Basic Forest Fire Suppression Course - Online Lessons
LESSON 6 - PERSONAL SAFETY
After a number of tragic fires it became evident there was a need for a system to inform the fire fighter of potential problems and also to pre-determine an established evacuation plan. LACES began as several systems which were developed to enhance fire fighter safety and they include: The Ten Standard Firefighting orders, Eighteen Watchout Situations, Common Denominators on Tragic Fires and Downhill and Indirect Fireline Checklist. In total these systems included forty plus safety rules and guidlines for fire line safety. LACES was eventually established to consolidate the forty down to five. The theory was the belief that under stressful circumstances human beings could only remember four to six key fundamental learned behaviors.
- Lookouts: A competent and trusted person located in an advantageous position who has the responsibility of watching for potential fire problems and then relating the situation to the their supervisor. In mountain terrain, that could be one person situated on an opposite slope and watching for an uphill run. Other lookout sources that can be used are: aircraft pilots, fire tower operators or possibly one person on a crew assigned the job of watching a specific hazard.
- Anchor Points: An advantageous location, usually a barrier to fire spread, from which to start building a fire break or line. If done properly this will prohibit fire from establishing itself on the other side of an unsuspecting crew who could end up being surrounded with little chance for escape. An example of an anchor point could be a river, road, location without fuels or using a second crew to produce line in the opposite direction (starting at the back end of the fire and have two crews start their line on either flank towards the head).
- Communications: Can be provided in several forms: Face to Face, written Incident Action Plan, Briefing sessions, use of a Radio or Cell phone (if available). Crews are dependent on a variety of people to help ensure their safety because they will be concentrating on their job and may not be able to spot fire problems until too late. Information must be communicated to everyone concerned with the intent that it is known before an incident can occur.
- Escape Routes: A pre-determined route that can be used by anyone in the event that fire begins an unexpected run that will jeopardize the safety of crews or anyone else on the fire line. The escape route will take everyone to another pre-determined location (safety zone). Some consideration when establishing the escape route: should be able to walk it, should be marked (flagging tape), should be timed, should be away from the head of the fire, should be known to all, should be scouted.
- Safety Zones: Identify safety zones where a firefighter may find refuge from danger. Clean sites that are clear of vegetation (natural or man-made). Considerations when establishing a site are: How long will it take to get there? Is it large enough for everyone? Will fire behavior (intensity) adversely effect occupants? Are there any other hazards (snags, rolling rocks)? Does everyone know where they are?
Remember LACES on every fire