When you think of firefighters, you might picture them with fire engines, hoses, and long ladders, battling flames in a building or a house. But there are other firefighters called wildland firefighters who use very different equipment and techniques to battle blazes in wild places throughout Minnesota and beyond. They fight forest and grassland fires caused by things like lightning strikes and careless behavior, and they work to protect public land, private property, and people who could be in danger.
Some firefighters work on the ground near the fire as they try to put it out. Others fly in airplanes and helicopters as they work to extinguish the flames, while still others are leaders who make decisions about how fires should be fought. Some firefighters work for the Department of Natural Resources, and some work for other government agencies, but they often work together. It takes a team effort to get a fire under control.
"You might think it’s all just dropping water on the flames," says Brian Pisarek, who works as an incident commander on fires in Minnesota, which means he’s the boss. "But especially on the big fires, there are a whole bunch of people who come together" to complete the mission. Here are stories about three different kinds of firefighters.