As the threat of wildfires has grown in recent years, the body of smokejumpers has become a key piece in combating this natural disaster in the United States. For 80 years, these firefighters have parachuted into the terrain where the fire is advancing, and manage to fight it from areas inaccessible to ground vehicles.
The program was launched in 1940, after advances in aviation developed during World War I. Paratroopers are equipped with kevlar suits and grid helmets for protection during landings, in addition to traditional firefighter uniforms.
Currently, the U.S. Forest Service has 320 elements in this elite firefighting corps, distributed in seven bases throughout the country. When they are not fighting active fires, they work on forest clearance and prevention tasks. Every firefighter who is part of this service must be trained in physical and psychological testing and develop additional skills, such as learning to sew and repair parachutes on the ground.
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