Wildland firefighters hold an essential role within society—they help protect both the environment and surrounding communities from wildfires and other natural disasters. They accomplish this goal through years of training, expert knowledge, and, most importantly, equipment. Here are some different tools that wildland firefighters use.
Perhaps the most recognizable tool that wildland firefighters carry, the Pulaski is a combination of an axe and adze. An assistant ranger (United States Forest Service) named Ed Pulaski designed it as a more efficient firefighting tool.
The ability to chop and dig with a simple wrist flick helps reduce labor and stress for the firefighters and even improves pace. The function of the Pulaski tool is so superior that it’s been standard for all wildland firefighters since the 1920s!
Fire rakes are essential hand tools for anyone on the front lines of a wildfire. They look similar to the standard garden rake hanging in your garage, with the key difference being the shape and size of the rake head.
Fire rakes feature a rake head with at least four triangular-shaped steel blades. These broader tines allow first responders to tackle a fire that has spread throughout undergrowth by quickly and effectively loosening vegetation and debris.
While they aren’t for wielding like the other two things on this list, safety packs are on the backs of nearly every wildland firefighter. They hold essential survival items, such as first-aid kits, pain medications, spare batteries, flashlights, sunscreen, water, and even matches.
Wildland responders require a form of storing all these items that minimizes stress and fatigue on the back. Safety packs can accomplish this due to their special design (similar to hiking backpacks). If a wildland firefighter isn’t wearing a safety pack, they most likely have one of the many different types of hose packs on that they can use for quick-fire suppression.
Understanding the different tools wildland firefighters use daily is valuable, as it can better educate the public about wildfire prevention and might help guide you toward this career. Wildland firefighters work on a seasonal schedule and spend days to weeks on end in the outdoors, so if this sounds interesting to you, consider this rewarding job path!