Hand Crew Life

Utah County Fire is home to a nationally available type 2IA hand crew. For a member of Utah County’s initial attack hand crew, a typical day on assignment begins before dawn. As most of the crew march to chow, crew leaders head the morning briefing to receive assignments and establish tactical plans for the operational period.

Travel to the assigned area is most often a combination of foot and vehicle travel, however; on occasion a helicopter may provide a lift to a remote location.  After traveling to the assigned area, the crew grabs tools and gear for the day. The 20 man crew can be divided into squads of 5-7 individuals or broken down into smaller modules. Configuration of the crew and situational objectives are provided in the crew briefing along with a detailed explanation of all factors affecting the incident.

At the assigned area, saw teams begin cutting fire-line followed by the “diggers” who scrape down to soil and move anything that could threaten the perimeter. The crew leadership will establish and convey safety parameters and constantly monitor the overall situation of the fire so that individuals can be safe and effective.

Tactics, used on incidents, vary widely depending on the situation. It is a crew member’s job to use all of the tools that become available for the assignment at hand. The following is a non-comprehensive list of possible assignments:

  • Firing and holding operations
  • Mop-up and patrol
  • Initial attack
  • Line rehab
  • Felling operations
  • Contingency line construction
  • Structure protection
  • Line scouting

Generally the day ends with another hike out to the vehicles and a journey back to base camp. After rehabbing equipment and a review of the day’s activities, it is off to chow and then to the sleeping bags.

Before you are ready, the day begins again with another assignment. The crew will work long hours, typically 16 hours a day. A tour of duty may last 14 straight days followed by 2 days off. After the 2 days are over, the crew may head out for another long assignment.