The Work Never Ends

[This article originally appeared as the introduction to the 2021 Spring Issue of Two More Chains.]

By Kelly Woods, Director, Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

It has been a decade since the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (LLC) set out to produce a quarterly publication to highlight thought-provoking topics from and for the field. This issue of Two More Chains marks its ten-year anniversary.

In the decade that has passed, this publication has informed the wildland fire community, striving to foster a learning culture at its core. Two More Chains has shared lessons, told stories, and prompted dialogue across the globe.

The ten-year mark is an opportunity to reflect on what we have done and where we are headed. We must evolve to stay relevant and serve not only as a reflection of the wildland fire culture, but as an influence as well.

This first issue of Two More Chains was released ten years ago in April 2011.

The title Two More Chains was a PT run induced moment of brilliance by former LLC Director Brit Rosso. The phrase “Two More Chains!” is part of our common language. When those of us within the wildland fire culture hear the phrase, we are immediately aware of a shared experience. It’s a phrase that unites firefighters from across the nation in a sense of being part of a powerful community that knows how to work hard, get the job done, and generally have a good time doing it.

In the first issue of Two More Chains, LLC staff asked a cross-section of the wildland fire community what the saying “Two More Chains!” meant to them. The general consensus was that it often meant some version of: “Shut up and dig!” or “Don’t worry about it, we’ll get there when we get there, so please keep swinging that tool!”—all depending on the micro-culture of that particular crew.

As with most things in our business, the phrase “Two More Chains!” has traceable lineage. It is said to have been coined by storied Horseshoe Meadow Interagency Hotshot Crew Superintendent Ben Charley as a motivational mantra to keep his crew laughing and digging during the roughest of shifts. This expression and its multiple meanings obviously strike a chord within our ranks, evidenced by its ubiquitous and unwavering use.

We are all in this together, keep working, and don’t forget to laugh. These are the key elements of this axiom we reflect upon in this ten-year anniversary issue of Two More Chains. Learning is part of the never-ending work required for growth, we all have a part in it, and it’s not always fun . . . but there will be laughter.

Ben Charley coined the phrase “Two More Chains!” as a motivational mantra when he was the Horseshoe Meadow IHC Superintendent.

Learning is action. We must all do our part to keep grounded in fundamentals, support innovation, and reveal the complexity and risk in the wildland fire environment.

Each of us, at all levels, in every agency and fire organization play a part in being learners, sharing lessons, and exchanging ideas. Whether we are seeking to understand why something happened or creating opportunities for ourselves and those around us to learn from our collective experiences, our work as students of fire is never done. There is no crew working toward us and we cannot hear their saws. We will not tie in. And yet, we will keep working. And we will laugh.

Whether this publication sees ten more years or not, there will always be “Two More Chains”.

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