Undeterred by the severity of this year’s wildfire season, Big Bend Community College employees knew that, maybe more than ever, firefighters needed their help during the onslaught brought on by fires across the state his month.
The two BBCC employees who moonlight as contracted firefighting support staff are Jess Munter and Sarah Schutt.
Schutt, through her business SISS, LLC., provides hand wash and shower trailers and potable water trucks for fire camps around the state; a business she operates with her father and sister. Schutt is the current BBCC Student Activities Program Assistant and a graduate of Big Bend. Munter is also a graduate of BBCC and joined Schutt’s crew in 2018.
“I was getting ready to move to Bellingham and looking for a job when Sarah offered me this gig (during one of) our Jiu Jitsu classes. It was so much fun, I decided to continue with it this season,” said Munter.
As of Sept. 21, the two are set up with a hand wash trailer near the White Pass Ski Resort to support firefighters responding to the Cold Creek Fire; a 96-acre blaze that was first reported a few days ago. Before the Cold Creek Fire, Munter was helping in the same capcity at a fire camp near Spokane.
Schutt set the scene on what it’s like working for SISS.
“Jess will stay in a tent, get up before the firefighters and keep the equipment running until most of them have gone to bed,” said Schutt. She added that this means Munter will likely be up around 4:30 a.m. and won’t finish until around 10 p.m.
Schutt says Munter will spend each day cleaning the sinks after each use, coordinating fresh water fills, emptying out the dirty water, checking chlorine levels, keeping the generator and on-demand hot water running and keeping track of other general supplies.
“It’s long days, but it’s extremely rewarding work,” said Schutt. “You get to meet awesome people from all over the country at each fire.”
Munter agrees and says interacting with firefighters is her favorite part of her job.
“I love meeting new people and making friends,” she said.