Wildland Firefighter Foundation
Wildland Firefighter Foundation

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  • 08/28/2002
  • WildlandFire.com Team
  • 0 Comment

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the wildland fire fighter.

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 distances.

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 confrontational situations.

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.


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