Wednesday, December 14, 2011

love among the ashes: a girl's guide to the elusive fireline romance

A fire assignment romance can be a sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare. Just like fire suppression, it requires careful attention to strategy and tactics. It pays to have a plan of attack to avoid entrapment. Work smarter, not harder. Here are some tips (Not that I would know ANYTHING about this subject):

1. Choose your target wisely. Someone on your crew? Red flag warning! If you go this route, heed this corollary: At all costs, do not annoy your crew boss, helicopter manager, or anyone else who is the boss of you. If YOU are the crew boss, helicopter manager, etc, mind corollary #2: At all costs, do not annoy your crew (or tell them).

2. Do your research. Inconvenient girlfriend? Unstable personality yet carries a sharp pulaski with him everywhere? Hygiene issue that may not only be the result of 10 days at a spike camp? Member of the Stupid Squad? Safety alert! Prepare to reconsider.

3. Approach your prey, I mean love interest. Avoid the "helpless fire princess" trap. This is not attractive, and besides, we all know you're tougher than that, sister.  Determine common interests. Similar red card qualifications? One of you a trainee? Both love the smell of Jet A in the morning? Attempt to work together.

4. Watch your step. You can't afford any mistakes at this juncture that will cause you to violate corollary #1 or #2 (see above, if you forgot already). Don't show up late to the helicopter in the morning, forget your hard hat and have to go back to camp, or take the last chocolate milk at dinner. Especially not that. Just don't.

5. Avoid drama. If you get the sense that the rest of your crew would rather walk to the fire with two broken legs than fly there in the helicopter with you, that is a problem. If you find yourself using passive aggressive comments, or even having a hissy fit, stop. High school called, and it wants its relationship back. Use an escape route if you need to.

6. Wrap it up. If what happens at fire camp is going to stay at fire camp, no need for endless After Action Reviews. Plan to continue? Nice work! Enjoy. And if nothing else, there is always next fire season. See you out there!

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