We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Smokejumper?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
PublicPeople is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At PublicPeople, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A smokejumper is a wildland firefighter who is trained to deploy from fixed wing aircraft. Several nations including the United States, Canada, Russia, and Mongolia maintain large numbers of smoke jumpers on the national payroll to handle outbreaks of fires in remote regions which are difficult to access. This job, as you might imagine, can be extremely dangerous, and it is also considered to be very glamorous by some people, since it combines the skills of firefighting with the daring to leap from aircraft into the path of an oncoming fire.

As a career, smokejumping dates back to around the late 1930s, when several countries started experimenting with using smokejumpers to handle forest fires. Typical smokejumping teams handle small fires, working quickly to put them out so that they do not spread; a smokejumping team may also decide to call in reinforcements if it becomes clear that they will not be able to control the fire. They typically work in rugged, remote terrain which is difficult to access, giving firefighting crews an edge on fighting a fire before it gets big and dangerous.

Some people think that a career as a smokejumper must be awfully exciting, and it certainly is during the summer months, when flareups are extremely common. Smokejumpers remain on call in shifts in various locations around the world, ready to deploy to regional and distant fires, and actually much of their work is fairly mundane, since they put out up to 90% of the fires they tackle before these fires get big enough to require assistance.

While the cost of training and maintaining an individual smokejumper is high, some nations believe that the cost is worth it, as the associated damages from an out of control fire can be much higher. Smokejumpers are also cheaper than one might imagine to maintain, classically utilizing fixed wing aircraft, rather than expensive helicopters, for example, and often working with very basic tools.

While the perception of this job is that it is very dangerous, statistics seem to suggest that it is no more dangerous than other branches of the firefighting field. This is because smokejumpers train extensively, and constantly participate in exercises to ensure that their skills are sharp. In addition to being thoroughly trained in fire safety, smoke jumpers are also experienced parachutists; some are former military members, using their training and skills in a new context after they leave the military.

If you are interested in a career as a smokejumper, you can apply to regional firefighting schools which offer smokejumper training. Some prefer smokejumpers with wildland firefighting experience and/or experience as pilots or parachutists, while others are willing to train students from scratch. In both cases, you should be at peak physical condition, and willing to work and train hard for several years before you are allowed to work on the front lines of firefighting.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PublicPeople researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon138298 — On Dec 31, 2010

"Some prefer smokejumpers with wildland firefighting experience..."

This is not true. At least one year of wildfire experience is needed to be considered. Most selected applicants have put in several years in on Hotshot crews.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.