How To Become A Smokejumper [2023]

The question you want to be answered is “how to become a smokejumper,” right? Well, it would interest you to know that you are not the only one asking.

Smokejumping is a very fun job that you can engage in while saving lives at the same time.

This article will give you in-depth details about how to become a smokejumper, and all the juicy details that are required of one.

Who is a Smoke Jumper?

Smokejumpers are specially-trained wildland firefighters who respond to remote wildland fires with an initial attack.

They are dropped by parachute onto the burning area. And when they land, they immediately begin to put out fires. And this makes them different from regular firefighters.

Aside from the initial attack on wildfires, they can serve as a point of coordination for subsequent, longer-term efforts to douse them. 

When smokejumpers land, they are immediately parachuted with food, water, and firefighting equipment, allowing them to survive on their own for up to 48 hours.

How to Become a Smoke Jumper

To become a smokejumper, you need to know the following:

1. Smokejumpers are required to pass an extremely difficult version of the standard firefighter’s work capacity fitness test (also known as the “pack test”).

2. On the first day of smokejumper training, all candidates must pass the standard PT test for smokejumpers. This includes 7 pull-ups and 45 sit-ups, 25 push-ups, and a 1.5-mile run (McCall’s elevation is 5000 feet) in under 11 minutes.

All exercises must be completed in the allotted time, with five-minute breaks in between each one.

Keep in mind that these are the bare minimums. The next five weeks will see a significant increase in the amount of work required.

For example, packing up the gear is one of the most physically taxing aspects of the job. At 115 pounds per person, smokejumper equipment and tools are not light!

3. After extinguishing a fire, smokejumpers must be able to transport this equipment to the nearest trail, road, or helicopter landing spot. In rough terrain, this could be a 10-mile or longer trip.

As part of their training, smokejumper hopefuls must show they can carry 110 pounds of gear over a three-mile level course in under 90 minutes.

Prospective smokejumpers must also meet the following requirements:

1. At least 18 years of age is required.

2. The minimum and maximum height requirements are 77 inches and 60 inches, respectively, without shoes.

3. Without clothes, you must weigh no more than 210 pounds, but you must be at least 120 pounds.

4. In order to be eligible, you must not have any acute or chronic ear, middle, or inner ear disease. Each ear should not lose more than 25 decibels in the speech frequency range when using an audiometer. 

5. You must not have any acute or chronic eye disease in order to have good vision. One eye must be at least 20/20 (Snellen) and the other at least 20/30 (Snellen) to qualify for corrective distant vision.  

After passing the requirements, what next?

After passing the basic requirements, an offer of employment and a standard medical form are sent to those who are selected. Only if a licensed physician performs an acceptable examination will the offer be considered. 

If there is any doubt about a candidate’s physical condition, the USDA Forest Service has the right to require a second physical exam. 

Smokejumping necessitates a high level of physical fitness due to the unique hazards and hardships of the sport. 

Prior to reporting to work, candidates must be in peak physical condition to ensure they can complete the training program without incident.

 Vital points to consider in becoming a smokeJumper

1. You have to be passionate about nature. 

Hiking and camping aren’t enough; you must also enjoy them on a regular basis. People who jump out of planes to their deaths are known as “smokejumpers.” They are the first line of defense in putting out wildfires in outlying areas.

After the firefighters land, supplies such as tools, food, and water are dropped by parachutes, and they are left to fend for themselves for about 48 hours in the wild.

2. You have to be comfortable getting a bit dirty.

A love of the outdoors and a willingness to get your hands dirty are two prerequisites for working in wildland firefighting. 

To be considered for the job, smokejumpers must have at least one season of specialized wildland fire suppression work, as well as a year of experience with hand tools and safe work practices. 

This includes farming, ranching, fire control, and soil and water conservation. It’s also important to know the basics of first aid.

In order to be a smokejumper, you must be willing to put your life at risk. Even so, many people don’t realize just how intense it is. Smoke, heat, and a lack of food and water can take a toll on the body over long periods of time on the job.

3. You need your physical strength

There is no question that wildland firefighters put in a lot of effort, but smokejumpers put in even more.

Smokejumper jobs are not entry-level firefighting jobs, and the US Forest Service’s physical fitness requirements are very demanding.

4. OPM’s (Operational Management) Qualifications 

The following are the requirements for smokejumping:

Time yourself to complete 1.5 miles in 10:47 or less! 30 push-ups and six pull-ups.

In 65 minutes or less, you can carry 110 pounds of weight on level ground.

Each exercise is followed by a five-minute rest period.

The BLM Fitness Challenge has inspired the BLM smokejumpers to set new benchmarks for their performance:

If you have 1.5 miles to run in 9:30 or 3 miles in 22:30, do 10 chin-ups.

A total of 60 sit-ups and 35 push-ups are required.

You must take 55 minutes or less to carry 110 pounds on level ground for 3 miles.

Training is difficult, even if you have met the minimum physical requirements. Because the landing after a jump can be so unpredictable, it is essential to practice for all eventualities. 

To help trainees learn how to land properly, smokejumping bases have simulators that lift and drop them at various speeds (up to 10 mph). And these show how to become a smokejumper.

5. Do you know how to sew? 

Smokejumpers are often responsible for tailoring (inspecting, repairing, and making) their own suits, which you might not expect from someone with such a high-adrenaline job.

The National Interagency Fire Center reports that firefighter smokejumpers are known for their exceptional sewing abilities.

Firefighters are preparing for the upcoming fire season by assembling their equipment and components. From the jumpsuit to the harness to the backpack, they make it all themselves.

Hiring Process for Smoke Jumpers in the United States

The hiring process for smoke jumpers in the United States is usually based on the recruitment period, and the ability to pass the tests that are demanded of applicants.

Recruitment period

Hiring typically starts with outreach in August. Typically, job openings are advertised in September or October of each year, and 15-30 days is a common timeframe for public announcements.

If you’re interested in seeing what’s available, check out USA Jobs. If you don’t already have an account, you’ll need to create one and fill out an application profile. 

To see a list of the most recent job postings, search for “smokejumper” in the search bar after creating your profile.

GS-0462-05 ($16.73/hour) is the entry-level position.

From May to September is the time frame for employment. The company expects to make an offer of recruitment to the selected candidates by early February. 

Upon reporting for duty, you must satisfactorily complete six weeks of intensive training in parachute jumping, physical conditioning, and fire suppression.

Tips for submitting an application:

When filling out your application, you must specify which base(s) you’re applying for. 

Before submitting your application, be sure you have marked all the boxes and checked all the basic qualifications on your application for correct answers.

Make sure you apply for a GS-5 rookie smokejumper position if you are new to smokejumping.

Include your email address on your application so that you can receive confirmation of your application’s acceptance and any potential employment correspondence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How difficult is it to become a smoke jumper?

For consideration, smokejumpers must have at least one year of specialized wildland fire suppression experience, as well as knowledge of safe work practices and proficiency with hand tools.

With this knowledge in hand, smokejumping would be less difficult.

Do smoke jumpers perform any tasks?

Using their fixed-wing aircraft, smokejumpers can quickly deliver as few as two or as many as 12 firefighters, along with their equipment and supplies, directly to the fire in a single trip.

How much do firefighters make?

A smokejumper foreman earns about $24.00 per hour compared to $16.00 per hour for smokejumper. In the event of an uncontrolled wildfire, smokejumpers receive hazard pay equal to 25% of their base pay, but they are not compensated for parachute jumps they make.

Is Smoke Jumping a Real Thing?

In the event of wildland fire in a remote area, smokejumpers can provide highly-trained, experienced firefighters and leadership for a rapid, effective initial attack. Smokejumpers typically work from the end of spring until the beginning of fall.

Are There Any Requirements for Smokejumpers?

Yes, there are. A bachelor’s degree in a related field and at least one season of wildland fire suppression work is required for admission.


Your question “how to become a smokejumper” has been answered in detail. All you need to do now is practice more, and apply to become one in life.

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