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Smokejumper

From Academic Kids

A smokejumper is a firefighter who is parachuted into a remote area to combat a wildfire.

Parachute deployment is most often used on fires that are extremely remote. The extra risk and trouble associated with this method is justified by the fact that the fixed-wing aircraft that carry smokejumpers are cheaper to operate over long distances and have higher top speeds than the helicopters often used for other fire deployments. While the remoteness is the reason parachute deployment is used, it only adds to the risk inherent in smokejumping as crews are often hours away from help if the wind shifts or someone gets injured. Combining the ordinary risk of a parachute jump, the adverse conditions for the jump, and the lack of resources for firefighting and rescue once on the ground in a remote area gives smokejumpering a reputation as exceedingly dangerous work.

Once on the ground, smokejumpers normally use hand tools such as chainsaws and portable pumps to attack the fire. Often the first action is to attempt to cut a firebreak to contain the spread of a wildfire. Explosives are sometimes used in this role, having been first used on a fire by jumpers in 1974 as a fireline technique.

The first fire jumps in the history of smokejumping were made by Rufus Robinson and Earl Cooley at Marten Creek in the Nez Perce National Forest, USA on July 12, 1940.

In the United States, smokejumper bases currently operate in Missoula, Montana, Fairbanks, Alaska, Boise, Idaho, McCall, Idaho, Winthrop, Washington, Redding, California, West Yellowstone, Montana, Grangeville, Idaho, and Redmond, Oregon. The largest of these bases is in Missoula. Formerly, smokejumper bases have also been located in Cave Junction, Oregon, Bristol, Tennessee, and a few other locations, but these bases are now closed. Russia, Canada, and Mongolia also have smokejumper programs.

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