Watching The World Burn

All around us fires burn into the night.  We live in a world where passion has destroyed what love was ment to be and where to many bridges lay in ashes.  We live with the flames in our hearts, minds and soul.  Smoke drifts over our past as the flames dance around our feet.

In life, not all flames are metaphors, some of them will and do burn across our paths.  Just a few short days ago, I completed the training to become a Type II Wildland Fire Fighter through the El Paso County Sherffs Department.  Under the watchful eyes of experienced members of the crew, 19 of us from AmeriCorps NCCC completed S-130 (Firefighter Training), S-190 (Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior) and L-180 (Human Factors on the Fireline). 

We learned about the wildland fire fighting world.  We were taught the parts of a fire, behaviors of fire, terms used in the combating of a wildland fire.  We now understand how topography (the lay of the land), weather and fuels affect the way a fire behaves, burns and runs its course.  We saw what was needed to fight a fire, from Nomex to hard hats, tools to equipment in an average fire pack.  We were told what to expect, how to prepare and then given the opportunity to experience building fireline and maintaining our tools.

This class taught us more than what to expect on a fire, but how to become a part of a team, a cohesive unit built for a purpose and becoming something more than what each individual can do on their own.  We learned how to communicate and how to watch out for the safety of everyone around us. 

Each of us can take something from this class and apply it to life.  While fire burns through our grasslands, forests and over our mountains, not all flames cause physical harm.  Fires burn each and every day, from anger to love, words to actions.  We take risks, have planned escape routes and safety zones, but sometimes we still get burned. 

To survive in the fire world (as a firefighter) one must rely on their team.  In life, sometimes we cannot make it on our own.  Most of the time, life works out this way.  No matter how good we are at watching out for situations, sometimes we find ourselves in situations over our heads.  Many times we don’t even notice until it’s too late.  That’s where others come in. 

On a fire line, there is always a lookout, someone who is constantly watching the fire, their crew and the surrounding area.  One never fights a fire alone, but relies on each and every member of the crew around him, from the man working on each side of him to the squad boss who directs him to where he is to go, to the crew boss and the Incident Commander who is in control of the fire to the other squads and crews that are working to control the same fire from a different angle.  We each need to be surrounded by family and friends, mentors and teachers, for we need others to watch out for us, just as we watch out for others. 

Every Wildland Firefighter knows that the safest place to be in a fire is the pure black, where nothing is left to burn.  We all need to take a lesson and learn a little from the men and women who put everything on the line to save the forests from turning to ash;  Don’t add fuel to the fire, but let the flames burn away everything that will carry them and then, once the flames have gone from the area, find a way to put them out.  Don’t try attacking them head on without an anchor point, find solid ground and then try to save your world from burning around you. 

God Bless and PEACE

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