"Chris Mariano became a federal wildland firefighter because he wanted to help protect the Northern California landscapes and communities he’d grown to love.
Years later, after working his way up to squad boss of the elite Truckee hotshot crew for the U.S. Forest Service, Mariano resigned in a viral letter that is the latest example of how low pay, grueling work and mental stress are driving experienced professionals out the door at a time when extreme wildfires are becoming more destructive.
“It almost feels as though we’re out there doing the very best we can, but it’s not enough,” Mariano said. “And that’s tough, to know that you’re giving everything you have, and communities are still being lost.”
Morale within the Forest Service has plummeted to an all-time low, current and former firefighters say."