Monday, October 17, 2011

Women of Wildland Fire

A soon-to-be blog contributor sent me a link to an article from The New York Times titled "No Longer is Leadership a Man's Club" that spawned the next blog series.

I am fortunate to have worked with some wonderful women during the 27 years I've been involved with wildland fire. These courageous women cleared the path in a male-dominated culture and profession. The leadership legacies of these women have changed our culture.

Over the next few weeks, I'd like to showcase female leaders of fire. Therefore, I need your help.

Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge

Do you know of a female leader who has helped shape your career and contributed to wildland fire? Share your stories and comments with each other by commenting or submitting a full blog entry.

Featured Story

I'll begin the discussion with an all-women wildland Apache 8 firefighting crew from the White Mountain Apache Tribe: the Apache 8. These women were featured in a documentary called Apache 8 by Sande Zeig, producer/director, with funding from Native American Public Telecommunications and the National Geographic All Roads Project.

Additional resources about Apache 8:

5 comments:

Pam McDonald said...

As I began my dispatching career, Lois Edmunds of the Idaho State Office was a great mentor to me. She saw potential and provided avenues for me to perform outside of my local comfort zone.

Lois set the example from which to follow and encouraged me to become the best that I could be.

Randy Skelton said...

I do have a candidate to "blog" about...Beth Lund, Deputy Director for Fire & Aviaion Management - Region 4. Throughout my career, she has provided me with great leadership and guidance...and, continues to do so today.

Riva Duncan said...

Carol Carlock, now in fuels on the Humbodlt-Toiyabe National Forest (NV), was the first female division supervisor I ever saw on a fire. Wow! That blew me away. Up until that time I hadn't even seen a female single resource boss. That was in 1996 and I was a CRWB-T. Our paths crossed again in about 2000 in FL. We became fast friends and I had the please to work in R4 with Carol. Carol has been a friend and mentor to me, and I value the work she has done and continues to do. She is a great leader to both men and women.

Fred Richter said...

Thank you Riva for your comments about Carol Carlock. I'm retired from the Mammoth Ranger District of the Inyo National Forest. Many of the women I worked with in my career were not field oriented and there were dozens of men in the same category too. However women started breaking through to enter district staff officer and district ranger positions in the very late 1970's. So many who did manage it were not field oriented in staff officer and ranger positions just because they had so many barriers. I hope I've explained myself well enough to assure readers I enjoyed the advent of women breaking those barriers.

Any how while on the Inyo Carol had great field sense. She understood that what goes on in the dirt is more important than what goes on in the office. She understood the rhythms of the land and the resources. She was strong in field tasks such as orienteering and others that many desk jockeys don't understand well.

Not only that, she was a people person. I was a member of what is called the "militia," a non fire management employee with some qualifications for several ICS positions. As a strongly field oriented person I felt I had Carol's respect and support even though I wasn't on the Mono Lake District where she was and wasn't in fire management full time. I would have gone to work without any hesitation, in fact, I would have looked forward to it. I was going through some tough times and had to retire early due to an illness and PTSD. She showed genuine concern for me. I will not forget this

Her significant other (hopefully still is) was a guy named, I believe, Doug, who was an engine captain. Doug was a great guy to have on a district. As ground pounders used to say, Carol and Doug were "good hands" and I hated to see them leave. I hope they are both doing well.

Fred Richter said...

Correction, I would have gone to work for her without any hesitation.