Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Smokejumping 101 - part 1

Some of you might have guessed that I am working on a series on Smokejumpers. I am still developing this series as I write this. I hope to present either some different information from that I have presented in earlier articles or else (hopefully) present some additional information about subjects that I have already written about.

I thought that I’d begin with an article, which will be a review of sorts, listing the Smokejumper Bases. In one article that I wrote on Smokejumping, on July 15, 2009, I listed the nine Smokejumper Bases. To review, these bases are:

US Forest Service
McCall, Idaho
Grangeville, Idaho
Redding, California
West Yellowstone, Montana
Missoula, Montana
Winthrop, Washington
Redmond, Oregon

Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
Boise, Idaho
Fairbanks, Alaska [note smoke jumpers in Alaska are a branch of the Alaska Fire Service and the BLM]

The USFS maintains a webpage listing the current Smokejumper Bases along with locations and contact info that I obtained from here.

The National Smokejumpers Users Guide-2011 (SJ Users Guide) is an easy to read document with a lot of basic information. I found some useful information that answered some questions that I had. On page 5 of the SJ Users Guide I found the same listing of USFS and BLM Smokejumper Bases this time listed by region with the number of personnel at each base, along with a map. According to the SJ Users Guide (2011), page 5 there “are about 325 Forest Service smokejumpers” based at the seven USFS bases (at least when the SJ Users Guide was printed in 2011), and 145 BLM smokejumpers. USFS and BLM smokejumpers are interchangeable.

I had read that smokejumpers sometimes operate out of other bases, these bases are listed on page 5 of the SJ Users Guide and are also included in the map. Unfortunately I can not reproduce the map here, so I hope that you will take a few moments and look at the map.These other bases that have been used are referred to as “spike bases:”

Vernal, Utah
Price Utah
Moab, Utah,
Pocatello, Idaho
Salmon, Idaho
Santa Fe New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Prescott, Arizona
Cannon City, Colorado
Durango, Colorado
Elko Nevada

I will continue with this series on Smokejumpers tomorrow or Thursday where I’ll write a little more about Smokejumper aircraft.

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