National Wildfire Coordinating Group

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

Working with Heavy Equipment

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

Wildland firefighters perform dangerous work around heavy equipment. Regardless of position or crew type, all firefighters must be equipped to work near heavy equipment. Review Heavy Equipment and other useful references in the IRPG Operational Engagement pages to better prepare yourself when working near heavy equipment.
Category: Hazards
Core Component(s): Local Topics;
Incident Reviews and Lessons Learned;
Fire and Aviation Operational Safety;
Human Factors, Communication and Decision Making

Estimated Delivery Time: 30 minutes; Video Length: 11:06



Regardless of position or crew type, all firefighters must be prepared to work safely around heavy equipment.  Review Working with Heavy Equipment and other useful references in the NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461. Use the Operational Engagement pages to prepare yourself for working near heavy equipment.

Facilitator Preparation

  • Review the video and module tools.
  • Reference the IRPG. Provide copies for students to utilize and answer questions.
  • Consider additional activities and discussion questions pertinent to the location and agency.

Facilitating the Discussion

  • Share the intent of the module with the class.
  • Show the video.
  • Facilitate a small or large group discussion using discussion questions and IRPG.

Discussion Questions

  1. Locate and review Working with Heavy Equipment in the IRPG. Identify one take-away message within the section specific to your module (e.g., NWCG Dozer Typing Standard, safe distances, communication methods, and hazards).
  2. Locate and review additional IRPG references that may be applicable when working with heavy equipment (e.g., LCES, Safety Zones, Downhill Fireline Construction Checklist, Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) firefighting). Identify one take-away message from each resource specific to your module.
  3. How does your module manage risk when working with or near heavy equipment?
    1. Reference the Risk Management Process in the IRPG.
      1. What critical roles are required when working with heavy equipment?
      2. Who on your module is assessing hazards?
      3. How do you communicate hazard within your module and to heavy equipment operators?
      4. Discuss how this plan differs during night operations.
  4. Review how your module communicates using radios.
    1. What specific channels should be used to communicate with heavy equipment?
    2. How do you communicate with heavy equipment if they don’t have radio capabilities?
    3. How do night operations impact how you communicate with heavy equipment?


Additional Video Information

  • This video is also available as a download (zip file, size 877MB) with 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.
  • Note: For Chrome and Firefox, right click the word download and select Save Link As; for IE, right click and select Save Target As.

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