Section 6 - Chain of Command
A strong Chain of Command is key to the safety and success of any work project. It is a CRITICAL key in wildland fire fighting.
Every fire fighter has only one boss and it is important each fire fighter knows who this is. (Hint - it is highly probable the person who gave you your pre-work, “tailgate” briefing, is your immediate supervisor.) You must be certain of this and know this person’s name.
The B.C. Ministry of Forests uses a system called the I.C.S. or Incident Command System.
The Fire Boss is the Incident Commander. The I.C. has a command group supporting him/her, but the I.C. is in charge. If the fire is small, the I.C. may even use a shovel or pulaski, the same as the rest of the crew.
Listen and follow your crew leader’s instructions. Never leave the work site without permission. If you are asked to perform a task by someone else, you MUST first get permission from your immediate boss.
If you are not qualified to perform a task you are requested to do, or do not have the proper safety equipment to perform this task - inform your boss, (crew leader). Do not proceed with the task.
If you believe the task to be unsafe, communicate this clearly with reasons why you feel this way and document this in your notebook.
(All fire personnel should ALWAYS carry a notebook for recording briefing notes, special instructions, radio-call signs and special events, etc.
Section 7 - Fire Assessment and Size Up
This task or function begins when the fire is first reported. When the crew arrives at the fire site, another, current, assessment must be completed prior to any action being taken on the fire.
The assessment is usually done by the Incident Commander. It is also your duty as a fire fighter to conduct your own visual assessment. (Do not leave your staging area yet - this is initially just a visual from where you are currently positioned)
When sizing up (assessing) a fire you are primarily considering safety issues. (hazards)
- Is this an interface fire (near homes or cottages)?
- Are there other people (homeowners, campers) at risk?
Section 8 - Crew Briefing
Each crew person must attend a crew briefing session before starting work on any fire. This is the responsibility of the crew leader (your supervisor / boss).
Some items that must be discussed are:
If any crew person arrives after fire fighting has begun, they MUST receive a full briefing before they commence work.
Section 9 - Personal Gear
Listed below are some personal gear items you should have when you are working on a fire line.
Goggles and ear protectors are not necessary but recommended
(Inform your crew leader and first aid attendant of any medications or allergies you may have)
Section 10 - Working On The Line
Fire Fighters must exercise caution at all times while working on or near wildland fire.
Safety begins with you and you begin safety with a good ATTITUDE.
Once you are on the fire line you must always be aware of hazards that may be nearby. Remember to look up also as this is where you may see dangerous trees, snags, or widow makers (large broken branches). Never work within 1 1/2 times the height of a snag or danger tree. Never work within an excluded area as established by a danger tree assessor.
Look down on the ground. Watch for uneven ground, large boulders, tripping hazards, old rusty barbed wire, loose rocks and logs, wet and slippery surfaces, fresh retardant drops, ash filled holes and other possible hazards.
Look around at the general lay of the land. Look at the fire’s edge and what direction is it spreading. You do not want to be in front of it. (the head - the direction the fire is moving toward) Identify the escape routes (minimum of two) and safe zones. Know where extra drinking water and fire fighting equipment are located. Note the topography and fuel type and density. Note how difficult it may be to build line or withdrawal from the fire because of these factors.
Avoid exposure to excessive smoke or intense flame and heat. If you must work in smoke, wear some type of face mask or filter. Take frequent breaks away from the heat and smoke.
Work at least three meters away from your nearest crew person. Carry your hand tools waist height and when crossing a slope, carry them on the down slope side while walking. Do not carry tools over your shoulder. Carry and store tools in such a manner as to ensure they will not harm you or other members of your crew. Wear your hard hat at all times, even during rest and meal breaks. Stay alert.
Never horseplay on the fire line.
Do not work up-slope (above) a fire. Never attempt to outrun a fire.
Use the 10 Standard Orders when working on a fire:
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