Recommendations needed - Wildland Fires Reporting
As a press photographer, being in the right place at the right time is key.
So here is my goal (I have been working at it, but still need lots of refining)
"To be able to arrive to a wildland fire area, safely approach the fire line, photograph the events, and then exit the area accordingly".
To do this, I have focused on some areas, but could use some pointers, with the granted disclaimer that if there was anything at all you could do to discourage me from engaging in such activity, you would.
I have all the safety gear current as required, and have not cut corners on that regard. Here are some specific questions I do have, perhaps you could help me answer some, or maybe just pitch your opinion, advice, etc.
- Does an extra pair of hands always help? At the scene, I will only be carrying my one camera, and that is it. Would it help if I carried a McLeod, or even just a 5g Smoke Chaser? The main idea here is to be able to gravitate the area for a period of time, being less of a liability and a bit more of the opposite.
- Knowing the plan/Situational Awareness: Briefings and planning in my position are extremely sensitive, specially in an environment that is not my own. I would like to have some ears at the scene. What device do I need to be able to hear any vital information while in transit to and from the fireline? (always using designated entry and escape routes, of course).
- Is the Wildland fire Certification itself (Used to be little green card in Cali) restricted only to fire personnel, or can I attempt to use some official channels to earn one?... (Local chief can have me show up and do the learning, but I have never actually asked if I could get certified).
Through my career as a news photographer I have seen colleagues do unthinkable stupid things. From setting up a news Van at a key Emergency Entrance or exit point, to Someone in slacks and penny loafers walking into a vegetation fire to take 'closer photos', only to realize that the ground does heat up during a fire.
With a Camera in my hands I can take the money shot. That is no problems. Can I get to a fire line and back? Perseverance, I supposse. But the key words I am trying to focus on are SAFETY and UTILITY. I feel that my safety will increase proportional to my ability to be useful.
Thanks in advance for allowing me to start this thread. All comments welcome.