Smoke(y) Signals

For the past couple of months, I’ve been processing a collection related to the architecture, infrastructure, and construction of buildings in the Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. Forest Service.  While sifting through pictures of Toilet Structures and Visitor’s Centers has been surprisingly entertaining,

Temporary Toilet from the Silverjack Resevoir located in the Grand Mesa / Uncompahgre / Gunnison National Forest.
Is this the Escape Pod C-3PO and R2D2 used to escape Darth Vader?  It’s actually a Temporary Toilet Structure from Silverjack Resevoir in the Grand Mesa/Uncompahgre/Gunnison National Forest. National Archives Identifier: 95-IZ-188-1

I took particular interest in a photo that had no particular context at the time:

Public Relations Fire Danger Rating, Saratoga Ranger Station, Medicine Bow / Routt National Forest. National Archives Identifier: 95-IZ-204-1

What were these Rocky Mountain Rangers getting at?  As I continued through the series, I came across more photos of Smokey the Bear stationed outside with similar messages, this time with more context.  I came to learn that these Smokey’s were actually signaling the “Fire Danger Level” of the National Fire Danger Rating System in their respective Ranger districts.  According to the U.S. Forest Service, “The National Fire Danger Rating System is a system that allows fire managers to estimate today’s or tomorrow’s fire danger for a given area.”  With National Fire Prevention Week beginning this week, I thought it would be cool to highlight the Fire Danger Rating System, and some other fun Smokey images I came across in between countless images of waste pipes and lighting fixtures.

– To learn more about the National Fire Danger Rating System, head on over to the Inyo National Forest page.

– For More information about National Fire Prevention Week, check out the U.S. Fire Administration page.

– And don’t forget to stoke your nostalgic fire responsibly with more Smokey posts from the incredible staff here at the National Archives:

The REAL Smokey Bear

Getting the Message Out: Smokey Bear PSAs

The Secret of Smokey’s Success

The Tale of Forgotten Films: An Archival Rescue

Favorite Film finds of 2014

Remember, Only YOU can prevent forest fires.