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What is Rookie Training?

Rookie training begins the third week of May and lasts four weeks. The first day candidates must pass the PT test, which consists of seven pull-ups (hands facing either way), twenty-five push-ups, forty-five sit-ups, and a one and one-half mile run in less than eleven minutes. This is a bare minimum and all rookies should be able to perform at a much higher level. Any candidates unable to pass the PT test will not be allowed to continue the program.

The rest of the first week is spent in rookie camp. Rookies perform two pack-out tests, one of one-hundred and ten pounds over a flat three-miles and one of eighty-five pounds over two and one-half miles of hilly, broken terrain. Both tests must be completed in ninety minutes or less. Rookies are also tested on fireline construction skills with many hours of arduous line digging. The week also entails early morning running, calisthenics, and tree climbing, as well as training on using crosscut saws, chainsaws, pumps, maps, and compasses.

The following week is divided into units that consist of training in:

    1. Aircraft exits, simulated by jumping out of a 40-foot-high shock tower
    2. Let-downs (for use in rappelling from trees when the parachute hangs up) practiced from a platform
    3. Parachute landing rolls on the landing simulator machine
    4. Cargo retrieval and tree climbing with climbing spurs and a rope
    5. A mock-up which covers emergency procedures, mass exits and reserve parachute deployment, and
    6. An obstacle course consisting of a seven-foot-high wall, a trampoline, monkey bars, several ramps and a rope stretched across a ravine.

Each rookie must pass a proficiency test in every unit, demonstrating ability to parachute from aircraft and land safely. Candidates failing any one element are withdrawn from the program.

Rookies must furnish their own boots, watch and knife for the job. Boots should be broken in at least 1 month prior to arrival. Jump suits and line-gear are provided.

Interspersed with the unit training, recruits study parachute manipulation, helicopter use, safety, and first aid.

The last part of rookie training is fifteen practice jumps. The first jump spot is in a large field. From there, the jump spots get progressively smaller and more difficult. Rookies will be withdrawn from the program for unsafe landings and parachute handling.