These crews can really take the heat!
Interagency Hotshot Crews (IHC) are diverse teams of career and temporary agency employees who uphold a tradition of excellence and have solid reputations as multi-skilled professional firefighters. Ninety crews are available for the 2001 fire season, employed by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, various Native American tribes, and the states of Alaska and Utah. Their physical fitness standards, training requirements, operation procedures are consistent nationwide, as outlined in the Standards for Interagency Hotshot Crew Operations. Their core values of "duty, integrity, and respect" have earned Hotshot crews an excellent reputation throughout the United States and Canada as elite teams of professional wildland firefighters.
Hotshot Crews started in Southern California in the late 1940s on the Cleveland and Angeles National Forests. The name was in reference to being in the hottest part of fires. Their specialty is wildfire suppression, but they are sometimes assigned other jobs, including search and rescue and disaster response assistance. Hotshots not busy fighting fire will also work to meet resource goals on their home units through thinning, prescribed fire implementation, habitat improvement or trail construction projects.
The twenty-member Hotshot crews are often called Type 1 Crews, but are really Type 1 Crews-PLUS since they exceed the experience, training and physical fitness required for a Type 1 Crew. They may be sent anywhere in the United States, and have been to Mexico and Canada, to fight wildland fires. They can safely and efficiently use all fire tools including Pulaskis, chain saws, fusees, pumps, and engines, and understand and practice safe helicopter operations.
The Hotshot program also stresses each individual's responsibility and right to a safe work environment, correctly identifying critical safety issues and demonstrating appropriate responses to unsafe conditions. This includes instruction on risk management, firefighter safety, fire behavior, communications, job hazard analysis, fire shelter deployment, and field drills various fire suppression techniques.
Hotshots must also participate in physical fitness and conditioning programs and pass the Work Capacity Test at the Arduous level. The Arduous level fitness test requires the individual to perform a three-mile hike with a 45 pound pack in 45 minutes.
Individual crew structure is, to some extent, based on local needs using the following standard positions. A typical crew would include one Superintendent (GS-9), two Assistant Superintendents (GS-8), two Squad or Module Leaders (GS-6), and 15 Skilled Firefighters (GS-5) and Crew Members (GS-4). Qualifications for each position are outlined in the Interagency Hotshot Operations Guide.
All crews require that personnel be available 24-hours per day, 7 days a week during the fire season, which typically last six months. Fire assignments may require IHC members to be away from home for several weeks at a time. The crews travel, primarily in the West, by truck, van or plane. To get to the more remote fire sites, crews either hike or are flown in by helicopter. Crew members pack all the water and supplies needed for work shifts that frequently exceed eight hours, and may be 12 hours or longer. Crews sleep on the ground and are lucky to get a shower every couple of days.
Most hotshot crew positions are seasonal, with employment from May through October. Employment is occasionally available during the pre- and post-season depending on weather and financing. For more information on the Hotshot program, contact the Hotshot crew you are interested in working with. For more information see the links below or contact your nearest Forest Service office.
For information on fire or non-fire positions please visit FS Jobs and the Centralized Nationwide Temporary Employment website. Also check out the Bureau of Land Management listing of Hotshots vacancies on their website..