3.4. The Six Basic Wildfire Safety Hazards Copy

Jeff Co

1) Fire Entrapment

A life threatening situation where fireline personnel are threatened by a sudden change in fireline conditions and are unable to use escape routes to access safety zones.

Wildfire Entrapment Avoidance
  • Never fight fire in any situation where safety is compromised.
  • Be situationally aware at all times.
  • LACES in place at ALL TIMES.
  • Be aware of hazardous fuels.
    Fine/dead or diseased/unburned fuel between fire and FF.
  • Be aware of hazardous WX.
    Changes in winds, erratic, variable, increasing, prolonged drought, convective storms, approaching WX fronts.
  • Be aware of hazardous topography.
    Steep slopes, south aspect, gullies, canyons, chimneys
Wildfire Evacuation Procedure
  • RETREAT
    Follow Crew Leaders directions. Take hand tools with you unless ordered to drop them. Walk along Escape Route to Safety Zone.
  • REGROUP
    Assemble at Safety Zone.
  • REASSESS
    Analyze situation and decide whether re-engaging the fire at the same or another location, if safe to do so.
Wildfire Entrapment Survival

ATTEMPT TO BREACH FLAME FRONT AND GET INTO “THE BLACK”

  • Find an area of the fire edge where there are lighter fuels, thin flame front.
  • Cover as much skin as possible, (collar up, sleeves down, gloves).
  • Take a deep breath and breach, move through flame front into burn.
  • AVOID BREATHING HOT GASSES/ SMOKE
  • Keep moving back from flame front.

IF YOU CANNOT BREACH FLAME FRONT FIND SHELTER IN A SURVIVAL ZONE.

  • Find a fuel-free depression or trench, (preferably behind a rock as well).
  • Opposite side of a ridge may be an option. Watch for spot fires! Benches or road grades, lying on the cut slope side may be an option.
  • Helispots, fire control lines, stump holes, (from uprooted trees).
  • Lie flat on the ground, parallel to flame front Curl arms and hands around head and ears.
  • Wet clothing, if possible.
  • Dig a hole for your face and breathing.
  • Cover yourself with clothing and/or soil.
  • Take shallow breaths at ground level. STAY LOW. Remain on ground until fire passes.
  • PROTECTING YOUR AIRWAY IS YOUR ONLY CHANCE
  • Raising above ground, even a few inches, could be fatal, DO NOT MOVE

2) Dangerous Trees

A dangerous tree is any tree that due to it’s location, lean, deterioration of limbs, stem or root system or recent physical damage, poses a hazard to personnel or infrastructure.

All areas where wildland firefighters are working are assessed by certified Danger Tree Assessors, (DTA).

DTA’s are imbedded with all wildland fire crews.

Trees are assessed:

  • During initial size-up.
  • Where BUI is above thresholds, (root burn).
  • After 72 hours, (if fire still active in area).
  • If work was halted and re-commenced.
  • Change in work activity, (Level of Disturbance).

Once assessed as a dangerous tree a decision is made by the DTA to:

  • Fall dangerous tree.
  • Remove hazardous portion of dangerous tree.
  • Install a “No Work Zone”, around dangerous tree.

3) Rocks and Rolling Debris

  • Steeper the slope the greater the hazard.
  • Burning action can loosen rocks or logs.
  • Personnel moving up or down slope.
  • Heavy equipment.
  • Take care when moving up or down steep and loose slopes.
  • Warn crew, if you loosen something or if you spot rolling hazard, (call “ROCK!”)
  • Never work directly below heavy equipment.

4) Aircraft and Heavy Equipment

  • Hazards from the equipment
  • Hazards from the activity of the equipment.

5) Unsafe Personal Behaviour

  • Working while fatigued.
  • Being over-confident.
  • Rushing, working too fast.
  • Panicking.
  • Not following directions, (of Crew Leader).
  • Not understanding directions.
  • Not Communicating clearly.

6) Wildland Urban Interface Hazards

  • Inadequate vehicle access.
    Narrow/steep driveways, no turn-around, inadequate bridges.
  • Overhead powerlines.
    Electric shock hazard, low-flying aircraft hazard.
  • Fuel tanks in and around structures. Propane, fuel oil etc.
  • Hydrogen sulphide gas.
    Oil and gas infrastructure, (wellsites, pipelines, storage tanks).
  • Unknown fuel types.
    Stored in structures, (gasoline, aerosols, paint, ammunition)
  • Hazardous materials. Fertilizers, pesticides, plastics, asbestos