Hotshot Firefighter Takes to Instagram to Document His Crew’s Heroics


In the world of firefighting, a “hotshot” is a firefighter who specializes in containing forest fires before they reach inhabited areas. Gregg Boydston is one such “hotshot.” Part of a 20-person crew that is available to travel all over the nation, he does one thing that most firefighters don’t: he brings his iPhone along and uploads photos to Instagram.

Boydston’s career as a hotshot firefighter began about 3 years ago when he left a job at Apple to start a new career path. “I didn’t want to work inside anymore,” writes Boydston on his blog. Now, as he travels all over the US, he says he likes to think, “my office is most people’s motivational posters in their office. I’m doing it, and don’t plan on stopping.”

It was this beauty that initially got him into Instagramming his travels. But once he began to develop a following, he decided to show the world what he and his crew did for a living.

“I get to help the forest and help keep home and towns from burning,” he told us via email. “It is a great feeling. Physically and mentally demanding, this job isn’t for everyone; me, I love it.”

Here’s a selection of the photos Boydston has taken and shared with his 14,000+ followers so far:











Keep in mind, when Boydston says physically demanding, he’s not kidding. According to the US Forest Service, hotshots have to be able to run 1.5 miles in 11 minutes or less, do 40 sit-ups in 60 seconds, and hike three miles carrying a 45-pound pack in 45 minutes. And that’s in addition to being able to handle heat that literally “takes your breath away” — like he said, it’s not for everyone.

He, however, told NPR he plans to spend the rest of his life fighting fires. At 25, he has plenty of good years left to do this, but when NPR asked him if he had a backup plan, he was ready with an answer: “Sure, photography.”

To see more of Boydston’s photos, follow him on Instagram or head over to his website by clicking the respective links.

(via NPR)

Image credits: Photographs by Gregg Boydston and used with permission

  • agour

    awesome photos, looks like a pretty intense job! :)

    (running 1.5miles in 11 minutes isn’t actually that hard, though).

  • Larry Angier

    I went through the basic wildland firefighter training at age thirty years ago. Though I prepared by running and riding my bike for weeks, it was still a challenge since my training was at altitude in the Sierra Nevada when it was warm in late spring. Glad I did it and it made my photography and illustration for the firefighter training manual I was working on much better.

    Being out on the fire lines with the proper safety equipment and training and with a camera is a rush!

  • guest

    impressive pics!

  • Zacharypt

    Keep in mind the weight they carry, and the terrain

  • LLBelle

    While I commend your article on Boydston & bringing his talent, profession, & love of his career to the attention of the public-thus giving him and his brothers & sisters the respect they deserve–for future journalistic notes, please refrain from using quotation marks around the title: hotshot. Hotshot is the official job title, not to be confused with the derogatory term one would use in a sarcastic or… well… derogatory… manner. The Type 1 IHC crews are exactly that, hotshots. Period. I’m sure your use of quotation marks was an honest error; I just ask that you triple-check your use of terminology prior to putting it in print. Most of the public looks to journalists for facts & knowledge. When terminolgy & improper use of titles or grammatical marks are used incorrectly, the public is being misinformed. Just a note to self. Truly, the basis of your article is fantastic & I appreciate your bringing awareness of the danger and beauty of the job our brothers & sisters do to the public. It’s awesome to see our wildland firefighters being acknowledged & respected outside of the family.

  • Scott

    Usually I’m somewhat of an instagram hater but this is pretty damn good stuff. He’s actually using nice composition and a light touch with the filters.

  • Stefano Druetta

    this reminds me of that funny fro-doesn’t-know-photo who was complaining about iphone shooters at concerts.

    these pictures. these pictures kick ass.

  • KH

    And they are probably breathing in oxygen and smoke, not to mention the higher elevation.

  • natums

    Link to his instagram?

  • Sterling

    Timely article after the recent deaths of 19 of these hotshots battling an Arizona fire. Intense job indeed.

  • laura

    I pray for all those who protect us in all different fields. Thankyou laura

  • Gregg Boydston

    Yea I agree Agour, that is one of the easier parts of the job. The hiking with equipment is much tougher than the cardio training.

  • Gregg Boydston

    Sometimes we have to stop working in an area because the amount of smoke we are breathing in. It burns your throat and makes your eyes water.

  • Gregg Boydston

    Funny you say that Larry, I did all my preparing in the Eastern Sierras in Mammoth. It was hard to get my hiking legs ready since there was snow all winter but it all worked out! I would enjoy shooting these events with my DSLR instead of my iPhone.

  • Gregg Boydston

    thank you!

  • Gregg Boydston

    This is true, sometimes the Hotshot titles is confused for a fake nickname for us or something. But it is the real name of our crews. There are just over 100 of them in the US all by their own location name followed with the title Hotshots. All Type 1 Interagency Hand Crews. (IHC) Thank you though for the kind words!

  • Gregg Boydston

    Thank you Scott, I appreciate it. I try to keep my photography knowledge in mind even in the conditions I am shooting photos. Especially with a filthy phone case and on a mobile phone.

  • Gregg Boydston

    Thank you Stefano

  • Gregg Boydston

    I agree totally. I am hoping I can help people understand the job as a Hotshot a little more after seeing all that in the news.

  • Gregg Boydston

    Thank you

  • Karlene

    My Man :) How crazy so proud of theses men!