Not Your Ordinary Job: Bonneville Interagency Hotshot Crew Goes Beyond the Call of Duty

Javonne Goodman, Public Affairs Specialist

April was a busy month for the Bonneville Interagency Hotshot Crew, based in Salt Lake City, Utah! The crew completed their annual training, including a first aid/CPR training with three crewmembers being certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). In a six-month period, a wildland firefighter may expect to work 1,000 hours of regular time and as much as 1,200 hours of overtime. Onboarding and training are a part of preparation for the upcoming fire year, but there are also those incredible moments amongst the day-to-day operations when it is clear that being a wildland firefighter is not your ordinary job.

A group photo of the Bonneville Interagency Hotshot Crew with a mountain landscape in the background. | Photo Credit: National Interagency Fire Center
Bonneville Interagency Hotshot Crew. | Photo Credit: National Interagency Fire Center

Bureau of Land Management Utah State Director Greg Sheehan recently met with the interagency hotshot crew and had the opportunity to recognize the firefighters for their outstanding work. The awards presented during their training recognized members of the Bonneville Interagency Hotshot Crew and Salt Lake Helitack Crew who made outstanding efforts to protect the health and safety of the public during the Morgan Canyon Fire that burned in Tooele County, Utah, from June 17 through Oct. 12, 2021. As the crews hiked up to the fire, they discovered it was caused by a private plane that had tragically crashed with no survivors. The fire was burning back toward the wreckage, which would have destroyed the remains of the passengers and any evidence at the crash site. The crews did everything in their power to counteract the fire’s growth in the perilous conditions and protect the accident site. Their efforts successfully protected the aircraft for future investigation and preserved the remains of the deceased, enabling their return to their families. For their excellence and outstanding contributions to the Bureau of Land Management, members of the Bonneville Interagency Hotshot Crew and Salt Lake Helitack Crew received the 2022 Safety and Health Award of Excellence of the Department of the Interior. 

A collage of the Bonneville Interagency Hotshot Crew sitting at tables for training and two group photos of the crew with Utah State Director Greg Sheehan and West Desert District Manager Mike Gates in recognition of the Safety and Health Award of Excellence of the Department of the Interior award. | Photo Credit: Jeremy Dyer – Public Affairs Specialist

While the job is challenging, it also has its rewarding experiences of connecting with the communities. Last month, an interagency group of firefighters and park staff attended Ezra’s wish proclamation hosted by Make-A-Wish at Walker Farms in Lindon, Utah. This was an uplifting moment of community support during Ezra’s ongoing battle with a brain tumor. Ezra’s wish is to visit Smokey Mountain National Park in Tennessee. Personnel from the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, USDA Forest Service and Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands attend the Make-A-Wish event. Ezra enjoyed touring the fire engines and received a Bonneville Interagency Hotshot Crew hat! 

A collage of attendees at Ezra’s wish proclamation hosted by Make-A-Wish at Walker Farms, Ezra standing next to a Smokey Bear statue, and two fire engines from the Bureau of Land Management and USDA Forest Service. | Photo Credit: Michael Tateishi, Fire Mitigation and Trespass Technician

From being a part of uplifting moments with members of the community to battling wildfires and helping protect communities across the country, the hard work and dedication of the Bonneville Interagency Hotshot Crew truly makes a difference. This month, the crew will head to Arizona to conduct prescribed fire and hazardous fuels reduction projects to help improve the landscape’s resiliency to wildfire and anticipate starting to fight wildfire in late-May. 

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