burn’s firefight

so i step off the plane into beautiful and open montana, proud of the beautiful landscape i’m honored to call home, only to discover that my junior senator called the firefighters that protect our lands lazy. this, obviously, given the 300+ comments on the Gazzette story, was a stupid thing to do. and 2-1, his apology hasn’t earned forgiveness. but it has made it into his wikipedia entry. along with his other greatest hits (abramoff, the raghead quote,… strangely nothing is in there on his policy record)

it is rare anymore to find out what a candidate really thinks, when their media advisor isn’t around. so i take this to be insightful. for an example of what it’d have loved the senator to have said instead: compare-and-contrast with an old report on firefighting in montana from the Red Cross.

Comparing this kind of firefighting to a war is not a stretch. The fire crews live in tents at base camps part way up the mountain, where they eat and sleep for a few hours before heading out to fight again. They wear uniforms of fireproof yellow material and brandish shovels and axes. When they return, exhausted, medical workers tend to their injuries — mostly blisters and smoke inhalation.

fire sign
Thank-you signs for the fire crews hang all over the valley.

Down below in the towns of the valley, residents may not see the firefighters, but they are well aware of their presence. Thank-you signs are posted everywhere, on houses and roadsides and restaurant marquees, praising the hard work of the crews in the mountains.

“We Love You, Firefighters!!!” reads a hand-painted poster along a cabin-lined portion of Highway 93. “Firefighters Rock!” exclaims a brightly lit sign at the Applebee’s restaurant in Hamilton. Fire crews that stop by one local gas station can get “free unlimited soda,” according to the sign outside. That offer won’t get many takers this week — few firefighters can be spared from the fire lines.

so that is what montanans think. and you can bet, that with summers getting hotter (and drier) we’ll be relying on firefighters more and more. lets hope we’ll have a senator who will share our sentiments.


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