The Lolo Hotshots have roots in the beginnings of modern-day fire suppression history. Although the crew was officially recognized as a national shared resource in 1961 as one of the original 9 Interregional crews, the crew originated from the Blister Rust control crews (BRC) who performed important forest health mitigation work in areas affected by Blister Rust infection. These crews were used for local fire suppression assistance and because of their experience, were often requested for fire assignments outside the region. In 1961, due to the nation-wide demand for the more experienced, mobile and organized suppression crews, the Forest Service created Interregional Fire Suppression Crews. Two of these crews were placed in Region 1 (Northern Rockies) - one based on the Nez Perce National Forest at Slate Creek on the Salmon River (this crew no longer exists) and the other on the Lolo National Forest at Ninemile Ranger District, 30 miles west of Missoula, Montana.
From 1961-1970 the crew was based at the Ninemile Ranger District then was moved 40 miles west to the St.Regis Work Center in 1971 because the work center accommodate 25 people. This proved to be a logistical problem for the crew so they moved back to Ninemile where they were based through the 1981 season. In 1982 the crew’s base of operations was moved to the Missoula Ranger District where it remains today.
Organization of the crew has changed significantly since 1961. In the early years (1961-1974) the crew was composed of 1 Foreman, 3 Squad leaders, 20 crewmembers, and a cook. The Foreman (now Superintendent) was the only career appointed position on the crew. In 1974 the number of individuals assigned to the crew dropped from 25 to 20 due to aircraft configuration and changes in flight weight limitations. In 2004, the Superintendent and Assistant became permanent full-time employees, with 3 Squad Leaders, 6 Senior Firefighters and 2 Apprentices employed under 13/13 career appointments. Currently the crew operates under the 1-1-3 configuration with 6 senior PSE firefighters.
1969- Crew receives first dispatch to Alaska, Russian River Fire, Chugach NF9
1980- The first woman was hired on the crew.
1989- Margaret Doherty became the first female Hotshot Crew Superintendent in the nation.
1990- ESPN documentary program “America’s Wilderness” profiles crew during pre-season training and while on fire assignment. The hour-long production was broadcast worldwide on several occasions. The documentary included interviews with several crewmembers and footage of fireline operations. It gave a sense of what life on a hotshot crew is like and conveyed the diversity of both the people and the work the crew performs.
1993-1996- Lolo IHC participates in Brazil/United States Fire Management Exchange Program.
1998- CBS News 48 Hours profiles crew during Hopper Fire in Southern California and conducts follow-up interviews. Broadcast in October 1998 (received their lowest ratings ever).
2011- Steve Karkanen retired in May as the longest running Superintendent of Lolo IHC
2016 - Firefighter Justin Beebe lost his life while battling the Strawberry Fire, GBNP, Nevadauperintendent.
1961 Ron Stoleson
1962 Lyle Brown
1963 Jay Penney
1964 - 1973 George Bissonette
1974 Neil Ramberg
1975 Neil Ramberg/Kevin Brown
1976 - 1981 Mike Cyrus
1982 Jerry Benson
1983 - 1984 Don Feser
1985 Roger Christopher
1986 Don Feser
1987 Steve Betlach
1988 Greg Power
1989 Margaret Doherty
1990 - 2010 Steve Karkanen
1994 (Detail) Marshal Brown
2000 (Detail) Holly Maloney
2010 (Detail) Tim Laroche
2011 - 2017 Tim Laroche
2018 (Detail) Shawn Faiella
2019 - Shawn Faiella