Smokejumpers & Hotshot Crews

Office of Communication
U.S. Forest Service
August 19th, 2013 at 2:45PM

Smokejumpers - Out of the sky and into the fire

A smokejumper on the Sierra National Forest, Sept. 8, 2012. Smokejumpers are a wildland firefighting asset that can be used for fires in remote locations or during aggressive initial attack operations. Some say you have to be crazy to jump out of an airplane into a forest fire, but smokejumpers can't wait for the next fire call.

Smokejumping was first proposed in 1934 as a means to quickly provide initial attack on forest fires. By parachuting in, self-sufficient firefighters could arrive fresh and ready for the strenuous work of fighting fires in rugged terrain. The first fire jump was made in 1940 on Idaho's Nez Perce National Forest.

Today, Smokejumpers are a national resource. Jumpers travel all over the country, including Alaska, to provide highly-trained, experienced firefighters and leadership for quick initial attack on wildland fires in remote areas. Firefighting tools, food and water are dropped by parachute to the firefighters after they land near the fire, making them self-sufficient for the first 48 hours.

Hotshot Crews: The best of the best of wildland fire fighters

Whitewater-Baldy Complex, Gila National Forest, New Mexico, May, 2012. Payson Hotshot Crew headed to the fire line. These crews can really take the heat! Their core values of "duty, integrity, and respect" have earned Hotshot crews an excellent reputation throughout the United States and Canada as elite teams of professional wildland firefighters.

The crews are diverse teams of career and temporary agency employees who uphold a tradition of excellence and have solid reputations as multi-skilled professional firefighters. Their physical fitness standards, training requirements, operation procedures are consistent nationwide.


Hotshot Crews started in Southern California in the late 1940s on the Cleveland and Angeles National Forests. The name was in reference to being in the hottest part of fires. Their specialty is wildfire suppression, but they are sometimes assigned other jobs, including search and rescue and disaster response assistance. They can safely and efficiently use all fire tools including Pulaskis, chain saws, fusees, pumps, and engines, and understand and practice safe helicopter operations.