Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Chris Merritt Earns BLM WY District Firefighting Award

Chris Merritt has been awarded the local Firefighter of the Year Award by BLM Wyoming's Wind River/Bighorn Basin District (WR/BBD). The award recognizes a firefighter who exemplifies the qualities of leadership, motivation, work ethic, physical fitness, and positive attitude.

"Being chosen for this award is a huge honor," said Chris. "I enjoy every day I come to work because it's always a new experience and I strive to learn more."
Chris Merritt, BLM Wyoming's Wind River/Bighorn Basin District Firefighter of the Year.
Chris Merritt, BLM Wyoming's Wind River/Bighorn Basin District Firefighter of the Year.
This was Chris's second season as a firefighter on the WR/BBD fuels crew. Prior to his work with the BLM, he served four years in the U.S. Army, which included a combat tour in Iraq.

"Chris stepped up into leadership roles within the fuels crew, as well as in hand crews responding to out-of-state fires," said Aaron Thompson, WR/BBD Interim Assistant Fire Management Officer. "He has a great work ethic and willingness to learn."

Chris is assigned to a fuels crew which focuses on removing hazardous fuels and enhancing habitat and forage for wildlife and livestock. These projects utilize various tools including prescribed burning and mechanical thinning with chainsaws and skid steers. Projects like these are increasingly important as federal, state, and local agencies and organizations work collaboratively to improve Greater Sage-Grouse habitat. They also benefit many other wildlife species that inhabit these ecosystems.

During the fire season, Chris also responds to wildland fires, both in Wyoming and across the nation. When not wielding a chainsaw or Pulaski, he is often training in wildfire suppression drills and physical fitness. 
Chris enjoying another day at the office.
Outside of the BLM, Chris's interests include hunting, fishing, and spending a lot of time with his son. He is also a volunteer firefighter with the Worland Volunteer Fire Department. 

The WR/BBD staff is pleased that Chris plans to return next season. For Chris, the decision was an easy one.
"I love this job and plan on doing it until I physically can't do it anymore," he said. 
Story by Sarah Beckwith, Public Affairs Specialist
Reprinted from BLM Daily, 

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