The Wildland Firefighter’s Ethos: Part 1


A Three-Part Blog Series supported by:

The American Wildfire Experience 2019 Micro-Grant Award


Part One- Duty.

There is a sense of purpose behind this work. Choosing a career in public service is about contributing to something bigger than yourself; it is actively prioritizing the needs of others above your own.

Along with the selfless nature of the job, another component is discomfort. More often times than not you’ll be drenched in sweat, covered in dirt, soot, and ash, and feeling as if you’ve reached the far end of your capacity. That is usually the exact moment when you’ll be asked to push harder, well past where you thought you were capable of.

The realities of the job are not glamorous, but that’s not why we’re here.


Feeling a sense of duty about the job is essentially taking pride in your work and in fire it is imperative that we all collectively take pride in our work in order to be successful.

The efforts of any one person on the fireline are not enough. This profession does not cater to individuals; fire requires a group effort. This is why it’s not about you. What it is about is the greater mission at hand.

Put simply: Do for the crew before you do for you.

Don’t be the one who sits down first, shows up last, or allows others to work twice as hard due to your lack of effort. Any one person’s contribution or lack thereof matters; we all matter.

What’s it about?

It’s about rolling your sleeping bag out on a lumpy chunk of ground somewhere feeling entirely exhausted yet simultaneously looking forward to waking up and doing it all over again, elbow to elbow with people who feel compelled to do the same . It’s about gaining confidence through experience and sharing that knowledge with others, not about being in charge so that you can tell others what to do. It’s not about basking in glory; it’s all about the swell of pride that derives from a job well done and above all else, it’s about answering the call to service.




*Look for the release of Part 2 next week*

To read more wildland fire related posts click here.