A Carrizo Plain National Monument sign stands in a large valley with mountains in the background.
Rafting the Kern River Three Pump Jacks, Midway-Sunset Oilfield Painted Rock. Carrizo Plain National Monument. Poppy Piedras Blancas Lightstation, San Simeon
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Bakersfield Field Office

Kern Valley Hot Shots

The Kern Valley Hotshot crew was established in 1983 by the Bureau of Land Management’s Bakersfield District. We are one of only 112 recognized and certified IHC’s in the nation. Each fire season we respond to wildland incidents around the country. During a typical fire season we will respond to 20 or more fires. We typically spend 90-100 days assigned to fires. People are drawn to this occupation from all parts of the country, from all sexes, and a variety of backgrounds. Hotshot crews primarily perform manual labor tasks; constructing fireline with hand tools and chainsaws. The work is difficult; this cannot be overstated.

Mission Statement
The mission of the Kern Valley Hotshot Crew is to hire, develop, and retain fit, motivated, high performing individuals, equip them with the best tools and training available, and execute line construction operations with remarkable precision, speed, and efficiency.

In support of our mission:

  • We will train relentlessly, engage in ongoing leadership development and recognize and capitalize on opportunities to innovate.
  • We will work as a crew (team) to remove fuels and connect existing barriers around the fire and hold it.

Hot Shots Clearing a Fire Line
Hot Shots Clearing Line

Initial Training
The crew’s initial training (also known as critical 80 hour or refresher training) begins when the crew starts and typically lasts three weeks. Our initial training is further divided into two key phases; Battle Focused Training, and Initial Coursework.

The Battle Focused Training (BFT) concept was derived from the military and the concept is simple; field training should mimic as closely as possible real world conditions. Our BFT takes place the first week the crew is on. For 5 days the crew camps out in the field and builds hand line in as close to real world conditions as possible. The intent is get mind and body re-acclimated to the physical demands of performing hotshot work, build confidence in individual and crew capabilities, and establish the trust necessary for team cohesion.

Upon completion of the BFT, we return to the station to begin our initial coursework. Curriculum for our initial coursework changes from year to year but topics generally revolve around fire behavior, strategy & tactics, decision making, safety, communication, and field drills.

Once the BFT and initial coursework are completed, the crew is made available for fire assignments.

Physical Fitness
The nature of firefighting, specifically the work performed by IHC’s demands that each crewmember arrive for work in top physical condition and maintain top physical condition for the duration of the fire season. The Department of Interior, BLM requires that employees take and pass the Work Capacity Test (pack test) at the arduous level as a condition of employment. Additionally, before being made available for fire assignments, supervisors will assess each crewmember on their ability to perform fundamental crew tasks for extended periods of time. Examples of fundamental crew tasks include but are not limited to:

  • Physical training hikes in full fireline gear over steep terrain for extended periods with no discernible gaps.
  • Swinging fire hand tools and building fireline in various fuel types and terrain for extended periods of time while maintaining consistent forward progress.
  • Operating chainsaws, throwing brush and building fireline in various fuel types and terrain for extended periods of time while maintaining consistent forward progress.

Crewmembers who have not demonstrated their ability to perform tasks without posing a potential safety risk to themselves or the crew will not be made available for fire assignments.

Employment Information
Wildland Fire Experience vs. General Experience

Fire experience is classified as having 90 days of primary firefighting work. This should not be confused with having ‘related’ experience. While this is useful in is not counted as fire experience. For example related work can be, tree cutting, landscaping and other forms of moving plant life and dirt from one place to another. The matter of fire experience is important to us because we must carry 80% fire experienced people at all times; which means for a crew of 20 we must have 16 people with fire experience.

The Application Process
The Bureau of Land Management utilizes USA Jobs to fill vacant firefighting positions. The USA Jobs system is fairly easy to navigate. Before you can apply for a job you must create an account and either build or upload a resume. Once that is complete you can begin applying for vacant positions.

We begin our hiring process much earlier than many of our federal counterparts. Typically our announcements will open in November and by the end of January the crew is hired up. If you have interest in working for the crew, you need to start talking to us in October.

Early Consideration Dates
Our announcement typically opens towards the end of November and will stay open until the end of April. We will typically pull a list of applicants within the first two weeks or so of the announcement being open. This is referred to as early consideration. If we are able to do our hiring from this first list, we will never go to a second list. This means that if you didn’t get your application in during the early consideration period, we will likely never see your resume. Call us for the specific dates concerning announcements and early consideration dates as they are different from year to year.

Contact Information

3801 Pegasus Drive
Bakersfield, CA 93308

Superintendent: Leif Mathiesen lmathies@blm.gov

Assistant Superintendent: Eric Hagemeier ehagemeier@blm.gov

Module Leader: Kyle Clendenen kclenden@blm.gov

Module Leader: Juan Najera jnajera@blm.gov

Module Leader: Travis Bowling tbowling@blm.gov


Wildland Fire Program

Fire Stations 

Kern Valley Hot Shots

Seasonal Wildland Firefighter Recruitment


Bureau of Land Management
Bakersfield Field Office
3801 Pegasus Drive
Bakersfield, CA 93308
Phone: (661) 391-6000
Fax: (661) 391-6041
Office Hours: 7:30 a.m. - 4:15 p.m., M-F
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