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The Fire Breathers was a specialized division of the Responders dedicated to fighting the Scorched before 2102.[2]


Before the Great War many members had served West Virginia as firefighters and emergency services, mostly operating in Charleston, West Virginia. Their division was led by Melody Larkin and originally assembled with the goal of exploring the toxic Ash Heap region.[1][2]

The Fire Breathers were initially founded by the Responders as an elite, high-risk fire fighting team to reach out to towns trapped beyond the toxic Ash Heap: Bramwell, Beckley, Welch, and others. Although Larkin wasn't thrilled by the idea, she warmed up to it quickly and helped establish a completely new division, capable of fighting through the hostile environment and surviving there for days on end. The name was her idea, meant to imbue the division with a prestige similar to other elite units: Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and especially smokejumpers.[1]

The origin was less glamorous: Fire Breathers was a term used by her grandfather's neighbors to refer to him and his sons, courtesy of the insanely strong moonshine they brewed that kept people at a quarter-mile distance. Although Maria Chavez wanted to brainstorm the name more, it stuck, and the Fire Breathers were formed. After agreeing with survivors of the Charleston flood who still lived in the city, the Breathers used the ruins as an obstacle course in preparation for the challenge of operating in the Ash Heap.[3]

For the next several years, the Fire Breathers distinguished themselves and were supercharged with the arrival of Hank Madigan, a Marine Force Recon and Brotherhood veteran. With the Scorched threat looming on the horizon, they were reformed into a fighting force capable of confronting the Scorched in the Ash Heap and prevent them from taking over. The steep selection criteria focused on people who could both fight and survive in the polluted expanse of the burning Ash Heap.[2] In return for handling the toughest missions, all members of the Fire Breathers had top priority for rations and ammunition, as well as additional ad hoc benefits for those willing to put their lives on the line.[4]

The unit was immediately thrown into the fire, trying to contain the influx of Scorched into the area after the fall of the Brotherhood of Steel and the Big Bend Tunnel. While the strategic importance of the tunnel was known, the Breathers gave it a wide berth in order to come up with a proper attack plan.[5] Preparing for the plan involved making a run at the Atomic Mining Headquarters in Watoga, cutting over the mountains. Lieutenant Madigan believed that the headquarters could provide information on how to combat the Scorched more effectively, owing to AMS' monopoly on the ore.[6]

Madigan and his team not only succeeded in infiltrating Watoga, but also brought back plans for weapons firing depleted ultracite (potent against the Scorched) and leads for the Excavator power armor developed by the Garrahan Mining Company. The power armor was considered a target of opportunity while the Fire Breathers figured out how to seal the tunnel off and stem the influx of Scorched into the Heap.[7] Eventually, they settled on blowing the tunnel up using mining explosives recovered from the Heap.[8]

After the fall of the Brotherhood in 2095, Madigan ventured beyond the mountains into The Mire and made contact with the Free States, after deliberately disturbing their scorchbeast lure. Impressed by the fact the Free States were luring the monsters down to kill them, he decided to aid them in setting up the Scorched Detection System, so that once the Big Bend Tunnel was locked down, they could focus on eliminating the Scorched in the Divide and the Mire together. He left Charleston to set up the crucial uplink at the Top of the World, to finalize the SDS. He was, unfortunately, captured by the raiders under David Thorpe and tortured to death. His loss forced the Breathers to move out from The Rusty Pick on their own.[8]

To make matters worse, the Fire Breathers did not have the protection of a Scorched vaccine worked on at the AVR Medical Center, due to shortages of necessary materials and data.[9]

Big Bend Tunnel became the Fire Breathers' grave, with the unit wiped out by the Scorched, despite desperate efforts to fulfill the mission in spite of standing orders to retreat.[10][11]


The Fire Breathers were comprised of pre-War firefighters and post-War volunteers. They refined tactics and developed equipment specifically for fighting the Scorched, using pre-War fire protection gear as armor as well as Fire Breather uniforms. They used weapons such as fire axes, flamers and utilized anti-Scorched modifications on their ranged weapons. Firefighter Protectrons at the Charleston Fire Department were reprogrammed to assist the Fire Breathers in their new role.

To join the Fire Breathers, potential recruits were required to complete an exam comprised of three tests; a written exam, a fitness exam and a final exam testing the practical application of the recruit's abilities in a hostile environment.[2]




  • Belching Betty - A Scorched-infested mine used to test potential Fire Breather aspirants. The player character is sent during Into the Fire to clear it and activate the emergency beacon of a team of Fire Breathers previously sent there.
  • Lewisburg[12]

Operation locations

  • Big Bend Tunnel - The location of the Fire Breathers' last mission. The corpses of Sergeants Allemane, Cominsky, and Holstein can be found here.
  • Brim Quarry - A mole miner-infested quarry, it was unsuccessfully assaulted by a Fire Breathers team led by Lieutenant Thomas on March 10, 2095.


Name Role Time period
Vault 76 Dwellers (optional) Fire Breather 2102–onwards
Tiffany Brantley Wastelanders Charleston Fire Department, Fire Breather initiate 2103–onwards


Name Role Time period
Bernie Fire Breather teacher 2077–onwards
Vendor bot Mack Charleston vendor 2077–onwards

Original Fire Breathers

  • Melody Larkin - Leader. Last reported leading a mission to seal Big Bend Tunnel.[11]
  • Hank Madigan - Killed by raiders while attempting to fix a relay for the Free States' Scorched Detection system. Corpse can be found in a cage on the Top of the World's observation level.
  • Sgt. Allemane - Died during the Fire Breathers' final mission. Corpse can be found at Big Bend Tunnel West, near the tunnel entrance.
  • Sgt. Cominsky - Died during the Fire Breathers' final mission. Corpse can be found in the Big Bend Tunnel, near the end of a side tunnel with railroad tracks running south.
  • Sgt. Holstein - Died during the Fire Breathers' final mission. Corpse can be found at Big Bend Tunnel East, near the tunnel entrance.
  • Lieutenant Thomas - A lieutenant in both the pre-War Charleston F.D. and later the Fire Breathers. At one point was charged with clearing Brim Quarry. [13]
  • Dustin - A member of Lieutenant Thomas' squad at Brim Quarry. After Garrett's death, he attempted to console the squad by reasoning his death was relatively painless.[13]
  • Garrett - A member of Lieutenant Thomas' squad at Brim Quarry. Died while clearing the quarry summit and was buried in its shipping yard.[13]
  • Omar - A member of Lieutenant Thomas' squad at Brim Quarry.[13]
  • Yas - A member of Lieutenant Thomas' squad at Brim Quarry.[13]
  • Leo Chase - Last reported leaving to perform a mission to seal Big Bend Tunnel.[11]
  • Jim Greyson - Reluctantly performed the Fire-Breather's physical exam in Charleston.[14]
  • Andrew Rhodes - Initiate who died while attempting to clear Belching Betty as part of the final Fire Breathers' exam.
  • Maxine Ballard - Initiate who died while attempting to clear Belching Betty as part of the final Fire Breathers' exam.
  • Rita Wilcox - Initiate who died while attempting to clear Belching Betty as part of the final Fire Breathers' exam.
  • Sylvester Tate - Initiate who died while attempting to clear Belching Betty as part of the final Fire Breathers' exam.
  • Timothy Wolfe - Initiate who died while attempting to clear Belching Betty as part of the final Fire Breathers' exam.

Interactions with the player character

While the Fire Breathers have been wiped out, their Protectrons and equipment can be utilized by the player character. One of these Protectrons, Bernie, appears during the quest Into the Fire, in which the player character participates in the Fire Breathers' recruitment exam. Bernie presents the player character with the equipment necessary for the final test and instructs on how to formally become a Fire Breather upon its completion.

The player character can find the bodies of Sergeants Allemane, Cominsky, and Holstein at Big Bend Tunnel. Collecting the three codes found on their corpses will unlock plans for anti-Scorched weapon mods at the Fire Breathers' master terminal in the Charleston Fire Department.


The Fire Breathers appear only in Fallout 76.



Responders and Fire Breathers