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Author Topic: Smokejumpers  (Read 25013 times)

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Offline Ron Scott

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Smokejumpers
« on: November 13, 2009, 10:19:23 am »
The following obituary articles on Earl Cooley may be of interest to anyone interested in the USFS Smokejumpers. 

http://www.missoulian.com/news/local/article_ad9b7016-cf4e-11de-9502-001cc4c03286.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/12/AR2009111210858.html
~Ron

Offline Tom

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2009, 02:47:10 pm »
Thanks Ron,
You will never know how thankful I am that you make these kinds of posts.  Foresters and Forestry have marked this world so deeply and positively, yet it is a hidden profession.  If it weren't for a few like you who make little articles visible, we would all miss out on one of the greatest professions in the modern world.

It's too bad that those who forward email don't see things like this as important notes to send on, rather than superfluous fluff that jams the airwaves and internet lines.

Cooley's passing is definitely a mark in history worthy of recognizing.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2009, 06:29:02 pm »
Yes, the smokejumpers are a unique group. I strongly recommend their ranks to any forestry student who has had a season of firefighting employment as a firefighter. Many don't know that they individually make and sew their own kevlar jump suits. If there is any "screw ups", it's their own fault. ;)

I wonder how many have seen the movie, " The Red Skys of Montana" with Richard Widmark. I've seen it at least 4 times.
~Ron

Offline pappy19

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2009, 10:48:56 pm »
I have lived and worked along side of and around many Smokejumpers over the years and they are a tough bunch of dudes. I could tell you stories that you wouldn't believe, but are true. Suffice it to say, that MacLean's book , Young Men and Fire, will curl your hair. If you live east of the Rockies, you can't imagine what it is to be a smokejumper and do what they do. My hat's off to all smokejumpers as they are the best of the best.
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Offline ErikC

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2009, 04:21:17 pm »
  What a great legacy for him to leave behind. I have been around a good number of them too, and a couple of the guys I was in school with are jumpers. They are a unique bunch, and enjoyable to work around.
  McLean's book should be read by anyone who lives where there is fire in my opinion, if only to help them understand what firefighting entails. It would build respect for firefighters and perhaps some people would be less careless with fire. His son John McLean wrote "Fire on the mountain", about a similar tragedy on Storm King mountain in CO. I have read them both several times and will again I'm sure.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2009, 05:36:02 pm »
Yes, they are recommended reading.
~Ron

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2009, 08:51:38 pm »
Also a good "oldies" movie. A take off on the deadly Mann Gulch fire.

 

~Ron

Offline pappy19

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2009, 11:18:16 pm »
I have never seen that movie, thanks for posting. I have a hard time thinking that Hollywierd could come close to making a movie that was close to the book, but I really like Richard Widmark, so I will pass judgement until after watching.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2009, 11:18:31 am »
It's really not that close to the book, but just a Hollywood movie version.
~Ron

Offline pappy19

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2009, 05:46:15 pm »
Most of those old movies were too much Hollywood, but I ordered it last night from a web site.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2009, 07:52:51 pm »
Smokejumper Ready Room. At the smokejumper base, Missoula, Montana, 9/09. The bell will ring, and this area will soon get very active as the "on call" crew of smokejumpers respond to quickly get in the air for attack on a fire on the Cleveland National Forest in southern California.

 

~Ron

Offline madhatte

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2009, 03:06:52 pm »
I recently had the good fortune to meet a friend of mine's father, who was among the first generation of Alaska smokejumpers, circa 1957-59.  His career was long and storied, and he has the tattoos and photographs to prove it.  I'm a lowly part-time engine slug;  smokejumpers are firefighting royalty, and the pioneers of this most dangerous profession are all the more so. 

Offline beenthere

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2009, 03:30:41 pm »
Two of my classmates in Forestry at IA State were smokejumpers during the summers ('57, '59, '60). They trained in Missoula, MT and I believe worked out of there as well. They had some interesting stories. In the early 60's, the FS started training Army jumpers, because the techniques used by the smokejumpers were so advanced in chute control. (that is how I remember it anyway  :) )
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2009, 09:54:17 am »
That is true on their training the Army jumpers in techniques. No USFS Smokejumpers have yet been lost to the jump itself and they land in trees quite often as one of their techniques. Their losses have been in the actual ground firefighting. One of their "oldtimers" has made over 500 jumps.
~Ron

Offline Phorester

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2009, 08:39:11 am »
Very interesting man.  Thanks for posting this Ron.

Smokejumpers were tried in VA in the 1970s.  Some of the western jumpers were brought in for part of one fire season, I believe, but were not found to be cost efficient due to the relative ease of ground access into forestland in VA.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2009, 10:31:47 pm »
Yes, they say that the hardest part of smokejumping is the "long walk out".
~Ron

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #16 on: November 24, 2009, 11:23:59 pm »
  About that long walk...I have packed out tools and some gear to lighten the load for several jumper crews with the mules. They all were happy to see me :D
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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2009, 07:51:22 pm »
A Smokejumper Quickly Suits Up To Board The Plane For The Assigned Fire.

The fire protectant undergarment is on.




The outer kevlar jump suit is now on with a tree repelling line in the leg pocket.



~Ron

Offline clearcut

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2009, 10:34:34 pm »
A book that I really enjoyed was Jumping Fire: A Smokejumper’s Memoir Of Fighting Wildfire by Murry A. Taylor.

     "A veteran smokejumper recounts his three decades parachuting out of planes and fighting wildfires in the rugged West,
       told within the framework of one thrilling season."

http://www.jumpingfire.com/

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #19 on: November 26, 2009, 10:22:02 am »
Safety check. Smoke jumpers make a safety check on one another. They insure that each is "hooked up" properly and correctly for the fire suppression jump. Here the check is made by a crew boss waiting the next rotation out. You can get an idea of their pysical fitness level from his appearance.

 

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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #20 on: November 26, 2009, 06:03:18 pm »
We never had smoke jumpers back east here that I know of. If so, no one in the public knew. But, I know they were in the west , northern regions of the Prairies and also still around in northern BC, I have read. I think a lot of them trained in Manitoba, but my info is sketchy. I do know there is a film clip of the BC crew from the 70's in the National Film Board archives. Here in NB, the firefighting programs were started by George Miller, a cousin of my grandmother who grew up just down the road. He was chief forester for the province of New Brunswick.

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Offline Norm

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2009, 01:30:34 pm »
What an interesting post Ron, thank you.  :)

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2009, 09:07:38 pm »
Thanks Norm. Glad that you find it interesting. I appreciate the smokejumpers and their firefighting specalty which many aren't aware of. I've worked with and have known a number of them over the years, great guys and gals.

~Ron

Offline Norm

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #23 on: November 28, 2009, 08:28:21 am »
Ron I might suggest that if you haven't already done so to write a memoir of the things you've done and seen in your life. I know there's plenty of us here that would love to read it.  :)

Offline pappy19

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2009, 06:24:15 pm »
I saw the movie "Red Skys in Montana" today. Pretty good film considering. My 16 yr old grandson liked it too and that's saying something.
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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #25 on: November 28, 2009, 07:21:00 pm »
Great! Maybe a future Smokejumper. ;)
~Ron

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #26 on: November 30, 2009, 03:29:41 pm »
In 1961 when I was a 17 year old paratrooper the idea of becoming a smokejumper seemed to be a logical and exciting profession to follow after my service time.  When I finally ended my Army career in 1971 the reality of the danger of exiting an aircraft over a live fire became much more clear to me.  Teaching school during the week and jumping for fun during the weekend became much more appealing and the path to a much longer lifespan.  I've met and talked to a few real smokejumpers and those gents are the real deal.  Way more moxie than I have.  They have all of my respect.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #27 on: November 30, 2009, 08:23:27 pm »
Smokejumper Aircraft. The Shorts Sherpa C-23 waits to take a crew of 10 jumpers to a California fire. The vintage Ford Tri-Motor transported many of the early smokejumpers on their fire suppression missions. Other aircrtaft, still popular as jump planes are the Douglas DC-3TP and the Twin Otter DH-6300. Missoula, Montana, 9/09.



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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #28 on: November 30, 2009, 08:53:42 pm »


Here is a de Havilland Twin Otter (red) and 2 single Otters at Harbour Air in Prince Rupert, BC. Flown in them all, including the Beaver. I remember reading the manufacturers tag inside the single engine Otter planes and remembering these planes were 1950's vintage and still in service. The Beavers were from the 40's I think. ;D :o  The Twin Otter began production in Canada in the 60's after the availability of Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A-20 propeller turbine engine. Viking Air in Victoria, BC now has exclusive rights to make replacement parts and new Otter aircraft.  The Twin Otter now has a more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 or 35 (option) engine since 2007.

Oh, the smell of airplane fuel exhaust in the fuselage. ;D

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Offline pappy19

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #29 on: November 30, 2009, 09:16:23 pm »
I'd go about anywhere on a Twin Otter. Hell of an aircraft and very popular with Smokejumpers.
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Offline firefighter

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #30 on: December 02, 2009, 09:58:38 pm »
We watch the MANN Gulch documentary each year as part of our standard traning .We do not have smoke jumpers in our program .It was avery sad event ,this year while in BC we hade a helcopter pilot die in a crash it was a very sad day .Hopefully theseevents never happen again.

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #31 on: December 04, 2009, 11:02:48 am »
Parachute Hanging Room. Smokejumper parachutes are packed out after the fire jump and are then hung in the hanging room at the base for safety inspection and repacking by a certified paracute packer.

 



 



USFS smokejumpers still use the traditional round parachute while the BLM smokejumpers use the ram-air parachutes of the parafoil type which have greater steerability, glide, and control. The USFS may change to this type chute in the future.
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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #32 on: December 04, 2009, 01:36:29 pm »
Forest Service Reviews No-Night-Flying Rule

The Los Angeles Times reported the US Forest Service is reviewing its practice of not flying firefighting helicopters at night, in an apparent response to criticism of how the agency handled the early hours of the huge Station fire.

At the urging of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, the Board of Supervisors last week called on the federal government to authorize deployment of water-dropping choppers after dark to battle fires in the Angeles National Forest, where the Station blaze began to spread on its first night. The Forest Service has long considered night flying too risky for pilots.

For more information, visit the Los Angeles Times website.

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #33 on: December 04, 2009, 03:12:05 pm »
Seems risky to me also. That tail rotor striking a tree top or something. We always had to be careful even landing in a swamp in the forest, so a cedar shrub wouldn't get struck and take the rotor out. Pilots were very safety conscience. They would often land with full power on if they though the ground was a bit soft in those swamps. Had to step easy getting out and grabbing the gear. I've seen lots of hovers to. Many times if we had 4 guys the Jet Ranger had to take two off the swamp at a time, not all four. Not enough umph to lift off unless there was a good breeze. The Hughes 500 (The "Angry Egg" we called it) had no troubles, could seat 5 guys and lots a power.

Had one Russian pilot who took chances, actually brought a chopper down doing unsafe flying and was sent packing after wards. No one was killed, thank God. The fool had 4 passengers on board doing what we were doing in the bush.

We had a nice woman pilot to, she was easy on the eyes. I liked sitting up front. ;D :D She had eyes for another pilot, as if this bald forester had a chance. :D

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Offline pappy19

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #34 on: December 05, 2009, 03:02:00 pm »
Night retardant drops would really be the most effecient since the humidity is up and the fire usually dies down somewhat. I think if they had a good fire team with air traffic control just for that fire, it would work, especially with choppers.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #35 on: December 06, 2009, 04:33:36 pm »
The Johnson Flying Service DC-3 # NC 24320 which dropped the smokejumpers on the Mann Gulch Fire on the Helena National Forest. The plane is located in the Museum of Mountain Flying next to the smokejumper base at the Missoula, Montana airport.




In Memory of: The 12 Mann Gulch Fire Smokejumpers and 1 Firechaser who lost their lives in the fire.


~Ron

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #36 on: December 13, 2009, 08:20:16 pm »
DC-3 Tail # 24320. This Johnson Flying Service DC-3 which dropped the smokejumpers on the Mann Gulch Fire on August 5, 1949 has an interesting story. The Museum of Mountain Flying which has a number of vintage aircraft tried to obtain DC-3 #24320 and searched for it for a long time. It could not be found.

The aircraft had become lost from history when an Eastern aircraft pilot flying his route spotted it in a junked condition sitting in an over grown field . The Eastern pilot recalled the tail numbers #24320 as the plane that dropped the Mann Gulch smokejumpers. He contacted the Museum of Mountain Flying of its location. A fund raiser was initiated and the aircraft was returned to Missoula, Montana, its home, where is was restored and placed on display in the Museum of Mountain Flying.

The front cockpit of #24320
 



DC-3, tail #24320


~Ron

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #37 on: June 25, 2010, 09:21:08 pm »
Ex-Smokejumpers Fix Up Old Oregon Base for Museum

Ashland Daily Tidings (June 23) - More than 50 former smokejumpers from across the nation have gathered to help turn the former
Siskiyou Smokejumper Base into a museum about the airborne firefighters.

The E-Forester
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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #38 on: September 25, 2011, 11:14:48 pm »
Forest Service Smokejumper Retires with Record for Parachute Jumps

A North Cascades Smokejumper Base (Washington) employee retired September 20 after completing 893 Forest Service parachute jumps—a record that may never be broken given the longevity of his 38-year smokejumping career.  Dale Longanecker’s total Forest Service parachute jumps include practice, fire suppression and rescue jumps.  His record includes 362 fire jumps. 

Smokejumpers often make a distinction between practice and fire suppression jumps because the latter are often more hazardous and located far from medical assistance.  The excitement of parachuting to forest fires was not the reason he jumped for 38 years.  “It was the opportunity to be on small fires in remote locations,” Longanecker said.  “It was just a great way to see the country.”

The base’s parachute loft supervisor and a Federal Aviation Administration-approved master parachute rigger, he worked with the Missoula Technology and Development Center before retirement to develop an FS-15 parachute prototype which will potentially replace the FS-14 parachute now used by all Forest Service smokejumpers.

The Chief's Newsletter
~Ron

Offline mad murdock

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #39 on: September 26, 2011, 11:35:00 am »
I worked as a contract mechanic on smokejumper contracts in Alaska in 1992-93, We supplied them with CASA 212-200 Aviocar aircraft.  They were much favored over the Shorts 330 Sherpa, as they could climb faster, cruise faster, and were an all around better platform.  I have to say I much enjoyed the USDDA F/S smokejumpers as a lot, over working with the BLM smokejumpers.  The latter had quite the ego trip going on, compared to their F/S cousins, but I guess you have to have somewhat of a big head to want to jump out of a perfectly good aircraft into a raging fire..  My hat is off to all smokejumpers, as it is definately a job that I would not want to do!
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Offline pappy19

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #40 on: September 27, 2011, 08:59:21 pm »
I was in McCall, Idaho this late summer and took one of my grandson's up to the McCall airport just in time to see 12 smoke jumpers load up in a Twin Otter with all of their gear. It was pretty cool. Don't know where they were going or if it was just a training mission, but cool, nontheless. When I was working for the USFS on the Island Park, Idaho District, we always had 10-15 Smoke Jumpers assigned to our district early before the real fire season was on. They would cut dead and fallen trees in the camp grounds, mow lawns, fix fences, etc. Hard workers and hard drinkers at night. I have alot of stories, but no need to tell most of them.

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #41 on: September 28, 2011, 12:50:00 pm »
893 jumps on round canopies under tough conditions is just remarkable.  I had 21 military jumps in a 3 year period so 893 in 30 years is a bunch.  In skydiving we often make 8 to 10 each weekend but that is under ideal conditions with soft landing canopies on smooth wide open fields.  That guy is tough!!!
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Offline sawguy21

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #42 on: September 28, 2011, 10:09:54 pm »
I helped rig the Bell 212's for rapattack (rappelling)training at Hinton Alberta each year before the fire season started. The rig was seldom used during the season but was there if needed. We called them dope on a rope but my hat is off to them and the smoke jumpers. I have never liked the idea of jumping out of a perfectly serviceable aircraft. :-\
old age and treachery will always overcome youth and enthusiasm

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #43 on: September 29, 2011, 12:07:48 pm »
Have spent some time over California in the Bell 212. Some of my memorable fire fighting experiences with the US Forest Service was training and working with the Helishots in southern California on the Angeles National Forest during 1978.
~Ron

Offline clww

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #44 on: October 01, 2011, 09:12:33 pm »
893 is a bunch of jumps, especially into difficult terrain and usually unknown wind conditions! That's nearly 4X my number of jumps, currently at 249. My hat is off to those brave men and women.
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #45 on: October 02, 2011, 03:38:44 am »
Yes, that sure is a lot of floating canvas. ;D They must love the job though.  ;)

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Offline RobbyRob

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #46 on: December 06, 2011, 05:09:02 pm »
I thought this was about the show Entourage
nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future

Offline madhatte

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #47 on: December 28, 2011, 02:19:26 pm »
The father of a good friend of mine passed away a few weeks ago.  Don Brennan was the first Alaska Smokejumper.  He was quite a character and will be missed by all who knew him.

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #48 on: February 27, 2015, 04:37:03 pm »
Montana: Smokejumpers' Last DC-3 Gets Ready to Work

Missoulian.com (February 21) - Just shy of her 70th birthday, Jump-15 can still spool up faster than the smokejumpers she carries.

The young men and women going to fight wildfires have 10 minutes to get dressed out, briefed and loaded. The old DC-3 needed just eight minutes to rev her engines and quit the Earth on the first shakedown flight of 2015.

But to the dismay of many of her pilots and passengers, this will be Jump-15's last firefighting season.

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Offline pineywoods

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #49 on: February 27, 2015, 08:20:57 pm »
Those old dc3's just refuse to die.There is a company based on the airport in Oshkosh, Wi that buys up old run-out dc3's and makes what is essentially a new airplane out of them. New more powerful turbine engines, all new electrical and hydraulic systems, and up-dated avionics. A lot of them go overseas. But Dangit, they just don't sound right with them turbine powerplants..
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Offline sawguy21

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #50 on: February 27, 2015, 10:43:39 pm »
Are they using PT-6 engines? That is expensive dressing for the old girls and not always cost effective. The same was done to the Canadair CL-215, makes one heck of a fire bomber but is 80% of a new aircraft. I flew from Vancouver to Winnipeg via Edmonton in a Yukon (DC-4), I think my hearing was permanently damaged..
old age and treachery will always overcome youth and enthusiasm

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #51 on: February 28, 2015, 05:27:03 am »
Around here they use six turbine engine Air Tractor AT-802Fs and a Fire Boss. It's a company financed by the forest companies and DNR. They fight fires and bugs. My grandmother's cousin was responsible for setting up a fire suppression program here in NB. He was the provincial chief forester.

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Offline valley ranch

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #52 on: March 02, 2015, 12:57:15 pm »
I've read all the posts in this thread, sad to hear of this old gentleman's passing, God love him.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sounds like you guys are or were right there doing it,

I never jumped, I did some cutting breaks and fire fighting. I sighed up because a friend did, and I had the feeling he would die or something if I wasn't there.

When the first call came in the early morning, a girl that trained with our group was here. She looked out across the valley and said " there's your fire!"  She decided not to go.

I drove in to Lake Tahoe, where our gear was stored and they drove up back and stopped a mile from the house, there were not many houses in Christmas Valley then.

I would rather have jumped, we climbed the mountain with pack and we had a few pith pots full of water, I carried one of them half way up.

We slept in the black next to a burning skagg in paper bags, to keep warm.

I was surprised when the first check in the mail, I thought we were volunteers.

I loved having done it, good memories.

Richard

Offline beenthere

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #53 on: March 02, 2015, 01:00:52 pm »
Valley
Is that a quote ??  Are you "Richard" ?  If not, who is "Richard" ?
south central Wisconsin
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #54 on: March 02, 2015, 07:49:49 pm »
Wildland firefighters are paid volunteers. ;)
~Ron

Offline valley ranch

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #55 on: March 02, 2015, 08:33:24 pm »
beenthere, Richard is me, from valley ranch.

Richard

Offline coxy

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #56 on: March 13, 2015, 07:59:38 am »
how much do they pay for wild fires  hour or by the day  I did a lot of small  wild fire fighting with our fire co  maybe 1-20a would burn not like some you guys gals do could not imagine weeks on end fighting fire

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #57 on: March 13, 2015, 06:39:21 pm »
Some info for a USFS wildland firefighter. Contact the nearest USFS office near your location for the most current information specific for your locale.

http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5315016.pdf
~Ron

Offline curdog

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #58 on: March 14, 2015, 02:56:40 pm »
http://www.nwcg.gov/branches/pre/ibc/documents/personnel/doi_ad_payplan.pdf
edited: hopefully I got the right link this time.....
Here is the pay rates for administratively determined  (ad) firefighters from 2014. When I go out on fire dispatches this is the route I go. I'll take my vacation time at work and go out as a contracted employee with the usfs. It is an hour for hour rate, with no overtime pay. If you can get a full assignment  (14 days with up to 4 days of travel ), and get good hours ( up to 16 hours a day) then you can come home with a decent pay check. As a basic firefighter  (fft2) the 14 or so dollars an hour isn't huge, but as your fire line qualifications get higher you can make a good check. It just takes time and training.

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #59 on: July 10, 2015, 06:18:33 pm »
First smokejump was 75 years ago

The first smokejump occurred July 12, 1940 on the Nez Perce Clearwater National Forest; it was one of nine jumps that first year. Everyone is welcome to attend the Smokejumper Reunion, July 17-19, in Missoula, Montana. The Montana Legislature has passed a resolution to recognize the National Smokejumper Association and their first parachute jump to a forest fire.

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Offline WildlandFirefighter912

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #60 on: March 22, 2016, 12:20:40 pm »
how much do they pay for wild fires  hour or by the day  I did a lot of small  wild fire fighting with our fire co  maybe 1-20a would burn not like some you guys gals do could not imagine weeks on end fighting fire

I'm State. So i get paid salary and comp time unless on Federal incident..then its time and a half and my regular 8...so if i work over my 40 hour period in a week..all of that will go to overtime- yay. Feds and some state and contractors get hazard pay. I dont..

There are several places to get on with wildland firefighting- Contractors (Grayback, etc), State, and Federal.

First and foremost, you must love the job and have dedication to protect our land. You must have a strong willing to create a brotherhood.


Once you get the job..you will be trained in the NWCG and get red carded. You will work your way up to whatever you want to do...engine boss, heavy equipment boss, hand crew boss, etc.


Handcrews are broken up into Type 3, Type 2, Type 2 IA, and Type 1.



Offline CJennings

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #61 on: March 22, 2016, 07:17:42 pm »
If someone is interested in firefighting, my advice would be to try to get on with a federal agency (NPS, BLM, USFS, doesn't matter which) or one of the better state agencies (Cal Fire for example). Take a private sector job if all else fails but with the government agencies you'll generally get paid better and have better benefits while employed and you won't have to worry about supply issues at fire camp. Work will be a bit more steady and certain regardless of the severity or lack thereof of fire season. You'll make 40 hours even if you don't go on a fire, which is better than nothing.

The base wage is not going to be too impressive. Where you make your money is to get onto a fire and get the hazard pay if you're federal (25 percent of your base wage on a wildfire but not at a prescribed fire) and then put in long hours and get overtime. If federal, try to be on the crew that's on a fire on July 4 or any other federal holiday to get holiday pay tacked on. You better love the work though because considering all the dangers (my favorite joke on the fire line was about the "baked potato" bag, a.k.a., fire shelter, which you really never want to have to use...) the pay isn't worth it if you don't like the work.

You also don't have to be strictly fire if you work for some of the land management agencies like the USFS. If you take the classes and keep your red card active you can get in on firefighting even if your regular job is something else. That somewhat depends on your supervisor's willingness to let you go and whether or not the fire people want you. The odd thing about working fire in the federal government if you're not a regular fire employee is that qualifications may not be reflected in pay. For example, I made more than my squad boss on a fire because I was a higher GS level at my normal job (timber) even though it was my first season doing any fire.  :D

Offline ppine

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #62 on: June 24, 2016, 03:38:41 pm »
I have a close friend that jumped out of Redmond, OR. I have heard his stories for years. He did complain only about walking out with all of that equipment.  The Missoula smokejumpers had pack strings to haul out there gear. One day my friend decided to become a slurry bomber pilot.

One day they got a call for a jump and the "get down ropes" were really long, like 175 feet. He knew they were going to the West Side and going to be in old growth. After sometime on the ground, they realized that the faller on their crew reqlly had no experience with the really big Doug fir and WRC they were dealing with. They called in some local loggers, we used to call them fellers.  Two middle-aged guys with beer guts show up with their big saws ready to go to work. The smokejumpers were young and made out of steel.  The loggers loaded up their fuel, water, saws, tools and lunch and headed up the hill. None of the jump crew could keep up with them.  Never under estimate people that have had a life in the woods.
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Offline WildlandFirefighter912

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #63 on: June 30, 2016, 07:05:25 am »
I have a close friend that jumped out of Redmond, OR. I have heard his stories for years. He did complain only about walking out with all of that equipment.  The Missoula smokejumpers had pack strings to haul out there gear. One day my friend decided to become a slurry bomber pilot.

One day they got a call for a jump and the "get down ropes" were really long, like 175 feet. He knew they were going to the West Side and going to be in old growth. After sometime on the ground, they realized that the faller on their crew reqlly had no experience with the really big Doug fir and WRC they were dealing with. They called in some local loggers, we used to call them fellers.  Two middle-aged guys with beer guts show up with their big saws ready to go to work. The smokejumpers were young and made out of steel.  The loggers loaded up their fuel, water, saws, tools and lunch and headed up the hill. None of the jump crew could keep up with them.  Never under estimate people that have had a life in the woods.

Yeah i saw a 70 yr old+ man felling trees on a wildfire i was on out west...i think we were in Oregon on the Res. He mustve been taking some good stuff, or exercising right.

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #64 on: June 30, 2016, 10:46:29 am »
I once had a crew of Oregon loggers assigned to me on an Oregon fire back in 1974. The "fallers" were the best at falling burning snags on very steep slopes.
~Ron