Commentary: Another view of the proposed BLM fire station
July 9, 2009
After recently returning to Carson City after an extended absence helping with fires in Alaska, I was dismayed to read another letter to the editor making disparaging remarks about the proposed BLM fire station at Prison Hill.
I am a resident of Carson City, I am a licensed attorney, but most importantly I am a smokejumper for the Bureau of Land Management based in Boise, Idaho. I have been personally insulted by the viewpoints I have read in the previous months.
Carson City is blessed to host two of the most respected hotshot crews in the country. These men and women selflessly put their lives in danger every summer protecting communities from wildfires, promoting prescribed fire to sustain rangelands necessary for livelihoods, and managing forests in promotion of wildlife habitat.
These firefighters sacrifice six months of the year away from their families to sleep in the dirt, breathe smoke and work 16-plus-hour days without complaint.
Like myself, not all of these firefighters live year round in the place they are based in the summers. As a result, these men and women are forced to find six-month leases (never easy) to pay high rents in houses that they will probably live in for four days a month.
A BLM station with barracks allows firefighters a reasonable place to rent, providing another tool to recruit the best possible firefighters.
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I am ashamed of the arguments I have read calling for the station to be denied. As far as light and noise pollution, may I remind that neighborhood that there are two major correctional facilities book-ending Prison Hill. I can’t imagine that the constant lights and traffic noise from the prisons is so much better than any potential impacts from the station.
As far as access to trails on Prison Hill, the hotshot crew I worked on was based in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and every year, before and after fire season, we helped the trail crews in maintenance. I would argue that the trail system would be improved by having a wealth of manpower with a vested interest in trail maintenance at the foot of Prison Hill.
I would also say that any visual impact on Prison Hill from the station would be minimal, you would hardly notice it below the giant green water tank right above it.
Finally, I read a letter to the editor several months ago saying that if firefighters were stationed at Prison Hill, they should have to mow his lawn. I find that, as a firefighter and a grown man, personally insulting. Next time a fire crew saves your community from a fire, a simple “Thank you” would suffice, and then you should go back to your still-standing house and mow your own damned lawn.
• James Greenwood is a Carson City attorney and BLM firefighter.