Best of 2019: Steve Brouillette


The West, USA

You have a task, requiring an immediate decision. How you engage is going to determine action and comes with its own parameters. There’s more traffic than the Tac can handle. It’s no longer organized chaos. It’s out of hand, but not unmanageable. You wait, poised to be direct, watching the winds, listening to what fire is telling you. It’s no different, the message, once you understand. You’re respectful to the way it needs to live. How it consumes, and breathes. And you wait for the wind, shifting in the pulses of breathing fire, down the flank and at the head. The aircrafts are inbound and the timing: critical. The moment you waited for is coming down the line; a shifting wind taming the flame back on itself. You go with purpose and caution held in both hands, but the wave has a crest and the ride is on. You pick your point of initial piercing and cut the volume in two, circle back from the black and hit the flank cutting off the head. While you engage the body headed to the mass in front of you, the VLATs come over the rise and drape the fuels in crimson towards the head. Others held in the rear, now go mobile to join the consumption like piranhas eating the last bits of flame and ember. But it’s not enough and the fire rises in fresh wind and unchecked fuel. You’ve been flanked because others were too afraid to move forward. But you circle and reposition under the new-found rally, inspired. The second time, with incorporated forces common to the way, another line is drawn and cut in between the breath of winds, smoke, and heat. She’s corralled and slowly consuming the last traces of a life born from spark.

BIO: Steven Brouillette is the real thing. A heart and passion for community and family, risking his life as a wildland firefighter, he’s a Chief, Squad and Engine Boss. Photo and text.

Best of Wanderlust 2019 is available here. 

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