Facilitator: Dave Mueller
Dave Mueller BLM, John Dickinson, Ed Brunson TNC, Dan Buckley
NPS, Tony Mediati CDF/CALFIRE, Mary Taber BIA, Kim Van Hemelryck FWS
- Agenda overview,
0900 conference call with IOS WT
- NWCG FUWT
Task List Update
of NWCG governance structure. Old NFAEB groups are now pulled out
of NWCG structures, are separate groups that report directly to respective
- NWCG determining
how many WT are really needed; some may be combined or removed. Task
list is supposed to show the value of each team.
- Need to find
out whether or not PMS 824 is completed. Also possible that this issue
could be passed on to the Fire and Air Issues Coordination Group.
- Action: Dave
Mueller will contact Pete Lahm from FAICG in order to clarify
smoke/fuels responsibility issue. (Include RX-410, PMS 420-2)
- PMS 814 is complete.
- Action: Tim
Sexton will distribute new work by Riverside Firelab on Chaparral
moisture when completed.
- Goals, objectives
and strategies are referenced back to the official goals of the new
NWCG. ID’ed by Dave Mueller.
- Action: Dave
Mueller will send out the NWCG strategic plan and goals document
so that FUWT members can check against the FUWT activity and strategic
plan spread sheet
and Operations Position Task Books
created a position called FIRL, similar to strike team leader. Began
discussion: should FIRB position be eliminated, and its tasks incorporated
in command and operations positions? (All fires should be managed for
objectives, whether RX fire or WF or WFU.) At the same time as this
discussion was happening, all task books were moved away from tasks
to competencies. Also moved toward tiered task books (tiered off of
previous task books). Certain competencies and behaviors are new for
each position, while some are carried through every position. As part
of this effort, NIFCG tasked FUWT with incorporating FIRB into command
these task books are finalized, they will not be reviewed for another
five years. Which is more problematic: doing this project under a very
quick time frame or waiting until the next revision happens in five
job: we need a clear proposal about whether or not to recommend this
move to the IOSWT. If we do this, where exactly do the tasks go; what
levels of operations do these tasks move to?
- IOSWT sees a lot
of confusion in the field over this effort. People have a different
idea of what the FIRB position actually does. Burn boss can move from
an ignition specialist all the way to a semi- IC like position. Without
a clear vision of the position, and without a clear vision of the changes,
people are confused over what to do. Another concern: there are very
few FIRB positions ever ordered through ROSS. (This might be voided
because people don’t use the ordering system in an Rx fire, and
on a WF, the need comes up on an ad hoc basis, don’t often have
time to make an order). Other logistical concerns: A) fitness level—do
the new positions (Single Resource Boss) that take over the FIRB tasks
all become arduous fitness level positions (or do the people who had
moderate fitness as FIRBs now have to have arduous fitness)? B) Once
Single Resource Bosses get FIRB trained, it becomes a stepping stone
towards ICT4 and other operations position. When we remove FIRB, then
can people just use other skill positions to rise too quickly without
system can prevent this problem completely. But concerns still exist.
- Pace of revision
issues. A compromise: include competencies of FIRB into the operations
positions without eliminating the FIRB position quite yet. Concerns:
some FIRB competencies would be very difficult for a operations level
position to achieve, so we’ll need to have some flexibility on
how people could show competency. Also, need to re-word policy to allow
for both uses of FIRB/FIRL position as well as the acceptable operations-level
position with the FIRB/FIRL competencies.
- Another concern
is avoiding bottlenecks at certain positions (e.g. firing bosses with
no other skills, or in ops where people can’t pick up certain
firing competencies). If the programs depend on those people, then we
could have problems. Could this restrict certain agencies from training
more people into ops positions?
- Certain resources
only get their experience on suppression events, where some firing tasks
are extremely rare. Could competency be demonstrated outside of any
incident? Using the “Rare Task” designation could allow
for people to talk through certain competencies, but IOSWT is concerned
that without any hands-on experience, there won’t be true competency.
IOSWT would rather err on the side of caution, even if this causes a
bottleneck in the attainment of ops positions.
- On WF, FIRB were
never used for complex firing procedures. There wasn’t time to
order them on an ad hoc basis, so ICs just use their most competent
ops person to lead that operation.
add firing competencies to ops positions—but still retain all
current FIRBs, and allow people to become FIRBs. Eventually, (hopefully)
we’ll get to a point where we can eliminate FIRBs entirely.
- Impersonal hiring:
we are trying to encourage people to order resources without needing
a personal connection to the resource—but adding the competencies
to the ops positions might make the impersonal ordering process more
difficult, because firing skills will not necessarily have a specialist
- Action: Prepare
a draft white paper to present to the IOSWT next week in Boise.
Mary Taber or Dan Buckley will present to IOSWT.
RX 301, 341
Updates and Discussion
- Test (beta) courses
have been offered in Fairbanks Alaska and New York State. Suggested
that a third course should be offered in an area where more Rx burning
occurs. Both courses still need clarification and corrections. We need
to add the changes from the IA. Biggest detriment to the classes is
the lack of understanding of fire modeling (e.g. being able to run BEHAVE
or BEHAVE+). Need more than just the self study course that we offer
now. Possibility to offer a refresher so that we don’t have to
rehash things for people who already understand the models, but don’t
have to spend the time explaining the model during the course. Right
now, proficiency in BEHAVE is a prereq to the course—maybe that
needs to be emphasized more.
- Action: Kim
will write a straw man white paper on BEHAVE in 341, circulate to
FUWT. Our recommendation: reconstitute a fire modeling (BEHAVE or
some other model) refresher course for people before RX 341. Kim
will have ready by mid-December.
- Spring meeting
of FUWT should be a joint meeting (or have some joint component) with
Action: Dave will
make sure that there is an FENWT rep at our next meeting.
- 301 has as students
both Burn Bosses and resource people—sometimes people in 301 didn’t
have any business being in the course. We could offer another beta course
in the Great Basin Training Unit. Hold off the publishing until after
the January course at the GBTU.
- Action: Dave
Mueller will follow up, make sure that 301 isn’t published
until after the January course. Follow-up: RX301 will not be published
until spring. NWCG training allowed some 341 and 301 courses to
be scheduled for this winter. Both courses will be sent out for
field review in January/February with a publishing date of this
- Beta course didn’t
always incorporate what was learned in the alpha courses—because
of failures by the SMEs. Any beta course in Boise should be as close
to shelf-ready as possible.
Follow-up: RX341 is shelf ready. Comments from the New York beta test
are positive enough to not require another test, however 341 will be
sent out for field review in January/February
for Burn Boss: RX 301, with RX 341 suggested. People are concerned that
if they have already taken RX 300 they would have to take 301 as well.
FWS requires S 390 as well as RX 301 and RX 341 for RxB3s. BLM has talked
about requiring RX 301, not sure about 341 for RxB2s. USFS will require
RX 301, would like to see everyone take 341 but will not require it.
Do the states have problems with requiring RX 301? Last time this issue
came up, states opposed requiring the old RX 300 course.
- The states
seem to be somewhat outside the NWCG training sphere. Many states
use their own training system. There is a provision that states
that certain course requirements can be waived if some one can prove
that they have equivalent training. The states could waive RX301
if they give an alternative training (e.g. South Carolina’s
burn boss class). Because the states are somewhat outside this training
sphere, there shouldn’t be a problem to require RX 301 for
burn boss (RxB2). The states can just exempt their people if needed.
Dave Mueller will put together a white paper on RxB2 quals, route
it around to FUWT. Paper will then be sent as a recommendation to
- Instructor quals:
preferred that the lead instructor is a RxB1, the unit instructors must
at least be a RxB2. Maybe we should eliminate the physical fitness requirement
we have currently. Also, because RxB2 is good for five years, should
someone who hasn’t burned recently be allowed to teach? Maybe
the unit instructor guide is good enough to make up for the lack of
currency. Don’t want to limit the regions—there may be good
instructors who aren’t current, or who don’t have the fitness
Unit Instructors for RX301 must be qualified RxB2s, less currency.
- 341 quals: Instructors
must have Rx fire plan writing and review experience. Recommended that
they be qualified RxB2s. Local units will find the best people they
can get. Therefore, the fewer requirements we put on people the better.
Lead instructor for RX341 should be a qualified Rxb2, less currency.
- ACTION: Dave
Mueller will instruct NWCG training to reflect these decisions.
RX 310 Review
- RX310 SME group
looked at a revision of the coursework, but they have not finalized
all of the coursework. Still working to get some group members on board.
First field test will be in N. Arizona or Zion NP in January. SME group
will be the primary cadre. Going to teach fire effects monitoring based
on an AMR approach. See briefing paper. Hope to have the course “on
the shelf” in May (not February as originally planned).
- The way the course
is structured in the plan puts some pressure on the instructors to do
more prep in order to keep the course flowing from the AMR perspective.
The framework is constant, but there is a lot of latitude in the course
for regionalization and local expertise to modify the course—this
also puts the onus on instructors to maintain the basic focus even while
modifying the course.
- See draft white
- More modifications
were made to the STL/TFLD and CRWB/ENGB PTBs. Multiple tasks were condensed
to single tasks, and the tasks in the STL/TFLD were put standardized
with the CRWB/ENGB tasks.
FEMO PTB and
- We use FEMOs to
do what FOBS do—and they are out without additional supervision,
something we don’t allow anyone else at the SRB level. FOBs have
to be a SRB first, while FEMOs only have to be a FFT2.
- Developed originally
by the NPS when they didn’t have the operational capacity, but
things have changed, and now the operational capacity exists to make
FEMOs part of the ops hierarchy.
- Adding FEMOs to
SRB PTB means that S-390 and command of a squad of firefighters is the
prerequisite for any type of unsupervised field work on a fire.
- Both FEMOs and
FOBS only have moderate physical fitness requirements, but maybe they
should have arduous requirements if they are doing unsupervised field
work. If a FEMO/FOBS was once an FFT2, then they once had arduous fitness,
and if they maintain that qualification.
FUM needs to have two FEMOs, and if we bump the requirement up to SRB,
do we lose FEMOs on FUM and disqualify FUMs. Modules can be revised—though
if they can’t make the SRB qual, then they will just use unqualified
people, and not call them FEMOs, but have them do FEMO work.
- What a FEMO does:
provides real-time (or after burn) feedback to the burn boss on fire
characteristics, smoke, weather, etc. Observe and record the fire condition.
Similar to what a FOBS does, but they have more skill in relation to
- Possible proposal:
reduce requirements for FOBS, recommend that FOBS take RX 310, and recommend
that FEMOs are always supervised when they are in the field. Do we want
to add the SRB common tasks (minus those related to supervision) to
the FOBS task book? At the same time, we would slide FOBS downward,
so that the prerequisite for FOBS would not be SRB, but would be FFT1
instead. This has no effect on plans or situation unit, because either
way we do things, people looking to move into plans or situation would
have to become a SRB, just the order of attainment would change.
- Proposal #2 could
work in a similar way to above. Would that be a better way to integrate
fire use/Rx and suppression? Also, would not remove the ability to use
FEMOs at lower levels, predicated on having enough supervision.
FEMO remains as a position, at least in the short term.
- As AMR becomes
more important, FEMOs will also become more useful and there will be
more opportunities for FEMOs to get themselves into trouble. So we need
some direction for the future will at least begin to mitigate that increased
Call with Colin Hardy: Fire Research Brief
- Rocky Mtn research
station is in the middle of restructuring. Research has been reorganized
in the 24 states they operate in. Used to have 26 programs, which are
now consolidated into 8. Colin is program manager for Fire Fuels and
Smoke Science program at Rocky Mtn station. Colin is also the national
lead for a couple of other programs, including the Core Fire Science
- The National Fire
Plan allocates dollars for fire research. Fire plan $ started in 2001,
ended in ’05. Started at $30m, now funding is down to $22m. Been
using the money on an ad hoc basis.
- CR makes problems
for fire research, because in the CR didn’t allow for the use
of Fire Plan money for research, so Colin is going to be broke in a
few weeks. Hoping to get Fire Plan $$ reinstated soon. Hampers their
ability to make any long-term agreements/partnerships because they can
only spend a quarter at a time.
- External peer
review is beginning for each program (required by OPM). External peer
review team met in June and looked at ASFS programs. Chaired by Norm
Christiansen from Duke. Submitted recommendations to the Washington
office for a response.
- Joint Fire Sciences
Governing Board invited the Core Fire Science Portfolio to submit a
proposal to develop a comprehensive plan of work to advance fire behavior
- Need to avoid
duplication of effort with the Joint Fire Science team; Tim will make
sure that Colin is tied in with that.
- 2009 Quadrennial
Fire Review: Brookings Institute is going to prepare the review. Had
a forum in DC this week to begin the process. Colin is on the research
advisory panel for the review. DOI did not participate in the 2005 review,
2009 review is not funded as a line item right now. Al Hine (sp??) is
the lead from Brookings.
- WFDSS: Rocky Mtn
is doing outreach for new positions for further WFDSS development. Rocky
Mtn is developing other applications for the WFDSS suite, maybe there
are some problems with integrating the training?
- DOI is having
trouble with the training??
- WFDSS pilot software
doesn’t exist yet. Tim has heard that the pilot software comes
out in June of ‘08, with agencies beginning to use it in 2009.
WFDSS could be affected by the move to integrate WFU with other fires
- Zimmerman is WFDSS
program manager, and is the contact for WFDSS stuff.
- Side note: memo
clarifying what AMR is was unclear to Tim. We’re not sure if it
came from the AMR review group or from somewhere else. NFAEB memo was
supposed to come out in September, but we’re not completely sure
whether it was distributed out nationally. This was a briefing paper
and so there was no request for comments.
- Action: Dave
Mueller will send out a memo clarifying AMR to FUWT.
- FOBS task book
falls directly to the IOSWT without any advisory role for any other
WT. FUWT needs some advisory role with the FOBS PTB if FOBS start taking
over some FEMO competencies.
- We need a briefing
paper that proposes the merger of FOBS and FEMO, with an open ended
timeline. FUWT would then take on an advisory role with the new FOBS/FEMO
position. We need to test the waters with the IOSWT. Resistance might
come from the field—too many UTFs in the FOBS position already,
a merger with the FEMO position could make it more different to be a
we can create a briefing paper that shows the first steps, and proposes
that we flesh out the whole process at our next meeting, with FUWT in
an advisory role. Really three issues here: policy, task books, and
training. Policy issue is preventing using the FEMOs inappropriately,
which is something that IOSWT or TWT can’t do anything about.
- Action: Dave
will send information to IOSWT, TWT indicating the beginning steps
of the FOBS/FEMO merger proposal, and to indicate that we would
like to take more steps at our spring meeting (possibly joint meetings
choosing the no action alternative for next week, but the eventual
plan is to merge the positions, working from both ends (increase
effects monitoring of FOBS, increase independence of FEMO). Will
work through IOSWT, TWT leading up to and at the next meeting.
- Action: Mary
Taber will work up a straw man proposal on integrating FEMO and
FOBS (or beefing up fire effects in FOBS). Be ready for possible
NetMeeting in January.
Dave Mueller will set up a MyFireCommunity.net neighborhood for
- Dana Cohen’s
summary was consulted in the creation of Dan & Mary’s paper.
Action: Dan will send Mary “email editorials” on original
FOBS FEMO paper.
NRCS Cost-Share Program
- Side note: fuels
treatment effectiveness in SoCal. Harris fire effected 174 treatments
and ~1,000 homes, only four burned; the four that burned were burned
by embers that bypassed the fuels treatment.
- NRCS: Handout
shows the difference between FY06 and FY07 fuels treatments. In general,
there were very big percentage increases in all effected states. Reggie
thinks that this is a consequence of CRPs. Eastern increases probably
came from CRP croplands, not fuels reductions on forests, explaining
the 300% jump in acreage. Total treatments in two years: ~600,000 acres.
- NRCS is not tied
into what the other land management agencies are doing in fuels reductions
or other fuels treatments. NRCS program is a stand-alone program, not
connected to USFS or DOI.
- FUWT needs a short
briefing paper re: NRCS cost share program. NRCS is treating a huge
amount of acreage, but FUWT members in general don’t know anything
about it and want to route some of that information out to local units.
All of this is outside of the National Fire Plan, and it is a significant
number of fuels treatments going on.
needs: understanding and skills need to be brought into line with NWCG
for Rx burning. NRCS doesn’t even have a physical fitness requirement.
Some NRCS people are taking S-130/190 and the pack test of their own
volition, and helping out FWS with Rx burns.
- Reggie is looking
for opportunities for NRCS employees to participate in training with
USFS, DOI. Could NRCS employees come and help USFS/DOI employees on
burns to get training experience. NRCS employees would not be pack tested,
would be “observing” or “auditing” the fire,
rather than being actual trainees. If NRCS employees want to get involved
with real burn work, they would need to pass some sort of work capacity
test. Possible that NRCS standard (“person must be physically
fit for the job”) would suffice for the work capacity test
- BLM could develop
an information bulletin that would let the field know that NRCS people
want to get trained up.
- Action: Reggie
Blackwell will put together a list of state-level contacts in NRCS
so that training can be better organized. Will have something together
for the group in the next few weeks.
RX 510 Issues
- FUWT provides
oversight to the RX 510 training course. Very infrequent check-ins with
Tim, but we have never directed them to do something, just advised them.
- Two issues: The
chair of the steering committee, Jay Perkins, is leaving in January
and they need a suggestion/designation from the group. They don’t
have a suggestion, and nobody from the steering committee has the time
to undertake the chairmanship. Second issue is that the FUWT liaison
was Dick Bahr, but now they need a new one.
- . Decision:
Mary Taber is the new FUWT-RX510 liaison.
- FUWT is not obligated
to give them a new chair, but because we oversee the group, they would
like some direction on who to look at outside of the steering committee.
- The steering committee
doesn’t rotate the chairmanship, and there is no Vice-Chair.
- Jay Perkins needs
to put together a recruitment paper showing the time commitment, the
duties, and the minimum requirements for the position, which FUWT can
use to shop around for recruits. FUWT preference is that the outgoing
chair should recruit his successor, but this paper will work if that
- Look to NAFRI.
As NAFRI absorbs FUTA and PFTC, it is possible that they have a full
time RxB1 on staff that could take over the Chair.
- RX510 reviewed
the requirement that the Chair be an RxB1, and decided that it was important
for the class, even though it eliminates a number of people from qualifying
to be the chair.
- Action: Kim
will check on how the DOI liaisons at PFTC (Mark Ruggiero, Jim Durrwachter)
work, and see if that would be compatible with RX510 chairmanship.
Mary Taber will make sure that Jay Perkins will put together a recruitment
- NPS just started
using complexity analysis this year, started getting comments from the
field. FUWT should take a look at how we inform the field on using the
rating guide properly
- Problems: hard
to score complexity (two people on the same unit come up with different
complexity scores). Actually have more liability coverage when complexity
scores are looser rather than tighter.
- BLM requires a
risk assessment for anything that they do on fire, to replace the JHA—Dave
thinks that it is equivalent to the complexity analysis (it may have
used the complexity analysis as a template).
- Complexity analysis
is supposed to help move people away from local knowledge.
- Complexity analysis
is taught at RX341 alpha course, and the comments coming back indicate
that it is helping people to understand how to use it.
- Action: Dave
Mueller will send FUWT the information from RX341 unit four instructors
in the hope that it will clear up some of the issues people are
having. Revisit at FUWT conference call.
- FUWT needs to
be careful that any revisions don’t further muddle things for
the field. It might be smarter to put together a briefing paper to clarify
some issues—at next conference call FUWT can define a task group
to put that together after we see the Unit 4 Instructor’s Guide.
- NPS prefers the
stuff in the WFU risk analysis to the Rx guide complexity analysis.
Zimm-o-gram (??) which determine both risk and complexity. People have
already changed the WFU analysis to work with the Rx fire analysis.
- Action: Dan
will route the WFU-Rx risk analysis out to FUWT.
and Details of Next Meeting/Round Robin
- Need to meet with
FENWT. Possible places to go: Anchorage, Tucson. Tucson location is
probably too small for both FUWT and FENWT together. 1st week of June
is proposed meeting date, though we would probably move the meeting
earlier to accommodate June heat in Tucson, and to accommodate BIA conflicts.
Looking earlier, possibly some time in May?
- Alaska looks like
a better situation than Tucson.
- Action: Dan
will check on possibility of Denali availability for summer meeting.
- Conference call
in the beginning of February. Add to conference call agenda: adopting
interagency administrator Rx fire planning and implementation, Go-No
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