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Insider's Look at Smokejumping

Insider's Look at Smokejumping

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Bruce L. Nelson w/introduction by FireLink.com

Smokejumpers are highly trained wildfire firefighters deployed to remote locations. They are parachuted in to to secure fires otherwise unreachable by local forces. By making use of high-altitude aircraft, smokejumpers are able to reach fires faster, cheaper, and better equipped than any road-bound vehicle.

Because smokejumping forces are limited to small teams, most of us don’t get a chance to see what these special forces battle. “Buck” Nelson, a 20-year smokejumping veteran, gives us an insider look into the smokejumping world…

Tactics and Fight Time

On any fire, a backfire, such as the one shown, is used if necessary. This is an especially common tactic in the big fast-moving fires of the “Great Basin” such as this one in Nevada. Often helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft (aka “air tankers”) are called in to aid the ground troops.

Most smokejumper fires are out or turned over to other firefighters within 3 days, but smokejumpers have been known to spend over a month on fires. They are re-supplied by parachute, helicopter, or even by road if possible.

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