Duties of a Hotshot Crewmember
The Elk Mountain Hotshot Crew will use the following core values as a guide and framework around which our success will continue to be built:
The primary duties of a member of an IHC involve the suppression of wildland fires on assignments throughout the United States and Canada. Crewmembers are required to aggressively utilize all types of hand tools (to dig, chop, and cut) in order to suppress wildfires. The use of chainsaws, radios, ignition devices, and numerous other pieces of equipment may also be a requirement. Patrolling, serving as a lookout, mopping-up, and hiking long distances are also integral parts of the job.
Firefighting involves working under very hazardous conditions for long periods of time and Hotshot crews are expected to accept the most difficult and hazardous tasks. A typical shift is 16 hours and working for 32 hours without relief often occurs. Firefighters often endure hot, smoky, dirty, and dusty working conditions with little sleep and poor food. Sleep deprivation is the norm and working with sharp tools, in the dark, on a steep hillside, under hazardous conditions is a common occurrence. Hotshots are frequently required to work for days at a time with only the 40 pounds of equipment carried in a fire pack. The work performed is extremely physically demanding and can be emotionally taxing. Together for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 4 to 6 months, the crew eats, works, travels, and rests as a unit. Under these conditions, compatibility, camaraderie, understanding, and crew pride are an absolute necessity.
IHCs are required to be available for incident dispatch 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the fire season. Each member of the crew is expected to be available, day or night, for every dispatch. During duty hours, the crew is required to be en route to the incident within 3 minutes, and for off-duty hour dispatches, the crew must be assembled and traveling to the incident within 2 hours. These regulations greatly restrict the personal travel of crewmembers and demand a high level of personal responsibility and commitment to the crew. The fire season begins in May and extends till the End of November, but may be shorter or longer depending on funding, and weather.
Travel is another important aspect of being a Hotshot. A typical fire season requires the crew to be away from the duty station for the majority of the four to 6 month period. Long drives in crowded conditions must be endured and travel by airplane and helicopter often occurs.
The crew will work on a variety of projects for the Forest when not on fire assignments. Projects may include thinning and hand piling hazardous fuels, facilities maintenance and cleaning, construction and carpentry, hazard tree falling, exotic plant eradication, trail maintenance, or any other Forest management priority. A 20-person hotshot crew is a powerful workforce for the Forest and we will often be called upon to assist with various tasks.
Elk Mountain Hotshot Crew will always provide high quality and cost efficient work. The same ethics, safety and work standards will apply for both fire assignments and Forest projects. Projects will always be second priority to training, preparedness, and readiness. The crew will not undertake a project without being fire ready.