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Friday, May 3, 2013

Women Smokejumpers


Women  smokejumpers hold the bar of excellence to a high degree. 

Fire season is here and no one is more revered than our fire fighters.  When they return from a fire,  cheering people line the streets for a welcome home.  Smokejumpers are flown into remote fire areas and parachute in.  During the season, bags are packed and the moment the call comes, they are in the plane. 

Women have been smokejumping since 1981 and have to pass the rookie test along with the men. The test consists of 7 pull-ups, 25 push-ups, 45 sit-ups, run a mile 1/2 in less then 11 min., carry 110 lb over 3 miles in less then 1 1/2 hr., finish by making it over a 6 ft wall.  A stigma was attached to women smokejumpers in the beginning.  The men didn't want the public to think their super tough job was easy if a woman could do it. Women soon proved otherwise as they jumped from planes and fought fires shoulder to shoulder with the men.

In the year 2001, out of 400 smokejumpers, 35 were women.  This year there are 370 jumpers spread across 9 bases. The Montana base is located in Missoula. 

What a comfort it is to have our fire fighters on the job. I sayGO FIRE FIGHTERS and
YAY FOR THE WOMEN SMOKEJUMPERS.  
Photo by Kenton Rowe from an article by Lori Messenger in Montana Magazine  
 

45 comments:

  1. Nothing easy about passing that test
    No matter the sex should have the best
    As then the fir will be put out
    As the fans cheer and shout

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    Replies
    1. You are right about that test
      Most would flunk and take a rest
      Gender doesn't really matter
      But it does eliminate the fatter :)

      Delete
    2. Talk about being blunt and direct...
      Manzie, you ain't politically correct!

      (But you're right.)

      Delete
  2. wow, I couldn't pass that test. Thats amazing that they do that!

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    1. Some test, huh? I couldn't have passed it back in my zenith days. Ha

      Delete
  3. How interesting! I never really thought about women smoke jumpers. I certainly could not pass that test! I am so grateful for all those who put their lives on the line for other people's safety.
    tm

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    1. It's remarkable. All those who fight our forest fires are held in high esteem. All fire fighters are.

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  4. Those are some tough gals, and big kudos to them (and the guys too!) for taking on such an important and amazing job.

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    1. Not only do they jump into the midst of a fire and do a great job but they can dress up in high heels and be a BABE, too. Ha

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  5. All firefighters are my heroes, these women are just so great. Fire season started Monday here, fires started a few days later in Ventura County, so not close, but we are under a Red Flag alert due to the dry conditions and the extremely high winds.

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    1. Inger, I heard about that big fire. The season is here along with the dryness again, Oh lordy.

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  6. After I read about that test, I had to lie down & take a nap!!

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    Replies
    1. Fishducky
      I'm with you.... move over.

      Delete
  7. Interesting article.. I'd say bravo to all the women here :-)

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    Replies
    1. Nilofer
      I agree. Young, athletic and healthy seem to be the qualifications.

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  8. Replies
    1. Wendy
      The job is truly dangerous due to sudden wind shifts. Lots of courage.

      Than you for commenting.

      Delete
  9. Well those are some tough broads aren't they. I can't imagine carrying 110 pounds for 3 miles. I don't weigh much more than that.

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    1. Terry,
      Especially after all that other stuff they have to do. I'd still be back trying to do my first pull-up. LOL

      Delete
  10. Hey Manzanita,

    Women smokejumpers and hey, I'm not fussy who might be saving my life. Much admiration for those who take such risks.

    Bear with me, still need to reply to your email. Oops and enjoy your weekend.

    Gary :)

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    1. Gary,
      Me either. Let the young and brave do it.
      Oh that's OK. I'm just telling you I can't get that link to work in the US. Dang.
      You have the best weekend too.

      Delete
  11. That is one tough test. Anyone who passes it should get the job. That person earned it. As an aside, people can be so funny. In this case the people are men, but change the job, you get a different group. The men didn't want women doing their job because public perception would change about their job: people would see it as EASY. Were these fellows high??? Anyone who hears about the requirements to pass the test would know their job isn't EASY. Sometimes people need to get out of their own way. Just sayin.'

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    1. Robin
      I thought so too. I bet those very first female smokejumpers had to take a lot from the men who resisted them. Women often have a harder job because they have that stigma of being a woman to overcome first before they can prove they can do the job. But there are a lot of tough babes in Montana. I mean ones who can do rugged work. I know one young gal who has the looks and figure of a Miss America contestant and she puts on her backpack and is off into the mountains for weeks and all alone. These gals are amazing.

      Delete
  12. One of my favourite novels is about smoke jumpers, it's called Chasing Fire and is written by Nora Roberts.

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    1. River
      I haven't heard of that book but it sounds interesting. Have to take a look at it.

      Delete
  13. What a grueling test. I have a good friend who is a retired smoke jumper but I never thought to ask him if women did it. Next time I see him I will. The job takes a lot of strength and courage but pays really well. During fire season, Mitch could make as much in a several months as others make in a full year. Kudos to a really brave, hard working and sadly, very necessary group of firefighters.

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    1. Patti
      Yeah, the pay is really good. That is why so many want to do it, especially the jumpers, they make more than the regular fire fighters. I know many men who flunked the test so the women who make it must be really something. I could never have done it, even in my prime of my prime.

      Delete
  14. These are some very inspiring women indeed!!

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    Replies
    1. Keith
      Good to see you. Women work at a lot more varied jobs now. Yay for them

      Delete
  15. Hey; if the guys can do it, then the gals can do it too. And do it well they can!

    I just hope you have no need of their assistance.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!
    Bears Noting
    Life in the Urban Forest (poetry)

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    Replies
    1. Bear
      Yipes, so do I. Never know when a lone spark will ignite dry grass and that is always a worry inthe summer.
      Thanks, Bear. Love and peace.

      Delete
  16. I remember my son mentioning women smoke jumpers and firefighters when he was a firefighter in NM. He had a great deal of respect for them. What amazing women!

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    1. Kay
      So your son was a firefighter. That's impressive. No matter what the gender that is a tough job and one well appreciated by the public. Cheers to your son for having worked in such a worthy job and protecting people and property.

      Delete
  17. As if jumping out of a perfectly good airplane wasn't tough enough, they have to fight a fire when they get to the ground.
    An admirable group, for sure.

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    1. Al
      I like the way you say, perfectly good airplane. Most people would prob be clinging to the door.... "no, no.... not into a fire." :) Some very brave women.

      Delete
  18. Manzie: God, I love your blog!

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  19. J.J.
    Than you. Coming from my teacher, I consider that a huge compliment.

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  20. It takes a special kind of person to serve as a firefighter, and especially to jump into a raging wildfire. That's gotta be some kinda hell on earth.

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    1. Susan
      Can you picture yourself looking out the door of an airplane at a blanket of fire and they are pushing you to jump into it. Sounds crazy doesn't it?

      Delete
  21. What a cool thing to find out about. I had never thought about whether women did this kind of thing or not.
    And then to see that the first were only in 1981, wow- that is mind boggling.
    I have found that women can often do things that require a lot of stamina and strength just as well as any man. I think we were made that way.

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    1. Jasmine
      Good thought and I agree. Women do seem to have a deep core of stability that sustains them in perilous situations.

      Delete
  22. They sound like Amazons. I'd fail at the first push up. Long may they be around to quell those flames.

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  23. Ros
    Me too. I can't do one push-up the real way. Haha

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  24. Dear Manzanita, I never realized really that there were firejumpers--much less that some were women. Thanks for educating me about these brave firefighters. Peace.

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  25. Dee
    the firefighters are very much revered and honored in States like Montana where we have open spaces where fire can travel.

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