Sunday, April 15, 2018

Fire years

"There aren't fire seasons anymore; there's fire years," someone at work says.

This is true.  There used to be no need for most firefighters, unless they were supervisors, to work year round.  While some forests, refuges, and parks in the south have always had seasonal fire crews in the winter time, they often were used mostly for prescribed fire and small brush fires.  Now we are seeing large fires every month of the year, and in many unexpected places.

My employees have been out on assignment every month of the year.  Currently one of them is in Oklahoma, where fires have recently evacuated towns and burned homes.  There have been fires in Colorado already.  I even heard of one in Alaska about a month ago.  If I had been able to leave my work behind, I could have been gone all winter.  There's too much to do, though; too much paperwork, too much preparedness.

It's been a snowy winter here where I live.  There is still two feet of snow at the helibase, and there was a winter storm warning last week.  People are worried about flooding.  Still, the weather service is predicting an above normal fire season here.

Winter used to be the quiet time for most of us.  That's changing.  You may not hear about it, but every month of the year there is a fire somewhere, and firefighters on the line, trying to stop it.

Fire in Oklahoma.  Courtesy CBS News.


  1. A sad observation that we have year-round wildfires now.

    1. Yes, there always were a few in some areas but not the magnitude we are seeing now.

  2. That really changes the responsibilities, I would think. For fire manager and for those on the crew....many more aspects to keep track of. Crews like yours are so vital to our public lands, and places people live.


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