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. Rancher vs BLM: a 20-year standoff ends with tense roundup |
  2. Photos of a standoff | Armed militia members join a Nevada rancher to pro...
  3. The energy haves and have-nots | Will rooftop solar owners get off the grid — and...
  4. Why homes are lost to wildfire | This Forest Service expert says it's as much a soc...
  5. The future of the Sacramento Delta hangs in the balance | But few Californians seem to grasp what is at stak...
  1. Why homes are lost to wildfire | This Forest Service expert says it's as much a soc...
  2. Photos of a standoff | Armed militia members join a Nevada rancher to pro...
  3. The energy haves and have-nots | Will rooftop solar owners get off the grid — and...
  4. Will the Colorado River reach the Gulf of California once more? | Photographs of last month's historic water pulses....
  5. Locals resist a Bakkenization of the Beartooths | South-central Montanans oppose new drilling, forew...
HCN Classifieds
Subscriber Alert
 
© 2014 High Country News, all rights reserved. | privacy policy | terms of use | powered by Plone