Wildland Urban Interface - Structure Protection

Operational Engagement
Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
May 2021


The primary consideration of any operation is to assure firefighter and public safety. It is a must to assess potential fire behavior, ingress/egress routes, nature of the threat, hazardous materials, and available water supplies before engaging in the protection of any structure.

Factors that may make an attempt to save a structure too dangerous include:

  • The fire is making a sustained run and there is little or no clearance between the structure and the fuel.
  • The fire behavior is extreme; spot fires are numerous and the spread is outpacing containment.
  • Water supply will not last as long as the threat of the fire.
  • The fire intensity dictates that you leave the fire area immediately.
  • The structure is constructed of wood and has a wood shake roof.
  • The roof of the structure is more than one-quarter involved.
  • There is fire inside of the structure, or windows are broken and there is no way to quickly repair them.
  • You cannot safely remain at the structure because your escape route could become unusable.

When implementing a plan to protect structures, consider the following:

  • Do not enter a burning structure unless you are trained, equipped, and authorized. Firefighter safety and survival is the number one priority.
  • Always stay mobile and wear all personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Back in equipment to allow for a quick escape.
  • Coil a short, charged line with a fog nozzle on your engine for safety and quick knockdown capability.
  • Don’t make long hose lays.
  • Reserve at least 100 gallons of water in your tank.
  • Check the road system before the fire approaches. Know bridge limits, alternate access routes, and turnarounds for your vehicle and other support vehicles.
  • Determine if residents are home. Leave the inside and outside lights on, regardless of the time of day. Close the garage door.
  • Place the owners’ ladder at a corner of the home on the side with the least fire threat.
  • Coil and charge garden hoses.
  • Check and mark hazardous materials (e.g., Liquefied Propane Gas [LPG] tanks, pesticides, and paint storage.


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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