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.