The photo above is my last pair of Whites boots.
Here is the story of my first pair.
Back in the old days, before 2015, Forestry Technicians had to pay for their own boots. During my second year with the Forest Service, my initial year on the El Cariso Hot Shots, our first large fire that year in 1970 was the Safety Harbor Fire at Lake Chelan, Washington. After flying from Southern California in a Forest Service DC-3 we were hauled on a bus to a boat launch on the west side of the lake. From there we got on a sightseeing boat usually used for tourists, which took us across to the other side, where we were the initial attack on the fire. (Yeah, I KNOW. From Southern California, we were the first Forestry Technicians on the fire. Needless to say, there were a bunch of fires burning in the area and the locals were a little busy.)
After two or three weeks we had a day of R&R. Some of us, including myself who had found that our boots were inadequate for Hotshot work, were taken to a shoe store in a nearby town. It was early in the season and most of us had very little money, and no credit cards. Our crew Superintendent, Ron Campbell, worked with the Finance Section to arrange for a Commissary-like process for us to buy new boots and for the funds to come out of our pay.
We all proudly walked out of the store wearing new, shiny Whites — which at the time was the preeminent footwear for firefighters and loggers. I think I paid $65 for mine, a week’s pay.
Later I heard that when the paperwork was being processed, one of the clerks in the office wondered why firefighters were buying white boots. “Won’t they just get dirty?” she said.