The more complex media requests typically involve observing Smokejumpers in action. These types of requests raise obvious safety issues as well as certain logistics concerns. If this type of request is approved, it will be necessary to address these issues prior to the media organization arriving at the Smokejumper unit.
1. Smokejumper Aircraft
Media are not allowed on aircraft during any jump missions. In June 1993, the Forest Service made a policy not to allow media on aircraft during these types of situations, there are NO Exceptions!
2. Chase Aircraft
A good way for the media to get action shots of smokejumpers during a fire jump is to have them rent or hire a small fixed wing aircraft or helicopter. Before this is done, make sure the chase aircraft has been approved by the Regional Aviation Officer and the pilots of the jump ship. Ask the Regional Aircraft Coordinator or the pilots for a good recommendation on who to hire for the job. The media escort needs to make sure that there is a safety briefing and good communications between the two aircraft. Before the chase aircraft takes off, make sure there are no airspace closures near or over the fire.
3. Media Hired Helicopters
If the media organization will travel to an incident in a helicopter that is provided by the news agency or the Forest Service, special approval must be granted by the Regional Aviation Officer. Again, the escort must make sure there are no airspace closures. If FS personnel are to accompany the media in a ship contracted to the news agency, it should be understood that the operation will be conducted in accordance with the Forest Service rules and regulations. Written approval must be granted for FS personnel to ride in a helicopter that is not contracted to the government. It is advisable to contact the Regional Helicopter and Aviation Specialist PRIOR to the arrival of the news group. Develop a plan before commitments are made.
4. Government Provided Ground or Air Transportation
In the event ground transportation will be provided to the media by the government, it will be necessary to secure prior approval by the appropriate administrative Fleet Manager. This can usually be accomplished with a simple letter. On larger incidents, contact the information officer for ground support.
In the event that government owned air transportation is provided to the media, prior approval and permission should start at the Regional Fire Director, Regional Aviation Specialist, and the requesting units' Administrative Officer. This type of request is rarely granted, but if approved, the escort must have a Day Trip Authorization signed by a Line Officer and again make sure a safety briefing is given before the media person(s) board the aircraft.