The recent news about the mother of one of the Granite Mountain 19 filing a lawsuit over the death of her son is not surprising. Certainly something went wrong that day. However, is anyone to blame for this?
Although I feel deeply for those who lost someone in the tragedy, the reality is they all knew the job was dangerous. If this lawsuit is won, the door will be wide open for more to follow. As one person commented on the Wildfire Today post about this news, it’s a dangerous job and these men knew they did not have the same life insurance coverage as permanent employees. I fully understand the dedication to their work – I loved my job too, and never for a moment worried about dying on the fireline. It was my choice, and I wanted the job no matter what the consequences. However, as a single woman back then with no dependents, certainly I did not concern myself with particulars like death benefits. If I had been married with kids - that's a different story.
Fighting wildfires means dealing with unpredictability. I learned a long time ago there is no fury like Mother Nature unleashed. Were these men sent into an area that was unsafe? As far as I can tell, being just about anywhere on a fireline has the potential to be unsafe. Where I fear this is going, is firefighters will stand and watch fires burn instead of putting them out.
Backfiring on the Hog-Fong Fire 1977. Yeah, it was scary. But I accepted this as part of my job.