Colorado Firecamp has bundled S-230,
Crew Boss with S-231, Engine Boss,
offering both classes as a single session including
meals and lodging. Our next S-230/231 classes are:
Cost: $575 includes tuition, meals & lodging.
Thirtymile Criminal Complaint, 2006
S-230 Crew Boss (single resource)
pre-course reading assignment
—adapted from the January, 1958 issue of Fire Control
19, no. 1.
SAFE PRACTICES UNDER BLOWUP CONDITIONS
A TRAINING OUTLINE FOR THE FIRE CREW BOSS
The purpose of this large fire overhead training outline for
the crew boss is to help him know more about blowup conditions and safe
Blowup fires and safe practices to follow have always plagued the crew
boss. The importance of the problem has again been pointed out by
fire accidents during the past several years.
There is need for practical, clear, concise instructions to the crew
boss on this subject. As a start, the best available information
has been listed and recorded in this outline.
A blowup condition is defined as an explosive, violent fire behavior
that is difficult to identify before it occurs.
The training outline is organized in three main parts:
- Instruction steps and key points to stress in fire behavior fundamentals.
- Instruction steps and key points for indicators of dangerous fire
- Instruction steps and key points for the crew boss to follow
for safe practices.
It is extremely important that the instructor use all experiences
that can be brought to the attention of the crew boss to point
out the key
points and principles outlined in this training plan.
It is recommended that a minimum of four hours be given each year
to fire crew bosses on the subject of blowup conditions and safe
FIRE BEHAVIOR FUNDAMENTALS
Example of introduction.—Successful fire fighting is based upon
the knowledge of why a fire burns and what makes it spread. Fire is simply
a rapid chemical combination of fuel, heat, and air. The basic principle
of fire suppression is to remove one or more of these elements in the
quickest and most effective manner.
In order to do this, however, there must be some knowledge of the causes
and reasons for fires acting as they do. The primary factors that influence
the spread of forest or range fires are fuel, weather, and topography.
Fuels.—Fuels are commonly divided into two main groups: (1) Flash
fuels such as dry grass, dead leaves, tree needles, brush, and small
bushy trees; and (2) slow burning fuels such as logs, stumps, deep duff.
Weather.—Weather factors with which you as a fire crew boss will
be concerned are wind, moisture, and to a lesser degree, temperature.
Slope or topography.—Slope greatly affects the spread of fire in
two major ways: (1) Preheating and (2) draft.
Judgment is the major factor in determining the relative importance
of all the elements which determine fire behavior. For example, continuity
and arrangement of fuels are sometimes more important than volume. Given
a certain volume of fuel, features of arrangement or position will influence
spread as well as difficulty of control. If fuels are patchy, broken
up by areas of thinner fuel, rocky or barren spots, the spread may be
uneven and slow (blackboard illustration recommended). If these same
fuels are partly on the ground and partly in the air—standing snags—spread
may be by spotting, and with severe winds, this may cause a most difficult
fire. It pays to look carefully at all conditions in sizing up a fire.
The fire crew boss must take advantage of known methods of sizing up
a fire at a given time and predicting what will happen as the fire
advances or as changes of weather occur.
INDICATORS OF POSSIBLE UNUSUAL FIRE BEHAVIOR
Occasionally a forest fire burns with an intensity that seems far out
of proportion to apparent burning conditions. Each blowup fire raises
the question: What can we do to recognize conditions causing extreme
fire behavior? How can we predict these conditions in advance? The
following on-the-ground indicators should be watched for as they
may mark extreme
burning conditions that will follow:
- Fast burning fuels.
- Unusually dry fuels.
- Large amounts of fine fuel (grass, needles, moss, etc.) particularly
where continuous and on steep slopes.
- Crown foliage dried by surface fire over large area.
- Brush and conifer tree foliage after prolonged drought.
- Concentration of snags.
- Weather factors.
- Strong winds blowing.
- Unexpected calm. May result in winds shifting.
- High clouds moving fast may result in unusual winds on ground.
- Unusually high temperatures early in morning.
- Dust devils and whirlwinds.
- Thunderheads above or in close proximity to fire usually lead
to dangerous downdraft winds. If thunderhead
is upwind of the prevailing wind, the
danger is greatest.
- When slope becomes shaded, look out for
- If a fire is burning near a mountain or
glacier (such as Mt. Hood), greater downslope
- Keep an eye on smoke column. Winds may
be blowing from different directions
result in spot
- Watch smoke column for an increase
in wind speeds aloft. This leads to
spotting, and gusty
- Sudden changes in direction and/or
velocity of wind when weather fronts
- Fire behavior (which could lead to a blowup).
- Spotting ahead of fire or downslope below line being
- Intense burning inside fireline.
- Smoldering fires over a large area.
- Many simultaneous fires starting.
- Whirlwinds inside fire causing spots and creating intense,
- Broadcast crown fires in brush or timber.
SAFE PRACTICES FOR CREW BOSS TO KNOW AND USE
The crew boss has two main responsibilities: (a) To obtain an effective,
fair day's work from his crew, and (b) to look after the safety and
welfare of his crew 24 hours a day to the best of his ability.
After instructing in how to recognize conditions leading to blowup
fires, the training leader guides the group into sharing experiences
safe practices to know and use to prevent injuries or loss of life
during blowup conditions. As he puts across the following instruction
and key points (which are numbered) he should (a) review with group
and stress key points, (b) encourage crew bosses to relate actual
experiences they have had on a fire to stress key points, (c) relate
he has had to illustrate points, and (d) use case histories of disasters
or near misses.
STAY ALERT. Be prepared for safe emergency action.
Keep Your Head.
- Heads up: Look up, look down, look around.
- See what you look at.
- Know where the fire is and how it is behaving at all times.
If necessary, use scouts or post lookout with proper communication.
- Know what danger signs to look for, including fatigue.
Use your fire behavior know how.
- Think before acting. Pause, think, then act.
- Fire fighting is dangerous. Crew boss has a key job.
Men are looking to the crew boss.
- Keep an up-to-the-minute plan of get-away action
- Act with decision and promptly when escape
action is needed.
- Remember-a fireline is not usually safe until
it is burned out.
- The spectacular fire may not be the most
dangerous. The quiet-looking fire may be
the most hazardous.
- Get weather forecast in morning.
- WORK and ACT as a TEAM.
- Gain confidence of crewmen.
- Keep crew together. Need to do this for clear, safe actions.
- Use action words: “Come here,” “Follow me,” “Keep
together.” The crew boss is the leader.
- Don't assume anything. Crew bosses have said, “Let's go” and
men have gone different directions.
- Know where all your men are.
- Men must follow all verbal orders and stick together when
orders are given to move out.
- Have men keep handtools as they may be of value in providing
- Assign most experienced, mature men for scouting and for
lookout when in especially hazardous situations.
- Arrange for prompt communication.
- Manage and control your men.
- PLAN GET-AWAY, including escape
- Crew boss must always have in mind a clear-cut plan of action
for fire blowups. Know in advance where you will lead your crew.
prepare and mark escape route in advance.
- Let your crew members know you are responsible for their safety.
- In the event of a blowup, pause a moment and size up the situation.
Then think clearly, speak decisively, and act in a calm and deliberate
- Remember danger potential of timber, brush, and grass fire
- Keep crew informed.
- Keep in mind open places such as rock slides, streams, burned-over
places, meadows, alder patches, and gravel bars.
- One of the safest spots is burned-over area. If needed, dig
- When not possible to get into burned area, remember, men can
travel faster downhill or along contour.
Warning—Remember, winds usually blow downslope
at night and fires can run rapidly downhill.
- If necessary to jump through burning edge of fire, have men
lace hat or coat over face.
- Caution men: if clothes catch on fire, roll on ground in
dirt to put out fire.
- Do not travel ahead of fires in direction of spread unless
you are positive that a safe place ahead can be reached
- When not possible to get within burn, pick most open
ground available and avoid dense brush, where men can
and go astray.
- After reaching escape spot, check to be sure it is
safe from falling trees, snags, rolling logs, or rocks.
find a safe
and post lookout.
- In any brush fire fighting, when working in advance
of fire with dozer, build safety strip for retreat.
- In timber types, sharp ridgetops are good bet
to get to if possible.
- Watch for safer topography, benches in steep
- As last resort, burn out and dig in.
- When at safe spot, remember suffocation has
killed. Have men keep damp clothes over their
noses and get
next to ground.
- Where heliports exist, keep their location