From Xplor for Kids
February 2010 Issue

Wild Jobs: Burn Boss Tom Jingst

Publish Date

Feb 01, 2010

Tom Jingst has one of the hottest jobs in the world. He’s a burn boss, the leader of a crew that starts and puts out fires.

Not all fires are bad. When used carefully, fire can keep shrubs out of grasslands, create forest openings so young trees get sunlight, and provide habitat for animals. When used carelessly, fire can burn up homes and hurt people. Only someone like Tom, who has years of training, should start a fire.

Each person on Tom’s crew has a specific job. Some use drip torches to dribble flames onto the ground. Others use rakes and water sprayers to keep the fire under control. Tom makes sure everyone works together to stay safe. He keeps a close eye on the weather and puts out the fire if it gets too hot or windy. Weather and fire, however, can change in an instant.

“We were burning a prairie, and the wind picked up,” Tom says. “Before I could blink, a 6-foot flame turned into a 20-foot fire tornado. It roared and seemed alive.” Luckily, the wind let up, and the fire died down. Does Tom ever worry one of his burns might escape or someone might get hurt? “Every time I light a drip torch,” he says. “If something goes wrong, it’s my fault.”

That doesn’t mean Tom plans to stop lighting fires. He takes pride in keeping forests and grasslands healthy.

Also in this issue

Photos With Nop and Dave: Ice on Bison

A storm covered southwest Missouri in 10 inches of ice. “Perfect,” said Wildlife Photographer Nop Paothong.

You Discover

With winter almost gone and spring just around the corner, there’s plenty for you to discover outside in February and March. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

My Outdoor Adventure

Lightning split the sky. Thunder shook the car. “Dad,” Erica yelled over the pounding rain, “maybe we should turn back.

Love is in the Air

Chocolates, flowers, mushy cards—people go to a lot of trouble to impress their Valentines. That’s nothing, though, compared with some of the weird, wacky—even romantic things wild animals do to attract a mate.

Nature Wakes Up

When ice melts from ponds and the wind blows warmer, you know that spring is coming.

Xplor More: Make a Bird Feeder

Help out some hungry birds. Build a pine cone bird feeder.

This Issue's Staff:

David Besenger
Bonnie Chasteen
Chris Cloyd
Peg Craft
Les Fortenberry
Chris Haefke
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Joan McKee
Kevin Muenks
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Alicia Weaver
Cliff White
Kipp Woods

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