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Home / WLF TheySaid / How Does One Get a Perm Position (13-13)?

  • 03/24/2015
  • MikeoRoberto

Hello Fire People please pitch in with thoughts, recommendations, personal experiences, ideas, suggestions etc… I am a 32 year old male of  European heritage and have been in wildland fire (with the USFS) for (4) seasons. I am approaching the age deadline to qualify for a permanent position (I w have 5 more seasons before its too late) and I am wondering how I can get a perm. 13/13 position. Should I just apply to all open fire jobs with the USFS?  If so, how will I know where and what positions are open? Should I stick it out in my area, while continuing to build a good reputation so I can maybe get a position here (Region 1)? I know its tough here as locals and transplants alike love to live and work here in my home state but I am a Montana guy and I don’t want to leave—nor does my wife. Is there any way I could get into the academy? And how does one even apply to the academy? It seems to be an allusive thing that few people really know how it works. I have been on a district engine, a handcrew, and a helitack crew. As for my “quals” I am a faller B and FFT1, but still not done with ICT5 (due to lack of opportunities). I have been lucky in my seasons and they have all been pretty busy so I have a ton of fire-line experience (well, at least for a guy that’s only been in it for 4 seasons and counting) I also have a college degree in the field (Natural Resource Management). Any comments and suggestions will be appreciated (I think). Thank You and everyone have a good and safe season!

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  1. FS retired
    March 24, 2015 Reply

    Mike, as a retired forest service employee, I recommend you to apply for agencies that have better pay and retirement benefits. At 32, you will not earn enough in your TSP or have enough of an annuity at 57 to pay the bills. Cal-Fire would be an excellent agency to apply for. They have better pay and retirement benefits and if needed, you can work pass 57.

  2. MikeORobertO
    March 24, 2015 Reply

    FS retired, thanks for the advice, however I have no connection(s) to Cal-Fire or their hiring processes. I understand many Californians switch to them once they gain fire experience with the USFS , but as an outsider I an only assume my prospects would be lower for permanent positions over someone who has worked with them as a seasonal (for both good and obvious reasons). And I would never move to California, or any other state for that matter, for a seasonal position. Also, they may pay better but the price of living in California is SIGNIFICANTLY greater than in my current location of MT. Moreover, my wife and I would not have near the quality of life that we currently have here, even if I made more money there. I could never afford a picturesque, mountainous 20 acre plot of land to call home in CA., like I can here. Lastly, don’t you think with a frugal existence, plenty of saving, and smart investing I could still make it after 57, regardless of the TSP earned? So, for these reasons I will more than likely pass on your advice—-but I appreciate it nonetheless. Please keep it coming if you can, I truly appreciate it. Thanks!!!!!!

  3. Another Retiree
    March 25, 2015 Reply

    Just to Echo FS Retired, Unless you have saved significantly toward retirement already, you should look at the FS Retirement formula very carefully and consider that good advice. It is not favorable to short work histories and the TSP is a big part of your retirement, and it takes a lot of time at a good salary to build it up. You may have opportunities to AD after retirement but that only provides some continued income, it does not contribute additional retirement benefits. Living off of Social Security leaves a lot to be desired.

  4. MikeO
    March 26, 2015 Reply

    Thanks “Another Retiree”, I appreciate the advice. Its tough to think about what my life would be like 25 years from now. I guess I try and take things 1 day at a time—for better or worse. Although a little job-security with some benefits would be nice, which is sort of why I asked my original question. Thanks again!

  5. AZFFT
    March 26, 2015 Reply

    57 is the retirement age for primary fire positions only, so don’t get too hung up on the “I’m only going to get 20 years to build my TSP.” By that point, you could be considering FMO jobs, or even jobs outside of fire – heck you might want to be a District Ranger by then! The thing you need to be more heads up about is that as a 13/13 you will only be putting money into your retirement when you’re in pay status, so yes, you may not have a very large retirement coming from your TSP, retirement, and secondary FFT/LEO retirement, so you need to be heads up on your money (one of the reasons we get that secondary retirement is because the number of years we can work is limited by that 57 cutoff) . The FS offers new permanents classes on how to understand your retirement benefits so you can be as effective as possible with your money. And if you’re determined to stay in MT, it’s not like you have many other options besides going to structure fire (or the DNRC’s pay has improved drastically since I left).

    As to applying for permanent positions, the best thing you can do is talk to your current supervisors, and ask them to help you. They will be some of your best resources in terms of knowing how R1 hires, and what your best chances are. Down here in R3, some forests only fill the GS 4/5 permanents through the Apprenticeship Program, while the forest I work on hasn’t hired an Apprentice in years, and just fills them through FireHire. And as for FireHire (which is pretty much FS wide now), your best bet there is to apply for any position in any duty station you would accept, even if that district isn’t currently showing any positions open. FireHire tends to create a lot of movement all at once, so a senior on a T6 in Whitehall might not initially be open, but if the senior in that position takes a job (say an assistant on and engine in Helena), they will pull applicant lists for that job in Whitehall during FireHire to try and fill it. Again, your bosses are your best source for learning both how the Apprenticeship Program and FireHire work in R1, and which is your best bet. Don’t forget about your degree either, because you can use that to supplement time in grade to apply for higher GS permanents. Most GS6 jobs require you to be ICT5 on top of the FFT1/S290.

    In terms of where to apply for, it’s usually easier to get a permanent in a more remote location, simply because everyone wants to live where amenities are. There might be hundreds or thousands of applicants for a 4/5 in Missoula or Bozeman, but only a couple dozen for Sula or Swan Lake. But this is where you and your wife need to sit down and really talk about what you’re willing to do to get a permanent. Are you both willing to live in that tiny town with only a gas station and spotty cell service (or live in a larger town nearby but have a long daily commute)? What about Idaho, or Eastern OR/WA? I’m not talking about for the rest or your career here, just a few years to get that initial permanent and then look at those places in MT you really want to work. In general it’s easier to get jobs in the FS once you already have one (the whole Merit vs Demo applications). Also consider the BLM and Park Service.

    Sorry this got so long, but I didn’t want you to feel like it’s all doom and gloom out there. Yes, it’s hard to save up in the FS for retirement, because in fire we’re held to such low grades and limited tours of duty, and then we have to retire at 57 if we don’t want to move up or across within the agency. But if you are serious about wanting to work as a permanent for the FS, do it! The best advice I can give? Start putting funds away in a retirement account now if you haven’t started, even if you don’t go the FS permanent route.

    Good luck!

  6. MikeORobertO
    March 26, 2015 Reply

    AZFFT, thank you for all the great advice. Good stuff. Thanks again!

  7. Ed P
    March 27, 2015 Reply

    Mike, you still have plenty of time to get a perm job. The caveat is you may have to move to get it. Not that many years ago I was in the same boat as you. I got my perm near the cut off. With the way USA Jobs is set up now, you can apply to a ton of locations. If your serious about getting that perm spread your app far and wide. This job involves a lot of sacrifice, many of the people I work with are transplanted from different areas. When I was stressing over securing a perm my former squad boss told me, “There’s always perm jobs opening up, how far are you willing to move to get it?” I would have gone to many different regions to get mine, not R5 of course. But I got lucky and didn’t have to go far. Worked with some good firefighters that did have to move far to get their’s though.
    As far as the retirement, I still need to do more research on how to maximize my efforts. However, I don’t get discouraged by those that say the retirement isn’t good enough starting late. Compare the fed health insurance and retirement to what most blue collar Americans are getting. The days of working for one company for x amount of years and collecting a pension are over. I think people get spoiled and have a sense of entitlement. Instead of being happy for their blessings and good fortune they focus on what they’re not getting and think they’re owed. As someone who has spent many years in the private sector I can honestly say we have it pretty good.
    My biggest piece of advice is to stay positive. You’re not too old, the FS is still hiring plenty of white guys, and hard work does pay off. Good work history, good evals, and good references should get you there. Seems like your degree should help too. Good Luck!

  8. MikeO
    March 27, 2015 Reply

    Ed P, thanks for the additional advice and words of encouragement. You are right, sacrifices are necessary if you are serious about permanent status. A veteran friend of mine put it best when having a conversation with a non-vet, who was complaining about their lack of getting a permanent position. He told him that veterans already made their sacrifice, they lived in some of the most undesirable places imaginable, and many went through some terrible things. Yes, they signed up for it, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t all make some kind of sacrifice to “get what we want”. And in his words having to move to another state for a little while is nothing in comparison to having to live and fight in Iraq or Afghanistan for a little while. Thanks again!!!

  9. JoshH
    March 31, 2015 Reply

    MikeO check out wildlandcareers.com they build you a great resume that can help you in the hiring process

  10. The Dude
    March 31, 2015 Reply

    Perm Jobs explained easy;
    1. Apply DEMO for 6 jobs after having 12 months in service as a GS-05/FFT-1/S-290
    2.WFAP (Self Explained)
    3.Apply DEMO 4/5 Jobs (Easiest way in bypassing WFAP) These are offered out of Region
    4.Take a BIA job. Most are 13/13. Then move on to your job of choice.
    5. Apply out of Region 5!
    6. Want to stay in California? Apply for DOI positions. They still offer perms without the conditions of the WFAP. Also a DEMO hiring Authority.
    7. Be willing to accept a perm job anywhere! Once your foot is in the door, you can apply out.

    Your welcome. BTW, this is all first hand knowledge.

  11. rangel
    March 31, 2015 Reply

    Lots of good advice. I had ten years experience when I got my temp. job in fire for the FS. I tried for the next twenty years to get an appointment in fire. Because the age thing had screwed me they created a secondary job that I got my appointment in. I was a Divs as a GS 5 temp and a type 2 OPSC, C Certifier, Type 1 Burn Boss as a GS 7, so I was pretty qualified. I was also a union officer at a regional level. I retired Jan of 2014 in a non fire retirement (FERS). I make $500 a month. OPM suggested I take an annuity of $450 a month on my TSP, but I went for $800 a month. I make $1000 a month on SS. That’s pretty much as I took home as a GS 7 step 7. Now for reality. You were specific that you’re white, male, and I took it non veteran. There was so much confusion when they started this round of diversity hiring that I asked the RF in R1 if a white, male non veteran was the only category that had no preference for hire and she said yes. Now that’s not to mean you don’t have a chance, but now that fire hiring in R1 is done in ASC in combination with R3 it really leans towards diversity. As for the apprenticeship program if I were you I’d try real hard to get into it as if Tom Harbor has his way it will be the only way to get a perm. job in fire. My last two years before I retired he was pushing real hard to make this the rule for all jobs GS 4 and below. For GS 5 or higher you would need a waiver from your RF if you weren’t an apprentice. I heard this hasn’t happened, but he still wants to move that direction. Fire a great career if you can get into it, but it’s getting harder. If you were a vet they couldn’t use the age requirement to stop you since the LEO lawsuit. Good luck and I’m sorry to be so pessimistic, but don’t pass up any chance you get with another agency.

  12. MikeO
    April 1, 2015 Reply

    Thanks to all the new advice!!! To Rangel, I understand what you are saying, however I have (1) question that comes to mind. I hear, over the years I have been with the USFS, constant bickering about the unfair practices with “diversity” hiring. Yet meanwhile, I look around the fire world, at least in my region and another (non R5) one I have worked in, and all I see are “white” people. Am I missing something or is this diverse hiring hysteria just that????? Also, I live in a remote VERY northern part of the country, a short drive to Canada, with that in mind who is going to come up here and why would they? Would you want to be the only person of your race/culture/whatever within a 500 mile radius? So, if that is the case and the USFS starts hiring folks from other places to fill vacancies up here then I don’t see it working out very well, quick turnover. Just an opinion, I could be wrong about everything I said, except for my objective observations I stand by those.

  13. Rangel
    April 2, 2015 Reply

    You must be from Eureka. Your observations seem to be correct, but ask yourself how many of these “white” people are female or vets? Both would get a position over you based on diversity. I agree that not a lot of minorities would want to live in an area where they are the only one of their race etc… for 500 miles and when I brought this to Leslie’s (RF) attention her answer was they wouldn’t have to stay long. They could just get the job ( their foot in the door) and transfer as soon as possible. Management doesn’t care about the retention factor ( I can give you many examples) otherwise they wouldn’t be spending tens of thousands of dollars off of the top of the fire budget to recruit from minority colleges across the nation. I heard they didn’t have near the problems with the firehire for R1 as the last time they tried it in 2000. They hadn’t tried it since then because the union caught them so many times playing games in the name of diversity hiring. Like giving a slot in the apprenticeship program to an inexperienced minority over a GS 4 temp with ten years on a shot crew. We got that fixed. Again good luck Mike. For sure you won’t get a job if you don’t apply.

  14. MikeO
    April 4, 2015 Reply

    Rangel, you are admittedly and somewhat depressingly, right. However, I have no problem with “diverse” candidates given preference over me, **WITH ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL**. AND NOW FOR MY OPINION ON IT ALL. But it seems that under qualified “diverse” candidates are commonly chosen over others with far more dazzling resumes and actual job-related experience. I wonder if the diversity push—which is clearly a political drive for some DC politicians to look good on paper—is going to be a perpetual losing battle that looks sort of like the “war on drugs”? Maybe a lot of “diversity” do not have an interest in working in the woods in this post-modern 21rst Century U.S. of A??? Most people my age and younger are more interested in “urban things” and techy gadgets and what nots. Perhaps this job and those who are attracted to it are largely “white” because those people grow up in places like the rocky mountain west and small or mid-sized “white” towns all across the mountainous west and other places??? Perhaps the real issue is much much larger than simply the forest service being too white? Perhaps its a deep deep cultural difference and may in fact be in large part to a lack of education and built-in racism from the entire system as a whole??? Perhaps if the US government is really concerned with equality then we should start with breaking down the racist institutions that maintain all the problems in the first place: wall street, banks, corporations, politicians, government, neighborhoods, states, schools, etc.. etc… etc… But that will never happen because that means all the super-wealthy government sponsored master of the puppet board members would lose all their money and power. So, instead we distract from real issues with b.s. tactics like forced “diversification” of the USFS. Why? Because its a victimless tactic that has a flashy result for politicians who can point to numbers on a paper and say, “see.. I diversified the USFS, now re-elect me or appoint me to this or that”. Meanwhile, the middle-to-lower-middle white working class men get squashed in the distraction. Typical politics.

  15. Rangel
    April 4, 2015 Reply

    You’re exactly correct in your thoughts MikeO. This diversity push, like most things in the FS, is cyclic. It won’t go away, but it will lose it’s luster. Any old timer in the FS has seen it come and go at least a few times over the years. It would be a shame for the FS to lose an intelligent, motivated person such as you so please don’t give up. Like you said applicants aren’t fighting for a position in northern Montana so who knows what the future holds.

  16. AK Old Timer
    April 5, 2015 Reply

    Here’s a re-post of a They Said comment I made in 2012. Nothing has changed!

    Re: Diversity Hiring

    I just took a stroll through the TheySaid archives and just about every month I was able to find discussions on Forest Service (FS) hiring practices and the FS attempt to meet diversity goals. This topic has been written about and discussed (and certainly cussed!) ever since Wildland fire was established.

    It’s time to step back a few chains and review some of the history of FS diversity hiring. In 1971 the Bernadi lawsuit (now known as the Consent Decree) was filed in Federal Court. In 1979 settlement terms were reached between the FS and Ms Bernadi and the terms were approved by the Federal Court Judge in 1981. Soon after the lawsuit was filed in 1971 the FS began a robust effort to “have a workforce which reflected/matched the ethnic diversity of the United States”. After having a class action lawsuit filed by female employees, the FS was terrified that other ethnic groups (Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, etc) would file similar class action lawsuits. Beginning in the early 1970’s the FS devised and implemented multiple plans, programs, and actions designed recruit, hire, and maintain a workforce which mirrored the nation’s ethnic and racial diversity.

    Well, it’s now 2012, 41 YEARS after the initial CD lawsuit was filed, and the Forest Service has still not been able implement or meet their gender, race, diversity objectives!

    Think about it – probably over 90% of the current Forest Service employees have been hired since 1971 and the Forest Service has still not been able implement or meet their gender, race, and ethnic diversity objectives!

    Think about it some more – thousands of Forest Service employees have been hired since 1971, have had a 30+ year careers and subsequently retired and the Forest Service has still not been able implement or meet their gender, race and ethnic diversity objectives!

    Think about it again– the Forest Service was formed 107 years ago and for 41 of those years has not been able implement or meet their gender, race, and ethnic diversity objectives!

    Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same things over and over and expecting different results”. That is exactly what the FS has done.

    Well, how, and is it possible, for the FS to meet the various diversity objectives? In my opinion it’s going to be very difficult hill to climb for many reasons. First of all, from several earlier TheySaid posters, the FS doesn’t have the foggiest idea of what the gender, race and ethnic statistics are for the current workforce. This data is self-reported by the employees and it appears many have elected not to report this info to ASC. And, since this information is considered “sensitive”, the employees (or their supervisors) cannot be required to check the appropriate blocks in the ASC data base. Somehow changes to laws or regulations must be made to require reporting.
    Until the size of the true disparity is known, it will be impossible to arrive at any solutions.

    Once the FS learns the true racial, gender and ethnic profiles of the Agency they need to take a hard look of what these numbers are compared against. I believe that using National statistics gives a very misleading target to obtain for the FS. Just looking at the tables, charts, and maps at the 2010 Census website demonstrates that the races and ethnic groups are not equitability distributed throughout the country. Just compare the numbers and percentages for ethnicity and races for Alabama, New Mexico and Utah. The statistical differences between the states and individual counties within the states, creates a disparity the FS will never be able to reach or overcome.

    To compensate for these dissimilarities I suggest the FS use data for the individual states or, more appropriately, the individual counties in which FS offices and land are situated. Maybe this will help create an Agency which reflected/matched the ethnic diversity of the area in which the FS has a presence.

    Next, and probably the most difficult, is changing the culture of the FS. We’ve all chuckled when we read that the FS was in the bottom 10% of Workforce Rankings of Federal Agencies. But, do many of you know the FS was in the top 10% not too many years ago? Hard to believe isn’t it. I believe the attempts to obtain diversity in the FS has caused much if not all of this downfall. The use of discrimination, favoritism, and quotas in hiring and promoting has made the FS a less than desirable place to work.

    The FS needs to become an “Employer of Choice” for all races, genders, and ethnicity…not just for the white males who are standing outside the Ranger Station looking in the windows. With the proper work environment of true leadership with honesty, fairness, respect and for ALL employees it can be accomplished. Think of the “Field of Dreams”, if you build it (a compassionate organization) they will come. Quality organizations will naturally attract quality potential employees.

    As far as the white males are concerned, the FS needs to devise a program where they can be considered equally amongst all candidates for a position. For the safety of everyone, quality must be the prime consideration for filling wild-land fire positions. The FS has invested thousands if not millions of dollars in training the white male firefighters. Also, consider the thousands of hours of wild-land firefighting experience they can contribute to the organization. These folks are a national resource the FS needs to have on their payroll.

    Remember, Safety is and always has been Job #1.

    The biggest mistake the FS made was to hire and promote quantity over quality. And they have had to live with this mistake and the disastrous results for over 40 years. I’m glad I can look back far enough to the “good ‘ol days” when the FS was a fun and exciting place to work!

    AK Old Timer

  17. Rangel
    April 5, 2015 Reply

    AK, great historical post. You’re exactly right on all of it. Some important parts I picked out were, yes applicants self certify and employees can go into their EPP and change the race they claim to be. There’s no requirement to prove it. It’s what you claim to be. I found this out years ago when I was checking into changing mine to Native American since I’m 25%. The HR person told me to pick whatever I claim to be. I met a guy in Quincy on assignment that had tried four times to get into the apprenticeship program unsuccessfully. He changed his to Hispanic and got in. I also met a guy when I was on the NIJAC that had got his appointment from filing a lawsuit for reverse discrimination on the Consent Decree. I met three guys over my career that won suits over the age requirement for FF retirement and got jobs. It can be done. I’m real surprised that nobody has challenged it since the vets won their lawsuit. I would think that would have opened the door for challenge. The law that controls the retirement allows a person to go to 60 to get their 20 if some how they get a job by mistake. I met two guys in Montana that this happened to when the mandatory was 55 and they were going to be allowed to go to 57 to get their 20. It did use to be fun didn’t it? We partied together after work, our families got together, we were much more loyal to each other. Those days are gone.
    The agency told an AFMO that complained about not looking at the diversity of the location and was told that they only looked at it nationally. He told them how unfair it was because some districts in R3 are 75% Hispanic. They told him tough.

  18. MLJ
    April 7, 2015 Reply

    You said you wouldn’t leave Montana for a seasonal job, you DO realize all GS-5 and above Fire jobs in USFS R5 California are PFT, right? All are year-round at the GS-5 level and above. If selected, You could always put in for the Apprentice Program, finish it in a year, and take a Perm transfer to Montana. The academy site with all the info is http://www.wfap.net.

  19. MLJ
    April 7, 2015 Reply

    Sorry, that academy site is http://www.wfap.net, not .org

    1. MikeO
      April 7, 2015 Reply

      MLJ, actually I did NOT know that. Up here most GS-5s are seasonal-temps just like myself. Some are 13-13s/”seniors” but I didnt know that in R5 all 5s and up are full-time year around. Quick question, I have heard that in some parts of R5 employees get a “COLA” added to their wages while in other parts they dont. Is that true? and if so is there a map of R5 that shows where employees get the extra money? That gives me something else to think about down the line. Thanks for the info!

      1. AZFFT
        April 8, 2015 Reply

        MikeO, just a heads up, even though the permanents in R5 are PFTs, if you were to apply for and accept a permanent back in R1 after you got your permanent in R5, that PFT doesn’t go with you. For example, I went from engines to crews, and went from being a PFT to 13/13. The only thing that is “protected” when you move from one permanent position to another is your pay (in that you can’t make less per hour – if you go from a GS6 permanent to a GS5 permanent you are wage protected through step increases to make sure you make as much or more per hour). As for COLA, the easiest way to find those adjustments is to google “GS wage scale”. One of the first links should take you to the OPM website where you can see all the “locality adjustments” out there. Technically everyone gets an adjustment, it’s just that most of us get the “Rest of United States” one, which is the lowest. I don’t think there’s any links that just show what each adjustment is, but you can open the different hourly or yearly wage charts and compare them to get a general idea. The adjustments exist because in theory the cost of living in those locations is higher than average, and if you look at the tables, most of the adjustments are for areas around large metropolitan areas.

  20. Another Pulaski Motor
    April 10, 2015 Reply

    Just tagging into Rangel’s and AK’s posts. The diversity thing is something I’ve been watching for awhile, I spoke to our regional Civil Rights person about it and got some information that might be relevant. As it stands in the region I work at, the FS uses data for their own employment levels that is compared to what is called the “CLF” which is numerical data for percentages of various ethnic or gender groupings available to be employed in the civilian labor force (CLF = Civilian Labor Force). The goal is kind of confusing because we are trying to represent the communities we serve on one hand and also trying to mirror CLF values nationally. One comparison that CR uses (which is not the definitive value for the sake of policy), per my understanding, looks at a radius around a forest to determine what the fed workforce for that forest should look like but is also supposed to comply with national values. I do not understand this from a mathematical angle. As AK clearly articulated, the local distribution numbers of CLF will vary significantly from national distribution numbers based on the inherent historical migrations that create the make up of a given microcosm within the U.S. Seaboards and border states will have more ethnic diversity. Period. Central rural locations will not. Again, just math. Not racism. Not to imply we have never had racism but it’s not that simple. Gender distribution might also occur based on what a broad section of U.S. culture chooses and what a small section of a local culture chooses. These are all relevant inputs that may or may not affect initial applicant pool. You can’t really blame a consistent numerical theme on the agency if it is a cultural paradigm. What I mean is, less men work at salons, less men are in waiting positions, up until very recently, less men were nurses. Because less men chose to apply for these jobs not because they don’t get these jobs. Those are some statistics, and if done properly, statistics are fairly objective. Where I’m going is that when you go to your EPP page or self-certify somewhere on an app and you choose to disclose your race or gender, you are then used for statistical determination of that value in the FS workforce. AK already explained this so I won’t in much detail. What is striking is that if you click “other” or you do not disclose your race or gender, you are defaulted to “white male”. This was as of 2013, so if it was fixed, I digress. However, at the time, the regional CR (Civil Rights) official also felt that this created the potential for an unknown and possibly a false negative. The problem CR had, is that NFC (National Finance Center) provides this data, and at the time refused to create a separate statistic for non-disclosure, CR had asked repeatedly. It should be noted that CR was not happy with it, the person I spoke to was actually very frustrated. This information may not be entirely on point with the OP but it did seem like the discussion had gone that direction. I feel that, if you’re going to use statistics to develop policy, the statistics should be somewhat realistic and practical.

  21. MikeO
    April 11, 2015 Reply

    Pulaski Motor, thanks for the interesting input. What I find to be a reoccurring theme with the USFS is the fact that MANY awesome employees; intelligent, hard-working, honest, and extremely valuable, all seem to recognize the inherent and often absurd flaws with the USFS. HOWEVER, nobody ever seems to do anything about it, ANY OF IT. Its always business as usual. Even when people realize that what they are doing is wrong or is the wrong approach (I am speaking about things that take place both on the ground and behind the desk), they just sort of plug along. How can we fix these problems? Is it even possible? Is the agency doomed? Sometimes it seems a certain population of our citizens and politicians want it to fail, and will push it in that direction until the very end. In that regard, nothings really changed since the days of G. Pinchot and T. Roosevelt. Funny though, they used the fires of 1910 to launch a feel-good, fuzzy, fire-fighter heros of the USFS campaign that lasted a very long time and ultimately saved the USFS from its sure demise. I often wonder if its going to take another historically terrible event for the people to back the USFS and allow for the right changes to be made. Sure seems that way.

  22. Rangel
    April 14, 2015 Reply

    Pulaski Motor is right on in his post. They are using flawed statistics in this push. I was on a conference call with the two guys that were in charge of diversity hiring nationally this time around. I forget their names, but I brought up the fact of the default to “white male” and they didn’t care. Their answer was they would work with what they were given, not how can we fix this. You have to remember these guys are GS 14 & 15s in D.C. and their rating depends on how successful they are in their task. I don’t know that they really care what happens to the agency on the ground. There are other posts on Theysaid about retention pay, portal to portal, etc… Well management’s answer is the budget won’t support these things. There is plenty of money in the budgets that are given if it was spent on only fire, not non fire leadership trainees like deputy forest sups, non fuels NEPA. Did you know that the fire leadership in D.C. as of late 2013 consists of 273 mostly GS 13 and above. That’s a small forest worth of employees in R1. Many of them are switching the job duties to other positions so they don’t have to retire as mandated. then it also shows a downsizing when the other job goes away. I don’t know if there’s a way to get these things fixed, but I know a lot of people have and are trying. I recently saw where the issue of long term temps in fire getting status for applying that NFFE has been working on for years might be moving forward again. I do know that if nothings going to change if people don’t push. Hang in there MikeO.

  23. Another Pulaski Motor
    April 15, 2015 Reply

    Hey MikeO,

    For what it is worth, I’ve been involved with a lot of work (much of it on my own free time) towards getting the 24 month LTSE protection for 1039s, helping prevent the immediate separation of a great many entry-level perms due to erroneous hiring beyond their control, I helped establish a forum for labor and management on our forest, helped change the FS policy for people looking for information on why they weren’t hired and helped get a timeline for the information retrieval. I helped with how they choose to fly entry level and apprentice positions and helped make sure there was still a doorway for the longer term experienced folks so they weren’t precluded from a perm. Among other things over the last several years I’ve been involved with since I started getting active. I’m still a 13/13 entry level leader with over 13 seasons now. Everything I saw change though was the product of just a few people’s effort and organization. Same with the health benefits for temps. I’ve seen real policy change though from all of it. The apathy you described is real too but it’s an advantage for people who choose to do something, because the people that don’t care don’t ever try too hard to stop anyone who does. I can tell you for sure that none of the real changes I’ve personally helped work on will ever ever ever make any major impression on the public or many of my peers, because it’s policy manipulation behind closed doors but they did make a big difference. It isn’t going to be on the news or save a subdivision outright or anything that fits the bill for iconic gallantry but I promise you 100% that if you learn how the rules work and where they aren’t working and then focus on changing them from the inside out, you would be surprised how big a ripple anyone can make. It’s just never a cathartic sort of moment, more just a small series of hard fought changes in how something is written.

    For practical advice on where to apply or look for jobs, go to: https://fsoutreach.gdcii.com/ there is a website there where you can sort the listings for all 0462 series entry perms, also put in for the academy, do whatever you can if you are approaching the age cut-off. Also consider getting a professional resume service to help you if you want the perm really bad. You can always put in a season somewhere else to get your foot in. There is precedent for challenging the age requirements and of winning for staying mandatory retirement, but I’m not aware of any precedent for entry age requirement for non-vets. Like Rangel said, hang in there.

  24. MikeO
    April 16, 2015 Reply

    Pulaski Motor, thanks for your awesome insight and “insider” knowledge. Also, thanks for all the good work you do, we need more people like you, not just in the usfs, but in society at large. I hope I can help in a similar manner if I ever get in a position to make a difference—and so I dont rock any boats before I even get on board. I hope the usfs fixes some of its current issues, especially as it pertains to the “diversity” charade, and treatment/respect towards long-term fire temps in general. This is an AWESOME job, and I love it, but it demands a lot of sacrafice both on the job and at home. Those of us who, “put in the time”, and get are arses kicked out on the hill day in and day out, and return every year for more, deserve to be treated with a little more respect and need a little more acknowledgement from the powers that be. Its unfortunate that doing your time, year after year, hotshoting, on engines, on handcrews, on helicopters, or as jumpers, really counts for nothing as far as the “diversity” driven hiring personell are concerned. And thats just plain wrong. Good luck to you Pulaski Motor and thanks again! ALso, thanks for the personal advice as well, much appreciated.

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