The year 2020 has been unlike any other. California’s fire season, spanning from August to November, now logs 8,834 fire incidents, 31 fatalities, the loss of 10,488 structures, and an estimated 4,149,345 acres burned—an area larger than the state of Connecticut (CA.gov, 2020 and Wigglesworth, 2020).
Nearly 20,000 firefighters participated in fighting these fires, some coming from as far away as Israel. The largest and most devastating fires began in mid-August when a lightning storm sparked dozens of fires in Northern California. Burning across six counties, the August Complex fire is the largest wildfire in California history (Stelloh, 2020).
Who are these heroes who help protect our homes, businesses, properties and lives from these devastating fires? They are women and men who persevered to make their dream a reality and who completed training in the fire fighter’s academy and passed rigorous requirements addressing one’s physical health and moral character. The bar for admission into this profession is very high.
Amy McClure has been a California firefighter for 10 years. She is also deaf and uses bilateral cochlear implants. Ever since childhood she thought firefighting was the coolest job in the world, but because she had no female firefighters as role models, she did not pursue firefighting as a career. Instead, she majored in cell biology and biochemistry in college and worked as a research scientist for 10 years after college. Yet firefighting continued to pull at her.
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