Above: Honor Guard representatives at the Family Fire Weekend in Boise last month. USFWS photo.
At this year’s Family Fire Weekend organized by the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, representatives of honor guards from firefighting agencies participated in special ceremonies at the national Wildland Firefighters Monument. The event was held at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise May 19 and 20, 2018.
Honor Guards from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian affairs, and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection presented colors to open the event on Saturday. Three bagpipers – traditionally used to honor fallen firefighters and police offers – accompanied the group. Honor guard members then interacted informally with other participants. On Sunday, the interagency honor guard led a procession of families to the Wildland Firefighters Monument and laid flowers on individual markers commemorating deceased members of the wildland fire family.
“This was a good opportunity to honor the fallen, including our Service comrades commemorated at the monument,” said Chris Wilcox, Branch Chief, National Wildlife Refuge System Fire Management headquartered at NIFC.
In addition to firefighters who were killed in the line of duty, the monument has markers for some fire management employees who died of other causes — for example, Shane del Grosso, the USFWS Mountain-Prairie Region Fire Management Specialist based at Huron South Dakota who died by suicide in 2016.
The suicide rate among wildland firefighters has been described as “astronomical”, so it could be a stretch to assume a suicide is not, at least to a degree, a line of duty death.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255. Online Chat.
- Wallet card that lists the signs of suicide risk.
- Anonymous assistance from the Wildland Firefighter Foundation: 208-336-2996.
- National Wildland Fire and Aviation Critical Incident Stress Management Website.
- Code Green Campaign, a first responder oriented mental health advocacy organization.
- Eric Marsh Foundation for Wildland Firefighters
- Would you rather communicate with a counselor by text? If you are feeling really depressed or suicidal, a crisis counselor will TEXT with you. The Crisis Text Line runs a free service. Just text: 741-741