Families Fighting Fires

Picture provided by Sean Derrick of Drew Derrick and crew.

The two dozen fires burning across California are affecting students and teachers at Ripon High. Ripon High’s business teacher Sean Derrick and junior Kassidy Isham have family members that are currently fighting the flames.

Drew Derrick, Sean Derrick’s brother, has been a firefighter since he got out of high school and is currently working for the United States Forest Service with the Los Padres Hot Shots in California. Derrick is a full-time firefighter and works across the nation fighting the hottest and the worst fires.

Video provided by Drew Derrick
Video provided by Drew Derrick

Mike Isham, Kassidy’s father, has been a firefighter for 21 years and a chief for almost a year. Isham left for the Medicino Complex fire on Aug. 22.

“ [I am] Extremely proud of him but scared… it’s been pretty hairy,” Sean Derrick said.

His brother has seen some unthinkable things on the job. He had a close encounter that risked his own life. Drew Derrick was the mechanic of his crew, so he was sent to go turn off a pump. He was letting the hot pump cool when the two spot fires he saw multiplied to 15.

On his way back to the truck, he could see the fire burning the crowns of the trees, so he started to run. His crew started yelling at him to run faster as the fire came closer. He ran as fast as he could and the fire was right behind; he didn’t know if he would make it to the truck in time. He finally reached the truck and sped off to a safer area with his crew.

“You become so tight with people that they [are] literally brothers. I’ve made some of the best friends I have ever had on shot crews,” Drew Derrick said in a video from thesmokeygeneration.com.

Picture provided by Sean Derrick of Drew Derrick, lower right corner, and crew.

Mike Isham was fighting for 13 days at the Ferguson Fire and another 10 days at the Mendocino Complex fire when he came home and left again for the Mendocino Complex fire.


“Dealing with the hot weather and winds and being away from my family so long,” is the hardest part about fighting fires Mike Isham said.

While away tackling the flames, Isham makes sacrifices to do his job. He missed events like when Kassidy Isham received her driver’s license, when she got s new job, and both of his daughters’ birthdays.

“It’s weird not having him around. It’s like only having one parent… he misses a lot of daily stuff,” Kassidy Isham said.

You can help support the firefighters by donating on give.wffoundation.org. There are many ways to help donate like being apart of the 52 Club. This helps firefighters and their families when a firefighter has fallen in the line of duty or when they have been injured by a catastrophe. Simply a dollar a week can help the crews or families that fight the fires.