Firefighters hit slopes for Wildland Firefighters Foundation

Reported by: Van Tieu
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Updated: 3/21/2014 10:37 pm
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & During wild fire season, they're usually in the hills fighting the flames, but today, wild land fire fighters are staying cool on the slopes for a foundation that helps their own.
They're strapping on skis and boards instead of lacing up their fire-fighting boots in the 6th annual Silver State Hotshots Vertical Drop challenge at the Mount Rose Ski Resort Slide Bowl. Nevada's wild land fire fighters are squeezing in as many runs as possible to raise money for The Wildland Firefighters foundation.

“We come in and reach out to families of injured and fallen firefighters across the country," says director, Burke Minor.

There are some 92 hotshot crews based all over the country and they consider themselves one big family, and by supporting the foundation, they support each other in a job that requires putting their lives on the line.

“It's inherently dangerous,” says Silver State Hotshot Vertical Drop Chairman, Joe Powell. “Last season there was 38 fatalities over the span of the fire season.”

The foundation is a safety net for wild fire fighters' families.

"The government is real good at employing these guys and takes good care of them,” says Minor. “But there's really nothing out there for the families. So that's where we step in and wrap it up for them. "

The crews are nomadic and travel all over the country often far away from home, and that safety net for their families is a service they're grateful for.

“It holds a special place in my heart because it could be me or any of the people who are participating here,” says Powell.

“We look out for each other,” says Silver State Hotshot firefighter, Casey Bedell. “So it’s really important to have the foundation, and not to worry so much about our families if something happens to us.”

Each year this event raises $5-10,000. The fundraiser continues tonight with a benefit concert at the Knitting Factory in downtown Reno, featuring Bob Marley's Original Wailers.

Doors open at 7 and the runs until midnight. Admission is $20.

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