Smokejumper bases are operated and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). There are nine main smokejumper bases in the United States, providing fire protection for the public lands employing approximately 400 smokejumpers. In addition, each main base operates several spike bases (or sub-bases) which are stocked with supplies and activated when the fire danger requires it.
While all smokejumper bases can operate interchangeably, the USFS smokejumpers differ in that they use round parachutes and provide fire protection coverage primarily to forested lands. The BLM uses ram air square parachutes and work to protect all public lands. The ram air parachute is better suited for areas of high winds found in rangeland country.
During the Spring, smokejumpers return for training to tune up for the fire season. They must pass a physical fitness test to verify they can still perform the job requirements. Parachute refresher training involves tower jump training to practice emergency procedures. Other specialized training involves tree climbing, sometimes needed for parachute retrieval when cargo/people get stuck in dense timber.