Thoughts on the movie from Storm King Mountain’s Founder, Jim Roth.
This movie’s story about the Granite Mountain Hotshots is tied closely to our customers and firefighting community. There are many friends and family members of these 19 firefighters who we will never see on the movie screen or in the media, but they will hold a deep pain in their heart for the rest of their lives. Most other people will never understand the reasons why our wildland fire family will feel this loss every day. I feel it because of my brother, Roger Roth, July 6th, 1994 on the South Canyon Fire. This movie has taken our emotions and hung them out for everyone to see. Particularly the close friends and family members who feel that this fire happened only yesterday. Yes, these wounds will open up on the anniversaries of the Yarnell Fire, at graduation ceremonies, weddings and births.
Yes, I saw the movie and I need to say a few things. One can take issue about how “Hollywood” portrayed our wildland fire hand crews; the way they depicted the fire behavior, or the fact that the storyline was only about a couple of people and not the whole crew. Look, if you take any movie which is centered around a main event, say “Miracle on the Hudson” with Captain Sullenberger, people that were there will take issue with its depiction. Hollywood makes entertainment and hopefully this film gets more people to think about what we do on the fireline.
So let’s take this movie event and use it as a means to make things better for our firefighters. Specifically we should be pushing for the public to understand we need to manage our forests with good fires and fuel treatments; helping us reduce the big fires. We should be having important conversations with our firefighters, families and support people about our high firefighter suicide rates and getting them PTSD help. We need better technology to track the location of our firefighters when they are on the fireline so help can come quicker. We need better safety equipment; our wildland boots, gloves, pants, shirts, etc. all have an NFPA approval. But yet the fire shelter tent has no NFPA approval, no performance based test standard.
I hope that the whole country sees this film and remembers the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Now it is up to the rest of us to get the conversation going and improvements coming!