S-100a - Sections 6-10


    Section 6 - 10
  • 6 - Chain of Command
  • 7 - Fire Assessment and Size Up
  • 8 - Crew Briefing
  • 9 - Personal Gear
  • 10 - Working on the Line
Complete Course Table of Contents
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.

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 currently are 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
  • danger trees, snags
  • fuel type
  • topography (gullies, steep cliffs)
  • current and expected weather
  • access (i.e. road, trails, helicopter, boat)
  • fire rank - now and expected
  • water source (not necessary but nice to have)
  • gullies, steep cliffs, power lines, rattlesnake country, etc.

  • Fire assessment is a continuous and on-going duty of all persons on the fire line. ... you must always be aware...

Section 8 - Crew Briefing

Each crew person must attend a crew briefing session before starting work on any fire. This is usually the responsibility of the crew leader (your boss).

Some items that must be discussed are:

  • the name of the person doing the briefing
  • evacuation procedures
  • what else is happening in the valley/drainage system you are working in? (another forest fire? a planned controlled burn? Forestry workers working on a nearby block? - you must be informed of these type of activities)
  • at least two escape routes and locations
  • safety zones
  • current and expected weather conditions
  • the action plan and today’s objectives
  • summary of yesterday’s objectives(were they met?)
  • methods of communication
  • designated first aid person and their location
  • radio call signs
  • what your crew’s and your specific tasks are
  • all hazards which have been identified
  • general expected fire behaviour
  • location of staging areas (probably where you are being briefed)
  • any other information which may be important to safety

  • 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.

  • jacket (can get cold at night)
  • rain gear (not light, $1.99 plastic gear)
  • good, high topped leather work boots with lug type soles
  • gloves
  • Hi-Vis hard hat (not white)
  • cotton, wool or Nomex clothing
  • no synthetics - can melt against your skin or burn easily
  • no contact lenses - can melt onto your eyes
  • drinking water
  • big bag lunch - enough for at least two meals
  • any medications you may require (i.e. bee sting kit)

  • 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 withdraw 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:

    1. Fight fire aggressively, but ensure safety is first

    2. Initiate all actions based on current and expected fire behaviour

    3. Recognize current weather conditions and obtain forecasts

    4. Ensure instructions are given and clearly understood

    5. Obtain current information on fire status

    6. Remain in communications with crew members and your supervisor

    7. Know your escape routes and safety zones

    8. Establish lookouts in potentially hazardous situations

    9. Retain control at all times

    10. Stay alert, be well rested, keep calm, think clearly and decisively