Hey, I said MOST over 30s…my assistant crewboss is pushing sixty and can hike me into the ground! But the fact is that you can’t call that a blanket solution to the problem of cocky young firefighters. As far as safety goes…I knew I was on a good crew when I heard a rookie call our crewboss on a safety mistake, and the crewboss stopped, listened, and modified his plan and behavior. No questions, no ego involved, just thinking about the good of the crew. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. I’ve quit one job and declined to work with one crew based on incidents where people were ridiculed for refusing to do tasks which they viewed as unsafe, and I have yet to proven wrong in making that kind of decision. I hate it when people try to tell me that an occupation or activity is “unavoidably dangerous”. That’s bull; my great-grandfather lost three brothers and two uncles to the industry I work in; at that time, amputations, crippling injuries, and deaths were a monthly if not a weekly occurrence. Through improving technology and a safety mentality based on the idea that no injury is acceptable, we’re now much, much safer.
I see no reason why we shouldn’t go into fire fighting with the same attitude. “We risk a lot to save a lot” is not a bad principle; but wouldn’t it be nice if we could think our way around these problems and through training, technology, and education save a lot without risking much at all? Especially in wildland…sorry, but I don’t intend to put myself in serious risk of death for a forest, a structure, or some undefined resource goal. I am not a hero; I intend to know my gear, my methods, and my escape routes well enough that even if my activities appear risky to the untrained eye, I do not feel I am in danger. A hazard becomes a danger as a result of poor awareness and deficient preparation; just because our jobs are hazardous does not mean they need to be dangerous.
Nerd on the Fireline