My father was in the Forest Service and early in his career he fought a lot of fires. He was never a smoke jumper though. He rode in a truck and then hoofed it to the fire. Later on, on big fires he stayed behind the lines in various capacities. During dry summers he would be gone almost the whole time to Idaho, Montana, California and then show up one day unannounced and exhausted.
National Geographic Online has a superb article about Alaskan Smokejumpers along with some great photos. Hit the link to check it out.
We had a few family friends who were smokejumpers early in their career. And it turns out that I had friend in high school who became one. His career in the Forest Service overlapped my fathers and he told me on facebook a lot of nice things about my Dad that I had never heard before. Dad was never one to talk about himself much. So, facebook is good for things besides political arguments and cat videos!!
I’ve seen a few big forest fires from afar. I have never seen anything else as terrifyingly awesome even from miles away as a big fire with a huge column of smoke over it. I never felt a need to go fight them!! I respect those who did though.