Posted: Apr 10, 2013 8:51 PM by Irina Cates - MTN News
MISSOULA - Missoula smokejumpers took some of their first jumps for the year on Wednesday morning to help get ready for fire season.
"We load everyone up and take them out to the forest that's real similar to where they're going to be jumping this summer." smokejumper Colby Jackson explained.
Mitch Kearns of the Missoula Smokejumper Training Program says "Focus on getting people's head back in the game for jumping-a lot of people have had the winter off."
This training focuses on just a small part of what smokejumpers do.
"Our smokejumpers are trained up, first and foremost, as firefighters and incident responders which means they're a wide variety of skills that we go through training for-either on the fire line, or in support roles, or in planning roles." said Jackson.
As they get ready to come out of the plane, smokejumpers look for the best and safest landing. "Usually a meadow without rocks, without trees, you know, anything that can hurt." said Kearns.
Sometimes that safe place is 50 yards from a fire and other times, it might be a couple miles. Kearns recalls, "We can hike in or we can also have our cargo dropped right next to the fire if we have to jump a distance away."
Smokejumpers are a national resource, so the ones who are stationed in Missoula, can end up fighting fires anywhere in the country.
Training will continue again in late May, which is also when the rookies will practice their jumps.