No Communication Link with Crewmembers or Supervisor

Fire Communication
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Mar 2022


7. No communication link with crewmembers or supervisor. Firefighters and a white fire engine are all located apart from one another in a heavily timbered area, with trees and distance between them.

7. No communication link with crewmembers or supervisor.

Known radio frequencies and channels enable instant communication within and between firefighting resources. This Watch Out shows a crew physically separated without any obvious method for communication among crew members or their supervisor.

Read about all 18 Watch Out Situations.

Watch Out Situation #7 is a danger that must be mitigated by maintaining good communications while working on fires. Firefighters must constantly ask themselves the following questions as situations change on the fireline:


Can communication(s) be established?

  • Talk about how communications are set up on fires, including the variables that must be considered.
  • Review situations where communications were a problem. Discuss what was done to fix the problem.
  • Ask yourself, “Do we need a repeater setup or can an experienced firefighter act as a human repeater?”

Is the communication triangle complete?

  • Review the communication triangle: speaker, message, and audience. Discuss where it comes up in the 10 Standard Fire Orders and the 18 Watch Out Situations.
  • Discuss ways that firefighters can maintain the communication triangle on the fireline.

How can we reduce the risks?

  • If the situation is complex, wait until communications are in place.
  • Talk about the fires where crews had to leave the line, did not go out on the line, or something negative happened because communications were inadequate. Discuss what was done to establish communications in these situations.
  • Discuss scenarios in which communications could be disrupted. What are some possible solutions?


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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