My project on rural and volunteer fire departments, which I first mentioned here, came to an end this weekend after three and a half months of work. It’s behind a paywall, but you can read the finished story here, if you like.
I focused more on reporting than photography during the second half of the project, but I still have a few to share. The first few are from an August fire south of Fayetteville; five departments squeezed their tanker trucks down a narrow country lane to fight it, but one man, Dale Cheatham, died inside, likely before crews arrived.
It was so hot around the house the fighters took 15-minute shifts before retreating to this area, where medics checked their vitals and passed out bottles of water.
This photo is from a training meeting up in Goshen. Going through a half-built home is a good way to see and discuss how a home is built, how to approach fires in different parts of the structure, where there’s lots of air to feed a fire, how the floors are constructed. Firefighters, even volunteers, have to keep probably three dozen things in mind as they fight.
Finally, just a few images from a fundraising breakfast for the Northeast Benton County, or NEBCO, department. Many departments are struggling with recruitment and resources, but hundreds of people turned out to support them earlier this month.
As with many long projects, I’m glad I did it, and I’m glad I’m done. I owe so much to all the volunteers, chiefs and supporters who talked with me and let me intrude into their lives for a little while. It’s an amazingly tight-knit and friendly group.
Thanks for looking,
Ozark highways during summer holiday weekends are always full of trucks carrying boats and jet skis and family dogs. Grandparents holding ice cream cones and kids too excited to stay in their cars at gas stations are all on their way to Table Rock Lake or Beaver Lake or Lake of the Ozarks or any of the other lakes around here shaped like great seadragons, with their tails and tendrils and branches. The shape forms when hilly areas are dammed and flooded, and I’ll always associate it with this place.
One of those Ozark highways is U.S. 412, running from one northern corner of Arkansas to the other. I went up and down a segment of this road for my Memorial Day, hoping to capture just a little bit of the tiny-town life it strings together.
Speaking of Memorial Day, I’m reminded of something a veteran friend of mine pointed out. When we thank veterans for their service, maybe we’re really thanking them for going to war instead of us, for taking our place so no draft is needed and we can enjoy road trips and holiday weekends and careers that give holidays. We go, and you don’t have to, he said.
I think this perspective makes the thank-yous “for your service” and “for defending our freedom” more real and tangible. Any perspective that does that is a valuable one, I think.
I hope it was a good weekend for you. Here’s a few more images from around my apartment this weekend.
Thanks for looking,