It’s not like I didn’t know.
Beside the fact that our standards for protective fire gear (including boots) are very clear, I’d actually had trouble once before. When I was taking a fire training course in South Carolina, I was mopping up the remains of a controlled burn when I noticed that my feet were getting really warm. Looking down, I realized that the heat from the smoldering pine needles I was walking through was melting the soles of my boots. That was my first lesson in why wearing the right boots (with Vibram soles, for example) is important.
Despite my previous experience, when I arrived at the aftermath of the big wildfire on the Niobrara River a couple weeks ago, I hopped out of the truck, donned my Nomex shirt, helmet, and leather gloves, and went to work. …I should have changed boots. About 20 minutes later, I was spraying water on some hot coals when I noticed that the front of the sole on my left boot was flapping. That’s odd, I thought – these boots aren’t that old…
Within about two minutes, the sole of my left boot had come off completely, and the right one was gone by the time I hobbled out of the hot spot I was mopping up. Apparently, the adhesive that held the soles on my boots wasn’t designed for the kind of heat I had just been standing in.
I walked gingerly back to the truck and got the boots I should have been wearing in the first place. Anybody want to buy some used boots?