Skip to comments."I'M ASHAMED OF THIS" Interview with a 'copter Wildfire Fighter.
Posted on 08/02/2002 7:10:45 PM PDT by AuntB
The following is a transcribed portion of an interview aired today on the Lars Larson radio program from Portland, Or., which is broadcast across the Northwest from noon to 4:00 P.M. pacific. There is little I can add to his exchange with the executive vice-president of a company that supplies helicopter service to the US Forest service to show the inept and dangerous policies of this bureaucracy. Please bring these disclosures to your congress peoples attention and demand the policy of silence and media blackout practiced by the Forest Service and environmental groups stop. Our homes, forests and lives are being destroyed and YOU, the taxpayers are funding it.
***** Lars Larson: [Our radio affiliate, KCMX, Medford, Or The Morning Express with Garth & Rosemary, 880 AM] called me this morning and said Mark Lindamood (sp) has just an unbelievable story to tell about Carson Helicopter and some work its been doing for the Forest Service in fighting these forest fires. Mark, why dont you tell people how many helicopters you have up there working on behalf of the public to get those fires put out.
ML: Well, today we have 9 aircraft flying on the Toolbox fire, Timbered Rock, and the Southbisquit Fire.
LL: people should realize that at one point, Marks helicopter pilots were told to stop taking water out of a pond to fight fires .Mark, why did your pilots decide that was a good pond to take water out of to dump on that fire?
ML: First let me preface this with the Oregon State dept. of Forestry is who we are working with on the Timbered Rock fire and in my opinion, as having done this for thousands of hours and many years, the Oregon State Dept. of Forestry is by far and above the best fire fighting team in the whole nation. These guys are absolute professionals and they were working on TR fire headed up by Phil Hostetter (sp). They found a dried out pond on the Josephine/Jackson County line. They took a dozer up, bladed out the pond a little bit, knocked down a couple trees I think, and that gave us good ingress and egress for our giant water buckets
We flew out of that for a day or so, it shortened the turn around time from 10 minutes down to 2 or 3 minutes. And they kept the pond filled with water trucks that came up from Lost Creek or Elk Creek, someplace and kept the pond filled BUT, we were just on the other side of the US Forest Service line and we were within their boundaries. So they came up yesterday (8/1) and shut the pond down and they gated it and prohibited trucks from coming in. Their reason for this was . we didnt ask for permission and they didnt have what is called a Dip Site Manager on site. This is a problem that pervades the whole helicopter industry and its part of the USFS big overall problem. So they shut us down and we went back to running about a 10 minute flight for water.
Now, that land we we're on was not a park, it was not a road less area, it was not a wilderness area, it was a multiple use forest service property. In other words, YOUR PROPERTY ..
They finally got a dip site manager in, who by the way, sits on the heli-base about 15, 20 miles from the dig site and he or she brought their paperwork in but that pond is not opened up yet because they are still trying to sort it out and thats about a day and a half thats gone by that we cant use that site.
Listen, it gets worse. We have to wait constantly for these quote managers. First of all theyre named wrong, they should be called liaisons because when theyre designated managers they interpret that in their own mind as boss. These are people who are part timers or they work for the forest service full time and work part time as a manager. This week we waited for two days waiting for a manager with our aircraft sitting in front of the hanger in the Grants Pass airport 7 miles from a major forest fire that is threatening homes, burning up property, and certainly wasting and burning up our own natural resources. With the USFS we have to have one manager per aircraft Under extreme emergencies a manager can handle two type one aircraft. We dont carry people, we only carry water .all our pilots have more than 15,000 hours, they all in their fifties, most of them, and were waiting on some college student while peoples homes are burning. The worst of it was on the fire in Colorado, near Durango, we had 3 aircraft working along a housing development .. The three aircraft were keeping the fire away from this sub[division]by laying down retardant. The Columbia (another company) aircraft had to leave in about 20 minutes for fuel. They called our aircraft, which had almost 2 hours of fuel remaining aboard, and told us we had to come in because its time for [our] 2 ½ hour rest break. Our guys said they didnt need the break,[ they were used to flying 10 hour days every day] .they said you come in and land or youre going to be in violation . .you have to remember, we have to fly 15 or 20 minutes back to the heli-base, shut the aircraft down, stop the rotors and then start it back up again and fly back out ..by the time our aircraft got back out there the housing development was GONE.
This kind of garbage, this kind of crap is why the president needs authority to fire people in our Homeland Defense. .these people in the USFS are only interested in their wages, their time off, vacation time, their retirement, THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT OUR RESOURCES .we have to operate our aircraft when were flying for the USFS at our very minimum. We have a performance section in flight manuals, a limitation section. They take our performance section, which is only there as a guideline, and make us operate on the very minimum of that. under the guise of safety, USFS is the only place in the world I can work that Im forced to do the absolute minimum that I can do and get paid the absolute maximum. ..I honestly think now that the USFS doesnt care about our resources, they only care about their next years budget. The bigger their budget is this year, the bigger it will be next year. Their answer to it is to hire more managers.
LL: What is it that the public can do to help you get some of the bureaucrats to get off the dime and actually let you and your pilots do their jobs?
ML: They need to get in touch with their congress people, senators. Its almost like its so big now that its feeding on itself .and I will tell you in my opinion, they are at least partially responsible for some of the devastating loss that people have experienced here. We wait ..sometimes 2 days for this manager to come, and that may not sound like a long time to the forest service people ..but if your home is burning or your barn is on fire or youre losing your timber stand, that is a lifetime of wait.
I want to go back to the 21/2 hour mandatory coffee break .. I wrote for a rule change .to the National Interagency Fire Center, who hires us, and we ask to change the rule because our aircraft are designed to fly 8 hours. We have special equipment in them that we can fly 8 straight without landing .and we do it every day, day in, day out. J. P. Johnston (sp), the head of the helicopter portion of NIFC told us that we would have to hire a lobbyist or hire their lobbyist to change that rule.
Our daily availability rate is $19,256.00 plus $2,414.00 for every hour we fly plus all the other fees. We LOVE the money we get. The thing is Lars, Im personally ashamed. Im ashamed of this
(Excerpt) Read more at larslarson.com ...
You can catch Lars Larsons remarkably informative shows on the net or across the Northwest on your radio dial. You may also link to your congress people on his web site. Besides, its usually a good read. WWW.LARSLARSON.COM
The gentleman with Carson Helicopters stated further that he had tried to get the local newspapers and the Oregonian interested in this story, but they didnt have the time to hear it. He also stressed that the USFS has gone "green" and that we are supporting our own downfall by supporting the big Enviromental conglomerates. Don't be mistaken, the donation business is lucrative. Further, he noted that the media is not allowed to approach the fire areas or interview any fire fighters, pilots, etc. by order of the USFS. Noted by another source as well, bulldozers that locals have volunteered are kept from the fires until they pass USFS "inspection" and must only be 1 or 2 years old. Some have sat for days before being allowed to be used against the fire.
Our continued thanks go to Rosemary and Garth Harrington of KCMX, Medford for originally bringing this to our attention early Friday morning when no one else seemed willing to report it.
Seems the feds have decided to provide more descriptive job titles to some positions... ;0)
No, should be...Please fire someone!
Hell, if we could launch thousand-plane bombing raids against Nazi Germany, surely we could put a couple dozen or so Strato-cruisers in round the clock "bombing" operations against a forest fire. Let it rain!
It's getting out of hand - I always thought the nico-nazis were bad, I'm starting to wonder if the enviro-nazis are possibly worse. But they all do the same thing - destroy the rights of others - including destroying the PRIVATE property rights of others.