My first day fighting fires was a lot like what I’ve read of first combat experiences. I was really excited when we got up and headed for the Valley this morning. It was great when we got our gear issued, then we waited a little bit before heading out for Crane Flat Fire Lookout. Then we got to fill water bottles and sharpen tools while we waited some more. Then Group B headed out while we (Group A) ate lunch and waited still more. After a while we got to go out. Not on a helicopter, as we expected to. We drove out all the way to the end of some fire road and looked around for the fire. Having no luck, we backtracked and had a helicopter hover over it a couple of times. We finally found it.
There weren’t even any flames. Just a smoldering tree and some foliage and small trees around it. We called some fallers in and they took the big tree down, then we built a break around it. It was pretty tame, actually, but I guess it was all right for a first fire.
It reminded me a lot of some soldiers’ first combat. He goes into it all sorts of expectations, then gets the ‘hurry up and wait’ jazz, and goes on endless patrols searching for the enemy, and then his first firefight is some little thing not at all resembling what he was expecting. It’s over before he realizes it.
I think it was really remarkable how fast Frank learned everybody’s name today. Having never met us before today, when he was issuing orders, he always called everyone by their correct name. Amazing.