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While certainly not one of the safest careers to pursue, the work of a smokejumper is one of the most adventurous ways to serve the community and make a real difference to the lives of others. It’s the type of job that will see you forever apologising to your parents for signing up, but on the flipside, they’ll also be forever proud of their badass smokejumping child.

Smokejumper Do you like to live on the edge? Does the idea of sitting at a desk in a beige office building for the rest of your life crush your spirit? Are you unafraid of the following things: heights, fires, isolation and intense bursts of physical activity? Yes? Then a career as a smokejumper could just be for you! Combining parachuting with firefighting to create the mother of all terrifying jobs, smokejumping involves flinging yourself out of a light aircraft directly into a wildfire burning in a remote, hard-toaccess forest with the purpose of extinguishing it before it spreads. Considered the commandos of the firefighting world, smokejumpers must pass a series of rigorous, soul-crushing tests to gain the role. Let’s put it this way: you must really, really, really want to jump straight into a hellfire in the middle of nowhere in order to pass. The Russian Federation and the USA both have a long history of employing smokejumpers. They have been hiring and training these elite firefighters since the 1930s. With more than 270 male and female smokejumpers currently employed by the United States Forest Service, smokejumpers complete a number of demanding physical and mental tests in order to qualify to jump out of planes into infernos. Many people hope to be smokejumpers, but only a small amount of rookies make it, such is the brutal nature of the training and, ultimately, the job. A regime of military-style physical exercises including running, push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups are just the beginning of the program. Designed to build mental strength and weed out inappropriate candidates, rookie programs also involve mock airplane exits, learning how to use chainsaws, compass navigation exercises, emergency first aid training and many intense parachute-landing drills.

The lowdown

Education or qualifications: No formal education requirements. Experience required: As a specialised branch of firefighting, it takes years of experience as a firefighter to be considered for a smokejumping role. Training: After qualifying and serving as a firefighter, smokejumpers must pass a series of physical and mental tests in order to qualify. Training involves everything from cargo retrieval to tree climbing, application of first aid and performing parachute-landing rolls. People can be dropped from the training program at any stage if they fail to meet any of the requirements. Restrictions: Height and weight restrictions apply. People with certain medical conditions are ineligible to be smokejumpers.

I can get paid for that?  

NOTE: This e-gallery is for press purposes only. No images or other copyrighted materials seen here may be reproduced. Contact patrick@smi...

I can get paid for that?  

NOTE: This e-gallery is for press purposes only. No images or other copyrighted materials seen here may be reproduced. Contact patrick@smi...

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