California wildfires 2018: Climate change is making wildfires worse - Vox
Last month, I spoke with my friend Jesse Moreng, an ex-hotshot — or wildland firefighter — who now works as a multi-mission aircraft manager, mapping fires for the firefighters on the ground. When I asked Jesse if he thought this fire season was more severe than most, he said yes, “just in terms of how many places are burning at once.”
Wed Nov 14 02:14:52 2018 - permalink -
When I was 19, I dropped out of college, and a friend suggested I apply at a nearby fire contracting agency in Eugene, Oregon. We were on a fire within two weeks, and I loved the job. It was intense and exhausting, but I loved the camaraderie I had with my fellow crew members.
Hotshots are on the front lines — a crew consists of 18 to 22 members, the bulk of whom are seasonal federal employees and the rest permanent government employees.
It’s intensely physical work. The fire season typically lasts May through October, and in a busy season, a crew will log more than 1,000 hours of overtime. On “rolls,” a crew leaves home base for two to three weeks at a time, depending on the fire situation nationally, and will only come home for a couple of days before being called out again. Every few years, some crews have a slow season, resulting in less pay. Each hotshot gets paid differently due to experience, but most are paid $13 to $17 an hour, plus overtime and hazard pay.
Most importantly, large fires emit greenhouse gases, which have been proven to accelerate climate change and burn trees, which are crucial for oxygenating the air.
The goal was to quickly create a line free of any vegetation that could burn, called a fireline, which we used to stop fires from growing. Digging fireline is grueling; I often lost myself in the sound of chainsaws and rhythm of my tool hitting the dirt and ignored my physical pain.
make tea with the water in our water bottles, which was almost always hot.
fter the initial frenzy of a new fire, our shifts were pretty regular: 16 hours on the fireline every day. We woke around 5 am