Category Archives: Firefighting

Posts and news from the world of wildland firefighting.

A lot more than ‘resources’: Three years on the fire lines; Columbian reporter who fought forest fires in college days talks shop in human terms

(This personal essay was a commission from an editor that turned out to be pretty fun.) We were trying to stop a several-acre fire in thick, dead timber when our only source of water, and what seemed like our best … Continue reading

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How NOT to fell a tree

This: Continue reading

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Old firefighting document fun: “Water vs. Fire”

Look long enough in the right corners of the right land management offices or wildland fire stations, you might find Alva G. Neun’s “Water vs. Fire,” a 1950 (reprinted in 1968) booklet on best practices for using water as a firefighting tool.

I work on an engine, where the mission is to bring water to the party whenever possible, so I found it extra fun. Continue reading

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Happy birthday, Smokey Bear

Today is Smokey Bear’s 68th birthday, so what better way to celebrate the old bear than share some old — and awesomely cheesy — prevention commercials I found on the Internet.

Enjoy, and remember, “Only you…”: Continue reading

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Cleaning fire shirts

Part of the PPE, or personal protective equipment, for fighting fire is the ubiquitous fire-resistant yellow shirt, often just called a “yellow.”

Hours, days, weeks and months on end, firefighters are wearing one of these shirts. But most of us don’t hang on to them after work; they go right back into a locker or engine compartment. If we aren’t too bushed from the day’s work, we might remember to hang it up on a peg somewhere for the sweat to dry. I, for one, forgot or put off washing my yellow all last season. After throwing it on and feeling the crunchy embrace of that flame-resistant, funky fabric, I decided it was about time. Continue reading

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(VIDEO) Fire retardant drop

One of the most effective, and cool to see, tools in wildland firefighting is the air tanker. In one dive, one tanker can unload thousands of gallons of water or fire retardant onto a fire. The biggest are repurposed cargo jets that can dump in excess of 10,000 gallons. Continue reading

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Burning pine snags and hazard tree felling

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Our engine was staging on the south side of Big Summit Prairie on the Ochoco National Forest, in position to respond to any fires caused by the thunderstorms overhead that Monday. On a ridge over forest highway 42, we saw what looked like a big cloud of dust. But it had been raining, so there couldn’t be any dust. Sure enough, lightning had struck a ponderosa pine snag at the far end of a rocky scab flat. Continue reading

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