Entrapment Avoidance

Operational Engagement
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Sep 2021


When determining strategy and tactics, avoid situations where firefighters may become entrapped. Consider the following discussion points related to escape routes and safety zones.

  • Discuss the three types of safety zones and describe examples.
    • The burn/black
    • Natural features
    • Constructed sites
  • Discuss the guidelines for size and distance separation to avoid radiant heat injury.
    • Four times the maximum flame height (20 foot-flame height x 4 = 80 foot-radius from firefighters)
    • Size based on amount of resources and equipment
  • 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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