The deadly wildfires that broke out in California have prompted fire departments from around the nation to send in reinforcements to the beleaguered Golden State. A crew Samoan fire fighters from American Samoa (an unincorporated territory in the South Pacific) is going viral for their unique, almost sacred form of fighting fire with both strength and song.
The fire fighters are called “hand crews” and their job is to remove the flammable materials around the edges of a fire so as to help contain it. They do this by digging trenches and cutting down and removing brush. That’s why you see the men carrying shovels, picks and axes.
The Samoan hand crew comes from Helena Fire Department’s Crew 61. The firefighters are at the end of their day in the Shasta-Trinity Forest in California. The men are walking back to basecamp with their voices raised in harmony.
The music is beautiful, clear and strong as it echoes through the woods. The tune may be familiar to Americans. It’s the same as the Christian praise and worship song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. The song in Samoan is called, “Fa’afetai i le Atua,” which translates to “Thanks Unto God”.
The song might be more befitting a cathedral, but it’s not out of place in the beauty of nature.
As the Samoan firefighters near their base, they circle up to complete their song. They end with a rousing chant and then raucous laughter. It’s a moving display of peace and unity that we all could learn from.