This story was written by Stephen Wasp and Raelene Crandall, and published by the UF/IFAS School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences Blog.
“Anchor point” is a term used by wildland firefighters to define a point of safety– an area where you can safely begin to fight a fire. On April 11, over 50 attendees gathered at Cypress and Grove Brewery in Gainesville, FL for a special screening of the award-winning film “Anchor Point.”
The film, directed by Holly Tuckett, documents the challenges that female firefighters face in a male-dominated profession. It spotlights Kelly Martin, the former Chief of Fire and Aviation at Yosemite National Park. She bravely testified before Congress about the discrimination and sexual harassment she and others experienced while working in wildland fire professions. The event was organized by the Student Association for Fire Ecology and made possible by financial support from the Southern Fire Exchange, the University of Florida’s Biodiversity Institute, UF/IFAS School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences, the Florida Museum, and the Student Association for Fire Ecology.
Steve Wasp, a Graduate Student at the University of Florida, was instrumental in bringing this opportunity to Gainesville. He reflected, “As a member of the Student Association for Fire Ecology (SAFE) and a wildland firefighter for much of my adult life, I wanted to bring this story to Gainesville to further center conversation of women in fire and to bring attention to the story for anyone who attended. This story is very close to me as both of my mentors in fire have been women. As a fresh firefighter, I was not cognizant of the hardship they most certainly faced, but I am now and plan to be vocal about it.”
The film closed to a thunderous standing ovation from the crowd, which was well-deserved by both Holly and Kelly. The film was incredibly well shot with stunning visuals and emotional testimonials of hardship and injustice. The film was followed by a heartfelt discussion among attendees about discrimination that transcends just a single profession. As audience members shared thoughts and stories of their own experiences, it became clear that “Anchor Point” is starting conversations across the country. This film is meant to open everyone’s eyes to the fact that all people should feel empowered to stand against the suppression that marginalized groups face in wildland fire professions and many others.
In addition to bringing the community together, this event was also a fundraiser. Through generous donations from attendees and raffling a backpack provided by Mystery Ranch, enough money was raised to fund a scholarship for women firefighters to attend WTREX, a training event for women wildland firefighters to develop their skills as firefighters and leaders.
Although the film is not available for streaming, Holly Tuckett indicated that it might be used in future sexual discrimination training. To learn more about “Anchor Point,” view the trailer: https://www.anchorpointfilm.com/.