Growing up in Northern California meant being around wildfires for Senora native Amy Rudloff. There’s one burning near her house now, called the Detwiler Fire. Now as a log hauler for her family’s company, Rudloff helps prevent and fight those same fires.
To respond to fires, a driver must attend special safety courses and obtain a Fire Card certification from CAL FIRE. They sign up their equipment, and when the equipment is called then they respond to the fires.
“You get signed up with your equipment, and when they have fires they call you. They call your company and then you go down to the fires with the equipment and the low beds,” Rudloff said.
Rudloff likes working on the fires because of the adrenaline rush. She doesn’t like the fire itself, but she likes knowing she’s going to help.
“I think more than anything, for me, it’s because it’s the feeling of helping. We’re doing a service that most people can’t do and it makes you feel like you’re helping, even if people think oh, you’re just driving a low bed down there with a piece of equipment on there, but it really is helping,” Rudloff said. “It’s that feeling of getting to help people.”
Rudloff also loves being outdoors, so logging was a natural career choice for her. Each day is exciting, she says, because she might see a bear, mountain lion, or other wildlife.
“Being out in the woods, it’s just you and nature and it’s peaceful, with the wildlife and everything,” Rudloff said. “And also knowing, especially in the logging aspect of it, knowing that loggers are the original stewards of the land.”
Rudloff is a board member for the Associated California Loggers. Each year she travels with other members of the association to Washington, D.C. to meet with their state’s congressional members and representatives. Rudloff is the first woman that the association has sent as part of the board. She says going to Washington, D.C. to represent the association has helped give their representatives a different perspective.
“I don’t really fit the profile of a trucker anyway. When they see me somewhere, they probably think I’m a secretary or somebody because I don’t fit the profile of truckers. It gives them a different perspective and then I have a different perspective when I talk about things and they actually listen,” Rudloff said.
Rudloff tries to help the representatives see logging from the drivers’ point of view. When there’s a fire, Rudloff and the other loggers see the devastation and burned wildlife firsthand.
“That’s what we have to see. They don’t see that. They don’t get to see what the aftermath of not logging and managing our forests does. We’re the ones who have to see it, but we’re the bad guys, you know,” Rudloff said.
Rudloff says her being able to explain that to California’s representatives has helped open their eyes and get them to start to listen more.
“I like being that voice,” Rudloff said. “I like feeling like I have that position where I’m not just a logger’s daughter or drive a logging truck, but I actually have a voice that people listen to and I can educate people.”