Roadside Incident Response

Vehicles - Roads
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Apr 2020


Nationally, the number of injuries and fatalities among emergency responders who are responding to roadside incidents is increasing. Although most wildland fires occur in remote areas, there are situations where wildland fire personnel are responding to fires along rural country roads, jeep roads, or major highways; the risk still exists for our firefighters. Below is a checklist of considerations that should be utilized when responding to fires and other incidents along roadsides:


  • Firefighter and public safety will always be the number one priority.
  • Utilize L.C.E.S. in all incident activities.
  • Personal Protective Equipment is to be used on all incidents.

Upon Arrival at the Scene

Size up incident – see Incident Response Pocket Guide, PMS 461, Sizeup Report inside front cover.

  • What has happened?
  • What is happening?
  • What will or could happen?
  • Is this a HazMat situation?

Risk Management Process

See the Incident Response Pocket Guide, PMS 461, Risk Management section under Operational Engagement (green).

Tactical Considerations

  • Anytime traffic flow is affected by the incident, contact the jurisdictional law enforcement agency for assistance.
  • Conduct all operations as far from traffic lanes as possible to provide for crew and public safety.
  • Park units on the same side of the roadway whenever possible to avoid traffic congestion.
  • Personnel do not exit the fire apparatus until instructed to do so by the module leader.
  • Exit the fire apparatus away from the roadway or where hazard exposure is minimized.
  • Exit the fire apparatus with full personal protective equipment.
  • Post a lookout to watch for and control oncoming traffic.
  • Utilize forward and rear spotters when visibility is impaired or road conditions warrant.
  • Utilize and place road flares or other traffic warning signs whenever possible.
  • If equipment needs to be removed from the traffic side of the apparatus, one person will retrieve the equipment and a lookout will watch for oncoming traffic.
  • Engine operators will operate pumps from the non-traffic side or from the cab of the apparatus when possible. Keep all hose, fire tools, and equipment out of traffic lanes when possible.
  • During night operations utilize reflective clothing, vests, and other safety equipment as necessary.
  • All emergency responses on roadways will be concluded as quickly as possible to reduce personnel exposure.
  • Cancel or demob unnecessary apparatus as soon as possible.

Note: Each agency emergency vehicle operator will follow their particular state laws and agency policies governing the operations of emergency vehicles.


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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