First, some background …
To understand more about the 19 Hotshot crew members (who are not only firefighters) who lost their lives in the Arizona Yarnell Hill wildfire on June 30, 2013 we asked, “What is a hotshot crew?” According to the U.S. Forest Service Hotshots website,
Interagency Hotshot Crews (IHC) are diverse teams of career and temporary agency employees who uphold a tradition of excellence and have solid reputations as multi-skilled professional firefighters. Ninety crews are available for the 2001 fire season, employed by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, various Native American tribes, and the states of Alaska and Utah. Their physical fitness standards, training requirements, operation procedures are consistent nationwide, as outlined in the Standards for Interagency Hotshot Crew Operations. Their core values of “duty, integrity, and respect” have earned Hotshot crews an excellent reputation throughout the United States and Canada as elite teams of professional wildland firefighters.
Hotshot Crews started in Southern California in the late 1940s on the Cleveland and Angeles National Forests. The name was in reference to being in the hottest part of fires. Their specialty is wildfire suppression, but they are sometimes assigned other jobs, including search and rescue and disaster response assistance. Hotshots not busy fighting fire will also work to meet resource goals on their home units through thinning, prescribed fire implementation, habitat improvement or trail construction projects.
… Hotshots must also participate in physical fitness and conditioning programs and pass the Work Capacity Test at the Arduous level. The Arduous level fitness test requires the individual to perform a three-mile hike with a 45 pound pack in 45 minutes.
… All crews require that personnel be available 24-hours per day, 7 days a week during the fire season, which typically last six months. Fire assignments may require IHC members to be away from home for several weeks at a time. The crews travel, primarily in the West, by truck, van or plane. To get to the more remote fire sites, crews either hike or are flown in by helicopter. Crew members pack all the water and supplies needed for work shifts that frequently exceed eight hours, and may be 12 hours or longer. Crews sleep on the ground and are lucky to get a shower every couple of days.
Most hotshot crew positions are seasonal, with employment from May through October. Employment is occasionally available during the pre- and post-season depending on weather and financing. For more information on the Hotshot program, contact the Hotshot crew you are interested in working with. For more information see the links below or contact your nearest Forest Service office.
IHC index: Map and index to crews by Geographic Area.
IHC detailed contact information, including crew addresses, superintendent’s name, phone number, e-mail link and Web site links.