How To Become A Hotshot Firefighter--A Job In The Wildland!
The author on the left---no the saws are not running!
So you wanna be a hotshot?
If so you have come to the right place. "Hotshots," are a particular breed of wild-land firefighter, with a really cool job title. Hotshots work on an elite, inter-agency, twenty person hand-crew that are sent to big fires, and natural disasters anywhere in the country.
You are sitting at a bar alone when a beautiful bartender whose large, soft eyes notice you. She walks over looking at you inquisitively.
"Your not from around here?" She asks, "What do you do?
You answer “I am a hotshot.” She looks at you kind of funny and inquires, “A hotshot?”
You answer in a kind of nonchalant way, “Yeah, a hotshot firefighter.”
A little later on she comes by again, with a shy smile-and slips you a napkin with a phone number on it.
The Job title alone is a perk! But you will have to earn that title. Hotshots are an elite bunch and it takes a lot of work to get on a crew, and much more work to survive the six months of working like a burro.
There are many women hotshots, though far fewer then men. Some of the toughest hotshots I know are women. What a story for a grandma to tell her grand-kids the good old hotshot days of her youth! Or what a way to pick up a good looking doctor?
I have been on a hotshot crew for four seasons going on five and a wild-land firefighter for eight years total. It is an addictive lifestyle, filled with adventure, travel, and a lot of vacation time in the winter. It is also incredibly hard, strenuous, and dangerous. You have to be in top physical and mental shape if you want to be a hotshot.
Now how to get this wonderful job? What I have decided to do with my first article on this subject (I plan on writing more) is create a space that will direct you to many resources on becoming a hotshot firefighter, and get you super stoked on the job. But I will give you the most important three pieces of advice right now.
1. Be Persistent-- My father gave my sister some incredibly good advice on her career dreams. My sister wanted to be a photographer. My dad advised her to get a job at a photo shop and hang around photographers as much as she could. “Surround yourself with photographers,” he said. She did just that and worked at a photo shop. At that shop she made connections and surrounded herself with people with similar career goals. My sister is now an extremely successful photographer. I think this holds true to becoming a hotshot. Surround yourself with firefighters. Read firefighter blogs, go to a hotshot station, ask questions become enthusiastic and be persistent in your goal of being on a hotshot crew.
2. Start Going To The Gym--Max out on you pull-ups, your push ups, and your sit ups. Go for a hell hike with a very heavy back-pack up the steepest slope you can find. Run until you vomit. Do dead lifts and cleans. The better shape you are in the more you will impress your perspective employer.
I like to use a motorcycle analogy to explain the kind of physical shape you need to be in to become a hotshot. In the motorcycle world there are street bikes and dirt bikes respectively. Then there is a motorcycle in between those two called an, "Enduro." An Enduro is not the best at any kind of riding, a little awkward on the highway and a little too heavy for the trails---but it does EVERYTHING pretty damn well! Get it? You don't want to be a bulky body builder, nor do you want to be a dainty long distance runner--but you do want to be pretty darn good at both!
3. Start Chewing Copenhagen Long Cut and saying,“Copy That” after almost anything anybody says (inside joke).
OK what follows are some great resources and links to the hotshot world that will lead you on your way to understanding how to become a hotshot.
A little dose of the reality of the Hotshot life style
All the federal firefighting jobs are listed on two main web sites. You will have to create a resume within those two websites in order to apply electronically to jobs that are posted on those same two sites. These sites are wonderful for browsing all sorts of government jobs.
USA Jobs: http://www.usajobs.opm.gov/
And the other, AVUE (more forest service jobs) https://www.avuedigitalservices.com/casting/aiportal/control/mainmenu
Here is a new web site I just discovered focusing on hotshot fitness. I am kind of jealous of its creator Michael Kennard, who came up with the idea of focusing a website on hotshot fitness since the subject is very lacking on the internet---kudos Kennard--here is the link:
Are you serious about being a Hotshot? Then buy some of these items!
The dream boot! Oh man, they are nice, they make you taller!
The best documentary on an hotshot crew that I have ever seen. Incredibly in depth information on fire and our changing strategies on fighting forest fires--a must see for the perspective hotshot!
Here is a must see web site listing all the hotshot crews in California and their individual web sites---VERY VERY useful
Another great site listing all the crews in the nation region by region:
Here is the link to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC)
Here is another amazing site Wildlandfire.com. An amazing resource for jobs and current info:
This is what we call, "fire porn" in the hotshot world!
Well I intend to add more information to this hub as well as writing other articles on the same subject. Remember if you are truly interested in becoming a hotshot--surround yourself with fire fighters and ask as many questions as you can think of.
If you have any questions or comments PLEASE leave them as I am glad to hear from anyone! Don't be afraid to follow me as I will do the same for you!
Or, If you are searching for that elusive significant other---LOVE