National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Proper Use of Trigger Points


A poster with individual line art drawings of the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders and 18 Watch Out Situations used to educate wildland firefighters of the dangers and situations to be aware of.

The 10 Standard Firefighting Orders and the 18 Watch Out Situations, as referenced in the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461, provide wildland firefighters with a set of consistent best practices and a series of scenarios to be mindful of when responding to a wildland fire.

View the 10 and 18 Poster, PMS 110-18.

Accurate situation awareness (SA) requires a constant reassessment of conditions (existing and potential) that may impact the safety and effectiveness of tactics. Monitor for the 18 Watch Out Situations and establish trigger points (in the form of operational or environmental limits) ahead of time.

Remember, trigger points are not decision-makers but serve as predetermined cues to prompt you to re-evaluate the current and potential situation and its associated risks. They help you to determine and implement the proper course of action.

The following items are considerations in your planning and discussion.

  • Use trigger points for preplanning. Do not wait until you are in the wrong place at the wrong time – with no time.
  • Trigger points should be based on measurable factors such as: ​
    • Relative Humidity (RH).
    • Winds.
    • Fire behavior.
    • Topographical boundaries.
    • Time constraints/time of day.
    • Time/distance to safety zones.
    • Loss of suppression resources.
    • Other operational considerations (e.g., firefighter fatigue, loss of lookouts or communication, weather change).
  • As you approach predetermined trigger points, go through the Risk Management Process to help you decide if a change in tactics is required:
    • Identify hazards.
    • Assess hazards.
    • Develop controls and make risk decisions.
    • Implement controls.
    • Supervise and evaluate. ​
  • Consider the following command/leadership responsibilities when changing tactics:
    • Communicate the changes to your subordinates, as well as to adjacent forces and up the chain of command.
    • Account for all your people.
    • Make sure everyone knows and follows the new plan. ​



Weather - Fire Behavior
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Mar 2022

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