Northern Rockies Coordinating Group Meeting
April 15-16, 1999
Present: Marilyn Johnson, Northwest Montana Zone
Rick Hafenfeld, DOI representative
Bill Caldwell, Business Committee
Tom Harbour, Forest Service
Dave Hart, Training Committee
Diana Martin, South Central Montana Zone
Doug Williams, Montana Firewardens
Tad Kolwicz, Southwest Montana Zone
Jerry Chapman, Eastern Montana Zone
Randy Doman, Fire Use Committee
Steve Zachry, Central Montana Zone,
Dan O’Brien, National Park Service
Sandy Evenson, Forest Service
Russ Davis, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Chairman
Cory Winnie, Bureau of Indian Affairs
Phil Street, Fish and Wildlife
Brian McManus, North Dakota Zone
Dennis Milburn, Operations Committee
Byron Bonney, North Idaho Zone
Phil Perkins, Operations Committee
Brian Shiplett, Idaho Department of Lands
Tom Boatner, Bureau of Land Management
Roger Hearst – representing Northwest Contracting Association
The NRCG award for 1998 was presented to Homer Courville, BIA (recently retired) for his years of contributions to the interagency cooperative effort. Mark Vore, Forest Service, was presented an award for his contributions within the Northern Idaho Zone.
Action Item: The Fire Service Organization Technical Specialist position description should be formally included as a supplement to the Fireline Handbook or some other established document to ensure it does not become lost. Action taken: Position description will be included in Chapter 50 of the Fire Business Management handbook and in the Fireline Handbook.
Action Item: Get actual Northern Training Center cost/share numbers for NRCG directors to review. What affect will there be on local governments? What is the billing schedule. Action taken: Costs will be calculated on a past 3-year average. The numbers will be made available at the beginning of the fiscal year. Action completed.
Action Item: The Voice and Data Task Force needs to identify (by agency if possible) the issues and groups/agencies that will not be able to talk to each other and what the ramifications of that will be. There will be safety issues. We may not be able to affect the solution, but we can make agency administrators aware of the problems we will be facing. Action taken: Action not complete. Stephen Morris (Forest Service) has become a part of the Voice and Data Task Force and will chair the group presently in place. Action to be carried forward.
Action Item: Emmy Ibison and her counterparts from other agencies within he Geographic Area will finish a position paper on AD and retirees used for fire management activities. Identify policies or legal authorities which may preclude us from putting people in certain positions and identify differences between agencies if they exist. If we do continue to hire AD’s and retirees, find out ways to bring these people on and afford them all the protections they need. Action taken: Position paper is not complete. Action to be carried forward.
Action Item: Look at the AD/retiree issue from the standpoint of who certifies they are qualified and who signs and maintains their red card qualifications. How long do we keep hiring folks and sure ourselves they are still competent for the job? Should there be refresher training annually, and if so, how much and what topics should be included? Action taken: Recommendations of Training Committee accepted. This issue will tie into the NWCG effort to address the lack of personnel available for fire. Action completed.
Action Item: NRCG directors need to review the fire management report presented by Coy Jemmett. On a future conference call, NRCG will appoint a group to develop an action plan and figure out a way to distribute the report across the geographic area. Action taken: A task force was appointed with Rick Hafenfeld appointed as task force leader. Draft action plan will be shared at upcoming Firewarden and Type I team meetings. Final draft to be completed by June 1. Action completed.
BUSINESS COMMITTEE – Bill Caldwell
Handouts: NRCG Board Meeting Report, April 15, 1999
Northern Rockies Fire Business Committee 1999 Plan of Work
Fire Business Management "Tidbits"
Fire service organization advisor – position description has been approved. The position description will be included in chapter 50 of the Incident Business Management Handbook and in the Fireline Handbook.
The Business Committee has formed a task group to look at developing a Geographic Area engine/tender contract. It is envisioned to be a Forest Service contract which all agencies can use. The Master Agreement with Montana and Idaho allows for this process. When the North Dakota agreement is updated, the same process will also be included.
ACTION ITEM: BUSINESS COMMITTEE WILL CONTINUE TO PURSUE THE ENGINE/TENDER CONTRACT AND REPORT BACK TO NRCG AT FALL MEETING. OPERATIONS AND TRAINING COMMITTEES WILL NEED TO BE INVOLVED.
Next fall the Northern Training Center is going to develop and hold a training session to standardize the inspection process of equipment.
There have been several instances where different committees have been sort of stepping on each other’s toes because of lack of communication between them. Need to be talking to each other and making sure committee minutes are being sent out.
Fire Business Management Handbook supplements are completed.
Harlan Johnson – technical specialist who helps the business committee with contracting items is moving to Boise, Idaho. He has been replaced by Shane LaValley, Forest Service.
Incident management organizations, including teams and local units, sometimes employ technical specialists, (primarily fallers but may include other positions) and use them on the fireline without adequate supervision or training. The Business Committee developed a policy statement to try to deal with this issue.
DECISION: THE NRCG DIRECTORS APPROVE THE OPERATING PROCEDURES FOR HIRING AND UTILIZING FIRELINE SPECIALISTS (PRIMARILY FALLERS).
OPERATIONS COMMITTEE – Phil Perkins
Handout: Operations Committee Report
Team Selection – had good participation in filling team rosters this year – both Type I and II. Really focused in on NRCG direction to keep Type II teams as strong as possible.
The Operations team developed an action item to identify people to serve on type I teams in 2001 and 2003. A process has been identified and there is good cooperation in getting new people on the teams. Trainees have been identified. This should lead to getting the right individuals to 520 who are successful when they attend.
Team Dispatches – There has been confusion whether a team could be dispatched without the regular IC. NRCC and Zone Mobilization Guides will adopt the national language that a Deputy or Alternate IC can take the respective overhead team out both in and out of Region, but there can be no more than two alternates on the core team or that team is not a viable team.
Type II team -- rotation starts on July 1 and runs through September 30.
Dennis Milburn will be taking over as chair of the Operations Committee in the fall.
A new Team Nomination Form has been developed where the nominee indicates whether they have attended S-420 or S-520.
Safety reports from incidents – the Operations Committee will analyze safety reports to look for trends that we can do something about. Trends will be shared with the fire community.
ACTION ITEM: A NEW FIRELINE HANDBOOK HAS BEEN ISSUED. THE NRCG SUPPLEMENT TO THE OLD FIRELINE HANDBOOK NEEDS TO BE UPDATED. ASSIGNED TO: OPERATIONS COMMITTEE: DUE DATE: DRAFT READY AT FALL MEETING.
Although the Operations Committee provides oversight for the Northern Rockies Coordinating Center, there is no formal, written operating plan.
ACTION ITEM: DEVELOP AN OPERATING PLAN FOR THE NORTHERN ROCKIES COORDINATING CENTER. ASSIGNED TO: MIKE PLATTES, RICK HAFENFELD AND PHIL STREET
FIRE USE COMMITTEE – Randy Doman
The committee is new. Jerry Williams spent a couple of hours identifying the work the committee should be focusing on. The committee is groping with the new fire use policy. The committee recognized early on there were all federal agencies represented on the committee and that there should be State representation also. The committee had asked Jerry to try to get a State representative but has not heard back from Jerry yet.
The Committee has begun looking at the resource allocation process and a draft of their work will be out soon.
If a Fire Management Use Team is created in the Geograhic Area, will the Fire Use Committee play any role in the care, maintenance or feeding of the team? Answer—to be determined at a later date.
TRAINING COMMITTEE – Dave Hart
Handouts: NRCG Training Committee Notes – March 22-23, 1999
Draft Response, 4/12/99 to action item re: AD/Retiree hiring issues
The Training Committee is working on a Northern Rockies Training Center (NRTC) operating plan.
The Training Committee feels there is a need for NRCG to establish a web page. A web page would reduce delays in notification of training nominations, selections, etc.
ACTION ITEM: EXPLORE THE NEED FOR AN NRCG WEB PAGE. WHAT SHOULD BE POSTED? WHO WILL MAINTAIN IT? WHERE WILL IT RESIDE? ASSIGNED TO: SANDY EVENSON.
AD ISSUE (reference handout) –The Training Committee was tasked with looking at the AD/retiree issue from the standpoint of who certifies the employees are qualified and who signs and maintains their red cards. Should there be refresher training for AD’s?
ACTION ITEM: RUSS DAVIS WILL ATTEND THE NWCG/GAC MEETING IN JUNE. RUSS WILL BRING THE AD ISSUE UP AT THE MEETING.
DECISION: ACCEPT THE TRAINING COMMITTEE’S RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING AD HIRING.
PREVENTION – Mike Dannenberg
North Dakota – Brian McManus
EASTERN MONTANA – Jerry Chapman
SOUTH CENTRAL MONTANA – Diana Martin
Central Montana – Steve Zachry
Northwest Montana – Marilyn Johnson
Southwest Montana – Tad Kolwicz
NORTHERN IDAHO ZONE – Byron Bonney
310-1 UPDATE – Tim Murphy
Handout: Wildland and Prescribed Fire Qualification System Guide, PMS 310-1, March 1999
The new 310-1 is supposed to be available May 3 through the PMS system at NIFC. This is an interim guide for the 1999 field season. At the end of the field season, NWCG will be accepting agency level comments to finalize for 2000 and beyond. Tim said some agencies are planning to adopt the interim guide and some are saying they will continue to use the old guide. Stay tuned for further information.
Y2K – Jim Greene
Handout: Y2K Consequence Management Planning Assumptions
Safely installing your standby electric generator
Your Family Preparedness Needs
The State of Montana, Department of Administration is in charge of computers. Everyone is thinking things are looking pretty good. Each state agency will be asked if they can fulfill their role in the state emergeny plan if there are no communications or power.
On the Federal side – FEMA has had a series of meetings across the country. The federal government has a federal response plan with responsibilities lined out. FS is the lead for fire and incident management teams. FEMA will have emergency operations centers open for a couple days before and a couple days after the first of the year (2000).
As we get closer to 2000 we are going to have a much better idea of what problems may really be.
There could be a threat from terrorist groups.
FIRE MANAGEMENT USE TEAMS – Rich Lasko
Last year we did get in the position where we were basically running out of resources to run the wildfire use events. This probably will continue due to the fact that this program will expand, at least in the federal agencies. The challenge is to get management and leadership in place to deal with these events.
Decision needed: How do we want to put management in place for these kinds of events?
ACTION ITEM: THE NORTHERN ROCKIES GEOGRAPHIC AREA WILL FORM A FMUT AND SEE HOW IT WORKS FOR A YEAR. AT THE FALL MEETING WE WILL SEE HOW THE TEAM FUNCTIONED AND CONSIDER IF WE WANT TO CONTINUE IN THE FUTURE. IF WE DECIDE THE TEAM IS SUCCESSFUL AND WE CONTINUE ON, WE WILL NEED TO DECIDE WHO WILL MANAGEMENT THE TEAMS.
ACTION ITEM: DAN O’BRIEN WILL TALK TO TOM ZIMMERMAN ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING GEOGRAPHIC AREA TEAMS MUCH LIKE TYPE I TEAMS. WILL NEED TO DETERMINE THE NATIONAL WORKLOAD AND FIGURE OUT HOW MANY TEAMS WILL BE NEEDED.
ACTION ITEM: DETERMINE THE ICT2 FOR THE FMUT ON THE NEXT NRCG CONFERENCE CALL (MAY 18).
ACTION ITEM: THE FIRE USE COMMITTEE IS ASSIGNED:
1. DISCUSS, MODIFY, AND ESTABLISH GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR THE NORTHERN ROCKIES FMUT PROGRAM.
2. ESTABLISH TEAM CONFIGURATION, QUALIFICATIONS, AND PROCEDURES FOR TEAM MEMBER SELECTION.
GIS -- Rich Lasko
After some experience last summer with the inability to quickly move and configure some data, the Forest Service realized they needed to get more involved in GIS. A Forest Service task group was established, but the thought was that instead of looking at this as a Forest Service problem, make it an interagency issue. If the NRCG Directors would adopt the strategic goal that we make our fire information compatible, it would move the current task force a long way down the road. Rich would also like to include interagency members on the task force. On a daily basis we need to be able to come up with a map of every wildland fire incident in the Northern Rockies.
ACTION ITEM: AGENCIES WILL IDENTIFY NAMES OF PEOPLE TO WORK ON A TASK FORCE. THE TASK FORCE WILL REPORT BACK AT A FUTURE MEETING.
INCIDENT MEDICAL SPECIALIST – Phil Perkins
The Incident Medical Specialist program was reviewed and the following recommendations presented to the NRCG Board of Directors:
Region-wide develop eight incident medical teams with four positions each (one manager, one assistant, and two technicians)
Maintain a rotation schedule of teams managed by NRCC. Possibly four teams in 2-hour call, 2 teams in 8-hour call, and two teams off. IMS team mobilization would require one call to the IMS Manager who would in turn contact the rest of the team.
Teams would be committed for 1 year at a time. The IMS Steering Committee would select the manager positions on a competitive basis. The Manager’s and IMS coordinators would be responsible for filling out the teams from a list of qualified people.
In addition to the eight teams (32 people) up to an additional 24 people would be maintained as a pool of identified alternates from which additional teams could be configured or existing teams could be supplemented for larger incidents.
DECISION: RECOMMENDATIONS ADOPTED. WILL BE REVIEWED NEXT YEAR TO SEE HOW IT WORKED.
ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES TASK FORCE - Rick Hafenfeld
Handout: Process paper: Fire Management Resource Priority and Allocation Guidelines for the Northern Rockies, April 15, 1999
There was a requirement that each Geographic Area develop a process for the allocation of fire management resources across the full range of fire management activities. Mike Plattes and Rick Hafenfeld drafted a response for the Geograhic Area. Since the Fire Use Committee had begun work in this area, the draft was given to the Fire Use Committee to finalize.
ACTION ITEM: THE FIRE USE COMMITTEE WILL FINALIZE THE ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES ACTION PLAN BEFORE THE UPCOMING FIRE SEASON.
MONTANA-IDAHO AIRSHED MONITORING CHANGES – Rick Hafenfeld
DNRC is stepping down from the lead on the Airshed Monitoring Unit. The Airshed Executive Board has been studying many options to decide how to best continue the work on the Monitoring Unit. With the plans for increased burning, it is going to be critical to ensure the work done by the Monitoring Unit continues and meets the needs of all cooperators.
ACTION ITEM: THE OUTCOME OF THE AIRSHED MONITORING UNIT IS IMPORTANT ENOUGH THAT THE NRCG BOARD OF DIRECTORS NEEDS TO BE KEPT INFORMED OF THE STATUS. RICK HAFENFELD WILL GIVE STATUS REPORT ON MONTHLY CONFERENCE CALLS.
1998 FIRE SEASON REVIEW – Rick Hafenfeld
Handout: Implementation Strategies for 1998 Fire and Management Review, April 15, 1999, Draft
Rick headed up a task force to prepare an action plan for the 1998 Fire Season Review report developed by the Coy Jemmett task force. The action plan divides the implementation strategy into:
ACTION ITEM: GET COMMENTS ON THE DRAFT ACTION PLAN TO RICK HAFENFELD BY MAY 1. FINAL DRAFT TO BE READY FOR APPROVAL BY JUNE 1, 1999. THE DRAFT HANDOUT WILL BE DISTRIBUTED AT THE UPCOMING FIRE WARDEN’S MEETING. IT WILL ALSO BE USED AS A HANDOUT AT THE TYPE I TEAM MEETING.
S-520 CANDIDATES FOR THE YEARS 2001 AND 2003 – Tom Boatner
Handout: Northern Rockies S-520 Candidates for 2001 and 2003
The Geographic Area has been having problems filling teams and has had a high failure rate at S-520. The Operations Committee began a process to identify candidates early on so they can complete their task books and serve in training slots prior to attending S-520.
Tom shared a prioritized list of S-520 candidates for 2001 and 2003. The identified individuals are committed to go through the process and serve on teams when their training is completed. Supervisors have also committed to allow the individuals the opportunity to complete the assignment.
The next logical step would be to start this process for Type II teams. It will be more complicated because there are more teams.
ACTION ITEM: ZONE TEAM COORDINATORS ARE ENCOURAGED TO BEGIN AN IDENTIFICATION, SELECTION AND TRAINING SCHEDULE FOR INDIVIDUALS TO BE TARGETED FOR TYPE II TEAMS.
ALLOCATION OF FORCES – Tom Boatner
Handout: Sample datatable of BLM personnel for fire assignments
When Tom first got here and started looking at the resources that were on type I and II teams, he felt the BLM was underrepresented. When he asked who was targeted, there was nothing. Tom developed a database and has been working with BLM unit managers to get the needed information. When all the information has been gathered, it will be easy to see what training needs to be completed and where individuals should be targted if they wish to advance in the fire organization.
Tom wants to get country/local government/DNRC people on the list if they are willing.
MOBILIZATION OF LOCAL FIREFIGHTING RESOURCES – Tim Murphy
Handout: Mobilization of Local Firefighting Resources Guide, 1/99
Tim and Mike Plattes have had various meetings with contractors. The contractors are fairly upset with how we are using them. They are getting organized and learning how our system works. Northwest Contractors had their meeting a couple of weeks ago. They are waiting to see what NRCG is going to do.
ENGINE DISPATCH – Mike Plattes
Handout: Engine Dispatch in the Northern Rockies Geographic Area
In order to deal with the increasing issues regarding dispatching the various mix of engines within the Geographic Area (agency, local government, and contractor), the follow proposals are made to the Board of Directors:
DECISION: ACCEPT ENGINE DISPATCH RECOMMENDATIONS. ZONES THAT HAVE NOT ESTABLISHED MOBILIZATION BOARDS NEED TO DO SO BEFORE FIRE SEASON BEGINS. ASSIGNED TO: DISPATCH CENTERS AND ZONE REPRESENTATIVES.
EEO/CIVIL RIGHTS – Debby Hall
Debby described some instances that have occurred in the past few years where there have been grievances filed that must be dealt with after the fire is over and people have gone home. These instances become very difficult to deal with. It would have been easier to deal with the issue if we had gotten feedback in a timely matter that something occurred that was inappropriate.
Debby has a concern that some human resource specialists do not feel they have the authority to try to resolve issues on the incident. Debby will be attending the Human Resource Specialist Meeting in May and has been in contact with the national Human Resource Specialist person. Through these contacts, Debby hopes to highlight some areas that need to be improved upon.
We want to know what happened
We want to know if there was due process
Do we need to punish?
What do we do to correct behavior?
Tom Harbour is going to daylight this issue at the National Ops committee meeting next week. Even if the fire people need to be out of the loop for whatever reason, there needs to be some kind of notification made.
ACTION ITEM: DEBBY WILL CARRY THE MESSAGE TO THE MAY 1999 HUMAN RESOURCE SPECIALIST MEETING THAT IF AT ALL POSSIBLE ISSUES NEED TO BE RESOLVED ON THE INCIDENT AND THE INCIDENT COMMANDER NEEDS TO BE INVOLVED. HOME UNITS ALSO NEED TO BE AWARE AN INCIDENT HAS OCCURRED.
ACTION ITEM: RUSS DAVIS WILL DAYLIGHT THIS ISSUE AT THE UPCOMING NWCG MEETING IN JUNE 1999.
NRCG DECISION: INDIVIDUAL AGENCIES NEED TO BE INVOLVED IN ANY SITUATIONS THAT INVOLVE THEIR AGENCY PEOPLE. ALL MATERIALS RELATED TO THE INCIDENT WILL BE HANDED OVER TO EACH AGENCY.
ACTION ITEM: DEBBY HALL WILL DEVELOP AN OVERVIEW OF OPTIONS AVAILABLE TO AGENCIES AND HOW THESE KINDS OF INCIDENTS SHOULD BE HANDLED.
ZONE PREPAREDNESS REVIEWS -- Sandy Evenson
Reminder to Zone Coordinators to get their preparedness visits scheduled and to submit a narrative to Sandy documenting the readiness of the Zone.
AGENCY ADMINISTRATOR MEETING – Russ Davis
We have had an agency administrator meeting planned or scheduled for the past few years, but have not yet had one. Do we need to reschedule an agency administrator meeting?
NRCG DECISION: AN AGENCY ADMINISTRATOR MEETING WILL NOT BE RESCHEDULED AT THIS TIME.
NORTHWEST WILDLAND FIREFIGHTING CONTRACTING ASSOCIATION--Steve Holden
Steve talked to the contracting association and told them NRCG was not interested in signing an agreement with them because of the sole source issue. The association said they did not mean that they were the only place to go if we signed a contract. They are willing to revisit the language in the MOU and try again for signature. The reason why they want this agreement is so that they can have confidence that they know they are going to play by the rules and abide by 310-1 and mobilization policies and procedures. They understand we are not going to make exclusive use of their association.
DECISION: NRCG DIRECTORS DO NOT SEE THE NEED FOR THE MOU. NRCG DOES NOT SEE A REASON TO FORCE AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR TO BELONG TO AN ASSOCIATION TO VALIDATE THE STANDARDS THAT ARE REQUIRED BY CONTRACT ANYWAY.
ACTION ITEM: RUSS DAVIS SHOULD BRING UP THE ISSUE AT THE JUNE NWCG MEETING – PNW SEES THE NEED TO SIGN UP WITH ASSOCIATIONS AND NRCG DOES NOT. WHY ARE THERE DIFFERENCES?
NEEDS ANALYSIS– Steve Holden
Handout: Training Needs Analysis—Update
The needs analysis continues.
RED CARD SYSTEM – Steve Holden
Steve gave a demonstration of the red card system the State will be using. There was consensus among the group that it is ridiculous that we are using at least three different red card systems. The feeling is that as agencies, our hands are probably pretty much tied as to what system we use, but the feeling is it would be worthwhile to ask questions.
ACTION ITEM: RUSS DAVIS WILL TAKE THE RED CARD ISSUE TO THE NWCG MEETING IN JUNE. THE NRCG GROUP WOULD LIKE TO GO ON RECORD AS REQUESTING ONE SYSTEM FOR ALL PARTNERS.
POINT FIRE – Tom Boatner
Handout: Point Fire Brief
Tom gave an overview of what occurred on the Point Fire southwest of Boise, Idaho, on July 28, 1995. As a result of this incident, the BLM is reemphasizing with all firefighters that everyone gets a full briefing and understands the chain of command and who is in charge. People will be assigned based on their experience.
TELECOMMUNCIATIONS – Stephen Morris
Stephen was introduced to the NRCG group. Stephen will be heading up the Voice and Data Transmission Task Force. He had just returned from a meeting with Department of Interior representatives and briefed the group on some of the issues they would be dealing with (digital, wide band radio frequencies, new radio purchase, etc.).
The next NRCG meeting is scheduled for October 13 and 14, 1999, in Fairmont Hot Springs. Russ Davis will handle the logistics for the meeting.