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July 2 marks the first ever National Wildland Firefighter Day

The National Interagency Fire Center says the day is to recognize the hard work and devotion of all wildland firefighters.

NORTHGLENN, Colo. — July 2 marks the first ever National Wildland Firefighter Day. 

The National Interagency Fire Center says the day is "To recognize the hard work and devotion of all wildland firefighters."

President Joe Biden put out a statement on the commemoration, saying in part, "Recognizing their service and sacrifice on this day is especially important because we continue to ask more of them year after year."

In Colorado, it goes without saying that the state has already had a busy year of fighting wildfires. 

“Our team’s been out – been through Kansas, Nebraska, Arizona, New Mexico, just had a call for California so yeah we’re as busy as we’ve ever been," said North Metro Fire Rescue District Battalion Chief Scott McCabe, who is also on the department's wildland team.

Credit: Alex Castillo
North Metro Fire Rescue.

Joined by fellow firefighter and wildland team member Jacob Charney, they explain that the demand for their services both in and out of state has increased in recent years. 

“It can be really hard on guys. It’s 16-21 days that you’re away from your families,” Charney said. “We always watch out for each other and especially when we’re out on the fire line, some things that can creep up on you, not just to mention fire but fatigue and stress from being away from the families and stuff like that.”

McCabe shared a similar sentiment. 

“You get back from a deployment, you come back to work your 48 hours and then – you know sometimes you’re being deployed again," he said. “We do it because obviously we care about protecting people’s lives and people’s property, so I think it’s just part of the territory."

They both add that they feel the day of recognition comes at a time where Coloradans are seeing a shift in where these fires happen - the Marshall Fire for example. 

"Now those communities understand wow…this really can happen…where I think a lot of people up until 5 or 6 years ago they never believed something like that could happen here," McCabe said. 

Credit: Alex Castillo

Both also agree that it makes sense to have the day of recognition on 4th of July weekend.

“I know the temptation's there, but just don’t do it," Charney said. 

Overall, both feel the day of recognition is long overdue, but say they didn't get into firefighting for the notoriety. 

“I truly believe no one does it for the recognition," McCabe said. “We’ve lost a lot of guys in the wildland realm over the years so – yeah to recognize their sacrifice it's…it's overdue for sure."

McCabe adds that they have struggled with staffing recently.

If you would like to apply for the North Metro Fire Rescue District, click here.

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