Speak Up

Hi folks,

I have been quite busy with work this last week, and I have struggled to find time to write an update. I am writing this post since this thought process I have developed has been nagging me and has been on my mind recently. A valuable lesson that I have been trying to focus on in these last few weeks of work has been to actively be involved in communication.

During my time working for Northwest Youth Corps as well as Idaho Conservation Corps, I learned some valuable lessons about hard work and discovering my character. Something that I lacked though was the encouragement to ask questions. I ingrained a mentality of, “Do what you are told, and don’t ask questions” during my time spent with the Conservation Corps. While this is good to some degree, I think in the long term I am seeing detrimental effects of this habit that I have built up.

My supervisor keeps trying to get me to speak up when I have something to say and to ask questions when I have them. Both of these are hard for me since I feel that there are these unstated societal rules and judgments that come along with speaking out. I think this also can be said as my experience as a female in a male-dominated environment has come at a cost of me trying to find my voice.

I am actively trying to recognize when I have an idea, question, or suggestion that comes to mind that I verbalize and communicate what I am thinking. This is not only beneficial for my job in that it can reduce risk and potential hazards, but also to the broader scheme of how I compose myself and building confidence in my uncertainty.

Over and out,

Rolyn

Guard School

Guard School wrapped up this week, and I am now “red carded” and certified to fight fire! This week was a whirlwind of new stuff flying at me. Half of it was in the classroom learning about fire behavior, firefighter orders, ways to fight fire, fire, fire, and more fire. We also spent time in the field learning how to utilize different tools, building community with my fellow classmates, and concluding it all with a live fire incident (prescribed burn) towards the end of the week.

The view from camp. We spent the week camped at a National Guard station where our classroom was.

I learned a lot this week and some of my biggest takeaways were:

This job is dangerous. I finally realized what fighting fire means and I am somewhat terrified of that fact. I learned that there are ways to mitigate this risk though and that I am not alone in this. I have a team looking out for me and we are all in this together.

Community. Not only did we spend the week learning about fire, but we also learned about each other. I built trust and connections with a lot of new people. The firefighting community refers to fellow coworkers as a family often times. What it really comes down to is the fact that I have to trust my team members with my life and they have to do the same. This creates a family because I have to put not only my safety as a priority but also the safety of my new family and our work together is a group effort. I experienced this somewhat with my experience in trails, but not to a degree as extreme as this. I think that is mainly due to the increased risk that comes with this job.

Here is our hearty crew after our first fire.

FUN! Even though I faced my potential of death this week while learning how to deploy a last resort fire shelter, I still believe that this job is a LOT of fun! The people who surrounded me have a lot of stoke for what they do and I feel the same way (something rare to come by in the career world).

Fire produces smoke. I know this is kind of a no brainer, but I didn’t realize this until the live fire day when I was trying to dig line (a way to prevent the fire from spreading by removing the fuels next to the fire through digging to mineral soil) and I was struggling to breathe, let alone see my tool and where I was digging. Let’s hope I don’t end up with emphysema at the end of the season.

Slightly hazy, slightly tired, and slightly dehydrated.
“Mop-up” the term used for putting the fire out completely and making sure the embers are cold.

Check out this link to see why my coworkers call me Hollywood now! It was filmed during our live fire exercise.

So… What’s next?

Now that Guard School is over, I can be called onto a fire incident at any time. This Sunday (6/23) the pay period changes over from weekday hours M thru F to a seven-day coverage rotation schedule. This means I have a one day weekend and then I go back to work tomorrow!

Side note: I did get a fortune cookie last night that said, “Something unusual will happen at work next week.”

Stay tuned for what that is!

Much love to all,

Rolyn

Here are a few more photos from the experience.

Cheetos in an accessible spot is essential!
FIRE!

Howdy

Howdy Folks,

I decided to create a blog for my first season as a wildland firefighter. For those of you who do not talk to my mom and get updates from her, I recently started a position with the United States Forest Service as a fire technician. Yesterday (06/14/2019) was my first day on the job and I decided that I want to document what it is like to be in this position and shed light in the field of wildland firefighting. Bear with me as this is my first blog and I have no idea what I am doing, so sit back and enjoy my experimental project.

P.S. Next week I head off to Guard School, immersive training for getting certified to fight wildland fire!