Battling Longer, More Intense Fire Seasons


Ph.D. candidate describes her research into wildland firefighting, the impact on firefighters, U.S. policy around wildfires, and parallels to what’s happening in Australia.

Fires in Australia have been burning for months. At least 28 people and hundreds of thousands of animals have died, and more than 15 million acres have been destroyed as firefighters work to squelch the blaze. Penn doctoral student Clare Super has been closely watching news of the fires.

“I’m from Montana. Over the course of my childhood, I experienced a worsening fire season,” says Super, a third-year graduate student in the Department of Anthropology. “Many of my friends and family participate in seasonal wildland firefighting.”

Graduate student Clare Super is studying the effects of climate change on disaster-relief workers, specifically career firefighters in Montana, where she grew up.

But for Super, interest in the fires goes beyond a connection to where she grew up. It also forms the starting point for her doctoral research, which focuses on how fighting fires affects disaster-relief workers physically, works she hopes will eventually broaden the understanding of how climate change and more frequent, intense disasters affect the bodies of more and more people. Her study population is Montana’s career firefighters, a group that University of Montana exercise physiologist Brent Ruby has been examining since 2018.

Continue reading at University of Pennsylvania

Image via University of Pennsylvania