Davidson River crew — 1923 and 2015

Davidson River Fire Crew 2015
Davidson River Fire Crew 2015.

We received the following message from Bill Coates, Acting Superintendent of the Davidson River Initial Attack Crew (above), who referred to a photo that we posted on November 18 taken in 1923. We reposted that photo down below. Click on it to see a larger version.


“The first photo featured on your post of old firefighting photos is one that we also encountered in some archives a while ago, identified as the Davidson River Fire Crew. In 2008 the US Forest Service and Schenck Job Corps in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina teamed up to create the Davidson River Initial Attack Crew, an advanced fire management training program for Job Corps graduates. Today that crew trains and places approximately 15 students per year, and provides training opportunities to 8-12 agency overhead detailers. We help Region 8 forests accomplish their prescribed fire targets and typically burn between 30,000 and 60,000 acres annually, in addition to wildfire response. I’ve attached a photo [above] of today’s crew from a day we recently spent volunteering at Veteran’s Healing Farm (veteranshealingfarm.org). John Mahshie, who runs the farm, is on the far right.

Bill Coates, Acting Superintendent, Davidson River IA*


firefighters rail car

Firefighting over the last 100 years has changed — some

firefighters rail carFighting wildfires has changed in some ways over the last 100 years. We have firefighting aircraft, chain saws, better modes of transportation, and better pumps, but we’re still fighting fire with sharpened pieces of metal attached to the ends of sticks.

Weather.com assembled a collection of 82 photos that gives us an idea what it must have been like fighting wildfires and structure fires a hundred years ago. Here are a couple of examples — you can see the rest HERE.

Female firefighters 1922

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Joe.

“Man Against Fire”

The 1960s film Man Against Fire is one of the classics.

The objective of the USFS film must have been to educate the general public about what is involved in suppressing a large wildland fire.

I love the voice of the narrator, Fire Boss “Doug Maxwell”. Unfortunately he was not given a credit in the film. Anyone know who it was?

Kudos to the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center for putting these on video and uploading them to YouTube. I only wish they had converted them in a resolution better than 240p.

Crew Boss training in the 1940s

These two videos, part 1 and part 2, were salvaged from the Crew Boss training film made in the 1940s, long before most current firefighters were born.

What were your favorite parts of the film? Here’s one. Someone asks the Crew Boss who just arrived at the fire camp with his crew, “Any experience with large fires?”

“Common Errors in Fighting Forest Fires”

Firefighters in the 1950s were cautioned in this film about what NOT to do, and advised to use the “modern method of fireline organization. Every man is working. Loafing is reduced to the absolute minimum”.

Some of the principles explained in the film are still valid today.

It is divided into Part 1 (above) and Part 2 (below).