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Honoring the Globe Hotshots: 1974 – 2024

The Globe Hotshots are hosting a 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday, March 23 from 1-5 p.m. at Besh-Ba-Gowah Park, 460 Hagen Road. All alumni and family members are welcome to attend.

The focus of the celebration will be “hearing stories from those who were on the crew years ago, and getting the crew history for Globe as caught up as we can,” says Superintendent Drew Maxwell.

Commemorative T-shirts and catered food will be available. Captain Aaron Bechdolt is organizing a silent auction and raffle, with proceeds going to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, which supports fallen and injured firefighters and their families.

The organization is missing crew photos from the following years and hopes individuals who have them will come forward: 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2012, 2014.

Brief History of the Hotshots

1974 Hotshot Crew. Courtesy Photo

The first hotshot crews originated in Southern California in the late 1940s. They were called hotshot crews because they worked in the hottest parts of the wildfires. Between the 1950s and early 2000s, more than 100 interagency hotshot crews (IHCs) were founded across the country.

The Globe Hotshots started in the mid-1960s. These are known as the suppression years, when the Globe Ranger Station had two suppression crews to fight fires and perform forestry-related work. In the early 1970s the Globe Hotshots became an inter-regional hotshot crew, and in 1974 the crew became an IHC.

For the first two years, there were three squads, but the only permanent personnel were the crew boss and an assistant. About half of the crew were college students, and they used a converted cattle truck as the crew carrier. 

By 1975 the crew had two rental vans and a Suburban, and Linny Warren became the first local to serve as an assistant.

In 1976, the Hotshots went to a longer season, which reduced the number of students on the crew. In 1978, they experimented with a 28-person crew, with one superintendent and two assistants. This organizational structure is still in use today for Region 3 IHCs.

“That tradition continues and lives on with duty, integrity and respect,” Maxwell says. 

Commitment to a Common Goal

“Hotshots are individuals who can work in a team setting and contribute,” Maxwell says. “They are someone who can accept a physical challenge and has the drive and determination to work and push themselves when they see others pushing.”

The full crew is assembled from March to the end of September. The permanent employees stay on to help during the shoulder season with scouting, preparing, implementation of fire prevention strategies, and training. When conditions are favorable for prescribed burning, they do that. Full-time employment helps with the recruiting and retention of experienced firefighters, often a challenge.

“Working in extreme conditions is tough,” Maxwell says. “The amount of time we’re gone and the commitment it takes to be on call for six months – there’s a lot you sacrifice and miss.”

Many on his crew commute from the Valley or from Tucson. Some camp in their vehicles, while others team up to pay for a rental together.

“We wake up in the morning, available, and that afternoon we can go to Montana or California,” Maxwell says. 

“During the busy season we might only be home a handful of days every month.” 

Hotshots’ Top Spot

Drew Maxwell, Superintendent. Photo by LCGross

Maxwell became interested in firefighting as a young man, took some college courses and joined a county crew in his home state of Colorado. Like many in the profession, he enjoyed being outdoors, doing challenging work.

“There were a few fires where I cooperated with forest folks,” Maxwell recalls. “It turned the light on to work with the federal government.”

He got his Hotshot start in Payson, first as a fill-in, then as a seasonal on a #6 engine. In 2008, he was hired into a permanent position. He returned to Colorado in 2010 to work as an engine captain and joined the Globe Hotshots as assistant superintendent in 2015. Three years later, he was in the top job.

“The awareness of the responsibility for the position set in when I accepted,” Maxwell says.

Nearly six years later, that awareness has become automatic. As superintendent, Maxwell oversees the day-to-day operations of the crew, on and off fire duty, and performs administrative duties – “making sure everyone is healthy and safely accomplishing our task.” The most difficult days are when there’s an injury on the crew. 

But the best part of his job is seeing folks years later – those who have moved up within the agency and those who have gotten out of the forest service altogether and are doing well in new life ventures.

“That’s what this reunion is all about,” Maxwell says.

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