On A Hillside Where Rolling Material Can Ignite Fuel Below

Operational Engagement
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Nov 2019


When firefighters find themselves in Watchout Situation #13, they must answer the following questions:

  • Can you locate/construct a line to prevent material from rolling below? What do you call line that catches rolling material? Describe how you would construct this type of line and what factors you would have to consider (e.g., slope, fuels, etc.)
  • Will you get enough warning of rolling material to prevent being hit by it? Who needs to be watching for rolling material? What kinds of warning systems could you establish?
  • Can you see where any material that rolls below you goes and what it does? What can happen when material rolls out of the fire and below you out of view? What needs to be done to mitigate this danger?
  • Is the area free of large amounts of flashy fuels? Review the Common Denominators of Tragedy Fires.
  • Is the area free of chimneys, gullies, and steep slopes? Review the Common Denominators of Tragedy Fires.
  • Do you have two escape routes so you can go either way? Talk about where your most likely escape routes and safety zones will be when you are on a hillside where rolling material can ignite fuel below.
  • To reduce the risks:
    • Post lookouts.
    • Consider locating line in a defensible position.
    • Talk about steep fires where you have had material rolling out below you and how you dealt with it.


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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