Horn Book Magazine
"Out on the line, a hot fire can make wind and whip it into fire whirls, swirling the flames around in a fleeting tornado-like spiral." The ferocity of fire is forcefully depicted in both narrative and well-chosen photo-graphs in this informative examination of the laborious and dangerous work of controlling wildfires. Vivid photos of men and women working in the midst of fires illustrate the tasks of initial-attack teams, hotshot crews, smokejumpers, and prescribed-burn crews. A chapter devoted to the rigorous training of smokejumpers is followed by an account of fire on Montana's Morrell Mountain, which follows particular firefighters through the many hours of containing the fire and the follow-up care of equipment. Beil touches on some of the topics presented in other books on forest fires but extends coverage of the subject considerably in the range of examples she chooses and in citing the personal experiences of so many firefighters. She discusses both the growing danger zone human inhabitants are creating as they develop housing further into wilderness areas and the planned fires set to restore a natural ecology. Pointing out that nearly a quarter of the nation's wildland firefighters are Native Americans, she discusses some of the earlier native beliefs and practices that are now being used in developing policies for planned burning. The compelling account closes with a selective glossary of terms used by wildfire fighters.
The ALAN Review - Ted Hipple
A non-fiction work, aimed probably at middle schoolers, this book explores what those who fight seemingly out-of-control wildfires go through. And the book makes abundantly clear that what they go through is tough: One second's exposure to the forest fire at the wrong place at the wrong time can result in burning human skin, disintegrating eyelashes, clothing that spontaneously bursts into flames. Firefighting in the forests is dangerous work. This book examines not only these fighters, however, but also the fires themselves C what starts them, what moves them, what (thanks to the firefighters) finally controls them. A more exciting book than one might think from its topic, this work is greatly enhanced by some extraordinary photography, some of it taken at the fire's edge, putting the camera folks in almost as much jeopardy as the firefighters themselves. In sum, this is a work worth getting for the library, one not for everyone in the school, but for those who may be fascinated with this kind of vocation, it's well worth knowing about.
Children's Literature - Judy Chernak
A searingly beautiful tribute to the courageous men and women who stalk and fight fires in the wild, this book pulls no punches about the dangers involved in this exotic occupation. What type of person endures intensive, rugged training (fifty pushups, a mile-and-a-half run in under eleven minutes, forty-foot rope climbs, hikes with eighty-five pound packs and no more than three missteps in three miles) and constant danger to fulfill a dream of becoming firefighters, smoke jumpers and hotshot crews? Only the most dedicated and tough-minded, such as Ken Seonia, a Native American; Shelley Dunlap, a forty-five year old ski instructor; R. S. McDaniel, a former track star; schoolteachers, tree planters, a scenery-builder for the Metropolitan Opera, emergency medical technicians--even convicts. Considering that "human skin blisters and burns in one second in the heat that blasts in front of a forest fire, eyelashes disintegrate...hair turns to brittle, black ash...and skin chars" before the fire even arrives, those who hike and parachute into the midst of such danger know the risks and unfortunately, sometimes get caught in them. The stories of those who survived as well as some that didn't are sobering reading. Author Beil spent several years in the company of firefighters and burn crews, interviewing and photographing their hazardous adventures. The book covers spectacular fires that occurred in Idaho, Montana, Yellowstone, and the Old Topanga Canyon near Malibu and Los Angeles. It explains the rationale of deliberately setting fires to clear out old forest as well as to allow new growth to reclaim devastated areas, as in the Pine Bush Area of Albany, New York.
Children's Literature - Cheryl Peterson
"Human skin blisters and burns in one second in the heat that blasts in front of a forest fire. In the same instant, eyelashes disintegrate. Hair turns to brittle, black ash. After four seconds, the blistered skin chars and clothing bursts into flame. Then the fire arrives." So begins this fascinating look at the people who put their lives on the line to fight forest fires and other wildfires. How does a firefighter survive such intense heat, and who are these brave risk takers? The author finds out first hand by working on a burn crew for two seasons and interviewing dozens of firefighters. The excitement and danger of this profession is captured as the reader follows the stories of real life firefighters through some harrowing near death experiences. The brilliant and vivid color photographs add detail and realism to the stories.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-A dramatic account of the training and work of a firefighter as well as the role of fire in the natural world. Every page is packed with fascinating facts that will hold readers' attention. In addition, graphic full-color photographs convey the intensity, violence, and power of fire as well as the multi-tasked operations that firefighters undertake. While this book has a wealth of information for researchers, its organization does not promote such use. Chapter headings such as "Torch!" are exciting, but don't give a clear indication of content. In fact, this chapter begins with a discussion of the uses of fire to help wildlife and woodlands. Also, the glossary is incomplete. However, the book has lots of drama and appeal, making it well suited to browsing and leisure reading.-Edith Ching, St. Albans School, Mt. St. Alban, Washington, DC Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.