When I think of wild fire fighting, my prayers go out to all those folks in their yellow jackets, hard hats, boots, backpacks and who knows how much gear! Thanks to the open house provided by Incident Command on the Cabin Lake fire, we learned that in support of those front-line firefighters are another incredible set of people and astonishing resources.
Mobile, ready to roll, flexible teams set up a base camp that serves as a self-contained small city of support. That means everything from coordination, planning, aerial support, weather experts, payroll, medical expertise, food, mapping, technology and much more.
Our Rio Blanco County resources are up there every day too and looking amazingly healthy despite having already been faced many wildfires these recent weeks.
A professional chef and staff put out hot breakfasts and dinner plus a sack lunch to every employee every day. That’s more than 1,500 meals per day in a hot, dry field covered with huge tents. There are showers, WiFi, awesome maps, incredible equipment and a huge sense of we’re all in this together.
Each management resource works out of impressive yurts that serve as field offices. Personnel roll in from all over the country and bring their own personal tents. As the tour guides explained their operations, it was clear that this crew of more than 500 folks have tons of experience and knowledge about their aspect of fighting fires where ever, whenever. They also roll out to provide support for hurricanes, flooding and many other “incidents” not just fires.
Perhaps we can all learn a lesson from how these people work together in temporary, unpredictable work conditions because most of them have never met before. Personnel arrive and depart as needed and are required to rest after working X number of continuous days or hours … often 14 straight days of 12 hour work days.
Yet, they seamlessly function as a team within and across functions. Everyone we met seemed happy to do their part, were motivated by being able to accomplish a hard task, enjoyed meeting new people and seeing a different part of the country.
We thank you all for your very hard work, your intense focus on handling dangerous and unpredictable conditions and your professionalism. Your open house was very informative and reassuring. Now we understand that boots on the ground also means a very high level of support. I hope you all will return to Meeker and Colorado just for fun and relaxation. Blessings to each and every one of you.