Attempting a Frontal Assault on a Fire

Category: 
Operational Engagement
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Dec 2017

 

Attempting a frontal assault on a fire is recognized as Watchout Situation #10 and is a potentially dangerous tactic.

If your tactics include a frontal assault, the following checklist must be adequately addressed before engaging the fire:

  • Has the fire been scouted and sized up? Who will scout and size up a fire and what are they looking for?

  • Is your position defensible? List what makes a firefighter’s position defensible. (Anchor points, safety zones, escape routes, etc.)

  • Are escape routes and safety zones adequate? Review what constitutes an adequate safety zone and escape route.

  • Do you have an anchor point? How would you establish an anchor point for a frontal assault on a fire?

  • Do you have adequate resources to complete the assault? Discuss things you need to consider; for example, if the frontal assault fails, do you have backup?

  • Are you informed on strategy, tactics, and hazards? Consider what could happen if someone has a different approach than you; i.e., the IC has a burnout operation planned while you are attempting frontal assault.

  • Is the terrain favorable to holding the fire? Discuss ways the terrain will influence where you will make a stand.

  • Are you relying on aircraft for support operation?  Any operation, especially frontal assault, should not need air resources to be safe.

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In order to reduce the risks, reassess your tactics, post lookouts, identify situations in which firefighters may be enticed to attempt frontal assault on a fire. Review why this may or may not be a good idea.

 

Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
NWCG Standards for Helicopter Operations, PMS 510
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

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