Downhill Fireline Construction Checklist

Category: 
Operational Engagement
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Sep 2020
9. Building fireline downhill with fire below. Three firefighters use tools to dig fireline down a steep slope covered in grass and brush. Large flames are below them as the fire burns uphill.

9. Building fireline downhill with fire below.

Building fireline downhill requires special attention to safety factors because of the potential for rapid uphill fire spread. This Watch Out depicts firefighters building fireline downhill without first mitigating the existing hazards.

Read about all 18 Watch Out Situations..

Downhill fireline construction is hazardous in steep terrain, fast-burning fuels, or rapidly changing weather. Downhill fireline construction should not be attempted unless there is no tactical alternative. When building downhill fireline, the following is required:

  • Crew supervisor(s) and fireline overhead discuss assignments prior to committing crew(s). Responsible overhead individual (TFLD or ICT4 qualified or better) will stay with resources until the job is completed.
  • Decision will be made after proposed fireline has been scouted by supervisor(s) of involved crew(s).
  • LCES (Lookouts, Communication, Escape Routes, and Safety Zones) will be coordinated for all personnel involved.
    • Crew supervisor(s) is in direct contact with lookout who can see the fire.
    • Communication is established between all crews.
    • Rapid access to safety zone(s) is ensured in case fire crosses below crew(s).
  • Direct attack will be used whenever possible; if not possible, the fireline should be completed between anchor points before being fired out.
  • Fireline will not lie in or adjacent to a chute or chimney.
  • Starting point will be anchored for crew(s) building fireline down from the top.
  • Bottom of the fire will be monitored; if the potential exists for the fire to spread, action will be taken to secure the fire edge.
  • Can fire be carried with you?

 

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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