Avoidance Techniques For Firefighters

Learning how to better understand fire behavior potential and to act soon enough to avoid entrapments.

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COMMONALITIES
1. 2. 3.

Firefighters reacting to fire behavior changes rather than acting on potential. Fire behavior not predicted or expected. New situation negating safety margins.
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Cramer Analysis by O.I.G.

FS management issues that were common to each fire.  Fire suppression personnel violated all of the "10 Standard Fire Orders" and failed to mitigate most of the "18 Watchout Situations.

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Cramer Analysis by O.I.G.

FS management issues that were common to each fire.

Each fire had rapid growth unexpected by management; fire suppression personnel employed questionable or improper tactics, and did not adjust their tactics as necessary.

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Cramer Analysis by O.I.G.

FS management issues that were common to each fire.  Incident Commanders (IC) failed to maintain clear command and control at critical points, and key personnel lacked situational awareness.

FS officials failed to provide adequate oversight and supervision to the ICs.
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RATIONALE

Would you agree that…

Knowing when and where the fire behavior could change and become dangerous, is important? Failure to predict fire behavior change has been the root cause of burnover accidents? The safety area and escape route selection need to be based on accurate prediction of fire behavior changes?

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LESSONS LEARNED
 

 

Some firefighters know the potential because they have developed their intuition through long experience. Eventually learning the hard way, they avoid situations that are potentially dangerous. They can’t or don’t explain the cause of the change. They receive criticism because they know, but can’t explain how they know.

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How to Base Tactics on Predicted Fire Behavior
 

Fire Order ..#2 Base your action on current and expected fire behavior. All burnover accidents have not had the fire behavior accurately predicted, if predicted at all.

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LOOKOUTS

It takes more than the act of posting a lookout to avoid problems. Lookouts need to know the trigger point of fire behavior change and how to warn people at an appropriate time to avoid danger.
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COMMUNICATIONS

Firefighters need to know how to explain their feeling that the position of the crew is dangerous. Intuition may not be enough to convince people to take action. Communication is more than just being able to talk.
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ESCAPE ROUTES
 

Escape routes have failed to be used in time. Changes in the fire behavior have wrecked escape routes. To be assured the escape route is good it is necessary to know the fire will not threaten it.

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UNPREDICTED EVENTS

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SAFETY AREAS

Safety area computations are half the requirement to assure they are viable. 20 ft. of flame requires 1/2 acre. There are many deployment sites that were thought to be safe areas.
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LCES is Effective When…

Experience provides for safe use of the LCES rules of engagement. New experiences will endanger firefighters. In that event, LCES becomes less insurance for firefighter safety.

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Learning to Make Fire Behavior Predictions
How observations can be used to make predictions of flame length. Step 1: Where will the fire get worse or easier? Step 2: What are the threshold fire signatures? Step 3: What force alignments caused these variations in flame length? Step 4: Which fire signatures will replicate in the areas the fire has yet to burn ?
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Fire Signatures

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How The Dillon Firefighters Avoided a Burnover

On August 13, 1994 the Dillon Fire was positioned much like the South Canyon Fire. It was about to make a strong run and there were firefighters on the fire line that would be overrun by the fire. The FBA and Operations Chief recognized the potential and ordered the firefighters moved into a safety area 4 hours before the run occurred.
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The Tactics Were Set, Then a New Fire Was Discovered

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WHAT TIME WILL FULL ALIGNMENT HAPPEN?

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TIME TAG THE WORK

Predict, “If the fire reaches the opposite slope it will run to the top, and crown” Full alignment by 1400 - 1800 hours Get firefighters off the line by 1100 hours
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DRAW THE FIRST RUN PERIMETER
 

Area in alignment for afternoon hours. High potential for a run between 1500 and 1800 hours. It is a hazardous area for the afternoon hours. Time tag the tactics.
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Mapping the Potential
 

Lay the wind direction forecast on the map. Color the afternoon South and West aspects yellow to highlight fuel flammability alignment in the afternoon. Establish trigger points and tracks where wind, slope and hot fuel align. Act on the potential.

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SIMILARITIES
The Dillon Fire trigger point, track and first in alignment run predicted for 1630 happened @ 1730 The South Canyon Fire trigger point, track and in alignment run not predicted happened @ 1630.

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The Fire Went into Alignment

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COMPARING FIRES

Trigger Point of Fire Behavior change Fire Track
All three fires hit the trigger point and were then in full alignment with wind, slope and solar preheat peaks. Firefighters perished because they did not understand the potential on the fire ground.
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TACTICAL STEPS
1. 2. 3.

4.

5.

Time Tag the task Establish trigger pts. Identify in alignment tracks. Establish Fire Signature thresholds Make fire signature predictions
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REMINDER CARD

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STOP SLIDE SHOW

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Explaining the Potential

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Tracks

Wind Trigger Pts. 30

Wind End
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TACTICAL ACTION

They stayed until the fire went into alignment and threatened them. 14 died because no one understood how to establish trigger points, time tags and tracks and they did not act based on the potential.
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SUMMARY
You have had a short lesson in how to base your actions on the current and predicted fire behavior, and  how to establish the trigger points, tracks, time tags and explain the prediction of a change in fire behavior.

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Wildland Fire Signature Prediction Methods

8 hour primer with little exercise time, 16 hour course with one exercise per student team, 24 hour course with four exercises by student teams. Train the Trainer course - 16-24 hours. Individuals to complete all 4 problems and present to class. Prescribed burning application - 8 hours classroom.
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CPS/RX

Training Objectives

To teach students how to determine when, where thresholds of safe fire behavior will be, and for how long. To teach the language that allows the students to explain how they know the potential of the fire and to act based on the potential. To teach students how to display fire potential and timing on maps and plan tactics accordingly. To enhance students situational awareness.
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Training Program Content

Pre-reading the book and workbook is required. PowerPoint graphic presentation with movies imbedded in slides. Exercises: 3-4 person teams to solve and present solutions to workbook fire problems. Displays: Solid Terrain Models used as aids to solving fire problems.
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Training Program Costs
    

Book and Workbook $40. Pre read and brought to class. Schedule 8, 16, or 24 hour class. Train the Trainer in 24 hours. Instructor packet and graphics options at additional cost. Instructor fee and perdiem are negotiable.
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