Wildland firefighting has always faced many challenges, but the challenges have increased as wildland fires have grown in size and magnitude over the last 25 years. During a fire, wildland firefighters face long hours dealing with challenging and changing conditions. Wildland firefighters spend the majority of their time on their feet, walking over rugged and steep terrain, in hot temperatures, all while carrying the gear they need for extended time out on the fire line.
“One step in the green, one step in the burned,” says Operating Commander Marco Marques. Such a statement is not just lip service. His wildfire fighters are elite troops who belong to the Portuguese National Republican Guard (GNR) and fight daily on the borderline. The GNR can only successfully fight forest fires from the very front line. They complete over 4,000 deployments a year, setting out in helicopters or emergency vehicles to tackle smoldering fires before they have a chance to flare up seriously. The minimum objective is to damp down any blazes so that they can be quickly dealt with by fire units on the ground.