December, 2013

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12/31 The year is fast winding down. Best wishes for the new!

Ab and all of us at wildlandfire.com.

12/31 Re: Fed up family member of a wildland firefighter in southern California...


Yes, more fire activity than reported-but you nailed it... it's general emergency responses and Santa Ana conditions coupled with prolonged drought conditions (typically 13"/yr; so far 3" for 2013-so 10" deficit going into 2014).

Folks are working back-to-back 24 hrs/no incidents specifically; no prior notice of 24 hr shifts, not to mention changing schedules while failing to provide 2 weeks notice.

Folks have submitted for leave throughout the year, however this year has been a hot and dry and leave requests have not been signed or they have been ignored by managers due to continually shifting staffing locations (rotations around stations) and inability to manage the changes and needs of personnel.

Ironically, overhead is taking time off, but everyone else had their leave cancelled.

Thoughts, suggestions, or advice to the folks who need some insight and direction?


12/31 Re: Fed up family member of a wildland firefighter in southern California...

Well put 5000. Also – in the past more fire folks lived in Forest Service housing right at the stations. Although there was not as much extra manning then - it was less of an inconvenience as you could be at home with the family and still be on 24 hour call.


12/31 Re: Fed up family member of a wildland firefighter in southern California...


I agree with HJ. You're comparing "forestry techs" to recognized firefighters (kinda like apples and oranges right?). I guess when pay and benefits are commensurate with expectation you will get the commitment from the personnel that you speak of. How about they start with a series that reflects the nature of their work? Might I suggest a wildland firefighter series? As of now the agencies these fine people work for see them as the same as recreation techs who happen to put out a campfire every once and a while. After two divorces, and in consideration of my current pay in comparison with those other municipal and state agencies you speak of I think I will enjoy Christmas Dinner with the family while those Cal Fire guys fight fire and hotel up in the evenings. (Tongue firmly in cheek.)


12/31 Re: Fed up family member of a wildland firefighter in southern California...

In response to fed up family member,

What proper work rest ratio are you referring to? This sounds like a isolated incident to me as I know it's business as usual here, (everyone getting days off, vacation time etc). If your complaining about the 24 hour staffing I can tell you this: we are getting better rest at the station than we ever get at a fire camp and getting paid for it. It’s the job we all signed up for, and yes, that means working holidays, and time spent away from our families. In regards to bringing in the national guard, are you serious? I and my coworkers would take that as a insult; its like saying we aren't good enough for the job. We are firefighters!

Sign me living the dream

12/30 Re: Fed up family member of a wildland firefighter in southern California...


Looking for a little more clarification.

Is there more fire activity out there than posted on the wlfhotlist.com/ or gacc.nifc.gov/oscc/ predictive/intelligence/ news_notes/index.php?

Are folks assigned to incidents working 16s? Or away from home on assignment?

Or are folks just staffing equipment, when the wildland culture is used to be on use-or-lose?

IMHO management was ahead of the power curve five years ago when the Region 5 Fire workforce became all 26/0 minus the temps and apprentices.

We have the workforce to fight fire all year long. However the culture has not changed , and everyone wants to still take leave at the same time during the holidays under the auspice of use-or-lose. Our counterparts at fire stations across the nation including CalFire, and Federal Fire are working over the holidays.

There is a large call from the workforce for the USFS fire to become more of an emergency management organization versus current archaic land management agency that it is.

Staffing equipment, and having personnel on 365 days a year is on of those consequences I am willing to accept. The culture needs to realize we need to spread out leave throughout the entire year instead of everyone taking it at the same time in December. Yes if you are on vacation you might miss that one off forest assignment of the year, but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

If I'm off point here my apologies. But the last thing we want to do is bring in the National Guard. There are folks spread out through out the entire state that are willing to come down for two weeks at a time just like the Lassen, and Mendocino Engines that have been in South Zone for the past couple of weeks away from their families over Christmas.


12/29 Fed up family member of a wildland firefighter in southern California...

Hi Ab-

As a wife of a wildland firefighter, a previous AFMO with an extensive knowledge on how wildland fire management is executed, I'm challenged to understand how national forest management in southern California can decide to prevent over-worked and burned out firefighters from having the proper work/rest ratios without any relief in sight. Why aren't southern California national forests reaching out to the national guard for the extra help they currently need in order for their firefighters to get some semblance of R and R before the next fire season 'begins' or just rolls over into the next? Do you think this could be WO budget issues (ie downsizing troops to provide the national guard relief), or is this just very poor management decisions that really need a strong union intervention? Would you suggest this is the time all the Forest Service employees play their 'safety' card?

If you have insight or suggestions to empower these people to understand their options in order to be the most effective employee they can, then PLEASE share that insight with them. Many of these firefighters aren't aware they have rights, and many are too intimidated to speak out in fear of reprisal or some other type of negative perceptions created by speaking out.

Thanks for posting, listening and commenting.


12/28 Just saw this in an Arizona Newspaper about the Yarnell Hill Fire.

The report noted that federal officials denied state investigators access to interview U.S. Forest Service employees who worked on the Yarnell Hill Fire. The Forest Service provided some documents from a federal hotshot crew and air-support crews, but names and “sensitive” information was redacted.

Looks like the USFS has learned a few things about this kind of tragedy in the past 10 or 20 years. Good job USFS, thank you for having our backs, this time. I would be very interested at what level the denial to interview decision was made.

Happy 2014,


12/27 Hey guys...

I briefly introduced myself earlier.

Please help spread the word! I have established a goal to raise for the WFF, but I need your help in getting the word out!

Please check out my latest post: The Goal

Any little bit will help a fellow brother or sister in need!

Thank you!

Two Little Feet.

12/26 Merry Christmas to ALL!

The FWFSA web site will be transitioned to its new host on Friday the 27th. It will be bare-boned for a little while until we get it put together.

If there are those interested in joining who might have issues during this transition period (Geez, I sound like healthcare.gov) please just email me directly at FWFSAlobby@aol.com or phone me at 208-775-4577.

Most of all we appreciate your patience. I am admittedly technologically challenged and my geek/nerd step son is working with a web person on the transition so hopefully we'll provide our members with a better product.

If anyone has any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me in the manner above.

Best wishes to all for a safe, Happy and prosperous New Year.

With Much respect, admiration and affection,

Casey Judd, President

12/25 Found my copy of the Wildland Firefighter Cookbook in the mailbox yesterday. My wife told me lots interesting stuff in it, I was to busy cooking and prepping for Christmas Eve dinner to look at it. I'll be eyeballing it later today, Christmas Day. We'll have something prepared from it for dinner this evening.

It's been several years since we've had the joy of having both Daughter and Son over at the same time for a Christmas meal. The additional blessing of Grand Daughter and Grand Son. My 88 year old father-in-law (soon to leave this life the doctors just told us) and his son. A house full for us, but full of good spirit and joy..

In years of past, we'll always remember the many White Christmas days we spent in our home at a Forest Service Work Center with family/friends and our extended Forest Service family whom were to far from home to go home for the holidays. There were a couple of Christmas years when we had big winds and fires rather than snow, so instead of just family and a few friends, we had family and fire camp at our house.

One Christmas year at the work center we had a stranger from Oklahoma over for Christmas. He was unfamiliar with the area and made the mistake of trying to take our road over the mountains (which was never plowed in winter). He had on old Ford Pinto and got stuck in the snow about 100 yards past the work center. He knocked on our door about 8:00 Christmas eve. There was no way to get him to town and no other place to house him so he spent the evening in an extra bedroom we had. Due to snow we ended up having him as a guest for a few days until we could get him to town after the storm passed.

I wish all my fire family and friends a happy holiday and a very very good ---- New Year!




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From the All of the Crew at wildlandfire.com

12/24 Wildland Firefighter Cookbook

Well I just got home on this Christmas Eve an found my copy of the Wildland Firefighter Cookbook in the mail that I ordered a while ago. One of the first recipes I found was for Homemade eggnog. Can you say perfect timing? Lots of interesting ideas in the book.



12/24 The Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program (WFLDP) proudly announces the theme for the 2014 wildland fire leadership campaign: "The Resilient Team."

"The ultimate team result is resilience: teams that can bounce back when problems or errors threaten cohesion and synergy." (Leading in the Wildland Fire Service, p. 55)

This year’s campaign is dedicated to the memory of the 14 firefighters who lost their lives on the South Canyon fire on July 6, 1994, near Glenwood Springs, Colorado. This tragedy was one of the pivotal factors behind the creation of the WFLDP.

“May we all be energized and inspired to be ever aware of the lessons learned from their sacrifice.” (South Canyon Fire Investigation, August, 1994)

Kathi Beck
Tami Bickett
Scott Blecha
Levi Brinkley
Robert Browning
Doug Dunbar
Terri Hagen
Bonnie Holtby
Rob Johnson
Jon Kelso
Don Mackey
Roger Roth
James Thrash
Richard Tyler


Task: Provide an opportunity for wildland fire service personnel to focus leadership development activities on a nationally-sponsored, centrally-themed leadership campaign and recognize local leadership participation efforts.


  • To foster a cohesive effort to promote leadership across the wildland fire service.
  • To provide a template that can be used to encourage leadership development at the local level.
  • To provide a mechanism to collect leadership best practices and share throughout the wildland fire service.

End State: Creation of a wildland fire service culture that willingly shares leadership best practices in order to maintain superior service-wide leadership.

Dates of Campaign: Between January 1 and November 30, 2014

Length of Campaign: Determined locally to meet the goals and the objectives of the local unit or crew.

Audience: The campaign is not limited to wildland firefighters. All members of the wildland fire service are invited to participate.

Implementation: Wildland fire leaders and/or managers at the local unit or crew level devote time between January 1 and November 30, 2014, to promote leadership development specifically targeted at “The Resilient Team.”

The campaign is flexible. Local units or crews may use or adapt any or all materials contained within this document or develop a program or activity spotlighting the campaign theme and the Wildland Fire Leadership Values and Principles. Campaign coordinators are encouraged to think outside the confines of the template and develop a program that meets local and individual needs.


See the WFLDP website for contest information.


Pam McDonald
Writer/Editor, BLM Fire Training Unit, NIFC
Logistics/Social Media/Campaign Coordinator, NWCG Leadership Subcommittee
3833 South Development Avenue
Boise, ID 83705
(208) 387-5318 – office
(208) 387-5378 – fax

12/23 Seasonal Guy,

In regards to your S-290 question, a bit of background. S-290 is a requirement for incident meteorologists. The on-line version was designed for IMET candidates where interaction with a real-live meteorologist is not a value. The class then expanded into the firefighter world, which I think was unfortunate. I am no longer in a hiring position, but if I were still in that role, the online S-290 would be a strike against you. The interaction with IMETs and FBANs was included by design by Gleason, and I feel it is an extremely valuable part of the course.

One key thing to check is if your certificate has an NWCG logo on it. If not, then it would not be accepted by some employers.

Good luck with the job hunt.

Vaya con Dios


12/23 Seasonal Guy-

Whether you took 290 online or in the classroom should not matter. Although I have not seen nor heard of anyone who has taken the online version, the bottom line is that you retain that information and apply it in the field. Quality of classroom instruction is going to vary depending on who is facilitating, but as long as the online version is the same as NWCG, you will be getting the same info. What should matter to you, is that once you complete the course it needs to show on your IQCS master record if applying to SFF jobs with the Fed. If it doesn't show, you won't meet IFPM for the job (in addition to FFT1), and could miss the boat. Lots of good firefighters get "the bone" by not attaching essential information to an app. Make sure you do your homework and know what you need prior to submitting.

Good luck and Happy Holidays!


12/23 Yarnell and USNG

Fwd: Comments regarding Yarnell Hill Fire reports / recommended changes

Comments attached were sent to appropriate AZ parties. Your use & further discussion by anyone is encouraged. MGRS has existed since 1949, now USNG, functionally the same thing, since 2001; why are we not using it?

In Florida? https://t.co/IjeHJsYWNu
Link to: 12S UC 364 880

From: FDE-USNG <usng08 @ nospam gmail.com> (take out spaces and nospam)
Date: Fri, Dec 20, 2013
Subject: Comments regarding Yarnell Hill Fire reports / recommended changes
To: comments.adosh@dol.gov, etc

Please see attached files for comments on the reports and forward accordingly.


Al Studt, CFPS
Florida Fire Instructor III
US National Grid Advocate & Instructor
Brevard County, Florida, USA

Yarnell 1 Map
Yarnell 2 Map
Review comments from Al Studt

Ab note: the links in the attachments link to trusted websites relating to the National Grid.

12/23 S-290 online and hiring:

I have a quick question about the S-290 online course. Because of timing issues I have not been able to take S-290, and consequently I cannot apply to perm positions. However, I recently was pointed in the direction of the S-290 online course through MetEd----which I have now completed. My question is this, will hiring officials care if you completed the course online vs. sitting through the course with the USFS? Will your application not be taken as serious---as far as the S-290 requirement is concerned? I fear that the online course will be viewed with skepticism by some hiring personnel---are my fears rational?

Thank You,
Seasonal Guy

12/21 Cancelled leave:


I like the way you think. I have worked almost every Christmas for my whole career. It started because I was the rookie, and the others had the privilege, then I just kept doing it so my coworkers could have their trips and time off.

My parents have been harder to get to understand than my wife and son. But then I went to their place for lunch with the rig, and got a fire call while there. My mom told me that as I drove away she realized how important it was that someone be on duty.

Keep at it my friend. I will think of you when I check in my rig on Christmas day.


12/21 Cancelled leave:

I personally want to thank those men and women that are out there right now handling business for us. Let's start by doing that, not berating our Chiefs. I know my Chief is working Christmas. Now, think about those on the Pfeiffer Fire that don't have a home to go to for the holidays because their house was lost.

Many of us have made that sacrifice many times, working the holidays, others are doing it right now. Have you? Here in SoCal it happens every year! That's part of the job. Take the time and explain this to your families and be proud of them for supporting you when you're not there for the birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.

As I drove home last night I thought about those we lost this summer and their families. Think about them. That one got be a honk from the car behind me because I sat there not paying attention to what I was doing when the light changed. Then I drove by the fire station by my house and then the police station. Those folks will always work the holidays for us, as we sleep at night, and as we're away on fires, they'll be there!

Go ahead and cancel my leave. I personally told my Chief that! I'm good with it!

When people are having a bad day, it is an honor, and a duty to show up and make their day better.


Well said! Ab.

12/21 Clover Fire arson, hat-tip to EA

Former CA firefighter charged with starting California forest fire

SAN FRANCISCO - A former firefighter has been arrested and accused of intentionally setting a Northern California blaze that killed a 56-year-old man and destroyed dozens of homes in early September, authorities said on Wednesday.

Zane Peterson, 29, was taken into custody...

More at the link...

Sad, sad, sad compulsive behavior. So destructive. No excuse... Ab.

12/20 Capitol Alert: Feinstein measure to double Forest Service firefighting aircraft

After a lengthy and destructive wildfire season in California, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., inserted language into a defense bill that will double the size of the U.S. Forest Service's fleet of large air tankers. Feinstein said that the amendment, which she cosponsored with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would transfer seven surplus HC-130H Hercules aircraft from the Coast Guard to the Forest Service. The planes can carry a combined 21,000 gallons of water or fire retardant, she said. "This transfer is a critical step to help address our ability to defend forests and communities from the threat of wildfires," Feinstein said in a statement. (More at the link...)

Thanks contributor. Ab.

12/19 Cancelled Leave... Staffing through the New Year...

FYI, due to Pfeiffer fire and lack of rainfall, discussions are taking taking place about maintaining drawdown staffing for Southern California Forests through the New Year. Staffing will be maintained on both Christmas and New Years Day. Out of area resources will be held thru the New Year. Some leave will have to be cancelled in order to maintain coverage.

I trust that our leadership will join us in working through the holidays.

Merry Christmas!


12/19 Corrected Outreach Notification - Spring 2014 Fire Hire - R5/RO FAM/NOPs/Smokejumpers - Redding, CA and How to apply for a Forest Service job (in USA Jobs)

Final SJ Fire Hire Outreach II (1,515 K doc)

Also useful:

FS CM How to Apply for a Job (854 K pdf)

Thanks, contributor. I rotated the pages 90 degrees in this second document so the pdf text is more readable. If you want to read any print that's too small, hold down the keyboard Control (Ctrl) key and simultaneously hit the + next to the backspace key. You can make the text smaller by hitting Ctrl and - keys simultaneously. Ab.

12/19 Interesting youtube video of the Forest Service Enterprise Team's research on

Fire Behavior and Ecological Restoration

Published on Dec 9, 2013

As part of its fire research, the Forest Service captures video footage of actual wildfires in progress. By employing specially designed heat resistant camera boxes, the agency has been able to document surprising fire behavior.

Dr Jo Ann Fites is a true intellectual resource in this research area. She saw where technology could take the research field and hopped right on it 10 years ago. Visionary! Kudos to her team, too!

She and her team each certainly embody the description "Student(s) of Fire" and allow us to see fire changes up close and personal moment by moment.


12/19 Re: New positions in Region 5 Fire Hire are being flown:

Alan Taylor,

My post reflects vacancy records posted on the fam cat site map. If you are on that Forest, or have anything to do with the vacancy site, please update. FYI- Dorsey’s position is not listed vacant nor occupied and I believe the Lassen is missing a GS-7/8 & 7 position out of Chester as well. This should be corrected to reflect the vacant and potential vacant jobs to be.

Worn Boots

12/18 converse hotshot crew.

If anyone is interested in crew history, I may be able to help.

Wayne King

Email Ab for his phone number.

12/18 Ab - Good reminder posted on the WFF site today. Brian Austin is Asst. Supt. on the Logan IHC on the Logan Ranger District in northern Utah.

Wildland Firefighter Foundation on Facebook shared Brian Austin's status update.

Brian Austin

26.2 miles of the annual South Pole Marathon and a whiskey toast in memory of the greatest yeti to ever fly a smoke jumper canopy. Followed by a toast for Mike Kelly, Token Adams, Granite Mountain IHC, Luke Sheehy, Scott Wikland, and all the others from the wildland fire community who lost their lives this year.

Now... open your wallets maggots. I didn't jiggle around in the snow for 5 hours and change at the bottom of the world for free. It's time to give a little more help to our injured friends and the families of those that lost their loved ones doing the job we love.

I don't care if it is $262, $26.2, or $2.62, or some completely random amount. Send it to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation

Uti it.

12/18 Re: New positions in Region 5 Fire Hire are being flown:

GS-7 Hand crew

The post from Worn Boots may be confusing.

The 10-person INF - Mammoth hand crew is high-complexity. The Supervisor is a GS-8 and the Assistant will be a GS-7.

Alan Taylor
Interagency Fire Planner

12/17 New positions in Region 5 Fire Hire are being flown,

I would like to get the word out to folks that may be interested in promoting. The Klamath, Lassen, Inyo, Eldorado, Stanislaus and Sequoia National Forest hosts 10 Person Modules in which will be following the Standard Module Configuration for High Complexity Hand crews (Either a Wildfire Module (WFM) or T2IA) and is flying multiple positions on each Forest. This will be a GS-07 Assistant Hand crew Foreman Position.

If interested go to the FAM CAT site at famcat.us/trackingdb/  and click on the Forests listed above to view the duty locations. Some of the announcements are incorrect and listed the OCR for the Moderate Hand crew Complexity Supervisory GS-07. This may be the case for the Inyo. For the rest of the Forests you need to apply for the High Complexity Non-Supervisory GS-07. Click the following link to view the Announcement on USAJOBS. www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ ViewDetails/352763900. This job is also flown Demo under OCR14-462-HANDCREW(H)-7DP.

Good luck during Fire Hire!!!!


Worn Boots

12/17 Hi!

My name is Ashley and I have this campaign that I will start in 2014. I hope to raise money for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation.

Please check out my website. twolittlefeetforthefallen.com  and follow my journey.

Please spread this far and wide!


12/16 Yarnell thread:

forwarded to me by a good fireman…..

"They are getting smarter….."

Idaho Editors Respond After Reporters' Probe Tragic Wildfires (editorial)


12/16 Hotlist: Big Sur, 15 houses burned...


CA-LPF-Pfeiffer Questions and Discussion

12/16 Yarnell Jurisdiction


Not to sidetrack from the Yarnell discussion, as we need to learn from it as so many have already said, but having just read the suit and the ADOSH report, I think they both missed the jurisdiction and regulations piece. Looking at it from the point of view of what regulations they were really under, being a City of Prescott fire crew on a State of Arizona wildland incident, they did not fall under the Federal regulations where the 10 & 8, length of assignment and other key regulations, guidance and policy reside.

In fact if you read the cover letter in the Red Book you find only the NPS, BLM, FS and FWS signed off on it (the Redbook), and then only as an advisory document, not policy Redbook/ 2013/ CoverLetter.pdf , leaving the States and other federal wildland firefighting agencies to follow their own guidance, or not. Yes, they would have to have met the guidance if this was a Federal incident, but it was a State fire so what we need to learn is what the State of Arizona Forester's regulations are and how they are implemented.

As a follow on, the Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations, NFES 2724 (Jan. 2013) is cited heavily as the 10 SFO reside on the last page, is again, a Federal standard, and can be ignored by a State or even another Federal entity if they are not signers stating they will follow this publication. Maybe somewhere the State of Arizona has a page signed by the Governor that says they will follow the 10 & 18, duty days, length of assignment, etc. on State incidents and they will follow the Federal guides or again not, that will be the question to be answered as we don't know the state regulations they were engaged under at this point, only the standard they trained under to meet qualification policy on interagency incidents which was discussed in the first report.

Anyway, maybe some food for thought as one of the lessons to be learned?


12/16 The Lookout, special edition:

NAFSR presents fire position paper to the chief (379 K pdf)


Attached is a special edition of "The Lookout" presenting National Association of Forest Service Retirees' position paper on Fire Management.

Have a great holiday season.

John Marker

12/16 Holiday Greetings to All:

Just wanted to apologize in advance for my belated start in sending out our FWFSA Holiday greetings this year. Being ill for all of October & November put me behind the power curve but fortunately Smokey stopped by to lend a helping hand!

Thanks for your patience and much affection to all,


12/15 R4 Hotshot:

I would like to respond to your "interest to know" in regards to level of experience of Richard Leak and myself.

First you have to go back to a time before Computers, cell phones and all the other gadgets that make up your world.

My first experience in fire fighting came in the summer of 1951 with the Del Rosa Hot Shots. While on the crew, we went to five fires. That was the year I fell in love with the world of Hot Shots. Other things got in the way be fore I returned to the Hot Shots. In the spring of 1958 I became crew foreman of crew one under Superintendent Bob Caffey. Most of our Training was done in the brush, Bob would show us how to build a fire line and where to build it. We learned how to use our fire tools, how to look out for one anther, and above all how to do it safely. On fires we not only worked the fire but gained experience. Each fire showed us something new. That is how we came by our knowledge. In the summer of 1961, I became the crew foreman of Crew two, on the El Cariso Interregional Hot Shots, under Superintendent Doug Campbell. Over the years I worked my way up to Superintendent of the Hot Shots. It was not easy. There was not a lot of Training material available to us in those days. In the off-seasons I spent a lot time in the Riverside library reading everything I could get my hands on that pertained to fire and the behavior of fire. I spent a lot of time studying about weather patterns, wind and anything else I could get ahold of. Most of the books on fire at that time where written by Clive Countryman. They where written in the scientific form, a little hard for me at first to understand but with every fire, understanding came easier. I went to 80 wild land fires while with El Cariso; some where small some where large, but all added to my learning experience.

Rich was selected as a crew leader on the Hot Shots, not by looking at a training record but by looking at the individual. Warren, my assistant, and I liked the way Rich showed leadership skills, leaned how to lead his crew. Rich was well qualified for the job.

R4 Hotshot I hope this puts some light on our training and experience.

One other thing, things that happened to fire fighters in the past has influenced what you are learning today. Fighting fire today is just like it was in the past, the tools may have changed but the principles are the same.

Gordon H. King

12/14 Happy holidays!

Nice job on the Eureka Truckers' Parade, Arcata Fire Incident Command and Six Rivers NF Engine. Eureka's hook and ladders were pretty impressive but it was EXCELLENT to see ya'll there all decked out. All of you did us proud! Some amazing lights on some amazing vehicles!


12/13 "Yac"

You have been one of the FWFSA's most ardent supporters on TheySaid. No smoke blowing from here. The only smoke blowing comes from those in DC and I think I've developed several diseases from that second-hand smoke whether I get it blown in my face or...



During the holiday season, our thoughts are drawn to the losses suffered in the Wildland community. In 2012, we provided an extra helping hand to nearly 20 children who have lost a parent. This year, we have many more that will use Santa's Helpers. Helping these smallest survivors have a Merry Christmas is our mission!

Have you ever thought about what you could do to make a difference in the live of a child? A donation from you to our Santa's Helper program means a brighter Christmas morning for a family that needs a little extra love and cheer.

We know there are a lot of requests this time of year for your donation - our request meets a very special need in the Wildland community. Help us show how caring this community really is. Send your donation today by DONATING (Ab's caps) or mail your donation to 2049 Airport Way, Boise ID 83705

Amanda DeShazo
Executive Assistant
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

12/12 New Book:

Good day folks

See Fire on Earth: An Introduction


Marty Alexander

12/12 Casey,

LOL… while I appreciate the kind words there is no need to blow smoke. Regarding the link to the Government Executive article on the health care, I realize it was written last year after the long fought battle to get admission to the federal health care system for ALL federal wildland firefighters regardless of federal appointment status… After all.. the date is written on the link as well as the on the article.

The reason it is important is due to the recent passage of the Affordable Health Care Act… commonly called Obamacare. I just figured that the connection was pretty obvious.


12/11 10 and 18:

There's wisdom in the 10 and 18. The problem is that lawyers use apparent "violation" of the ambiguous 10 Standard "Fire Orders" to ream firefighters after the fact. They were never meant for that but rather as another appraisal tool in the tactical toolbox. They should be renamed from "orders" to "guidelines". We need to teach our inexperienced firefighters using the process of Recognition-Primed Decision Making in my opinion. No one seeks to make decisions that get anyone killed.


12/10 Loop Fire Discussion:

I wanted to thank those individuals personally involved with the Loop Fire who chimed in with their experiences on "Theysaid." It's good to hear perspectives on tragedy fires from those involved in a different era.

Two big things I took away from it are the communication aspect (ie-radios handed out one per crew, but there were not enough for El Cariso) and the experience levels (Mr. Leak's account states that he was a Captain on the crew at the time, this during his SECOND season in fire; from the account it seems as if he was 19?) I am unaware of how much experience Mr. King had, but I would be interested to know? These are some of the same issues I see looking at the Battlement Creek fire; I believe Mormon Lake IHC's superintendent at the time was 22 years of age. In today's age it is unbelievable to look back and see the communication differences as well as the fact that IHCs were often led by very young, inexperienced men by modern IHC standards. It is sad that given our more experienced leaders and technological advances, we still manage to kill firefighters.

Thanks again for the personal accounts of the Loop Fire that current Hotshots can learn from.

-R4 Hotshot-

12/10 Re: Yarnell Hill and 10 and 18:

The reason it is important to find the reasons for accidents and disasters is so we can prevent them from occurring again. There may be scapegoats and witches but there is also 19 young men who will never go home again.

And if we can prevent an occurrence such as this from happening again we should do all we can to do so.

If you think the 10 and 18 are archaic and old school and to hard to follow you too will have an increased chance of perishing in a wild land fire. The lessons are there to be learned, or should I say reiterated.

Please I would request that all of you read and re-read the 10 Standard Orders and The (now)18 situations they can and will save your life. I started on El Cariso in 1969 and they hammered us on these orders and situations and the incidents behind each item.


12/10 Re Yactak's links:

Yactak has played an integral role in TheySaid for many years and I admire him/her immensely. However it is important to note that the article regarding the access to health benefits for temps was written during the Summer of 2012 shortly after NFFE, the FWFSA, OPM, Change.org and Rep. Diana DeGette and others got together to discuss the issue.

I will be perfectly candid. While working that issue I always felt it was putting the proverbial cart before the horse... i.e. providing health benefits to firefighters that aren't...well...firefighters according to OPM.

Since starting to feel a bit better over the last week or so I have sent a few "Bring it to Jesus" (no disrespect intended) emails and phone calls to some folks in DC about getting this issue resolved sooner rather than later. It makes absolutely no sense for all parties (well maybe with the exception of the guy running wildland fire for DOI) to support creating a wildland firefighter classification series and then everyone waiting for someone else to take the lead.

This is about as epic a no-brainer as I've ever encountered. Don't know that we need to start its own Change.org petition but if someone wants to please do. In the meantime we are trying to ID the White House staff involved with the health care for temps issue last Summer so we don't have to reinvent the wheel. OPM's Policy Director has said OK; FS Chief Tidwell and NFFE too. So let's find a way to get this done so that our Nation's federal wildland firefighters can be more accurately recognized for who they are and what they do.


12/10 Statement from ADOSH director

The following statement seems like a bit of a conflict to me.

“Investigations to determine whether occupational safety and health violations have occurred are critical to the protection of employee safety and health. There are lessons that can be learned from this horrible tragedy and we owe it to the firefighters who died, and to those that risked their lives fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire, to do so” said Bill Warren, ADOSH Director.

Since my name came up, I wanted to emphasize that in our aviation investigations, we focus first on the factual events teamed with information that may help the reader decide for themselves the multitudes of responses and lessons that can be taken from these. We try to avoid conclusive statements, leaving that to the NTSB. However the most critical part of the investigation is that we do not look for violations. We will however state what happened and refer to any policy, guidance, direction, etc that may govern the situation, again, the reader determines for themselves if errors occurred (the term violation itself infers an intentional deviation from rules and most deviations made in our line of work happen under unusual circumstances or distractions that may result in unintended outcomes). That is not to say that someone may create an issue regarding deviation from policy, but this should be done with equal consideration for human factors.

In short, there are two kind of investigations that should not be mixed – one that looks for violations (hunting for blame) and one that identifies how we could have done it better and by sharing, all learn from one event. We at the safety system enterprise team use facts to understand the what and why, and then we work with the USFS safety team to develop the lessons that are learned. Once that is done, both the Safety and Training team works to disseminate that information through training and safety bulletins.

Gary E. Morgan
USDA Forest Service
Safety System Enterprises

12/10 fed jobs

Does anyone know when the new OCR-TEMP FIRE positions will be put back on USAjobs for seasonals to apply? I am hearing from various hiring folks that they want to get seasonal hiring started early this year, but how can we get this thing going early if the seasonals cannot even apply yet?



12/9 Two things that need to be shared with the Federal Wildland Fire folks…

govexec.com: Everyone hates emerging budget deal

govexec.com: Part Time Firefighters now eligible for health care

If you have never written to your elected representatives, now may be the time regarding your benefits that are on the bargaining table…


Ab note:
US Senate Directory
House of Representatives Directory

12/8 re: Yarnell Hill Fire ADOSH report

Ron Angel,

Congratulations on your impending retirement, you’ve certainly earned it. I’ve followed your posts here over the years and admire your efforts to improve working conditions in the Forest Service. I will also be retiring next summer, and am very much looking forward to starting the next chapter of my life.

Since I mentioned my employer, I want to clearly state that the opinions I offer on They Said are my own, written on my own time and my own computer, and are not sanctioned or approved by the Forest Service.

You wrongly assume that I support the “whitewashed reports that come out now ignoring the mistakes in the name of doctrine.” I agree that there have been some really bad FLAs produced in the past few years, but I wouldn’t necessarily characterize them as whitewashed reports. I would say instead that we are in an interim period where we are attempting to leave behind a vindictive, person-based approach to investigations such as the Cramer investigation, and are trying to establish an approach that puts more focus on human factors and organizational contributors to accidents.

Unfortunately, the rollout of the new approach to investigations has had some notable failures, including the Steep Corner investigation you mentioned. In my opinion, there are several factors that are hindering the new approach to investigations.

The first problem with the new investigation style is that many of the well-intentioned people who are conducting FLAs do not have a deep understanding of human factors or the ever-growing body of science on accident causation and organizational contributors to accidents. I believe that the land management agencies that conduct wildland fire investigations will continue to struggle with this problem unless they establish highly trained investigation teams that not only understand the wildland fire culture but are also empowered to deeply probe the human and organizational contributors to accidents. If you want an example of how this could work, look at how the NTSB conducts accident investigations. They are the gold standard by which accident investigations around the world are measured.

I should say at this point that the Forest Service is not completely deficient in this area. Gary Morgan’s highly skilled accident investigation Enterprise Team is a great example of where we should be headed.

The second barrier that currently impedes effective accident investigations is related to scope. When investigations are restricted to looking only at the actions of those at “the sharp end of the spear,” they will continue to miss the more important organizational contributors to accidents. This has two major negative effects; the first is that it makes the people at the “sharp end” more fearful of reprisal and damages the culture of the organization. For examples of this, look at what happened to Alan Hackett after the Cramer Fire, and to Ellreese Daniels after the Thirtymile Fire, which caused large numbers of very skilled Type 3 Incident Commanders to give up their qualifications. The cultural ramifications of these investigations were huge, and still afflict our firefighting culture today.

The other problem with narrow-scope investigations is that they usually do nothing to fix the organizational shortcomings and conditions that contributed to the accident, which practically guarantees that there will be repeats of the accident down the road. The science of accident causation and prevention clearly shows that organizations cannot ignore the role of senior management if they really want to prevent future accidents. Books by such notables as Sydney Dekker, James Reason, Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe, and many others all extol the same concept; accidents are rarely caused by the willful misconduct of individuals, and usually have direct ties to cultural or organizational shortcomings. But you will never find the organizational roots of accidents if you are unwilling and un-equipped to look for them.

I think the biggest problem I have with the ADOSH investigation is related to the striking one-dimensionality of the investigation team. They appear to have deep wildland fire experience, but displayed virtually no recognition or appreciation for the science of accident causation or human behavior. It does not appear that any of them had any formal training as investigators. And they committed the cardinal investigation sin of assuming that the personnel on the Yarnell fire should have known and seen what it was so easy for their investigation team to see in hindsight. This quote from the Discussion section sums it up quite well:

“We examined the decisions that were made through the lens of the outcome, and, where appropriate, suggest where different decisions could have been made based upon current policy and guidelines.”

That is about as good a description of hindsight bias and Monday-morning quarterbacking as one could hope to find. The entire discussion section is riddled with examples of blatant hindsight bias. In my opinion, it clearly demonstrates that the investigation team was in over their head, that the investigation’s findings are fatally flawed, and that the report should be discredited and forgotten.

Whatever other shortcomings the Yarnell SAIT investigation may have had, they pale in comparison to the ADOSH investigation. I suspect that ADOSH subscribes to the archaic idea that when something bad happens, someone bad person or persons were responsible and must therefore be punished. Like after Cramer and Thirtymile.

So, Ron, with regards to the ADOSH Yarnell investigation, I suggest you re-read it again carefully. This time, try to be aware of how many times they use examples of hindsight bias to make certain points. Notice the almost complete absence of human factors analysis, and pay attention to how localized in scope their organizational analysis was.

Best wishes for a happy retirement,

Tim Lynch

12/8 RE: ADOSH Yarnell

I would like to discuss a thought about the idea of an investigation -vs- a blame-hunt.

And no, I don't know what to make of the difference in the two investigations. I know there are members of the team who did the formal investigation that I know and respect, and most importantly, trust.

But when there is a horrific event, it is normal for folks to come out looking for "who's to blame?" And one danger of this mentality is to micro analyze small discrepancies and find fault where there might be none.

So when I saw the post about the refusal to turn over the fire, I saw it a little differently.

The post read:

Pg. 13 of the SAIT report:

“At around 1730, ICT4 requests an ICT3 and a State of Arizona Incident Management Team (IMT) to take the fire in the morning, voicing concerns about potential threats to Peeples Valley and Yarnell if the fire burns to the northeast in the next 24 to 48 hours.”

Yet here is a differing account:

Pg. 8 of the WFA report:

“Near the time the fire jumped the two-track road, approximately 1730, the BLM representative who was a qualified ICT3 made an inquiry to the ICT4 whether the ICT4 wanted the BLM representative to “take over the fire.” The ICT4 declined the offer.”

I admit to suffering from woulda-coulda-shoulda of hindsight bias, yet the failure to transfer command after the first big run (when initial attack failed) seems to have been a key opportunity missed in real time.

I can only speak for my agency and protocol, and I do not know what the rules and policy was for the IC involved in Yarnell, but we have a set procedure for transferring command. It is possible that both statements above are true, and do not conflict with each other. The ICT4 both requested a STATE team to take command in the next operational period, and turned down the BLM rep who offered to take over right then. If I was running a fire, and had asked for a team which was scheduled to come in at a set time, I could see me turning away someone who is not with a team, would only be running things till the team I asked for got there, was from a different agency, etc. After all, wasn't the fire was still the state's? And it was a BLM ICT3 right? Should he have turned the fire over to someone who came as an agency rep from a different agency, if he knew the state team was already ordered?

*I am asking these questions sincerely, because I do not know how this would normally be handled with these other agencies.

I am in favor of finding as much truth as we can, primarily to learn, and when appropriate to "blame or punish". What remains unanswered by both reports, and what is at the crux of this issue is "why did they leave the safe black?" We will probably never know this, but the other factors are all secondary to this. For any of the other criticisms in any review of this fire, I would ask "But if they had stayed in the cold black would they have been okay?" Ultimately this is where the rubber meets the road. Just my opinion. And in no way am I criticizing folks who are seeking the truth.


12/7 re: Yarnell Hill Fire ADOSH report

I haven't gone over the ADOSH report in depth, but most I've heard from think it is more representative to what actually happened. From reading your response to it Tim, I'm a little confused. It sounds like you support the whitewashed reports that come out now ignoring the mistakes in the name of doctrine. The Steep Corner report is a prime example of this. I do understand what you're saying about the witch hunts of the 90s as I was on the investigative team for the Cramer fatalities in 2003 and that's what it was. As a matter of fact it was the prime driver in the creation of the Doctrine and I assigned the union rep. to the Pulaski Conference where they created it.

I think we've gone too far the other direction now and there's nothing productive or useful coming from these investigations.

I've followed some of your comments before and have the upmost respect for your opinion, so I know I'm missing something or not understanding where you're going so please set me straight.

On another note, I'm retiring in 35 days so I'll be oozing off into the sunset. All of you out there be safe and keep doing the great job that you have always done.

Ron Angel

12/7 re: Yarnell Hill Fire ADOSH report


My prediction is the wildfire community will embrace the Wildland Fire Associates report along with the ADOSH narrative/citations as useful learning tools and will mostly disregard the SAIT report as either an agency whitewash or just too touchy-feely for line firefighters.

Tim Lynch is correct that the 10 & 18 have fallen out of fashion for agency investigations. However, that is not because the Fire Orders and Watchouts are an unattainable standard of performance on the fireline. It’s because agency management got butt-hurt after finally being held accountable for not following or enforcing their own rules.

It was fine all those years to use the Orders to blame dead firefighters. Some folks just can’t abide their use to say that agency decision-makers failed the groundpounders on the line.

On another note: one key discrepancy between the SAIT and WFA chronologies is what happened on the afternoon of June 29th, the day before the fatal blow-up:

Pg. 13 of the SAIT report:

“At around 1730, ICT4 requests an ICT3 and a State of Arizona Incident Management Team (IMT) to take the fire in the morning, voicing concerns about potential threats to Peeples Valley and Yarnell if the fire burns to the northeast in the next 24 to 48 hours.”

Yet here is a differing account:

Pg. 8 of the WFA report:

“Near the time the fire jumped the two-track road, approximately 1730, the BLM representative who was a qualified ICT3 made an inquiry to the ICT4 whether the ICT4 wanted the BLM representative to “take over the fire.” The ICT4 declined the offer.”

I admit to suffering from woulda-coulda-shoulda of hindsight bias, yet the failure to transfer command after the first big run (when initial attack failed) seems to have been a key opportunity missed in real time.

vfd cap’n

12/7 Obviously many mistakes were made at Yarnell.

Was one of those mistakes not refusing an unsafe assignment?

Just Wondering

12/6 Press Release ADOSH document relating to Yarnell:

The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health Issues Citations to the Arizona State Forestry Division (137 k pdf)

12/6 Re: Yarnell Hill ADOSH Report:

Abs & All,

The ADOSH Yarnell report is something I would have expected to read in 1990, not 2013. I feel bad for the Wildland Fire Associates folks who got suckered into writing this document by ADOSH, but they were obviously in over their heads and lacked the requisite experience or training to conduct an investigation of this magnitude, in this era. I don't question that members of Wildland Fire Associates had pretty solid fire qualifications before they retired, or that they tried to honorably fulfill their contract obligations to ADOSH, but I feel this report is nothing more than an illegitimate opinion piece that deserves to be dumped on the ash heap of history.

The number of presumptions, hindsight observations, and judgments that come across in this report are staggering and disturbing.
The investigation team's emphasis on the 10 and 18 is archaic and misguided. Many firefighters already realize that the 10 and 18 are very subjective cultural relics that should never be used after an incident to judge a firefighter's decisions or actions. At best, the 10 and 18 should be used as training tools, but not as operational rules for engagement, and especially not as a means to judge the actions of firefighters after someone dies on a wildland fire.

Dr. Ted Putnam explained the 10 and 18 paradox quite well in his 2002 article: The Ten Standard Firefighting Orders: Can Anyone Follow Them?

www.google.com/#q=ted+putnam+10+and+18  (Ab note, here it is: The Ten Standard Firefighting Orders: Can Anyone Follow Them? doc file)

Jennifer Ziegler also did a very good job of explaining the contradictions in the 10 and 18. Here it is at her blog: "The Story Behind an Organizational List: A Genealogy of Wildland Firefighters’ 10 Standard Fire Orders." (pdf file)

Many wildland firefighters still feel the 10 and 18 are the "bible," but a close examination shows they really don't work very well as operational guidelines or as investigational tools. Hindsight is 20-20, but it does little to explain what the participants of an incident like Yarnell were actually thinking or basing their actions on before they died.

BTW, kudos to Forest Service leadership for refusing to allow their employees to participate in ADOSH's witch hunt.

Tim Lynch

12/6 Making the rounds... I've included Liz's trailer email... I made the xlsx into a pdf. Ab.

Subject: Update to the Fire Hire Letter

The 5100 letter sent through the correspondence database titled: “2014 Centralized Fire Hiring - Grades 6 through 10 and Developmental Senior Firefighters” includes a sentence in the document stating that updates to the OCR listing will be forwarded to the R5 Units and Recruiters.

“Several Open and Continuous Recruitment (OCR) announcements listed in USA Jobs relevant to Fire Hire were reissued October 1, 2013; others will be posted after November. Applicants need to ensure they apply to the correct OCR(s) in order to be considered for the Certificates of Candidates (formally known as Referral Lists). Enclosure 2 includes a list of the current OCR announcements. Updates to this enclosure will be made as they occur and forwarded to R5 Units and Recruiters.

Since I’m not sure what pdl that would be, could you mail the update out for me? I would like it to go the all the forest fire chiefs, recruiters. I will take care of the Planners.


Elizabeth Wright
Regional Fire Planner, Fire and Aviation Mgmt.
Region 5, Forest Service

2014 OCRs for Region 5

12/6 Reaction to ADOSH Yarnell Report

As Hotshotforlifefirefighterforever says, this report is very different the first report. The points I found to be different in this one:

  1. This accident, like South Canyon, could have been even worse: Several additional people barely escaped.
  2. The confusion over the location of the crew was profound. The lead plane flew an intended retardant path right over the crew (and was informed of the fact by the crew), but only minutes later did not know where the crew was. In the first report it states that the VLAT was on station ready to drop if the location of the crew could be confirmed. There is a major disconnect here that hasn't been fully explored.
  3. The conclusion that the overall strategy/tactics, given the fire behavior and weather, were not appropriate to achieve the goal.
  4. The retardant drops that extinguished the crew's burnout test fire, which led to them changing tactics and going direct on the fire.

Thoughts: In an emerging fire, especially one that is running at structures, communications and operational control are strained. Add the fact that this fire was burning near the end of a very active SW fire season, that resources were stretched, and that there was a ICT4 -> ICT2 transition going on, and this was a very complex and messy situation, even under the best of circumstances.

I have theories about what happened based on my experience, but I do not want to speculate, as I was not there and did not know anyone involved. I do find, however, the implication that selecting an inadequate/inappropriate strategy is not just counter-productive, but actually dangerous, to be an interesting one. All of us have constructed line we strongly believed would not hold; some fire assignments are purely shift after shift of building and losing line. We all know that this can be demoralizing, but do you considered it to be dangerous? I admit I have not, not beyond the dangers inherent to firefighting.


More Confused Than Before

12/6 Another Loop Fire Clarification:

I would like to add some additional clarifications about the "Loop Fire", which Smokey 307 said on 12/3/13. I was with the El Cariso Hotshots in 1965 & 1966, a Foreman in 1966 and a survivor of the "Loop Fire". I have first hand knowledge of the crew and the Loop Fire.

Smokey 307, I don't know where you obtained all your information but additional research should have been done before you put to words criticizing El Cariso and not stating facts accurately. You stated that you and Paul Gleason were crewmen and that Paul had two years more experience than you. Paul started his career in 1964 which means if I am correct, that you were a rookie the 1966 season and at this point I am not sure how much knowledge you had about El Cariso.

The accurate facts are:

1. El Cariso wore "Green Berets" not black berets. We recorded the name of fires we participated on, on "Fire Sticks" not war sticks.

2. You stated that El Cariso had a swagger based on "fight fire aggressively", but tended to leave out the part about Safety First. That's totally absurd. That is only your personal opinion about El Cariso but it is not factual. The original 10 Firefighting Standards back in the days, had "fight fire aggressively but provide safety first" as number 10. El Cariso changed number 10 to number 1, and that is how we trained and how fought every fire we were assigned. We never forgot about safety first as you think we did. Our Superintendent Gordon King always stressed to us Safety First. Back in those days there were only two IHC crews, El Cariso and Del Rosa. We were an elite highly trained professional crew, highly respected throughout Region 5 and the U.S. Forest Service Nation-wide and that is why we were given the ranking as an IHC.

3. You also stated that El Cariso had a swagger but also had an aloofness about them. It sounds like you thought El Cariso crewmembers were just really arrogant and thought they were above all other hotshot crews. What you should of observed was a profound "Esprit De Corps". El Cariso had a feeling of pride and honor, a common spirit of comradeship, enthusiasm, and a devotion to being an elite Firefighting Hotshot crew. This was what our Superintendent Gordon King encouraged our way of thinking.

4. You also stated that Crews did not refuse assignments back in those days. Obviously that was not a true statement because your Superintendent Chuck Hartley did refuse the assignment. Don't get me wrong, I highly respected the decision Chuck made that day and from what I have read and after talking to many Angeles Forest Fire Officers about Chuck, they all considered Chuck as a well qualified and respect Fire Leader. Chuck made the right decision that day. Chuck saved your crew that day. You stated in your comments that Chuck refused the assignment because it was dangerous. I never knew what dangers Chuck was referring to, but John Moore the other Foreman on El Cariso went back to work for the Angeles as a Patrolman a few years after the Loop Fire. John told me that he had the opportunity to talk to Chuck about why he refused the assignment. Chuck stated he was not worried about the fire, but that it was too dangerous because of the falling rocks created by the Crews working above. That was true because John Moore observed rocks coming down on him from Del Rosa working above.

What really offended me about you citing Chuck's refusal of the assignment was your statement of "I think when they heard we turned down the assignment, they were spurred on even more to show us up and were not as alert as they might have been." Are you serious? That is total crap. I don't understand why you would make such a statement or where or how you got that information. Your problem is when you thought. You made an assumption without any factual evidence. Be advised Smokey 307 that no member of El Cariso were even told or knew that any hotshot crew refused the assignment that day. Our reputation speaks for itself, we don't need to show anyone up.

5. You also stated that Gordon King might have been better served if he were at a higher location and he might of seen the impassable drop off into the bottom of the ravine. Gordon was aware of the deep ravine, that is why he made the decision to cut an indirect line and tie in the line with the County Crew across the ravine at a different location. Gordon was aware of the ravine because he observed it was not safe to cut line into the ravine. As far as Gordon not seeing a fire below him, he has stated on several interviews that there was no evidence of fire or smoke below him. He only observed light smoke on the West side of the ridge line into what was called the Deep Canyon.

After over 47 years since the Loop Fire and all the interviews, stories, and all the investigations that have been done I truly regret that I had to write this clarification.

Smokey 307, I don't know what your firefighting career was or if you are still in the Fire Service, but I wish that you would read my personal account of the Loop Fire on the El Cariso Hotshots 1966 web site. My account is about my observations on the fire line, my actions and my detailed explanation of all the factors which caused the explosive fatal flare-up. The web site is norwegianwest.com/ elcarisohotshots 1966. Just click on Loop Fire, A Personal Account. I hope everyone who reads this on "they said" would read it also. I have witnessed what the factors were that caused this fatal fire and lived to tell about it.

Rich Leak

Many thanks for highlighting your first-hand account. Ab.

12/6 Re: Yarnell Hill ADOSH Report:


Just finished reading all of these documents. A few items not covered by the first report were covered in this report. Items pointed out on critical decisions made were pointed out and were addressed... BUT, we must also remember sometimes they way things work in the real world are not the way we have it down in black and white.

One item that stood out to me in this report that I thought the other report really blitzed was actually going over the "10 standards" and saying what was right, and where they fell short. The 10 standards were created for a reason and whenever there's a tragic ending usually one or more of the 10 orders fell short. It was pointed out how the standards were followed, and as we know it, not followed.

These are a few of the items they addressed from my past world, that felt a little sticky to me because, yes they are right, but it does not always work that way.:

  • Short 2 team versus Long 2 team order. - Think of the big $ push and cost cutting issues and how fast SOMETIMES an incident can escalate. The manager has to take a best guess under the current situation which could be completely different in less than an hour. In this specific case, first guess was short 2 team which rapidly changed to long 2 team and then type 1 team. On the forest I worked on the dispatch center was often making the team type call because they knew how fire escalated in certain portions of the forest.
  • People filling other positions than what they were ordered for. - Often the case especially in the initial build up. In the incident world you adapt and do that you need to do to accomplish the task as best you can.

I guess my question about this report when talking about team positions having to be filled by others would be, was this team on call? was it 2 hr? and if so why did the team take the assignment if they could not fill out the key required positions? Sounds like a dispatch and team blow there.

The report also leads one to believe ALL positions need to be filled in order to be a cohesive working group. Basic ICS starts with "1". I understand this reference made thinking a cohesive working team, but more often than not, during the first initial size up of a large incident things are changing fast and we have to rely on the information and the people we have at the time. We ask carded qualifications and do with what we have. Most teams have members that are highly flexible and can fill several positions so it's not unusual for Ops, Finance, and Plans folks to bounce around.

I visually understood more by the fire progression map presented. My original belief was that the fire was progressing in a SE direction towards the town and not towards GM.

This was one of those tragic events that happened that we only hope future firefighters will read about, learn from and never face a similar situation. We'll never know why they followed the path they did, but they ALL did it together as the dedicated team they must have been.


12/6 more on your application at fire hire:

Desert Stomper:

Almost Retired gave some really great information.

I would add to spend some time making sure your information is well organized. The easier you can make it for the hiring officials (or subject matter experts) to find the information they need, the better! Organizing your information allows you to put your best foot forward, too. For example, one good technique is to place your distinctions and accomplishments near the top of each work experience block (instead of buried in the middle or listed at the end).

I’m a big proponent of using comprehensive bullet points, but if you choose to write your application/resume in a paragraph style, I would recommend using shorter paragraphs that are easy to read and (again) well organized. Almost Retired listed a very important item – the recommending officials/subject matter experts/hiring officials can’t read minds (if it’s not on your application, they can’t consider it). It is very important that you provide thorough descriptions of your work experience that demonstrate you meet qualifications and specialized experience requirements. Be thorough, but be concise!

I would also caution you to be accurate and honest with your information but don’t forget that applications and resumes are opportunities to explain why you’re the best candidate for the job. Don’t just tell them what you do/did, let them know what you are good at, where you excel, and how you can contribute to their module (or to the District/Forest/Agency as a whole). For example, if you feel that you are particularly good at teaching, make sure to highlight your skills and experience instructing NWCG courses and refreshers (or whatever it is…). If you really excel at coordinating firing ops, let them know. If you spearheaded a special project around the station, use that to demonstrate your initiative. You can do this without bragging, embellishing, or being conceited - just honestly showcase your skills and, wherever you can, provide specific data and examples.

I commend you for the networking you’re doing – it’s a great strategy. Also, don’t be afraid to ask other folks to take a look at your application or resume and give you feedback. It often helps to have a second set of eyes to catch those typos and/or remind you of additional skill sets to include.

Hope this helps. I wish you the very best!


Bethany E. Loomis-Hannah, owner

Thanks, Bethany, as always I appreciate your contribution of your expertise here. Ab.

12/6 Thanks for the clarification, Gordon.

I recall your presentation to the hotshots at their meeting in Reno in the mid-2000s -- the first time you spoke publicly of the incident and took hotshots' questions. Thank you for doing that: Pieces of the puzzle, increasing situational awareness..

I recall you said that having your crew cross the rock slide extremely slowly and carefully was, in part, a result of the heightened FAM and El Cariso crew focus on safety. You said the crew rockslide crossing took much longer than expected. Time-wise, this pushed you and your crew's presence on the cliff-face into the more dangerous afternoon burn period of peak fuel flammability when wind and very steep, hot south slope might align to create and channel a blow-up. I don't have my notes in front of me, so I hope I represented this part of your story fairly.

Always Remember those who fell on the Loop Fire. and on the Camp Pendleton Fire on the same Nov. 1 day in 1966. (Great Loop Fire Analysis and first-hand report by Rich Leak. Thanks Rich.)

Let me add a psychological note: when bad things happen, human beings try to somehow make sense of it, in part to reassure themselves it is unlikely to happen to them. I don't believe Smokey's comment was based on jealousy but on the unconscious human impulse to find understanding and meaning as many do, so they could continue to function in a dangerous profession. This same meaning-making process following firefighter deaths and near-misses has occurred through wildland firefighting history. Here are some milestones:

The 1957 Report of Fire Task Force to the Chief of firefighter deaths drove the creation of the 10 Fire Orders and 18 Watchout Situations.

The Loop fatalities drove Doug Campbell former supe of El Cariso to develop the Campbell Prediction System.

The Dude fatalities stimulated Paul Gleason to create LCES (Lookouts, Communication, Escape Routes, Safety Zones).

The lessons-learned power of stories of firefighter deaths and seeking Just Culture have driven Steve Holdsambeck to work so hard on the Facilitated Learning Analysis process (LLC Search) and Just Culture.

The power of stories has also caused Tim Lynch to advocate for funding for a program of Recognition-Primed Decision Making (see his post of 11/6/2013).

The need to make sense of and understand lessons following the 1994 South Canyon losses and the Tri-Dat Study led to the creation of the Lessons Learned Center and the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program.

The need to make meaning also inspired me to get involved with the Wildland Firefighting Community working with Steve Myers on this wildlandfire.com website and on Always Remember.

For 13 years I've been looking for the story and names behind the 18th Watchout because I was that tired in 1999. Last night by chance I found it. Always Remember the 1954 Tunnel 6 fallen.

Thanks to all of you who have taught and inspired through the years. You've demonstrated quite a Learning Culture legacy and done much to inform each other.


12/6 Further Loop Fire Clarification:

This post is in response to a letter that disturbed me very much. That letter was posted on12/3/2013 on "they said" and it was signed "Smokey 307".

It started out by stating that he wanted to clarify a few things that "DR" said about the Loop Fire, so far so good.

At this point he began to ramble about his experiences on the Loop Fire. I do not intend to go into the first part of the letter, only the last part. Not knowing are caring who or what Smokey307 is, I will impart some facts, not speculation or hearsay.

When the crew arrived at Contractor's Point it was mid- afternoon. Warren and I met with the Line Boss and Division Boss, both of whom I knew well, having worked together on fires in the past. The Line Boss told us that he wanted us to go out the line and cold trail it to the bottom, tie in with LA crews. Our trucks where going to be brought around to the bottom, and at that time we were released to go home. The Division Boss told  Warren and I, that he had just come up from the fire line and it was cold. Due to the steepness of the area we should travel as light as possible.

When we got to the fire line we were on the east side of a rock slide. I was told  by the crew that was in the area, it had been active up to about an hour ago. I then told Warren to bring up the rear of the crew. Ray Chee was standing right behind me, I told him that I was going to go across the slide, watch for any rocks coming down.

When I got to the other side about twenty yards, I told him to come across with one more crewmen. I would watch for him. When Ray got to where I was, I told him to have two more crewmen come across, and keep it up until all were across and when about five are a crossed, start down the line. At that time I started down the line looking at what was to done.

The fireline was to the west of me and only burned stubs were visible. The going was  slow but workable. To my right (west) and below me was the L.A. county with two dozers, hand crews and hose lines, they were working east to the bottom of our location. Ray caught up to me and we talked about the work to be done, and tie in with the L.A. crews. I went down a little further when I noticed a small smoke in the bottom of the drainage west of me .I heard the county crews, talking about it. In the position I was in I could hear a copter but could not see it. Just a few seconds later all hell broke loose.

Now let me start to set you straight about a few things.

  • First I was not standing in the brush as you stated and I was very aware of what was going on.
  • Second, our berets are green not black as you stated.
  • Third, we did not go into fire camp and hear that Chuck had turned down the assignment. The first time I heard that was in 2006, I did not believe it then and I do not believe it now.

Now if my Crew seemed to have "swagger" in your eyes so be it. I sense a bit of jealousness there. I too Had  "swagger" for this was the finest Hot Shot crew, that I had the privilege of leading, I was proud of them before the Loop Fire and more as each year goes by.

Smokey 307, I hope that you man enough to apologize to my crew and too me, but I do not think so.
The next time you start to blow smoke, do your history and get the facts right.

Gordon H. King

12/6 Bugz Safety Goggles for 2014

Can anyone out there tell me if the Forest Service is allowed to use “Bugz Goggles” to cut with? Is there a difference in the mesh size that makes them ok to use?


12/5 Re: Yarnell Hill ADOSH Report:

Abs and all...

I read this attached report detailing the occurrences and recommendations to be made regarding the Yarnell Hill Incident that some of my friends perished in. http://sites.google.com/site/yarnellhillinformation/ It is MUCH different from what we read a few months ago and it goes into the detail that most of us want to read it in. I will never forget my friends and hope that a bridge can be built to bring about change, healing and growth... It made me feel some relief in light of the first report published. We are all big boys and girls and should be able to handle this kind of report. I want answers to why, I want closure in knowing that is someone or multiple someones will be held accountable to the families of my lost co-workers and friends... This may not be new news to some of you, but it is to me. Ctrl + left click on the highlighted site above to read for yourselves.... There are 4-5 subsections that go through the incident, penalties and recommendations..

I only do this out of respect for my friends I lost and the Fire Service as a whole... We need to be transparent in all we do and learn from our past. No disrespect for any person involved with this terrible tragedy or their precious families... CHRISTmas will not be the same when I return home to Arizona as some of my friends will not be there to greet me because of this horrendous accident. As a Arizonan, Californian and human I ask that we read this and remain moving forward as our fallen would have wanted us to do...

With Much Love,


12/5 To All:

I am humbled and honored to announce that yesterday, one of our Vice Presidents and his wife were interviewed by Anne Curry of NBC's Dateline for a future broadcast.

Jim Huston is Superintendent of the Laguna Hotshots on the Cleveland National Forest. His wife Trish received great publicity this Summer after the Arizona tragedy when it was learned she was the author of the Hotshot Prayer.

While we don't know precisely when the segment will be aired, it dealt with the family life of a Hotshot and centered on the issue of climate change and wildfires.

I will be in touch with the show's producer's in the hope they will be interested in capturing the "big picture" as it relates to issues facing our Nation's federal wildland firefighters and how those issues impact our Nation's taxpayers. Suffice it to say some of the information provided to Ms. Curry and the production staff as it relates to the land management fire programs came as a surprise to them so we are hopeful the Forest Service will allow the broadcast of candid comments that reflect the concerns of all our federal wildland firefighters and not try to suppress the facts.

The FWFSA is truly proud of Jim and Trish...and in fact all our members who risk their lives each season.


Casey Judd, President

Here's the Hotshot's Prayer, reprinted from her submission to theysaid on 7/7/2013

The Hotshot's Prayer

When I am called to duty, Lord
To fight the roaring blaze,
Please keep me safe and strong
I may be here for days.

Be with my fellow crewmembers,
as we hike up to the top.
Help us cut enough line,
For this blaze to stop.

Let my skills and hands
be firm and quick.
Let me find those safety zones,
as we hit and lick.

For if this day on the line,
I should lose my life,
Lord, bless my Hotshot Crew,
my children and my WIFE.

~~ Patricia Huston, IHC Wife ~~
copyright 2002

12/5 Desert Stomper some hints for your application at fire hire:
  • One, attach your own resume in a word document. The resume builder at USA jobs is horrible, it may look good on the computer but the printed reality is something else. Hard to read.
  • Attach a document answering the KSAs for the job you are looking at, they are not required but your application is rated on those KSAs. Make it easy for the person reading your application to find the KSA stuff.
  • Expand your job search beyond south zone. There are a lot of jobs in California, many go unfilled in the north part of the state and that may be your way to get into region 5 and then work your way south. There are a lot of people in south zone waiting for jobs to open up that cannot move, if you are mobile and can make several moves, go to north zone first, then network and work your way down south.
  • Make sure your references and supervisory information is easy to find with correct phone numbers and emails. E-recruit or the resume builder messed those up on the last fire hire.
  • Make sure your master record is attached also.
  • If you have any college attach a copy of your college transcripts.
  • Any specialized training? Make sure you include that information.
  • Include any award information. Remember in the federal resume world if you did not put it on your application, you get no credit for it. We cannot read minds at fire hire.
  • Make sure your application is well written, no typo’s or spelling mistakes.
  • Tell the reviewing panel what you did, do not put your opinion on your resume.
  • The last item is interviews. Rumor has it there will be more interviewing done in the future… if you are doing it in person or VTC, make sure you are appropriately dressed, ie dress shirt and tie at a minimum.

Good Luck in your search for a job.

Almost retired

12/4 Yarnell Hill ADOSH Report:

From TFDFF on the Hotlist

Here are the links to the ADOSH Report that was released today:




Speak amongst yourselves...

12/3 Loop Fire Clarification:

I want to clarify a few things DR said on 9/30/13 about the Loop Fire. I was there, on that sector of fire line, on the Dalton Hotshots with Paul Gleason. We were both hotshot crewmen, he with two years more experience than I. It was a different time and crews operated under different guidelines than crews do today. There was no active fire front. We were cold trailing with one foot in the black a fire that had burned very quickly earlier that morning under the influence of a Santa Anas but died down to almost nothing when we engaged the fire. I took pictures of the header as we were responding and the fire line we were cutting. The pictures show the difference. I occasionally went into the black to check for hot spots but could find none. It wasn’t a clean black though. The upper leaves of the brush, primarily ceanothus, hadn’t combusted yet but could have burned very quickly if reignited. The Line Boss told the Sector Boss to order us to cold trail that stretch of line between Contractor’s Point and LA County Fire. Our Superintendent scouted that sector of line before engaging us and refused the assignment because it appeared to be too dangerous. We then cut a back-up line down a spur ridge to Pacoima Reservoir.

In those days we had the 10 and the 13. The 13 grew to the 18 because of the Loop Fire. Crews did not refuse assignments in those days. Many hotshot crews developed a swagger based on, “fight fire aggressively…….,” but tended to leave out the last part. El Cariso tended to have that swagger kind of thing that was encouraged by their Superintendent. When an El Cariso worked a certain number of hotline shifts, he was awarded a black beret. He also recorded the events of the season on his “War Stick,” a Pulaski handle. The crew maintained a certain aloofness in fire camp. I think when they heard we turned down the assignment, they were spurred on even more to show us up and were not as alert as they might have been. Mr. King was in the brush where he couldn’t see the fire below him. I don’t think he even knew at first that there was fire below him. Perhaps he would have been better served had he taken a higher location where he could have seen the entire line. He might also have discovered the impassable dropoff toward the bottom. Just because fuel had been burned once doesn’t mean It couldn’t reburn. An additional element I believe, was that just before the fire took off, a helicopter flew in to the area and attempted to fan the hot spots into flames.

Among the things that resulted from the fire was the directive to tone down the hotshot attitude because it tends to add fuel to chance-taking behavior.


12/2 R5 Fire Hire:


Hi I was wondering if you or any of your followers of the wildland fire website would be any help to me in regards to making my app standout from the others in this upcoming fire hire for Region 5. I have emailed a few batt chiefs letting them know who I am and asking if they would be able to meet face-to-face with me so I could talk to them about their forest and district they work on. I am trying to make the move from Nevada to SoCal on an engine and I am very determined to make it down there; my qualm is that ENGB, CRWB, ICT 4, and HEMB (T) the positions that I have applied for were AFEO, FEO, and Eng Capt spots. I understand the competitive nature of obtaining a position in SoCal and any help that you could direct my way would be much help!

Thank You

Desert Stomper

12/1 USAjobs and USFS Seasonal Positions

Yes, all the OCRs changed as of 11/29 and should be updated here pretty quick.


12/1 Ab,

Is the NIFC SAFENET website down?


Thanks, Ab.


Seems to be. Maybe for maintenance? Ab.

12/1 USAjobs and USFS Seasonal Positions

I have a quick question for those in the know about USAjobs and seasonal job postings. I just received an email that said all of the USFS seasonal positions I planned on applying to CLOSED. Those were GS-4 and GS-5 TEMP jobs with (ENGINE, HANDCREW, HOTSHOT, HELITACK) as the different modules. Now when I go into USAjobs I CANNOT find these seasonal job positions in order to apply. I didn't miss any deadline I was never aware of did I???? Or is the USAjobs system simply updating the job postings and the new ones will be posted shortly??? Any answers would be appreciated.

Seasonal Firefighter

I also posted your question on the Hotlist Jobs discussion subforum. Ab.

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