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from the Fireline Handbook - January 1998

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AIRTANKER: Fixed-wing aircraft certified by FAA as being capable of transport and delivery of fire retardant solutions.

ANCHOR POINT: An advantageous location, usually a barrier to fire spread, from which to start constructing a fireline. The anchor point is used to minimize the chance of being flanked by the fire while the line is being constructed.

AREA COMMAND: An organization established to: (1) oversee the management of multiple incidents that are each being handled by an incident management team (IMT) organization; or (2) to oversee the management of a very large incident that had multiple IMTís assigned to it. Area Command has the responsibility to set overall strategy and priorities, allocate critical resources based on priorities, ensure that incidents are properly managed, and that objectives are met and strategies followed.

BACKFIRE: A fire set along the inner edge of a fireline to consume the fuel in the path of a wildfire and/or change the direction or force of the fireís convection column.

BARRIER: Any obstruction to the spread of fire. Typically an area or strip devoid of combustible fuel.

BLOWUP: Sudden increase in fireline intensity or rate of spread of a fire sufficient to preclude direct control or to upset existing suppression plans. Often accompanied by violent convection and may have other characteristics of a firestorm.

BRANCH: The organizational level having functional or geographical responsibility for major parts of incident operations. The branch level is organizationally between section and division/group in the operations section, and between section and unit in the logistics section. Branches are identified by roman numerals or by functional name (e.g., service, and support).

BURN OUT: Setting fire inside a control line to consume fuel between the edge of the fire and the control line.

BURNING PERIOD: The part of each 24-hour period when fires spread most rapidly; typically from 10:00 AM to sundown.

CLOSED AREA: An area in which specified activities or entry are temporarily restricted to reduce risk of human-caused fires.

CLOSURE: Legal restriction, but not necessarily elimination, of specified activities such as smoking, camping, or entry that might cause fires in a given area.

COLD TRAILING: A method of controlling a partly dead fire edge by carefully inspecting and feeling with the hand for heat to detect any fire, digging out every live spot, and trenching any live edge.

COMMAND STAFF: The command staff consists of the information officer, safety officer and liaison officer. They report directly to the incident commander and may have an assistant or assistants, as needed.

COMPLEX: Two or more individual incidents located in the same general area which are assigned to a single incident commander or unified command.

CONFINE A FIRE: The least aggressive wildfire suppression strategy which can be expected to keep the fire within established boundaries of constructed firelines under prevailing conditions.

CONTAIN A FIRE: A moderately aggressive wildfire suppression strategy which can be expected to keep the fire within established boundaries of constructed firelines under prevailing conditions.

CONTROL LINE: An inclusive term for all constructed or natural barriers and treated fire edges used to control a fire.

COYOTE TACTICS: A progressive line construction duty involving self-sufficient crews which build fireline until the end of the operational period, remain at or near the point while off duty, and begin building fireline again the next operational period where they left off.

CREEPING FIRE: Fire burning with a low flame and spreading slowly.

CROWN FIRE: A fire that advances from top to top of trees or shrubs more or less independent of a surface fire. Crown fires are sometimes classed as running or dependent to distinguish the degree of independence from the surface fire.

CROWN OUT: A fire that raises from ground into the tree crowns and advances from treetop to treetop. To intermittently ignite tree crowns as a surface fire advances.

DIRECT ATTACK: Any treatment applied directly to burning fuel such as wetting, smothering, or chemically quenching the fire or by physically separating the burning from unburned fuel.

DIVISION: Divisions are used to divide an incident into geographical areas of operation. Divisions are established when the number of resources exceeds the span-of-control of the operations chief. A division is located with the ICS organization between the branch and the task force/strike team.

DOZER: Any tracked vehicle with a front mounted blade used for exposing mineral soil.

DOZER LINE: Fireline constructed by the front blade of a bulldozer.

ENGINE: Any ground vehicle providing specified levels of pumping, water, and hose capacity but with less than the specified level of personnel.

ESCAPED FIRE: A fire, which has exceeded or is expected to exceed initial attack capabilities or prescription.

EXTENDED ATTACK: Situation in which a fire cannot be controlled by initial attack resources within a reasonable period of time. Committing additional resources within 24 hours after commencing suppression action will usually control the fire.

FIRE BEHAVIOR: The manner in which a fire reacts to the influences of fuel, weather, and topography.

FIREBREAK: A natural of constructed barrier used to stop or check fires that may occur, or to provide a control line from which to work.

FIRE EDGE: The boundary of a fire at a given moment.

FIRE EFFECTS: The physical, biological, and ecological impacts of fire on the environment.

FIRELINE: The part of a control line that is scraped or dug to mineral soil. Also called fire trail.

FIRE RETARDANT: Any substance (except plain water) that by chemical or physical actions reduces flammability of fuels or slows their rate of combustion.

FIRE SHELTER: An aluminized tent offering protection by means of reflecting radiant heat and providing a volume of breathable air in a fire entrapment situation. Fire shelters should only be used in life threatening situations, as a last resort.

FLANKS OF A FIRE: The parts of a fireís spread perimeter that are roughly parallel to the main direction of spread.

FLARE-UP: Any sudden acceleration in rate of spread or intensification of the fire. Unlike blowup, a flare-up is of relatively short duration and does not radically change existing control plans.

FLASH FUELS: Fuels such as grass, leaves, draped pine needles, fern, tree moss and some kinds of slash, which ignite readily and are consumed rapidly when dry.

FOAM: The aerated solution created by forcing air into, or entraining air in water containing a foam concentrate by means of suitably designed equipment or by cascading it through the air at a high velocity. Foam reduces combustion by cooling, moistening and excluding oxygen.

FUELBREAK: A natural or manmade change in fuel characteristics which affects fire behavior so that fires burning into them can be more readily controlled.

FUEL TYPE: An identifiable association of fuel elements of distinctive species, form, size, arrangement, or other characteristics that will cause a predictable rate of spread or resistance to control under specified weather conditions.

GENERAL STAFF: The group of incident management personnel reporting to the Incident Commander. They may each have a deputy, as needed. The General Staff consists of: Operation Section Chief, Planning Section Chief, Logistics Section Chief, and a Finance/Administration Chief.

GROUND FIRE: Fire that consumes the organic material beneath the surface litter ground, such as peat fire.

HAND CREW: A number of individuals that have been organized and trained and are supervised principally for operational assignments on an incident.

HEAD OF A FIRE: The most rapidly spreading portion of a fireís perimeter, usually to the leeward or up slope.

HEAVY FUELS: Fuels of large diameter such as snags, logs, large limb wood, which ignite and are consumed more slowly than flash fuels.

HELD LINE: All control lines that still contains the fire when mop-up is completed. Excludes lost lines, natural barrier not backfired, and unused secondary lines.

HELISPOT: A natural or improved takeoff and landing area intended for temporary or occasional helicopter use.

HOLDOVER FIRE: A fire that remains dormant for a considerable time. Also called sleeper fire.

HOT SPOT: A particularly active part of a fire.

HOTSHOT CREW: Intensively trained fire crew used primarily in hand line construction.

INCIDENT: An occurrence, either human-caused or natural phenomena, that requires action or support by emergency service personnel to prevent or minimize loss of life or damage to property and/or natural resources.

INCIDENT COMMAND POST (ICP): Location at which primary command functions are executed. The ICP may be collocated with the incident base or other incident facilities.

INCIDENT COMMAND SYSTEM: A standardized on-scene emergency management concept specifically designed to allow its user(s) to adopt an integrated organizational structure equal to the complexity and demands of single or multiple incidents, without being hindered by jurisdictional boundaries.

INDIRECT ATTACK: A method of suppression in which the control line is located some considerable distance away from the fireís active edge. Generally done in the case of a fast-spreading or high-intensity fire and to utilize natural or constructed firebreaks fuel breaks and favorable breaks in the topography. The intervening fuel is usually backfired; but occasionally the main fire is allowed to burn to the line, depending on conditions.

INFRARED (IR): A heat detection system used for fire detection, mapping, and hotspot identification.

INITIAL ATTACK: The actions taken by the first resources to arrive at a wildfire to protect lives and property, and prevent further extension of the fire.

KNOCK DOWN: To reduce the flame or heat on the more vigorously burning parts of a fire edge.

LEAD PLANE: Aircraft with pilot used to make trial runs over the target area to check wind, smoke conditions, topography and to lead air tankers to targets and supervise their drops.

MOP-UP: Extinguishing or removing burning material near control lines, felling snags, and trenching logs to prevent rolling after an area has burned, to make a fire safe, or to reduce residual smoke.

OVERHEAD: Personnel assigned to supervisory positions, including Incident Commander, Command Staff, General Staff, Branch Directors, Supervisors, Unit Leaders, Managers, and staff.

PATROL: (1) To travel over a given route to prevent, detect, and suppress fires; (2) To go back and forth vigilantly over a length of control line during and/or after construction to prevent breakovers; (3) A person or group of persons who carry out patrol actions.

REBURN: (1) Repeat burning of an area over which a fire has previously passed, but left fuel that later ignites when burning conditions are more favorable; (2) An area that has re-burned.

RELATIVE HUMIDITY (RH): The ratio of the amount of moisture in the air, to the maximum amount of moisture that air would contain if it were saturated. The ratio of the actual vapor pressure to the saturated vapor pressure.

RESOURCES: (1) Personnel, equipment, services and supplies available, or potentially available, for assignment to incidents. Personnel and equipment are described by kind and type, e.g., ground, water, air, etc., and may be used in tactical, support or overhead capacities at an incident. (2) The natural resources of an area, such as timber, grass, watershed values, recreation values, and wildlife habitat.

SAFETY ZONE: An area cleared of flammable material used for escape in the event the line is outflanked or in case a spot fire causes fuels outside the control line to render the line unsafe. In firing operations, crews progress so as to maintain a safety zone close at hand allowing the fuels inside the control line to be consumed before going ahead. Safety zones may also be constructed as integral parts of fuel breaks; they are greatly enlarged areas which can be used with relative safety by firefighters and their equipment in the event of blowup in the vicinity.

SECONDARY LINE: Any fireline constructed at a distance from the fire perimeter concurrently with or after a line already constructed on or near to the perimeter of the fire. Generally constructed as an insurance measure in case the fire escapes control by the primary line.

SLASH: Debris resulting from such natural events as wind, fire, or snow breakage; or such human activities as road construction, logging, pruning, thinning, or brush cutting. It includes logs, chunks, bark, branches, stumps, and broken under-story trees or brush.

SMOKEJUMPER: A specifically trained and certified firefighter who travels to wildland fires by aircraft and parachutes to the fire.

SMOLDERING: A fire burning without flame and barely spreading.

SPOT FIRES: Fire ignited outside the perimeter of the main fire by a firebrand.

SPOTTING: Behavior of a fire producing sparks or embers that are carried by the wind and which start new fires beyond the zone of direct ignition by the main fire.

STRIKE TEAM: Specified combinations of the same kind and type of resources, with communications, and a leader.

SUPPRESSION: All the work of extinguishing or confining a fire beginning with its discovery.

SUPPRESSION CREW: Two or more firefighters stationed at a strategic location for initial action on fires. Duties are essentially the same as those of individual firefighters.

SURFACE FIRE: Fire that burns loose debris on the surface, which include dead branches, leaves, and low vegetation.

TACTICS: Deploying and directing resources on an incident to accomplish the objectives designated by strategy.

TASK FORCE: Any combination or single resources assembled for a particular tactical need, with common communications and a leader. A Task Force may be pre-established and sent to an incident, or formed at an incident.

UNIFIED COMMAND: In ICS, unified command is a unified team effort which allows all agencies with jurisdictional responsibility for the incident, either geographical or functional, to manage an incident by establishing a common set of incident objectives and strategies. This is accomplished without losing or abdicating authority, responsibility, or accountability.

WATER TENDER: Any ground vehicle capable of transporting specified quantities of water.

WILDFIRE: A fire occurring on wildland that is not meeting management objectives and thus requires a suppression response.

WILDLAND: An area in which development is essentially nonexistent, except for roads, railroads, power lines, and similar transportation facilities. Structures, if any, are widely scattered.