Reflections on the Selma and Nuttall Staff Rides

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, time is neutral. It ticks by inexorably whether we are moved to act or not. The challenges we see ahead of us in our organizations, whether our organization is a crew or a fire program or a fire agency, can seem vast like those sky islands of the Arizona desert. It seems unfair by comparison, but the actions of people are almost always familiarly and stiflingly small. And yet that is the scale where we live and most often have the freedom to act.

I Wish I Knew

If you are a district ranger reading this and are unfamiliar with wildland fire and what it means to participate, that commitment to being on an IMT, I urge you to make the effort to learn from the employees around you. Represent to the non-fire employees a different perspective of sacrifice to the job that non-fire employees may not understand.

Not Unique

Many of us are drawn to this work in pursuit of intensity. Our life outside the job is often just a different flavor of intensity (not always in a healthy way). Our emotional struggles aren’t always directly associated with the job. But aspects of our profession complicate our ability to effectively tackle these types of issues—regardless of their origin.

Painful Progress

Growth from the ashes of Yarnell occurred on many fronts in many individual lives. In most cases, preceded by dark days and deep despair. Not everyone made it out of the hopelessness. But as a community, can we claim any sort of cultural catharsis? I submit that we can.