In Thanks To Professionals: California Fires 2020

As I write this, I am half a mile away from one of the evacuation sites in the county where I live in Santa Cruz California. As far as your eye can see are temporary trailers and other forms of camping for people who have been evacuated from my area of Santa Cruz county, the San Lorenzo Valley. Further up the mountain and deeper into the woods, homes were devasted by fire storms that engulfed the area following a freak lightning event that hit us this August of 2020. There were fatalities, but thankfully comparatively few in relation to other similar wildfires.

There is an agency in California nearly 150 years old called Cal Fire. This agency is responsible for battling wildfires when the season arises. With the reality of climate change, the wildfire season lasts nearly half the year where it once was just 2-3 months.

I have seen Cal Fire in action for years, but in the recent years, with the onset of regular summer megafires, we see a lot of Cal Fire. In my little California town they have one of their main bases of operation. They service their equipment here, have meetings from the different branches, do training and the like. We see these women and men walking around town all the time. It's inspiring to walk amongst giants.

This blog post is an effort to express gratitude to the women and men of Cal Fire. It is an effort to acknowledge the courage and heroism that they have turned into a professional career. Professional Heroes, it's an interesting thing to watch in action.

Two weeks ago my little mountain valley found itself threatened by the CZU August Lightning Complex. When the event began, Cal Fire was already stretched thin helping with two other much larger fires nearby in the state. For a solid 24 hours there were only a handful of firefighters available to help. The local volunteer firefighters and residents had to take the lead in the beginning. My neighbors and I owe an additional debt of gratitude to these brave regular citizens for their heroism and raw stubbornness.

You're reading this post on the website of a web development company. We make every effort to be professionals, but I have seen a new level of professionalism in action. There was one morning news conference I saw a couple of days ago where the main regional fire chief was giving his crews a pep talk before they started their day. He told them to go out and deliver the best customer service they possibly could that day. Customer service? That's what I tell my team. What do wildland firefighters care about customer service? These guys are too busy standing next to raging infernos, saving lives and houses, to be bothered with courtesy and service, right?

Yeah I was wrong. We learned when we returned once our evacuation was lifted that some of these firefighters, as they made their rounds checking property and fire lines, were going to the trouble of watering the gardens of some evacuated residents. I couldn't believe it. Once they had established fire breaks and created safe perimeters they weren't done. Since they were assigned to our area until the fire was 100% contained, they, as professionals, found productive uses of their time and took care of people's property. Customer service? Yeah, this is above and beyond what's expected of heroes.

There are handmade signs all over our county made by kids and moms and uncles and dads and grandmas. They're hanging from fences, telephone poles, trees, anything that'll hold a sign. They all express thanks to the fire fighters, the sheriff's deputies, the police officers from all over the state who came to help, the utility workers. All of these heroes are receiving the gratitude they deserve. And to that gratitude I wish to add my own.

Thank you heroes. Thank you professionals. Thank you for saving our town - like it was just another day at the office.

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