primary question to ask each time we take on a task.

Was this part of the fire really and truly that much of a risk of blowing up and worth risking a life? How do you find SMEs for an FLA when it’s about an activity that isn’t even approved? Aren’t they supposed to be unbiased? Seems to me like they would have to ignore some major problems with this situation, and then how unbiased could they be? Lots of questions and it’s being discussed at our forest leadership levels now. It seems like there is more to this than we are being told. Any input would be appreciated. Does anyone have the contact info for the line officer?

Still reading and rereading the FLA, it’s suspicious at best and definitely not the final answer.


1/15 WFF Donation:

We just received a $3,000 donation from the to 2012 Oak Grove Hotshot Reunion which was held at the Supervisor's Office of the Angeles Forest. Oakgrove Hotshots, your commitment to helping our wildland community is appreciated by those who help them here at the WFF and, most importantly, by those who benefit from our services -- families, friends, and coworkers of our injured and fallen wildland firefighters. Thank you Oak Grove!

Amanda DeShazo
Executive Assistant
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

1/15 Roadrunner,

Why would you want to rappel down a cliff to extinguish a duffer in the first place?? Risk vs benefit


1/15 policy regarding wildland fire: fire on the landscape:


Thank you for responding. My posts are designed to stimulate thought and discussion. If you would like to continue the exchange, I suggest the Abs move this to the Hotlist general discussion area.


1/15 Does anyone know if the current 2012 IRPG will be updated for 2013? If so, where do I get one.


1/15 Working fire support:

I've recently retired from the fire department. One of the things I wanted to do in retirement was possibly work in support of wildland firefighters by working for a company that operates support services in base camp. I've tried to search the web for these companies with little success. I was wondering if your site had a list of companies that provided support to base camps that I could get from you.

Any help would be appreciated

Thank You

Kevin L.

1/15 Where do you get the JHA for rappelling down cliffs to extinguish smoking duffers or how do you get one approved?


1/15 Below you will find the link to the Milepost 66 FLA.

The FLA team for this review worked diligently to focus on the end result of learning and organizational development to support the unit to address the incredibly specialized program and processes of their ropes program in suppression operations. Just as Pole Creek offered us the opportunity to challenge our thinking, Milepost 66 does the same in a different perspective. This incident has generated much discussion about why they were on ropes and why tactics that utilize a ropes program, were being used in a suppression program. This story needs to be read from the perspectives of the decision makers and understanding, HOW the decisions were made, and how they made sense to those involved. (ie the need for a ropes program at all).

From a larger organizational perspective, this incident should initiate some discussion on risk management and the current JHA process. There have been questions on how we evaluate the risks versus rewards of operations and the adequacy of the JHAs. The current JHA process assumes that the decision to conduct an operation has already been made and now we just need to figure out how to mitigate all the risks. Of greater importance, we should be asking whether we need to perform that particular operation at all or is there is an alternative that poses less risk that achieves the same result. It raises additional questions about our current organizational risk management system and how it influences the decisions we make when considering risk vs outcome (ie. less than adequate organizationally supported risk management process such as JHAs as policy).

wildfirelessons.net: Milepost 66 FLA (pdf)


1/14 policy regarding wildland fire: fire on the landscape:


For what must be 15 years I have read your posts. As a long time lurker its always your posts that make me want to respond. Seems to me that like your name suggests, your an old guy ( no disrespect ). By this I mean that you are stuck in the mind frame that all fires need to be put out, (I bet you made a long and successful career at it) and the minute that you do indirect and pick the next ridge back is when it all goes wrong. The situation that exists in my opinion is that we simply can not go forward with regard to science and common sense in the attempt to continually try to put out all fires. If we agree that some fires could be let go to burn "freely", then I am sure we would have a long list of variables that would be in place to allow fire to progress in its "natural" pattern. Well guess what.... there are. And people get paid not enough money to have their name on something, step up, keep people safe, and try to manage a dynamic force for multiple objectives.

You say

"I think its time to review the thinking on wildland fire. I am a proponent of prescribed fire if it is used correctly but in recent years we have seen too many escapes from wilderness areas and Parks to allow the practice to continue as its been done in recent years."

When is the right time Viejo? Every year that fire does not burn is another year of fuel build up and even worse weather conditions that could exist. Instead of coming down on some folks that tried to do well, perhaps you should put forth the energy to promote more funding for prescribed fire when the conditions are "right". In my opinion fire managers don't decide that they are going to go indirect or manage for multiple objectives (wildland fire use) so that the hillside burns at high intensity and high severity for giggles. I would like to believe that someone with some experience and education in fire science and ecology steps up to the plate and puts their career and name with a decision and goes with it in the hopes that the good will outweigh the bad. When it doesn't go as planned, we should try to learn from it and try again. A couple extra burned acres (fuel treatment) is just one of many black eyes that all government agencies have. Understanding fire return intervals and not burning is a greater black eye. Going direct, keeping all fires small, and putting folks in harms way to save a couple acres is not worth the high price being paid. The review of the thinking on wildland fire is taking place, and we are moving to let some fires burn.


1/14 ASH DASH: Benefitting the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and the Idaho Fallen Firefighters Foundation:

Please join us and help us get the word out.

REGISTRATION for the Inaugural Ash Dash IS OPEN!

Register by March 15th to guarantee a race shirt. There will be prizes for overall top 3 and 'other' designations :) And there will be a post race party at The Symposium.

Packet Pickup to be March 28th from 5-8pm. If you miss packet pickup or need to make other arrangements prior to race day, please contact the Race IC.

Team Duathlon (bike to run) starts at 12:30pm, 10K (6.2miles) starts at 1pm and the Kids 1miler starts at 2:30pm. The run and duathlon start at the Wildland Firefighter Monument inside the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). The finish is at the Idaho Fallen Firefighter Memorial on the Boise Greenbelt. The kids run starts at the Library! First Boise run to bring the wildland and city firefighter's memorials together. All proceeds benefit the associated firefighter foundations to assist the families and coworkers of fallen or injured firefighters.

Contact us with questions, with interest in volunteering, or with offers of sponsorship.

Thank you!

Amanda DeShazo
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Annette Reed
Idaho Fallen Firefighter Foundation

1/14 Hiring & Demographics,

This message is meant for those of you who actually hire your seasonal firefighting employees. On the new USAjobs application page it gives you the option to "check" a box that allows the hiring officials to view what you marked for "race"/demographics, however, this box is an optional box and you are not required to check it. My question is this, by NOT checking it does this put you at a competitive disadvantage (whether that is "PC" or not is up for debate) but I do wonder what you all think as I am a bit worried over hurting my chances by choosing not to add this section to my applications.


American (origin of countries and skin tone are plentiful----yet irrelevant)

1/13 Seeking high res photos:

My brother and I are the grandchildren of Joseph B. Ely Jr. who led the team that developed the airtankers at Willows CA in the 1950s. Recently we discovered the Airport Grille in Alamogordo, NM which has a large collection of aerial firefighting history memorabilia. My brother and I would like to obtain high-resolution copies of the last two images on this wildlandfire photo page: air18/air18.php so that we can frame two images with a brass plaque as shown in the attached mock-up, and donate it to the Airport Grille. May we have permission to do this?

Here are the two images we would like:

Many thanks for your help!

Claire Britton Warren

Readers, we do not have high resolution photos of the two images. Could anyone send in some higher res photos for Claire's use? Or I could put you in touch with her. Ab.

1/13 policy regarding fire:

The Reading fire occurred last summer ( July 2012) as a result of a managed fire escape on the Lassen National Park. The fire escaped Park boundaries and burned onto the Lassen NF and private lands for a total of more than 28,000 acres.

The Lassen NF is preparing to reseed and replant in part of the burned area. In its report it states ...

Without reforestation efforts, conifer recovery would be very slow and the area could stay in the brush field/grassland stage for a century or more,” according to the report.

The large pine, fir and cedar trees are needed in the area for animals, including the California spotted owl, goshawk, American marten, Pacific fisher and the Sierra Nevada red fox, according to the report.

Lassen Revitalization Plans Sought

This fire was a managed fire that escaped control due to an unexpected gust of wind. The fire was then fought using Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics and as we know, those tactics often result in more acres lost.

In this case the Land Managers charged with protecting the land inflicted long term damage to land by not putting the fire out when it was small, by allowing the fire to burn with inadequate contingency plans, and further damage was done by not using direct attack.

I realize it is the current mantra to insist that fire is good for the forest, but we should point out that is not always the case. Long term damage is done if we allow a stand replacing crown fire to burn in some areas.

It seems like some of our Land Managers in their zeal to correct a century of overprotection of the wildland from fire have resorted over burning our wildlands. Not only are they conducting prescribed burns during declared drought conditions, the fireground tactics quite often put more fire on the ground. We are in period of global warming. We don't know the effects of out short term actions. Some of the timber and sage brush we burn during these drought years will not regenerate naturally.

I think its time to review the thinking on wildland fire. I am a proponent of prescribed fire if it is used correctly but in recent years we have seen too many escapes from wilderness areas and Parks to allow the practice to continue as its been done in recent years. Its foolish to allow prescribed fire in peak fire season during a declared drought . Any escape can only result in a black eye for all of the Agencies who ever want to use that tool.


To get a copy of the report call the Lassen NF, Hat Creek RD phone number contact on the website. Comments on the report may be sent by email to comments-pacificsouthwest-lassen-hat-creek@ nospam fs.fed.us or by snail-mail to Kit Mullen, District Ranger, Hat Creek Ranger District, P.O. Box 220, Fall River Mills, CA 96028.

1/12 Draft Climate Assessment Report which can be downloaded in whole or in parts.

There are regional predictions.


1/11 Making the rounds, received from several people:

Subject: OCRP-462-HANDCREW-6G & DP Extended to 1/17/2013

Recently it was discovered that several cities in Region 5 were missing from the GS-6 Handcrew announcement (OCRP-462-HANDCREW-6G & DP) in USA Jobs. This has been corrected and the cities have been added to USA Jobs.

As a result, the OCRP-462-HANDCREW-6G & DP announcement is being extended for applicants to apply to until January 17, 2013.

Applicants have until January 13, 2013 to apply to all other OCRs applicable to R5 as originally planned in the timeline.

I’ve attached the OCR listing and updated R5 Fire Hire timeline that includes this updated information.


Please share….

Updated_Encl1 R5 Feb-Mar 2013 Fire Hire Timeline (2013Jan07) xlsx.pdf  (13 K pdf)

Encl2 2013 Jan082013 Updated OCRs for R5 with IFPM xlsx-jpg 1st page (175 K jpg) second page (98 K jpg)

Elizabeth Wright forwarded the message out to the masses. She's Regional Fire Planner, Fire and Aviation Mgmt. Region 5, Forest Service. Ab.

1/11 USAjobs Applications: Making the rounds:

Email sent out to Region 1 employees that needs to be corrected:

“During a live meeting today presented on how to apply for jobs in USAJOBS they showed two methods of creating a resume in USAJOBS; 1) Clicking on the button “Build New Resume” (then build your resume in USAJOBS) and 2) Clicking the button “Upload New Resume” (which then allows you to attach a resume you have created outside USAJOBS).

If you select option 2 you will not make the “referral list” (or whatever they call it now). The reason is that option 2 (attaching a resume) requires HR to manually qualify applicants for basic qualifications and they are not doing that. SOOOO! Make sure your applicants are building their resumes in USAJOBS!

Deputy Fire Management Officer
Lolo National Forest

Response from ASC-HRM

THIS IS NOT TRUE!!! The applicants have the option of creating a resume in USAjobs - OR- may create a Resume outside of USAjobs using a Word Document as part of Hiring Reform. When creating the Resume in a word document it should follow these guidelines.

Your resume should contain sufficient information to make a valid determination that you fully meet the basic/specialized experience requirements as stated in this job announcement for each grade level(s) for which you are applying. In order to fully evaluate your application and receive proper credit, your resume should include:

(1) paid and non-paid experience, job title, dates held (month and year for qualifying purposes to receive credit), number of hours worked per week, and salary.

(2) knowledge of the subject matter and technical skills pertinent to this position.

(3) specific duties performed that fully detail the level and complexity of the work with percentages of time performing these duties if work involved a variety of different duties (i.e. 75% of the time performing these duties and 25% of the time performing this duty).

(4) names and phone numbers of your current and/or previous supervisor(s).

This information should be clearly identified in your online application or resume. Failure to provide information sufficient to determine your qualifications for the position will result in loss of consideration.

USDA Forest Service
3900 Masthead
Albuquerque, NM 87109

1/10 To My Fire Family

I wanted to reach out and extend the family's appreciation and gratitude to all of our other family which is you, the fire community.

I can't tell you enough how important is to know that everyone had our back. My family is well aware of what efforts were taking place to find our beloved Daughter, Sarah Alarid.

I hope no one would ever have to go through what we went through the eight days until she was discovered. When you attach the word "MISSING" next to your Daughter or any family member or friend, what goes along with it is gut wrenching to say the least. We wish it upon no one.

Please take the time to hug your loved ones, tell them you love them and always stay in touch.

God forbid, if anyone ever needs help with a missing person, please don’t hesitate to call. I/we will help.

Never Forget Sarah!


The Alarid Family

I hope you know how much the Alarid family is loved, Mike and Laura, and how sorry we are. Ab.

1/9 Re Sarah Alarid (R5 hotshot supe's daughter):

It is with deepest sadness and heartache that I inform you that Sarah Alarid was found along with her vehicle at the bottom of a ravine along Sand Canyon Road in the Angeles National Forest. The vehicle was spotted by an L.A. County Sheriff's helicopter as they were responding to a call miles away. She was found with the car more than 200ft down from the road and just a stones throw from the entrance to Bear Divide Forest Service Station. Many many people joined in for the search, and their efforts are appreciated by their family, friends, as well as myself. More information will be posted on the website wheressarahalarid.com  regarding an address for condolences, as well as donations for the family and any future services. Please respect the families privacy as they deal with this tremendous loss.

Josh Stark
Site Administrator
Facebook: FindingSarahAlarid
(661) 575-7811

1/9 Very sad news about Sarah. You all are in our thoughts and prayers. Thanks to everyone who helped. Thanks, Josh. Visit Sarah's website and see where cards and donations can be sent. Ab.

Sarah Alarid’s Body Recovered in Sand Canyon Ravine

The body of Sarah Alarid, the Canyon Country teen who has been missing since New Year’s Eve, was found on Wednesday. Alarid’s body, and the silver 2002 Ford Focus hatchback registered to Alarid, were found 200 feet down a ravine off Sand Canyon Road near the Bear Divide Access Road and Little Tujunga Canyon Road. Investigators from the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office had been dispatched to the scene, along with LA County Fire and the LA County Sheriff’s Department. “We have confirmation that it is the missing girl from Canyon Country,” said... (more at the link)

earlier today: Body Found in Angeles National Forest Near Car Registered to Missing Woman

A vehicle found near a body in a ravine off an Angeles National Forest road is registered to a 19-year-old Canyon Country woman who has been missing since New Year's Day. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesperson Steve Whitmore said investigators made the connection after running a check of the vehicle's license plates Wednesday morning... (more at the link)

1/8 Memorial service for Howard Carlson Sat Jan 19, 2013

The memorial service for Howard will take place from
2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013,
at the Love Building, 600 Minnie St., (in Condon Park) Grass Valley.

All family and friends are welcome.

See the following link to Howard’s obituary in The Union.


1/8 I wanted to pass along that a model 234 chinook owned by Columbia Helicopters has crashed in Peru with the loss of all seven crew members. All names have been released by the company. I felt the fire community should be aware of this tragic accident. Columbia has been a provider of heavy lift helicopters for many years.

Thank you

Sad news! Ab.

Helicopter crash: Aircraft owner grounds six other aircraft as precaution

Aurora-based Columbia Helicopters has grounded six Chinook helicopters after a seventh in its fleet crashed in Peru Monday, killing an all seven crew members aboard. The ground aircraft include one helicopter that is supporting U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. Company officials said the Boeing-Vertol Model 234 choppers are being put "on safety stand-down" to allow a thorough inspection, said Todd Petersen, vice president of marketing. The company's Model 234 helicopters, a civilian, tandem rotor version of the military Chinook workhorse, will be out of service for two or three days, he said. (more at link, including photo)

5 Americans among 7 dead in Peru chopper crash
Jan 8, 10:26 PM EST

The five dead Americans, all but one U.S.-based, were identified by their employer as Dann Immel, command pilot, of Gig Harbor, Washington, Edwin Cordova, maintenance crew chief, of Melbourne, Florida, Jaime Pickett, mechanic, of Clarksville, Tennessee, Darrel Birkes, senior load manager, an Oregonian living in Peru, and Leon Bradford, a load manager from Santaquin, Utah. The two Peruvians were co-pilot Igor Castillo and mechanic Luis Ramos. (more at link...)

Gig Harbor pilot among 7 dead in helicopter crash in Peru

Seven employees of Portland-based Columbia Helicopters are among seven people killed in a crash in the Peruvian jungle. Five of the seven victims were Americans, including Dann Immel, a pilot from Gig Harbor. Immel, a longtime Columbia Helicopters employee, was the command pilot on board the heavy-lift chopper when it crashed Monday shortly after taking off from the provincial capital of Pucallpa.  (more at link...)



Wildland Fire & Resource Technician III Hotshot/Handcrew

(shield for Pioneer Peak IHC)

Mat-Su Area Forestry, Palmer Alaska
Pioneer Peak Interagency Hotshot Crew

See workplacealaska.gov


Wildland Fire & Resource Technician III (Pioneer Peak Crew Overhead IHC)
This position serves as one of three Permanent Crew Overhead on Pioneer Peak IHC. Duty station is Palmer, AK. The seasonal tour is March 1st –September 30th.

This position is established in Palmer, Alaska, to serve as a Wildland Fire and Resource Technician on an Interagency Hotshot Crew for a shared resource program. Pioneer Peak IHC responds to wildland fires within the State of Alaska, throughout the Lower 48 and to Canada through the Northwest Compact.

The primary purpose of this position is to assist in leading and managing a squad of (6-10) crewmembers of highly effective and trained firefighters in wildland fire suppression and wildland urban interface/intermix incidents. This position is appropriate for those who meet Senior Firefighters/Squad Boss qualification on Interagency Hotshot Crews as identified in the National Interagency Hotshot Guide.

The Pioneer Peak Hotshots are organized with a superintendent, an assistant, a foreman, two squad bosses and four senior firefighters. Typically the crew starts April 15th and runs through the end of September with the potential for a longer season based on projects and Lower-48 fire activity.

The incumbent must meet the qualifications specified in the IHC Operating Guide in order to qualify for and receive an interview request and must also possess a certificate of completion for S-290 Intermediate Wildland Fire Behavior. You must include your IQCS master record with your application to document your qualifications and training.

Process to Apply: *Note: This posting is valid through January 22nd, 2013. You will need to have your application updated in Workplace Alaska specific to this position and duty location by this date.

This position will be advertised on Workplace Alaska under the Palmer location as a Wildland Fire and Resource Technician III. The number for this job announcement is PCN 10-DNR139. The position is open nationally for U.S. Citizens. All applicants who have applied to the announcement on or before the listed recruitment closing date and found to be qualified will be referred for consideration.

About the Mat-Su Area

The State of Alaska, Division of Forestry, Mat-Su Area, (AK, DOF, MSS) provides fire protection and forest management for approximately 15.8 million acres in south-central Alaska. The area’s northern boundary extends from Summit (south of Cantwell) east to Caribou Creek (mile 106.8 Glenn Hwy). From Caribou Creek the boundary extends southwesterly to Portage. Moving westward from Portage, Mat-Su’s southern boundary follows the Turnagain Arm, across the Cook Inlet, to the northern Alaska Peninsula. The Area’s boundary then continues from the southern-most extent of the Lake Clark National Park & Preserve’s eastern boundary north to Rainy Pass, then following the Denali National Park & Preserve eastern boundary to Summit. Within the Area are approximately 375,000 residents in the fastest growing population center in the State. As a result, there is a high level of mutual aid and coordination with local cooperators, and a high level of public interaction. The Area’s forest management, logistics support and fire dispatch all operate from the DOF facility located at the north end of the Palmer Airport, approximately 35 air miles or 43 road miles northeast of Anchorage. The Mat-Su Area management, administrative, and dispatch offices are located in the Administrative building of the DOF Palmer Facility complex. Also within the complex are the Coastal Region management offices, Central Office Procurement personnel, the DOF State Fire Warehouse Palmer Supply Facility (PSF), the Area’s initial attack helibase, and the division’s Palmer Air Tanker Base. Mat-Su Dispatch, Prevention, Training, and Operations all report to the Area Fire Management Officer (FMO). Area initial attack firefighters are stationed in the east end of the Palmer Supply Facility, and are pre-positioned throughout the Mat-Su Valley as fire potential and activity warrants. As part of the Division of Forestry, operating under the Incident Command System (ICS), the area may respond to all risk incidents encompassing disasters such as search and rescue, flood, earthquake and oil spills.

About the Communities

From the majestic Pioneer and Twin Peaks in the Chugach Range to the Talkeetna Mountains in southcentral Alaska, Palmer is framed in breathtaking beauty. Located 42 miles northeast of Anchorage on the Glenn Highway in the Matanuska Valley, the city's unique history and heritage are unparalleled in the state. The pedestrian-friendly downtown is filled with shops and boutiques with books, arts and crafts, and offerings from local artists, businesses, services, and farmers. Just a short drive from Palmer is Hatchers Pass, which provides nearly 10 months of backcountry skiing and snowboarding. Biking, hiking, fishing, and river floats are just a few of the summer activities that the area provides.

Girdwood is situated in southcentral Alaska, just a 45-minute drive from Anchorage. The town of Girdwood, which has a permanent population of about 2,000 friendly souls, lies in a small valley in the Chugach mountains near the end of Turnagain Arm, part of the Cook Inlet. Girdwood, originally named Glacier City, is surrounded by no less than seven permanent glaciers. There is an abundance of outdoor activities in summer and winter, and Girdwood's temperate weather allows for these activities year-round. Visitors and residents alike enjoy hiking, rafting, fishing, kayaking, surfing and rock climbing in the summer; and Mount Alyeska, which looms at the end of the Girdwood Valley, offers skiing and snowboarding throughout the winter months. There is also an abundance of cross-country trails within the valley in Moose Meadows near Girdwood's Hotel Alyeska.

Anchorage is located in Southcentral Alaska. The Chugach Mountains are east of the city, and the waters of Cook Inlet border the city on the northwest and southwest. Anchorage encompasses 1,961 square miles and is a modern city with all the amenities. Although Anchorage is the state’s largest city, you are never more then 20 minutes from “Alaska”. The Municipality of Anchorage boasts an award-winning trail system citywide. Enthusiasts of skiing, running, biking, walking, horseback riding, hiking, roller blading, dog mushing, snowshoeing and ski-joring enjoy over 500 miles of maintained trails.

If you are interested in these positions please go to Workplace Alaska for a complete job description. Feel free to call or email with questions:

Matt Jones
101 Airport Road
Palmer, AK 99645
Fax 907-761-6319
matthew.jones @ nospam alaska.gov

Norm McDonald
Fire Management Officer
101 Airport Road
Palmer, AK 99645
907-761-6302 Desk
907-863-2007 Mobile
norman.mcdonald @ nospam alaska.gov 

1/8 Please help find Mike Alarid's (R5 Hotshot Superintendent) daughter, Sarah. Santa Clarita County, CA


I wanted to try to get this information out as soon as possible. I know things are busy but if you could please help. The Alarid family needs help getting the information out, as well as donations which can be made at the sites below. All three sites contain updates and links important to bringing Sarah home. ... Please post these links ....Thank you for all your help.

Facebook: Wheressarahalarid
Facebook: Findingsarahalarid

Josh Stark
Site Administrator
(661) 575-7811

Good luck to the Alarid family and all the boots on the ground. Ab.

1/8 Fiscal Issues:

A good summary of our current fiscal issues all federal employees. Currently we borrow about forty cents out of every federal dollar spent...these (47) slides show the choices available to Congress in apportioning the remaining sixty cents of actual revenue in the event that the debt limit is not lifted.

bipartisanpolicy.org on the debt limit



1/8 Thanks from Colorado homeowners via the WFF:

Please see and share the attached thank you note to wildland firefighters we received from some homeowners in Colorado.

I have copied the text here too, but the attached pdf shows that they all hand signed.

"Our family owns a cabin in Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. When the Fern Lake fire got out of control the first part of December and swept through the moraine the fire fighters went above and beyond to save the cabins there. One cabin was lost but thanks to their hard work ours and a number of other cabins were saved.

In appreciation to the hard work and dedication of these men and women, this year instead of having our usual family gift exchange we are sending a donation to you.

When we are enjoying the cabin next summer you will certainly be in our hearts and prayers.

Thank you so much,

And hand-signed by Bob and Lori Young, Rick and Carrie, Greg and Wendy Bell, Bill Bell?, Andy, Amy Anderson, Trent and Ashley Stroud family, and Jeff Mullen."

Amanda DeShazo
Executive Assistant
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Nice, Ab.

1/8 Art Torrez retirement party

Will you please post this flyer (650 K pdf).

Thanks a lot,


Happy retirement, Art! Ab.

1/7 A Forest Service announcement of the Anne Veseth Memorial Scholarship:

Anne Veseth Memorial Scholarship:  Forest Service LETTER (72 K pdf) with details.


Thanks, J. Please contribute to fund her scholarship memorial. Ab.

Always Remember AnneVeseth

1/6 Howard Carlson's Passing.
Howard was IC of NorCal II when I knew him before he retired. Fine man and fine IC. I was surprised and saddened when I got the message. Godspeed Howard! Ab.

Howard passed away on December 19 with his family at his side at Renown Hospital in Reno, NV. Ryan, Tess and Ann told him how much they loved him and told stories of their fond memories of their time together.

There will be a Celebration of Howard's Life in Grass Valley, CA on January 19. In an email that's circulating, the family asks that Howard's friends and fire family please join them to carry on with sharing the fond memories, stories and accomplishments in celebration of Howard. They're still working out the details of meeting place, time, and food.

Please RSVP to Ryan Carlson (rcarlson9181@ nospam yahoo.com) and Pat Farrell (pgordonfarrell@ nospam msn.com)

1/5 Hi AB

I haven't seen this posted anywhere...Scott Wicklund was a smokejumper local to our NCSB base and although I did not know him many in the wildlandfire community did.

Ab....he took his own life....I think this is the third suicide of firefighters I have heard of. He was my age...
.i know he had had a tragic para gliding accident last March that is highlighted on the national smokejumpers association webpage.....& as a result may have been told recently that his leg would be amputated. I cannot imagine his pain. So sad....if you use the obituary. Please don't use my name as I don't know Scott.

Thank you.....
a wildland fire community member

Additional message: Please visit the Obituary for Scott Wicklund

I can't imagine the pain either. My good thoughts and prayers for friends, coworkers and family. We are all diminished and in pain when tragedy like this strikes. No firefighter is an island, no man stands alone. If only we could tell them at a critical moment. Note the reposted message below. Ab.

1/5 Here's a message that I'm reposting from Keep on Keeping On from the WFF Life Challenge Program. Ab.


The WFF Life Challenge Program gives their sincere condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of those wildland firefighters who have chosen suicide. We are sadden by the wildland firefighters who have committed suicide last month and throughout the years past.

Each day wildland firefighters face new and old challenges that test the physiology of the body which can alter the psychology of the mind. It is okay to admit if you are not feeling right or need help - it is okay to ask for help, and as leaders, we should embrace open dialogue with our employees who are dealing with these life challenges. The mind is a very powerful machine and, if not taken care of, can lead one down the path of the unknown, a lonely path that one can only imagine, leaving others to speculate and doubt the actions of the unknown.

The WFF  Life Challenge Program has recently updated their website with helpful information for those wildland firefighters who may be dealing with the demons of life, or for those who have lost a loved one to the unknown. Please visit our site, ask for help and/or help those who are struggling. We all have demons, yet we may not admit that we are struggling as this can be seen as a sign of weakness. It is not a weakness but a sign of self-leadership to understand and know yourself and the challenges you face, day in and day out, now, the past and in the future. For only you know the challenges you face.

Life is precious. One cannot get yesterday back, so reach out and help yourself or help other wildland firefighters in need.

Rest in Peace those forever gone and God Bless the Survivors.

Keep On Keeping On.

1/5 Tasmania, Australia is burning.

HOTLIST on Australia

on another note:

Excellent updated wildland fire training site

HOTLIST on Training

1/4 Please help find Mike Alarid's (R5 Hotshot Superintendent) daughter, Sarah. Santa Clarita County, CA

Woman, 19, missing since New Year's Eve party

Homicide detectives are looking into the disappearance of a Canyon Country woman after she left a New Year’s Eve party distraught, a Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman said Thursday.

Sarah Alarid, 19, ran into her ex-boyfriend at a party in the Shadow Pines area of Canyon Country, left the house following an encounter with the man and has not been seen since, said a woman spearheading civilian efforts to find her.

“She’s never done anything like this before,” said Amanda Angle of Canyon Country. “It’s not like her to run off.” Alarid was last seen wearing a gray shirt and jeans. (snip) They listed the license plate of Alarid’s car as 4WXE737. (more info and photo at the link...)


Good thoughts and prayers for her safe return. Ab.

1/4 Re: vacancies

The following was in a previous post:

'To view all vacant positions within Region 5, please visit the following link:' famcat.us/ trackingdb

It is important when you open this list, to click on 'view" and look at the number of vacancies for that position. Some show as zero.

This is not a mistake, that means there is currently NO job open at that location, but is only there in case of a backfill is needed if the person in that job leaves.

This makes it look like there are many more vacant positions than there really are. be careful, do your homework on where the vacant positions actually are, and it will improve your chances of becoming selected.

Good job hunting!




It appears that the original Vacancy Announcement for the Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program (WFAP) had some errors and was closed the day it opened. It was reissued with the same announcement number. I apologize for the confusion. The above link will take you to the new announcement. Things like list make my life all too interesting.

Rita Yates
Wildland Firefighter Recruitment Liaison Specialist
Region 5, Regional Office, Civil Rights Staff
Virtual Location: Eldorado National Forest
Placerville, Ca

1/3 California Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program (WFAP) Outreach and Temporary Wildland Firefighter Announcements

Some of the announcements that have been coming in. Ab.

From: Yates, Rita -FS
Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2012 8:03 AM
Subject: California Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program and 2013 Temporary Announcement

I have attached the California Region 5 (R-5) Recruitment Bulletins for the Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program (WFAP) and the Temporary positions. Since we no longer use Avue Digital Services you will notice some changes. The Vacancy Announcements now cover the entire Forest Service - all Regions - all locations across the nation. These are not just R-5 announcements on the USAJobs site. Apply as soon as possible.

You will see many permanent positions at the&quot;GS-462-4/5&quot;: OCRP-462-HLTKSRFF-4/5 DP; OCRP-462-IHC/HCREW-4/5 DP; OCRP-462-ENGSRFF-4/5DP; NGTOPS-HLTKSRFF-4/5 DP. It is important to understand that R-5 will not be hiring from these announcements because ALL GS-462-4/5 Fire positions are filled through the WFAP - Apprentices. I found this out after I sent the message about the Helitack position at Lancaster. For now, other Regions may be using referral lists for the GS-462-4/5 permanent position - not R-5.

It has never been more important to do your research to find where the actual vacancies are. Call the supervisors, visit the stations, ask a ton of questions. Establish a network and apply as soon as possible - it will serve you for the rest of your career. Historically the Apprenticeship announcement has been open for a few months. This round will only last a few weeks. Take some extra time to read all the instructions for the new system. Apply as soon as you can. Some locations anticipate requesting referral lists as soon as January 3, 2013 for the temporary (seasonal) opportunities. Be ready! Best of luck to all of you.

Rita Yates
Wildland Firefighter Recruitment Liaison Specialist
Region 5, Regional Office, Civil Rights Staff
Virtual Location: Eldorado National Forest
Placerville, Ca


The Shasta-Trinity National Forest will be filling multiple positions during the upcoming 2013 Fire Hire. The attached updated notice provides position titles, points of contact, vacancy announcement numbers and additional important information. Also included is information regarding apprentice hiring, please note, that announcement has not yet been posted in Usajobs and the estimated date for posting is 12/17/12. Apply through USAJobs by January 13, 2013.

During the Fire Hire Selection process, positions vacated as a result of an incumbent taking a new job will be "backfilled" immediately. Individuals should apply to all positions and all locations that they are interested in, regardless of whether or not the position is currently vacant.

To view all vacant positions within Region 5, please visit the following link:

famcat.us/ trackingdb

Thank you.

Marilyn Loughrey, Forest Civil Rights Officer
Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 9:36 AM
Subject: Nationwide Apprentice announcement now open

The new Nationwide Apprentice announcement is now open in USAjobs. Please distribute this vacancy number throughout your employment channels.

The vacancy number is 13(1)-WFAP-462-3/4/5DP.

Lynda E. Kinney, MSA, PHR
Supervisory Human Resource Specialist
National FIRE TEAM

Hi Everyone,

Please pass along this Vacancy Announcement for our Wildland Fire Apprentice Program to anyone that is interested in applying to these positions.....thanks Mike ~ + ~

Application Period: December 18, 2012 through January 13, 2013

13(1)- WFAP -462-3/4/5DP

The Tahoe National Forest will be filling up to 10 Fire Apprentice positions, GS 462-3/4/5, during the upcoming 2013 Fire Hire. Apply through USAJobs by January 13, 2013. To be considered for these positions applicants must identify Nevada City, CA as the Duty Location. For additional information please contact Shelly Pearce at rlpearce @ nospam fs.fed.us.

The Wildland Firefighter Apprentice Program (WFAP) is an educational program designed to enhance and develop future Fire and Aviation Managers. The intent of the Program is to take an entry level firefighter and provide education, training and paid work experience over a 12 to 48 month period, depending on experience. This is a 3,000 hour on-the-job learning program including two month-long residential firefighting academies at the Wildland Fire Training Center in McClellan, California. Attached is a document containing more information on the Wildfire Apprentice Program (WFAP).

The WFAP Announcement is now up on USAjobs. The announcement number is:

The closing date is January 13th.

FY08_Mike Cruz_Signature_File
Tahoe National Forest

The Stanislaus National Forest currently has 4 vacancies for Forestry Technician GS-462-3/4/5 (Wildland Firefighter Apprentice).

These positions are located on the Stanislaus National Forest. Selectees will be assigned to one of the following Ranger Districts; Calaveras, Groveland, Mi-Wok.

For further information on these positions, please contact tstelman @ nospam  fs.fed.us

The vacancy announcement for these positions opens December 18, 2012, with a Region Five closing date of January 13, 2013. You must apply by the closing date to be considered for these positions.

Selections for Apprentice positions will be made by March 29, 2013.

Vacancy announcement  (Demo) is open to the public and temporary government employees.

Salary and Qualification information can be obtained by viewing the vacancy announcement.

If you are interested in these positions, please apply to the vacancy announcement in USAJobs.gov - usajobs.gov

<<< You must specify "Sonora, CA" as the duty location >>>

Please share this opportunity within your network or with others that may be interested.

Michael Perez
Forest Civil Rights Officer
Stanislaus National Forest

Subject: Eldorado National Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship 2013
From: "Nichols, Thomas -FS" <tnichols @ nospam fs.fed.us>
Date: 12/21/2012 3:10 PM

Please share this opportunity within your network and with others you know who may be interested.

The Eldorado National Forest is planning to hire four Wildland Firefighter Apprentices, GS-0462-3/4/5. In the attachment you will find points of contact and additional information about the position and application process.

Please submit your application by close of business 13 January 2013.

To apply to the Wildland Firefighter Apprentice please click on the following link: TO APPLY

When applying for the Eldorado National Forest, please choose Placerville as the duty location.

Thomas Nichols
Forest Civil Rights Officer
Eldorado National Forest

Subject: Vacancy Announcement - Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program - Apply Now!
From: "Moreland, Tana -FS" <tmoreland @ nospam fs.fed.us>
Date: 12/31/2012 10:07 AM

Good Day,

The Angeles National Forest is seeking to fill up to 7 Wildland Firefighter Apprentice positions, GS-0462-3/4/5. This announcement is being circulated to inform prospective applicants of this employment opportunity.

The Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program (WFAP) is an educational program designed to enhance and develop future Fire and Aviation Managers. The intent of the Program is to take an entry level firefighter and provide education, training and paid work experience over a 12 to 48 month period, depending on experience.

The Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program vacancy announcement is posted on the USAJobs.gov website. Candidates must apply no later than January 13, 2013 to be considered.

To be considered for the following duty locations, candidates must select Arcadia as the duty location: Arcadia, Glendora, Lancaster, San Fernando, Saugus/Acton, and Valyermo.

A referral list will be pulled any time following the application closure date of January 13, 2013.

Applicants should print/review the announcements carefully and ensure their application is filed on or before the application closure date.

For information related to the technical aspects of this position, please contact Tracy McGuff via email at tmcguff @ nospam fs.fed.us. For additional assistance in understanding the hiring process, contact the California Region 5 Fire Recruiter, Rita Yates via email at ryates @ nospam fs.fed.us

Tana Moreland-Kirkaldy, Forest Civil Rights Officer
USDA - Forest Service
Angeles National Forest

1/3 Lead Helicopter Pilot for the Orange County Fire Authority?

For anyone who may be interested, recruiting for a Lead Helicopter Pilot for the Orange County Fire Authority....

Contract County Guy

Email and I'll send the announcement. Ab.

1/2 New Year's Resolution... Cleaning out a closet or two...


If you can't do it yourself it runs around $500 for a 50 shirt quilt to have it made. My mom made my first Fire T quilt (King size) from 1980-90 shirts that I used on incidents to sleep in rather than them sticky hot bags. That Quit has probably 35+ shirts per side. I made my second Fire T quilt a little more than two years ago, it's only full size with T's on one side , not as perfect as my moms quilt, but I'm prod of it. I cut the squares, taped 2 squares together and sewed over the tape then added more squares to make a row. After all the rows were made, I taped two rows together and sewed them. I bet it's not how a seamstress does it, or for that matter how anybody has done it before, but it worked. the hardest part came later putting the two large sides together with the batting. That's the part I will probably have someone else do on the next two quilts.

I still have 100+ T's left and plan to make two more quilts (or have them made or finished) for my son and daughter. The quilts are memories to look at. Travel logs from California to Alaska, Alaska to Florida, Florida to Idaho and then back to California and Oh so warm and comfortable a Fire T quilt is.


1/1 Christopher Carroll

Hi Ab,

On January 2nd it will be 6 months since we lost firefighter Chris Carroll in an early morning vehicle accident on his way to work. Chris worked on the Sequoia and Los Padres National Forests, and had close ties to the Angeles as well.

Chris and his family have been involved with the WFF and other firefighter organizations for some time. They have a very close bond with the fire community, and comments and remembrances of Chris mean the world to them.

Anyone who can share a funny story, comment or memory of Chris on his memorial website, or contribute any new photos, would be giving the family a great gift to start the new year.

Chris Carroll Memorial Website

Thanks and Happy New Year!

Nice website. Add your stories and photos, and if you haven't already, kick in some bucks to the memorial fund, too. We lost a very good one when we lost Chris Carroll. Ab.

1/1 The House of Republicans just broke the magic number of "Ayes" that averts a Fiscal Cliff crash when the Stock Market opens tomorrow and protects the middle class on some issues, including higher taxes. Still no fix for many of the issues that could have been addressed in a "big deal".. Still no resolution for the FS budget...

Now goes to the President for signing.


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