Training and Events

Firemanship - Direct Attack on Wildfires

Firemanship - Direct Attack on Wildfires Date Posted: Oct 1, 2016


Recent fires in Canterbury and earlier in the year in South Australia, have thrown up important lessons in firemanship.  Direct attack on a wildfire, if it is to be done with a reasonable margin of safety needs to be conducted from a safe anchor point – somewhere where there is no risk of a fire either getting in behind fire fighters or impacting them full on.  The standard practice is to enter the fire ground from the base of the fire – The safe anchor point and working up the flanks from the black out to the flame flanks.  This “Base and Chase” technique allows fire fighters safe access to a safety zone; the burnt-out area of the fire.  Keeping “One Foot in the Black” allows a safe direct attack because you are not working from the fuel side of the flame front and hence you are not part of the fuel complex……  Here are some examples:

  1. This of video shows what can happen when Canterbury fire fighters enter a fire from the wrong position, in an unpredictable fire environment – one with flashy fuels and strong, erratic north west winds.  Download it here
  2. Another example of rural appliance crews entering from the wrong side of a flame front in Sth Australia.  Download it here
  3. The Deadman Zone.  This video although now getting a bit old, still highlights the techniques and the situational awareness that will save fire fighter’s lives.  I personally have worked with IMT staff and crew involved in some of the burn-overs described and it is a memory that for them, will not be forgotten.   Download the Deadman Zone here

I have circulated these examples because we in Marlborough have had a run of fires over the last 3 years, often in light flashy fuels with strong, erratic winds and I have no wish to be working through the aftermath and consequences of a burn-over incident with a crew, a brigade or indeed the families and loved ones of a burns victim.