Fire graders unsung heroes this time of year

Lawton_Each time there is a wildfire, fire graders put their lives on the line to protect others.  We give our firefighters a lot of credit during wildfire season.  They deserve it without a doubt.  However, without the help from fire graders, homes and lives could be lost.

They don't do it for the glory, but when these graders help to save a person's home, they're nothing less than heroes.  "I'm just doing it to help the community and help the fire departments, and of course help the people that have their homes there," says Fire Grader Benny Taylor.  Fire Grader Josh Corbett says it makes him feel good.  "You can see the people there, and they're applauding you for doing it.  I think it makes anybody feel good," he says.

When a wildfire starts, the graders are on standby.  Sometimes they get a head start, though, so they're that much closer when the call comes.  "When you see smoke you just go, and they'll call you off if they don't need you," says Corbett.  Many times they are needed, and they don't hesitate to put themselves in harm's way.

Fire graders sometimes brave eight-foot-tall flames and smoke blowing directly into their faces.  "It gets pretty dangerous sometimes, you can't see nothing," Corbett says.  The flames can cause damage to equipment as well.  It's a dangerous job.  "This is where it sucked the fire into the motor and caught this on fire, or just burnt the paint off of it," he says of damage done to his grader.

Comanche County has nine $200,000 graders.  But, you can't put a price on saving a life or a home.  "You know if I can save somebody's home, I think it's well worth have the graders out there," Corbett says.

Both Taylor and Corbett are from the Eastern District of Comanche County, and it's the same story for the brave individuals who operate the graders in the western district.