Perce National Forest, Idaho, American West discussed on The Dirtbag Diaries


For a master's degree in land resources and environmental sciences to study. How wildfires affect water quality over time. He continued hot shotting during the summers when he was in school. After a few years. Patrick started to ponder if he could take the next step up in the chain of command. Eventually at some point with all those mundane tasks i started to wonder. Hey who makes these decisions about like. Hey let's put this crew with here. And i think that ten thousand foot view. Eventually i have to go be that next person and the easiest way to be that next person is to smoke jump and get a lot of credibility in authenticity. Really quickly smokejumping. If you're not sure what that means is okay. I didn't either. But i'm going to run you through a quick history because it's pretty nuts so there have always been fires in the american west and it's always been hard for firefighters type to them when they're burning on difficult mountain terrain as technology advanced in the nineteen thirties. The us experimented with sending planes over fires dropping water or foam on them but that didn't have great results. Then world war two breaks out. The japanese began sending paper balloons on airstream across the pacific ocean to the american mainland tied to those people. Balloons are bombs crafted with the specific purpose to start fires in american forests. Didn't learn that in history class. Neither did i. Turns out the government banned media outlets from publishing stories about these paper balloons that the japanese couldn't track their success. How crazy is that. So the goal was to create havoc and distract the. Us from there were efforts abroad. So four-five become a threat to national security and that's when the forest service tess out a risky model that the russians actually pioneered parachuting employees to fires from airplanes. The first jump happened on the nez. Perce national forest in nineteen forty. As the four service calibrated their system smokejumpers became more and more successful in extinguishing fires. Much faster than they could have from the ground. Today the us has about four hundred seventy smokejumpers in the west and those are split between seven. Four services and to bureau of land management bases and smoke jumpers are different from hotshots in that they're sent as first responders to new fires. Small fires right after a lightning strike. Which is the most common cause of fire in the west and their track record is pretty dang good. They put out ninety seven to ninety nine percent of wildland fires before the american public is aware of them and each jump. Base has kind of its own culture in history. The bureau of land management has fairbanks. Alaska in boise idaho. Meanwhile the four service has basis out of washington oregon. California idaho and montana a to be a jumper at one of these bases. It's a whole process. We need like four to six years on a hush khuda even dream about smokejumping. I applied for three years before. I got in and i've i've heard people applying for ten years. You know you need. It's tough because you're hotshot crew doesn't want you know what effect might be their best person to leave. So you have to secure a positive reference from your your superintendent. Once you've got that reference you decide which base will be your top choice based on where in the states you'd like to work and it is the most brutal chess game ever because the basis will call you and be like. Hey are we your number one. Like i thought you said like west yeltsin was your number one. Are we your number two like 'cause it costs about thirty grand train a single rookie and historically went to rookies. Wash out of the training. So they don't want to lose any of that money. If a base is interested in you then you've got to interview each. Has its own different culture so you have to know a lot about each base so some basis. It might be best to show up like a home cooked meal or something other bases. It's like hey let's go for a run and then you just try to crush the person you're interviewing within trail ride or something my top bases. I wanted to be at work. Greensville idaho and west yellowstone montana interacted with jumpers from both of those during my time on engines or with hotshot crew and i also selfishly applied to missoula. Because i lived in whitefish just two hours away and missoula has fantastic craft beer. But i think in terms of the country i wanted to respond to. Greenville has a frank church wilderness. Oma gosh like just go on. Google earth you can spend an hour zooming around that and west yellowstone. Has you know the bighorns the tetons they have the wind river's when patrick showed up for an interview in west yellowstone. He ended up talking about his famous homemade lasagna. For an hour with a base manager. Those the ticket. Oh yeah. I mean it's it's such a small base that they they have family dinners pretty much every night. There's barbecue going nonstop and it's a very tight knit community. I remember. I got a call at eight o three in the morning on a day that the government will shut down which is crazy. This is a two thousand seventeen and its boise. And they're like. Hey i got your name on our list like you got a good reference like are interested in applying here at home. Like oh man. I didn't even think about you guys. And i was like yes i am interested. And they're like well we may or may not be calling you later to offer you a job and here i am like what degree of may or may not does entail. Because i got a call at seven minutes later from west yellowstone being like. I hear the bureau. Land-management is offering jobs right now. We may or may not be able to officially say that we would officially like to offer you a job. And i was like well. I may officially say that. I would officially take job if you could officially for me it. It's so much rigmarole in politics. 'cause if two bases think you're the number one one of them's going to offer to you and you're not gonna take it and then they.

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