What I bring when covering a fire.
The first fire I have ever covered was the Canyon Fire in Corona, CA that burned 1500 Acres near the 91 Freeway. This experience taught me what to prepare for and how I put myself in danger. I do not recommend people to go and cover fires unless they are experienced and willing to do so with care for the situation and people working and affected by these events. This article is for those that are curious what I bring on a job.
I went out to the Corona Fire wearing a t-shirt and jeans... Bad idea, I ended up getting caught on the front lines of the fire. My t-shirt was no match for the embers and my eyes blinded and stung from the hurricane winds.
Now besides fires, I have to be careful of other elements during the midst of chaos. Respecting people and their homes! Fires are stressful and scary time for communities. They have minutes to pack up their lives and flee from the area.
Staying out of the fire departments way, I have always tried to get as close as possible to my subjects, but I do it where I don't get in the way. There are times where firefighters asked me to help him with moving a hose. I put down my cameras and help.
People are driving in a panic and emergency vehicles race around. Watching out for traffic and wearing High Visibility Clothing keeps me safe from being a new problem for emergency teams and a dead photographer.
Being confused with a looter. Criminals find that this is an opportunity to prey on those who are vulnerable. When I am walking around the aftermath of fires, I make sure to respect peoples homes, carry my press credentials on my persons and vehicle and speak with people that are in the area. When people know I am looking for pictures and stories, they don't think I am a suspect of no good.
I hope this little article makes sense and informs you what myself and other photojournalist carry and take on during a fire.