Cover: Sexy in Uniform, Allison Fairbourne

Cover: Sexy in Uniform, Allison Fairbourne

07 April 2011

published by www.inthisweek.com


USA — I’m convinced that people wear “sexy” uniforms for Halloween because the costume represents what most believe: Uniforms are sexy. It is not just the uniform worn by a public servant that is sexy, but what it stands for. We think these four people are sexy regardless of what they wear, the fact that they each don a uniform that screams “rescuer” while they selflessly give their time to helping others, makes them even sexier.

Twenty-seven-year-old Allison Fairbourne has spent five seasons working as part of the U.S. Forest Service. Her job as a Forest Technician, aka Wildland Firefighter, had her doing things like jumping off the side of a helicopter into flaming trees. As she gets ready to graduate from the University of Utah and begin a career in teaching, she tells us about what being a firefighter has meant to her.

On her training • The Forest Service provided the funds for me to attend fire school. Training usually lasts for the first month or two of the season and every year firefighters are required to re-certify. Like any position, I started out at the bottom but worked my way up to be a FF1. The certification I am most proud of, however, is chainsaw operator.

Her life-changing experience • I had the opportunity to experience many life-changing events while being a firefighter, but by far the most influential experience was the time I spent working with other fire crews on the coast after Hurricane Katrina hit. I had worked with the public during urban interface fires before, but nothing to the extent of my experiences in the South. I met incredible people and was exposed to a part of our country’s culture that I had never been exposed to. To this day, nothing in my life has made me feel more valuable to my community and as touched by humanity as my time spent helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Getting the facts straight • A huge misconception about female firefighters is that we are not as tough or as capable as the male firefighters, but I have seen women outhike and outwork many a man. A misconception about firefighters in general, is that we spend a lot of our time sitting around; when in fact, our time spent away from fire assignments is often spent building recreational trails, refurbishing tools, physical training and practicing drills.

Her heroic moment • One season I was on assignment up in Idaho, and despite the amount of snow on the ground, fire was raging all over the mountain. I was a squad leader and one of my crew members slipped into a huge ash pit, tearing his ACL and acquiring a few severe burns. He needed to be lifeflighted to the nearest hospital but the closest area suitable for transportation was about a mile uphill, and it was starting to get dark. He was unable to hike, so we made him a make-shift splint and gurney. We all took turns carrying him to safety, and when we reached an open space I guided in the lifeflight helicopter using a handheld radio and glow sticks. The injured firefighter didn’t end up with any permanent injuries, which made everybody working a hero that night.


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