Ecology And Environment

Common Forest Fire Fighting Experiences



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Fighting forest fires sounds exciting and adventurous with flames raging through the trees and you struggling to save the woods and everything that lives there.  It is a very honorable profession, but most of the firefighters are part time and mainly just labor.  How can I say this?  I was a part time firefighter for 6 years while at university!

My roommate was in forestry while I was in Agriculture, but when the Forest Service asked for people willing to take a fire fighting course, I signed up.  It was just a short physical and then a one day course in basic firefighting techniques.  After the course, one would be a qualified firefighter for the United States Forestry Service.  You also got paid for taking the course as that was handy as a college student paying his own way!  The physical and the course were simple, and so it turned out for fighting the fires, or at least what we were used for!

The most important tools were a shovel, a rake and a blower.  Some people also got to carry an axe!  You were taught mainly how to create a fire break, a wide path to separate the area on fire from the area that wasn't.  One person went along with the blower, then the rake and then a shovel for embedded logs.  The axe person was for dealing with large, dead trees.  We were taught to rotate positions and first aid.

We did actually fight a few forest fires, but were part of the 90% of forest firefighters that stayed safe and put out most of the fire.  No jumping out of planes or dramatic rescues, we were the grunts.  We cleared lines, cut ditches and then watched these trenches and breaks to make sure that they stopped the fire!  It i few cases, we started counter fires that were controlled to help slow down the wildfire that was raging out of control.

Ironically enough, we were considered extremely good at what we did, which meant that we never had to use the first aid skills, never got trapped by a backfire and never really had any forest fire adventures!  It also meant that we saved a lot of trees, a lot of woods, and was well worth out time and effort! 

Saving the forests is what is important to every outdoor and nature enthusiast!

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