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Wildland Fire Suppression Tactics Reference Guide


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PREFACE & CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION TO REFERENCE GUIDE

  • FIRE ORDERS
  • WATCH OUT SITUATIONS
  • LOOKOUTS, COMMUNICATIONS, ESCAPE ROUTES, SAFETY ZONES
     (LCES)

SECTION 1—FIRE SUPPRESSION PRINCIPLES

SECTION 2—USE OF WATER AND ADDITIVES

  • Types of Pumps
  • Hydraulics
  • Series, Parallel, and Staged Pumping
  • Hose Lays
  • Mopup
  • Tactical Use of Water
  • Surfactants
  • Class A Foam
  • Retardants
  • Firegels

SECTION 3—USE OF FIRE IN CONTROL OPERATIONS

  • Burning Out and Backfiring
  • Types of Fire Spread
  • Ignition Techniques
  • Strip Firing
  • One, Two, Three -Three, Two, One (1-2-3/3-2-1) Firing Concept
  • Head and Strip Head Firing
  • Blowhole Firing
  • Spot Firing
  • Ring Firing
  • Chevron Firing
  • Burn Strip
  • Planning and Conducting Firing Operations
  • Special Firing Considerations
  • Firing Equipment

SECTION 4—MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT

  • Dozers
  • Comparison of Dozers Used For Fireline Construction
  • Dozer Production Rates
  • Dozer Line Construction Principles
  • Tractor Plows
  • Principles of Tractor/Plow Operations
  • Engines
  • Mobile Attack
  • Tandem Tactic
  • Pincer Tactic
  • Envelopment Tactic
  • Stationary Attack
  • Inside-out Tactic
  • Parallel Attack
  • Engine Production Rates

SECTION 5—TACTICAL AIR OPERATIONS

  • Factors Affecting Aircraft Use
  • Factors to Consider in Retardant Aircraft Use
  • Types, Effects, and Use of Retardant
  • Recommended Retardant Coverage Levels
  • Retardant Evaluation Criteria
  • Air Tanker Tactics
  • Principles of Retardant Application

SECTION 6 -WILDLAND/URBAN INTERFACE

  • Kinds of Wildland/Urban Interface
  • Structural Fire Behavior
  • WildlandlUrban Fire Sizeup Considerations
  • Structure Triage
  • WildlandlUrban Interface Firefighting Tactics
  • Structure Full Containment
  • Structure Partial Containment
  • Structure No Containment
  • Structural Firefighting Situations That Shout "Watch Out"
  • Structural Watch Out Situations & Triage Made Easier to Remember

SECTION 7 -FUELS, FIRE BEHAVIOR, AND TACTICS BY GEOGRAPHIC
 AREAS OF THE UNITED STATES

  • Alaska
  • Northwest and Northern Rocky Mountains
  • Southern and Central California
  • Great Basin and Southern Rocky Mountains
  • Southwest
  • Northeast
  • Southeast

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

 

WILDLAND FIRE
SUPPRESSION TACTICS REFERENCE GUIDE

PMS 465
NFES 1256

APRIL 1996


SECTION 1 -FIRE SUPPRESSION PRINCIPLES (continued)

HOW TO ATTACK A FIRE

If you are the first person to arrive at a fire or a single resource boss in charge of the first crew at a fire, you have several problems. You are confronted with deciding; 1) what is the most important work to do first, and 2) where the most effective work can be done. Keep in mind at all times that firefighter safety is the highest priority in fire suppression.

After sizing up the fire you need to select an anchor point and make your attack. Following are some good practices in making an initial attack or suppressing a large fire.

  • If you are the incident commander, establish an organization and command structure. Make sure your subordinates know the plan and are kept informed on changing conditions, tactics and/or strategies.

  • Use water or dirt to cool and extinguish hot spots.

  • Anticipate future control action when the fire cannot be contained promptly.

  • Construct fireline uphill from an anchor point.

  • As a first effort, keep fire out of the most dangerous fuels, and prevent it from becoming established in explosive types of fuels, such as grass, thickets of tree seedlings, heavy brush, or slash areas.

  • Confine fire as quickly as possible.

  • Locate and build firelines. Move all rollable material so it cannot roll across firelines.

  • Leave no significant areas of unburned material close to fireline.

  • To gain control, swiftly locate and build fireline in the easiest and safest places for line construction that can be held. Burn out as needed when line is constructed and burning out can be controlled.

  • Utilize existing barriers to full extent.

  • If fire spread cannot be contained, notify dispatch and do some safe, effective work on at least a part of the fire.

  • Where improvements (houses, other buildings, fences) are involved, consider all the facts before determining which point to attack first. No improvement or piece of property is worth firefighter injury or fatality.

Now a decision must be made concerning how to attack a fire. The methods of attack are direct, parallel, and indirect.

Direct attack is made directly on the fire's edge or perimeter (see Figure 3). The flames may be knocked down by dirt or water and the fire edge is generally treated by a follow-up fireline. Or, a fireline is constructed close to the fire's edge and the fuel between the fireline and the fire is burned out or the fire is allowed to bum to the fireline.

Figure 3—Direct Attack
Direct Attack

Direct attack generally works best on fires burning in light fuels or fuels with high moisture content burning under light wind conditions. Direct attack works well on low intensity fires (flame lengths less than 4 feet) which enable firefighters to work close to the fire.

A major advantage of direct attack is firefighter safety. Firefighters can usually escape back into the burned area for a safety zone. This is known as “keeping one foot in the black.”

Parallel attack is made by constructing a fireline parallel to, but further from, the fire edge than in direct attack (see Figure 4). This tactic may shorten fireline construction by cutting across unburned fingers. In most cases the fuel between the fireline and the fire edge is burned out in conjunction with fireline construction.

Figure 4—Parallel Attack
Parallel Attack

Indirect attack is accomplished by building a fireline some distance from the fire edge and backfiring the unburned fuel between the fireline and the fire edge (see Figure 5). Indirect attack takes advantage of using natural and human-made barriers as fireline and allows a choice of timing for backfiring. Indirect attack is generally used on hot fires with high rates of spread where direct attack is not possible.

Figure 5—Indirect Attack
Indirect Attack


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