Types of Crews


Engine Crew:

Engine Crews are used for initial and extended attack fire suppression, support of prescribed fires, patrolling, and project work. These crews range in size from three to ten firefighters and work with specialized firefighting equipment and perform many strenuous activities such as – mobile attack with engines, hose lay, construction of fireline with hand tools, burnout operations, and mopping up hotspots.

Fire Effects Crews:

Fire Effects Crews specialize in documenting pre- and post-fire effects to vegetation and fuel. Fire Effects Crews spend most of their work time in a field environment, but also input and manage data and identify plants in an office setting. The work generally consists of collecting standard vegetation measurements, identifying plant species, and measuring wildland fuel loading. Some Fire Effects crew members also work as Fire Effects Monitors (FEMO) on planned and unplanned wildland fires where they document fire behavior and weather observations during active fires. In some cases Fire Effects crew members also participate in operational fire activities such as suppression and fuel treatments.

Prescribed Fire / Fuels Crew:

Fuels Crews are used primarily for working on fuels projects which include hazardous fuels reduction and restoration of fire adapted ecosystems. This work may entail thinning of timber, woodlands, or shrubs with chainsaws; utilizing prescribed fire to reduce fuels; pilling and chipping of slash; chemical application to undesirable fuels; monitoring pre and post fire effects; and fire suppression on occasion. These crews can range in size up to a ten person crew. Fuels crews are skilled in a variety of hand tool and chainsaws use. May participate prescribed fire and wildfire activities, which may include: burn unit prep, fire operations, maintenance of equipment and supplies, mop up, and monitoring.

Hand Crew:

Hand Crews normally consist of 18-20 crewmembers. Hand Crews can be used for a variety of operations on a wildland fires. Hand Crews are assigned duties on wildland and prescribed fire primarily that consist of constructing fire lines with hand tools and chainsaws, burning out areas using drip torches and other firing devices, and mop-up and rehabilitation of burned areas. Hand crews may or may not have assigned permanent supervision. For more information on veteran handcrews, click here.

Helitack Crew:

Helitack crews are wildland fires suppression crews specializing in helicopter operations. Helitack Firefighters are delivered to fires via helicopter and suppress wildfires with hand tools and chainsaws. Helicopters can be equipped with a bucket or fixed tank to drop water or retardant during firefighting operations. They deliver helitack crews for initial attack, and transport personnel and cargo in support of fires.

Some helitack firefighters are trained to rappel from the helicopter to reach fires in remote locations. A helitack crew provides land management agencies with a safe, highly skilled and a productive aerial firefighting resource. The crew can range in size from an 7 to 24 persons. Helitack crews may also be used to support prescribed fire operations or special projects requiring helicopters.

Hotshot Crew:

Hotshot Crews are a 20 person organized crew of which is used primarily for wildfire suppression, fuels reduction, and other fire management duties. They perform the same duties as Hand Crews, however are very specialized and are generally placed in the most rugged terrain on the most active and difficult areas on wildfires. Hotshot crews are utilized throughout the country and may spend extended periods away from their home units. The crews place a great deal of emphasis on physical fitness.


Smokejumpers are highly trained and experienced firefighters who are delivered to wildfires via airplane and parachutes. In addition to wildland fire suppression, smokejumpers provide hazardous fuels reduction services to land management agencies. Smokejumpers operate out of any airport with adequate runway specifications, providing long-range, large payload, rapid response to an emerging or ongoing fire. A plane load of smokejumpers can vary from 8 to 20 depending on the aircraft. All smokejumpers must have previous firefighting experience and come from various fire backgrounds including engines, helitack, hotshot crews, or fuels and suppression crews.

Wildland Fire Modules:

Wildland Fire Modules are 7 to 10 person crews that can assist in planning, fire behavior monitoring, ignition, holding, project preparation and execution. Wildland Fire Modules are often times assigned to fires that are being managed for multiple objectives and provide expertise in areas of fire effects monitoring, ignition, holding, line construction, and long term planning.

Wildland Fire Modules are required to be self sufficient for extended periods of time and perform many of their functions in remote areas of fires or wilderness areas. Wildland Fire Modules possess a unique skill-set that can help fire managers achieve objectives when managing fires for multiple objectives.

Fire Suppression Modules:

BLM Fire Suppression Modules are comprised of 5-10 firefighters and are used primarily for wildfire suppression, fuels reduction, and other fire management duties. They are capable of performing self-contained initial attack suppression operation, and can generally provide incident management capability at the Type 5 level.