Hotshot Wildland Firefighter

Location
GC
So I live in the boring Midwest and just discovered what a “hotshot” is. Do we have any of you crazy bastards in this group? I wish I knew about this job 10 years ago, that career path I definitely would have chased for that adrenaline rush.


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oldoakman

Been here a while
Location
Alorgia
There are a few wildland fire fighters in the group. I was never officially a "shot" but did snag out line for a few days for a hotshot crew in Idaho in 2003. Like you i wish i had discovered that occupation much earlier in life.
 

ATH

Been here a while
Location
Ohio
I've never been a hotshot either, but have been on a few trips with an interagency crew. That is certainly something you can do of you are in a place where you can drop everything and go for 3 weeks. Not totally unexpected... but you never know when that call is coming.

There is certainly some adrenaline rush to it...but a LOT of just scratching the ground with a pulaski or shovel.

Not great per hour pay but you get a LOT of hours. But very seasonal. (80+ hour weeks are not uncommon...we were at a spike camp for just shy of a week on one trip and the Division Supervisor said "make sure you get your 16 hours every day").

I personally wouldn't make a career out of it, but I'm glad I took the trips I did.
 

TreeVB

Branched out member
Location
Boise, Idaho
One of my employees was on a hotshot crew for 6yrs. Another crew member fought fire on a hand crew for many years and I worked on a hand crew for 4 seasons as well. Was lucky enough to go on some fun tours working alongside some hotshot crews. If I would have stayed in fire, hotshot is the route I’d have gone.
 

27RMT0N

Carpal tunnel level member
Location
WA
I'm a volunteer fire fighter as well as tree guy, but no thanks. I have met a handful of people that do it or have done it and it's interesting seasonal work if your a young guy who wants some adventure, but you are just away in shit conditions for weeks at time busting your ass for a lot less money than I take in on a normal day, while still sleeping in my own bed. In my 20s I'd have been interested, but not any more. Most being gov jobs with a lot of seniority rules, I think you need to be on hand crews scratching lines in the dirt for at least a season or two before 'moving up' to the saw crew, or at least that's what I've been told.
 
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ATH

Been here a while
Location
Ohio
I think you can take S212 (saws) class without any experience...but most wouldn't know they can/should. If you are ambitious, you could move up some ranks pretty quick. Not to upper level management stuff...like any job, you need experience.

I don't know as much about the inner workings of hotshot crews, but I don't think they are drastically different than regular njand crews...just more full time, and higher expectations. (When a incident command team is weighing which resources they need, they are told to expect x miles of line from an inner agency crew and xy miles of line from a hot shot crew. They are better trained, better fit, and more focused...
 

oldoakman

Been here a while
Location
Alorgia
Did you dance around the fire like a tatanka?
No, I didn't do the fire dance. The ride from Lewiston to Elk City crossed the Camas Prairie, similar to the movie. I pitched my tent a distance away from the crew, mainly because I get into pretty big timber when I sleep and even at that there were complaints. One of the guys on a neighboring crew made his tent a sweat lodge. And at the end of our tour most of my crew and several others that were cycling out went to the end of the field and danced and sang. I did not get the woman though. As I said, I was attached to this crew as a fill in. I was a Type I Squad Boss and a Type C Faller. This was a Type 2 crew. Years before when I took a college history class, US History to 1865, I did a project/term paper on the westward expansion, fur trappers and Native American interactions. I have an immense respect for the Native Americans and their culture. On the crew I immediately began to feel some resentment that I was attached to them. The first evening in the staging area in Fort Smith AR I called a meeting of my Squad and explained myself to them and the respect I had for their people. It was the perfect ice breaker and the trip went off without any issues. This country is made up of many people from many different cultures. Too often we do not take the time or inclination to learn or even ask about the cultures of the people we meet and work with or for every day. If we did, perhaps we would not have some of the issues that we see and hear in the media these days.
 

Reach

Been here a while
Location
Atglen, PA
No, I didn't do the fire dance. The ride from Lewiston to Elk City crossed the Camas Prairie, similar to the movie. I pitched my tent a distance away from the crew, mainly because I get into pretty big timber when I sleep and even at that there were complaints. One of the guys on a neighboring crew made his tent a sweat lodge. And at the end of our tour most of my crew and several others that were cycling out went to the end of the field and danced and sang. I did not get the woman though. As I said, I was attached to this crew as a fill in. I was a Type I Squad Boss and a Type C Faller. This was a Type 2 crew. Years before when I took a college history class, US History to 1865, I did a project/term paper on the westward expansion, fur trappers and Native American interactions. I have an immense respect for the Native Americans and their culture. On the crew I immediately began to feel some resentment that I was attached to them. The first evening in the staging area in Fort Smith AR I called a meeting of my Squad and explained myself to them and the respect I had for their people. It was the perfect ice breaker and the trip went off without any issues. This country is made up of many people from many different cultures. Too often we do not take the time or inclination to learn or even ask about the cultures of the people we meet and work with or for every day. If we did, perhaps we would not have some of the issues that we see and hear in the media these days.
I’ll second the second half of that! As a German/Paiute/Cherokee/Irishman, I tend to be a bit multicultural and wish that more people would have not just pride in their own heritage, but take the time to learn about those others who live here, and those who were here before them!
 

oldoakman

Been here a while
Location
Alorgia
I’ll second the second half of that! As a German/Paiute/Cherokee/Irishman, I tend to be a bit multicultural and wish that more people would have not just pride in their own heritage, but take the time to learn about those others who live here, and those who were here before them!
Thats quite a pot full of DNA my friend.
 
Location
GC
I've never been a hotshot either, but have been on a few trips with an interagency crew. That is certainly something you can do of you are in a place where you can drop everything and go for 3 weeks. Not totally unexpected... but you never know when that call is coming.

There is certainly some adrenaline rush to it...but a LOT of just scratching the ground with a pulaski or shovel.

Not great per hour pay but you get a LOT of hours. But very seasonal. (80+ hour weeks are not uncommon...we were at a spike camp for just shy of a week on one trip and the Division Supervisor said "make sure you get your 16 hours every day").

I personally wouldn't make a career out of it, but I'm glad I took the trips I did.

Yea no way I could do it now with a family but if I knew something was like that before kids I would have chased it just for the experience. I’ve done some volunteer work after a couple tornadoes and have experienced some hurricane aftermath, wildfires would have been a cool experience to go along with the others. I met a guy that was around 50 and he had some stories of the California fires. He was saying one bad turn in the wind and it wouldn’t surprise him if a city like L.A. didn’t get leveled because how intense and uncontrollable the fires get out there.


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