The New Zealand Herald has an article about the North Cascades Smokejumpers in Washington state, in which she compares smokejumpers to firefighters who “slide down a pole at the station” and ride in a truck to the fire. She wonders if the latter is “firefighting for wimps”.
Here is how the article begins.
Pamela Wade discovers modest fire-fighting heroes in a Wild West town.
A Western figure in Winthrop, Washington State. Photo / Pamela Wade
If it weren’t so obvious that there’s not an ounce of fat on them, it would be tempting to call Washington state’s North Cascades Smokejumpers well-rounded: how else to describe men who not only leap from a small plane to parachute into dense forest wreathed in the smoke from a wildfire, but can also execute a nifty bit of top-stitching on the sewing machines back at base?
They have to make their own jumpsuits in this service because there are only 400 smokejumpers in the whole of the US and there’s not much call, commercially, for yellow Kevlar boiler suits with capacious pockets, weighing more than 80kg fully packed.
Standard equipment includes a rope for rappelling down out of trees and a knife to slice through tangles, making sliding down a pole at the station and getting into a truck look like fire-fighting for wimps…