National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Escape Routes 3

Operational Engagement
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Mar 2022


Continued from: Escape Routes Part 2


A primary objective of every operational fire plan is to keep firefighters out of entrapment situations. However, firefighters must always be prepared to escape quickly to a safety zone or deployment area. Consider the following while discussing escape from possible entrapment.

Have a plan that includes trigger points.

  • Trigger Point: An observable event that triggers a pre-determined action.
    Example: If the temperature reaches 98 °F and relative humidity (RH) goes into single digits, the crew will follow the established escape route to the safety zone.

Reassess escape routes throughout the operational period.

  • Does access to escape routes become more difficult as the day progresses?
  • Do you have more than one escape route?
  • Are all escape routes clearly marked?
  • Are all firefighters familiar with the escape routes?

During an escape, time will be short. Describe considerations in this situation such as:

  • Maintain all critical equipment such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and radio. Discard gear that will not aid in your escape.
  • Maintain contact with all other crewmembers.

Describe a good safety zone. How is that different from a deployment area?

You should always know the location of your escape routes leading to safety zones and deployment areas.


Also see: Escape Routes Part 1 (Take 5@2)


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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