Esquire magazine has a story written by Robert Langellier who left the Ozarks for a job as a firefighter for one season on the Truckee Hotshot crew in California. He describes in very engaging detail what a hotshot experiences, and introduces us to several characters on the crew. One is a fifty-three-year-old sawyer who has been dealing with a decades-old shoulder injury which had become bone-on-bone. He needed replacement surgery but could not afford to be out of commission for an entire fire season.
You can read the entire article, which I recommend, but here are a couple of samples:
The brush, mostly towering willow and ceanothus shrubs, was thick. Adam Jarkow, then a fifty-three-year-old sawyer, slashed a tunnel through it, while I launched the fallen branches and leaves out of the way. The pace, due more to work ethic than imminent danger, was frantic. The whine of four chain saws obliterated a sense of time, and the crush of willows did as much to space, the sweet smell of coyote mint below swallowed by the waft of two-stroke fuel.
The seeming paradox of needing to keep western forests from burning too much or too little is part of all forest management, not just wildland firefighting.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom.