Entiat Interagency Hotshot Crew

2012 Entiat Hotshots
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See Photo Galleries at right for historical Crew Photos and Fire Photos

Crew Profile | Applicant Information | Duties of a Hotshot Crew Member | Entiat IHC Training Program | Location and Accommodations | Entiat Crew History | Other Links

Crew Profile 

Entiat IHC Program

The Entiat Interagency Hotshot Crew is a 20-person wildland fire fighting crew governed by the US Department of Agriculture, US Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region (R-6). The Entiat IHC is hosted by the Entiat Ranger District located on the north end of the Wenatchee National Forest. Nationally, there are 109 Interagency Hotshot Crews under the jurisdiction of the USDA Forest Service, the US Department of the Interior (USDI) Bureau of Land Management, the USDI National Park Service, and USDI Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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For over 45 years, the Entiat IHC has been dedicated to providing a quality product to the citizens of the United States. Highly capable and well trained, the Entiat IHC is part of an elite group of wildland fire fighting crews dedicated to providing dependability and excellence in an ever-changing, hostile environment. Every member of the Entiat IHC is part of a long and proud tradition of providing superior quality work as safely and efficiently as possible. Special emphasis is put on teamwork and the development of crew pride through furnishing a quality work experience. The Entiat IHC strives to maintain a work environment of free expression through mutual respect and diversity. Difficult living conditions and arduous work coupled with spontaneously traveling to the far reaches of the country breed an atmosphere of camaraderie and adventurous fun.

Applicant Information

Work Dates (tour of duty)

Each season, the Entiat Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC) seeks quality employees to fill crew member positions for duty as a wildland firefighter. The fire season for the Entiat IHC typically starts in early May and ends in late October, depending upon the severity of the fire season. Crew members are hired on a Not To Exceed (NTE) 1039 hours in a 1-year basis as either a GS-462-03, a GS-462-04, or GS-462-05, depending upon experience level and education.

Selection Requirements

Successful applicants will meet each of the following requirements:

  • Possess a positive attitude
  • Have a strong and safe work ethic
  • Have the ability to work with a team
  • Be at least 18 years of age and have proof of US Citizenship
  • Pack 45 pounds for 3 miles in under 45 minutes

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As mandated in the Standards for Interagency Hotshot Crew Operations or SIHCO, 80% of the crew members on the Entiat IHC shall possess at least 1 year of experience on wildland fires. Although everyone who considers themselves well suited for a Hotshot position is encouraged to apply, in reality, applicants with no experience are very rarely hired due to the large number of applicants with previous fire experience. Most inexperienced firefighters gain sagacity through working on engines or Type II hand crews before becoming a Hotshot.

Physical conditioning is the cornerstone of the Entiat IHC. Applicants are strongly suggested to maintain a rigorous, structured physical training program before the season starts and be prepared to describe their training schedule. Every member of the Entiat IHC is expected to arrive at work on the first day in excellent physical condition and be prepared to excel in a difficult physical training program.

Competition for the limited number of available positions is fierce and most applicants do not receive offers. Working as a hotshot is not for everyone. The job requires tough, knowledgeable individuals with strength, stamina, and an ability to remain level-headed in an extremely intense and hazardous environment. The Entiat Hotshots strive to create an atmosphere of hard working, hard playing teamwork with an emphasis on maintaining a reputation of quality and efficiency. Not all applicants will be compatible with the Entiat Hotshot Crew program and those with apprehension about the commitment needed to be a Hotshot are advised to seek employment elsewhere.

How to Apply

Applications for Entiat IHC crew member positions are accepted beginning in January of each year. The formal announcement explains the hiring process and contains all the information needed to apply for a crew member position with the Entiat IHC. Applications without all of the required information may not be considered. It is strongly suggested that a copy of each application (and a cover letter explaining the suitability of the applicant to work for the Entiat IHC) be sent to the Entiat IHC for perusal by the crew Superintendent.

Official announcements and information can be found here: usajobs.gov

Announcement numbers:
For Temporary GS-3 position: TEMPOCR-0462-03-GEN-DT

For Temporary GS-4 position:  TEMPOCR-0462-04-HOTSHOT-DT

If we were to have any PSE 4/5 Senior Firefighters openings: OCRP-462-IHC/HCREW-4/5DP

If we were to have any PSE 6/7 Squad Leader positions open: OCRP-462-IHCSQDLR-6/7DP

If the Assistant Superintendent position was open: OCRP-462-IHCASST-7/8DP

If the Superintendent position was open: OCRP-462-IHCSUPT-9DP
 

Nondiscrimination Notice: The USDA Forest Service and the Entiat Hotshots consider applicants without discrimination for any nonmerit reason such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, politics, marital status, physical handicap, age, or membership or nonmembership in an employee organization.

 

Duties of a Hotshot Crew Member

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The Work

The primary duties of a member of an IHC involve the suppression of wildland fires on assignments throughout the United States and Canada. Crew members are required to aggressively utilize all types of hand tools (to dig, chop, and cut) in order to suppress wildfires. The use of chainsaws, radios, ignition devices, and numerous other pieces of equipment may also be a requirement. Patrolling, serving as a lookout, mopping-up, and hiking long distances are also integral parts of the job.

Firefighting involves working under very hazardous conditions for long periods of time and Hotshot crews are expected to accept the most difficult and hazardous tasks. A typical shift is 16 hours and working for 32 hours without relief often occurs. Firefighters often endure hot, smoky, dirty, dusty working conditions with little sleep and poor food. Sleep deprivation is the norm and working with sharp tools, in the dark, on a steep hillside, under hazardous conditions is a common occurrence. Hotshots are frequently required to work for days at a time with only the 40 pounds of equipment carried in a fire pack. The work performed is extremely physically demanding and can be emotionally taxing. Together for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 6 months, the crew eats, works, travels, and rests as a unit. Under these condition, compatibility, camaraderie, understanding, and crew pride are an absolute necessity.

Availability

IHCs are required to be available for incident dispatch 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the fire season. Each member of the crew is expected to be available, day or night, for every dispatch. During duty hours, the crew is required to be en route to the incident within 3 minutes, and for off-duty hour dispatches, the crew must be assembled and traveling to the incident within 2 hours. These regulations greatly restrict the personal travel of crew members and demand a high level of personal responsibility and commitment to the crew.

Travel

Travel is another important aspect of being a Hotshot. A typical fire season requires the crew to be away from the duty station for the majority of the 6-month period. Long drives in crowded conditions must be endured and travel by airplane and helicopter often occurs.

burning photo
 

Project Work

When not assigned to an incident, members of an IHC work a normal 40-hour week, but expect to work every weekend during fire season. Project work consists of hard manual labor performing a variety of forestry related duties.

Entiat IHC Training Program

Physical Training

Physical conditioning is a vital part of both wildland firefighting and the Entiat IHC program. A high level of physical fitness is an absolute necessity in order to maintain both crew safety and efficiency. The Entiat IHC Physical Training Program is constructed around maintaining a high level of fitness through aerobic, strength, endurance, and stretching exercises.

As mandated by the Interagency Hot Shot Crew Operations Guide, each crew member will be required to participate in at least 1 hour of structured physical training per day, 5 days per week. The physical training facilities include a fitness course, an obstacle course, free weights, a weight machine, miles of roads on which to run, and of course, numerous steep hillsides for hiking.

Each member of the Entiat IHC should arrive on the first day of work in top physical condition. A physical evaluation will be conducted on the first day of work which consists of the pack test, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, and bar dips. As a condition of continued hire, every member of the Entiat IHC will be required to hike 3 miles with a 45-pound pack in under 45 minutes. The first day of work is the easiest day of physical training and the real work begins thereafter.

Below is a list of physical fitness goals and records for every member of the Entiat IHC.

 Physical Fitness Goals  3-Year Average Entiat IHC Fitness Records
1.5 mile run 10:35 or less 9:27 7:46
Sit Ups 40 in 60 seconds 48 in 60 seconds 104 in 60 seconds
Push Ups 25 in 60 seconds  50 in 60 seconds 110 in 60 seconds 
Pull Ups 7 13 29
Dips 10 15 60

Pack Test

45 min. or less

   

Formal Training

The Standards for Interagency Hotshot Crew Operations or SIHCO mandates that all members of IHCs be required to participate in an annual training program before their first assignment each fire season. This training regimen includes both classroom and field exercises. Also identified in the IHC Operations Guide are those exercises deemed "critical" that must be presented in a minimum of 24 hours each season, as well as those courses that may be presented at the discretion of the IHC Superintendent.

In addition to annual fire training, the supervisors and crew of the Entiat IHC present additional training courses in the S-200 level and above to crew members in order to further the career development of each individual. Courses are presented weekly at the discretion of the Entiat IHC Superintendent and as time permits.

Location and Accommodations

Location

The Entiat Interagency Hot Shot Crew is located in the north central region of Washington State near the town of Entiat, WA, approximately 200 miles east of Seattle. Nestled along the banks of the Columbia River at the confluence of the Entiat and Columbia rivers, Entiat is a rural community whose main economic base is apple and other fruit production. The Entiat IHC headquarters are located at the Entiat Ranger District.

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Tyee Mountain in distance as viewed from Steliko lookout, about 10 miles up the Enitat River

For those seeking a more varied social setting, the cities of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee are 18 miles south of Entiat. Serving a combined population of over 70,000 people, these cities boast a wide range of services, retail opportunities, and special events. Sixteen miles to the north of Entiat is the resort town of Chelan, Washington. Also within an easy day's drive are the towns of Leavenworth and Winthrop.

 

Recreation

The north central Washington area has a plethora of recreational opportunities. The Columbia River provides excellent fishing, waterfowl hunting, water skiing, canoeing and just about all other types of water-related recreation opportunities. In addition, the Wenatchee, Methow, and Entiat Rivers are excellent for whitewater rafting, kayaking, and swimming. Lake Chelan, a 55-mile long natural fresh water lake located 16 miles north of Entiat, offers crystal clear water for swimming, boating, and other water sports.

Ice Lakes, Entiat RD

Ice Lakes in the Glacier Peak Wilderness

Offering hundreds of miles of mountain trails and roads, the area around Entiat is excellent for hiking, mountain biking, motorcycling, horse riding, and snowmobiling. Opportunities for rock climbing and mountain climbing abound in the North Cascades. During winter, Mission Ridge and Stevens Pass Ski Areas are easily reached for day skiing. Backcountry and ski mountaineering locations are only limited by your motivation.

Housing

The barracks for the Entiat IHC are located at the Steliko Work Center. Limited barracks space is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Additional, non-government provided housing may be available in the local communities, but availability is limited. Crew members often share private accommodations in an effort to reduce costs.

 

 

Entiat Hotshot Crew History

The Entiat IHC began in the early 1960's as a local fire suppression crew consisting of 25 members who called themselves the Bushmen. In 1966, the Bushmen became one of the first inter-regional crews (IR) in Region 6. Over the years, the Bushmen became famous amongst the fire community for being tough, hard working firefighters whose specialties were line construction, hard work, and fun. Even today, the old fire dogs tell tales of the Bushmen.

With the taming of the Forest Service came the change in the Bushmen name to the Entiat IHC in 1983. Since that time, the Entiat IHC has been building a reputation of safe, aggressive firefighting. That reputation is constructed on a foundation of hard working, clear thinking crew members led by dedicated, experienced supervisors. The Entiat IHC consistently receives outstanding performance evaluations and enjoys a high level of respect in any fire organization.

Crew Superintendents

 Name  Years
 Charles Wolf  1966-1967
 Ed Harlan  1968
 Joe Marchbanks  1969
 Vern Gray  1970-1971
 Lester Domingos  1972-1973
 Dave Spies  1974
 Mike Cammack  1975
 George Marcott  1976-1979
 Lonnie Williams  1980-1985
 Tar Lesmeister  1986
 Matt Dahlgreen  1987
 Tom Fogata  1988-1991
 Gabe Jasso  1992-1993
 Russ Truman  1994
 Gabe Jasso  1995-1997
 Marshall Brown  1998-2006
 Kyle Cannon  2007
 Jeff Dimke  2008-present

 

See Photo Gallery at right for historical crew photos.
 

National IHC and Other Websites