National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Constructing Line Without a Safe Anchor Point

Operational Engagement
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Mar 2022
8. Constructing line without safe anchor point. A red fire engine is located inside a burned area with flames all around it while a firefighter sprays water from a hose at some of the flames.

8. Constructing line without safe anchor point.

An anchor point is an advantageous location, usually a barrier to fire spread, from which to start constructing a fireline. This Watch Out depicts an engine crew working along the fire edge without a clear anchor point.

Read about all 18 Watch Out Situations.

When deciding where to build fireline, the following considerations must be weighed:

  • Can you hold the line? How do you do so and ensure your safety if there is a danger of the fire hooking under/around you?
  • Are there adequate safety zones and escape routes? Review what constitutes an adequate safety zone and escape route. Who has the responsibility to designate them and monitor their continued suitability?
  • Can you develop your starting point into an anchor point? List some effective anchor points. Describe how you would develop your starting point into an anchor point.
  • Have you posted lookouts? Where should they be posted? Can they see the main fire? Describe the qualities of a skilled lookout?
  • Do you have effective communications? Who do you need to be in contact with? If there are problems with communications, what can you do to improve them?
  • To reduce risk, evaluate several locations before making a decision. Talk about fires where you have had to relocate the line because your anchor point did not hold the fire.
  • How have you mitigated Watch Out Situation #8 in the past?


Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
10 Standard Firefighting Orders, PMS 110 
18 Watch Out Situations, PMS 118
10 & 18 Poster, PMS 110-18
NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
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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