Segment on PBS show "Arizona Illustrated"

My interview on Arizona Illustrated will first air on Sunday, September 29th at 6:30 p.m. and subsequently 8 more times on KUAT Channel 6 and Channel 6 PLUS. It will also be viewable online. I hope you'll come watch!

ARIZONA ILLUSTRATED: EPISODE 604: 
WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER

OR Watch on YouTube (I'm the last guest.)

Odyssey Storytelling "Disaster"

What a blast I had on September 5th, 2019, telling a "Disaster" themed story at Odyssey Storytelling in Tucson, Arizona! My disaster happened while battling my very first wildfire in 1976. 

Here's the podcast link. (I'm the second storyteller.)


Firefighting dangers: Felling trees

Felling trees is a dangerous task to begin with, but that task is even more dangerous when the tree is on fire. In both cases there's a danger of limbs falling while you are cutting, the tree not falling the way you intended either because of hidden decay or other structural problems with the tree, and the phenomenon of 'barber chair', where the tree splits and kicks back at the sawyer, which can be fatal. 

Why do firefighters cut down trees that are burning? Usually it is because the tree threatens to breach the fireline, or because it is close to where fire crews are working. The challenge of cutting down a burning tree is of course standing that close to flames, but there is also the risk of the gas in the chain saw catching on fire. Watch this video to get a feel for the danger and risks involved.


Firefighting dangers: Mopping up

"Mopping up" after a wildland fire is a tedious, dirty, and difficult, but necessary, job.

Once the fire is contained within a fireline, only part of the work is done. To prevent the fire from restarting later, crews now need to comb the burned area in search of hotspots--burning stumps, logs and other debris that could threaten containment. Every single one.

One would think the danger is over now. But that's where the danger lies: believing the danger is over.

Exhaustion plays a role. The firefighter may have spent 16 hours battling the fire, and after a short break, it's time to go back to work. With the rush of adrenaline gone, it's easy to fall into the belief that you can let your guard down. But you can't. Falling trees have been known to kill people during the mop up stage. You also have to watch out for burning stumps, with hotbeds of coals that are hidden by ashes. If you step into one, you could end up with serious burns.  Rocks are loosened when there is no vegetation to hold them in place, and they can tumble at any time.

And then there is the risk that the fire restarts. In a heartbeat you go from mopping up to active fire suppression. 

Here's a video to give you an idea of what mop up entails. This lucky crew was able to have water available. Quite often this is not the case. When there is no water, you are stuck with using dirt to smother the flames, removing oxygen, or by chopping the burning roots or logs apart so they cool down.

Firefighting dangers: Backfiring


 
Backfiring the 1977 Hog Fong Fire

Using fire to fight fire has long been a technique to control a raging wildfire, and they can be successful.

However, these are also quite dangerous and can sometimes make the original fire worse. 

The main danger: an unexpected change in wind direction can trap firefighters between the fire they are battling and the one they are setting.

For more on this technique and the use of prescribed fire, check out this article.

Firefighting dangers: Slurry

Slurry (fire retardant) is often used to battle wildfires. While slurry can be useful in helping to control a fire, it will not put the fire out. Instead, it cools and slows the fire so that ground crews can build a fireline. 

Back when I fought fire, I remember talk about men putting themselves in situations where they could be hit by slurry for bragging rights about being on the hottest part of the fire. 

I always knew this was crazy, if not deadly. 

Watch this video, and you will know what I mean.

 

Filming for PBS show Arizona Illustrated

What a thrill to land an interview on my local PBS station! I will be talking about my firefighting career and visiting the scene of my second wildfire and Florida (Flor-ee-da) Ranger Station, where I spent three summers on a fire suppression crew.


Here are some photos from filming on location.




Never Give Up: My article on Outdoor Evolution



So how did I, a woman, end up applying for a job on a fire crew with the U.S. Forest Service...

Forest History Today's review of my book




Summers of Fire captures the brief firefighting career of a pioneer in the profession. Linda Strader was twenty years old when in 1976 she became one of the first women hired on a Forest Service fire crew, a career that ended in 1982 when an injury forced her to resign. Strader is an excellent memoirist, conveying equally well her harrowing experiences fighting fires in the woods in Arizona and elsewhere and the sexual harassment and discrimination in the fire camps and offices of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. Her attempts to advance her career were undermined or thwarted at nearly every turn by those who believed women did not belong in firefighting. She left the agency, married a member of her original crew, and became a landscape architect. But the challenge of pleasing a resentful husband while having a career took its toll; it took her years to find a sense of purpose and resilience, as well as the courage alluded to in the subtitle. Although it might be easy to characterize the book as being for women because of its inspirational message about trying to make it in “a man’s world,” men would greatly benefit from reading it, too, if only to learn that it takes more courage to fight for respect and dignity than it does to fight a wall of flames. (J.L.)

Forest History Today Spring/Fall 2018 Vol. 24 NOS. 1 & 2 Published May 2019

Camp Fury Event: Nontraditional job introduction

I had the honor to speak yesterday in front of 30 sixteen-year-old girls about my experiences as a wildland firefighter at a Girl Scout Camp Fury event.

This program is awesome! It introduces Girl Scout teens to the world of nontraditional jobs available to them, with hands on experience in structural firefighting and other public service professions.

The girls were interested and engaged while I spoke, and asked great questions. I hope some of them decide to pursue one of these lines of work. We need more women in nontraditional jobs!

 

Book talk and signing at Tucson's Main Library

What a great turnout at my book talk yesterday at Tucson's Main Library! And the audience was really interested and engaged. Always nice when that happens!




My interview on Stories that Empower

I had the honor of meeting Sean Farjadi on his podcast "Stories That Empower." Here's a summary from Sean of what we talked about:

Linda experienced harassment as one of the first women on a U.S. Forest Service fire crew. The more they harassed her, the more she didn't want to quit, e.g. fires were not the only things she fought. When Linda encountered an obstacle, she would come up with alternatives. After losing her job, losing her mom and getting divorced, she rebuilt her life for the 3rd time. Writing her book enabled Linda to reconnect with her 20s and remind her that she is tenacious and resilient. She reinvented herself and starting teaching others. Linda shares these powerful nuggets of life wisdom:
- we are more resilient than we think
- figure out what's holding you back
- confirm assumptions that explain why you're stuck
- don't let people stop you from what you want to do
- permit yourself to say no
- trust your gut
- there are always options


Come have a listen to the full podcast! 

Local author event at the Joyner Green Valley Library

What a wonderful time I had last week at my library's local author event! There were two authors besides me who gave presentations about their book. 

I spoke about the history of women in the US Forest Service, and how I came to be one of the first women on a Forest Service fire crew in the 1970s.

The audience of thirty were attentive and interested, and asked wonderful questions. I sold all of the books I'd brought with me. 



 

My guest post: You have a book deal...now what?

Many thanks to Kathy Pooler for inviting me to return to her blog and write about my publishing experience. Come visit, and if you leave a comment, you may win an ebook of Summers of Fire!

You Have a Book Deal..Now What?

The Society of Southwestern Authors Annual Author Showcase

I'm quite honored to have participated in this event last weekend! (Yes, I was the one on crutches, but not anymore!)

 

Who knew I could write a book?

Many thanks to Suzie Tullett for sharing my post on her blog about how I became a published author.