National Wildfire Coordinating Group

RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)

Point Fire Revisited

RT-130 Decorative banner. Group of photos depicting wildland firefighters performing various duties.

A case study of the Point Fire (Idaho, 1995) during which a series of unfortunate events led to the entrapment and death of two firefighters. An overview of the events of the fire and the recommendations from the accident investigation that followed, with fire footage, maps/animations, and firsthand interview accounts.
Category: Case Studies
Core Component(s): Local Topics;
Incident Reviews and Lessons Learned;
Fire and Aviation Operational Safety;
Human Factors, Communication and Decision Making

Estimated Delivery Time: 1 hour; Video Length: 15:38



Apply lessons learned from the Point Fire to enhance safety on incidents.

Facilitator Preparation

  • Review the video and module tools.
  • Review the events of the Point Fire (1995) and the recommendations from the accident investigation.
  • Prepare to discuss the consequences/changes that are apparent in present day wildland fire suppression.

Facilitating the Discussion

  • Show the video
  • As a class or in small groups, discuss the questions below. If breaking into small groups, share answers with class.
    • Alternatively, you may discuss the questions in the 6 Minutes for Safety referenced below.

Discussion Questions

As stated in the video, the accident investigation following the entrapment fatalities identified contributing factors and put forth formal recommendations to improve wildland firefighter safety. The majority of findings fell within four distinct categories:

  1. Incident Leadership
    • Not all personnel on the fire received a formal safety briefing upon arrival. Multiple resources failed to hear the Red Flag Warning. Minimal efforts were made to verify safe crew location at the time of the blow-up.
    • As incident commanders and fireline leaders, how do you ensure that all personnel under your supervision receive a thorough operational safety briefing? How can you ensure that critical safety messages (i.e. Red Flag Warnings) make it to ALL of your resources? How do you track and maintain accountability of your resources?
  2. Communications
    • Lack of common communication capability contributed to the incident. The BLM IC could not monitor the Kuna Command frequency. The Kuna engines could not effectively scan between their frequencies and the BLM frequencies.
    • What type of plan is in place for you to communicate effectively with your local cooperators? Are common frequencies identified and preprogrammed? Is your radio equipment compatible, and if not, how can you overcome this problem?
  3. Equipment References
    • Kuna Engine-620 experienced a mechanical failure immediately prior to the burnover. E-620 had experienced similar problems earlier in the season, but no maintenance records were kept to help determine its reliability for fighting wildfires.
    • Are you conducting regular, documented inspections of your firefighting vehicles? Where would you document these inspections? Are you actually fixing mechanical issues or running with “minor gremlins” that you know how to troubleshoot?
  4. Cooperator Relationships
    • While no mutual aid agreement existed between the Boise BLM and the Kuna Rural Fire District at the time of the Point Fire, resources from both had successfully collaborated in wildland training and fire suppression earlier in the season.
    • On your local unit, what type of relationship exists between agencies and cooperators? Are mutual aid agreements in place? Do you conduct any shared training (Annual Fireline Safety Refreshers, fire response simulations, etc)? What aspects of your cooperator relationships do you celebrate? Where do you see opportunities for improvement?


Additional Video Information

This video is also available as a download.  (Size 3.1GB)
Download the .srt file for closed captioning (you may need to right click and Save As). For information on how to add closed captioning to a video, see this how to page.

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