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Insider's Look at Smokejumping

Insider's Look at Smokejumping

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Bruce L. Nelson w/introduction by

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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