You are here: home   Issues   Mojave Squeeze   'Firefighting is not war'
Topic: Politics & Policy     Department: Letters

'Firefighting is not war'

Document Actions

John Maclean's statement that thousands of young firefighters go out every year with the "implicit" understanding that they will fight harder -- and take greater risks -- when homes are threatened concerns me ("Stand down from Western wildfires," HCN, 7/22/13). Interagency fire programs have been trying to change that mentality; standards and orders have been revised to put safety first. If there are crews out there still unaware of this, then fire managers need to re-emphasize these changes, which are not new.

I'm a retired fire and aviation manager with a son in charge of a crew. I remind him that firefighting is not war; it's a dangerous business, but people do not have to die doing it. All firefighters -- whether on the ground or airplane pilots -- have the right to refuse assignments they deem too dangerous. People who live in the wildland-urban interface, as I do, should know the chance they take. Those with defensible spaces are more likely to see their homes spared; those who still believe it will not happen to them are taking chances and should face the consequences. And when people refuse evacuation orders, I agree with a friend who's a Type One incident commander, who says: "Can we have the name of your dentist? We may need dental records for identification." Is he a hard-ass? Probably. But I would never expect some young firefighter to die for my home –– or for me, if I refuse to leave a dangerous situation.

Al Alvarez
Tubac, Arizona

Email Newsletter

The West in your Inbox

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
  1. A graceful gazelle becomes a pest | Inrroducing an African gazelle called the oryx for...
  2. The man behind a New Mexico county's fracking ban | Last year Mora became the first county in the nati...
  3. Plains sense | Ten years after Frank and Deborah Popper first pro...
  4. What's killing the Yukon's salmon? | An ecological mystery in Alaska has scientists and...
  5. Salmon go down the tubes – literally | Washington biologists test pressurized tubes to tr...
HCN Classifieds
Subscriber Alert
More from Politics & Policy
Motorheads gone wild An off-roading conservationist navigates some gnarly landscape on the road to more protection for the Utah desert.
We're prepared to buy back our own land The federal government created a land-ownership mess for Native Americans, but there is a way out of it.
A wild paradox How we interface with wilderness.
All Politics & Policy
 
© 2014 High Country News, all rights reserved. | privacy policy | terms of use | powered by Plone