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IMWTK

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

WILDFIRE HISTORY



Q: Why is there no Forest Service Region 7? Was there ever one?
A:
In 1966 the Forest Service did a massive reorganization. At that time R-7 (Eastern Region) which was headquartered in Pennsylvania was consolidated administratively with the current Region 9 and abolished. During the same reorganization the Northeastern and Southeastern Area State and Private Forestry offices were created to address the coordination role of the forest service with the respective state agencies in the two geographic areas. The S&PF work had previously been done by the regional offices and this was to improve the coordination flow. If you want to check go get Michael Fromes book "The Forest Service". Used it as a text book several decades ago in college. HUTCH
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another discourse on the topic by Retired Forester posted on theysaid 9/18/04 and here's a map of the regions
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Q: What was the first piece of PPE issued to a wildland firefighter, and when (year)?
A:
1st PPE had to be the hard hat. When? Good question! I know my first seasonal job in 63 we were given hard hats but had to supply our own chalk boots in Northern Idaho. By the way still have it. (Old Ranger) 
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And the first ones were aluminum, right? Today they have to be plastic because of concerns for lightning strike, and the rolls of toilet paper. Not too heavy, but sure fills things up. (AL)
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Found on the National Agricultural Library Pictures starting in 1952 where hardhats were showing up in pictures of western firefighters in Idaho. (Hickman)
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Bullard designed and manufactured the first aluminum hard hat in 1938 but they were used primarily in mines, on construction projects like the SF Golden Gate Bridge and by roustabouts working on oil fields. (Mellie) More on HARDHAT HISTORY, materials, suspension, and heat vent details.
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R5 stopped using the metal hard hats in the 70's. (JWatt)
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I'll go with the thought that the hard hat was the first PPE... unless it was gloves. (BLM Bob)
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El Cariso Hot Shots and the other R-5 crews were required to be wearing plastic hard hats during the summer of 1973. We used orange-colored metal ones the year before that. I remember thinking at the time that the bright yellow plastic ones were quite stylish compared to what we were used to. (Harv Dabling)
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The first piece of PPE was in fact the human brain. Hopefully it was issued at the year of birth for each wildland firefighter. <tongue in cheek> If a brain full of wildland fire knowledge was not delivered at birth, it takes some education, experience, and discussions to rival the importance of the first PPE issued to wildland firefighters. Without trying to understand this #1 PPE, there is no need for other personal protective equipment or measures to be used or sought. Without an understanding of Human Factors (basic and advanced psychology and sociology), there is no such thing as personal protective equipment. Good people make bad mistakes sometimes ..... (Lobotomy)
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Q: How did hotshot crews start and when? How many and which were the original hotshot crews?
A:
First came the IR Crews (Inter Regional Suppression Crews). There is a great old article relating to the origin of the IR/IHC crews form "Fire Management" Summer 1974 edition.
Marty Alexander's '74 article: Interregional Fire Suppression Crews.

I think there were 16 or 17 crews:

Region One:
St. Joe IRS (best crew songs)
Slate Creek IRS
Lolo IRS????

Region Two
Pike Mountain IRS
Big Horn IRS

Region Three
Presscott IRS
????
Region Four
Sawtooth IRS
Payette IRS

Region Five
Redding Hotshots
El Cariso Hotshots
Del Rosa Hot Shots??

Region Six
Redmond
Rogue River

Many crews that later achieved IRS status started earlier than 1967 but this was the first year the crews became national assets. There are obviously others and a couple of these might be wrong. Add and delete as required. (JR)

Los Prietos (R5), 1948 is another one; AKA, Los Padres Hot Shots. (Pullcord)

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Q: Who was the first woman hotshot, where and when?
A:
Sue Husari might have been the first Shot at least in Calif. (an early poster)
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Kimberly Brandel, currently a District Ranger on the Payette NF (Idaho), was on the Mt. Hood Hotshots (Zigzag RD, Mt. Hood NF, Oregon) in 1976. I don't believe it was her first season on the crew. In 1976, Sue Husari (now Regional Fire Director for Western Region of NPS) and another woman were on the Lassen Hotshots. And there was a woman on Los Prietos Hotshots (Los Padres NF) that same year. (Merlin in 1976, 6/1/08)
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I worked on the Lassen Hot Shots in 1976 and 1977. I imagine that Glo's season started earlier in 1976, so she retains the national title for now. Although I may have been on a crew in R5 before Deanne Shulman, I want you all to know that she was and will always remain the better hot shot, female or otherwise. She truly is an amazing person, firefighter and pioneer in so many ways. We all owe her a great debt. --- I think that there were women on crews in Region 6 before1976 and I have sent out a note to a reliable source. When I find out you will all be the first to know. (Sue Husari, 5/30/08)
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I was wondering how to find out if I was the first women ever to be on a hot shot crew. I was on the Morman Lake (AZ ) Hotshot crew in 1976. (The year 3 crew  members were killed.) "Glo", aka Gloria Eighmey (5/29/08)
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The first one I saw was, I think, Deanne Schulman on the Los Prietos crew in '77. I believe she'd been on the crew for a season or two then, but I'm going senile and could well be wrong. Deanne later went on to become the first woman jumper. (BLM Bob)
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I just spoke to Deanne Shulman. 1977 was her first year on LP shots. (Scott Vail, 5/29/08)
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There were two ladies on the Redding shots in 1981, Sue Husari and Beth Lund In 1982 Beth became foreman on the Mendocino HS, I believe she was the first female supervisor on a shot crew... but then that was a long time ago and Im starting to get oldtimers I think. (pulaski)
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Celia Howe was a crewperson on the Hobart Hotshots in 1981. (Dianna)
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I spoke with Roddy Baumman, former superintendent of Zig Zag IHC, who confirmed he hired both Kimberly Brandel and Deb Schnell in 1977. He also remembers that Joe King, superintendent at that time of Baker River IHC, had hired a woman named "Da-ne" (not sure of the spelling) "a couple years before that."

Interesting note: Roddy remembers seeing the first woman ever on the fireline in 1970 (Nancy Graybill, now Region 6 Regional Forester) who belonged to a Type 2 crew. "It was quite the shocker for us," he said. (Karen)

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Q: Who was the first female Hotshot Supe?
A:
1989 Margaret Doherty of the Lolo Shots became the first female Hotshot Crew Superintendent in the nation.
Soon after, in 1991, Gina Papke became superintendent of the Zigzag Hotshots. Zigzag history

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Q: How and when did smokejumping begin?
A:
Smokejumping as a method of fighting fire began in 1940. The first smokejumpers parachuted to a fire on the
Nez Perce NF on July 12th, 1940. There were also some jumps made in Region 6 that summer out of Winthrop, Wa.

Black paratroopers and a few white conscientious objector paratroopers continued the momentum during WWII. Here's a good article describing the history of the black WW II paratroopers. Instead of being sent to fight in Europe, they were stationed in the west and defended the west coast from Japanese incendiary balloons. They also put out forest fires. PFC Malvin L. Brown, a medic and member of Headquarters Company, 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion was the first SJ to die on a fire jump on August 6, 1945 on a fire on the Siskiyou National Forest near Roseberg, Oregon. For more info on this little-known history: triplenickle.com/ (Info from Big Smooth and -=RADAR=-)
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Q: Who was the first woman smokejumper?
A:
Deanne Shulman (on the Los Prietos HS crew in '77) later went on to become the first woman jumper. (BLM Bob)

On Becoming a Smokejumper by Deanne Shulman (Smokejumper Magazine)

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Q: Who was the first woman pilot for the Forest Service?
A:
Mary Barr and Memorial to Mary Barr

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Q: Is there already a first woman retiree in fire? That is, have women been in fire long enough to have retired?
A:
I heard there was a woman who retired on the Sierra NF, I think in the last few years, who might be the first one to retire in fire. Could someone there check around? Don't know her name. (AL)
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That would be Louise Larson, who retired last summer from the Sierra. She was the Forest Fuels Officer when she retired. (-Liz Covasso)
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Heard that Jennifer deJung on the Toyabee NF in R4 was one of the the first women to retire in wildland fire in the nation. Does anyone know anyone who preceded her? (Mellie)
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As to your question about the first fire woman retiree, that would be Louise Larson, who retired last summer (1999) from the Sierra. She was the Forest Fuels Officer when she retired. There are several of us within 3-5 years. If you want a good perspective on the history of women in wildland fire, check out Michael Thoele's book, "Fireline: Summer Battles of the West". Chapter 9 is devoted to the Sisterhood. (Becky May)

(Actually, Ab has heard thru the grapevine that a Native American woman firefighter retired one or more years before Jennifer ('97 or '98). She worked on the Klamath NF and continued (as of 2002) working in fire as an AD. Anyone knows her name, please let us know.)

. . . I worked with a Native American woman firefighter named Mary Brooks on the Mad River District of the Six Rivers NF back in 1977 and '78.  She is the Mother of John Chester who still works there and the grandmother of Jaycee Chester who works there as well.  It seems to me that Mary retired in fire in the early 1990's. (Diana)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In relation to the question regarding the Native American woman firefighter from the Klamath NF, I believe you might be looking for Florence Conrad. She is a Karuk Indian woman who worked on the Ukonom District. She spent her whole career there as a firefighter/prevention tech. She retired in 2000 as an ADFMO. (WHSP_Mike)

Florence retired as the ADFMO from the Ukonom Ranger District. The Ukonom is now consolidated with the Orleans District of the Six Rivers. She was always there for us and got us out the door to fires. She has been active as a base camp manager since she has retired. (Kim W)
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Rhonda Bierman retired in March 2001 with firefighter retirement after 26 years in the USFS with 23 years initial attack in the fire service of the USFS. She says "I loved it!" (MB)
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Here's an earlier record of a woman firefighter:
Found this on the web. Thought it worth sharing for what it's worth. (Tom Caves)

"Mrs. Durham, wife of one of the pioneer rangers on what was then known as the California National Forest, and her friend, Ms. Kloppenburg, were the first women firefighters in 1915. The California National Forest is now known as the Mendocino National Forest."

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Q: Who was the first woman IC? Of a Type 2 Interagency Incident Management team? A Type I  IIMT? First woman Area Commander?
A:
Mary Jo Harvey was the first woman Type 2 IC in Region 6 decades ago.
Linda Szczepanik was the first woman Region 5 Incident Commander of an IIMT, specifically of NorCal Team I, a Type 2 team.
In her words: Ab, I just read the question of the first female IC.  Well I am that person, and I thought I could clear up a couple things on the question.  I became qualified as a ICT2 in 1991, but did not get a team until 2000.  In 2005 Dave Sinclear my Deputy took the team, and I became Deputy for Allan Johnson.  It was the first year that Allan had his team.  In Oct of 2005 I retired due to mandatory retirement because of age.  Hope this helps, thank you.  Linda Szczepanik

A: Jeanne Pincha-Tulley was the first female IC of a Type I IIMT, specifically CIIMT 3 (2005) Firefighting's First Female General Makes Order Out Of Chaos [There may have been another woman that got credentialed but never fielded a team... reports are cloudy on that. If you know, chime in. (She worked with IC Carvello in the Great Basin.)]

A: Edy Williams-Rhodes was the first female Area Commander. When she became AC, it was not prerequisite that you be a Type 1 IC, as it is now. In those days you had to be experienced at the T1 team level in 2 or more positions, but not necessarily be a T1 IC. I heard she was excellent in Logistics. In fact people who have worked with her have said she was stellar in Logistics on a Type 1 team and excellent as an Area Commander. Here's a great piece on Edy:
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Q: Who was or is the youngest IC to lead a Type 1 team?
A:
Rowdy Muir may be. He was a qualified Type I IC at the age of 41; he got his first team in 2003.

Dale Jarrell said that he became a Type 1 IC at the age of 44, so he doesn't qualify as the youngest, but he thinks he is one of the first ICs (vs Fire Bosses). (Terrie, Dale's daughter)
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Q: Who was the first IC (fire boss) to lead a Type 1 team?
A:
Don't know yet... but here's one reply:
One of the first, if not the first, was Ralph (Rowdy) James. He was the FCO on the Klamath NF and the first North Zone Coordinator. (4200)
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Q: When did ICS begin; What was the first fire on which ICS was used? Where?
A:
In 1975 the Pacioma Fire, Tujunga RD, Angeles NF was the FIRST use of the ICS organization. Dick Montague was the IC and Jim Stumpf was the S&R (Search & Rescue). The name change to Operations Section Chief did not come until later. Dick Montague and Jim Stumpf switched back and forth from IC to S&R, because at the time all were still experimenting the the ICS system. The Fulton Hot Shots, along with many other crews were assigned to the Pacioma Fire. Participants included the Del Rosa, Vista Grande, Little T, Palomar, Los Prietos, Texas Canyon, Luguna, and El Carisohotshot crews, and more but I just can't recall all of them.  (Dave Provencio)
More info here: "IHC or SJ-->Fire Manager" Project

Q: Who taught the first "new" Incident Command System classes at Marana?
A:
Dale Jarrell and John Russell were the first to teach the "new" ICS system at Marana. (Terrie, Dale's daughter)
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Q: When did the drip torch make its debut? 
A:
We definitely used drip-torches in 1973 to light backfires on the Cougar Creek Fire (Nez Perce N.F. in Idaho), and I think I saw them in use on the Klamath N.F. the summer before that. (Harv Dabling)
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A: Drip Torches- They pre-date me. I started in 1968 and they were in use. Made by Western Fire Equipment Co. from the S.F. bay area (Millbrae?). Their origin was probably from the ranch and farm community. In CA the firing tool of choice before the torch was the Barron (California) firetool. It has a reduced McLeod head on an 18" long steel shaft so that you could wrap a load of grass in the head and use it as a torch. The angle of the hoe blade is set for slicing, sort of, under the grass matt. I have a pair of Australian drip torches that have less volume than our standard torch and the wand is about 24" long. Named the "Fire Bug". (JWatt)
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If I have it right, and for the life of me I can not remember who told me, maybe my dad age 79. Drip torches were originally used by orchardists for igniting the smug pots which were being used to heat the orchards during freezing conditions to not lose the flowering buds during the earlier night and morning hours. My dad remembers using them at the early age. (Zimm)
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I stumbled onto something the other day at a fire that made me think of a question from the IMWTK section. The question was asked of when the drip torch made its first debut and although I don't have a date for it I do have a picture and some information that would seem to back up what Zimm said about the drip torch having been around for some time and being used in orchards first. This photo was taken at a fire that butted up to a plum orchard (I think they were plums as I recall) and as you can see its looking pretty aged. Orchard Driptorches (-NCCrew)
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The earliest drip torch I ever saw was one recovered by a Forest Service archeologist from a 1920's/1930's era railroad logging camp site in central Oregon. It consisted of a softball-sized piece of pumice rock with a groove cut into and around the rock (pummy rock is very soft and porous), a length of baling wire wrapped around the rock in the groove, and extending out into a long (2-foot) handle with a loop in the end of it for a handle. With it was an empty coffee can with holes punched in the sides and another piece of wire threaded through the holes to be used as a carrying handle. Local old-timer logging lore said that the railroad loggers used to burn their slash every fall, and the way it was done was to put kerosene or lamp oil in the coffee can and ignite it, then walk through the woods dunking the pummy rock "drip torch" into the burning kerosene or lamp oil and dripping fire around the woods..........the last time I saw this artifact was in a display case at the Chemult Ranger District office in Chemult, OR (Winema NF), a number of years ago. (Barb Bonefeld)
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During some late night reading, I ran across an article in “Fire Management Today” (Volume 63, No. 3, Summer 2003) titled “Lessons from Large Fires on National Forests in 1938”. This article appears to be a compilation of early AARs. Within the discussion of the Arrowhead Fire on the San Bernardino Forest was the following comment.

“All line constructed and lost was uncompleted line. All backfire work that was done was held although it slopped over in places. Orchard torches were used. No acreage was burned through backfiring which would not have been lost by the fire anyway.”

This is the earliest documented use of orchard torches (our current drip torch's predecessor) that I have run across. The link to all of the Fire Management Today issues is Fire Management Today index. (SPFD-BC)
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Q: What is the fuel used in the driptorch and what proportions? 
A:
Diesel and gasoline in a 3: 1 ratio.
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Q: Who invented the helitorch?
A:
Ernie Johnson had a passion for keeping folks safe, so much so that he was instrumental in the development of the Helitorch. He worked on this and other innovations because he did not like exposing folks to hand lighting slash units. He knew of the dangers first hand, as he had lit many slash units on the old Shelton Ranger District of the Olympic N. F. Innovators and visionaries like him made the Forest Service the great organization that it was/is! He even tried to light slash units with a laser... 20 YEARS AGO! It was not tech for tech's sake, or to earn points for promotion... it was to reduce exposure for the firefighters that he loved! (BB)
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A: It's always been my understanding that former Canadian Forestry Service fire research scientist John Muraro was responsible for inventing the helitorch or flying drip torch as it was originally called. I can still distinctly remember discussing this topic with John over several glasses of Johnny Walker scotch at a CFS fire research meeting at the Petawawa Forest Experiment Station (Chalk River, Ontario) in the fall of 1977. Here's a paper prepared by John that describes some of the early history that led up to the modern day helitorch. John presented this paper at the Western Forest Fire Committee meeting (Western Forestry & Conservation Association) held on December 2, 1975 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Regards, Marty Alexander

Q: When were the first Fireline Explosives (FLE) used on fire and where?
A:
The Los Padres IHC did the first experimental testing of FLE  in conjunction with MTDC in the late sixties and early seventies. The crew shot 10,000 feet on the Rattlesnake Fire (LPF, R5) in 1975. (Retired Shot)
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Q: What were some of the early scientific instruments developed for the study of relative humidity, fuel moisture and the like, related to wildland fire?
A: Some good descriptions HERE of fire research instruments developed in the 1930s and 1940s.
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Q: When were the first fire lookouts built in the West?
A:
The first lookouts were built in national forests in the tops of 10- to 30-foot trees sometime around 1910.
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Q: Were early lookouts mostly women and, of them, which one might be considered the most "stylish"? (Tongue firmly in cheek!) 
A: One of the earliest and most stylish women lookouts has to be Helen Dow who "manned" Devil's Head Lookout in Colorado's Pike NF during most of the 1920's. Lookouts might see no one for long periods of time but could look across the forests below and see towers of other lookouts that might be as much as a hundred miles away.

During World War II, many lookouts in Idaho and elsewhere in the west were staffed by young men, many not much more than boys (16 yr old). One such story is that of Warren Yahr who describes his experiences in Smoke Chaser. He describes talking nightly with other young lookouts whose lights he could see on distant mountaintops after dusk on the partyline phone. (Cheryl)
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Q: First female lookouts?
A:
The first female lookouts were
1913, Hallie Morse Daggett, Eddy's Gulch Lookout, Klamath NF. Ranger W.H McCarthy listed her qualifications as "an ardent advocate of the Forest Service, not afraid of anything that walks, creeps or flies, and a perfect lady". She started work June 1, 1913 and remained on the job for 14 years.

Harriet Kelley of the Tahoe NF, and Mollie Ingoldsby of the Plumas NF became lookouts in 1918. (AW, Source: Fire in the Forest, A history of forest fire control on the national forests in California, 1898-1956. Robert W. Cermak)
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Q:  Longest serving Lookout?
A: Nancy Rebecca Hood has to be one of the longest serving women in fire. Soon to celebrate 70 years young, Nancy has been working for the Forest Service for fifty years on the Klamath National Forest, as a Fire Detection Lookout. She is a woman who has seen and experienced nearly every facet of change the Forest Service has gone through in 50 years and excelled through it all, a career that began in 1959. (more on theysaid 7/12/08 and here: Nancy Hood Narrative (28 K doc file) ; Nancy Hood 50 yrs (375 K pdf file))

A: A bit of northern history from here in Alberta - in 1996 Sam Fomuk retired after 50 years on lookouts. Sam is still alive and doing well in Edmonton, Alberta. As with others who have served so long, Sam has observed a great many changes in the forest fire business. Truly from horses to helicopters! (Tim Klein, Alberta)
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Q: Oldest Lookout?
A:
Fire Lookout Jim Sheridan will retire 9/07 after 36 years of government service on the Sawtooth NF, ID. Jim is 89 years young and is possibly the oldest fire lookout to date. South Idaho Press article
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Q: Who was the first person who became widely known for suggesting use of the black as a safety zone?
A:
Wag Dodge, Foreman of the Mann Gulch Fire on August 5, 1949, used fire to create a burnt area where he laid down in the ash and survived the burn over. But in WI where several logging camp employees were caught by the fire and, in trying to protect the logging camp, escaped into the black. (Pulaski, Hickman)
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Q: Where did the term Spike Camp come from?
A:
Evidently this is pre SJ, pre HS, from CCC Days.
CCC Side Camps, Fly Camps and Spike Camps (a hotshot)

Q: When/where were the first non-Native American prescribed burns done?
A:
Controlled burns were first used for fire management to maintain fire breaks in the New Jersey Pine Barrens in 1928. (-NJ Lew)

Bibliography of the use of fire by Indians by Gerald Williams, USFS (2001)
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Q: When were the 10 Fire Orders created? Are they really orders?
A:
The 10 Standard Fire Orders were formed in 1957 (historical directive) as a consequence of the Inaja Fire (November 25, 1956, Cleveland NF) that killed 11 firefighters: 2 FS firefighters and 9 from Viejas Honor Camp.

Actually they were presented in those days as "guidelines for engagement and disengagement" of the fire, and they should still be considered guidelines, not hard and fast rules. <Check HERE for more info on that; also Thackaberry (pdf)>

Q: When, how, and why were the original 13 Watchout Situations developed? Were they developed from previous fatality fires? If so, which ones? Is there any written documentation left as proof or is it all urban legend and oral history passed on from old salt to young salt?
A:
I know that they originally showed up in the Standards for Survival package from 1987 and then the additional were added in '89 or so. There is a gap in history from '67 to '75 that is blank on this and to when the watchout situations were developed. They appear to be mentioned additionally in '75, but with no idea where they came from. Northnight (02/10/10)

Jennifer Thackaberry Ziegler's pdf article on the development of the 13 to 18 Watchout Situations is linked here blogs.valpo.edu/jziegler/publications/
How the “13 Situations that Shout ‘Watch Out’” Became the “18 Watchout Situations.” (2008, Aug 4). pdf file (Tim, 0210)
Here's more info on this topic: 13 Watchout Situations
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Q: Who coined the acronym LCES, when, and what does it stand for?
A:
Paul Gleason in 1991 and it stands for Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes, and Safety Zones. For more on Paul's contributions including LCES see the LCES manuscript and our tribute to Paul.
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Q: When did rangers begin using patrol vehicles? What were they like?
A:
The Tahoe NF used a 26 foot gasoline powered launch stationed on the Northwest shore of Lake Tahoe. It patrolled the lake looking for fires from 1910-1918.

The Sierra NF used motorcycle patrolmen beginning in 1912. In 1913, the Sierra NF began using a Model T runabout outfitted with railroad wheels to patrol the tracks of the San Joaquin and Eastern railroad tracks.

The Angeles NF possibly had the first aerial patrol in 1913 when Ranger Parnay rode with a pilot observing a series of test fires. In 1916 the Angeles experimented with the use of hot air balloons to detect fires.

1919 saw the first organized use of aircraft for patrol in California when the US Army Air Service and the US Forest Service worked together to patrol the Angeles and Cleveland National Forests. (AW, Source: Fire in the Forest, A history of forest fire control on the national forests in California, 1898-1956. Robert W. Cermak)
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Q: What is the oldest wildland fire engine still in service in the Federal agencies? (Fire Geek post on theysaid, 7/22/08)
A: I have a theory that old fire engines never die, they’re just swapped around and get a new coat of paint . For example, the Joshua Tree Model 61 in this picture was one of the first of four Model 61’s the Park Service purchased on Forest Service contract in 1990. Two of them went to Yosemite and the last one was assigned to Sequoia National Park. The Sequoia engine was used last year at the Mojave National Preserve until their replacement Model 14 arrived. The Joshua Tree engine was transferred to the Fish and Wildlife Service and is still in use. See attached photo, Old E-1. That would put it as going on its 18th year of fire response; a long ways to go to catch up to the famous Model 60 that was still listed in the 2003 FICC area dispatch plan as reserve Engine 3633. 33 years after the San Bernardino NF placed it in service!
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Q: How are Engines numbered?
A:
The numbering system has changed over time. It depends on the agency and the region or state.
Forest Service engines in CA have a 2 digit number, with the first representing the district and the second representing the engine (example: E-41 is the first engine on district 4). FS engines in other regions have or are switching to 3 or 4 number systems.
BLM engines have a 4 digit numbering system with the first representing the xx, the second representing the district or zone, the 3rd representing the resource type, and the 4th the unit or particular numbered resource (example: )
NPS engines have a x digit numbering system with the first representing the xx,
FWS engines have a 4 digit numbering system, with the first representing the region, the second representing the zone or refuge, the 3rd representing the resource type, and the 4th the unit or particular numbered resource (example: 8191 is Water Tender #1 in Region 8, Zone 1)

The best way to check out the numbers of engines or other resources on forests is to go to Wildcad for the forest
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Q: Does anyone know the earliest attempts at aerial water drops for fighting fire and what were the water bombs made of?
A:
The most commonly accepted belief of aerial suppression indicates that in 1930, kegs of water were dropped from a Ford Trimotor in an attempt to quench a fire. The water dissipated prior to reaching the ground. In 1931-32, Red Jensen piloting a World War I "Jenny" dropped water from saddle tanks with varying degrees of success.

Prior to WW II, a Stinson Reliant operating from Newhall, CA dropped lightweight five gallon cans with water which ruptured on impact, spreading the liquid over the fire. Between 1936 and 1939 various mixtures and types of fluids were dropped in containers by aircraft.

In 1947 & 1948 the USFS and the US Army Air Force fitted 165 gallon tanks with fins to P-47 and B-29 aircraft. Some of these tanks were "skip-bombed" which would explode on impact, while others were fitted with proximity fuses that detonated the material approximately 50 feet above the ground. This method proved quite dangerous and was never adopted for use.

In 1953 during Douglas Aircraft's stress testing of a DC-7, water was dropped from an aircraft. It was noted that a significant portion of water reached the ground in sizeable quantities. Douglas informed the Forest Service and other firefighting agencies of their observations. Further testing proved that the aircraft was a viable delivery platform, however cost prohibitive as these were new aircraft.

In 1954, Major Warren Schroder of the El Toro Marine Base in California, attached two 250 gallon napalm tanks to an aircraft. The tanks were fitted with electric detonators and glass plates on the ends. When detonated the glass plates shattered and the force of the wind pushed the water out. Also in 1954, Paul Mantz installed a plywood container with two tanks to an ex- Navy TBM Avenger Torpedo Bomber. The capacity was 600 gallons. This aircraft was tested at Operation Fire Stop at Camp Pendleton, California, and later that year made two operational drops on a fire at Jamestown, CA. This was the first recorded bulk water drop on a fire in the United States.

In 1955 the first operational airtanker was developed in Willows, by the Willows Flying Service at the request of the Fire Control officer (Joe Ely) for the Mendocino National Forest. A Boeing Stearman 75 "Caydet" was modified with a 170 gallon tank at the Willows Airport. this aircraft, N75081, became the first registered free fall airtanker in the history of aviation. The first "air drop" was made on the Mendenhall Fire, August 12, 1955 on the Mendocino National Forest.

In 1956, the first airtanker "squadron" in the US was founded at Willows, California in a joint project between the US Forest Service and the California Division of Forestry. There were a total of seven crop dusting PT-17 "Stearmans" and N3N-3 "Yellow Birds" capable of carrying 125 gallons of water or 100 gallons of "Borate". The first eight pilots were Floyd Nolta, Dale Nolta, Vance Nolta, Harold Hendrickson, L.H. McDurley, Ray Varney, Warren Bullock, and Frank Prentice. Late in this season the squadron ferried planes to the "Niaja Fire" in Southern California and made over 1,000 drops. Press coverage coined the phrase "Borate Bomber" as a phrase.

Beginning in 1956 the CDF went on to test a number of different aircraft. In 1957 the Forest Service purchased eight Grumman TBM "Avengers" and tanked them to carry 600 gallons of retardant. From this point on retardant, aircraft and delivery systems were rapidly expanded and developed. (Tower Tom, 3/09)
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Check out the big artifact at MSO: Smokejumper 2 bottom of the page (MTWO, 3/09)
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Q: When did the first air tanker drop a load on a fire and what fire was it?
A:
 The First AirTanker used on a fire in the United States was based out of Willows, California, on the Mendocino National Forest, 1955. Unknown what the first fire dropped on was. (Tom Caves) Plaque honoring the men who started the air tanker program.
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Just reading an old book dated 1966, "Principles of Forest Fire Management" by Char and Chatten (no pun intended I'm sure) and it states; " Then the fortuitous circumstance of testing the bulk release of water from a torpedo bomber on the Jamieson Fire in Orange County in 1954 gave renewed hope of technical success. This occurred during a joint agency experiment known as "Operation Firestop." (Smitty)
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"Principals of Forest Fire Management" was by Ray CLAR and Len Chatten. Glad there was no pun intended. It is a good historical review of operations in the 50's and 60's. (JWatt)
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Operation Firestop, which someone else mentioned, was an experiment in 1954, in which fires were set, and then different types of aircraft were tested. I believe this took place on Camp Pendleton Marine base, near San Diego. The result of this, it was felt that the aircraft were not an effective method of fire suppression.

The First Operational Air Tanker was developed by the Willows Flying Service in 1955. It was a Boeing Stearman 75 "Cadet" Agricultural Aircraft N75081, modified with a 170 Gallon Tank. This was done under the guidance of Joe Ely, who was the Fire Control Officer on the Mendocino National Forest, at that time. July 23, 1955 was the date of the first practice drop. Floyd Nolta had cut a hole in the bottom of a Stearman biplane, added a hinged gate and a snag and pull-rope, and filled it with water. His brother Vance made the practice drop.

First Air Tanker Drop on a wildfire was made on the Mendonhall Fire, August 12, 1955, on the Mendocino National Forest. Vance Nolta Was the Pilot.

In 1956, the Willows Flying Service increased its fleet of air tankers, to the first Air Tanker squadron of 7 air tankers, which consisted of, 4 Stearman PT-17's and 3 Naval Aircraft Factory N3Ns.

Tanker Pilots were: Dale, Floyd and Vance Nolta, Ray Varney, Frank Prentice, Harold Hendrickson, L.H. "Mac" McCurley, and Warren Bullock. (Tom Caves)

Also in1956 Sodium Calcium Borate, the first air-dropped retardant, rains down on the Inaja Fire, Cleveland NF. (-SoCal Capt)
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I would like to provide some additional information for your "Inquiring Minds Want To Know" section. One of the questions asks about the first airtanker drop on a wildfire. The answer spoke about the successful use of a Stearman 75 Cadet in Willows, CA in 1955.

In the early 1940's, the Ontario Provincial Air Service (OPAS) in Canada was experimenting with the idea of using aircraft to "bomb" forest fires. An OPAS pilot/engineer by the name of Carl Crossley modified the floats on a Noorduyn Norseman bushplane to scoop and drop 100 gallons of water. His first successful attack on a wildfire took place near Temagami, Ontario in August 1945. He was able to knock down the flames so that ground crews could get in and do their job.

In 1946, the OPAS tried to convert a PBY-5A Canso for waterbombing; it was later converted to a spray plane.

As with many agencies in Canada and the United States, the OPAS experimented with numerous types of aircraft to battle forest fires. Now in its 81st year of operation, the OPAS uses 9 Bombardier CL-415 aircraft for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. For more information use the following link: Canadian Aviation (Chris Klitbo )
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Q: What kinds of airtanker resources were used in the 1970s?
A:
California - airtanker line-up sheet for the 1974 fire season
I retyped it as it was printed. Pretty interesting to look back at all of the various aircraft. It would be neat to have other readers do the same thing for any other line-ups they have in their files and post them here. I also have 1975 and 1976 and will send in if you like. (“Another CDF BC”)
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Q: When did the first helicopter make a water drop on a fire? a load of retardant? and on  what fires?
A:
 Helicopter drops- I don't know the exact date. There was (is) an old 16mm training film about helicopters and firefighting. It showed a Bell 47G being used to drop water from a hard tank, laying hose from a tray and maybe heli-jumping. I recall that it was the late 50's or early 60's when it was made. The firefighters wore jeans, cotton shirts and metal hardhats. (JWatt-CDF)
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Q: What was/is an IR Crew?
A:
Interregional Fire Crew (for some discussion of the Idaho Panhandle IR crews, see 9/2/09 theysaid.)

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Q: What are the Cobra, the Scorpion and the Black Eagle crews and when did they begin?
A:
Today after a 60-year, rich history on the Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument, the Porterville Organized Crews are one dimension of our firefighting organization that now number over 400 personnel. These firefighters, many from Mexican and Mexican-American decent, are not “hot-shots,” but are a workforce available 12 months a year, nationwide for a variety of forest project work. Today’s local help is a disciplined organization that is divided into three sectors; Scorpions, Cobras, and Black Eagles, and include firefighters 18+ years of age, who pass all basic firefighting tests.

The history of the Organized Crews are colorful valley tales. In the early years, around 1925, when a fire started, forest rangers had to hire local help. The ranger had to find 30 individuals to go out into the "back woods," stake out and fight fire at $.71 an hour (1948), and work straight through a 24-36 hour shift. Usually the ranger worked with the local Sheriff's office to "gather up the boys." Over time as a result of this predictable firefighting work, the local men organized themselves to become the Porterville Organized Crews.

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, fire crew bosses were chosen and then they selected their individual crews. When word went out a firefighting crew was being gathered, it wasn’t uncommon for 500 individuals to be waiting outside the Forest Service warehouse looking for work. Selections were made on a "first-come, first-served" basis. The men stood in line, grabbed the beltloop of the individual in front of them and waited. When they numbered 25 they were assigned to a crew boss, loaded up in open trucks with aluminum seats, or cattle trucks, and were carted off long distances to the fire. Many of these trips were a 17-hour drive up a dirt road. After reaching the fire, the crews then walked long distances to work on the fireline. A firefighter's personal gear was limited to a toothbrush, one pair of spare socks and a jacket.

In the 1970's, standardized firefighter training began. The Porterville Crews implemented discipline, developed their own dress code, bought high quality professional fire clothing and equipment. Over the last 70 years, the biggest changes have focused on firefighter safety, training, and transportation. Today, the Organized Crew's work is varied and sought after nationwide regarding:

  • wildland and prescribed fires,
  • managed resource benefit fires in the wilderness,
  • burned area rehabilitation,
  • fuel reduction,
  • timber stand improvement,
  • fuel break installation,
  • road clearing/brushing/chipping, and
  • trail brushing and maintenance.

In the last four years, the program has mobilized crews for wildfires an average of 84 times each year; the majority were fourteen day assignments. Each year, on average, the crews earn $3.5 million in firefighting employee salaries, most in Tulare County. Five, of the 15-crews, are experienced with managed resource benefit fire management practices. These crews have extensive experience using wilderness spike camp tactics and utilization of pack trains on national forests. In 2003, the Organized Crews also participated in the Shuttle Recovery efforts which was a significant nationwide historical event etched in the minds of many Americans.

My warmest thanks go out to all the men who have worked and been a part of these Organized Crews during the past 60-years. Each of your lives are part of a rich and colorful American tapestry called the U.S. Forest Service. (SMS, 9/6/09)
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Q: What's the history of the Native American crews and how many are there today?
A:
A: Native American fire managers and "crews" existed long before America was "discovered" by the white man, at least that's my opnion. Mellie (grin)

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When was the Pulaski invented? What does it look like?
A:
Photo of Firefighter Handtools A Pulaski is on the far lower right.  It's a combo ax and mattock. In 1920 the first Pulaski Tool was manufactured. Some more good info on Pulaski here: The Pulaski Project
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Fire Management Today Vol 63-1.pdf
(large pdf file) has stories of the big blowup (pp 19-22) and the invention of the Pulaski tool (pp 22-23).
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Another alternative story to the one that says Pulaski invented the "Pulaski".

Here's yet another version of the Pulaski story. A guy by the name of Joe Halm actually invented the tool. Joe was Wallace Idaho District Ranger Ed Pulaski's alternate (assistant) when the 1910 Great Idaho Fires erupted. Joe, like Ed, was credited with saving his crew, several miles away along the St. Joe River, by burrowing into an island sand bar, at about the same time Ed herded his men into a mine shaft at gunpoint to save them.

That next winter, Pulaski asked Halm to come up with a tool that might work better than a shovel for planting trees. He went to his USFS Wallace shop, cut one blade off a double-bit ax, welded it crossways to create the tool.

When his boss, Pulaski, demonstrated the tool at the 1911 regional ranger's meeting, it was met with little acceptance. Little did he know that it would later become the famous "pulaski".

[In a letter: 'Joseph B. Halm 1944']
Ray Kresek, author
"Fire Lookouts of the Northwest"
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Q: What is a McLeod and when was it created?
A:
  Photo of Firefighter Handtools. A McLeod is a combi tool - hoe and rake- located on the lower right, to the left of the Pulaski. Here's an old picture of a FF using a McLeod on the Dunsmuir Fire in 1933.
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Q: Are Hotshots the only kind of Type I handcrew? If not, what are the requirements to qualify as being Type I?
A:
There are NWCG Type I Crews, including Hotshots from around the nation, and there are Hotshots in R5, who have to rise too a higher certification standard. (They are certified and their certs are reviewed in a 2-day process every few years by the Safety First Committee of FMOs.)
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The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has around 180+ Type 1 Fire Crews. These are seventeen-person crews plus Fire Captain. Most are adult inmates from the Calif. Dept. of Corrections, the remainder are wards from the Calif. Youth Authority. (Mike from Arroyo Grande)
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Type 1 crews- ICS 420-1 (2001), page 11-3, lists the crew requirements. Highest training level, no use restrictions, fully mobilized, highest experience level, permanently assigned supervision. The number on the crew varies by agency as does the interpretation of how the requirements are met. The crew labels are CDC, CYA, CYA, hotshot, regular, inmate, paid, and flycrew. By the way, with CCC pulling out of La Cima and Butte Fire Centers CDF is requesting to put paid crews into the Butte fire center. The area around the camp is too urbanized for inmates. La Cima will once again be a Conservation Camp staffed by inmate firefighters. (JWatt)
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Regarding CDF Inmate Type I crews, See discussion Theysaid 10/26/04, and Type I Minimum Crew Standards.
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Q: What's the difference between R5's Regional Hotshot Crews (RHCs) and Interagency Hotshot Crews (IHCs)? Requirements?
A:
RHCs were created during MEL buildup 2000-2003. They are funded on R5 home forests in a way that is different than National IHCs. IHCs are a shared national resource and, while RHCs fall completely under their home forest's budget, IHCs have a larger part of their funding coming directly from national dollars. Both must meet the requirements of a Type I crew (see link below). There was some discussion of this on theysaid, 10/04. (Ab.)
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A:
Essentially none, as of  8/11/05. At that time, the R5 BOD voted to do away with the term "RHC" and "MEL Type I Crew". When any of the crews working to achieve hotshot status achieve it as determined by the Safety First Committee, they will be called "IHC" and treated as IHC. The only other note: given that they are the last crews certified, if cuts of Type I handcrews become required, they will be the first to be cut. (Mellie)
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Q: What other kinds of handcrews are there? Requirements?
A:
There are Type I, Type 2 with IA capabilities, Type 2 and Type 3
Minimum (2003) Crew Standards for all types
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Q: First hotshot crew?
A:
Del Rosa Hotshots formed in 1946. (Mellie)
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Q: In what year was each of the California IHCs founded?
A:
"IHC or SJ --> Fire Manager" Project (project underway)
46  Del Rosa
48  Los Padres
53  Dalton
54  Texas Canyon
58  El Cariso
61  Tahoe
67  Redding
74  Bear Divide, Fulton, Horseshoe Meadows, Lassen, Laguna, Mendocino, Plumas, Stanislaus, Vista Grande
76  Sierra
81  Arrowhead, Eldorado
83  Kern Valley
89  Rio Bravo
92  Diamond Mountain
01  Klamath, Modoc
02  Crane Valley, Golden Eagle, Kings River
03  Big Bear, Groveland, Mill Creek, Salmon River, Springville
05  Arroyo Seco, Feather River, Palomar
06  American River, Breckenridge, Shasta Lake
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Q: Which IHC has produced the most Type 1 ICs?
A:
"IHC or SJ --> Fire Manager" Project (project underway)

Q: Which IHC has produced the most Type 1 and Type 2 ICs?
A:
"IHC or SJ --> Fire Manager" Project (project underway)
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Q: When did FS begin the 5-minute step test? How about the BLM?
A:
Best I can remember was about '75-'76 (I'm almost sure I took my first one in Saratoga, WY 5/6-75.) (Old Ranger)
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In '71 we were part of the test group for the step test and had an additional member on the crew whose primary job was to periodically take pulse rates and asked us to categorize how strenuous the level of work was that we had been doing prior to our pulse being taken. This information was then recorded to be later forwarded to the researchers. I don't remember exactly when we began using the step test in R5. I do remember being required to take it in around '73, though. (DAS)
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The first year that the Step test was required for all was 1975. (Ab.)
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Q: When did the FS begin the Work Capacity Test? How about the BLM?
A:
 USFS in 2000 or 2001, how short my memory is! I know it's recorded in the archives here.
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2000
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Q: Orange fire shirts?
A:
74? earlier... (Old Ranger)
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I'm almost positive orange or yellow Nomex shirts came in 1969 or 1970. I remember I was fighting fires in regular clothing (khaki shirts and Levi's) in Region-4 during the summer of 1968. (Harv Dabling)
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Orange Nomex- CDF may have used nomex shirts in 1970. My memory cells aren't what they used to be! We didn't wear nomex in '68 or '69(?). I worked fires with the El Cariso HS in '68 and don't recall whether or not they had orange fire shirts. I worked on the Bighorn HS in '71 and we had yellow FR (fire retardant) treated cotton fire shirts. The crew may have had orange shirts in '70. They had a very short life span. (JWatt)
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In the late 60's the CDF had some nomex. When I joined them in 1970 I used my issued nomex as a Riverside VF till they received the right size for me. In 1970 or early 71 the state tested several types of nomex in tan that looked like the tan work uniform shirt. The other color was a reddish/orange which I wore till it fell apart. It was a different type of nomex, very soft. The third was a fr cotton, olive green. I still have this one. The inmate crews tested several colors and decided on blue. That did not last long as the local agencies had blue work uniforms and some were nomex uniforms. Orange was decided on as it was highly visible except for a few color impaired people. (Linker)
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I checked my photo album and know that yellow fire shirts were in use in R5 in '71. (I still have an orange one with my gear.) (DAS)
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In 1963-64 as I recall, there were orange fire shirts available on the Los Padres, most assuredly by ‘65. They were a tight weave cotton, long sleeve of course, I was also issued an aluminum short brim hard hat (still have it) when I started in the spring of ‘63. John (Fuzzy) Feazelle, SBCoFD, Fire Equipment Operator Sup. (HFEO) (ret). 1969-2003
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Q: Hardhats?
A:
Started looking online for information on hardhats. Found on the National Agricultural Library pictures starting in 1952 where hardhats were showing up in pictures of western firefighters in Idaho. Colorado firefighters weren't using them in pictures about the same time. But from 1953 on hardhats were common, which the 'Saladbowl' appearing to be the choice. One picture in '63 showed the cap style, but that's the only one found. (Hickman)
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Q: How about the first fire shelter deployment?
A:
That would have to be Mr. Pulaski and his flock down in a mine shelter, wouldn't it? Not sure if it should count for deployments but what about Peshtigo WI 1871, Hinkley and others in MN and WI in 1894? Many folks took shelter in ponds, streams and wells. Not all of em were firefighters, but I'm sure some were fighting to protect their homes and property. (Pulaski)
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First Recorded Fire Shelter Deployment:
October 29, 1804 William Clark. Describing an Indian child who survived a fire: " The cause of him being Saved was a Green Buffalo Skin thrown over him by his mother." (Pulaski, DF and Old Fire Guy)

"The Prarie was Set on fire (or caught by accident) by a young man of the Mandins, the fire went with such velocity that it burnt to death a man & woman, who Could not get to any place of Safty, one man a woman & Child much burnt and Several narrowly escaped the flame. ... The couse of his being Saved was a Green buffalow Skin was thrown over him by his mother who perhaps had more fore Sight for the pertection of her Son, and [l]ess for herself than those who escaped the flame, the Fire did not burn under the Skin leaveing the grass round the boy. This fire passed our Camp last [night] about 8 oClock P.M. it went with great rapitidity and looked Tremendioius." (Quote sent in by J-Bob.)
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Q: Fire Shelters? History of the technical development of the fire shelter.
A:
I remember the first fire shelter we saw was in 1961. They were issued to El Cariso Hot Shots for testing. The shelter was in a cone shape and was designed to be used standing upright. It had a slit in it for one to see where they were going. One day on a fire in the Angeles NF, we thought we would conduct a field drill. We had all of them deploy the shelter and walk around the hill we were on to "get the feel". Air attack saw us and tried to explain what he was seeing to the Fire Boss. We probably got our ass chewed for it, but we did get the testing done. We never had the unfortunate luck to have to use the fire shelter while I was on the crew in 1961 and 1962. It was the best of my days in the service. (Ole Hot Shot)
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Teepee Fire Shelter 11/29/63 from Life Magazine
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I know that in '71 the Northern California Hot Shots (Redding) had fire shelters assigned and taken on the line while contract crews did not (I contemplated using it on one fire on the LP). (DAS)
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We were required to have our fire shelters on at all times when I was with El Cariso (So. Calif.) in 1972, so I suspect that that was the year they became required, possibly even a year or two prior to that.  NOTE: The big push for testing and research for firefighting PPE (especially fire shelters and such) started after the tragedy of the Loop Fire on the Angeles N.F. where 12 firefighters from El Cariso died (several others severely injured). (Harv Dabling)

[Ab note: Gordon King told me that safety was beginning to be stressed prior to the Loop Fire. He's long thought that if the crew hadn't slowed way down to cross the big slide very carefully one by one, they would have been done and out of the way when the Loop Fire blew up.]
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Fire Shelters- I had one in '71 with the FS, wasn't mandatory to carry. They became mandatory in CDF after the fatalities on the Spanish Ranch fire in San Luis Obispo Unit. I think '73 was the start of CDF's full time use, not mandatory before that. (JWatt)
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I was on the Marble Cone Fire in 1977, my second season with CDF. Great memories. I was stationed in Humboldt-Del Norte Ranger unit and we drove down as part of a strike team from Fortuna. My engine was a 1966 Ford Model 1, equipped with a 500' pin lay in the hose bed, a PTO and auxiliary pump, a Homelight 925 chainsaw with a 36" bar, and a 500 gallon tank. My captain was a former marine and vietnam vet who seemed to be the hardest man I ever met (he was killed the next year while falling a tree). We wore "banana suits" over our polyester uniforms, were still called the "Division of Forestry", and didn't use fire shelters, (although the USFS did). I saw no naked women on the fire or in the showers but certainly thought about them a lot. (Joe Hill)
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CDF began using fire shelters after the Spanish Ranch Fire in 1979. (“Another CDF BC”)
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Slideshow from MTDC on the history and development of fire shelters (900 K pdf).
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Q: How many ways are there to pack a hosepack for a wildland progressive hoselay?
A:
Count 'em up: Complete_hosepack_guide (2,168 K pdf)

Q: Where can I find the history of fire behavior research?
A: Historical Chronology of Wildland Fire Research in the Interior Western United States (1913 - 2000) HERE
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Q: When was NIFC created? 1993, National Interagency Fire Center was established in Boise, Idaho. The fire center there was called BIFC before that. (Mellie)
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Q: Anyone have fire stats on the fires summer of 2000?
A:
Here are some interesting IMWTK trivia provided by Greg Greenhoe at the CIIM Workshop in Sacramento (04/01). (NorCal Tom): 

On the peak fire day last summer - Aug 29, 2000 - there were 
28,462 firefighters on duty 
667 crews 
1,294 engines 
226 helicopters 
42 air tankers 
84 fires greater than 100 acres 
1,642,579 acres on fire in 16 states
The Clear Creek Fire had the largest, longest sustained run of any US fire, burning more than 30 miles in heavy timber. 
The Montana fires alone engaged 
2,379 state and federal firefighters, 
1500 local firefighters and 
950,120 acres burned
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Q: How many Type 3 Incident Commanders dropped their certs in the year following the legal SNAFU resulting from the Cramer tragedy?
A: 400 (noname MC)
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Q: When did the first CL-415 drop water in Alaska? North of the Arctic Circle?
A:
On 7/27/04 Ontario's CL-415's Tanker 272 and 278 while on loan to Alaska BLM made history by being the first CL-415's to drop water in Alaska and also the first CL-415's to fight fire north of the Arctic Circle. They attacked 2 fires and dropped 47 loads each during the mission. On the first fire they stopped a fire from burning a remote cabin and on the second fire they were able to stop a fire from over running an Incident Command Team's Base Camp. (Tony)
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Q: When did the smokejumpers begin fighting fire and what did they wear/carry?
A:
In 1939 the FS experimented with airdropping water/supplies, dummies, and finally live smokejumpers. Their rule of thumb was to have the fire out by 10 the next morning. Basic jump gear included two canopies, a felt-padded jumpsuit, a football helmet, ankle braces, logger boots, a jockstrap, tools and provisions. (Lew)
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Q: Which smokejumper was the model for the Smokejumper Action Figure (by America's Finest) sold in 2002?
A:
I heard from a smokejumper bro that Missoula Jumper Kevin Lee was used for the action figure. Smokejumpers call it the Kevin Lee Doll.
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Q: When was the Smoky Bear Icon created?
A: The Forest Service create the Smokey Bear icon in 1945. Later, an orphaned cub named Smokey generated so much fan mail that he was assigned his own ZIP code.
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Q: When were Campfire permits required for the first time?
A:
In 1915 the Angeles National Forest was the first to require campfire permits, by 1920 all Southern California forests required the permits. (AW, Source: Fire in the Forest, A history of forest fire control on the national forests in California, 1898-1956. Robert W. Cermak)

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Firecamp:

Q: Showers in Firecamp?  When were the first?  What were they like?  The first shower installations?
A:
My first recollection of showers in a fire camp was I think back in 63 or 64 (I'm ageing myself) on the Fouts Fire. At that time they were pretty much open air, but surrounded by tarps strung up on pipes to provide some privacy. They had separate hours for men and women, but many of the women did not pay attention to the hours. (TC)
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Showers: El Cariso in 1973. Base camps were often located adjacent to creeks or other natural water sources, and skinny-dipping was our bath after shift. Towards the end of season we saw our first crew of all women. We worked
night shift, they had the days. One afternoon on our way out we had orders to send 3 people back to get new lunches (the ones we had been issued had "expired"). Another crew member and I went with our squad boss. As we
walked the ridge above camp, we could see the female crew enjoying their swim. SB told me, "Go ahead and tell the rest of the crew when you get back.....who's gonna believe you?" Dennis B. should remember this.

One fire I was on that year did have a "shower unit", but it was all creek water pumped through a pipe with holes drilled in it. Still felt good! (Old Fire Guy)
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On the showers, my first recollection of showers in fire Camp was on the Skinner Mill and Hogg fires; there may have been some prior, but because there were women sharing the showers I remember those two. It was common
enough that it wasn't that big a deal and I don't remember any men running out, but I wasn't looking at the door. The River behind the fire camp at the Forks also had plenty bathers of both sexes which was cool, the National Guardsman being killed in a diving accident kinda overshadowed that though and put the skids on swimming. (cbork)
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During the Marble Cone Fire, Los Padres NF in 1977, the national guard was providing shower units in the field, when they worked. There were supposed to be different times for male and female. While my crew was on the line, we were told one female firefighter, who had been on the line several days (no strict hour limits or conveniences like you see on major fires now), did not want to wait hours and yelled in to ask if anyone cared if she came in. Everyone was too tired to care and she showered with the guys. The shower hours were adjusted after that. Women on crews then had to really prove themselves and could more than hold their own. (Fyr Etr)
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For more descriptions check Theysaid starting 6/26/06. Ab.
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Q: Women using showers in Firecamp? (Women on crews...)
Question that went out: "Last week, a few folks on theysaid were discussing the first time that women worked on fire crews. I'm wondering if anyone knows the truth about a story that has been circulating for years. I've heard two versions. Supposedly, one of the first women firefighters got frustrated about her lack of opportunity to get into the single shower unit at fire camp. After fuming for several days, she said, "The h*** with this," and marched into the shower filled with males, stripped off her clothes and started to clean up. One variation has all the males running out in various stages of dress and undress. The other variation has all the guys in camp suddenly lining up to take their shower. Anyone know the real story?"

A: Women and showers: a friend brought my attention to the posting on women's showers (above) and someone wanting the "real story" and suggested I respond, since I was there. In the early/mid seventies we went out for one of those one day shifts when the supe turns down a helicopter ride out because "we'd rather walk out" and we knew we were in for it -- what followed was consecutive, sweltering hot 24 hour shifts of cutting line, hot shoveling, and cutting line around hot spots, sleeping on the line for days. We finally got back into fire camp and were beat. Everyone on my assembled crew started taking showers (the old open-air ones) and told me the Women's Showers were 1-2. (I was told because this was when most of the men did not want showers). I went at 1. "Sorry" said the shower manager. Too many guys want showers, the Women's Hours will be at 2. At 2 I was told it was 4. At 4 it was 5 and on and on. He was getting a real kick out of this now, since he probably had never been on the line in his life, but this really wasn't funny on any level anymore, since I clearly wasn't going to get a shower. I was furious by now and he thought that was even funnier. I just took my stuff and walked in -- was there ever a commotion "you can't go in there!" he was yelling in panic from the door, because now he was in trouble. You could have heard a pin drop in the showers, believe me, the showers were full, and I was just grim faced, you could have fried an egg on my head, looking straight ahead and just getting my shower and getting out of there. Yes, I'm pretty sure some guys fled. But I also appreciate there were so many guys, both in the shower and who heard about it on the lightning-fast grapevine in camp, that were simply kind and respectful and just understood how much it meant to get a hot shower as a firefighter after so long on a hot assignment and were apologetic I had to make a stink and do that to make my point. After that there were Women's Hours posted on the shower and they kept them and that guy disappeared. As years went by it seemed like women in the showers became some kind of joke or gag -- but back in those days there were a lot of guys who just didn't think I should have had to do that. Thanks. Sincerely, An Old Salt (now)
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Movie trivia:

Q: How many scenes was the USFS/NPS Model 60 in during the movie "Always"? (Foam Geek)
A: The first Model 60 engine that went into service in R5 was delivered to the San Bernardino NF and served with distinction for over 15 years. It was the first in engine during the Panorama fire and responded to every major fire campaign up to and including the '88 Yellowstone fires. After that it was loaned to Steven Spielberg for the movie "Always" which was filmed on the Kootenai National Forest. During the opening scene where Richard Dreyfus is gliding his tanker toward the tanker base after running out of fuel you can hear it responding code 3 across the tarmac as the plane barely lands in one piece. It makes an appearance a total of nine times throughout the film. Just look for the big front chrome bumper. I once saw a publicity photo where Holly Hunter is sitting in it. The famous engine was transferred to the Park Service shortly after and was used to start the fire management program at Joshua Tree National Park. It was in great condition and the old mastery box on the rear pump panel still worked. I've attached a picture of it parked beside a Model 61 and a Model 62 taken in 1996. (Engines 20 photo page)

Sometimes when we were short staffed, the crew would let me drive it on initial attack to local fires thus fulfilling my childhood fantasy. Yes I was qualified, having been the only FMO to graduate from the 1990 South Zone Engine Academy (I write proudly). Even with the new white paint job with red stripe, many BDF firefighters would recognize the chrome bumper and share their fond memories while assigned to it during its illustrious career when it was at the City Creek and Sycamore stations. Isn't it funny how one can become emotionally attached to a fire engine? Imagine my surprise when I witnessed it last year being restored in the engine bay at the Mojave National Preserve Hole-in-the-Wall fire station. It was like seeing an old friend you thought had died. It still starts on the first try and idles smoothly. Fire Geek, the Original, 7/20/08 (Berdo first said it was from the BDF, 7/18/08.)
 

 

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