Alexander Selin, the head of central Siberia's aerial firefighting force, is a man who knows how to make himself clear, even in English, a language he barely knows. The police, he tells us, are "garbage." Vodka is "gasoline." His driver? A "Russian barbarian." And caution, well, caution doesn't seem to be part of his vocabulary. Caution is for sissies and Americans. "No seat belts in Russia!" Alex barks as we speed away from a police checkpoint soon after our arrival in Krasnoyarsk, he and his driver unbuckling their belts in defiant unison.
After a few days in his care we will come to call Alex, simply, Big Boss. A thick-fingered, barrel-chested Siberian who hurls his words like shot-put balls,