Forest Service Chief says in some areas only 50% of firefighter positions are filled

Chief Randy Moore testified Wednesday before the Senate Appropriations Committee

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Forest Service Chief Randy Moore, May 5, 2022
Forest Service Chief Randy Moore testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee, May 5, 2022.

In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, Forest Service Chief Randy Moore was asked by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley about the status of hiring wildland firefighters. Chief Moore said their goal is to hire 11,300 nationwide and the current level is at 10,200, or 90 percent. He said in some areas the agency has only reached 50 percent of their staffing goal.

“Fifty percent sounds a little scary,” said Senator Merkley, ” when you’re thinking about the fires that we’ll be facing in our various states.”

Chief Moore said many of the Forest Service’s firefighting positions are in Washington, Oregon, and California.

“We are making offers, and there’s a lot of declinations in those offers,” Chief Moore said. “There’s a lot of competition in the labor market for these skills. Because when you have county, state, and private firefighters often sometimes [making] double the salaries the Forest Service firefighters are making it’s very hard to compete with that.”

Chief Moore said they have a plan in place to make up for the shortfall that they are currently seeing. They will be hiring through July to try to fill the remaining jobs and will count on contracted firefighters and the use of Administratively Determined, or AD, temporary personnel. The ADs, if they are qualified, can be hired for days or weeks to staff fire engines and hand crews, and can also fill certain overhead positions at fires.

The Chief’s words were different from those spoken by another very high-ranking person in the Forest Service. In Congressional testimony on April 5, the US Forest Service Deputy Chief of State and Private Forestry testified before members of Congress that a firefighter hiring event “went very well”. It turns out that the event had not started yet.

“We just completed an additional fire hire event in California at the end of March and those numbers are still coming in,” Ms. Jaelith Hall-Rivera said. “I do think we are on pace. By all accounts that hiring event went very well. Importantly what we are seeing is a very high acceptance rate in our permanent and seasonal permanent firefighting positions, which is what we want.”

In recent years the federal agencies with wildland firefighting responsibilities have had difficulties hiring and retaining firefighters, resulting in engines and hotshot crews that can’t respond to fires because there are not enough employees to staff them to minimum standards. The reasons cited for resignations, early retirements, and declinations of job offers include very low pay, extensive time away from home, failure of the government to financially support personnel injured on the job, and stress on family life.

On Monday National Public Radio’s flagship station in Southern California, KCRW, interviewed Brianna Sacks, a Buzzfeed News reporter who has been covering the hiring and retention issues faced by the U.S. Forest Service and other federal agencies that have wildland fire responsibilities.

“The burnout is really real for these firefighters who are making no money. They make their living doing thousands of hours of overtime and they still can’t afford to make ends meet,” Sacks told KCRW. “They’ve been leaving en masse, hemorrhaging firefighters to go to CAL FIRE, PG&E, or private sector jobs. And they’ve also been part of the great resignation with the pandemic.”

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please keep in mind our commenting ground rules before you post a comment.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

61 thoughts on “Forest Service Chief says in some areas only 50% of firefighter positions are filled”

  1. The Chief is either a) misinformed, b) mistaken, or c) is purposely misleading Congress. None of those are confidence inspiring options. There is no real “plan in place to make up for the shortfall that they are currently seeing”. At least that’s the reality on an “X” forest, where we have been told there ARE NO PLANS to include hiring firefighters in Phase 1 of fire hire (this fall), and we are being told that we need to be 4-6 months ahead of the horizon to fill jobs. As of this writing, 2/3rds of our engines are understaffed or at NWCG minimums, and there are vacant positions that will go unfilled on the IHC and helitack crew, and key leadership roles are filled with detailers or acting personnel. ASC is so backed up we STILL have a seasonal employee who were brought on as AD’s and not converted to their appointment yet, and has been on the books for 3 pay periods. That doesn’t sound like an Agency that has a plan.

    But let’s assume there IS a plan. With no fall suppression jobs scheduled to be filled, it looks down like this: Phase 2: announcements live on USAJobs from 7-25-2022 to 8-3-2022 (the heart of the fire season with only 7 days to apply!?) onboarding pay period 1-7, 2023. Phase 3 dates in USAJobs 10-13-2022 to 10-19-2022 (yes, again, only 7 days to apply) with onboarding taking place in pay periods 8-12.

    Simply put, the crisis is here. It’s real, and if you plug the data into risk management matrix, we are looking at high probabilities of catastrophic outcomes.

    But trust the leadership, there’s a plan.

  2. Thanks to the US Forest Service leadership for clarifying a number that baffled us workers on the ground. Help won’t come unless the legislators know the realities.

    Now lawmakers know that staffing is scary low, time to act

    People are walking out the door daily, and a funded pay raise from last Fall has not been implemented, let’s do that now so our workforce can have a small win.

    Very appreciative to Randy Moore for testifying, and clarifying the numbers. This is a huge step.

  3. I’m a supervisor of a module that most likely will be putting into storage for the season due to a lack of employees. I personally know of about 5 others in the area in the same situation and I’m not aware of any 7 day covered engines on the forest I work on.

    What seems to go unnoticed by the higher ups especially the ones that aren’t familiar with fire is even if a module meets the numbers to staff, there is a considerable lack of experience in those resources and those modules capability are unsafely low.

    A type 3 engine, if staffed, isn’t what it should be or used to be. The engine boss most likely was a GS-4 2-3 years ago. The ENOP probably has 3-4 years experience and the crew members most likely have NO experience.

    Management (they aren’t leaders) only look at “number” but in reality the situation is much worse then some think and capabilities are lacking which contributes to safety issues as well. Especially when it’s standard SOPS now to make FS ENGBs TFLDS (even if unqualified) on large fires because no one is available to fill those middle management positions.

  4. Just like anything else in the agency, it’s just target. Whether it’s butts in seats or acres treated, management is only concerned about the ledger sheet-not retention or quality of that “target”

  5. “And they’ve also been part of the great resignation with the pandemic.” that right there is what im hearing here in price utah,this is the carbon county seat. the USFS and BLM offices are just around the corner,im a talker and ive engaged in several conversations on the subject. including a BLM ranger who has become a very close friend. ive also become close to a woman who works as a caregiver,her husband had been with the USFS as a firefighter for for 17 years,was his first job and so on. he was an engine capt. or however yall call the positions .he got fired reciently,why you ask ? hes a diehard trump fan, and he says a mask mandate and vaccine requirement are unconstitutional ,when i asked him about the safety of others,including he and his family,those he encounters while at a grocery store etc.his response was,there is no pandemic,its a democratic hoax (remember a certin person who said that claiming it was all to hurt him in the election?) Yes im prolly going to get blasted as im talking politics,but im not really,im explaining why HE got fired,he refused to follow the rules and got fired for it,and hes angry at the USFS,BLM and the state and any other place that has a mask rule still ,like medical and the courts,he his his 15 yo daughter with a baseball bat,broke, or cracked her skull. her fault for saying no to him.he told her her to do the dishes,she said to him ” in a bit dad,im doing an important homework assignment right now” his response was to hit her on the head with a baseball bat,while screaming at her and the other kids to never disrespect him.when in court this last time he told the judge that he doesnt need to wear a mask because the united states president,donald j trump said its all a hoax and the judge can go f himself. this idiot got 5 months for contempt and the judge isnt backing down,hes going to remain in jail.and hes crying over it,my friend (the wife) says its all unfair,shes had the kids taken from her because ” the lying whore” (the 15yo she gave birth to) said moms abusive to all of the kids. turns out the 15 yo has a valid point,both mom and dad are both physically and mentally abusive,but its the kids fault.i have no idea if this is true or not,but she told me that all of her husbands friends have left the USFS for the same reason..the covid pandemic is a dem hoax ,and a part of the plan to commit voter fraud to cost trump the election,in reality,the most of the voter fraud found was by republicans.

  6. It’s funny. I’m on a district that is doing relatively decent as far as numbers go. Our four engine mods are at about 80% staffed, but it gets pretty sad when you dig deeper into the numbers. On my engine we had to hire a PSE 3/4 into a senior ff position because there weren’t any candidates for the 4/5 that it is supposed to be. We have 2 SFEO’s for 4 engines. Sure, we’re above minimums for numbers, but most of our mods are comprised of 1st year temp seasonals. Add in the fact that the duty station is in an area that has seen median home prices rise 25% in the past year (above already ridiculous numbers) with barely a rental market to speak of and no government housing provided and it’s a recipe for disaster. I’m a PSE GS-07 and I can barely afford a 1 bedroom rental. We have a seasonal living out of their car. No s*** we can’t get the numbers we want or need.

  7. I’m a PSE GS-07 and I can barely afford a 1 bedroom rental. We have a seasonal living out of their car. No s*** we can’t get the numbers we want or need.

    With all the lumber that burning out there, why hasn’t the USFS scarfed up some of the lumber that is still standing and good or fallen and good and start building crew quarters…..I mean…di they miss all that COVID, ARPA, Bring Back Better money? Wow…no crew quarters? Hell, even BLM and USFWS has crew quarters on remote sites

    Yep, USFS timber management at its best, can’t even build some crew quarters with what is degraded or at rotation age
    Time for USFS to get into the carpentry business, after all they have a world famous Wood Products Lab advising us on the different woods and climates and uses
    About time to get to work to support WFFs and start Buildin Back Better

  8. Just wait until the remaining employees realize the Infrastructure Bill 50% or $20k raises for “positions in hard to fill locations” aren’t happening. It’s been six months with zero action. I’m hearing lot of “this is my last season unless something drastically changes”. Buckle up, nothing is going to change.

  9. The way I honestly truthfully and respectfully feel is this If The National Forestry and US Forestry can some how get the Supreme court of the National Forestry as well as US Forestry to pass a law that every individual who purchases any type of fire implementation of any type even lighters and matches to be positively identified by the individuals selling such fire implementations and devices and if these individuals cannot be positively identified will be denied access to such resources This will somewhat protect National Forestry as well as the US Forestry from wild fire risks and I feel the Supreme court and Congress should implement this into law Thank you for your prompt attention and God bless

  10. I’d love to do Wildland fire. Genuinely might enjoy it more.. but it just doesn’t pay the bills. With a family, I need that 3x higher salary the cities offer.

  11. I live in an area where USFS (Dept of Agriculture), BLM (Dept of Interior), State departments, County departments, City departments and rural fire departments are all located. Everyone has different standards for implementing burn bans, etc. You don’t know who to believe. Since 80-90% of fires are human caused why aren’t we focusing on humans. People seem to look for loopholes to build their own fires and with different fire code restrictions from different agencies this is easy. You may have a burn ban on one side of the road and stage 1 ban on the other side. Who would want to be a fire fighter in these conditions? All wildfire mitigation efforts should be co-ordinated with local entities together. Create a Wildfire Mitigation Co-ordinator to have one message. Drop stages of bans for the general public, they confuse and create loopholes. Burn or no burn! Keep them for technical personnel. One message center to report on dangerous situations and implement and enforce penalties! At least, if I were a wildfire fighter, I don’t think I would feel as helpless as they must feel today. Sorry for the rant, but this just happened a few days ago when I tried to report on open fire in burn ban area and my heads hurts from the wall.

  12. The Forest Circus is top heavy and overflowing with nepa-nerds who in reality serve No Useful Purpose… They send hardwood foresters to softwood forests and vice versa and they Totally Fail… Overflowing with regulators and under manned in the Skilled World. In 1945 my old man and his buddy worked with the circus on the Gila there was only like Five people on the whole forest. Now same forest….250+ employees….Foolish Foolishness….

  13. Back in 2018, during the Great Purge, the FS fired 634 people, 634 people according to Chief Vickie Christensen. In 2019, they fired even more. These people where lower to middle management, support staff, and yes, even firefighters. Now, the FS is saying they can’t find anyone to replace them. Uhmm, I wonder why? Because the FS is posting these same positions at GS-4, 5, 6 level. Come on FS. You’ve heard this complaint over and over again. We can’t survive on GS-4, 5, 6 when the housing market starts at half a million dollars. The FS isn’t even willing to reinstate the men and women they fired. Some of us have gone to EEOC and MSBP and the FS refuses to reinstate us. This makes no sense. FS has spent billions of dollars on us to train us, fires us, spends more money in litigation, then complains that no one will fill these positions, but refuses to reinstate us. This is a no brainer! There is a system in the NPS/FS start out as a firefighter, get promoted, train other firefighters, get promoted, manage firefighters, get promoted and so on and so on. The problem is during the last administration people where fired taking out middle management. So, those people are not there to replace the people who are retiring. And yes, people are retiring early, because the conditions have gotten so bad. Now, you have 20 somethings doing the jobs of people in their 40s. Problem…they don’t have the years of experience (this sets them up for failure) and they are doing the job at a lower pay. This is a disaster! It’s like asking a intern to do open heart surgery. They are not prepared. They fail and then they don’t want to be a doctor. Same with the firefighters…they get more responsiblity, but they don’t get the training or the pay, they burn out and they leave. So, you gutted the middle, the older employees are retiring, and the younger ones are burnt out. And the FS wants to know why know one want to work at the FS? Uhmmmm, I wonder why?

  14. I suspect that 3x higher pay won’t help nearly as much without benefits.

  15. Well, we know that Moore has been accurately informed numerous time as per agency wide memos. So I would eliminate “a” and “b” and also wonder how, despite it being a different committee to which he was testifying, they plan to cover the prevarications stated by the deputy chief. It’s a mess.

    Sign the petition!!

  16. This seems actually…… Pretty good. I mean the chief is actually relaying this stuff to lawmakers. It is a lot better than the last hiring report that sort of went viral here from….. You know.

    @SR: what was the great purge you were referring to? We hadn’t had any significant issues where I am at in 2018, so clueless about it, but I was curious what happened. What were the firings over?

  17. One issue is that the two top officials in the agency are relaying opposite information. The deputy stating misinformation (possibly disinformation) to a committee that is more directly related to the issue and now the chief relaying more accurate information to another congressional committee. It shows an inconsistency with its messaging to congress, i.e. the source of funding. And in my 35+ years with the agency if there is one thing that I have learned in fire and the agency as a whole, it’s that a lack of accurate communication is indicative of larger issues and I’m guessing it won’t result in increased funding. “Hey! You two can’t get your messages straight, because of this and the lack of solid leadership we would like to give your agency more money!” – not likely.

  18. the Supreme court of the National Forestry?
    Fourth Grade letter writing project? Or found some really nasty weed?

  19. Current Supervisor w/ 20 years FS, under the last administration, there were 3 EO (Executive Orders) which dealt with firing government employee and unions. They are called the “Trump Rules”. I’m not being political here. That’s what they were called. Basically, the EOs made government employees “at-will”. So, the FS took advantage of the EOs and fired a lot of people – The Great Purge. There was a hearing with Vicki Christiansen and everything back in Nov of 2018. Many of the people were fired for reporting sexual harassment, but the FS fired them for misconduct and poor performance. The 3 EOs were reversed on the 2 day of this administration.

  20. Duh, we were underpaid and classified as temporary employees with no benefits. Who wanta to risk their life over that? If you want to fill the positions, make them competitive with other trade wages and at a minimum give free healthcare and benefits during time on the job

  21. Meanwhile 10’s of thousands of native grazers are languishing and dying in taxpayer funded holding facilities not consuming ground fuels. It is estimated that each free Roaming wild horse contributes an estimated $72,000 in wildfire mitigation. The government can’t hire firefighters but they sure can waste 10’s of $millions annually obliterating and warehousing native grazers. The correlation between the decline in large herbivores and the frequency and intensity of wildfires is well documented in published scientific studies. It’s no coincidence that western states are experiencing more frequent and catastrophic wildfires as they have decimated the wild horse populations. That’s 10’s of thousands of firefighters locked up in corrals! What a waste of such a valuable resource!

  22. You need to bear with us, because even though you have mentioned this many, many times on this website, a lot of us are not familiar with the alleged firings. Do you have any documentation about the number of FS people fired? And a link to the hearing you cited? If not, do not bring this up again.

  23. How could there be a solid plan to move forward if our leadership isn’t even on the same page. So confused. The war on fire is real. They don’t like us. We don’t like them. And yeah -we have a plan – with two leaders who don’t have the same information. What a mess. We are like 30 percent staffed on my district. So frustrated. They cut everything from us and still expect us to perform on fire but don’t call us firefighters. Hate this agency and leaving soon.

  24. Calling all you Technicians, come over from gov heavy to gov lite. Plenty of space, as hiring is also happening. Then go out and staff the Districts you used to work on making OT on the severity dime. You will have more money, more time for family and be supported by a union, less responsibility and so on. You will probably see more fire, run calls, get more well rounded in fire, and better mental health. Try it out. Promise, it’s better.

  25. I’m a contractor and I hate to break it to people but we are not all roses here with recruiting either. Most of the fires I was on in 2021 were largely staffed by contractors, and this year will be no different. We are equally trained and qualified to agency resources, but we depend on the forest service for leadership at the task force level and above.

    On the Bootleg fire we had young HEQBs acting way above their span of control, basically acting as Task force leaders… I could see the pain in their eyes as they tried to keep track of 8 assigned resources of mixed typing, when they were only trained and qualified to handle 1-2 dozers. Those guys kicked ass but it wasn’t fair for them, they were not even getting paid for that level of responsibility and liability.

    On the Chaos fire we had a TFLD and trainee with about 25 resources between them. This does not make it easy to get a hold of them on the radio or get support when you need it. It was a very dangerous division and we are lucky they were solid.

    In 2020 on Brattain the day after Labor day fires blew up in Oregon, we had an engine boss acting as a division sup. We had 2 engines and zero hand crews for a 700 acre fire in rough terrain.

    These are not failures of individuals… It’s total organizational failure, with a clear disconnect between the brass and the boots on the ground, all exacerbated by the critical middle management shortfall. The leaders who have stepped up are not only courageous but they are being asked to do things they weren’t trained for, aren’t qualified for, and aren’t being paid for.

    Its as if the army didn’t have enough lieutenants. If that was happening, we’d do something right? Why is it so hard to take care of firefighters? That’s why we say we are only heros after were dead … Until then we’re expendable ?

    The ultimate solution is to pay federal firefighters more and I don’t know what upper management needs to do to make that happen but maybe they should follow the example of their remaining TFLDs and just get it done at all costs…

  26. Bill,

    I just wanted to let you know that I love Wildfire Today and that I have been telling all the people I talk to about your website, including Congress. People really love your website and enjoy reading the comments.

    To answer your questions, do you have any documentation about the number of FS people fired? And a link to the hearing you cited? I have about six boxes of evidence, but if you want to watch the hearing with Vickie Christiansen it’s at

    I also looked up the 3 EOs:
    Executive Order #13836: Developing Efficient, Effective, and Cost-Reducing Approaches To Federal Sector Collective Bargaining:–reducing-approaches-to-federal-sector-collective-bargaining

    Executive Order #13837: Ensuring Transparency, Accountability, and Efficiency in Taxpayer-Funded Union Time Use:

    Executive Order #13839 Promoting Accountability and Streamlining Removal Procedures Consistent With Merit System Principles:

    The reason I brought this up is, because there are many people who want to be reinstated. They want their jobs back. Randy Moore has said that the FS lost 40% capacity. Yes, the FS is hiring people. But, why not reinstate these people? The FS invested in them and then fired them and then spent a lot of money in litigation. Why keep spending money to torture these people when the FS could be paying these people to work? According to this hearing, there’s a report due on June 15th, a study that’s past due, tons of NEPA work, Montana has a river to clean-up and apparently they need a Chesapeake Clean-Up Czar…there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. Why not reinstate us? We’ve already been trained.

    Thanks for all your hard work here on Wildfire Today. I’ll make a promise…if I win my case or get reinstated (hopefully both) I’ll donate to your site.

    Wish you all the best! Peace Out!!!

  27. Wow I thought this was about firefighter hiring not about over grassing of non native horses.
    Also guess all anti vaccine anti mask people must be child abusers because of their beliefs. What does any of this have to do with hiring firefighters or firefighter retention?

  28. How does it help with firefighters or firefighting retention? Well, for starters it highlights some of the energies that are not put into hiring (i.e. being squandered), it shows how money and resources are being focused in the wrong areas and consequently how opportunities to help with the firefighting effort as well as the hiring effort are not working very well. It also shows how disjointed the “leaders” of the agency are and provides some of the answers for why we are in the situation we currently find ourselves. And yes, it might seem to get a bit off topic occasionally, however you have to keep in mind that this is a passionate topic for many, both new to the arena and those who have been around a long time. A lot of people have had to give up a career they love due to the years of poor management techniques and lack of concern for those on the frontline. Literally… on the frontline.

  29. Good comment. We just lost a 3 story home in Rociada N.M. and everything in it, the Calf Canyon & Hermits Peak Fire , the largest fire in the USA. I didn’t even see N.M. mentioned. RAW

  30. Pay more, offer benefits, update the pay scale, create accurate job titles, simplify the hiring process, reduce the amount of time to gain qualifications.
    Or contract it out to private sector to where these simple principles are widely understood.
    Take care of your employees.
    AD’S and contractors are ready and waiting for resource orders.

  31. SR,

    I found the moment at around 1:36 where Chief Christiansen said they had fired 634 people for misconduct. Is that what you were referring to? I also recall the EOs you linked. There was the change to performance ratings that I *think* came out of it later. Where we went from grading performance appraisals to the pass/fail system.

    In regards to the video, it seemed like there was some confusion between OIG/FS and Congress when it came to the reporting process and I remember some of that shake-up. Sometime around the “Stand Up For Each Other” sessions. Congress was asking about *reports* of harrasment and then it seemed like everyone was jumbling that around with *findings* of harassment, *criminal* findings and the processes for investigating things like sexual harrassment vs. misconduct vs. criminal action.

    I do recall anecdotally that when the FS opened up their reporting hotline, there was a lot of confusion. I think Christiansen mentions that as well when speaking about the privacy act. I remember hearing about people who had either reported misconduct/harassment or were the party reported about that were not able to determine what was going on with the allegations until a decision was made. With very little information about what the findings were, or in other instances what they were being disciplined for. I remember a lot of chatter about it coming from the union too. The process was very opaque and generally concerning.

    That isn’t to say there were 634 people wrongfully terminated or that 634 people deserved to be fired. There are a lot of times where there is no finding of misconduct and that is the end of it, but there were some new reporting systems in place during that time. A person would have to be pretty naive really to assume that it was a foolproof system or even very close to it. I do remember that. It was sort of the momentum of the #metoo movement hitting the FS and the FS reacting to the spotlight it put them in before giving it a lot of thought, in my opinion. That is what it looked like at least. I found the stand up sessions a bit cringy and hyperbolic as well. But I thought the same thing about the Safety Journey and I am just getting older and crankier each year. The subject was serious enough, but the presentation was….. meh. Didn’t improve morale with the group I did it with.

    So, anyhow, to relate it back to this thread about retention, you are saying you and others were unfairly disciplined and/or terminated and the rescinded EOs in place at the time were part of what you are calling the purge? Out of the number that Christiansen provided, how many do you think were reasonable or unreasonable? Asking earnestly, I wasn’t privy to a lot of it and it was a murky system. Sounds like you are trying to fight it?

  32. In what America are horses native? Not this one. Keep em locked up, they’re an ecological catastrophe. Even better, we could feed the poor with them.

  33. Current Supervisor w/ 20 years FS, yes, I’m saying that many of us were unfairly disciplined and/or terminated and that we could be a resource. If 40% of the capacity was lost, then why not bring back the 40% they lost? In 2018 there were 634 (according to Vicki Christiansen), but there were a lot more in 2019 (I don’t have that exact number…but 40% of 30,000 is 12,000 – 634 = 11,366. But don’t quote me on that because the FS does some fuzzy math when it come to the number of employees it hires/fires. I do know that the information was FOIAed by Congress, but it was blacked out.) Everyone that I have spoken to was targeted through the HRT program and was wrongfully terminated and I’ve spoken to over 600 people (fired from 2018-2019). (So, I guess that’s about 5%.) These stories are heart retching!!! Yes, we are still fighting. We’ve gone to the media. We’ve gone to Congress. We’ve gone to Court. The crazy thing is that the FS has already spent $2 million dollars on my case alone. Why not use that money to give the firefighters a raise?

  34. NW ENGB: you are exactly right. Unless something changes soon we are going to have to start working with some of the contract companies to start to fill those middle management roles. I have worked with some very experienced crew bosses that could step into the taskforce role pretty easily. Are these companies going to be interested in that? I don’t really know if it would have the same profit as sending out crews/engines. Contractors have really improved in last few years. I’m guessing due to lack of fed resources and being forced to take on more complex assignments that would normally go to agency resources with more qualifications on board. I haven’t been to a fire in 5 years that hasn’t had someone unqualified filling HEQB, TFLD, DIVS. It’s getting worse and it’s a real fear that we’re gona end up with some very bad outcomes that are directly tied to staffing/retention issues. Even if we do get the numbers back up in the next year or two we are 10 years out from building the depth of experience and numbers. But we’ll keep flying our cardboard airplane, slap a little more fiber tape on the wings and hope it doesn’t rain lol

  35. oh please.
    This ranks right up there with sewing dozens of parachutes together and settling it down over a fire to smother it out.

  36. This is literally the only reason about 3 out of 10 folks on my District are sticking around. If we do not get the $20k they are gone. Unfortunately I’m not just talking about temps or new perms. Im talking about ENGB’s, ENOP’s, ICT-4’s.

  37. This is literally the only reason about 3 out of 10 folks on my District are sticking around. If we do not get the $20k they are gone. Unfortunately I’m not just talking about temps or new perms. Im talking about ENGB’s, ENOP’s, ICT-4’s.

  38. SC,

    I remember a person who worked for me saying they had gotten a letter in their file during that same timeframe and they didn’t know they even had a disciplinary action against them until after they had gotten the letter.

    if you go to: you can run separations data on the FS but it seems like it is in blocks and it doesn’t go past 2019, I assume it is 5FY blocks? Up through FY19 it didn’t look like they had categorized the bulk of separations as being disciplinary terminations. Which is a bit more befuddling going off of the numbers Christiansen was giving. It’s entirely possible I was using the filters wrong, but the terminations categorized as such seemed like way lower numbers in the 150-200 range for each FY. Unless it all got processed in FY20.

    Anyway, if you were fired without process than I hope you are able to get some vindication in the matter.

  39. Current Supervisor w/ 20 years FS, thank for the link. Very interesting website. As for the HRT reports, yes, that happens a lot. People get a letter that said that they reported something when they didn’t report anything. I got 8 letters and I never reported to HRT. It wasn’t until after I was fired that I found out who did it. The HRT program is an evil tool that they use to get rid of mostly women. I’ve only heard of 1 man getting fired through the HRT program. Simply put, it’s unconstitutional. Basically, what happens is something happens, like a man inappropriately touches a woman, someone sees it or the victim reports it to their management and then they report it. They are suppose to be anonymous. However, you can find out through an ROI, Report of Investigation. So, the person who reported it is not anonymous. The reason I say HRT is unconstitutional is you are supposed to know who your accuser is. And this program twists every up. The man (in my example) is no longer the perpetrators, the victim becomes the perpetrator (or target as HRT calls them). I know it sounds very confusing and it is and that’s by design. So, the perpetrators don’t know who called. The victims don’t know who called. And then the victim doesn’t know until after they are fired. The crazy thing on my case…my boss was the perpetrators (a man) and his boss (a woman) was the one who file the 8 HRT complaints. To add to the problem the HRT program takes away the victims rights to choose to report and then if that person decides to go to EEOC or MSPB they don’t get whistleblower status, because someone else reported it. Again, very confusing, but again by design. You see, it’s policy for you to report these things to your management, then the management reports it to HRT, you lose you job and then any recourse to get your job back, because they have removed your whistleblower status. This is all by design. Another, weird thing if you get wrapped up into this and you refuse to participate you get into trouble and you get fired for not participating. It was, it is a horrible program and I have requested multiple times to remove this program. 50 women came together in 2019 and spoke to Vickie Christensen and asked her to stop this program from firing us and she doubled down on the program. Some of the women who went to that meeting were fired after the meeting through the HRT program. Some of the women who refused to go to the meeting were fired. It was a very scary time. I had a terrible affect as well, women stopped speaking up. They wanted us to stand up and tell our stories and when we did they fired us. The tallest grass get cut first. That’s why I worry about the mental health program and the cancer program. I think if they can fire you for reporting sexual harassment, then they can fire you for having a mental issue or cancer.

  40. I stated last year was likely going to be my last season unless something changed. The reclassification of the occupational series and the pay raise is the only reason I stuck around as a perm 7.

    Org chart allows for an intended 20+ on my module. We have 11. Including 1 apprentice who never worked a day in fire and a bunch of other very green kids. As well as missing some key overhead. It’s a mess.

    Congress gave them a major part of the solution. It’s pretty wild to watch them not implement that, and then throw up their hands as though they have no idea why there is a hiring and retention catastrophe.

    Soon, everywhere is going to be “hard to fill locations.”

  41. Grazing definetly plays a large role in decreasing fire severity on the rangelands…Wild Horse and burros however are adding to the desertification of the Great Basin, they are completely overgrazing the American rangeland, outcompeting native grazers, and they are wreaking havoc on the limited water supplies and riparian areas, and have no natural predators in the environment. I used to be a huge advocate of the wild horse and burro act, but after seeing the destruction and chaos this unchecked population has done to some beautiful areas, my opinions have changed dramatically. They are an invasive species and should be managed as such.

  42. SR,

    So…. to make sure I follow, you are considered as having filed a complaint if someone does it on your behalf? Like, if I as a supervisor file a report saying an employee of mine was harassed whether they are aware or not, it is treated as if they did? Then they (the person I claimed was harrassed) is required to participate or they get fired? Did I track that right?

  43. Sorry to state the obvious but Forest Service WO Leadership is disconnected from their own agency. They take no responsibility for their actions. Pass it off to us regions / Chief Moore for your responsibility. Again and again. Really? You are the Chief. Lead us.
    Why don’t they understand us- district line and fire trying to make it work. Hahah.
    They (Chief and Deputy Hall- Rivera ) have never and currently don’t support fire management – despite what they say. Jokers they are. They will say whatever it takes because there jobs are on the chopping blocks- Chief Moore and Deputy Chief Hall Rivera you can do better. Or maybe – Can we get better new leadership to help the Forest service. Real leadership. Let’s go folks help us out.

    Love my fire management job and work – but just tired of non connected leadership.

  44. Current Supervisor w/ 20 years FS, you are right. When you file as a supervisor, it’s like the victim filed, even though the victim didn’t file the HRT complaint. In most cases the victim doesn’t even know. The victim gets a letter that says, you filed a HRT complaint. Oh, and the supervisor has to file the complaint within 24 hrs. And, yes, if the person doesn’t participate than they get fired. Basically, it’s removing the supervisor’s authority/responsibility and giving it to the HRT program. Don’t worry, you get to keep all the liability though! 😉 HRT is a mess and should be defunded.

  45. In North America, that’s which America. The fossil record doesn’t lie. You don’t have to take my word for it, you can check with the Museum of Natural History.

  46. According to GAO Reports going back decades & PEER Studies, the MILLIONS of invasive cattle/sheep are causing desertification and damage to riparian zones. They fully digest any seeds which they may consume and do not replenish any flora unlike the native horses which propagate seeds and also
    consume dry brush. The burros are not native species but their numbers are so low, they are inconsequential (IUCN Red List). Both the burros and horses do have natural predators, cougars, wolves, even bears. Foal mortality rate is 50-80%. We can also attribute the loss of natural predators to the welfare grazing program on our Public lands and Forests. The taxpayer subsidies to the failed welfare grazing program & the cost of eradicating native species, could fully fund the blm & FS firefighters with everything they need and the salaries/benefits they deserve. Every member of congress gets free healthcare for life but you don’t? You are the ones putting your lives on the line not politicians, not welfare ranchers. Just saying there’s a lot of uneccessary wasteful spending going on and anti-science mismanagement. A valuable resource is being squandered in government holding facilities.

  47. This is getting too far into the weeds. Let’s stick to the topic.

  48. Must be a little embarrassing for the Chief to have to go in and clean up misinformation given by his deputy before Congress. Glad the rank and file ratted out the Deputy Chief for her false rosie picture of things. I kinda laughed at the Chief’s assertion of AD’s being used to make up staffing shortages. An AD FF2 makes less than $20/hr and a FF1 squadie less than $22. And no benefits or OT for AD’s. Add to that, why would someone take an AD position if so many FT Temp’s are going unfilled? Most AD’s like myself are geriatric.

  49. Union rep and 10 year firefighter here. Retention. Is an issue nation wide. People are starting to wake up that they can make more money doing almost anything, plus actually be at home. People are reaching a breaking point. Easy way to solve the staffing issue, pay us more and actually SHOW your appreciation for us, I’m tired of hearing people appreciate us, it’s time to SHOW us.

  50. Ok,
    Those are not the same horses as are here today. Different Genus, different species altogether. The prehistoric variety died off 3M years ago. The Spanish brought our existing horses here during the 15th century.

    That would be like introducing African Lions in AZ and calling them
    “native” because, 3.5M years ago there were North American lions…which were totally different and existed in an entirely different ecosystem.

Comments are closed.