This is my second year as a Wildland firefighter. I am currently a SAC student and I am also a member of the el Don. This summer has been such an experience for me.
From being a SoCal boy to moving to northern Idaho, where the nearest grocery store is 2 hours away, it has been a humbling experience for me. Especially tough was moving away and leaving all my friends and family; it made me realize how many things we take for granted.
This spring I bought a camera because I wanted to document my experience in photos, so others would have a sense of what we Wildland firefighters do. We go 14-21 days straight, working 16 hours a day on fires.
It is a very physical job, but it is more mental in my opinion. We at times have to cut lines around a fire in order to stop it, and when this happens we’re working next to flames. It gets really hot and you’re also inhaling smoke the whole time. It’s an unpleasant feeling.
Your eyes start to water, your nose runs, and your throat starts burning, but we all try to keep a positive attitude. So pretty much embrace the suck. This is a dangerous job but it is so rewarding knowing that you’re helping others.
Ryan Ruklic: “It’s like terrifying bliss. You become ultra-focused and your mind’s only impulse is to continue digging line. The heat, the smoke, the feeling of staring fear directly in the eyes, all contribute to the singular mentality of all fighters; to put this damn thing out.”