Bitterroot Interagency Hotshot Crew

History of the Bitterroot Hotshots

The Bitterroot Interagency Hotshot Crew was established in 1963.  Initially called the Bitterroot (Hotshot) Interregional Fire Suppression Crew it was composed of 30 men.  Their original duty station was an old CCC camp located up the West Fork of the Bitterroot River at the current location of Trapper Creek Job Corp Center south of Darby, MT.

In 1965 their duty station was moved to the East Fork Guard Station on the East Fork of the Bitterroot River also south of Darby, MT.  They used this site for 11 years before moving to their current location in Darby, MT where they remain until today.  The main reason for the move to Darby was to minimize travel time to the Missoula International Airport for flights to fires.

In 1980 the Forest Service standardized the Interregional Fire Suppression Crew program and adopted the term “Hotshots”.  Thus the Bitterroot Interagency Hotshot crew was named. 

From 1976 through 1987 the crew’s headquarters was the old Ranger Station building, now a visitor center and museum.  From 1988 until 2001 the crew worked and trained out of two garage bays at the Darby Ranger Station.  In 2002 they moved into their current building, a luxury facility with ample room to house their two crew carriers, office space, a state of the art training room, and spacious airy ready room (or locker room).  Over the years the crew has went through many changes ranging from crew organization, vehicle arrangement (vans to crew carriers) and crew logo.  The black and white image on the right was the crew’s first logo with the current logo shown below is the newest version of Steve Barringer 1990 design.

Crew Operations

The Bitterroot Hotshots work out of the compound on the Darby Ranger District of the Bitterroot National Forest. Located on the district compound are two government bunkhouses facilities that allow crewmembers to live within a 5-minute walk of both downtown Darby and the crew warehouse.

Physical fitness is a major emphasis on the crew. There's a weight room on the compound, available for use during and after work hours, and there's a running track available at the local high school. As per IHC Operations Guidelines, the crew is provided time each day to pursue physical fitness training, including stretching, strength training, and 3.5- to 6-mile runs over various terrain. 


The Bitterroot Hotshot Crew is looking for individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences in order to blend their specific skills and abilities into a cohesive team-oriented environment.

Physical fitness is the foundation of being a successful hotshot. It is important that a comprehensive physical fitness program be undertaken prior to showing up for the first day of crew operations. Although not required, individuals should have two or more seasons of wildland fire experience to be competitive for open positions. 

Physical Fitness

Bitterroot IHC places a strong emphasis on physical fitness and physical training. A Hotshot’s performance and personal safety depends on an individual’s ability to respond to rapidly changing situations in adverse conditions under extreme physical and emotional stress. As such, Bitterroot IHC expects its employees to arrive in top physical condition, and challenges each employee to further develop their physical fitness and training programs.

Fitness Standard: All IHC personnel shall meet the sponsor agency’s current Arduous Duty fitness standard for fire line personnel (Pack test). Meeting this fitness standard by the end of the Critical 80 Hour Training period will be considered a condition of continuing employment for all personnel on the crew. A medical examination will be required prior to employment.

Fitness Measure: The Hotshot fitness measure is described in the “Standards For Interagency Hotshot Crew Operations.” These measurements are considered minimums, and are used to gauge the fitness level of each individual, as well as the performance of the crew as a whole. Each employee will be tested in these fitness categories on the first day of work.

  • 1.5 mile run in a time of 10:35 or less
  • 40 sit-ups in 60 seconds
  • 25 pushups in 60 seconds
  • Chin-ups, based on body weight:
    • More than 170 lbs. = 4 chin-ups
    • 135-170 lbs. = 5 chin-ups
    • 110- 13 5 lbs. = 6 chin-ups
    • Less than 110 lbs. = 7 chin-ups

Bitterroot IHC trains as a crew throughout the fire season. Physical training activities include but are not limited to: 3-7 mile runs, full-gear hikes over varied/rugged terrain, strength training, and flexibility training.


Bitterroot IHC provides an annual 80 hours of required training prior to availability for fire assignments. This includes classroom training, field exercises, and intense physical training to emphasize and ensure crew safety awareness and effective crew operations. Furthermore, Bitterroot IHC strives to improve the credentials and skills of its employees by providing training with simulated exercises, on-the-job trainings, as well as NWCG certified courses.

Employment Opportunities

Bitterroot Hotshots has Permanent Career positions with varying tours of duty. Vacancies are filled using the Northern Region’s centralized “Fire Hire” process. For vacancy information visit the website at  Applicants must be 18 years of age at the time of hire and provide proof of U.S. citizenship. Applications can be submitted via USA JOBS available on the internet at:

Vacancy announcements for temporary seasonal positions with the Bitterroot Hotshots have been updated on the Forest Service’s Region 1 website. Here is a link for the outreach and instructions on how to apply. 

For more information or further questions, please contact Superintendent Jay Wood at or 406-821-4253.

 NOTE: The GS-0462-05 Position falls under the Interagency Fire Program Management Standard’s Senior Firefighter category which requires minimum qualifications of:  FFT1 (Firefighter Type 1) and S-290 (Intermediate Fire Behavior)

The policy of the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, religion, sex, or disability, familial status, or political affiliation. Persons believing they have been discriminated against in any Forest Service related activity should write to: Chief, Forest Service, USDA, P.O. Box 96090, Washington, DC 20090-6090

Contact Information

Further information regarding open positions on the Bitterroot Hotshots can be directed to the Hotshot Superintendent or Assistant Superintendent at the following contact information.

  • Superintendent: 406-821-4253
  • Assistant Superintendent: 406-387-3843