Para-cargo delivery, Horsehoe Fire, Inyo National Forest

Rapidly Delivering Supplies and Equipment to Support Tactical Missions

The California Smokejumpers Para-cargo Program delivers equipment and supplies to initial and extended attack fire incidents and work projects throughout the state of California. Para-cargo is a cost effective and expedient means of delivering large and small payloads to personnel in the field. All orders can be placed through dispatch.

Some items that can be delivered by Para-Cargo are listed below:

Ordering Para-Cargo

The following information is needed to fill a Para-cargo request:

  • Desired Cargo
  • Incident name, number and “A” request number
  • Location of drop zone (Legal or Lat. X Long)
  • Ground contact
  • Desired time of delivery

Almost all fire cache items can be delivered via Para-cargo. In addition, special items such as fresh food, drinking water and sack lunches can also be delivered.

Emergency medical care and rescue equipment can be delivered via Para-cargo. The Smokejumper unit maintains two Sked kits rigged for Para-cargo delivery. Trauma kits with IV blood expanders, oxygen, splints and equipment to monitor vital signs are carried on the jumper aircraft and can be ordered. The trauma kit must be accompanied by a qualified EMT from the Smokejumper unit. IV starts must be administered by a qualified smokejumper EMT and only to U.S. Forest Service Employees.

The time frames for delivery of Para-cargo are dependent on the availability of requested items, aircraft, cargo-riggers, and cargo droppers. As a general rule, any fire cache items can be ready within two hours and special items within four hours. Orders placed after dark can be prepared at night and delivered at dawn.

If a difficult or extensive Para-cargo retrieval operation is contemplated, a Smokejumper Para-cargo retrieval team will be available on board. The retrieval team arrives completely equipped to perform the mission.


Sample Loads

  • 20 Person Crew;Strike Team Engines; Support Load
  • Pump; Hose and Supply Load
  • Para-cargo weight capacities for selected aircraft:
    • Sherpa (C-23A): 4000 lbs.
    • Dornier 228: 3300 lbs.
    • Twin Otter: 3000 lbs.
    • Casa 212: 4500 lbs.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the advantages of Para-cargo over other delivery methods?

With Para-Cargo, more cargo can be delivered with less trips and in less time than other methods.

How long will it take to get my order?

Standard orders (MREs and drinking water) can be prepared in about 2 hours. Refer to our Response Time Maps for flight time. Non-standard loads (think fresh food) can usually be prepared in about 4 hours.

How do I communicate with the plane once it gets to me?

You will be able to talk to the Para-cargo crew on the Air-to-Ground frequency assigned to the fire or R-5 Air-to-Ground.

What information will the plane need from me when they arrive?

The flight crew will need to know where you would like the cargo dropped and if the drop zone is clear of personnel and equipment.

What are the requirements for the drop-zone?

For a general guideline, see page 59 of your IRPG. In good conditions, we can usually deliver to an opening about the size of a basketball court.

What if my drop zone is surrounded by tall timber?

When you place your order, let dispatch know that your drop zone is in timber. Tree climbers will be on board and will be available and fully equipped to retrieve cargo for you.

What if my cargo lands in a tree?

When delivering cargo to areas where there is a possibility of cargo landing in trees, tree climbers will be on board and will be available and fully equipped to retrieve cargo for you.

How much can I order?

You can order as much as you want. If your order exceeds our aircraft's weight or bulk limitations, we will make additional trips as necessary.

What are the weather related limitations?

Para-Cargo can only be delivered if the pilot can see the drop zone. Fog and inversion can limit pilot visibility. Thunderstorms in the area may delay delivery as well.

What about cost?

Costs are mainly flight time of the aircraft and wages for the flight crew. Aircraft flight time cost varies from plane to plane. More specific cost information is available to fire managers. Contact us for more info.

Is it mandatory to staff the drop zone?

It is strongly advised and preferred that drop zones be staffed, however if it is absolutely necessary, we can deliver to an un staffed drop-zone.

What about HAZ-MAT?

We are able to deliver large quantities of the usual HAZMAT you see on a fire including fuel, fusees, firing devices, and so on.

How do I return equipment to the smokejumper base?

It is the ordering units responsibility to return parachutes and box harnesses to the Smokejumper base in Redding.