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People Working in Fire

U.S. Forest Service handcrews, which typically consist of 20 men and women, serve as the infantry of wildland firefighters. 

The U.S. Forest Service currently has approximately 275 rappellers located at 13 bases. 

Jumpers travel all over the country, including Alaska, to provide highly-trained, experienced firefighters and leadership for quick initial attack on wildland fires in remote areas.

The U.S. Forest Service has more than 10,000 professional firefighters that respond to thousands of wildfires each year on National Forest System land as well as on land under the jurisdiction of other Federal, tribal, state, and local agencies. U.S. Forest Service firefighters also conduct prescribed fires and help accomplish other natural resource management missions.

U.S. Forest Service firefighters on the ground and in the air must be highly trained, skilled, and experienced in order to safely protect lives, property, and valuable natural and cultural resources when they are threatened by wildfires as well as to manage fire to play its natural role in the environment under certain conditions.

Information about careers in wildland fire with the U.S. Forest Service and how to apply for open jobs is found here.


Firefighters On the Ground

  • Handcrews - These 20-person teams construct firelines around wildfires to control them, burn out fire areas, and mop up after fires.
  • Hotshots - These are the most highly skilled type of handcrews and are typically assigned to work on the most challenging parts of wildfires.
  • Engine crews - These teams of two to ten firefighters work with specialized wildland fire engines that carry special equipment to spray water and foam.


Firefighters In the Air

  • Smokejumpers - These highly trained, experienced firefighters parachute from airplanes to provide quick initial attack on wildland fires in remote areas.
  • Helitack crews - These firefighters are transported by helicopters to wildfires and may land near them or, if equipped and trained, may rappel from a hovering helicopter.




Inspiring Videos About Working in Wildland Fire for the USDA Forest Service


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