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Not Your Ordinary Job Jackson Interagency Hotshot Crew Podcast

Not Your Ordinary Job is a podcast developed and hosted by the Bureau of Land Management Eastern States External Affairs team to promote the Jackson Interagency Hotshots Fire Crew. Listeners can expect to learn about our current Jackson Hotshots team members. Each episode will feature one Hotshot crew member who will converse with External Affairs team members, Tatiana (Ashley) Muriel Luna and Jasmine Brown, about their career in fire and their experience working with the Jackson Interagency Hotshots Fire Crew. The podcast is a part of BLM’s mission in decreasing the number of wildland fires across the United States by promoting safe recreational activities and informing the public on the assignments BLM’s Fire and Aviation Program are using for wildfire suppression. Listen to the podcast here.

Episodes


 

Not Your Ordinary Job

Not Your Ordinary Job: Episode 07-Shelby Marie Fox

Transcript

Shelby Fox, a crew member for the Jackson Interagency Hotshots, and a Poplarville, Mississippi native, just completed her first season as a Hotshot wildland firefighter. Fox, a Union Baptist Academy graduate, became interested in pursuing a full-time career in fire after participating in occasional prescribed burns.  

The Jackson Hotshots are the only Bureau of Land Management hotshot crew based east of the Mississippi River.  They are part of the BLM’s national Fire and Aviation Program. Since 1997, the Hotshots have been a prominent part of fighting wildland fires from Florida to Alaska and have assisted as a national resource for several natural disasters throughout the southeast. 

After receiving a bachelor’s degree from William Carey University and then a master’s from Pensacola Theological Seminary, Fox decided she needed a new challenge.  

“I wanted to see if it was going to be something I was capable of doing on a larger level as more of a full-time position than just the prescribed burning, which I only got to do occasionally,” said Fox. “So really, the challenge of it is a lot of the reason that I wanted to pursue it.” 

Fox faced difficulties in her first full season of her new career such as self-doubt of completing assigned tasks. However, Fox ultimately proved that she was hotshot material through training and a willingness to improve.  

The biggest misconception Fox has seen from the public is that firefighting is always is fun and exciting. She stated that a career in wildland firefighting takes flexibility, hard work and commitment.  

“It’s definitely not a regular 9 to 5 office job,” said Fox.  

Fox looks forward to more success stories throughout her career and strives to become a better fire crew member each year. 


 

Not Your Ordinary Job

Not Your Ordinary Job: Episode 06- Jordan Fedorka

Transcript

Jordan Fedorka recently finished her second year with the Jackson Hotshots. Fedorka a Canton, Ohio native, gained an interest in the career of fire while in college. After receiving a degree in psychology, she decided to pursue a firefighting career while watching coverage of the 2016 Gatlinburg wildfires. 

The Jackson Hotshots are the only Bureau of Land Management hotshot crew based east of the Mississippi River.  They are part of the BLM’s national Fire and Aviation Program. Since 1997, the Hotshots have been a prominent part of fighting wildland fires from Florida to Alaska and have assisted as a national resource for several natural disasters throughout the southeast.    

During Fedorka’s first year with the Hotshots, she prioritized educating herself through leadership and more experienced counterparts so that she could apply it to her second year. Fedorka explains that it takes motivation and a willingness to learn in order to be a great team member.  

A self-described, family-oriented person, Fedorka knows that the distance from her family and friends can be tough. However, working with the Hotshots made the experience rewarding. 

“When you are on a crew like this, it eventually becomes your second family,” Fedorka said. 

Fedorka plans to continue training in her career and set new goals to achieve each season. 


 

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Not Your Ordinary Job: Episode 05- Hilary Berg

Transcript

Montana native, Hilary Berg, recently completed her first season with the Jackson Hotshots. Her interest in the history of fire, public lands, and her drive to be challenged mentally and physically are what led her to work in the career of fire.   

The Jackson Hotshots are the only Bureau of Land Management hotshot crew based east of the Mississippi River.  They are part of the BLM’s national Fire and Aviation Program. Since 1997, the Hotshots have been a prominent part of fighting wildland fires from Florida to Alaska and have assisted as a national resource for several natural disasters throughout the southeast. 

Berg received an invitation to join the Hotshot crew in the fall of 2019 after a successful summer detail in Jackson, Mississippi. 

While there are many challenges in this career, Berg stated that the biggest challenge as a Hotshot crew member, is the time away from home and family. However, Berg knew that she was a part of a team much bigger than herself when she joined the Hotshots.  

“After working as a crew member for six months, you walk away as a different person,” said Berg. 

Through Berg’s career, she has worked extensively to increase her physical abilities to expand her opportunities as a woman on the Hotshot crew. 

Berg explained that a great team member puts in effort to meet expectations, and preparation does not start when the season starts. It begins at the end. There is a balance between the work a crew member would do in the off-season and during time with family at home.  

Berg will continue to be an outstanding Hotshot crew member by successfully completing every assignment given to her and being an inspiration for future Hotshot crew members. 


 

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Not Your Ordinary Job: Episode 04- Dylan Bowen

Transcript

Dylan Bowen has just finished his second year with the Jackson Hotshots. Bowen was fascinated in pursuing a career in fire from an interest of familiarizing himself with wilderness and helping communities directly.

The Jackson Hotshots are the only Bureau of Land Management hotshot crew based east of the Mississippi River.  They are part of the BLM’s national Fire and Aviation Program. Since 1997, the Hotshots have been a prominent part of fighting wildland fires from Florida to Alaska and have assisted as a national resource for several natural disasters throughout the southeast. 

Bowen stated that the biggest challenges he has faced so far are working long days, carrying a lot of weight, and the demanding manual labor. His biggest personal challenge was becoming a Hotshot crew member.

While there are difficulties faced working as a fire crew member, Bowen explains that having the opportunity to travel the country is his favorite part of the career.

Bowen stated that a big misconception about fire is that there is not always a huge flame to suppress. Once the flames are out, the Hotshots still must work at prevent the wildfires from coming back.

“My goal was to become a Hotshot and but at this moment, as far as goals go, I'm just trying to take it everything in and learn more to become a better firefighter,” said Bowen.

Bowen continues to be a great asset to the Hotshot team and will continue to successfully tackle any assignment that comes their way.


 

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Not Your Ordinary Job: Episode 03- Dallas Adam Elmore

Transcript

Dallas Elmore is now in his second year with the Jackson Hotshots. After attending college, he participated in a year of AmeriCorps service and learned about fire management through the program.

The Jackson Hotshots are the only Bureau of Land Management hotshot crew based east of the Mississippi River.  They are part of the BLM’s national Fire and Aviation Program. Since 1997, the Hotshots have been a prominent part of fighting wildland fires from Florida to Alaska and have assisted as a national resource for several natural disasters throughout the southeast. 

Elmore has faced many challenges during his career with the Jackson Hotshots, including being away from his family and friends.

While this career can be challenging, Elmore’s favorite part about working with the Jackson Hotshots is how unpredictable it can be. They never know what kind of assignment they will be introduced to next.

Elmore has already completed one goal in fire management, which was starting his career in with the Jackson Hotshots. After gaining experience as a crew member, he would like to become a leader for the new team members.

“The first year is about learning what you are doing. The second through the fourth year is about learning to lead the new crew members,” Elmore says.

Elmore continues to be a great team member, role model and provides exceptional work towards fire management on our public lands.


 

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Not Your Ordinary Job: Episode 02-Joshua Beard 

Transcript

Joshua Beard, a Jackson Hotshot crew member and Los Angeles, California native, has been a wildland firefighter for one year. Beard, a Crespi Carmelite High School graduate, was in Vietnam working as an English teacher when he heard his colleagues talking about being part of the fire community.  He decided to leave Vietnam and transition to a new career in wildland firefighting. 

The Jackson Hotshots are the only Bureau of Land Management hotshot crew based east of the Mississippi River.  They are part of the BLM’s national Fire and Aviation Program. Since 1997, the Hotshots have been a prominent part of fighting wildland fires from Florida to Alaska and have assisted as a national resource for several natural disasters throughout the southeast. 

The biggest obstacles Beard has faced to date are the distance and time from his family, coupled with a physically demanding job.  However, Beard explains that the mental and physical aspects are also his favorite part of the job. He considers the ability to travel and the people he works with to be a bonus of being Jackson Hotshot. 

The 2020 fire season was a bit of a challenge thanks to Covid-19.  Beard is proud of the way everyone handled their numerous fire assignments and maintained all safety protocols.  The April 10, 2020, Silver King Fire and the May 7, 2020, Moon Fish Fire in Ochopee, Florida are two of his more memorable experiences from this season.


 

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Not Your Ordinary Job: Episode 01-Nicole Allen 

Transcript 

Nicole Allen, crew member of the Hotshots and Winchester, Tennessee native, is now in her first year in the career of fire. Allen, a Franklin County High School graduate, began her career after gaining interest through a few friends who were in the firefighting field. During her time as a Hotshot crew member, she has faced many challenges along the way.  

The Jackson Hotshots are the only Bureau of Land Management hotshot crew based east of the Mississippi River.  They are part of the BLM’s national Fire and Aviation Program. Since 1997, the Hotshots have been a prominent part of fighting wildland fires from Florida to Alaska and have assisted as a national resource for several natural disasters throughout the southeast. 

“This job is my life and it is very physical,” Allen said.  

Her favorite part of the career are her team members who motivated her to get into the career of fire. 

Allen commends the women who paved the way for new fire crew members, like herself, to succeed in the career. She also commends the Jackson Hotshots for being a fire crew that treats everyone based on their abilities and positive attitudes towards any assignment given to them.  

During Allen’s career with the Jackson Hotshots, she has provided outstanding work to suppress wildfires, including the April 10, 2020, Silver King Fire, and the May 7, 2020, Moon Fish Fire in Ochopee, Florida. She has also succeeded with her assistance in prescribed burns to restore areas affected by natural disasters and to decrease the number of wildfires in the U.S.