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Anna knew she only had three dollars in her pocket when she walked inside the family grocery store across town.  With the gas tank on empty and no food in the fridge, Anna felt like she had no choice but to go to the store anyway.  She felt it was her only means to support her family.  Though Anna had always obeyed the law and stealing was not part of her mentality, this would be the hardest and most desperate thing she would ever have to do to help them survive.

Her kids had not eaten in a day and it had been two days for her.  Crying herself to sleep, only made the sadness temporarily disappear until the morning when their bellies gurgled from being hungry.  Trying to make a fresh start from an abusive boyfriend, she found a friend giving her a second chance at life with a new apartment.  When her boyfriend found and beat her, he took everything she desperately needed so much.  It was now all gone.  She was left with no food, formula or money.

Walking into the store, Anna tried to casually look around to see if others were watching. When the coast was clear, she began sticking small food items into her oversized coat pockets.  She worried about being caught by the store or by being arrested but her mind was solely focused on feeding her children at whatever cost. Feeling like she had what she could hide, she headed for the front door walking outside towards the parking lot. She was confronted by a Loss Prevention Officer who told her she was being detained for shoplifting.

He escorted her to the back office ordering her to remove all of the items she had stuffed inside her coat telling Anna how the camera caught everything and he had no choice but to call Police.  Anna begged him not to call but the Officer told her it’s their store’s policy to prosecute all shoplifters and she was one of them.   Trying to explain why she did what she did, the young Security Guard did not want to listen to her.  He seemed to be more interested in catching one of the bad guys.  The dramatic young man seemed to be scaring Anna into tearing up.

One Police Officer responded to the shoplifting call expecting something other than whom he was met by.  In the interim, the Store Manager did not want to press charges and took his Security Guard out of the room then came back in without him.  “There seems to be something wrong with our Security camera and we didn’t see her take anything.  It appears to be a misunderstanding between my employee and this young lady.” The Manager would later say.  Anna knew one of them was lying but she couldn’t understand why, nor did she want to question it.

Later, he would be told he was once hungry and someone helped him.  He wanted to do the same for this single mom.  Anna and the Officer walked outside to his vehicle for further questioning. He had a decision to make.

At the Officer’s cruiser, he found no warrants not even a parking ticket in Anna’s name.  Standing in front of him in tears, she begged him. “Please don’t arrest me in front of my children. They have seen some really bad stuff in their short lives and they can’t see their momma be taken away in handcuffs.  It would destroy them.”

The Officer who has seen his share of families struggling without the basic necessities and knowing jail is not the answer decided not to arrest Anna but instead of doing the next best thing.  At that time another Officer happened to be driving by and stopped at the store to assist.  Fear washing over Anna begged the Officers again.   “Please not in front of my kids.  I only stole this one time for my kids who haven’t eaten in a few days.”

The Officer talked over his decision with the second Officer and announced to Anna he was not going to arrest her.  He said he and the Officer had to go back inside the store and for her wait until they returned.  Upon walking in the front door, they were greeted by the Store Manager.  “I was hoping you weren’t going to arrest her.  Please take whatever she needs.  Consider it a donation from me personally to her family.”

Expecting the Officers to come back outside to arrest her, Anna would instead be overjoyed by the display of compassion reigned upon her family.  Loading up the small bag of groceries into her vehicle, they know it’s not much to feed a family of three at the moment and would have to do for the time-being.

Anna is so overjoyed, she can’t stop saying thank you to her Heroes as she calls them for saving her and her family from the unknown and being arrested.  Following her home, they see firsthand how Anna and children are struggling to pay rent on a newly moved into apartment and driving a beater car.  They know they can give her a much better start in life but they are going to have to call in more reinforcements.

Later that afternoon, Anna remembers a knock on her apartment door and instead of just the two Police Officers she had an earlier encounter with, she is met by a whole force or so it seems to Anna.  They have not just come to visit her but to bring her family more groceries, money and offer support from the town’s local Police Department and Social workers they called in for assistance.  Her tears are no longer about how is she going to take care of her family but of joy in knowing she is now be empowered to take care of them with the help of her Community.

# # # #

About the Inspiration behind this Story.

So many Police Officers have seen tragic things on the job and this is based upon one Police Officer in a sea of terrible things took a golden opportunity to Pay It Forward.  In addition to his great humanitarian act, he enlisted the assistance of fellow Officers who would change a woman and her six kids lives forever by purchasing additional groceries filling her fridge and helping her financially.  Officers gave of their own money to help a perfect stranger without any limelight or expecting any media attention.  She will forever remember the good deeds of these Officers in her community and Pay It Forward to someone who may need the same act of kindness.

[c] 2015 The NW Fire Blog | LR Swenson



Posted in Awareness, Community, Family, Health, Heroes, Police, Police Dispatchers, Police Investigation | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment




Baby Jameel isn’t feeling too well and mom, Shaneeka calls for help to have her eleven-month old baby boy looked at when he begins to display signs of shortness of breath.  Mom tries to be calm knowing she lives in a City of highly skilled trained Paramedics that will soon be here to save her precious only child.

A loud siren and air horn can be heard from a distance but are getting more loud as they come closer to her home, then it stops.  Red and white lights flashing in the front window are signs medical assistance has arrived.  She sees a male Medic and his female partner stepping out of the ambulance with gear in hand.  Letting them inside, the Medics introduce themselves as Stella and Toby to the somewhat distraught child’s mother.

As Paramedics are assessing his vitals, Shaneeka admits he has been ill with coughing and a high fever. Her concern turned distress when his breathing seemed labored is when she decided to call 9-1-1.  She is reassured her, they are going to take care of her baby boy and get him to the hospital for emergency care.  Shaneeka knows deep down in her heart, they are her Unsung Heroes seeing how gentle and compassionate they are with her baby boy.

Before they get moving, they are going to belt him into a booster seat inside the rear of the Medic unit to treat him, getting some meds on board to help him breathe easier.  A mask filled with meds is placed near his face and he quickly breathes in.  He is beginning to cough up the gunk that seemed to block his little throat. Mom sits nearby watching in wonderment how these men and women do this every night and day.  She comments how lucky they are living in the big City with great medical care.

The Medics take little Jameel to the hospital where Doctors take over his emergency care. Stella and Toby’s job is done for this call but they will return to the streets waiting for their unknown next medical care.

Ten years will pass when Jameel is put to the test again but he is on the other end of the lifeline, when he sees a man go down unresponsive on a nearby sidewalk by his family’s apartment in downtown New Orleans.  He drops his backpack full of school books walking over to the unconscious man.  He has never met this man nor does he know of him.  He is a complete stranger.

Tunnel vision sets in and Jameel can only think of the Firefighter showing him where to place his hands on Rescue Andy and the steps in how to give CPR.  Those will walk around the two on the ground either watching or walking by as if there is nothing going on in front of them.

Jameel is in his own moment and commandeers the scene.

Quick-thinking actions, he places his two small hands in the proper location on the stranger’s chest and begins to sing out loud the CPR song, Staying Alive.  As he is singing, he gives compressions to the beat of the lyrics which mesmerizes him and praying this man will live.

Medics soon arrive on scene and take over compressions, thanking the young man for helping a perfect stranger.

“Can you tell us where you learned how to do CPR?” a news reporter would ask the young Jameel.

“From a Firefighter who came to our school last month.  He taught our class how to save lives. I’ve been practicing on my sister’s dolls and today, I was finally able to try it on a real person.”

“And, how did you feel?” The woman reporter asked.

“I feel like a Hero in the Making.” Jameel’s grin goes from one side of his face to the other. “This must be how you all feel.” He said turning to the Medics standing nearby at this young rescuer’s award ceremony presented to him by the man who survived his heart attack.

# # # #

Disclaimer:  This is a fictional story written by Public Safety Writer and Author L.R. Swenson inspired by a non-fictional event.  All names, locations and those involved have been changed for the purpose of this story.

[c] 2015 The NW Fire Blog / LR Swenson

Posted in Awareness, Family, Firefighters, Heroes, Safety | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Be A 9-1-1 Hero: How To Be A Great Witness

Everywhere, USA | Being a good witness is not only a great thing for Police to help catch the bad guy[s] but can also help solve their case.  This is a basic example what is needed when calling 9-1-1 and how your information can help Dispatchers send the correct Police Agency and Officers to respond within a timely amount of time.  Without the necessary information may waste time and enabling the bad guy[s] get away.


You are Tracy Peters at 320 California Way S, Seattle and you are the next door neighbor to Sally and Ryan Thomas at 323 California Way S, in Seattle.  As you are opening the drapes to your home, you see several young male teens knocking on doors that seem to be out-of-place in your community.  You notice they are wandering over to your neighbor’s house knowing they are both gone during the day.

Watching the teenagers disappear around the side of your two houses, you hear nothing.  You hear some doors slamming next door and you know these guys are next door and shouldn’t be.  You walk to the rear of your home and you can see them going in and out of Sally and Ryan’s house knowing they are robbing them.

What you do next will either help or hinder the Police response.  What will you do?

CALL 9-1-1.

Call the Police so they can respond to Sally and Ryan’s house immediately and stop the young teenagers from continuing with their crime and arrest them for burglary.  Your first initiation of helping your neighbors is calling the Police so they can catch them in the act.  The faster you notice something out of the ordinary, the better.  Police around the Country have said it’s better to call them for something turning into nothing, than nothing turning into something all the while the crime is being committed.


Cell phone callers generally in the Bellevue area will be answered by 9-1-1 Call takers with the Washington State Patrol and will ask what area are you in and if you need Police or Fire.  When transferred, your call then hits the Eastside Communications Center known as NORCOM which dispatches for both Police and Fire for multiple Cities on the eastside.

It is is important to know your location and the location as to where assistance to be sent so that the problem resources can be dispatched and saving critical amount of time, especially when dealing with a medical emergency.


Stay calm as best as you can and answer the Dispatcher’s questions as best as you can.  We all know when an emergency arises, our adrenaline can get the best of us but to stay calm, cool and collected will help the Dispatcher to glean information from you without delay in sending help.


Location is everything because the Dispatcher cannot send help unless he/she knows exactly where the crime is being committed. Some Communications Center dispatch for multiple Cities and it is important to know where the City or County and address is located so the correct assistance is being sent without delay.  Even with the intersections and street names can be of benefit.


Dispatchers are trained to ask a series of questions to ask the caller to get as much information for their responding units as possible.  When on the phone with the Dispatcher remember they are highly skilled Emergency Services Communication Specialists and this is what they do day out and day in.  Answering their questions and staying calm will help the Dispatcher get the necessary assistance to your location as quickly as possible.

What are the questions they may ask you, the Caller?

What Happened?

In this case, you are reporting three male teenagers are breaking into your neighbor’s home.


You didn’t see any.

When Did it Occur?

You report that the teenagers are still there.

Where Did it Occur?

It is happening now at 323 California Way S.  You live in the Michaelson Housing Community.  Give them as much information as you can about the location including landmarks, street intersections, etc.

Suspect Description.

Suspect Descriptions is so vital to a Police Officer’s investigation.  So many times we have heard that when someone’s car was being broken into and the witness reported seeing a certain person breaking in, then left the scene – the Officer was unable to locate either the witness or the suspect.  This leads to the case being unsolved.

Be a Hero and mentally as best as you can record what the teenagers look like in this scenario.   How many were there? What is their race? What did they look like? What were they wearing?  The Dispatcher will ask you their hair color, clothing description, gender amongst additional questions.

Vehicle Description.

Did the three teenagers arrive in a vehicle and if so, what did it look like? If not, the Dispatcher may bypass this question or ask if they were dropped off or if any other vehicles driving around in the area.  Descriptions may include the Make/Model/Year of the Vehicle, color, plate number or any other markings, unusual details about the vehicle.

In this case, the teenagers just arrived on foot from the nearby High School campus across from the involved neighborhood community.

Direction of Travel.

For this scenario, the teens are still committing the crime and haven’t left the scene yet.  You would tell the Dispatcher they are in between yours and the neighbor’s home.  This gives the Dispatcher a heads up that they haven’t left the scene yet.

Reporting Party.

You, the Caller is the Reporting party.  The Dispatcher will ask you for your name, location and phone number best to reach you in case the Officer needs to contact you.  Most of the time, if they are working a case such as this, they will definitely may have some additional questions for you.

Sometimes, callers can be anonymous providing tips and other information to the Detective without worry of becoming involved.  However, many Officers like to ask witnesses to provide more detailed info to help add another layer of intel to their cases they are working for an arrest and closing their case.


Reporting a crime in progress or calling for help is commendable and heroic on many levels. As in this example, the neighbor called 9-1-1 immediately after noticing potential crime activity in her community.  Being alert and in concern for your neighbors, she felt obligated to call Police to report the burglary in progress.

Being a great witness is all about knowing where you are located, the address where the assistance needs to respond to, who may be involved, suspect descriptions and providing details of what assistance is needed.  In this scenario, the caller did perfectly what they needed to working with the Dispatcher to provide and answer all of her/his questions.


Here are some prime examples when to call 9-1-1.

Fire Emergencies:  Auto Accident.  Fire.   Medical Emergency such as choking, shortness of breath, Heart Attack, an life-threatening emergency, an allergic reaction or anything else that would constitute to going to the ER.

Police Response:  Stolen vehicle.  Auto Accident.  Missing or Kidnapped person or child.  assault of Any Kind. Robbery.  Burglary.  Drug Activity.

Dialing by Accident: If you call 9-1-1 in error, don’t hang up.  Stay on the line and let the Dispatcher know you called in error and there is no emergency.


Thank you for reading our blog post:  “Be A 9-1-1 Hero”.

[c] 2015 The NW Fire Blog

Posted in 9-1-1, Awareness, Children, Dispatchers - Fire, PD, EMS, Family, Firefighters, Missing, Missing Child, Police, Police Dispatchers, Safety, Sexual Abuse | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Seattle Children’s Hospital Fundraiser: “St Baldrick’s Shave for the Brave”

Seattle, Washington | What a great way to support children with Cancer by participating in Seattle Children’s Hospital St Baldrick’s “Shave for the Brave” Fundraiser taking place on March 4, 2015, from 1600 – 1800 Hours.

Shavees will go bald in representing “oneness” with children battling Cancer and helping raise money for life-saving childhood Cancer research.

The “Shaving” will take place in the Hospital’s Ocean Cafeteria on Level 7.

For more information, go to their website at https://www.stbaldricks.org/events/SeattleChildrensHospital or you can call the Event Contact, Jonathan Liaw-Gray at 206-355-9107.  If you’re unable to attend, but would like to give to this amazing Hospital and help with Cancer research, you can give by downloading the Donation Form on their site or call 1-888-899-2253.

What a great way to give back to the Community and help save Children’s lives, which to us equals a perfect opportunity!


Seattle Children’s Hospital was founded in 1907, located off of Sandpoint Way is often ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the Nation by major numerous large news media outlets.  It is known for its superior patient care, finding ways and exploring new technologies through cancer research and saving lives every day.  The 250-bed has over 11,000 admits and over 300,000 Outpatient visits.


Seattle Seahawks Quarterback, Russell Wilson is a huge contributor to Seattle Children’s Hospital visiting ill children on a regular basis.  His compassion and love for the kids is genuine and their little faces light up when they see him.  This is a great way for the kids to be motivated, encouraged and supported through their difficult journeys.


You too can join Russell Wilson in helping the “StrongAgainstCancer” campaign. Text the word “STRONG” to “501501” and $10 will be donated.  For more information, you can visit the organization’s website at http://strongagainstcancer.org/

“Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul.” – Jim Valvano

Editor’s Note:

Cancer is very real for us as we have had many firefighters and friends not in the Public Safety profession have this terrible disease. Some have survived and were cured, others passed away.  It affects all of us.  These kids and young adults can’t really comprehend as adults may try to and helping them through their journeys and finding a cure is what it is all about.  Please give today and join the fight by being Strong Against Cancer. – LR Swenson

[c] 2015 The NW Fire Blog


Posted in Awareness, Babies, Cancer, charity, Children, Community Event, Doctors, Donations, Family, Healthcare, Healthcare Providers, Heroes, Non-profit, Nurses, Seattle, Seattle Children's Hospital, Strong Against Cancer, Washington State | Leave a comment

CA WILDFIRE: Stephens Wildfire in Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Shasta-Trinity National Forest, CA | Firefighters from the Shasta-Trinity National Forest unit responded to a wildfire on private land Tuesday around 1215 hours.  A prescribed wildfire operation was being conducted in the area at the time.

Image shows the Stephens fire burning overnight.

Photo Courtesy: inciweb.gov


The Stephens Wildfire is located 18 miles NE of McCloud and is just South of Horse Peak in Siskiyou County in California.  Currently, there are 100 firefighters fighting the fire.

The first was reported to have started as a controlled burn on private land but quickly became fueled by winds, spreading outside its containment area on to forest lands. It is said to have already scorched 200 acres.

Image shows the Stephens fire burning overnight.

Photo Courtesy: inciweb,gov


Firefighters have been working diligently since the moment the fire started on Tuesday throughout the night into Wednesday.  According to a statement released by the USDA Fire Agency, they have a 30% containment on the wildfire.

Photos of the wildfire in this post were taken by the Forest Service on Tuesday evening and can easily show the intensity of the fire as it burns several hundred acres. [Courtesy of Inciweb.gov]

Mutual Aid is being provided by CAL Fire and private companies, partnering with the Shasta-Trinity NF fire crews on the fireground.  No structures have been burned,  damaged or being threatened at the time of this post.

The weather forecast for Wednesday was gusty winds from the North with them easing later this afternoon.  Expected weather later this week calls for snow and rain in the area.

The exact fire cause is under investigation.

There are no reports of injuries at this time.

No structures are currently threatened at this moment.

[c] 2015 The NW Fire Blog


Posted in CAL Fire, California, California Firefighters, Fire News, Firefighters, Firefighting, Safety, wildfire season, wildland firefighters | Tagged | Leave a comment

Earthquake Rattles Offshore Causes Tsunami Advisory in Japan

Honshu, Japan | An earthquake occured around 1506 Hours PST  off shore in the Honshu area in Japan shortly this afternoon. Media sources reported the quake from a 6.7 to 6.9.  The 6.9 quake caused a temporary Tsunami advisory but was quickly cancelled.

The Northwest Weather Service and Northwest Tsunami Warning Center based in Alaska says that Coastal States of AK, WA, CA, OR or neighboring Canada will likley see a wave coming their way.

No reports of injuries or damage is being reported at this time.

[c] 2015 The NW Fire Blog | @nwfireblog [Twitter]

Posted in Awareness, California, Canada, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquake, Earthquake Preparedness, Oregon, Preparedness, Safety, Washington State | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seattle Fire Responds to HAZMAT Call with Fire At UW Chemical Engineering Facility

Seattle,Washington | Firefighters were dispatched at 0950 hours this morning to a HAZMAT with fire to UW’s chemical Engineering Lab in Benson Hall located at 3781 Okanogan Lane NE in Seattle.

The location of the fire was on Floor 01 [Basement], Bravo 13 [where fire originated].

Fire Festival, SFD L1, Rear

Ladder 1 Stock Photo [Credit: LR Swenson]

Units were dispatched and tied to the call per SFD’s CAD were Engines 16, 22, 25, 27, 34, 38.  Ladders 4, 7 and 8.  Aid Units 14, 25 with Medic Units 16 & 44 [Supervisor].  The Special Ops HAZMAT team included: Unit 77, Ladder 1, Engine 10 and Aid 10 makes up this Special Ops unit.  Command Staff:  Air9, Deputy1, Safety2, Staff10 and REHAB1.

The fire was in a 2×3 contained box and self-extinguished itself.  The cause was determined to be a small amount of lithium that was exposed to H2O.  There was no HAZMAT exposure.

After determination of no HAZMAT on scene, all staff and students were allowed to reoccupy the building with business as usual.  All units returned back into service around 1018 Hours.

Seattle Fire says that it is safe to return to all normal functions within Benson Hall on UW’s Engineering Campus.

[c] 2015 The NW Fire Blog


Posted in 9-1-1, Apparatus, Fire News, Seattle Fire Department, Washington Firefighters, Washington State | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ramblings, The Art of Kicking Doors

The NW Fire Blog (TM):

This is a great blog if you want to learn more about the “real” cops and how they roll. Literally. Great stuff you don’t want to miss!

Originally posted on Just the Facts, Ma'am:

By Hal Collier, LAPD, Retired

Hal is a thirty-five year veteran of LAPD. We are pleased he is sharing his stories with us.

Be sure to click on the links included for some funny illustrations of Hal’s techniques.
To the best of my limited knowledge, what I’m about to describe is not taught in any police academy. That is the art of kicking doors. Admit it, you can’t watch a cop show without the star kicking open a door at least once. It amazes me how easy it looks, sometimes they just lean on the door with a shoulder. Please, all you’ll do is hurt your shoulder.

academy trainingWhen I went through the Los Angeles Police Academy, they taught me when to legally kick a door without violating some citizen’s civil rights, but not how! My initial experience was watching my partner kick in a door on my first day out…

View original 1,396 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

King County Public Health Shuts Down Seattle Food Establishment due to Immenient Public Health Safety Concerns

Seattle, Washington |The King County Public Health shut down the food establishment Seadle House dba Zen Noodles & Cafe located at 4537 University Way NE #A, Seattle, WA 98105, on February 9, 2015, at 1300 Hours.

Per the County’s website, they state the Restaurant had the following violations.

  • Potentially hazardous foods at unsafe temperatures
  • Inadequate facilities to control temperatures, hot/cold holding
  • Foods not protected from cross contamination
  • Equipment/utensils not properly sanitized
  • Handwasing facilities unavailable and inaccessible

[c] 2015 The NW Fire Blog


Posted in Awareness, Family, King County, Public Health, Safety, Washington State | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

WildFire SitRep: #RoundFire – February 9, 2015 – PM Update

Inyo/Mono Counties, California | The Round Fire is located off of Hwy 395 at Sherwin Grade.  The Fire previously caused mandatory evacuations of towns of Paradise and Swall Meadows.


Started on February 6, 2015, reported at 1407 hours PST.

40 residents and outbuildings destroyed. 5 damaged. 7 recorded homes saved by Kern County’s Strike Team.


The Round Fire has still remains at 7,000 acres with a new containment status at 95%.  Firefighters are quickly making progress.


250 USFS, BLM, Wheeler Crest Fire Dept., Paradise Fire Dept., Inyo and Mono County Sheriff, CHP, Cal Trans, Cal OES still remain on scene with the aid of the following:

  • 20 Eengines
  • 1 Water Tender
  • 1 Dozer
  • 1 Helicopter
  • 14 Handcrews
  • 25 Overhead

Additional Agencies are assisting residents:  The Salvation Army, American Red Cross


4 Firefighters have been injured.


Repopulation began at 1600 hours today back inside Paradise and Swall Meadows.

A Pass is require to gain entry and can be picked up from the Mono County Sheriff’s Staging area on the N side of Pine Creek and E of Lower Rock Creek at the entrypoint.

Residents may take up to two people to help them with repopulation.  An Escort will be provided.  When arriving at the entrypoint, residents will need to be able to display valid photo identification in order to be allowed inside the area.  Residents may stay home but if you leave, the Sheriff’s Office reminds you to bring your pass with you to re-enter the area.

The re-population restriction for residents is expected to last 24-48 hours.

There are currently no threats or additional warnings at this time.



Paradise expects their power to be restored by 2100 Hours PST this evening

Grief Support / Behavioral Health Services 

Residents affected by the fire can call for assistance to :

  • Mono County Behavioral Health – #760-924-1740
  • Inyo County Behavioral Health – #760/873-6533
  • If in Crisis or After Hours – Call 9-1-1

Evacuation & Local Assistance Center

Crowley Lake Community Center. 458 S. Landing Rd, Crowley Lake, CA (just past the General Store) Hours of Operation: 0700 PST – 1900 PST Monday – Saturday. (additional days and hours to be determined based upon need)

Financial Assistance

The Red Cross is providing staffing in addition to the Crowley Lake Community Center to meet their immediate financial needs of affected residents from 0800 PST – 1400 PST Monday – Saturday.


The Cause is still unknown and is under investigaton.

[c] 2015 The NW Fire Blog


Posted in 9-1-1, Awareness, CAL Fire, California, California Firefighters, Community, Evacuation, Family, Fire News, Firefighters, Firefighting, Safety, USFS, wildfire season, wildland firefighters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment