Fitness and Training

Wildland firefighting and field work demands a high level of muscular and aerobic fitness to perform safely in difficult environments. Being prepared to work in steep terrain, extreme temperatures, high altitude, and smoke, while maintaining a reserve work capacity to meet unforeseen emergencies, is critical for wildland firefighters.


Training for Rookies (first-year smokejumpers)


Rookie Training is conducted in Boise by a cadre of BLM smokejumpers. It begins in mid-April and lasts five weeks. During this time trainees are evaluated continuously on the following factors:  

  • Successful completion of a physical test is necessary before a rookie may progress in the program
  • Ability to learn Smokejumper skills and successfully perform these skills
  • Hands-on training will include mock parachute training, pump and chainsaw use and maintenance, tree climbing, water landings, and parachute jumps
  • Ability to function as a team member
  • Overall attitude and work ethic
  • Ability to remain productive in a stressful environment

Training for Veterans (returning smokejumpers)

  • Successful completion of a physical test is required before a smokejumper can return to the program.
  • Refresher training is then required in parachuting, tree climbing, and operational techniques.
  • Some smokejumpers receive Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training, which is updated annually, so they can deal with injuries that may result from parachuting or firefighting.
  • A daily physical training program is established and required throughout a smokejumper's career, which includes running, push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups.