Mike West has been in the wildland firefighting game for 17 years in various roles. He’s done a little bit of everything from being a Hotshot, Type 2 IA crew member, engine crew member, to a dispatcher…
Our community recognizes the fact that this line of work can be austere, physically demanding, and even more demanding on your mental health – And over the course of Mike’s career, his mental health took the brunt of these demands.
Mike eventually left the agency due to these reasons:
“I was diagnosed with PTSD, and I didn’t think I could heal from it if I stayed in fire.”
“My career had a very negative impact on my family life. I found it impossible to balance fire and my personal life.”
“I always wanted to be a teacher.”
“The whole forestry tech/firefighter thing. No need to beat that dead horse. We all know the issue.”
“I wanted my summers back.”
“I think the FS could retain a lot of forestry techs with better pay and support systems. But I wasn’t going to stay. By the time I decided to leave, the title of firefighter with good pay wouldn’t have kept me. I was totally over it. There’s a lot of fun to be had in fire, but I wasn’t going to sacrifice my family relationships for it.”
Upon leaving the agency, Mike wrote a heartfelt and honest letter to the forest to explain why he needed to leave fire… If you have a chance, read his letter here:
He hopes that this letter helps inspire anyone who is struggling with mental health issues to seek the help that they need.
Mike is now “retired” from the agency and is a teacher in Susanville, California and is a contributor to the Mystery Ranch “Backbone Series”
If you want to find out more, check out the link below:
Hope everyone is doing well…
You know the drill…
Stay safe, stay savage…
We launched a Patreon!!! If you guys would like to support us, head over to our Patreon Page!
The Anchor Point Podcast is supported by the following wonderful folks…
Need badass packs? Then look no further than Mystery Ranch!
Wanna pick up our Anchor Point Podcast merch or need killer coffee? Hit up Hotshot Brewery!!!
The Smokey Generation
Wanna get some history and knowledge on Wildland Fire? Hit up The Smokey Generation!
Not a sponsor of The Anchor Point Podcast, but a great organization:
The Wildland Firefighter Foundation
And, as always, please consider supporting this great nonprofit organization – The Wildland Firefighter Foundation!