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A person ignites a large bonfire at dusk, with onlookers in the background under a twilight sky.

Who is in your fire crew? What do they do?

Our firewalks have two distinct teams. Firstly, the in-room team for the training. That’s usually the person leading the seminar plus one person running the tech behind the scenes.

Second, outside there is a second team, preparing the ground, the fire and making sure everything remains safe.

This is the fire crew, also know as firetenders.

They are often in the background, but they are an essential part of the experience, and without doubt the hardest working of everyone in our crew.

Man adding wood to a bonfire stack with a group of onlookers in a grassy field, with houses and trees in the background during early evening.

All our fire crews are trained professionally, with the lead fire crew officer boasting a huge amount of firewalks as experience.

Their day begins early, loading a van with wood, fire retardant boards and turf. As well as hoses, barrels, gloves and all manner of essential bits of kit. They then drive the van to the venue, unload and setup three hours or so before lighting the fire is planned.

Beforehand, we will have checked for overhanging trees and buildings or fences that are too close to the fire, as well as there being good access to a water source. They will then build the fire, set out turf if needed, and await the firewalkers who are usually being trained in an adjacent building.

We time it so that once lit, the fire burns down to embers, usually just after sunset, so when the walkers join the fire-crew (and usually a gathering audience) darkness is closing in and a kind of magic descends. This is when the crew kick into full action, raking embers out into a fire-lane, making sure a hose in readied, and the firewalk can begin.

The fire-crew will also ensure that the crowd remains safe, stood well back and they are all well behaved. It’s rare that additional security is needed, but it can be the case in public areas or with very large walks.

The fire-crew will continue to reload the fire-lanes as and when more embers are needed, until the firewalk is over.

Then of course, they will pack up and leave everything just as they found it.

Almost all fire-tenders are highly trained firewalk instructors too, so they understand the challenges of running a firewalk, sometimes even performing for the crowd awaiting their loved ones to come out and walk fire.

We always make a point of thanking our amazing fire crew for their service as they truly are the engine of a firewalk.

Chris Jones

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