On A Hillside Where Rolling Material Can Ignite Fuel Below

Operational Engagement
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Jul 2021


13. On a hillside where rolling material can ignite fuel below. Several firefighters use tools to dig fireline up a steep hill.  Above them, logs and trees are on fire.

13. On a hillside where rolling material can ignite fuel below.

Fires can move more quickly uphill. This Watch Out shows rolling logs and debris that are on fire and can ignite fuels below the crew building fireline.

Read about all 18 Watch Out Situations.

When firefighters find themselves in Watch Out Situation #13, on a hillside where rolling material can ignite fuel below, 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? Is the area free of chimneys, gullies, and steep slopes?
  • 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 fires in steep terrain where you had material roll out below you and how you dealt with it.


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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