Bravery, Compassion, Courage and Duty ~ Please take the time to read.

Most are aware of the great tragedy that struck down 19 American heroes yesterday on the Yarnell Hill Fire in AZ. I would like to send my deepest sympathies and condolenscese to those families as well as the families of those displaced by the raging fire.

(photo from a friend on Facebook)

You see, the wildland fire community is small, tight, close-knit. For a decade I wore the Vibram-soled boots and laced them with pride and a sense of purpose, with a dash of yearning for arduous adventures. The hours are long, the food is usually not delicious and often come from a pouch of dehydrated camp food in the form of an MRE, and it is dangerous. BUT, we have fun, we make lasting friendships, we share in hardships and like yesterday proved, we share in our losses. Many of us remember the crews and people that we worked with, side-by-side for two straight weeks for years to follow, long after the last ember is snuffed out. I never had the pleasure of working with the Granite Mountain Hotshots, but it is no surprise to me to hear that they were strong, smart, professional in every way. I thank them and commend them for their hard work and the ultimate sacrifice that they made to try and stop the blaze from continuing on its' path of destruction. We will remember your lasting impression on the fire community long after the footprints in the ashes have blown away.


It's an odd feeling, the deep despair that you feel when you hear of a fellow firefighter succumbing to the job they love. It's been called the "firebug" -- the innate love of fighting fire. Some folks have it, others do not. It's something that is just in your blood, so to speak. Every year, whether from car accidents, burnovers, falling snags (dead trees) or some other affliction, firefighters lives are lost. Each year, Americans build homes that are harder to defend against fires, constructing them closer and closer within the Wildland-Urban Interface.

I urge you, as a courtesy to your local firefighters, do what you can! Don't let these brave souls sacrifice their lives in vain. Make sure you have defensible space around your property. Have a plan! Cooperate with fire officials if evacuations are called for. Do your part. (To learn more about how you can make your home and property more fire-safe or to get your community to make a plan of action, go here: Firewise.org

The other amazing way that you can help, if you feel compelled, is to donate to the Wildland Fire Foundation. This organization has helped a close personal friend of mine after he had an accident in the line of duty--think of it as a group to help firefighters and their families, just as you would a wounded vet. On their site, you can donate to the cause, send a thank you message to firefighters all over, and much more. I am in no way affiliated with the organization, I just think it's worthwhile and wanted to alert readers to its' existence.

It is at times like this that I hug my loved ones a little tighter. I am thankful that I was always lucky while on the fire line, and as I go to work now in a dispatch office, I am cognizant of each and every firefighter that I order and send them off with many thanks and prayers for safety.

Please pray for my friends and colleagues in the fire community. Pray for Yarnell. Pray for everyone that is affected by wildfire each year and all those that march out each season to help snuff out the fires.
 

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