Learn More About Smokejumpers, The Warriors Of The West

Wildfires hitting the western part of the country are intense enough that they’re affecting weather and air quality among the crews working to get things under control is an elite group called Smoke Jumpers. I’m never going to forget my first
actual jump. It was slightly terrifying. Straight to the latest on those
devastating wildfires out west. How dangerous is Wildland Firefighting. Lace up your boots. Get your hard
hat on. Throw your pack on and run into the
woods where it’s burning. The reason smoke jumpers are around as they jump on fires that fire trucks can’t get to. They are jumping in remote places and they’re doing the job out there all alone. It’s a dangerous profession. Getting on the plane. Jumping out of the plane. Getting caught up in the plane somehow and then when they get to the ground. They’re in fire. Smoke Jumpers been around for a long
time. We move up here you start seeing
crews from the 1940s. It’s unbelievable. I think when I put the first pair of
white boots on back in 1973. It was just a dream come true. We fly all over the West and I got to see places that most people never get to see. Just jumping out of planes is a
small aspect of what they do. Something people probably don’t know is a smoke jumper actually sews their own parachute. Once I finished my business degree I decided that it really wasn’t what I wanted to do that I really loved fighting wildland fire. So I decided that I wanted to become a Smoke Jumper. When the fire call comes through I literally have no idea where I can end up. When you leave you don’t know how
long you’re going to be on that fire. And so we need all the equipment that we might need for a long duration. Typically that’s going to be one
hundred and ten plus pounds. The first thing that we’re doing as we’re circling around as we’re assessing the fire behavior. Then from there we move out and we try to pick a good jump spot. The Spotter is going to throw streamers from the aircraft and what streamers do is they
dictate what the wind conditions are doing. Because there’s no door on the aircraft. We put our hand over the red handle of our reserve parachute. So it doesn’t accidentally deploy. It would suck the Smoke Jumper outside of the aircraft. The loudness of the aircraft and the wind blowing past you as you exit
the aircraft. Once that chute opens it’s, Serenely quiet. And then the aircraft leaves and we’re out there on our own. There is just one danger after the other. There’s Snakes, Yellow Jackets, Poison Oak. We lost a firefighter last year. A tree fell on them. When that call came Vicky and Burke they were on it. They gave compassion and love to the families to our firefighters. That I was never trained for. We used to have fire seasons and now we have fire years. And I think it’s our firefighters
are paying a big price for that. Wildland Firefighter Foundation
takes care of fallen and injured wildland firefighters. Who get killed and injured on the
fires that they fight. These are all of our Smoke Jumpers
right through here. These kids burned to death in a helicopter crash. Over the years the foundation’s
helped a lot of smoke jumpers. They land wrong they’d hurt their hips, their shoulders, they bounce up against rocks, get tangled in trees. They’re one of the many aspects of
fire and the foundations here for them. Coors Banquets funding lets us help these people like we never thought we could. It’s really hard to explain. I do. More so now than ever that I know I can’t do it anymore. I think it’s just something that’s born in us. That’s just innate and as human beings to go out do things that are risky. That also makes a difference. It becomes really personal that we’re protecting the land and protecting the places that we we like to enjoy on a personal level. Wildland firefighters one of the most underrated public servants we have walking this planet. They put their life on the line
every day. Doing a job they love. That’s a hero to me.