Family members gathered at Batterson Fire Station -- home to the U.S. Forest Service Sierra Hotshot crew -- above Oakhurst last week for the 13th Annual Family Day. The event kicks-off the beginning of fire season and allows family members to get a glimpse of what their fire fighting hotshot loved one does during the summer months.
"We want to make that connection with the family, so the support is there when the guys are gone," said Sierra Interagency Hotshot Supervisor Kenneth Jordan. "If there is a crisis at home, their head isn't in the game. If we send someone home, it breaks a link in our chain so we need support from families."
Jordan's crew of 20 has 243 years of experience combined, which Jordan says means a safer and more efficient work environment.
The hotshots showed some of those safe practices while performing drills at the event. Some of those drills included constructing fireline, practicing the use of various fire tools, and the deployment of fire shelters.
The day also included presentations and acknowledgments by U.S. Forest Service officials.
One of those officials was Dean Gould, Forest Supervisor, who is also in the U.S. Navy Reserve. Gould said when people thank him for his service to our country, he says the same credit is due to the hotshots.
"Both you and those in the military have chosen a career of service to your country that has put you in harms way," Gould said.
Every summer, hotshot crews risk their lives to fight fires across the country and have to be ready at all times in order to leave within a moments notice. Each hotshot crew usually responds to between 20 and 30 wildland fires nationwide from May through November.
"2013 has the potential to be a very active fire season," said Joseph A. Reyes, Chief of Fire for the Sierra National Forest. "We will have a full complement of fire fighters positioned and ready on the Sierra National Forest."
Just a few days later, the Sierra Hotshot crew responded to their first fire of the season, the Chiquito Fire, located north of Beasore Creek in the Bass Lake Ranger District.