History of the Rangers

Est. 1992

Black Rock Ranger Patch

Rangers traditionally protect life and natural environments. They patrol a range, by definition an expanse of land, and are members of one or more regional communities. Historically, Rangers were an alternative to local or federal law enforcement covering vast territories, such as the Texas Rangers, Arizona Rangers. Rangers are the traditional guardians of our community.

The Black Rock Rangers were founded in 1992 by Danger Ranger. Mainly filling the role of search-and-rescue, Rangers would find participants lost in the Black Rock Desert and help them back to camp. This was before Burning Man had streets and fences. As the city grew in population and size, so did concerns about community safety. As a result, and in response to several serious incidents in 1996, the role of the Rangers expanded to include life-safety issues. 

Rangers have been the starting point for multiple departments, including Fire, and Gate, Perimeter & Exodus (PG&E). In 1998, the Rangers established what is now the Emergency Services Department (ESD) which became a separate department in 2003. 

Today, the Black Rock Rangers are comprised of a broad cross-section of the Burning Man community who choose to volunteer their time as non-confrontational mediators. We are empowered by the community to address safety concerns, mediate disputes, and assist in conflict resolution when they cannot be easily resolved by the persons involved. As BRC continues to grow and become more diverse, Rangers continually strive to progress our skill sets to meet the needs of the community.

As Rangers, we are often described as “Navigating the edge of chaos”. We work with all participants, as well as the various emergency services and multitude of law enforcement agencies to assist in creating a safe environment. We use non-confrontational communication to encourage cooperation and facilitate a positive experience when participants and formal agencies interact. This is made possible by decades of building social-capital and developing relationships based on trust. Rangers support the tenets of the community and encourage participants to uphold its principles, while promoting a sense of shared responsibility.