Taking to the skies, Fairbanks based smokejumpers conduct spring training

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 5:30 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - With the snow finally melting, wildland firefighters are training for the upcoming fire season. Members of the Bureau of Land Management Fire Service Alaska Smoke Jumpers are conducting jump training this month.

“It’s warm, suns out, a little cool up top but it’s nice down here,” said smokejumper Billy McCall. He went on to say that training helps them stay safe while they are doing there job.

“You got to get down, you got to get down safely, and you got to get to the fire to be able to work so, if you don’t train you won’t do very well when you go to a fire so we try to train like we do in the field,” McCall said.

The smokejumpers were at Fort Wainwright practicing their jumps. They were supposed to be training all last week but that was delayed due to the cold temperatures. Matt Oakley is one of the jumpers and said that after a winter off, the training is a good refresher.

“It just gets our sight pictures back, gets us back on step again, like warming up before a workout or something,” Oakley said.

Matthew Matush is a squad leader for the smokejumpers and said that during training they will add challenges to help them hone in on certain skills. Today they were practicing accuracy. Each jumper tried to land on a canopy laid in the snow.

“Being rough terrain jumpers you find landing in the right spot is pretty key to being able to fight fires, otherwise we are dealing with an injured individual,” Malush said.

The jumpers will continue jumps in the coming weeks as they prepare for the fire season.

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