Vision/mission statement or core values:
The mission of the Chena Hotshots is to provide the land management agencies with a highly skilled, productive, and safe wildland fire management resource. The Chena Hotshots will provide fireline leadership with existing crew overhead and work to produce quality supervisors for the future.
The crew meets National Interagency Hotshot Crew Standards for wildland fire suppression operations, hazardous fuel reduction programs, and all-risk assignments. Chena Hotshot specializes in extended attack operations but respond when needed to initial attack fires across Alaska and the lower 48 states. Depending on fire season severity, both Chena and Midnight Sun Hotshots typically travel to the lower 48 contiguous states to support fire suppression operations across the west.
The Chena Hotshots are a Bureau of Land Management resource hosted by the Alaska Fire Service. The Alaska Fire Service main facilities are located on Fort Wainwright, AK directly adjacent to Fairbanks, AK. The crew works out of the Fire Operations building with the Midnight Sun Hotshots, North Star Fire Crew, Fire Specialists and Alaska Smokejumpers. Affordable barracks housing is available on the base and consists of basic accommodations. A mess hall is located in the Operations building.
During the initial two to three weeks at the start of each season, the Chena Hotshots complete critical training in conjunction with the Midnight Sun Hotshots. Critical training includes physical, classroom and field training to prepare the crew for the upcoming season and further the crew’s knowledge of Wildland Fire.
Classroom training varies depending on the needs of the crews. Typically, three to five NWCG (S/L/I) courses are delivered for crewmembers as well as Alaska specific courses regarding field operations and Alaska fuels and weather. Field courses involve initial training and refreshing of chainsaw, pump, helicopter, and line construction operations.
Physical training consists of twice a day workouts during the initial two weeks. On average, these workouts fall into one of two categories, running and calisthenics or hiking. Hiking during training will be conducted as a crew, lined out with full gear. Often the crew will be carrying QB’s in addition to full gear. Crew runs consist of running intermixed with calisthenic exercises. The crew runs between 3-7 miles depending on the workout. The expectation is that crewmembers show up to work in excellent physical condition in order to successfully complete workouts as well as build and strengthen the crew.
Wildland fires in Alaska’s Boreal Forest pose unique fire suppression, operational and logistical challenges. Common work conditions include heat, cold, wet, wind, dust, smoke, and insects—all conditions are possible in a 16 hour shift.
In the field, housing consists of a tent, and meals consist of field rations (MREs) supplemented with fresh food. Primitive field conditions for weeks at a time are normal and expected for the crew. Cellular phones work intermittently and only in populated areas. Typically, when the crew travels to lower 48 assignments, they remain away from their home base for up to three months.
While not on fire assignment, the crew’s work consists of a variety of conservation and resource enhancement projects such as prescribed fire, hazard fuel reduction, trail construction and rehabilitation, and building maintenance or construction.
Employment begins in late April and can last as long as mid-October. Sixteen hours per day, seven days per week are common while on fire assignment.
Recruitment and Hiring
Crew specific hiring/recruitment information:
When applying for positions on USA Jobs, selecting duty location of Fairbanks, AK will refer you to both Chena and Midnight Sun Hotshots. Both crews hire off of the same list and will interview applicants that are interested in both crews together.
Apart from the initial critical training the crew will participate in a daily physical fitness program involving running and calisthenic exercises and hiking.
The Alaska Fire Service was established in 1982, which shifted wildfire management responsibilities from the BLM Districts and provided firefighting services to all Federal, Native, and some State of Alaska lands north of the Alaska Range. By this time there were only two seasonal BLM fire crews (Hotshot crew #1 & #2), both based at Ft. Wainwright, an Army base located on the outskirts of Fairbanks, Alaska. When in Fairbanks, the crews lived in military barracks and ate meals at the BLM mess hall. During the fire season, the crews were often temporarily relocated to a bush station.
In 1985, the decision was made to convert the Alaska Fire Service Hotshot crews to Interagency Type 1 status. Efforts were made to develop stability in the Hotshot program and ensure that the Alaska Fire Service Hotshots met all agency and interagency goals and standards. At that time, Fairbanks Hotshot Crews #1 & #2 were renamed Chena IHC and Midnight Sun IHC.