Pacific University sophomore Hannah Hulse is a business major who plays volleyball and lacrosse and in her free time, she fights wild fires. Hulse, who is originally from Cove, Ore., had no previous experience fighting fires before deciding to join the United States Forest Services as a wildland firefighter a few years ago. “It was an experience I cannot explain unless someone has gone through it themselves,” Hulse said. “It was amazing.” Hulse did not live at home all summer during her time as a wildland firefighter, but instead she lived at a camp base strictly for fire and emergency personnel. “I’m right up at the front lines fighting those big fires you see on the television with other firefighters from all over the nation,” Hulse said. According to Hulse, during
wildfires, her team would hike for miles into the raging heat to dig contingency lines that would ideally stop the fire from continuing to spread. She added that everyday, whether there was a fire or not, her crew would come together in the morning for a daily briefing where they would review the national situation report to determine what impact the weather would have on forest fires on that particular day. After the morning briefings, the team would go on three-mile runs or hikes in order to keep in shape. The rest of downtime, according to Hulse, was spent thinning forests for safety reasons and patrolling the forests in an attempt to keep patrons safe. Hulse explained she had experienced Type One fires, the most dangerous kind of fire, during her time with the Forest Services. “There has been times where I’ve honestly contemplated whether I was going to make it or not,” Hulse said. “There were times where my water bottle started melting because I was so close to the heat.” Hulse said her experience working as a wildland firefighter has adequately prepared her for the intensity that comes with being a student athlete. “Sports seem like nothing to me. Not to say that college sports aren’t hard, but just with my work experience I feel as though I’m 10 times more mentally and physically prepared for the challenges that come with sports and school,” Hulse said. “Overall, the mental toughness is the biggest part of all of this.” Hulse also said her experience taught her not to take things for granted. “You never know when that moment might be your last,” said Hulse. “I just want to make the best of everything.” Hulse has now finished up serving her third summer for the U.S. Forest Service and hopes that her post-college plans include working for Nike and its marketing team.