National Wildfire Coordinating Group

9.7 Planning

Hand crews primarily construct fireline but can also assist on hose lays, firing operations, protecting structures, mopping up, cleaning up, and other logistical support functions. It is important to match the task to crew capabilities. Use the best, most experienced crews for the toughest jobs and the hottest firelines. Crew effectiveness is controlled by these factors:

  1. Leadership: Good, competent leadership is key to the success of the crew.
  2. Training, Physical Fitness, and Experience: A crew that is well trained, in top physical condition, with several fires under the belt, will be very effective. A crew that is greatly trained and conditioned on the fireline increases the amount of line construction.
  3. Crew-Member Turnover: Frequent changes in crew membership will erode the team aspects.
  4. Morale: If a crew is "down", its productivity will be down.
  5. Fatigue: Exhausted crew members will be ineffective, with a much higher potential for accidents.
  6. Fuel, Weather, Topography, and Time of Day: In thick fuels and steep terrain, at the hottest time of the day, production will suffer. Working at night also will reduce production rates.
  7. Fire Behavior: If the level of fire behavior is high to extreme, deploying hand crews will be very dangerous. Conditions should be considered and planned for accordingly.