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'Attack from the black'

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'Attack from the black'


By Edward A. Wright

When fighting fire in flashy fuels like grass, shrubs and brush, always "attack from the black."

Begin suppression from a strong anchor point at the rear or flank of the fire and keep one foot or wheel in the clean burn: the risk of burnover is high in these fast-moving fires.

Firefighters face imminent danger when wind shifts suddenly change fire direction and they are entrapped.

Don't let Situation Awareness (SA) be obscured by adrenalin! Never engage without first carefully assessing the fire and its risks. And there is no shame in pulling back to a safe area and reassessing.

 

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Lt. Edward A. Wright, of the Poulsbo, Wash., Fire Department, is senior officer and lead ICS and NIMS instructor for Kitsap Wildland Team and Bates College in Tacoma, Wash. A responder for more than 30 years, he has served with both municipal fire departments and U.S. federal land management agencies. Lt. Wright holds bachelors degrees in public relations and journalism and currently responds as Task Force Leader, Firing Boss and Incident Commander IV. He is also a specialist in wildland and interface response apparatus and compressed air foam systems. Lt. Wright is also the managing director of Africa Public Safety Trust.


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Bob Davis Bob Davis Sunday, August 04, 2013 11:39:29 AM Appropriate advice in certain situations involving direct attack with motorized vehicles. However, it is frequently not feasible to simply employ that tactic only. Rural-agricultural settings this most likely in the tactic of choice. When in a wildland (nonagricultural) setting most often indirect tactics are required. Lack of vehicle access will limit direct attack with water, speed of spread, flame length etc may not allow for such methods. Building line away from but flanking or ahead of fire travel will be in unburned fuels of necessity. A reliance on safety zones is paramount. Granted that those safety zones may be in blackened areas. Make sure your "black" is free of fuels that were not consumed in a fast moving fire front. If possible clear those fuels prior to relying on that space as a safe area. Reignition of partially burned fuels can be just as dangerous as the first burn through.