History of the Heber/Black Mesa Hotshots

1970 – Present

  • 1970- The Heber Emergency Crew was a forerunner of the current Heber IHC. The crew lived in 16x16 shacks with no running water and only one light bulb. Transportation was a covered one and half ton truck with wooden boxes that served as both seats and tool compartments. The crew at the time consisted of 27 people and a three squad system. They had a rotation where two squads would be on shift with one squad off for seven days a week coverage.
  • 1972- The crew name changed to the Sitgreaves Hotshots.
  • 1974- The crew name was changed again because a change in policy was made stating that crews would be named after the district they worked on instead of the forest they worked on. Also, impending consolidation of the Sitgreaves and the Apache National Forest may have played a part. The Heber Hotshots were established.
  • 1975- The crew was moved form Heber Ranger Station to the job corps compound west of the towns of Heber-Overgaard. There they established two cooks and a cook trailer and had meals provided for them with the expense taken directly out of their check. Crew transportation at this time was upgraded to a bus.
  • 1977- The crew was moved back to the Heber Ranger Station and the cook service was eliminated from the program and the Sun God was adopted as the crew logo.
  • 1979- The three squad system is paired down to two squads and the structure of the crew was one superintendent, one foreman and two squad bosses.
  • 1980- The superintendent gets grade level boost to GS-7 and the Foreman Goes to a GS-5.
  • 1985- The Vans were replaced by crew carriers which were a huge upgrade.
  • 1987- The crew went to California during “The Siege of 1987” that lasted 34 and 39 days.
  • 1988-The first national hotshot conference held in Portland, Oregon. That year Yellowstone fires raged resulting in two 30+ day assignments for the crew.
  • 1990- A Saw Boss position was inserted into the overhead structure and the year was highlighted with trips to Georgia and Alaska. Also the Dude fire started below the Mogollon Rim.
  • 2002- The crew spent a record amount of time on fires that included two 500,000 acre fires and over 1100 hrs OT. The Rodeo/Chediski fire burned 230 homes in the Heber/Overgaard area and numerous surrounding areas.
  • 2003- The crew spent time on the Space Shuttle Recovery operations.
  • 2005-Assisted in the Hurricane Katrina Recovery efforts
  • 2007 - The Heber Hotshots changed their name to the "Black Mesa Hotshots"
  • 2011: The crew spent two tours on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests on the Wallow Fire which burned 538,049 acres. The crew went to Minnesota on the Pagami Creek Fire which burned 93,000 acres. The Pagami Creek Fire was located in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness which required the crew to canoe to the fire.
  • 2012: The crew had a busy year with over 1200 hours of overtime. The crew spent time on the Gila National Forest on the Whitewater Baldy Complex which burned 297,845 acres.
  • 2013- The crew went to Colorado for flood relief.