Entrapment Avoidance

Operational Engagement
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Sep 2019


Avoiding situations where firefighters become entrapped is the first concern when devising strategy and tactics. The following discussion points are among the things that should be considered.

  • Discuss the three types of safety zones and describe examples.
    • The burn.
    • Natural features.
    • Constructed sites.
  • Discuss the guidelines for distance separation to avoid radiant heat injury.
    • Four times the maximum flame height (20 feet-flame height x 4 = 80 feet radius from firefighters).
    • Discuss size based on amount of resources and equipment in the area.
  • Discuss heat impact factors that will affect the guidelines for distance separation.
    • Convection heat from wind and terrain features.
    • Location relative to fire spread.
    • Reburn potential of fuel in safety zone.
  • Discuss how firefighters have a right to know the location of their escape routes and safety zones at all times.
  • Discuss how firefighters have a right to ask for clarification when faced with unclear instructions or fear of the unknown.
  • Describe a basic procedure for identification of effective escape routes and safety zones.
    • Observe.
    • Visualize.
    • Identify.
    • Time.
    • Inform.
    • Evaluate.


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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