Wildland Firefighter Foundation
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  • 03/26/2015
  • Sam

We have 4 vacant Chief Officer positions on our Forest.  Is R5 FAM going to require us to go through fire season with these vacancies?  Is there anyone in R5 leadership that can explain this?

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  1. fs retired
    March 26, 2015 Reply

    fed firefighter
    What forest are you on?

  2. ikickittoyou
    March 26, 2015 Reply

    First of all, my moniker is not a reference to you or what I am saying.

    What do you expect them to do? There are very few qualified candidates. Your forest isn’t the only one with the lack of qualified candidates.

    Blame IFPM authoritarian requirements. (we should have evolved past this by now) BC may as well become DC’s as soon as they get time in grade. The requirements are the same. Blame past travel (training) restrictions. Blame the unwillingness of other regions to accept trainees. Blame lack of COLA in rural areas. Blame lack of adequate housing and medical care in rural areas. I could go on… Try talking to your Chief, maybe there is a training opportunity.

  3. Will Spyrison
    March 27, 2015 Reply

    When I was Division Chief on the Los Angeles River Ranger District I manage the largest district fire management program in the nation. I had 12 Engines, 2 Hotshot crews , 2 Water Tenders, 1 dozer 4 Battalion Chiefs and 5 Fire Prevention Technicians. August 1, 2009 I had 4 Engines Un-Staffed
    53 Vacancies, both suppression Battalion Chiefs left to go be crew Captains with Cal Fire, Cha Ching $$$$! No one seemed to care till the Station fire Initial Attack! When its crunch time on a Intial Attack expierence matters!!!! This is the short and sweet version. I am formulating writing the Station Fire Initial Attack book. Which will be titled the Station Fire a test of Leadership Principles and Values!

  4. Sell that product Will!
    March 27, 2015 Reply

    You didn’t include a link to your product you’re selling. Is this for your app or for your book? Can’t tell. Are you going to offer an answer or be a sales rep?

    1. thzs guy
      March 30, 2015 Reply

      No crap ! Getting so sick of Will’s self advertising of his crap.. Everywhere you go on line he’s trying his BS.
      Will get the hint !

  5. retired
    March 28, 2015 Reply

    Will is correct. The forest service doesn’t care about staffing or retaining experience folks. They continue to say the staffing is adequate and there’s no problem. The agency is more concerned about Aglearn completeness then staffing and retention. Looks what’s happening on the BDF with the storage of chief’s vehicles and night call.

    1. Fruition
      March 29, 2015 Reply

      The night call and chief vehicle issue is also affecting the CNF chiefs. This issue coupled with chief officer vacancies is linked together and will get much worse if not fixed. If line officers had duty officer qualifications we wouldn’t be having this conversation because they would be taking their vehicles home and no one would ask any questions. Because they don’t have required qualifications they will complain about fire personnel who are only providing a much needed and critical need for a advancing fire program in R5. An effective and timely night time response is essential for proper oversight of FS personnel and is a direct link to safety. So much for all the safety journey talk, time to back up your safety journey talk line officers and support your fire program.

  6. Confused
    March 29, 2015 Reply

    I wonder if the R5 FAM Director is asking the right questions to her staff, and reviewing the data provided by her staff? Something is not right. If the majority of Forests in R5 can’t fill Chief Officer positions due the position requirements, lack of training opportunities, and lack of not even trying to fill them before fire season, why doesn’t someone ask questions, report this to OIG, provide information to the press, call Congress, tell Randy Moore, tell Tom harbor, call an LA Times Staff Writer. This community, this webpage is our voice, our tool for rapid reporting of problems. The Great Recession is over, hiring is picking up and we are losing current and potential employees to other careers/departments and we are crushing ourselves by creating new requirements. Its time for each of us to speak up about IFPM/FS-FPM, retention, hiring, leadership, pay and benefits. These individuals that run the show in Vallejo and Sacramento are not smarter than us, many have lost the connection to the field. Keep them honest, and call something out when you know its not right. We fought the system from 2003 to 2010 and won many battles. Lets get back in the fight. As the BOD asks of themselves, Speak the Unspeakable. This applies to us as well.

  7. DZ
    March 29, 2015 Reply

    Let the groundswell of They Said begin anew!!! So good to see real issues coming to light again.

  8. The Dude
    March 29, 2015 Reply

    This is enlightening. The Issue, however is far wider than just region 5. I believe it seems to be most prevalent in R5, but several other regions are struggling to fill critical overhead positions as well, from Engine captains up. The amount of emails we get promoting temporary details is astounding. good to fill spots, but temporarily is not the way to handle it, and it’s not promoting leadership within the organization. It’s not 1950 anymore, but the FS thinks it is. we are going to continue losing good people to other places until something changes, I’ve petitioned, we have all tried, and we will continue to push forward, but it’s a long stretch….be safe.

  9. Confused
    March 30, 2015 Reply

    I agree with The Dude This is much more than R5 and even if it wasn’t we are all in this together. DZ is right, bout time! First up on the hit list should be changes to FS-FPM. I am not one to recommend lessening the requirements for key fire management positions. However all of these jobs should be multi-graded. You reach the target grade when you meet FS-FPM requirements. Secondly, we need to fix the FS-FPM requirements for Battaltion Chiefs. Using your email (annonomous if you like) email Randy Moore, Tom Harbour to start with and ask for an immediate evaluation for changes to FS-FPM requirements and implementation to processes.

  10. Will Spyrison
    March 30, 2015 Reply

    August 1, 2009 when both my Battalion Chiefs left for Cal Fire the IFPM standards were not in place, they both left for money reasons to make the Big Bucks. When I was Incident Commander on the Station fire, it hampered command and control, by not having expierenced leadership to draw from. Like I said in a previous post expierence matter the most in crunch time on an incident!

    This has been an age old problem that the Forest Service refuses to address. So supporting FWFSA is one way to have a voice, in this case the Pen is Mighter than the Sword. Rally the troops and write Congress!

  11. R5Pilgrim
    April 1, 2015 Reply

    I’m sad to hear people jabbing at FS-FPM and FS-FPM as the reason it’s hard to fill chief officer positions in USFS R5. In my opinion the lack of qualified personnel to fill these jobs is more related to an age/experience gap that is playing out where many long-time chief officers have been or are soon retiring. Many of those beneath them have not done their due diligence in preparing themselves for promotion through attending training classes and working hard to elevate their fire and fuels management qualifications. The Apprentice Academy graduates many young firefighters with a boatload of the basic training necessary to start their career, it doesn’t provide the experience required to move up and attain the qualifications needed to be a chief officer. Hate to say it folks but nothing trumps experience in wildland firefighting. Granted, over the past few years there are some forests in R5 have squashed the ability to attend necessary developmental training due to the fire budget, travel cap and in some cases lackadaisical supervisors, thus helping to create this problem. While it is understood that there are sometimes roadblocks in people’s way, it’s up to the individual to set solid personal goals and take it upon themselves to work as hard as they can to get the training they want/need and also take every fire assignment offered them to gain the necessary experience.
    I’m also sad to hear that the home vehicle storage issue for chief officers is playing out once again. When will national, regional and forest leadership recognize the importance and necessity of providing work vehicles for their on-call duty officers. Should a delayed after-hour emergency response by an on-call chief officer really be acceptable in today’s world? There are too many complexities, safety, political and cooperator issues involved to do anything other than provide this necessary tool for on-call duty officers. But then it just goes to show how out of touch most line officers are when it comes to the fire program and preparedness. I have to wonder why Cal Fire and other cooperators who are first to respond to USFS incidents haven’t made an issue about providing “free” initial attack coverage of USFS lands while the USFS fire personnel just get there when they get there.
    I can only wish the chief officers the best when it comes to seeing this issue resolved. There’s been lot’s of work to come up with a solution in the past, so I say it’s time to bring the issue forward in a big way and make some noise. Never Give Up!

  12. Fruition
    April 1, 2015 Reply

    I have to agree with R5 Pilgram, FS-FMP is a good thing, it requires chief officers to have certain qualification which I think is needed to provide proper oversight and guidance on complex wild fires. The bigger issue is that most long term captains don’t have a incentive to promote. Why would they want to promote when they have to take the night call but not have a vehicle to respond in? The difference in pay between a GS-9 and GS-8 is not worth all the headaches and stress that comes with being a chief. After you make it to Battalion Chief you move to a Division Chief and then you get to work for a line officer that doesn’t have any fire qualifications and you spend most of your time trying to educate them on why you make the decisions that you make.

  13. Confused
    April 5, 2015 Reply

    Correct. I too agree FS-FPM is the right way to go for many reasons. It is the implementation of the FS-FPM program and how it us currently designed is flawed. Greater flexibility options such as multi-grade entry levels with qualification targets and proper oversight. There is a better way that will maintain a high level of requirements. It comes down to having applicants or not.

  14. On the ground
    April 8, 2015 Reply

    Remember the USFS will not have a retention problem until it has a recruitment problem…. We are now feeling the effects of loosing so many people for so many years between the GS-5 through GS-8 and 9 levels to fill in the blank Fire Departments, Law Enforcement Agencies or what ever is paying better which could be burger flippers pretty soon. They gobble up mostly our great outstanding employees. But hey at least we get to see the sunsets…..

  15. R5MO
    April 8, 2015 Reply

    I have been with the Agency since 1986 and during that time i have seen good firefighters get used up and burned out… Female firefighters get mistreated and driven put of the Agency…i have seen the good ol boy system make it impossible for good people to promote into leadership positions… I have seen firefighters and law enforcement personnel who get on the job injuries get tossed aside like an inconvenience to the agency. I have seen more and more work load get dumped on all employees and other employees have to do the work of unfilled positions with unrealistic expectations and no compensation, the compensation that has been given as a cost of living adjustment lately has been a slap in the face.. But most people stay because they simply love the work and the people they work with on the fireground. Somebody tell me where is the incentive to promote ? As someone stated above, why promote to position higher than a Captain ? Where is the incentive ? Forest Fire Planners know who will be retiring and when but imploy no training or position mentoring or shadow program… You just wait for the other guy to leave then get the keys to his truck and go figure it out for yourself… One thing i have learned in my career which is six more pack tests from coming to an end is ” The Forest Service doesnt love you like you love your job”. I am actually thinking of going to BLM to finish my Federal Service time… Or maybe even CalFire.
    Its a sad situation to know that in a 34 yr career not much has got better . But on a good note we do now get credit for sick leave and a boot stipend !

  16. Horseman
    April 12, 2015 Reply

    Mendocino just posted temporary promotion outreaches for 8 critical positions. Once we get them filled with detailers, 8 other positions will become vacant. I wonder who the genius was that decided to only fill dispatch and air attack positions at spring fire hire. I also wonder who the genius is that recommended that.

    Get will the program R5. Or give us back our hiring abilities.

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