Preschoolers whose campus was within a few hundred yards of the Saddle Butte Fire crafted a big “Thank you firefighters” banner and hung it on the balcony of the Children’s Learning Center’s Mercill campus. Some of the Jackson Hole Fire/EMS volunteers and staffers saw the sign and decided to send a firefighter over to teach the kids how they fought the fire.
“What touches my heart,” CLC Director Patti Boyd said, “is look how young they are.”
The Mountain Lions and Ravens classes, ages 3 to 5, listened intently as Brenner Perryman showed off his Nomex clothing, thick-soled lace-up boots, Pulaski and other tools. He pointed to the fire scar on the hillside and explained some fire terminology.
“The stuff in the dark area has already burned,” Perryman said. “We want to work in the black. The area in the green still has fuel, so it can burn.”
The acronym wildland firefighters think about is LCES, he said, which stands for lookout, communication, escape route and safety zone.
“On the fire, we might not know what the wind is doing or that it’s shifting,” Perryman said. “The person down here, the lookout person, can see what’s going on. It’s a very important job.”
Firefighters use radios to communicate with the lookout person. They always have a plan for their escape route should the fire change behavior. And they’re mindful of a safety zone, perhaps a road or an already burned area.
— Johanna Love