The Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) is joining the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies and organizations across the country in recognizing June 30 — July 6 as “Wildland Firefighters Week of Remembrance.”
“Wildland Firefighters Remembrance Week serves as an opportunity to honor those wildland firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Russell Bozeman, MFC state forester. “It is also an opportunity for the MFC and other agencies to renew their commitment to the safety of wildland firefighters.”
Fire is one of the most destructive forces on the planet. Wildland firefighters in Mississippi and across the country put their lives on the line each time they are called to a fire.
Since January 2021, MFC wildland firefighters have responded to 664 wildfires that burned approximately 15,450 acres across the state.
“I don’t think people realize how many wildfires the MFC responds to every year,” Bozeman said. “Our crews work long hours in dangerous conditions helping protect lives and property.”
Wildland firefighting is dangerous for many reasons. Wildfires are unpredictable and this makes the job of containing them difficult. Wildland firefighters can know certain things, such as wind speed and relative humidity, that aide them in their fight, but weather conditions can change in an instant.
“We stress safety to our firefighters, and all employees, at the MFC,” said Bozeman. “We spend a great deal of time and energy on training to make sure our employees are as equipped as possible to safely respond to a wildfire.”
In Mississippi, more than 90 percent of all wildfires are human-caused. The number one cause of wildfires is escaped debris burns.
“Fire is a valuable tool when used responsibly,” Bozeman said. “We ask all Mississippians to use the utmost amount of caution when starting a fire outside. Remember, if you’re fire gets out of control and becomes a wildfire, that will put one of our crew, your neighbor, in harms way.”
“Wildland Firefighters Week of Remembrance” was started to honor members of the wildland firefighting community who lost their lives in the line of duty.
In 2013, 34 members of the wildland firefighting community, including 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots in Yarnell, Arizona, were killed over the course of the fire season.
“Our firefighters know the risk they take each time they are called to a wildfire,” said Bozeman. “We would like all Mississippians to think twice before starting an outdoor fire and to remember that, if your fire becomes a wildfire, our crews are the ones who will be called on to contain it.”
For information on how you can help prevent wildfire, visit mfc.ms.gov/wildfires/wildfire-prevention/.See a typo? Report it here.