ESTABLISHED IN 1967
Bighorn IR & Wyoming Hotshot History 1967-Present
In 1967, Region 2 of the Forest Service was allocated a second Inter-Regional (IR) Crew. The region
conducted an inventory of work projects and identified potential work stations within an hour of a major
airport that could host the new crew. The end result was the selection of the Bighorn National Forest’s
Paintrock Ranger District in Greybull, WY as the home of the Bighorn IR Crew. Some 40 years later, the
crew still resides in the same buildings and remains the only hotshot crew in Wyoming.
During the late sixties, the standard size of an Inter-Regional Crew was 32 members with a Crew
Foreman, four Squad Leaders and seven or eight firefighters on each squad. By 1970, the crew size was
down to 27 members in order to reduce the number of people that had to remain behind, as most travel
was done by DC-3 or C-46 which had a maximum capacity of 24. The current crew size of 20 was
established in 1975.
Hair length could not exceed two inches and facial hair was prohibited in the late sixties and early
seventies. Sleeping quarters were fashioned out of the carpenter shop which consisted of a garage with
a large metal building attached. Inside were excess metal military bunks, metal military lockers that
acted as screens between some of the bunks and limited bathroom facilities.
The early 1980’s brought significant change as the first woman joined the crew in 1981 and in 1982 the
Bighorn IR crew became the Wyoming Hotshots. During the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, the
Wyoming Hotshots were one of several hotshot crews on detail to Southern California. Olympic and city
officials requested additional crews in an effort to prevent large wildfires that could worsen air quality.
A primitive kitchen and one unisex bathroom were tolerated throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Handcrafted “rooms” multiplied until in 1996 a major remodel brought individual rooms and separate
men’s and women’s bathrooms. Then and now, the barracks sits right next to the railroad switching
yard which provides nightly enjoyment. The locomotives rev up their engines and build up speed and
then stop to release some of the cars. The stopping of the locomotive creates a chain of bangs as each
car smashed into the next one.
The only fire shelter deployment in crew history occurred in June of 1988 on the Brewer Fire, Custer
National Forest, Montana. Severe drought, record low fuel moistures, erratic and strong winds,
extreme temperatures and very low humidities led to extreme fire behavior conditions. The fire went
from a surface fire to a running crown fire while the crew was flanking the fire my building fireline. The
crew ultimately deployed shelters in a nearby meadow and four firefighters ultimately sustained burn
The 1990’s experienced the major barracks remodel, a wealth of time on assignment in Craig,
Colorado and the second half of Mark Rogers’ tenure as Superintendent. Rogers was by far the longest
serving Superintendent in crew history at 13 years.
The modern era is marked by a gradual increase in permanent staff in order to keep pace with national
standards, longer fire seasons and an increased involvement in all-risk assignments. Like all other
crews, the Wyoming Hotshots have experienced busier and busier fire seasons. The number of days on
assignment has more than tripled from the 25 to30 days spent on fires in 1967 and 1968. Other
memorable recent events include the only trip to Alaska in crew history (2004) and back to back
hurricane relief assignments in 2005 and 2006.