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  • 10/09/2003
  • WildlandFire.com Team
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Lady sammi:

Where I work, ANY safety violation gets you three days off without pay to think about things, at the discretion of the safety officer. On my crew, well, like I said, we got the fear put into us…and we’ve had a TOTAL of three incidents all season: two mild heat stroke and one set of mildly blistered hands. All First Aid cases. And our specialty is very, very extreme terrain (I kid you not…we’ve had to rig ropes to get to some of our fires).

What’s worked really well for us is that even within our squads, we’ve got partners: Sawyer and swamper, first Pulaski and first scrape, and so on. You watch yourself, you watch your partner, and if you see something your partner doesn’t, you sure better sing out before the crewboss catches it. At any given time one person in the pair is supposed to have their head up. We also almost all have radios; only the squad bosses, the lookouts, and the crewboss transmit, but EVERYBODY listens.

Our crew culture leans heavily toward the smart*ss…we all respect our leadership, but we show it in the form of near-terminal irreverence. Respect doesn’t necessarily have to mean fear…fear gets in the way of communication. We have a healthy fear of our crewboss’s chief; if you really screw up, you get reported to him, and that’s known as “Getting called to the principal’s office.” It’s only happened to me once, and I got a very calm, very detailed, very scathing and very public dressing down (which, in my opinion, was also very undeserved; it wasn’t a safety violation). But he isn’t on the line with us; on the line, anybody can and will say anything (which gets a little too revealing sometimes, but you know). We all make sure that everybody sees every potential hazard before it results in stupidity; in our crewboss’ words “Sh*t rolls downhill”, so if we get him in trouble because of something we saw that he didn’t, it’s going to make our lives more difficult too.

Hammers: I’ve never had that problem. I also keep my toolkit in my car, so it’s never very far from me, and I don’t have a male unit to borrow tools and not return them. My solution would be to get my own hammer and hide it somewhere; my mother always kept one in the back of her knife drawer so my dad wouldn’t take it when she needed it. Were you using the meat cleaver on the ice cream? Oh, and at Baskin and Robbins they keep the scoops under warm water. If you warm the scoop up it works much better.

Nerd on the Fireline

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