Roger’s view from the hills: Experience

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LIFE IS NOT A PROBLEM TO BE
SOLVED, BUT A REALITY TO
BE EXPERIENCED.”
                                                        Soren Kierkegaard
 
     Experience is the sum of what we learn in life.  Some are better learners than others.  The last two weeks have been a series of experiences that many down here in Barber County have had reality slap them in the face.  It is happening in other places.  I believe the most outstanding instance of not learning one thing from what is going on around you happened during the Anderson Creek Fire.
     When the common intelligence tells you that there are things that have consequences there is always someone who defies logic.  In the midst of the largest wildfire in Kansas history the sector fire commander gets a message from one of his units.  “There is a person here that is burning their trash!”  I can only imagine what the words were that he did not utter.  I will do it here as simply and cleanly as I can.  ARE THEY OUT OF THEIR EVER LOVING MINDS?
     The sector fire boss had to go and reason with the person and point out that they had been spared by the fire and it was still burning around them, and they wanted to burn their trash barrel?  The tact and approach of that man must be something that would try a prophets soul.  The result, the can was put out and they were happy when he left.
     Sometimes we all need a good Dutch Uncle talk.  We hope that while in school critical thinking is taught and the ability to learn is instilled.  Some leave us wondering about that.
     As the results of the Anderson Creek fire are being tabulated and organized, more fires break out.  We have sent units to neighboring counties because of controlled burns that got out of control.  There is knee jerk reaction about why anyone would try to burn now.  A lot of it has to do with the contracts that landowners have with the federal government on their deadlines to burn or mow CRP ground.  Some counties are getting wavers from the local FSA office.  Many are not and the deadline is approaching.  There is a learning curve here and we hope that lessons will be learned and experience put in place to avoid these fires.
     Oklahoma is experiencing a series of fires as is other parts of Kansas.  Causes vary but the experience that all has learned is that much can be accomplished when everyone can work together.  It has been really refreshing that since I am paying attention to the fire situation (as retired firefighters do) I have ignored politics.  There will be a lot of politics to go around later.  Right now I am concerned with the politics that keeps our firefighters on stranglehold budgets, agencies that add to the problems, and gaining the experience as to what was done right.
     Our county commissioners authorized a new annex building to be built next to our courthouse.  Our health department was stuck in an old modular building that had gone past is best days, as a county we had no facilities for an Emergency Operations Center,(EOC), a place to vote, storm shelter, and public space.  As with all major expenditures the obvious advantages are lost by some who simply do not want any tax money spent.
     Our commissioners did what we elect people to do.  Access needs, determine the value to the citizen, and make the best choice.  Any decision is going to meet with opposition.  So an elected official has to make the choices that they were elected to do.  Thank goodness they did the right thing here in Barber County.
     I finally had the chance to get a tour of the new annex and see the operations center of the EOC while it is still functioning from the fire.  I had a chance to see how complicated it is to deal with these major events that many only hear about.  I am impressed.
     And if I am impressed it is only a pebble on a beach compared to the people who came from all over the state to work in the new EOC.  In fact there are counties coming back to look at patterning there own facilities after what we have done.  And we have learned how to make the facility even better. Experience is a great teacher.
     Consider the fact that the Annex in Barber county has been on the planning table for years.  It was moved into just one week before Anderson Creek Fire started.  A local commissioner shakes his head at the timing.  What we would have done with old facilities is a bit daunting.  Experience has been gained and we hope that we can share this experience with others.
     Experience is what we use to be able to make good decisions despite the very divergent views that we all have.  Right now I want the experience of a nice two inch rain over a couple days and let the experience soak in for those who have been overloaded with it.

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