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Bozeman company helps outfit elite firefighters

By Jordan Moore, KTVM Reporter, jmoore@ktvm.com
Published On: Jul 01 2013 07:58:21 PM MDT
Updated On: Jul 01 2013 11:17:37 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Hotshot teams are some of the firefighting elite. Many times they are called in as first responders to wildfires. The tight-knit crews of 20 are spread out across the nation.

There are six Hotshot crews in Montana alone.

We wanted to know more about the Hotshots, what it takes to be on the team, and the type of gear they use. We reached out to Mystery Ranch in Bozeman, a company that makes gear specifically for these elite firefighters.

Andrew Jakovac works for Mystery Ranch and is a former Wildland firefighter. He explained these firefighters are on the front lines of some of the most dangerous fires across our nation.

"They are the crew that runs around due to an initial attack on fires that spur up. They need a lot of experience. They are involved in very dangerous scenarios," said Jakovac.

When we spoke with Jakovac he showed us some of the equipment they sold, including the fire shelter.

"A lot of times its strictly get there, drop your fire line gear and pull out your fire shelter. Throw it over you and seal it as well as you can against the ground," said Jakovac.

NBC Montana also met with Marianne Baumberger with the U.S. Forest Service.

"Unfortunately, you never know what Mother Nature has up her sleeve," said Baumberger.

She told us wildfires are unpredictable, and incidents like what happened in Arizona are felt throughout the Forest Service.

"It kind of gets you and you know it is part of the fire family," said Baumberger.

However she stresses it is important to learn from these tragedies.

"Our crews know that it is part of the nature of the beast. That is why they work so hard to try to stay safe," said Baumberger.

Andrew Jakovac shared the same feeling. "When they do happen, you try and learn those lessons they can teach you. Then move from that experience on," said Jakovac.