This is an interview with Tony Petrilli, who has served on more than 35 fire entrapment safety review/investigation team assignments.
While I am not an advocate for eliminating the use of fire shelters, when we understand and train for their proper application and importance, we will be able to move beyond our reliance on shelters when their presence is either unnecessary or dangerous.
Three members of a helitack crew are overrun by fire inside the meadow that serves as their helispot. Only two of the firefighters have fire shelters.
A Crew Sawyer's View - This is a personal story of the moments leading up to a shelter deployment, the moments spent in the shelter, and insights on life after a deployment.
Reality set in quickly as I tore the plastic on my fire shelter. There was no longer any hesitation, no stigmas to worry about, this was survival. I remember saying “I will see you on the other side” to my partners as I fumbled with unfolding my shelter.
The following thoughts and observations are derived from my own perspective that is based on 25 seasons filled with two shelter deployments, plenty of near misses, getting hit with branches because I was mesmerized by how awesome falling a burning snag is, falling asleep while driving, falling out on hikes (because I suck at hiking, smoke too much). Oh yeah, as well as one divorce and four or five failed relationships.
Here are more numbers from the 2019 fire year.
These two categories often generate much discussion in refresher courses.
Each year the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center analyzes and summarizes reported incidents to create an Incident Review Summary. Each summary includes exercises to aid crew leaders and instructors with facilitation. (Pro-tip: Do the exercises.)
How a firefighter successfully prepared for a burnover and used his fire shelter for himself-- and two civilians.
The topic is Scouting and Lookouts. What follows is a simple list of related resources. The intent is that you will use them to conduct a training session of some sort.