WILDLAND FIRE MANAGER - Fighting Fires From The Sky
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Fighting Fires from the Sky
Smoke jumpers are firefighters who parachute into burning forests in order to fight blazes. They are flown into the remote areas that hotshot crews and other firefighters cannot reach. They jump in groups of two to ten people, with each person carrying 100 pounds of equipment on his or her back, and they fight the fire for three to five days. When finished, they gather up their equipment and hike to the nearest access road, which is often many miles away. Smoke jumpers are drawn from the ranks of experienced firefighters from the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, or state forest fire departments. They often also have experience as farmers, park rangers, or ranchers. Would-be smoke jumpers must be physically fit and must successfully complete a boot camp–style training session. Smoke jumpers say the pay is good, but it is the scenery, adventure, and strong sense of camaraderie that keeps them coming back year after year.