For almost 20 years, Luke Mayfield was a wildland firefighter. And for several of those seasons, he was part of a hotshot crew. Those highly trained groups take on difficult and dangerous assignments – often on the hottest part of a fire.
"I would still like to think I'm a hotshot," Mayfield says. "I wear a hotshot belt buckle every day. My hotshot belt buckles are the one thing that I hope my daughter gets when I'm no longer walking around on this earth."
Belt buckles are part of hotshot culture. They’re only awarded to hotshots who have finished two or three seasons. But when Mayfield looks at them sitting on a shelf at home in Bozeman, Mont., it’s with a mix of emotions. "It's the most gratifying job I'll ever have," he says.