We Support Wildland Firefighters and their Families



This Foundation Belongs To The Wildland Firefighters. This Is Their Foundation.

What’s A Wildland Firefighter

Wildland firefighters — our community — are our rugged firefighters of the mountains, forests, plains and wilderness areas of the West and of the pine barrens, deciduous forests, swamps, piney woods and prairies of the East, South and Midwest.  While many are seasonal, a large number have permanent wildland firefighting jobs.  Fire season peaks at differing times in different parts of the USA.  Firefighters from across the nation come southwest, in spring; then west, then northwest when it’s burning here in the summer.  The East gets fires when the leaves fall from the trees.  As they come to fight wildfire, many firefighters are far from family, hearth and home for weeks and months on end.

These firefighters are highly trained men and women, younger and older who love being in the outdoors, working in the natural environment and sleeping under stars often obscured by smoke.  Well, some of the older ones could use a softer bed in a smoke free environment, and some really hate snakes and poison oak!  Regardless, they have the feel of the Old West about them, the rawness, the problem-solving, the flexibility, the enjoyment of facing problems that may not have clear-cut solutions on fires that are not predictable.  They enjoy the excitement created by the flames, the sense of purpose and helping, but know they’re dealing with Nature, capricious at best, and a killer at worst.  While their specialized training is primarily focused on wildfire, they are often called upon to protect and save structures where the wildland meets communities.  Sometimes, when they hook small fires on initial attack, they feel like the “sprinters” of the firefighting world.  But more often, they’re like the “marathoners” and “ultra-runners” as fire season heats up and large fires burn in a number of places over an extended period.

What They Do

Wildland firefighters are groundpounders, hotshots, engine crew, helitack, smoke jumpers, airtanker and helicopter pilots and support personnel, dozer operators, water tender operators; and in firecamp, those who keep records and manage ops and planning, logistics and finance, those who oversee safety, critically assess risk at a systems and incident level, provide info to the public, and incident commanders (the “generals”) that have worked their way up through the ranks.  They are a diverse, yet united, interagency firefighting force of federal, state & local wildland firefighters, private sector wildland firefighters, and volunteers.

Increasingly these wildland firefighters are called up by the nation to fill ALL RISK roles, dealing with hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, shuttle crashes and potential terrorist attack, in addition to firefighting.  As the population grows, many communities are expanding into the fire prone interface.  While their specialized training and mission are primarily fighting wildfire, some wildland firefighters fill more traditional structure firefighting roles as they increasingly respond to requests for assistance on vehicle accidents and structure fires.

Why They Need Us

Wildland Firefighters families do not receive any benefits after a fatality for up to 3 months. Their foundation steps in to support those families immediate financial needs. The WFF also offers long term grief recovery for families of fallen and support our injured wildland firefighters who only receive 60% of their base pay after an injury. They also lose their overtime and don’t always have a way to support their families. Unfortunately, dealing with OWCP is not an easy task and the Foundation can sometimes assist if it is a line of duty as long as it is within our mission. The Foundation can often fly family members to the bedside of the injured, who are often states away from where they live. We also work with long term trauma effects on the firefighters and their families who are exposed to horrific incidents when a firefighter is killed or seriously injured while fighting fires in remote areas.

Fire is not a hundred percent predictable, therefore it is not a hundred percent preventable and as long as we engage fire there will be injuries and fatalities.

-Chris Fogle

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