Forest firefighter Mary Pauline Lowry writes eloquently about what it's like to be a firefighter, and why those that take on this dangerous work love their job. I found it particularly interesting how she hit it right on the nail: we don't do this work thinking we will die on the fireline, but certainly know it's a possibility.
When I fought fires, the Elden Fire threatened homes, burning right up to the edges of neighborhoods. I cruised the fireline with my tanker crew, with strict orders NOT to get involved with structure fires. That made sense - we weren't trained to.
My supervisor in Kenai, Alaska demanded we carry Scott Air Packs in case we were asked to help with a structure fire. We were forced to have one on our truck, but refused to use them. We knew we were not qualified.
And here it is, 30+ years later, and the dilemma is still there. Why? Until wildfire fire crews are trained to fight structure fires, they have no business being involved. Even putting them in a situation where it may become inevitable is wrong. Fire officials need to take a long, hard look at firefighting strategies. I agree with Ms. Lowry. Something is wrong.