The Redmond Smokejumper Base is located at the Redmond Air Center in Redmond, Oregon. The Redmond Air Center (RAC) is at Robert's Field Airport about two miles east of Redmond, Oregon (population 12,000+, elevation 3077 feet). The RAC is hosted by the Deschutes National Forest and is about 30 minutes driving time from the Central Oregon communities of Bend, Sisters, and Prineville.
Smokejumpers are primarily initial attack resources for suppressing our nation's wildland fires. During the fire season, typically May through October, many smokejumpers are on alert -- ready for fire assignment at a moment's notice. By air or by land, smokejumpers respond to any fire by the most effective and efficient means available. Of course, they're best known for their ability to parachute out of airplanes to reach the fire.
Recruitment and Employment
Smokejumper positions are not entry-level firefighting positions. All applicants must meet specific medical, physical, and firefighting work experience requirements to be considered for these positions. Candidates must be in top physical condition and capable of performing arduous duties. Any physical problem sufficient to impair efficiency or endanger fellow workers will disqualify the applicant.
Applicants must meet the minimum 90 days of wildland fire experience and have 12 months of qualifying experience at the GS-04 level. However, due to the quantity of applicants, quality applicants are encouraged to have at a minimum 3-4 years of fire experience with a diverse background of work experience on a good organized crew such as hotshot, helitack, engine, and Type 2 Initial Attack crews, qualified to the FFT1 and ICT5, possess leadership experience, and have a safety conscious attitude.
If you lack this required fire experience, you may want to consider applying for a position on an Interagency Hotshot Crew or a district engine, helicopter, or fire suppression hand crew. These crews receive valuable training and experience in fire suppression work. There are numerous crews located throughout the United States with the majority being in the West. For information, contact your local job service, USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, or National Park Service office, or check out USA Jobs for current openings in the GS-0462 job series.
Helpful Hints for Applying
- You must indicate the base(s) you are applying for.
- Before submitting your application be sure that you have marked all boxes and check all basic qualifications on your application for correct answers.
- If you are new to smokejumping make sure you are applying for a GS-5 rookie smokejumper position.
- Make sure to supply your e-mail address on your application in order to receive confirmation of your application acceptance and any possible hiring correspondence.
The safety and well-being of each smokejumper on an assignment depends on the ability of each individual to pull his/her own weight. Smokejumpers must pass the standard firefighter’s Work Capacity Fitness Test (pack test) at the arduous level.
All smokejumper candidates are required to pass the standard smokejumper physical training (PT) test on the first day of smokejumper training. Candidates must do seven pull-ups/chin-ups, 45 sit-ups, 25 push-ups, and a 1.5 mile run in less than 11 minutes (McCall’s elevation is 5000’). The test is taken in one time frame with five-minute breaks between specific exercises.
Remember, these are just the minimums. Much more will be required during the following five weeks. For instance, one of the most demanding physical requirements of the job is the gear pack-out. Smokejumper gear and tools weigh up to 115 pounds per person. Smokejumpers must be able to carry this gear to the nearest trail, road, or helispot after suppressing the fire. This may be a distance of 10 miles or more in rough terrain. During training smokejumper candidates are required to demonstrate their ability to pack 110 pounds of gear a distance of three miles in 90 minutes or less, over a level course.
Do not hesitate to call the McCall Smokejumper Unit for clarification regarding the PT and/or pack-out tests. Any smokejumper candidate unable to meet these minimum physical requirements must be dropped from the program.
In addition to passing the physical training test, prospective smokejumpers must meet the following requirements:
Age: Must be at least 18 years old.
Height: Must be not more than 77 inches or less than 60 inches tall without shoes.
Weight: Must weigh at least 120 pounds but no more than 210 pounds without clothes.
Hearing: Must not have acute or chronic disease of the external, middle, or inner ear. Using an audiometer for measurement, there should be no loss of 25 or more decibels in each ear at the speech frequency range. A hearing aid is not permitted.
Vision: Must be free from acute or chronic eye disease. Corrected distant vision must test at least 20/20 (Snellen) in one eye and at least 20/30 (Snellen) in the other. Individuals must be able to read printed material the size of standard typewritten characters. Glasses or contacts used for eye correction are permitted.
A standard medical form is sent with an offer of employment to those selected. The offer is contingent upon submission of a satisfactory physical examination, which must be performed by a licensed physician. The USDA Forest Service reserves the right to have any candidate take another physical exam if there is doubt about the candidate’s physical condition. Smokejumping exposes one to many unusual hazards and hardships, requiring exceptional physical conditioning. Candidates must be in top physical condition prior to reporting for work to enable themselves to complete the training program successfully.
Josh Cantrell, Training Manager
Redmond Smokejumpers (FS)
Redmond Air Center
1740 SE Ochoco Way
Redmond, OR 97756