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Fireline Safety. Heather Heward. A state of mind. Safety is a state of mind Safety is always the first priority Safety is your responsibility. Overview. Physical fitness Proper equipment 10 standard firefighting orders 18 watchout situations Hazards Situational awareness .

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fireline safety

Fireline Safety

Heather Heward

a state of mind
A state of mind
  • Safety is a state of mind
  • Safety is always the first priority
  • Safety is your responsibility
  • Physical fitness
  • Proper equipment
  • 10 standard firefighting orders
  • 18 watchout situations
  • Hazards
  • Situational awareness
physical fitness
Physical Fitness
  • Fire fighting is a demanding job which required you to be both mentally and physically fit
    • 2 parts of fitness
      • Aerobic fitness – related to oxygen intake, regulates work capacity
      • Muscular fitness – includes both strength and endurance
    • Being fit will allow you to be more tolerant of heat, acclimate faster, work with lower hart rates and body temperatures
fitness levels
Fitness levels
  • Pack test is the only physical requirement
    • 3 miles
    • 45 pounds
    • 45 minutes
  • Recommended line crew
physical fitness1
Physical fitness
  • Fitness tests
  • Fatigue
    • 2 to 1 work to rest
  • Heat stress and dehydration
    • Water and electrolytes
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide
  • Food and nutrition
    • 5,000 to 6,000 calories a day
proper equipment
Proper equipment
  • PPE
    • Wear it right
  • Fire shelter
  • Line gear
  • Personal gear
ppe required
PPE – required
  • Flame resistant shirt and pants
    • Made from Nomax or Kevlar
    • clean, no holes or tears and has no gas or oil stains.
  • Boots and socks
    • leather 8 inch (no steal toe)
    • cotton or wool socks
  • Hard hat
    • plastic, light weight…
  • Gloves
    • Leather, no gap between glove and shirt
  • Chaps
  • Hearing protection
  • Eye protection
ppe recommended
PPE – recommended
  • Wear a 2nd layer - typically cotton
  • Goggles
  • Hood or Shroud
fire shelter
Fire Shelter
  • A fire shelter is a required piece of safety gear
    • Protects you by reflecting radiant heat and trapping air
preparing for a wildland fire line gear
Preparing for a wildland fire (line gear)
  • Nomex Shirt and Pants
  • All-leather 8” Boots with nonskid soles
  • Hardhat w/ headlamp clips and chin strap
  • Neck shroud
  • Headlamp and batteries
  • Fire Shelter
  • Radio and harness
  • Leather gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Hearing protection
  • Fuseesand lighter
  • Compass and/or GPS
  • Canteens
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Task book
  • MRE or other food
  • Fire line handbook
  • Map/IAP
  • TP
  • Warm layer
  • Rain gear
  • Flagging
  • Parachute cord
  • Knife
preparing for a wildland fire personal gear
Preparing for a wildland fire (personal gear)
  • 2 set of nomex
  • Underwear, t-shirts, socks
  • Washcloth, towel, soap, shampoo
  • Toothbrush, tooth paste
  • Medications/vitamins
  • Money
  • Camera
  • Bathing suit
  • Flashlight
  • Knife
  • Hat and gloves
  • Warm layers
  • Shower shoes
  • Tent and sleeping bag
  • Extra boot laces
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Book
  • Street clothes
10 standard wildland firefighting orders
10 standard wildland firefighting orders
  • Developed in 1957
  • Are absolute
    • Common reasons for breaking one of the orders
      • Ignorance – lack adequate training
      • Over confidence – excessive “can do” attitude
      • Lack of empowerment – thinking someone else will take care you
    • Work on making the firefighting orders instinctive
10 standard wildland firefighting orders1
10 standard wildland firefighting orders


  • Keep informed on fire weather conditions and forecasts
  • Know what your fire is doing at all times
  • Base all actions on current and expected fire behavior


  • Identify escape routes and safety zones, and make them known
  • Post lookouts when there is possible danger
  • Be alert. Keep calm. Think clearly. Act decisively


  • Maintain prompt communication with your forces, your supervisor and adjoining forces
  • Give clear instructions and be sure they are understood
  • Maintain control of your forces at all times


  • Fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first
10 standard wildland firefighting orders2
10 standard wildland firefighting orders
  • Keep informed on fire weather conditions and forecasts
    • 2 types of weather information
      • Tactical – fire weather observations
      • Strategic
        • Spot weather forecasts
        • Long range forecasts
10 standard wildland firefighting orders3
10 standard wildland firefighting orders
  • Know what the fire is doing at all times
    • Keep track of:
      • the location of the fire perimeter
      • the rate and direction of spread
      • fuel cover
      • fire behavior
      • location of fuel breaks
      • spotting
    • Obtain information from:
      • personal observation
      • Lookout
      • Supervisor
10 standard wildland firefighting orders4
10 standard wildland firefighting orders
  • Base all actions on current and expected fire behavior
    • Constantly evaluate the fire behavior and detect subtle changes
    • 3 possible outcomes fire behavior:
      • stays the same
      • lessons
      • gets worse

Make sure to have a plan for all three!

10 standard wildland firefighting orders5
10 standard wildland firefighting orders
  • Identify escape routes and safety zones and make them known
    • Safety Zone: refuge from an unexpected change in fire behavior
      • Void of fuels
      • Not a deployment zone
    • Escape route: way you get personnel from where you are working to the safety zone
      • quick safe passage from your work site to the safety zone
10 standard wildland firefighting orders6
10 standard wildland firefighting orders
  • Post lookouts when there is possible danger
    • Tasks:
      • Weather
      • Fire behavior
      • Smoke
      • Communications
      • Know crew location and tactics
    • Tools
      • Belt weather kit
      • Compass/GPS/Map
      • Binoculars
      • Radio and plenty of batteries
      • Extra foul weather gear (sun or rain)
      • Comfort
    • Lookouts should be knowledgeable in fire behavior and understand the significance of changes and identify hazardous situations
10 standard wildland firefighting orders7
10 standard wildland firefighting orders
  • Be alert. Keep calm. Think clearly. Act Decisively
    • The key is to understand and avoid what may cause you to be less alert, to get overexcited, or to become mentally disorganized
      • To counteract this you should:
        • Maintain self control
        • Eat and drink correctly
        • Get adequate rest
        • Develop contingency plans
        • Monitor the situation
        • Take regular breaks
10 standard wildland firefighting orders8
10 standard wildland firefighting orders
  • Maintain communications with your forces, your supervisor and adjoining forces
    • Ensures you can receive or report changes in instructions; warnings of changing conditions; changes in status; or progress reports.
      • extra batteries and a back up plan for communication
10 standard wildland firefighting orders9
10 standard wildland firefighting orders
  • Give clear instructions and be sure they are understood
    • Be concise and clear when providing instructions
    • Ask to have instructions repeated if you do not understand them
10 standard wildland firefighting orders10
10 standard wildland firefighting orders
  • Maintain control of your forces at all times
    • To help ensure this
      • Ensure your instructions are clear, concise and understood
      • Maintain communications
      • Know the location of your crew
      • Know the status of the fire
    • The key is to be prepared to react quickly and effectively to the unexpected
10 standard wildland firefighting orders11
10 standard wildland firefighting orders
  • Fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first
    • If you can not ensure you can fight the fire on your terms stop and reevaluate
    • To fight fire aggressively you must:
      • Lookout
      • Communication
      • Escape Route
      • Safety Zone
      • IRPG
watch out situations
Watch out situations
  • Fire not scouted and sized up
  • In country not seen in daylight
  • Safety zones and escape routes not identified
  • Unfamiliar with weather and local factors influencing fire behavior
  • Uninformed on strategy, tactics and hazards
  • Instructions and assignments not clear
  • No communication link with crew members or supervisor
watch out situations1
Watch out situations
  • Constructing line without a safe anchor point
  • Building fireline downhill with fire below
  • Attempting frontal assault on fire
  • Unburned fuel between you and the fire
  • Cannot see the main fire; not in contact with someone who can
  • On a hillside where rolling material can ignite fuel below
  • Weather becoming hotter and drier
watch out situations2
Watch out situations
  • Wind increases and/or changes direction
  • Getting frequent spot fires across the fireline
  • Terrain and fuels make escape to safety zones difficult
  • Taking a nap near the fireline
  • L – Lookouts
  • C – Communications
  • E – Escape routes
  • S – Safety zones
  • A simple way to help remember the key elements to survival
  • The Lookout has to:
    • Know the location of the escape routes and safety zones
    • Be experienced enough to properly evaluate the present and potential fire behavior
    • Take weather readings
    • Understand the tactics and strategy
    • Always be able to see the fire
    • Handle other fire communication tasks
    • Look at the bigger picture
  • Communications
    • See, track, record, interpret, anticipate and report. If the report is not made , all the other stuff is meaningless!
    • Fireline communication:
      • Incident name and IC
      • Immediate supervisor
      • Days plan
      • Days tactics
      • Safety zone and escape routes
      • Communication plan – channels and repeaters
      • AAR
  • Escape Routes
    • One or more ways to exit danger
      • clearly identified
      • be clear of obstacles
      • short in length
      • not go up hill if possible
      • Decision (trigger) points - when you move to safety
      • Timed and practiced
      • Think about alternatives
  • Safety Zones
    • A properly designated safety zone should not require the deployment of a fire shelter.
      • large enough to protect firefighters under worse than predicted fire behavior
      • As work progresses along the line new safety zones will have to be identified along with new escape routes.

fireline hazards
Fireline Hazards
  • Smoke and Dust
  • Snags
  • Stump holes
  • Darkness
  • Footing
  • Rocks
  • Branches/overhead hazards
  • Weather
  • Stobs/roots
  • Pumps, tanks, hoses
  • Bucket/retardant drops
vehicle hazards
Vehicle hazards
  • Driving is the most dangerous component of fire fighting
    • Fatigue
    • Dust
    • Unfamiliar routes
    • Darkness
    • Bridge weight limits
    • Excessive traffic
    • Parking
    • Vehicle maintenance
    • Emergency response speed i.e. the speed limit
    • Local traffic laws
    • Horse play
    • Loose equipment on vehicle
aircraft hazards
Aircraft Hazards
  • At the air field
    • Enter and exit
    • Follow instructions
  • Fireline
    • Bucket/retardant drops
    • Sling loads
    • General recon
    • Rotor wash
    • Radio communications
    • Ground contacts
other hazards
Other hazards
  • Ticks, snakes, and poison oak and ivy
  • Power lines
  • Hazmat
  • People
  • Animals
  • Propane and Utilities
  • Septic
wildland urban interface hazards
Wildland urban interface hazards
  • Hazardous materials – dangerous gases from burning material
  • Propane tanks – can act as bombs
  • Traffic – can be a major issue so drive carefully
  • Panicked public – help public move form harms way
human hazards
Human Hazards
  • Attitude
  • Physical conditioning
  • Training levels
  • Experience
  • Fatigue
  • Local knowledge
  • Crew dynamics
  • Chain of command
  • Span of control
  • Effective communications
human factors
Human Factors
  • Common barriers to good listening:
    • Perceived opinions
    • Distractions
    • Filtering information
    • Not listening
    • Having an attitude

Every firefighter is responsible for open, effective communication

five basic communication responsibilities
Five basic communication responsibilities
  • Briefings
    • The passing of general information
  • Debriefing
    • After an incident or event you ask questions of those involved to learn what happened
  • Warnings
    • Information about hazards is passed on
  • Acknowledge messages
    • You say you understand the information or orders
  • Questions
    • You ask for clarification
after you receive an order
After you receive an order
  • You should be able to answer the following:
    • What task am I to perform?
    • What are the known hazards?
    • Where do I go to be safe?
    • How do I get to this place?
situational awareness
Situational awareness
  • Situational awareness is the gathering of information by observation or through communications
      • This means constantly reassessing the situation as things change
    • Factors that hinder your situational awareness
      • Inexperience
      • Stress
      • Fatigue
      • Attitude
final thoughts
Final thoughts
  • Remember:
    • It is YOUR responsibility to be safe on the fireline
    • There are no stupid questions, if you don’t know ask
  • Work on your situational experience by reflecting back on the good, the bad the ugly.
  • Why is physical fitness important
  • List the main personal equipment items you need to be a safe firefighter
  • What are the categories of the 10 standard fire orders? What is the most important one?
  • What is the purpose of the 18 watchout situations and what should you do if you are breaking some?
  • What does a lookout do?
  • What is makes communication successful?
  • List several fireline, vehicle, aircraft, and human hazards
  • Situational awareness
ics definition
ICS - Definition
  • Organizational management system based on:
    • Successful business practices
    • Decades of lessons learned
  • Developed in the 1970’s after a series of catastrophic wildfire in California.
    • Unclear chain of command
    • Poor communication between agencies
    • Failure to outline clear objectives and action plans
    • Lack of designated facilities
    • Inability to expand and contract to fit situation
ics basic features
ICS – Basic Features
  • Clear text and common terminology
  • Modular organization
  • Management objectives
  • Reliance on an Incident Action Plan (IAP)
  • Manageable span of control
  • Designated locations and facilities
  • Resources management
  • Integrated communications
  • Chain of command and utility of command
  • Unified command
  • Transfer of command
  • Accountability
  • Mobilization
  • Information and intelligence management
incident commander and staff
Incident Commander and Staff
  • Manage entire incident
    • Ensure incident safety
    • Provide information to stakeholders
    • Establish and maintain contact with other participating agencies
  • Support staff
    • Public information officer
    • Safety officer
    • Liaison officer
general staff operation section
General Staff – Operation section
  • Major functions
    • Implement tactics to achieve objectives
    • Assign resources and monitor progress
    • Report back
  • Organization positions
    • Staging area manager
    • Operations branch director
    • Division/Group supervisor
    • Task Force/Strike team leader
    • Single resources
general staff planning section
General Staff – Planning Section
  • Major functions
    • Gathering, analyzing, and distributing intelligence and information
    • IAP
    • Long-range and contingency planning
    • Maintaining documentation
    • Check in, tracking, and demob
  • Units
    • Resources
    • Situation
    • Documentation
    • Demobilization
general staff logistics section
General Staff – Logistics Section
  • Major Functions
    • Ordering, obtaining, maintaining, and accounting for essential personnel, equipment, and supplies
    • Communication planning and equipment
    • Food services
    • Incident facilities
    • Support transportation
    • Medical services
  • Services branch
    • Communications
    • Medical
    • Food
  • Support Branch
    • Supply
    • Facilities
    • Ground support
general staff finance section
General Staff – Finance section
  • Major functions
    • Negotiating and monitoring contracts
    • Timekeeping
    • Analyzing costs
    • Injury and property damage compensation
  • Units
    • Time
    • Procurement
    • Compensation/claims
    • Cost
common responsibilities
Common Responsibilities
  • Resource Order
    • Incident name
    • Location
    • Assignment
    • Base phone number
    • Reporting date, time, location
    • Communication (frequencies)
    • Special support requirements
    • Travel authorization
common responsibilities1
Common Responsibilities
  • Check in
    • Keep track of resources
    • Prepare for future paperwork
  • Initial incident briefing
    • Current situation
    • Job responsibilities
    • Location of work area
    • Communication
    • Coworkers
    • Eating and sleeping arrangements
    • Procedure for resupply
common responsibilities2
Common Responsibilities
  • Common duties during operational period
    • Acquire needed materials
    • Organize and brief subordinates
    • Debrief
  • Demobilization
    • Brief replacement resources
    • Performance evaluations
    • Check-out
    • Return equipment
    • Post-incident reports
    • Payment paperwork
discussion questions
Discussion Questions
  • What is the purpose of the Incident Command System?
  • When and where was it developed?
  • What are the support staff groups for the IC?
  • What are some major roles of each of the general staff of the Incident Command Team?
  • What should be included in the initial briefing on arrival at an incident?