Responding To Vehicle Fires

Vehicles - Roads
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Nov 2021


Suppression of vehicle fires is extremely dangerous and poses many health and safety hazards to firefighters. The following procedures are recommended:

  • Wear a high-visibility reflective vest or other high-visibility clothing.
  • Secure the scene and provide or request assistance for traffic control.
  • Park your vehicle to provide a protective barricade for you and your crew. Position it so that an inattentive or drunk driver will hit your vehicle and not your crew. Your vehicle is expendable; you are not.
  • Provide for your escape route at the scene.
  • Do not use road flares if fuel is leaking from the vehicle.
  • Do not breathe any smoke. Smoke from vehicle fires contains toxic chemicals that will kill you.
  • Vehicle fires are considered a hazardous materials scene. Suppression action should only be taken if the crew is trained, equipped, and authorized in the use of Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).
  • If taking suppression action on wildland fuels, firefighters should ensure that they are a safe distance from the burning vehicle (100 feet minimum), and avoid contact with vehicle fire smoke or fumes.


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


Follow NWCG on Twitter  and Facebook

Have an idea or feedback?
Share it with the NWCG 6MFS Subcommittee.