Meet Gregg Boydston, Firefighter. Boydston is one of the U.S. Forest Service’s “Hotshots,” a group of elite fire fighters that labor to contain and extinguish forest fires. It is composed of 100 or so highly trained, elite wild land firefighting squads and they are on standby 24/7, putting themselves in harms way in remote areas that are engulfed with deadly flames.
A “Hotshot” can spend 16-hour days wielding power tools across roaring flames on mountainsides, stopping only occasionally to regroup for the next plan of action or to remove dry branches and brush that fuels the flames. These are the unsung heroes who dig trenches or the fire lines to stop the flames from devouring more. If you want a name given to one of these guys, it’s Gregg Boydston.
But Boydston does not just battle the powerful flames. He also takes unbelievable pictures of what the “Hotshots” battle as well as the aftermath of their fights against deadly forest fires. One thing is for sure, Boydston has a perspective unlike any other. The images are astonishing and are hopefully the closest any one has to ever come to witness these fires. Perhaps only the word inferno can best describe these monster blazes.
Boydston however is only all too aware of the dangers he encounters in these blazes, thankful of every time they escape unscathed. “You know it’s a good day on the fireline when you look at each other … and everyone’s two front teeth are covered in dirt from working hard but smiling just as hard,” he shared on Instagram.
On how he “multi-tasks” the 25-year-old Boydston said, “You have to become comfortable being uncomfortable.” As a Hotshot, Boydston is among the best. When called upon their pace is unrelenting. The U.S. Forest Service requires that they must be in peak physical shape, able to run 1.5 miles in 11 minutes or less; can do 40 sit-ups in 60 seconds; and hike three miles with a 45-pound pack in 45 minutes. That’s pretty badass shape.
See the work of a modern day hero, Boydston, here.