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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…

“Tony Tools”

Sometimes back-pack pumps are used, or power pumps are dropped if there is a handy water source. Fires in Alaska call for somewhat different tactics.

The perimeter is usually secured by beating with burlap sacks, or a 6’ spruce tree limbed up to a “broom” shape, or with specially designed beating tools called “tony tools.”

Here are smokejumpers at nightfall beating on a spring fire on Kodiak Island with tony tools and burlap sacks. Water is used when available, and chainsaws are often used to cut a fireline through the spruce trees.

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