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Wildland firefighter safety zones: A review of past science and summary of future needs

Author(s): Bret W. Butler
Year Published: 2014

Current wildland firefighter safety zone guidelines are based on studies that assume flat terrain, radiant heating, finite flame width, constant flame temperature and high flame emissivity. Firefighter entrapments and injuries occur across a broad range of vegetation, terrain and atmospheric conditions generally when they are within two flame heights of the fire. Injury is not confined to radiant heating or flat terrain; consequently, convective heating should be considered as a potential heating mode. Current understanding of energy transport in wildland fires is briefly summarised, followed by an analysis of burn injury mechanisms within the context of wildland fire safety zones. Safety zone theoretical and experimental studies are reviewed and a selection of wildland fire entrapments are examined within the context of safe separation distances from fires. Recommendations are made for future studies needed to more fully understand and define wildland firefighter safety zones.

Citation: Butler, B. W. 2014. Wildland firefighter safety zones: A review of past science and summary of future needs. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 23(3): 295-308. http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF13021
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Fire Safety Zones
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 16900
Record updated: May 16, 2018