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Fire Entrapments



Previous Studies of Vehicle Burnovers


Test Procedures and Methods

Test Results



About the Author

Appendix A - Vehicle Entrapment Study Plan

Appendix B - Characterizing Gases Generated in Vehicles and Fire Shelters

Appendix C - Insulated Boxes for Protecting Video Cameras

Also read about engine entrapment incidents:


Fire Entrapments
Comparing Conditions Inside
Vehicles and Fire Shelters


The study was designed to quantify the conditions that existed inside the cab of an engine and inside a fire shelter-at the same time-during a wildfire burnover (Figure 3).

Figure 3-Layout for the June 5 burn in Los Angeles County.

The specific factors to be measured included:

  • Air temperature in the immediate vicinity of the engines and shelters, at levels from 6 to 108 inches (15 to 274 cm) above ground level
    Radiant heat flux levels in the immediate vicinity of the engines and in fire shelters, 3, 6, and 9 feet (0.9, 2, and 3 m) above the ground
  • Air temperatures within the cabs of the engines, measured every 6 inches (15 cm) from the floor to the ceiling
  • Surface temperatures on the outside and inside surfaces of the standard fire shelters and prototype stainless steel fire shelters (Figure 4)

    Figure 4-Several types of fire shelters were tested, including the standard Forest Service fire shelter and prototypes from MTDC and a private firm.

  • Air temperatures within the fire shelter, 1 inch (3 cm), and 12 inches (30 cm) above the ground
  • Gas compounds released by heat and burning in the engines and fire shelters.

Video and still photographs would be taken of the fire conditions affecting the test vehicles and the fire shelters, including video footage taken inside the cab of the engines. These photographs would be used for technology transfer.

There is no intention on the part of MTDC or the WO Fire and Aviation Management in this study to set policy to determine whether firefighters should remain in a vehicle or deploy a fire shelter- rather, the study should provide as much quantifiable data and observations as possible so managers can formulate policies that apply specifically to their agencies.

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