Feeling the Need to Stay Till it's Out

In Robert Mutch's article Firefighter safety: Just leave the line, he argues the point that firefighters are still staying on the line past the point where it is safe to do so. Why? Because it's often assumed firefighters are there to put the fire out or save the home from burning.

I remember this happening to me on the Radio Fire, when the City of Flagstaff was threatened.

Although we were told in training that no tree is worth a life, we still tried to save the trees at any and all costs. Plus, wildland firefighters have no training in fighting structure fires. With more homes built closer to formerly wild areas, they are often called upon to protect homes.Someone needs to draw the line, or change the training.

Will the Truth be Told?

Contradictory information abounds...will we ever know the truth behind the deaths of the Granite Mountain 19? Lawsuits are being filed left and right. Public outrage at the news that the relatives of the victims would not be receiving the same benefits as full time employees was understandable, since many were unaware of current policy.  However, the reality is they were seasonal employees, and being a summer firefighter means you are a temporary employee. I know of no profession that pays temporary employees benefits. Should this be changed? Probably. Will it be? Probably not.

Many lives were lost this past summer, and this will most likely happen again. Firefighting is dangerous work. All we can hope for is to learn from mistakes, and do the best we can to avoid tragedies.

Over Thirty Years Later, the Problems Continue

The Tucson Weekly published an article recently about a retired woman firefighter, who faced abusive behavior while performing her job. Her lawsuit is still up in the air.

Reading this article brought back many memories. Not only did I have to deal with the same kinds of complaints from my crew, but some of my supervisors (also men) were not supportive. When I filed an EEO complaint against a man who outwardly discriminated against me, no actions were taken. The year after the complaint, I discovered that the complaint followed me to another National Forest, and I found myself  "blacklisted" from every being on a fire crew there. I, too, was labeled a troublemaker.

There is no doubt in my mind that this woman held her own at work, because if I could do it, so can she. I find it frustrating this continues. No wonder only 1% of firefighters in this country are women.