What’s your fire angle?

What motivates you to work in fire?  How in the world did you come to work with fire, study fire, or otherwise be mesmerized by it?  Do you like fire because of the adrenalin factor, the danger? Do you work in fire because you love grasslands and fire is just part of it? Do you like fire because it reminds you of those camping trips as a kid where you ate s’mores and roasted hot dogs over the fire?  Do you like fire because [insert your favorite species here] needs it to survive?  Do you like fire because others fear it? Do you work in fire because if we don’t learn to live with it, wildfire could devastate your favorite places? Do you work in fire because you want to protect the people and places you love?

David Darrow, MDC manager, explains a prairie reconstruction study on one of his areas.

David Darrow, MDC manager, explains a prairie reconstruction study on one of his areas.

Master Naturalists learn about fire at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Photo by Dan Lekie.

Master Naturalists learn about fire at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Photo by Dan Lekie.

For these reasons and more, the fire community in the Great Plains is passionate about fire. Our job is to provide sound information to assist you in these endeavors. Fire ecology research that describes the role of fire in habitat and community management, science related to communicating about fire, information related to operations, smoke management, and public acceptance. Tell us what information you need and we’ll dig it up, synthesize it, and share it. If you have produced information that is valuable, even vital, to the fire community we’ll help get the word out.

If I am at all representative of the fire community (right, so that’s a stretch for this odd ball writer), there are multiple reasons any one of us in the field (or fields) works with fire.  Personally, I’d say that fire is just plain cool, there’s something about it that is difficult to explain..  Ultimately, I love grassland and fire is just part of it.  It’s mesmerizing, rejuvenating, and mysterious.

I always get sideways, curious looks when I tell people what I do for a living, but that is just an opportunity to educate and inspire.  It’s fun to watch students, adults and children alike, play with my matchstick forests, count sticks to assess fuel loads, and burn hog pans full of wet and dry fuel during workshops.  Who knows where these little lessons will take people, but I guarantee they enjoyed the opportunity.

Match stick forest.

Match stick forest.

Student observes green fuel burning in a lab experiment.

Student observes green fuel burning in a lab experiment.