Intro to Fusee
FUSEE promotes safe, ethical, and ecological wildland fire management. We strive to inform and empower fire management workers and their citizen supporters to become torchbearers for a new paradigm in fire management.
Philosophy & Mission
Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology (FUSEE, pronounced "FEW-zee") is a nonprofit organization dedicated to uniting wildland firefighters and other fire management workers in support of safe, ethical, and ecological wildland fire management. FUSEE occupies a unique niche and serves a vital role because it seeks to inform and empower fire management workers and their citizen supporters to become advocates for community and worker safety, ethical public service, environmental protection, and ecological restoration.
The acronym and symbol of our organization is the fusee, a torch used by wildland firefighters to proactively "fight fire with fire." Fusees are essential tools used in wildfire suppression to secure firelines and create safety zones, and are used in prescribed burning to reduce hazardous fuel loads and restore fire-adapted ecosystems. The fusee ignites easily, burns brightly, and spreads fire rapidly. FUSEE mobilizes wildland firefighters to become torchbearers for a new paradigm in fire management.
FUSEE’s primary function is to promote wildland firefighters’ rights to work safely with the highest ethical standards and ecological values. We believe that firefighter safety is ultimately dependent on labor unity, ethical management actions, and ecological restoration.
Combining federal, tribal, and state agencies, private companies, and rural volunteer organizations, there are over one million wildland firefighters in the United States. Wildland firefighters are dedicated and conscientious people that work for low pay, few job benefits, and little job security. They routinely face hazardous and unhealthy working conditions and are often forced to do environmentally destructive activities. Yet they have little knowledge of their rights as workers or responsibilities as public servants.
Firefighters often feel disenfranchised, voiceless, and powerless to improve their working conditions or alter their work tasks. However, from their position on the frontlines of fire management, ground-level firefighters have the potential to fundamentally change their mission from the ground-up, and perform their duties with the highest professional, ethical, and environmental standards.
FUSEE focuses on an interdependent triad of safety, ethics, and ecology. This triad is readily apparent to fireline workers who can see compromises of safety, ethical, and ecological values in nearly every work shift command during suppression operations on large wildfires.
Ecologically destructive actions often impair worker safety and are antithetical to the public’s interest. Actions that risk firefighters’ safety are often professionally unethical and ecologically damaging. Decisions made to provide fire-suppression contractors with taxpayer-subsidized incentives are often unethical, ecologically destructive, and place workers in harm’s way by putting profits ahead of people.
Wildland firefighters share "esprit de corps" based on the action, excitement, and challenges of their profession. They also share camaraderie based on collective labor and shared sacrifice with an indomitable "can do" attitude. However, the wildland firefighter community has yet to fully voice an ethos beyond personal bravery and stoic perseverance in the face of dangers and hardships. They have not yet found the words to articulate their love of wild places, their ideals of professional and ethical behavior, their aspirations to control their own safety on firelines, and their yearnings to restore unhealthy ecosystems by genuinely managing fire rather than simply "fighting" fire.
Wildland firefighters must now recognize that their "hero" status in the eyes of public offers them leverage power to change their current marginalized employment conditions. FUSEE gives voice to an emerging ethos of wildland firefighters that embraces a personal and collective sense of duty in service to communities and the land.
FUSEE informs, unites, inspires and empowers these ground-level firefighters to become powerful advocates for labor rights and environmental protection. We welcome current and former firefighters, their families and friends, other fire professionals, or any person who supports the vision and mission of FUSEE to become members. For membership details, please go to our membership page. We expect FUSEE to grow as it increasingly becomes a recognized force providing educational and informational services to firefighters, and advocating for progressive changes in fire management programs, policies, and practices.