More Federal Firefighters Moving On

“The situation has grown so dire that the San Bernardino National Forest in Southern California saw 42 resignations in 48 hours in May, officials said.”


I guess we’ll see Congress extend the extra pay, but the firefighters want other issues addressed, too.

9 thoughts on “More Federal Firefighters Moving On”

  1. What amazes me, is this is all while on nearly any District/Forest, the fire side of the USFS gets the most and easiest funding, new engines, new equipment, many times new barracks and facilities, while the -ologists may not even get seasonal employees, and when the perms leave, most Districts/Forests choose to not backfill them, but pawn the work off on the remaining ones (maybe with a temporary pay bump if they get assigned to be temp Forest -ologist).
    I know you’ve pointed this out many times Larry, but all the funding in the world for projects doesn’t mean anything when there are no trained intelligent workers to set them up, and overworked true believers trying to do what they can. Add in this, and it is a recipe for quite the vicious cycle, at least for perhaps certain areas of the USFS.

    • This seems like a major capacity problem. Anon, what do you think drives this? Clearly units need resource specialists to do work. Why wouldn’t the Districts backfill them? Is there money for projects but not for employees? Trying to understand.

      • The fire-industrial complex drives it. Fires and their expenses used to be scrutinized, but I haven’t seen that happen in many years. It’s an open checkbook for anything fire-related. Meanwhile district natural resource employees are told there is no money for travel or training or even basic supplies. A lot of flexibility was lost when “budget reform” happened – there is only so much funding available for non-fire salary now and you can’t switch funds back and forth between salary and non-salary expenses like you used to be able to do.
        Right now the big bottleneck is lack of applicants for jobs – and the applicants that we do get are untrained or fresh out of college and there is no one to mentor or train them.

        • I thought maybe the ACES program could help with mentoring .. I guess if experienced people sign up to match your new folks that need mentoring and your unit has the bucks. How is that working for you all?

  2. Well, I tell ya what Anon, it’s going to have to get much worse before the majority of Americans finally see what you are describing, to the point they demand change. I like Chief Moore, but he hasn’t the fortitude to bring about the magnitude of reversing past detrimental calamity’s he inherited.

    Take ASC for instance, that was a “deal” with Senator Domenici of New Mexico to cover up something major the Department/Forest Service was discovered doing/done. I heard the consequence was a twenty year commitment that began in 2006, so maybe in three more years that will change, putting personnel officers back on Forests. That right there, would rocket the employee morale skyward, maybe to equal IRS Agents. It also would fix the hiring mess that is constraining every resource area in the FS. That should be job #1!

    One of my pet leaves is Travel Management; I never liked it anyway, the reason was sound but the actions were a collection of starts and stops, playing into the hands of the non-motorized crowd. The FS doesn’t follow their own Rule; many Forests have no MVUM maps for the public, the maps they have are outdated and violate the Rule itself and too much was promised about continuing adjusting the MVUM to identify new opportunities! I know of ranger districts who tell the public they have no maps because those maps are expensive, and they will not provide them anymore. As for downloading from FS websites, one I know of is four years outdated, based on the stamp date – also a violation of the Rule.

    These are only a couple examples; it still is a grand Agency doing good work! However, as you stated, the burnout and professional satisfaction is taking an increasing toll.

    So, buckle up, change is coming – don’t know when, but the Agency’s survival is becoming more and more at stake….

    • Jim, there is a new recreation initiative, they had a meeting last week and they are going to send me the report of the meeting when it’s done. I’ll post here. Maybe the MVUM problems will be addressed.

      • If that’s “Reimagine Recreation” I don’t think that’ll ever get traction. I talked to several folks, all up and down the GS scale, and could find no one supportive! Good ideas, but having adequate boos on the ground and partnerships that are already tapped out painted a true disconnect between “Planners” and ground pounders.

        Also, just as Anon said, the critical employee shortages cuts across all areas, not just fire….

        I am hopeful but something’s gotta change, and ASC would be a great start.

    • I was the legislative affairs liaison when ASC happened. I was in National Leadership Team meetings when the GO decision was made (over the objections of several RFs), at the Department, with congressional staffs, and never heard anything about this scandal and timeframe you mention. It was part of Bush’s outsourcing initiative, and Mark Rey’s relationship with Domenici, who chaired the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The B&F centralization had gone relatively well and they decided to do the same with HR. It, of course, became a disaster in many ways that has cost the Agency much more $ and turmoil than imagined. I don’t know why they’ve stuck with it, maybe fear that unwinding it could be worse. Other than leases in the ASC buildings, I can’t think of where a 20 year timeframe came from. Has it really been 17 years? I feel old!

      • Thanks for this background, Terri! Pretty soon all of us who remember things will be… er.. unavailable to add to our history so I appreciate this greatly.


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