1.4 Safe Work Procedures – LACES


Topic Progress:


Anchor Points


Escape Routes

Safety Zones

Causal analysis of fireline “close calls”, injuries and fatalities, often reveals common factors, oversights or omissions.

The five element of LACES must be conformed to at ALL times when on suppression operations, (including mop-up and patrol).

Remember that no fire suppression tasks are considered sufficiently urgent to justify any risk-taking or shortcuts with safe work procedures. 


  • Posted anytime there is possible danger.

BCWS OSWD #3 states a designated Lookout is mandatory is when Rank 4, or greater fire behaviour is predicted.

  • Experienced/ Competent/ Trusted.

Must have a good foundation in fire behaviour, weather observation, suppression tactics.

  • Knows Crew Location.
  • Knows Escape Routes and Safety Zone locations.
  • Radio/ Map/ Weather Kit/ Watch/ IAP.


  • A relatively fuel-free point from which to commence suppression operations, (eg. Road, lake, creek, previously burned area, clearings).
  • Fire control lines should start and be extended from and ANCHOR POINT.
  • ANCHOR POINT(S), should be sought and identified during the initial size-up, (initial fire assessment), and communicated to all personnel.


  • Confirm Radio Frequencies allocations, specific to your incident, (IAP).
  • Confirm all assigned radio equipment is operable, and personnel are familiar with operation.
  • Establish check-ins and ensure someone is assigned to perform check-ins.
  • Acknowledge Messages, request “read back” of critical messages/ points.
  • Communicate hazards and situational updates to others.
  • Remain in communication with other firefighters.
  • Communicate warnings etc early, not late.


  • Must have at least two PRE-PLANNED escape routes at ALL TIMES.
  • Ensure all personnel know the escape routes.
  • Escape routes should be scouted, marked, brushed and timed.
  • Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of escape routes during operational period. Escape routes may change during day as crew position changes or conditions change.

Video showing escape route trail in extreme deadfall/ root burned area.


  • Must be PRE-PLANNED.
  • Ensure all personnel know the locations of SAFETY ZONES.
  • Potential safety zones should be relatively fuel-free such as;

The burn area, (“in the black”), can be considered a safety zone, provided the majority of fuels have been consumed, (area is “clean burned”).

Water bodies, rock outcrops, clearings, etc

  • Safety zone must be large enough for all personnel and equipment.

Minimum distance between personnel and potential flames should be 4X the maximum flame height. (Flame height can be estimated by doubling the height of the fuels).

Safety Zone UPHILL in relation to fire = larger safety zone required.

Safety zone DOWNWIND in relation to fire = larger safety zone.

Safety zone in HEAVY FUELS = larger safety zone.