Lake Tahoe now has its own select force of highly-trained Wildland firefighters, the Tallac Hotshots, the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit announced Monday.
The group of 20 firefighters, formerly the Tallac Hand Crew, completed a demanding training process and was certified on June 19 as the first Interagency Hotshot Crew from the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The Tallac Hotshots join about 2,000 other Hotshot firefighters across the United States. Other nearby crews are based in Carson City, Camino and Truckee.
“These crew members have spent countless hours honing their skills and building strong relationships that are paramount to successfully conducting fire suppression work for the Forest Service,” Forest Supervisor Nancy Gibson said in a press release.
“Now, as a national resource, they will be available to serve all of us, including our interagency partners, in protecting life, property and natural resources during wildfire suppression activities.”
The Tallac Hand Crew was formed in 2001 as part of a nationwide resource buildup under the Forest Service National Fire Plan. Its intent was to perform fuels management projects and to be available for wildfire responses.
The crew has evolved into the Tallac Hotshots through extensive training, recruitment and leadership retention. It is part of the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center that serves Western Nevada and the Eastern Slope of the Sierra.
But a Hotshot crew can be ready to travel anywhere in the country within two hours. They are trained to provide initial attacks against fast-moving fires in remote areas and are often flown into steep terrain to fight the most dangerous, complex and intense wildfires using only equipment they can carry.
Hotshot crews are trained to respond to other types of national emergencies including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes, according to the Fire Service.
The Tallac Hotshots’ primary mission is to be a safe, professional, mobile and highly-skilled hand crew for all phases of fire management and incident response. But they will also provide training for the Forest Service Wildland Firefighter Apprentice Academy and the Lake Tahoe Community College Fire Academy.