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Insider's Look at Smokejumping

Insider's Look at Smokejumping

Stock Photo

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…

Jump Gear

Smokejumpers wear a padded jump jacket and pants, made of Kevlar, the same material used for bullet-proof vests. A motorcycle style helmet is worn, featuring a heavy, wire-mesh face mask. (At left is a picture taken by Steve Baker right after I landed on a practice jump.)

A small gear bag is carried by each smokejumper, in which are carried water, gloves, hardhat, fire shelter, and other personal belongings needed for a shift on the fireline.

Heavier equipment is dropped separately. A “let-down” rope is carried in the right leg pocket in case it is necessary to rappel down out of a tall tree.

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