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Image of the McCall Smokejumper logo. Physical Requirements


McCall Smokejumpers constructing fireline on the Sawtooth National ForestSmokejumper duties can be extremely arduous and hazardous. Jumpers must be in excellent physical condition and possess a high degree of emotional stability and mental alertness. The job often involves prolonged periods when smoke, heat, and short supplies of food and water take their toll on your physical stamina. The safety and well-being of each smokejumper on an assignment depends on the ability of each individual to pull his/her own weight. Smokejumpers must pass the standard firefighter's Work Capacity Fitness Test (pack test) at the arduous level.

All smokejumper candidates are required to pass the standard smokejumper physical training (PT) test on the first day of smokejumper training. Candidates must do seven pull-ups/chin-ups, 45 sit-ups, 25 push-ups, and a 1.5 mile run in less than 11 minutes (McCall's elevation is 5000'). The test is taken in one time frame with 5-minute breaks between specific exercises.

SmokeJumpers enroute to a fire in J43Remember, these are just the minimums. Much more will be required during the following five weeks. For instance, one of the most demanding physical requirements of the job is the gear pack-out. Smokejumper gear and tools weigh up to 115 pounds per person. Smokejumpers must be able to carry this gear to the nearest trail, road, or helispot after suppressing the fire. This may be a distance of 10 miles or more in rough terrain. During training, smokejumper candidates are required to demonstrate their ability to pack 110 pounds of gear a distance of three miles in 90 minutes or less, over a level course.

Do not hesitate to call the McCall Smokejumper Unit for clarification regarding the PT and/or pack-out tests. Any smokejumper candidate unable to meet these minimum physical requirements must be dropped from the program.

In addition to passing the physical training test, prospective smokejumpers must meet the following requirements:

  • Age: Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Height: Must be not more than 77 inches or less than 60 inches tall without shoes.
  • Weight: Must weigh at least 120 pounds but no more than 200 pounds without clothes.
  • Hearing: Must not have acute or chronic disease of the external, middle, or inner ear. Using an audiometer for measurement, there should be no loss of 25 or more decibels in each ear at the speech frequency range. A hearing aid is not permitted.
  • Vision: Must be free from acute or chronic eye disease. Corrected distant vision must test at least 20/20 (Snellen) in one eye and at least 20/30 (Snellen) in the other. Individuals must be able to read printed material the size of standard typewritten characters. Glasses or contacts used for eye correction are permitted.

A standard medical form is sent with an offer of employment to those selected. The offer is contingent upon submission of a satisfactory physical examination, which must be performed by a licensed physician. The USDA Forest Service reserves the right to have any candidate take another physical exam if there is doubt about the candidates physical condition. Smokejumping exposes one to many unusual hazards and hardships, requiring exceptional physical conditioning. Candidates must be in top physical condition prior to reporting for work to enable themselves to complete the training program successfully.