Vehicle Entrapment

Vehicles - Roads
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Sep 2021


If you find yourself in a fire entrapment situation where a shelter deployment is not possible, using a vehicle for refuge may be an option. The following are some considerations for a vehicle entrapment:

  • Park the vehicle in an area void of vegetation.
  • Burn out around the vehicle if there is time.
  • Park behind a natural barrier or structure. Consider that a structure could become involved which could severely impact nearby exposures/vehicles.
  • Do not park on the downhill side of a road or under power lines or over-hanging vegetation.
  • Stay out of saddles and draws.
  • Position the vehicle in a direction that provides the area occupied by crew personnel the maximum protection from an approaching flame front.
  • Set the parking brake, leave the motor running at high RPM, and keep the vehicle lights on.
  • Roll up the windows and do not lock the doors since someone else might need to get in.
  • Cover windows with fire shelters, placing reflective material against the window.
  • You must protect your airway; remain as low in the vehicle as possible and use a dry bandana to cover your nose and mouth.
  • Expect the following conditions if you are trapped inside the vehicle:
    • Temperatures may reach over 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Smoke and sparks may enter the vehicle.
    • Plastic parts may start to melt and give off toxic gases.
    • Windows may start to crack.
    • Exposed skin may receive radiant heat burns.
  • If the vehicle catches fire or windows blow out and you must exit the vehicle before the fire has passed, then:
    • Each crewmember should cover themself with a fire shelter.
    • Exit the vehicle from the side away from the greatest heat.
    • Stay together and get as low to the ground as possible, moving away from the vehicle.
    • Deploy your shelter in a safe area.


Canyon Fire Entrapment

Video Length 18:40


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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