National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Fuel Handling

Misc Fireline Hazards
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Feb 2021


Fuel Handling – Watch Out for “Normalization”

There is an apprehension that the safety concerns surrounding the use of gasoline in firefighting operations can get “normalized”. In firefighting, we use gasoline for a variety of applications, including pumps, chainsaws, vehicles, drip torches, etc.

“Normalization” of hazards or risks is when we get comfortable around these hazards and take shortcuts without consequence. After a while, we can get so comfortable with these shortcuts that we forget about the original mitigation to reduce the hazard or risk.

  1. What do we use gasoline for in our firefighting operations?
  2. What risks are associated with our uses of flammable liquids?
  3. What mitigations or procedures are in place for handling fuel?
  4. What can you do to prevent being sprayed or doused in gasoline from gas tank pressure?
  5. What should you do to extinguish someone who is on fire?


Two photos of a burned leg - day of injury and five days later.

Check out this Rapid Lessons Shared (RLS) from 2015 that spotlights 14 instances of fuel igniting incidents reported in the past 5 years and discusses drip torch burn injuries.

Chainsaw Operators:

Watch this short safety video for information on preventing fuel leakage, identification of potential vapor lock/tank pressurization, mitigation measures for vapor lock/tank pressurization, and reporting procedures for future occurrences: Chainsaw Safety.


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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