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How To Become A Hotshot Firefighter--A Job In The Wildland!

Updated on July 14, 2014

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:

And the other, AVUE (more forest service jobs)

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!

Nick's 25-LTT10-N Men's Shot LTT 10-in Boot Black 11.5 D US
Nick's 25-LTT10-N Men's Shot LTT 10-in Boot Black 11.5 D US
The dream boot! Oh man, they are nice, they make you taller!

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  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

Are you interested enough in a firefighter career that you are going to investigate further?

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    • profile image

      Carson collard 

      21 months ago

      Hey i am only 13 years old but that is my dream is to be a hotshot. Like i mean i wanted to be a hotshot a littke until i seen only the brave and now it is my dream and my dad 8s a volinteer firefighter just for our town but i want to no more about hotshots could u tell me about some o ya there is one thing i am NOT going to chew

    • PaulStaley1 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from With the wind---(or against it)

      Thanks for "raving" on writer-on-line! What a great, encouraging comment! I will soon be coming by to check out your, "Writing Well About Things You Know Well," hub. Your comment made my day by the way----ciao for now amigo!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Top job Paul! And I don't mean 'hotshot'(though that is part of my congratulations). I mean this hub. I've noticed you asking whether HubPages is a good place for fiction, and I've also read a couple of your stories. They're great, but as you'll have seen (otherwise you wouldn't have asked, if I'm right)they're not the kind of work that will bring revenue. Not the kind we're most of us after, anyway...

      I don't know if you read my hub about Writing Well About Things You Know Well, but in it, I suggested that a good way to start is to put "How To" in front of something you know well, and have a passion for, and start writing.

      That's exactly what you've done here, and look how well it's turned out! Hence my congratulations. I envy you to be honest, because unlike me, whose knowledge is about things plenty of other people also know, you're in a tight niche that can only work if it has the ring of authenticity, coupled with a sense of 'gung-ho' excitement. Of course, because you're the real deal, this article does, and so will all the rest you write.

      As I write this comment, I see that even your adsense ads are right on the money; two for firefighter recruitment, one for comand centre software. Who else on HubPages would attract those? Or in fact across the wider web audience - which is where you (we) need to focus, not just chatting amongst ourselves as Hubbers...

      Sorry to have raved on a bit - I'm just very pleased for you. This should set you on the path. (And, hey, you can always continue to load stories anyway, it's a pefectly valid form of Hub - I actually filed a poem, for God's sake..).

      Now, back to trying to write a good hub of my own...



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