When the temperature is below zero and the snow is piling up like it is now, you'd expect the wildland firefighters would be deep into hibernation like the bears are. The seasonals might be, but the rest of us are still here.
What are we doing, anyway? I know I've addressed this before, but this is one of the most common questions I get, after "Do you fly the helicopter?" No. Nobody wants to see (or ride in) that. I don't really blame people for asking. It used to be that you could theoretically shoot a cannon through a fire office in January and not hit anyone. But climate change and increasing bureaucracy means that we are here, working. When T. got the job equivalent to mine on an adjacent forest, he negotiated a schedule that would let him have a few months off in the winter. It worked for maybe one year, after which he was heard to exclaim, "I don't know why I thought I could do that!"
Winter is when all the paperwork happens. Burn plans, lesson plans for classes, aviation plans, proposals for new programs, the choosing of helicopter vendors for the next four years. People can be heard clicking through screens, taking their mandatory computer security training, whistleblower refreshers, and everything else that, if not completed, allegedly removes your computer access. One of the detailers walks back and forth between the buildings with papers. What is he actually doing? Maybe nothing, but he looks busy. He has paper, it must be legit.
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Of course, it's not all paperwork. Sometimes I help plow snow, which means that I sit in the plow truck ostensibly poised to jump out and open gates or shovel hard-to-reach areas, but which usually consists of me drinking cocoa and saying helpful things like, "Why are you plowing this area, nobody uses it in the winter." Our base gets a lot of snow, so there's always shoveling to be done so I can tunnel into it. Mice invade my office and must be stopped. Dangerous icicles need to be removed before they fall on the heads of hopeful job applicants who stop by out of the blue, assuming we are always there.
There is also a plethora of meetings, in which important topics are discussed, projects are assigned, and it seems like there should be cookies, but there never is. The best thing about these meetings is that when someone asks what you are working on, you can say "HIRING" in your most martyr like tone, and everyone quickly moves on.
Is there a lull in your job, or do you do something different in different seasons? Do you have a task like hiring that is so understood to be tedious and time consuming that all you have to do is mention it for others to stop asking what you're doing?