Comments on: Tips on the fire line What makes a great picture? Thu, 18 Aug 2016 11:13:37 +0000 hourly 1 By: beaw Sat, 25 Jun 2011 00:11:25 +0000 Thanks Jim, its a very useful blog and tips

By: arroja Sat, 18 Jun 2011 12:18:48 +0000 Congrats, Jim, nice write up. I´ve done some fire work here in Europe where, unfortunatly, wildfires (and not so wild ones) are a summer event, almost every year.

One thing I´ve used to keep ahead of my fellow media hogs is a radio scanner loaded with the emergency services frequencies. I can hear where the action is and from there I can make a better idea of where to go.

Regarding the car, besides parking in a fashion that you can move out quickly, it´s very important that it´s parked in a way that won´t interfere with the emergency veichles. I once got asked to move mine and felt very embarassed.

Maintaining good relations with the local emergency officials allows you to go far. I make a point in not forgetting these guys in times of little or no action, like winter or quiet summer fire seasons, running stories about stuff like their training programs, promotions, anniversaries, etc.

By: brooks_w Sat, 18 Jun 2011 01:30:00 +0000 As a former wildland firefighter, I know they are really particular about footwear. You don’t want steel toed shoes, they will heat up near fire. You want stiff toed shoes. They also require the boot cuff to be at least 8 inches tall, to avoid embers slipping inside the boot. And finally, the boot should be all leather and no synthetics, because leather won’t melt under heat. The boots in your first shot meet most of those requirements to be okay. The fire fighter sitting down in the picture has the classic boot example.

By: Jimurquhart Fri, 17 Jun 2011 22:44:37 +0000 Pablo,
You are right on. I will get it added.

By: Gmiller Fri, 17 Jun 2011 22:40:58 +0000 My former team learned a lot over the years covering some of the largest fires in the nation in Southern California. It was helpful that some of us had experience on the fire line in our youth. Photographers and Editor: If you have communication, use it!

Wildland Safety Gear: (prices may have changed a bit)
1. $14.50 Wildland Gloves
2. $70.00 Nomex Shirt*
3. $70.00 Nomex Pants*
4. $25.00 Wildland helmet Model FH911C
5. (n/a) Wildland helmet assembly
6. $23.00 Goggles
7. $109.00 Fire Shelter (No Norair Lancs/Plastics, Metor Plastics or Cecile units)
8. $20.00 Wildland Nomex hood
9. $44.95 Web Gear (holds two canteens* Not included, fire shelter and fanny pack)
10. $20.00 Two canteens
11. $150.00 Boots

Total: $546.45 per team member

Standards for Fire Survival
“Watch Out Situation”

1. Fire not scouted and sized up
2. In country not seen daylight
3. Safety zones and escape routes not identified
4. Unfamiliar with weather and local factors influencing fire behavior
5. Uninformed on strategy, tactics and hazards
6. Instructions and assignments not clear
7. No communication link with crew members or supervisor
8. Constructing fireline without safe anchor point
9. Building fireline downhill with fire below
10. Attempting frontal assault on fire
11. Unburned fuel between you and the fire
12. Cannot see main fire, not in contact with anyone who can see main fire
13. On a hillside where rolling material can ignite fuel below
14. Weather getting hotter and drier
15. Wind increases and/or changes direction
16. Getting frequent spot fires across line
17. Terrain and fuels make escape to safety zones difficult
18. Taking a nap near the fireline

Snag Safety

Environmental conditions that increase snag hazards:
1. Strong winds
2. Night operations
3. Steep slopes
4. Diseased or bug-kill areas

Hazard tree indicators:

1. Trees have been burning for an extended period
2. High risk tree species (rot and shallow root system)
3. Numerous down trees
4. Dead or broken tops and limbs overhead
5. Accumulation of down limbs
6. Absence of needles, bark or limbs
7. Leaning or hung-up trees

Safety Zone Guidelines

1. Avoid locations that are downward from the fire.
2. Avoid locations that are in chimneys, saddles or narrow canyons
3. Avoid locations that require a steep uphill escape route (greater than 50%)
4. Take advantage of heat barriers such as lee side of ridges, large rocks, or solid structures
5. Burn out safety zones prior to flame front approach
For radiant heat only, the distance of separation between the firefighter and the flames must be at least four times the maximum flame height. This distance must be maintained on all sides, if the fire has the ability to burn completely around the safety zone.
EXAMPE: Ten foot high flames equals forty feet of safety from firefighter to flame approx. 1/10 of and acre (One acre is approximately the size of a football field or exactly 208 feet x 208 feet.)

Burn Injury Treatment:

1. Remove person from heat source, extinguish with water.
2. Provide basic first aid

First Degree – Affected skin’s outer layer. Redness, mild swelling, tenderness, mild to moderate pain.
Second Degree – Extends through entire outer layer and into inner layer of skin. Blisters, swelling, weeping of fluids and severe pain.
Third Degree – Extends through all skin layers and into underlying fat, muscle, bone, Discoloration (charred white or cherry red), leathery, parchment-like, dry appearance. Pain is absent.
“ RULE OF NINE” for determining area of burn:
Head 9%
Back/Front Torso 18%
Right/Left arm 9%
Right/Left leg 9%

3. Cut away burned clothing. DO NOT cut away clothing stuck to burned skin.
4. Apply cool, clear water over burned area. DO NOT soak person or use cold water and ice packs. This encourages hypothermia.
5. Cover burned area with sterile dressing, moisten with saline solution, and apply dry dressing on top.
6. For severe burns or burns covering large area of body-wrap in clean, sterile sheet followed by plastic sheet. Place inside sleeping bag or cover with insulated blanket.
7. Avoid hypothermia and overheating
8. Monitor airway, breathing and circulation (ABCs) and keep burned areas moist.

Last Resort Survival:

Escape if you can:

1. Drop any gear not needed for fire shelter deployment
2. You might be able to hold fire shelter as a heat shield as you move.
3. In LIGHT FUELS you may be able to move back through the flames into the burned area.
4. If you are on the flank of the fire, try to get below the fire.
5. Consider vehicles or helicopters for escape

Find a survivable area:

1. Stay out of hazardous terrain features
2. Use bodies of water that are more than two feet deep
3. In LIGHT FULES you may be able to light an escape fire
4. In other fuels, you may be able to light a backfire
5. Call for helicopter or retardant drops
6. Cut and scatter fuels if there is time
7. Us any available heat barriers (structures, large rock, dozer berms)
8. Consider vehicle traffic hazards on roads

Pick a fire shelter deployment site:

1. Find the lowest point possible
2. Maximize distance from nearest aerial fuels or heavy fuels
3. Pick a surface that allows the fire shelter to seal and remove ground fuels
4. Get into the fire shelter before the flame front hits
5. Position your feet toward the fire and hold down the fire shelter
6. Keep your face pressed to the ground
7. Deploy next to each other and keep talking


1. Extremely heavy ember showers
2. Superheated air blast to hit before the flame front hits
3. Noise and turbulent powerful winds hitting the fire shelter
4. Pin holes in the fire shelter that allow fire glow inside
5. Heat inside the shelter = Extreme heat outside
6. Deployments have lasted up to 90 minutes
7. When in doubt wait it out

By: pabloconrad Fri, 17 Jun 2011 17:12:20 +0000 Nice write up.

Two things I believe you’ve forgotten:

I’ve covered wildfires in Colorado many times and I always had 2 gallons of fresh water in sealed containers, extra food, and even some camping gear.