As the number of people killed and the acres burned in Chile continue to grow, more attention is being focused on the 5,000 firefighters battling the flames.
Almost all of the firefighters in the cities, towns, and rural areas are volunteers. On Thursday I talked with some of them at the Santiago Airport that were supplying water for the SuperTanker. They explained that in their department the only paid person was the Conductor, a position that in the United States we would call an engineer, chauffeur, or driver. The Conductor we talked with said he lives in the fire station with his wife and children.
The several dozen firefighters at the airport water supply operation, who represented multiple departments, were very professional, and had what appeared to be well-maintained equipment.
Between refills on the 747 the firefighters lined up wearing their full bunker gear and stood at attention. They had just learned about the death of a fellow firefighter and wanted to honor his or her’s service.