Flying into Boise Tuesday we noticed hundreds of black spots on the desert from past fires as well as the smoke we are all seeing and breathing.
The task of protecting lives and property while battling wildfires has taken on a new face over the past decade or so, thanks to the internet, social media and a plethora of unemployed journalists (who now work for the government).
Just like the war in Afghanistan, the Public Affairs Officer (“fire information officer”) is as much a part of the battle as those on the line. If they screw up, they are likely to feel as much heat as those battling the flames. Their efforts at communication alerts residents in the path of danger, keeps the local media at bay, and creates an “attitude of gratitude” toward the government firefighters, pilots, contractors…which keeps the money flowing from Washington.
They also publish websites bulging with useful information about everything from road closures to progress of firebreak construction along the flanks of the blaze. Here is the official link to the FOREST SERVICE incident site. As more people choose to live in the wilderness the so-called “interface” puts more demand on protecting lives and structures.
GUARDIAN editor Dave Frazier has covered the fire scene for more than 40 years, producing images and text for publications like LIFE, NEWSWEEK, and the NY TIMES.
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