What Are Hotshots Firefighters? (Their works & Wages)

Firefighters are real-life heroes who save lives, assets and rescues people when they are threatened by fire. What happens if wildlife needs help to escape a fire? Here hotshot firefighters come into action.

Hotshot firefighters are officially called an interagency hotshot crew (IHC), known as a special hand crew with 20-22 wildland firefighters in the United States. Their mission is to respond and attend to massive, high-priority wildfires around the country.

This article will teach you all about hotshot firefighters, what they exactly do, what physical requirements and educational qualifications you need to be a hotshot firefighter, what your wages will be, and so on.

We’ll discuss the following:

  • What Hotshot Firefighters Do?
  • What Physical Requirements do You Need to be a Hotshot Firefighter?
  • What Are The Educational Requirements For a Hotshot Firefighter?
  • Is There a Good Wage For Hotshot Firefighters?
  • What Are The Primary Responsibilities of Hotshot Firefighters?
  • FAQs

What Are Hotshots Firefighters?

What Are Hotshots Firefighters

Hotshot firefighters are perhaps the most skilled, highly experienced, and well-trained of all hand crews. They’re qualified to lead initial and extended firefighting efforts in wildfires and are specially equipped with knowledge and skills to work in isolated locations for long periods with little or no logistical backup.

The US Forest Service, also the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, and state/county agencies establish hotshot crews.

At the same time, the National Interagency Fire Center supervises federal hotshot crews.

What Hotshot Firefighters Do?

The Cleveland and Angeles National Forests in Southern California were among the first to develop hotshot teams in the 1940s since they operated on the hottest parts of wildfires. They were named “Hotshot” firefighters.

Hotshot firefighter’s primary goal is to provide a safe, secure, professional, transportable, and highly competent hand crew across all phases of firefighting, including incident management.

They’re staffed, trained, prepared, and qualified to handle a wide range of strategical and operational wildfire missions.

The organizational strategy has enabled the hotshot firefighters to establish tiny units or squads and complete separate tasks. As necessary by national strategic level criteria, they may be pre-positioned against initial attack or conduct ready reserve responsibilities.

They’re capable of supplying a regimented, self-contained, and highly changeable workforce. Also, satisfy the demands of incident management in various situations during all-hazard assignments within the boundaries of their qualifications and experience.

Hotshot firefighters also provide a workforce to meet a range of resource organization’s goals while remaining available for incident mobilizing when they aren’t committed to firefighting assignments.

What Physical Requirements do You Need to be a Hotshot Firefighter?

Crew confidence, health status, and safety requirements all depend on the hotshot firefighter’s physical ability to undertake the strenuous job.

All the interagency hotshot crew (IHC) or hotshot firefighters may aspire to satisfy the following physical requirements:

  • Should have run 1.5 miles in under 10 minutes 35 seconds 
  • 40 sit-ups within 60 seconds
  • In 60 seconds, do 25 pushups.
  • Chin-ups are a type of exercise that is dependent on your body weight.
  • Four chin-ups if you weigh more than 170 pounds.
  • Five chin-ups for 135-170 lbs.
  • Six chin-ups for 110-135 lbs.
  • Seven chin-ups if you’re under 110 pounds.

What Are The Educational Requirements For a Hotshot Firefighter?

 Educational Requirements For a Hotshot Firefighter

Hotshot firefighters work in naturalistic environments such as woods to prevent or put out fires and provide rescue and help. High school graduation is needed to pass the physical and written tests.

Cadets are usually required to go through special training and may even be necessary to earn EMT certification.

In detail, to become a wildland firefighter commonly graduate from high school or passed the GED exam. Graduating from such an associate’s degree course in fire science or even a higher-level fire science program could be advantageous during the application procedure. 

Hotshot firefighters should be able to handle physical exertion and work primarily outside. Both a physical test and a written exam are required of applicants. Selected recruits are often trained inside a local training academy, alongside the organizations such as the National Wildfire Coordinating Group and the USFA’s National Fire Academy providing training programs.

The majority of agencies require firefighters to be trained as EMTs. Additional certificates are optional, but they can help you demonstrate your skills and improve your career. 

After completing an examination, individuals with a mix of educational and work experience can achieve the NFPA’s Certified Fire Protection Specialist title. The National Wildfire Suppression Association offers certification for firefighting contractors, which requires a certain amount of training each year.

Wildland firefighters will begin their careers with only a high school degree, but they must additionally pass the physical exam. Firefighters are expected to increase at a quicker rate than the rest of the labor market. Salaries vary, but the average yearly salary is around $56,000.

Is There a Good Wage For Hotshot Firefighters?

Is There a Good Wage For Hotshot Firefighters

As per the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, middle half firefighters earned $35,850-$70,870 per year in May 2020, with an average annual pay of $56,360. 

Local governments, state forestry organizations, federal departments, and some other support services employ wildland firefighters. Seasonal opportunities are possible.

As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for firefighters is expected to be faster than usual from the year 2019 through 2029.

In 2012, the United States Fire Administration (USFA) reported 67,774 wildfires that burned 9,326,238 acres. In 2012, eight wildland firefighter fatalities were among the 64 cumulative firefighter fatalities.

What Are The Primary Responsibilities of Hotshot Firefighters?

Hotshot firefighters combat fires in natural settings such as forests and other abandoned public properties. Preparing firebreaks by cutting trees, removing brushes, and executing controlled burns that limit significant outbreaks are all part of fire prevention activities.

Aside from putting out forest fires, they’re also required for rescuing casualties, delivering emergency medical care, and patrolling burned places to prevent flames from rekindling.

Regular maintenance of necessary tools and equipment and involvement in public fire safety education initiatives are among the other general responsibilities.

Related Questions (FAQs)

1#. What is the average number of hours that hotshots firefighters work?

Hotshots firefighters are required to work 16-hours for two weeks continuously in fire season. In those long working hours spent trekking steep and rugged terrain, they’re carrying equipment, water, and some food on their backsides to create fire lines between being an oncoming fire as well as a community.

2#. How do hotshots spend their time In the off-season?

Hotshot firefighters can continue work full-time as a firefighter during in the off-season. On the other hand, sessional or temporary wildland firefighters can work during the whole fire season and use the time off to travel, perform other occupations, or continue their education.

3#. Is there a large number of female firefighters?

There are over 1000 certified NPWS firefighters in New South Wales, with over a quarter of them being female. Many of them are members of the specialized Remote Area Firefighter Team, who have received extensive training (RAFT). From November 2020, the latest Girls on Fire program, Virtually Possible, will be implemented throughout regional NSW.

4#. How can I become a member of a hotshot crew?

The application procedure for Federal Hotshot positions is usually done through USAJOBS.com, direct interaction with the management of your selected Hotshot Crew—by phone, email, or, more importantly, an in-person meeting is constructive and frequently required.


Hopefully you have learned what are hotshot firefighters. If you ask me to summarize the article, I’d say the hotshot firefighters are the elite “special operations forces” of the wildland firefighting sector, and their skills are in high demand right now.

They’re usually stationed in remote areas that aren’t accessible by car, with the mission of forming a fire line to contain spreading wildfires and safeguard populations.

Despite technology advancements, each hand crews continue to be the cornerstone of wild land firefighting over the world.

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