La Grande Hot Shots Recruitment and Training
We typically hire around four to six new crewmembers each season. We look for people with at least a couple of seasons of fire experience, and we like to get people with special skills including chainsaw operation, EMT's and commercial drivers.
One very good way for us to get to know potential employees is to take "fill-ins" from district fire crews or engines when we have an empty spot. If you are a Red-Carded firefighter working in Eastern Oregon, and think you might like being a hotshot, let us know, and we'll put you on our fill-in list.
We typically get several hundred applications per year from throughout the country. Recommendations from previous employers are very important to our selection process. Making personal contact with us is also important. Persistence is also key, and sometimes it is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Applications generally become available in late December or early January. We start our selection process in February, and prefer to have our selections made by the first of March.
Being a Hotshot is very physically demanding. The minimum requirement for being a firefighter for the Forest Service is passing the Pack Test, which requires an applicant to walk 3 miles with a 45 pound pack in less than 45 minutes. The pack test is a great physical fitness test, but it's not enough to be able to be a hotshot....
During our two-week training, we have several physical fitness tests which allow us to assess our crews fitness. In our two week training, we will run a timed 1-1/2 mile run, a timed 6-mile run around the airport, do pushups, pull-ups, sit-ups, dig line, and do a few crew hikes. On days that we are not on fires, we do a minimum of an hour of PT per day.
Our goals are that each employee can at the minimum run 1-1/2 miles in less than 11:35, run six miles in less than 60 minutes, do 30 push-ups, 30 sit-ups, 4 pull-ups, dig a chain (66 feet) of line by themselves in 1 hour, and be able to keep with the crew on the hikes (one of the hikes is p Mt. Emily, which climbs 3000 feet in less than 3 miles).
Needless to say, this job attracts athletic individuals, and these minimum requirements are usually beat by at least 150%.
Training includes 80 hours of training before leaving on the first assignment. This includes both time in classroom and on-the-job.
Training requirements are identified in the Interagency Hotshot Crew Operations Guide, and include 24 hours of nationally required critical training, and 40 additional hours of Region 6 required training.
We work June through September, and can earn 500-600 hours of overtime (anything over eight hours per day - 40 hrs per week) during the season at 1-1/2 times base rate. We also earn "Hazard Pay" when assigned to fires which is an additional 25% of base rate.