Saturday, April 6, 2013

E is for Engine

Type 4 BLM Engine

Working on an engine was one of my favorite fire seasons. I loved driving a monster truck built to protect and preserve rather than destroy.

I loved the hard work of hauling hose and humping around a 30lb bladder bag.

I even learned to enjoy the daily preventative maintenance, as mundane as it seemed sometimes.

There are so many facets in wildfire, and even though I'm doing a taste test of as many as I can, I have to say that there's something really great about working on an engine.

Some people like to say that engine life is a luxury. There are a lot of nice things about working on an engine that you don't get with hand crews. One of those is that you often get to sleep in a bed at night. Engines roll primarily as initial attack, which means they are the first resources called to a scene.  A lot of the time and engine or two can get a fire contained and controlled quickly.

Engine work is nice because you work with a small crew, which means it's easier to have a routine and established ways of doing things.

Some people like to say that engines are for lazy firefighters, and while that might be the case with some engines, I don't think it's true for most. At least it wasn't true for my crew. We had intense physical training every day that often included quick-paced, steep hikes, P90X workouts, and lots of pull-ups.
Rolling Attack

There were a few times when we would use "rolling attack"on fires (a technique where one person drives the engine around the edge of a fire while another walks with a hose, spraying down the fire), but because the majority of fires in our district were on the steep slopes of mountains, my engine crew did a lot more hiking and carrying bladder bags than anything else.

Engine work, like most firefighting work was exhausting. And I often arrived back at the station looking like this:

Sometimes, I looked like this: 

And riding in the engine through Utah's West Desert pretty much always looked a lot like this: 

Do you have a favorite wildland fire crew? 
Any comments or questions about being on an engine? 

Fire Away!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome photos! I envy you your mechanical ability. Everyone in my family inherited the mechanic gene--but me. *sigh*

    Thanks for the cool entry--and for being one the brave souls who protect our resources!

    Herald Angel