This week, the highly specialized firefighters known as "smokejumpers" kicked off their weeks-long annual training, as wildfire season gets underway.
Smokejumpers are a select group of firefighters who parachute into otherwise inaccessible areas to fight wildfires. Often, they provide the initial suppression efforts for fires that threaten to grow out of control. Their rigorous training routines have been
developed over the course of 70 years- the program was founded in 1939. The United States Forest Service (USFS) currently employs over 270 smokejumpers at bases in Idaho, California, Montana, Washington, and Oregon, while the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employs around 150 in Idaho and Alaska. However, they can travel anywhere in the country to fight fires, often spending months away from home during wildfire season.
When not fighting fires, smokejumpers can be assigned to various projects that allow them to apply their unique skill set. According to USFS, this can include "brush piling,
prescribed burning and other fuels management projects, construction and maintenance of facilities, or trail maintenance." Last month, a group of smokejumpers used their expertise in tree-climbing to assist the US Department of Agriculture in combating an invasive beetle that is destroying trees in an Ohio township.
Read more about smokejumpers and see photos of their training in a recent article from Mashable.
photo courtesy of Mashable.