WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER WEEK OF REMEMBRANCE | June 30 – July 6
Each year during the week of June 30 through July 6, we honor those men and women who lost their lives battling wildland fires.
Wildland firefighters are highly trained emergency responders. Every year they respond to tens of thousands of wildland fires. These American heroes run toward danger to protect human life and precious forests and wildlands. Wildland Firefighter Week of Remembrance honors those wildland firefighters who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Crews and organizations make every effort to protect those who protect us, but our heroes sometimes fall.
On July 6, 1994, a fire on Storm King Mountain in Colorado claimed the lives of 14 firefighters. Wildland fires additionally claimed 35 firefighters. In 2013, a wildfire at Yarnell Hill, Arizona, claimed the lives of 19 members of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew. These two devastating examples demonstrate the power wildfires hold and the loss they leave behind. The two pivotal events in wildland fire history also mark the beginning and end of the Wildland Firefighter Week of Remembrance.
Wildland firefighters put themselves at risk every time they step near a wildfire. The bravery it takes to leave their families behind to protect the lives of others is monumental. Unfortunately, not all wildland firefighters make it home. Wildland Firefighter Week of Remembrance is a reminder for all of us to remember those who were unable to return home to their families.
Dedication and Determination
The sacrifice of a firefighter is not just the task of confronting disaster. It takes a lot of hard, rigorous training to become a firefighter. Each firefighter must enroll and successfully complete fire school training, which is essentially a boot camp for a firefighter. While they are trained to fight fires, firefighters often work 24-hour shifts, provide medical care, instructing children on fire safety and doing much more than fighting fires.
Protecting human life is one piece of the puzzle for a wildland firefighter. These hardworking men and women also protect the planet we live in and its valuable resources. Wildland fires tend to destroy everything in their paths, including vegetation, wildlife, and trees. So far in 2022, more than 4 million acres of ecosystems have been burned in the U.S. alone.
The ecosystems wildfires destroy can be severely transformed after a fire. Since important vegetation that composes an ecosystem is burned, erosion can occur. This erosion affects the soil, as well as the vegetation that grows in this ecosystem. A once biodiverse ecosystem can become the complete opposite of that after a wildfire. Weak plants and trees that survive a fire face exposure to other threats such as fungus and disease. Problems can continue, even long after the fire is treated.
The survival of the animals that inhabit these ecosystems are also threatened. Not only can they lose their homes, but they also lose their main sources for food. Many different species are threatened by wildfires. Wild animals have a keen sense of smell, often smelling a fire and fleeing from the area. However, when a wildfire destroys entire forest and land areas, the animals relocate to places fit their needs for survival. Many times, animals roam into neighboring towns and cities forging for food or because their sense of loss causes confusion.
The amount of damage wildland wildfires cause to both humans, animals and nature is devastating. However, the numbers and statistics would be much higher if it weren’t for the brave firefighters that risk their lives to put them out.
July 2 honors the personnel who coordinate their efforts to protect the nation’s wildlands. It’s also a day to remember the sacrifice made each time a firefighter steps into a wildland fire.
Which agencies comprise of the nation’s wildland fire community and partners at the National Interagency Fire Center?
- Bureau of Indian Affairs
- Bureau of Land Management
- Department of Defense
- National Association of State Foresters
- National Park Service
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- US Fire Administration/FEMA
- U.S. Forest Service
Wildfire Prevention and Preparedness
- Create defensible space around your home.
- Harden your home and make it more fire resistant.
- Create a emergency supply kit.
- Create wildfire action plan.
- Report unattended fire by calling 911, especially if conditions are right.
- Remember to extinguish fire pits and campfires before leaving a campsite.
- Don’t throw lit cigarettes out of your moving car because the spark can start a fire, especially if you are in a dry area.
- Make sure caution is practiced when using flammable liquids.
- Have a fire extinguisher available.
- Honor local burning bans, enforcements, etc.
- Stay alert to local warnings when traveling through where a wildfire or smoke is present.
SUPPORT & SHARE
- Commiting to honoring fallen firefighters.
- Supporting fire safety efforts in your area.
- Supporting family and crew members who’ve lost a loved one.
- Attending memorials in honor of fallen firefighters.
- Visiting the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) 6 Minutes for Safety Week of Remembrance.
- Using #6MFS and #WeekOfRemembrance to join the conversation on social media.
- Thanking a wildland firefighter you know.
- Learning more about wildfires and wildland firefighters.
- Visiting the National Interagency Fire Center website to learn about each role.
- Training to be a wildfire firefighter.
- Visiting the Wildland Firefighters Monument in Boise, ID.
- Hosting a Wildland Firefighter Day BBQ.
- Establishing a proclamation for the day.
- Remember and honor all wildland firefighters during the Week of Remembrance, June 30 to July 6 and July 2, on National Wildland Firefighter Day.
WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER WEEK OF REMEMBRANCE HISTORY
Following two devastating losses of wildland firefighter teams in 1994 and 2013, a movement grew to renew a commitment to the safety of wildland firefighters. In addition, the commitment was to remember those who have fallen in the line of duty. In 2015, the wildland firefighter community began observing Wildland Firefighter Week of Remembrances from June 30 to July 6 each year.