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Background

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.

Crew Composition

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.

Significant Events

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.

Superintendents

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

2011 –