Wayne#039;s Ironton Post adds fire control officer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 25, 2004

PEDRO - The palm-sized, red-colored stone sitting on a desk in the Wayne National Forest's Ironton office serves as far more than just a paper weight.

For newly-hired fire management officer David Bostic, the stone has served as a daily reminder for the past decade of the dangers that come with fighting fires, specifically forest fires.

Bostic, now 39, was battling a canyon fire in Colorado in 1994 that claimed the lives of 14 firefighters including a close friend. The results left a weight on him far heavier than that small stone that came off that mountain.

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"At that time in my career, I felt invincible," Bostic said Tuesday as he sat in his new office that is still cluttered from the move. "It really changed the way I looked at it. It has stuck with me."

Bostic brought that stone and his 21 years of experience firefighting across the country to the Wayne earlier this month when he transferred from the Modoc National Forest in northern California.

"We have been trying to build a fire team for some time," District Ranger Gloria Chrismer said last week. "This will be the first time we have ever had a full-time fire management officer."

For the Craig County, Va., native, returning to the east coast was a pleasant change.

"Now I am coming home," Bostic said, adding that he is really excited about working in the WNF. "My folks are only three hours away. This is home to me."

It was at his home in Virginia that Bostic caught the bug for fighting fires from his grandfather, a firefighter who worked for the U.S. Forest Service for nearly 40 years.

"I remember growing up as a kid listening to his stories, smelling the smoke on him," he said. "It always intrigued me. So, right out of high school that was what I did."

Overseeing the district's three firefighters, Bostic will focus on starting and stopping forest fires.

His primary duties will be to coordinate the wildfire preparedness, prevention and suppression. He will also oversee the prescribed burns that the district conducts.

He has hit the ground running and is already planning a much-needed burn in 554 acres of Pine Creek area for later this year or early next year.

"It is mainly to clear up a lot of the ice storm damage left over from 2003," he said, comparing the damage to Hurricane Hugo that hit the east coast in the 1980s. "There is a lot of damaged stuff out there, that if left to burn as a wildfire, we might not be able to get a handle on it."

Bostic has a 20-year-old son Wes and a fiance, Linda Adams. Currently living in Kenova, W.Va., they hope to soon move to Lawrence County.