New arduous medical standards process this year

In 2024 USFS employees with arduous quals will do the arduous exam. Firefighters with moderate or light duty will have the OF 178 exam if they mark one box in Part A or three in Part B. If you have questions you can email the help desk at

Arduous Medical Exam (AME) or Self-Certification or (HSQ)

What is the difference between the AMP and the HSQ?

      • The Arduous Medical Process is for those taking the arduous WCT.
      • The HSQ is for those employees taking the moderate and light WCTs.

What about the AMP Exam (AME) and Self Certification?

      • eMedical AMP runs on a 3-year cycle for employees.
      • Year one is the AME: a thorough health screening questionnaire followed by a physical exam with a medical provider. The exam results are reviewed by a USFS Medical Officer (RMO) before the employee can get medical clearance to take the WCT.
      • Years 2 and 3 are the self-certification process, which requires a shorter screening questionnaire plus a blood pressure check by an EMT or other qualified individual. The results are reviewed by HSQC’s and, based on the answers, may be routed to the RMO or cleared to the WCT.

NOTE that this is a gradual rollout over the next few years, not just in 2024 and not all regions are shifting the AMP at the same time. Here is the rollout schedule (subject to change):


      • Those with arduous qualifications who have not completed the arduous process yet will continue using the current system with the HSQ, alongside all moderate and light quals.
      • In those areas that are implementing the AMP, Acuity International will  assist with scheduling and payment for exams, at the employee’s request. This is a completely optional service.

The NWCG Risk Management Committee provides interagency national leadership in firefighter risk management, health, and safety. The Federal Interagency Wildland Firefighter Medical Standards establish minimum medical fitness for arduous duty. Light or moderate duty firefighters may be required to do a medical screening process.

The USFS uses Federal Interagency Medical Standards for employees who engage in firefighting duties.

Firefighters with arduous duty quals must complete a physical exam every three years, and it is required before that year’s work capacity test.

You must fill out a medical history form in eMedical and then you can schedule your exam with your doctor; your supervisor can initiate this for you. If you are approaching three years since your last exam, you should get started at least 45 days before your work capacity test. You can log into eMedical and request a packet.

USDA Forest Service

Annual Self-Certification

A questionnaire and blood pressure check are required each year between your in-person exams. The self-certification form FS-5100-42 is not the same as the HSQ/OF-178. It can also be completed in the eMedical system.

Details on additional exam requirements are posted [HERE].

  • eMedical Public Site for Temporary, AD, and new employees (available through ConnectHR) — this requires a username and password.

Medical Provider Documents (ALL PDF)

THURSDAY WEBINAR: Don’t miss this

Voices from the global fire community





aim camera here to registerReflections from 20 years
Examining the Social Dynamics
of Fire Management

Sarah McCaffrey, PhD







Sarah McCaffrey retired in 2022 after 20 years as a fire social scientist with the U.S. Forest Service; her research focused on understanding the social dynamics of fire management. This included research projects examining the role of risk perception and risk attitudes, social acceptability of prescribed fire, homeowner mitigation decisions, evacuation decision making, risk communication, and agency-community interactions during fires. Since retirement she has been involved with research and practitioner efforts to improve future fire outcomes, including as an adviser to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Wildfire Resilience Initiative and as board member for Fire Adapted Colorado.

REGISTER HEREMcCaffrey received her PhD in 2002 from the University of California at Berkeley, where her dissertation examined homeowner views and actions in relation to defensible space and fuels management at Incline Village, Nevada.

The International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF), the Pau Costa Foundation (PCF), and the Association for Fire Ecology (AFE) organize the Partner Webinar Series, a monthly series that brings together diverse voices from the global wildland fire community. To suggest a topic or speaker for this series, please contact us.

1959 Decker Fire memories

We got a note today from Anna Dailey about the 1959 Decker Fire, which Bill Gabbert wrote about back in 2013. Three of the six firefighters killed on the Decker were El Cariso Hotshots — Bill Gabbert’s old crew.

Boyd Edwards, El Cariso Hotshots
Boyd “Mike” Edwards, El Cariso Hotshots

“I just read the report on the Decker Fire of 1959. My 2nd cousin Boyd M. Edwards was killed on that fire. Although Boyd, or Mike as the family called him, was killed about 2½ years before I was born, I grew up knowing how his death devastated our family. Not much was shared with me regarding his death, all I knew was that he died the summer after high school graduation fighting a fire. Now I know many of the details and I was in tears reading it. RIP to everyone who lost their lives that day and the days that followed.”

Anna attached a picture of Boyd, who was buried in Huntington Beach, California. She said she never knew until reading Gabbert’s report this week that her cousin lasted 8 days in the hospital before he succumbed to his injuries.

(NOTE in Gabbert’s 2013 news post that there used to be a report about the Decker Fire on and it’s no longer there. The 1959 report is HERE.)

Bill Gabbert wrote in 2016:
The official report did a pretty good job of explaining the important facts of August 8, 1959. But more than half a century later, a former firefighter who served on the El Cariso Hotshots from 1963 through 1966 conducted extensive research on what happened that day in 1959 and assembled many details that were not included in the U.S. Forest Service report. Julian Lee, Professor of Biology, Emeritus at the University of Miami (now living in New Mexico), made available to us his 27-page description of the Decker Fire. It is very well written and comprehensive, laying out the details of what occurred during and after the fire, as well as providing some analysis.”

Map from Julian Lee’s report on the fatal Decker Fire:

Map from Julian Lee’s report on the fatal Decker Fire.


The Decker fire, 51 years ago today

Decker fire, 50 years ago today

Arraignment hearing for burn boss Ricky Snodgrass

THANK YOU to Bennett Hall, editor of the Blue Mountain Eagle in John Day, Oregon, who told us, “You can actually see a video of the hearing on our Facebook page. We asked the judge for permission to shoot video, and he surprised us by agreeing.”

In addition to modifying Ricky’s terms of release — which will allow him to be on the ranch property in case of a fire emergency and also travel out of state for employment purposes — a plea hearing was set for 01. April.

Burn boss in court today

From: Buchanan, Jacqueline – FS, CO
Sent: Thursday, February 15, 2024 8:40 AM
To: Region 6 FS employees
Subject: Malheur Situation Update 2/15/2024

Good Morning R6 Team,
Like so many of you, thoughts around the upcoming arraignment and what it means for Rick and his family have been at the forefront of my thoughts. I know this can be an anxious time, but I am hopeful that this case will ultimately be handled fairly by the courts and will not single out a federal employee for carrying out their official duties.

Based on a request from Rick’s lawyers, the arraignment date has been changed from March 4th to tomorrow, February 16th. The proceeding will be held virtually. We have not been made aware of opportunities for agency representatives or those wanting to show up in support of Rick to attend.

Rick’s attorney, provided through the Department of Justice, and Regional and Washington Office leadership will be with him every step of the way during the arraignment and in navigating whatever follows. Although we do not yet know what the outcome will be, our support will not waiver no matter how long the road to resolution may be.

Anyone wanting to express their support for Rick is welcome to send cards and tokens of solidarity to:
Attn: Rick Snodgrass
Prairie City Ranger District
327 SW Front St
Prairie City, OR 97869

We will continue to provide updates as events unfold. Thank you for all that you do and for your unparalleled dedication to each other in carrying out the agency’s mission.

Jacqueline A. Buchanan
Regional Forester
Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region
1220 SW 3rd Avenue
Portland, OR 97204

El Dorado Fire couple finally sentenced

The couple who ignited the huge 2020 El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County, California by exploding a pyrotechnic device during a “gender-reveal party” was sentenced Friday after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

Charlie Morton, Big Bear Hotshots
Charlie Morton, Big Bear Hotshots

The couple accidentally started the 22,000-acre fire on a scorching hot day in a park in southern California with a device that was supposed to blow either blue or pink smoke. The fire killed USFS firefighter Charlie Morton, a squad boss with the Big Bear Hotshots, injured two other firefighters and 13 civilians, destroyed five homes, and forced hundreds of people to evacuate ahead of the fire.

The San Bernardino County district attorney’s office said Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. was sentenced to a year in county jail and two years of felony probation, plus community service — after he pleaded guilty to felony involuntary manslaughter (in Morton’s death) plus two felony counts of recklessly causing fire to an inhabited structure.

USA Today reported that besides jail time, Jimenez will owe 200 hours of community service and will also serve two years of felony probation.

“Resolving the case was never going to be a win,” San Bernardino County district attorney Jason Anderson said. “The Defendants’ reckless conduct had tremendous impact on land, properties, emergency response resources, and the displacement of entire communities — and resulted in the tragic death of Forest Service Wildland Firefighter Charles Morton.”

Angelina Jimenez pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing a fire to another’s property; she was sentenced to a year’s probation and community service. The Jimenezes were ordered to pay victim  restitution of $1,789,972.

Charlie Morton hired on with the San Bernardino National Forest in 2007 and worked on both the Front Country and Mountaintop Ranger Districts, for the Mill Creek Interagency Hotshots, Engine 31, Engine 19, and the Big Bear Interagency Hotshots. “Charlie is survived by his wife and daughter, his parents, two brothers, cousins, and friends,” wrote his family at that time. “He’s loved and will be missed. May he rest easy in heaven.”

A note from the Chief’s Office at the time said, “The loss of an employee in the line of duty is one of the hardest things we face in our Forest Service family. Our hearts go out to Charlie’s coworkers, friends and loved ones. Charlie was a well-respected firefighter and leader who was always there for his squad and his crew at the toughest times.”

RIP Charlie and all his brothers.

The couple who ignited the huge 2020 El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County, California by exploding a pyrotechnic device during a “gender-reveal party” was sentenced Friday after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.

Charlie Morton, Big Bear Hotshots
The couple accidentally started the 22,000-acre fire on a scorching hot day in a park in southern California with a device that was supposed to blow either blue or pink smoke. The fire killed USFS firefighter Charlie Morton, a squad boss with the Big Bear Hotshots,