Ed Pulaski may be the greatest Idahoan you haven't ever heard about.  He died 93 years ago after an eventful and sometimes heroic life.  The man claimed to be related to General Casimir Pulaski, a hero of the American Revolution.  The Polish-born general was killed in battle, never married, and had no known children.  Ed may have been related through another trunk of the family.

Born in 1866 in Ohio, he came to Idaho and worked as a ranch manager in the logging industry.  Eventually, he joined the fledgling United States Forest Service as a ranger and settled in Wallace.

A Massive Fire Changed His Life

A few years later, all heck broke loose!

The Big Burn struck.  His wife and child survived by taking shelter in a reservoir.  He was leading a group of men battling the fire.  They would all have been killed had he not herded them into an abandoned mine.  He saved three dozen lives.  He was temporarily blinded, badly burned, and suffered lung damage.

He Bettered the Lives of the People Who Followed Him

He spent the rest of his life advocating for benefits for the rangers and firefighters.  In 1911, he invented a combination ax and spade for use in building fire breaks.  It wasn’t the first attempt but it was a lasting design.  It’s used by firefighters around the world to this day.  It’s simply known as Pulaski.

He’s buried in Coeur d’Alene.  His tireless efforts over the last two decades of his life improved working conditions for some people who have very difficult and often thankless jobs.

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