Randy Owings, Engine Captain and author of this web page. I keep reminding people that I will be retiring next year, and I think they are getting a little tired of hearing me say it, but it's true. I have been working for the Forest Service since 1975, which doesn't seem all that long ago to me, but I get folks on my crew every year who were only kids then, or not even born yet. That makes it seem like a longer time I guess. Well, I have to say that the job isn't as much fun for me as it used to be for alot of reasons, but I still love fire suppression. It's all the other crap that goes along with it that takes the fun out of it. Let's not go there...
Rene' Sarabia is the Fire Engine Operator. Needless to say, Rene' is my right hand man, and someone I rely on heavily. He has had 8 seasons of experience, is a fully qualified Module Leader, and one of the hardest workers I have ever seen. Rene' is the father of 2 little ones who are cute as the proverbial bugs ear.. why do we use that term anyway, a bug's ear can't possibly be as cute as those kids. Rene' is going to be Engine Captain someday, of that I have no doubt, and he could easily go higher if he wants to.
Jake Rowsey came here from the desert area outside of San Bernardino, near Apple Valley. He is the Senior Firefighter. Jake got his Class B permit for driving the Engine, so he is going to be getting some time behind the wheel when we have the opportunity. He completed a bunch of training last winter, so he is moving along on the learning curve. Jake recently got married, and moved off the station. He's a good sawyer, and I use him all the time in that capacity on fires.
Amanda Lindeman is from the Stockton area. She worked for me last year as a temporary, and did such a good job that I had to hire her as an Apprentice. This year she is a full fledged employee, thus the uniform. Amanda is a dancing fool... but I mean that in a joking way, honest. She is a Manatee lover, which we don't see too often in Honey Lake, and a great addition to my crew. She's a hard worker, and a fast learner, and I'm really happy she decided to take the job we offered her. Unfortunately for me, next year she will be going to either a Hand Crew, or a Helicopter. Since next season will be my last one, I'll have to get along without her, which will be hard. Well, we have her this year, and that's what counts.
Marcus Pacheco worked here a couple of years ago on the old Crew 2. He has worked for the Forest Service and CDF. He has Class B commercial driver's license, is an EMT, and a member of the Lassen County Search and Rescue. Marcus is a good hand, has lots of working knowledge and experience fighting forest fires. With this level of experience, I expect good things out of him this year. So far he hasn't let me down, and all indications are that he won't.
Michelle Ward, oddly enough is also from the Apple Valley area. Strange that I should get 2 individuals from that area interested in working here. Anyway, Michelle has no fire experience, however she has had plenty of classroom training, including I-100, 200, and 300, ICT4, and Fire Investigation. She worked in a sporting goods store, at Autozone, and as a seamstress. Michelle is an EMT, and says she likes to work on cars and has mechanical aptitude. We may test her skills in that area this year, since the equipment we use frequently experiences mechanical difficulty.
Christopher Marson comes to us all the way from Wisconsin. I keep getting mixed up thinking it is Minnesota, but Chris keeps reminding me otherwise. Chris was the last person hired this year for my crew. He has been learning steadily, and has already been on his first good fire. Chris likes to fish, which I can really relate to, but unfortunately has no transportation to get to any of the good fishing holes around here. He is a great addition to the crew, a hard worker, and I'm happy to have him.
Here are some pictures from the first good fire of the year, the Rowland fire near the town of Doyle. It started by lightning, and quickly grew to 114 acres. You can see from the pictures that the fire behavior in this part of the country can be pretty impressive. The pictures were taken by Sue McCourt and are posted on the Forest Service Intranet site, so I took the liberty of copying them. Click on this link to see them... Rowland Fire
More fire pictures from this fire season... click here.
For some pictures of a recent project we did, click here.
A recent off forest assignment to Gasquet created some photo opportunities.. check them out here.
Here are links to previous season's crews: