Conditions and Circumstances Leading to Fire Entrapment


1) Human Factor

2) Non-Human Factors


Human Factor

Non-human, or natural factors that may contribute to fire entrapment, cannot easily be changed. However, the Human Factor can and must be!

Some basic Human Factors that may contribute to Fire Entrapment:

  • poor physical condition
  • not having adequate sleep or rest
  • poorly trained - general lack of knowledge about fire behaviour
  • an attitude of a "know-it-all"
  • an attitude that it simply won't happen to me/us
  • a show-off, hero, mind set with a "Rambo" type of thinking
  • fear - of being criticized for evacuating prematurely - being thought of as a "chicken"
  • fear - of being looked upon as being generally incompetent and thus jeopardizing one's personal career
  • general inexperience (not recognizing what certain, fire sounds, wind shifts, etc. can mean and HOW SO VERY QUICKLY a fire can "blow-up")
  • not following the basic SAFETY ORDERS when firefighting
  • having a reputation of not sincerely caring for the well being of all crew persons under you command. (thus your crew may not obey and follow you in an emergency evacuation situation)
  • having poor communication skills - this is rarely assessed or taught (this type of communication has nothing to do with how well the radio communication may be working)
  • not following LACES
  • not having or maintaining TWO USABLE ESCAPE ROUTES
  • NEVER POSITION CREWS OR LOCATE ESCAPE ROUTES ABOVE A FIRE!

    NON-HUMAN CONDITIONS

    REVIEW - THREE FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE FIRE BEHAVIOUR ARE:

    FUEL; WEATHER; AND TOPOGRAPHY

    Dangerous Fuel

  • dense, close fuels such as blowdown, logging slash and debrisfine fuels such as grasses, small branches, twigs and needles - and again, logging slash
  • dead standing fuels such as dead pine trees and especially more so if "red-dead" (dead needles still on the branches)
  • fuel moisture - DRY
  • any unburned fuel between fire crews and the fire edge

  • Dangerous Weather

  • Winds gusty, downdrafts, cross-winds - thunderstormsincreasing
  • direction changes
  • Temperature - increasing, hotrelative humidity - lowering, fuel becoming drier
    15% R.H. is very low, - (I have personally recorded, 3% and seen the resulting, grasses burn like they had gasoline on them!)
  • extended periods (several days) of dry, hot weather

  • Dangerous Topography

  • mountainous, steep slopes
  • gullies, ravines, box canyons, "chimneys", saddle backs, even small "draws" or swales
  • aspect - direction slope is facing South is more dangerous because it is "warmer" and "drier"


    Semi-Non-Human

  • mechanical - vehicle breakdown
  • rotary aircraft forced landing in danger zones
  • burned or damaged bridges or cattle guards
  • dead-end roads or insufficient space to turn a vehicle around


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