2017 will be my fifth season fighting fire. I don’t think I can ever recall someone telling me that my job was safe. I don’t think I can recall anyone even giving the impression that my job was safe. I personally thought The Big Lie was an interesting read—the numbers, the statistics. However, as soon as the author explains what The Big Lie was (the lie that wildland firefighting is safe) I found it difficult to continue reading.
I suppose that the essay could be useful to those who were under the impression of fighting fire being a safe occupation. But I find it truly hard to believe that someone would assume that firefighting was a safe occupation—no matter how great or little experience that person had. True, there are plenty of resources that are handed to us season after season but I have never been under the impression that these resources guaranteed my safety. I always felt that they simply made me more aware.
“We accept the risk of losses.” I think that was a better reflection of our profession. No policy or guideline will guarantee my safety or the men that I work with. Anyone who thinks otherwise has a tainted perspective on the world. But no, I’ve never been under the impression that my organization or employer ever tried making believe that I was completely safe on the clock.
Aside from the numbers and the statistics, I thought this article was very pointless.
Similar to the arguments you encounter when people talk about risk and mitigation and if our job is worth the risk: if you don’t like the risks, don’t do the job.