Indian Affairs | Navajo IHC

Navajo IHC                                                                                       facebook logo

Navajo IHC
BIA Navajo Forestry
PO Box 1060 MC 443
Gallup, NM 87305
Johnson Benallie, Superintendent
Email Johnson
Email Navajo Hotshots
(928) 729-7391 (Office)
(928) 205-9989 (Cell)

Vann Smith, Assistant Superintendent
Email Vann
Email Navajo Hotshots
(928) 729-7382 (Office)
(928) 205-1696 (Cell)

(928) 729-2307 (Dispatch)
(928) 729-5029 (Fax)


The Navajo Interagency Hotshot Crew is based out of Fort Defiance, Arizona, on the Navajo Indian Reservation, and is located seven miles north of Window Rock, near the four-corners region. The Navajo reservation is comprised of more than 17 million acres of land within Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, where approximately 5.8 million acres are commercial timber.   

The crew began in 2002 as a Type I “training” crew. They traveled to various locations to assist in wildland fire suppression activities, and assisted in natural disaster relief efforts. These assignments gave them the opportunity to earn their crew qualifications, and in August of 2005, the Crew became a fully qualified IHC after having met the interagency standards.

Following certification, the Navajo IHC continued to excel both physically and mentally to exceed standards set forth by the National Interagency Hotshot Guide. Each crew member either meets or exceeds the physical fitness standards. Crew members are required to complete the mile and half running test in ten minutes and thirty-five seconds, as well as meet the push-ups, sit-ups, and pull-ups standards. The overall program’s goal of the Navajo IHC is to offer training opportunities so each firefighter is able to attain a minimum qualification of Squad Boss. 

The Navajo IHC Superintendent, Leo La Paz, with fourteen years of hotshot experience and twenty five years of overall fire management experience was recruited in 2002. He is a member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe and has been with the crew since it was established. His qualifications include Division Supervisor, Safety Officer II, Burn Boss, Type 3 Incident Commander and a C-faller certifier. He is also the National C-certifier Program Manager. 

In January 2007, the Assistant Superintendent was filled by Johnson Benallie, who first joined the crew in 2003. He is a Type 4 Incident Commander, Crew Boss, Strike Team Leader, and has a B.S. in Forestry. Former Crew Assistant Superintendents includes Nathaniel Nozie and Tony Parks. Aside from the Superintendent, all personnel on the Navajo IHC are enrolled members of the Navajo Tribe.