Resurgence of the blog- Wildland Firefighters Foundation
We know what you have been thinking, “Oh, NOW you bring back the blog post. After stringing us along all year, winning medal after medal, turning 4 years old, hosting another successful Hoptober Freshtival, canning all of my favorite beers…”
You’re damn right we’re bringing the blog back! We have so many things happening here that we needed another outlet to keep you all informed. So let’s just get down to business, shall we? To start we want to talk about the reason we are still here… you! As many of you may have seen or heard, we are refocusing our efforts on Community Supported Beer by creating consistent new brews, boosting our CSB Membership benefits and (perhaps most importantly) partnering with local non-profits to raise money for their causes.
In today’s post we are going to share an interview we had with Troy Sanders of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. The WFF’s main focus is to help families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and to assist injured firefighters and their families. Since the organization was founded in 1999, the Foundation has provided emergency support services to the families of firefighters, seriously injured or killed in the line of duty. Families left behind, many with young children, often find themselves with few resources, and the Foundation steps in to help.
What’s your position with Wildland Firefighters Foundation?
“I don’t have an official position with them, just a volunteer. I started 3 or 4 years ago and I check in on the off-season and see if they need help before they shut down for about a month or so.”
What sort of work do you do with them?
First time was putting together care cards for the Granite Mountain families. That was the hotshot group that perished, all 20 of them, in 2012 so in 2014 they were still sending stuff out and that’s when I first started. It’s whatever they need help with, running stuff to the post office, whatever can lighten their load a little.
Can you fill me in on what the main purpose of the foundation is?
Their main thing is helping the injured and fallen. If there’s a major injury or fatality they’ll send out a representative to the fire and they try to take on the brunt of the paperwork side of it, the financial side of it. Not everyone has money to fly down and see their loved one so they’ll buy a plane ticket or they’ll pay for hotels, hospital bills, physical therapy bills, stuff like that. Sometimes the government can take a long time to get any of that done. There are just so many steps (they get involved legally) so they try to help the front end of it as they can and they’ll help with other things. They might help with rent, a couple months’ mortgage, stuff like that if things are tight while they’re going through transitions. They do a lot of stuff in DC advocating for better pay, better health insurance, better food on the fire line; you get a ham sandwich and a bag of chips, you get pretty grumpy.
How big of an organization is it?
Off the top of my head they have maybe 4 or 5 permanent employees and they’re just moving to a different location, a bigger facility to house everything that they’re doing, they’re pretty crammed, they sell a lot of merchandise to help raise money and they’re just out growing themselves.
Is there a local Boise office?
Yeah, this is where it started, out by Airport Way.
So, it’s fairly small.
Yeah it’s an operation with a large reach but fairly small in itself. They try and keep it that way so that it’s a nonprofit but they have people working they have to pay, so the smaller they can keep it, the more money goes to the organization.
Where does most of the money come from?
Other firefighters- they have what’s called a 52 club so it’s $1 a week 52 weeks of the year. There are a lot of fundraising events hosted by other fire crews. They apply for grants and stuff like that
So you’ve been doing it for 3 years, why did you want to volunteer?
So I got into fire in 2013, after hearing about Granite Mountain, you start seeing their logo and I found out they were here it just kinda peaked my interest to visit an organization that’s so passionate about what we do and it’s really hard when you walk in there the first time, seeing all the pictures, some people can go in multiple times and kinda get used to it and some people go in once and can never go in again. It’s just so impacting. But mostly just to help the people that help us. It gets hard to put it all into words knowing what you go through out there and knowing that there’s someone back home that cares so much. And when you meet the people there they are just so nice and passionate.
Are you with the forest service?
I’m with the BLM
What does the season look like?
This is only my 7th year in fire, 5 of it hot-shotting in the last 3 or 4 years alone it’s been record heat temperatures. Fires are starting earlier or lasting longer. There is a trend and people in the field have noticed it.
Do you take the rest of the season off or do you get a job?
A lot of people do unemployment or they’ll get odd jobs, or ski resorts. That’s a part of what the foundation tries to fight for. Some states like Utah you can’t get unemployment.
What do you do in the off-season?
I’m a permanent employee; typically they’ll stay on 2 weeks after temporary employees are done. This year I’ll stay on a little bit longer; I’ll work all the way up to the day before the event [Boise Brewing Fundraiser], come here the day before to help with the event, have the event and then pack up and go hunting.
You were a second round owner, what made you want to invest in Boise Brewing?
I’ve always been trying to figure out more investment opportunities, because of my age, planning for the future. It seemed like a good opportunity for something local and with all the growth here, I grew up here but just seeing all the growth, I worked in the service industry for 8 years down here I saw it as a good opportunity and felt comfortable that it was going to grow up into something a lot bigger- just the timing of it and having the money to do it. It’s cool to walk in and grab your mug and grab your beers.
I’ve wanted to do a fundraiser for the foundation never knowing how to go about it. I was already associated with Boise Brewing and thought maybe they’d be willing to host it. It was just a matter of asking!
It was surprising how many people wanted to get on board. The sponsors we have donated some incredible things: Patagonia donated $500 worth of stuff, Idaho Shu’s running company, Boise Gear Collective, Banana Ink
The event is called “2 More Chains” and a chain is a reference to a distance in fire, which is 66 feet. The joke is that people will ask “how much further?” it’s always 2 more chains.
We want to thank Troy for his efforts and exemplifying what it means to be Community Supported! We are happy to say that the event was a success! If you missed it then there is still an opportunity to help WFF by coming to the brewery and purchasing a pint off of our CSB tap handle ($1 of every pint goes to WFF through the end of October). You can also learn more about them and their mission by visiting wffoundation.org
Thanks to everyone for sticking around. Welcome back to the age of blog! Stay tuned for our next non-profit spotlight and more blog posts from your favorite, Boise Brewing!