This is dedicated to my buddy Christy who makes every fire camp feel just like home. In spite of the stinky feet.
My brother asked what a fire camp was like. So I showed him some pictures. He commented that it was a lot like a military camp, and all of the Fire-Powers-That-Be would be giddy to hear that. But although they fancy themselves a para-military organization, I'd go out on a limb to say that you'll find a great deal more Patagonia, North Face, Starbucks Coffee and Internet Service at any given fire camp than you'd see in a military base camp. But I could be wrong.
Fire camp is divided up into several different areas. The layout varies depending on location but the idea is generally the same. You have the food unit, or mess hall, which is usually not too far from the crew sleeping areas, which are usually as far removed as possible from the overhead sleeping areas, identified by the name brand tent collection, which is usually close-ish to the Incident Command Post, or the ICP, which is the nerve center for Fire operations, and involves yurts or trailers for the incident commander, medical unit, communications, information, logistics, facilities, planning, finance and whatever other bureaucratic nonsense they can think to slip in there. Like human resources, agency liaisons and resource advisors. It's like a circus with a bunch of high priced monkeys making work for themselves. Myself included.
In the med unit, we treat everything from the sexually transmitted disease you brought from that last kegger at home, to the ingrown toenail you got from the boots that you bought a size too small. We are ready to deal with colds, diahrrea, constipation, fevers, vomiting, headaches, knee aches, urinary tract infections, Really Big Slivers, poison oak, poison ivy, spider bites, heat rash, high blood pressure, back spasms, etc, etc, etc... and of course, blisters.
Feet are our stock and trade. Maybe some of us fireline medical people are repressed podiatrists, but nobody with a foot aversion would make it out here. I have seen the feet that nightmares are made of. I have also seen beautiful, soft, clean little feet with nary a hotspot that I am obliged to bandage "preventatively" for the lady in camp who has to walk All The Way to the shower unit every day.
Oh yes. The shower unit. Depending on location, accessibility, and contractor, I try to space my showers out a couple of days at least. Us girls have it a little easier as we make up about 15% of the bodies-needing-showered and we rarely have to wait in line for our side of the shower trailer. I always feel sorry for the filthy boys standing in a neverending line for a 4 minute, probably cold shower in one of 5 stalls. Some shower units have nice private compartments with mirrors and stuff, where you can change and everything sans audience. Most of them have a few shower stalls and an open locker room changing area. Because who doesn't like to get naked with a bunch of strangers, right? If you are especially lucky, you time your overdue shower for when the shower truck runs completely out of water. Then you can stand there dripping for an hour while the tenders refill or get out with your soapy hair and try again later. That's always pretty special.
The shower unit on this incident offers the added indulgence of shower curtains that molest you the whole time you're in the stall. You know, the plastic ones that are magnetically compelled to attach themselves to your naked rear end and wrap affectionately around you while you're washing your hair. It's pretty cool. Especially when you walk into the trailer and see a row of gently embraced bottoms behind the caressing white vinyl. I'd take a picture but with my luck one of the butts would be the Human Resources lady and I'd have to go through sensitivity training or something.
Anyway, I've spaced it out so that I should only have to take two more showers before I leave this place. Which still seems like too much when you think about the attack shower curtains.
I'm up to about my thirtieth day on fire this year, and I'm at the point where it is absolutely requisite to find humor in everything. Including half-showers, grabby curtains and the rookie commo guy with really bad diarrhea, running for his life across camp to an outhouse that I made a mental note to avoid for the duration.
I sure hope HR doesn't find my blog. Being a medic I should be more sympathetic but I think I used up the last of my sympathy on the kid from Tenessee who got poison oak "down his britches" and needed to be wrapped in gauze everyday. His accent and southern colloquialisms were cute enough to make me willing to get close to the rapidly spreading rash and help him out with my mad wrapping skills.