Board of Directors Meeting


0900, March 6, 2000


Greg Poncin

Dennis Dupuis

Jack Kirkendall

Dan Bailey

Scott Waldron (until app. 1100 hrs)

The meeting began about 0930 because of the late arrival of some of the board.

Mike Plattes, NRCC Coordinator, was present for this portion of the meeting. He presented the history of this proposal from the perspective of the NRCC, and explained that if the SW Zone agreed to the co-location, he would be moving his operation to a modular building which would be constructed at another AFD location. If the board did not agree to the move, then he would stay in his current office. However, certain duties and responsibilities will be shifted to the zone regardless.

Some revisions of the scoping document were suggested. Dennis wished to see more elaboration on "efficiencies" and benefits to the zone that he could take to his line officer. Jack wanted us to take another look at "combining" rather than limiting the scope strictly to "co-locating". The group decided to take it one step at a time, and get the co-location done first then begin to look at other options in the future. Jack was also concerned that SMICC personnel and management would need some training to successfully take on the responsibility of I/A aircraft. Mike Plattes assured the group that he would provide whatever assistance was needed to insure SDC is equipped to handle the job safely and efficiently.

Steve Holden asked about how we would handle the fact that Andy Randall is funded 25% from SWLO (50602). One of the "givens" in the scoping document was that we would not reduce or eliminate any of the current services SDC provides it's cooperators, unless requested to do so. But because he would be physically separated from SWLO, there would likely be periods of time when Andy will have to work at the SWLO (and away from SDC) to accomplish his DNRC-specific workload.

Greg Poncin (representing Plains Unit DNRC) and Dennis expressed concerns regarding increased cost-share of the partners. Mike Plattes responded that Region 1 will likely offer us the facility free of charge (for a certain limited period of time) in exchange for the increased R1 responsibilities SDC would pick up. In addition, Mike offered us a 13-week position from his current organization to help pick up the load. Also, NRC would leave all their office equipment in place for SDC to use when they move to their new building. This would include computers, phones, copy and fax machines, etc. Analysis of several possible scenarios indicate that there will likely be very little or no change in the amounts owed by the partners if this were the case. A workload analysis would be done following the first year of operation to verify staffing is appropriate for the workload, and results would be brought to the board for discussion.

The board approved moving ahead with this process. Dan and Tad will work with Glenda on finalizing the draft, and obtaining sign-off from all the agencies. The next step in the process is the production of a similar report by MDC (or perhaps the addition of MDC-specific information to the current draft scoping document). Following that will be the production of a "MOU" or something similar to present to the Region 1.

The only snag at this time is appears to be the timing of the move. SDC/MDC cannot begin the process of remodeling and moving until NRC has vacated the site. They are still shooting for October 1, 2000 however it is unlikely they will be ready to go by that date. Tad's feeling is that if SDC cannot be moved and functional in the new location by April 1 of 2001, then we will need to delay moving until the end of the 2001 fire season (again, so that service to the zone is not interrupted and safety is not compromised).

In 1998, the NRCG assembled a review team to re-examine and validate recommendations made in their 1996 Dispatch/Coordination Task Force Review. Discussions were held with fire staff at the Bitterroot N.F., SDC, and NRC. The Team recommended that BRF Dispatch should be able to expand to handle their own support dispatch needs, rather than come to SDC. This procedure was followed during the 1999 fire season. Some problems relating to dispatching procedures arose from this change. A meeting chaired by Barry Hicks (R1) was held to air out these problems. Final procedures were ironed out by dispatch center staff (Kathy Elzig, Tad Kolwicz, Andy Randall, Nancy Gibson) in January 2000.

From the National Dispatch System's perspective, the Bitterroot N.F. will operate as a stand-alone center for initial attack, extended attack, and expanded dispatching. The Bitterroot National Forest Dispatch Office has been assigned a unique designator (BRC). BRC will designate neighbors which will be called before they place an order to the NRC. SDC will be one of the neighbors. If BRC comes to SDC with an order which we cannot fill, it will be returned to BRC as "unable-to-fill" (UTF). BRC may then place that order directly to NRC.

The Bitterroot N.F. wishes to remain in a partner in the SDC zone with their continued participation in the coordination of training and dissemination of intelligence to the other partners. BRC will be given a page on the SMICC.COM web site as the other partners will have.

The assignment of each SDC partner's share of SDC's operating expenses is calculated using a formula which considers a certain weighted average of SDC business for each of the partners. It considers, among other things, the number of resource orders processed for each of the partners compared to the total for the zone. Now that BRC will only be coming to SDC as a neighbor and because NRC will go directly to BRC for out-of-zone resources (bypassing SDC), we will see a reduction in the Bitterroot Forests percentage and an increase in the amounts from the remaining partners. We have not recalculated the percentages in several years.

Jack asked that we recalculate the percentages, and the rest of the board agreed. They also agreed we would use an average of the last three years as the basis. Tad will complete the calculation this spring and make a report to the board at that time.

Because they are now acting in the capacity of a "Dispatch Center", BRC will pick up the responsibility of engine mobilization in their area. As it stands right now, Bitterroot N.F. agency engines and local contractors will be removed from the SDC engine mobilization rotation, and BRC will enter into the rotation managed by NRC (which includes SDC and the other centers under NRC).

The question then arose as what rotation should the Ravalli County (local government) equipment fall under. Mike Plattes contended that they should now fall under BRC's rotation. Gordon Geiser, representing the Ravalli County forces, pointed out that this would be substantially different than last years situation, where Ravalli and Missoula County engines are both considered separate entities in the SDC rotation (as are the initial attack dispatch offices at CS&KT, PDC, MDC, CLW unit, and ANA unit). Since the Engine Mobilization operating plan we have operated from last year will have to be changed for this season due to changes at the Bitterroot, it was agreed that Steve Holden would pull that board back together this spring to revisit this issue and make the necessary changes to the operating plan.

Until this plan is received, we will operate under the 1999 plan. If an out-of-area engine order is received, we will apply the order we were left with at the end of last season, but with the removal of BRC agency engines and Ravalli County contractors:

  1. Anaconda Unit
  2. Missoula County
  3. Plains
  4. Clearwater Unit
  5. Missoula Dispatch
  6. Ravalli County
  7. CS&K Tribes

We will do a random drawing for determining the order of dispatch for this season if and when requested to do so by the Engine Mobilization Committee.

The final budget for the current operating year was approved by the board, and they all received copies.

Julie Polutnik is being moved to SMICC and Rochelle Knapp will likely not return for the upcoming season. That leaves Kitty with a current lack of staff. The board was asked for any suggestions they may have to solve this problem. Dennis thought that he might have a person who would be willing to commit to MFF for all or a portion of the flight season. The downside would be this person would have a two-hour commute each day, so would have to work four 10-hour days to get 32 hours of duty time per week.

If we were to utilize the tribal person, his wages would be used as an offset against the tribal portion of the SMICC bill. This would result in an increase due from each of the other cooperators. Greg mentioned that though he felt that MFF was important and provided benefits to the zone, it didn't provide Plains with any direct benefit to offset increased costs to his agency (Plains DNRC).

Dan said he would ask the Region (Barry Hicks?) if they would provide any assistance for the summer. A possibility might be using an injured smokejumper, if he/she was suited for the flight-following job. None of the other board members had a comment on the solution to the problem.

The zone was asked by Tim Murphy (DNRC) to address a radio frequency issue which occurred in the zone last summer. Florence Fire Department used the "Red" frequency from their base station, which they aren't licensed to do. Gordon Geiser from FFD and Sean Gallagher (DNRC) were asked to describe the problem to the group, and recommend solutions.

It became apparent that the problem could be solved by improving discussions and coordination in the Bitterroot Valley. Steve Holden will sit down with Gordon, MDC, BRF, and other local government forces to develop a radio operations plan. A common Mutual Aid Frequency will be assigned and used. Letters of Authorization for use of this frequency will be obtained as needed from the appropriate line officers.

With Sandy Evenson (NRCG Executive Secretary) in attendance, a discussion on the status of NRCG activity in Southwest Zone took place. There is a feeling among some NRCG folks that we are not contributing / participating as much as other zones. Tad's feeling is that he has not been able to function very effectively as Zone Representative, nor has there been much input from the various committee members within the zone. A decision was made to fill the Southwest Zone representative on a 2-year rotation among the SW Zone Board Members. Dennis expressed a desire to take the first stint, however his work plan this year will not allow it. Since Scott Waldron was not present at the time, he was "volunteered" to take the first rotation. Dan said he would call Scott and discuss the matter with him. Should Scott subsequently decline the commitment, Tad will take the matter up with the remaining members of the board.

It is necessary to proceed fairly rapidly with the process since the spring NWCG meeting will be held on April 19 and 20 in Coeur d'Alene. Agenda items for this meeting will need to be collected. In addition, some other zone input has been requested by Sandy Evenson and the zone rep will have to get up to speed before the meeting.

Tony Liane, as Tad's line supervisor within DNRC, presented a draft performance plan to the members of the board for review and comment. Tony will use the final document to rate performance on an annual basis. As of today's date (03/16/00), only Dennis has responded.

The meeting was adjourned @ approx. 1600 hours on March 6, 2000.