Smokejumpers are a bizarre breed who have to pass an extremely rigorous physical fitness test each year — one thing they have to do is run 3 miles in 22 minutes and Marines say smokejumpers training is harder than boot camp — before being allowed back into training. Interestingly, one of them, Trooper, paid his own way to China in an attempt to convince the Chin Taylor began smokejumping in and, near age fifty, finally quit after the summer ofthe worst fire season in half a century. Interestingly, one of them, Trooper, paid his own way to China in an attempt to convince the Chinese they should begin smokejumping the large fires they have in China, but the Chinese said it was too lethal.
His four years on a backcountry Forest Service crew provide authentic material—sometimes startlingly so—for his observations. If you want a look behind the flames to see what drives these people to come back year after blistering year then read this book.
Forest Service tackling wildland fires, as well as a detailed chronicle of the training, preparation, and bonhomie of depot life. By exploring how joining a firecrew matches, confirms, and extends the values of the rural culture within which the recruits grew up, Desmond offers a unique perspective on the social and psychological motivations for firefighting.
The richness of the data he uncovers and his arresting style of presentation make this a distinctive and evocative work. On a mild December day, as I was splitting and stacking a cord of freshly cut pine, Owen Mills drove his rusted Chevy across the lawn and lent a hand.
In his soft-spoken way, he asked if I wanted to fight wildfire that summer. I piled a few more logs on the stack and said yes. He helped me finish the woodpile before shaking my hand and driving away. But most important, I learned how to dig.
The veterans taught me that no job was more important than digging line, that primitive craft of creating a yard-wide trail of mineral soil between a moving fire and unburned fuel. I practiced digging with different hand tools and different techniques, and I dug line on my first fires.
When the summer ended, I walked away with a few blisters on my hands, a few cuts in my boots, and a deep longing for the next fire season. I returned to Elk River for four seasons.
Duringwhich would be my last, I carried a tape recorder and a notepad. I was simultaneously firefighter and ethnographer. As a member of the firecrew, from early May until late August I worked, ate, slept, traveled, socialized, and fought fire with fourteen other men stationed in the woodlands of northern Arizona.
Every day I carried a small notebook in the side pocket of my dark green Nomex fire pants and recorded observations, conversations, and events every chance I got. In addition, I conducted in-depth interviews lasting from forty-five minutes to three hours with all fourteen of my fellow crewmembers and several U.
I also collected documents such as training materials, fatality reports, press releases, guidebooks, and anything else I could get my hands on that would shed light on the inner workings of the Forest Service. I promised all my crewmembers confidentiality, and any names of people or places that would break that promise have been camouflaged by pseudonyms.
During my last season at Elk River thirty wildland firefighters died across the United States—the most sincewhen the body count reached thirty-six because of the deadly South Canyon fire, which alone claimed fourteen lives.
From twelve to twenty-two wildland firefighters die every year. Sincethe year the Great Fires of Idaho and Montana killed seventy-two, over nine hundred wildland firefighters have died fighting fire.
Most of them burned to death. And burning on a mountainside is a hellish death. When firefighters die in a forest fire, they burn from the inside out. The fire sets up its prey before it arrives by emitting a radiant heat that cooks the air.
Trapped firefighters hysterically inhale the on-fire oxygen, which melts their lungs before the ravaging crematorium consumes their bodies. Imagine moving closer and closer to a whistling kettle, through its steam, until finally your lips wrap themselves around the spout and you suck in with deep and frequent breaths.
On all fires, no matter their size, wildland firefighters must carry a fire shelter—a single-person tent made of paper-thin aluminized material neatly folded into a four-by-eight-inch package, belt-strapped at the base of the spine.
During a fire entrapment, and only as a last resort, they pop their shelters and deploy by lying face down on previously cleared ground with their hands and feet anchoring the rectangular shelter and their faces pressed against the dirt as the world ignites around them.
The shelter affords trapped firefighters only two advantages:I wanted to be a wildland firefighter for some years before I was hired by the Forest Service last year. I studied engineering at UW-Madison for a year before realizing that I would rather spend time navigating forest roads than office regardbouddhiste.com /after-action-when-do-you-become-a-firefighter.
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