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Fri May 8, 2020, 08:09 PM

 

As a former Forestry Dept. fire-fighter, this scares the shit out of me. [View all]

Fire season is upon us, and everyone living in the western U.S. knows what that means. The fires are going to come. Despite increased pressure from climate change and more people moving into boundary areas, the various agencies charged with wilderness fire-fighting do an admirable, sometimes heroic job. USDF green is one of the uniforms I will be forever proud that I wore. (along with Coast Guard blue).

What most people don't know is what a fire camp is like. They are crowded, hot, dirty, dry, full of toxic air (smoke, retardant, diesel, and just plain BO). Social distancing is impossible. Proper sanitation is impossible. Water (for anything other than drinking) is rare. Fire-fighters are crowded nut-to-butt, and are constantly trading equipment with strangers coming on or off the line. The idea of 20 sec hand washing is laughable. (3 min showers every 3 days when I worked the Santa Cruz "Blue Mountain" fire, and a wet wipe before meals or honey pot visits). That water has to be hauled up 50 miles of bad dirt road, with traffic jams.

Oh, and latex gloves and paper masks are out, except for camp, because of that pesky fire thing.

Now, wilderness fire-fighters DO self-select for people who are healthy and risk tolerant, and because fire season doesn't coincide with flu season, this hasn't really been a major concern. Now things are different.

Add to that the complete nightmare of an urban/wild boundary fire (cf. Paradise, CA), and trying to help hundreds, maybe thousands, of fire refugees without the usual FEMA/Red Cross shelters and food kitchens.

I know this is only one permutation of the times, and probably not the most important, but it IS important. Forestry (fed or state) will not get another dime. tRumpCo wants to see the west burn.

Keep them in mind, they are, along with the infantry and ER nurses, true front-line. Our fire-fighters are hard-core heroes, doing their job because it's needed. Find out what the front line fire grunts in your area need, and help if you can.

To anyone who is going to strap on a Pulaski and a piss-bag this summer, I salute you, and I wish I was there.

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Reply As a former Forestry Dept. fire-fighter, this scares the shit out of me. [View all]
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