This write-up by Annie Charnley Eveland was the lead column item in the Walla Walla Union Bulletin on September 25th. If you’re a subscriber, you can see the whole thing here, otherwise, Annie graciously provided me a copy:
A Whitman College aluma’s experiences as a volunteer firefighter in Washington state and smokejumper in California, are being put to good use.
The National Fire Protection Agency just named Rachel Smith to an NFPA committee that develops professional qualification requirements for wildland firefighters.
The international non-profit organization aims to reduce the threat of fire by creating universal standards and codes for buildings and fire safety procedures.
“This is a major committee governing the wildland fire community,” Rachel said. “NFPA standards go a long way in helping making communities safer and I’m pretty excited to be able to work with this organization.”
Rachel grew up in Everett, Wash., the daughter of Barb and Phil Smith. She earned a degree in bioethics in 2003 from Whitman.
“I was really lucky to get to spend four years in Walla Walla. I lived off campus most of my time at Whitman, and enjoyed getting to know my neighbors, not just other students.”
She returns to town as she’s able. She was an invited speaker several years ago at a Whitman summer college event, mostly geared toward alumni.
“Whenever I visit, I always get blueberry pancakes at Clarette’s and go to the Mill Creek Brew Pub at least once. Also, I’m crazy about Walla Walla wines,” Rachel said via e-mail.
“I regularly drive 30 minutes across town here in Los Angeles to go to a wine store that stocks L’Ecole 41 and Tamarack Cellars.”
A Thomas J. Watson Fellowship she received in 2003 to study international forestry and fire management, took her on a year-long global journey during the fire season to such places as Guatemala, Spain, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. She is working toward a Ph.D. in fire ecology/environmental science, policy and management at University of California, Berkeley.
The NFPA committee’s work on a set of much-needed minimum job performance requirements and documents is expected be published in 2012 to be adopted by fire agencies across the world.
Beginning at 18, Rachel fought fires in California and the American west. She was a firefighter and medic on the Tulalip Bay Indian Reservation and was a hotshot one summer with the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon.
She founded and is president of www.firescaping.org, a non-profit organization that provides risk abatement information to homeowners and residents. Her website, www.rachelcsmith.com also notes she’s adjunct faculty at Pasadena City College.
She’s published several papers, wrote commentary for NPR’s Morning Edition in 2007; was interviewed by ABC’s 20/20 and made it twice on the College of Natural Resources blog.
In July, NASA scientists revealed a map showing the shortest and tallest forests around the world. The global map was created using data gathered from NASA’s Aqua, ICESat, and Terra satellites. Though the map is intended to help scientists track carbon, it will also be useful dataset for predicting wildfire spread and behavior. It is the first forestry map to include global, rather than regional forestry data.