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The squad boss drives, the captain rides shotgun, and the eight crew members sit in the back, with the most senior toward the front and the newest guys in the back.

All of their tools go into side compartments, while their personal gear fits in racks and nets above the seats.

The hotshot’s primary mission on a wildfire is to scratch in a dirt fire line, two- to five-feet wide, around the entire fire. He uses it for everything from typical cutting duties to shorting out radios for reprogramming, or even as a plumb bob (with the lanyard) to assess tree lean. He strongly prefers one made of glass with a sight in the middle.

The chingadera (apologies to Spanish speakers) is the most efficient tool for the job and the one most Tahoe Hotshots use in the field. The paracord lanyard is essential for retention when crawling through thick brush. At night, The mirror is useless at night, so if Mecham needs to signal an aircraft in the dark (in California, most air operations stop at night for safety reasons), he’ll tie a glow stick to a length of paracord and twirl it overhead.

To find out what wildland firefighters rely on, we hooked up with Kevin Mecham, a 12-year veteran with the Tahoe Hotshots.

International Crew Haul Mecham and the Tahoe Hotshots named their 2006 two-wheel-drive crew hauler Eight Ball.

You need the right gear to go trail running, skiing, or mountain biking.

You really need the right stuff if you spend weeks fighting infernos in the middle of a forest.

It also cools relatively fast so they don’t burn themselves on the first sip.Weather, specifically wind and relative humidity, is one of the most important factors when trying to contain a wildfire.Mecham pulls out the Kestrel 3000 several times a day to predict fire behavior.When it’s not being used as a coffee cup, the hotshots like to store their phones and other electronics inside.Synthetic clothing, aside from fire-resistant Nomex, is unsafe to wear while battling a wildfire.

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