Unburned Fuel Between You and The Fire

Operational Engagement
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Sep 2021


11. Unburned fuel between you and fire. A yellow bulldozer leaves a fireline of dirt behind it. Thick brush is between the line and the fire.

11. Unburned fuel between you and fire.

Heavy equipment is often used to construct fireline to slow fire progression because it can build wider fireline at a faster rate. This Watch Out requires extra situational awareness because there is unburned fuel between the bulldozer and the main fire.

Read about all 18 Watch Out Situations.

It is important for firefighters to recognize Watch Out Situation #11, unburned fuel between themselves and the fire. Often it is not possible or practical for direct attack on a fire. Before attempting indirect attack and any time the firefighter is in a position where there is unburned fuel between them and the fire, the following questions must be addressed immediately:

  • Can you see the fire or are you in contact with someone who can? Discuss situations you might find yourself in where you are out in the green and cannot see the fire. What can you do?
  • Is fire spread in a direction away from you? Do you consider the potential for fire spread? Are you safe if the wind switches?
  • Will your position be defensible when the fire reaches you? Talk about what must be understood when building indirect line or approaching a fire through the green.
  • Is your line anchored? Discuss how you anchor indirect line.
  • Are your escape routes and safety zones adequate? What is adequate?
  • Are weather indicators constantly changing?
  • To reduce the risks:
    • Post lookouts.
    • Consider a different location.

Review situations where you constructed indirect line or approached a fire through the green and how you provided for your safety.


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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