By Becky Hughes
For six months out of the year, Bailey McDade fights wildland fires for up to 160 hours a week. She and her crew camp for weeks at a time on assignment, battling blazes with just a single layer of fire-resistant plastic material for protection. It’s a demanding job, and often a dangerous one, but it’s a passion project too. McDade says of her work, “You’re there for a reason—nobody becomes a wildland firefighter by accident.”
Parade recently chatted with McDade to learn why and how she fights fires, plus how she stays safe doing it.
How did you get into wildland firefighting?
I was originally planning to be a veterinarian. Halfway through college, after I’d taken organic chemistry and all the super hard classes, I took a trip down to Belize to do some jaguar research. I’d been hiking all day, every day for two weeks straight, for something that I felt mattered on the larger scale. I realized I wanted to work in public lands and be in the woods. I wouldn’t trade it for a desk any day.
How do you train to be a wildland firefighter?
There are a few basic wildland fire classes you have to take. We did a lot of controlled burns. And then it’s a lot of hiking, a little bit of running and some weight training. It’s more about endurance than strength, really. The biggest part of our job is hiking.
Continue reading article on Parade.com -- but my fave quote by Bailey in latter part of interview is:
"...My roommate and I like to joke that the only difference being a woman on the crew is we have to walk a little bit further to find a bush to pee behind. You’re not a girl tagging along in the boys’ club; you’re part of the family. It’s like having a bunch of brothers. Any one of those guys is literally willing to save your life on any given day, and you have to do the same for them. ..."
Well done and stay safe Bailey!!
Very nice. I love badass firefighter girls.