The Staging Area, September 24, 2022

Staging area at the Valley Fire near Pine Valley, CA
Staging area at the Valley Fire near Pine Valley, CA, Aug. 22, 2022. CAL FIRE photo.

This weekend we are continuing an occasional weekend feature we started a few months ago. This post can serve as the beginning of an open thread where our readers can talk about issues that we have, or have not, gotten into yet. This is literally an off-topic thread. You have the floor.

The usual rules about commenting apply. And remember, no personal attacks or politics, please.

Let’s enjoy a wide-ranging conversation!

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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.

10 thoughts on “The Staging Area, September 24, 2022”

  1. I picked up a new rangefinder. This way I can see how away something is if my phone or map or gps fail and then decide if I want to walk that far or not

  2. A question from the plans department. re: remote checkin and demob. How do you feel that it is working from the user end? suggestions? It is here to stay, at least for now, so How can we make it better?
    Also some of the issue in the connectivity are spill into receiving and using maps and IAPs. We might be able to send out updated Maps, some day, by loading them into the QR code, when there are major changes. Of course that means we need updated field maps from the field or rarely we get some good midday aerial recon update.
    ok I am rambling too much.
    From the plans end the checkin is working pretty well except not everyone does it. Not everyone is expected to have a smart phone. those people can come to plans to checkin.
    The demob is not so good. The fire is responsible for the people until they arrive home. It seems that people get finished at time and leave the fire. Plans the occasionally gets calls asking where someone is who demobed that day. We don;t have the answer because we did not get that person’s travel to home. A more common issue is that we get a call that someone is home but not released from the fire. If you don’t checkout with plans, that is what happens. You can’t get another assignment until that is fixed.

  3. Remote demob has been pretty good overall in 2022 from my experience, the quicker the better and compared to the old way of doing it it’s way faster. Just got to go through weed wash and ground support, sign time and done in 30 minutes.
    But that’s 30 min if it all goes smooth and we don’t need a bunch of s numbers…the more that can be done to provide s# on the road as we drive to other incidents or home would be great.

    Maps are typically easy to come by for most it seems…if a division receives the map from GIS specialist before morning briefing and then can airdrop it to us that’s really nice. That way we’re referencing the exact same ops map etc..

  4. Put a big ass sign by the chow line that says you must check out when you demob or it may prevent you from reviewing future assignments.

  5. Sounds good to me, Schmo

    Too many folks think that tech makes demob quicker….depends on the situation…I have spent time filling out what was pre ICS211 and seen some of the ice cream truck window check out at some incidents planned or unplanned…..

    Then I’ve heard the bitchin about vehicle inspections and the 2200 rule…on both Fed, State, and VFD points of view

    Either way….theres STILL gnashing of teeth in AD 2022 on how demob is done.

    For the techies…..we haven’t solved the problems yet unless all the Type 1 thru 7Xs have MDTs and connectivity in East or West Jababie…and looking like law enforcement…? ?

  6. My issue is that I may be on the other side of the fire, but they want to do a vehicle inspection and weed wash on a rental car that never left pavement or stayed on dirt roads and never went ‘off road’. When I show up, they sign the paper and I leave, without anyone looking at the vehicle. Or I am at a helibase away from the main camp, but have to go in and do a physical demob, even though I have sent in the daily shift tickets, but ‘they want to see my copies and make sure’, finances way of saying that they didn’t get the documents and need to physically see the copies I have. I’ve had so many requests for S numbers denied that I don’t even submit them anymore, I have the DIVS, MEDL, OPS or OSC submit the requests on my behalf. I get resupply about 50% of the time. They’ll pay $20,000/day for a REMS team or $40,000/day for a heavy helicopter to sit and not fly, but I request to replace some saw chain, hose or for medical items and I get denied.

  7. All good points, Thunderbird

    Its a system alright that needs to be tweaked 2022 style …technology or not..some of of those “vehicle inspections” are ridiculous and while the big cheezes are being flown around Type 1,2,or 3 helo style…maybe load up a Blackhawk or B205 with a few more folk and maybe do some of the demob on the on the other side of the fire aviation style….I mean if one is burnin 100 lbs or more per hour….make it count…if its able to haul rapellers..or others…it can be done to shorten some of the issues you bring…I mean…if folks are helimoppin….then lift missions for other could be done to demob from remote sites

  8. How many more task force qualified contract bosses will be used as a “point of contact” (read: task force leader except in name) before they officially let contractors run task forces? I hear a lot about how bad some contract crews are, and trust me they’re out there, but recently I’ve worked with a lot of former agency people with decades of experience who went over to contract so they could afford to buy a home, or raise a kid! Its kind of messed up to ask someone to take on extra responsibility/liability that they’re not being paid for and makes their job harder. Its really not their fault the agency is bleeding quality middle managers.

    I’m saying this with all due respect to the agencies who have a ton of good people but can’t seem to take care of them compensation wise. This effects everyone.

  9. Does anyone know if any of the changes to WFF benefits in the last year will allow buying back seasonal time for credit towards retirement?

    I think they did something like this in the ‘90’s… as I understand it you paid the amount you would have paid into the system as a permanent and get credit for the time.

  10. Being a qualified task force doesn’t magically mean you make more money. Unless you’re AD. Some of the divisions and task forces we run into don’t deserve more money anyways.

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