I don’t know about you, but in my career some things just stand out like they happened yesterday. This story happened 22 years ago but it I still remember some odd details and it still makes me smile and miss “the good old days.” I made some good friends and work relationships on this fire. There are important leadership lessons that I learned on this fire too. One lesson I learned was how to be valuable to your boss and organization. Another lesson was to learn to be flexible, quick on your feet and improvise in order to be successful. I think this story will demonstrate those leadership attributes and maybe one thing not to do as well. Hope you enjoy the story.
#85, The Nevada Burn Queen
Bobbie Scopa Podcast 1 Minute
Published by Bobbie Scopa
I've been a wildland and municipal firefighter for over 40 years. I've held positions from firefighter up through the ranks to Chief and above. Over the years I've gathered many surprising and funny stories. Most have a good leadership lesson for all of us. I hope you enjoy them. View all posts by Bobbie Scopa
8 thoughts on “#85, The Nevada Burn Queen”
Jumpers are often launched on the heels of a thunderhead or in a large area of new starts to grab anything that is not staffed. Sometimes, other resources are on the way, and in the confusion of a fire bust…they get ordered by dispatch to go ahead and jump something that might be covered.
The firefighting you described in Nevada is seriously fun. There are many stories similar to your experience from Alaska. Two firefighters take different flanks…swatting out the fire with a Spruce bough…they don’t see each other for two or three days…and they finally meet up, drive the Golden Spike, and call a multi-thousand acre out.
Those are the most fun fires Scott. Thanks for listening.
Those were the days…weren’t they?
Yea. Great memories!
Bobbie – Quick comment on this tale. There were times (late-’80s?) I
would listen to radio calls when my guy was assigned on fires for a long
time. I’ve heard some well-salted lingo over the years. Lack of sleep
mixed with nasty fires tends to create foul language. Don’t loose any
sleep over that. (Some of those times Clay wasn’t even in-state, but I
missed the hub-bub. Other times when he was local I would get a little
“gift” when hearing his number/voice. This was before cell phones and
regular calls home.) My husband was the forester/FF in the family, but
my career also was out of the normal female area (County Extension
Agent), so there were times I ran a’gin male egos who sometimes tried to
intimidate. I can sort of relate. I don’t think anyone in Resources
would dare to label any effective male DB with limited assets doing
burn-outs on a big fire “The Burn-King” – even as a joke; more like
Fire-Master. P.S. Never saw a drip-torch
that CLEAN!!! 😂Judy D
Thanks for commenting Judy. The culture of the wildland fire service is surely unique. I had to swim upstream for sure but I had a great career regardless. And I’m jealous of you. I would have loved to be a county agent. I was too intimidated to get a masters when I was young. By the time I finished my masters degree, my path was set. Take care Judy.
Oh, and my drip torch/lamp was brand new when the crew made that for me. 🙂
I learned about using a juniper branch as a fire swatter when I worked on the Heppner Ranger District in Northeast Oregon in the 1980s. We even burned Rx units in the lower elevations of the district that were juniper and sage by what we called swatter burning. One person would light and a couple people with juniper swatters would follow the lighter and swat out the fire to create a black line. No hand or dozer line required.
Smoke jumpers from the Redmond Air Center would bring gunny sacks when they came to Heppner.
I have a shiny Drip Torch similar to yours. It was a retirement gift when I retired from the Chemult Ranger District. No light though, just the wick on top. The District AFMO spent about 20 hours polishing it with Jeweler’s rouge.
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