Wenatchee Valley Rappellers

Applicant Information | History | Physical Fitness | Contacts

Wenatchee Valley Rappellers 2013  crew photo
2013 Rappeller Crew (click photo for larger version)
See more photos in Galleries to the right.

Applicant Information

Hiring Information

Applicants need to submit applications through the Federal Government's Official Job Website:  


In addition, we highly recommend applicants interested in a temporary position visit the Rappel Base and introduce yourself to management.  Please contact us to schedule an appointment.

Want to know more information about the R-6 Rappel program? Click below for an overview.

Pacific Northwest Region 6 Rappel Outreach Notice

Work Dates (tour of duty)

Each season, the Wenatchee Valley Rappellers seeks quality employees to fill crew member positions for duty as a wildland firefighter and helicopter crewmember/ rappeller. The fire season for the Wenatchee Rappellers typically starts in early May and ends in late October, depending upon the severity of the fire season and/or the need for rehabilitation of severe fires. Crew members are hired on a Not To Exceed 1039 hours in a 1-year basis as either a GS-462-04 or a GS-462-05, depending upon experience level and education.


The first five weeks of the season, starting at the end of April, will be dedicated to physical fitness, classroom and field training. This training will include annual mandatory fire related and non fire related training and refreshers, S-271 and Interagency Helicopter Training. The last week of training will be in John Day, Oregon for the Region 6 Rappel Academy. Trainees must demonstrate competence and proficiency in all aspects of the training to qualify as a Region 6 Rappeller. During the course of the season, other training courses may be offered to further the qualifications and career development of each individual which will be outlined on an Individual Development Plan (IDP). See Training Photos

Selection Requirements

Successful applicants will meet each of the following requirements:

Be at least 18 years of age and have proof of US Citizenship

Pack 45 pounds for 3 miles in under 45 minutes

Everyone who considers themselves well suited for a Rappeller 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 practical and field experience through working on engines, Type I Hotshot Crews or Type II hand crews before becoming a Rappeller.

The Wenatchee Valley Rappel Crew does not offer housing; however East Wenatchee, Wenatchee and surrounding areas offer plenty of housing. The average cost is $700-$1200 for a two bedroom one bath rental house. Apartments are also available from $350- $500 for a one bed, one bath. Crewmembers will often collaborate to get a larger house to help keep costs affordable.

We are located at Pangborn Memorial Airport in East Wenatchee. The surrounding area offers a great number of recreational opportunities. There are numerous trails for hiking and mountain bike riding. The Wenatchee/ Okanogan forest area also offers a variety of rivers and lakes for fishing, water skiing, white water rafting and kayaking. There are also several areas that offer incredible rock climbing experiences.

Nondiscrimination notice: 
The USDA Forest Service and the Wenatchee Valley Rappellers 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.

See more Rappelling Photos in Galleries to the right



The crew was started in 1971 after the Wenatchee National Forest burned more than 130,000 acres in 1970. The crew used a Bell 205, and had 10 crewmembers with a 9 person back up squad. In 1972 the crew was comprised of a Bell 205 and 10 crewmembers. In 1973 the program became rappel capable, and rappelled through 1982. The Forest opted not to rappel from 1983-1987, but a helitack crew remained in Chelan. In 1987 the Forest reinstated rappelling and the crew grew to 14 crewmembers. In 1995 the rappel crew staffed one of the eight National Type 2 helicopters. The crew has since grown to 30 people. In 2000, the rappel crew moved from Chelan to East Wenatchee and became the Wenatchee Valley Rappel Crew.


 Wenatchee Valley Rappellers 


Physical Fitness Standards

Physical conditioning is at the heart of the Wenatchee Rappeller Program. Applicants are strongly suggested to maintain a rigorous, structured physical training routine before the season starts and be prepared to describe their training schedule. Every member of the Wenatchee Rappel Crew 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.

Successful applicants will be working in a wide variety of strenuous, often times exhausting conditions. The fire environment is a very challenging and dynamic work place and it is critical that applicants maintain a level of fitness necessary to perform their duties as a wildland firefighter.

Physical fitness and conditioning are absolute necessities for helicopter rappelling and fire suppression. We require that all employees meet rigorous levels of fitness. All employees are tested the first week and AT A MINIMUM, are expected to meet the following physical requirements:

1½ Mile Run - 11:00 minutes or less

Pull-ups - 7 Full Extensions

Push-ups - 25 in 1 minute

Plank - 2 minute minimum

85#+ Pack Test - Over typical terrain

WCT 45# Pack Test - 3 miles, 45 minutes

These are minimum requirements. Physical training will occur twice daily during the first three weeks of the season and one to one and a half hours daily for the rest of the year. All applicants should be able to exceed these minimum requirements. These fitness goals are desired on the Rappel Crew; however, they are not conditions for hire. All successful applicants will be required to pass the Forest Service work capacity pack test (forty-five lbs. over three miles in under forty five minutes) as a condition of hire.


 Fire burning on ground through forest 



Wenatchee Valley Rappellers
3796 Airport Way
East Wenatchee, WA 98802
Phone: 509-884-2492
Fax:   509-884-8799

Thank you for your interest.


Mike Davis
Rappel Base Manager


Garret Harasek
Helicopter Foreman


Nick Gavin
Assistant Helicopter Foreman


Chris Sotherlund
Assistant Helicopter Foreman


Travis Will
Helicopter Foreman








Wenatchee Valley Rappellers