"FAMILY SAID IT" ARCHIVES
January to August, 2003
||First time poster here -- have appreciated the site for a long time --
finally felt the need to contribute.
You can find out about IHC crews in the Northern Rockies area here:
It's a good list to start from, although I think maybe some of those links
are out of date.
Fire dangers still remain extreme in my neck of the woods, been without
rain 56 + days and counting -- hope everyone's SO stays safe.
Welcome Aly. I think most folks are away from their computers enjoying
the holiday. May be just you and me and Robbie. Hoosier may already be
getting ready for bed... Ab.
||Ab, and J. Foster, thanks so much for the most recent
wallpaper. I have it on my computer in the livingroom
and have gotten a number of admiring comments.
||Mellie and everyone
I would love to have you for dinner some time. You
and everyone on the page that has helped me get
through this fire season (my first). That would be
fun. All us fire spouses and SO's sitting around
enjoying the night air (here in Hoosier country night
air is only good between Oct-June--it's so hot) and
what ever else we cook up!
Ab, we can't say it enough we are so thankful for the
My FF comes home Monday! I am so ready. He is ready
too. They asked the crew he was on to stay but they
said they wanted their families. Good thing because
we are getting dry here and we really don't have many
of our fire fighters here right now. Our dry season
is Sept.-Nov. We've been lucky this year we've had a
most wet spring and the last couple of days we've been
catching up on our rain. The dry season has been
pushed away a little. Wish I could blow the rain out
Lurker, again kudos on the painting. You should start
a business where fire spouses and SOs send pics of
their FF and you paint them.
Nemesis and others, fall is in the air. I had to rake
the deck today. The storms brought down all kinds of
sycamore leaves. Wait until my FF sees the lawn.
Well we are decorating the house for Daddy, baking a
cake and making welcome home signs and then tomorrow
we go pick him up at the airport!
Everyone take care!
There is nothing better for the inside of a child than
the outside of a house - unknown....
unless the humidity is 99.9%!
||Nerd, Taz, Fire Momma, et al - thank you for your humorous posts during
a stressful fire season. Many have provided retrospection thoughts and
good western perspective advice to those new to dealing with the fire
scene, especially those who lived the WF life during old coyote camp times
with no hot meal/shower/clean sox/etc. and no such thing as a cell phone!
The "hostage" of someone's "stuffy" reminded me of a
co-workers missing fish - it sent a series of post cards, letters &
pictures from many states as far away as 3,000 miles; one letter included
a copy of it's travel expense claim (copies of all receipts & signed
by the sup).
Nerd, your 8/28 introduction to a Wildland Fire Fighter reminded me of an
article that was posted on another wildland website a couple of yrs ago;
it was titled, "So you want to be a Hot Shot" - hysterical! and
very close to the real truth about picnicking in the woods.
Addendum to the BBQ theory: never let a male IA WFF near your fireplace!
Winter advice: do not ask a rappeller to clean the roof gutters, nor let a
jumper trim any trees. If you want fresh ground broke for a spring garden,
hand a pulaski/shovel to the groundpounder. Engine "slugs" can
install a new sprinkler system (similar to a hose lay). Some structure FFs
are better utilized restringing lawn chairs. Unfortunately dispatchers
will tell you where to go. Fallers will be more than willing to bring home
a new supply of firewood, if someone else will stack it. For sure someone
has a fuzee if anyone needs grass or brush cleared, if not bet there is a
drip torch in someone's pickuptruck. (there is a sign in front of house
that reads "no heavy equipment").
gee, did I miss anyone? ALL IN FUN EVERYONE, ALL IN FUN! but, consider my
advice before they pack their redbags and disappear next season.
Fall is in the air here, but smokey. be safe everyone!
||This came a few days ago and got lost in the shuffle. Ab.
haven't been on in a couple days and there was so much
to read today...
The painting is awesome!! I love it!! You are so
talented, I wish I could do something like that but I
am only capable of drawing stick figures!! LOL Have
you done any other paintings or was this your first??
Fire Momma *****
I laughed so hard when you were talking about your
daughter. I have a 3 year old and she is into boy
toys, but also has here baby dolls and Barbie (gag)...
She loves legos and anything that builds to which is
good for her to do... Get the creative juices flowing.
I laughed at the way your grandparents were... Too
My husband also doesn't work in the winter... He
says nobody will hire them for the short time they are
off. He does get unemployment after I ask if he has
applied for it though... Someone else said the magic
words though... SAVINGS ACCOUNT... we have started
one so that when Christmas rolls around we aren't
broke and so bills get paid... Also start buying
gifts for family now...
I wish I could load up and go to the hot springs...
It sounds wonderful and relaxing... Your comment at
the gas station had me rolling in the floor... I have
heard that remark made before about government FF and
I just laugh... If people only knew the real way it is
I don't think it would be so glamorous!!
||Those are some great prankster stories. Hysterical... I should pull a
good one on some of the roller derby girls.
Sammi, what a nice surprise for you!!! There are a lot of things I would
do in exchange for seeing my FF at my house waiting for me. Your son must
really love you to ditch the girls to hang out w/ mom. That's pretty cool.
Although no doubt he can brag to the girls about what a sweet son he is
and score some points. Girls seem to dig that stuff. I think the reasoning
goes..."if he's that good to his momma, then he must be good to his
woman too." Somethin' like that...
I am off for a fun filled weekend. I'm sure I will be exhausted when I
come back to work on Tuesday. Going to the lake (wakeboarding hopefully),
friend's b'day celebration, barbecues, art parties, etc. Wish I had my FF
to be my date. Although you can bet he'd probably skip the art party.
I ran three days in a row this week! How 'bout you? My push ups are
I meant to address your comment about being cautious and not giving up my
dreams or life plans too much for a guy... I try to be pretty careful
about that and maintain my independence and future course. I think we can
make joint plans so that it suits my ambitions and his. I have been
wanting to move out of state anyway and to the the west. And the place we
are considering has a great school for me too. There was really only one
other place I was looking at before. So this way, if things don't work
out, I'm not somewhere I never would've gone in the first place you know?
But I appreciate your advice and more is always appreciated...not always
heeded but considered at least. :)
You all take care and enjoy your weekend. I'm going home hopefully to find
the pictures my FF sent me. Yay...
Gee, I think I might know some of the guys holding Sponge Bob…when I was
in college, some FF who shall remain nameless slim-jimmed the door to my
car and ‘kidnapped’ a stuffed horse that I’ve had forever. The first
thing I heard about it was opening my mailbox and finding a Polaroid of my
horse with a bandana over its eyes and it’s legs tied together, with the
notation that I must follow all directions or I’d never see the horse
‘alive’ again. Directions that followed included instructions to dance
naked in the fountain in the middle of campus at 1 am on a Saturday
Without getting into too much detail, let’s just say I got the horse
back, I didn’t do any dancing in the fountain, naked or otherwise, and I
made myself some great opportunities to get even…I had the privilege of
arranging one of the gentlemen’s wife’s bachelorette party.
Nerd on the Fireline
||TazGirl and all,
Sure, I'd be happy to schlep the drinks, even make em if you let me. Do
come west to the dry heat, the TX humid heat is a "wet sponge
bob" thing for sure.
Got sponge bob on my mind, another toy I was just introduced to... and
he's evidently a tv star also...
The sponge bob saga: My sister has been in and out of Missoula. There's a
fire prevention team working with all the communities being hit by the
fires around there and also working with the hog heaven Harley Davidson
celebration guys. Anyway, someone on this prevention team (they think)
stole a mascot sponge bob belonging to one of the local fed firefighters
and is holding it for ransom. Every day a new photo shows up with sponge
bob poised in unlikely places that might lead to his demise or discovery.
She said one of the funniest was the one of him dangling over the toilet.
She hypothesizes that this prevention team is made up of old hotshots that
just haven't gotten the pranks out of their system. Anyone have stories of
hotshot and other firefighter humor?
||Hey nerdy.......good word picture of the wildland FF.....don't take Ab's
notation as a negative....I have had that done zillion of times and even
had them pull some of my post completely because I was about to start a
riot, innocently of course.
I am working 1/2 day tomorrow <today> then....MY FF BABY IS
HOME and we are going to the hot springs in Canada then up toward Calgary
and circle around home. It was a very pleasant surprise to find him home
this afternoon and I offered him a paid holiday trip and he graciously
accepted.....poor kid he probably had all sorts of those FF like plans
(pool-beers-girls-wash his truck ) and I begged.....so he is taking mom to
Canada. Whatta guy!!!!! anyway you guys hold down the fort here and try to
stay out of trouble,,,,I hope all of you have a safe peaceful 3 days and
maybe some of you will be surprised too....
Oh yea, according to my hubby tonight....they are adding lots more
equipment and manpower to the Mineral-Primm fire north of Missoula. I
didn't ask him why but I wonder.......did it jump the lines today? Stay
safe gals and keep talking.....sammi
||On re-reading my post on identifying the wildland firefighter, I
apparently didn’t make it clear enough that I’m talking about _off
duty_ FF … on my crews (I run with several, wildland, structure, and
EMS), anybody caught with alcohol, at all, in company uniform, let alone
actually on duty, never runs with us again. Period. No tolerance, no
exceptions. And that’s the way it ought to be.
Your post reminded me of an incident in our latest 4th of July parade…I
was marching with my handcrew, of which I am the only female member. We
looked darn good, if I do say so myself…crew boss in front, two single
file squads side-by side, assistant crew boss at the tail, with packs and
tools. We got misidentified most of the time, as Hotshots, ‘Firepackers’
(not sure, don’t wanna ask), a municipal brush disposal crew, and ‘the
Texas chainsaw massacre’ (we’re not from Texas), but it was still
pretty cool. Then we get toward the end of the parade, and this woman off
to one side of us just goes nuts. “Oh my God, you guys are such hunks,
you guys are such hunks…” then she sees me “And hunkette!”. Sigh.
The hardest part was really watching these nice little old ladies walking
up to our my tattooed, pierced, rowdy crewmates (my crew doesn’t look
quite as scary as TazGirl’s, but they’d probably get along well) and
thanking them ‘For keeping our town safe’…and knowing that if these
same ladies caught these same fire fighters in their neighborhood out of
uniform, they’d probably call the cops. Ce la vie, right?
Nope, that one wasn’t in Colorado…northern NM. Maybe just one step
removed though. It’s a great quote. I really appreciate a good
dispatcher…it seems like 90 percent of the time ours don’t get our
unit IDs right, let lone know our locations and what we’re doing. It
feels pretty lonely out there sometimes.
I had one of those…(alcohol wise). He’d start drinking and the next
morning we’d be talking and it wouldn’t even seem like we’d been to
the same party. It’s a hard, strange lifestyle…most of my crewmates
fight fire during the summer, ski patrol or make snow in the winter, and
party in between…and then I came along and suddenly these guys were
faced with a female, their age, who was not somebody’s girlfriend but
who also wasn’t just some chick in a bar. I mean, I love my crewmates as
brothers, but the culture shock aspect before they just concluded I was
one of the guys was pretty darn funny. “Just so you know, you’re not a
girl.” Was my favorite…in his articulate way my crewmate was trying to
get across that any comments made about the general bass-ackwardsness of
the female species didn’t apply to me. He honestly didn’t understand
why I wasn’t flattered.
Nerd on the Fireline
Fig'gured you meant as much. Old hands know about zero tolerance but
some wannabee's who read your post might not.
The most painful situation I remember occurred one night some years ago
when a group of excellent new EMTs (not firefighters) from out-of-region
(Phoenix), who we desperately needed, accepted beer from a local who came
to the campfire and caught them alone with no one to warn them. The Branch
happened to be making rounds. Much as we needed those medical folks, he
demobed them immediately. They were sorry to go. We were sorry to see them
go. But rules exist for a reason and ignorance is no excuse. They came
back some weeks later, much wiser. Ab.
||Whew, I got to work this morning and there was sooo much family said to
catch up on since I left work yesterday. I love it. I have a mental image
of us all together drinking margaritas and yappin' away like
chickens...and Robbie is bringin' us our refills at our command. Kidding,
Robbie, kidding. (wink, wink)
Thanks for everyone's input on my young relationship. We got to talk for
quite a while last night since he was in a motel again on the way to a
fire in Washington. Although he did have a roommate and was dead tired.
You get what you get. He is pretty receptive to my plans of possibly
dispatching although I don't think he knows much about it. Seems to think
that is a much better idea than working for an engine crew. He's not real
sure why I want to get into seasonal work either. But I told him if we are
moving somewhere new together, I'm not gonna sit there alone all summer in
a new place while he fights fire. And besides, I think it would be a good
way for me to save some money to go back to school. It's hard to know what
I want to do next summer this early on. I don't make decisions very
easily. I AM a Libra after all. Who knows? Maybe I would rather just find
a job and still get to see him on his days off now that he would be based
close to home. We'll figure it out. And I agree w/ the "walk the
walk, talk the talk" bit. That is what this winter will be for. It
will give us some time together to see how things progress and see if we
are ready to move anywhere together.
Nerd and Tonya,
It's nice to hear your perspective on the alcohol situation. It seems like
the both of you know all too well what I'm talking about. What else do you
do when you're 24 w/ no dependents and surrounded by 19 other guys your
age half of the year?!! But I think that now he has met me and has someone
to care about, his perspective and priority will change somewhat. I don't
believe in changing or fixing someone because we all know how that story
ends. But if by his own accord he wants to do some growing up, I'll stick
around and see if he can live up to it. Some people need a reason outside
of themselves to do so. Tonya, it sounds like you and your man have made
an agreement that might work well for both of you. My FF doesn't
necessarily want me out drinking w/ my girls either all the time, but
since a) he isn't here and b) I haven't shown that there isn't any reason
why he can't trust me, I will not agree to that. And he hasn't asked me
either. And I haven't asked him. I think that decision is up to him. I
don't want to mother him. He's his own man. I just told him that his
promises don't hold any weight w/ me when drinking is involved. He
realizes he doesn't have much self control once he starts drinking. When
it is just the 2 of us, this is never really a problem. It's when he's w/
By the way, the place we're talking about moving (Montana), I've never
even been to before. How ridiculous is that?! I will definitely go check
it out before making any decisions. Oh, and a question: can anyone tell me
which HS crews up there are BLM crews? It seems my FF wants to work for
the BLM instead of Forest Service. Don't really know why. But there are
less BLM crews in Montana right? Than in places like Utah?
So it was the TV. Even more hilarious. I love watching movies too. The
Hours is great! I haven't seen Adaptation yet. Have you seen All About My
Mother (Pedro Almodovar)? Such a good one. And Amelie? We should get
together on movies b/c I love them too and we can make good suggestions to
one another. You need to see this documentary called Devil's Playground
about Amish teenagers. It's quite interesting. You would be in movie
heaven in Austin. Everything's here.
I have been running 2 days in a row and am going tomorrow. I've been
increasing my times a little, but not my speed. I'm going again today and
I'm running the Keep Austin Weird 5K next week.
That painting is awesome!!!! You are so talented. I wish I could paint
like that. Keep to it, you are really talented. You're man must've melted.
Wish I could go w/ you Sammi and get out of this Tx heat!!! Blech... Have
a great time.
||Bambi...and anyone else really serious about staying straight
If you read back over what Oregon Jewel just shared, you'll have some
solid kernels of financial advice you can count on. I've been both a
commercial loan officer AND a business reporter and ignoring bills will
haunt you far longer than you imagine. Like OregonJewel said,
"normal" bill delinquencies can stay on your credit report for
seven years. But, wiley creditors have figured out how to get around that
too...they change collection companies and resubmit your delinquent bill.
That way, it it "re-ups" the seven year time frame. Believe me,
there will come a time when you want to buy a house...or another
house...or a car...or even send your kid to college and have to co-sign
for a loan...and it all comes boiling out. You can deal with it now...or
you can deal with it later. My suggestion is now. Firstly, EVERYONE should
look at their credit report at least once a year. Strange stuff is
happening more and more, and someone else could be loading your credit
history with rank ratings by charging in your name. Unless you look at it,
you won't know. It also will give you a "real world" view of
what you've done to your own credit history...good or bad.
In terms of credit reports, I would also suggest taking a quick (usually
free or low cost) course on "Getting your credit straight" which
is usually offered through credit counseling services. They will explain
1) how to get a copy of your credit report; 2) how to read it; 3) how to
challenge inaccuracies on it; and 4) how to set a course to
A couple years ago I wrote a six-part financial series for the Medford
Mail Tribune called "Minding Your Own Business." I can't seem to
find the links in the archives. I'll keep looking. It really has all the
information you need to actually work through some of this stuff. The
first installment was just around Christmas when I wrote on the
psychological strings that get us deep in debt each holiday season. Guilt
is a horrid, horrid thing.
Bambi, listen....if your SO reads...get a copy of "The Richest Man in
Babylon" and stick it in his fire pack. He'll find it and most likely
read it when he has plenty of time to focus on the message. Read it
yourself. There's a reason its a classic.
||Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the wildland fire fighter.<gleefully>
The wildland firefighter is a strange creature; it generally travels in
packs composed of nearly identical individuals identified by matching
shirts, ball caps, and strange rituals impenetrable by the outsider,
including bizarre and pointless ritualized feats of physical prowess, such
as the pack test and push ups.
When reinserted into conventional society, the wildland firefighter is
often lost and confused, bewildered by the absence of hierarchal social
structure, people in yellow shirts, and burning foliage. The wildland
firefighter frequently deals with this confusion by resorting to alcoholic
incoherence, belligerent behavior, and sometimes generalized destruction.
The wildland firefighter is only heroic when forced to be by strategic
failures in the system; it generally prefers not to be. Frequently,
however, wildland fire fighters hold the exile’s idealized nostalgia for
‘normal life’ and will go to great lengths to protect communities,
homes, and other symbols of the conventional lifestyle. Over time society
has evolved a form of self-defense mechanism to push the distinct subtype
known as the wildland firefighter further and further into the wilderness,
isolating wildland firefighter packs from the collective. This process is
probably for the best; if the subtype known as the wildland firefighter
were to be encapsulated by society rather than isolated from it,
occurrences of random line digging in public parks, backburning in
hardware store garden sections, and calling in air strikes on traffic jams
would undoubtedly be more widespread and disruptive.
Identifying characteristics of the wildland firefighter include Nomex
clothing, a distinct odor reminiscent of smoke, chainsaw exhaust, sweat,
and driptorch fuel, a reluctance to be separated from its line pack, and a
tendency to sharpen tools at inappropriate times. Other more subtle
indicators include the tendency to burn themselves when lighting
barbeques, accompanied by the pronouncement “It’s just a little fire,
it can’t hurt me.” Wildland firefighters traveling in their packs are
even more distinctive, made conspicuous by their tendency to move in
straight lines lead and followed by dominant members of the pack
hierarchy. A pack will frequently wear matching clothing, and travel in
large square conveyances decorated with the pack insignia when moving long
When approached by a wildland firefighter or pack, it is important to
maintain a nonthreatening demeanor, especially toward dominant members of
the pack. Offering them alcohol, calling them “sir” or “ma’am”,
and smiling and nodding appropriately to extending, rambling tales of
flame-related escapades will usually defuse most potentially
Nerd on the Fireline
(I guess I’m just trying to say we’re strange creatures)
No alcohol on duty. No alcohol in govt rigs. Zero tolerance. Ab.
When we first married he gave me the bills (so I could learn how to do
it). Then after time and I was ready to give it back he wouldn't take it.
And when times started to get rough and we had heated arguments I told him
I was through writing the bills that I wouldn't do it since my
unemployment check wasn't income. I refused to write the bills out. Our
payments were late. And because I wouldn't write them, he started writing
them out again. Now I do it when he is gone FF and he gets it back when he
As far a seasonal job, he got on as a sub with the state (only in the
winter to push snow) BUT they have never called him to work. He has went
up there but nothing. He also is a sub bus driver which allows him to FF.
My dad gives him a few odd jobs every now and again. All the jobs are and
would be great if the companies would work him more. He don't want to go
back to the quarry. He can run heavy equipment, build anything, and FF, he
is knowledgeable about fixing things. He is a very smart man.
Clark Howard Groupie,
I wouldn't dare ask his parents for money for them to hold it over our
heads every time we turn around. She hassles him enough about everything
as it is. Don't take this the wrong way because I'm not a b*hole....I love
his parents but can only stand to be around them to a certain point. We
have a thirteen year history that some things are hard to forgive and
forget and its not so bad now but I wouldn't dare put us in that
situation. I know it isn't fair asking my parents all the time. Sometimes
I just feel like im at a dead end street. I guess I feel like there is no
hope for our situation.
Ill get back to ya. My FF has just called and the crew is flying charter
from MT home. yippie. got to go.
I know I sound like a basket case.
Not a basket case, just like someone trying to work out how to live
with the wildland firefighter you love. We have all been through this with
one issue or another. Ab.
||Nor Cal Tom,
You are a wise, wise man.
Oh maaaaaaaan, Sammi,
That's so very tempting. I'd love to go hot spring jumping with ya. I'm in
the middle of painting my kitchen cabinets.....black. If I left now and
ran the risk of my husband coming home before this project is finished,
I'm history. My new kitchen is "Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Fly
Fisherman." It's really quite interesting.
Sammi....I'm with you in spirit sweet woman! You go romp!
Well I did my whirlwind trip to the Dakotas and got back home Sunday night
in one piece. I got to spend 36 great hours with my southern boy and then
saw my daughter and son for 18 hours while traveling 30 hours to see all
of them. I then had to be back to work on Monday morning. But it was worth
all the traveling to see them. I hadn't seen my daughter since Christmas
and my SO since the end of July. My son usually works with me but is on a
detail, so he won't be back home until maybe next week.
Nerd on the fireline-
Did you happen to be in CO last year, as I have that quote on my board.
Alot of engine crews had me make copies for them. Another saying my engine
guys tell the new guys is "you don't piss-off dispatch". You
were also right in that I am in a local dispatch office so I am not as
busy and tend to watch over the crews and anybody else that gets called
out. But to me it is great when you can reassure a wife or father or SO
that their firefighter is okay. I want them to not worry all the time and
they also feel better knowing that I'm going to do all I can to get a hold
of their loved one if an emergency ever comes up.
Don't worry I didn't get offended. My SO is from the south, I'm not and I
tease him all the time about they way he talks. I had so many Southern
guys working on the forest last year that they all said I was a shoe-in to
go to dispatch in the southern region because I could understand southern
and not have them repeat everything. But it's weird to hear them tell you
that you have a western accent. I guess I do, but I can't tell. Also let
me warn you about your daughter, My daughter just turned 22 and she has
done everything that girls are not "supposed" to do like play
hardball baseball in high school on a all guys team or fight fires. She
stands a whole 5'2" and weighs 95lbs but can fight fires with the
best of them. She is getting married next May and she is having an all
male wedding as her two best friends are her brothers and they will give
her away, then stand up for her. She did though decide to get married in a
dress and not nomex like I thought might happen as she is marrying a FF.
When she was young she played with hot wheels and lincoln logs or legos.
Dolls weren't allowed anywhere near her by her own choosing. I wouldn't
trade that for nothing. She makes me proud! Momma, I love reading your
advice and your adventures. Keep writing in, as you are wise beyond your
I usually just dispatch out of the local office but if I do get a chance
to go out I usually don't know anybody. It sounds like you are friendly
enough that you would make friends easily. I know my SO always says that
he can't take me anywhere that I don't know somebody or somebody doesn't
recognize me or my voice. But he wouldn't love me any other way. How do
you think I met him. He made me break all my rules when he asked me out
last year after talking to me on the phone a couple of times. I had a rule
I would never date anybody I worked with even if it was to dispatch him
for a few weeks. But that was the best thing I ever did as we have been
together 14 months and he cries as much as me when we leave each other. I
know how you feel when you don't hear from your SO as I start to worry and
get upset if it's even been a few days without talking to him. The longest
we have not talked to each other was for 6 days back in January and he
said he didn't ever want to do that again. He carries a calling card in
case his cell phone doesn't work in certain areas of the country which
happens alot with his subscriber. This page is the best for all of us to
keep in touch with people who know what were feeling and not be judged.
Guys, keep me laughing and if I can help in any way just send a post and
I'll keep in touch.
||I have to tell you guys this then I am off to dreamworld and it will not
be about moths and flames. I told everyone this a while back but I think
it is applicable.
In the off season my FF does structure and EMS for the local system. One
Saturday he was at training and I knew he was driving one of the new
engines. This is not a brush truck but a real big normal fire truck......I
carry a scanner with me sometimes when we are suppose to meet up later and
I will know when to start home....anyway. I am on my way to town for
something and I stop at the local, (we have one) gas station to fill up my
rig. The tones go off and I turn the scanner up while I fill my car...from
the scanner I know my FF is answering up a call south of where I was at
the station and I heard them coming.
Sirens blaring and air horn blowing they make a huge, impressive sight
heading off to save someone....and it is impressive, just like the
As the engine came thru the intersection I could see my FF, in all his
glory, and his officer for the day was leaning forward looking for traffic
and they were just doing what they always do to get to a call. Well, one
of the ladies said "aren't they just the sexiest, hunks you have ever
seen?" to her friends....,,and my mouth (not brain) said, "naw,
their not that impressive,I sleep with one of them every night" Well,
by the looks on their faces I did not make a very good impression so I
just calmly got my receipt from the pump and got back in a drove off. On
the way to town I was sure hoping none of those ladies knows the Officers
wife......any way the jest of the story is.....we all live with this 24/7
and the excitement and the hero stuff wears off and you guys and I and all
other FF SO are left with reality. And sometimes our FF need to be brought
back to reality also.....and we are definitely the ones that can do
it......goodnight .tired sammi
more from Sammi this morning:
I can't remember if any of you have SO's on the Mineral Primm fire in the
Lolo National Forest North east of Missoula, Mt. My FF called and said
they have established 4 new spike camps and have over 1200 FF on it. he
said a whole bunch of people from Calif got there today......(another
I went to the Lolo National Forest web page and it lists all the states
the FF on this fire are from.....impressive list if you are
interested......fire is listed at 60% contained but that is because they
combined it with another fire.....he said they watched one of the fires
east of them blow up this afternoon,,,,said it was one of the more
impressive ones. I don't know which one he was watching....
I just read back over your post. I didn't dispose of the Bionicle out the
window. I disposed of the television out the front door. My daughter and
my husband were arguing very loudly over who should be able to watch what.
I participated in the resolution of that argument. After the television
"died" we listened to "The October Project" on the
stereo. It was my television from when I was single, so I had no guilt
whatsoever launching it out onto the sidewalk. As I said, its final
"death sighs" were extremely pleasing to me. On the flip side,
it did NOT set a good example for my daughter in terms of argument
resolution. It was just the combination of 1) loud arguing and 2) arguing
over television that sent me "over the edge." I am pretty
militant about TV. I think it insidiously steals our ability to be
creative and think original thoughts. I really shouldn't say this, but,
the looks on both of their faces were priceless. There is no misconception
now how I feel either about television or arguing.
When I say "TV" I really mean network programming. I do love
movies. Usually alternative, or independent, or foreign. I think they can
be inspiring rather than a brain suck. It just depends on the ability of
the producer and screen writer...and the original story, of course.
Unfortunately, in the small (extremely conservative, extremely white...)
burg we call "home" I can't seem to find anything in the movie
shops worth watching. A friend of mine turned me on to NetFlix. It enables
me to order movies online that I could never find here. I just watched
"The Hours" EXCELLENT! "Adaptation" is another one.
(How do I watch these without a TV? I got a DVD player put into my
computer. Ooooooohhhhh. I'm soooo sneaky!) We also have a DVD player, a
LCD projector (for business presentations of course) and a big white sheet
we hang on the wall for "Big Screen" movie nights.
Hoosier...your suggestion was really right on. I'm just afraid
that...should I bring all the wives of my fallers together...I'd be
playing "124 questions" all night. You know...I could use
someone's shoulder to lean on too. That's what you guys are wonderful for.
Please listen to that "inner voice" about changing your life to
meet another's needs or your dreams. While we all want to believe what we
want to hear....sometimes it takes seeing to believe. Let him prove to you
that the situation warrants changing your life. Let him walk the walk and
talk the talk.
As a banker who has lived with a self employed "seasonal worker"
I can tell you that any delinquency on a jointly reported debt over 30
days will haunt you for the next seven years. Most utilities do not report
to the credit bureaus unless they turn an account over to collection.
Mortgage or Rent lates are the death knell on a credit report, as are
collections and judgments.
To everyone else: Keep the Faith!
I'm a little late replying to your message here, but I'll go for it
I am going to guess that where your SO is working in a fire job that is
not a full time guaranteed 40 hours a week situation. I know that when I
started working in fire I really didn't know all of the opportunities that
are out there. There are many many fire jobs out there with guaranteed 40
hours a week, and also many that are year around or very close. I don't
know what state you are in, but in California this is definitely the case.
At the very least he should have a fire job that guarantees 40 hours a
during fire season. (with the feds or state usually)
I wish you the best of luck, don't let his money situation affect your
He needs to take some responsibility, even if that means he works a job
he doesn't like in the winter.
||Bambi, telling us about your FF has reminded me of several such events
in our lives and we survived. Our marriage has lasted longer than most of
you have been alive. And, sorry to disappoint you ladies but some things
are better and some things are the same. I can assure you, your guy
absolutely means it when he says he loves you and you are the most
important thing in his life. of course he means it, when he is on the
phone with you or snuggling at home with you.
BUT........I can assure you when those fires start popping up out there
his brain goes to mush and he loses all connection with reality and he HAS
to go!!!!!! if he didn't he would dissolve right there where he stands in
a puddle of charcoal and dirty water.......doesn't mean we are not
important and they don't love us. It is like a moth to the flame
literally. I have no answer for the FF disease. It is incurable, and
wrecks homes and relationships all the time. FF are a breed of people that
cannot be described because they are all different and exactly alike.
Over the years I have learned to manage a lot of life by myself. Some of
it can wait on him but a lot I can do or get done. Bottom line......is he
worth the trouble to you??? Of course he is......so we just find a way to
adapt and overcome. Now, we certainly have the right to throw a foot
stomping hissy-fit when provoked past our level of tolerance.......so
givem hell then -givem loving. It will be ok......he is worth
it......Soppy Sammi who just talked to her FF and found out he will not be
home for the three dayer I have off like he thought. So I am gonna enlist
a friend and go to Canada to the hot springs like Fire momma
suggested....anyone close to North Idaho want to go.......
||For what it's worth, firefighters are worn down and tired. The season
is not over. There was some extreme fire behavior today. Let them
know you love them and can't wait to have them home. Sort things
out when they're rested, but sort them out.
Two people who continue to support the status quo - which is not working -
is called co-dependence in psychological circles. Some people pay big
bucks to get the great counseling you're getting here for free. I know
it's hard to make a change and it's scary too. It's scary for both people.
Easier to stay in known patterns.
Figure out what to do about your finances, make a step by step plan, and
stick to it. Honor your man enough to know that he and you together (or
separately) can grow yourselves out of your shared current stuck
situation. Assume he will deal with it, no threats, no recriminations if
he threatens. (Ab, what does recrimination mean exactly anyway?) Resolve
to get on with beginning to move. View it as a challenge. Make the first
step in a positive way, and you'll be on your way. (Create an Incident
Action Plan with proposed containment lines, burnout plans, and timeframes
for accomplishing each goal. Firefighters are good at this goal-driven
I like the line "fish or cut bait", Nerd. Also, think "sh**
or get off the pot!" is appropriate. (Now Ab, I didn't say what you
think I did!! ;-) I put the stars in there! You can't find it on
the bad word search engine! OK. OK, I promise not to model any bad
behavior like in the good old days or theysaid... <coy little
<quick change of subject>
Very nice painting! Very very nice! Rad.
I hope your honey appreciates it and appreciates YOU!
Thanks so much for sharing it with us. This familysaid crew is pretty
inspirational on alternative activities to keep busy. Is painting a new
hobby you took up to fill your time while separated from your SO, if you
can tell us without revealing your identity? (Phew, an alternative to
roller derby?? and little bloomers under those skirts!) If you paint
commercially, is this your first fire painting? If not new, have you ever
tried painting abstract fire? Or how about creating a logo for theysaid,
that's more along the lines of graphic art?
Glad all you folks are helping and supporting each other. I love catching
up on the "goin's on" here. You girls (and guys?) rock!
Hoosier, maybe I could come to dinner sometime?
Recrimination: a countercharge brought against an accuser. Ab.
||Bambi - you are not being unreasonable about the gap!
It's an adult's responsibility to meet their obligations, even if it means
sometimes doing things you might not find appealing. Leaving you to deal
with all the bills, stress, and having to ask YOUR parents for money to
tide you over is completely unacceptable. If you dump the whole mess in
his lap (including asking HIS parents for money)-will he deal with it?
Clark Howard Groupie
One of my favorite sayings.... (also a bumper sticker on my Toyota...)
"Well behaved women rarely make history."
I've been out of touch for a while getting ready for school to resume, but
back. My one great thing for the day is my FF will be coming home soon.
YIPPEEE! Today was his last workday, and he will be demobing tomorrow. I
only hope that he makes it all the way back across the country by tomorrow
night, I can't fathom being alone for another long day.
I'm not sure if it will help your relationship any but here is my approach
helped my alcohol loving FF realize how I felt about his actions. My FF
likes to drink, more than is good for him. We made a promise to one
about a month ago, and so far it is working really well. He didn't want me
drinking around guys, especially if he wasn't there, and knowing his past
experiences, I wasn't too fond of the idea of him drinking around many
either. We laid out the rule that we only drink together, and if
we want to drink with our buddies that we call first and make sure that
other is ok with it and it doesn't interfere with our plans together. I
early this month about the last time my FF was out west and he spent
days drinking in bars with his crew instead of calling home to let us know
he was ok. Well, this is the current policy for our relationship involving
alcohol. It seems to be working, we respect one another more for saying
bothers us and making a motion to fix it.
I know this isn't exactly feasible in your situation of being away from
FF, but maybe it can help you decide what kind of ground rules you need to
for the issue. Best of Luck to you!
Thanks again for all of the info you put in for the care package. In the
it didn't work out to send it. I got a phone call from my FF that said the
rules for food in camp were pretty tight with the grizzlies so close by. I
guess it is good that I didn't send those homemade banana nut bread loaves
I was so excited about baking....After the phone call I could see a big
gnawing on all of my hard work. I am just glad that this trip is over, it
seems like an eternity since I've laid eyes on my FF.
To the Artista,
The fire/helicopter painting is truly amazing. I am envious of your
stick people are even hard to recognize. Thank you so much for sharing
art with the rest of us. However, you did make my life more difficult, if
FF sees your painting he is going to wonder why he found a science geek
likes to cause test tube explosions instead of an artist! I would love to
more paintings is you have them.
This board is turning into a really high class place to hang out with the
and poetry. All that we're missing now is someone robbing us blind with
expensive coffee. Keep aspiring, all dreams can be reached if the dreamer
You’ve made me laugh again…over the course of a few relationships I
remember multiple discussions about how ditching me at a dance for a
bottle vodka was not okay, no he was not fun when plastered incoherent,
and that three years together no longer qualified as ‘casual’…so I
feel your pain. Quoting my second favorite advice columnist, ‘Women are
not reform schools.’ There is definitely a learning curve, but there is
also a breaking point.
A FF friend of mine once told me that one of his proudest moments as a
fire fighter (dedicated groundpounder) was watching his three-year old
daughter slam her Barbie into the concrete sidewalk with a rousing “Boo-yah!”.
You might want to be careful with a daughter who likes things that build
things…she might turn out to be an engineer (as a scientist with
engineering tendencies, I know that engineers are very dangerous people).
I’ve seen some lovely watercolors of wildland fires done by an artist
out of Taos…I’ll look around and see if I can find you a name.
I think you’ve got the hardest row to hoe on the site at the moment…your
SO needs to fish or cut bait. One thing you might be able to do to get the
ball rolling would be to research winter-season jobs…I’d start with
your local highways department. If your SO has quarry experience, he’s
probably got lots of applicable job skills, and around here snowplowing
and road salting jobs pick up in the winter. It may not be the most
thrilling stuff in the world, but if he wants to eat anything but peanut
butter sandwiches and Ramen he can stick it through.
Nerd on the Fireline
||Ladies and Gentleman,
I know many of our FF travel in groups from the same
area. If you haven't already call a fellow spouse or
SO who has been left home and had them over for
dinner, do so soon. After all who better to share your
evening with than a spouse or SO who is going through
the same thing.
Last week a fellow fire widow had me over just before
her FF returned. I couldn't repay her immediately
for the favor because she needed time with her FF.
However, I knew of at least 3-4 other fire spouses and
SOs who are with out their FF right now. Tomorrow I'm
having a woman I have never met over for dinner. I
had such a great time last week with another fire
widow and this week I'm looking forward to another
evening with another adult!
Only WE know what WE are going through. So if you
know you're not alone but you haven't met the others who
are sitting at home --see if you can call the station
or the dispatcher and ask someone over. You just
might help them through a really difficult time :)
||I'm feeling a lot better than I did this morning and my guy and I have
talked on the phone numerous times today. I am feeling less like it's a
big deal, and no, I don't think it's inexcusable. But on the other hand, I
keep thinking about how it's the one time that I really wanted him to call
and come through. And yeah, we did have the "preamble" to the
talk that I mentioned, but it was clear between both of us that we would
talk again later. And he was looking forward to it, as was I. I just wish
a promise could be kept. He pretty much only breaks his promises when
drinking is involved, and that is what concerns me. This issue has come up
before and it is a big problem. He is well aware. And there isn't really
anything I can do about it. I just hate not being able to trust him.
I will give him credit though. He tells me repeatedly that he'll do
whatever it takes to be with me and tells me his feelings for me plenty. I
find that reassuring. I know that's not all it takes for things to make it
work, but it's a start and does help. He does seem ready to make many
concessions. He's just not used to it. He's never been in a long term
I don't really feel like we can wait to talk for his visit, because that
will be in October. And I used that tactic when I went to see him last and
had some stuff to discuss and it didn't go all that great. When you have
such little time together, anything that upsets you is just that much more
upsetting because it's ruining the time you have.
I waited two weeks to have a night where we could talk uninterrupted and
for as long as we'd like and w/ him sober (it IS his days off after all)
to talk about all of our plans, and then didn't get to. So it was really
disappointment and frustration more than anything. I was really excited to
tell him about my desire to dispatch and how much information I already
knew about it (training & hiring I mean). But I think I have a very
forgiving nature and can move on, without the resentment. But we do have
some work to do...
Thanks for your advice, Nerd, and everyone else for having to listen to
all this stuff (boy if Normal reads this stuff, I'm in trouble).
***bionicles, bionicles, bionicles...I guess I'm gonna have to look on the
internet now huh Robbie?
Next post, TazGirl must have refreshed the page...
Yay...now I know what Bionicles are! What a weird name. They remind me
of Transformers that were big when I was a kid.
Man Fire Momma, your post really cracked me up. The window disposal of the
Bionicle with sound effects was especially inspiring. And I really
chuckled over the rolled up newspaper bit. It's a lot funnier to picture
old people doing that.
You funny....me laugh.
||Clark Howard Groupie, Thanks for writing back. Read on:
Yes, we have been married for ten years.
Yes, basic bills like home, car, gas, electric, food, and a few more.
Everything (all bills) are in both our names.
As far as unemployment, I tried to get him to go but couldn't make him
understand that our bills need to be paid and that I am the only one
bringing home money unless he gets odd jobs (his odd jobs are nothing
definite, not even fighting fire back then because he didn't go out as
much). (he has gone out more this year than past years). I was the one to
make the call to unemployment, not him. All he had to do was go there and
they had paper work and he went one time but I couldn't get him to go
back. I feel it was male pride, I cant figure it out. He does not consider
employment money as income. (We went through that when I went to college
through the NAFTA program, trust me we had heated arguments over that
one). I told him it was still money and even though I didn't hold down a
job, it was still income.
I have started a budget plan and it is working ok for now but our bills
are piling up again and I don't know how much more my parents can give to
keep us up. I am very worried, and scared that if we don't receive his
check from FFing very soon, we will be in deeper debt than we all ready
I keep telling myself all the bill collectors can do is come get it, but
where does that leave us? homeless and hungry. Man wouldn't that be a
pretty picture, NOT. I don't want us to lose what we have been working for
since we have been together. He hasn't failed me as a husband, and I know
how hard he works, I just want him to see my point of view and help me
cope and fix the problem.
Im also not telling him to quit his FF job. He has threatened to when we
have had heated arguments and I tell him he doesn't have to quit, just
find something to go along with it. In other words, find a job as a full
time whatever he wants and do FF when they call him to go out. That is all
I ask of him of a job. Just something to pick up the "GAP". Is
that to much to ask? I have supported him from the get go of FF and still
support him and will support him as long as that is what he wants to do
and in the future if he wants to do something else I will support him in
I can't tell him or have no right telling him he can't do something but am
I being unreasonable about the gap thing?
I'd give ya a big hug if I could. But, remember....breeeeath.
I'll make this point before going on...I advise you to never, ever think
you have to care for either 1) another person or 2) yourself. If you can't
do both at the same time in your relationship something's wrong
sweetheart. That said, count to 10 or 50 or 126 if necessary before
jumping to the conclusion that your SOs recent action is entirely
indicative of all future behavior. Allow for transition, but keep your eye
on trends. (Geesh...that sounds so dry....or like the Sit Report weather
Regarding "Bionicles" - They are connected ever so distantly to
Legos, the company that makes them. Here are two
examples. There are "good" guys and "bad guys."
And if my daughter saw these pathetic examples, she'd probably roll around
on the floor laughing at me until she was in tears. I did my best...but
probably put a bad guy's face on a good guy, or vice versa. It's all so
confusing to me. I hate TV and threw the last one out the door onto the
front lawn where it landed in 257 pieces...it made an incredibly
satisfying "shoowoooshhhhhhhhh ... ssssssss" sound. So, my
daughter plays with lots of things that "make" other
things....like Legos (the real ones), Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs,
Kinex,....and Bionicles. I'm not even sure where she learned about these
things...they admittedly appear very disturbing. I read "the
story" and surprisingly they emerged from the concept of Mayan
warriors. The current "story" is very, very, very far removed
but...like all things...seems to revolve around good vs. evil. (My problem
is that I have no idea which is which. They all look pretty wild to
I have not tried to direct my daughter's interest in play things other
than I give her blank paper instead of coloring books, and am constantly
buying fresh crayons, markers, pens and pencils, etc. My older daughter's
loved Barbies and My Little Ponies. My youngest daughter would undoubtedly
strap a parachute on Barbie and throw her out the second story window to
see if she could fly. (Her father was a Smokejumper). I try to stay away
from "gender specific" toy comments and let her explore where
she will. Without exception, she likes stuff that builds other stuff. So
Nerd, I can see you sitting in the front passenger seat talking to the
driver...your face slightly aglow from the dashboard lights. You sound
like a trooper.
Keeping the driver awake makes me think of my grandparents. They are from
Oklahoma...and sound like it. They also like flea markets and yard sales
and get up quite early to "get the good deals." When I was
young, they'd drag me along with them. To keep my grandfather awake, my
grandmother would roll up a newspaper and hit him on the head with it at
his request. "Hit me, Mary. Hit me" My lord, I'd slide down in
my seat embarrassed that folks in nearby cars were watching. Oh, the scars
we carry with us in life. ; )
||Lurker, nice painting. Does the artista do this professionally?
Might she do one for commercial gain?
Does anyone know... Are there many firefighter paintings
out there besides the one(s) done by Monte Dolack in 2000?
First let me thank you for helping me share this with the Family Said
was a gift to a FF. I thought others might enjoy it too.
PS. Thanks for the complement, the artist will appreciate it.
It had to be shared here. What an inspired gift. My compliments to the
artista. I will get to posting it to Miscellaneous 2 within the next few
||TazGirl, She's gonna keep us in suspense on the bionicle thingie dingie.
More exercise in patience. Robbie
My gut instinct, not knowing the guy, would be to say wait for the visit.
It sounds to me that you’ve got a good guy who got caught up in the crew
social whirl and spaced the call…or considered things pretty well worked
out base don your earlier call. I’m not saying he didn’t goof up big;
I’m saying it doesn’t sound UTTERLY inexcusable. I wouldn’t kick him
to the curb just yet, and I wouldn’t nurse a grudge…but I wouldn’t
make any decisions at all until you’re face to face. Conversations
without body language get muddled awful fast.
One thing though…I’ve always found it tough to wait for those
face-to-faces with an open mind/heart…if you let resentment build up,
you won’t be going into your talk with a fair frame of mind, and that’ll
just mess everything up. He sounds like he’s more than ready to make big
concessions to make the ‘y’all’ work…at least give him a chance to
walk the walk if he’s willing to talk the talk.
You’re mad right now (and gawd knows I would be)…but as far as
relationship crimes go, in my book this is a pretty little one. Take the
time to find out if the tip of an iceberg or just a chunk in the frozen
margarita of life.
Nerd on the Fireline
I'm doing great, thanks for asking. We have overcast skies and rain and my
guy is getting R&R today! And we have REAL RAIN - not that cracking
lightning, crashing thunder and five minute downpour stuff, but honest to
goodness steady light rain without fireworks! Hurray! You can actually
smell the moisture in the air, it has to be the most refreshing thing I've
experienced in a while. I have all the windows and doors open so I can
take full advantage of it.
I think I'm finally getting a handle on the firefighting schedule. I'm
actually unprepared at times when my guy has R&R because time slipped
away from me and I find myself saying, "Has it been 14 days
already?!" Of course, part of that is because I'm a hopeless
procrastinator - why do today what you can put off until next week? (LOL)
Of course TazGirl's Adventures in Roller Derby has been a great
distraction. I find myself haunting Family Said at least once a day just
to see what's going on with her and all the others.
Well better go for now, I still need to clean house before you know who
gets home! What can I say?
Take care all,
||Bambi-this may take some tough love.
Are you married to your SO, and are you talking about basic bills like
rent/mortgage, food, utilities? Do you have other bills under separate
names? Does he get unemployment? If you aren't married, and do have
separate (other then living) expenses, the answer is simple-don't pay any
of his bills with your money. If he is the one dealing with the
consequences, it may (and I stress the word may) change his behavior. If
you are having a hard time just meeting basic living needs-calculate how
much you need to make it through a year-then take a look at his OT and see
how much you need to put in savings to make it though the lean season.
Will he talk about and make commitments to long term financial goals
(including not spending that OT to make sure that winter expenses are
covered)? If not, you may need to "decouple" your financial
lives in order to maintain your relationship, and your mental/financial
health. A visit to a financial advisor who can help you outline the
"big picture" and provide neutral third party advice to your SO
may also be helpful.
Whatever you do, please don't compromise YOUR financial situation because
of his behavior.
Clark Howard Groupie
||Well, I have to vent. I hope this is an okay place to do so. I can't to
anyone here...they wouldn't understand. I need some help to gain some
perspective on things. Sometimes you can't tell if you're being dramatic
or if you have a right to be upset. Anyway...
So last night my HS and I were supposed to have this "talk" that
I've been mentioning right? I called him earlier in the evening to let him
know I'd be out a little longer than I thought but that I would be home at
such and such a time. And we had a little preamble to our conversation and
the things we wanted to talk about. This is all about our future plans
really, so I think it's fair to say it's pretty important. He told me that
he's willing to get on another crew. Which is huge. He hasn't switched
crews since he got on the one he's on and probably never dreamed of doing
so...until he met me. Another crew, for those of you that don't already
know, would mean that he is based out of the west and not Alaska. Big
difference. And I told him that I'm thinking about dispatching. He thought
that was a great idea. So this was all very exciting and we were both
feeling pretty good about things. He had to go and I had to go so we
agreed to put more talk off until we both got home (him to his hotel). At
the time, he was at the bar w/ one of his buddies, and he swore up and
down to me last night and the day before, that he would be sober for our
call and not stay out at the bars this particular night. I started home
about 1:00, no call. 1:30...no call. 2:00...no call. You get my drift: NO
CALL. I was SO disappointed. And worried. I call him this morning and he
answers his cell. Why he didn't call me first I can't understand other
than I'm sure he knew he was in deep and wasn't ready to deal with it. He
was also late for work this morning and dealing with that. At one point,
he sounded like he was going to quit. But he didn't, which is good...even
if it means I won't see him any sooner. He needs that job. Apparently he
got wasted last night and came back to his hotel and passed out. And he
didn't need much explanation from me to know what a big deal it was that
he didn't call. Now understand, I'm not that uptight and any other night
it wouldn't have been a big deal. But this was our "meeting of the
minds" talk as Fire Momma would say and he let me down.
So I'm feeling really disappointed. I told him I'm sure as hell not moving
out of state for someone I can't even depend on and trust. That's logical
right? And he just kept going on and on about what an idiot he is, etc.
But I told him that's not what I want to hear. I told him a lot of things
and can't go into that, 'cause it would take forever. I guess basically it
comes down to his drinking and how when he goes drinking w/ the buddies it
seems like all priorities are lost. He couldn't stop telling me this
morning how I'm his priority. But what good does that do me right now? He
asked why I even put up with him. I told him that it's because I love him
and believe in sticking by someone, but that honestly, I asked my self the
same question occasionally. He's made progress but am I bound to deal w/
this always? Do men ever grow up?! When do you get to the point where you
have to put your feelings for someone aside and look out for your self?
When you're married, you stick around no matter, but when you're
single...that can be a different story. I dunno. I'm confused.
I went from such a high last night about our big plans and feeling good
about things to a big low and being SO disappointed...and mad. I HATE
So now he says he is going to come here on his next days off and he will
have to even take a few days off b/c he has to go to Maine for his
grandmother's wake right around then too. I warned him about the money and
he says he doesn't care if it cost two thousand dollars, that he knows he
needs to come here to fix things. Is this just butt kissing or should I
take him sincerely? I need some perspective, friends.
Trust, communication and actually seeing one another more than once every
three months...ingredients to a successful relationship that I'm feeling a
real lack of right now.
Thanks for listening and sorry this is so long winded....an exercise in
patience for you all. ;)
Fire Momma, I loved your story. You are a great writer and storyteller.
(although I'm w/ Robbie...what IS a Boinicle?) You and Sammi sure do
contribute a lot of wisdom and perspective and humor around here. Hope you
all enjoyed the photos...
A big ol’ rebel yell coming your way…Way cool, sister. I wouldn’t
want to get on the wrong side of your team in a dark alley…
You’ve brought a lump to my throat…I’m remembering sitting shotgun
on the way back from a few fires, watching the nighttime road go by and
listening to my guys breathing in the back, feeling bone-tired an relaxed
and happy, a dead dragon under our collective belt. I’m remembering
fighting to keep my eyes open and talking to my squadboss to make sure
that he’s still awake and driving right, long, comfortable silences and
then unloading the vehicles, moving slow and talking quietly, the
reluctance to split apart and head back to our respective homes…the
little farewell rituals then the minor let-down of driving the last
stretch home alone.
I guess the best we can hope is that those boys fell asleep like that,
tired and happy, and never realized they never woke up.
Nerd on the Fireline
I need to snap out of this funk.
Our "whirlwind" Fire Tour 2003 was quite the experience. I drove
to Eugene, picked up a rental car I could totally abuse with loads of
miles (and it actually turned out to have exponentially better gas mileage
than my own little Toyota truck). I headed first for the Idaho Panhandle
to take my 8 year old to see her grandmother. That was great fun except
that I think the heavy metal in the water up there has taken a more
significant toll than folks are willing to admit. I learned to play darts
in downtown Wallace while my daughter engaged in her family "get
together." Hard core dart players are a unique breed...at least in
Wallace they are.
We then headed to Montana first to check on what fallers we could find
(here's a picture of one of our falling teams), as well as talk to fire
overhead. Well, my daughter didn't talk to fire overhead. She played with
her Bionicles in the car while I partook of the business conversations. I
don't have any good fire photos of Montana because honestly, all I saw of
Montana was the brake lights of the car 50 feet in front of me. It wasn't
until we slipped over LoLo Pass that we could see any distance. But! There
lies a natural treasure at mile marker 142 over LoLo. Hot Springs lovers
take note! Let the hordes cloud the waters at Lolo Pass Hot Springs. Jerry
Johnson Hotsprings...and other "signed" hot springs. MP 142
isn't marked. You just have to know its there. Now you do.
We ran into the El Cariso Hot Shots at Gart Sports in Missoula. They'd
just come down from a fire near the Canadian border. Seemed like a nice
bunch of young people.
We picked up (get this) the books on tape version of Robinson Crusoe. You
know, thinking we were on this big adventure, I figured Robinson Crusoe's
adventures would fit right in. WHAT A CROCK! I think I actually convinced
myself I had read the book in high school. After listening to the entire 8
volume audio version, I can say.. there's no friggin' way. I found myself
telling the narrator to "Get ON WITH IT..." Victorian verbosity
is unbearable, especially when you're trapped in the car with it for hours
on end! (I would never have imagined that a writer could make a Cannibal
scene boring!) I really did grow weary of listening to Crusoe lament his
"unfortunate condition." You know what my daughter told me?
"Mom, this is actually an exercise in patience." Yes! It came
out of her mouth! An 8 year old. For the life of me I don't know where she
got that phrase. Certainly not from me.
The best part of our whole trip was seeing my husband in Elk City...and
truth be told...that was a largest reason I went. (Big surprise.) We
needed to have a "meeting of the minds"...which we did. I could
only bear sleeping a couple nights in fire camp (I brought a cooler full
of food.) . The last night in camp, there was a tremendous thunder storm.
My daughter made camp in the back seat of the rental car (with her
flashlight, favorite stuffed dog and box of Bionicles). My husband and I
slept in the tent (if you can call starring at the top of a lightening lit
tent all night "sleeping." The thunder shook the ground. Even
though it was raining heavily outside, my hair was full of static
electricity. (Oh my...Okay...***Lightning***....one, one
thou....***Thunder Clappppp*****...Uh...let's see...what was that
"Six Minutes" Safety thing on "What to do in a Lighting
Storm"? I honestly couldn't remember. So, I just laid there.) The
next morning we hear there was a man who had died from a heart attack on
the fire line.
I swear, even above the lighting and thunder, those Elk City Fire Camp
generators were the loudest I've ever heard.
On the third day, four of our fallers were not on the shift plan. So, for
R&R I took them to Red River Hot Springs (I am a shameless hot springs
fanatic...and will even settle for a developed hot springs when there
aren't any wild ones nearby.) It was wonderful to watch them playing like
The last night we were in Elk City I rented a little house on Main Street.
My husband had thought we would go in to one of the local eateries for
dinner, but by the time he got off duty I had marinated pork chops,
dressing, salad, and corn on the cob ready for dinner. I even wore a
dress! Woo-hoo! I had no intention of spending the evening around loads of
other people. My little one fell asleep on the couch watching a John Wayne
movie. ... we didn't...
I do have three photos I wanted to share from Grangeville expanded
dispatch. Ab, can we put these in the photo gallery somewhere? These folks
work incredibly hard...and they don't have a window to the outside! Three
cheers for expanded dispatchers!
When we got back home, I posted several fire photos. Ab said they'd be up
soon. I have some others, and will post them soon. Poet...did you see
TazGirl, I really enjoyed the roller derby pics. What a crack up!
Tonya....I've been wondering if you were successfull in delivering your
Heli Groupie, how are things with you?
Southern...are you still around?
Sammi - I can see by the archives you've been taking good care of
"the girls"! Good job.
I almost hate to ask. What are bionicles?
||various perspectives have been posted in Family Said, more this year
than last; most disagree about something, normal and healthy for the most
part. Everytime I read about some bad news that hasn't yet made media
hype, I say THANK GOD I didn't get a phone call (worse a knock on my door
or my pager buzzing). my kids have been in wildland for 10+ yrs; by the
Grace of God, mine have been safe, so far. (x xx crossed fingers, toes
after reading They Said before reading these posts, I am again compelled
to offer sincere condolences to the friends and family of those FFs who
are no longer with us.
to readers and posters in here, glad I sent my donation to the Wildland
Firefighter Foundation = great organization and they quickly sent needed
dollars to the families of our fallen compadres.
NZ MOM (wanna hear about the jumper in a tree last season? it was funny in
retrospect) pray all our loved ones return safe and sound to tell their
"war stories" soon.
||Little preview and some questions:
Sammi, could you please clarify the photo descriptions on Air
Tankers 8 & AT
descriptions? Also Fire
18 and Fire
18 descriptions. Can't tell what you did with the truck driver.
Catskilldog, How about those same pages and Helicopters
11 & Heli
descriptions? Any more info? Are they from MT?
You got any more to say on yours, Fire Momma?
||I'm off the clock but having trouble getting up and leaving. Maybe just
going home to that empty house is not looking too good right now. So I am
sitting here reading all the newspaper articles about the First Strike
guys. All we can do is offer our prayers and send support via this list to
the family, friends, co-workers and even the FF left out on the fires. We
all know they are heavy hearted also and it's tougher for them because
they do not have ready information available. Like I have already said I
have never heard silence before and I did Sunday Night when I told my
husband about the accident. last night He said they made the announcement
at briefing yesterday and then had a moment of silence in respect for the
Poet mentioned "don't know what to say". Believe me, there is
nothing to say. I can honestly say "been there done that" and
the parents and families of these guys are just numb. The stages of grief
are real and people go thru them at different speeds and different
degrees. These families have awesome support around them and they will
come through this ok but it is damn hard and grieving is hard work.
I remember a few years ago our baby boy......got his first call to go out
on a fire down on the Clearwater. He had been working all day stacking
slash and was just exhausted. He washed up, put on sweats and passed out
on the floor. Some time after midnight the phone rang and we all knew what
it was so the whole house set up a motion to get him on his way. (didn't
take a lot he had his packs ready weeks before) he was to leave from the
base about 35 miles away and he fully intended to drive his pickup to town
and leave it for when he came back. Unbeknown to me....my husband went out
first and started his pickup and told-----"throw your stuff in the
back son, I'm driving". Lots of hugs and be carefuls later they left.
I was so proud of both of them. Memories will mean a lot to the mom's and
dad's of these firefighters.
"be safe----don't be a hero".....thats the last thing my guys
hear from me if I see them before they leave ...
I'm going home now. and I am gonna be thinking about these wonderful,
vibrant, young guys all sacked out all over that van dreaming of all the
fun, hard work and great adventures they had in Idaho with their buds. to
bad wishes can't be bought at the store.....
||Thanks Sammi. It is a tough sport and we see LOTS of bruises. I have
been very fortunate to have not had any injuries. Ab said he (it is he
right?) would include the picture link since we could kinda consider it
Hotshot training. I like that! Funny...
And as to your question, we (most of us) wear bloomers under our skirts,
some frilly and some not so frilly. And a couple of the other teams wear
pants. But we have quite the variety of bloomers among 60 of us. They are
some creative gals. A lot of them have messages on them too if you catch a
glimpse at a game. ;) All in good fun...
||Wow! TazGirl! Great pictures! I don't know why you'd worry about keeping
up with the Hot Shots...they should worry about keeping up with you. You
gals are one group of tough cookies! I love watching
"Insomniac", I haven't seen the episode on the roller derby but
I'll be keeping an eye out for it on the reruns.
Last week you wrote that you might be interested in moving to Missoula,
MT. I sent an email to Ab to forward on my email address to you (I don't
know if you got it or not - since I sent it right as the weekend was
starting). Anyway, I might be able answer your questions and help you out.
I don't live in Missoula but do live in the regional area and have been
here my whole life.
It's great to hear that some of us are slowly but surely getting our SOs
home. My guy comes home for his R&R on Wednesday so I'll be a little
preoccupied for a couple days (if you know what I mean?!)
I think I'll make another batch of goodies for the crew before he goes
back...new fire, new batch of goodies. Who knows maybe I'll turn this into
a tradition. Hopefully he won't eat all of them on his trip back to the
Keep those poems and words of inspiration coming!
Ab, thanks for correcting my spelling on my last post. I had it that way
at first and then second thought myself and changed it. What is SpellCheck
||I've been trying to think of what to say about the tragedy that
This is what came out:
Tomorrows become our Yesterdays.
It's in the "Nows" that we build the foundations of our past
And the stepping stones of our Future.
At least to me, Firefighters appear to live in the "now".
They live life to the fullest, pushing themselves and their environment to
the limit. I take comfort in knowing that those who lost their lives at
least lived them the way they wanted to. So many people out there live
their lives in the "I wish I had" or the "what if's."
I know that for me, I feel twice blessed for knowing my HS FF. One, for
the love that we share, and two for the privilege of seeing the passion
and fire for life in his eyes.
My heart goes out to those families who had their loves ones taken from
them, and that wonderful spark put out.
||From the g'ma on the list
I am absolutely in awe of the roller derby chick.....
good grief that looks painful. I want to know what is worn under the
Way to go girl.
Wow, how nice it must be to have your FF lover HOME! I can't imagine. I
won't see mine for quite a while still. And yes, that is us in the Jane
mag. article. There is another little blip about us in Bust magazine and
Playboy as well. The only reason we are in Playboy is because we were on
the Dave Attell Insomniac show on Comedy Central and the article is really
about him. I haven't seen it. But we are in NO WAY in there because any of
us take our clothes off...just to clarify. Thanks for the encouragement
for working out. We will have to push each other. Wish I had someone to
train with. That is much more motivating. I'm going running today and will
try to get back on track. My weekends are so crazy I never get anything
I got to talk to my HS for a long time last night. And tonight, we have
plans to have the "talk" about future plans, etc. I guess I
already mentioned it yesterday. I'm just so happy that this is not
something I have been pushing on him and he seems to be looking forward to
it actually. You know how much guys usually hate "the talk." I
just don't know what to make of all of this. I mean, yes, things are going
great...but then again, we never see each other. We only talk on the
phone. So I'm a little nervous about how things will progress once we are
together on a day-to-day basis. I'm not going to move to his state and
he's not going to move to mine. I think we both agree we would need to
start out together on neutral ground. And I have had experience w/ this
before, and moving to "my turf" doesn't really work and vice
versa. But this is all kind of a long way off so we'll just have to see
how the winter goes. I'm excited about traveling together for a couple of
months over the winter. I suppose that will really be the make us or break
I sent the roller derby link to Ab. Keep in mind when viewing pics, we are
kind of a rowdy bunch (hence.. roller derby) but I have never met a more
exceptional, compassionate group of women....tattoos, piercings and all.
Thanks for everyone's encouraging words.
Have a great day,
I didn't actually send anything w/ that last one, no pictures I mean. I
just said you could give out my e-mail if they wanted to see them and I
would send them the link. It looks like at least a few would like to see
them. I know they are not fire related, but here is the link. I'm not sure
how I'm supposed to go about this, but I will try it this way.
I am in two pics. The Hell Marys, my team, have the red plaid skirt. Hope
this is not coming off as really self-absorbed.
Oopsie, I sent FireChica the tame photo of you and yore momma. Your
link is not fire-related but we'll make an exception... Hotshot training?
||This post and photo came through a few days ago with more photos.
Finally getting to it. Ab.
Though I have a lot, the first picture I'll post is for you as a
"welcome" to Family Said. This is the Blow Up of "The
Poet" Fire out of Elk City, Idaho this last Thursday. The picture
was taken from the Slims Fire Camp.
||Elaine posted a good collection of articles on the firefighter
deaths. Check theysaid if you haven't already done so. Ab.
||TazGirl, you rock!
I am sure with all that roller derby experience you could give any
HS a run for his/her money! (Ab, I would love to see the pictures.)
One comin' yer way. TazGirl, did you send more than one? Ab.
well, my FF lover has been home for two weeks and will be until next fire
season. he started college last week and he seems to be enjoying it. it's
really great having him around all the time now. he's my bud and i can't
wait til we can go riding (motorcycle) together. i've picked out a cool
frame for my bike -- next is finding the motor i want. i've been running
with my lover three days per week since he got back. he's helping me get
into shape so maybe i can think about trying out for a position with the
crew next season. so far, i'm doing really well! i'm also weight training
on alternate days and it feels great to get back into it. i was slacking
there for a while. my lover says we're going to get me in the best shape
ever!!! i can't wait!
tazlina girl!! i saw an article in Jane mag about the roller derby girls
in austin. did you know about it? how's your workouts going? share with me
and i'll share with you. keep eachother motivated!!
i hope all of your FFs are safe and kicking butt out there!! ab, i've
attached a zip file with some pics from my FF's summer fires.
Catskilldog, could you please send in some descriptive words about the
photos?... where and when would be fine. I labeled them MT fire, but I
don't know if that's correct. Ab.
||Hello everyone. Hope everyone had a nice weekend. I was excited to check
back in today and see what everyone's been up to. And then I saw the awful
news. I was shocked to hear about the 8 FF's that died. I am terribly
saddened by this news. I can't imagine what their families must be going
through. My thoughts and prayers will be with them. I was thinking also of
how the remaining 11 FF's must have felt on the ride back home with almost
half of their crew dead and left behind. I can't imagine their grief...
Thanks for the butt kicking encouragement Nerd. And Fire Momma, thanks for
asking how it went. I'm here to tell you....we lost. BUT we put up a darn
good fight. We played hard and well. And I took the bionic woman out at
least once. And she also sent me flying once. I was airborne for a couple
of seconds and landed w/ quite a thud. But I got up again very quickly
thank goodness. The best part was when there was a big dog pile fight
among both teams. Everyone was fighting...but all in good fun though.
There are some pictures on the web and if you're interested, Ab can give
you my e-mail address and I'll send you the link. And I'm not even too
sore today. My dad came to the third game in a row and had a blast. I
swear, I have the biggest, loudest, best fan group there that are all my
friends and family. It's awesome. They sit in the same section every time
and just cheer and cheer way more than anyone...and louder. Great to have
that support. And my brother, who is our mascot, was in the middle of the
rink leading everyone in cheers. It was awesome. Wish you guys could come
Sammi- where are your pics posted from your trip and the fires?
My FF is on his days off right now in Boise. I have still been able to
talk to him a couple of times a day lately and it is soooo nice. I guess
he will work through September, maybe a bit of October and then come here
for a visit. He will have to go back to Alaska for a couple of weeks in
October before coming here so it will still be a while. One day at a
time... I'm just picturing the beach and a full moon in Thailand. Thinking
about that is a nice distraction. But I did have to go to another wedding
dateless again this weekend. What is it about weddings and going alone? It
sucks. I don't think I've ever had a date to a wedding. Someday.
I guess that's about it. I've been too busy to do much exercise since last
week so I'm gonna get on it tomorrow. But roller derby counts as exercise
right? I'm kind of excited to talk to my FF more tomorrow when we get the
chance so I can tell him my dispatcher plans and see what he thinks. We
are both going to bring some ideas to the table to talk about the future
and see what's do-able. But that's still a little far off for us.
Again, I want to offer my condolences to the WFF community and the tragic
loss of the 8 First Strike Firefighters.
Ab hasn't gotten to Sammi's photos or some other good ones from Canada
and elsewhere. Sometimes (all too often) unexpected research takes
Remember the old saying..."Ignorance is Bliss...?"
The way I handled the particular situation you seem to be going through
was to hand all bills and bill paying over to my SO. This, after his
complaints that we didn't have enough $ because I spent so much. I said,
"Oh, really?" "Alright..." So, I gathered up the
bills, made a full accounting (listing) of the regular monthly bills, as
well as the periodic ones and showed him the budget for things like food,
gas, etc. Balanced the checkbook to the penny. Placed the checkbook
squarely on top of it all...and said..."Have at it, my love."
Approximately two weeks later my (now sweet and soft spoken) SO sits me
down and apologizes for making the initial assumption. He also now has a
full appreciation of where the money comes from and where it goes to, the
timing, any gaps if there are any...and how I handled those.
Rather than raised voices and finger pointing (well, with the exception of
the beginning of this episode) this seemed to bring us together in terms
of household planning, budget and bill paying.
So, to swing around to my first point...For your SO, perhaps ignorance is
"bliss", but his ignorance (or denial) certainly doesn't appear
to be leading to yours. I suggest turning up the heat.
I don't believe we've heard the results of Sunday's roller derby
I posted this web site to They Said a week or so ago -
It has up-to-date fire news and links to the agencies' websites plus
pictures of the fires. Most of the pictures are from the area newspapers
and have lots of crew pictures on them with the cutlines that appeared in
the newspaper they came from. The reason I mention this is I thought
someone might luck out and get a chance to see their guy/gal in action.
They usually list the firefighter's name(s) in the caption if they got
their names, or will at least mention what crew they are with.
My sympathies to the family, friends and firefighting community who these
8 people's lives touched.
Take care all,
This time I would like to share a posting of "notes" that I keep
in my pocket to help me hang on when those times get tough..
Feel free to copy and print anything I write here. If it helps me it might
Remember to never do anything that you feel isn't right no matter what,
and never forget you should trust your heart.
"Chicken Soup for the Teenagers Soul"
"Unless we know who we are, how can we offer what we have?"
Love is God's greatest gift and is not to be taken lightly.
Trust in God, and the opportunities he presents you.
Treasure each moment.
Believe in the goodness of all things.
Live passionately in all parts of your life.
Let your light shine in all you say, think and do.
Life is full of possibilities, it is up to you to grasp them and run with
Life is full of opportunities; it is what you do with them that make you
who you are.
Love is reflected in love.
To expose your soul to love is the greatest risk. Without risk, there
would not be a true measure of the profoundness of love.
Life is to short to not live each moment to it's fullest.
Smile often, laugh loudly, and love deeply
-some of these I wrote, some are from other sources
"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a
life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
- Nelson Mandela
Meditation, Quiet, Peace.
Something I did not know was missing.
It took an end to find the beginning.
An awakening, a dawn, a new life unfolding.
Each day a joy, and adventure.
Finding one's passion for life.
Old thoughts, old ways viewed anew.
Life's journey unfolds, the adventure awaits!
>From the heights of a sunset
To the depths of a sand dollar,
A time never to be forgotten.
Things to remember forever.
It all comes back as
A mist in your eyes from a smoke of a distant fire.
-Written by :BW
I also recommend the following sites as sources of daily inspirations.
Non-erligious in nature, but they seem to always have something that I can
learn and grow from.
Some of them try to sell stuff, but the daukt/weekly newsletters/e-mials
are still free.
||Last night as I sat watching the news, I was very glad
my husband was home. I just cried when I watched the
report on those 8 FF who died in the crash. And this
morning it was the big thing on the Today show. It is
sad for everyone in the FF community when another
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of
those fallen and those still out on the all the fires.
Thanks for the new poem. I hope you don't mind if I
hang this one up on our wall too!! You are so talented.
||As of about 10 pm last night word of the 8 deaths had not made it to the
part of a big fire my husband is on. When he called I just could not hold
back the tears and was the one to tell him.( I never cry when he calls) I
have never "heard" silence but I did last night. It is way to
soon to know the how' why's of the tragedy but at some point I think we
need to discuss on our list the ways we might address some of the issues
of FF safety on the highways. (should have been done after the Grayback
wreck last year). We did it with the shelters and we were heard.....for
now we will grieve and then we will get mad and that is when we need to
There is a huge hole in the firefighter family today and time will help
fill it but for the families I cannot even imagine the grief.
Ab's: Do they announce the deaths at morning briefing? After my husbands
reaction last night I am concerned what news like this does to the morale
and concentration level on the fires. Is there any way to get names and
addresses of the families (after they are made public) so we could at
least send cards? can't remember if we did that for 30 Mile or
Most serious incidents that may affect firefighter concentration are
announced at morning briefing. The Safety Officer and Deputy Incident
Commander or Human Resources person (who may be the Deputy IC on a Type 2
team) gets a sense of whether anyone needs further time off and counseling
to deal with the loss. Sometimes there is a standdown of the entire team
and all the firefighters. Fire managers receive information often from
their home dispatching units regarding incidents that may be upsetting to
the troops. They are usually very aware of accidents and take appropriate
I hope you don't mind if I add a few thoughts.
A few word to help families of fallen FF's cope:
For any weaving that needs to be done, God sends the threads.
The mantra to help you make it through:
"Need to , Can do, Have to, Will do."
I hope these words of wisdom help someone.
My heart goes out to all the families of fallen Fire Fighters. We are
thinking of you in our prayers as well as the FF out on the job, keep
With deepest sympathy,
||A call, a hug,
A kiss, a sigh.
Too soon, it seems
Out the door he must fly.
A day goes by
Maybe two or three.
So far so good,
I'm missing him, you see.
Soon it's a week,
Then a few days more.
Now I'm watching the phone
And watching the door.
A week turns to two
Sometimes to three.
No word for him yet,
How fair can this be?
I know in my head
Sometimes you can't call,
But my heart has it's own rules
And it hurts - that's all.
When I feel I can't stand it
He walks through the door.
I hear his voice, see his smile
And worry no more.
In that first wonderful kiss.
Time stops, thought stops
Lost in the love I did miss.
In that moment I realize
I can survive being alone
"Cause my belov'd firefighter
Has now returned home."
I was trying to get some sewing done, but this darn poem kept DEMANDING
I stop and write it down. It is amazing how much it helps to write these.
Thanks for reading them.
Note: No, he has not called or returned home (yet). I was just writing
what it feels like, and remembering the last time he walked in the door.
||There are no words for me to say about the deaths of the 8 FF in Oregon.
I am literally sick to my stomach and will make this very short. There is
a full news article on KREM.Com TV out of Spokane.
There are no words that can comfort the families and co-workers of these
wonderful young people. My prayers and thoughts are with them and I hope
and pray these kids did not suffer......heartsick Sammi
||To anybody and everybody,
Thanks Nerd. BUT I need help. Read on:
My Question is has anyone experienced this situation before? read on:
My SO had a pretty good job working in a rock quarry. It did have its ups
and downs just like any other job. And he was beginning to get burned out
with it. BUT when he decided to pursue wildland firefighting, they (rock
quarry) wouldn't let him off so he quit his job and moved on to Wildland
FF. I support him every step of the way and then some. I have never told
him he couldn't go do wildland firefighting. My SO loves going and
fighting fire out west or where ever it takes him. To this day, my SO is
afraid to get another job because he is afraid they won't let him off to
go to a fire. His last employer wouldn't let him off because my SO didn't
know how long he would be gone. He did tell them that he assumed it would
be around two weeks or so. So he doesn't do much of anything during off
season. He has taken some odd jobs before because our bills are piling up.
He wont even attempt finding another job because he is determined to think
that no one will work with him. I've told him in a nice way how does he
know they wont work with him if he doesn't try? He claims he has tried but
every thing was a bust. I feel like he didn't try hard enough. It is very
very very very stressful that he wont even try to get another job (steady
job) to help pay our bills that we made together. I'm not telling him to
quit WFF just find something to pick up the slack when he is home. I feel
he is lucky to get to go out when he can. I hate to see him go but the
bills need to be paid and what right do I have to tell him he can't do
WFF? I love my FF and wouldn't trade him for the world and I don't care
what kind of job he has, just so it helps with the bills. I just wish he
could see my side of this. The $-Keep in mind that both our money goes to
the bills regardless. But when he hasn't worked and I am the only one with
the income, we get behind on everything and there is a gap. I know if he
had a steady job that when he leaves it would help to get his paycheck
plus my paycheck to keep combining them, then while he is gone it would
help on the bills and the gap wouldn't be so huge until he received his
WFF check because my paycheck will still go in the bank just as his would.
Help me!!! What can I do to make my FF understand the gap.
I can't get over how great this website is I appreciate everyone that
participates on this site. Yall are just like my family. Speaking of
family: We had a family gathering today. My grandpa is another year older.
He has been telling me about the time they lived in MT and visited ID and
the surrounding areas. As for the rest of the family they have no clue
about what it takes to be married or in some peoples case, involved with a
WFF. If they only could experience the feeling of loneliness.
I ask my SO in a nice way and I don't think it bothers him to ask when he
is coming home. I feel out of respect for us at home that they know we
would ask them that very same question. Sometimes my SO knows and
sometimes he doesn't. But when he does find out he tells me without me
asking him. I will ask him that very question just so I know if it bothers
my man. P.S. good question.
Sorry so long guys.
I have an observation...
Though you may like your mother's version above your own, remember, it was
you who brought it into being first. Based on that alone, I like yours
best. It takes courage to give birth to a thought, a poem, a story. It may
take an editor to improve it. But...you made it. You rock.
Thanks for the insight on not asking when they will be home. I can see it
from their side, being painful when you cannot give an answer, knowing
your loved one is hurting to. (at least I am TRYING to see it from their
side) I have asked that of my FF when he comes home for the few hours I
get to see him, and I have felt guilty.
I will just try to stick to "I look forward to when you can be home
longer" or something like that.
Thanks for the note on the poem, too. *blush*
My mum critiqued my last one, and has rewritten it.
Here is my mum's version:
The Dragon it hungers.
The Dragon it burns.
For destruction only
It appears that it yearns.
As with the Phoenix,
Both nature and man
Will rise from the ashes
As is the plan.
Under sky now so blue,
>From our hearts we thank you!
I like hers better, don't you? >G<
||Re: The "Hungry Horse" fire. I'm sorry I wasn't able to read
this before I left. And, perhaps you've all figured this out. But,
sometimes, especially in the early days of a fire, it's referred to in
terms of the area where it is located. In this case, the "Hungry
Horse Fire" is actually part of the Beta Lake -Doris Ridge fire on
the Flathead National Forest.
Today's sit report reads like this:
(This is in the Northern Area Large Fires Sit Report section)
"BETA LAKE - DORIS RIDGE, Flathead National Forest. A Type 1 Incident
Management Team (Ferguson) is assigned. These fires are in timber, five
miles south of Hungry Horse, MT. The fires are in close proximity to the
Hungry Horse Dam, recreational and communication facilities and
powerlines. Fire behavior was minimal due to some precipitation received.
Fire size was reduced due to better estimates."
You can download the Sit Report (National Fire Situation Report) at the
following url: http://www.nifc.gov/news/sitreprt.pdf. It's updated usually
by 5 a.m. each morning.
I'm going out to mow the lawn and clean out the chicken coop before I can
sit down for a nice juicy post and more pics. Probably this evening with a
glass of wine.
But, before I go...Southern...I was just leaving the Columbia River Basin
headed to the Idaho Panhandle, grinding through the miles (listening to a
particularly "country" Country & Western radio station) when
I found myself worrying that I had offended you with the "y'all"
comment. Just want to let you know I think "y'all" is one
hell'uva word. Extremely useful...and I love it.
We have a link to the national sit report on the links
page under news and also have links to the regional sit reports. We
prefer the html version when available, as it loads more quickly on
smaller, slower computer systems that we usually have in the field. PDF
files can be ugly monsters if you're out of the office on a slow dialup.
Like everyone else who has posted about it, I loved
the poem you wrote. I printed it out and have it
hanging above our desk. Keep posting them!!
I learned something the other night from my FF... When
the guys are on a fire the one thing they hate more
than anything is to be asked "when are you coming
home!!" I always ask it because when my husband
leaves he usually doesn't know when he will be home
again. It could be a few days to a couple weeks. He
usually doesn't leave with a specific date in mind. I
guess I will have to be more careful when asking
That doesn't seem like an unreasonable question so long as you ask it
for information and not in a "clingy" or "needy" way.
Sometimes we won't know the answer, but I never minded that question. Ab.
Here’s my shot at answering your questions:
1. Fire season is over when it’s over. I’m in northern New Mexico, and
we’ve transitioned from monsoons and dry lightning to actual wetting
rains, so our season is fairly well over…but our season also got rolling
in February, with a hiatus for the snows in April and May. Basically, fire
season is over when temperatures stop getting above the seventies and
humidities stop dropping below about fifty percent…but that will vary
from place to place for any number of reasons. Here, we also expect sort
of spike when people start firing up their woodstoves…more structure
fires, with the potential to cross the urban-wildland interface and get
out into the woods. And we almost never get humidities above fifty
percent. If you have the information, check a fire weather report for a
number called Probability of Ignition, or POI. A POI above 70% is a “Watch
Out condition…that’s when you get extreme fire behavior such as
running and torching (running is when a fire makes sudden, fast movements
and can jump containment lines; torching with when trees go up all at once…just
rush, crackle, and no more tree). If you start seeing consistent POIs
below about forty percent, at the hottest part of the day, at least by New
Mexican standards, no more fire season. Down in southern New Mexico, which
is more of where I’m from, the season kicks up in April and May and
again ends with the wetting rains in August. In California, the season can
go from March to November, but that’s pretty extraordinary. It can also
vary a lot from year to year. El Niño makes a huge difference, so can a
drought year. Fuel moisture content is huge; the reason our season got
going so early was because we’ve had a long drought and our
thousand-hour fuels (that means trees and big logs) had basically no
moisture in them at all. I’m not totally sure what the predictions are
for this year…in our area our chief was predicting a late season because
of the late snows…we were figuring that the lush spring growth would dry
and then go woof in July and August, which didn’t happen, fortunately…we
got the wetting rains early enough that we just got a few lightning
strikes that stuck around and nothing that ran.
2. In my part of the world, we get a lot of fire folks who work the ski
areas in the winter…ski patrol for those with medical training, making
snow, running lifts. Some just live frugally over the winter, not doing
much. There’s a lot of seasonal work that picks up in ski towns during
the winter…ambulance services, various retail and service industries.
Waiting tables, bagging groceries, renting and guiding snowmobiles,
hunters, cross-country skiers. There’s a lot of training that happens
over the off season, too. I’m a vollie; I do this in addition to my ‘real’
job. I plan to train a lot this winter; get my classroom work together so
I can do more next season. I also run with an ambulance service and
structure fire department; we’re expecting that side of things to pick
up as more people light their fireplaces and stoves and find out what took
up residence in the chimney over the summer, and what ate the wires in
their fancy ski chalet. More people losing it on the roads and the slopes
too. Spring and fall, the times between snow and fire, are the lean and
3. No clue. I’d just sit down and compare coverage maps carefully.
Satellite phones are getting cheaper, but I’ve never seen one in or
around a fire camp.
Told ya. It’s good to hear you happy.
Kick her into next week. We’re rooting for ya.
(laughing) Can I put you in contact with my mom? She could use a few
Nerd on the Fireline (delighted with all of you)
||Thank you to Bambi and Heli Groupie for responding to me, both for the
"OK" on posting poetry and the answers to my questions.
I not only write, but paint Acrylics (sunsets mostly), sew, take LOTS of
community education classes, read, and cry on my Mom's shoulder when
needed. <G> Keeping busy is definitely one of the best ways I have
found to keep from going nuts. I am also very lucky in that I have a very
good support system in both family and friends to help me cope with the
"in-between times." (this list has helped as well)!
I am glad to hear that the fire season is almost over. Whoo HOOO!
Thanks for the info on the cell phone coverage. I am definitely looking
into one for the both of us, even if the coverage is spotty. Just knowing
that there is a possible way to contact me if the coverage is there helps
ease the mind. Every little bit helps.
Thanks again to all of you for the support you have shown.
I hope over time my grammar and spelling will catch up with my need to
Here is another short poem:
The Dragon it hungers.
The Dragon it burns.
For destruction only
It appears that it yearns.
The Phoenix (both nature and man)
>From the ashes, rise anew.
Help this, you have, beloved firefighters
And for that we thank you!
I just stepped in my front door and want to tell you I thought about many
of you over the past week. I still have to unpack, and get my
bearings...at which time I'll read over the week's posts...and post some
myself with fire photos.
After 2200 miles, four states, three geographical regions, asundry fires,
many grouchy, tired firefighters...I need to catch my breath. A piece of
advice, as I know many of you are wondering about how you can help your
SOs... With the fires running on, and on...the cold nights, both rain AND
sweltering heat, stifling smoke and blowing dust, dirt and ash, dining
with the hordes, sleeping on the ground, etc., most everyone I talked to
(not just my fallers, but agency firefighters, fire overhead, camp
support, etc.) is feeling lousy in one way or another. Lots of sore
throats, fevers, runny noses, clogged lungs....Here's the advice...if you
are planning to anyway, send care packages with vitamin C or anything to
boost their immune systems. (It's available in camp, but lots of them
either don't know it, or won't take the time to go get it...) If they're
grouchy, understand they're probably feeling wiped out. Encourage them to
pay attention to their health.
Hey, I missed this place and you guys!
||>>me thinks Heli Groupie and FireMomma have offered the best real
time advice to the stay-at-home-worrying folk who read FS. others posted
similar advice months ago knowing the Dragon was in early season playful
mode. subsequently several other USFS, BLM, state, etc. FFs posted advice
dealing with family or SO situations; they are most likely too busy to
The time to rehash details is after the rains and snows come to wildland
and everyone is well rested, and had time to lower adrenaline levels, and
hopefully put things in perspective before becoming an arm chair
If it makes anyone feel better, this week I rec'd a one line email from my
daughter; haven't heard a word from the males in this family... after 10+
yrs of wildland fire gypsy, I realize they are too busy. if your SO is IA
on this epidemic of blow up fires in wildland territory, they are running
ragged = now is not the time to expect a phone call or sweet words (even
if they are on the road to a new fire, no stop for eats or gas has enuff
phone booths for an entire crew to use even if the lone one is in working
order). keep the faith.
TO ALL THOSE ON THE LINE: BE SAFE! prayers for safe returns for all!
I don't know if this will answer your questions or not, but hopefully this
We live in Montana and since I'm relatively new to this also I don't know
if my situation is the norm or if I'm just stuck with a workaholic (or
both), but for us fire season is never really over. It just slows down.
In the fall and winter months, my guy takes on prescribed burn assignments
and then there are all the classes he takes getting ready for the next
summer season. So he's pretty much on the road all year. It's just that
he's not gone as long or as much as in the spring and summer.
I'd say normally (of course these past few years have been anything but
normal) fire season usually runs from late June to early September
sometimes later. (Someone jump in here if I'm wrong - I'm going by memory
when we last had a normal fire season). Last year, I know they were still
fighting fires well into October because of lack of snow. I remember he
even got called out in the winter to fight a small local fire.
What do they do in off months? Chomp at the bit waiting for signs of dry
lightning! I'd have to say spring has got to be the worse season I know.
He's grumpy, anxious and you can see that glint of gold & red
reflected in his eyes as you're trying to hold a conversation with him,
and you know he hasn't heard a word you said because he's thinking about
fire season starting!
As for cell coverage...around here the general consensus seems to be
CellularOne. Almost everyone I know is signed up with them because they
seem to have the best coverage and the least holes. Also, you can get a 16
state plan (most of the western states) so that you don't pay roaming when
you're in another state. There is also Verizon - they are probably the
second choice around here and then there is a company called 3 Rivers
Wireless - I don't know much about them and how there coverage is outside
of our area. There are quite a few people that I know who are signed up
with them. A friend of mine in Idaho is signed up with Qwest but can't use
her cell where I live because we don't have that service available in my
area. So when you do call a company to sign up, I'd suggest you ask for
specifics about where their coverage is, or you may find out after all
that the phone still doesn't work.
Lastly, speaking for myself...you bet you can post poetry! I really
enjoyed the first one you posted. I should have said something earlier.
Anyway, I hope I helped out.
Take care everyone! Hey, by the way has anyone heard from FireMomma? She
hasn't posted for a while so I was just curious.
I like the poem you posted on 8/20. It is so true. I would also like to
know the answers to your questions posted on 8/23. When my SO went out on
a crew for the first time to Utah, I was terrible. I cried like a baby
because that was the first time we had been apart for a long period of
time since we had been married in 93'. We do everything together. I
wouldn't even stay in our house because everything I looked at reminded me
of him. Yes I went to my parents house until he came back. My parents
decided to get me involved in something. I taught myself to paint. That
very night I painted a jar for the first time and it turned out pretty
good. Everyone was as impressed as much as I was. I have always wanted to
paint but never had until then. I was so wrapped up in painting that I
lost track of time. Painting also took my mind off of worrying about my
hubby and had me concentrating on the painting at hand. I sat for 3 to 4
hours painting that one jar. Talk about passing time. I really enjoy
painting because its fun. Anyone can do it if I can do it.
Hints: I use acrylic paint on any glass jar and terra-cotta pots (this is
the most fun).
The paint only costs around $0.44 for a 2 fluid oz. (trust me it goes a
Play with the paint to get a feel of it. I used a paper plate to learn on.
Daisies are my favorite to paint.
Just a note for all of you that has a SO out on the fire and away from
home. When my SO calls me I always let him hang up first. I made a mistake
of hanging up first one time and I heard him talking right before I turned
my cell off. I felt awful, especially after I realized what I had done.
That is why I let him hang up first.
If your So is out firefighting, find a hobby to keep you busy. It WILL
pass the time and you wont worry as much. good luck finding that hobby.
||Hey Everyone and Tonya,
Im on cloud nine. My SO called me this morning. He sounds tired. He has a
scratch on his finger that is getting infected, so he is going to get it
fixed up this morning. The reason he hasn't been able to call me is
because people have been talking over their allowed time of five minutes.
Which is leading to fights at the phone. He told me that they pulled the
crew off the line last evening because of rain AND its still raining this
morning. yippie. It took him a week to call me. I think I handled it very
well. I was just glad to hear his voice. I think it helped me knowing that
he was wanting to talk to me last night and he didn't. I could tell he
missed me from the sound of his voice. I hope for those of you that still
haven't heard from your SO you get to talk to them soon. Good luck with
the communication system. Well until later.
||Once again I want to say how much I appreciate the list here. It has
really helped me cope with my SO being gone. It helps sooo much to know
that there are others out there dealing with the same stuff. Just thinking
that I have only been dealing with this for a few months and some of you
have been dealing with this for YEARS. wow
I have a few more questions:
1) When exactly is the fire season over? (When does it start, too)
2) What the heck do these guys (and gals) do in the off months?
3) What cell phone company do you all recommend for communicating with my
And lastly, is it OK that I post poetry? That is one of the ways I cope, I
write and do poetry. Don't know if any of you are interested in the stuff,
but I have LOTS of it.
I thought I was the only one that has calls like that. And it never fails
they get home and something will come up and someone will say.. "but
mom said" ..... no I didn't..... you just imagined my part of the
conversation behind the hissing and crackling on your cell phone. I can
picture all these hundreds of people dressed in yellow shirts on top of
mountains with little bitty cell phones to their ears and they are all
turning in little circles as they try to get a better connection. I spend
more time saying "are you there? are you there?" then we do
actually talking. I have had calls like that and I'll ask where are you
and they are at some Safeway........ well why didn't you use the payphone?
"never thought of that" and who raised you??????? even the
disjointed cell phones calls are better than no call...... aren't
Just wanted to shoot off a quick e-mail to tell everyone to have a good
weekend. I have a big roller derby game on Sunday so everyone wish me some
good luck!!! We're playing the Hustlers and we are both undefeated. I'm
playing this woman that I swear she is bionic. Yikes...
My FF's days off are coming up and although I won't get to see him, I'm at
least excited about having long talks on the phone when he isn't
exhausted. Funny how low my expectations have become for now.... Oh well.
That's what you get for dating a HS right?
||Thanks Paula for the sensible calming advice for FF families and friends
about the hectic schedules on these fires in the Northern Rockies. Worry
does no one good, positive thinking just might help. When a thought of my
son crosses the old brain pan I try to immediately relax, breathe, and sBE
love just in case he's listening.
I heard from him from somewhere outside of Missoula the other night on a
terrible cell phone connection. It was a fun if interrupted chat.
FF: Hey mom! Why'd you ...message ... dispatch?
Mom: Four reasons. 1, U of M accepted your transfer and is delaying
registration for FFs.
Mom: 2, your roomie ISN'T detoured to Iraq for three years and is ready to
go Plan A.
FF: What? . . . crackle crackle ...Holy cow!
Mom: 3, you have a great apartment waiting a few blocks from campus.
FF: Oh man, what? . . . crackle...You kidding? Geez . . . #%# That's
Mom: ...(love interest news--good)
FF: (Laugh, screech, cuss, laugh.) Where can I call you Tuesday? I gotta
think about this.
SO, I'm glad when we can talk, but it's gotta be short and sweet!!! Good
luck everyone, snow's on its way. I can't remember a September that didn't
have a good snow in the mountains the first or second weekend.
||Great fire coverage of Montana fires and FF's in Missoulian paper and
out their wildfire photo gallery. www.missoulian.com/
Another Montana Mom
||Bambi... Thanks for the support... My husband is
home now and last night we did talk about why I was
mad. We went this am before work and looked at a house
to rent together... I am still thinking about the
cell phone... I need to call this morning and see what
it would cost on top of mine... Plus if we need a new
contract and things... But he got on this morning and
read all my posts and he asked me if I had gotten him
a phone.. *LAUGHS* I told him I was checking into
And just so you know MT has a lot of empty spaces
where cell phones don't work... I hope you hear from
your SO soon...
||The SIT Report seems to get longer every day. Thoughts and prayers to
family and friends of loved ones on the fires. My hubby is in western
Montana and unlike at the beginning of our marriage eighteen years ago, I
hear from him via cell phone. Unfortunately, my sister and her family are
in Missoula spending their summer indoors out of the smoke.
A local rural newspaper (not available via the web) had an article about
Bush's plan for "competitive outsourcing" for vehicle
maintenance, communications, etc. by contracted personnel bidding for the
jobs currently held by permanent USFS employees. Rural communities across
the US will lose thousands of USFS jobs that provide retirement and family
health insurance benefits. The article said the contractors travel around.
I would not be comfortable with someone out of the FS family working on my
husband's fire engine before it is dispatched. What would the employees
have to lose except that contract? At least FS employees have to go
through a hiring process, are susceptible to substance-abuse testing, and
have the opportunity to support a family in a rural area. I hope that the
emphasis on achieving "portal to portal" pay (which is
significantly important to several employees) does not overshadow the
importance to fight the "competitive outsourcing" plan or at
least have it be stringent enough to provide safety for all the USFS
employees it will affect as well as all the ones it will put out of work.
Whatever your opinion is, contact your local representatives and let them
I am originally from CO but I am an RMWC alum (2002). I wouldn't be
surprised if your friend knew or knows of me (depending on what year she
is). I was pretty active on campus and my reputation had a tendency to
proceed me. But I don’t live in VA anymore.
Those "boots" were made for stompin' or at least raisin'
||You guys have made me cry again. It is so good to
know I AM NOT ALONE. I started new job while my FF
has been away. One I really wanted, but with some
very unexpected extras. I have had the week from
Hell! Last week I splashed bleach in my eye and was
in the emergency room. The little one was not too
happy about seeing Mommy in pain and getting her eye
washed at the emergency room, to top it off someone
hit our mail box and broke it clean it two...the thing
was made out of old railroad ties!....anyway.....
my FF was on the Crazy Horse about the same time as
yours. Shortly after that they got moved to the
Little Salmon Complex (fires that FS is letting
natural burn). The phone situation there is terrible.
We have managed 5 min. on a pay phone and 2 fuzzy
min. on a cell. Perhaps your FF is there.
Well tomorrow when things go from good to bad to worse
I'll remember you all and look forward to coming home
and spending time with you.
I think your SO will appreciate his phone. Just keep in mind that not all
places have cell service. I have been lucky hearing from my SO. He has
been to Texas (space shuttle recovery), Utah, New Mexico, Idaho, and now
Montana fire fighting. I think I have listed them all. Sometimes he has
service and sometimes he doesn't. He is in Montana and he must be in a
hole somewhere because I haven't heard from him since this past Saturday.
Im hanging in there and you do the same.
Make sure you get a cell plan that is great for you. I live in Virginia
and we are on the 12 state plan. we have thought about the national plan
but we decided that It wasn't worth paying the money not knowing how much
he would be going out west to fight fire. Good luck finding a plan that is
right for you.
I was reading the Family said and Tonya said that our SO's might could be
on the same fire I would like to get in touch with her. She said that I
could get her email addy from Ab. I will try the refresh button before I
go off line. Thank you for this web site. Its wonderful.
I hope you can work it all out with your SO. After my SO went to ID a
couple of weeks ago and the thoughts of something happening to him scared
me up. Especially knowing that after he had called me that those two
heroic firefighters died. But I try to remember if it wasn't for our fire
crews on these BIG fires then who would do it? My SO loves firefighting
and going on these crews. I have fought with him in the past on the phone
and today I get ill that he hasnt called. BUT I cant get mad knowing he is
huffing and puffing up and down those steep mountains. I hope you work it
out when he calls again. My point is that you never know when it is your
time to go. I keep thinking about what I read on 8/4 and I don't want my
husband remembering our fight. I want him to know how much I love him and
appreciate him. Good luck on the house hunt. oh and im sure your SO will
love that you got the phone. sorry Its so long.
Thanks for the input about the Kleenex fund. I had a big laugh. I've done
pretty good this time around about keeping it together. The more he goes
out, the easier it gets. He went to the crystal creek fire in ID then came
home a week then left and went to the crazy horse fire, MT. It is hard on
him if he sees me cry so I try not to cry in front of him. I cried when he
left for ID but he didn't see me BUT everybody at the airport did. I try
to keep myself busy.
Bambi, I forwarded the e-mail from Tonya to your hotmail account. You
can e-mail her directly. She says so. Ab.
I'm running the information center for the Northern Rockies geographic
and we get calls and e-mails from families of firefighters active on
Montana and Northern Idaho fires who are wondering where their family
members are. Right now we have more than 75 large fires burning and 13,750
folks working on firefighting or support across the geographic area. It's
a huge and efficient machine that moves resources to the area of greatest
need. Therefore, it's difficult for us to get a non-emergency message to
individuals. Another complicating factor for the firefighters is that
calling home is often not possible early on in fires. Cell phone coverage
is sparse and often fleeting in mountainous country. Having capacity to
recharge a phone may be difficult. In addition, we try to get phones set
up in our fire camps but there are limitations on where phone service is
available, phone companies may be strapped for enough crews to make this
happen quickly when there are so many fires burning. And, often
crewmembers are so tired after a series of long shifts that their priority
has to become getting set up, re-tooled, fed and sleep. And they might
get sent to yet another camp the next day. Of course some of the crews end
up in spike camps.
The reason I write is that I know the good information you and the gang
share on the They Said and Family Said pages and I know how stressful it
can be for the family members left behind. I'm hoping you can once again
share with concerned family members that at best, communications are slim
and it would probably help the families not to expect communications...but
to be happy if they get called. For those interested in fires in the
northern geographic area (Northern Idaho, Montana and North Dakota), we
have a website with all the large fire summaries we update 3 times a day
This does not have crew
information but at least families can keep track of the latest fire
I hope that helps folks out.
Thanks very much for writing in Paula. This crew is good support for
each other and they've gotten some good pointers from dispatchers and
others. The mom who was trying to get a message to her son to call UM got
the message to him, thanks to everyone's help. Ab.
I've been lurking the last week or so, since I've not had too much to
report or comment on. Since I'm thoroughly addicted to this place now, I
can't help getting online almost everyday just to see how everyone is
My feelings go out to all of you who are so far away from the fires and
your SO's, it is so frustrating when decisions have to be made and your
guy/girl is not there. Normally I'd be in the same situation (and have
been fairly recently), but life saw fit to throw me a curve and I thought
I'd share it with you - maybe it will give some of you a laugh!
Just when I was finally coming to grips with this 14 days on/2 off thing,
and taking everyone's advice to get myself busy and preoccupied, guess who
shows up? That's right. My SO. Totally unannounced! Calls and says he'll
be home in about 15 minutes. Now generally this wouldn't be a problem, but
I had decided that I would start a project when he left (a surprise gift
for him) to keep myself busy. I'd been working on it non-stop since he'd
left, so the house was a total zone. And the surprise was sitting right
out in the middle of the mess, too big to hide! So... long story short, he
saw his surprise before it was done and then gave me s_ _ _, for the house
being in the condition it was! Oh well...What can I say? I'm just a slob
It was pretty funny to see me doing the mad dash around the house to get
things picked up before he made it home! I think I threw a bunch of clean
clothes in the hamper along with the dirty ones, I'm not sure. Those
fifteen minutes were kind of a blur!
On the up side it was great to have that empty spot in the bed filled even
if it was for just one night.
Got to go for now! As my friend from Scotland always says...Keep your
pecker up! (that's Scottish slang for Keep a stiff upper lip). It used to
crack me up when he'd say this to me!
The air filters should help with the particulate part of fire smoke, but
if the smoke gets thick enough that you’re getting CO, they won’t help
On the circulating list idea…there are already a few of us who have
exchanged direct e-mails and addresses…Ab was very nice about forwarding
the first direct e-mails and we’ve taken it from there. I’d have no
problem with putting up a brief bio etc, but I would like to second Sammi’s
caution about getting too specific with personal data: I’d suggest no
names, no locations more specific than a region (i.e. Northern California,
Central New Mexico, Eastern Washington), no crew names, and no easily
trackable lines of work (If I told you what I do for a living and my
company name, a moderately resourceful person could turn up on my doorstep…and
I don’t like that idea).
I hate jogging with a passion too…I’ve got squirrly ankles which makes
jogging just an awful experience. I found that once I got into a good
exercise regime it made me feel really good…especially when I was
alternating aerobic and weight training.
Nerd on the Fireline
||I think the circling list is a great idea....there are lots of times I
think about privately writing people but just don't want to bother ab's or
whatever. I am being really bad today suppose to be working but am a bit
scattered so what do I do....well monitor fires of course.....and send in
mail from the office computer (not govt, glad my e-mail address is
protected, right Ab's?) I have a question maybe someone has info: does
anyone know anything about the home/office air filters? if I bought one
for home and one for office would that help with the fire smoke? sammi
||Thanks for the encouragement Nerd. I think I worry about telling him
just for the same reasons that you were talking about...just not wanting
him to think that I'm doing it to follow him around or something. I mean,
I know full well that going into fire next season would mean I would see
him barely more than I do now. So I went on my first walking/running
routine yesterday. I did what I think it was FireChica was saying...the 15
minute mile, walking briskly. And that's exactly how long it took me, 15
minutes, no more, no less. Then I walked another qtr. mile and then jogged
the last 3/4. Jogged!! I haven't jogged in years because generally, I hate
it. But you know, it wasn't all that bad and didn't wear me out as much as
it used to. Then when the dog and I got back to the house, I did 100
crunches and 20 "man" sit-ups. Whew! Felt so good to get out
there and do something! It's not that I'm inactive. I'm in pretty good
shape actually. But I never do stuff that I make myself do. It's always a
class I take or roller derby where I have to show up. So the
self-discipline factor made me feel just as good as the workout. And I'm
starting an exercise journal too. I'm excited... Hope I can stick w/ it. I
told my FF last night and he was very encouraging as well.
It's funny the difference in talking to him at night as opposed to
morning. He is so dog tired and exhausted at night that he barely
participates in the conversation, which he fully acknowledges. But I don't
really mind and don't harp him about it because I know it's not personal
and because he really is just that tired. It can be disappointing but I
just remind myself that he calls twice a day when his cell works, and that
effort alone says a lot. I'm trying to decide if I should tell him on his
days off about my idea of dispatching next season. Or if I should just
wait until I've really made up my mind. I think I'll at least throw it out
there and let him know I'm considering it.
Do some of you live in/around Missoula, MT? I'm looking for a place to
settle after moving from Austin and that is one of the places I'm looking
at. It looks like they have a great University from what I can tell and I
might want to go there for post-bachelor school...as yet undecided. It
seems like a really great place in general w/ a lot to offer. Are the
people nice, open, friendly? That is of huge importance to me. I haven't
found any place so far to be as friendly as Austin. Any info. on Missoula
would be appreciated.
Everyone hang in there. Fire season will be over soon enough and then we
can get on this message board during the winter and complain that our FF's
are driving us crazy. :)
||I know exactly what you guys are talking about as far as when they call,
maybe I need to vent or need support and he rambles about the fire.
I hadn't heard from my 'old man" for several days and he called last
night. Well, day before yesterday I had the day from hell. anyway....for
20 min (he was not in camp) I listened to fire talk...and lots of
instructions on what needed to be paid and who I needed to call for
him....then about 30 seconds before our time was up he says "how are
things?' My weak little answer was "ok, everythings fine" .I
never unload on him because I want him concentrating on his self and the
fire, for safety.
We have been married forever, have kids on the fire lines and grandkids so
we are not young inexperienced at this fire relationship stuff and we
still have those burps where I get off the phone all teary and just
wanting a hug. And he goes right back to his fire and doesn't have a clue.
I have found that if I call one of our daughters or a close friend right
after one of these calls from him, I vent on them and they know me well
enough to just listen and then I really am ok. I find I just need to spout
and release the emotions and then I can be rational again. I know we are
all super strong independent women (and men) or our FF would not have been
attracted to us. They need SO's that are ok when we have the day from
hell........and just from talking to you guys I know you fit that
description. Is it easy NO!!!! Are they worth it? Yea!!!!!!!!
sammi......who really is rational most of the time
FYI: if you go to the wffoundation.org
that is the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. They have lapel pins with FF
Logo that is $5.00. The money is for assistance to FF etc....I have one of
the ribbon pins and wear it on the collar of my denim jacket. I am
ordering the Ring Of Fire Pin today they are really nice pins. <Check
the store. The pin creator is a theysaid contributor!>
Followup post re identities:
I support the communication and introductions for the Family list and I
think that is a possible way for some of the list to have a huge support
system. But, it would be totally voluntary. Not to try and be secretive
but some of us cannot let our identities be known for several reasons.
(and the Abs have gone way beyond the extra mile to protect us in that
area, sort of like the Fire Secret Witness protection) so my vote says
yes......with the suggestion you be careful because we are open and on the
net and anyone reading these posts knows your guy is not with
you.....cautious sammi here
Maybe there could be a list that is more-or-less private to the
participants and that circles behind the scenes and not on familysaid. I'd
be happy to facilitate that if you like. When you write in with identity,
you could say how public/private you want the info to be. I'd be willing
to email the final list out to the regular familysaid posters. It could be
updated every 2 weeks if the readership grows. Ab.
I'm a junior at Roanoke College. But my best friend goes to RMWC. I
even asked where you are from, I've been a little slow to get to know
everyone. Do you go to RMWC? If so, it is strange to know that I've found
more VA people on this site today.
Do you think we could possibly do a sort of roll call on the Family Said
board? Maybe to find out where everyone is from, their ages, and their
relationship to fire. It may have already been done, but I've seen lots of
names lately. And being new myself it would let me know of others who are
actually living nearby.
It's so cool to hear that you're really pursuing this fire madness
(smile)...I just wanted to drop a quick note of encouragement, and to
ask why you're worried about a negative reaction from your FF...he
should be incredibly flattered that his love for fire has sparked your
interest too. I remember when I first decided that fire was something I
wanted to do...I was scared to tell my FF (at the time) because I was
worried that he'd think I was being presumptuous...a wanna-be tanker
kitten or fire groupie. In retrospect, though, I think any guy worth the
effort would have enough respect for me to take my interest seriously.
Worried Wife, FireWife,
Please hang in there....please understand that here in the remote, rural
West, communication can be very difficult. Four phones in a fire camp is
not very many, and lack of cell phone coverage is the rule rather than
the exception in many areas. Four days is not a long time; they could
easily be spiked out for that long. Hang in there, buy yourself an ice
cream cone, keep smiling. A friend of mine recently suggested a great
method for keeping it together: the Kleenex fund. Every time you really,
really want to have a crying jag and you fight it off, put the cost of a
box of Kleenex in a jar. Let it build up, then use the money to buy
yourself a treat; a nice dinner, a banana split, something nice. My
friend collects angels; she gets a new angel with her Kleenex money.
Nerd on the Fireline
My SO is on a VA <snip> crew on the Crazy Horse. I've spoken
several times, however the lines are very long to use the phones. The last
call I received was yesterday at 1 AM VA time. He said that the lines
very long then (about 7 people), but there apparently were some problems
people taking longer than their 5 minutes and a fight broke out at the
Leading to security there to keep the peace. Also, if you're not checking
SACC site for the crew reports, they are updated daily. You can get my
addy from Ab if you want to get in touch, our guys may be close to one
or even on the same crew. Also, I hope to continue to hear from my FF and
will ask him about your husband if you want me to.
Good luck to all of you...
Tonya and Fire wife in VA, Bambi your SOs are on the same crew! Had to
go back and look at the snips. Send in an e-mail and I can put you in
touch if you like. Ab.
You don't go to RMWC do you?
That would be a crazy coincidence . . .
Worried Wife in VA... thanks for bringing up the
archives... I actually have a few minutes to myself
so I read the one you mentioned....
Old R5er... that is too true... My husband and I did
fight on the phone tonight... I am so frustrated and I
had to vent... I never mean to fight with him when he
is gone but I do... not knowing when he will be home
and only having a short time to talk doesn't make it
easier... I am going to go downtown tomorrow and try
to get him a cell phone... We are trying to move into
a house and I want his input on the one I found.... We
need to decide soon so I can let them know if we want
it or not... He never has time to discuss it though...
But it isn't a decision I want to make alone.... Then
I know something will be wrong... So I decided it will
have to wait...
Thanks for listening.. I know it is long!!
||Hello to all out there sitting at home patiently waiting for their FF
SO's. Have I mentioned lately how much I love this message board. I check
it sooo many times a day at work and am always happy to see new posts.
Glad to see we have some new joiners. Welcome.
Thanks for all the advice regarding training, especially Nerd and
FireChica. I am going out today to do that brisk walk. I'm going to start
on the daily sit-ups and crunches too. I'm pretty strong and would really
like to realize my full potential. The pack and the sledge hammer might
take a while to materialize. I'm excited though. I'm still heavily leaning
towards dispatching though. I got an encouraging e-mail from a guy w/ the
Alaska BLM that I had e-mailed earlier. He was really nice and suggested
the D-110. I told him I was going to try and take the S130/190 and he said
that was a great idea. The D-110 here in Tx will be near impossible for me
to get off of work to take. Hopefully I can find somewhere else to take it
later. He said that they are always in need of good dispatchers and they
are always in short supply and that it was something good to get into. I'm
excited. Wonder when I should tell my FF what my crazy plans are. Can't
wait to hear his reaction...good or bad.
He is on the Withington fire in Idaho. His days off are coming up soon and
I sooo wish I would be in SLC again to spend them with him. Oh well right?
He apparently is pretty discouraged w/ some of the scene and has mentioned
quitting. Hope he hangs in there. He needs the money no matter how badly I
want to see him. Thank heavens for cellphones!!! I have been able to talk
to him almost daily. Sometimes he even calls to say hello in the morning
and then at night too. What a luxury.
Southern Loving, I want to pose this question to you again because I am so
curious. Since you don't work with a crew, are you isolated bumping around
from fire to fire alone? Do you have to travel alone? Just curious. It
will be hard enough w/ it being my first season, I mean, a little
intimidating, so I was wondering about the alone issue. Just really
curious about the logistics since you're not w/ a crew. I have found less
information about dispatching than any other position in fire it seems.
Everyone take care and hang in there. Hey, at least it's not 105 degrees
and humid as hell like it is in Texas. Thank your lucky stars for that.
Oh and Nerd, that dispatch quote was hilarious!! Poet, the poem was great
||It's about 7pm Wed here and I just got a call from one of my kids. They
are assigned to the east side of the Mineral Primm Fire northeast of
Missoula, Montana. Rattlesnake Wilderness. They are assigned with the
Redding Shots. if anyone is looking for them. I asked if the phones were
ready in camp and they said no....not yet. All the fires over there are in
such remote area with dangerous terrain. they said it was work, eat,
sleep. That's it. Fire is about 5% contained which means not much.......
again today we are socked in with the smoke. There are lots of people
having asthma start up and most everyone I see has runny noses and watery
eyes. Wonder if we should start wearing red bandanas.......sammi
Has anyone else heard from their SO (the crew VA <snip>) from
the Crazy Horse Fire, MT since Saturday, August 16, 2003?
My husband is on the Crazy Horse Fire and I was wondering why he hasn't
called me. I haven't heard from him since Saturday August 16, 2003. I know
he is busy but he usually has called me by now. I am beginning to get
really worried. I know if anything was bad wrong they would call me, but
it helps to hear his voice. I know they have four phones at the camp. He
also has a cell phone and I think he doesn't have service. He is on crew
Your input would help me a great deal.
I read your article posted 8/4/03 on Family Said. It makes sense. You're
right about the three rules to a good relationship. #-1 don't fight on the
phone, #-2 don't fight on the phone, & #-3 don't fight on the phone.
You were right about a lot of other things too. My husband has tried to
get me to take the training to go out west with him. I just can't see me
huffing and puffing up and down those steep and rugged mountains.
Everything you said has hit home to me. Usually, I asked him to call me
but this time, I didn't. I haven't heard from him since Saturday. Usually
he calls me within a couple of days. Well it's been four days. When he
doesn't call it really works on the mind. I think of the worst, then I
think, well, he is tired, or there's a long line to the phone, or maybe he
just doesn't want to call. But I know better than that. When he can call,
he calls me or if he was hurt they would tell me. I just feel better
hearing from him. enough of my sob story. Thanks for your story on 8/4/03.
Worried wife in VA, Bambi
||Ab’s point about calling dispatch is a very good one…and one of the
reasons why I suggested getting to know your dispatcher, rather than just
My crew gets dispatched out of two centers; our “local” dispatch, and
a “central” dispatch. Central doesn’t really want to be called,
probably doesn’t have a very good idea of where we are, and cares less;
anybody calling them for information about us as a crew, much less as
individuals, would be wasting their time and Central’s (in their defense
they do a fairly good job under a punishing call load). On the other hand,
our much more lightly loaded, much smaller-town local dispatchers are most
likely bored, obsessively following our actions, and more than happy to
exchange any and all information and/or gossip received. I recommend
spending some time in your local dispatch office…it’s incredibly
informative. Dispatch can be a crew’s guardian angel or our worst
A quote I saw on a dispatch office wall
“You may know where you are, and God may know where you are, but if
Dispatch doesn’t know where you are, well, you and God better be
pretty good friends.”
Nerd on the Fireline
||Brother, Sister, Husband, Wife
A firefighters path, journey, Life.
A quiet dinner home. A call? A tear...
A desire to keep our loved ones near.
A risky life
Our firefighters so brave.
Our forests, our homes,
Our lives they save.
Each time they go out
They toil and sweat.
A thankless job sometimes,
Dirty, grimy and wet.
A job to be done.
A goal has been set.
To beat back the Dragon
To stop him? YOU BET.
To tame the Beast,
This "Dragon of Fire"
They will face danger
Hour by hour.
It's the satisfaction they get
For the job they do
And the love from us
That carries them through.
Extended families are found
When on firefighting crews,
Extensions of our own
We share all scraps of news.
For family supports us
When their there and we're here.
Family understands when
Our loves ones aren't near.
It is for US that they do this
For US that they Care
It is for US that they do what they do,
Any place, any where.
Support and Love them,
That is what we can do.
Until the moment they come home
When we can finally say in person "I love you"
||The remark about getting to know your dispatcher is excellent as we have
better communication with the crews. I know for my part everybody from
members of the type 1 and type 2 teams to just our forest crew that goes
out on assignment try to keep me informed of their whereabouts. They know
if there is any emergency or I need to get a hold of them so they can get
their time in on time, I can, and everybody from wives to girlfriends and
boyfriends and parents have all my numbers from my home number to my
personal cell. I do this because I would hope it would be done or me if I
needed to get a hold of either my children or my FF.
Just recently I was visiting my FF when he came out west to fight fires
when my cell phone rang at three in the morning. It was a girlfriend that
was very nervous about her boyfriend and just had to call to ask if I had
heard from the crew. As a matter of fact the crewboss had called me that
evening and told me they were spiked and it would be miss or hit to
contact them. When I reassured her that he was okay she felt so much
better. My FF however didn't. He teases me that he has 30 guys to compete
with for my attention but he knows my heart belongs to him. He also
informed me that my phone was to be turned off at night since we hadn't
seen each other in 6 months and we have to take advantage of anytime we
I was getting ready to go see him in Oregon today but he got transferred
to the Dakotas so it's closer for me so I am probably headed that way
today. This will be the last trip out for him until he comes to see me in
October. My assignment to Region 1 got canceled so I'm going to go enjoy
him for a couple of days before he goes back to his home.
Most dispatchers never complain if you call and ask them about your loved
ones so never feel bad if you are worried or just lonely. I know as a
dispatcher I sometimes worry about my FF (from a different region) and my
child (on a different forest) and I call dispatch to get peace of mind. I
hope you all get to see your loved ones soon.
Not many dispatch centers have time to deal with anxious family
members, especially in the fever of fires going gunneysack. Please call
your firefighter's home unit first -- the emergency number they left you
-- before calling dispatch. Ab.
Thanks for the glove idea!! We also have a 3
year old and that is where my problem lies. And right
now she is at the stage where she wants to talk on the
phone until someone wants to talk to her and then it
is a 2 sec conversation. Today we went to the town
where my husband is and I got to point out the smoke
to her. And at walmart she was telling everyone who
would listen that her daddy is out on a fire!! It was
I am going to have her daddy do the keep an item for
me till I get home!! We are hoping he will be home
To everyone else: glad to hear that everyone else's
SOs are doing great. And to those who have SO's in
MT... Hope they are enjoying the beauty around them,
even with the fire!!
I've missed you guys lately, I'm trying to get things running
smoothly around here. But I have so much good news. I heard from my FF
night. It was the first time I've talked to him since 8/12. It was so good
hear his voice. He said that he is ready to come home, unfortunately his
work day is still a week away, 8/27. Which just happens to correspond with
day that I go back to school. I just had the most outrageous trip to the
bookstore, I spent $421 yesterday on USED BOOKS! I still am missing 2 for
fall. My biology class requires 5 books. They had better hope that I learn
something from them! I just wanted to scream! I am trying to figure out
I can do to pick him up...so far I don't know when to try to get off work,
which is nearly impossible to do around here, or if I will be in class
comes in. There is really no end.
For those of you trying to track your FFs, if they are from the 13
states you can find crew listings that cover the fire, any injuries,
and even their assignments on the southern area coordination site. The
for the southern region have to be the very best, last time they even gave
details of the hotel and flights that the crews would be coming home on.
go to the website then click on daily crew report at the bottom of the
group in the left column. Good luck finding your FFs.
||That story about the glove is great!
I have a tattoo of a dragon on my back and when I went to my FMO's house
for dinner last week his grandson (three years old and heartbreakingly
cute) got up on the chair behind me and was trying to pull my sports bra
(I was wearing a tank top) out of the way so he could look at it. He kept
saying excitedly "dragon! dragon!" It was really cute. Gotta
wonder if he'll end up fighting fire someday . . .
||Have been reading the posts for the last couple of weeks as I am new to
all this also.
My SO got sent to Montana on the 08/11/03 and I have been searching the
internet to find out as much info as possible. I found a good site for the
Montana/Idaho fires that lists the hotshot crews and what fire they are
on, the date dispatched, etc. Of course this info could change day by day.
However, when I talked to my SO for the first time since 08/13/03 last
night he was still at the same fire and would be there alot longer. As I
said this is all new to me and I am keeping busy, marking websites as
favorites that have good info, etc. Fortunately the fire that he is on has
its own incident page that keeps me updated. This is my first fire season
and I'll definitely be ready to see rain, cold temps and snow headed our
way!!! Heres the website: www.fs.fed.us/r1/fire/nrcc
then click on Resource Status and it lists the hotshot crews and other
Hope this is helpful to some of the families out there!
||Well....from day one this list has been discussing how to keep up with
the roving FF....and honestly there is no solid way. We all have our
little habits that keep us in the loop as much as possible. Guarantee: if
we came up with a solid plan the powers that be would change the whole
picture the next day.
I like the idea of anytime anyone related to or working with a member of a
crew calls and passes the info along the line. We do that as a
family,,,,sort of the phone tree thing. There have been nights when I have
received calls from everyone in my family and then it will be days and no
news as long as I don't see that uniform walking up my path I know it's
been an ok day.....
firewife: as far as the little ones....we have a three yr old in the
family and she is soooo smitten with her dad she just sobs when he leaves
with his packs. She knows now when the packs leave dad is going somewhere.
He came up with the idea to give her something to "keep" for him
till he gets back. So, he gave her one of his old gloves......I think her
mom had a lot to do with this because her thinking was if Suzie (pseudo)
loses one she can replace it with the match. Anyway, so far that is
helping a lot. That glove is sucked on, chewed on, hauled around
everywhere. I guess it's like a blankie to her. Mom was not exactly
thrilled to have Suzie attached to the "glove from hell " going
to church and around town but g'pa says,,,"be glad it wasn't a
boot" . That would have been what he would have left with our
I've mentioned this before but maybe it would help with the little
ones.....put a large map of the "western" states up on the
freezer...and keep marking or flagging where dad is or has been . I still
do this for me....I also tape newspaper articles or pictures they bring
back to my maps and at the end of season we have a journal of
sorts....maybe if the kids are old enough they could be in charge of the
Are you living close to other FF families or are you in more of a college
town? I guess I am slow but it just dawned on me....we could all be in the
same county.......anyway. FF families are a thousand light years away from
"normal" families. They do not understand our lifestyles, but
they do want the information we have and the exciting stories....and they
(females) are soooooo taken with the FF macho image.....if they only knew
the truth....keep smiling, take care of yourselves and try to get out and
do something everyday even if it is to put them in the stroller and walk
around the block.....
||Hello... Thank you Sammi for making feel like I am not
the only one. I know I am not but sometimes it feels
Poet asked a good question in her last post. How do we
go about tracking the crews. I know where my husband
is right now but sometimes we don't know where they
My only problem right now is in getting our daughter
to understand where daddy is and why he can't come
home at night. Our other daughter is too young to
understand anything so that is nice but I know her
time is coming. But by then she will have her big
sister to help her understand.
Sammi you said it was easier to handle when you know
where he is and when he will be back. But that doesn't
always happen that way and it really makes it hard to
deal with. I don't have alot of friends here because
everyone is in their little cliques already and we
haven't been here long enough. I have tried to get
into things and to make friends but people don't
understand when you can't drop everything to go out.
SO now I am focusing on my family and trying to finish
school whenever I decide what I want to do.
Anyway I am babbling again... Thanks for listening.
All my crewmates are off up north, but I’m down here holding the fort
and attending to my ‘real’ job, so it’s lonely just now…I had a
very long and animated conversation with my lizard last night…he’s
quite attentive too, but he has the occasional tendency to get distracted
by a moth.
I think you’re a good candidate for the firefighter SO network we talked
about earlier…get to know the SOs of the other guys on your FF’s crew…get
a news network going so that if even one guy manages to call out, you’ll
all find out where they are and what they’re doing. One of my buddies is
doing helitack in Idaho right now…he got time to make one phone call, he
called his mother, she called our EMS chief, who told the dispatcher, so
as we trickled in to find out news and availability, we all got the news.
If all else fails get to know the dispatcher…they generally know
Nerd on the Fireline
||There's a MOM trying to get a message to her son that he needs to
call the university where he's just been accepted. The back and forth
happened on theysaid, but I thought you might be interested in COMT's
information on sending an emergency message. Ab.
Clarification for those needing to send an emergency message:
As for getting messages to people on assignment. I
work in communications and most messages of this type
go thru commo and I have had to handle these
Get the message to the local dispatch office that
The way it works is that when a family emergency comes
thru requiring return home (death in family, someone in
emergency room in bad shape), the travel arrangements
are sometimes made when the home dispatch is initially
informed. (As far as I know this is for Federal
personnel, I have not had to inform a contractor yet,
so I am not sure what the procedure would be).
When communications receives a family emergency
message the established procedure (on some fire
management teams, and if they have one) is to inform
the human resource officer (this the touchy-feely
person who looks out for the personal welfare and
behavior of fire personnel) who then would arrange the
best way to handle the situation. You can never tell
what their reaction might be to receiving bad news and
the human resource person will try to help as best
From personal experience the worst feeling is having
the division supervisor pull you aside to hand deliver
a message to you, with a driver there to take you back
Anyway, usually there are established procedures to
get a person home for such situations, or deliver an
important message. So have your loved one leave the
phone number to the dispatch office that assigned them
just in case.
||J.....please do not feel we would get tired of your
questions,,,,,,,never. The reason I mentioned the archives is mainly
because the list changes and people come and go so you might find a better
answer there. I am really not sure when Abs started this Family Said list.
I think it was about 3 or 4 yrs ago. I had been getting in trouble on the
They Said list (not really trouble) just annoyed a couple of people so Abs
decided family needed their own list and here we are. The best summer yet,
with more people and even some FF checking in...some of us do post to the
"other list" sometimes and they are always nice to us. life is
As far as chasing your FF and finding out where he is.....that is tough.
Unless there is a web page for his outfit or some other source you
probably are going to have to rely on him calling when he lands. They move
around a lot...There are way more national forest pages than there have
been in the past and also a lot of the fires are getting their own pages
so maybe if we contacted the web page people responsible for the
individual fires maybe we could talk them into adding info about the crews
on the fires. We don't particularly need individual names just the names
of the whole crew..... like Hotshot Crew Red... or Lakeside WT1.(water
tender)...(not a real name) just a thought. By the way, the fish I bought
yesterday were waiting for me to get home this pm and were just thrilled
to see me. I told them all my adventures thru the day and they just
floated around and were so attentive. yep I'm losing it....now I'm talking
have a good night and stay safe
As this Ab recalls, you and others were writing in with good questions
and there seemed to be a need for family members and firefighters to talk
on some parallel threads, so we decided to provide the familysaid forum. I
don't recall you being annoying. Ab.
||Wow, I am impressed that you posted my e-mail so quickly.
Thank you all for the nice welcome!
I will read the entire archive as soon as possible, and try to head off
repeat questions you have all heard and answered before.
I do have one right now, though. How does one track the individual FF
groups to each fire? For example, my SO said he was going to either Idaho
or Montana. Is there anywhere that lists the names of the Hot Shot and
other FF crews working each fire? I know he has been transferred between
fires before, so that makes it even more difficult to track him.
Thanks again for being there.
"J" or now known as "Poet"
||Thanks Ab for checking.
Well no sooner did we figure out where my FF was and
they switched him. No more structural protection on
the Crazy Horse on to Little Salmon and shoveling
He tried to call but the cell coverage was horrible so
another spouse gave me a call. Thank heavens for fire
Montana is burning and I'm not sure there is a single
fire spouse or SO that has their FF at home right now.
I'll be glad to sit with you all a while.
||Well hello to EVERYONE new, lurking, sitting back and scanning etc.....I
was behind in welcomes so I hope everyone feels they are at the right
Believe me I know how you feel about plans going sideways. We were in
church today and my hubby's pager went off and it took about three seconds
for him to jaunt out to the hall to call.....yep,,,,,he comes back to the
door and nods so I knew we were leaving....Montana calls. That has
happened at least three times this summer. Everyone there knows what has
happened so they just nod as I gather up my things and follow the crazy
to be perfectly honest. We have been doing this a LONG time and sometimes
it bothers me a lot and sometimes it is a break. I do much better when he
is out on a fire and I know the start date and the end time. He also
volunteers for the local structure district and that is the really hard
one. They can get toned, go out for 3+ hours, get back to the station and
get toned again for the rest of the day or night. That I have a BIG
problem with......throw in a bizillion hours monthly for training and we
never see each other. Thank good that is a winter thing.....So for me
wildland is much less stressful.
If we don't have kids we all seem to have dogs or other pets so that
helps. At least the dog loves me and enjoys my company enough to stay
here. Not to mention security.....and, today I bought two fish.....now
they should be lots of help.
The key to survival is stay busy. A lot of folks here work outside the
home,,,,,some are stay at home moms with little ones......I remember that
and the man was lucky I did not kill him for leaving me alone so much with
a houseful of screaming kids. And guess how calming it is to have 4 little
boys and two girls playing FIREFIGHTER all the time.....honestly if I
could have I probably would have signed them all up for fire duty. They
just were not tall enough. Now most of them are FF and they have their own
kids (some of them) and I am hearing from spouses about all the
stress.....there are no easy answers....we have discussed here lots of
ways we cope so read back thru the archives and I'm sure we have covered
every issue. We need each other so everybody welcome and if anyone hasn't
spoken up....please do......we need ya.....
||Sammi and All, a question for everyone,
My FF is supposedly on a fire called Hungry Horse.
Now this info. came to be via my mother in law who
lives in the area and may have the Crazy Horse fire
mixed up with the Hungry Horse reservation which is S.
of where she lives.
My FF is with an engine from the Hoosier. <snip>.
Does anyone know if there is a Hungry Horse fire? My
FF is doing structural protection so the Crazy Horse
would sound right because there are about 250 homes
and some business from what I read on the @
On another note...I'm so excited a fellow FF spouse
asked me to share dinner tomorrow. What a great deal.
Next fire is my turn. Although our spouses don't go
out on the same fires because they do different
things-fire season is fire season and they are gone at
the same time.
Everyone have a great Monday.
I did a cursory inspection and also asked someone who should know if he
could find a Hungry Horse Fire. He said he couldn't even when he gave a
quick look at the fire complexes. A quick google search didn't come up
with anything either. Your guess is probably correct, but you can't rule
out that it could be part of some complex, even a new lightning fire that
they're trying to pick up on IA. Ab.
||Hi... Let me start by saying I love this site. I am
so glad to have found somewhere where people are
dealing with the same things I am. I have been lurking
here for about a month and figured it was time to
Family and friends don't always understand when we try
to talk to them about what is going on. They don't see
how hard it is to have to explain to the kids where
daddy went again and why he can't come home at night
to play. Or how hard summers are when all the plans
you make are ruined with one phone call. You know we
have alot dropped on our shoulders when our SO go out
on fires and we are left to deal with everything.
My SO is a firefighter and has been doing it for about
14 years. This is the only job he has had and he loves
it. I know at times we all hate our SO's jobs when
they are gone so much. His job has gotten harder to
deal with over the last few years. He is either gone
to class somewhere or he is on a fire somewhere or
just late coming home. And our kids don't understand
yet so it makes it hard to deal with.
Well I have gone on enough about it but thanks for
listening. Thanks for having this site also!!.
Welcome to familysaid. Ab.
||Hi J and welcome to our support group. We have little bit of everything
here.... we have all age groups, mom's wives, g'ma's, significant others,
guy's, gals and a few of the FF come along every once in a while. If you
have time read back thru the previous messages starting at the earliest
and I think you will find some very good info. We answer all questions and
comment a lot maybe even when we shouldn't. Never a shortage of advice.
Tired in northzone.......please explain the "naming- names" in
your post. On the "family said" or ????? I guess we need to
caution.....even if we feel it necessary to use a name,,,,change it. In my
post....if and seldom when, everyone is Joe......last week I used Joe and
Ab changed it further, which I thanked Ab for because sometimes we do
write when we are stressed or very tired and not thinking
clearly.......believe me. I have no doubt if I wrote something and named
one of my people it would take less than 12 hours for the whole world of
FF too hear about it. I get a little worried here sometimes but the Abs
have been VERY helpful in keeping me out of too much trouble. So to them
we need to send lots of thx, thx,, thx thx and more thx......,..,.big
mouth (fingers) sammi
We aim to please (and protect) but don't want it to stifle discussion.
We think people posting here do very well. Often support is just feeling
you have someone to talk with. Ab.
||I have a significant other that is a Hot Shot, and have been searching
for SOMEONE or SOMETHING to help me deal with the big time gaps as well as
gather more information on what he does So I can understand better. Your
site looks WONDERFUL, and the "family said" section was helpful
in just reading the first few pages.
Please tell me how I can join and anything else you can think of that will
J (Ab note: now known as "Poet")
Welcome Poet. You've joined. It's as simple as writing in. It helps the
Abs if you put "familysaid" in the subject line of your emails,
but we usually don't post your emails to the wrong board. You might want
to pick a moniker (or use your initials) to protect your privacy to some
extent. We recommend you don't use the name of your SO so as to protect
their privacy. The fire world is small. We think this site is helpful to
those in relationships too and are glad you can help each other out. Ab.
||FFs are a close knit group; those sitting at home worrying - especially
in a new situation or relationship - walk a thin line in many ways,
especially when they name names. It is good to see other women and men FFs
post in here with their perspectives based on their experiences.
Anyone new to wildland fire interested in what it may look like in a
complex event in a western lands, be sure to watch the recent documentary
repeats if you missed them before. especially the 2 that will be aired
(repeats) on CNN Sunday evening. the Women Smokejumper docu shows what it
takes to be in "condition". the companion docu is a wildland
fire in timber (similar to those on the line in MT & other western
states are facing again this year)...not much about engine crews, but it
gives a nice overview.
Anyone considering a dispatcher job, heed the advice recently provided by
SL, etc. additionally, listen to your own voice on tape playback: is it
well modulated? can you keep it normal to ensure it is understandable at
the other end of that phone or radio? in a NOW excited situation? (a high
pitched screaming meemie at the other end during an emergency situation
will trigger a flee from danger response)
CacheK, BLM, & other men who take time to post in here, TY for your
"leveling effect". when things settle down in the west and the
dragon rests for another appearance, maybe others will wander to this link
and post their comments - wonder how many who need their perspectives will
be planning turkey day party & miss their input... remember the dragon
showed in southzone last New Years.
BE SAFE, ALL!
sorry to ramble so long or if I've stepped on any toes,
tired in northzone
I’ll back up what FireChica said…stretching is really important. I
also recommend paying a whole lot of attention to your pack; how it fits,
where you carry the weight, how easily adjustable it is. Before I got into
fire, my main physical exercise was dancing…swing, salsa, and tango. It’s
very good cardio, and it’s a ton of fun. When I started getting ready
for the pack test, I found a three-mile course that wasn’t quite flat,
with a mix of surfaces; dirt, gravel, asphalt. Road shoulder is bad,
because the slant makes you carry yourself differently and can overload
one side of your body. I started off with just two one-gallon jugs of
water in my pack (about sixteen pounds) and got that done in forty-five
with no problem. Gradually I built up and replaced my water jugs with
weight plates. I got a bunch of two-inch foam computer packing from the
computer guy where I work and padded the back of my pack (the part that
was sitting against my back) and the weights really heavily, so that they
absolutely WOULD NOT shift. When I got up about around thirty pounds, or
to the point where the weight felt uncomfortable for me, I started
stretching before walking, spending about twenty minutes stretching. I
took martial arts for a while, so I’d do both “normal” stretches and
kata. I noticed that it made a real difference how I felt afterwards if I
made the effort to hold my stretches…holding a position for twenty or
thirty seconds made me feel like I’d abused my muscles a lot less in the
I used to do two days of walking then one of strength training; our crew
has a strength test (ten push-ups, ten sit-ups, pound a railroad tie ten
feet with an eight pound sledge, then pull it thirty feet while staying
inside a three foot box), so I trained toward that, pulling weights with
ropes, breaking rock, and doing sit-ups and push-ups. I also had a buddy
who was training for the same test, so that helped a whole lot…I had to
stick with it or I felt like I’d let him down. To vary the routine, I’d
occasionally drop the pack and do power hikes…pick a hill and just blast
up as hard as I could, absolutely not slowing down until I was at the top.
Stream walking or hiking undeveloped trails through boulder fields or
other rough terrain is good training for agility and functionality on
broken ground, which are good skills on the line too. I realize that this
a very rural sort of regimen…it might be hard to reproduce in a city.
Not having ever really lived in a city…I dunno.
I was doing all that in Northern New Mexico in February and March, so it
was really cold…I noticed that my calorie intake went way up, and that I
was craving protein in a major way. Lots of meat, lots of iron in my diet,
and milk fat made me feel good, which in my book means good nutrition. All
I know is that after a week of this, I felt really good, I started to
notice an improvement in my strength and stamina, and after a month my
shirts stopped fitting right in the shoulders, so I guess it works.
Gear wise, I recommend getting your hands on your line pack and your boots
as early in the season as you can, and getting everything adjusted to fit
you really well. Get some leather butter or similar for you boots and just
slather them with it before you start wearing them, or soak them in the
bathtub at night and wear them dry several days running; bad boots will
incapacitate you faster than you’d believe possible. My crew boss says
to expect at least eighty hours wear before your boots are really broken
in; I think that might be slightly high, but not very. Your pack is going
to be the same way; me and my crew mates spent one very long evening just
sitting around somebody’s living room adjusting our packs, adjusting
each other’s packs, packing our gear, doing jumping jacks, swinging
tools, readjusting packs, and most of us are still modifying things. If
you get with any kind of a hand crew, your boots and your pack will be
with you all the time…they can make your life better or they can make
your life miserable.
Go for it!
Nerd on the Fireline
||Well guys, driving in to work this am the smoke was starting on the
western horizon.....at noon there was no blue sky and no sun at
all........... driving home tonight I couldn't see the mountains which are
as close as three miles on one side of the highway.... made a couple of
calls and found out we are in the middle of the smoke from Glacier and
Canada..... so we are very stuck in the middle of some air inversion (some
of you weather dudes help me here) and they are saying could be several
days before it moves off...when hubby calls from Old Robert in Glacier
tonight I'm gonna tell him to get that thing out right now.. (I did tell
him if he had put it out the first time he was up there he would not have
had to go back....... heck I've got more smoke around me than most of the
FF out there...... and our little sweeties dad did go out today so she is
not a happy camper.... takes a couple days for her to settle down then it
starts over,,,, poor kid just not old enough to get it.......
Hoosier.....if your guy is going to the Flathead Nat Forest do you know if
it is the Robert Fire in the South end of glacier? What kind of outfit is
he with? Our volunteer dept here has several engines and tenders out there
so maybe they will see each other. It amazes me with as many FF as there
are out there roaming around how they manage to find old friends and look
up people they don't know for other people.
I picked up the film today my SO brought back from his first tour with Old
Robert and they are awesome.....he has never been the assigned
photographer in the family but this time fate was with us they are
spectacular. If I get my scanner going I'll send in a couple....
Check out the "Body for Life" book by Bill Phillips at the
Library. It will get you into great shape for the pack test. It helps with
setting and measuring goals, strength training and cardio fitness.
I read "Young Men and Fire", "Fire on the Mountain",
"Fire in Their Eyes" and "Fire Line" this winter. They
were all very good books. The reviews are on the firebooks page with a
link to Amazon.com (the site gets a referral fee if you buy through this
While I have no aspirations to dig line, I like to be able to carry on an
intelligent conversation when I ask my friend "How was your
day?" This winter I plan on taking the basic fire behavior class.
That sounds familiar. My FF only knows he is on his way to a fire in the
Flathead. So glad for you and the granddaughter your FF got to stay home
for a night. My FF was suppose to go out and then they didn't call and
didn't call all day. So we figure he would be home for dinner and the
night. I asked him to pick up some ingredients for super and wavedy good
bye as I left from our lunch meeting. Silly me. I got home and there was a
message on the answering machine...."I hate to do this over the phone
dear, but.......". Well at least we had lunch. We hadn't expected to
Wow! Your tentative plans sound exciting! I have a few recommendations for
getting yourself in shape. My first is, and I can't emphasize this enough,
STRECH! You need to do that before AND after your exercise regime. When
you start building up strength it can be a bit traumatic for your joins,
so if you don't want to get injured you need to stretch a lot. My second
recommendation is to start out small but be persistent. Once you get
started the key to getting and staying in shape is to be VIGILANT. You
need to do certain exercises EVERY day. Well, 6 days a week. It is good to
rest your body too. So pick one day a week to be your day of rest, but
really discipline yourself to a regime of pushups and sit-ups (or
crunches) every day. Start with 10. Then the next week, bump it up to 15.
Keep that up and I promise that after about two or three weeks you will
already begin to notice an improvement.
The pack test is many a cardiovascular/endurance test. You can start by
simply. Go and see if you can do a mile in 15 minutes as a brisk walk and
that will give you a sense for how far you have to go. My recommendation
is a low impact activity like swimming. Swimming laps is great for getting
you in shape. If you are near a city you can sign yourself up for an
Ashtanga or Bikram’s yoga class. Those two types of yoga are very
physically strenuous. (But be sure to find a teacher you like and who you
are comfortable with.) Other activities, like swing dancing, can be a
great source of cardio vascular activity. There are a lot of options. (I,
personally, am not a runner. I hate running. Running is not the only way,
but if you like it then go for it.) You need to get that heart rate up
about 5 times a week if you can manage it. That is the key factor. Once
you are in shape enough to make it three miles in 45 minutes, then try
adding some weight. Maybe 15 lbs and see how that goes. From there you can
work up to 45 lbs no problem! And remember to eat right. Sweets and treats
are fine as long as they are balance out with what your body really needs.
||Buenos dias amigos del fuego. I went to the library yesterday and got
three books on fire. I got Fire Line, Young Men & Fire and one other I
can't remember. The first one is really informational w/ some true fire
stories thrown in. Young Men & Fire (Maclean) is about the Mann Gulch
fire. But I suppose some of you already know this. I couldn't resist
getting the Maclean book. I read some of his excerpts and love his writing
and what he had to say. I read some really good quotes yesterday regarding
fire I might have to pass on. I don't know what's happening to me...I
can't seem to get enough these days. Maybe it is really addictive...this
whole fire thing. My HS called me from 10,000 ft. at 11 pm last night and
said he could see the fire burning from the ridge and how pretty it was.
I'm so envious. (I was less envious when he told me he was getting up at 5
Thanks for the info, Southern Loving. I'm still unsure of where I'm going
to apply and the other details. It is still so in the planning stages and
since I live in Texas currently, I will obviously be uprooting. I'm ready
to get out for a while though. But I guess I need to decide where I want
my base to be. I am considering Alaska. That way, my boyfriend and I would
at least be in the same vicinity...for two whole months. And it would be a
great way to see that part of the country. I'm not set on that though. I
was planning on applying through the forest service or the BLM.
I heard from some of you that I should get some line experience or look
into working on an engine crew. I can't seem to find as much info. on
engine crews. Can someone give me the heads up? Does the forest service
have engine crews? It sounds like there is a lot of variation when it
comes to the engine crews and who employs them. I'm just wondering what
would be the best fit for me for my first fire season and lack of
experience obviously. Engine crew, working on the line, dispatching...not
real sure. The Alaska Fire Svc website talks like in a dispatch position
you could get some work there early season and then come down to the lower
48, which I figured. My question is, if you are not on a "crew,"
then who do dispatchers travel and camp with? Who is their crew
I would love to really get in shape. Can anyone send me a good training
regimen to get ready for a pack test and the other requirements? Ab, maybe
you can give anyone my e-mail if they have a training schedule they want
to send me, I would appreciate it.
I will leave you all with this great quote from Norman Maclean to ponder:
"The problem of self-identity is not just a problem for the young. It
is a problem all the time. Perhaps the problem. It should haunt old age,
and when it no longer does it should tell you that you are dead."
Just when I think the end of my 20s will rid me of this
||have to tell you guys we had a terrible time yesterday keeping up with
one of our sons.....we have this agreement that everyone will call when
they get an assignment. the person that gets the calls passes it on as
needed to everyone else....sorta like a phone chain...except quite small.
"One son, works with private contractor" was due to go out
yesterday.....I get called at work, he is going back to Glacier, 2 hrs
later nope not Glacier, he's going to Clearwater Forest in Idaho, 3 hrs
later nope not Clearwater, he is going to North Idaho......at that point I
said call me when he really leaves. I get home and the answering machine
says.....mom I am staying home tonight and this sweet little 3 yr old
voice in the background says "yipee!!!!!!' she is such a sweetie and
loves her dad so much.....
My first season I started working in timber for the Forest Service,
entering data and then was asked a week later if I would be interested in
dispatching on weekends so the Forest FMO could get weekends off. I
started the first weekend after taking my first classes ever in fire. Our
forest is often referred to as the asbestos forest and they didn't need a
full time dispatcher, so I would run from the timber shop to fire whenever
we got a fire. That lasted two seasons and finally in 2002 I did just
dispatching and no more timber.
In 2002 we started with a type 3 fire then two weeks later had a type 2
fire then two weeks later a type1 fire. I really want to go out east or
south this winter and get more experience especially in aircraft which I
love dispatching for. I work from mid April through mid October here then
I put myself available to go out as an A.D. during the winter. Not many
fires last winter so I stayed at home except when I went to see my FF.
I have met the nicest people in this business. I think I can go to almost
any state and would know somebody. I went to a night fire competition in
January when I was in Florida and a firefighter recognized my voice from
last summer. He came up and thanked me for being there for them whenever
they needed anything.
You will get into shape and don't let anybody say you can't. My daughter
is 5'2" and 95lbs and is on an engine and can kick most everybodies
butt when it comes to the pack test. You just have to want it.
Let me know what you are interested in and I will help with any info I
can, also applications for Forest Service positions for next year start in
November if you are interested in that. Well it's almost 2a.m. and I have
to work tomorrow and just found out that my FF is headed to Montana from
Oregon in his last week out west. I was headed to see him in Oregon next
week but change of plans, maybe I can go see him in Montana before he
heads out South but not sure yet. Everybody please stay safe as Montana,
Idaho and Wyoming are burning strong and I have all my loved ones out
fighting fires. I hope to be made available as soon as possible.
||Thanks fire friends!
Nerd I have started to treat myself. M&M's help in the
afternoons. It's gotten hotter than "little blue
blazes" here in the Hoosier state and if I could I
would be out for an afternoon walk in the garden while
my little one watches TV, but even the air conditioner
is not really keeping the house cool.
My movie marathon starts tonight and school starts for
me tomorrow. Today I kept busy with lesson plans.
My FF is headed with an engine to the Flathead. I
don't know which fire yet, but the funny thing is he
grew up in Kalispell, MT and will probably get to see
his Mom at some point. Last go round he got to see his
brother in Missoula. Well this is one way to him keep
in touch with the family. :)
Thanks for the advice friends and I keep reading and
Thank you ma’am, for the support…I’m sure there are substandard
vollie crews out there, but speaking for those of us who really do work
our rear ends off (I’m sure vfd capt’n would back my up on this): I
hate it when I’ve worked an eight or ten hour day on my rear job, gone
on a couple of ambulance runs (at >2 hours a piece, we’re RURAL),
then got called a fire and been looked at like I’m some sort of
invertebrate because I’m not a professional. On the other hand, I love
it when some IC who’s used to dealing with hotshots comes walking down
our line and looks at us with his eyes all big and you know he just
learned a little extra respect for the ‘weekend warriors’. I had an
explosives engineering prof at one point who used to say “You never know
who you’re lecturing to.” That hold true for all of us on the line.
There’s damn good vollie crews (I’m privileged to think I belong to
one of them) and there’s bad shot crews, good contract engines and bad
federal engines, and you never know who you’re lecturing to until you’ve
seen them with the flames reflected in their eyes.
Nerd on the Fireline
||Another one bites the dust!
You see how addictive fire is? One person starts and soon
they are pulling in their friends, before you know it people
are begging for another hit, doing all kinds of things that
put their health at risk . . . ;-)
||Wow. I came here to check in first thing this morning and I'm feeling
quite pumped up after reading everyone's encouraging words. Thank you and
Did you have any other relevant experience when you applied for dispatcher
your first year besides the classes you took? Who did you apply with? How
much work did you get? Just a few questions if you don't mind. Thanks for
all you're info. I'm going to try to get in as many classes as I can
before late spring.
I had not considered an engine crew but will look into it. Don't know much
about that at this point. And yes, I should start working on some
endurance training ASAP. Can I use the excuse that my life is really busy?
No, I didn't think so. I think the idea of a partner is great. That's
really the only way I would think I'd stick to it. I should be able to
scratch someone up to sweat with me. There are always roller derby
teammates willing to work out.
Thanks again everyone. It's nice to find encouragement here when it's way
too early to tell any of my family and friends. And since none of them are
involved in fire besides my boyfriend, I don't think they'd get it.
It is great to see you want to get some classes. In fire you can never be
too educated. Like people have been saying start with the basics of
130/190 and I-100 or I-200. I have been a dispatcher for four seasons now
and took I-200 and my dispatcher course D-110 my first year. I then took
the business management classes the next year but soon learned I wanted to
stay behind the radio, not do finance which still is part of my job as a
dispatcher. Last season with the fire season so bad I could not make it to
our state's fire academy even though it was held 50 miles from my home, so
during the winter and after long talks with my firefighter children I
decided to take 130/190 and then this summer took 290. You will not
believe how much just these two classes have helped me out with
dispatching. I now understand when the guys call me with their size-up of
the fire and weather on what conditions they are experiencing. I want you
to know that I was the only dispatcher in my 290 class and the FF's I was
in class with were really proud that I would take that class. If it will
help me take care of my resources better, I'm all for it. You might
consider looking at the Rocky Mountain (region 2) web page for the
Colorado Wildfire Academy. They hold two a year, with one being in
Sterling, Colorado in January and the other one being in a different
location in Colorado the first week in June. The June 2004 Wildfire
academy will be held in Glenwood Springs, Colorado in remembrance of the
10th anniversary of Storm King. Wendy Fischer is the coordinator and does
a fabulous job every year! Wherever you may take classes congrats on doing
I am currently a line animal, and I have experience in camp design and
logistics from a previous incarnation…my interest in (fire) logistics at
this point really caught fire the weekend I spent thirty hours sitting on
an engine and the only sustenance the incident managed to get to us was a
single soggy sausage McMuffin a piece…and the poor apes on the line got
less than that. This was a major incident, too, so we’re not really
talking about a bass-ackwards local yokel forgetting we were there,
either. I’ve noticed that when it goes wrong on fire, it goes really
You make me laugh because you’re in almost exactly the position I was in
a year ago…I didn’t tell ANYONE I was on the fire department for
almost three months because I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, stick
with it, etc. I was also worried about my level of physical fitness…I’ve
always been more the brain than the brawn, if you catch my meaning. I
found a workout buddy to train with me for the pack test, bought an eight
pound sledge and seriously traumatized some rocks to build up upper body
strength (I’ve never had the patience for the weight room thing), and
started doing sit ups and pushups in my lunch hour. It took me three tries
to pass my pack test, but I did it (at 9,000 feet with no altitude
allowance!), and I walked over that line with my whole crew standing there
yelling and screaming and pounding me on the back. I’ve never seen a
picture of myself grinning as big as I was in the picture they took after
that. I may not be the fastest or the strongest in my squad, but I can dig
a good line, I’m very good at spinning weathers, and I think my
crewmates would do very very bad things to anybody who suggested that I
I think you’ve got a great attitude, and my advice is not to let it
scare you…it may seem a long way off at first, but if I can do in a few
months training, you sure can.
Nerd on the Fireline
||For those of you with SO's in the FF field. Look into joining the local
volunteer FD. Great education, free, just hours as payment and the
training is the same as if you were in tech school or other.
Even tho we have career FF in the family we also have a couple of the
in-law types that are members of their local volunteer dept. They get a
massive amount of training both structure and wildland. They get red cards
just like the career guys. Same training......same agility tests etc. For
one of our son's starting in the volunteer dept then got hired by dept of
Lands made a lot of difference because he had a lot more training and
hours etc than most of the other applicants that year. We really think his
experience with the vol dept made the difference.
I don't understand why there is such a huge rift in the paid vs volunteer
people. Volunteers are there because they want to be......same training,
same requirements, same uniforms, different attitude......sammi
If you are vigilant about working on your endurance over the winter you
could be in shape for next season easy! Endurance can be improved. If you
want to give it a try, then go for it! Have you considered getting on an
||Hello again. Looks like the fire season took a week off and has now
cranked back up again to a Level 5 huh? My little office and desk seem a
little pathetic compared to all the adventures to be had out there right
now. But then again, I'm not working 16 hour days either.
Been able to talk to my HS a lot more these last few days now that he
upped his cell phone minutes and has been where there is coverage. What a
luxury to get to chat for longer than three minutes. They were in Ely, NV
and now are enroute to Salmon, ID. It was nice to meet all his buddies
over the weekend and put faces w/ the names. They were real nice to me as
well. I'm trying to not even ponder the fact that it will be another two
months at least until we meet again.
Which leads into suggestions for Hoosier Fire Wife: I think Nerd on the
Fireline had a good one about doing things (treats) to look forward to or
that pamper you. I really enjoy cooking for myself also. It takes a lot of
time to make a great meal and therefore, you enjoy it a lot more too. And
you can make whatever your heart desires since you're feeding only you. I
watch a lot of movies too. I consider those a treat. I go out w/ friends
quite a bit and hang out w/ roommates. But I do not have any children, so
I have a lot of free time. I took an exercise class for 5 weeks that
helped to keep me busy. I play tennis alone and whack it against the board
as hard as I can...good to get frustrations out. A concert here, dinner w/
someone there...just things to look forward to and mark off the time. And
writing letters always makes me feel a little more connected too. But
journaling can serve that same purpose. I need to get back into that. And
a new hobby goes a long way too. So there you are...some suggestions. I
try not to look ahead too much (as mentioned above). One day at a time
seems much easier.
A big thanks to everyone for their suggestions regarding the experience I
need. I have made some headway today. I found that the place in Texas (the
ONLY one...that I've found anyway) that provides the classes you all
mentioned, is only 30 minutes from here! I can't believe the luck. And it
is very affordable. I'm not sure how I can fit it into my work schedule,
but I think I should be able to. I'm going to try to get the S-130/S-190
and maybe even the D-100. I will have to get the 260/261 maybe in the
spring. At least after reading some fire books mentioned on this site and
taking these classes I'll have a much better idea if this idea is a
passing fancy or something I legitimately would like to get into.
Nerd on the Fireline, your HS quote was hilarious. I suppose part of me
not wanting to tell him, is because I want to see first how serious I am
about it. And I don't want him to think I'm doing it b/c of him or
anything like that. Makes sense, right? And part of me would like to try
being on the line, like Cache King mentioned. But what if we were hiking
some steep terrain and I couldn't go any further? Or digging a line and I
was too sore to go on? The thought of that terrifies me...of not being
able to keep up. (although I am tough...just not sure about endurance)
Well, enough for now. Thanks again fire friends and Ab. The information
and support on this website is invaluable and unmatched. What a great
You're welcome. You mean I-100, the Intro to the Incident Command
System, right? Ab.
||Tazlina Girl, Nerd on the Fireline and all:
The National Logistics website is www.fs.fed.us/logistics. It has some
info, but it's a new site that will need some more input. Basically, for
logistics info and requirements, go to the links for 310-1 and read thru
the requirements. Take a good look at what required vs. recommended. My
two cents worth is any logistics person should have some line experience
and quals just to know the lingo better. But barring that, Basic 32,
I-100/200, S-260/261 are great starters. D-110 would'nt hurt either. If an
incident is big enough, trying to order up a trainee or someone to work at
Base/Camp and Facilities, Ground Support or Ordering to just track
paperwork, E and S numbers and provide some continuity is helpful.
Especially if it will be a multi team incident. By getting this person in
after a few days, their 14 runs into the next team and provides some
insight as to what is where, who, and how.
Many local colleges are having fire classes in the winter and spring. As
you will see in 310-1, not a lot of requirements. You learn by doing and
getting the experience under guidance/mentoring/tutelage. If you have time
through the summer, gaining experience can get you AD hired easier. Good
dispatchers are a GODSEND! So are good logistics folks who want to make
things work well for the line folks. Thats where I think line experience
helps (my opinion). If youve ever been tired, filthy, hungry, sleep
deprived and need a shower, clean clothes, hot food and place to sleep-
and not got it- the lesson will stick and words nefarious spout. We don't
always have the greatest choice of places to start work, but we can work
to provide for the folks who come to play.
If there if FS Ranger District/ Sup's office, National Park/Monument, BLM
unit, BIA unit or local vollies, check with them if they can start to get
you in the loop. Last Logistics Conference, recruitment was one of the top
points as well as training. We could lose something like 25-40% of
personnel in logistics due to attrition within the next five years or so.
Since I am on a team, I can't freelance like I used to, but during fire
season I get calls all the time for both my trainee and qualed positions.
If our local college gets the classes they are working on for fire, I'll
be in school to take more logistics stuff just so I know more about who
does what and how I can make their job and mine better, faster, easier-
therefore making the firefighters jobs or camp life easier. Attend the
logistics conference this spring in Reno, NV if you can. Good contact
point for what you would like to do or think about doing. Let us know what
quals and training you have and we'll try to help. If you want to contact
me through the internet, Ab(s) may be able to send my e-mail address to
you (federal address). Not being coy- don't want anyone getting the wrong
From all the other posts, I see that life continues for us with all it
high and low points. But it is life that we have.
Some personal notes on the posts and info. For sure, I will be cutting a
check to Wildland Firefighters Foundation, and will bug my family to
(parents, brother, uncles) to do the same. Past time I did that anyway.
Also, FWFSA will get another member and I'll hit up the same family
members to write their congressman/woman and senators. Hell, I'll even
write the letter and they can sign their names and forward them. PSOB
should be instituted for anyone assigned to fires- AD, pilots- but should
not be a dodge for any contractor to help provide for the welfare of their
hiree's nor a reason for any one of us to not provide for our families.
So, in fairness, since I have'nt got a will done yet I believe a chapping
(said 'shapping') in is order. But the benefits are in place for the
family. Just wanna make sure some lawyer or sinister inlaws can't get
their hands on it.
I hope everyone stays safe out there. Keep up the great work Ab(s) and
family members. By the way- my daughters colored some pictures and sent
them to Dad at camp. Put them on the wall of our work area. The IC came
in, saw them, and a great conversation ensued about letters, family and
the importance of our loved ones whether it occurs during fire season,
times of war, or the times of our greatest happiness or sorrow. Mom sent a
letter- just everyday happening's back at the ranch, so to speak. Just
about everyone in the work area who came through asked if they were mine
and remarked how great, good, et.al. it was. Maybe this is something that
may help with those SO's out there. Fire Information usually handles mail
and has the addresses of camp. Last camp we were able to make two phones
available- only had 23 lines to start with- all they had in the sticks to
give us. Good news was we did'nt have to limit time very often. Cell
Something that help some folks with the new time requirements. If I have
to work a 16 hour day on a fire assignment, I get paid for it. I show a 1
1/2 hour break midday and 6 1/2 hours at night. Meets the rules, 2:1
ratio. Basically, I get the feeling that management is trying to provide
for safety by using pay regulations. Extremely stupid. Safety needs to be
safety- through training, knowledge, skills and attitude. Don't cut
corners, use LCES, the 10 and 18's. Driving regs (DOT) are great- they
pretty well apply to all of us. The IRPG is one of the best tools going.
Wacking some seasonal linediggers pay is asinine. Wacking my pay won't
bring you any kudo's or high fives either- all it does is interfere with a
good attitude towards what I am doing. That is not promoting safety.
Guess I oughta get off my soapbox.
I do feel that we need to get Title 5 squared with what the IIBMH is
saying. Portal to Portal is a good start for all of us.
Some really good classes to take would be S-130/S-190…that’s the
first, basic fire behavior and fire fighting tactics course. You might
check out your local community colleges for one that offers a degree in
Fire Behavior (I think Ab has a list posted, but you might want to fish
around on your own). Not all 130-190s are created equal, though…try to
find one (if you have the option) that has a field portion, not just
classroom time. I had a great one where we did an actual live burn and got
to run through everything from ignition to mop up, acting as a squad. I’d
also recommend getting some medical training. CPR for sure, First
Responder (or Wilderness First Responder), EMT-Basic if you want to make
the commitment. I’ve never heard of crew who thought that an extra medic
on the line would be a bad thing.
I think it’s so funny that you haven’t told your HS about this…because
I did exactly the same thing. I’d decided that fire was something I
really had to do about two years before I had the opportunity to get into
it ‘for real’, and I never told my HS about it. When I did get into it
(after we broke up) I just sent him a pic of my crew. Floored him pretty
good. But one thing he said a number of times keeps coming back to haunt
me. “If you’re tough enough to be a Hotshot’s girl, you’re tough
enough to be a Hotshot.”
Hoosier Fire wife:
Two things I found really help with the alone time: a hobby you enjoy
(even if it’s just reading) and making a concentrated effort to have
something to look forward to every day. I used to try to give myself a
treat every afternoon or evening; one chocolate, a wildflower, or my
favorite, frozen dark cherries. Just a nice little present you can give
yourself. That cheered me up enormously. I also found that taking a little
effort to cook something nice for just myself for dinner did wonders for
my attitude. Makes you feel cared for, even if just you doing the caring.
Keeping a journal also helps a lot.
Nerd on the Fireline
I think S130, S190, and I100 are the basics you take before anything else.
Look on the links
page under Wanna Be, under the jobs heading. (Ab, can you link to that
page? Thx.) Last spring some people wrote in asking which classes were
needed for firefighter 1 and these are the replies with info on the
redcard, etc. I think everyone who works in fire must start with these,
even the dispatchers. Great hue and cry for good dispatchers these days.
Good choice if you're not figuring on a line job, but would be good to
know what those who are on the line experience.
||Well the west is burning again and it looks like after
4 days at home and all night bat watching for the
forest service, my FF is going out again.
I'm excited for him, but I'm getting really lonely.
We are in a new community and I don't have a support
system yet. We spent a bit of time over the weekend
together, but the work week came and he had to catch
up on his regular FS job--which has meant two nights
I've got a little one I care for too and after my job
and taking care of her I'm just a little empty.
I guess I'm going to have to check out all the "chick
flicks" at the library and read a bunch of mysteries.
Janet Evonivich here I come!
Fire Friends how do you deal with the alone time?
I have been so anxious to get to Family Said and see what's been going on
since I've been gone. Catskilldog, I can't believe you were in SLC airport
the day after me to meet your FF. How funny. I just got back from SLC and
spending two and a half days of R & R w/ my HS before he headed back
out. After three months I didn't think I could stand the separation much
longer. I was around his buddies a little more than I wanted but I was
kind of expecting that, so it wasn't really a big deal. Besides, it was
kind of inevitable since they are all sharing rigs and have to get their
I stayed an extra day after my HS left and was watching TV that night in
the hotel room, and the Women Smokejumpers of all things came on MSNBC.
And before that was a segment on the Bitterroot (sp?) fire in Montana in
2000. What a coincidence! I was glued to the TV. It was so interesting and
a great way for me to get a better view on what my man is out there doing
all the time. What an intense job!
Shot's Mom, you said something about your son telling you to take a class.
What kind of classes can you take? I am really starting to think about
finding some kind of employment during the '04 fire season. I hope that
doesn't sound ludicrous. I certainly haven't told my HS. I'll wait on that
one. I'm not sure if I'm cut out to be a HS, but I do think dispatching
would be more down my alley, or any other support/logistics positions. But
I'm not sure how much experience you need. On the Alaska Fire Service
website, it states that you do not need experience for the temporary
positions. I e-mailed someone on that website w/ some of my questions. But
any more info. from you all would be greatly appreciated as well. I'm
going to look into the vollie thing too like Nerd said.
Fire Momma, I really enjoyed your post about paying attention. So true...
I suppose we could all do more of that. Enjoy your road trip. I'm
jealous...I've never even been to Idaho OR Montana. Pathetic right?
Ya'll take care,
Back home again after a good run with Ca. Team 5 in Montana. Beautiful
country, nice small camp and good assignment. The girls are excited to
have Daddy home again, R&R days run into days off, so life is good.
I'll get settled in and post some more later. Missoula was getting smoked
in good when I left and a few new starts since I was on the road. Hope all
your SO's are well- be they on the lines, in travel or at home for a
||Hey, BLM Bob?
Can I print out your post and stick it up on the bulletin board at our
station? With sections highlighted? You are truly a firefighter and a
gentleman, and you got all our girlish hearts a’flutterin’.
Conversation one of our guys had with his girl before our last fire:
“Sweetie, do you love me?”
“Well, that’s probably gonna change…got called out.”
“So fire’s more important to you than I am?”
“Yup, see ya.”
For any gentlemen lurking out there, this is how not to do it.
Nerd on the Fireline
||Is there a way that I can look up fire personnel on various fires? I am
wildland firefighter and would like to connect with friends.
||Thanks for writing in BLM Bob. I remember my sister reading that book.
had just come back from being dispatched to the Grand Canyon area. She
liked it too. The reviews of the books are helpful. I appreciate the Abs
on the website. I am glad some male firefighters like you are writing in
We can use the perspective.
Ab, thanks for the info on the Wildland Firefighters Foundation. Like
donate some money to different pet "causes" every year. This
sounds like a
good one and I sent in a check. I do hope my family never needs their
Ab, do you know if they have solicited funding from any of the larger
kinds of institutions? Sometimes hiring someone to do that can be a good
I can't imagine simultaneously trying to fundraise and to deal with
Well, enough of that. Wish I knew some rich people to hit up for
Robbie, I talked with them yesterday. $10s and $25s from lots of people
add up to money that really helps our community. I think they have gotten
someone to chase down larger donations or grants. From what I understand,
that process will still take time, 6-8 months from now, to bear fruit.
Question is will the Foundation folks have a daily struggle to make ends
meet until large funding can be obtained? They provide a critical service,
some serious money to families, sometimes fly them to their loved ones
side, smooth the way, etc. Only one person at the Foundation is on
"payroll" (I think). I sent in my check yesterday. Got ready to
mail it, thought of the need, reopened my envelope and dug a little
deeper. Can't say enough good stuff about the Foundation and the need they
||Whoa! I haven't read Family Said much - I usually hang out over on the
Said side - but after reading this month's posts, I'll lurk over here a
more. You all are exploring and discussing really important and
topics here. Kudos to you all.
I just have a couple of suggestions before I fade back into the woodwork.
Some books were recommended for reading on what it's like at fires, but I
didn't see anyone suggest "Fire on the Rim" by Stephen Pyne. An
read about the life and work of a firefighter. (Check the Books
page and Reviews. Ab.)
The other suggestion is inspired by Heli Groupie's (formerly AMM) great
story about taking a batch of goodies out to the fire - cool move! At one
point during my long career I was married to a helitack crewmember and I
working in a coordination center. One year her birthday came up while she
was at a major rager in Southern Arizona. It took a lot of telephone time,
but I found out where the helibase was through dispatch and located a
florist in a nearby town. I was able to get a dozen roses delivered to her
at the helibase. It wasn't easy, it wasn't cheap, and the roses died
sundown in the Arizona heat, but it was worth it. Let's just say that I
really "appreciated" when she came home.
Now truthfully it probably won't happen very often that you'll be able to
visit the sweetie at fire camp or get goodies delivered, but if you get a
chance, do it. If your FF is worth a damn, you'll be holding all the cards
after that. You have to be really careful with the timing and be sure that
it's cool with your sweetie and at camp and everything. One other
precaution - do everyone a favor, and don't even try to send liquor or any
other thing that isn't allowed in firecamp. Think baking.
||In case some of you don't read theysaid. Ab.
Ab - tonight on the NBC Nightly News, correspondent Fred Francis will be
interviewing Smokejumper Lori Messenger from Missoula. The news spot will
be a tickler for the cable television documentary that will air this
Sunday, August 10 on the cable channel MS-NBC. The documentary is about,
you guessed it!: "Women Smokejumpers!" Folks should check their
listings as it will listed as a National Geographic Ultimate Explorer
episode. Right now it's scheduled for 8 p.m. est, / 6 p.m. mst time / 5
p.m. pst - however as things change - CHECK YOUR LOCAL LISTINGS:
MS-NBC: National Geographic Ultimate Explorer, "Women in
Tune in and discover what a real "no 'man'ner" fire is all
MS-NBC has a website for those that can search the Web and it has a
feature with the women of
missoula and Lisa Loo.
||Kudos to the person doing the research on Memorials - it's a noble
cause. However I have one thing to suggest when discussing the
"memorial" at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).
When it was decided in 1995 to establish a site that honored wildland
firefighters at NIFC - there was some pretty clear direction given that it
was to be a Monument, and not a "memorial". The primary reason
was that there were many fire memorials already out there, yet there
wasn't an area that was formally dedicated to living wildland
firefighters, including their support personnel. So a Directors' level
decision was made to call the NIFC site the "Wildland Firefighters
Monument." And its credo was: " Honoring wildland
firefighters and the people who support them: past, present and future"
- and to this day it remains so.
The NIFC Monument was a gift of love - from the fire community to the fire
community. Vicki Minor, then a commissary contractor, and now President of
the Wildland Firefighter Foundation generously got the monument started.
After the 1994 fire season in which 34 lives were lost - Vicki donated her
earnings for a higher calling. With a very generous donation, the seeds
were planted to bring a "Monument" concept to fruition. And over
time - through generous donations of time, materials, labor and corporate
donations - the Monument came to be what it is today.
The NIFC monument celebrates life, as well as it commemorates death. It
was designed to signify life's regeneration through its living landscape -
a perma-culture that represents many of the natural fuel types
firefighters find in the higher elevations of the Great Basin. It
symbolizes the wildfire elements that firefighters deal with everyday via
the juxtaposition of the water running through its waterfall, to the
bronze statues frozen in time as sentinels on watch - always ready for
future firefights. The ribbon shaped path comes alive each Spring as a
living blue ribbon hued by the blooms of native, blue wildflowers. And
from the air it is truly a "ribbon of life" along the path of
The NIFC Monument truly stands as a powerful place of healing. Many
families, friends, and coworkers have healed while standing on its trail,
and leave the site spirit filled with a sense of peace. Miracles happen
there every day - some too personal to share in this message but sure
enough carried by lore and heartfelt conversation. When the Monument was
dedicated it was blessed on the theme of it being "common
ground." And today, it remains just so. The great equalizer for what
once was and what will come. To have a memorial, you must have a past - to
have a Monument - you have a grasp at the future. Hence the name.
For those of you who are not aware, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation,
another "miracle" borne of the Monument - is always there to
help those who fall on the firelines and who can't get back up. It assists
families, friends, and those hearts of the living who need a hand when
injuries happen. And it is a friend to the lost when a friend can not be
found through good times and bad. The Foundation would never ask but I
will. The Foundation needs your help. The foundation gives all that
it takes in to people like you and me - and its time to help them out.
Bring up the Wildland
Firefighter Foundation website the next time you are on your computer.
Give of yourself to help the others: those who have served in the past,
those who serve now, and those we will need tomorrow. The Monument -
Godwilling, it will always be there. Let's help the Foundation.
Give what you can. The next miracle may be yours.
-- Ghostload --
Ghostload, thanks for writing in. I have been wondering about the
finances of the Foundation as they have been needed this year... 5 deaths
in 4 days. I was concerned for the supporters at the Foundation as well as
for the families and friends.
Readers, please take a moment and write a check $10, $25, $50, $100 or
more, whatever you can afford, to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and snail-mail
it to the address below. It's tax deductible. (Or if you must, go to
the website and donate by
credit card. Click on "Yes, I want to help." Some of the
money goes to paypal when donated this way, but sometimes the convenience
for donors is worth it. The Foundation needs your help.)
Wildland Firefighter Foundation
3880 S. Development Ave
Boise, Idaho 83705
(208)336-2996; Fax (208)336-2995
Last year at the end of fire season the Foundation's funds were
depleted. Many families had been assisted financially following deaths of
their loved ones. It's scary to face a new fire season without sufficient
funds to help those who may need it. We ALL need to support this service
the Foundation performs for our extended fire family. It serves INTERAGENCY
wildland firefighters! Break out your checkbooks (or credit cards) and
give generously! A few bucks from you and me gets leveraged into a gift
beyond words for our fire families who need it. Vicki, Renee and
others who provide this service -- Thank you SO MUCH! -- Ab.
Son came home a couple of weeks ago, and it was the height of my pleasure
spend three uninterrupted hours (1-3 a.m.) with him talking fire and ICS
such. He said, "You'd love it out there. Take a class and come on out
I am honored that he would think me capable of doing the kind of work he
every season, and more honored to get his invitation. And, he's right--I
would love it! For now, anyway, other priorities abound.
For those of you who have Hotshots working the West, here's a site that
the status of Type I crews . www.blm.gov/utah/egbcc/
i've been enjoying reading all of your posts the past few days --
especially the post from FireChica with story about the tobacco chewing
tough chick. i went to 'theysaid' and read an article linked from one of
the posts about a recent FF loss and it was hard to swallow -- i don't
know if it's a good idea to know about that stuff or not.
well, only 12 more hours and my FF hub will be picking me up at the SLC
airport and we'll be driving back home with a few recreational stops along
the way. i am very excited about givin' and gettin' some lovin' and just
hanging with him and throwing back a few beers with him and hearing about
his summer experience, too!!! i hope all of your FFin' friends and family
are all safe and well! have a great weekend everyone!
You crack me UP!
With the present fire situation and my stable of fallers bare, I think I'm
heading to Montana and Idaho to track down some new fallers. I think
"Road Trip" is the term. I'm tired of this computer and looking
at wilted veggies in my fridge. I just culled my laying hen flock by 2/3
this morning (along with three obnoxious roosters who all went to rooster
heaven...i.e. chicken pot pie filling...) so I feel like a free woman. So,
you all take care and I'll check back in a few days. Ready for the open
||Firefighter Significant Others-
I've been lurking for a while and thought I'd come out of the
shadows. Just wanted to let you know I understand your concern about
loved ones out there on incidents or as I like to call it "the
alternate universe of fire." It's hard not to be concerned when you
have little or no information -- sometimes your imagination can be
your worst enemy. Myself, my boyfriend and my sister are all
firefighters and it's hard for US not to worry about each other, I can
imagine what it's like for those of you waiting by the phone and
watching the news. Something I've learned from being in that
"alternate universe" is that it's better not to worry about
you can't do anything about. Don't dwell on the dangers, be proud of
your heroes. Keep up the support system!!!
||Southern Living & Heli Groupie...
Thanks for the nice thoughts and comments. I appreciate it. But rather
than thinking of myself as wise (which I really don't) what I've learned
to do is observe very closely. I can't even remember who said it but
someone very insightful said "The worst than can be said about a man
(or woman) is that they didn't pay attention." Paying attention,
unfortunately, can be really uncomfortable, especially when the world
around us mirrors back to us our own shortcomings....which I guess is the
way things are supposed to work. Right now I'm trying to figure some stuff
out myself...and not very successfully. Intermingling with y'all (that's
fer you "Southern" ; ) helps me a lot. Still, it's important to
remember that everything we read and/or hear must be taken in with a clear
critical mind. Being "critical" doesn't necessarily need to
carry a negative connotation.
"To think critically is, among other things, to be fair and
open-minded while thinking carefully about what to do or what to
believe. If you are a critical thinker, you will assess the reasons for
and against doing something and then make your decision on the basis of
a fair assessment, not on the basis of your emotions nor on what your
astrology column says nor on whether the person giving you the reasons
is looking you in the eye while sounding sincere." (Dowden)
Being inside the newsroom for so many years, its downright scarey the
effect the written word has on our society at large. Don't believe
everything you're fed. By anybody. Instead, pay attention to where the
message is coming from and try to ascertain "why" the message is
being delivered. Trust your own mind...not someone else's. This is as
important in the fire world as it is anywhere else.
||THREE CHEERS FOR THE DISPATCHERS!!!
This has been my first fire with my FF and the staff
at our station and the dispatchers have humored me as
I've checked in very frequently. I was beginning to
feel I was just neurotic, but now I see you-all do it
Well any of you dispatchers out there THANK YOU for
not laughing at us and answering our questions with
Looks like were at a National Level 4 now. Thank
heavens things might calm down. I know many of the FF
are still out there. !!!!Blessings!!!! to all of you
who have one out there and will for some time. I'm
only beginning to get an idea of about what this life
Thanks friends for listening,
sorry but I don't understand the post about the wreck and the pick-up. Is
there an issue with the pick-ups we need to know about other than a lot of
them are used with fire......also I definitely agree that any persons
death is a huge loss no matter who they are or how they died. Just for us
here because of the lifestyle we are all devastated by anyone ff being
hurt or killed, no matter how they died.
Pick-ups....One of our sons was borrowing "MY" pickup several
years ago and was coming off the mountain....the truck in front of him hit
a dust bowl in the road and it blinded our son. He loss control and
planted a huge tree in the passenger side of my truck. The truck literally
wrapped around the tree at the door/bed area. He was alone. He was buckled
in and was bruised and had a cut on his arm. Thankfully it was a blessing
there was a tree there or he would have been on his way to the bottom of
the ravine about 350'......needless to say on the way to the hospital I
was praying he was ok. On the way home from the wrecking yard after seeing
my truck I was thanking God. Then after we got him home I wanted to smack
him for wrecking my baby........I loved my truck. (just to be fair to
him---the investigating deputy said he was not speeding nor was he at
fault,,,,it was just an accident) so we also have had some very close
calls regarding mountain roads and trucks.
After a week of long hours I just had to get back on and read the what's
happenings. First of all thanks Robbie for trusting in your local
dispatcher to keep you in touch about your sister. I think one of the best
parts of my job is keeping the family members, S.O.'s and everybody
worried about the FF's informed.
Next I have to agree with Heli Groupie in that I also think
"Normal" is on this site for a reason. I might have a extended
family in my firefighters but I still worry about my daughter in not
knowing when she is on a fire because I'm so far away, or hate that my
Southern Guy and me might not see each other for another 3-6 months, that
is when I try to get on this site and read what is happening to other
people. Most of the time other letters put my problems or worries in
perspective and I realize that I have a charmed life. I have wonderful
children, a wonderful boyfriend, and most of all a wonderful
"family" in my firefighters. In the past two years I have met
the most wonderful people in this organization and have to endure the
teasing from my SO and my engine crews in that they can't take me anywhere
that people don't either know me or recognize my voice and come up to talk
to me. I think I can go to almost any state and would have help if I was
ever in trouble. What other job gives you that joy. Also Heli Groupie, You
making goodies for the base will always be remembered and will make you a
more special person in the eyes of your guy.
Fire Momma, you are a woman with great insight and you sound like one heck
of a woman! Please keep all the firefighters out there in your thoughts.
I think that you made a good point and perhaps our sympathy is called for.
But I must say NW, if you are 38 and what you see on this message board
amazes you then, well, you need to get out more babe . . .
||don't have much time to write but needed to clarify a couple of
The FF killed on the forest road in Idaho Sunday nite was apparently alone
in the truck.....he was found fairly soon and flown to medical center he
was pronounced......very sad and close to home for me on a lot of levels.
As far as normal woman (women) there really isn't one so we all fit that
description don't we. I mean after all....look at who is on this list. We
are all abnormal with abnormal SO's......
As far as NW speaking to anyone in a gruff way....that is just not
necessary. We take to sweets much faster than vinegar.....and being nice
is just plain better for all of us. So I'm going to chill and maybe she
will start over by introducing herself and we will accept her. If she is a
long time FF or SO then she has LOTS of advice and wisdom we can all use.
||Ah, NW...glad you're here. Thanks for coming back. And I
agree....coddling has never been my forte either. Just ask Robbie ; )
Everybody stay safe. As I'm sending my fallers down the road, they are all
so happy. Adventure! For me...glad they're gone. Now I just need to have
faith they'll make wise choices and watch out for one another.
Beyond that...I DO BELIEVE ITS TIME FOR AN OATMEAL STOUT!
||Sweet, Heli Groupie.
He invited you "home" to see his "house" and to meet
his other family.
Just sent the last of my 35 fallers out on fires across the the western
states. Yea...what a relief.
As the reports of personal losses are coming in...from Washington...from
Wyoming... and considering my own personal brush with highway mortality, I
realize now (and I guess I realized it then) that the Mt. Angel visit on
Sunday holds more importance than just a side road ramble. While at the
abbey my heart was hurting so badly, and then I felt a calm. Sunday was a
troubled day for many in terms of the lose of loved ones. As a general
rule I'm not a supporter of organized religion. I grew up Babtist in a
Mormon community where 95 percent of my highschool peers were
Mormon...with a Native American mother (yep, she's Cherokee). But there is
quite a lot of emotional upheaval going on right now. We don't need to
agree on religious doctrine to take care of one another. And we don't need
to learn all the right words for our prayers to be meaningful. (I touched
the holy water in St. Mary's parish...and even though I'm not Catholic...I
I had the same thoughts about "Normal" as Heli Groupie, while my
first inclination was to do the "tiger swipe" my intuition held
me back. Could have been Robbie's reference to me as a "Sarg"
hanging with me...but I tend to agree that "Normal" (whether a
man or a woman) came to Family Said for a reason. Let's just extend an
invitation...and leave it at that. There's too much hurting going on as it
is. And things aren't always as they appear on the surface.
Just got back online from a few days off. I couldn't believe the amount of
stuff I had to catch up on here! As I was reading previous postings more
were coming in on the board.
I was going to respond about "Normal Woman's" post and just as I
was starting this email she responded back. Ever since Mellie posted her
insight (about the fire buddy coming for dinner) a few days ago I have
been looking at things a little differently. What I was going to say and I
guess I still am, is: Normal Woman's post sounds like someone who needs us
and our support. I re-read her post several times. I couldn't help
thinking her response comes from years of having someone tell her to
"toughen up and quit whining". Anyway, I think maybe we should
invite her to share the reasons and experiences that led up to her post.
After all, she came to this list for a reason. I don't think it was just
to be a pain in the ***. Just maybe she needs our support and friendship.
Just a thought.
Anyway enough of that...I wanted to share a wonderful (and rare)
experience I had the other day! Sunday night I was talking to my guy on
the phone and he asked what I was doing like he always does when he calls.
I said the usual stuff and added that I was thinking about making a batch
of goodies for the crew but that I didn't know how I would get them up to
them. He says, "Well just drive them up here." (Our home is only
about 80 miles from the fire). I asked are you sure, you won't get in
trouble? He said, no I won't get in trouble, come on up.
So, the next morning I loaded my daughter and myself, along with the
goodies into the truck and headed up there. The fire's just about finished
and people were being demobed, so the helibase was not a bustling
free-for-all but it was exciting for us! And the crew was happy for some
homemade goodies. I got up there just before lunch, so they had dessert
for their lunch. I am so grateful I had the chance to go up there and see
what goes on. Ladies, those of you who are like me - not in fire - if your
chance comes to go up to fire camp, GO!!! I was only there maybe a half
hour, but the fact that he shared this with me will last a lifetime!
It good to see you made it home safely and you're back online!
Heli Groupie (formerly AMM)
||To Robbie and all,
point taken. And since you wonder. 38 years, happily married to FF for
last 18. We both worked at it hard, and that's where this mail is coming
from. FF are independent souls with taste for adventure. Clinging, crying,
whining partners are soon left behind. Oh, how many times we have seen
I guess not everyone has a coddling way to give advice....
Definitely not bitter, just amazed.
||I love this board.
Thanks for backing us up from the guys’ side Robbie.
And way to give that gal a run for her money. What a great group.
Actually, I have to laugh that she chose to be posted as “Normal Woman”
because, after all, what “normal” woman is a firefighter? What “normal”
woman puts up with having a relationship with a firefighter?! Ha! I think
it is great we can help each other out through the tough moments . . .
In reading Normal Woman’s post I was reminded of this one female HS I
saw once. She had started FF when it wasn’t so common for women to HS
and man, was she rough and tough. She chewed tobacco and everything. I
remember thinking to myself when I saw her “that is a woman who feels
like she has something to prove!” And I can understand that. It couldn’t
have been easy for her back in the day and I have to be grateful to her
for paving the way, but I can’t help but feel a little sad for her as
well, like maybe she chose to or had to sacrifice a little too much of
something. Like she felt obligated to sacrifice all remnants of her
womanhood on the alter of Forest Service machismo. Not long after I met
another female FF from the same district, she probably hadn’t been doing
it quite as long, but she was such a great role model for me, even though
I only spent 20 minutes in her company. She was strong and tough but still
had this feminine quality to her. Kind of reminded me of the legendary
Amazon women – tall, strong, 100% womyn! Wow, she was cool.
Interestingly enough, I find that these days I am much more girly during
my off time. I am sure it is a result of the fact that I have such a macho
job, I end up compensating.
The guys here keep asking me about how my boots feel and if they are
broken in yet and how much pain am I in, etc. Honestly, they don’t
really hurt. After about 18 hours my feet are a little tiered but they
aren’t bad. Really, these guys have NO idea how excruciating stylish
strappy heels can be . . . and men think they are tough! They wouldn’t
last 15 minutes in a strapless bra and three inch heels! (Funny mental
pictures of my boss in a slinky dress-heehee!)
Bottom line-women can be tough by being women. And I don’t think being
worried about relationships is something inherently female either. Men
worry too, as demonstrated by previous postings on this board by men and
by the wives/girlfriends of men. I loved FireMomma’s posting about her
husband calling her mom when he couldn’t get her on her cell! How sweet!
That is the way it should be!
i read 'Fire on the Mountain' a couple of years ago and enjoyed it very
much. it was my introduction into the world of wildland firefighting, plus
the stories my FF hub told me. not too long after both me and my FF hub
read the book, we hiked to the memorials of the south canyon fire near
glenwood springs, co, and i noticed something different about my man. he
had very strong feelings about what happened to these firefighters. it is
an intense experience when you hike up where most of the memorials are
(very steep) and you can almost have an image of that day. i definitely
recommend doing this hike after reading the book.
||Sincere condolences to family and friends of those young lives lost in
I, for one, refuse to ask the hard questions about the WHY a pickup NO ONE
GET INTO THAT SENERIO PLEASE
I've lost childhood friend from hitting trees or going into a river the
pain of their loss is no different from if it had been my kid on a
wildland fire or anywhere!!
NZ5 lady aka MOM
Let's be careful and responsible here, folks. I think it was just one
life from what Sammi said, and we don't yet have a news report of the
While not defending your SO, there might be an explanation for the phone
not working in his room in the first hotel. I have been set up in hotel
rooms by the FS before and have run into the same problem, it seems that
sometimes when the government makes arrangements for lodging, they inform
the hotel manager that they will not pay for anything extra like movies or
phone bills, so the hotel turns off the phones. When the phones have been
turned off in my rooms, I have had to go down to the front desk, and ask
for them to be turned on so I can call home, and ensure that I would be
responsible for paying any and all phone charges, sometimes with a blank
credit card draft.
GFP isn't a agency Hotshot crew, they are a type 2 private contract crew.
I'm not sure, but I believe it is a fairly new company, as I saw them for
the first time last year on the Toolbox Complex.
My FF read the book and enjoyed it. He also read
Men and Fire, by Norman Maclean (author of A
River Runs Through It) and Fire
on the Mountain (John
Maclean --Norman's son). He is soaking up anything on
fire fighting right now.
If you haven't seen the NOVA special called "Fire
Wars" yet check it out. It helped me a lot. Watch it
with your FF and ask questions. If your local library
dose not have it ask them to get it via a thing called
Ab Note: Fire Wars is being aired at different
times over the next 3 days on PBS. Good show.
Your description about what FF's think about during
their little bit of time off made me cry! I got a
little taste of that when my FF called and talked to
me for 5 min. the other night.
Thanks for the insight.
||WOW!!!!!! You gals have really been kicking butt!!!!!!!!! Don't pay any
attention to people who come on our list and try to offend and cause
trouble....obviously you gals did not buy into "her" attack and
that was great.
We have a great list going here with input from all sexes, ages,
experiences etc and we are all supporting each other....on another note. I
was having lunch in a cafe with some of my family Sunday and there was a
HS Crew from Wash. came in to eat...obviously straight from a fire. They
had on sweatshirts with GFP Initial Attack on them.....well I read in the
paper today one of them 21 yrs old was killed Late Sunday nite in a truck
roll over up on the forest land......I don't recognize the GFP logo so
wondered if any of you are familiar with it? I can provide names etc out
of the paper........sammi
||don't know if it's broadcast everywhere, but right now i'm watching a
public tv broadcast about wildfire and it's really good.
yeah!!! what they (tonya, tazlina girl, fire momma....) said!!!
That's Fire Wars on NOVA, good show. Info on that is posted on
||ok, clear head now -- it doesn't take much. i'm going to start on a book
i bought for my husband last year called 'Jumping Fire: A Smokejumpers
Memoir of Fighting Wildfire'. i am interested to learn more about what my
hub is going to be doing in the future. has anyone read any good books
about wildland firefighting?
There's a whole list with reviews. Fire
Books Jumping Fire is the first book. Ab.
||To "normal woman":
You said: "I've dated, lived with worked as and with FF"
Maybe there is a reason for that, with an attitude like you have, there is
probably a good reason that married wasn't on that list.
One of the advantages of this board is the friendly atmosphere and the
Get a dictionary and look up the definition of heart.
||So-called Normal woman,
Since when is sharing experiences with those in similar situations
"whining"? (work on the spelling) I have a very busy life but
also find the time to have a man in it, who happens to be a FF. I
"talk, talk, talk" to the people here so that my other friends
and family don't have to hear it too much and because, unlike you, they
are understanding. I've talked to my FF 20 minutes in 2 weeks so I hardly
think I'm dependent on him. (much less have I seen him...and I don't live
w/ him either) I had a party at my house over the weekend w/ 50 of the
friends you just told me to get. Trust me, I have a life.
Your tone is bitter, lonely, condescending and unappreciated. There is no
need for such judgment against people you don't even know. Your post is a
real ugly, sore spot in an otherwise fantastic, supportive message board.
So why don't you live and let live and spew your rhetoric somewhere else.
And I don't recall reading anything on this board anywhere close to
Harlequin romance descriptions...so spare ME.
p.s. to Ab
I'm sorry if this post is so angry, but I had to write it. This woman got
under my skin. I don't take well to people that tell me to grow up and get
a life that don't even know me. I hope you can still post it though. It's
only fair that I can defend myself right?
||The headlines read: "Wildland Firefighter put out fire, rained on
To add to the mess of the "telephone incident" when I received
the "pick me up
at the airport" call yesterday I was sitting in my doctor's office.
doctor felt sorry for me and stepped out to let me talk to him for a
When she came back in I was a wreck, after telling her briefly what
and finishing the appointment, I went home. She called me today to see if
was still alive, and to make sure that I was ok. Isn't that a great
She is new to the area and I've only seen her 3 times...but she watches
Well we had our discussion, you would all be proud of me. I kept my cool
the most part. After about 30 minutes of drilling into his head the way he
made me feel we were making progress. But I suppose as a stubborn man he
only admit being wrong to a point. He said that he "sort of
understood where I
was coming from." That wasn't good enough for me, so I turned the
him. One of the things he asked of me before he left was not to so much as
have a single beer while he was gone, which was fine with me as I prefer
drink more than about 3 a month. So I told him about a party that I was
invited to, and asked him how he would feel if I would have gone and he
tried to call me. That got his attention. He also said that the next
from this area is being set to go next week, and he has every intention of
going with them. We were supposed to go to hang out with some friends,
my best friend goes back to school 15 hours away. When I mentioned going
that little 6 person get together he flipped. We're going to finish this
tonight, but I had to go to work before we could finish it all.
Another thing that really aggravated me was the fact that atleast one of
guys sat in the bathroom of Jon's hotel room and called his girlfriend.
of the guys gave him a hard time about it because he was going to ask her
marry him when he got home. I told him that if he wanted to marry some of
FFs he went to the bars with and sat in the room and drank with that it
fine with me. But he had better be man enough to tell me that he was
them over me, and then all of the marriage plans will be a thing of the
That was about the most obnoxious response I gave him, but he atleast
much he hurt me. I hope he has sense enough not to do it again.
This will be short, because he is not writing it. His excuse was...hold on
tight, its a good one...he said the phones didn't work at the first hotel
was at. That was one night that he went to a bar...I have a hard time
hotel with phones in the rooms that are not working, but if that was so,
had to be a phone in the lobby/office area. If he didn't want to use that
there must have been one in the bar, or someplace in the 7 blocks that he
me he walked to get there.
We're on rough ground right now. My problem is I love him too much, as mad
I am about it, I can't stay mad at him. This afternoon, after my blow-up
just wrapped his arms around me. It stopped me in my tracks, I ended up in
tears because it is so good to have him home.
Thank you all for the shoulder to cry on...or complain on, or whatever
And to Sammi I believe, a while back you posted about "remind you
next time you
started complaining about talking to the dog." I'm with you girl, the
seem to be much more wise than our FFs at times.
Also, to the Abs out there, thank you...your board saved my tail today!
||I echo Robbie's comment....carry on and let "Normal's" deposit
of verbiage speak for itself.
||Normal OLDer woman? Wonder if there is a difference between youngsters
just forming relationships and those who feel they have been there, done
that. Easy to say harlequin romance. No one is saying heroes. Where did
that come from?
Youngsters, carry on! You're sorting out important stuff.
||to Tazlina, Tonya....and others, stop whinning, grow up, get a life.
I am coming from 15 years of fire and now working in support for fire
organization. I've dated, lived with worked as and with FF. Hero's,
hardly. It is a job, exciting, could be hard, sometime bit dangerous,
decent pay. We are adrenalin junkies, not accountants, that is why we are
not home every night.
Apparently you can't live without "reach out and talk, talk, and talk
every day" Girls, you are self absorbed, whinning ninies. Get on with
your life, job, interest, friends and when the SO comes back, have fun
rediscovering each other, and sharing both of your last months
And PLEASE, spare us the Harlequin Romance details..........
You have permission to skip reading here. Ab.
||i liked fire chica's response to tonya's sit.....and fire momma you are
right on when you say that we are all different. it is true, everyone has
different thresholds and just because one person says they would tolerate
something doesn't mean it's right for everyone. looking back, my advice
may seem forgiving, but i just think it's important to hear the other's
side of the story and not jump to conclusions. although, i have to say,
honestly, that i would be extremely po'd with three nights of boozing and
no calls when it was definitely possible, but i am a wife and my husband
doesn't act this way normally, so i wouldn't expect him to do it while
he's working on a fire. i don't think there would be any excuse for that.
don't get me wrong, i wouldn't care if he went drinking with his buddies
every night if he called me and let me know i was on his mind.
i am on a emotional rollercoaster ride dealing with my own sit. i'm flying
out to where my husband is on friday to ride back home with him and i want
to clear my head before then. let's just say, right now i am feeling that
my man may get a a bunch of 'oh, i forgot' 's when he gets home. i'll save
you all from my ranting...... i gotta go for a run...
First of all, having grown up with a clairvoyant mother as well, I’m
laughing delightedly and feeling your pain at the same time. The thing is,
mine tended to fail in her clairvoyance at the oddest times. One of the
all time great conversations:
“Hi, Mom. I should probably tell you I’ve picked up a new hobby.”
“What’s his name?”
“Uh, no, Mom, it’s really a hobby.”
“It isn’t anything dangerous, is it?”
“Well, um, I’m a volunteer firefighter.” (I’d been doing it for
three months at that point)
“Oh! I thought it was going to be something dangerous. Do you get to
wear the hat and everything?”
“You’re not going to go into any burning buildings, are you?”
“Well, I’m more into wildland fire fighting.”
“Oh. Well, don’t go near any forest fires, you hear?”
Sigh. I’ve referred her to this site, but she hasn’t looked at it.
Probably for the best.
Your comment about climbing a hill reminded me, though…I used to take an
eight pound sledge to pile of broken cinder blocks when my HS got out of
hand. It really, really helped keep me from saying anything
relationship-ending. Whatever you do, DON’T chop kindling mad. That’s
just asking to get hurt.
Good luck again,
Nerd on the Fireline
||A lot of varying advice for Tonya.
I have to say though, after years and years of this stuff, I have to agree
with Fire Chica. Relationships are a participatory activity. "Either
you're in or you're out." Yes, it's important to understand - and to
a certain extent accept and accommodate - a FF lifestyle. But, its no
reason to accept what is unacceptable. Relationships take work from all
sides involved. It's important to remember though, we are all very
different, with very different thresholds of what we will accept. Also, I
guess I'm looking at this from inside a marriage, which has its own
parameters or "rules of the road."
Tonya, good luck girl. Listen to the others' who are encouraging you to
hold steady to composure. I would just be being hypocritical because its
not something I could pull off. I'd probably head up the steepest hill I
could find for a hike. Better use of my energy.
||Tonya et al;
Once again, I’m looking at this one from both sides…remembering one
point when I didn’t see my (now-ex) SO for a week, only to find him
passed out in the middle of his living room floor with a bunch of crew
buddies. They’d been drinking, wrestling, and watching videotapes of
fire for the whole time, and I just beyond didn’t exist. I got the meet
the crew buddies when they started moaning ‘cuz the open door had let in
the light and they didn’t like it. I didn’t say anything; I just left
and came back later. Was I feeling ignored and neglected? Oh yes. Pissed
off? You bet. This happened multiple times. After a certain point, the
crew buddies involved noticed that I wasn’t going ballistic, and they
started telling my SO that I was the coolest chick in the world. Peer
pressure works really well. Didn’t save the relationship, but certainly
Now, being a FF myself, I’m remembering a number of nights when I’ve
blown off dates, friends, and visiting family because coming in after a
call it seemed much more compelling to stick around playing HS hacky-sack
(ten pushups if you touch the sack with your hands) with the guys,
rehashing the incident, and telling old war stories. It’s a different
world when you’re out on call; a sort of suspended reality. It’s not
that the people outside don’t matter, it’s just that there’s a sort
of crew inertia…it’s hard to break out of that mode.
My advice is to be patient; if you launch into psycho-attack-femme mode
(which can be useful on occasion) you’re just going to make it less
pleasant for him to come home. If he does that sort of thing consistently
(and I’m not talking about going out with the guys and calling you in
the morning, I’m talking about multi-day delays), it’s an indicator of
serious trouble. Just an evening out is camaraderie.
Nerd on the Fireline
Has anyone dealt with their FFs doing something this stupid? If so, how
you handle it?
Fire Momma writes:
No. Kill him.
(Just kidding....) Geesh, I'm afraid I have no answer for this galoot.
Oops... uh... (...measured response...) Is he that much of a newbie to
fire and relationships? I'm curious to hear how your discussion goes with
him this evening.
....Just back online after being gone for the weekend. Took my young'un to
summer camp. Traveling north cell phone reception is nil so I just turned
it off and regularly checked in with my answering service. Got to
Portland. Checked into the hotel and retrieved my messages from my cell
phone....5...from my husband on the Slims Fire in Idaho...each more urgent
than the last. "Why aren't you answering your phone?"
"Hellooooooooooo" "That's it. I'm calling your
And all this time we've been talking on FamilySaid about US not getting
all uptight on the phone. My goodness. He called at the crack of dawn the
next morning before heading out on the fireline. I assured him all was
well...but just had to smile to myself. I love that guy.
Strange, incredible weekend. Driving back I spontaneously turned off I-5
toward Woodburn and headed to Mt. Angel. Thought "Yea, guess I'd like
to see an angel today." What an incredible experience. Sat in St.
Mary's parish awestruck by the beauty of the stained glass and statues. It
was the first calm I've felt in months. Drove up to Mt. Angel Abbey and
walked around with the monks. Found an delicate statue of an angel with a
little girl clutching the robes around the angel's thigh. I'm not sure
why, but my heart constricted. Drove back out to the freeway to head home
only to find there was a brutal six car wreck just a few miles ahead of
me. Took a round about way home through Brownsville. Beautiful country.
Called my mom (who, by the way is one of those unarguably clairvoyant
types.. imagine growing up with THAT!) She was beside herself wanting to
know that I was okay. I told her what happened...that I had taken a detour
to Mt. Angel.. why I didn't know, but had thoroughly enjoyed myself. She
babbled on and on about how she was relieved I'd avoided "the
danger." I told her I didn't AVOID anything. Just acted on my
you should probably cool down and try not to explode on him, otherwise,
you could end up hurting the situation rather than fixing it. it is so
easy to take these types of situations personally (i know i have), but the
situation may well have been that he was in a mood where he thought he
wouldn't be too much fun to talk to. i will give him the benefit of the
doubt cause it's hard to tell without knowing how he handled the
situation. i'm assuming that he told you where he was, so it maybe he's
wasn't aware of the impact this type of behavior has on you. i think
sometimes, they (the FFs) get in a zone where they are just so tired and
maybe frustrated because things on the fire don't go too well (stupid
people, decisions were made that no one agrees with, near death experience
they don't want to scare you with, etc.) and it's not like they 'go home'
after a hard day at work -- they are at work with their coworkers the
entire time 24/7 and sometimes that includes going to the bar. i had to
learn this myself today.
my man called me sunday night and didn't even bring up the fact that he
didn't call the last two days (which is unusual) and then when i asked him
about it (calmly), he said he 'forgot' his cell phone. well, of course, i
immediately in my mind was thinking 'you forgot about me', but i didn't
make a big deal about it. then it happened again last night. well, i don't
feel that this behavior is fair to me, but then again, i wasn't there and
don't know what was going on, so i will give him the benefit of the doubt.
maybe we'll discuss it in a calm manner sometime later on after he
refamiliarizes himself with being home. just as it is important for us
SO's to be supportive and understanding, it's important for them to be the
same, but it is also important to wait for the right time to discuss these
i love my man more than anything in the world and i want him to always
look forward to coming home! i truly believe that it's a learning
experience for both sides. hang in there and good luck!
Cache King mentioned in one of the posts that they could always use good
logistics people on the fires. Was he referencing the posts about
dispatching? That's considered logistics right? I would really like to
look into dispatching on a seasonal basis or field office assistant. I
have a lot of office type experience that might come in handy out there. I
Ops (Operations) sees the resource need and places the order.
The IC approves it.
Logistics actually places the order out into the larger fire world,
verifies it has been placed and tracks it.
Planning incorporates the arriving order into the plan.
So yes, you could say that Logistics has the most "dispatching"
role at the Fire Team level, but the ordering is a seamless (hopefully)
process involving most of the branches of the ICS structure. Here's a link
to ICS structure...
You might begin by telling him you've been trying to understand
firefighter perspective in general and his perspective this time around.
Then ask him to describe his experience (that led him not to call). But
stay non-judgmental, really try to understand where he was coming from.
Often guys are less in touch than girls are in the "whys" of
things. Often guys are less practiced at communicating, but do excellently
with experience. (None of us should be blamed for what we have not yet
Then ask him to try to put himself in your shoes. After all, you have been
trying to put yourself in his and to understand his situation.
You should know, firefighters coming off an assignment often act a little
brain damaged. Relationship situational awareness is often low even when
you have a good assignment. If the assignment is a let down and you're not
ready to leave your crew yet, partying is not too surprising. Here's a
party scene from years ago. (Ab please help me out with these photos.
The key to good communication is to have the goal of arriving at
understanding each other's perspective: You try to understand his and he
tries to understand yours. It helps if both people feel they have spoken
and been heard. No one that I know sets out to be a Horse's A**. Often
it's just a lack of understanding and experience with relationships that
makes it seem that way. Understanding is key, then agreements can be made.
I agree with you. You are not overreacting at all. I am impressed you were
able to put off breeching the subject. I guess you should just start by
explaining that you understand that you can't expect to hear from him
while he is on the line and that you understand it was a disappointing
trip for him, but that you are very hurt by how inconsiderate he has been
over the past weekend. If he reacts poorly, well that could be a bad sign.
If he is a good guy he should understand that you were worried and
apologize. I don’t mean to be harsh, but I know from my own experience
that sometimes a person can forgive unacceptable behavior too quickly
because they want a relationship to work out, so maybe you need to say to
him “look, this is what it means to be in a relationship and you are
either in or you’re out. If I am going to give, you have to too.”
Explain that you understand that being the girlfriend of a FF requires you
to put up with a lot that other women don't have to put up with, but that
means he shouldn't make it any harder than it already is.
||So much has happened over the weekend, I don't know where to start. My
home, yippee, I think. I picked him up at the airport last night. His crew
was sent home a week early. I was so excited to get to see him, since he I
only talked to him once, yesterday morning to find out when to pick him
since he left. Needless to say, things went from good to bad to worse. I
the rest of you worry myself sick about him whenever he is gone. But what
did was inexcusable. I found out that he has been in and out of hotels
Friday night, and instead of calling me just for a minute to tell me that
was alive and ok, he has been out drinking with
his FF buddies every night, in bars till all hours of the morning. Three
nights in a hotel and he didn't bother to call anyone, me or the rest of
family. I'm not sure what to even think about that, I understand that the
was a let down for him, he really didn't want to come home, but I feel
that was unacceptable of him not to even call once to tell someone that he
OK! Maybe I'm overreacting, maybe I shouldn't be mad, but I really cant
it. I kept my cool and didn't kill him last night, I just fed him, gave
massage, yes even the rotten feet, and sent him off to bed. I knew better
to start the discussion about this with him tired and me so angry that I
spit nails through oak boards. Tonight we are going to talk about it,
hopefully calmly, but I'm not going to count on it.
Has anyone dealt with their FFs doing something this stupid? If so, how
you handle it? I'm not going to see him to talk about it until late
if anyone has any advice please let me know. I don't want this to become
larger of a problem than it already is.
Finally got some phone lines in camp to hook up to. Read through the
family said. Well, it's 2325 hours so I won't be long winded. i gotta get
my wife to read through this. I think it will help her and the girls see
that they aren't the only ones. I'm on the Trapper Creek Complex as a <snip>.
I will post more about logistics training later. God knows, we need
logistics folks badly here in the fire world.
Thanks for the support from the homefront. Try to keep your chins up. I
hope the bum that bothering the lady in AK gets a blanket party thrown for
him compliments of her coworkers. Maybe that will get through his rum
Will write on days off after 21 is over and I'm home being a Dad and
Husband. I carry my girls pictures in my shirt pocket and show them often.
Kind of a talisman.
||Any of you who are newcomers to the world of FF relationships, I highly
recommend you read and reread the recent suggestions offered by John and
OldRer. Print them and post it where you can refer to it daily.
OldRer and John, thank you for taking the time to provide your
recommendations. Obviously you know of which you speak. Congratulations on
your long term relationships.
Ab, those 2 posts pretty much sums it up maybe they should be reposted
every late spring. Parents and family members of FFs should find their
insight beneficial, not only the SO sitting at home.
Don't forget to add the reminder about the upcoming Women Smokejumpers
program on TV next Sunday.
I've been reading your posts here in Family Said for a little over a month
now, and have read some great advice coming from some of the lifers out
there, it's great to see all of you sharing your experiences , and
ups/downs with eachother. Great job on the site Ab, and thank you for
including a message board for SO's , I think they are too often forgotten
by most people that aren't involved in firefighting, and are every bit as
important as the men and women on the firelines that they support.
I've been married 17 years now, and have a 16 year old daughter, and a 14
year old son. I have been FF since '94, and my wife has always been the
one to sit at home and worry whenever I've been gone. After worrying for
so many seasons, she finally decided last year to find out more about what
it is we do out there, so she took the S-130/S190 basic wildland
firefighting course when we held it for the local volunteer fire
department . She was amazed at finding out how little she really knew
about firefighting, and that she had no idea how much I knew until I
helped instruct some chapters of the course. Since then naturally she
still worries about me whenever I leave for an assignment, but she since
she has a better understanding of how much thought and planning goes into
what we do, she is a little bit more at ease.
Any of you that are newcommer's to the world of FF relationships, I would
highly recommend finding somewhere that you could take the Basic course,
it may help you as it did my wife. Also don't assume the worst if your FF
doesn't call you every night, sometimes after a long hot hard day working
on the line, you don't even feel like standing in the long line to get
your dinner, let alone wait for 30-60 minutes to make a 5 minute phone
call. If there are phones in camp and he/she doesn't call, all it means is
they most likely had a tough day, and felt they would be better off
getting some much needed rest before heading out again for the next shift.
Trust me when I say even though you might not hear from us once in a
while, our loved ones at home are always on our minds anytime we get 5
minutes of free time, when we don't have to concentrate 110% on what the
fire is doing around us.
Hope this helps.
My HS (friend) is on the Hot Creek Fire too! Fire is such a
small world. I bet those two have seen eachother. Who knows,
maybe they even have spoken to eachother . . .
||Hello everyone. It's Monday and I'm back to work after a nice weekend.
It's nice to check back in to Family Said and hear from everyone.
I had a lot of distractions this weekend to make it go by faster. I did
some shopping and had a party at my house Saturday night. Went and watched
our roller derby competition on Saturday also with a friend. Drank lots of
I heard from my HS a couple of times. His crew boss let him call from a
payphone on Saturday on their way back from somewhere. (He is on the Hot
Creek fire) He said his boss knows that he is trying to get me out there
and needs to call me to finalize plans. (That made me feel good) Although,
here it is Monday and I still have not bought a ticket and will be seeing
him on Thursday. I'm getting anxious. Tickets are getting very expensive
and flight options crappier and crappier. His days off got pushed back a
day, so there is one more day of waiting.
I figure it will be one, long week. I'm trying to be patient. But when I
start to complain about my waiting, I remind myself how exhausted he must
be. He sounds pretty burnt out when he calls but gets some excitement in
his voice when we talk about seeing each other. I feel stupid telling him
I went shopping after he tells me they hiked 3000.' vert. to get to the
line. Oh well. I figure lots of I love you's and miss you's will make up
for it. And I'm always sure to ask if he's doing alright, getting rest,
water, etc. As far as expectations for the visit...I don't really care
what we do as long as we are together. I kind of wonder if he's going to
want to go w/ his buddies to the bars one night or not. That's fine w/ me
as long as I'm not ignored once we get to the bar. And I guess I don't
want him to be too hungover the next day either.
I'm worried about saying goodbye and how to keep my cool. It will probably
be another 6 weeks or 2 months until I see him again and I know I'll want
to break down if I keep looking at it like that. I suppose I'll just try
to not think about it until we've already said our goodbyes and he is off
Thanks for all of the advice. I love reading this message board. And Nerd,
thanks for the info. I will look into it. I found a list of all the
vollies around here. I also looked on the Alaska fire website and they,
unlike most others I saw, said that temporary position dispatchers do not
need previous experience. Could this be right?
You all take care. I'm sure you'll be hearing from me more than once this
||I used to be the one on a Hotshot Crew. There was a time when my spouse
and I were both on the road. Now I am the one that stays home and my guy
is out there. There has not been a single year since 1995 that he hasn't
gotten a thousand hours of overtime and he spends at minimum of 150 days a
year on the road. One benefit that we enjoy, that some of you out there
might not have, is I understand what he is talking about because I did it.
That can be rectified; read on. Through ten years, we have run the gamut
of emotions and worked through a ton of problems. What I can say is that
the advent of cell phones has made keeping a strong relationship so much
easier. If you are a firefighter and you don't have a cell phone, go out
and buy one. For those that stay at home, buy your fire guy or girl one
for their birthday or Christmas. They may not have cell service for long
periods of time on specific assignments but usually they can find cell
coverage at some location on most incidents. Nevada, amazingly enough, has
killer cell coverage.
Some other tips and comments for those in the same situations....
It is almost a joke now in my circle of firefighter friends because I have
said it so many times. Real simple. There are three rules to a good
#1 Don't fight on the phone
#2 Don't fight on the phone
#3 Don't fight on the phone
This isn’t advice just for your relationship. If you fight on the phone,
YOU could be risking their life. You have to remember that your
firefighter is doing a dangerous job. Do you really want them thinking
about the fight you had last night over the dog chewing the couch and the
toilet that backed up all over the bathroom floor instead of concentrating
on the job at hand? If you feel you can’t keep the conversation from
deteriorating into a fight, bite your tongue and end the call gently; don’t
ever, ever hang up on them, they may not call back. You have the choice of
self control too.
When your firefighter calls, you need to remember that he/she has just
spent several days or weeks working 16 hour days, living and sleeping in
the dirt, playing up the hill/down the hill and dealing with hazardous
situations, cranky co-workers and line overhead that they may not agree
with. Firefighters constructing fireline burn about 6000 calories a
shift--all manual labor. If there is no cell coverage, your firefighter
will have to stand in line waiting for the pay phone (if the incident is
large enough to have them). They will have a limited amount of time to
talk to you out of courtesy for those who are waiting in line behind them.
In addition, the time they take to call you is cutting into their sleep
time. Your firefighter might sound jazzed, up on adrenaline when he/she
calls but more than likely, that is all that is keeping them going; they
are probably dead tired. They will dominate the conversation, telling you
about their exploits. You need to listen and try not to let your fears for
their safety overwhelm you. They are using you to bounce ideas off, tell
you things that went wrong and talk about the incredible sights they
witnessed. If the first words out of their mouth aren't "I love and
miss you" it doesn't mean that they don't; after all, they called
YOU, not someone else, right? It is just that their experiences are
foremost in their minds. Your role needs to be support and understanding.
Sometimes all you really need to do is listen, they will carry the entire
conversation. Just make sure you get that last "I love you" in
before they have to hang up. And remember, they may feel uncomfortable
reciprocating the “I love you” if there are a bunch of guys hanging
around waiting for the phone. Firefighters are a pretty macho bunch, it’s
just a fact of life.
Some things that will help you manage your feelings:
Educate yourself about fireline terminology, safety measures, tactics and
strategies. Read the Fireline Handbook, take the time to read the LCES
training, learn about the Standards for Survival. All that information is
probably buried in your closet unless your firefighter keeps it at work.
If they keep it at work, ask them to bring it home with them the next time
they roll into town. Your firefighter is absolutely your best source of
information. Ask questions this winter. Talk, in depth, about how they
actually do the job on the fireline. By educating yourself, it will also
alleviate a lot of unfounded fears that may lurk in your heart. People
always fear the unknown. Create common ground by being interested. It will
benefit you too.
While they are gone, don’t let the small things get you down. Yes, you
are home alone, you are lonely and there is no one to share the daily
problems and joys with. Deal with the problems, put off the big projects
you can’t accomplish on your own until winter, and save the joys to
share when you can see them. When you talk to your firefighter on the
phone or when they come home, emphasize the positive aspects of home life.
One of the definitions of “home” is “a social unit formed by a
family living together; a congenial environment”. It’s a good thing to
remember even though you may feel like it is a place for your firefighter
to do nothing but sleep and do mountains of smelly laundry.
And lastly, have faith in your firefighter. Not only to come home safely
but to stay true to you. Without faith in your relationship you can weaken
it so much with jealousy and second guessing that it won’t withstand the
fire season. And if they aren’t true to you during the season, there is
plenty of time THIS FALL to break their kneecaps.
I know it was pretty long-winded but I hope it helps some of you out there…..
I'm a first time FF's wife this summer. So glad
you-all are here. He's learning out there and you-all
are helping me learn here.
My husband is on the Black Frog Complex in MT/ID. I
just got a call from him. JOY JOY JOY. I hope to
hear from him one more time before they finish the
fire off. He thinks they will be there until the
thing is out at the end of next week.
QUESTION: How do you know if your FF is with crew
members from his station or with other FF from other
stations? How might I contact other family members
who have FF in the same crew? Also I would love to
hear more about the homecoming process.
Thanks for being here!
Hoosier Fire Wife
||To the person who wrote inquiring after SJ information: you must
unblock your AOL account to receive what I have found out. Ab.
Yup, vollies are volunteer firefighters…but it’s a bit more
complicated than just fighting fire for free. Our dispatchers are paid; it’s
one of the few jobs we have (dispatcher, Service Director, and a few
others) that actually gives out money. We also get paid when we get sent
to fires on federal, state forestry, or certain kinds of private lands.
For training, all our dispatchers are certified EMDs (emergency medical
dispatchers), and most have other certs as well (in wildland fire,
structure fire, or medical). The best come to every training they can, so
they better understand what happens when the rubber meets the road, so to
speak. Not having gone through the process myself, I’m not sure how
intense it is, but dispatching one of the most vital jobs out there…and
those of us on the ground sure notice the difference between a good
dispatcher and a bad one.
I’m going to keep blowing the vollie trumpet and say that even though we
tend not to get a whole lot of respect, it is great experience. Many, many
fires have been killed on initial attack by vollies long before they
became enough of an issue to bring in the big guns. We also get as much
training as our communities can afford; if you get on with a good,
well-supported vollie department, you can get training on par or better
than you might get through the agencies (I know some folks don’t want to
hear that, but it’s true…we’ve bailed out some big names). Any of
you ladies and gentlemen sitting home waiting for your FF to come home who
want to learn a bit more about the fire world might consider volunteering;
you don’t have to give up your day job, and it is time consuming, but we
have jobs and training for every level of time commitment and physical
fitness. And it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
Nerd on the Fireline
||My husband and I used to both be firefighters, but for the last two
I have been in a job that keeps me mostly at home. Usually when he gets
home he just wants to relax and stay around the house (and I usually want
to get out of the house after being here alone for a few weeks, lol). I
just try and have the house clean and something good and homemade for
Here's my list of good things about him being gone:
1. Great time to watch all of those 'chick flicks'
2. Computer is all mine
3. I get to sleep on both sides of the bed
4. Breakfast for dinner (which he doesn't care for, and yes, I think
with ice cream makes a perfectly good breakfast)
5. Good time to hang out with friends
I'm always happier to have him here than away, but I try and enjoy my time
when he's gone. Hopefully I will be out again next year, but then we
won't see each other all summer.
Welcome C, I added your info to the list... Ab.
||Yes Sammi, he is still here!!!! He has been home with a cold since
Monday, and again today his Engine Captain told him to stay home for the
next 2 days, and then he has three more of his regular days off to recoup!
They are afraid that he will bring his germs and take out the whole crew.
So here he is driving me nuts, cause he wants to be out there with the
fires! Should I set the back yard ablaze to keep him happy? Poor guy, he
only gets sick once a year, and this year it hit him during fire season.
Abs- I would definitely help to fill up a "while he is gone"
list, and a "home coming list." I may be new to being a fire
fighters wife, but after 8 years of being a Maine wife, I think I have
things handled. Don't get me wrong, I STILL WORRY, but at least he is not
at war, right?
The good thing to having him home...the dogs knocked my back fence down,
and he is here to deal with it!
Good night all, off to try and get some sleep.
Here's the list with some suggested categories lots of blank spaces. If
you have suggestions for changing the format, let me know.
For the time being, let's feel free to brainstorm. I can put tips here on
familysaid and I'll add them on the list with the contributor's name (so
people can address questions to the contributor if they have any later).
Dawn, if you have any suggestions from your military handbook, please send
'em in. We don't have to reinvent the wheel for some categories that make
sense, just make them relevant for wildland firefighter families.
||Ok, everyone that made it in one piece to the end of the week raise your
hands......see there we did it. A few rough spots but we all are still
here and ok. Those of you that have SO's coming home soon, enjoy and use
lots of patience. Those of us that have a few more days to go use lots of
patience. My SO just called and may be held over on his fire so I may have
to have even more patience.
My therapy is my garden and usually the dogs are outside in the summer so
they keep the deer away....well this summer I am here by myself so the
dogs are in with me at night......well, the deer ate my garden last
night....they ate the beans, sunflowers and the squash plants. Sneaky
little buggers......so it is the garden or my sleep. I voted and they can
have the garden.
My SO is doing spot checks and mapping structures and he said they were
parked under a bridge today eating lunch and a grizzly came out of the
woods right in front of them and ate berries etc for a long time....I
asked if he got pictures and he said he thought so.....how can you just
"thought so?" have a great week end and be sure and let us know
how the homecomings went......sammi
I was listening to an old CD on the way to work today, while hoping to
from my SO as he is supposed to be reassigned. Stand by your man, by Tammy
Wynette was on that CD. The more I listened to it, the more I realized
hadn't really paid attention to the lyrics before. They really echo the
things that have been said on here lately about dealing with the
our husbands, boyfriends, family, and anyone else for that matter, while
are out fighting fire.
"Sometimes it's hard to be a woman
Giving all your love to just one man
You'll have bad times, and he'll have good times
Doin' things that you don't understand
But if you love him, you'll forgive him
Even though he's hard to understand
And if you love him, oh be proud of him
'Cause after all he's just a man.
Stand by your man, give him two arms to cling to
And something warm to come to
When nights are cold and lonely."
I thought that this might appeal to the others out there who are fairly
the fire thing.
Talk to you all soon,
Tonya, I like to turn that song around too and I substitute the words
to make it "stand by your woman". I think Tammy Wynette would
In relationship the support cuts both ways, often at different times, but
clearly a "give and take". In my relationship sometimes my
partner is the one going and changing and moving, sometimes it's me. The
strength of what we have is in the freedom to grow, knowing someone is
watching your back. My spouse is one of the greatest anonymous friends to
fire ever known - by offering me support and encouragement as I do my fire
service job. Ab.
well, just ONE MORE WEEK!!!! and my FF husband will be picking me up at
the airport and we will be driving back home together! i am soooo excited!
now i just have to clean the house and get plenty of rest to be energized
for the physical activities (i'm sure you know what i mean)!!! he was
laughing when he told me that he shared with one of his FF buddies that
his wife wants to go camping when he gets home. ha ha. well, at least this
time he'll have someone to play with and he won't be so tired.
~ strength can be found in solitude if you know where to look ~
||Hi ladies (and gents),
I had a REALLY rough day at work yesterday and decided to stay home and
recoup this am. Have to be back this afternoon so what do I do, wash
dishes, take out the trash, find my bedroom floor? NO!!!!! I read Family
said and get hung up writing on the computer......R&R for me.
Dawn,,,,great to hear from you, we have some fantastic people on our list
now and it is soooo nice to have a few posts each day instead of one a
week. So your guy is around all the time....how do you put up with
him????? kidding. Please stick around here because we have people that are
new to fires, working with fires, newly involved with FF and then some in
the middle and then the old end so we have all bases covered. Seems we all
have pretty much the same agenda.....how to cope with whatever the fires
throw at us.....can we get a copy of that book somewhere? in a couple of
months we can write our own......
Hope everyone reads They Said also......we can learn a lot from them as
far as the policy and procedure, political and just plain gruffness of the
FF themselves. Even tho it seems most of that list is supervision....with
a few seasoned FF with really great common sense advice.
I've been reading everyone's plans for the "super homecoming"
for the FF in our lives and just a word of caution.....if you are new to
this and make extensive plans for the arrival of your FF it may not go as
expected...(remember the FF that brought a buddy home)......until you have
done this a few times and learn what "he" is expecting you might
want to not have so many rigid plans and sort of float thru it.....your
expectations and his may be entirely different and you both will be
wanting to please the other so much it might just dissolve into tears and
Abs: the possibility of a "how-to" on living with a 'he's coming
home' to 'he's leaving' page would be great.....won't take long and we
could have it filled with 'what not to do'''''' I wish some of the
seasoned guys on the other list would tell us what they appreciated and
what drove them bonkers from their So's.......could you maybe pass that on
to them.....nothing like good info from the "old horses mouth"
opps did I say that?
||Nerd on the Fireline,
Thanks for your input on dispatching. I assume by vollies you mean
volunteer departments? Is there any compensation at all or is it all
voluneer? Would this be good experience if I ever wanted to look into
wildland fire dispatching? What kind of experience do those dispatchers
have? Any more info. would be much appreciated. Thanks again.
Yep, I am still here. It may be fire season, but my FF is still home with
us!!! He works ALOT, and long hours, but he does usually come home every
night, and get at least 1 day off a week. This is our first year as a USFS
family, and he is an apprentice...this year he is on an engine crew,
stationed deep in the Klamath Nat'l Forest, so they actually do not leave
the area much! But from what I understand, when he goes to helitack next
year, we will NEVER see him, so I am trying to count my blessings.
I agree with you about the Navy, and their family readiness program. Being
a former Marine Corps wife, I was what they called a "Key Volunteer,
or Key Wife", We were trained in helping the other spouses deal with
the separations, and then the home comings. So much of the same applies
here as well. I am disappointed that the Forest Service does not have a
similar program. I have talked with my husband about starting one at least
here on the Klamath.
We also learned what not to say when our Marine called from far
away....." Uh honey, I went to the doctor and we are having TWINS!,
little Mary broke her arm, I wrecked the car when I hit the Gererals
Porche...etc." I actually have a really good book, that teaches a
wife how to be the wife of an enlisted Marine, it is called Roses and
Thorns. It covers every thing from how to deal with officers and their
wives to separations, and ceremonies and traditions. Again, the Forest
Service needs something similar. These new girls friends, and some boy
friends, need the education and support of us "Veteran Wives".
So right now my FF is home on the couch with a terrible cold that the
girls shared with him, and I have to listen to him whine, hoping he does
not miss the opportunity to go to a lightening fire! But his engine
captain told him to keep his sick butt at home for now.
Glad everyone is here, the companionship is nice!
Dawn and others, if you want to sent in information - family
readiness tips - we could post it on a page in list form or have more
than one list if you want one for separation and one for homecoming.
An accessible reference? Ab.
Sounds like you have your "home" family (children and romantic
interest) and your fire family all wrapped up in one. Working
dispatch is a good way to meld of the two worlds - keep in the
middle of the action. Some good people in dispatch. I have a soft
spot for dispatchers because the one on our forest is a friend of
the family and got my sister interested in fighting fire. When I loose
track of my sis, our dispatcher friend usually has a good idea
where she is. I think she keeps tabs on her.
Everyone, Just want to say thanks for the information and fun familysaid
Just let me say thanks so much for all the input. It's funny how things
become so clear after someone else points it out! So taking everyone's
advise, I'm chillin'.
Fire Momma, I hope you haven't left yet because I just wanted to let you
know how much what you had to say meant. After reading your post, is was
like a light turning on in my head! Ever since he was deployed, I've have
put my personal life on hold! For some weird reason, I felt obligated to
be holding some sort of vigil until his return. One of the reasons he was
attracted to me was my independence. He didn't want to feel guilty
everytime he left, and wanted someone in his life who wasn't going to sit
home and pine for him.
Well, guess what!? I did just what he didn't want and I wasn't going to
do!! So, just to let you know, I'm back on track. I have to admit though,
the thing about an unnourished body and getting enough sleep was kind of
spooky! I was thinking...Are you sure you don't know me? How else would
you know I've been surviving on massive quantities of coffee, cigarettes
and 3-4 hours of sleep?! (ha-ha).
So to echo what Tazlina Girl said: That was so sweet of you to think of
Nerd on the fireline & Sammi, thanks so much for sharing your past
experiences. You can't imagine how comforting it was to find out I'm not
the only one who ever had a less than perfect homecoming!
Mellie, your perspective on life and relationships is wonderful! How
refreshing! Your comment about him bringing home his fire buddy so he
could share his fire family with me just made me see that some of the
things he does, (that I find really weird sometimes) very sweet. He's not
an overly expressive person (not into PDA's and the such), and you made me
realize this is his way of showing me how much he cares! It's given me a
whole new perspective on our relationship! THANKS!
YOU GALS ROCK!
I know I keep blowing the horn for vollies, but I know my department would
kill for somebody eager to learn dispatching (or just a competent
dispatcher or two). Try looking at vollie departments in your area…they’d
probably bend over backwards to get you trained. We had one dispatcher
(lost her to law enforcement, sadly) who not only did dispatching, but got
herself on every one of our trainings so she’d have a better idea of
what it was like out there (and so she’d know exactly what we were
asking for when the fire-speak came over the radio).
Go for it. Coming back, anybody know how one gets training for logistics
unit jobs? I’d like to work toward a LogULeader, but I have no idea how
to start. CacheKing? CacheQueen?
Nerd on the Fireline
Oh my gosh...Rollerderby? You don't know HOW much I'd love to do
that....I'm soooo jealous. Good for you! How did you get into that? Sounds
like you're right on track in the physical realm. Just pay real close
attention when its time to do the "parting thing". If you feel
like you're morphying from the "sweet thang" into a
"slasher" think "Okay...this seems like something those
guys on Family Said were referring to....I think I need to go to the store
to get some ice cream." Leave for 15 minutes, get the
"goods," count to 10, get a perspective, re-enter in a graceful
gait, and you ROCK! (Why? Because you've managed to do what many of us
couldn't in our early years....compose before the eruption...)
Have a splendid time.
I'm checking out for a few days.
tazlina girl, roller derby -- that's sounds cool! do you guys get bruised?
what an adrenline rush! i'm envious. i left a lot behind when i moved to
the east and i'm at a loss for activities here, especially since i work in
the city (blah! it's all for the money). this year i am saving up for a
custom motorcycle that my hub is going to build for me. and then i'm going
to save as much as i can so that i may be able to go with him out west
next summer and do something adventurous and then somehow come back here
and contract or something. it would be really nice to be there when he
gets off a fire instead of hugging the phone.
fire momma, you are a wise one! i, too, have ~~splat~~ fallen on my face
during my separation experiences and so has my hub. fortunately, my hub
and i have a very strong bond, and he is very real and we communicate a
lot about everything --- i mean, everything!! i personally am envious that
he gets to be out there workin' in the dirt and potentially bonding with
fellow FFs while i'm here a slave to my computer at work. but we have a
goal and a plan, and those are important to me enough to make the
sacrifices. plus, i'll get my turn!!!
a quick funny......the second time i spent with my hub, he drove about 400
miles to spend time with me where i was on vacation. he pulled off at some
rest stop somewhere and we climbed the fence and lay down a blanket to
'relax' on. well, climbing back over the fence, my shoelace got caught and
i literally fell flat on my face. i immediately popped up to act like 'oh
that didn't just happen' and he fixed my shoelace. he told me later that
he was cracking up inside -- what a dork i was.
Nice job on familysaid. I've been enjoying the support and advice you're
giving each other here. Nerd had some good comments to PT (7/17) about
gender differences. Pop psychology books talk about how differently men
and women view and relate to the same incident, the same relationship, the
same act; one book said it's like they're from different planets. That
book takes it a little to extreme; there's more that men and women have in
common, but there is truth in it. Lately there's research using PET scans
(brain activity) simultaneously with men and women performing tasks. The
brain is wired differently based on gender. One thing more... if you add
in fire addiction, it's like a man and a woman in relationship are
from different galaxies.
I haven't reviewed the research lately, but Vicki Helgison a social
psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University some years ago did some good
research on gender and perceptions of LOVE and RELATIONSHIP. Her research
found that men and women are more alike than different in their
definitions and descriptions of what love is and what actions and thoughts
define it, but there are differences. The thing I found most interesting
was her finding regarding love and sex --and I think it's something to
keep in mind when tying in with your SO again for the first time... She
found that women in a relationship are more likely to say that being in
love with someone precedes making love with them. Men on the other hand,
are more likely to say they must be in love if they've acted the part. In
other words, where sex is involved, for women it's more likely that
actions follow perceptions; whereas for men it's more likely that
perceptions follow actions and the reviewing of the actions. Now you could
say we knew that a long time ago, but it wasn't scientifically shown until
Vicki's research. And think of the implications for the reunion... If he
wants his buddy there for the first dinner, maybe he's sharing a member of
his other family with you. What an honor.
Vicki also worked on factors influencing the survival of long distance
relationships. I don't remember the results of that one or even know if it
got published, but I would bet social support during the separation and
preparation for re-entry were key.
Finally, at least for this post...
Here's one thing that has surfaced in many studies on relationship,
including marriage-- and marriage has better health consequences for both
men and women, but especially more for men.
But this is what I find interesting. Women are more likely to name another
woman as their best friend - even when married. Men are more likely to
name a woman as their best friend. So in some ways, wildland firefighters
who are men and who don't have a supportive partner are more at risk for
poor health than those in many other professions. In fact, I think
firefighting as a profession rated second when ranked on stressfulness --
behind the President. (The rating I saw was from a few years ago and I
don't know if the military was one category. I think that also might be
high if it's wartime.)
This is probably too much dry stuff for this one post, but I often think
about the men I love, the research and its implications, my own
experiences with fire, and sometimes marvel that we do as well as we do.
Parting bit of advice I have come to live by. "Hold tight with open
Fire Momma, that is so sweet that you thought of me when the sensei was
delivering his lesson. In response to what you were saying about it... I
lived in Utah over the winter working at a ski lodge, which is where I met
my HS. Then in May, he went to Alaska and I came back to my homebase,
Austin, TX. It was really hard readjusting to life back at home, but I'm
used to it. I have done it many times over the last few years. Move away
to go do something fun...come back home and save a little money and leave
for the next adventure. It can be difficult, but so worth it. My
lifesaving factor is roller derby. I play with a group of four teams and
was involved in it before I left and missed it while I was gone. To have a
group of 60 friends and a sport that I absolutely love has been
invaluable. A nice distraction and ironically, a focus at the same time. I
also started getting back into shape and feel really great for the first
time in a while. I take power training 2 nights a week. So between those
two, they take up four nights a week. I can't wait to see my HS's
reaction, since I have toned up quite a bit since I've seen him. But even
if he doesn't notice that much, I did it for me and am proud of myself for
sticking to my guns.
I guess I told you all already, but he is on the Hot Creek fire. Now that
they have phones, he has been able to call. He called last night, but I
missed it b/c I was at derby practice. And then surprisingly he called
early this morning. He said there are no lines in the a.m. We had three
minutes to talk. But I expect that and am just glad he calls. His plans
are still not concrete as to whether we will meet up in Boise or Salt Lake
so I still cannot buy my plane ticket. I just worry that flight options
and prices are going to suck the longer we wait. But what can ya do? He
said his days are going by very slowly knowing that we get the see each
other next week.
I'm following all advice as to what to do when I see him. Except we won't
be at home...so no cooking. Darn. :) Sexy little somethin' somethin' to
wear, pictures of the last few months, candles to cozy up the hotel room
and CD player. Hotel rooms can be so sterile. It will just be hard to let
him sleep too much since our time is so short. Oh well. I'll feel pretty
content just w/ him sleeping next to me while I read.
Thanks for all the encouragement about the long distance thing and I hope
I haven't bored you all with too much information. Just nice to chat...
Oh...and can anyone give me some info. on how you get into dispatching?
||When our son-in-law was in the NAVY he was gone for months at the time
out on an aircraft carrier. He was stationed out of San Diego and so thats
where our daughter and her girls stayed while he was gone. Apparently the
support of the other wives etc made it easier. I remember that the NAVY
made classes available for the wives to take right before the ships got
back. In these classes they were taught about how to handle the
reunification of dad into the family and how problems come up because mom
has been in charge for months and all of a sudden you have this strange
man in the house trying to run things and the whole thing goes to pot.....
I can see that happening so easy. We are left here to do all the chores
and fix the breaks and take the car for service etc. And then HE comes
back and thinks he is in charge and guess what...... wrong -- he left a
woman that had depended on him to take care of the guy things while she
took care of the gal things, (normally) and he comes back to
Just imagine how he must feel like he was totally dispensable because his
"woman" managed quite well without him...... poor guy!!!!!!!!
and he doesn't have a clue we have been gluing each other back together
every day on the internet....... and don't tell him........
Dawn and shots mom: are you guys still around? Whats happening with
your FF.......shots mom and I were actively trying to get some attention
for the new fire shelters a couple of yrs ago and then 9-11 happens and
everything lost its steam.........but they did get the new shelters so
thats good. Now if they would just get enough of them out there for the
FF........maybe someone on the They Said list can explain to us what is
happening and how soon will the new ones be available to everyone
||Hello again everyone! I have several things to say...
First of all, Catskilldog: I saw a license plate today while I was driving
work, all I could do was laugh and think of you. The plate said dog8cat,
could do was think of my first thought when I saw your name! Thought you
get a laugh out of it.
To Tazlina Girl: You have my respect! Away from your HS for 3 months is
than I can imagine! Also, I know exactly what you mean about researching
fires, I was the one to brief him Friday morning on the fires in Idaho
he left to go fight them.
For all of the other ladies experienced in the area of sending their men
fires. Thank you so much, with the support of all of you on the board I've
realized that there is no reason to worry, more than a little at least. I
that my SO is out there with the best of the best and I know that they are
watching out for one another. My days have now become much less stressful.
addition to that good news, I also managed to get off work the night after
comes home, so that will give us much more time to do normal smokeless
and listen to all of his stories. His message to me before he left was
all he wanted was for me to pick him up when he got home, stay at his
(still living with parents) and cook him dinner, then spend the night
that I would be there when he woke up the next morning. Let me tell you
the rubber is burning in my mind as I make all of the plans. I think I'm
to add a soak in the hot tub and a massage before bed to the evening, if
feels up to it. I've only got 11 days left!
The other great news is he will be reassigned 8/1, so maybe I'll get a
phone call. I really want to hear from him, but it is almost a blessing
he hasn't been able to call. His mom gets really upset when he calls me
instead of her, so maybe things will go more smoothly for dinner. I have a
feeling our romantic dinner together is going to turn into a family
||Hey Taz, what fire is your guy on? They got the phones on my husbands
camp up and calling yesterday also. He is on the Robert Fire at Glacier.
Which I understand gave them some problems today because of the heat and
the wind. No I am not worried!!!!!!!
Cat: one of our sons was a jumper for one season. He loved it but alas he
fell in love with a wonderful gal (also a FF) and they have babies so
"they" decided maybe dad should not jump out of perfectly good
airplanes. Which made me very happy. He is still doing FF but he stays on
the ground. She is a stay at home mom and is very supportive but I was
talking with her the other night and even tho she seems to be handling all
this real well, and knowing personally how the FF feels and the stuff that
goes on the fires she told me she still gets the urge to be there fighting
the ole dragon. Also we got into the discussion of how to handle the
loneliness and she says what we are all saying. Stay busy, healthy, and
try not to complain to them.
When they come home: I remember when our boys were young and not
even remotely old enough to be FF they all would argue over who got to
wear dad's old yellow shirts when he brought them home from the fires. I
think from the time they were walking they would be climbing all over his
packs and putting on hardhats and wrapping bandanas around their faces. As
a matter of fact, our grandson spent the weekend with me this week and he
was in the attic going thru all the storage containers and found a box of
discarded gear. He called his mom and got permission to take home some of
papaws old boots and a couple of bandanas, and even snatched a very holey
pair of greens that I have no idea of how old they are. Well, he was
sooooo proud of those ratty old jumper boots I gave him a bottle of
leather treatment and a cloth and brush. No kidding in a couple of hours
he had those old boots justa shining. they really looked good. I almost
asked him to leave them in case they were not throw aways but I didn't
have the heart. So if you hear a big yell in a couple of weeks you'll know
I owe somebody some new boots.
Coming home to them is anticipating lots of good food, lots of sleep and
lots of ______. And in between all of that they are compelled to tell you
every second of their fire experience. Long ago and far away when I was
fairly new to this life my guy was gone several weeks and when he made it
home seems like he spent all night telling me all the exciting things that
had happened to him.....I remember after a long time of listening when he
finally slowed down I said, "yep, nothing important happened here
while you were away" and at that I walked away. When he finally
realized I was feeling ignored he felt soooo bad. But it was too late, I
had acted like a spoiled brat and made him feel like a jerk and so we both
ended up feeling like asses. Your reunion can go sideways in a flash so be
careful. A couple of days home goes by way too fast and you sure don't
want to ruin it. And even worse than that,,,,,you don't want to ruin it so
much they eventually dread coming home to their firebreathing SO.
Tiz not an easy life we live but it is worth it.....every minute is an
Well, I guess I'll borrow something from my teenage daughter's book...
Okay, two observations, take them if they work. Leave them if they don't.
I was sitting in the dojo last night waiting for my 8-year-old to finish
up her lesson. Sometimes the Sensei decides to philosophize. None of us
mind, because it's usually pretty darn appropriate. Last night, Tazlina
Girl, I actually sat there wishing you could be sitting there beside me.
Now...AMM...you too. I'm not going to be able to explain it like he did,
but...he emphasized the importance of not ignoring your personal growth
when you begin building a relationship with someone else. The tendency to
do this is overwhelming, considering the hormones and the emotional
dynamics of a new romance. We all understand how that goes...we've all
been there and been humbled by how immobilized we can get. However simple
these things may sound, we need to do them... Eat well. An undernourished
body gives us stark little ability to reason soundly, especially when
tensions and stress run high. So, eat. Rest. Stay physically in shape.
Take walks and breathe. Look at the beauty around you. Exercise your mind.
Read (I think Nerd suggested taking a fire science class...what a great
idea if you're interested!). If you are in good shape, mentally,
emotionally, and physically when your man (or woman) get home, imagine how
much better that R&R time will be. If the relationship ends, you're
not left holding your own empty bag.
Now, Sensei's lesson could have ended there, but no, he needed to dig just
a liiiiitle deeper. He said....while that initial strong
"attachment" might initially seem appreciated or be taken as a
compliment by your partner, it soon usually becomes a heavy load that no
one wants. It's like trying to swim with a cannon ball around your waist.
Cutting the chain is the only way to survive. Now, Tazlina and AMM, don't
assume I'm laying this all on you like you fit this profile. I don't know
you, so it's not appropriate for me to make any judgments so harsh as
that. Like I said, take it if it works for you. Leave it if it doesn't.
Now, I'll tell you, though I really dislike generalizations, FF, whether
men or women, are usually free spirits who shun being tethered to the
corral fence. They need to run and romp and explore and usually come home
smelling like goats. But, we love them for the people they are.
Honestly, AMM, if my husband had suggested I make a really nice meal for
him and his buddy on our first night together, I'd have suggested he count
to ten and rethink his request. Then I would have made a reservation at a
nice restaurant for the three of us, as well as a reservation at the local
hotel for his buddy. That way, you've been considerate and drawn a firm
boundary. Nothing wrong with that. But, hindsight is 20-20, I guess.
Last, separating is not easy. Sometimes pushing away with the help of
anger, is easier than walking away with composure. It's a trap many of us
have experienced. It's hard to see coming. Just something to watch out
for. By "separating" I don't even mean for good...just
separating in general.
Hope some of this helps. (Remember, the only reason I know this stuff is
because I've fallen on my own face before. Ever tripped in a prom dress?
When you're used to wearing basketball shoes, high heels are a whole new
||I have been a reader of this site for almost a year but have barely
found the time to write. I never thought that I would be in the fire
organization five years ago but here I am with not only myself involved in
fire but also my daughter (22) and my son (20). I have a younger son that
still doesn't understand why I am gone at all hours but he also realizes
in two years when he turns 18 that he wants to go into fire.
I am a dispatcher and work with my son on the same forest. My daughter
works with my brother-in-law in another state. As a single mother I think
if I didn't get involved with fire I would probably be a basket case by
worrying all the time. I try to keep learning what my children and all the
other kids (of all ages) that I watch over are faced with. I think that
the fire organization has the best bunch of individuals you will ever
Having had many resources on the forest last year from almost all fifty
states I can't imagine my life without fire. These people have made my
life so enjoyable. I read about the hardships of having your SO's gone for
so long and I can relate to you in more than one way. I met the man of my
dreams last year as I was working the worst fire season ever on the
forest. He works out of the South and I'm in the West so there is at least
2000 miles between us but we make time to see each other and we call each
other almost everyday. We have spent a total of 30 days together since we
met In June of 2002 but with him being in the business he doesn't get
upset that there are men calling me at all times of the day or night
because he knows some of them I might be the only family they have for the
summer. I just want to tell others that if we can make it work, anybody
can if they really want to. Everyday I think of him and my daughter and
can just imagine what it's going to be like when I see them.
I just want to tell the girls that are having a hard time to spend some
time learning about firefighting and then maybe it will be easier for you
to understand that the joy of firefighting is one kind of love for your
SO, but he will always come home to you which is what I will be waiting
for when he retires and finally moves out West.
glad you finally got to talk to your SO. my hub and i have had a long
distance relationship for just about the entire 2 1/2 years we've been
together. first nine months we spent 2000 miles apart. then i decided to
move to where he was (with a promise that we're going out west as soon as
he's done with school). two weeks after i got here, he was called into
active duty with the military and we continued to be, well, maybe not as
long distance as before, but still, i got a really good job so i stayed,
and he went to live on base 350 miles away with the hopes that he'd get
out in a couple of months. well, turned into 1 1/2 years, he came home, we
got married in may, and immediately following our honeymoon, we drove out
west to where he's based out of for the fire season and i flew home (3000
miles away). after 4 weeks, i had to see him, so i took my chances that
he'd be off a fire, and flew out to surprise him for two days and then
flew back out in july and spent a day with him and now he is finally
coming home in 1 1/2 weeks until next summer's fire season. i wonder what
it's going to be like having him around all the time! i would rather have
short spurts with my man than every day with anyone else!!! i never wanted
what people call a 'normal' life anyway. just need to find my own
adventurous job instead of being stuck behind a desk. maybe i'll join him
next season. i've already practiced the pack test and passed the first
time. i just love the smell of fire...mmmm...i do know that he wants to be
a smokejumper, so it's all going to last quite a while.........cheers to
the hopes that your relationship will, too.......catskilldog
Yeah, I’ve been there too (almost exactly). And I responded pretty much
the same way…didn’t really get me anywhere. If you know he’s in a
position to get mail, I’d write him a letter. “This pissed me off, but
I understand your bond with your buddies, so I’m not permanently pissed
off, but please don’t put me in a position like that again, and let’s
make your next homecoming like your last one should have been.” Make it
up-beat. I really like letters because they eliminate misunderstandings…he
can read it as many times as necessary to get your point.
Nerd on the Fireline
||Hi everyone. Thank you for all of your responses. First of all, my HS
called last night!! They finally got phones in and he waited 45 minutes
for his five. NO, I did not whine or bitch during his call. I was just
happy to hear his voice and vice versa. Plans are set for next week!!
Now just to clarify... Maybe I came off a little too worried or freaked
out. I feel like some of you think I'm going to call his supervisor and
demand to get my man on the phone, or walk into his fire camp. I would
NEVER dream of doing either. If anything, the urgency in my posts was due
to the fact that we have plans to rendezvous next week. These have been
set plans all summer, just waiting until he came down here and knew
specific dates and places. There have been times over the summer, when he
was in Alaska, when we didn't talk for 2 weeks and I didn't really worry
too much. I just really, really wanted to make sure I see him next week
and was thinking that if he couldn't call by then, there would be no
rendezvous. I am not like some of you where I see him when he comes home
after his 14 or 21 days. I have not seen him in three months as of today!
I have found pretty good ways to deal w/ his profession, being this is my
first fire season. I have become really good at internet research and
check on any and all fires daily. HE even asked ME on his way to a fire
what the acreage was. I have looked at tons of photos, read many FF
accounts, etc. and feel I have a pretty good picture of what goes on out
there (well of course, w/o actually being there). I have taken a great
interest in what he does. I send him letters and we talk on the phone
whenever we can. I sent him film and got some great pictures back of he
and his crew on a Alaska fire. He even picked me some flowers and included
them as well.
I really respect what he does and am proud of him, and I have told him
that. As for another summer of this, who knows? It would be one thing if
we lived in the same place and I saw him on occasion. But the logistics of
Texas and Alaska and fire season are not practical. I'm just holding out
until we go travel this winter.
Thanks Ab, Sammi, Fire Momma, Catskilldog and everyone else. This message
board has been invaluable and informative and I appreciate all your help
||Sammi asked what we did to stay close while separated? Well, I have a
little smokey bear that sits on my desk at work and reminds me of my
sister. It has a little yellow shirt and a homemade pulaski. I had to put
a smudge on its nose.
When I asked her once about something I could do to be in solidarity with
her and her lifestyle, she suggested the following. She's tell me when she
was spiking out and I could join her in not showering for the duration of
her remote assignment. Hotshot humor for you!
keep yourself so busy doing things that really satisfy your happy buds so
that when he does come home, you aren't consumed with expectations of him
to satisfy you. this is not to say that you aren't justified in feeling
jipped, but it might not seem as big a deal next time.
||Thinking about being a FF’s girlfriend…I think the absolute worst
thing you can do is make him choose between you and fire. Even if he
chooses you, he’ll suffer anytime he sees smoke on the horizon or a
crummy going by. This past weekend my best friend came to visit. She
showed up at my house to find me gone, and a note on the door that said
“On fire, back whenever.” To her everlasting credit, I came home at
close to one am the next morning and found her asleep in the back of her
car…she never once asked why I’d gone out knowing she was coming to
visit or why I hadn’t left a more informative note or anything like that…she
just asked how it had gone and listened while I told her probably way more
than she’d wanted know, then kept me company (at two in the morning!)
while I stuffed everything edible in the house into my face, then she woke
me up and made me go to bed when I fell asleep in my chair. Now if I could
only find a guy who would do the same…
Nerd on the Fireline
||Sammi, Fire Momma, et al
Help! I've opened my mouth and I can't shut up! I need some advice here,
because I think I may have really messed up.
Just to give you some history here - My SO and I are pretty recent
history. We met each other this winter and moved in together in April.
This is my first experience having a relationship with FF and of course my
first fire season. He has been on the road throughout our relationship for
various reasons such as prescribed burns, fire classes and other details.
The longest he has been gone since we got together has been 21 days
straight. I used to travel alot in a previous job I had and was dating
someone in the same company, where we were on different crews. I've also
dated an undercover drug officer. So my problem is not the separation
issue (I don't think).
Anyway, here's the deal. Maybe someone has some advise for me. Please
don't yell at me though, I've done enough of that to myself already! My
SO's helitack crew went active at the beginning of July. Since his
departure we've enjoyed almost daily phone calls because his helibase has
a phone right there. Friday night he came home for R&R. He asked me to
fix a really nice dinner that night because he was bringing an old fire
buddy home with. Now I will admit I was a little disappointed that I would
be sharing him with someone else on his first evening home, but since I'm
kind of a social butterfly and love company I soon got over that. We had a
wonderful evening except for one thing - he totally (or almost totally)
ignored me throughout the evening until his friend left. Since you don't
know me - let me tell you this didn't exactly sit well with me. As a
matter of fact it P'd me off! I had been so looking forward to him coming
come all week! So there I was after 2 weeks of not seeing him and wishing
he'd go back to the helibase!
Anyway, after his friend left then he wanted to be chummy and lovey (yeah
right!). To help shorten this rather long and painful weekend, suffice it
to say the whole weekend which I had been looking forward to and wanting
to be perfect continued the way it started with enjoyable times mixed with
us squabbling! Sunday night was the worst! Let me just say - we've have
never done this before. We've have always tried to make the most of the
time we are together. This is not to say we don't argue, because we do,
but we always work out our disagreements and then get on with it.
So now it's been 3 days since he left and hasn't called me. (I know 3 days
is nothing) But it's not when you have received phone calls everyday
previous and you know he still has access to the phone! Now I'm looking at
another 2 weeks before I can resolve this problem with him!
What I need advise on is - How do you keep from having fights on R&R
days. I really wanted him to have an enjoyable stress free time at home
and I'm sure he did too, but it was anything but. It seemed like he was
looking for ways to make me mad and start an argument. HELP!!! I don't
want to go through this on future days off. Someone please give me some
||WOW,,,,what great advice. Seems like we all have the same issues and we
all have very similar ways to handle it. Thx for sharing everyone. Just to
add a wee bit more of what goes on at the fires.....these camps get into a
routine. The FF learn real quick when is the best time to shower and when
is the best time to head for the food. Last night my hubby called (from
town) and told me they had put up three phones at his camp for the FF to
use and before they even had them working there was over 40 people
standing in line to use them. So they do try,,,very hard to call their
loved ones. The magnitude of the amount of bodies and all the other
considerations make it very difficult. They have to choose to shower, eat
or stand in line to make a call.
And I agree with the other posts....the last thing I am gonna do when they
call is complain, or cry abt how bad I miss him or what a rotten day I
had. At least I got to come home in an air conditioned car......
Yea he is out there for the love of the job, certainly not the money but I
care to much for them to have to listen to me bitchin about the screen
that fell out of the front door last night. I will tack it back in today
and he can really fix it in December. I get asked all the time "how
do you stand being worried all the time?" Well, I am not worried all
the time. A few days ago We were talking about how our relationships
survive.....and honestly most of them don't. But for sure, you are taking
a huge risk if you try to force him/her to put you before the fires. And I
can guarantee you it sounds like a huge contradiction but they do love and
care, and miss us....but that dragon has a hold on them that is
undeniable. I do not understand how he can go do this of his own free
will, be gone for weeks at the time and still call and say, "I love
you, I miss you" then when he is home he starts pacing needing to go
back out......it cannot be explained but for the good of the relationship
we all need to suck it up and find a way to cope with the loneliness and
the desertion issues. if you find the answers please share them,,,,,,sammi
sounds like you need some grounding. honestly, not knowing where your SO
is and not hearing from him is something you need to get used to. my hub
is out there and fortunately, i am an experienced loner, but i understand
certain females have a tendency to focus only on missing their SO. please
don't take offence, but if you want this relationship to last, you need to
chill. take pride in what he is doing and that he wants you in his life.
also, take into serious consideration as to what it means to support a man
like that. my hub is very strong but when he calls from a fire from some
remote pay phone it lasts about 5 mins, and those 5 mins matter a lot to
him. he doesn't want to hear me whining or crying (which i'm not), but if
you want to, you need to keep it to yourself, and be 'up' for him and let
him know you're thinking about him and leave it at that. i am here anytime
you want to vent....anytime! i am strong, but i understand a lot. my man
is out there now....trust me....i know how it feels.
||. Just went back and reread what has been posted since August. Kat and
Roamy gave good advice (Aug 1 & 2), if you missed it, recommend you
read it now.
Tonya and Tazlina and others in new relationships with FFs 2 things come
to mind: it's their job of choice, and expecting them to call when they
are falling down tired is like wishing for the moon. ... if they're on
assignment in the backwoods somewhere, it's highly unlikely there are cell
sites, public telephones. or internet availability for general use (unless
they are sitting in some huge traveling city on wheels called base camp in
support of a very large fire complex - even then the lines are long)
sometimes it's difficult to decide which comes first, shower, sleep, or
eat. plus when in base camp, there are tools to sharpen or repair;
supplies to replenish, and maybe laundry to do, etc.
Tazlina, check the airline schedules to learn the number of plane changes
needed to get from your home to where your SO will be when he finally gets
a couple of days off. it may not be feasible timewise and the cost may be
learn the terminology and acronyms so you can understand his lingo; if you
want to immerse yourself in fire & there is a community college near
you enroll in an intro to fire science class. if your SO plans to remain a
wildland FF it will be somewhat easier for you based on what you
experience this season.
btw, and when they call, they may complain, but if you listen carefully
they wouldn't trade it for a day job.
Prayers and best wishes for all our men and women on the fireline; pray
they come home safe and sound, first snow.
My recommendation is that you NOT buy your ticket until he calls you. This
is very important. Things may change for his crew and he might not be able
to give you much notice. You also don't want to go dancing into fire camp
uninvited or unannounced (however romantic that may sound...take it from
me...its not..and it wouldn't be pleasant...and possibly they wouldn't let
you in anyway.) If he can, he will call. (Man...sounds like "Field of
I just got a call from my husband who is coordinating a group of fallers
on the Slims Fire. Another group of our fallers is spiked out where there
is little communication. The spiked group sent a message via my husband to
ask me to tell their wives NOT TO WORRY. Unbeknownst to my dear faller
crew, I am in contact with the wonderful folks in fire camp. I know where
the fallers are, and I contacted all the wives to let them know things
were fine this morning. We're also getting a FED EX care package together
to send "overnight" tomorrow to fire camp for them. But, unless
I knew exactly where they were, and exactly where I was sending the
package, that's not even something I would normally do.
Point is, THEY WORRY THAT YOU WORRY. ; )
||Advice to girlfriends of hotshots
Having been on both sides of this particular issue, I’d like give a bit
of advice to girlfriends of guys on the line, especially if you’re new
to the fire world. I’m trying to keep this from being harsh, but there’s
a couple of realities here: not hearing from your guy for four days, or a
week, or even fourteen days, is not a tragedy…he’s probably fine, he’s
almost certainly thinking of you, but leaving a message on his cell phone
every six or twelve hours isn’t supportive, it’s annoying. If you
really feel compelled to tell your SO every gory detail of your day-to-day
life (and I realize that this often constitutes ‘closeness’), keep a
journal. Write a series of letters or entries and give it to him when he
gets back. I’ve regularly been on project where I’ve been completely
out of contact for up to six weeks…I tried to telegraph this to my SOs
at the time, but when you can get called out on two hours notice, this isn’t
always practical. Coming back to find one thoughtful, pithy, humorous,
loving, upbeat e-mail meant so much to me…it meant that he understood I
was out, he was willing to stick it through and stand on his own two feet
until I came back.
I know one Hotshot whose girlfriend managed to get a hold of him off the
line; she raised such a ruckus with the IC about a ‘personal tragedy’
that they sent someone in for him, hiked him out twelve miles to where
there was cell service. Turns out her grandmother had died and she wanted
somebody to talk to about it. He dumped her on the spot. When I was just a
Hotshot’s girlfriend, I thought that was pretty harsh (and it is). When
I got to be the one going out, I started to understand. Working fire is
the most amazing combination of high and misery; endorphins and
camaraderie on the one side just barely tip the balance with fatigue,
filth, and pain on the other side. It doesn’t take much to add to that
negative side and make the experience just horrible. I remember one call
from my mother, three weeks in to ten consecutive weeks in the field: “Well,
your cat just died and your father and I are getting a divorce.” I was
doing great up till then; that pretty much ruined the rest of my summer,
and I would have done just fine not knowing until after I’d gotten back
on something more like and even keel.
Ladies (and any guys in similar positions, out there lurking), I guess
what I want to say is stand by your man, don’t wrap around him like a
vine on a tree. Learn as much as you can about fire, his crew, his job,
and firefighting life. Cruise Ab’s links…there’s some great stuff
there. Make him as proud of you as you are of him; make his homecomings
worth his absences. Tazlina Girl, Tonya, Catskilldog…I really, truly,
understand where you are right now, emotionally and intellectually…my
heart goes out to you. A few things that made waiting for my man easier
were reading his favorite books; I kept finding echoes of him, and new
understandings of his behavior, on every page. Talk to his family; ask his
mother what his favorite foods are, and have them waiting for him when you
do see him. Tazlina Girl…you might try calling the town Chamber on
commerce in the community nearest where you think your man is; they can
probably tell you where the crews are getting their food, where they’re
staging, and the best and nearest airport. I know one gal who got a hold
of her man by volunteering to help with the food service for his crew on
the Hayman Fire in Colorado last year (that took some background work).
She showed up with a big smile and his lunch. He was awful glad to see
Another thought; I was on one extended project where we had a secretary
for the crews, part of whose job was to coordinate between the dispatcher
and the families of the crewmembers. It might make sense to get together
with any other family members or SOs of members of your guy’s crew, pick
a spokesperson, and have that spokesperson stay in contact whenever
possible with the crewboss. That person can be in charge of finding fire
information, finding out when ever possible where exactly the crew is and
what they’re doing, and getting that information out to the families.
For us, Mama Pili as we called her was our link to ‘home’…she had to
know where we were for professional reasons, but she could also be counted
on to keep everybody at home in the loop, without taking up too much of
our time or tying up our communications.
Nerd on the Fireline
||Here's MJ's answer to someone yesterday on theysaid regarding 14 day
NWCG has been pretty clear about the 14 day assignments. The 14 days
start when you check into the incident. Travel DOES NOT count toward the
days, and the status-check in recorder asks you when your last day off was
determine if you came in fresh, or from another fire. If you came directly
a fire, that travel counts towards the 14.Travel home again does not
you could travel 2 days to a fire, then do 14 shifts there, then travel 2
back, for a total of 16 days gone from home, as an example.
||A couple of years ago we were talking on the list about little quirky
things we do to stay close to our FF and sort of bring them good luck etc.
I have a Gold Maltese cross with FF emblems on it. I put it on a chain and
wear it from the time the first one in the family goes out to when the
last one comes home in the fall. This year the guys gave me two charms,
one says FF wife and the other says FF mom.....so I have added them to my
necklace. It hangs under my blouses so no one but me knows its there and
it actually does comfort. Just a ditzy thing I started several yrs ago and
if you do something and it helps then go for it.
Anyone else have good luck things they do? Some mom's were collecting
spoons from the area their boys went to. A lot of people are collecting
the t-shirts with the fires logo......sammi
||Seems like every year when the forest starts heating up and the FF are
moving around we (me too) get a rash of intense worry going. Believe
me,,,,,absolutely the truth, if you haven't heard from your SO, man or
woman, they are in a place where there is no means of communication.
That's the jest of it. If, heaven forbid, there was a problem, someone
would be knocking on your door.
I have been doing this a long time and I still do the emotional wreck
dance every now and again. Sunday I was in church. Took my grandson with
me because I hate to sit alone. Anyway, the tankers were taking off from
the airport about 3 miles away and coming right over the top of our church
headed north. Everytime one would come barreling over, and you can't
mistake the sound, I would just get chilled. I did make it thru the first
meeting but Gathered up the kid and fled at the first opportunity. I was
like a prisoner to the worry chip in my head and so I took us out to lunch
and fled home to the woods. That is the same as driving a car, you can't
get away from your thoughts. There is no easy answer but we will listen if
you feel like sharing. Funny, sad, worried, mad we have been there done
Now, if he/she has been staying at the Motel in Denver for two weeks
staged or in the Armory in Oregon waiting for orders for a week then you
have every right to bash them with their hardhats when they show up on the
doorstep. And you certainly don't even have to be gentle about it.
Stay busy, don't watch a lot of the news, do your scrap or picture albums.
Keep yourself healthy and they will be in touch. For the most part they
are very busy right now and even if they are staged someplace the lack of
phones is very real. My husband is on the Robert Fire in Glacier and they
are staged north of Columbia Falls. He has called twice but it's easier
for him because he has an Engine and they just stop on the way back to
camp, and call us. Their cell phones are not working so that is a problem
Keep writing to us here. we are the best FF significant other counselors
there is and the advice is free. We had a few mom's of FF last year and I
wonder if any of them are lurking around. If so, please let us hear from
you as to how your son's and daughters are doing.
Hanging in there,
||My apologies everyone.. for the redundancy of my post. I was unaware
that my first one actually posted. I only discovered it was posted after I
just posted the last one. Therefore, Tazlina Girl and Heather in Texas are
the same. Sorry for the confusion.
I was quite excited to see the replies. You all are so helpful and I can't
tell you how comforting it is to know other people are in the same boat
and willing to keep an eye out for you. Makes it feel like a much smaller
world out there too. You know more about my situation after my last post I
suppose. I know now that my SO is on the Hot Creek fire. You can imagine
the logistics of trying to see one another...HS from Alaska, girl from
Texas, fire in Idaho...TWO DAYS. So really now it's just all about the
phone call. If he can't call, I can't go. That is what is freaking me out.
But someone did say I think on this board, that they usually get phones
for the crews, even though it takes a while. So hopefully that will be the
case and I will hear something soon. I know he would call first chance he
got if he could.
Here is one more question maybe someone can shed some light on. He flew to
Salt Lake City on a Tuesday, drove to Hot Creek on Wed. (probably about 7
hr. drive) and started work on Thursday I'm assuming. Does that mean his
official 14 days of work would start on that Thursday, or that Wed.? It's
just especially relevant for me so I can get off work.
Thanks for listening to all my rambling,
||Thank you Fire Momma for being so welcoming. I am new to all of this and
was a little intimidated to post at first.
Here is a brief description of my background and dilemma: I started dating
a Hotshot over the winter. I have not seen him now for three months. He is
from Alaska and well, I'm from Texas. Doesn't make any sense...I know.
Anyway, I am supposed to go see him on his first R & R in the
"lower 48" next week. He is on the Hot Creek fire. However, ever
since he left for that fire I have not heard from him. It's been a week
now. I read there is no cell service in Atlanta, ID and spotty land lines
at best. I'm not even sure when to buy my ticket for and don't know how we
can meet up if I can't talk to him beforehand. So I suppose my question
is...do these guys have ANY access to phones out there? Is he going to be
able to call me just once before we are supposed to meet up? I can't even
buy a ticket until I hear from him and the whole trip might be 86'ed
altogether if that is the case. And honestly, I don't think either of us
could stand to go another two weeks or month. We have been looking forward
to this for three months and thinking about it constantly. Is there any
way for me to get a message to him? Thanks for any info. I'm really new at
all of this and being this out of touch and helpless is quite maddening. I
have never been such a slave to my cell phone...ever.
This is a great place to come and vent...w/ other people that seem to know
exactly what you are talking about and how you feel.
||Catskilldog, Tonya and all..
I just got a call from the wife of one of my fallers. She was almost in
tears because she hadn't heard from her husband in four days. She said he
usually calls her everyday and she was worried sick. I was able to calm
her by filling her in on the fire, its location, the fact that he had been
assigned to a spike camp in which there obviously was no cell service nor
land line. I told her about the fuel, the acreage, etc. I tried to answer
the questions that she asked me. It wasn't so much the information that
comforted her, it was being able to tell me she loved and missed her
husband. I assured her if anything were to happen I would be contacted
immediately...and in turn, I would contact her.
That's the inherent value of "Family Said" (kudos Ab). It's not
so much in the specifics of what is said, but the fact we can all come
here. That those new to this world can vent and ask, and rant, if
necessary. Really, we're all in this together. Just like the FF out on the
line, this is our form of "watching each other's back."
So, you lurkers....come on in. Like Sammi said, we're here to support one
another. Your post doesn't have to be "perfect" or
"witty" or specifically informative.
||hello to everyone!
It looks like I am not in the loop, I still don't know for sure where Jon
I haven't heard back from any of the emails I sent out to DOF employees. I
just found info on a Virginia crew that is in Idaho, in the Salmon-Challis
State Park. The crew report on the SACC site said their last work day
August 9. That corresponds with the day that Jon should be finished as
I don't know for sure if that is him or not. I am going to send out
round of emails asking if VA ST #8 is his crew, but for now I think that
best bet. If anyone hears anything about any VA crew please let me know.
Catskilldog-what a name! I was a little concerned at first, thanks for the
explanation! Keep positive about your honey coming home, somehow I don't
expect he will mind you knocking him down when he is home. Good luck.
Ab is cracking up over the catskilldog moniker. I didn't read it
that way because I have hiked in the Catskills and the alternative meaning
didn't even cross my mind. But, HAW, if you didn't know, you might think
Catskilldog was some kind of a twisted sister even if yer a cat fan. Ab.
||hi to everyone.
i am very new to this sort of thing, but wanted to let you know that i
find a bit of comfort reading the postings here. my husband is out there
for the summer and is the most fearless person i have ever met in my life
(and handsome, too!). he just came off of working on the fire where the
two recent deaths occurred and was called out again last night. i have
confidence in him and his ability to survive. i truly believe that there
would be a huge void for him if he did not fight fire. i remain calm at
home because i know that i am unable to control anything that happens out
there and i want to be strong if things take a turn for the worst. my
family, unfortunately, doesn't really understand why someone would want to
do what he does, so i rarely speak to them about my fears, if i have any.
i feel comfort in knowing that i may have all of your shoulders to lean on
if i need to share anything. by the way, my man will be coming home from
3000 miles away in about a week and a half and i am sooooo excited i'll
probably knock him down when i jump on him!!
catskilldog (that's for the mtns in ny)
I know how it is to worry. I worry about my friend all the time when we
get the kind of news we have been getting over the past week. The best
suggestion I've got is to take up a new hobby to keep you busy while he is
gone. Learn massage or something-that's a skill he will certainly be able
to appreciate you developing when he comes home from his dispatch!
||It wasn't really clear, Tonya, what you meant by helping you "get
your family off of your back." Are you having a tough time working
because your mind is distracted? That certainly is understandable, but I
agree with Sammi, if that's the case...get busy.
Secondly, (I think it was Sammi, but not sure) someone made the suggestion
that putting a map on the fridge or wall with newspaper clippings helped
their kids feel like they knew where Dad was. Now you can even download
Fire Incident specific pics off the internet. Perhaps doing the same thing
would help your family empathize? If something or someone is "out of
sight" they're often "out of mind" if they are not a SO.
Maybe putting this information out in a non-invasive way would help your
family situation. They might find the location where Jon is
interesting...I don't know. Just a thought.
Thank you so much for your advice. I believe that Jon is on the Hot Creek
Fire, but that is only a guess. That fire is only about 60 miles out of
Boise, Idaho, and they flew into Boise. I still haven't heard back from
guy who makes the call when they are called up. I'm not sure of his title,
but it basically says that he is the one to ask. I am assuming that since
was the one that set up their deployment he should know where he sent
HOPE! Jon actually works for the Virginia Department of Forestry. Only he
not full time yet, just a summer FF. The actual job that he wants actually
opened for applicants the day that he left, so his mom and I are trying to
his application finished and sent in. He wants to be the forest technician
the county where we live.
The scrapbook is great, I started one on his last trip out in March when
was on the Shuttle Recovery Crew in Texas, so far it is already brimming
with articles and press releases from this trip.
The farm keeps me busy for the most part, I've got almost 20 horses to
care of. Then I train horses at another farm nearby, and also have a 20
a week job as an evening receptionist, that is only until I graduate
Then we will be putting the icing on the wedding cake :) It all keeps me
busy, but I am a high stress person anyhow, so I can always find time to
worry. I think I am actually getting a little grip on myself today. I
that opening up on this board has shown me that I'm not the only one that
feels the way I do. I see that each of you are going through the same
that I am, only it is tougher for others, as they have little ones who
daddy. In my case the only thing similar to that is Jon's horse thinks she
has been forgotten. The other thing that I have going for me is Virginia
lets our FFs stay out for 18 days, then after 2 at home they can go back
I may be wrong, but that seems a lot shorter than some of the other states
Also, thanks for the articles and photos from Firescribe! I really
||To Heather in Texas,
First of all let me apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I'm
sorry to report I have nothing to report about your honey's whereabouts.
Sorry, I wish I could have been more help. I can imagine how frustrated
and anxious you are... I get to have fairly regular conversations with my
SO and I still feel like I am going crazy half the time!
You might try emailing his district's Information Officer. Ours is always
very helpful, and will try to answer any questions someone has. You may
need to be a bit patient, sometimes it takes a few days for a response,
depending on how busy they are.
||Hold on I'm gonna go get a ham sandwich and a coke.....I don't smoke or
drink alcohol so I will be right back.....I have been getting in trouble
again on the They Said list so I told them I would stick with Family for
awhile. Actually I am hiding from them because I am expecting the mouthy
ones to come after me.....
Tonya.....I am not sure I have any answers for you but I can say all you
are experiencing is perfectly normal. If your Jon was in the Marines and
got shipped out the emotions would be the same. My biggest advice is try
to not search the net a lot for info. That can drive you bananas....I have
a couple of information pages I bookmarked and that's all I look at
usually after work after I have done the chores. When Jon moves to another
site....look up the information page for that forest or whatever and just
stick with that. Usually we can get most of what we need from They Said
links etc. I do sometimes find the local newspapers where the guys are and
also look at them every night. One thing you might do for him is start a
scrapbook......that would keep your hands busy......and that is the key to
this whole waiting mess....keep busy.
I know it is scary right now with the deaths being reported but honestly
Jon is safer wherever he is out on the line than he would be driving home
from work on the hgwy. My hubby called tonight and boy is he
suffering.......he is staged with his Engine about 35 miles from the
Glacier Fire. They have eaten steaks, played cards, took naps and swapped
fire stories all day. There are 4 Engines and 3 Tenders from his home base
with him there so they are all making themselves right at home.
As far as family.....believe me if your extended family is not fire there
is no way you will make them understand the ups and downs of the person
that is left behind. Do you stay on your farm all the time or do you work
outside the farm? I work in a very demanding job so from Monday to Friday
I do real well because I have an outside focus and a set schedule and am
exhausted when I get home. Don't try to make family understand where you
are at on this......focus on the fact Jon is out there doing a job he
loves and he does not need to be worried about you because you are worried
about him. The chances of him getting hurt or worse is actually very
slim......in all the years collectively from my guys doing fire...and that
is a lot of years the worst we have had is a busted knee. keeping my
fingers crossed that I have not jinxed them......
Even with my gripping on the other list about the safety issues I know the
FF are well trained, very well equipped and believe me they want to come
home. Is Jon with a shot crew or is he being dispatched from a local fire
department? Forestry service? Where is the Hot Creek Fire? If it is the
one around Challis Idaho the likely hood of cell phone working is slim and
the area is so sparsely populated they probably set up in some area that
does not have phone access........it has been my experience they do try to
set up phones for the crews to use ASAP but sometimes that is not a
Waiting is the pits,,,,,absolutely !!!!!!!!! but he is worth it and he
wants you to be supportive but happy......sammi
||From Firescribe for Tonya:
creek fire news_releases/map
location of hot
creek fire in the state
||Need advice from the familysaid counselors :)
Another day gone by without hearing from Jon (my SO). I keep hoping that
will get easier, but from the sound of things from you guys it never seems
get much easier. Between the endless worry and lack of sleep I'm turning
Oscar the Grouch. And as busy as I've been, it looks like my house is a
I'm sorry to come on here complaining about everything since I'm a newbie
the board, but I just have to talk to someone who will understand. Maybe
someone can answer my questions. My first question is how do you make your
family understand what you're going through? I live on a farm so the work
never done. My mom is usually very supportive, but I'm having a hard time
with Jon being gone this time. I have this history with fire. It isn't
exactly pleasant. To explain briefly is in 1993 I lost my home to fire. It
was a total loss. 5 years later, my cousin died in the line of duty
a grocery store blaze in West Virginia. We were pretty close. And now, it
5 years after losing Greg, Jon is out there. I can't help but cry, even
thinking about it. I am so paranoid that something is going to happen.
anyone know of a way that I can possibly get my family to lay off of me
little while? I just need some time to convince myself that he is going to
ok. Out here on the east coast news of the fires is completely overlooked.
My only way to know what is going on is to search online, that is even
to the stress, because I'm looking for "bad news" instead of
having it fed to
Sorry to drag on forever, but thanks so much for listening.
No worries my friend, in addition to running a crew of timber fallers, I
also operate a commercial cut flower farm. I don't grow anything large
enough to need cutting down with a chainsaw, so the safety gear isn't
necessary there. A good pair of Felco No. 5's do the trick. A half-acre of
the prettiest flowers you ever saw!
||Oh my gosh....Fire Chica...
Niiiiiiice booots! Those puppies should last you a few years, eh?
My husband and I found a great boot shop in Missoula when we there for the
power saw conference last winter. We bought him a pair and I almost
splurged myself. But, I figured, my Chaco river sandals will suffice just
fine working in my flower field.
Ya work in yer flower field with a chainsaw??? If so you should be
wearing BOOTS and other PPE. Ab.
||<<< been lurking for a long time, haven't been to chat this
year either (someone didn't like my handle of choice back then).
the posts from RedArmy and FireMomma have been a treat; Sammi, your recent
description of your FF sleeping with his head on his red bag was a hoot.
let me introduce myself: I have lots of "kids" on the fireline
during fire season regardless of the month on my calendar - many are my
adopted sons & daughters from when my baby became a Shot in the early
90s. (gonna get yelled at if she sees this) much like some of you, our
extended family now includes jumpers, engine slugs, a dozer dude,
dispatchers, contract, et al... most are BLM or USFS.
like you, I pace when I don't hear from my loved ones; similar to when
they came home from the smokes and paced waiting for their next
assignment. I've learned to take it day by day, praying for loved ones
safe returns. realize they may be someplace in a different time zone now,
for sure they are in a different mind set, of course it's difficult for us
who no longer have hands-on involvement in fire.
after this night's tragic news about more lives lost: SINCERE CONDOLENCES
TO THE FAMILY, FRIENDS AND ENTIRE FF COMMUNITY BE SAFE!
have to tell a joke so I'll stop crying for lives lost, homeland or
joke: never let em near your fireplace after too many brews & a full
belly if they are sharing a blazing story in the dead of winter - if not
too much wood added to your ambiance, spit on the hearth!!!!! hint: keep a
keep the faith pll
Thanks for great advice to everyone. I agree...fire season is stressful
for all of us. Pointers are great for those new to the scene...and
actually help veterans feel like we're not doing it alone...again. How
about some "Lessons Learned" like they have for the FF?
Like...I've learned to avoid going to auctions alone, without my husband
when he's off on fire assignments. And if I do go, I should not drink
beer...even one...even if it's free, or else I'm apt to bring home some
interesting items not in our budget....like a Remington 30-06 rifle
because of its sentimental value...its the exact deer rifle I already
have...and a front room full of furniture we could have done without, and
a hefty workbench & radial arm saw for my 8 year old daughter.
(Yes...I got rid of the radial arm saw by giving it to my father.)
Like...maybe this isn't exactly the best time to tear down that obnoxious
wall separating the front room from the kitchen to open up the view. It's
scarey the construction nightmares that crop up when I start swinging the
hammer prematurely. My husband would likely have advised waiting.
So, be kind to yourselves. Breath deep...and try to laugh...alot. And
pretty soon we'll be looking at snow clouds forming.
||greetings to Tonya and anyone else new I might have missed......we
welcome everyone and please post often.....I know there are a lot of us
who don't have anyone other than immediate family to chit-chat with abt
the FF in our lives and if they are off on a fire like my people are all
we have is each other.....
Couple of hints about the list:
1. We do enjoy a good serious conversation,,,,such as the new shelter
project we did....
2. We can get extremely humorous........that's a good thing considering
what we deal with.
3. We get real sappy and whinny when we think we are being ignored
etc.....or our SO has been gone for what seems like years.
4. if something does come along that is taken as offensive you can take it
private thru the Ab's......remember, we cannot see faces or read body
language so things can be mis-understood easily. There has been almost nil
actual friction among us....certainly not like gets going on the They Said
list so please don't let the gruffy professional folks on that
"other" list scare you off. We are very friendly here and tend
to be overly supportive to each other....
I do think we need a list of the abbreviations we use and even can start
some new ones to save our fingers so I will start and then we can each
make our own list if needed to translate our conversations.....
2. SO----significant other
3. NF-----National Forest
5. WT----water tender
6. SJ---smoke jumper
7. HS----hot shot
8. Abs---cute ghosts who run They Said
9. BLM---Bureau Land Management
10. DOL----Dept of Lands
11. IC----Incident Commander
please send in your abbreviations gotta go do chores....
||Hey all. Just sent 16 fallers to Idaho. Told them not to be heroes and
to come back home to their families. They get sent into some pretty
grisly stuff. They all could use your prayers...since those of us at home
are pretty busy issuing those anyway.
||Hi everyone,,,,,I hope this does not show up twice because of the
computer problems....I have two guys that left last night for the Robert
Fire in Glacier. Hubby is on an Engine and I think our son is on a Tender,
. So if anyone sees newspaper articles please let me know. Another hint
for the new people.....you might find a web-page for the National Forest
they are on. Also look for local newspapers on the web. I have found a
couple pictures of my sons in the newspapers close to the fires they were
on......keep those prayers flowing upward and try and stay happy while
they are out of touch.
Remember, if you are new to this life. Cell phones are great but do not
work real well in most locations out there in the wild. Also, they will
call the first opportunity... it may be midnight but they will call. Our
son called about midnight last year from one of his fires and I was asleep
but the one to answer the phone, of course scared to death. He
said...."mom this is Junior" and I said "and you better
damn well still be alive"!!!!!!!!!!!
Try not to let loose on them all the things that have broken at home and
that the dog died and the MIL (mother in law) got arrested (kidding). The
dog dying thing actually happened to us last year. Our baby (24) was down
on the Clearwater NF and his St Bernard of 14 yrs died. We did not tell
him until 4 days later when he got home.......what would have been the
point? They need to have clear minds and hearts and not be
distracted.....stay happy and busy and try to only worry at 75% of your
||Hi everyone, this is my first post, but I've been reading for a while.
will be boarding a plane in less than an hour to travel to Boise, ID. He
going to the Hot Creek fire. If anyone finds any info or pictures I would
to know where they are, especially if there are any surfacing of a
crew. Any links would be greatly appreciated!
I'll be keeping all of your ff's in my prayers.
Found this: http://fire.ak.blm.gov/docs/misc/crewlist.asp
Looks like your man is in the lower 48.
Haven't discovered where my sister is. She'll probably call this weekend
when her 14 days are up. (Before going on to the next thing.)
Good job, Robbie. Heather, for the meaning of EBC, take a look at the
ICS Unit Identifiers via the Links
page, the last postings under Federal, it's a pdf file. In case you don't
know, ya can usually search a document by positioning the cursor at the
top of the page and simultaneously holding down the control and s buttons.
Enter the unit identifier in the subject space. I haven't tried it in this
case, will leave that to you. It may be that you'll only get a record of
the unit requesting the resource, not the actual fire they are on. But at
least it will give you general location. Ab.
||I don't know if this is worthy of posting on your site but this is a
of me sporting my fab
new boots that I am way excited about. Special
thanks to Nick's for not being sexist jerks like so many of the other
||Family folks, I want to be sure you supporters see this as it
pertains to many kinds of acutely stressful incidents and lists some good
Attached is the handout we use for our local critical
management (CISM) team whenever we do a stress intervention. The first
is a list of stress reactions that emergency responders commonly
in the hours, days and weeks following a critical incident. The second
is "12 things to try" to help alleviate the symptoms.
The guys on the line have one advantage over the dispatchers and office
folks - they get plenty of strenuous exercise to help the body cope with
physical reactions. But, sometimes we forget that there is still a human
being under the dirty nomex.
||Lost sons and brothers, Sammi, you're right, there are no words to
describe it. I've also dreaded seeing someone walk up to my porch with
news like that. Before it was because of fire...now its because of the
fact my husband is both a timber faller and does it on fires in the
summer. It will be extremely difficult for the families as well as the
communities in which these boys grew up to come to terms with. McCall was
devastated when two of our jumpers died in Colorado not so long ago. One
day you're looking at them saunter down the sidewalk or across the tarmac,
and then...their laugh is gone. All the more reason to treasure one
another while we're still here, and honor those we've had the good fortune
to get to know.
||Dear Ab and Heather from Texas,
My SO is on a Helitack crew on the Blackwell (Now the Black Frog Complex).
He is getting 2 days R&R and will be home tomorrow afternoon (we live
within a hour of the fires). I will ask him if he has seen the Tazlina
Hotshots. I will email back when I get some info. Hopefully tomorrow!
Thanks for the feedback AMM.
||Hi there. I ventured across your website a few weeks ago and wow, what a
great resource. I'm dating a hot shot that I met over the winter. He is on
an Alaskan Type I crew, the Tazlina Hotshots. I've gotten pretty good at
getting fire info. on the web, but can't ever seem to get specific crew
assignment info. For instance, he is on one of the Idaho fires right now
and I'm trying to maybe find out which one. I think he's on the Hot Creek
or maybe even Cramer or Blackwall fires and I really want to know which
one. I'm pretty freaked out after the two deaths and the news is making
Idaho sound pretty dangerous right now too. Any suggestions?
Thanks for your time,
Heather in Texas
It is difficult to get specific crew assignment info. The crews let
their home unit know where they're going first, but when they are demobed,
they can dispatched somewhere else. Some regions like the SW (Region 3)
have a Sit300 that is available to the public in which they list the crews
from their region and where they've gone (or they think they've gone), and
the visiting crews that are working in Region 3. Several years ago regions
making that info available was more widespread. Things changed 2 years ago
for some reason (9/11? too hard to keep up with? too easy to be in error?)
Let me check around for the AK info. It may be there in some pdf file. Ab.
||Honey's Back Home
I got a laugh out of the husband asleep in the front room with his head on
his pack. First , he is just itching to get on a fire and it seems like
everyone else is going out except him. The kids call this the "Mr.
Grummpybutt "stage. The scanner is on 24/7 and he repacks the red
pack a few times and even finds a new package of Fruit of the Looms that
he bought last year in camp! Almost like Christmas- except its just
unders! When the call comes in -he's gone and happy. The cell phone
becomes a lifeline and we spend all our time on the internet researching
the fire he is on. His voice starts sounding tired and satisfied with the
job and fire.
At last, he's home. We get the summary of fire with all the funny stories
and pranks pulled. Then the Rip Van Winkle nap. He sleeps for about three
days on the front room floor and wakes up when his girls cook his favorite
foods. Then the deep stories start and we hear about close calls or about
someone who was injured or how he saved a house with his crew . This is a
sobering time- we hold him close. This only lasts a bit until he gets
itchy to go out again. We wouldnt miss it for the world, we love our
Red Army Wife
||Well just to let you know I did not kick him out because he asked for
food.....we had bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwiches, later fresh raspberries
My prayers and certainly thoughts go to the families and the crews that
have to endure the loss of the young FF's who died at Challis today. I
grieve for them and cannot even begin to imagine how one endures the loss
of such young, healthy beautiful sons.
Last year our baby boy (24) was working for Greyback when the van crashed
and at least 20 people called me before we found out for sure he was not
with those crews. it is hell to want to know so bad if it was one of your
own and then a guilty relief when you find out your son is ok... such a
mixed bag of emotions.
Everytime this happens my first though is,,,,,If I saw them coming up the
walk to tell me I would not be standing by the time they got to the door.
Can't even imagine the devastation,,,,,,,
for the new ones on the list......we all have to remember that these crews
are highly trained. Safety is suppose to be the #1 priority. They have so
many safety precautions in place and they train constantly to be able to
gut react to incidents that happen. If we knew how many FF total there are
out there on the lines compared to the injuries and certainly fatalities
the percentages are way in favor of your guy or gal not getting hurt. Just
keep praying and trust your FF to do his/her best.
||Sammi, TreeHggr, FireChica,Fire Momma, Nerd, Dawn, OD, et. al. and Ab's-
So now we're discussin' dinner?
Fewer subjects create greater havoc about our humble abode than food and
it's preparation and presentation. Mom has always said that being married
to the @*^%$ boys is a burden none should bear alone. She should know. She
had to deal with Dad and his two brothers and she said they were bad
enough. Due to a family emergency years back, she pretty much raised her
brothers and ran the house while both her parents worked- unheard of in
the prim and proper 1950's. But Mom saves a fair bit of vituperation for
her two cubs of positive ancestry. She sez the Dad and Uncles were bad,
but us boys are worse by a damn sight. Needless to say, Mom tends to be
extremely fair in any argument and takes our wives side.
Back in the days when I was packing, working the odd movie job, or getting
up early for any other reason, you could bet next weeks pay that there was
Mom. Breakfast ready, a pot of coffee and enough lunch to carry a squad
through a shift or so. God forbid one should become faint with hunger
while tackin' shoes on old Dobbin. Then, short of coming home gassed to
the gills, there was dinner. Mom grew up in the hills, but of somewhat
genteel stock. Dad's outfit on the other hand was still struggling through
the Neanderthal era.
Dad's bunch ate everything fried- in about a quart of grease. This
included the coffee. Dad grew up with indigestion at home. I really think
he went to the woods just to get a decent meal. Everything was also cooked
extra well. Actually, well done everything in the woods was standard. No
refrigeration- so cook it or get whatever was making a home in your food.
The folks get hitched- enter Mom stage right with dinner- lamb (which Dad
can't abide) and vegetables (which he won't eat). Dad saws through the
main course which is rare to perfection and turns as pale as the meat. Mom
spends several decades learning to desecrate beef and pork to Hubby's
So I grow up in the hills eating everything well done, fish, fowl or four
legged. Mom and my brother still manage to cook meat well done but not
cremated. They also eat lamb and other meat medium rare. But back to
basics, Mom can cook, and she's good at it. She also forced my brother and
I to learn to cook, which looking back over 30 some odd years was
basically the lioness teaching the cubs to hunt. This has stood me in good
stead through many a failed relationship and one that's still strong. It
has also kept a few packers from mutiny on the high peaks when the trail
crew cook said they wern't getting up.
A quick note about Dad. Every year he does the turkey for Thanksgiving and
Christmas. Damn fine job if you like your bird dry as an Arab's sandal.
When Mom had to go away from time to time to help with family emergencies
and the like, Dad cooked. Night was fried hamburgers, fried potatoes and
pork and beans. It's a meal I still love, but night after night gets a
little stale. Breakfast as kid was an adventure. Fried bacon, fried eggs
and fried potatoes (do we discern a pattern here?).
Occasionally though, even Dad got tired of the same ol same ol and
reverted to cereal. Not just any cereal. Out came Mom's largest mixing
bowl. Into this went three or four kinds of cereal, any cereal, as long as
it wasn't kids stuff. Rice Krispies, Special K, Wheaties. Give it stir.
Dump a cup or so of milk, a cup or so of hot water, half a stick of real
butter and sugar and salt to taste. I was in my twenties before I could
eat breakfast without getting violently ill and still cannot eat cereal.
My wife was essentially raised by her Grandmother who eked out a living on
Social Security. Her mom drank, drugged and god knows what else. When my
wife to be left for greener pastures, it was with the help of some fine
people who were mutual friends. Her Grandmother was wonderful baker, but
the stipend barely covered day to day stuff. My wife to be's mom was
taking my wife to be's paychecks and using them for some nefarious
purpose- certainly not to improve the home grounds. Needless to say, my
wife's ability to cook is somewhere near nil. She's sure as hell rather go
put the finish on some horse or work fence than spend time over a stove.
Now, those who know me will relate that I can be somewhat south of
sensitive. In fact, 'cold nosed bastard' has been spoken more than once-
my Mom included. So, insensitive lout that I am, there have been times
when what was placed on the table was met with a "What the hell's
this?" or "Christ, how'd you manage to screw this up?". And
many times I have asked in all innocence what is for dinner and been told
"Leftovers". To which I've replied "Leftovers? How the hell
can they be leftovers when I've never seen the originals?"
This has led to tears, words and an invitation to do something
anatomically impossible. Telling her to watch what Mom does in the kitchen
gets a tepid response at best. Mom, ever one to side with her eldest, will
declare "Oh hell, &*$#@%^! You cook!"
So, just to keep some semblance of peace within the neighborhood, I cook
when I get the chance. My wife loves it. She loves it so much that if my
team is not on call or we are not working OT, she'll try every trick in
the book to get me in the kitchen. So last night I get hungry. L----- (the
Engine boss' girlfriend- who also can't make water steam) comes over. I've
got a house fulla women. 2 who can't cook and my daughters who I refuse to
let cook at their tender age. And the dog and the cat. So, I can already
tell who's gonna feed this mob and it's forty miles to the nearest
So, Sammi and all, here's what we had. Boneless chicken breast in lemon,
butter and rosemary. Baked slow. French cut green beans with fine cut and
fried bacon with the dripping removed, butter and salt and pepper, baked
slow. A homemade pesto (we make our own), a clam sauce of tomato and basil
with clams (no Oil) and a fish sauce, again, tomato and basil with
sardines. The sauces were simmered slow. Ravioli and rigatoni noodles,
garlic bread and a South African white wine or a South African red wine
(Shiraz). Corona beer for Dad. Fresh Fruit for dessert. Lots of good
conversation. The ladies and westinghouse did the dishes.
Sure, sounds like a lotta barnyard effluence, but it's the little things
like dinner, doing a few loads of laundry or just wiping down the shower
or making the bed that make my wife's life easier. And in reality, mine.
It' has not been the easiest of roads for us. My wife learning not to take
offense at every little thing about the kitchen and me learning to be a
skosh more sensitive (though I'm no closer than the missing link to being
a 'new age man').
So, we put up witha lot of guff from our spouses as we see it. And they
from us. The folks just celebrated their 40th, us our 8th, my brother and
sister in law their 15th. My grandfolks saw time past their 50th before
they passed on. Married, they saw the depression, WWII, Korea, one son off
to Vietnam and his safe return and great grand children. I guess that we
all must be doing something right.
So, I'm wondering...What was for supper?
Now THAT's what I like to see. Someone with a
constructive idea! Ab, I'm totally in support of a
personals section here. I have the utmost faith you
could pull that off in a workable way. Bring it on!
||relationship update: I got home from work this pm and the pick-up was in
it's spot. I come in the house and he (husband) is laying in the middle of
the floor with his head on his pack sound asleep. So being the sweet
little wife I am, went out, fed the dog, watered the garden etc, etc. He
did come out abt an hour later and helped me pick berries. After that he
decided to change the oil in my Rover before he cleans up.....so I am here
doing my nightly computer time and he just now comes in and
yells,,,,WHEN'S SUPPER!!!!!!!!! It's so nice to have my man
home.....somebody send me this the next time I complain about having to
talk to the dog....
Oh and I like the idea of a match-making-site......we could do wonders
with our skills and knowledge of relationships.....so you girls on the
lines send in the names, we'll put them into categories and match them up
I think cache king needs to write a book. I would buy it....what an
interesting life and your descriptions are awesome.......gotta go cook
something.....or we could have yummy MRE's........that would be a
||Actually, I think it has a lot to do with how your significant other
treats you, either at home or when on assignment. Are they involved in the
day to day stuff when they are around, in touch and interested in home
life when on a fire? A FF with this type of attitude is a keeper -is able
to balance passion for both work and family, although OF COURSE there are
times it won't be easy. But-so what? Anything worth doing is usually not
all that easy....
Or is your FF so lost in the lifestyle that you hardly register on the
radar screen, even when they are home? Do they look at it as an
opportunity to avoid family responsibilities? Avoid this type if you are
interested in anything long term.
It could be at whole lot worse folks-at least our FF have a better chance
of reaching home then the soldiers in Iraq, some of whom haven't been home
in a year.
||I have read through all of the "relationship" talk, and
honestly I have to say that when getting involved with a firefighter, you
have to know what you are in for. Someone needs to set you down and
explain it all.
When I married my FF he was a Marine. And I was well trained (by his
mother) in what to expect - a stinky man who comes home late, tired and
grumpy, many times away...2 weeks, 2 months, a 6 month deployment, maybe
even a year or more AWAY. So when it came to changing his profession, his
CALLING to fire. I just figured...Well, at least he is not being shot at
in some far away country!
It is hard with 2 small daughters now, then we only had 1 baby. Now his
girls miss him terribly. But they do understand that what their dad does
is important. At least we get to see him every now and then. If he was a
employed Marine, we would not see him for 6 months or more at a time. At
least this way they get to see what he looks like every now and then.
And today I spend our 8 year wedding anniversary ALONE, for the 2nd year.
Last year he called me saying he was on his way the Sequoia Nat'l Park
fire, on our anniversary. Maybe for our 10 year we will renew our
Good luck to all, the relationships ARE WORTH IT! after all, you have to
have something to want to come home for!
||Nerd on the Fireline,
Glad you like the idea. And as far as your guys go - scrub 'em up and send
me pictures. ;-)See Ab? This could be very popular.
Who knows, maybe you could even start a business . . .
||Whooo-hooo, firefighting chica!
What a great idea…and I love your personal…but can we post personals
for crew mates? Some of my guys could seriously use girlfriends…if only
to relieve the atmosphere in crummy by making them bathe more often.
Nerd on the Fireline
(so now any of my crewmates who’ve figured out my alias can come after
Given all the speculation into FF love perhaps you should put up a
personals section on the website where lonely FF could find sympathetic
partners. That would be a riot! I know how mine would read: "Cute
firefighting chica seeking little househusband to feed dog and pay bills
while gone on dispatch. Must not be intimidated by woman with
Signed - the cute firefighting chica herself
||First I want to thank the bunch of you willing to slog through this
"should we, or shouldn't we have" relationship thing. And for
heaven's sake, if you really knew me you'd know I'm completely unable to
tear anyone's arm off. I'm not big enough...Then again... I suppose my
"mouth" (fingers on the keyboard) does pose a significant
Like Cache King (thanks for your colorful stories CK) many of us have
found ourselves at the end of a relationship with our head in our hands
wondering what the hell we were thinking. We evaluate, and overevaluate.
Some of us get really drunk and reallllly overevaluate. Because, you know,
its very, very, very important (we think) to figure out the
"why" of it all. Like figuring out "Why" would
magically conjure some kind of salve and we could go on to that
"perfect" relationship with all of these gold jewels of lessons
we (supposedly) gleaned. Well that process loads you down with a whole lot
of emotional baggage. The search for the "perfect" relationship
is a painful one. Expecting perfection out of ourselves is unfair, and
exponentially more unfair to expect it from our companions. So...I've
learned to look back and genuinely value the nuggets of wonderful things
that happened during those times and the incredible memories... I've
learned not to wad up the whole "relationship" like it was a
paper bag full of dog crap and pitch it in the trash. I've stopped
evaluating (though my ex would heartily question that. Being my ex is
certainly not a pleasant experience as you might imagine.) And just get on
Sammi, I asked about your proximity to other FF wives because where we
lived in the Sierras, I was pretty much alone. Our social circle was nil
during the winter, but hey during the summer the compound was filled with
what my little ones just called "da guys." I had quite a support
group during my second and third pregnancies. The crew all watched my
belly grow during the first part of the season and eagerly anticipated the
"calving" (yea...I know...) in the height of fire season. When
the babies were born, a hand full of the guys gingerly came over and
hunkered on the couch to take a look. The way their big hands held my new
babies brought tears to my eyes.
Then my third baby stopped breathing. I'd given her a bath, wrapped her up
in a blanket and tucked her in on the couch while I went to another part
of the house to do something. When I came back, she was bluish white. My
reaction was everything you're not supposed to do. I picked her up, shook
her and blew in her face. Her little systems kicked in somehow and we
drove down two different winding canyons to get her to the hospital. My
point here isn't "Poor, poor us." My point is, those guys on
that crew acted like a bunch of hovering uncles. They somehow had become
emotionally invested. They intimately experienced both the good and bad
times of our family...and by the end of the season, a number of them had
plans of their own.
All I'm saying is that, waiting for, or expecting a perfect
relationship...or believing that a relationship with a FF will only lead
to pain and disappointment is not fair. We all deserve to be happy.
"Family" can be the core. And family composition can take on
different forms. I just think that happiness comes in chunks. And we
should try hard not to throw those away in an attempt to escape the
discomfort of an ended relationship. That's all.
Thanks for sharing that with us.
||About the recent discussions about relationships:
I won't pretend to know all there is about relationships, fire and the
state of the union (or disunion). But to add a few nickels worth of
experience, I'll reach back through the mists (or smoke, fog or dust) of
time. For those of you who have loved and lost, those trying to hang on
and those that have made it work, my best to you. It is not easy, on
spouses, kids, family, and relationships getting started. Making a
relationship work with one spouse gone all the time, whether chasin'
trucks down the road, cattle or pack strings, or fires is a tough row to
Dad went to work in the woods at 16, where his dad worked, his uncles and
his brothers. When Mom married up, she left a comfortable house for a
three room cabin furnished with bats, mice and the occasional snake in
what was called family camp. Flush toilets were unknown in camp, having
been replaced with a two-holer, spiders compliments of the house. Winters
were in a logging town where the housing was miserable. Somewhere along
the way I came along, then my brother. One family of many who were logging
gypsies- Standard in winter, Camp Curry, Camp 16 or some other in summer.
When the camps closed, Dad ran the then fledging truck shop. By himself.
The trucks were second-third and fourth hand logging trucks that were used
to haul milled lumber to where ever. We usually saw Dad about once a week
on Sunday, unless he was called out to get some rig ready for the road. As
the trucks were replaced with new stuff, they upped the fleet, but not the
staff. At it's height, Dad was in charge of 21 highway rigs that hauled to
all of California, sometimes to Nevada and Southern Oregon. Mom used to
wake us kids up to eat dinner with Dad just so we could spend time with
I joined Scouts at age 11 in a extremely active outdoors troop, so I spent
a lot of time gone in the summers. Then at 16, I started packing. Through
High School I packed and did the scouting thing. Never has one been so
enamored with the mountains as I. At 19 I went to work in Yosemite as a
government packer. There, I got my baptism of fire and began another
parallel love. My folks now never saw me. The night I graduated from high
school and the night I got out of community college, I was in the woods.
My friends, some from outside of packing, but most from the packing
community and from fire was where my world revolved. I could never get
enough of the mountains. I counted myself the luckiest guy alive to get
called to backfill for the firefighters on my days off from the barn, and
yet, just as ready to hit the trail back into the hills.
In 1995, I finally got married. Most, if not all considered this to be a
miracle of minor proportions. Many, if not all cautioned my wife to be
before we tied the knot about you'll never see him- at least while there
are fires or a trail open. My wife, who comes from the horse business
herself had a pretty good idea of what she has getting into, and what she
was getting (Tho Mom sez she got the worst of the trade). We've two
daughters aged 5 and 4.
Through the years, I've had a handful of failed relationships. Some, were
most definitely not meant to be, others went the west because the time a
relationship needs wasn't given or available. Some, I didn't try very hard
to work at and others, well, I can still get the twinge. The job I hold
now is full time fire. My wife and kids love it. My wife knows the risks
and prefers them over the risks I took through the years with the stock
end of the business. The fire staff makes the family part of theirs and my
daughters will pass through the fire house like angels of good will
dispensing hugs and kisses to every firefighter therein. They are heroes
in my daughters eyes, and I am just Dad.
They light up when I say I'm going to a fire, then remember that fires
mean Dad's gone for a while. Letters written from firecamp to home, and
cell phone calls make a big difference. Pictures from where I was and a
wall map of the US show them where Dad is now. The T-shirts are a big hit
for sleep wear, pins and cups from different states also help. It's damn
tough on my wife. The bills, school, swimming lessons, mechanical
problems, the house, no one else but her. My parents are a great help for
her to turn to when needed and she has some fantastic friends that get
together with her. But still, I'm not there. Of course, by spring she's
ready to throw me out at the first hint of woodsmoke.
Coming home means getting Dad's filthy laundry done ASAP for the next
call, extra hours getting caught up at his regular fire job and making
sure we get out to town with the girls. Hit a playground, maybe some
shopping and a movie. An ice cream. Simple things. I have been extremely
lucky to have a family that will go the extra mile when it comes to Dad.
My brother is a mechanic like my father. His life, like mine and Dad's are
different universes in a parallel existence. My Mom, my wife and my sister
in law have all faced the same problems that many firefighters face in
relationships. Long hours, partners gone, called out or paged out at all
hours not knowing when you'll get back, filthy clothes, lack of family
time. Again, the three of us are lucky for the fabulous women in our lives
and our kids who have adapted to making a life with a part time father due
I doubt I have cast any pearls here in this long tome. But I know that
with love, persistence, communication and a willingness to try to work
together ( and if he/she is that special to you) you'll make it work out.
It's taken a lot of effort on our part, but it's been worth every ounce of
sweat to pursue the multiple loves in my life.
I wish you all the best out there.
Thanks Cache King. Ab.
||Well Ab's.......I promise not to explode unless I yell at ya first...now
Fire Momma on the other hand is likely to come out swinging so watch out
one thing about personal relationships, everyone has an opinion, with a
little right in all of them.
To nerdy.....sorry, I felt like I was insulting you if I said just nerd.
Your description of the people in your crew not having significant others
back home waiting was actually very sad. Even tho they probably have
family it is so very important for young people to have someone special
waiting, whether you are doing fire, military or some type of job that
takes you away from home. I did the 'adopt a Marine" for the recent
combat thing and it was very touching for me to hear from a 19 yr old who
had NO ONE to write to back home. So we adopted each other..Guess the
Dixie Chicks song about the soldier was right on.
Don't you think that is one reason the crews become so close.....my guys
have been bringing buddies home to visit for years. I don't have any
answers but apparently from what we are hearing here, we also have lonely
FF out there who need relationships that can also survive the fires. and
guess what, that puts a whole new spin on the whole relationship issue.
Now how are we gonna fix that?????? Now I am going out to water the
garden, feed the animals, check the fence in the back, wash my Rover and
then do the laundry all the while telling the dog about my day at
Thanks Sammi and the rest of you who keep the home fires burning. Ab.
Married Hot Shot Foremen:
There's at least one on the SQF. Married to my son's godmother. Not sure
if he's still the Foreman...think he may have moved on to fire management
Approximately 10-15% of the McCall jumpers are married. A small handful
have children. The Payette has a small family compound on Mission to
accommodate those that live in McCall only during the summer. A small
number of jumpers own homes and are settled in the area. For a specific
breakdown call N, the base manager (that is if he has time to answer his
phone...which isn't likely right now.) (N's wife was the nurse who broke
the news to me as she swished my last pregnancy test in the Petri dish. )
Long term relationships? Not easy...or even probable given the dynamics
and demands of the fire world...but definitely possible.
||This is an apologie from the real AK
I have just logged on and read all the nasty things my sister has written
about fire and the married life. I think she is wrong in what she did in
posing as me, and telling people the things that she did, and I want to
make things right. She works in fire too and is very opinionated, and
reads the site everyday just like me.
Ps Sammie and Fire Mamma I read your post and you have my best wishes
Everyone eles Its getting tropical out there so take care of yourselves
and each other.
It's all alright AK. On this site we are quick to forgive. Fire season
is stressful and the internet is fairly impersonal. No face-to-face,
expressions, body language. No other person present to make us watch out
for what we are saying. Tell your sister she's welcome too. Fire Momma you
promise not to club anyone with an arm? Sammi, you promise not to EXPLODE
(unless necessary)? Ab.
||Fire Momma and Sammi:
I hope I keep my sense of humor and gain the wisdom and philosophy you
have…I tried to be a Hotshot’s girlfriend, and it’s a hard row to
hoe…now I’m looking at coming at the same thing from the other side
(as a FF myself) and I’m gaining a lot more insight into so many of
things he used to do that drove me up the wall.
As badly phrased as it was, AK has a point, though, and one I’ve found a
lot of FF would share. There’s French Foreign Legion aspect to what we
do…sometimes it doesn’t seem fair to get involved with another person
at all, knowing what we’re going to put them through and knowing that
fire will most likely come first. It’s hard seeing the look in a guy’s
eyes when your pager goes off in the middle of a date…and even worse
calling in a rush to tell him the date’s cancelled because you’ve got
to go fight the dragon. And then having to explain to a crewmate’s
girlfriend on the way out the door that even though he’s not that far
away, no, he can’t get away for a couple of hours to come see her.
We were cutting line through an aspen grove one day and our squad boss
pointed out a “Widowmaker on the left”, and somebody pointed out none
of us were married…”Girlfriend pisser-offer on the left”…and then
somebody pointed out that nobody on the line had a girlfriend…and the
line got sort of quiet. Somebody suggested “Pet-starver on the left”,
but by that point nobody’s heart was in it anymore.
Nerd on the Fireline
||Fire Momma and Sammie and anyone eles that I have offended,
I must apologize for coming off so ruff and gruff. Its just that right now
I'm at home waiting for that next call and I have friends that are wives
and husbands of the hotshots and I am just tired of hearing them piss and
moan about being alone. and coming on this site and reading about it was
just the straw that broke the camels back. Sorry for taking it out on all
of you, it wasn't fair.
||In regards to AK's post;
Dude sounds to me like you have been "Burned" on the
relationship thing. I think you may want to step back and look around you.
I am willing to bet there are Many of your co-workers that are married,
and have been for many years. Like I said, mine is from a FF family, my
father-in-law is a retired FMO, who still works in the FF industry and my
mother-in-law is still right there beside him, Grandmother-in-law is
retired from the FS too, she worked as a lookout, and Grandfather-in-law
(who is not with us anymore) was a FS FF as well as LA County, and there
is a Uncle that retired FF too. We have friends, all married and have been
as well as the newly weds (some Husband FF's, some wife FF's) who all love
and support their FF. Relationships are all different, people change,
thats a fact of life, there are divorces no matter what your job is. And I
do agree with you on one thing, We do know what we are getting ourselves
into in these relationships, And if you truly love the FF, and respect
what he/she is doing (as with any job a loved one would hold not just FF)
you are going to stick it out for the long haul. One key element...Respect
Oh and BTW, I am also in the outfit too, not a Ff but in support, with a
10 yr old, a 20 yr, and 4-H, family and a whole bunch of critters. Life is
Abs, Fire Momma, Sammi, and everyone, Just love em, and pray for em.
Like I said...I'm tryyying to grow old gracefully. Just can't say its
working very well.
||Ciao and all, no questions go unanswered here. Sometimes the answers are
way more, longer than you ask for. probably because we do get tired of
talking to the dog. and the dog does not answer back, not yet.......
We live up in the mountains of the northwest, never lived within the
service area. if I could go back a few years and have the chance to live
in a camp, compound area I really would like to. Actually we bought our
land and built our home (log) way back when the land was cheap and we had
slaves (the kids). We chose to live far enough away from a town that if
someone comes up our road they have a reason to be here and so we have to
travel quite a distance to work etc....but the trade-off is worth it.
In the early years of our marriage I was so busy keeping the kids healthy
and going to school myself I really did not consider how nice it would
have been to have FF wives to chit-chat with. I homeschooled the kids and
wrote articles for a few magazines about our lifestyle.....so he had his
focus and I had mine and we met in the middle. And it worked. .....
Now that I am much older and have kids who are FF I really do see the
importance of having the opportunity to swap info, stories and support
with others even if it is via the net. I do know the other families around
us that are in FF but not on a good friend, buddy basis.
One of the big problems I see within the service and the latest thread
about whiners is a prime example.....experienced FF wives/significant
others usually are not willing to be honest to the potential newbie wives
and tell them like it is. if they knew about the expected bumps in the
relationship they might be able to smooth them out easier. Lonely, boring,
stressful, disappointing, exciting, proud, jealous, crazy making.....and
the list goes on and on......and the fact is....there really is no way to
describe the lifestyle because everyone of us is sooooo different and the
circumstances are so different for each of us.......
bottom line. We are connected to a breed of people that cannot be
explained, cannot be domesticated (kidding) and we are lucky if they can
be trained to use the indoor toilet. (not kidding here) but they are our
loves and we learn to live with the extremes they bring. Honestly, if I
could go back and change a few things sure I would but change him
nope!!!!!!! Fire is who he is and if I took that out he would not have
that sparkle in his eyes that I see when he has the pickup packed and I
get that last hug.....now when that pickup comes back with several weeks
worth of stinky smelly non-recognizable items that I am pretty sure did
not leave here the sparkle doesn't matter a twit......just lovem and know
they really do wish they could be in two places at once, but we all know
they have to choose that mountain...does not make it easier to
swallow......it is just not possible for them not too........keep praying
they all go home safely....sammi
||AK and Dick,
Just adding in my two cents on the relationship debate. While I think it
is true that a firefighter can have a family life, I think it is another
story if that firefighter wants a career as a Hotshot or a Smokejumper. I
think AK was correct on pointing out that it is not fair to the family. I
have heard many an engine boss comment on how he had done a season or two
as a jumper only to be faced with making a choice between his wife and his
job "I came home from a detail and found all my stuff in the front
yard!" I personally have yet to meet any married Hotshot
Superintendents. (Has anyone? I'd be curious to know! If anyone does know
of such a case: how long married and how successfully?) As one young
hotshot put it to me "You could be a Hotshot and have a relationship
if it weren't for the fact that girls need attention!" Never a truer
word was spoken! (Who can blame them? I thought it was very wise for that
young man to realize that.) So yes, I think you can have a fire career and
a marriage, but if you want to spend your life as a smokejumper or a shot,
well, that's a job for single folks. If you want to be married, then get
on an engine. That way you are not depriving your family. (At least, not
to the same degree.) I think that goes for both men and women alike.
||Response to AK about whining: First of all we do not "meat"
each other we "meet" each other.
In all the hundreds of technical books that have come and gone through our
home I have NEVER seen a technical resource book on what to expect if we
meet and want to have a relationship with a FF. I have never seen a book
or pamphlet on what to expect life to be like if you, we, expect to have a
long relationship with FF. (maybe in my spare time I'll write a "How
to Live with a FF in your life") Notice, I did not say "Live
with a FF" Whether it be structural, full time or seasonal wildland
anyone that is married to or involved with a FF is in for a huge surprise
and there is no way to prepare someone for the lifestyle. So, no AK, we
did not know what we were getting!!!!!
For a newbie it looks sexy, hunky, exciting and oh so romantic. Let me
assure you, as the wife to one and mom to several the new sexy stuff wears
off real fast and reality hits and you realize when he said he is on fire
two weeks and time off,,,,that did not mean fire two weeks and home a
month etc....sometimes we are lucky to see them two times in two months or
longer. And I also know when they are home, after a long shower, lots of
food, some loving and some hard sleep they are looking at the sky again
hoping the phone rings real soon. So those that have been left holding
down the fort, paying the bills and keeping the kids safe and the dogs fed
are thinking, wait a minute,,,,I missed you a lot and you are happily
rested and ready to leave me again....not fair......it is a hard life for
all involved. Some relationships can survive but we all know the stats are
We have a son that did wlff for several years, met a FF/paramedic and
after a couple of years of trying to live the lifestyle, they realized the
relationship was worth more to them than the fires so they both left the
service, are doing other occupations and have two beautiful
daughters,,,,,,now their lives are "normal" and if asked they
would tell you the decision was hard but the right one for them......and
that is the key here "for them".......
Honestly, we have been living this lifestyle a LONG time and I still
sometimes throw a hissy fit when something breaks or I need support from
my husband and he is off to God's Country to save someone else's house or
trees and my house is falling apart or my trees needs water etc....the
guys and gals on the fire are hero's no doubt but there are a lot of
people male and female holding down the fort so to speak who support them
so they can be out there.........
To the FF: you need to tell your significant other very often how much you
care for them and how much you appreciate their support......you need to
find a way to make them a part of your fire service experience. I get
rolls of film, now disks, real often of the fires etc. They know I enjoy
making their scrapbooks and that is my way of feeling close to them when
they are gone....another FF we know buys silver charms that depicts the
places he goes for his wife's charm bracelet. Everyone of you can start a
t-shirt collection for your girl....or guy. Sometimes the silly corny
things mean the most.
Nope not a whiner am I, If I am upset, you'll not hear a whine but a HUGE
Keepum safe and look out for each other........Sammi
||Heh, I get the feeling that Fire Momma is capable of taking an
offender's arm off and beating them with it. Fairly politely of course but
no bones about it. Well, maybe humerous-radius-ulna in the arm. Emphasis
on the humor-ous. Heh. Like my sarge in the army. Nothing personal toward
anyone of course Ab.
Thanks so much for being editor. Glad this site exists. It's a barrel of
laughs, has good info and exchange and just feels good.
||AK: I beg to differ with your opinion on staying single and having a
My personal record: 38 fire seasons, 35 years married to the same spouse,
OSC1 and Forest Fire Staff Officer. (Oh yeah: 2 great kids, a small cow
herd, 4-H and FFA leader, .....a life outside of fire!)
Gee, imagine the possibilities if I had stayed single.
||Just an observation...AK, you probably wouldn't want to walk into a room
full of FF wives or husbands slinging the kind of philosophy you just
posted. Perhaps that works for you, and if so, kudos back at cha for being
honest with yourself regarding your own shortcomings. Many of us though,
met our FF spouses when we were all young and not as "focused"
as you seem to be on what does and does not make for a successful
relationship. Most of us didn't have children...or homes then. We just had
one another... and our companions had fire. We did the best we could, and
many of us came up short in terms of answers. I guess you can count
yourself lucky you've got it all figured out. For me, even with all the
rough spots and the ultimate demise of our relationship, I wouldn't have
traded it for the world.
Some folks make relationships work. Some don't. There are no pat answers.
And, as Ab gently suggested, but I'll just say...trite answers are
Readers of familysaid, a post came in that I didn't post here. Read
theysaid for 7/20 and search on AK if you're interested in what the Fire
Momma is talking about. Ab.
Can I ask if you lived on a Forest Service compound, or in a town with
people who didn't wear green pants and t-shirts everyday? You're stories
of the way your house looks in fire season is great. Early on, did you
have other wives around to keep you company? or just to "check
I was fortunate in that there was an old retired logger who still lived in
the abandoned logging camp where the Johnsondale Forest Service station
was in the Sierras. He had a wonderful, wise and kind wife who'd check on
me to make sure I was okay. Other times I'd drag my ass over to her house
and just sink into one of her overstuffed chairs and sit there all bleary
eyed. She'd let me feel sorry for myself for a bit, give the kids
something to play with, then launch into one of her stories in such an
animated way...it was wonderful. I'd look at her...all grisled and
laughing...and realize she'd made it through some pretty rough spots and
she was still kind. Her eyes still danced. I decided then that I very much
wanted to grow old that way...to be laughing and warm and kind...not angry
and resentful. I think I'm landing somewhere in the middle.
Here's to keeping our eyes open for things to laugh about!
||well, I am thrilled that you are all honest enough say, FF is an
addiction and it does destroy relationships, marriages, families. I have
been reading another list and most of them are young married to Ff and
still basking in the glow of "he is my hero". Well, I will give
them the season, or at most a couple of years and probably most of them
will have had a real dose of reality. My husband and three sons are ff and
it has been a long road of stinky clothes and terrified when the bulletin
comes on the news of FF down.
We have been married a long time with my husband being a FF the whole
time. My salvation was having a job that takes a lot of energy and I love.
Also I have NEVER told him don't go....even tho I know he would stay. All
my guys LOVE Fire.....a couple do structure in the winter and even tho
wildland wins their hearts they still have to have that adrenaline fix. My
advice to either male or female left at home.....get busy. Find something
to do that will take up time and energy. You have to adapt to living with
a real live "hero" and society is telling them all the time they
And most important in our marriage, I had to love him enough to
"let" him do what he loves. Is it easy? Hell no!!!!!!!!! Right
now I have red packs and all sorts of stuff laying in piles all over the
house waiting for the phone to ring.......two of the guys are already out
but lucky for me they have wives and homes of their own to mess up. Even
with twenty + years of experience being left so they can go fight the
tiger it is still hard to come home to an empty house every night and the
only one to talk to is the dog. But it is worth it because I could never
NOT Support him in doing what he truly loves. (and I do not understand the
addiction to it. anyone got it figured out????) if you truly love them you
will find a way to handle it, if it doesn't last at least enjoy the ride.
it is worth it.....
||Thanks to all who responded about my son & his wife.
I think his situation is just a little different because this is not his
wife's primary job and she wasn't doing this when they got married. She's
not on the line, she in a support position (not to say those positions are
any less important) and enjoys the travel and comradery. And, in a way,
it's like a vacation... even tho the work is hard and the hours are long,
it's a different scenario and the focus is on one thing... fire. At home,
there are a thousand and one other things in the day to day job as well as
day to day homefront. So, in a sense, she's away from the
At first, he was very supportive... go for it... enjoy. But as time goes
on, it's becoming a bigger part of her life because of the training and
meetings as well as the actual fire details. He still wants to support
her, but feels like she could say no at least once in awhile. Yes, the
money is nice and they both enjoy it, but they could also do well without
it. And he does do things when she's gone... rebuilding cars, visiting
friends, etc. But because he's never been in the actual situation, he
can't imagine what it's like.
You know, it would be nice if someone would make a video... like a
training video... about life in a fire camp or what goes on behind the
scenes. I know I was amazed my first time out, when I realized what all it
takes to get things going... like showers, meals, potties, sleeping
arrangements, etc. It might even make a good recruitment video.
I can relate one item that has helped my husband and I with fire
separations, his cell phone! He calls every day (except for times when
there are dead batteries, cell phone holes, and "heads up" fire
assignments). We chat, gripe about whatever, and enjoy being in touch. It
makes the time away easier, and it's something to look forward to-and
makes the stay at home spouse feel included.
Hope this helps
||Hi Family Members,
Here's an article by Judd Slivka of the Arizona Republic. He's a
journalist who has fought fire.
Summertime lost time for firefighters
PS Ab, please add this one too, also by Judd with Paul Matthews.
Volatile 'Kinishba' fire grows www.azcentral.com
Even before I got into fire, I had a job that would take me out of the
country for often months at a stretch. One thing I found that made it
easier on my SO at the time was doing my best to be “present-in-absence”.
I’d leave notes in places where I figured he’d find them (favorite
books, the cereal box, his line pack, inside CD cases)…I’d write whole
piles of letters to him or keep a journal, written to him, while I was
gone and give it to him when I got back, so he’d know I was thinking
about him. I’d try to include him in trip planning, get him fired up
about the assignment too (hard to do on unpredictable fire assignments).
In all fairness, though, I have to say it didn’t work; the relationship
cratered after one particularly out-of-touch three-month absence. And it
wasn’t because he didn’t support me, or wasn’t proud of me or didn’t
love me or didn’t trust me; he’d just signed up to have a girlfriend,
not a 4x6 photograph on the shelf and the occasional e-mail. I think it’s
harder for guys too because when it’s the girl who’s gone, they feel
kind of stranded or displaced…like it somehow diminishes their manhood
that it’s the female who’s out having “adventures”. No matter how
liberated or progressive or caring or understanding a person is, or either
gender, it’s hard to cope with bucking the traditional gender roles. I
had one boyfriend who was incredibly proud of everything I did until the
day one of his buddies told him I was a better man than he was; that was
the day before he dumped me.
It takes a special person to be a “firespouse”…most of the folks I
know on fire are either single, divorced, on the verge of divorce after
every assignment, or married to another poor pyro with “flames in their
eyes”. Firecookie’s totally right…it’s all in the mind.
Good luck to your son,
Nerd on the Fireline
||Let me jump in with both feet. I have a younger sister, not a spouse,
who is a firefighter.
She is CONSUMED with the work she does. She trains, both PT and classes,
lives, eats and breathes fire, fire tools, chainsaws, etc. ha! I have
never seen someone who sleeps with a pulaski before. ha! ha! Summers she's
gone for long times. Fire is her family, probably at this stage of her
life it's more important than me, and we're close. She has a boyfriend and
has had several others, but they seem peripheral and have tended to get
jealous pretty fast, like "what's in it for me?" She is very
cute and I think they imagined her spending the summer on their arm. Best
thing would be for her to have someone who shared the fire passion. Next
best thing is to have someone who has his own passion and can understand
hers and just love the time he spends with her.
Perhaps at some time other priorities will surface, like getting married
and having children (I hope, I'd love to be an aunt some day), but right
now it's ALL fire. Guess I won't hold my breath for those nieces/nephews.
Wouldn't want to constrain her with my expectations, I love her too much,
love having her around when she can be, love having her friends hang out
with us, love hearing her stories and adventures. Guess that's what
sisters are for.
I think you came up with a really great way of putting it...firefighters,
whether a wife, husband, son or daughter...are working FOR the family. And
it really is a "family" effort, both on the home front keeping
the bills paid and the kids and animals alive and well, and on the
fireline...keeping the bills paid. Also, the times away really do help us
all focus on what is really important when the family unites...the finer
points that get dulled by the everyday togetherness. So, yep, Firecookie,
its a "mind thang." Thanks for reminding us all.
||Being a FS FireWife for the past 12 years, I can honestly say I think we
the families of the firefighters have the harder job than they do.
Why? you ask, well we are the ones on the home front dealing with all the
everyday (24/7) "Stuff" that goes on. While our FireFamily gets
to to to distant places, and see things we will never see in our lives. I
had a grudge for years over this, I was the homebody, took care of the kid
and the critters, the house, bills and worked too. There were times when I
came verrrry close to "Hating" my hubby for being gone. He got
to get away from it all, no hassles with the home, You all know what I
mean by that. But now years later, I have settled down into the groove of
things, and believe it or not, I actually look forward to him being gone,
LOL. It gives me time to do special things with my son (Mommy and Me days
as he calls it), alone time, and also gives me the time to see how much we
miss him and can't wait for him to come home. We tend to have great
quickie vacations after he comes home from fires. As a family we always
plan on special trips or projects to take when Dad comes home. So you see,
its a mind thing, you just have to learn to adjust, and roll with the
trips. Or you can look at it like our son does and "Do the Mo
Money" dance, he has learned this due to hazard and OT pay means,
we/he gets to go/do/buy something. LOL.
Just remember one thing, our firefighter is working for us as a Family as
well as for his job, and if yours is anything like mine, It's a Disease,
its in their blood (long line of FS Fire in his family) you can actually
see the flames in their eyes when they start talking about the past fires
they have been on.
So there ya go, one FireWife's opinion/advise. Hug em, Love em, and Pray
Thanks to ALL fire family members who contribute, support us while
we're away and who "tell it like it is". We love and appreciate
you even as we keep our eyes on the smoke and flame. It's not easy when
your partner is addicted to/ has a passion for/ or is otherwise compelled
to serve in the capacity of fighting fire. Thanks to the families of the
team folks who keep the resources flowing and to the families of
dispatchers, too. Ab.
I've been thinking about this since the question was posted, but, I
really, honestly, don't think there's a way for anyone to provide advice
on how your son can avoid feeling "left out" when his wife is
out on a fire assignment. That responsibility really does sit on his
shoulders, and depends to a great extent on how autonomous an individual
he is. Does he enjoy private time? Time to do his "own thing"?
Some relationships are established on the "joined at the hip"
idea. Those relationships suffer in fire season.
As a young mother with three little ones, we did all kinds of creative
things to "help mommy stay sane." (Not sure if they
worked...certainly didn't save my marriage.)
I realize this isn't much help, but there were no emotional bandaides
around for wives then either.
I can only encourage you to encourage your son to buck up and believe in
the strength of the relationship...and trust his wife. (This is a biggee
in the fire scene.)...and learn to enjoy the personal time alone.
Best to you,
||As far as husbands/wives left behind --
I don't think he's gonna want to hear this, but here it is anyhow. For
YEARS and YEARS and YEARS I was the one left behind. My husband came home
when our first child was 3 months old. I guess I was kind of a rag during
all those years, but there were the kids, working in fire, running the
homefront, being married to a SMJ, etc.
In the last 10 years though, the tables were switched, I was on a team, so
we had our own "rotation" -- Talk about H--- to pay when I was
gone!! I don't think he missed me (for those of you who DO know me, that
is understandable) -- but what he was missing -- was being "left
out." I was "out" and he was desk and house bound -- IT WAS
A VERY HARD TRANSITION for someone who had always gone, and was caught by
fire. I think it's a pretty ugly situation at times, and it takes a darned
good patient person of either gender to keep on going.
My suggestion is to just keep busy, get on with lots of things you'd like
to accomplish when you have some of that precious time alone -- and also
be happy at this point, that you don't have young uns around.
Jealousy can really skyrocket -- not meaning "sexually" in my
case -- but in "getting" to see the fire family and friends vs.
the same old tired crowd at home.........I know alot of other people that
feel the same way. At times it's a pick your poison situation......I know
this is really "positive" help -- but that's the way it is
De-Throned (aka Cache Queen)
||I'm a FS employee & went out years ago in support positions so I
the excitement and adventure. I don't go out anymore, but my
daughter-in-law is now part of a type 1 team and goes out alot. My son is
having a tough time understanding and dealing with this... he's not a
A good friend of mine told me about your website and I think it's
a wonderful idea, however I didn't see any notes from husbands left
Do you ever get mail from the men who stay at home and deal with the every
day regime? I'd like to tell my son about this, but don't know if he could
relate so well to the women taking care of kids (no kids here). He loves
his wife and wants her to be happy, but he's feeling very left out. Any
||Hi DS and welcome......we have a fairly slow list here but hopefully it
will grow. I agree with Fire Momma......this can be a very lonesome,
stressful life. We've been a FF family for a very long time and I still
have times when I want to yell STAY HOME!!!!!!!! But, not once have I ever
said "I don't want you to go".....because he would have stayed
home. So it can be hard on relationships.
There are lots of things everyone does to keep up with the FF and try to
stay in touch. I personally have a new large map I keep every year on the
freezer door and I mark the fires and put pictures, news clippings etc for
them. Even the older ones will stand there looking at where they have been
and start telling stories, adventures.
I also have a pendant, a gold FF symbol, I put it on when the first one
goes out and take it off for the season when the last one gets home. Just
sorta my way to stay close. Probably all the significant others of the FF
do things too and maybe will share...anyway....welcome and any help or
support needed don't hesitate to say......Sammi
||Hello DS & all,
I've been reading through all the posts and sure wish there would have
been a place like this when I was a young wife raising three babies on a
Forest Service compound in an abandoned logging camp in the Sierras. It's
wonderful, and extremely emotionally healthy to have others who understand
what you're going through when fire season is in full swing.
Ab, this family area is especially wonderful. Good job! You probably don't
even know how many marriages you're potentially saving with this part of
the site. It certainly came too late for my early attempts at domestic
bliss. Oh well.
Many of us in fire have problems with our relationships, our loved ones
who we leave behind during fire season. We hope this site helps. Ab.
Congrats on your marriage! Although my husband and I have been married
nearly 8 years, I also understand how hard those early into marriage
separations can be. My husband did 8 years active duty Marine Corps, and 4
of those I was his wife. He was always leaving for some reason or another.
The separations are hard, but the homecomings are great!
Now that his specialty is wildland fire, the summers are hard when our
girls and me are missing him, but his time home is worth the separation.
I am here if you need someone to chat with.
My husband is a wildland firefighter. We've only been married for 8 months
and fire season already here! My husband is on an engine crew based out of
Browns Park in Colorado...they've already named a fire after me! How
funny! Anyway, I'm praying for all your family members to remain safe this
||Do you have information on the fires in Arizona? Last year you had a
list of fires. Are you doing that this year? I hope so.
Welcome back RO. Yes we will be doing our Fire
Links, 2003 but there are not many fires with their own web pages yet.
There is a link at the top of this forum. Of course, you can check in at
theysaid to see what firefighters are talking about.
You can also visit the Fire
News page and click on different topics. This is a great search option
from google and we've configured the search to optimize finding pertinent
recent info on the topics. Click on wildland fire or wildfire for the most
recent articles on the web. There is a fine long list of articles with the
newest being only 17 minutes old.
You can also go to the Links
page and scroll down to NIFC Fire News or to the GACCs listing of fire
information - Situation Report (Sit) or News if it's available. The
Southwest has a good website for fire information in your area. Nice
southwest area map of large fires, too. Ab.
||Welcome to all the new people and hello to the familiar ones. I have two
guys in our family getting packs ready etc. Seems like two weeks ago we
were unpacking and cleaning stuff. My guys have been busy for a while now
doing controlled burns and one is working on the Firesmart program. That's
a new program where the FF and forestry people come in and clear away
brush and ladder fuels from the homes close to the woods etc. They have
been working up here in North Idaho all summer and they are doing
extremely needed but awesome work. Some of the property's I have seen look
like they are in the middle of a park. Really nice work and no cost to the
landowner. Highly recommended if they have it where you are.
I guess I am an old hand at this having a husband and sons involved.....so
I would be glad to try and answer questions....and I will tell it like I
see it....not the cleaned up version. That use to really anger me when I
was looking for info and people would gloss over stuff.....
I have not coped with little kids in a long time but they seem to be very
hardy little creatures. I might suggest a scrapbook if they are old enough
to help you. Also I keep a big map on the freezer and I tape names etc,
pictures whatever comes in. New map every year so I can keep up with who
is doing what and then it is like a scrap book. I know my kids loved
family pictures.......for a while here we were looking for newspaper
pictures and then posting the names so if anyone claims whoever was in the
picture we sent it to them. keep up with the newspapers where their dad is
because several times one of my guys has been in the paper and we didn't
||Well here we are again, looking at a busy fire season with our
firefighters gone for long periods of time. This will only be my second
fire season as a fire fighters wife, (after 4 years as a military wife,
the separations are not as difficult). My husband got into this last year
on a college crew, and over the winter was offered a full time
apprenticeship position with the Forest Service. We have 2 young children
that miss their daddy terribly when he is gone, so if any of you veteran
wives have any advice, it is always appreciated!
||Ab Note: This message is cross posted from theysaid. We're
looking forward to family members writing in. Don't be shy. People will
reply to your questions.
Hi, I am curious to know if the base camp at Susanville (sends
firefighters out all around the country or do they basically stay on the
western side of the US? Is this the closest base camp to Spokane,
Also, what is daily base camp life like? Who prepares the meals? Is there
an established camp there with sleeping accommodations & provisions?
When there is no fire for them to fight, are they free to leave camp? How
many firefighters work out of the camp?
Also, how long is training to learn how to parachute into fire areas? Are
there any prerequisites to becoming a "smoke jumper?" how
dangerous is it?
I have a 17 year old grandson who is talking about the good money to be
earned, just working from late spring to fall. He feels it would give him
a good nest egg for college in 2005. I am concerned about the conditions
at the camp and the training beginners get.
If I get a favorable response from you I would like to look into this
further - can you direct me to a site/sites where I could learn more about
the basics and how a parent/grandparent could track (on the internet) what
fires are current & if a family member is put on a certain fire.
thanks so much for anything you can help me with,
Lu, I don't personally know about the camp at Susanville, but here are
a couple of quick answers to some of your questions:
To be a smokejumper, you must be an experienced wildland firefighter and
then go through extensive jumper training. It is not for beginners. To
find out about smokejumpers, try this site... www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/smokejumpers/.
Smokejumpers are a " shared national resource". They travel to
remote, inaccessible areas all over the US to fight wildfire.
I imagine your grandson is talking about temporary, seasonal firefighting
work with a federal agency since they're the largest hirers (ex, Forest
Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service). If so, he'd be
hired to work on a handcrew or engine crew at a local Forest or BLM
"duty station". He's likely to be dispatched from there with his
crew to fight fires out of the area or out of the state. Wildland
firefighting assignments can take crews to some of the most beautiful
country in the U.S. and they get paid for it. With overtime, the money can
add up especially from a young person's perspective. Some crew members
finance their college education fighting fire. However, the beautiful
country where fires burn is often rugged and remote... and potentially
dangerous when it's afire. Hours can be long and strenuous. Then sometimes
you just "wait a lot".
The FFI training in which I've participated is excellent. It stresses
safety, how to stay safe. However, if your grandson is not the outdoorsy
type or is not in excellent physical shape, he may be a poor candidate for
this kind of job. For a successful experience as in all jobs, the
relationship between the person and job must be a "good fit". If
the fit is right, he could have the most rewarding experience of his life.
Suggest that he go to the location he's interested in and talk to the
firefighters there. He could treat it as an "informational" job
Here's info on FS firefighter employment www.fs.fed.us/fire/people/employment/
and the hiring site for the Forest Service www.fs.fed.us/fire/links/links_employment.html
and for the BLM www.fire.blm.gov/recruit.htm.
Training is done by the agency. You can look a post I did on 6/5 in
response to Kirby to get some few details on the training required for the
intro level qualifications -- Firefighter I. In addition to relying on
themselves, novice firefighters must also rely on their more experienced
squad bosses and crew supervisors or on their engine captains. There is
lots of on-the-job training, both formal and informal. To get a feel for
the wider fire community, browse the FS
Fire and Aviation site. Fire is "interagency", but that's a
good place to start.
Sometimes it is not possible to know where your family member is fighting
fire unless they call and tell you... and sometimes that's hard to do from
remote sites. Their "duty station" forest will probably know
where they were dispatched first, but their crew might be sent on after
that first location. Some of the family members who write in to our
familysaid web page during the season know more about tracking their
family members than firefighters do. Undoubtedly you can get some more
answers to questions from them as the season gets underway. Pop over to
the familysaid page in a few weeks and ask those good folks. Browse back
through their suggestions from seasons past. As far as the resources we
maintain on wildlandfire.com, if you are able to find out a fire's name,
you can take a look at our running list of large fires on the web, 2003
linked at the top of this page. You can read the National Fire Situation
Report, the NIFC Large Fire website, the southwest or southern CA news and
notes pages, all linked from our Links Page, button in our header.
You can follow some fires via our News Page also linked in our
header. Clearly not much for this season is up on the web yet but there
are signs that things are heating up.
||My sister is gearing up, getting current with refreshers. She doesn't
know when her crew will be called up, but she's getting antsy.
We all are. Ab.
"Looks like fire season starts . . . tomorrow," his voice
crackled across the
miles and landed in my message machine. "Probably won't be calling in
days." He's expecting a busy--but safe--season. So do we all.
I'm looking forward to your daily, generous gifts--when firefighters and
their friends and families share information, experiences, ideas, and
encouragement. I'll be reading your posts, eager to catch up with your
Glad yer with us. Ab.
Happy New Year