Being a firefighter is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. So what about fighting fires from above -- using a parachute? Recently, The Daily went inside the world of smokejumpers, firefighters who use an incredible set of tools to extinguish ferocious blazes.
The jumpers operate out of nine bases across the country and are trained to suit up in two minutes, and many of them have "regular" jobs:
From The Daily:
The brave souls known as “smokejumpers” make up just 3 percent of the nation’s wildfire fighters, but they’re often called up first when remote forests start to burn. These 450 highly-trained men and women are now gearing up for what already promises to be an intense, fiery summer.
Wildfires are mainly fought with sweat. Wielding hand tools and chain saws — dropped separately from the plane — the firefighters clear trees and brush to scrape a broad line of bare earth across the path of the fire, creating a barrier flames can’t cross.
Once the fire’s contained, burning logs and brush are put out by scooping cold dirt over hot coals. It’s grueling work, and it can go on for days at a stretch. Afterward, jumpers can be extracted by helicopter or, if there are roads nearby, by truck.
But while the job is difficult, the smokejumpers are equipped with some tough backwoods gear to make the job easier. Gear that all must fit on their person each time they jump. These pictures illustrate how even that is a tough job:
A time-lapse video shows you just how it's done:
Of course, packing all that gear and jumping with it requires rigorous training. Reporter Erik German went through the paces and found out just how difficult the job is. He also found out where the smokejumpers put all that gear:
You can read the full story on, and gain a lot of respect for, smokejumpers here.