Smokejumpers help to put out fires in areas difficult to reach by usual
means. It's a dangerous job. The select few who make up smokejumping crews
join a long tradition of jumping. This includes jumping into some of the most
demanding and exhilarating conditions known to man.
Smokejumpers parachute into remote areas to contain wildfires. Once on
the ground, they work for long hours under extreme weather conditions. They
are exposed to smoke, intense heat and fumes.
Departments that hire jumpers include the Department of Agriculture, the
Forest Service, the Department of the Interior, the Fish and Wildlife Service,
the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Army.
On-the-job training teaches observation skills, fire reporting and safety
procedures. As well, technical skills for using fire tracking and communications
equipment are taught.
There are few women employed as smokejumpers, but female representation
Margarita Phillips can boast 11 seasons as a smokejumper. Now she's training
as a spotter. A spotter is the person who tests the wind, picks a good jump
spot and signals jumpers when to step out of the plane.
Can you do seven pull-ups, 25 push-ups, 45 sit-ups, run 1.5 miles in 11
minutes and carry a 110-pound pack three miles in under 90 minutes? Some agencies
that hire smokejumpers require this level of physical fitness.
The elite paratroopers of the firefighting world
Watch a one-minute video showing what it's like to work in this career or related careers
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