Missy Hone was back at the station cleaning up when she smelled something funny. She searched for the source and found that the ends of her hair were singed.
“Oh, we were close to that wildfire,” she said as she made a mental note to get a haircut.
During what she calls her “vacation” she fights wildfires with the Wasatch Helitack Crew. If you try to find her during the winter, she may be volunteering as a firefighter, working as an EMT in an ambulance, taking care of animals in a shelter or sometimes she is Smokey the Bear.
For the past six years, Missy has spent May through October fighting wildfires. Each day begins with a workout and then the anticipation of dispatch calling.
“It’s always exciting when you get a call and you get to go out,” Missy says. “You put your flight helmet on and you get ready to take off and it’s like, ‘Yes, we got this.’”
Despite the thrill of incoming calls, Missy has faced her own times of discouragement. She says she wasn’t prepared mentally or physically for her first season on Helitack. But she learned a little. She learned a lot. And now she shares advice with others facing challenges.
“You’re going to have good moments. You’re going to have bad moments. Sometimes it’s going to really suck and it’s going to get tough and you’re going to want to quit, but don’t. Don’t quit. If it means that much to you, keep going,” Missy says.
She remembers struggling to keep up with the group during the first days with the Helitack unit. The feelings of discouragement overwhelmed her as the others tried to motivate her to keep going. Despite the hard times, Missy persevered with a renewed determination to succeed.
“I knew I could do better,” Missy says. “I knew I could be better so I pushed myself to do it and I keep pushing myself to do it.”
When the summer wildfire season ends, Missy returns home to Mapleton. She trades in her Helitack helmet for her other hats.
During the off-season, Missy fights fires as a volunteer with Mapleton City — and was one of the first women in that role. (Only 7.3 percent of firefighters were women, according to the National Fire Protection Association.)
“You’re going to have good moments. You’re going to have bad moments. Sometimes it’s going to really suck and it’s going to get tough and you’re going to want to quit, but don’t.” —Missy Hone, Mapleton volunteer firefighter
In addition to fighting fires, Missy has worked as an EMT with the Mapleton City Ambulance Crew for two and a half years. Even though she faces unpredictable situations, she sticks to her training and to her experience. Through each of her different roles, Missy has learned from the people she works with.
“I’ve been around a lot of really good mentors,” Missy says. “You can pick something up from every person on each crew: the ambulance crew, the volunteer fire crew and the wildfire crew. I just think, ‘I want to be like that. They have a really good presence. That guy is really organized. She really knows her stuff.’”
During whatever free time she finds between the fires in her life — both literal and figurative — Missy volunteers at Utah Valley Animal Rescue, which is owned by her stepmother. While there she plays with the animals, takes them on walks, cleans up after them, or as she puts it, does “really whatever is needed.”
Earn your wings
The Ready, Set, Go! Program created by the International Association of Fire Chiefs helps homeowners be prepared for wildland fires. To learn more, visit wildlandfirersg.org/resident. Other useful fire prevention websites include fireadapted.org and firewise.org.
Find out how to get involved with Utah Valley Animal Rescue at uvar.us/give.