The Valor Of Fire Fighters

We worry about opoids. We worry about measles. We worry about vaping. We worry about Trump. We worry about health issues and health costs. We worry about a LOT of things on a daily and seemingly unending basis.

But do we ever take the time to worry about firefighters? Do we spend even a minute of our day thinking about what these men and women do to protect homes, people, lands, and forests?

And most of all — do we think about what happens to them in the long term? Do we consider how the smoke and the fumes from burning buildings … especially from prefabricated homes that were prevalent in the Paradise, CA fire — affect them? No one knows for sure the aftereffects of the “noxious mix of plastics, metals, household cleaning chemicals and who knows what else” that escape from burning residences, but there’s little doubt firefighters will suffer toxic consequences.

In fact, everything that burns has the potential to cause harm. Even the neon-pink fire retardant that’s used to control wildfires can result in harmful after-effects.

Yet these brave men and women put all this aside to climb hills, clear brush, dig lines, trim trees, and hike for miles in their efforts to control a wildfire.

You may be fortunate enough to live in an area where wildfires are a rarity. Because of this, it’s probably difficult to imagine what it’s like to “breathe smoke.”

Which is most likely why Trump (who lives in a state with a low frequency of forest fires)  has made budget cuts related to various fire and emergency response programs.  And why he tweeted — falsely — about the “gross mismanagement of the forests” following the deadly Camp Fire in California … and vaguely threatened he would cut funding if the policy didn’t change . (Odds are the only fire this man has ever experienced is the one burning in the fireplace of one of his extravagantly plush homes.)

In case you’re wondering, I have no skin in this game. I simply felt more people need to recognize the dangers — and the after-effects — these brave men and women encounter every time they put on their flame-resistant apparel, gather up helmets, boots, flashlights, tools, gear bags, etc. and head towards a blazing inferno.

IMO, they are a special breed of humans.

The incentive for writing this post came from this article in The Guardian. Trump’s quote related to funding can be found here.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

21 thoughts on “The Valor Of Fire Fighters

  1. A friend of mine from uni was a volunteer firefighter; an essential part of fire management in Australia. They’re the one’s who fight the bush fires. A few years after uni he and his crew were caught in a firestorm, in their truck. He was burnt horrifically, third-degree across his body. His face was, quite literally, burnt off. When I saw him a year later, there was nothing I recognised. Not a thing. So, Yes, a special breed indeed.

    Liked by 4 people

        • That’s a few more fire fighters than in Aotearoa New Zealand 🙂 We have a around over 13,300 firefighters nationwide, of which only some 1,700 are professional. The rest are volunteers and about 14% are women.

          Health statistics for fire fighters is appalling: 100% greater risk of developing testicular cancer, 32% greater risk of brain cancer and 28% greater risk of developing prostate cancer, and that’s just the beginning.

          NZ has a universal no faults accident compensation scheme that also covers workplace induced diseases, but in the case of firefighters, the authority appears to be taking the stance of “prove your cancer is a direct result of your work environment”. Legislation might be the only way to improve the health cover of firefighters.

          Liked by 3 people

  2. We are currently getting the residue on the Gold Coast from fires in NSW and we have not had the worst of the fires yet. The fire fighters spend long hours in constant putrid smoke and the sad reality is that they are mostly young men who may have their lives cut short from cancers and lung problems.

    And the terrible thing about these tragedies are that some fires have been either purposely started by a sicko or come from somebody’s stupidity.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Here in Finland we “rake” our forests and do not have forest fires as a result. Or that is what the president of the USA himself told us a while a go. We were all surpriced and wondered what he meant…

    There have been some terrible forest fires in our neighbouring Sweden, but not so many here. The reason may be, that we have plenty of rain as a result of the Golf stream. It causes rain in the Norvegian coastline when the warm air masses hit the Keel mountains, Sweden is sheltered behind those mountains, but as the air mas moves towards north-east it crosses the Baltic sea and rains again onto Finland. Much of our forests are actually more or less spotted by lakes, bogs and swamp. However, we have had some fierce forest fires in the past. Finally, when the forests are covered for at least a third of the year in snow, that lowers the chances of forest fires quite a bit.

    We also have both regular and volunteer firefighters and then there is the conscripted &reserve military always ready to provide help with manpower and machinery to the firefighters.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Well, there is this strange title the US presidents have enjoyed for decades, that they are called the “leader of the free world” by people in the US. As of yet, I have failed to see any democratic processes where this sort of an appointment was made for them to be praised as such. So, I guess it is possible, that Trump has simply come to the conclusion, that this honorary title given to his position by his compatriots is a real appointment.

        For decades the US has been the main funder of NATO and Trump has become aware, that other NATO countries are not contributing as much as the USA. The US military is often mentioned as the mightiest on the face of the Earth, but in reality it is just the most expensive. There is this idea, that the rest of the world owes it’s “freedom” to the US, when the US owes it’s freedom to the others just as much and even more. No nation on this planet could stand alone, if all the others were against it. Germany, the technologically most advanced country in the world, tried twice and failed. GB, that ruled the waves and in their Empire the sun never set has diminished in the face of this impossible task back to their original role a small country at the edge of Europe.Spain once ruled an empire that streched across the globe, but who even remembers that era?

        Trump has an obvious problem with his ego. A product of capitalist selfish values and competetive culture he seems to see himself always in competition with everyone else. Stupid or otherwise lacking individuals often have this mental issue in cultures value competition. Other people who do not share his egotistic mental problems may get confused around him and his rude behaviour, and that makes him feel he has beaten the opposition. It also provides food for his worldview as others emotionally handicapped in the same manner as he is, recognize him as the winner and give him authority for his deranged behaviour. It is a sort of dogwhistle phenomenon. His inner need to win and to be the best at everything is propably very much stroked by the notion, that he supposedly leads and runs the world. However, he is a product of his culture, and him being a bit simple individual has honed him not only to be the most driven, but also the most succesfull individual by the terms that culture has set him in. If being the best at everything you do is seen as a virtue, then a culture that provides that behaviour model is bound to sooner or later produce someone who is so needy as Trump. If that same culture also worships money as the final arbitrator of how to measure being the best at what you do, that culture is bound to produce someone capable to achieve the highest political position like Trump. I do not think he even realizes the responsibility of his position, he simply has run for it, to have it for the social standing it symbolically represents to him. Simple people are always impressed by symbols.

        Firefighters however, are people who understand responsibility and are ready to make the necessary personal sacrifices for the common good – wich is what responsibility actually means.

        Liked by 3 people

        • I agree with Jeff. Getting perspective from individuals living outside the U.S. about our mentally deficient leader lets us know our fears (and disgusts) are not unfounded. He is totally screwing up our relationships with other countries … and doing a piss-poor job of running this one.

          If this man gets re-elected and I were younger, single, and financially able, I guarantee you I would move out of the U.S. I love my country, but what tRumpsky is doing to it — on a DAILY basis — is getting more and more difficult to bear.

          Thank you again for sharing, rautakyy.

          Liked by 3 people

          • Hello Nan. Good news. Canada is having a court case to see if they can get rid of the safe state agreement with the US that prevents people in the US from requesting asylum in Canada. Being disabled and poor the only way I can escape the coming theocracy that would stone me ( vrs being stoned ) is requesting asylum from Canada for being LGBTQ+ in direct contradiction of Republican orders. You might qualify if you are either a liberal who believes in equal rights or a supporter of the idea that POC should be able to vote also that black lives matter. Good luck, meet you on the other side. Safe journey, take water and extra fuel, they may stop serving non-Christians who have the mark of the beast, so be safely prepared. Hugs

            Liked by 2 people

          • Thank you. Likewise, it is interresting to me, to read what you guys in the US think. In reality in the post world wars world the US has grown to be a major influence culturally, economically and politically. So it is interresting to know what exactly is going on there.

            We who live in small countries, are always a bit wary of such empires. If the political leadership of an empire is able to make mostly unchallenged statements, that define interfering militarily, or otherwise, to the issues of a nother sovereign country in order to “protect” their “interrests abroad”, it is a dangerous road for the entire globe. If they do not even feel compelled to appeal to human rights issues in order to justify a war against some other nation.

            Empires always have an inner illusion of their invincibility. For example the US spent enormous sums of money to fight developing countries such as North-Korea and Vietnam without being able to subdue them. (Not unlike the Soviet Union against Finland in WWII) The human cost is always terrible. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan has cost the US economy, and through it the entire world economy sums that caused a global depression, when the US national treasury could not compensate for the failed business ventures of a few real-estate capitalists (because it is always the state – we the people – that has to repair and suffer the damage liberalist economy causes). When the global market economy gets a hit like that, the capitalists who took the wild risks to make more money (as they obviously did not have enough) float like shite after a while, but the over all economic misery makes the rest of us even more dependant on their wealth. The result is, that people get scared and lean more onto the “traditional values” wich only increases the misery of us all and the profit making chances of the super rich. But I digress… Sorry.

            Liked by 2 people

  4. Hello Nan. One point I would like to add. Often those brave people on the front line fighting the fires are volunteers from prisons. Yes in many places, especially in California, prisoners can volunteer to fight the fires. The shameful thing is that when they get out of prison they can not join a fire department even with their training and experiences due to being felons. That is something that needs to be changed. Each year these people risk their lives and some die, yet they are still not accepted in to society once they have served their time. Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

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