Friday, May 3, 2013
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 say, GO FIRE FIGHTERS and
YAY FOR THE WOMEN SMOKEJUMPERS.
Photo by Kenton Rowe from an article by Lori Messenger in Montana Magazine