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History of Smokejumping

A smokejumper exiting plane wearing full safety gear and a parachute.

Smokejumping was first proposed in 1934 by T.V. Pearson, Regional Forester of the Intermountain Region (Region 4), as a means to quickly provide initial attack on forest fires. By parachuting self-sufficient firefighters to the fire, they could arrive fresh and ready for the strenuous work of fighting fires in rugged terrain.

The Smokejumper program began in 1939 as an experiment in the Pacific Northwest Region (Region 6), and the first fire jump was made in 1940 on the Nez Perce National Forest in the Northern Region (Region 1). The McCall Smokejumper program, which was established in 1943, continues to provide outstanding contributions to fire management efforts throughout the nation.

Today, the McCall Smokejumper Unit is an interagency resource providing highly trained, experienced firefighters and leadership for quick, wide-ranging, self-sufficient initial attack, extended attack, Incident Command System (ICS) fire teams, and prescribed fire operations throughout the country. Three Twin Otters comprise the fixed-wing aircraft fleet which enables this unit to provide firefighters, paracargo, and supplies to literally anywhere in the country.

A McCall smokejumper and spotter in the door of a Twin Otter airplane.