National Wildfire Coordinating Group

2017 WOR Day 5: Getting Real About Escape Routes

Ribbon symbol for survivor next to the Wildland Fire Leadership logoWeek of Remembrance June 30-July 6, 2017

We always have pre-planned escape routes — right? Sometimes they become “absent, inadequate, or compromised.” That is called “an entrapment.” Here’s the definition from the NWCG glossary:


A situation where personnel are unexpectedly caught in a fire behavior-related, life-threatening position where planned escape routes or safety zones are absent, inadequate, or compromised. An entrapment may or may not include deployment of a fire shelter for its intended purpose. These situations may or may not result in injury. They include "near misses."

So what if you are burning and your plan is to “bring the black with you”…

  • but a surprise downhill crown run puts fire below you.

Your planned escape route was back up the line to the top…

  • but some unexpected folks show up who are not capable of the fast hike out.

Now the plan is to bring everyone to the helispot — the best available refuge area…

  • but the group hiking to the helispot are cut off by fire.

Now the group turns around and heads back up the line toward the top…

  • On the way up, a crewmember becomes unconscious.

Each of those changes in the plan can be viewed as a
"Red X" on6mfs-the-plan.png.  How many Red X's can your plan tolerate?


Want context from a real-life event? Watch and discuss Episode 4 of the Nuttall Fire Story video series here:

Week of Remembrance
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Jun 2023

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