[Congressional Record Volume 148, Number 102 (Wednesday, July 24, 2002)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E1343]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                            HON. MARK UDALL

                              of colorado

                    in the house of representatives

                         Tuesday, July 23, 2002

  Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, as many of my colleagues know, in 
Colorado we are experiencing some of the worst wildfires in our state's 
history. We owe an enormous debt to the men and women who have 
heroically battled these blazes to save lives, protect homes, and 
lessen the damage to other resources.
  In particular, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize one 
such firefighter, Ms. Marilyn Fagerstrom. Ms. Fagerstrom is an example 
of the people who always strive to use their abilities to make positive 
contributions to their communities.
  At 71 years of age, Marilyn Fagerstrom is an esteemed firefighter--
and a grandmother of six. After having moved to the mountains nearly 
twenty years ago, Ms. Fagerstrom decided that becoming a volunteer 
firefighter was the best way to give back to her community. Through the 
years she has stood shoulder to shoulder with firefighters who, more 
often than not, were much her junior.
  In recent days, she has been tirelessly working to help fight the Big 
Elk wildfire burning between Estes Park and Lyons, Colorado. It has 
been said that Marilyn Fagerstrom does more in retirement than many 
people do during their careers. As such, she is a source of inspiration 
deserving of our respect and commendations.
  For my colleagues' interest, I have attached a news story about Ms. 
Fagerstrom's firefighting efforts. I ask my colleagues to join with me 
today in honoring Mariyln Fagerstrom for her spirit, service and 
tenacity. I wish her continued health and happiness.

                 [Denver Post Northern Colorado Bureau]

                 71-year-old Stays Young Fighting Fires

                         (By Coleman Cornelius)

       Sunday, July 21, 2002--LYONS--Marilyn Fagerstrom's graying 
     hair, pearl earrings and round spectacles form the image of a 
     grandmother. Then there are her Nomex fire-retardant shirt 
     and black lug-soled boots.
       Fagerstrom is 71 years old, a grandmother of six--and an 
     esteemed firefighter. She is the oldest firefighter among 
     nearly 400 at the Big Elk blaze and a veteran of the Hayman 
     wildfire. Fagerstrom began fighting fires at age 53, when she 
     retired to a mountain home northwest of Boulder and realized 
     it was the best way to give back to her wildfire-prone 
       ``I suddenly realized I live in an area that could burn. I 
     began investigating. `Do we have a fire department? What's 
     going on?' '' said Fagerstrom, a former physical-education 
     teacher. Fagerstrom quickly joined the Lefthand Fire 
     Protection District, a volunteer force that responds to 
     blazes primarily in Boulder County. As part of the district's 
     engine team, she drives the heavy rig, hauls hoses and sprays 
     down threatened homes and structures with water and fire 
     retardant. In the devastating fire season of 2000, she spent 
     six straight weeks in the field on wildfires including the 
     monster at Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado. 
     She slept in tents, bathed in portable showers and ate elbow-
     to-elbow with sweaty, soot-smudged firefighters, many of whom 
     are younger men and women.
       At the Big Elk wildfire, Fagerstrom has an office job. She 
     works as an information officer for the federal team managing 
     fire response.
       Her engine crew was in the field protecting homes in the 
     Big Elk Meadows subdivision as Fagerstrom came through 
     leading a media tour.
       ``She brings us intelligence, charm, wit, wisdom and 
     experience--definitely experience,'' Lefthand volunteer David 
     Keyek said of Fagerstrom.
       Added Dave Nyquist, chief of the Lefthand Fire Protection 
     District: ``Marilyn is one of those people who makes things 
     work. She's busier in retirement than most people are in 
     their normal jobs.''
       Fagerstrom said she has made firefighting her life because 
     it allows her to experience camaraderie, adrenaline-laced 
     physical challenge and the reward of helping others. She also 
     wears the hats of information officer and treasurer for the 
     Lefthand Fire Protection District. ``It keeps me going. I'm 
     not ready to sit in the rocker yet,'' she said with a laugh.