So you want to be a Smokejumper?

Rookie smokejumper candidates cross a creek during a packout training excersize | Redding, CA | GACC

Rookie smokejumper candidates cross a creek during a packout training exercise | Redding, Northern California | GACC

Living in Southern California we hear it every year, it’s going to be another hot season. With temperatures reaching 95 degrees in the early part of April, we know that this will be a sizzling summer too. With historic drought conditions and low critical levels in our snowpacks, we have seen an increase in wildfire activity throughout the state. In reality, it will take all residents and a small army of people to keep this Golden State from burning out of control.

The United States Forest Service enlists a growing number of firefighters to help maintain 193 million acres of majestic lands. Every once in a while, firefighters are faced with a most challenging task of reaching a section of the mountainside far from roads or marked trails. The only way to reach these far-off places is to drop firefighters from planes.

So who are these fearless men and women and how did they earn this extreme career? Let’s start with the basics of physical fitness. In order to be considered a future smokejumper you must be able to achieve the following list of physical requirements as measure by the following performance:

  • Pull ups: 7
  • Push ups: 25
  • Sit ups: 45
  • Run: 1.5 miles in 11 minutes
  • 110 pound pack out: 3 miles in 90 minutes
  • 45 pound work capacity test: 3 miles in 45 minutes.

This list is only to qualify for training and must include a completed education history and work experience. According to the California Smokejumper field requirements, an individual will also be chosen in terms of abilities, character, and proven performance during rookie training.

“Only a small group of people are selected each year to become smokejumpers. It is a credit to those individuals to have been chosen for this position in terms of their abilities, character and proven performance. It is an opportunity that very few people get.” – California Smokejumpers, U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture



  1. What are some of the ways smokejumpers overcome the dangers of their job?
  2. From the reading and by watching the video, why do you believe these men and women choose this as a career path?

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30 replies

  1. I think they overcome the dangerous of their job because they train and do pull ups,push ups and sit ups and they run 1.5 miles in 11 minutes. I also think they chose that career because they may like doing that job and saving the forest and wild life.

  2. Smokejumpers overcome the danger by practicing their job every day. Men and women chose this career because they want to help the forest e safe.

  3. 1)I think that they are not afrad of going in the sky2)they do not care what she it they treart he the sme.:)