Northwest Montana Zone Meeting Notes

December 9, 1999

Reference meeting agenda:

I. Old Business

II. New Business:

III. Committee/Task Group Reports

IV. Agency Round Robin

Rotation of Chair Position

Set meeting date/time for Spring meeting.

Attendance: Steve Wirt, Fred Vanhorn, Charlie Webster, Martha Smith, Neil Nelson, Bill Caldwell, Allen Marble, Paul Linse, Ted Mead, Marilyn Johnson & Don Black .

OLD BUSINESS; Comments on NRCG meeting notes: discussion around meeting notes from past meetings; how would you like to receive notes? Electronic vs hard copy?

Does everyone need/want a copy of minutes or just decisions?


Training discussion centered around Technical Spec. requirements per 310-1 manual.

Note; NRCG vs 310-1 requirements for Tech. Spec.

Refer to NRCG Northwest Zone 1999 Summary (Hard copy publication).

Who provides training? Contractor? Agency? And how?

Zone decision: Set up a Task Force w/ rep from Flathead: Paul Linse, Kootenai: Charlie Webster, DNRC: Ted Mead Patrick Heffernan from MLA needs to be involved.

Note: NRCG does expect us to provide training.

Go w/NRCG letter dated 5/24 on training recommendations. This letter is accurate if the 310-1 is cleaned up or at least meets or exceeds what is required.

New Topic: "Zone Award" There were two awards given out at the NRCG meeting; NW zone received one of these awards. This award will travel with the Chair. The award was for the overall Interagency cooperation of the NW Zone with NRCG direction. This award does recognize the effort and commitment of those members of the NW Zone.

Mobilization Board & Plan: This plan will be reviewed over the next few months. Marilyn Johnson will call a meeting (probably in January) of the interested members. Don Peterson of Firetech in Libby has indicated he would like to be involved.

DNRC/Fed.Ops Plan- Ted Mead is taking the lead on this. At this time he will not try to combine existing operating plans. The "NW Montana Support Zone Plan" will need to be reviewed by the zone group (Dec/Jan meeting) especially in the context of allocating resources within the zone between wild fires, fire use fires, and prescribed fires.

Need to get back to Marilyn Johnson w/thoughts. How are we going to operate? This is not addressed at this time. Note: Have comments back to MJ by Jan 31, 2000.

New Business: We have not seen this year's Evaluations and Safety summaries from the IMT assignments. Need to be shared with zone etc.; was there anything in particular that stood out this season that should be reviewed?

Committee/Task Group Reports: BOD: Chair process revisited; Allen Marble declines the position as Chair. Ted Mead is new Chair. Chair position will still be for one year. One of the county representatives will always be co-chair. Recommendation is that we always have as Chair; a FS, NPS or State representative . This is due to the limited ability of the county folks to be involved. Current rotation; GNP, DNRC, Flathead & Kootenai.

Federal Wildland Fire Policy: Fred Van Horn presented a canned 'power point' session on the policy. Comments: There is still confusion with the new terminology in use. Need clarification among users and non-users during communication. Direction should be the same among federal agencies and different National Forests. Martha relayed her concern about statements made at the Firewardens Conference last spring by a Gallatin NF representative about the "Forest Service responsibility stops at the boundary." Charlie and Don stated that was not correct. There is the need for continued education at local and state levels. Need to work on the level of understanding to gain acceptance.

Charlie W. cleared the air on "structure protection" interpretation by reading a letter from NRCG (on "Structure Protection" 8/12/99). Some were under the impression that federal firefighting forces "would not protect structures in the area of a wildland fire". Don stated he felt the "You order it, you pay for it." statement summed up the cost issues.

Allen Marble: Operating Plan needs to be updated and need to further work towards clarification among the various agencies, e.g. local, state, county. Need to detail and define up front direction. Need an "Operating Plan" for Flathead County.

Special Note: There is too much difference among all the cooperators throughout the zone to have one overall operating plan. However, there is a great need to begin working more closely with one another and develop Operating Plans that meet all expectations throughout the Zone. Future expectation may be to have one Plan that addresses all. The current difference between boundaries may be creating a level of confusion that could be avoided.

Fire Prevention & Education: Neil; Need to reaffirm our message. Stay with our original intent and continue w/current direction. Current Prevention Committee members: Neil Nelson (Kootenai), Hugh Taylor (Lincoln), Dick Giffin (Lake), Greg Poncin (DNRC), Caroline Lansing & Cathy York (GNP) Pat Cross (media contact).

Training: Marilyn; All training assignments got in on time. Funds in some agencies are short this year. New Web site will now help with selecting memos. Training Academy now in its second year and is involving others e.g. KNF . A list will be out sometime in January of those courses being offered this year.

Fire Business Mgt. Bill noted the amount of time he has held his current NW NRCG position and offered the opportunity for others to fill in with, and behind him if we knew of anyone out there who would like the experience. Otherwise he would still be very much glad to continue on. Also, the engine/tender contract work has been tabled at this time, there is a need for additional information before continuing. *Anyone out there interested?

Operations: Steve Wirt; There is a shortage of Finance Section Chief positions and Logistic Sec. Chiefs. Any help in this area from those that may know of people with, or working towards these qualifications. Let us know. Next week ,on 12/16/99 there will be a meeting held in MSO dealing with the MIFF issue at hand from this past summers performance on fires around the country. More on this later.

Round Robin:

Flathead: Paul Linse; The FNF had numerous people participating through out the country as recent as two weeks ago in the eastern part (Region 8) of the USA.There were 33 Wildland fire use fires in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex this year. Not all of these fires were managed for wilderness resource benefits. Some were actually suppressed for various reasons due to predicted weather conditions and location of the fire. There is new trainee (Jamie Tripp) position in fire on the forest. We should invite Jamie to some of our meetings. Bruce McAtee (HH Zone AFMO ) retired back in the spring. Paul moved into this job as a Planning AFMO.

DNRC: Eric Kurtz has moved to the Missoula area. The plan is to have the position advertised by mid January and filled by March. DNRC is involved with a Big Mountain Fire Cooperative which also includes the Big Mtn. RFD, Whitefish RFD, Flathead Co., Big Mtn. property owners, Stoltze, Winter Sports, Inc. and the Flathead NF. Two immediate goals are the definition and understanding of fire protection responsibilities and working on fire mitigation measures on the Big Mountain area. The NWLO annual Fire Review was 12-16&17-99 and all were invited.

GNP: Fires in 1999: 6 wild fires suppressed for .6 acres and 1 WFUF (Wildland Fire Use Fire) for 11,000 acres. New positions; A Fire Effects Manager (GS-9) will be opening this winter, both in and outside the Park Service. The Cache Manager position has been filled by Cathy York.

Kootenai NF: Fires in 1999: 164 wild fires for 228 acres. Prescribed Fires: 7800 acres of natural fuels treated and 4800 acres of activity fuels treated. A new budget process is causing significant concerns in workforce planning. The fixed wing contract aircraft has been sold and that was the only local source for the KNF, so they will have to be looking to the east (Kalispell) or west (Bonners Ferry or Coeur d'alene) for a fixed wing aircraft. They are working on a new helicopter contract and hoping to upgrade to a high performance Type III.

Next meeting will be held on April 25, 2000 at a location to be named later.