The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Oregon/Washington office announced today the Lakeview Veterans Fire Crew has achieved certification as the Lakeview Veterans Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC). Of the 112 IHCs throughout the nation, Lakeview Veterans is the tenth BLM-funded hotshot crew, and the only one focused on recruiting and developing veterans.

Interagency Hotshot Crews are the most highly trained and experienced type of hand crews and they must meet and maintain stringent requirements to achieve the IHC status. Their primary mission is to provide a safe, professional, mobile response to all phases of fire management and incident operations. IHCs are staffed, conditioned, equipped and qualified to meet a variety of strategic and tactical wildland fire assignments, and they are typically relied upon for the most challenging fire assigments. When not committed to fire assignments, IHCs provide a workforce to accomplish a variety of resource management objectives while maintaining availability for incident mobilization.

In 2016, Lakeview Crew 7 and the Lakeview BLM fire organization requested that the Lakeview Veterans Crew begin the process to be certified as an IHC. Over the subsequent two years, the Lakeview Veterans Crew took steps to meet the IHC requirements before being formally certified at the national level.

“We’re proud of the Lakeview crew and the continued efforts to develop a workforce of Veterans. We recognize the diligence and tenacity required to meet Hotshot crew standards, which demonstrates the exemplary quality and performance ingrained in this crew,” says Jeffrey Fedrizzi, BLM Deputy Director, Fire and Aviation.

The Lakeview Veterans IHC will provide an opportunity for veterans to work in a team environment and build skills and experience. Team members will also learn about opportunities to work for and become competitive for employment with the Federal Government in other natural resource arenas.

“What makes this crew unique is our ability to work together through stressful situations, including long-duration fires. Vets are used to that,” said Michael McGirr, Lakeview Veterans IHC Superintendent. “The ability to lead and follow is apparent from their military time. And the medical experience on our crew is well above standard. Several of our vets have combat paramedic experience,” continued McGirr.

The Lakeview Veterans IHC also has four drone pilots, who flew more than 100 missions on fires in 2018. These drone missions provided everything from mapping and scouting fire lines to spot fire detection and aerial ignitions.