Fighting fire has always been a dangerous occupation, but in the last decade it has become staggering in its demands. Abel Martinez, a USFS engine captain and the NFFE fire chair, told him, “The ship is sinking.”

Streep asked Grant Beebe, a former jumper who now heads the BLM fire program, whether there had been a firefighter exodus. Beebe initially hesitated. “Exodus is a pretty strong word,” he said. But then he reconsidered. “I’ll say yeah. Yeah.”

Norbeck prescribed fire
A member of the Alpine Hotshots ignites the Norbeck prescribed fire, October 20, 2014 in Custer State Park, SD. Photo by Bill Gabbert.