WILDFIRES

Instead Of Fighting Wildfires, One Lone Peak Fire Crew Member Stays In The Water

Nov 16, 2018, 9:03 PM | Updated: 9:07 pm
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SIMI VALLEY, Calif. – There’s a certain bond that’s formed when a team bands together to get a tough job done. Especially when you’re fighting wildfires.

Utah’s firefighters have always been close to each other.

That brotherhood only grows when different fire departments are assigned to out-of-state wildfires.

More than 20 Utah fire departments were sent to Southern California to help fight fires, helping to bring that brotherhood a little tighter.

Usually, though, that brotherhood is for humans.

“This is Betta Brian, the firefighting fish,” said Lone Peak firefighters Trent Christensen while looking at a Gatorade bottle filled with water.

A red betta fish could be seen swimming inside that bottle.

“Rumor had it that we had a firefighting fish,” said Christensen with a laugh.

Those rumors are right.

Brian, who is named after a former Lone Peak Fire chief, is with the team in Southern California.

It isn’t his first deployment.

“This is his third fire tour that he’s been on now. He just lives at home in the station between fire tours when he’s not in his Gatorade bottle fighting wildfire,” said Christensen. “He was originally kind of a joke, you know? We thought it would be funny to come back with a beta fish and then, next thing we know, he kind of became our task force mascot and kind of our crew mascot.”

The firefighters bought Brian during a trip to Walmart during the Mendocino wildfires this past summer.

Christensen says the task force leader at the time they bought the fish was Matt Burchett.

Burchett, who was a battalion chief for the Draper Fire Department, was later killed in that wildfire.

Lone Peak firefighters decided to continue bringing Brian to fires as a way to honor Burchett.

“He was there when Beta Brian was originally bought and was there to shake his head and laugh and not say anything, but just laugh and play along with Beta Brian,” said Christensen.

Lone Peak has posted several photos of Brian on fire assignments to the Fire Department Facebook page.

Ever since, he has become a popular fish.

Firefighters even bring him to classrooms so children can meet him.

“We would like to write a children’s book about Brian,” said Christensen. “That’s the goal. Hopefully, it will be a hit. It would be fun to write the story book in memory of Burchett as well.”

For now, though, Brian will stay with the Lone Peak firefighters in Southern California until the crew gets orders to come back to Utah.

“We give him some fish food and we try to change the water usually every day,” said Christensen. “We just make sure hit bottle doesn’t stay in the sun.”

Brian is just another way for fire crews to bond and make their brotherhood just a little bit tighter.

“It’s been kind of fun,” said Christensen.

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Instead Of Fighting Wildfires, One Lone Peak Fire Crew Member Stays In The Water